Wednesday, August 24, 2016


I spent my youth between the Magic Mitten and the Old South, but now reside at 9,000 feet in the Rocky Mountains.

The great lake and sandy shores gave me a love of the beach, but high mountain summits are now my favorite places to watch the world. Cold streams flowing with snow melt and wild trout bring me simple pleasures and long relaxing days in the wild throwing feathers at fish. But it's my love of the South that follows me wherever I travel: sweet tea, y'all, yes ma'am, BBQ, and SEC football. As you might guess hiking 14ers, fly fishing and college football are the major distracters to my writing. A Cubs fan from since my youth, I've watched games on WGN before there was cable TV.

Many things influenced my imagination as a kid... X-Men comic books, The Twilight Zone, Star Wars, E.T., Kolchak: The Night Stalker, Stephen King, and art by Brian Froud.

I have degrees in journalism and management from the University of Arkansas. Woo Pig Sooie!

I spent most of the last 20-plus years in some form of journalism or communications/public relations which provided a writing outlet. But it was two other authors who continued to ask, "What are you reading" and "What are you writing" that sparked my muse to write creatively. A talent my wife says she knew I had from the beginning. One of her first gifts to me was a writing journal. Now, several years later I have a few manuscripts completed and a novel to soon be released.

1. What do you enjoy the most about living in Colorado?

I live at 9,000 feet on the edge of Pikes Peak, it’s like I’m on vacation almost every day. There is great river fishing for wild trout and hiking trails up 14,000-foot peaks that are only short drives from home. These are the places that are dream vacations for some people.

2. What is your ideal weekend?

Spending Saturday morning on the summit and maybe catching few trout on the way home. Then a nice dinner and bottle of wine. Sunday, hanging out with the family and maybe writing a few pages.

3. How many fourteeners have you climbed? Which climb do you remember as the most adventurous?

I have summitted 36 of the 58 Colorado 14ers, but I’ve hike several of them numerous times for a total of 76 summits. I’ve also hiked 40 13ers.

Too many adventures, each hike is different. Midnight hike up Quandary to see a lunar eclipse only to summit in a dense cloud. Winter hike from Democrat to Bross that lasted into dark, but I saw an awesome sunset. My first climb up Kelso Ridge to Torreys. Any number of routes that took me over several peaks.

4. You’re a prolific writer. What is your time-management secret? Are you a plotter or pantser?

Time-management: keep a note book for ideas and write them down. Then it’s easier to jump back on the laptop to write that scene. It’s like you’re always writing in your head… the next step is typing. And my wife says if I’m writing I don’t have to do chores.

I’m both. It’s like taking the Alphabet: A, B, C, D… I’ll know certain plot points or scenes, but not how each scene moves to the next. So take out half the alphabet, randomly. The letters you still see, that’s the plotter in me, the events I know must happen. The missing letters, that’s the pantser, I have to fill in the story line as I go. It’s fun to be both because I don’t know the entire story, which makes it a joy to write.

5. How much research have you done for THE COLOR OF GOTHIC? Why did you choose that particular time period as the setting for your story?

I read a book, and skimmed several others, about the mining history in Colorado. And one specifically about Crested Butte, which sits near the ghost town of Gothic today.
I wrote the first two chapters of the novel and it wasn’t going well. It was a contemporary story, modern times. I moved on to something else. Then sitting in a session at a writer’s conference, someone said something about wanting to see more weird westerns. The muse struck and I changed the time period, but not the character. The story flowed. That’s when I picked up the history books.

6. If you were offered to witness a supernatural manifestation, travel back in time, or take a ride in a UFO, what would you choose?

I’m assuming they options would all be spectacular… so I’ll go with a supernatural manifestation.

Visit Joel Q. Aaron online:  


The Color of Gothic

Release Date: August 24, 2016

Pre Order Kindle for only $.99

Convicted murderer, Jonathan Blair, conditionally trades his death sentence for a job as a court-appointed bounty hunter to bring in the members of his former gang—dead or alive. Now, only two weeks remain to find the last man—the man who killed his family. If he fails, the gallows await instead of a pardon.

Blair locates the gang member in the Rocky Mountain coal mining town of Gothic, along with a growing number of dead miners with bloodless neck wounds. The fearful townspeople turn to folklore to explain the gruesome slayings. Blair uncovers the truth behind the mysterious deaths. Demons.

An angel, seemingly more foe than friend, pushes him toward a never ending clash between good and evil. The town’s survival depends on Blair abandoning his chance of a pardon, and putting his trust in his pistols. But the thing that scares Blair the most, he and the demons have clashed before. And they’re eager for his tainted soul.


    Smashwords / Apple Kobo Nook

Monday, August 15, 2016



About the Author:

Em Shotwell is the author of Blackbird Summer (City Owl Press, 2016). She lives in South Louisiana with a husband who spoils her and two mini-superheroes who call her mom. Em think the most interesting characters are the ones who live on the sidelines, and that small towns often hide the biggest secrets. She is inspired by tall tales and local legends.

When she’s not writing about misfits and oddballs, Em enjoys spending time outdoors hiking, and debating Doctor Who facts with her obsessed ten-year-old.

1. What was the most challenging thing about writing BLACKBIRD SUMMER?

The cast of characters and their abilities (magic Gifts) is very vast in Blackbird Summer. The hardest part was keeping everyone straight and not contradicting myself or leaving gaping plot holes. I think I did a pretty good job. On the less technical side, the hardest part was just finding the time…but I think that may be the hardest part for every writer!

2. Are you a plotter or pantser?

Total and complete plotter. However, I do have to often adjust my course, meaning that sometimes I will get a wild hair that totally changes a character’s ARC. When this happens I take the time to think it through and write down what this means for the story as a whole. I have pretty bad ADD so I would never finish a project if I was a panster, lol.

3. Who did you trust to read your first draft?

NO ONE! Seriously- I was terrified to let anyone have a peek. Finally, I let my husband and a few friends read that first god-awful draft. They liked it and that gave me the confidence to take it seriously. I have always written stories and done free-lance work for magazines—but a book was another beast all together. I got over it, though, and now I don’t get nervous passing around early drafts.

4. What do you like the most about living in Louisiana?

Hands down, no contest, the food. I may be partial, but I think we have the best food in the country. It is such a melting pot of Cajun, creole, and southern home-style cooking that it is hard not to pig out all the time.

5. What is the most interesting animal you’ve ever met on a hike?

I don’t know if this counts as a hike, but my mother in law has an area behind her house with a pond. One time we were fishing and my hubs caught a baby alligator (on accident). He and my father in law took it to a swamp several miles away and released it.

6. Are you a gypsy or homebody?

Complete gypsy. I’d move tomorrow if I had the opportunity. I get it honest from my Dad. I went to 11 different schools between 5th grade and my senior year.

7. What is the most mysterious place you’ve ever visited?

Hmm. I guess that depends. I have been to the old cemeteries in New Orleans, and as a kid with my Grandma I visited some really neat markets, churches, and old buildings in Mexico City. However, I think the most mysterious place was found by chance on a stretch of road on the way to Galveston Texas. My husband and I stopped at this funky little “antique shop.” (I use the quotes bc the place was pretty sketchy). We got out and walked around and I broke out in chills and my stomach immediately twisted into knots. I don’t know what was up with that place but it gave off bad vibes. When we were back in the car, my husband turned to me and asked “Did that place give you a weird feeling?” It was bizarre.

8. If you could spend this afternoon anywhere in the world, where would it be?

On a beach with my family. I am pretty easy to please. There are a lot of places that I would love to visit (ummm…like everywhere) but I am happiest in the sand surrounded by the ppl I love. But since I get to answer however I want—let’s add a babysitter to this scenario so I can relax, lol.

9. How would you describe your favorite perfume?

My favorite perfume isn’t an expensive brand. It is called “beach” by Bobbi Brown. It smells like sun screen and summertime.

Visit Em Shotwell online: Twitter / Facebook / Amazon / Goodreads / Instagram / Pinterest


When people fear the unknown, being Gifted is a Curse…

In the cornerstone of the rural south, Brooklyn, Mississippi, no one dares make eye contact with the strange Caibre family. Until the rewards are worth the cost. The townsfolk come, cash in hand, always at night, to pay for services only a Gifted can provide.

No matter the Gifts prevalent in her family, at twenty-one, Tallulah is expected to follow the path laid out for her: marriage, babies, and helping her mama teach the family home school program. She’s resigned to live the quiet life and stay out of trouble…until she meets Logan.

An outsider and all around rebel, Logan doesn’t care about her family’s reputation. Yet after a tragic loss wreaks havoc on the crumbling relationship between the Caibres and the townsfolk, Tallulah must decide if love and freedom are worth risking everything.

Read Blackbird Summer:

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In this excerpt, Tallulah meets Logan for the first time. She had noticed him earlier in the diner where the scene takes place—but he had in earbuds and had his back to her. This was right before Myrtle, the diner owner and town busy-body, had torn her apart with terrible accusations. If you like this excerpt and want to read about their first encounter from Logan’s perspective, CLICK HERE to get a free copy of my short story, THE CHANS.

Before I could talk myself out of the whole thing, I shoved open the door and marched in.

“Myrtle I just need to…” I started, my eyes trained on my sneakers.

My heartbeat filled my ears and I dried my palms on my jean shorts.

“I just want to apologize.” I said to the floor, scared that if I looked up I would lose my nerve.

“She’s in the back,” said the deep voice from earlier.

I jerked my gaze upward. Crap. I had been in such a hurry, I hadn’t thought about the other customer. Or even Loretta, who I knew would love to see me squirm.

The man from the booth was standing by the counter near the front of the diner.

I clenched my mouth shut, embarrassed at the thought of what this man might have heard, and scared that if I talked that I would only make it worse.

The holes in my plan now stood out in my mind, gaping wide and taunting me with how dumb the entire idea had been. Things could not get any worse.

“Are you ok?” The stranger asked.

I was wrong.

The back of my neck prickled, the way it always did whenever my face decided it was a good time to turn scarlet. Something too strong to be called butterflies stirred in my stomach—it was how I imagined stage fright must feel. Both exciting and terrifying.

I breathed deep.

He was tall. As a girl who is 5’9”, I always noticed height. He had to be at least 6’2”. And slim, but not skinny, built with the long muscles of an athlete. The dark hair that had been tucked behind his ears, now hung lose around a wide face that was decorated with high cheekbones, and the kind of full lips that made women jealous.

All of these things made him gorgeous, but his eyes made him breathtaking. They were large, almond shaped, and the color of moss. Green, but not magic green, and they stood out against his tan skin. I had seen good looking men, but this man was startling. And he definitely had to be from out of town. In a place the size of Brooklyn, you learn most everyone’s faces, even if you don’t personally know them, and I was certain that I had never seen this man before. I would remember a face like that.

And he had just said something, while I was staring at him. Dangit.

“Excuse me?” I asked.

“I said that you shouldn’t apologize to her. She was rude to you. You have nothing to be sorry for.” His lips parted, showing white, straight teeth that wouldn’t have been out of place in a toothpaste ad.

Of course his smile would be as beautiful as he is. I touched my tangled pony tail, and for the first time in my life, I wished I had listened to Delia and actually fixed my hair and changed clothes before coming into town.

But he had spoken to me. That meant I had to answer. I tried to think, but every word in my vocabulary decided to vanish, leaving me mute. Mute and homely, a winning combination, I thought.

I shook my head. Good. At least I could move.

“I didn’t mean to eavesdrop, but that whole bit about the dude with green eyes? I mean come on. I have green eyes and I am not gay. I mean, there isn’t anything wrong with being gay, but I’m not. And I am not related to you either. At least I hope I’m not. What I am saying is that, I am sure your family is lovely, it’s just that, I can’t be related to you,” he paused, and nervously rubbed the back of his neck. “I mean. I know I’m not because I am not even from here. What was all that about anyway? Green eyes and your people?”

I was stupid in my silence, but his rambling was somehow adorable.

“You heard that?” I croaked.

My family’s freakiness had been on full display. And then there were those disgusting threats. Myrtle’s accusations churned in my stomach, curdling and sour like old milk. The feeling clashed against the butterflies and their eager fear, and suddenly I felt ill. I clamped my mouth shut and took a deep breath through my nose, as a cold sweat prickled across my upper lip. Throwing up would have been bad, but throwing up in front of this man, who was a million times better looking than me, and had just heard from the most horrible source on the planet about how weird I was, would be a whole new kind of terrible.

I could not be the story about that time that he met this nut-case girl in po-dunk Mississippi and she threw up all over his shoes.

Oh God. Calm down, Tallulah.

“You were explaining about your family to her. She was being a real asshole. This place is crazy. That one lady yells at you, and that other girl acts offended because I didn’t want to, I don’t know, take her in the back room. I guess here you get dinner and a show.”

He stuck out his hand, and smiled.

“I’m Logan, by the way,” he said.

I stared, open-mouthed, at the hand in front of me. Every part of me wanted to grab that hand and twine my fingers through his and keep them there forever.

Instead, I stood stock-still.

Something about him pulled at me, and I wondered if he felt it, too: this beautiful trance that wouldn’t let me turn and leave, but terrified me too much to simply reach out and shake his hand.

My heart pounded out the seconds as they lumbered by.

“This is the part where you tell me your name,” he said, dropping his hand to his side.

He stared into my eyes and his expression turned serious. “That’s so strange. I know that we couldn’t have, but have we met before? I know it’s impossible, because I’d never forget those eyes…but it feels like I know you. Like I’ve always known you.”