Jeff & Will kick off this week talking about their recent appearance on the Tea & Strumpets podcast where they talked about Cat Sebastian’s The Soldier’s Scoundrel. They also have an installment of Romance Revisited.

Jeff talks about his musical theater binge that included the Broadway revival of West Side Story, the Alanis Morissette musical Jagged Little Pill and a third visit to Dear Evan Hansen. Will reviews Mischief & Mayhem by Jaxon Knight.

Coastal Magic Featured Author Meghan Maslow joins us to talk about the third book in her Starfig Investigations series and also shares what’s still to come. She also discusses what she’s looking forward to at Coastal Magic this year.

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Show Notes

Here are the things we talk about in this episode. Please note, these links include affiliate links for which we may make a small commission at no extra cost to you should you make a purchase.

Jump to Reviews

Interview Transcript – Meghan Maslow

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Jeff: Welcome Megan back to the podcast. It’s so good to have you here.

Meghan: Thank you. So good to be back.

Jeff: Looking forward to seeing you in just a few weeks at Coastal Magic too.

Meghan: I know. I can’t wait. First of all, warm weather and then great people, great books. It’s going to be amazing. And the beach beach. Yes.

Jeff: So you’re gearing up right now for book three in your “Starfig Investigation” series. Tell everybody what that series is about.

Meghan: “Starfig” is kind of an odd series in that when people say, so what genre is it? I’m like, well, it’s comic and it’s fantasy romance. And it’s got a PI for the main person though. So it draws on a little of everything. It’s really, I call it – mischief, magic and murder.

It’s got all those elements. You’re going to have dead bodies, you’re going to have comedy, and you’re going to have some magic thrown in. and it’s really meant to be adventuresome and lighthearted but yet have some real issues in it too. So it’s a fun series to write.

Jeff: When you say real issues, what are we, what are we looking at there?

Meghan: Well, you know, the backstory for Quinn, who’s the main love interest for Twig Starfig is, you know, he’s a human who’s in a realm that they don’t allow humans without magic and he doesn’t have magic. And so he’s basically brought in as a slave. And the first book is really about his journey, also Twig’s journey together . They call him an indentured servant, but in reality, he has no rights. And, you know, in Twig, having to make some pretty hard decisions about the path his life is going and about stepping in for Quinn – and also Quinn, being able to advocate for himself. So it, even though it is very much, there’s this lighthearted element to it, there’s some hard backstory and you’re not seeing it.

I’m not showing it on the page, but you know, it’s there. And there’s a lot of that. There’s a lot of hierarchy. These are not egalitarian societies and you see that, but you see it in a way that is lighthearted and funny at the same time. And you see, you see hope.

Cause I like to write about hope and the idea that things can change.

Jeff: It sounds like it must’ve been fun to build the world as you prepared to write.

Meghan: So I’m a pantser, so I didn’t actually know what the world looked like until I started writing it. What I do is I have, I use Scrivener as my playbook for after the fact.

And so what I, so once I wrote the first book, I started putting stuff in like, Oh, and this happened and this happened. Oh, I guess, well, this is something for this part of the world. And I do that with each book I write. I have to add in elements. So, then going forward, note those elements are there.

It was kind of a surprise for me, but I figured if I’m surprised, the reader will be surprised.

Jeff: And I’ve heard other writers, you know, go down that path too. Even with mysteries, for example, like if I don’t know who the killer is yet, then my reader’s not going to figure it out either.

Meghan: Right. Well that’s how I do it. And you know, I’m trying to learn to be a little bit more of a plotter, at least with certain spots so that I can keep me moving forward at times. Cause sometimes I write myself into a corner and I’m like, well what do I do now? You know what? I was like, I don’t have a plan.

So I am working a little bit on taking pieces and trying to plot a little bit, but really I’m a pantser at heart, so yeah, the world building was interesting that way because it was like, Oh, I would realize something part way through and be like, well, this is how this works, and there are different pieces that I wasn’t sure how they worked until the second book or the now the third book that suddenly things that I put in and didn’t think much about.

Now I understand why.

Jeff: I’ve hit a point where it’s like, Oh, wish I hadn’t had done that.

Meghan: Yeah, I think, but I think even when you plot, I think there’s probably a few of those moments where you get further into a series where you go, Oh, it would’ve been so much more useful if I’d done this. You know? And there are a few of those moments for sure, where I’ve felt like, Oh, cause you know what?

I would’ve done. I haven’t had too many of those. So I’ve been fairly fortunate. I like the world I’ve created, I like the guys I’ve created. I liked the sidekicks and the people who come out and, you know, I’m pretty happy with it as a whole.

Jeff: And tell us , what can readers expect in the new book “His Fairy Share?”

Meghan: Okay. So the first book is basically the classic fantasy trope, but it takes everything and makes fun of it and kind of turns it on its head in a very loving way. Cause I do, I love fantasy, but there are tropes just like there are in romance.

The second one follows much more of a PI trope. So it’s the case that they get and they have to go on and they’re trying to solve this case. The third one though is where Quinn, because of his past, really has to go home and deal with it. And part of him that, you know, he’s kind of, he’s established this life that he really loves.

And so part of him is like, well how bad can it be to go home and do this? And they always ask that, well, how bad can it be? And you know, as soon as one of them says that, it’s going to be really, really bad. That’s one of those things I love to use… like what could possibly go wrong? Everything goes wrong. And so this is the book about that. And it’s really, the other two books are told from Twig Starfig’s perspective only. So you know, Quinn and you get to know him as the love interest of Twig. But this is his book. And this is the reason it’s taken me so long to write it, because Twig is a very easy character.

He’s half dragon, half fairy. He’s, he’s a lot of ID. You know he doesn’t sit there and angst over a decision. He makes, he makes a decision. He doesn’t feel a lot of guilt or other things. He’s very much the dragon. And he’s like, well, and you need to be, and you know, there you go. Quinn is very human and he has undergone some trauma.

And so he, you know, he has a much more complex, let’s say, way of looking at the world. And so that’s a much harder voice to write, and especially to keep it in the same vein where it doesn’t get so bogged down. Because even though he has had this, these things happen, these stories are fun.

I mean, they’re meant to be funny. They aren’t meant to be like, Oh my God, you know, they really are meant to be quite humorous. And so I had to then figure out, well, how is he grappling with this very hard thing? And yet there’s still going to be these elements of humor in it, even as he takes on his past.

So it’s been a much more challenging book for me to write than the other two. I don’t know what the final tally’s going to be, but it’s probably going to be about 120,000 words. And just to give you a sense of, my last one was 100,000. So, you know, it’s significantly. Longer, but it really needed the space.

I just finished. I have about three or four paragraphs left before I can really learn it, right. The end on it. And I, I’m going to be so happy, but I’ve already decided, like you go to this kind of cycle with your books, like, Oh my God, I hate this.

Oh my God, everyone’s going to hate this book. To kind of coming back around and seeing what you have. I think I’m, I think this is one of, it’s going to be one that I feel very proud of in the end.

Jeff: And that’s always the best feeling when you pivot back around that corner to like, Hey,

Meghan: this, this book,

Jeff: Do you have a release date in mind yet as you’re still working to put the final paragraphs in?

Meghan: Every time I try to give one, I’m so far off that it’s been pathetic, but I am really almost done with this. If I’m able to get it together, what I’ll try to do is print a few copies for Coastal.

But I won’t have the official release date until probably right after.

Jeff: Okay. So yeah, the book probably in March, but those going to Coastal might get a little sneak peak.

Meghan: I’m crossing my fingers there. We’ll see. You know, I’m always amazed when someone says like, they’ll write on Facebook. I finished the book, I just finished the book today, the first draft, edit, snacks, and like three days later they’re like, okay, so the release dates next week I’ve finished with the edits and I’m like, Oh my God, what is your first draft look like? Cause my first draft is not able to be that thing.

Jeff: Me either. My need to least another month. Usually.

Meghan: I know. Well that’s the thing. So, but this one I’m going to really, it’s the only thing I’m focusing on right now. So once I’m done with it, it goes out to, I have a whole series of editors who look at it for different areas and then I’ll also be going over it.

So I’m hoping, but you know, the real thing is Amazon and how fast, I don’t be willing to print copies and send them for me.

Jeff: Right. So we’ll see. Costal may have books otherwise, March.

Meghan: Otherwise March.

Jeff: What more do you have planned for “Starfig” going forward?

Meghan: So, so far in my head I have eight books, which is funny for a pantser cause you think I wouldn’t know that.

Jeff: Well, I was going to ask how that connects to being a pantser.

Meghan: Once you start something as a pantser. Threads start taking off, and you start just following them. But you realize they actually, that’s the weird thing about being a pantser is that you really actually have direction.

You just don’t know what it is when you start, but as you go along, you really start to see it come together. I know that book four, I’ve already started, I’ve already written part of, cause again, and back in Twig’s voice super easy for me. I get him.

It’s going to be his book. Five is probably actually going to be Bill’s story, which is his side character who everyone keeps writing me about. Bill is going to get a story. Yes, he’s going to get a story, book six, still go back to Twig. Seven I’m not going to say yet cause I’m, I’ve got some ideas for, and then eight will probably be the final in there.

I had no clue other than that, it’ll be in Twig’s voice. I don’t know what that one’s about yet. The threads are not there yet for that one, but they are through book five at least.

Jeff: So you mentioned, you know, this series essentially came from your love of fantasy. What authors or books like heavily influenced you as you started to create Starfig?

Meghan: So the person who is absolutely most influential with Robert Asprin and his “Myth Adventures” series. Mine are based on puns too. So he’ll have like “Myth Conceptions.” Well, mine is, you know, “By Fairy Means or Foul”, which is by fair means or foul, you know, “Be Fairy Game,” be fair game.

And this one, “His Fairy Share,” well it’s his fair share. And so, you know, all of them are plays on words. Robert Asprin was also very tongue in cheek with fantasy. He understood that it’s a lovely genre to write in, but you can have some fun with it. You don’t have to have everything just so, or you can, but you can make fun of it while doing it.

For example, Quinn is the first wizard in a thousand years. That’s such a trope in fantasy, that the wizard of emerges and all of this right. And, and so things like that where I could play with it. Of course it doesn’t ever go as the way you expect it to be. Robert Asprin’s, my big one, I used to read a lot of Piers Anthony too, who’s also humorous, but I also was hugely impacted by Anne McCaffrey.

I loved a Madeleine L’Engle’s work. “A Wrinkle in Time” was like, wow, they could have a female protagonist as was the “Pern” series it was like, wow, there can be a female protagonist. That was great as well. But yeah, but this one is, it’s really an homage and a love letter to Robert Asprin probably if I had to pick one person.

Jeff: What else do you have going on in 2020, more Starfig with four? Are you going to look at some other other works?

Meghan: Usually I put out about, from the “Starfig” ones, I put out about one a year and I didn’t put one out last year, so I will get to this year.

to make that out. cause they’ve been very patient considering that. I’ll do that for sure. I’ll try to get book four out. I also have a short story that’s between book three and four that I’m gonna do my best to get out this year. I have a couple other ideas that are kind of, again, comic fantasy, more paranormal, I guess I’ve called them, two of them.

So we’ll see where those go this year. I’m also talking to a person who in, m/m. Who I really adore, and we’re talking about possibly doing a collaboration. And that one would, if we do, would be more… it would still have the murder for sure. I have to have dead bodies. They just show up.

So this one would have, this would be probably a three book series starting. you know, and it’d be more of a murder, kind of a romantic suspense, I guess you’d call it. But we’ll have to see if that works out. And you know, if we’re compatible and all of that, cause we just don’t quite know yet.

But we’re going to talk about it at least. So I’m excited about that cause I’ve never collaborated with an author before in that way.

Jeff: I was going to ask if you, if you’ve done collaboration, so that I’d be interested to hear how that goes if you move forward with it. I find collaborating to be fascinating and always talking about it as fascinating cause everybody approaches it differently.

Meghan: Yeah. Well that’s the thing. And I’ve talked to him about it a bit and you know, I’m a pantser, so I’d probably drive him crazy. But that goes, you never know. And we’ll see if our styles are quite different.

But that’s kind of what I liked about us, is that we kind of mesh in an interesting way, possibly. So we’ll see. Well can’t

Jeff: wait to see how that comes about because I also love a good romantic suspense.

Meghan: I do too. So, and I haven’t, I haven’t written in one of those in a long time.

Jeff: So you’re headed to the beach, as we mentioned at the top of the interview.

You went to Coastal last year as a reader. What did you think of the weekend and how would you describe it to others who might be headed there as a reader?

Meghan: You know, I loved it. I really did. In part because the focus has so much more on the fantasy elements. I mean, not everyone’s a fantasy writer by a long stretch, but the majority have at least written fantasy, you know, whether it’s paranormal, urban fantasy, fantasy, and all of it has to do with romance.

And then you get the M/F crowd and you get the M/M crowd. And so you meet a lot of new authors, but also readers. A lot of the M/F readers had said, sure, I’ll try one. You know, I’ll try and, m/m, why not? You know? And we’ve ended up with a lot of new m/m readers that way.

So I think it’s been a great, and it’s smaller than something like GRL. The pace is a lot more relaxed. And so I really, I mean, I liked going as I did that with GRL the first time too, cause I want to see what the pacing was like and what was expected. But Coastal, I haven’t. I just had such a good time.

And there’s the beach. I mean, there’s the beach.

Jeff: Literally right outside your door.

Meghan: Yeah. So literally you’d get a cup of coffee. We know like, inbetween panels. I think I’m going to go for a walk on the beach. So that was great.

Jeff: What was your favorite part from last year as you were there? You know, getting to take it in as the reader?

Meghan: You know, there’s a bunch of things. I actually really liked the comedy panel last year. It had Lucy Lennox on it. It had, Charlie Cochet on it and it was just, it was really a fun panel. They bantered well and they, and they really talked about why comedy and, and you know of course that’s my bread and butter too. It’s for whatever reason I can to, it’s not that I can’t write a serious piece, I can, but I, I migrate toward comedy.

I, for me, that’s, you know, that’s my peanut butter and jelly sandwich. It’s funny because, you know, for some people, suspense comes easily or, or the internal angst that’s, I don’t do angst well, it’s not my strength. I can come up with something, a funny situation, and something can go terribly wrong.

I can always make something go terribly wrong.

Jeff: How bad can it get?

And you know, as you’re putting on the author hat this year, what are you looking forward to as you move into that role at Coastal?

Meghan: I don’t know quite, I mean, there’s going to be a lot of new things this year. They’re doing a fun ice cream social I’m participating in. There’s going to be a group of us who do basically paranormal cards against humanity and we’re making our cards. So that should be really fun. And, you know, I really, I love seeing the m/m crowd who comes because I know that, I think I know almost every last one of them.

That’s really always great cause it’s seeing family at that point. I mean there’s just a lot of great, great engagement that goes on there. And I’m an extrovert. So for me it’s not so much the things as just getting a chance to spend time with people.

Jeff: Well, we’re definitely looking forward to seeing you there in just a month.

Meghan: What are you looking forward to?

Jeff: You know, last year was our first as well, and I really liked that smaller aspect. Yeah, cause GRL it’s only a few hundred people, but it can feel big and like hustle and bustle and I got to relax more at Coastal. I could appreciate sitting in on a panel. I could appreciate just having a moment, having a conversation in the hall without feeling like I had to get somewhere quickly for the next thing.

That more relaxed atmosphere I really liked, and getting to meet authors who I don’t see ever, because you know that crisscross and that networking with authors who are not solely m/m focused. Yeah.

Meghan: No, that’s really nice too. I do enjoy it. Like I said, I enjoy meeting new people anyway. Yeah. So that’s, that’s a great opportunity.

I think you just hit it. I mean, I think for people who are really overwhelmed at the idea of something like GRL, Coastal is a great place to start and continue because it is so relaxed and you don’t feel overwhelmed. And there’s just times at GRL where I feel I love it. I mean, I absolutely adore it.

That’s, you know, that’s my conference every year. But I will say that it is, you know, you can’t see everyone. I’ll be like, hi Jeff, how are you? So let me give you a hug. It’s great to see you. And that’s maybe be our whole exchange that whole weekend, you know, because there’s so much going on there and I feel like at Coastal, it’s so much easier to be like, you’re going to grab a cup of coffee.

Like, let’s sit down and, you know, can we have a talk? Hey, which panel are you going to next? Let’s go sit together. You know? It’s just so much more where I get that engagement with the people. And, and I do really love that.

Jeff: And I think Coastal for people who are perhaps hesitating to go to an event Coastal could be a good gateway.

Cause it’s like, Oh, I handled that now. Maybe GRL or maybe, you know, BookLovers or maybe whatever that other thing is.

Meghan: And Jen and her crew are great. I mean, they really try to make everyone comfortable and have a great time. I mean, they go above and beyond, so as do the organizers for GRL.

But you know, I mean, I just, I really appreciate Jen and I, she does such good work.

Jeff: So how can people keep up with you online? Keep up with when “His Fairy Share” comes out and everything else you’re looking at for 2020?

Meghan: Well, the easiest way is either through my website, which is just

Or they can, you know, find me on Facebook. I actually hadn’t started a Facebook group with the launch of this book. So many people that are like, why aren’t you doing a Facebook group? Because you have to be there every single day trying to, you know, not be on Facebook quite as much. I am going to actually launch my group as long with it, but for now, you know, I just have a regular Facebook account that people can find me easily.

I try not to be on Twitter.

Jeff: That’s a good mindset to be in. Stay away from Twitter cause it can be a lot.

So we will link up to all those things in the show notes so that people can easily get to them and to your books and look forward to seeing you at coastal next month.

Meghan: Yes. I am so excited for this. It’ll be great to see you guys, and like I said, we should sit down and have a cup of coffee.

Jeff: Absolutely. Well, thank you so much for being

Meghan: here. Hey, no problem. And thanks for having me again.

Book Reviews

Here’s the text of this week’s reviews:

Mischief and Mayhem by Jaxon Knight. Reviewed by Will.
I’d like to quickly talk about something I recently read. It’s “Mischief and Mayhem” by Jaxon Knight, and it’s the second book in the “Fairyland Romance” series. This book features Cody, a security guard in the enchanted forest section of the Fairyland theme park and we met him in the very first book “Rival Princes.”

The beginning of this story finds Cody in a tough spot. He keeps trying again and again to ride the park’s newest roller coaster, Spaceship Mayhem. He can’t seem to make himself do it. Every time he gets close, he experiences extreme anxiety, tied to some posttraumatic stress from his time serving in the air force in Afghanistan. So, over and over, he tries to ride this coaster, and each time he makes a beeline for the chicken door.

One of the ride operators, Dean, notices this and one day he approaches Cody and sees if he can help. Now Dean is all sunshine and rainbows and unicorns. He’s like made out of pure glitter. Everyone loves him. because he’s just the most likable guy you could know. Probably the exact opposite of Cody who’s a little bit surly and withdrawn, a big bad brooding security type. So from this description alone, I think this probably ticks a lot of boxes for certain readers. It certainly did it for me.

From this very first meeting, Cody and Dean embark on a friendship, and even though they both find each other wildly attractive, they immediately focus on what they can’t offer one another. Cody unfortunately sees himself as sort of a damaged vet and Dean sees himself as sort of maybe a little too young and too flighty to have a real relationship with anyone significant. So they each automatically put the other in the friend zone. which in most cases, might annoy me because it’s a misunderstanding that could easily be cleared up with the simplest of conversations. But the fact that they are in the friend zone actually gives them time to become genuine friends. I think that is the heartbeat of this particular book, the genuine friendship that eventually leads to love.

As they spend more and more time together, Dean gets it in his head that he is going to help Cody conquer his fears and get him on this roller coaster. So he reads up on immersion therapy. So they stand outside the coaster and watch the cars go by, one after another. People are screaming and having a great time and Dean is like, “see, they’re having fun.” And Cody’s like, “I don’t think so.” They eventually decide they’ll ride the coaster together. Cody and Dean, they’re going to hold hands and be there for one another.

Cody, to his credit, almost manages to do it, but at the last second, he realizes he can’t. He gets out of the car and makes a beeline for the entrance of the park and keeps on going. He goes to a local bar and ends up getting very drunk because he’s genuinely humiliated. He did not want to do that in front of this guy that he genuinely likes and wants to impress.

Unfortunately, he gets messy drunk and has to call Dean to come pick him up. Dean takes him back to his place, and gives him a glass of water, some aspirin and helps him sleep it off. Some wonderful, hurt/comfort themes going on there. I think that’s one of the other things that I’ve found really charming about this story is that Dean and Cody are, in their own ways, searching for not only friendship, but a certain kind of connection and a certain need to take care of someone. That’s what they find in one another.

So Dean assures Cody that he doesn’t think less of him for chickening out at the last second, and then invites him to a family barbecue. Cody reluctantly agrees and he realizes that connecting with people isn’t such a horrible, bad thing. He had put up these walls after he’s returned home from Afghanistan and he’s realizing that, letting down some of those walls and experiencing life isn’t really such a bad thing after all.

So there’s a bit of a dance between Dean and Cody. They kind of flirt ever closer to that line that demarcates the friend zone to boyfriend zone. Eventually they get there and there is a really hilarious and strange fight they have when Dean amusingly brings up the concept of marriage. Eventually they do manage to work things out and they live happily ever after, just like a Fairyland romance movie.

The question still remains though: did Cody ever manage to ride that coaster? This is something I asked myself when I was about halfway through the book and there’s really like one of two ways that this story could go. Either Cody is going to conquer his fears and ride Spaceship Mayhem. Or, he’s going to realize that he doesn’t have to prove anything to anybody, and he doesn’t have to ride it at all because he’s got the love and support of the man that he loves.

I’m not going to tell you what the actual outcome was. (See, I don’t give everything away in my reviews.)

I really liked Cody and Dean’s story. I highly recommend if you’re looking for a sweet romance in a unique setting that you give Mischief and Mayhem” a try.