Inside the mind of JM Bray

I’m feeling chuffed to welcome the charismatic and talented JM Bray to my website today. JM is penning the Shroud trilogy and I wanted to let readers know about the first novel in the series, Tearing the Shroud, before next month’s launch of Mending the Shroud.

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~~~ FREE eCOPY up for GRABS ~~~

Make sure you read to the end of this Q&A for your chance to win a free eCopy of Tearing the Shroud.

Book 1Cheryse: You’ve set Tearing the Shroud in 1984? Why did you choose that year?

JM: I went to college in San Diego in the ‘80s so I know the area, era, and atmosphere. We live in such an instant society now and I wanted communication to be more difficult. 1984 puts us before cellphones or the internet, helping achieve that. It was a boom era, especially in Southern California, and knew that would be important in the Shroud Trilogy overall.

Cheryse: Do you write yourself or your friends/family members into your books?

JM: To some extent, yes. Flea and Knife are actual people, friends from college. They allowed me to take who they were and exaggerate it…yes I asked them in advance. I dedicated both Tearing the Shroud and Mending the Shroud to my wife, Kari and that’s not just because she put up with my writing. Seeing her bravely face life over the last twenty-nine years together taught me about heroines and what real romance means.

Cheryse: Is there a stigma attached to a man writing books with strong romantic elements. How do you deal with it?

JM: This is a great question! Thankfully I haven’t faced a stigma, but have been well received and accepted by the community. As a guy, how I approach a romantic scene may not be what’s expected. It’s not the ogling factor, I’ve read plenty of women authors who have female characters drooling over the guys bulging whatever. It’s that when I’m being romantic, personally, I do it with my from a guys standpoint. When I write…yep…I still have the same standpoint and that isn’t always what readers have come to expect. I, personally, see it as a positive.

Something that does worry me somewhat is this: All of us are working away, striving to find a place in the market and sometimes a guy gets questioned about his take on romance…simply for being a guy. True, the male author didn’t ask the question, and he wants his name out there as much as the next person, but that doesn’t make it any easier for folks trying to find a way to stand out in a crowded market. To help with this, I try to not rely on my “man-card”, but simply write the best I’m able and support the writing community all I can.

Cheryse: That’s a fabulous answer, JM. Okay, my next question is that you’re eighteen again. What’s your advice to eighteen-year-old you?

Go deep-sea fishing with Uncle Buck! Yeah, I know, you’re scratching your head, so let me explain. My Uncle Buck ran fishing charters and offered to take me on a two week all expenses trip to the Sea of Cortez. I was eighteen, just started a new job and chose not to go. I was trying to be responsible.

The advice boils down to this:

Don’t take life so seriously — AND — Take life more seriously.

Many times, I chose the wrong one at the wrong time. Recognizing what needs serious attention and what doesn’t matter at all is a tough skill to develop.

Cheryse, if you were trapped on a desert island, what three things do you wish you came armed with? My wife, Monica Bellucci, and a permission slip.

How can anyone argue with that? Thanks, JM, for visiting my website. Best of luck with next month’s launch of Mending the Shroud, and the continuing success of the Shroud trilogy. 

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For your chance to win a copy of Tearing the Shroud, email cheryse (at) quietdawn (dot) org with the words “Sharing the Shroud Trilogy” in the subject header. Good luck, everyone, especially all those gamers from 1984 :)


About JM Bray:

JM Bray lives in Southern California with his college sweetheart and their two dogs. After a lifetime together, they are happier than the moment they met. When not writing or working his ‘day job’, JM loves to cook, play the guitar and travel with his wife. Every chance he gets, he races an old Porsche named Tuffy at tracks in the southwest.

Book 2Blurb to Tearing the Shroud:

Fall in love, be possessed, hunt a sorcerer and save the world – and Vincent thought calculus was tough.

1984 – Vincent expected college to be about freedom and girlos, but then the nightmares of sorcery, monsters and other worlds began. Not even the surprising attention from his dream girl, Julie, could shake them.

Before he’s even nailed his second date with Julie, he’s possessed by Coleman, a warrior from another realm. Coleman is hell bent on defeating the monstrous Kafla who threatens to tear into Vincent’s reality, changing both his and Coleman’s worlds forever. They have one chance to stop them: Vincent must allow Coleman to share his body and wage war against the sorcerer.

Now it’s up to them, the women they love and Vincent’s rag-tag bunch of role-playing and gaming friends to save the world, or see 1984 descent into the apocalypse.

Buy links:  Amazon       |        iTunes       |        Kobo       |        EscapePublishing

Author links: Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook Author Page  |  Facebook Connect Page  |  Pinterest

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Inside the mind of Danielle Belwater

Rising YA paranormal romance author Danielle Belwater published her debut novel, Of Fire and Roses, in February this year. Fellow What If writer Reece McPherson chats to her about life, the universe and desert islands…

Danielle Belwater headshot

Reece: You’re trapped on a desert island. What three things do you wish you came armed with?

Dani & nespressoDanielle: That’s a tough one! Can I have 4? Or can I combine them? My island survival kit would comprise of, first and foremost, my nespresso machine (this is a magical island where electrical items work without being plugged in), my laptop computer and my Paperblanks notebooks with a box of Pilot VBall BG05 Gel pens. (I know that’s more than three but it’s too hard!)


Reece: You’re a published author with a young family. How do you manage it all? How do you make your books your priority amongst everything else?

Danielle: This has been one of the most difficult obstacles I’ve had to overcome. When I first started writing Of Fire & Roses, it completely took over my life. Every spare second I had was devoted to penning my manuscript. I would find myself angry at anything that took time away from my writing, including my family. I had it the wrong way round.

I have had to let the urgency go and put my family first. Whatever writing time I get after that is a bonus.  I have made my peace with that and it has made life a lot less stressful.

Reece: How did you come to write speculative fiction? What attracted you to the genre?

Danielle: I have always had a fascination with the paranormal since my brother used to frighten me with ghost stories when I was five. Growing up and still today, my main coping mechanism when life gets a bit much, I find myself looking for a book or movie that I can escape into, totally immerse myself in another universe for a short time. I am just as at home amongst ghosts, witches and the supernatural as I am sitting in my lounge room.

Reece: What do you love most about being published?

Danielle: What’s not to love? I think it’s a mix of things. Being able to pick up a book in my hands and say I wrote that, I really wrote that. There is such a sense of self accomplishment that comes with that, even more so when I get a good review. To know that words I have written have entertained someone, even for a little while, is truly humbling.

Reece: What’s your advice for young men and woman of the future?

Danielle: Don’t lose sight of your goals. As you get older, life can sometimes get in the way and it is very easy to get sidetracked on a different path. You look up 40 years later and realize that you aren’t where you had expected to be or not achieved goals that were so important to you when you were younger.

Don’t let obstacles stop you. Obstacles are there to teach you how to deal with life and it is sometimes easier to quit than find a way around it. Work and work hard and you can achieve anything.

Reece: Thanks, Danielle, for sharing your time with Cheryse’s readers.

Danielle: My pleasure, Reece :)

About Danielle:

Danielle Belwater adores the concept of true love and thoroughly believes everyone has their Prince Charming or Snow White out there somewhere, even if they have to fight demons, ghosts and wizards to find it.

She lives in rural South Australia with her husband, young daughters and way too many animals to mention. She spends most of her time dreaming up characters, stories, ghostly tales, and watching Firefly re-runs.  She also cooks the odd meal for her family to avoid them looking like skeletons at official author functions!

Blurb to Of Fire & Roses:

Of Fire & RosesNate West’s mother is dead, his dad a lost cause. Anger has become a way of life, until he meets and falls in love with Cora Ewell. But Cora has a secret, one that could kill them both.

Nate moves from the big city to a small, forest town with his father after his mother’s tragic death. Alone and angry, Nate feels even more isolated by his father’s inability to communicate and relate to his only son in the wake of their loss.

Nate takes to the forest in an attempt to find some peace, but instead finds a beautiful girl with flaming red hair.  But before he can speak with her, she vanishes. Unsure if the girl is a vision or real he searches desperately for her.

When Nate finally meets Cora, his world is turned upside down and inside out.

Dreams of his own death plague his sleep as old, dark magic, hidden for centuries, resurfaces and has its sights clearly set on Nate.

Buy links:  Evernight Teen  |  Amazon US  |  Amazon AUS  |  Barnes & Noble

Author Links:  Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Wattpad  |  Pinterest



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Writing will always be Heaven and Hell

Bundaberg Writers Club member Alina Bonaventura interviews Cheryse Durrant (that’s moi) in the lead-up to this year’s WriteFest:

 Alina: Your debut novel The Blood She Betrayed was published six months ago and has since been shortlisted in a national award and seen a second print run. How does it feel to be a published author?

Cheryse: There’s this old joke about a dead writer at the Pearly Gates where St Peter lets her choose between Heaven and Hell once she’s toured both establishments. It turns out that in both Heaven and Hell, the writers were sweating it out 24/7, working their fingers to the bone as they typed out their latest masterpiece – but in Heaven, they were getting published.  Getting a contract, seeing your first book in print and sipping champers at your book launch is incredibly exciting but what makes me happier is still the writing – shutting off from the rest of the world and sitting on the couch in my jammies and connecting with my characters. It’s great to receive fan mail but it doesn’t magically erase your everyday problems (earning an income and taking out the garbage). Worse, you’re juggling publishing deadlines, book promos, the day jobs and family. Being published is Heaven and Hell.


Alina: How did you set aside time to write The Blood She Betrayed while working ten-hour days in a full-time job?

Cheryse: I pulled a page out of fantasy author Louise Cusack’s book and woke at 4am every day so I could squeeze two hours of writing in before work. If you can only write a page a day, that routine will move mountains in helping you complete your manuscript and become a professional writer. I still fall off the band wagon all the time, but be kind to yourself. You’ll get more writing done if you reward yourself with honey, not caustic soda. Also:

  • Follow Margie Lawson’s strategy: divide your to do jobs into two lists. The important/urgent stuff goes on the Winner’s List. Everything else (great ideas, but not essential to your goals) goes on the Superstar List. Always execute your Winner’s List first. Only do the Superstar List if you have time (or you want a fun break). This helps keep your goals on track (and stops you feeling exhausted and like you haven’t achieved what you really need to).
  • Utilise the Pomodoro Technique,

A: What were your initial steps in getting published?

C: Do you mean when I was 17, 28 or 39? I’ve been writing stories since I was seven and I completed my first manuscript at 16. As a teen, I hunted out like-minded people, joined writing clubs and attended workshops/conferences (and I did a journalism degree). My journey wavered a lot because of my journalism career and life in general, but this advice remains the same:

  • Write lots and finish your manuscripts – practice is vital in getting your voice and story right.
  • Seek the advice and support of fellow writers – share your story with them, not family members or non-writers
  • Read lots (fiction, non-fiction and writing how-to)
  • Join the Queensland Writers Centre and a local writing club, and enrol in writing workshops and conferences (choose ones pertinent to your needs/genre). My top four are WriteFest, the RWA annual conference and the QWC’s Year of the Novel and Year of the Edit. If you write spec fic, you should also experience a con at least once in your lifetime.
  • Put your finished manuscript away for 6-12 months before sending to a publisher. I’m serious. You’ll see it with new eyes.
  • Study the markets and shortlist your top agents and/or publishers (RWA and other events like WriteFest are a fabulous way to pitch to publishers face-to-face)


A: How did you handle your first rejection?

  • Friends are your gold dust and true friends are your diamonds. Cry on their shoulders.
  • Have another story or MS still out there (either submitted into a competition or to another agent/publisher). This one publisher said no but the next might say yes.
  • Google famous authors’ rejection letters and/or read examples of bad writing on the Internet. Your writing’s already a lot better than some stuff out there.
  • Relax with a nice soak in the tub or a long walk along the beach. And drink lots of red wine J
  • Give yourself permission to be sad for a short time then get back on the horse.
  • I also have a ‘happiness’ file which includes beautiful images and inspirational quotes, as well as compliments and cards from readers (once upon a time, this was just critique letters from fellow writers – it’s grown over the past year).


Alina: How did your book end up being accepted by CDP?

Cheryse: The Blood She Betrayed had been languishing in an inbox at HarperCollins after it had been requested by an acquisitions editor 19 months earlier when I had the opportunity to pitch my book to Clan Destine Press Publisher Lindy Cameron at WriteFest two years ago. She flew to the Gold Coast where I was attending a writers conference later that year and offered me a three-book contract. I’d been selected to pitch to three editors and agents at that conference, but I accepted Lindy’s contract first. You just keep on going until you’re accepted.


A: What are your publishing highlights?

Cheryse: The many firsts: Seeing my first book cover, first Dymocks sales slip, first royalty cheque, first fan mail. It was extra special to share my first book launch with fellow CDP author and WriteFest sponsor Dean Anderson. He’s great company (even if he likes fishing). I was thrilled when my book was shortlisted in the ARR Awards – who would have thought that so many people had read and liked my book? Oh, and my fave memory of my Melbourne book tour was not the bookstores but sampling this fabulous chocolate pizza dessert with my Publisher at L’Uccellino, Yarraville. Being taken to lunch by your Publisher is pretty awesome.


Alina: What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt?

Cheryse: I’m a Virgo and yearn for perfection but life’s not perfect and neither is your first book. Suck it up. Unless you self-publish, your Editor/Publisher will change things before your book is published. I didn’t even get to see the final proof of The Blood She Betrayed before it went to press, but no matter the bumps and thumps, I am published and many people have bought and loved my book. Love life, no matter its imperfections, and keep believing in yourself and what you’re doing. Everything else – just suck it up.


Alina: What’s your worst publishing experience?

Cheryse: When I returned to Bundy from my author tours in Queensland and Victoria, there was so much to catch up on. I felt overwhelmed. Every Author (and writer) needs a Degree in Juggling – and Patience – and Knowing When To Rest.


Alina: How do you handle the success and the juggling act?

Cheryse: Being an Author can be exhausting. As well as family, friends and day job, you need to make time for your social media presence and future Publisher deadlines. There are still radio interviews from last year that I haven’t uploaded to my website and I forgot to even record the last time I was interviewed on radio. There are days when it’s Heaven and days when it’s Hell, but if you write because you love it, you’ll keep loving it, no matter the challenges ahead. Oh, and if you think you’re about to take an axe to your husband, just lock yourself in a room and write. It really is the best therapy for all this roller coaster nonsense J


Alina: Has anyone bought your book’s film rights?

Cheryse: No, not yet. I guess Hugh Jackman’s still out of the country.


Alina: What’s the next big thing for Cheryse Durrant? And when can we read your next instalment, The Ghost She Killed?

Cheryse: All going well, TGSK will be published this year. I’m contracted to write two more books for CDP but I’m also rewriting a children’s fantasy trilogy, requested by another Aussie publisher, and a rural romance requested by CDP. Above all, I’m looking forward to seeing the achievements of my fellow authors and BWC members. I know there are a lot more WriteFest success stories just around the corner and I can’t wait to share their achievements and their books.

An extract from The Blood She Betrayed:

Tension threaded through her muscles as she shadowed the lean boy-man away from the mansion, sidestepping a gold-speckled toad in her path.

`It’s summer.’ His amber voice soothed her shot nerves. `Cane toads are all over the place.’

‘Are they edible?’

`Heck, no. They’re poisonous.’

`That is disappointing.’ Hunger gnawed at her insides.

`Do you like frog’s legs?’

    Just the legs? She was hungry. She would eat the whole thing at the moment! `Are the legs your specialty?’

`Mine? I can’t cook to save myself.’

His distinctive scent, mingled with the tang of unfamiliar plants, stirred her hunger. It was more than she expected from this slight boy-man with unkempt chestnut hair. She bit her lip. He lacked a warrior’s muscular build or a magician’s runic hand, but the quality fabric and cut of his garments implied wealth. If he were the son of a nobleman, he could prove useful. If only…

She faltered as another spasm of hunger hit.

His heart tempted her with its thick, rich scent and strong, thudding beats. Not since Jada had she felt a response so raw and primeval. This Earthern was nothing like her betrothed but in a handful of minutes he had rekindled the darker cravings she had struggled to repress.

`Are you okay?’ His warm breath skated across her neck.

    Trust no one. Find the Elnara. That was all she must focus on.

To download the first 12 chapters of The Blood She Betrayed for free (or check out Reece McPherson’s stunning book trailer), visit


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  • Now Available

    Thrust into the technology-driven Earthlands, Shahkara must find the ancient Elnara death lantern - the only thing that can save her homeworld from the heart-devouring Taloners. She enlists the help of geeky billionaire Max McCalden, but soon finds that, as a half-Taloner herself, her blood demands what she knows she can't have - a human heart. ...READ MORE
  • Welcome!

    This is the official site of Australian Paranormal/Urban Fantasy author Cheryse Durrant, whose compelling manuscript, The Blood She Betrayed, will be launched by Clan Destine Press this year. This first book in the Heart Hunter series has been endorsed by The Vampire Diaries' best- selling author LJ Smith. An award-winning writer and journalist, Cheryse has taught for the Queensland Writers Centre and coordinates a speculative fiction group at Bargara. ...READ MORE
  • Vampire Diaries’ LJ Smith endorses Durrant’s book

    "The Blood She Betrayed is unique, and Shahkara, the character, is one of the most engaging strong female role models I’ve seen in a long time. This girl can handle herself! The plot is full of ingenious twists, turns and surprises, and I look forward to reading the next book in the series." - LJ Smith, author of The Vampire Diaries, Night World and The Secret Circle. ...READ MORE
  • Or you can contact me directly at:
      cheryse AT quietdawn DOT org
  • What Readers Say

    "Oh my goodness, I loved it! I read it within a day - I had to know what happened! I loved Shahkara (and her name), it has to be the first book I've ever read that was set in Brisbane!" - Kirby Weston

    "I love love love it! It's absolutely amazing and you're a genius and your voice is gorgeous!" - Sonya Hussey

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