Book Review: The Lion Tamer

“The book is beautifully written and is easily my favorite in the series so far. ” 5 Stars from Momma Says to Read or Not To Read


Deja Who?

There’s no reason for the subject to be spelt wrong. It just made me laugh. I am a nerd.

I think most writers probably have certain themes that follow them through their stories. Character traits, or backstories, or tropes we can’ t help using. Often times, we might not even realise we do it.

It’s a question I’ve had on my mind for a while now.

What are the ones to follow me through my writing?

Here are the ones I thought about (and maybe why):

  • Banter

  • Adoption – I’ve had a few characters who were adopted, or orphans, or foster kids. It’s probably because I’m adopted, so there’s a wealth of emotional stuff there I can explore.


  • Autistic Characters – I’m autistic. That one is:

  • Pets. All the pets. So many pets. From Taine’s hamster to Sherlock in After the Scrum. I’m a fan of memorable animals.
  • Absurd moments. I find absurdity humourous. (Like giving a large rugby player a hamster for a pet.)
  • Rough childhoods. A theme running through many of my stories are characters who have survived abusive or neglectful childhoods. Again, as something I had personal experience with, I think it’s important that not ALL of your characters have blissful, amazing parents. I’ve found as a reader that I cherish the books that I can relate to. When I find a character who has pulled through terrible times as a kid, I see a bit of myself.
  • Nerds. I’m quite a bit geeky, so admit to giving some of those quirks to my characters.

How about you? If you’re a writer, do you notice certain themes consistent throughout your different novels?

As a reader? Do you pick up on these sorts of things?

Author Friends: Jodi Payne

Are you a panster or a plotter?

I’m that rare hybrid bird. I’m a plotting panster. I’ve discovered that I am pulled in so many directions that if I don’t make some scene notes and jot down ideas about the direction the train is headed, I lose them and can’t recall those details when I am writing. So I write out key scenes on index cards, loosely based on a three-act-play sort of structure, and then I know things will move and change as the characters develop more organically.

Do you believe in Writer’s Block? If so, how do you kick its arse?

I definitely do. The only thing I know how to do is to write something unrelated for a while. So write a poem or a blog post. Write flash fic or a letter to someone. The important thing for me is to keep writing, because if I’m blocked and I get out of the habit of writing at the same time, I’m doomed. It’s extremely difficult to get back on the wagon.

What book is your comfort read on a bad day? The one you go back to reread over and over.

You’ll never believe this, but I’m not a comfort reader. I know, that’s not what an author is supposed to say! Sorry. I do have favorite books–Beloved (Toni Morrison), Hamlet, Good Omens (Gaiman and Pratchett), Calvin & Hobbes–but I don’t comfort read. I listen to music when that’s what I’m looking for. I’m a huge music fan.

Describe your perfect writing space:

Lots of natural light, decent speakers, and a clear desk. When I can I like to get a good view – ocean, mountains, park, trees – something to stare at when I’m thinking that’s bigger than I am and full of fresh air.

Do you write your title first or story first?

The story first. Ask any editor I’ve ever had. I am terrible with titles. The story is frequently written and submitted with a “working title” because I can’t come up with them on my own. So stressful!

And lastly, write a one or two paragraph flash fiction inspired by the last photo or text you got on your phone:

Oh my God, I have been so busy lately. And now it’s crazy Tuesday, as I call it., one of the busiest days of the week. It’s up early to drive the kids to school, then it’s off to work, a lunch hour meeting, rushing out in time to pick up the kids after work, hurry to Panera and get them fed, then drop one off here and one off there, by 7:00pm. I have to pick up one at 8:00pm and another at 8:30pm. But in the middle of this crazy day I get to steal one solid, blissfully quiet hour. And you know what I do with it?

I go to Starbucks.

I do. I get a latte, usually with something sweet in it like caramel or vanilla. I take it to a table where I sit, alone, and do something really exciting like watch people out the window running around just like I was.

And I drink it.

I drink it slowly, savoring every uninterrupted sip. Every minute that no one is talking to me. Every second a phone doesn’t ring. One hour of not making myself accountable. I don’t run errands. I don’t catch up on paperwork. That’s my time. Mine.


I jealously protect that hour like Gollum hoards The One Ring.


Jodi Payne takes herself way too seriously and has been known to randomly break out in song. Her men are imperfect but genuine, stubborn but likeable, often kinky, and frequently their own worst enemies. They are characters you can’t help but fall in love with while they stumble along the path to their happily ever after. For those looking to get on her good side, Jodi’s addictions include nonfat lattes, Malbec and tequila any way you pour it.






Latest Release

Blurb for Creative Process:

Best-selling thriller author Reese Kelsey knows his career isn’t conducive to romance. He doesn’t work the normal nine-to-five, and sometimes his characters take hold and demand all his attention, causing him to neglect important appointments… and lovers. Rather than go through another heartbreak, Reese contents himself with his small circle of friends-fellow gay New York City artists-and his dedicated publicist, Chad.

Until he sees Owen Mercado lugging his cello toward the subway and impulsively offers him a ride.

Owen has worked long and hard for a career in the symphony, and success comes with a demanding schedule-something Reese understands. Their desires and lifestyles are surprisingly compatible, and Reese and Owen certainly set the bedroom on fire. They’re both carrying baggage, but they fit, and it’s hard not to hope for a future that once seemed impossible.

But when Reese’s work inevitably pulls him into its dark world and refuses to let go, Owen draws a hard line, and Reese discovers he can’t rely on good intentions alone. He will have to control the obsession that drove his other lovers away or risk losing Owen as well.

Buy Link for Creative Process:




Book Review: The Lion Tamer

“It felt like the author was talking about friends you knew and cherished and that’s a real gift to be able to write about characters that feel so real and you’ve a great affection for. I’ve enjoyed being back in the Sin Bin with this lot and this is a great addition to the series. ” 5 Stars from Kirk at OMG Reads

“Gray and Scottie really jumped off the page for me. Their struggle to work out the problems in their relationship while juggling family, friends, and their own anxieties truly made this an interesting book to read.” 5 Stars from Ramona at OMG Reads

How to write autistics and not rely on tired stereotypes.

Despite mainstream media and their mostly dismal attempts at creating autistics. It’s rare to see examples of autistic characters who feel ‘real.’ We’re not all rain man or white, young, male savants.

We’re real people who are just as diverse as every other subset of humanity.

Many autistics like myself will tell you if you’ve met one autistic–you’ve met one autistic.

When creating neuroAtypical characters, I try to be cognizant of creating individuals, and not carbon copies of either myself or some stereotype I think non-autistics will easily recognise. I will admit many of my own experiences find their way into my stories. How could they not?

In fact, one of my favourite parts of writing my most recent release, The Lion Tamer, was including Alex and Alice. Autistic twins. They’re on different parts of the autism spectrum with their own special interests and struggles.

Neither of them is some off the charts genius.

They’re just autistic.

No massively high IQ required to be legitimate human beings who deserve to be celebrated.

So, here are a few tips on creating autistic characters, or what are some of the pieces/parts to doing so. (And please keep in mind, this is from my personal perspective.)

  1. Talk to #actuallyautistic people, not just autism parents before you start.
  2. Avoid AutismSpeaks.
  3. Stimming. Your autistic character should have a stim. We stim.
  4. Special Interests. I could write an entire post about this.  We have them. Obsess over them. Use them to calm ourselves from super stressful moments.
  5. Emotions are something many autistics struggle with. We can feel quite intensely, but we don’t often understand what we’re feeling. I’ve spent days trying to decipher an emotion before.
  6. Sensation. Many autistics suffer from hypersensitivity. I, for example, struggle with touching certain fabrics. Light affects me. Certain sounds can trigger me into a meltdown.

Just a few thoughts.

Not sure if any of it is helpful.

I might turn this into a series of posts about being autistic/writing autistic characters.

Do you include neuroAtpyical characters in your stories? Do you have characters who have anxiety, or PTSD, or are autistic? Or some other mental disability or illness?



Book Review: The Lion Tamer

“Overall, it was a great addition to the series. It’s well-written and entertaining, angsty and bittersweet and with a nice HEA. It was pretty cool catching up with the rest of the Sin Bin guys, too. Very recommendable!” 4.5 Stars from Mari at Book Bayou Junkie