Brianne Marie Robinson and Brian Palmer

Episode 14: Brian Palmer Talks Writing Urban Fantasy and Wrangling Ghostwriters


It’s a pretty raucous and raunchy episode where Emily and guest host Brianne Marie Robinson interview guest Brian Palmer about writing urban fantasy and romance, managing a team of ghostwriters, maintaining a high word count, and various other business-related topics. The thing is, when you have two seasoned erotica and romance authors in the studio, “business-related” takes on a whooooole different meaning.

Brian’s Bio

Brian has been writing since he was eight years old, all the time, every day. Originally from Georgia, he currently lives in Hillsboro, OR, and is about to move to Sun Valley, ID. He’s happily married to an internationally renowned theater director, with whom he has a pit bull mix, Max.

Brian’s paid writing career started with erotica, and he’s okay with people knowing that. He’s very pro-equity and diversity in fiction, considering it a mission statement. In the future, he dreams of developing writing software that forever frees writers and editors from the iron grip of Microsoft Word as well as starting a non-profit that finds and fosters talented young writers from underserved backgrounds with professional coaching and editing to help them become successful authors.

Click here for access to the subscriber’s-only episode JT Reads Stone and Ash.

Minute by minute…

03:15 —

First of all, Brianne and Brian describe their careers as indie authors, ghostwriters, series editors, and ghostwriting project managers. Brian describes the process of managing multiple ghostwriters as part of the small publishing outfit he works for.

07:15 —

This is where the NSFW part starts. A series manager has limits, some of which are the worst terms that can possibly be used to “sensually” describe parts of the body. Our guests rattle off a list of sexier alternatives to…well…you’ll see. At the very least, you can find suggestions here for words to use if you’re trying to write a very specific type of sex scene.

09:40 —

Here, Chuck Tingle and his wholesome Twitter account reappear. Bri also suggests the title Chewbacca Gets Banged in the Ass by Amazon and a Jackhammer. Perhaps someone can start a Tweet campaign and see if he obliges. While you’re at it, check out his podcast from Night Vale Presents

11:45 —

Next, Brian gives an overview of his genres and subgenres and introduces us to his urban fantasy New Shoes, which he writes under the name B.C. Palmer. He describes how he draws upon his creative reserves for his day job in a way that leaves enough creative energy for him to work on his own writing.

15:45 —

Brian and Brianne introduce us to the life-changing magic of shame writing. We marvel at how fast Brian writes, and Bri acknowledges how their shame-writing sessions have helped her build up her word count. Bri also shares the resource My Write Club, which uses a series of digital writing “sprints” based on the pomodoro method.

Both writers describe the progressive nature of learning to write more and better. The takeaway? “Bad words can be edited, no words can’t.”

22:32 —

Lucky you! Here we revisit the concept of MPreg, this time from the point of view from a man. He talks about the thoughts about fantasy and social commentary aspects that MPreg can inspire. You’ll hear about the surprising beloved TV show that instigated MPREG fan fiction (hint: their couple name would be “Spirk”). If you need a refresher: here’s how MPreg theoretically “works”.

26:56 —

Bri and Emily circle back to talk about the use of setting in New Shoes, and how exciting it is to see magical stories unfold in a familiar city. If you live in Portland and haven’t checked out the Peculiarium, here’s a great Atlas Obscura article about it. And here’s an article about the Gasco building, which was torn down…or was it?

30:16 —

We take a quick break for J.T. to read a blurb for B.C. Palmer and Marie Robinson’s Under the Gods, which comes out in March.

31:13 —

Bri levels with us about how she is adjusting her genre to meet her readers where they are. We discuss whether writing to market is “selling out” and how to keep from breaking your writer’s heart without going completely broke. We also talk about the special subscribers-only content from her book Stone and Ash.

36:46 —

We discuss the line between wish fulfillment and relatability in indie romance, and the growing trend of protagonists who look like real people. We also talk about the difference between fantasy (the sexy kind, not the magicky kind) and what people really want.

40:21 —

Brian and Bri talk about their processes for engineering plots for both themselves and other people to use. Bri emphasizes the value of formula in romance, and how to use tropes and beats to satisfy a speed-reading, content-hungry audience. Plus, if you want to know more about romantic “beats” or structure, read Gwen Hayes’s Romancing the Beat.

45:00 —

We get to hear more about Bri and Brian’s Post-Apocalyptic, Urban Fantasy, Grim/Dark, YA, Reverse Harem romance Under the Gods. We talk about who’s stuck writing the sex scenes, whether it’s against the Terms of Service or not, and naturally the mythical basis of the plot.

48:50 —

Bri educates us on how you have to refer to sex organs in Regency erotica.

50:00 —

We talk about how self-published authors get into marketing without being slimy. Bri and Brian describe the value of getting involved in fan communities for their favorite genres, to find books that they enjoy and learn about the kinds of books their fans enjoy as well. For urban fantasy fans, Brian suggests the Daniel Faust and Nate Temple series. Bri and Brian connect group interactions to figuring out how to position Amazon and Facebook ads. They also reflect on the pitfalls of Amazon sponsored products—especially when it comes to budgeting and ROI.

56:38 —

Emily complains about all the repetitious cockroach-related Facebook ads she’s been getting.

58:33 —

Brian describes why he chose indie and publishing over traditional, and how the processes are similar and different. To whit, Bri and Brian then discuss what kind of investment is required to self-publish—i.e., cash. How much money is self-publishing a high-quality, high selling book? When should you do it yourself and when should you pay someone else?

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