Category Archives: Petra Klarbrunn

Kilts and Coffee with Petra

I had a nice conversation with occasional Fictorians guest poster Petra Klarbrunn about how she ended up becoming a writer. Here’s a mini-interview that gives a good explanation as to why some folks write.

Guy Anthony De Marco


When I walk into Everyday Joe’s Coffee House in Fort Collins, Colorado, it takes all of ten seconds to locate Petra Klarbrunn. A prolific author who writes under at least ten pseudonyms, she built a temporary wall of research books around her clunky pre-Lenovo IBM laptop to keep the world at bay. Her face remains focused on her computer, fingers pounding away on keys polished blank and smooth from years of hard use.

I place my order for an espresso and a cup of Earl Gray for Petra. While the volunteer baristas expertly craft the brews, I realize that my author friend looks more like a librarian than a writer of bizarro stories and niche erotica novellas. Her round Harry Potter-esque glasses are oversized for her small features, and tattoos of Marvel comic book heroes peek out from around her well-worn Batman t-shirt. Everything about her is a clash between multiple worlds. Marvel versus DC. Demure librarian versus hardcore literary dominatrix.

She remains in her own bubble universe until I pierce her event horizon by sliding the ceramic mug of steaming tea into the only open spot within her reach. Her clear blue eyes lock onto mine and she flickers the corners of her mouth upwards.

“Gimme a minute to finish this scene, would you?”

Nodding, I take the opposite chair at her table and locate a few spare inches of table space to set my cup. The coffee house is half-full of students from Colorado State University, and Petra blends in seamlessly. I’m easily the oldest person in the place. Most of the students are working on homework or socializing. Several kept glancing at the attractive brunette with the loud keyboard. Once I had settled in, even more eyes wandered towards our table. Was I her father, her friend, or something more? The enigma baffled the college crowd.

Petra finally pushes the screen down on her laptop, the old hinges squealing in protest, and she looks up with a lopsided grin. “I had to get that scene down before I forgot it.”

“What are you writing about today?” I asked while adding a little brown packet of raw sugar to my espresso.

“Chick porn.” She laughs with a clear soprano voice when a barista stops in his tracks at her words and then continues on as his face turns red. “Gotta pay the bills. This one is set in Ireland.” She waves at the books piled on the table with the grace of a ballerina. All of them pertain to some aspect of the Emerald Isle, ranging from travel books to historical castles. “I love to travel. One day I’ll make it out to Europe. I’m keen on visiting Wales, Ireland, and especially Scotland.”

When pressed why she wanted to go to Scotland, it was her turn to redden her complexion. “It’s the kilts. I can’t resist someone manly enough to basically wear a skirt and drink Scotch.”

Sex, a travel bug, and a sad childhood are what started Petra’s foray into writing erotica novellas for women and, to a lesser extent, for QUILTBAG readers. “It allowed me to travel virtually for a while, burying my head in travel books and online forums so I could forget my problems. Eventually, I had to get off of my butt and go see things without having to peer through a window made by IBM. By the time I was ready to get on a plane, I had 33 erotic novellas published under a couple of different pseudonyms. I made enough to cover my living expenses and to travel to my first exotic location – Los Angeles.” Her laugh is contagious, and eventually everyone in the coffee house is smiling.

When asked about her family, Petra admits she barely remembers her father. She does remember the tears and the sobbing that gripped her mother. “I was, what, five or six years old. I couldn’t understand what was wrong with my mom. She was Wonder Woman to me…indestructible, yet loving and warm. To see her so broken up, it broke my heart.”

Those feelings haunted Petra. In grade school, she fought so often that the principal joked he was going to adopt her because they saw each other more than he saw his own kids. “I was a terrible hellion. The girls start growing faster than the boys, and they were all afraid of me. I never had to wear make-up because I had a bruise or a black eye. Maybelline Fist, I used to call it.”

Unfortunately, when the boys started their growth spurts, she remembered the principal saying that she had better start to use her brain instead of her fists if she wanted to survive. “That made sense to me. Someone talking to me like I was an adult, telling me things that made logical sense…that was the game changer for me.”

Several bleak Christmas holidays in a row, one of them requiring a midnight jaunt to a park to locate a suitable shrub so she and her mother could have a tree to decorate, convinced Petra to settle on a career choice. She heard about the lofty advances that authors like Stephen King were pulling down, so that seemed like an easy method to get rich. “My god, what an idiot I was. Still am, now that I think of it.” She laughs and snorts, which causes her to laugh uncontrollably for several minutes.

“I was the proverbial broke, struggling writer until I wrote my first erotica—based in Scotland, of course. My roommate read it straight through and convinced me it was fantastic. I uploaded it to Amazon’s Kindle Digital Publishing platform, and it began to sell. I made more money the first month than I did waiting tables. I wrote another one in a week, and that one did even better. I kept writing, and the books got better and better as I learned my craft. I now make enough to pay my bills, my mom’s bills, and I’m taking her on a two-week vacation to Scotland next month.” That lopsided grin lights up her features again. “We’re going to drink real scotch and find out what’s hidden under those kilts. It’s my mission in life now.”



About the Author:DeMarco_Web-5963

Guy Anthony De Marco is a speculative fiction author; a Graphic Novel Bram Stoker Award® nominee; winner of the HWA Silver Hammer Award; a prolific short story and flash fiction crafter; a novelist; an invisible man with superhero powers; a game writer (Sojourner Tales modules, Interface Zero 2.0 core team, D&D modules); and a coffee addict. One of these is false.
A writer since 1977, Guy is a member of the following organizations: SFWA, WWA, SFPA, IAMTW, ASCAP, RMFW, NCW, HWA. He hopes to collect the rest of the letters of the alphabet one day. Additional information can be found at Wikipedia and

Mixing Horror With Other Genres

Guest Post by Petra Klarbrunn

Horror is more than just a genre on a tiny shelf at your local bookstore. Horror is an emotion, a revulsion, a reaction to something that triggers the baser instincts. After you read something that got under your skin, you have physical reactions. Your heart rate increases, your breathing quickens, and you might even get some goosebumps. Every sense is heightened, to the point where you hear things such as the house settling, where you see little shadows out of the corner of your eye, where your mouth gets dry, and when your skin feels oddly chilled. They’re caused by your natural instincts ramping up to a possible threat.

It’s this reaction that separates horror from other genres. Romance, with its chocolate-like endorphin rushes, comes in at a distant second place. Some even say horror and romance are the flip sides of the same coin, but I’m not that cynical to declare it true, perhaps because I’m a hopeless romantic.

Horror and romance also have something in common — they can be used within any other genre. There are arguments that the movie Alien is a horror movie first and foremost. It certainly has all the hallmarks — life and death struggles with an unknown monster that just won’t die, people who disappear, shocking events and revelations caused by man’s inhumanity towards mankind. Many folks liked the sequel, Aliens. More of the same, plus add in a kid in trouble and wave after wave of monsters attacking. The folks who saw the movies in the theatre probably left exhausted from having their bodies in a two hour fight-or-flight state, plus the ultimate shock at seeing how much a popcorn and soda would cost for each member of the family.

One can mix in horror or romance to shift the tone of the book. Romance can be used sparingly to build tension, such as the creepy love triangle between Luke, Leia, and Han Solo. Be careful not to let it derail the plot. If you’re writing a western, make sure westerny things go on while the characters woo each other. The same goes for horror. One can mix horrific things into the plot to build tension, to raise the stakes for the protagonist, or to even show how desperate some of the characters are.

“I don’t think we should unleash the world-devouring creature because your rival king made a remark about your nose, Sire.”

Releasing the Kracken should be reserved when all seems lost, and you want to add in one straw to your camel’s overburdened back at the end of the novel. Of course, make sure your heroine also has a way to defeat it, even if it means they fall in love…but that drifts off into hentai territory, which you should think long and hard about before venturing there.

No matter what genre you write, horror is something that can change the dynamic of your story. If your protagonist’s opposing army general too blah? Have the leader send in some assassins equipped with poisoned arrows — to kill the heroines love interest. Have the general unleash a paranormal entity that can’t be stopped. Those will push the general up the “evil villain” scale and certainly ramp up the tension for the heroine we’ve all come to love over the last 200 pages.

And if you really want to cause panic, add in a romance to the middle of your seven-volume military hard sci-fi epic. That should scare most of your readers to death.


The Importance of Author Mentors

A guest post by Petra Klarbrunn.

Most beginning authors I know think that a mentor is someone who will look over your latest screed and give you feedback and editing suggestions. While it is something that a mentor may do for you, that’s actually the job of an editor and/or critique group.

So what does an author mentor provide? I’m glad you asked.

  1. Questions at all stages. As mentioned, you might be lucky enough to have a mentor who has enough time to read over your epic novel. The majority of mentors are working professionals, so they’re busy working on their own epic space opera trilogy. They don’t have time to line edit your work. They do make time to answer specific questions for you. Say you’re having a problem with your opening hook. You can ask your mentor to look at a couple of paragraphs and get feedback from someone who knows how to write opening lines that propel the reader forward. Even better, they can provide a couple of different takes and have them go over why one is better than the other.
  1. Contracts. Mentors can give you some feedback on contracts, explaining what the egregious portions are and what they actually mean. They may suggest contract modifications or recommend that you take the contract to a specialist lawyer, especially if the contract is from one of the Big 5 publishers.
  1. Plotting. Some mentors can go over your plot outline and make suggestions. One of my mentors found a serious flaw in a novella that would have had me spinning my wheels for weeks until I discovered it. Don’t send a forty-page plot outline to your mentor. Send a bullet-point list so they can see how you build up towards the third act.
  1. Networking. Often overlooked, having someone who can provide introductions within your genre can give you a leg-up on your peers. One of the complaints about writing is “it’s about who you know that counts.” While exceptional writing can do your introductions for you, getting introduced to a busy editor at a convention or via email can at least give your work a better chance at getting looked over by a publisher. Introductions can also provide opportunities to get into anthologies or to work on collaborations.
  1. Blurbs. Receiving a blurb from a bestselling author or a celebrity can push your work to the top of the shopping cart. Stephen King gave a relatively unknown author named Jack Ketchum a glowing blurb and recommendation. Now Mr. Ketchum is a bestselling author and screenwriter.
  1. Giving back. Most mentors say that the main reason they choose to be a mentor is to give back to the community. Because most authors are genuinely nice individuals, they want others to succeed. Sometimes mentors didn’t have anyone they could ask questions of, and they want to help new authors with the craft. And who knows? Perhaps one day they will ask their mentee for a blurb or two.

Petra Klarbrunn Bio: Petra battles with her four cats daily for the use of her laptop. She writes in the romance, erotica, bizarro, horror, and academic fields using multiple pseudonyms. Her diet consists mainly of tofu and espresso.

The Importance of Reviews

Guest Post by Petra Klarbrunn


“Please, sir, I want some more,” said little Oliver Twist.

It’s one of the best-known lines from Charles Dicken’s novel partly because it was shocking to the other characters. Nobody does that…nobody asks for something from Mr. Bumble.

Unfortunately, that thinking has spilled over to how authors something think. Honest, it’s perfectly fine if you ask for something from your readers, understanding that what you end up with might not be what you expected.

Books with lots of reviews act as a psychological influence on your potential readers. While they might be skeptical about 100 perfect 5-star reviews, it still makes them wonder what all of the fuss is about. If so many people loved a particular book, it must be good. Right?

Therefore, you should consider asking your readers to post an honest review. Here are a couple of suggestions for doing so.

  1. Ask for an honest review, not a 5-star review.
    Demanding a top review score is not only pretentious, but it’s rather gauche. What you’re looking for is someone’s opinion, no matter what rating they assign. If they absolutely hated your book, that’s fine. Having a low-rated review gives the rest of the reviews a bit more authority and makes it appear as though the rest of the reviews are a tad more trustworthy. Asking your readers to post a review on Amazon, Goodreads, B&N, etc. is perfectly acceptable behavior.
  1. At the end of your books, place a standardized blurb asking for a review.
    The reader just finished reading your book, so there’s no time like the present to ask for an honest review. E-books should have a link to places the reader can post reviews. You can combine the links to a single page on your blog for print books. In fact, you can add in some bonus material for folks who want to visit your website, such as signing up for your newsletter or posting additional story material that didn’t make it into the final published work.
  1. Give suggestions for reviews.
    Some folks are hesitant to post reviews because they don’t know what to say. Give them some leading questions to assist them. How did the book make them feel as they were reading it? Did the characters seem “real”, and were you concerned for the protagonist? If there was something they didn’t like, ask them to be specific. Ask them not to include spoilers, particularly the ending twist.
  1. Explain why you are asking for honest reviews.
    Most readers do not know how important reviews are for authors. Explain to them that it helps your novel ranking, it helps to sell more books (so you can continue writing), and it assists with the search engine ranking when browsing.

So, how does getting reviews help you get discovered? Glad you asked.

Books that have higher review rankings are rated higher with Amazon’s sooper-secret algorithms. The current estimates are that if a book has over 26 reviews, and those reviews are above 4.0 on average, you have a far better chance of getting your book in front of browsing readers. If your book is highly rated, you can easily get your book into some of the promotional websites such as

Books with excellent reviews can provide you with blurbs for marketing and, if the reviewer is well-respected, allow you to update your cover with the quote. Having a blurb from Stephen King helped Jack Ketchum become a household name in the horror field. Getting a blurb from someone like George R. R. Martin would certainly help your fantasy novel take off. Review quotes can be gold for your marketing efforts.

Above all, don’t be a pushy author. Ask politely once. If your best friend doesn’t want to leave a review, respect that decision. If Mom says she’s too busy to review your latest erotica story, that’s certainly her prerogative. Hopefully, you’ll have enough readers who, on reading your request and why it’s important to you as an author, will post something after they’ve read your work.