Author J.E. Taylor Guest Blog and $25.00 Amazon Gift Card Contest

Saving Face (A Steve Williams Novel - Book Six) by J.E. TaylorThe writing journey – How ideas evolve by J.E. Taylor

The idea for Saving Face came out of an interesting conversation about books and titles during my son’s Jukido class and there is a reference to this in the acknowledgement section of the book.  We were playing around with titles for my existing manuscript – Mirror Lake because I didn’t think the title had enough impact, and it didn’t quite measure up to the next two books in the series – Vengeance and Hunting Season.

Once we arrived at some interesting titles for me to noodle on, we moved onto a discussion relating to suspense and action movies. Like all great conversations, this evolved to a discussion about strong opening scenes in both books and motion pictures.

This is where things got interesting. One of the fathers said a book about a killer that collected faces would be an interesting read and laid out a challenge to me.  He bet I couldn’t write an opening scene based on this premise before the end of class.

We had a half hour left and anyone who knows me knows I couldn’t turn down a challenge like that, especially with it being a kill scene.  The conversation had really sparked my imagination, so my fingers flew on the keyboard.  I wrote the scene with time to spare and handed him my computer.

Needless to say, he was impressed.  The opening scene hasn’t changed much from that day and that conversation sparked the title of my next Steve Williams Novel – Saving Face.

I let that story line percolate for a few years, coming up with a much more complex plot than just a serial killer that stole faces.  I took my time, letting the story line flush out in my head long before I added anything else beyond that kill scene. Of course, Saving Face has multiple meanings and I explored quite a few of them in the book.

And now that I explained how the first chapter of the book came about – here is what came out of that challenge:

Chapter 1

“The trees swayed in the breeze, dry leaves rustled, and the stars disappeared behind a bank of clouds, drawing out the already dark shadows. Shadows he hid within, watching, waiting, frozen in place by his obsession, his bloodlust.

Testing the air with a sniff, he tried detecting a trace of her perfume but came away with only the distinct scent of fall. Crisp. Clean. Carnal.

His edgy hands begged for action and he clenched them, dropping his arms to his sides. Tilting his head, he caught a rhythmic pulse, like that of his heart, but accented with crunching leaves. She was coming and his hand shot to the worn handle of his hunting knife.


His fingers stroked the soft wood like a lover and he stared at the jogger-beaten path. The bounce of her headlamp filtered through the thick brush and he blew a slow stream of air through his lips, calming his pounding heart.

Patience, he told himself again. He didn’t want to give her enough time to react, to bolt in the opposite direction. Instead, he counted her steps, watching as the light approached, bouncing with each of her long-legged strides.

It wasn’t her lithe frame he was after. It was her face, her scalp. She had passed by him at the store, catching his fancy and fueling his desire. A fine specimen. An excellent addition to his collection; with fragile features stretched into a scream—forever captured in his art.

He crept closer to the path, crouching and ready to pounce the moment she crossed. The light drew closer and now he could smell the mixture of Poison and sweat, a sweet concoction that aroused his hunger and almost uncoiled his predatory posture. He inhaled deeply, relishing the scent. Her footfalls brought her close enough to make out her dark form behind the bright light.

He waited, and when the twig he placed in the middle of the path snapped, he sprang. In one leap, he caught her, wrapping his arms around her as he tackled. The yelp of surprise brought a smile to his face and he unsheathed the knife, plunging it into her chest before she could regain enough oxygen to produce a blood curdling scream.

Her eyes widened, blinking at him in the light of her fallen headlamp.

The thrill of the hunt, of the capture, fueled his blood; pumping it frantically through his veins, throbbing in his temple, producing little spots of red in the edges of his eyesight. Ripping flesh accompanied each of his thrusts, along with muffled cries of pain that gave way to an airy wheeze.

He grabbed her hair, pulling her head forward and slicing the base of her hairline with surgical precision. Sliding his fingers under the gaping wound, he peeled the scalp from the back to the front, separating her skin from the bone.

She did scream then, a high gurgling wail that died moments later, when his knife separated the mass of skin and hair and lips that he peeled from her bones, severing her carotid artery in the process. With the prize pelt in his hands, he stood, sheathing the knife and taking off toward the river.”

Thank you for having me on Bitten By Books today!
Until next time.

Books in the Steve Williams series in the order they should be read:
Dark Reckonings
Hunting Season
Georgia Reign
Crystal Illusions
Saving Face

Author Bio:
“As far as a bio is concerned, I am a writer, an editor, a manuscript formatter, a contest judge, a mother, a wife, a sister, a daughter and a business analyst, not necessarily in that order.

I first sat down to seriously write in February of 2007 after my daughter asked if I could do anything what would it be. From that moment on, I haven’t looked back.

My first book, Dark Reckoning was originally released on July 5, 2010 through FIDO Publishing, which also happened to be my birthday! Personally, I can’t think of a better birthday gift, can you? In addition to Dark Reckoning, I had another July release – this one on the erotic thriller side of the fence – SURVIVAL GAMES which came out on July 19, 2010 through eXcessica. Both of these titles along with several others in both series are now under my own label as of July 2011.

For the most part, my genre of choice is a toss up between thrillers and horror. My stories run the gambit from erotic to supernatural to urban fantasy and most of them have romantic undertones intertwined with my unique paranormal/supernatural slant manifesting in dark themes and twisted villans doling out a fair amount of violence. They are not for the faint of heart.

My heroes and heroines are three dimensional, real and infallible, making both good and bad choices and sometimes those questionable decisions come with a high price. I don’t believe in happily ever after but I do believe in survival of the fittest, so if you’re looking for a nice fluff novel, this isn’t the place to find it, but if you’re looking for a book that gets your blood pumping, welcome, and remember where you keep your nightlights!

In addition to writing, I also am a Senior Editor with Allegory (www.allegoryezine) an online venue for Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror. In this capacity I get the pleasure of reading submissions from some very talented folks.

Unfortunately with Allegory, only 8 stories out of all the submissions make it to the final publication, so sorting through the pile and helping the editor make the final choices can be a bit like herding cats. The decisions are not always easy but Ty Drago does a great job of balancing the issue with a little of everything. It truly is a labor of love on all of our parts¸ especially for the zero-dollar paycheck, but the payoff in telling someone they’ve made it to the next level or they made the final cut is so worth it.

So that’s a little glimpse into my crazy life.”
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Learn more about J.E. Taylor below:
To read reviews of this author’s work go here.

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  1. What books are on your nightstand or in your TBR pile right now?

    • My TBR pile is huge – rightn now my kindle has 99 unread novels and short stories. The one I’m reading right now is Indigo Vamporium by Poppet – and I’m loving it. I’ve also got two books in the Undertakers series by Ty Drago (middle grade), Trial Junkies by Robert Gregory Browne and I need to finish the Wool Omnibus by Hugh Howey. Of course I also have the Hunger Games series and the Rot & Ruin series to read as well. Those are just the ones at the top of my list.

      What’s on yours?

      • You must move the Hunger games trilogy to the top. I was so pissed at myself because I had put off reading it and I have now read them twice. Just be sure you keep a box of tissues around for the last book. Seriously, I sat out at the pool reading it and I cried and cried. On my TBR pile, I have several series (I tend to collect all and read them back to back)Kenyon’s “Dark Hunter”, Vaughn’s “Kitty” series and The Pretty Little Liars series are the main ones.

  2. What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done?

    • Scariest thing I’ve ever done… well, besides becoming a parent? 🙂

      When I was in high school a friend and I wandered through a cemetary at midnight during a full moon. That was scary cool though.

      Driven over a hundred miles per hour. Again – to me this was scary cool.

      Oh my God, I’m going to die moment scary was losing control of my car in a snow storm on the highway, I spun out and as the car was spinning, I faced an 18 wheeler coming straight for me. Obviously he didn’t hit me – but for those few fractions of a second, I thought that was the end. I let go of the wheel, closed my eyes and prayed. Ended up in the grassy embankment betweent the highway and the exit without a scratch.

  3. I’m sure I have other questions, but right now I’m curious. Face collecting?! Is this a typical talking point in the class? If so I’d be tempted to go just for the conversation! ANd I imagine you get way more fodder for books here than anywhere else!

    • Rae – LOL. No, not really. Just conversations around what I write about, good movies, good books, weird things. I guess where ever I end up – the conversations do end up being bizarre and amusing. In otherwords, on our side of the gym – we have as much fun as the kids on the mats.

  4. That is so neat how one of the fathers gave you a challenge like that! Stealing faces.. though makes me wonder if it’s death masks, peeling the face off the skull, or simply duplicating it with latex… Hrm.. Guess I would have to get the book sometime to see.

  5. OMG, sounds SCARY!! Do you ever get scared writing such dark material?

    • Elie,
      Usually I don’t get scared, however, the book Georgia Reign gave me nightmares. It’s every parent’s worst nightmare and that’s what made it so difficult to write.

      Fiction doesn’t scare me as much as reality though. I’ve seen the eyes of a sociopath before and nothing terrifies me more than the fact that there are soulless beasts out there that thrive on hurting people.

  6. It sounds like you took great advantage of the challenge. When it comes to thrillers a strong opening will catch my attention. I feel it can set the tone of a story. I’m intrigued and a bit scared at a killer collecting faces!

    • It was a fun challenge but it took a long time for me to flush the rest of the story out in my head, so Mike had to wait. And wait. And wait. 🙂

  7. When you start a story do you usually know whether the hero or heroine will be fit to survive? Survival of the fittest is a great strategy to look for in a story.

    • Na,

      I don’t always know. The story usually dictates the outcome and sometimes where it has gone has been surprising and if I try to force something that doesn’t make sense, it comes across as contrived and forced, so it is better to let the story go where it feels right, even if that means losing a beloved character.

  8. One more book to add on my TBR pile!

  9. Thank you all – I’m sorry it took me so long to reply to the folks who were on at noon. I’m around for the duration of the evening, so feel free to ask away!

  10. What a great way to get a story idea!

    • Cheryl,

      It’s always fun when someone says – oh what a great story idea – you should write a book about it. Especially when the idea hooks me like this one did.

      My son did the same thing a couple summers ago – he had a great story line that he wanted me to write – with him. We released the first book in his series this past summer and the second will be coming next spring. The Death Chronicles is the series and the first book is Don’t Fear the Reaper. I had a bit of editorial input and have steered him away from things that just don’t work in his story arc which sometimes is challenging, especially when he gets an idea that’s off the beaten path – but he’s twelve, soon to be thirteen, so I expect off the beaten path from him.

  11. Thank you for the tidbit, it sounds really interesting! I have this in my wish list. I have Crystal Illusions, but I haven’t read it yet. That damn TBR pile! Can I read these books without starting at the beginning?

    • Joani,

      Yes, you can read the books out of order and Crystal Illusions is more of a stand alone where the focal point isn’t Steve Williams or his family, so it’s a perfect book to start with.

  12. What is your favorite deadline food? Drink? Are you a caffiene or a chocolate binger near the end?

    • I don’t drink coffee, but I have found that the V8 Energy fusion drinks provide a little kick when I need it.

      Your question has me kind of stumped. I’m not sure. My chocolate cravings really do revolve around my “cycle” – LOL. The more in the PMS zone I am, the more chocolate I want – but that really isn’t related to deadlines.

      I graze and don’t get much exercise when I’m in deadline mode. Quick meals that don’t take long preparation – so bad foot. Which contributes to the fact that I’ve gained the 20+ pounds back that I lost on Jenny Craig a few years ago. So deadlines end up making for bad food decisions all together.

      That may have been more info than you were looking for…

  13. Is there a genre you have not written in yet that you would love to?

    • If you look at the range of my short stories and novel mix, I’ve pretty much hit all the genres that I’m partial to.

      Sometimes I think I’d like to write a dark comedy – but I’m not sure my sense of humor translates well, so I’m not sure I could pull it off.

      That would be the only area that would be worth exploring if I could find the confidence to tackle it.

  14. What are your thoughts on audiobooks? I haven’t seen any of yours available, do you think they’d “read well” in audio format?

    • With the right reader – I think they’d translate just fine. I haven’t explored audio options yet – but that is on my list to look at in the future.

  15. Wow, very creepy first chapter! I’m interested to read more. 🙂

  16. I cannot wait to read your newest novel!! I am a HUGE fan. Your writing is amazing, and just when you think you know what’s going to happen next…WHAM! You change direction, and the endings of each book leave you begging for the next book!! When I read your first book, I stayed up until 2 am. Needless to say, as I looked for more, I could NOT stop reading. I have purchased every single one, LOVE them all, and I bet you can figure out what my next TBR is! Thank you so much for providing hours upon hours of wonderful writing, that makes the reader feel they are truly there, experiencing what is happening. It’s a break from reality that is truly welcomed! You have an amazing gift, that I, for one am very grateful that you share!! Thank you!!! Lynn T

  17. Hi J.E.

    Love the story of how this story came to be.

    Do you read for enjoyment the same genre you write?

    • Koren,


      Before I decided to pursue a writing career, I read at least three books a week. Most were thrillers and horror and a few paranormal romance. I am one that if I love a book, I will read it a few times and if I can’t find anything that floats my boat, I will pick up my favorites again.

      Since I started writing, I’ve met some wonderful new authors that I probably never would have found otherwise. Kindle has made finding new authors an easier process as well. But, this new career path has also narrowed my reading scope quite a bit as well.

      I do get to read quite a few unknowns stories and submissions through Allegory, so my reading volume hasn’t decreased much, but the enjoyment factor varies now. If the story is good, then I love reading, if the story doesn’t quite live up to my expectations, not so much.

      But isn’t that true any time you pick up a book?

  18. Do you have a favorite story world other than your own?

    • Alison Pang’s urban fantasy world with Abby Sinclair would be fun to navigate. Angels, daemons, fairies, and a charmed and horny unicorn. 🙂

  19. How do yo think your characters would fare if dropped in it?

    • How would my character’s fare in Abby Sinclair’s world? Well, I already have an angel…and a few characters with extra abilities, so I think Ty would fit in nicely. Although I think Steve Williams might have a real hard time coming to terms with the fact that fae exist and can mess with his world.

  20. Sounds like a great read. I will need to add this to my TBR pile.

  21. I loved that first chapter and I think it’s so very cool that a random challenge brought about the idea. Do you find that those types of challenges and such produce better writing than the times you think/plot/review over and over? (Or I’m just speaking for myself and what i do)

    • Mare,

      Great question and I think both situations provide merit. The writing challenge can spark an idea you normally wouldn’t venture toward – which is fantastic for short stories, but for full length novels, I do think you need some time to flush out a story arc. That prompt sparked the idea but it took a good two years of noodling and turning over where I wanted to go with it before I wrote any more than the first and second chapter.

      I did have a very prolific period when I started but that’s because I had twenty years of stories in my head, fully flushed out and waiting.

  22. Did you do any grisly medical or police/crime research for this? Come across any photos that made you say gah!

    • Bethany – yes – my sister teaches a forensics class and has some incredibly gross pictures of blood splatter and different severed parts.

      I also had a very long conversation with a former police officer on crime scenes and what would be reasonable to support the story line. I had to change a few things to make my idea work based on this conversation.

      I also have had to change murder weapons in the past because of my scientific expert’s advice – my sister is wonderful that way and will be honest telling me what doesn’t work.

  23. Thank you for having me today on Bitten By Books.

    I’ll check back in the morning to answer any other questions that are out here.

    There were a lot of great questions and I’ve had fun with you folks!

  24. Wow hope that was the bad guy and not the hero!

  25. You have not been writing very long really. I have read of authors who have been writing for up to ten years before getting published. Did you have a fellow author to show you the path to getting published, or did you have to find out the process yourself? I have heard that it is very hard to get a book read as so many manuscripts are sent to publishers.Whatever happened, we are all lucky that you have been successful. Thank you.

    • Ann,

      I happened to friend Lauren Baratz-Logsted on My Space in 2007 and she turned me on to the forums at This was the single most influencial forum I’ve been introduced to. I got some very straight forward feedback on what I was doing wrong in the samples I put up. I learned what a proper query letter really was and I got turned onto Margie Lawson’s online writing courses. All of which helped me grow in leaps and bounds.

      I also met Ty Drago through Backspace and began my career as an e-zine editor. Reading submissions and having to write a rejection letter that gives the writer something to work with also helped me refine what works and what doesn’t.

      All this helped me land that first publishing deal with Excessica and with the side jobs I did for them, I learned a cartload of stuff on how the business works. Enough so that when they went from publisher to co-op, I was confident enough to step out on my own. My partner is an ex-Excessica author as well, so it goes to show what a small world it really is.

      Thanks for the question and the nice words. Enjoy your Thursday!

  26. What was your favorite childhood book/series?

    • Dovile –
      I actually used to read the Edgar Rice Burroughs Tarzan series every summer while visiting my grandfather’s place in New Hampshire. I also liked the Silver Chief series.

      I read stories centered around wild animals – so Jack London was another favorite as well.

      I know, not your normal reading topics for a little girl, but I’ve never been “normal”.

  27. Have you ever written fan fiction? For what fandom?

    • No, not really. The only thing I ever wrote that could be considered Fan Fiction was a short story that is in my Glimpses anthology. It’s fan fiction for Supernatural.

      If I was to write anything further, it would be based on either Supernatural or Dexter. 🙂

  28. Do you find a challenge like that is a real boost to kick start your writing, or to get past a writers block?

    • Miranda – thank you for stopping by and yes, sometimes challenges like this do help jump start an idea. Writing something different when you are stuck in a scene in your novel is always a good way to stretch your mind and get it off topic which does help with writers block.

  29. When you are writing do you “dress up and go to work” or just go with the comfies?

    • Ususally I’m writing after my day job – so I’m in normal clothes, no comfy sweats. On weekends, I’ll sometimes stay in my exercise scrubs for a little while – but I write in our family room – so hanging in my pajamas isn’t necessarily good, especially when company comes by. 🙂