Author Spotlight: Xio Axelrod

Hi Folks, 

OH MAN, WHAT A WHIRLWIND COUPLE OF WEEKS. In case you hadn’t noticed, I haven’t posted on the blog in a little bit for a variety of reasons. One reason being, I did write a blog post that was supposed to go up about two weeks ago, but I changed my mind at the last minute. 

My editor thought I should sit on it for awhile and decide if it was something I wanted to align with my brand. I believe in speaking my truth, but I also think when problematic issues in Romancelandia are addressed, it doesn’t always have the intended consequence. Although many of my points are valid, it’s more convenient for them to become lost in translation *cough dismissed cough* and much easier for me to be labeled the “Angry Black Woman.” So the post was scrapped. I believe every issue I addressed in my post will eventually be discussed as part of a larger conversation, and I’m A-okay with that. There’s a time and a place for everything. Let someone else take the baton and run with it. 

I’ve also been writing up a storm! By my estimate, I’m about two days away from finishing my manuscript and writing THE END! Well, that estimate only works if I can get some free time to write. My weekend was dedicated entirely to BookCon, which was excellent. BUT THIS POST ISN’T ABOUT ME, IT’S ABOUT XIO AXELROD! I first met Xio last year at RWA Nationals, and as many of you know, she’s a delightful lady! Get to know a little more about her. 

Take it away Xio…

I always find author interviews kind of boring. We only get to see one side of an author, the polite side. If you had an evil doppelganger, what detail would they enjoy revealing about you to the public that people would find surprising and possibly questionable?

I had to think about this one. My evil twin would probably reveal that I can be spiteful when someone wrongs me. And I suffer from slights far longer than I should, and longer than is healthy. I’ll be washing the dishes and suddenly start fuming about the redhead from sixth grade that tried to get me suspended from school because I wouldn’t give her my chocolate bar, lol.

If you gathered all of your friends in a room, what would they say about you?

They would say that they know everything and nothing about me. That I’m kind (I hope), and funny (I think), but a little remote. They’d say I have a jump-first-ask-how-to-jump-later attitude.

What happened to romantic comedies?

I’ve never been a huge fan of them, honestly, but Wallbanger by Alice Clayton is a favourite, as is Dangerous Curves Ahead by Sugar Jamison. The formula doesn’t normally interest me unless there’s a really good twist. One of my favourite rom-com films is Gross Pointe Blank. Talk about a twist on a trope. I’m actually writing my first romantic comedy. It’s for an anthology and it’s been a challenge. I can do banter, but the rest is damned hard!

Thinking of where you want your career to go, what’s the most ambitious thing you want to do?

Become Ava Duvernay 2.0? Seriously, though, I have my eye on screenwriting. I got a taste of it last fall and I think I’ve caught the bug. Ideally, I’d write a book that caught the attention of an Independent film company, have them by the rights, and work with them on the screenplay or consult on the script. Maybe grab a walk-on role? (I do have a theatre background.) And then I could use my musical background to compose the score.  Rinse and repeat for a whole franchise. 😊

If you were to switch bodies with a superhero for a day, who would you choose?

I don’t think I would, to be honest. I wouldn’t mind shadowing one or two of them for a few – hopefully quiet – days. Hang out at the Avengers headquarters for a bit (after Infinity Part II). Vacation in Wakanda and watch Shuri work her magic. If I could get inside the brain of a superhero for a second, it would probably be Groot. I just want to know what he’s thinking/feeling.

Do you remember the first romance novel you ever read? If so, does it stand the test of time? 

It wasn’t that long ago, so yeah. It was Crazy Little Thing by Tracy Brogan. Prior to that, I hadn’t knowingly read a romance novel. The Outlander series has been a favourite for years, but I’d never thought of them as romances, perhaps because the author doesn’t label them as such. Other than that, the closest thing to romance I’d read was Judy Blume back in elementary school. Crazy Little Thing opened my eyes to what romance was as of 2013, as opposed to the ones my mom read when I was small. Shortly after Tracy’s book, I read Playing the Part by Robin Covington, and then one of the Destiny books by Beverly Jenkins (can’t remember which one, as I devoured the series rather quickly, albeit out of order.) It was a crash course in romance storytelling and disavowed me of the notion that romance novels were trivial.

How long would you last in a zombie apocalypse? Follow up question, what’s your weapon of choice to hold off the horde?

If Mr. X were with me, I’d do pretty well. If he weren’t, I wouldn’t last long. I’m such a first world/city girl. On second thought, if I were in my hometown, Philly, I might survive for a year or two. Out in the country, forget it. And I’d pick up a flamethrower as soon as I could.

I’m totally judging you based on your answer to this question! Best breakfast food: Pancakes, waffles, or French toast?

Oh, wow. That’s a tough one. I am very picky about pancakes, so I don’t order them often. And I’ve yet to find a recipe I really like. When I do find good pancakes, it’s like a minor miracle. French toast is delicious but only when it’s made with an eggy bread, like challah. Favourite, though? Waffles. I make ‘em, order ‘em, eat ‘em with a variety of things. Chicken’n’waffles? Bring it on. Fresh strawberries with fresh whipped cream on the side? I’m down. Bacon in the batter with a drizzle of real maple syrup? Ohhhhh yeah. Judge away!

If you could hack into any one computer, whose computer would you choose?

Leslie Eisdale Banks’ a/k/a L.A. Banks. Leslie was a prolific writer. I’ve never met anyone who could write as fast as she could, and she left us far, far too soon. I’m convinced she had amazing, unfinished and/or unreleased novels on her computer that the world needs to read.

What’s the last thing you watched on Netflix?

I’m currently watching a Norwegian series called Grenseland, which translates to Borderlines on Netflix. It’s a dark, twisty police drama with a stellar cast. I’ll watch an episode when I need a break from writing/editing/promo/chapter biz. It’s also helping me to learn the language.

**Bonus Question**

Ever tried BDSM? If not, would you?

Like most people, I own a pair of leather cuffs. (Wait, you mean most people don’t? *shocked*) They’re purple, of course. Other than that, I’m pretty vanilla. HOWEVER, I once dabbled in BDSM photography. I sort of fell into it at a fanfic conference where they offered a live demo. The shots I took turned out great and revealed so much about the participants. It was an eye-opening experience. I became fascinated with that world for a little while. A voyeur, I suppose. Behind a lens.


Xio Axelrod is a USA Today Bestselling author of love stories, contemporary romance and (what she likes to call) strange, twisted tales. She also writes erotica as Xio Nin.

Xio grew up in the music industry and began recording at a young age. When she isn’t writing stories, she can be found in the studio, writing songs, or performing on international stages (under a different, not-so-secret name).

She lives in Philadelphia with one full-time husband and several part-time cats.

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Love is All, an anthology, will be out tomorrow! Happy Pride, y’all! 😀

Shit I’m Digging This Week: Volume Three

Hey Folks!

Happy Belated Mother’s Day and Happy Monday! Well, it’s a semi-happy Monday for me. I woke up this morning, so that’s always a great thing, but unfortunately, I woke up thanks to an unruly uterus. Overshare much? Maybe, but cramps are THE WORST. My morning was spent curled up on my couch in a fetal position. 😒

Despite a bodacious drum solo playing on my insides, I didn’t let those pesky cramps stop me from writing this morning during my 4 am sprint, and I sure as heck wouldn’t let em stop me from getting this blog post up. But on the bright side, RT begins this week! I’ll be stalking many author friends social media accounts! TAKE ALL THE PICS, PLEASE! I sat out Reno this year but next year… New Orleans, I will be in you!

Soooo… what am I digging this week? 

Into the Badlands 

*whispers* Lewis appears at the start of the clip, but you also see his fight sequence ramp up at 1:31

I have a celebrity crush. Okay, to be fair I have a lot of celebrity crushes. A LOT. But my latest crush? Lewis Tan. I follow him on Instagram and Twitter, and I even got a couple of likes and a response to one of my comments. WOOO! I AM WINNING! When Lewis announced he was joining the cast of Into the Badlands, I decided to watch the show. IT HAS EVERYTHING: A GREAT STORYLINE, AN EPIC AND FORBIDDEN ROMANCE, AWESOME VILLAINS, AMAZING COSTUMES, AND YUMMY EYE CANDY. 

Peeps, it was the BEST DECISION EVER. I cried at the end of Season Two. Like openly wept. Into the Badlands has to be one of the most inclusive shows on TV right now, AND THE FIGHT SCENES ARE EPIC. Trust me on this. Binge the show on Netflix. The first season has six episodes, the second season has ten episodes, and the current season (Season Three) is now airing on AMC. Lewis’s character, Gaius Chau is about to light it up! I’m really anxious to see how everything plays out. I don’t want to give too many spoilers, but I certainly want you to watch the show. Doooo eeeeet!

Seven Seconds

Netflix knows me. Like really really really well. We’re BFF’s. I think we’ve only had one disagreement when it came to a suggestion recommended for me. I hated Dr. Strange, but I needed to watch it, and Netflix knew that. I would have missed an intricate part of the Avengers: Infinity War had I not viewed the film. THANKS, NETFLIX FOR BEING SO PUSHY! Anyway, Seven Seconds was another suggestion offered. To be fair, I’ve had enough to deal with in regards to police shootings involving unarmed black men and boys in the news, and my initial thought was HARD PASS, Netflix. But I have a rule: Give a TV show one episode. If I can make it past the first episode and I want to know more about the characters and their journey, then the show deserves a fair shot. I do the same litmus test for books. If I’m not hooked by the first chapter, I bow out. 

Glad I stuck with it. Seven Seconds was some of what I expected but a lot of what I did not. It was gut-wrenching and at times very infuriating, but it made for fantastic television. I should have known with Regina King cast in a prominent role it was going to be worthwhile. The show also spotlights Jersey City, NJ. It’s the city on the other side of the Holland Tunnel you drive through to get to I-95 South. It was interesting to see how they tackled a smaller police force in NYC’s backyard. I enjoyed it, and I recommend you watch it.  

I’m Diggin’ the Following Articles:

I’m only digging this because I don’t know if I fully grasp the fascination. It’s odd yet alluring. Peeps, fish sex is a thing, and I cannot deal. Listen, this is part of the reason I still haven’t watched the Shape of Water. IT INVOLVES A MAN WHO IS A FISH. We’re not talking hot merman here… 😕

The story behind Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’. Of course, I had to include a video clip for your viewing pleasure. Steve Perry’s hair is glorious.

Queer Rep On-Screen in Book-to-Film Adaptations

Queer Artistry 

And that’s all folks! See you in two weeks for more Shit I’m Diggin’!

Author Spotlight: Christa Tomlinson

Hey Folks!

Happy Monday! I’m celebrating another sunny spring day in the Big Apple. I’ve also been dragging my arse since my 4 am wake-up time, but hopefully, a mid-afternoon cup of coffee will help. I’ve followed today’s featured author on Twitter for some time, and I was curious to learn a bit about her so I asked if she’d be interested in being interviewed for the blog and here we are! Without further ado, take it away Christa!  

I always find author interviews kind of boring. We only get to see one side of an author, the polite side. If you had an evil doppelganger, what detail would they enjoy revealing about you to the public that people would find surprising and possibly questionable?

Oh, my goodness. I’m so boring that it took me forever to think of an answer for this! I guess I’ll go with the fact that I’m not the biggest fan of sex. That’s weird, because I’m an erotic romance author, right? But it’s true. I don’t know if that makes me Ace or Demi or whatever, I just know for the most part, I’d rather not. I do love writing steamy and emotional scenes. But it always makes me laugh when someone asks if I’ve experienced the things I write about (wink-wink, nudge-nudge) because no. Not at all.

Are there any laws or social rules that completely baffle you?

This is a great question and, I was just thinking of this recently! Honestly, the fact that sex work is illegal is so odd to me. I often think this when I come across sex work talk on Twitter. I understand the history of controlling (mostly) women’s bodies and the repressive views western culture has towards sex. But it’s just so ridiculous. It’s a job. As long as the person is an adult and doing the work of their own free will and using safe practices, I don’t see what the problem is.

What are you freakishly good at?

Figuring out what words mean. I’ve never studied how to break down words or learned the Latin origins etc. But I’m still really good at hearing or looking at an obscure word I’ve never come across before and immediately knowing what it means.

In elementary school, who was your most interesting teacher?

My first-grade teacher, Mrs. Cheryl Burbage. She was awesome in so many ways. She wore turtle necks and had big glasses and brought in masks and instruments on loan from her African friends. And she encouraged me to read a lot, even more than I already did, and put books by African American authors in my path. She was also the first person to encourage me to become a writer.

If someone were to dive into the M/M Romance subgenre for the first time, what book would you recommend they read?

I’m going to rec one of mine, partly because it fits but also because I always blank when it comes to recommendations. I’d say try Bad Boys Need Love Too: Nate. It’s short, so the reader won’t have to spend too much time before they decide if they like it or not. It’s sweet and sexy, so you get a little taste of each. And it’s diverse, with a biracial (black and white) hero. Best to start off reading the genre on a nice, inclusive note. 😉

What movie or television show always makes you laugh no matter how often you watch it? 

There are so many! My favorites are probably things that weren’t meant to be funny, but my family and I watched it, somehow found humor there and made a thousand inside jokes about it. But to answer the question, I’ll say Modern Family. That show always has me screaming with laughter. The actors are amazing, and the writing is perfect.

What’s something that everyone, absolutely everyone, in the entire world can agree on? 

Uh… that Everybody Hates Chris? Haha! I’m not sure actually. Maybe that naps are the bomb and, we should all take guilt-free naps when necessary.

What about the opposite sex confuses you the most?

That they don’t understand how annoying it is when they ‘well, actually’ or take over a conversation in general. Such a turn-off.

How do you feel about putting pineapple on pizza?

Love it! Especially with black olives and Italian sausage. That’s my go-to order of toppings.

My face reading Christa’s answer: 😐

If you were given a one-minute ad slot during the Super Bowl and you couldn’t sell your books, what would you fill it with?  

 An ad for women’s roller derby! I played in the league in Houston and I love the sport. It would be awesome for it to get that national exposure so more people can get involved.

**Bonus Question**

Ever tried BDSM? If not, would you?

I’ve never tried it. But I did go to a play party for research purposes when I was writing my first published book. It was very interesting and there were so many nice people who reached out to welcome me and help with information.


Christa Tomlinson is an exciting up and coming author in erotic romance. Her first self-published novel, The Sergeant, was an Amazon Best Seller for Gay and Lesbian Erotica for seven weeks straight.

Christa graduated from The University of Missouri-St. Louis with a degree in history. She loves to create stories that are emotional and lovely with sex that is integral to the characters’ romantic arc. Christa lives in Houston, Texas with her two dogs, and is a retired roller derby player.

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