Monthly Archives: August 2020
AuThursday – Darlene DeLuca
Please welcome Darlene DeLuca to The Clog Blog! Darlene can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
Hi, everyone. Thanks for having me, Tina! My degree is in Journalism, and I started my writing career as a newspaper reporter. That was before kids. The hours were long and I spent many nights attending planning commission meetings and city council meetings. While I learned a lot, after a few years, I moved into corporate communications. I spent about 25 years writing for employee and consumer publications with a little art direction thrown in as well. Then I was “downsized” and left Corporate America for creative writing. I have to say, writing novels is a lot more fun! Summer is my season. I love a sunny day at the beach with a good book, a little dark chocolate and a cold glass of iced tea!
How do you make time to write?
For me, the great thing about writing is the flexibility, because life happens and often eats into regular business hours. I can, and do, write whenever. I’m probably most productive in the middle of the day when I get all the busywork out of the way and I have the house to myself. I’m not one of those get-up-at-4 a.m.-and-start-going types. I need my beauty sleep!
What genre are your books and what draws you to this genre?
I write women’s fiction and contemporary romance. Basically, I like stories about people. I like the affirmation that generally accompanies women’s fiction, and I like the good old-fashioned happy ending of a romance.
How did you deal with Rejection Letters if you received any?
Oh, yeah, I’ve received them! They’re hard, but you’ll never achieve success by quitting. The hardest ones are the “passes” after a revise-and-resubmit because it’s easy to get your hopes up then. I just try to glean what I can from them and move on. It helps to have a support network of other writers!
How did you come up with the idea for your Women of Whitfield series?
It’s hard to ever pinpoint an exact moment of inspiration. The tiniest thing can spark an idea and it just grows with time and attention. Once I started developing the characters, it became obvious that each one of these friends needed her own story. I also liked the idea of featuring women in their fifties and delving into the issues of that life stage.
What are your thoughts on writing a book series?
I like the Whitfield series and the characters began to seem like real people to me, but honestly, by the time I finished the third story, I was ready to move on to something else. I’m currently developing a romance series that I’ve dubbed the “Masterpiece Series, where Love is an Art and every Romance a Priceless Treasure.” The stories are all related to art in one way or another.
How are you publishing your most recent book “The Story between us” and why? (*e.g. Indie, traditional or small press)
This is my first step into traditional publishing. My earlier works were self-published on Amazon’s direct publishing platform. “The Story Between Us” is part of the Sweetheart Line from The Wild Rose Press. It’s a very different process, and I’m hoping to reach a wider audience through their publishing connections. It would have been much faster to publish myself, but I’m happy to try something new!
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Learn the craft. Read a lot. Join a critique group. Look for and accept genuine feedback and criticism.
Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?
Everywhere, I hope! Here are the links to my social media sites:
Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?
Reed pulled his keys out of his pocket. In the doorway, he folded his arms and leaned against the casing. “Can I ask you a question?”
Chest pounding, Kristen forced a smile. “Of course.” She took a couple of steps toward him and braced a hand against the back of the sofa.
“Is writing your only reason for being here?”
Heavy, charged air closed around her. How to answer that? Honestly, of course, but…how honestly? “Well, writing is my goal for sure. But—” She glanced around the room before looking at him again. “I’d love to ride my horse, er, Star, and spend some time with…with people I like, too.”
As he pushed off from the door, a slow grin spread across his face. “Sounds like an excellent plan.” He sauntered closer. About a foot away, he stopped. “You’re good with dinner at the main house tonight? Don’t let Dylan bully you. You decide.”
She gave a shaky laugh. That was the plan, right? She couldn’t remember for sure. Her brain was going fuzzy. “I’d love to,” she managed to say.
He leaned closer, his breath warm on her cheek. She braced herself for a friendly peck, but when her eyes fluttered shut, his lips grazed hers. Hovered there, and when she thought her legs might give out, Reed caught her arm and pulled her slightly toward him, his lips covering hers again.
Sparks exploded in her brain, and she grabbed hold of his arm. All of her senses came alive and responded to the unexpected deluge.
A long moment later, he pulled back and brushed a thumb across her cheek. “See you in about an hour.”
Kristen could only nod. As soon as the door closed behind him, she collapsed against the sofa. She ran a finger along her bottom lip. That kiss…Oh, man. The chances of her getting any writing done this weekend just dropped from unlikely to who-said-anything-about-writing?
Cover Reveal – Running Forward by Crystal Perkins
The Lost Island by Darla Stone
“They mustn’t get them.” The woman exclaimed with just as much fear.
A soft cry came from the bundle she was carrying. “Shh, there, there, little one. It will be all right.” She was carrying an infant but not just any infant; the male and female were entrusted with a pair of children: one boy and one girl, both brother and sister to the other. An arrow suddenly flew by the male’s head.
“They’re here. We must hurry to the next tree line.” The male and female took off running, their cloaks flowing behind them like a superhero’s cape.
Neither was sure of how long they ran, only knowing that their one duty was to keep them safe. When they stopped again, they had entered a small town. It was early evening, and soon they would have the cover of darkness on their side. Until then, they would need to find shelter.
The couple came across an abandoned-looking house. The grass in the front was overgrown, and there were no signs of life inside. The couple moved around to the back of the house and made their way inside. Their observations of the dwelling were correct. It was truly abandoned.
“Why would anyone leave their home like this?” The woman asked with all seriousness and concern.
The furniture was still there, but the pieces held years of dust. Cobwebs hung from every corner, and even the air smelled old.
“I do not know, but we will need to stay here for now. When it is dark, we can move again.” He said to his female companion.
“I am not sure we have that long. The little ones will be hungry soon and will need to be fed,” the female commented.
“They will be alright. We will find the little one’s food as soon as we can.” He reassured her.
When night fell, the couple and their precious bundles left the shelter of the abandoned house. The air was cold and biting. They kept their young cargo out in this cold for very long wouldn’t be right. Swiftly they moved from shadow to shadow and came across a church with its parishioners departing through the front door.
“There, look there. A place of worship. We will find help there.” He said confidence brimming in his voice for the first time since having immerged from the forest earlier that day.
“Are you certain?” she asked nervously.
“Yes, the magic is guiding us there” was his reply, and they moved quickly toward the building.
They stopped at the bottom of the steps to the church. The priest at the top of the stairs looked down upon them. He was an older man with salt and pepper hair. His pure black shirt and white collar marked him as the man of God for this place of worship.
“May I help you, my children?” The priest asked the couple
“Are you the spiritual leader for this place of worship?” the man asked.
“Yes, my son, I am.” The priest replied with so much warmth and kindness that the mysterious couple still at the bottom of the steps visibly relaxed.
“Please, we need your help. May we come in?” the female asked pleadingly.
“Of course, this is a house of God. All are welcome here.” The priest made a gesture for them to move inside.
Once they were all inside and seated, the priest asked, “How may I help you?”
That was when the bundle the male was holding began to cry. He raised the child to his shoulder and began to pat it’s back in a soothing manner.
The priest’s eyes widened as he gazed upon the male’s hand. On his ring finger were an onyx and gold ring. Etched into the onyx was the image of a dragon. The priest uttered words he thought he would never say again.
“May the strength of the dragon find you and keep you safe.”
The male looked up into the priest’s eyes. “May the wings of the dragon bring you to your freedom.”
The man instantly replied, and he held out his hand palm side down. The priest grabbed his forearm, and the man gripped the priest’s flipping over his arm to look at the priest’s hand.
“By the order, how are you hear brother?” the male asked.
“That isn’t important now, what is important is why are you here?” It was the question the priest now raised. The male looked around the sanctuary.
“Is there a place more private that we may speak?” The male asked, and his urgency was not lost on the priest.
The priest nodded, “Yes, come. This way to my office.”
The pair hurried to follow the priest through the sanctuary. They entered the office to which the priest spoke of, and all took a seat. The mysterious male began his tale.
“They discovered who the little ones are. My mate and I will take the girl and raise her here, but the boy must be hidden. I have just enough magic left to place a spell upon him so that when the time is right, he will find her and be reunited. Until then, no one beyond the three of us must know where they are.” The male explained.
“And they could also use some nourishment.” He said as a side note, the bundle he carried became fussier.
“I can see that.” The priest said with a smile.
“Very well, give me a few moments. There is a small market next door. I will go and pick up some supplies and bring them back so these little ones can have a full belly.” The priest stood to leave but was stopped by the male.
“Brother, be careful, we may have been followed here. I do not wish harm to come to you.” The priest acknowledged his warning with a nod and left the room. The woman, still filled with worry and concern turned to her male counterpart.
“What is a member of the order doing here. How do we know we can trust him?” she asked again fear continued to lace her voice.
“Trust me, my darling, the magic drew us here. This is where we are supposed to be. We will have to blend into this world and raise the girl you hold in your arms as our own. The boy will be well hidden, and everything will be alright. Even now, she soothes herself with your medallion. Have faith, my love.” With the reassurance from her husband, the woman sat back in her seat, deciding to leave it in the fates’ hands. “Amelia, I always wanted to name a little girl Amelia.”
AuThursday – Amalia Theresa
Please welcome Amalia Theresa to The Clog Blog! Amalia, can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
All my life, I’ve wanted to be a writer. Even as early as second grade, I was getting up for show and tell with tiny little “books” I’d written and illustrated on scratch paper and stapled together to share with three classes of kids, and now I’m the author of nearly two dozen novels/novellas and a handful of short stories spanning the genres of historical fiction, fantasy, and romance, building off my degree in Classical Studies and English, both.
I was raised extremely Catholic in upstate New York but realized Thor had been knocking on my door for maybe the whole of my life sometime in my early twenties, and after writing a sprawling romantic fantasy series to make sense of it all within the context of how I was raised and what I was supposed to believe, I embraced Norse Paganism/Heathenry, and now I continue to write about what it means to be pagan as I continue a spiritual journey I never expected to take.
Of course, I also just write fun stuff, too, which is why this year I launched a THIRD pen name, Amalia Theresa, for sexy rom coms that don’t fit under my Amalia Dillin (fantasy) or Amalia Carosella (historical fiction/women’s fiction) brands.
How do you make time to write?
I’m a full-time author so making time both to read and to write is literally my job and has been since 2009! But I find that making sure I start putting down words FIRST THING when I sit down at my laptop makes a big difference to my productivity for the day. And, it’s taken me a long time to realize it, but making time to refill the well with reading and enjoying other story-telling formats and let myself have fallow periods is just as important as the time I spend writing.
What genre are your books & what draws you to this genre?
As Amalia Theresa, I’m writing sexy rom coms for the sheer JOY and DELIGHT of accompanying these characters on their romantic journeys. I’ve always enjoyed reading romance, and I’ve particularly fallen in love with contemporary rom coms in the last five to seven years or so, so while I was in denial for a while, it really isn’t a surprise to find myself writing a few, myself. They’re just FUN, and I needed a little bit more fun, to remember that writing, for me, is about the fun of discovery and spending time with characters I enjoy as much as it is everything else.
Have you written any other novels in collaboration with other writers?
As Amalia Carosella I took part in the History 360 Team’s A SEA OF SORROW: A NOVEL OF ODYSSEUS, which was a collaborative novel comprised of a novella by each contributing author that when read together form a complete narrative (but said novellas can also be read individually as well!) It was a lot of fun to find my way back to the Bronze Age and an interesting challenge to incorporate the perspectives of a handful of other authors alongside my own!
I also wrote a goofy, just for fun series on my blog with Mia Hayson, called Thor in Zombie Land—it’s comprised of two adventures, Wheels on the Bus and Aesir Legal, both about the girls Amalia and Mia, who get caught up in a lot of trouble thanks to their thundergod and their zombies respectively. We had a BLAST writing it together! (And periodically talk about writing more, someday.)
Do you ever get writer’s Block?
Not Writer’s Block, no, but periods in which I am tapped out and need to recharge and refill my well creatively, absolutely. There have also been times when writing a particular story was not something I could emotionally take on because it became too real or too resonant to something that I was experiencing or echoed unfortunately somehow in another respect, but I’ve found each time that there were bigger reasons in addition for why I had to break from that project and work on other things instead—that the project was enriched by the time I spent away from it, writing something else because the lessons I learned in writing those other things meant I was better able to do the story I had to put aside justice.
For example, one book that I had to step away from and came back to YEARS later and feel I did absolutely right by in doing so, was FROM ASGARD, WITH LOVE. If I had not written DAUGHTER OF A THOUSAND YEARS between starting and finishing FROM ASGARD, I could not have written the book it needed to be—and I’m incredibly proud of how it turned out as a result.
I see you have three pen names, Amalia Dillin, Amalia Carosella, and Amalia Theresa, why do you choose to write under a pen name and why three? 🙂
To be fair, I’m not sure I really chose my second pen name (Amalia Carosella) so much as it was deemed necessary by the industry in order to launch myself in historical fiction after publishing fantasy as Amalia Dillin (I had published with a micro-press and my sales were not Traditional Publishing Impressive). My Carosella books and my Dillin books, though the former are historical fiction and the latter are fantasy are thematically not SO different from one another—I’m asking and answering a lot of the same big questions about what it means to be a human and engage with myth and the divine, I think, under both names.
That said, my sexy rom coms were such a huge break from what I had previously been writing that I felt like I did definitely need to distinguish them from the rest of my work, and by using the names we shared (Amalia Theresa) I also wanted to honor my great aunt, who said once that if I wanted to be successful as an author, I needed to learn to write the sex!
In my PLAYING TO WIN rom-com series, I think I can confidently say that I have, in fact, learned how to write the sex! *fans self*
How are you publishing your latest book and why? (*e.g. Indie, traditional)
Publishing is such a tricky business.
The Short Answer is: Since PLAYING TO WIN, the first book in the series skewed toward the New Adult end of the romance spectrum and the traditional side of the industry has not quite figured out how best to capture that market, especially not at PLAYING TO WIN’s length, I opted to self-pub/indie-pub my PLAYING TO WIN series.
The Long Answer involves the ghost of my great aunt and some spiritual experiences that felt as though they were telling me to just get the books out into the world because they mattered, but I think it is probably a lot to get into in this kind of interview! Ha. (I am getting weirder and weirder the longer I live this author life.)
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Build time off from writing into your writing discipline/practice. It is JUST as critically important as the time you spend doing the actual writing. Do not fall into the trap of “I should be writing” guilt that sucks all the joy out of any scrap of time you have to enjoy your other hobbies. Yes, show up for your writing time, but make the time you spend NOT writing, refilling the well of your creative self, just as sacred. Burn out isn’t something I’d wish on anyone.
Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?
I’m most active on twitter as @AmaliaTd and @AmaliaTheresa, but you can also join me on Patreon https://www.patreon.com/Amaliad and of course my main website/blog www.amaliadillin.com, and on Facebook, too, at https://www.facebook.com/AmaliaDillin
Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?
Thanks so much for having me and I’d be THRILLED to share a taste of my third rom-com: From PLAYING HOUSE, releasing today! August 13th!
“Hey, Mom,” Abe said, pressing his phone to his ear and sliding his cereal bowl back onto the table. He’d settled onto one of the stools at the breakfast bar like he belonged there, watching me fish out silverware and dishes as if he were waiting for the pop quiz on where to find things later. Until his phone had started buzzing, anyway.
Now his eyes had locked on mine from across the room, narrowing slightly. “Sel called you?”
I grinned. It had been simple, really. Shoot a couple texts to Sully talking about how spooky the house was at night. How I’d scared myself awake because of some stupid shadow on the ceiling, woken myself up screaming the night before and it had taken me hours to get back to sleep, knowing I was alone, thinking about how if anything happened to me if someone tried to break-in, we were too far from any neighbors for anyone to hear my scream.
Of course, Sully wouldn’t be able to resist. He called Will his fixer, but Sully had the same impulse. Always wanting to help. Ready to lend a hand or do a favor for the people he loved, whether they wanted him intruding or not. Pair my (totally real, for the record) nightmare with what Sully would of course know about his brother’s ambivalence in returning home, and it was a no brainer. He’d call his mom, tell her I needed some extra support and oh, by the way, since Abe was in town maybe he could offer it, and then Dr. O’Sullivan would connect that with what I’d told her over Abe’s phone the night before—and here we were. Abraham O’Sullivan on the phone with his mother, staring at me with something like awe.
“Yeah, we didn’t really talk about it, but I can see that. She was pretty jumpy about keeping the lights on,” he said, then paused, listening for another span. “No, I don’t have any solid plans. But you can’t really think Midge is going to want me hanging around, imposing myself…”
He trailed off, listening again. “Yeah.” He shook his head, his eyes bright with amusement now. “I mean, I can only offer. It’s up to her to say yes.” Silence again. “All right,” he said, pretending doubt. “I’ll leave that up to you, then.” Quiet again. “Love you, too, Mom.” Pause. “Bye.”
“Well?” I asked.
“Should I be afraid of you, Violet?” he asked, his lips twitching. “Because I’m starting to wonder.”
I laughed. “If you needed to be afraid of me the question of whether you should be would never have crossed your mind. Didn’t we go over this last night?”
“Yeah, yeah,” he said. “Don’t let the people you’re trying to dupe cotton on to the fact that you’re duping them. But you also said Sully knows what you’re capable of, and from where I’m sitting, you just worked him and my mom like puppets on strings.”
“Then I guess you’re just going to have to take your chances,” I said, lifting a shoulder. “But either way, a bet is a bet, and I own you for the next two weeks.”
“Not quite, Midgelet. You’ve still got another call from my mother to field,” he said. “Without giving away the game.”
“Pfft.” I waved that away. Dr. O’Sullivan may have been a psychologist but getting her to come up with the plan of having Abe stay was ninety percent of the battle on this one. And even if she thought I might be manipulating her, as long as she didn’t realize it was Abe who was looking for an excuse not to go home, I was still in the clear. “Child’s play.”
“Wouldn’t want you to get cocky, there, Champ,” Abe said, laughing. “Are you sure you’re not some kind of psychopath?”
“Nah,” I said. “I definitely care about people’s feelings. But working in the restaurant business, you really hone your people skills. Learn how to work them so they leave happy, even if their meal or their service wasn’t perfect. Will’s pretty good at it too, when he wants to be, and if you’d ever seen my Gramps in the dining room…” I kissed my fingers and raised them in salute to the genius that was my grandfather’s talent. “The man could have sold fur coats to sunbathers on the hottest day of the year. That Fowler charm was legendary.”
“Seems like you’re not so far behind him,” Abe said. “Little Miss Snake Oil Saleswoman.”
“Are you calling me a conman again, Abraham?” I asked. “Because once again, I must remind you that I’m doing all this for your benefit.”
He shook his head. “I don’t believe that for a second, Midgelet. If I were a betting man—” (Which clearly he was.) “—I’d put money on the fact that you really are getting jumpy alone at night in this house. Did you have some shitty customer give you a hard time after your parents left or something?”
I flushed, spinning on my heel and opening the fridge as if I were looking for something more to eat while my stomach twisted in memory. It was kind of inevitable. There was always one asshole who took doing my job as an invitation of a more personal nature. And once in a very great while, even after I had them thrown out, they might linger in the parking lot around closing. But that could happen to anyone, in any service industry. In any industry at all, really, where you worked with other human beings. It wasn’t anything I hadn’t dealt with before—and I certainly wasn’t going to admit that coming home to an empty house with my skin crawling from a close encounter had turned my resting state of anxiety up a notch. I didn’t really need Will worrying about any of that. He’d probably try to come home if he found out.
“Hey,” Abe said, and suddenly he was behind me, his hand covering mine on the refrigerator door. Closing it and urging me back around. “You know we’ve all got your back, right? If some asshole is creeping on you, just point me in the dude’s direction and it’s done. He won’t even so much as look at you again without his balls trying to climb back up inside his body.”
I made myself laugh. “It’s not anything I can’t handle.”
He ducked his head, catching my eyes. “I’m not questioning your ability to handle it, Midgelet. But if you want a little back-up, there’s no shame in asking for it. Or using me for the purpose while I’m already houseboying, for that matter. If I’m going to be running errands and providing maid service, why not add bodyguard to the mix?”
“I don’t need a bodyguard,” I said firmly, stiffening. “I don’t need help or support, but it would sure be nice if people stopped acting like I can’t handle myself or the problems that come with running a restaurant when I’ve literally been training for it my whole life.”
“All right.” He backed off, holding his hands up. “You don’t need help or support; you’ve got this all by your onesie. I’m sure that’s all true—but it doesn’t mean that a little help or support wouldn’t make it easier. That having a team doesn’t still help, even if you can skate circles around the rest of us.”
I shook my head. “The minute I even so much as think I need help, you know how it’s going to be. My parents and Will all worrying about me, feeling guilty for leaving and immediately making plans to come back. I have to do this, and right now I have to do it alone.”
“Well, if you ask me, that’s bullshit,” he said and when I straightened, opening my mouth to argue, he hurried on. “Bullshit of them to make you feel like you don’t have any other choice but to do it all by yourself, without any kind of support, because otherwise they’ll think you can’t. Everyone needs a hand once in a while, even when they’re pros.”
“So why are you so pissed about having to accept some help of your own?” I asked. “You’re doing everything you can to drag out moving back home.”
“I haven’t turned you down, have I?” he asked. “I’m accepting your offer to stay here instead. At least for a couple of weeks. You help me, I help you—I don’t see what the problem is.”
I didn’t really know, either. Why shouldn’t I accept Abe’s help? It wasn’t like he was going to run home to his mother and spill all my secrets. Clearly they didn’t have that kind of relationship. And even if he did, Dr. O’Sullivan wasn’t going to break his confidence. That wasn’t how she operated, and she’d understand that I wanted to do this without giving my family reason to doubt.
It was just that he was Abe. I didn’t want to get used to having him around. And telling him he could stay here—that had already been a lapse in judgment. As good as he looked, and as ridiculously kind as he’d been (this Midgelet nonsense aside), I was basically asking for heartbreak.
“No one ever finds out,” I said despite myself. “Not that you’re trying to avoid moving back in with your parents, and not that I was nervous about being alone because of one asshole at Fowler’s. The story is that I’m just a little afraid of the dark, and you just happen to have nothing better to do with your time.”
“Suits me just fine,” he said. “Whatever you need to feel safe the next two weeks, I’ve got you.”
“How do you feel about dropping in every evening for a beer or whatever, and then walking me out?” I asked. “That and knowing you’re in the house at night should be all I really need. I don’t think anyone is going to be loitering around the parking lot if they know you’re with me.”
“With you or with you?” he asked.
I shook my head. “No fake relationships. That never ends well for anyone.”
Abe laughed. “All right. Just physically nearby. I can do that.”
“In addition to being my house and errand boy,” I said. “A deal is a deal, after all.”
He grinned down at me, so beautiful I practically melted into the floor. “Assuming you don’t still manage to tip off my mother, of course.”
But I think we both knew that on that score, I’d already won.
Cover Reveal – Downfall by Shae Scott
A Date to Play Fore by Heidi McLaughlin and LP Dover
Heart racing, my eyes snap open. “What?” I gasp.
He points toward the fairway. “Look who it is.”
There’s only one person it could be to earn such a hated look from my brother. And of course, when I focus on the guy about to hit his ball, I recognize his stance. Greyson Jennings has his own style when it comes to golf. I hate the guy, but he’s one of the best. You can’t help but admire how talented he is.
Bryan fumes and clenches the steering wheel. “Of all places he could be, why in the hell is he here?” I’ve been wondering the same thing. Greyson never answered when I asked him. It wouldn’t surprise me if he did it on purpose. The only way he could’ve found out would be through my social media.
Bryan hops out of the cart and reaches for his driver. Eyes wide, I can feel my heart pounding harder. “Bryan, what are you doing?”
He tees up his ball and smiles. “Just having a little fun, sis. If I knock him out, he deserves it.”
This is going to be a disaster. I just know it. The sound of his driver connecting with the ball is so loud it echoes in my ears. I watch it sail through the air, right in the direction toward Greyson. He doesn’t even yell fore, and I’m too shocked to even speak. The ball starts to drop from the sky and when it lands, it’s only about three feet away from Greyson and his best friend, Eli. He jerks around and throws his arms up in the air. Bryan bursts out laughing and flips them both off.
Greyson and Eli jump in their cart and head toward us. This is not what I want. “Just great,” I grumble. “Now look what you did.”
Bryan comes over to me and leans against the cart. “The fucker deserved it. It’s time he knows I’m back in the game.”
The last thing I want is to get in the middle of a testosterone match. I don’t care about seeing who has the bigger balls. When Greyson gets closer, his snarl turns into a smile when he notices me. Definitely not what I want. Bryan steps forward, driver in hand.
“Sorry about that,” my brother taunts, “I didn’t exactly hit what I was aiming for.”
Greyson bursts out laughing and steps out of the cart. “You never do. You obviously don’t know how to handle your shaft.”
Here we go. Groaning, I smack a hand to my forehead. “Really? This is what I’m going to have to put up with today?”
Greyson smirks at me, his gaze roaming over my bare legs before settling back on my eyes. “It’s good to see you again, Leah. I didn’t know you played golf.”
Busted. Bryan’s going to be pissed I didn’t tell him. His shoulders tense but he doesn’t look at me. Instead, he moves to the front of the cart to block Greyson from looking at me. “How about we play teams? My sister and I against you and your caddy.”
The day just got worse. I’m going to kill my brother. Then again, maybe we can teach Greyson a lesson.
“Bryan, no,” I snap. “I suck at golf. We’ll lose.”
His eyes meet mine for the briefest of moments. Even though he can’t read my mind, we have a connection. Bryan stands up straighter and turns back to Greyson. “No worries, sis. I’ll play good enough for us both.”
“What are we playing for?” Greyson asks, moving to the side so he can see me. “Money? A date?”
I roll my eyes. “You can forget that.” I hop out of the cart and join my brother. “How about a thousand dollars?”
Greyson and Eli look at each other and I can see the outright arrogance on their faces. That’s their downfall. Greyson holds out a hand to my brother. “Deal. A thousand dollars.”
Bryan shakes his hand, the muscles in both of their forearms clenching. “Deal,” Bryan agrees.”
Greyson tips his hat at me and smiles. “I’m happy you’ll be playing with me.”
I grab my driver out of my bag. “I’d rather play with myself.” He finds it hilarious, but I see it as a jab. The guy is an insufferable tool.
Since Bryan already drove his ball to hit Greyson, it ends up being my turn. I tee up my ball and swing. It slices to the right, completely out of the fairway and into the rough. Greyson and Eli chuckle under their breath as they drive away while Bryan glares at me.
“Please tell me you did that on purpose?”
My lips pull up into a smile. “Of course, I did. Think about how much fun it’s going to be when we kick his ass.”
Bryan grins wide. “Let’s show him what we can do.”
Hole after hole, we’re neck and neck with only one stroke between us. It’s a close match, but I’m holding my own, especially for a female in a mostly male dominated sport. It all comes down to the eighteenth hole. It’s a par three with water all around the green. We all managed to get across the water, and now, it’s time to putt. It’s all down to me. If I can birdie my putt, my brother and I will win. If I don’t, we’re screwed. I can’t let Bryan down. He needs this win, and Greyson needs to be taken down a notch.
Taking a deep breath, I look over at the hole and then down at my ball. It’s about an eight-foot-long putt. I breathe in and out and close my eyes. Come on, Leah, you can do this. I open my eyes and tap the ball. It rolls across the green … and right into the hole.
Bryan yells and scoops me up into his arms. “Hell fucking yeah. You did it!”
He swings me around and I laugh. Greyson and Eli both seem impressed. Greyson walks over and pulls out a wad of cash from his wallet. Bryan sets me down and Greyson hands him the money. “Good job. It’s about time you won at something. I hate it had to be because of your sister.”
Bryan narrows his gaze. “But at least she kicked your ass cocksucker. You got beat out by a girl. Wait till everyone finds out about this.”
Greyson shrugs and Bryan walks over to the cart. Before I can turn, he lightly grabs my arm. “I’m impressed. Guess it’s not a surprise since your father’s a legend. He taught you well.”
“Yes, he did.”
His eyes search mine. “Go out with me tomorrow. I think we could have some fun.”
I snort. “I can do that without you.” My smile grows wider. “Besides, I’ll be busy spending that thousand dollars.”
Greyson chuckles. “You do that. Maybe next time.”
I walk backwards toward the cart. “Not gonna happen.”
First Friday Lunch – Writing Process
AuThursday – Marie Johnston
Please welcome my fellow North Dakotan and Romance Writer, Marie Johnston, to The Clog Blog! Marie, can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I started out as a science geek, and I guess I’m still one. I left full-time lab work ten years ago when we had our third kid (we now have four), worked for almost five years part-time, and then wrote full-time in the last few years. But COVID has drawn me back to the lab and I’m really enjoying it. Now that my kids are older, I’m determined to juggle both my writing gig and my med tech career. It won’t be easy, but I’m too social to work at home during another North Dakota winter.
What are your current projects?
I’m usually working on more than one book at a time. I have a paranormal romance that releases in July that I’m finishing edits on. It’s the last one planned in that series, which spawned from my first series ever. I’m in the middle of writing a contemporary romance that will be published by K. Bromberg in her Everyday Heroes World in December. It’s been a bit harder (a whole lot harder) to find the time to write while I’m working. I miss those long stretches where I can really sink into the story.
Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?
I’m fortunate to be a versatile writer. If needed, I’ll write on anything, anywhere. I prefer to sit for long, uninterrupted stretches, usually before noon. Some of my best writing has been done while waiting in the car with my computer propped on the steering wheel outside of one of my kids’ practices. No one’s called the cops on me yet for sitting in a dark, almost empty, parking lot of a school for over an hour.
When I don’t have my computer or space is limited, I’ll type out an email to myself on the phone. If I’m really time-crunched, I’ll dictate, but I don’t prefer it. I like physically typing. If I only have a pen and paper, then I’ll plot even though I’m typically a linear pantser. I like to write from beginning to end and let the story unfold, which works better for me since I don’t care for the editing stages, which I have a lot of if I jump around to write different scenes and then seam them all together.
You’ve written over forty books, where do your ideas come from?
Anywhere and everywhere. I’ll hear a song, a phrase, anything that evokes emotion and puts a scene in my head. From there, I’ll ask questions and more of the story will be revealed. Sometimes, all I have is that scene or idea and I’ve incorporated those in my stories. One of them was the idea of the heroine sitting in a coffee shop, eavesdropping from a booth on a lovey-dovey couple who are ordering. When they leave, the barista makes a comment to her about how she loves seeing a guy dote on his girlfriend like that. The heroine thinks to herself She isn’t his girlfriend. I am. I used that as an opening scene. I even paired it with a what-if idea I had. What if the scorned heroine had to move out of her place and one of the guys helping her move is the new love interest? That became the second scene and I felt like I got two hooks for one.
Thankfully, I don’t lack in ideas. Just the time to write them all.
How are you publishing your most recent book and why? (*e.g. Indie, traditional or both)
I’ve always been indie. I started that way because I needed a shot at an income now and not maybe years from now. Little did I know how fickle both routes can be. Shortly after I started, I wrote a couple of manuscripts and pitched agents and nothing came of it. I self-published those books and I love the flexibility of that route. I can change prices and covers and blurbs within minutes, or days depending on the retailer. I’m changing a three-book series I have—new covers, new blurbs, new titles, and I’m even switching a series from 3rd person POV to 1st person POV.
This year, I’ll be writing two books in other authors’ worlds. I have one releasing in September in the Cocky Heroes World and one in December in K. Bromberg’s Everyday Heroes World. It’s not quite like traditional publishing. I used my own editors and my own cover artist, but they publish it under their brand. Their audiences are huge so I’m hopeful I’ll find new readers. It’s been a good experience, but I don’t think I’ll do it again. I’d rather put that effort into the worlds I built. (Unless they sell like kettle corn and make a lot of money. Then I’ll totally do more!)
I wouldn’t mind being hybrid but I think I’d try that again with a non-romance book. I have too many romance books I want to get out in the next year and a half, so I’ve tabled those plans for a while.
What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around?
I mentioned the flexibility with pricing and advertising, but I think the speed is a huge benefit. I’m a fast writer and I’ve built up a sizeable backlist. While I’m working heavier hours at the lab, I can ease off the keyboard a little and play with what I have. I can repackage different boxsets, run them for a limited time, and take them down. I can change covers and do special edition sales. For me, the biggest benefit is that if I’m not earning royalties, I can do something about it.
What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?
I love any review I can get. Somehow, my book resonated enough with someone for them to go through the time and effort of a review. As long as the book’s average stays above 4.0, I don’t worry about it. But I never read them. They are by the readers, for the readers, and even the good reviews stifle my muse. The bad ones echo in my head for months. Some authors read reviews and gather information about how to improve their writing, but it’s not good for me and I leave it at that.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
There’s so much, but the best advice I got was Just Write. Even after 45 books, it still comes down to that. It’s what I have the most control over. It’s what drives my business. Just write.
Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?
Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?
This is from my upcoming release A Shifter’s Salvation. It (was released)… on July 20th. Enjoy!
A lumpy bundle in the ditch captured her attention. Patience was past it before she braked. Frowning, she peered in the rearview mirror and waited for the dust cloud to settle.
What was it? Too large to be a dog. Maybe a bear? A garbage bag? It wouldn’t be the first time some idiot tried getting rid of their trash on the side of a rural road.
Squinting, she couldn’t make out what it was, but she swore part of the blue appeared to be denim material.
No. It couldn’t be a person.
Looking around, she couldn’t see a motorcycle or anything that suggested an automobile wreckage of any sort.
She ran her tongue along her teeth. Good thing she fueled up. Someone had to check this lump out.
She stepped out of her car and blinked in the sunlight. It was a cool day, typical for late spring. Dirty snow was still piled in the ditches, but it’d been a mild winter, and whatever the bundle was hadn’t landed in more than dried grasses.
“Hello?” She inched closer to the edge of the road. If it was garbage, please be old rags. Something that didn’t ooze. Picking up other people’s trash was full of icky surprises.
The lump didn’t move.
“Garbage dumpers,” she muttered and crept closer. A mop of rich brown hair caught her gaze.
The pile wasn’t small. And it had hair.
Her heart rate kicked up. A person. But there was no vehicle around. Was he dumped?
She knew it was a he because of the size. Not that women couldn’t be that big. But this was definitely a guy. Because the more she studied him, the better able she could make out that he was on his side and had incredibly broad shoulders.
“Excuse me?” she said, sounding more timid than she cared to.
“Sir?” She took a step closer.
She closed the distance between them and stood over him. His shoulders moved in time with his steady breathing. Good, he was alive at least. Before she could wonder about her personal safety, she crouched as far away as possible but close enough to reach out and nudge one heavily muscled arm. “Hey?”
Circling him, she had a dying need to know what he looked like. If she was getting taken down by a stranger, she wanted to see his face.
Admittedly, this stranger didn’t seem like he’d attack anyone any time soon.
A leather coat flap obscured his face. Since he was breathing, she pushed him to his back. A normal person would call an ambulance, but there was no way she’d risk that. With her luck, Damian would be on duty, and she couldn’t risk running across him. The restraining order had expired and he hadn’t bothered her—yet.
The man groaned as he settled on his back.
Her lips parted. He was a mess. But he was a hot mess. Bits of grass mixed with rich brown strands. A neatly trimmed beard framed his chiseled face. Everything about him screamed strength and power. Quite a feat for an unconscious man. She didn’t have to move his jacket and shirt around to know that he had a great body.
But she had no wish to touch his shirt. Blood was spattered across it. She couldn’t see any open wounds. Not his blood? Her gaze swept his long body. No major injuries other than bloody knuckles.
Her jaw tightened. He was in a fight before he ended up here. Self-defense? Or was he a mean bastard?
“What’s your story?”
Cover Reveal – Relentless Habit by Karen Renee
He kissed me again, and it was worse than I realized. The kiss on the dance floor was such that in no way did I think it could be topped, but this one beat it. Worse yet, there was a hint to his kiss that I knew not only he could do better, but we could do better. And if our kisses could get better, what did that say for the main event? His lips disengaged before I could think about that any further.
With glittering eyes, he asked, “Is there really any reason for you not to see where this can go? I don’t have to be your bad habit, but I want you to be mine. Period.”
I didn’t even have to mull it over: it was time for me to develop a new habit. If I was lucky, it would stick.