Certainly. This snippet is taken from the story that leads off my catastrophically absurd debut, “It Seemed Like A Good Idea at the Time.” Author’s Note: It only gets weirder from here.
“Hello? Hello? How’s the reception up there?”
Artemartedoxtorix, called Art by his friends, squinted at the blood in the sand as it rolled like the weeping tides of humanity and also heavy cream. It danced with static before it eventually flared to life when the sound of screaming filtered through. Art looked around but no one was really paying attention. He covered his blood screen anyway because he wasn’t the type to make a scene if he could help it. Some jobs you just don’t want to draw attention to yourself while performing and his hallowed position of receptionist was one of those jobs.
“Art? Is this Art? I was told to call Art,” screamed the voice from the other end of the line.
“What? Well yeah of course it’s me. Is this…” he looked at his sheet of paper. “I’m sorry, I can’t pronounce your name.”
Art stared blankly at the dancing blood. “I’m sorry, that doesn’t help,” he said. “What does that rhyme with?”
“I don’t know…Cave?”
“What about Potato?” asked Art. “I know that one.”
“My name doesn’t rhyme with Potato, Art,”
“Ah…” said Art. “Well can I just call you Potato? It’d make this a lot easier.”
For a long moment there was silence on the other end of the line.
“Can I talk to someone else?”
“I’m afraid not. Everyone else is out on assignment,” said Art. “What’s the problem?”
“Well, I put the kid in the burlap sack but he doesn’t seem to be drowning and now the whole thing is wet,” said Dave, also known as Potato.
“Do you have the blood already?” asked Art.
“The what?” he asked.
“The blood. You know you can’t kill him until you have his blood, right?”
“Oh yeah. For sure. Totally,” said Dave. “I was just about to do that.”
“While he’s underwater and suffocating in a sack?”
“Yep. I’m thrifty,” said Dave.
Art looked around the receptionist center and threw a rock at a winged adder. This wasn’t his fault. The project had been passed on to him by someone with a better castle in the aftermath of one of Potato’s many mistakes, at which point his superior decided that temptation and possessions were more his bag. He’d said Art was on track for a promotion if he succeeded, so the receptionist who’d always seen himself as more of a hero type leapt at the opportunity. It was only a matter of time until greatness was his.
“Look, Potato,” said Art. “We’re in this together so all I need to know is one thing.”
There was silence on the other line. “What?” asked the human.
Art rubbed his temples and winced when he pricked himself on a horn.
“Can you find a rock?” he asked. “I just threw a rock at a flying adder and that seemed to work.”
“What’s an adder?”
“A snake,” said Art, and for a moment Potato was silent.
“Wait. There are snakes down there?” he asked finally. “If there are snakes down there I don’t think I can do this.”
Art looked up at the swarms of flying adders that soared through lakes and clouds of fire.
“Are there what?” he asked, a master of changing topics.
“Snakes. Are there snakes in hell?”
If a demon could look awkward, Artemartedoxtorix, Demon of the Fourth Degree, definitely looked awkward.
“What? Oh yeah no, definitely not,” he said. “You misheard me.”
“Well what did you say then?
Art looked around for anything his mind could seize on.
“Pits of endless despair,” he said finally when his eyes fell on the pool of weeping where acid carved canyons in the faces of the suffering.
“Well hold on now, that actually sounds worse.”
“Look, Potato. Do you want eternal glory or not?”
Since today is my birthday, I decided to let a few of my friends from Facebook interview me. Here are their questions.
What do you feel is the hardest part of the publishing process? (From Vania Rheault)
Rejection – The hardest part for me is finding a home for finished work. I haven’t been brave enough to enter into the Self-Publishing world because that all seems hard to me. So finding a home for whatever completed project I have is hard in the sense a certain amount of prediction for agents and editors on what readers may want a year or more out makes it difficult. I’ll send out a query and then get a rejection and if I’m lucky they will tell me why. Sometimes I get a form letter or even worse that they liked the writing but it wasn’t a good fit.
How are you just so damn adorable all the time? Inquiring minds want to know. (From Lyn Armstrong)
Lyn is biased, her and maybe my husband. I love and miss you, lady.
Do you work plots out with writing buddies or plot all by yourself? (From Marie Johnston)
Normally, I plot by myself. But recently I asked for some input on a finished Regency I just finished and my local critique group helped me come up with a plot (it involves murder) that I will weave back in through the story. This isn’t uncommon for me to finish a manuscript and then change one, maybe two, things, and then have to layer those elements back in.
When you write so many books, what’s your strategy for keeping plots, characters, and settings fresh? (from Natalie Pierce)
It helps that I write in a few different sub-genres of romance. Once you change the setting everything else can be fresh or new based on a new place or time. I have started keeping series bibles so I can remember how old someone is at story X so I make sure to age them by story Y. I usually keep these in either Pinterest, Google Keep, or in a Notebook.
Happy birthday! Let’s see. I’d love to know more about how you got started writing stories. How much of real life is included in your books? Do you have other business ideas you might work on in the future? (from A. Catherine Noon)
Figures A. Catherine Noon would have the most questions. Here we go.
I have been writing since childhood, before my grandmother passed she gave me a collection of stories I wrote for her about the various mythical holiday creatures, like the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, A Leprechaun trying to find Baby New Year. Unfortunately, they didn’t find him because I had only gotten as far as writing their origin stories. I loved info dumps even as a child.
I include much of real life in my contemporaries, including some of my friends (you know who you are). Of course, I changed their names to protect the not so innocent. I’ve used their professional knowledge among which include a pilot, an architect, a nurse, firemen, and of course a writer. Most of my paranormal, sci-fi, and fantasy stories are entirely fiction.
Future Business Projects – Writing Wise I’m working on my Brave the Elements Series – Wind Resistant is my Nano project. I will be querying my Regency this month and maybe a bit in November. I take December off because I find I need the break for the holidays. Non-writing wise – I’ve thrown my hat in on a contest in ND pairing artists and writers. Long Term I’m hoping to get a North Dakota Writers Conference so if you are thinking about something like that my fellow writers, let me know. There are far more of us than the world knows about.
I’m wondering what percent of your writing is actually non-fiction, in a fictional book. (Brian Daly)
It depends on the fiction. In my Steampunk Series, I’d say 50%. I altered parts of the timeline significantly.
My Regency is fairly historically accurate but I did change a few things – my hero knows cane fighting which isn’t really a thing until closer to the Victorian period and was invented in France, not England. So those are pretty liberal. My Contemporaries including my paranormal books are about 25% fiction accounting for characters and the mythology of fairies. But the career choices are based on people I know.
And I would say my Post-Apocalyptic books are 75% fiction the only real elements being geography and locations in the future. 🙂
I hope you’ve enjoyed this Q&A. If I missed your question here leave a comment below and I’ll try to answer it. ~Tina
Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I write steamy, heartfelt, small town contemporary romance. I like to call it happily ever afters with sexy times, a healthy dose of snark, and all the feels.
For fun, I read all the panty-melting romances I can get my hands on and drink gallons of coffee. I also love tacos. And the beach.
Currently I live in North Georgia, but I hope to move to the beach in the next few years.
By day, I work in finance. One of the things I like about being an indie is that I’m able to use my business skills and created a small press that I do all of my book things through.
How did you come up with the idea for your “Madison Ridge” series?
Originally, it was going to be set in a small island resort town off the coast of GA. But then I had this idea that ended up being Trouble Me, which was what if a recovering alcoholic is forced to work in a winery? So I moved the setting to the small mountain town I live in that is touristy and has several wineries. It was great fun researching and easy since I’m about a ten minute drive to about a half dozen wineries and tasting rooms. As much as I love the beach I don’t live near it right now, so it made research a little more difficult.
What are your current projects?
Currently, I’m working on a story that will be part of Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward’s Cocky Hero World as well as a novella for the Madison Ridge series. I’m also getting the process started to have my second book in the Madison Ridge series turned into an audio book. So I’ve got my hands full!
Do you believe in writer’s block?
Not really for me. I think that your mind can make you believe you don’t have a word to say, making you feel “blocked”. But in my case, that’s usually a symptom of some other issue I’m having. It can be a story issue I can’t see yet or it can be an issue with the story that I don’t want to acknowledge for whatever reason. Once I get past that, I’m good to go. But getting past that is the hard part.
I see you wrote a non-fiction book, “30 Days to the End”. Do you actually write most of your books in 30 days?
No, I wish! But I have done several novel length stories in 30 days. The purpose of the book was to offer writers 30 days of inspiration. It can be a long and sometimes tedious road to write a novel in that time-frame. We all need a little cheerleader!
I see you are Indie published, what would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around?
Advantage: being in control of what you publish, when you publish, how you publish, being able to pivot and keep up with trends while they are happening. Better royalty rates.
Disadvantages: being responsible for what you publish, when you publish, how you publish, and having to cash flow it yourself.
What is your favorite positive saying?
To help remind me with time management and priority, I say
“I can make more money, but I can’t make more time.”
So when I’m short on time, I try to prioritize the things that I know will move the needle (such as writing) over items that need to be done (like admin items) but can be done when I have more time.
But my all-time favorite positive saying that I apply in all places of my life is
“One Day at a Time.”
You can apply it to anything and in reality, it’s really the only thing we have semblance of control of, the present time. If I think of the past, I get depressed and if I think of the future, I get anxious. So I try to stay in the one day at a time.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Take the time to learn the craft and a process that works for you. You can save yourself a lot of time and frustration if you do that first.
Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?
They can find me at elizapeake.com and on Facebook where I have a page and a reader group, as well as Instagram.
With Jill’s books, you can count on confident heroines, plenty of steamy tension, and deliciously assertive leading men. There are no guarantees in life, but with her books, you know everything will work out in the end. However, a perfect ending would not be nearly as satisfying without a seemingly insurmountable challenge. Jill loves to add plenty of adversity in her stories, creating unforgettably dynamic characters and sneaky plot twists you will never see coming.
Jill is a Texan, born and raised. She manages the hectic social calendars for her three active children and occasionally spends an evening with her dashing husband. Aside from being an author and a mom, she’s a travel junkie and loves to read when she is not lost in her own stories.
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ I was hooked from the first scene and couldn’t put the book down. Plenty of suspense, drama, and hot sex. If you love romantic suspense, you won’t be disappointed.
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ roller coaster thrill ride you’ll never forget
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ As ever Danielle Pays grips you from page 1 and defies you to try putting the book down without finishing it.
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ I loved this page-turning, suspense. The story is full of drama, betrayal, and love. I was hooked from page one.
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ I FREAKING LOVED this story!! I’m totally loving this series and can’t wait for more.
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Well if Zach isn’t my favorite bad boy I don’t know who is!
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ A great story with enough twists and turns to keep you drawn in until the very end!
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ It didn’t take me long to read the book, because I just couldn’t put it down.
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Loved it! It’s a story with betrayal, family history, best friends, steamy bed sheets and the love of a good man. Definitely recommend reading.
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Loved It. …drama, action, emotions, good guys, bad guys and LOVE. Oh yeah, throw in a psycho and cheating ex too. It’s all here, all wrapped up in a page turning storyline.
Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I have always been a creative type even as a child. I would write to entertain myself. It was my favourite pastime as a child and remained my favourite pastime as an adult. When I started my own family, I shared my love of stories with my children. I would write fantastic tales of magic and adventures and regale my kids with stories designed just for them. At the same time, I would write books to amuse myself. When my kids became adolescents, they discovered Wattpad and suggested I post my work so others could enjoy it. I gave it a go, and it took off. Within a year, I was approached by an editor from Dreame and was signed as a paid author on their site. Again, my work was well-received by readers. Encouraged by this small success, I decided to try publishing and hopefully build a professional writing career.
How do you make time to write?
I find it easy to make time because it something I love and am passionate about. Even when the day demands, my attention be focused on family, work, or errands; the writing is always in the back of my mind. When I am genuinely inspired, and on a roll, I will sacrifice sleep to write.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
I absolutely believe in writer’s block. I have suffered from it many times. It’s frustrating when you sit there and stare at the black page, knowing you should write, but nothing good comes to you. When I’m faced with writer’s block, and I can’t work past it, I turn to other amusements. I have a passion for music almost as much as writing. So, I put on my headphones, crank up the music, and lose myself in the private concert in my head. More often then not, it gets my creativity flowing once more and sparks inspiration, curing my writer’s block.
Tell us a bit about the genre you write and why you love it.
My chosen genre is Romance/Adventure. I don’t limit myself to one type of romance style. I have written historical romances, contemporary romance, science fiction romance, and even paranormal romance. I like romance because I enjoy the emotion and the banter between the characters. I love throwing in aspects of adventure and plot twists to keep things exciting. I find a story is always more gripping when the reader has no idea what is going to happen next.
How are you publishing your recent book, and why? (*e.g. Indie, traditional or both)
I chose self-publishing. I had often tried to publish traditionally but found it impossible to get any publisher or literary agents to even speak to me. It was incredibly frustrating and discouraging. Every time I thought about giving up, I told myself, “even Harry Potter was rejected thousands of times before it was published.” Just because someone else couldn’t see my worth didn’t mean I wasn’t a good writer. So, I decided to do it myself. I went online and collaborated with professional freelance editors and formatters, making sure my book was polished and professional. It took some time, but once I had a professional finished product, I uploaded it and put it up for sale.
Are you an Introvert or Extrovert? How does this affect your work?
I am an introvert. I enjoy my own company and the company of family and close friends. I keep my circle small. Since I spend most of my time at home with my husband and children, I have plenty of time to write. I choose the people I interact with carefully. Those I let into my life are all interesting and wacky people. Their life stories and crazy antics often inspire characters and situations in my work.
What is your favourite motivational phrase?
“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” ―Confucius
It reminds me that the only way to succeed is never to give up. Setbacks happen. Obstacles present themselves. The only people who reach their goals are the ones that fall, but get up and try again.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Write for yourself. If you love the story, someone else will love it too. Believe in yourself, because if you don’t, no one else will either.
Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?
https://www.smashwords.com/THE BARBARIAN KING SAGAS (historical romance)
PROJECT HELLFIRE (contemporary science fiction romance)
RUTHLESS (contemporary crime romance)
THE CARIBBEAN’S MOST WANTED (historical romance)
Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?
The Barbarian King Sagas:
“She is not a witch; she never was. She lied to me, and my father paid the price.” He confessed, knowing that Finn would keep his confidence.
“Oh,” Finn sighed as he finally grasped the gravity of his woe. “Cain, do not dwell on it. I know you wanted to save him; we all did, but Regin was very sick, and he was going to die no matter what you did. He knew that, we all knew that, the only person that had not accepted that was you. Do not hate the girl. She did what she had to do to survive. She is a strong woman and a strong man needs a strong woman behind him.”
“I cannot excuse her lies.” His father was dead, and it was Zahra’s fault.
“You threatened to kill her if she were not a witch. What would you have done in her position?
“I would have fought,” he said with defiance. “And I would have won.”
Finn snickered, “Well, that is because you are a man, but she is but a small, frail woman.”
“I will never forgive her.”
“Forgive her or not unless you throw her overboard you, my dear friend, are stuck with her. The joys of marriage.” Finn laughed and slapped Cain on the back hard.
He was right. Why his father chose Zahra for his wife, Cain would never understand. What about her made his father believe she would make a good queen? “Throwing her overboard has merit.” He grinned, knowing he would never do it. Zahra’s deception left him fuming, but he did not wish her harm. After all, she had saved his life when the snake had bitten him. She could have let him die and escape, but she had saved his life and stayed even though she had no reason to. He supposed not tossing her overboard was a fine way to make them even.
“Come now, lad. It is better to kiss and make up. War is fine, but when women are concerned, peace is preferred.”
I’ll be attending ValleyCon October 16th – 18th. I’ll be on some panels, visiting with readers and my fellow writers. If you live in the Fargo/Moorhead area and are looking to attend this event here is some more information.