AuThursday – TJ Fier

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I’m Associate Professor of Set Design at North Dakota State University, I also (pre-pandemic) worked as a freelance set designer and scenic artist. I’ve been writing since before I had the ability to actually write (I dictated my stories to my mother) and got serious about writing again back in the summer of 2017. I’ve been writing like a madwoman ever since!

How do you make time to write?

I usually write in the evening when I’m done with work or when I have short breaks in my day. As long as my laptop is working, I can find a time and space to write. 

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?

I’m a “plantser” which means I plot a whole bunch, but then often deviate from my outlines as I write the story. I prefer plotting first because it helps me get to know my characters and have a sense of where I want to go with my stories. Since I get to know my characters before I write their words, they sometimes take over a plotted scene and send it in better, more interesting direction.

Do you believe in writer’s block? 

I believe in creative exhaustion. I work in a creative field so sometimes there isn’t the space for being creative anymore and writing becomes difficult. I don’t believe in writing every day. I believe we all need some mental rest now and again.

How did you deal with Rejection Letters if you received any? 

I’ve dealt with a ton of rejection. That’s the life of an artist. What I prefer is rejection with some helpful feedback. Too often I receive form letters so I have no idea why my story didn’t work for them. It’s wonderful when someone points out the problems and you can then address them. 

Tell us about your upcoming Unicorn Novel.

The Bright OneTHE BRIGHT ONE is being published by The Three Little Sisters coming December 2020. 

Alexa never expected to stumble across a unicorn trapped in the women’s bathroom, especially not one on the run from a monster. Totally freaked out but unable to leave the magical beast behind, Alexa offers the unicorn, Una, a refuge in her parent’s backyard shed until they figure out what to do next. 

When the monster, a beast made of cloud and rage, shows up on her doorstep, Alexa and Una have no choice but to run for their lives. Alexa recruits the aid of her best friend, Mateo, and her unrequited crush, Sid, to help her save Una. Together they pile into Alexa’s Honda Civic and begin a race across the American Midwest. But the monster is clever as it is quick, attacking both from above and below, as well as within. 

As their deadly game of cat and mouse unspools, the monster focuses its attention on Alexa, claiming Una is not what it seems. Despite her inner turmoil, she must find the strength to fight for the ones she loves and figure out who is the real monster. 

Amazon Link 

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

I feel the key to improving your writing is sharing your work with other writers. The first version of THE BRIGHT ONE was really rough. The version that came out of my writing group was far superior to where I started. Don’t write in a vacuum. Be brave and take criticism.

What is your writing Kryptonite?

I hate writing query letters. Figuring out pitches used to be impossible for me, but I feel like I’m improving bit by bit. A good elevator pitch is really important. Same with a solid query letter.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

My author page on Facebook is here: https://www.facebook.com/iamfierless

My Twitter profile is here: https://twitter.com/iamfierless

Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?

I don’t yet have access to the final, edited version, but I should once the book is finally released. I will be reading excepts on my Facebook author page and on Twitter once my book is released.

Saturday Spotlight – Jingle Wars by R. Holmes & Veronica Eden

Title: Jingle Wars
Authors: R. Holmes & Veronica Eden
Genre: NA Enemies to Lovers Holiday/Romantic Comedy
Release Date: November 10, 2020 


Two Inn’s, one town, and there’s not enough room for the both of them.

Add in a reindeer-ish donkey, a Christmas competition, and a rivalry to end all rivalries and you’re bound to end up in disaster, right?

Finn Mayberry has enough on his plate trying to keep his Grandparents Inn afloat. The last thing he needed was some California state of mind starlet bulldozing into his town and throwing up a five-star resort right next to his family’s Inn.

But, now she’s here and he can’t get her out of his town or his head.

Freya Anderson took one look at the snowcapped mountains of Hollyridge, and fell in love. She’s finally here and ready to take on the task of proving to her father that she can handle running Alpine.

She never expected to make enemies with the sinfully delicious lumberjack of a man who runs the inn next door. He’s moody, impossible and completely off limits.

There can only be one winner, but you know what they say. All is fair in love and… Jingle Wars?


 



This man is not the charmer he pretended to be when he caught me in his strong arms. Underneath the handsome rugged exterior is a stubborn grouch with enough brittle pinecones shoved so far up his ass you can smell the sickly sweet sap seeping out of his pores.

“Sure you’re not, traitor,” Finn says. “That what they call business savvy back in California board rooms? Because around these parts, it’s called bossy.”

“Well, what you are is called rude.” I hop off the arm of the adirondack chair I was perched on, striding over to the fence line separating my resort’s property from his family inn. “All you’ve done is make assumptions about me, and I’m getting sick of it.”

The corner of Finn’s mouth pulls up to one side in a sardonic curve as he folds both arms over the top of the fence, leaning his weight on the wood. My brows pinch together in annoyance. He’s using his height to undermine me because I’m not tall enough to get in his face to challenge him, but I won’t back down. Curling my fingers over the top of the fence on either side of his folded arms, I push as high as I can on tiptoe to see over the fence. Finn’s gaze bounces between my eyes for a beat, a flash of surprise there and gone in a second before he settles his thick brows back into a sour expression.

“You need to get over yourself,” I say.

“Do I now?” His voice is a low rumble from this close.

It occurs to me how this might look to my staff. Instead of meeting this jerk eye to eye, it could also appear intimate, like we’re about to kiss. Crap. If I lean back, he wins.

The bright glint in his eye and the twitch of his lips has me guessing he’s drawing the same conclusions. I tighten my grip on the wood to stave off the frustration simmering beneath my skin.





Veronica Eden 


R. Holmes




HOSTED BY:

AuThursday – G.M.J.

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

Hi! My name is Gordana Mucha Jakelic. I go under the pen-name of G.M.J. I come from a small town, Split, on the coast of Croatia. I wrote this book, ‘Aurora . . . and God’ when I was 17.  I was still in high school then, and I just got inspired like many teenagers as I was daydreaming about romance. But eventually, it felt like as if someone took my hands and wrote the book through me, making it all about faith and something deeper. I don’t know; I just let it come out of me like it was a spirit guidance or an old inspiration – But I wrote it like that. 

How do you make time to write?

Well, my whole day is usually packed with a schedule. So, when I get up, I usually have coffee in a café first. Then, I go to the Gym, and after that I head to work. During the evening hours, I relax, and I write depending on the current book project I am working on. Sometimes my writing can go on for two months straight. Sometimes I do not write anything for another two months. Because, I usually go by inspiration. 

Do you believe in writer’s block? 

Well, I don’t really see it as a writer’s block. I as usually go by inspiration, I guess maybe you can say that writers block comes when the inspiration runs dry?

Tell us a bit about the genre you write and why you love it. 

There are a lot of genres in my writings. But I am always trying to celebrate life, whether it’s the one we are living in now, or the one where we departure to another world. I like to write about faith because I experience some miracles and I saw other people experiencing the same too. I like to write about those experiences and real-life sample stories where people struggle, and how through their struggle, they reach to find faith and God. In that way, I like theology as well, so, I am always trying to mix these two up and make a book with a strong message and motivation. 

How are you publishing your recent book and why? 

I self-published my recent book, Aurora . . . and God, on Amazon. However, my first book was published by a traditional publisher 11 years ago in Serbia. That book was titled ‘A handful of nothing’. Since Aurora . . . and God was translated to English, I decided to publish independently on Amazon, but I am still not sure if it is a good idea to push and try for a traditional publisher too. 

Are you an Introvert or Extrovert?  How does this affect your work? 

I am an introvert, but it does not affect my work. Because my work is affected by faith and my believe and love for people. I try to be objective in my writing and not thing about being an introvert or extrovert. 

What is your favorite motivational phrase?

Beside a few biblical ones, I would say

“Be good to yourself”.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Write whether you are trying to publish or not. Always write because it feeds your soul. You become a better person when you do something good when you feed your soul. 

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

I do not have a website currently, and I am still contemplating if I should start one. However, you may find my ‘About the Author’ page on Amazon. My book is also on Goodreads, and I am on Instagram too. 

Amazon Link: bit.ly/AuroraandGodGMJ

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/53450198-aurora-and-god

Instagram Link: https://www.instagram.com/the_curious_editor/

Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?

Maybe I could share a …(blurb)… of my book: 

Aurora and God GMJ400A young troublesome addict, Aurora, and a priest on a mission, Sebastian, form a beautiful friendship. Slowly their friendship takes a turn when Sebastian starts to slowly distance himself from Aurora, hiding his true reasons.

This book delves into the depths of one family’s struggles to reveal the core of human existence and the basis for all human life; the love of God. We long for it, even if we do not admit it, even though it is all around us. We run from it, even though we want it. We push it away, even though it is life sustaining. No matter how hard we deny it, push it away, or run from it, it is always there. Because God is always there. Simply waiting for us to accept it.

AuThursday – Shivon Gunalan

2020-07-27 (4) (1)

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I have always been working in the corporate sector for years and have loved building relationships. I am passionate in working with women and young adults and have been active in helping women build their confidence and rediscovers themselves. On a personal note, I love to read, cook, travel and just enjoy hanging with my friends.

How do you make time to write?

I used to enjoy writing short stories as a teenager but due to work commitments did not pursue writing. During the COVID-19 Circuit Breaker in Singapore, I had more than enough time to dabble in writing.

Do you believe in writer’s block?

Yes, I do. I think every writer, will face that some point in their life. It will be a time for them to retreat, re-calibrate and just rush into it again.

Tell us a bit about the genre you write and why you love it.

I am writing romance stories, but with a little twist. I absolutely love drama, and I enjoy the interactive characters portrayed by people. I wanted to translate that into a book, where people can enjoy the romance not from a reader’s perspective but actually able to go on that journey with the characters in the book.

How are you publishing your recent book and why? (*e.g. Indie, traditional or both)

Indie, as it shortens the whole process.


Are you an Introvert or Extrovert? How does this affect your work?

Extrovert. I think its always a challenge to sit still in a place and work on my book, so I try to give myself time limits, and also breaks in between days so I am not too affected.

What is your favorite motivational phrase?

 “I can’t think of any better representation of beauty than someone who is unafraid to be herself” -Emma Stone

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Take the tips of established writers, but find your own pace and comfort level. Enjoy the process of writing and not rush to pass a dateline.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

I am available on social media platforms like FB, Instagram, Twitter and also on my website www.shivongunalan.com

Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?

Yes! Rosella meeting Ian for the first time.

51Smgb9tuoL._SY346_Rosella removed her sleeping mask and took a peek when the flight came to a halt. It was a long flight, at least fifteen hours from Rome. She could feel her muscles ache. She couldn’t wait to get out of the plane so she can walk around more freely. The man next to her was unbuckling his seat belt. “We have finally arrived! I am going to head down to the casino first,” he said gleefully. Rosella rolled his eyes at him. She was not able to get a decent hour’s sleep because the man would not stop talking. He kept going on even when she had her headset on pretended to watch a movie. Her ears had ached throughout the journey but thankfully she managed to sneak in a few winks when the man fell asleep.

Rosella has never traveled so far in her entire life. She was both nervous and excited at the same time. When her parents passed away in a car accident, she moved in with her sister, Rina and her husband Hunter. They moved from the city to the small town to take care of Rosella. Rina and Hunter were fifteen years older than her. As they were childless, they doted
on Rosella who was only nine years old at that time. Hunter took on the role of her father and adored her like his own daughter. He always affirmed her so she grew secure in her identity as someone who was cherished. Under their care, she grew into a confident woman of God.

Rosella spent a lot of her time in their local parish church as she grew up. She enjoyed singing to the Lord. Rina will often joke that she started singing even before she was capable to construct full sentences. The local pastor signed her up to be part of their choir team.  During her spare time, she will twirl around the garden with her tambourine, singing hymns unto the Lord. She accepted the Lord as her saviour at the age of sixteen. Hunter and Rina held a massive celebration for her. After the celebrations, Rina came up to her room that night to present her with a beautiful purity ring with the inscription “My beloved is mine and I am His.” Rina had taught Rosella the importance of keeping herself pure for the man the Lord will bring into her life.

She loved the feel of the ring around her finger, as it made her feel valued and important. It has been ten years since Rina gave her that ring, and by the grace of God, she had kept her end of the bargain. She twirled the purity ring around her finger. Her friends had started dating in their teens. But Rosella spent her time teaching the local children in her neighborhood. She was very skilled in arts and was very good at needlework. The Lord had
anointed her with talent in that area and she didn’t want it to go to waste. She wanted to be a good steward of those talents. She also taught the older children in the school to teach and write. When the opportunity to teach at an international school presented itself to her, Rosella was quick to jump at the opportunity.

She shared her desire to work in an international school with Hunter and Rina. She explained how it will give her the advantage to learn how the education system was being structured in a foreign country. She was eager to start her own school in their town one day, and she will benefit from this experience gained. After much persuasion, her guardians relented and gave her their blessings. Rosella had enough savings to help pay for her flight and living expenses.  Hunter offered her some money but she wanted to be independent. After booking her plane ticket with the local agent, Rosella started doing her research on Singapore. The city was vibrant and it featured many interesting sights. She was fascinated with the statue of the merlion and began to list down the names of the attractions that she wanted to see upon her arrival.

The country was also famous for its diverse cuisine. Some of the foods looked too spicy for her taste, but she was ready to begin a new adventure. She will be staying with her friend, Ashley who had moved from Italy a couple of years ago. Her friend was an auditor and she worked in a reputable audit firm in Singapore. The international school was her client and she found out about the job vacancy through them. The school accepted Rosella’s application because of her good credentials and referrals. But she knew in her heart it was the Lord who had opened the door of opportunity for her. She had talked to Him about her dreams of starting her own school one day.

The moment she exited from the plane, Rosella plugged on her earpiece. Music was her life, and it was also her way of finding her escapism. When she was back home, she had loved the old hymns they sang in church. Recently, Ashley had introduced her to some new worship songs that have been gaining popularity. Her friend has been part of the worship team in a church that was based in Singapore. She always sends her new songs for her to listen to. “I am reaching out, I will chase you down. I dare you to believe how much I love you now.” She was humming the lyrics of the song as she headed to collect her luggage. “Jesus! I know you are going to guide me every step of the way,” she prayed under her breath. She placed her luggage on the trolley and headed out the gate.

She pushed the trolley towards the nearest chair and plopped herself on it. She stretched her legs and massaged the back of her neck. She placed her handbag on her lap and started to rustle around for Ashley’s address. She did not want to trouble Ashley to come and pick her up. She was very grateful to her for offering her a place to stay rent-free for the first two months. “You can start paying rent after the third month when you have settled down,” Ashley told her. As she was looking for the address, she noticed a man seated next to her from the corner of her eye. He was talking animatedly on his mobile phone.“Ia adalah masalah kecil. Jangan risau. Nanti, kita cakap, ya.” Rosella surveyed the man, trying to figure out the language he spoke. She knew the people in Singapore spoke different languages like Mandarin, Tamil, or Malay.

From the side view, the man looked very handsome and had a dimple on his left cheek. He was dressed neatly in a blue checkered shirt and black tailored pants. The Patek Philippe watch on his right wrist looked very costly. Rosella had tried to purchase a watch for Hunter on his birthday. It was so expensive that she decided to buy him a wallet instead. She knew that a watch like that can be very expensive. She heaved a sigh, wishing her future husband could be someone well dressed like this man. She stopped herself quickly and knocked herself on her head to come to her senses. What if he was someone’s husband or fiancee? It was really hard to tell these days, and she did not want to be caught up in any drama. She tore her gaze away from him and started rummaging through her handbag again. She was so occupied with her search that she did not realize the man next to her, had left his seat.

“Finally!! Thank you, Jesus!!” She smiled gleefully holding the address victoriously in the air. Rosella checked her wallet to ensure she had enough local currency for a taxi fare. She had two hundred dollars which should be more than enough for her taxi fare and her meals over the next few days. She stood up, slung her handbag across her shoulder, and started to move her trolley. She then noticed the empty seat next to her. Mr. Fancy Pants was nowhere to be found. As she was about to leave, something on the seat of the chair caught her eye. It looked like a card from afar. She looked around and saw no one nearby. She picked up the card. From the back, it looked like a membership card. She flipped it around and saw Driving License spelled out on the top. The name on the card read, Ian Jacobs.

She looked closely at the picture on the card. He looked familiar. “Aayyy” she exclaimed when she realized it was Mr. Fancy Pants who was seated next to her earlier. “Ian!” So, that was his name. She stood up and walked around with the trolley trying to track him down. But he was nowhere to be found. She looked at the clock and realized it was going to be 10 pm soon. It was getting late and Ashley will be waiting up for her. She did not want her to worry.  Without thinking much, she stuffed the license into her handbag. She proceeded to drag her luggage to the assigned taxi stand. Even as she was waiting for her turn, Rosella kept looking around to see if she can spot him. When her taxi arrived, she got in and told the driver to drive her to Bencoolen Condo.

AuThursday – Luke Ganje

 
IMG_0820
 
 
Tell us a little about yourself and your background.
 
I don’t think there’s anything I hate more than talking about myself, so I’ll try to make this as painless as I possibly can. I’m Luke Ganje and I’ve been writing seriously for over a decade, not just because I love to do it but also because a writer is the only thing I’ve ever wanted to be. It wouldn’t be any great exaggeration or burst of dramatic flair to say that I have no interest in a life that doesn’t include telling stories. It is, in a sense, everything I am. As such, I’ve written five novels (seven if you count the two I’m not proud of), somewhere in the neighborhood of seventy short stories, and hundreds of poems, and they range in tone and genre from absurdist humor to horror to contemplative fiction. Someone asked me once what I want out of this, what the goal of my artistic pursuit was, and to be honest the answer was simple enough: In time this life will end and in the blink of an eye who we’ve been and what we’ve done will be lost to an inevitable decay. I write because, while I’m here, I want to experience this life just a little bit more and feel and understand things I might have otherwise missed.
 
 
 
How do you make time to write?
 
For me, it’s all about routine and dedication. I set aside two hours a night to work and no matter how trivial the project of the day, I fill that time. I no longer work a day job on Fridays, having set aside that day for a sort of mini marathon in which I can make significant headway in whatever novel happens to be my primary focus, and that’s been a joy to experience. In those moments I almost feel like the full-time writer I aspire to be, whether it’s a self-constructed illusion or not. The time to write, to pursue what you love, is always there. Sacrifices simply need to be made or else that pursuit and the work that stems from it will only ever wind up being hollow, empty, and dead.
 
 
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to see where an idea takes you?
 
My process in this regard has changed over the years. When I first started, I spent a great deal of time wandering down the unmarked roads of exploratory writing but as the years go by and my attention span and memory continue to falter and fade, I find myself having to outline a little more each time. These days I tend to write all my dialogue in a notebook, filling pages as if I’m script-writing, and then rewrite the entire thing as a finished and detailed experience on my laptop. It works well enough and tends to give my dialogue a lived-in edge that I prefer, so I’ll continue down that path until I have to tinker with my process again for the sake of clarity and not driving myself completely insane. 
 
 
What are you working on at the minute?
 
Frustratingly enough, I’m torn between two projects that both demand my full attention and yet I haven’t quite decided which one to focus on. I don’t mean to treat trivially the perils of wartime, but I’m almost positive this is precisely how Meryl Streep felt in Sophie’s Choice. As it stands, I’m splitting my time between my first ever horror novel and a more quiet and contemplative piece of magical realism. The former will be bitter, vicious, and unforgiving. The latter is a character piece about a young man whose life begins to fall apart because he continually sees one small thing no one else can, and believes without a shadow of a doubt that it is real. Both deal with family, loss, and our uncomfortable relationship with mortality, but neither is the clear front-runner and so I’m a bit adrift at the moment. I keep trying to reach out to Mrs. Streep for advice, but sadly she won’t return my calls.
 
 
I’m almost afraid to ask, where do your ideas come from?
 
I suppose it would be abhorrently trite to simply tap the side of my head, doubly so seeing as how this isn’t that kind of visual medium. Nevertheless, this is something that I think about a lot. Sometimes you write things that push you to places you don’t want to go and yet you have to for the sake of the story, so in that sense a French term comes to mind: l’appel du vide. The Call of the Void. Known also as “High Place Phenomenon”, it’s the little trigger in your mind that kicks in when you’re standing on a ledge and tells you to jump, or while you’re driving down the highway and you suddenly have the urge to whip the steering wheel into oncoming traffic. It’s an ordinary part of the human experience and something I’ve felt in waves my entire life, heightened as it is by anxiety (of which I have plenty), so it weaves almost constantly in and out of the stories I tell. Complicating things is the manner in which I tend to process even the most mundane aspects of everyday life, where everything shows as infinite spirals in which I find myself reliving conversations dozens of times right after they happen, following them down rabbit holes until I find myself having visceral emotional reactions to things that never happened and words that were never said. That’s probably where my stories travel from, I suppose. Out of the void and along an incessantly spiraling road.
 
 
Do you ever get Writer’s Block?
 
Put simply, no. I view writing not just as my passion but also as work, as a job, and the funny thing about work is that responsibilities don’t just magically go away if you’re not feeling it. So I’ve had bad days where the words don’t flow quite like they should and there are definitely days where I haven’t managed to write much of anything at all, but it’s never been a lingering thing in the form of that towering “Writer’s Block” wall. Doing what you love is hard work and I’ve never once found that it gets any easier by avoiding thought obstacles that inevitably pop up along the way.
 
 
 
It looks like you independently published “It Seemed Like A Good Idea at the Time”. What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around?
 
Put simply, I have a hate-hate relationship with self-publishing. It’s not something I ever really saw myself doing as I tend to see life as overcoming obstacles and there’s little about the process that I see as anything more than an end-run around the publishing world’s absurd hurdles. It’s like running a marathon and then taking a taxi from mile three to mile twenty-five, expecting the same accolades when you cross the finish line as those who’ve traveled the road of the established process. So that’s my annoyed sense of the disadvantage. There’s a stigma around the whole affair and, while there will always be exceptions, the framework of stigmas exists for a reason. Then again, there’s a fairly sizable advantage as well and one that made me put all my annoyance and irritation into my anthology that was released in August: It takes away the chance of you dying before any of your creations are unleashed on the world, and that was always an odd little fear of mine. So it’s not how I saw things going and to be honest I’m unsure whether or not I’ll self-publish anything again; there might be another anthology but my novels are reserved for the traditional road I will always pursue. That being said, it was a nice experience and for the most part it was undertaken so that all the people who’ve supported me over the years could have a memento of my time here sitting comfortably on their bookshelves. In a way, I couldn’t ask for anything more.
 
 
What is your writing Kryptonite?
 
I have two actually, which would make me the world’s worst version of Superman. It’s basically a two horse race in which both the horses have to be euthanized because they’re rabid and ate a jockey. But I digress. The first is that I will always possess a crippling self-doubt when it comes to my work, to such an extent that (with one exception) I’ve never finished anything without feeling like it’s the worst thing ever committed to printed page by a functioning adult. That may sound like an exaggeration but it’s not. As much as I’m driven by the love of the written word, I’m just as driven by the creeping sense that I’ll never write anything of note and anyone who’s said differently has been lying for the sake of some strange social etiquette I don’t understand. As you can imagine, this makes me a joy at parties. The second piece of Kryptonite is at least functionally more problematic and can be found in the slow but inevitable decline of my memory. It’s frightfully true that, no matter what I write on a given day, I will not remember what it was by the time I sit down again twenty-four hours later. Characters, plots, names, descriptions…they vanish as soon as I close my eyes, and so every day when I sit down at my desk, my process begins with an hour spent re-reading all that I wrote the previous night and hoping I still know where I’m going. It’s scary, in a way. What a terrifying thing to forget the friends I’ve made.
 
 
Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?
 
My work is most prominently displayed on my website www.keywordnovelist.com and that’s where you can find a lot of my short stories and poetry. There’s also a blog, because blogs go with writers about as reliably as pumpkin spice lattes flock to their own comically specific demographic. There’s some good stuff on there and, if all you know of me is the absurdist comedy found in my anthology release, it’ll be sure to raise some eyebrows. I can also be found on Twitter and Instagram under that very same moniker: Keywordnovelist.
 
 
Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?
 
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.
 
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“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.”

“It’s Dave.”

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?”

 
 
 

AuThursday – Eliza Peake

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.

I’m also a podcaster, co-hosting The Misfits Guide to Write Indie Romance with Adrienne Bell.

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.

AuThursday – Ashlyn Drewek

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?  

My name is Ashlyn Drewek. I live in northern Illinois with my husband and my daughter. I have degrees in American History, but my actual day job is being a first responder. So I channel all of my odd loves, like history, and literature, and macabre things into my writing. 

How do you make time to write?  

It’s hard, especially when you work full time and have a family. When it’s slow at work, I squeeze in as much as I can. I also try to get some of it done either before my daughter wakes up or after she goes to sleep. Even if I’m not physically writing, I’m usually plotting in my head or figuring out scenes, so when I do get time at the computer, I can get it all out quickly. 

Do you believe in writer’s block?  

Yes, and no. I know what it’s like to not be inspired to write, but know you have to do it anyway. I also know what it’s like to have a vague concept/idea for a story or a character or a plot-line and you just have no freaking clue how to weave everything together to get your point across. That’s why I tend to have multiple stories going at once, so if I’m stuck on one, I can bounce to another and at least be productive in some sort of way. 

Tell us a bit about the genre you write and why you love it.  

At the heart of it all, I’m a romance writer. I love the interaction between couples, the push, the pull. I love all the warm fuzzies that go along with the newness of a relationship. But, more specifically, I write dark romance. Hallmark will never make one of my books into a movie, that’s for sure. I write about the paranormal, murderers, and mentally ill characters. I love tortured characters and “love” is the ultimate torture method. 

How are you publishing your recent book and why? (*e.g. Indie, traditional) 

Indie all the way. I am too, um, controlling shall we say, to turn my book baby over to an agency. I like working with my cover designer and formatting my own books and all of the behind-the-scenes work that goes along with it. Plus, the larger royalty payment is nice too. 

Are you an Introvert or Extrovert?  

Introvert. It’s great for the actual writing part. I’m quite comfortable sitting at a computer, whiling away the hours making up stories. Being an introvert only becomes an “issue” when it comes to promoting my work. I have a hard time “selling myself,” so that is something I’m working on. 

What is your favorite motivational phrase?  

“To write something you have to risk making a fool of yourself.”

~Anne Rice

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?  

Do it! Don’t hold back. Write your first copy for yourself. Do NOT edit it until it’s finished. Be as crazy and outlandish and terrible as you want. Then, with each successive round of edits, tighten it up and polish it and present your originality to the world. There is literally an audience for every type of book, but you’ll never know if you don’t put your work out there for people to find. 

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web? 

www.ashlyndrewek.com

www.instagram.com/ashlyndrewek

www.facebook.com/ashlyndrewek 

Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?

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From THE MYSTERY OF LEANDER WELLES, a dark, psychological romance about a criminal psychiatrist who falls in love with her patient.

“It’s ok to be afraid sometimes. Everyone has fears. It’s not a weakness. It’s human — a natural response to the threat of danger programmed into us over a millennia.” 

He tilted his head, considering me. “What are you afraid of, Doctor?” 

Blinking, my brows furrowed. I supposed I walked right into that one. “I don’t know. The usual things I guess. Snakes.”

He smirked. “That’s a phobia.”

Damn it. Leave it to Leander to know the difference. “You tell me since you’re so perceptive.”

“Failure.”

Nodding, I motioned for him to continue. I wanted to see how clever he thought he was. 

He leaned forward, his exquisite gaze fixed on mine. “Surrender.”

The hair on the back of my neck stood up and my breath caught in my throat. “The last time we talked about surrender, we were talking about suicide. Are you having suicidal ideations again?” 

He jumped to his feet. I stood just as swiftly, blocking his path. He moved in the other direction. I sidestepped with him, putting my hands up to help keep him from escaping. He could have easily shoved me away, but something about his mood this morning told me he wouldn’t. 

“Let me see your arms, Leander.” 

He scowled yet remained where he was.

I reached for his left wrist and touched it gently, hoping he didn’t explode. He let me lift his arm and take out the silver cuff-link, flinching only when I began pushing the sleeve out of my way. His chest rose and fell in quick succession the higher the fabric went. There were no new marks on his arms, just dozens of old scars. 

I repeated the process on his other arm, satisfied to find fewer scars than the first. None of them were fresh. Nevertheless, I didn’t feel a sense of relief. “Are you cutting somewhere else? Somewhere you think I won’t look?” 

“Would you like me to undress for you?” His words were so soft that if they weren’t being uttered near my ear, I might not have heard him. 

“That’s—” I cleared my throat, staring straight ahead at the smooth whiteness of his throat. It was safer than looking up at his mouth or his eyes. “That’s not necessary.” 

“I didn’t ask if it was necessary.” His fingertips grazed the side of my hand, trailing down the length of my pinky. He toyed with the very edges of my fingers, sending a spasm of yearning through me. The memory of his body against mine came back, along with the butterflies dive-bombing my stomach. 

“Leander…”

AuThursday – Valerie Tobin

Please welcome Val Tobin to the Clog Blog!  Val, tell us a little about yourself and your background?

Thank you, Tina, for giving me this opportunity to share about myself and my work.

I grew up in Willowdale, Ontario. That seemed like the big city to me, but for those who lived in Toronto, it was the boonies. I went to elementary and high school in Willowdale, and graduated from Earl Haig Secondary School after grade thirteen, which they offered at the time.

After a semester of Book Editing and Design at Centennial College, I studied general arts at the University of Waterloo, then went to DeVry Toronto and got a diploma in Computer Information Systems. I worked in the computer industry as a software and Web developer for over ten years.

In October 2004, I became a certified Reiki Master/Teacher. I acquired ATP® certification in March 2008, in Kona, Hawaii from Doreen Virtue, Ph.D. I started work on a bachelor of science in parapsychic science from the American Institute of Holistic Theology in March 2007 and received my degree in September 2010. After obtaining my master’s degree in parapsychology at AIHT, I returned in 2008 to Kona, Hawaii to complete the Advanced ATP® training and in April 2010 to take the spiritual writing workshop and the mediumship certification class.

In the meantime, I wrote for tech site Community MX and for Suite101, and I was Topic Editor for Paganism/Wicca and Webmaster Resources at Suite.

I’ve published over ten books and contributed a story to Doreen Virtue’s Hay House book Angel Words. My novels are available on Smashwords, Amazon, and from other retailers in both e-book and paperback.

How do you make time to write?

I dedicate time in the day to writing a targeted number of words. Some days, that target is as low as fifty words. Other days, the target is as high as 2,000 words. I’ve done NaNoWriMo almost every year since 2012, which helps me to at least once a year dedicate thirty days to writing 50,000 words.

Do you believe in writer’s block?

Yes. Sometimes I lose focus or inspiration. The way around it, for me, is to read. Reading a story I enjoy from an author whose work I love motivates me to write. Or reading books about the craft of writing inspires me. Or working on aspects of my WIP that have nothing to do with adding words to the story, such as delving into a character’s motivations, trigger ideas for the story. Writer’s block is real, but it’s never permanent.

Tell us a bit about the genre you write and why you love it. 

I write in a variety of genres: horror, fantasy, romance, science fiction, and I’m also working on a non-fiction book. I love stories and I love writing, and the story I want to tell at the time decides the genre. 

My first novel is The Experiencers. It’s book one of the Valiant Chronicles series. It’s technically (literally) science fiction, but it’s also a thriller with a love story. The aliens and the technology make it SF. The non-stop action makes it a thriller, and the relationships add the love. I say love rather than romance because romance doesn’t drive the plot, and there’s no guarantee any of the relationships forged through the book will end happily.

Storm Lake, a short story, and The Hunted, a Storm Lake novel, are classified as horror because of the horrific creatures. They’re also SF because of the genetic manipulation integrated into the story. The relationship between Rachel and Hound Dog adds a romantic thread, but that’s not the story’s focus.

Injury, Poison Pen, Walk-In, Gillian’s Island, and You Again are all primarily romance, with Walk-In containing a paranormal element based on the new-age concept of the walk-in but with evil undertones, Poison Pen (a howcatchem story) and You Again (a whodunit story) containing murder, and Gillian’s Island having a mystery component (who’s sabotaging the resort?) Injury is pure romantic suspense and deals with a young actress who discovers the narrative she believed about her past is a lie.

What I love about these genres is they all have action, suspense, and relatable characters. My tastes have changed over the years, and I want more action and a faster pace in the books I read, so I inject that into my writing. Perhaps it’s a result of the tech boom and how everything happens so fast—often instantly. We don’t wait long for much of anything, and while I still appreciate reflective moments in a story, and do include them in my own works when required to move the plot forward or develop character, I enjoy short chapters and a fast pace.

I love writing about characters with a variety of traits, some I might share and some I don’t share at all, and exploring the world through their eyes and lives. For example, what I loved about Gillian in Gillian’s Island was showing how her thoughts differed from what she said because she was always afraid to speak her mind. The results were at times humorous. 

How are you publishing your recent book and why? (*e.g. Indie, traditional)

Indie. I have one story in a traditionally published book (a non-fiction book by Doreen Virtue and Grant Virtue called Angel Words and published by Hay House), but all my other books and stories are indie published.

An author friend who was traditionally published in the 1970’s and now indie publishes helped me make up my mind when I wrote my first novel. We discussed the pros and cons of both, and for me, indie made sense. My educational background, experience, and skills I’ve developed over the years make it possible for me to publish my work myself. I also am lucky to have found a great cover designer and team of beta readers and editors.

Are you an Introvert or Extrovert?  How does this affect your work? 

I’m an introvert, so it’s difficult for me to network and socialize. It’s an asset during quarantine though. Stay home and avoid people? That’s my default.

It affected my work positively, too, by triggering an idea for a story. The novel Gillian’s Island came about because I’m an introvert. I can remember the moment I got the idea, and for anyone who wants to know where ideas come from, here it is:

We have a friend who owns an island resort near Temagami, Ontario. We don’t hear from him often, but one day, sometime in 2015, he called us up. I’d never seen the resort, so I looked it up online. It occurred to me it would be difficult to run a resort if you’re an introvert. You have to deal with people constantly.

From there, my mind leaped to “but if you have a spouse to handle all that, you can deal with all the administrative stuff and leave the people stuff to him.” Then I thought, “But what if you get divorced, and you’re left holding the bag?”

You can see where this is going. I thought, “This was a great jumping-off point for a new story.” I could already see my main character taking shape: an introverted woman who runs an island resort with her husband. She does all the admin work and manages the place while her extroverted husband schmoozes and deals with all the people aspects. Except he leaves her for another woman, and now my MC is left to run the resort. Except hubby wants his share of the money from the resort, so now my MC—Gillian, her name will be Gillian—must sell the resort.

And she loved the resort. It’s an island, and aren’t many introverts islands? I thought it was perfect that she lived on an island and wanted to stay there but was forced off of it. Her journey in this story is to find herself, to learn to be an island among people. The point isn’t that she must stop being an introvert; the point is that she must accept who she is and allow herself to trust other people so she can build healthy relationships.

What is your favorite motivational phrase?

When you make music or write or create, it’s really your job to have mind-blowing, irresponsible, condomless sex with whatever idea it is you’re writing about at the time.” — Lady Gaga.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Write the first draft for you. Second drafts are for your inner editor. Give yourself permission to suck on that first draft. You’ll find it liberating to realize no one needs to read it but you.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

Like me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/valtobinauthor

Follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/valandbob

Subscribe to my blog: http://bobandval.wordpress.com/

Follow me on BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/val-tobin

Check out my profile on ALLi: https://www.allianceindependentauthors.org/members/val-tobin/profile/

Visit my website and sign up to receive my newsletter: http://www.valtobin.com/

Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?

Yes, thank you. I’ll share an excerpt from my latest release, You Again. It’s a second-chance romance about an accounting tech for whom complications arise when she’s assigned her former lover as a client and his company’s previous financial controller is found dead.

At five o’clock, Ellen walked into the Foundation Saloon and, when she gave her name, the hostess led her to a table with a booth near the back of the dining room. Gabriel was already there, a half-empty stein of beer in front of him.

“Got an early start?” she asked. The hostess set a menu in front of Ellen, who took a seat across from him.

He waited for the hostess to leave and then said, his expression serious, his tone dark, “We have a problem.”

She smiled—a cross between a smirk and amusement. “You being dramatic?”

“No. You ever hear of Francesca Newton?”

“I trained her on the financial software BRI uses. She replaced me as controller when I quit.”

He leaned toward her and said in a low voice, “She’s dead.”

Cold dread washed over Ellen. “What do you mean dead?”

“When I got to the BRI offices today, a detective was there. He told me her husband found her body in their apartment. Looks like suicide, but the police are investigating and treating it as a suspicious death.”

“I’m sorry to hear that. She seemed like a nice woman. Young. What a waste. I’m sure it’s just a routine investigation. They do that for any death that isn’t natural, don’t they?” And why would this be a problem for her, or more specifically, them? There was no “them.”

“He said there were indications she was murdered.”

The oxygen in the room seemed to vanish and Ellen gasped. “What indications?”

“He wouldn’t tell me. But if they think someone killed her, they likely have evidence.”

She nodded, unable to speak. Francesca had been a pretty woman in her late twenties. She’d been so full of life. Yes, that was a cliché, but in Francesca’s case, it was an accurate description. The young woman had been eager to start the new job and had learned the software quickly. Ellen had been positive she’d work out well.

“What could’ve happened?” she said aloud though she spoke more to herself than to Gabriel.

He replied anyway. “I don’t know.”

She recalled his comment at the start of the conversation. “Why is this a problem for us?” The publicity might be bad for him, but she’d left that company too long ago for anyone to associate her with it. Unless she took over their books, as Carol had assigned her to do.

She needed to clear this up immediately. “It won’t be a problem for me. I’m not taking the account. Are you really thinking only of the bad press over this? A woman died. She either killed herself or someone murdered her. Isn’t that more important than what the media might say about you over it?”

Anger flared in his eyes and he scowled. “That’s not where my mind went. How could you think that?”

“Why wouldn’t I think that? I don’t know you anymore. What else is there?”

“Don’t you think it’s strange that such a successful company went downhill after you left?”

Before she could respond, the server, a perky, petite redhead with braids and freckles, arrived to take Ellen’s drink order. Deciding she needed one, she ordered a glass of red wine—the nine-ounce rather than the six-ounce option. When the woman left, Ellen picked up the menu. She didn’t feel hungry, but stress eating was one of her go-to coping mechanisms, and the news of what could be the murder of an acquaintance had definitely stressed her.

“Want to order food?” she asked.

When he remained silent, she peeked up from the menu. He stared at her, his lips pressed together.

“What’s wrong?” Did he think her callous for wanting to order food? “I stress eat, Gabe. I’m not heartless.”

He set his palms on the table, bracketing his mug of beer, and said, “It’s not that. I have to leave soon. I’m going somewhere else for dinner.”

Her whole body went cold. “You have a date,” she stated. “On a Thursday.”

“Yes. One I made two weeks ago. I’m sort of seeing someone …”

“Sort of?” Francesca’s death popped into her head, and she waved a hand at him. “Never mind. I don’t care. You’re free to see whomever you want and do whatever you want with her. What matters is what happened to Fran.”

He gave her a slow nod. “Right. So, answer my question.” 

“What question?”

“The company was prosperous. They had substantial revenues. Still do, from what I can tell. Their problems started after you left.”

She gasped. “You pinning that on Fran? Is that why you think she killed herself?”

“Or was murdered.”

Ellen brushed a hand through her hair, pulling errant strands off her face. The server arrived with the wine and set it in front of her.

“I’ll take an order of sweet potato fries,” Ellen told her. “Nothing for him,” she added with a nod in Gabriel’s direction.

After the redhead left again, Gabriel checked the time on his phone. “I have to go. Drinks and your food are on me. I’ll settle the tab on my way out. Order anything else you want. They’ll put it on my card.” He gazed at her contemplatively for a moment. “Don’t use it to get revenge on me.”

“Wow. Don’t worry. I can pay for my own food.”

“That was a joke, Ellen. Can we please forget the past? I’m sorry for what happened. We’ll figure it out. In the meantime, help me with BRI. Take on the account. Maybe, together, we can figure out if anything in the records could’ve triggered her death, whether by her own hand or someone else’s.”

“I don’t know. What I’ll do is think about it tonight and give you an answer in the morning. If I decide we shouldn’t work together, I’ll tell Carol to give it to someone else.”

“But you know the company already. If anyone can spot inconsistencies or anything that’s not right, you can.”

“You think she was deliberately cooking the books?”

“How would I know? It could be anything. You’d find the issue faster than anyone else. Will you do it?”

She pictured herself working with Gabriel, perhaps for weeks. She’d see or talk to him every day, given the unusual situation. But he was correct she’d find errors faster than anyone else. Plus, if it helped the police catch a killer or helped them understand why Francesca killed herself, didn’t Ellen owe it to everyone to do anything she could to figure it out?

Reluctantly, she said, “On one condition: When I’ve post-mortemed the files, when I’ve cleaned them up and everything’s in order, you turn the account over to someone else.”

“No problem,” he blurted. His expression told her he thought by that point she’d change her mind.

Ellen swore to herself she wouldn’t. She’d give him no choice but to put someone else on the account. By the time this was over, she’d find another job and remove herself from Gabriel’s life the way he’d removed himself from hers three years ago.

She reached out her hand. “Deal.”

They shook on it, and he walked away, her gaze following him out of sight.

AuThursday – Melinda Curtis

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

Prior to writing romance, I was a junior manager for a Fortune 500 company, which meant when I flew on the private jet I was relegated to the jump seat—otherwise known as the potty (yes, it has a seat belt). After grabbing my pen (and a parachute) I made the jump to full-time writer. I’m a hybrid author with over 60 titles published or sold, including 40 works to Harlequin and five to Grand Central Forever, mostly sweet romance and sweet romantic comedy. One of my books – Dandelion Wishes – became a TV movie in 2020. Love in Harmony Valley starred Amber Marshall of Heartland fame. 

How do you make time to write? 

Since I write full-time, “finding time” hasn’t been a problem up until a move and “shut-downs” in 2020. You see, all my kids went to college in Oregon and didn’t return to California. Mr. Curtis and I decided to move before the virus hit – just in time for quarantine. With some restrictions lifted, my kids have been popping by. And since we moved into a fixer-upper, workmen have been dropping by. Instead of big blocks of time, I’m writing in stolen moments – lunch hours for workmen, before or after family dinners, early in the morning. Deadlines must be met!

Do you believe in writer’s block? 

I do. But I think some label the inability to write through a draft writer’s block when their problems could be solved by opening their writing craft toolbox. On the other hand, emotional upheaval can steal the words and the joy of writing. I had a hard time writing after my father died. No amount of applied craft could help my sad, racing thoughts.

Tell us a bit about the genre you write and why you love it. 

I went from writing traditional romance for Harlequin to Women’s Fiction to Rom-Coms. I’ve taken the emotional characters I’m used to writing and overlaying those stories with humor. Absolutely love this balance!

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How are you publishing your recent book and why? (*e.g. Indie, traditional)

My most recent releases are trad – Montana Welcome, A Very Merry Match. I spent much of 2018-2019 writing to contract, which gave me 8 releases this year in the trad world. I’ve been slowly catching up on my indie series.

Are you an Introvert or Extrovert?  How does this affect your work? 

LOL. I think I’m an introvert but maybe that’s because I work at home and like it. But as soon as you get me around people, it’s yackety-yackety-yack!

What is your favorite motivational phrase?

You’ve got to want it!

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Work on your craft. Feed your soul.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

www.MelindaCurtis.net

Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?

This is an excerpt from A Very Merry Match, a small town rom-com that features characters in need of a second chance at love and three matchmaking widows who know that love sometimes needs a gentle nudge…

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The stool next to Kevin listed to one side as Jason Petrie tried to belly up to the bar with his broken leg. A clatter of crutches, a scrape of stool footings, and the blond, blue-eyed cowboy had half his butt on the seat. His casted leg rested gracelessly to the side.

Noah had a beer in front of Jason before the cowboy released a put-upon sigh or had time to glance over his shoulder at his ex-girlfriend Darcy.

“Before you start off with your smarmy metaphors and clichés, Kev.” Jason paused to sample his beer. “Remember that I’m the only guy in town who shows up to drink with you.”

And wasn’t that a sad state of affairs? 

Kevin signaled Noah for another whiskey. He’d been nursing his first for thirty minutes, and he was walking home. “I have no life.”

“Good mayors rarely do.” Jason drank some more beer. “You’re like priests. Nobody trusts priests who get out there and have a life either.”

Kevin scowled at him, annoyed that his opinion mirrored his ex-wife’s, doubly so when he realized they were both right. 

If he was ever going to re-activate his social life, he needed a steady girlfriend, someone as boring as he was, someone who was never the talk of the town, someone who wouldn’t ruin his political chances.

“Excuse me.” Mary Margaret Sneed picked up Jason’s crutches and leaned them against the bar. She wore blue jeans, tall black boots, and a chunky fisherman’s sweater that hinted at her curves. She had a full mane of red hair, a pair of tender blue eyes, and was like the Pied Piper when it came to making children behave. “I hate to interrupt, Jason, but…I heard you might be hiring part-time workers.”

“Yep.” Jason patted his walking cast beyond the fringe where he’d cut off one leg of his blue jeans. “The logistics of bull semen collection, storage, and order fulfillment are not what the doctor ordered for another few weeks.”

“Whereas drinking beer is,” Kevin murmured.

Mary Margaret and Jason both paused to look at him. Kevin stared into his whiskey glass.

“I’m looking for a part-time gig,” Mary Margaret continued in that church-girl voice of hers. “But I can’t work until after school during the week.”

“Ahhh.” Jason gave her another once-over. “Didn’t you know? Iggy is a vampire. He and the bulls do all their best work after happy hour.” While Jason explained the horrors of collecting bull semen, storing it with proper labeling in cryogenic units, and shipping it out, Kevin studied Mary Margaret out of the corner of his eye.

She was the complete opposite of his ex-wife. Soft-spoken. Openly kind. Stable. The type of woman a man who was one step from the priesthood would date. It didn’t hurt that she was beautiful or that she knew how to dress well enough to fit in but not loud enough to stand out. He’d seen her circulate in a crowd and not steal the limelight from anyone. She checked a lot of boxes.

And if he looked at the soft bow of her mouth, he could imagine kissing her. And if he imagined kissing her, he could imagine pressing the length of that long, tall body of hers against his. And if he could imagine that…

Kevin sipped his drink, unused to envisioning getting physical with one of his constituents, especially his son’s kindergarten teacher. 

He snuck another glance at her.

At that thick curtain of red hair, at her creamy skin, at the delicate way her fingers interlocked and squeezed intermittently as she listened to Jason.

Kevin swallowed thickly.

With all this talk of the priesthood, a switch had been flipped inside him. It’d been months since he’d burned the sheets with a woman. He could probably look at any single woman and imagine…

He glanced over his shoulder at Avery. She was single and his age. Unlike Mary Margaret, when she wasn’t wearing her theater uniform, Avery’s clothes showed more skin and clung to her curves. But as much as he stared, he couldn’t imagine getting busy with Avery. 

His attention shifted back to Mary Margaret, to intelligent blue eyes and a soft laugh. She shifted her feet, and then he couldn’t stop thinking about her long legs.

“Noah,” he croaked, a dying man in need of a sanity-leveling drink. He held up his empty glass.

AuThursday – Christina Lynn Lambert

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I didn’t originally plan on being a writer. I went to school for psychology and then got an MBA. I liked to write poetry and short stories in my spare time but considered any writing I did just a fun hobby, not something to ever share. When I was studying to take a certification in personal training, intending to take my small business to the next level, I had this idea for a story. The idea wouldn’t leave me alone until I began to write it out. As it turns out, studying psychology helped me immensely with the development of my characters. Working in sales and other hectic jobs helped me see the uglier side of human nature. The greedy, lost, warped out villains I create are often caricatures created from different interactions I’ve observed. When I’m not writing, I enjoy spending time outside and finding ways to avoid cooking. I live in beautiful Virginia with my husband, two daughters, and a sweet, hairy monster of a dog. 

How do you make time to write? 

When my children are in school during the day is when I usually write. I also try to get some writing done in the evening, but mostly I get interrupted by my family continuously asking me questions and talking to me. 

Do you believe in writer’s block? 

Writer’s block catches us all at some point. I try not to think of it as a bad thing, just a pause where the story is taking shape in my mind. I remind myself to be patient and wait for the next scene or chapter to be ready. I’m not always patient, though.

Tell us a bit about the genre you write and why you love it. 

The books I have written so far are paranormal romance with a major suspense element. I like the paranormal genre because I can bend reality to create a strange, extraordinary version of our world. I add a dose of suspense to everything I write because I have always loved to read stories that keep me wondering what will happen next.

How are you publishing your recent book and why? (*e.g. Indie, traditional)

I chose a small publishing company, so I’m somewhere in between Indie and traditional. I chose a sort of traditional option because I had all these ideas for stories but I had no formal writing background. I needed someone professional to help me edit my work and give me pointers and ideas to help my stories flow more smoothly. I also didn’t want to spend the limited time I had trying to figure out how to format each manuscript and create book covers and all the other responsibilities of self-publishing. Maybe someday, I will do some form of self-publishing, but for now, I like being on middle ground and having a small publisher take care of all of the publishing tasks for me. 

Are you an Introvert or Extrovert?  How does this affect your work? 

I am probably an extroverted introvert. I talk to people when I want to and I enjoy meeting people but I definitely don’t want to be in social mode with acquaintances and strangers for hours on end. I’m shy and I would rather not just go up to random people and start marketing my books. I find the right time and place that works for me. Being able to meet readers and other writers online is amazing. 

What is your favorite motivational phrase?

I don’t really have a famous quote that I live by to motivate me. Usually I tell myself that if I don’t do the thing, the thing won’t get done. And then I turn on some music and sometimes that makes doing whatever I have to do suck less.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Don’t give up. The beginning is the hardest part. It’s a good idea to take a few classes or read some books about writing. Practice every day and remember that the practice sessions could be as simple as a ten-minute writing exercise. Also, editors are crucial. They find the mistakes that the author misses, both with content and with spelling and grammar.  

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

Amazon author pagehttps://www.amazon.com/Christina-Lynn-Lambert/e/B01MCYK0K7

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/christina-lynn-lambert

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/christinalynnlambert

Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15900423.Christina_Lynn_Lambert

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/christinalynnlambert

Twitterhttps://www.twitter.com/chris4lamb

WordPresshttps://christinalynnlambertwordpress.com

Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?

My latest book is Tiger’s Last Chance (Stranger Creatures book 3). Tiger’s Last Chance features Sean and Nikki’s story and takes place in the fictional town of Great Oaks, Virginia. Here’s a little excerpt:

For the briefest moment, Nikki felt the depth to which Sean might be capable of pushing her. His kiss was crushing and brutal. His tongue pushed past her lips and his grip in her hair tightened. If desire were a vine, it would have wrapped itself around her veins and encased her heart. The heat between them flooded her. There was a sweetness, too, in his kiss, and the sweetness made her burn hotter. 

A polite cough from inside the waiting car put a quick end to things. Sean pulled away and met her gaze. No words, but she got the message. She wasn’t alone. Comfort and friendship; he’d probably meant the kiss to comfort her and had gotten carried away in the heat of the moment. He’d carried her away with him, and she wanted to take him so much further into the unknown. 

With each second, each step towards the waiting car, she tried to find reasons and more reasons to ignore her growing attraction to Sean. The number one reason to forget about the kiss they’d shared—relationships were trouble. She had plenty of other amazing things in her life, including her career, her volunteer work, and her band, even though the band rarely played anywhere because the members had trouble aligning their schedules. She didn’t need a man. Besides, he was probably still messed up over Sydney. Also, he was a regular. Or mostly regular. Not to mention he lived over a thousand miles away in Texas. She should tell him the kiss was a mistake. One look at him and she couldn’t bring herself to say the words. The kiss they shared had been anything but a mistake.

Buy Links:

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/b088p6mydb 

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/b088p6mydb

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/tigers-last-chance-christina-lynn-lambert/1137033221 

Google books: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Christina_Lynn_Lambert_Tiger_s_Last_Chance?id=PnzoDwAAQBAJ

iTunes: https://books.apple.com/us/book/tigers-last-chance/id1513644203

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/tiger-s-last-chance

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1022227