AuThursday – M.S. Ocampo

Please welcome M.S. Ocampo to The Clog Blog, Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I’m an indie writer and tutor in the process of publishing my YA urban fantasy novel, My Ex is a Vampire.
How do you make time to write?
I join up with writing sprints. I usually write around the same time every day.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
Yep. It usually means I have to take a break or talk things out.
Tell us a bit about the genre you write and why you love it.
My debut novel is YA urban fantasy. It’s a love letter to Buffy the Vampire Slayer with Filipino-American protagonists. I love mixing up high school drama with action.
How are you publishing your recent book and why?
Indie
Are you an Introvert or an Extrovert?  How does this affect your work?
Introvert
What is your favorite motivational phrase?
“Bird by Bird.”
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Lean into what you love. Don’t be afraid to put a lot of yourself into your writing.
Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?
Twitter and Instagram as well as my blog.
Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?
Inconceivable! Some vampires had the gall to go out in the daytime, risking their undead existence for the sake of a meal.

AuThursday – Amber Thorne

Amber1
Please welcome fellow BisMan Writer Amber Thorne to The Clog Blog!  Amber, can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I live in Minot with my husband Zach and our 3 furry children-Fish, Amiro, and Binx. I’m currently teaching 4th grade in Surrey, ND. I’ve had career changes ranging from National Park Service ranger to Pepsi sales so I come with lots of life experience! I’ve been writing since I could string my spelling words into sentences-I would sometimes write a story with all 20 words instead of 20 plain sentences! I met Eric Kimmel in elementary school at a Young Author’s Conference and knew I wanted to do what he did. I started publishing fanfiction online in 2006 in fandoms from Avengers to Zorro. I’m currently working on a YA novel and time will tell if it ever gets finished – the fanfiction plot bunnies are pushy!
How do you make time to write?
If I’m not working, cleaning my house, or out of the house, I’m writing. I can often be found parked in front of the television with my laptop, and I’ve also dictated stories into Google Record on my phone while driving. I think it’s more ‘how do I make time to do everything else when all I want to do is write?’!
Do you believe in writer’s block?
It’s been said that ‘writer’s block is what happens when characters get fed up with you and go on strike,’ and I completely believe that’s true. I think it’s a combination of plots and character beats running out of gas and trying to find a way to get them kickstarted again.
Tell us a bit about the genre you write and why you love it.
I’m primarily in fanfiction. I like looking for those missing scenes in a show or a movie, wondering ‘what were they doing in the commercial break?’ or ‘what came after that scene?’ I like expanding characters on the screen-sometimes they can be very one-dimensional. My novel is Young Adult Fiction, and I’m convinced that half the things written for my 4th graders to high schoolers is much more interesting than anything written to appeal to me as an ‘adult.’ Most of what’s on my bookshelves at home that I read on a daily basis is YA. Kids have bigger imaginations and deal with so much-reading things meant for them is really eye-opening for me.
How are you publishing your recent book and why? 
If I had one to publish, I would go with whatever would have me! The debate over indie vs traditional publishing is always an interesting read out on social media. All of my fanfiction is posted online.
Are you an Introvert or an Extrovert?  How does this affect your work?
Which one means I’m a people person in small doses? I think it reflects in the kind of characters I gravitate toward –  a lot of my favorite characters have secrets or double lives-they present themselves one way in public but another among close friends or by themselves.
What is your favorite motivational phrase?
“Because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain.” Jack Kerouac.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Write what you want to write. Don’t try to write what you think other people would like. Write what makes you happy, and the audience that needs to find it will find it.
Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?
Since I don’t have my fiction completed, all of my fanfiction can be found at
Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?
BisMan Wr (1)Adam jumped off the ladder, a chill racing up his spine that had nothing to do with the weather outside. “Nick’s not up there.”
Sarah made a slow circle, looking around the two-room house. There were no places for a seven-year-old to hide.
“You don’t think….”
Adam was already shrugging back into his coat, certain now he knew exactly where their son was. “That book of his,” he realized. “We were reading it together before bed. It was the chapter on Bigfoot, and I was telling him that Clancy in town had sworn he’d seen one just the other night.” He reached for his boots, shaking his head. “It was only a joke…but of course, not to Nick. I’ll lay you ten to one that he’s out there…” he pointed out the window, “on a search for one.”
From, “The Search,” available in the anthology, “Seasons in the Dark.”

AuThursday – Emily Vieweg

EV
Please welcome from The BisMan Writer’s Guild, Emily Vieweg.  Emily, can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
here’s a short bio:
Emily Vieweg is a poet and writer originally from St. Louis, Missouri. Her full-length poetry collection “but the flames” is available through Finishing Line Press. Emily’s work has been published in or is forthcoming in North Dakota Quarterly, Dribble Drabble Review, Soundings Review, Art Young’s Good Morning, and more. She lives in Fargo, North Dakota where she is a mother of two, pet parent, and university program assistant.
How do you make time to write?
I write one sentence per day. I have a daily journal I write in once a day, so there’s something to consider as future inspiration. Just started this practice this week, we’ll see how it goes. Aside from that, I find inspiration in moments, they happen here and there…
Do you believe in writer’s block?
yes – because sometimes we’re just clogged. Our brains are busy with work, home, school, life – and that can cause a block to the creative energy. It’s okay – because it happens to everyone.
Tell us a bit about the genre you write and why you love it.
I write poetry and creative non-fiction essays, flash, and microfiction. I love finding the moments to capture. Jumping right into a scene that is so descriptive and direct, we don’t need back-story.

How are you publishing your recent work and why? 

I don’t have any plans to publish a new collection yet – but I will likely publish through an independent press or traditional. I don’t have the patience or expertise to self-publish – that is a HARD job, and I don’t have time or energy to pursue that option.
Are you an Introvert or an Extrovert?  How does this affect your work?
I’m what they call an introverted extrovert. I can be “on” in a big group of people, but the serious socializing is exhausting for me. Another aspect of being an introvert is that I am able to sit back and observe – people, situations – and create some pretty interesting worlds from those observations.
What is your favorite motivational phrase?
Do the best you can with what you have.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Criticism should teach, not scold. Take constructive criticism for what it’s worth – it’s an opinion. A good mentor will not be offended if you disagree with them – that said, they’re mentors and leaders for a reason. You will be rejected more than published. Embrace those rejections, and learn from them. Get feedback if you can, and see if you can understand where they’re coming from.
Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?
Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?
forthcoming in the next edition of North Dakota Quarterly
A Privacy
When I tell my daughter I need some privacy, her brain hears:
aha! A ‘privacy’ is a thing to hold or have available.
I must retrieve this privacy for my
mother, as quickly as possible!
“Okay, Mama! I get it for you!”
The first time she ventured on her expedition to discover
some privacy, I did not hear her right away, until she reappeared.
Okay, Mama… I get it for you?
She returned to my side in the spare bathroom, and I see It.

AuThursday – Todd Ford

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I’m in my early sixties, married with two grown daughters, you know, a classic empty-nester. We have a menagerie of cats, five as of this moment, although the one that’s pawing at me as I type is aged and on twice-a-day meds to keep her from withering away even more rapidly. We’ve had dogs as well. We’re happy to no longer have dogs. They’re a lot more work.

I grew up in Southern California, Santa Barbara, and thereabouts to be exact. I have a lot of lazy beach bum and listening to “Hotel California” on the radio 27 times a day in my DNA. I’m pretty liberal as well. I studied mechanical engineering and landed my first job in the Seattle area in 1984. I was there for ten years, long enough to learn I don’t much like the reality of engineering work, to discover an affection for cinema, and to meet my wife through a personal ad.

We’ve lived in Mandan since 1994. Why Mandan? Why North Dakota? My wife grew up in Williston and her parents had retired in Mandan. I got laid off from Boeing in Seattle. The dots become pretty easy to connect from there.

How do you make time to write?

Short answer: I don’t, not enough anyway. I always think I should establish a daily routine, but I’m too easily distracted. I read a lot. I watch movies constantly. I daydream.

Long answer: I write constantly when I’m inspired. I’m a writer who first needs something to say, I guess. When inspiration strikes, my wife starts to wonder what’s up because she hardly sees me for days—and our house isn’t large. (Maybe that’s why she’s constantly dreaming about tiny homes and campers. I would have zero opportunity for escape.) Part two of the long answer is I do write almost every day. I always have something burning a hole in me to share on Facebook. You know the sorts of posts. The ones that pop up on your feed X number of years later and make you wonder about your mental health on that day long ago.

Do you believe in writer’s block?

I believe frustration over sitting for hours and not being able to find words is a real thing. Happily, I don’t experience it often—if at all. I seldom sit down to write unless I already have words ready to go. I also tend to rehearse them during water-heater-draining showers, out loud (yes, I’m one of those talking-to-himself types). It usually takes me longer to make a cup of coffee than to move that blinking cursor halfway down my computer screen.

Also, the two types of writing I’ve specialized in are movie reviewing and memoir. I always have something to say about a movie by the time the end credits scroll. (That was a good thing. My first writing “job” was as a movie critic for the Bismarck Tribune. To earn my $8.00 a week (don’t get me started, and, yes, I’m daring to nest parenthesis within parenthesis (I’m also a computer programmer)), I would watch a movie on Sunday and have to have my review finished and emailed to the editor by Tuesday.) And I can always find stuff in my life to write about. For instance, I’ve never written about the time, I was maybe nine or ten, when I took off with a friend carrying only matches and candles into a culvert, you know, to see where it went. Exiting the other end into Narnia was our hope. Long after the light of day had vanished, wind was causing the candles to flicker, like two stupid kids our boxes full of matches were actually nearly empty, and hot wax was burning our hands, we tripped over something. We looked down in the flickering shadows to see the remains of a rattlesnake. (There. Now I have written about it.)

My story for the SEASONS IN THE DARK anthology titled “The Whites of My Eyes” is filled with true stories. My book-length memoir THS DATING THING: A MOVIE BUFF’s MEMOIR is, of course, also littered with remembrances of my sordid past.

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

Yes, I consider myself a memoirist. I fell in love with the genre while reading THIS BOY’S LIFE by Tobias Wolff, CHERRY by Mary Karr, and KING OF THE HILL by A.E. Hotchner. I’m also fond of FARGO ROCK CITY by Chuck Klosterman. I’ve since accumulated three shelves of memoirs and autobiographies. I’m pleased I wrote one of my own because it makes all of these favorite authors feel in a way like kin. What I love about the genre is how it allows you to sort through all the stuff that’s happened, make sense of it, and find meaning. You might say it’s like a form of therapy—for free. I keep starting to turn the corner toward writing fiction. I always just end up on a new sidewalk through my past.

How are you publishing your recent book and why? 

I self-published my books on KDP. The aforementioned THIS DATING THING as well as a collection of my favorite movie reviews titled SEE YOU IN THE DARK: TWO DECADES OF MY CINEPHILIA IN NORTH DAKOTA. I didn’t make much effort to try to find a traditional publisher for either book. I knew the movie review book had less than zero commercial potential. My main goal was to rescue the reviews from oblivion and have a copy for my own bookshelf. I’m fairly confident that at least three or four copies exist on other bookshelves, somewhere. I know a copy resides in Mumbai because that young reader ecstatically emailed me half a dozen times to tell me how much he enjoyed all three times he read it. I also know that at least one copy has changed hands because a friend cautiously informed me she’d spotted a copy in a box at the Bismarck Public Library used book sale. I did, briefly, have a small publisher lined up for my memoir, but that publisher kinda went out of business, a fate that I imagine awaits many small publishers. At least I can rest easy knowing it wasn’t the publishing of my book that killed them.

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

I’m an Introvert. That probably goes without saying. I read a lot, watch movies, talk to myself in the shower, and experienced 2 ½ years of COVID by seldom leaving my house—and not noticing anything being different. It helps my writing, for sure. It’s easy for me to sit alone at a computer for hours with nothing but Chopin and Liszt to keep me company while I type away. Introverts are also good at looking inward; so, I’m not sure if I found memoir or memoir found me.

What is your favorite motivational phrase?

“Mistakes are the portals of discovery.”—James Joyce

You know how when you go through a draft and find mistakes scattered everywhere? I enjoy making a game out of it. I trust that Freud was at least onto something when he wrote about slips of tongue revealing unconscious truths. I don’t always fix my mistakes at first. I look for ways to use them. Some of my favorite slips of phrase have started with typos—like typing “slips” when I meant “turns.” (Okay, ninety-nine times out of a hundred, I have to fix the damn thing and move on.)

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

If you enjoy it, do it. If you don’t enjoy it, stop doing it. If you have a change of heart, start doing it again. It’s best if it feels like play. And no matter what, try not to fret over past work. In fact, I find it best to not even read my stuff after it’s published.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

Nowhere, really, other than looking my two books up on Amazon.

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

I sure do. I’ll end with this passage from my memoir describing my dad:

During the following two years after arriving back home, Dad became fanatical about new trends. After my lifetime of never seeing him exercise, he lingered in the master bedroom puffing and sweating through morning push-ups, squats, and sit-ups in his underwear—and not just any underwear, but bright red, teeny tiny briefs. I’d see him on the floor sweating before taking his shower, hair on his chest and back, his pot belly, his graying and receding hairline, and how his thing barely stayed out of sight. Cheryl could walk in at any moment! Mom could walk in! It horrified me his wife might see the outline of his… thing. His efforts paid off. The pot belly melted away.

But the effect was short-lived, and he soon found a way to re-pack on the pounds. We were the inaugural family in our cul-de-sac to purchase a microwave oven. After hauling the Amana monstrosity home, attempting to shimmy it from the box before losing patience, cutting it free with a steak knife, and plugging it in, Dad demonstrated how we could bake apples in record time—a mere minute and a half.

He removed a green apple already cored and filled to overflowing with brown sugar from the fridge, ready to go on a paper plate. He lowered the heavy, spring-loaded door and placed the apple in the oven. He released the door and it closed on its own. He pushed a few buttons and the machine whirred.

“HEEERE WE GO!” he said, resembling an infomercial.

(When I recall his words, now, they sound more like “HEEERE’S JOHNNY!”)

We’d never had baked apples before, so I’m not sure if the brown, bubbly messes he created were typical, but over the next few weeks, we—well, mostly he—ate a lot of them. He invited neighbors to experience the miracle of instant baked apples. He entertained the idea of going into the instant baked apple business, but soon the fashion wore off. Until we discovered quick popcorn, the fast cup of tea, and the art of bringing leftovers back from the dead, we simply became the house on the block with the least amount of usable kitchen counter space.

As if changing channels still again, Dad switched to color television. He didn’t buy one, not exactly. He mail-ordered one through a company called Heathkit. The ads declared, “Announcing the first solid-state color TV you assemble yourself!” as if it were a prize-worthy idea.

Our “television” arrived in several boxes. To Dad’s excitement and everyone else’s dismay, the boxes contained a jumble of wires, tubes, screws, and twisted scraps of metal and plastic. The objects giving me hope and promising future enjoyment were the picture tube and the cabinet.

“Do you guys have any idea how much a twenty-five-inch color set costs?” he asked, and continued without waiting for an answer, “I’m sure you don’t so I’ll tell you. A lot.”

Every Saturday morning for weeks, I stared at the corner of the living room—a makeshift workshop—and hoped to see something capable of playing cartoons. Each time, I turned away disappointed and returned to watching Bugs and Elmer in black and white. Making matters worse, the television once “finished” never fully worked. It always had strange bands of indistinct colors running through the picture. Dad didn’t—or couldn’t—see them, so captivated was he by his accomplishment. (He never truly completed it. A few parts left over didn’t fit anywhere. He considered them “extra” parts and tossed them into a drawer.)

He talked to us less and less the closer the “television” came to being a semi-television. One day, I walked into the living room to check his progress and saw him mounting the picture tube into the cabinet. From where I stood, I saw his two legs sticking out from beneath the set. He’d been consumed by the TV. It reminded me of the Wicked Witch of the East after Dorothy dropped the house on her. I swear his socked feet curled and disappeared.

I don’t remember the moment the project was “finished,” the black-and-white set was banished, and the intruder assumed its post in the center of the living room wall. I do remember our old set sitting on the floor of my parent’s closet facing the corner. It had been placed in a time-out. A few times, after trying to watch the interloper for a while, I snuck into their room, slid the closet door open a crack, and patted my old pal atop the head.

After Dad’s labors, I don’t recall him ever once sitting and watching his Heathkit. Always “at work,” he spent his days at IBM, but he never talked about what he did there, and I never thought or cared to ask. I knew it had to do with something futuristic and electrical called “computers,” assembling them, fixing them if they broke. My one experience of him working on electronics had been our television set. I pictured his desk at work cluttered with “extra” bits and pieces of computers he’d later stash in drawers. I imagined him as not a particularly competent computer whatever he was and, given his lack of shoptalk and general grumpiness at home in the evening, not in love with his job either.

Mom was terrified when he came home early from work one day and announced he had been “let go.” His income and future retirement prospects had gone poof, but he looked oddly relieved.

He increased the intensity of his bedroom floor, semi-naked workout sessions. He washed his cherished Oldsmobile Cutlass daily. He wore shiny silk shirts unbuttoned to his navel. He dangled a gold chain around his neck and experimented with hair dyes and comb-overs. He eventually bought the SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER soundtrack album and wore it out. He embodied a walking, talking, dancing cliché—the dad in the movie DAZED AND CONFUSED who thwarts his son’s attempt to throw a keg party. Richard Linklater set his marvelously researched movie in 1976 and Dad found polyester in 1977. Despite his efforts, Dad always lived a bit behind the times.

One detail did separate him from the father in DAZED AND CONFUSED. Dad never would have prevented a keg party. He would’ve joined in and smiled at all the girls. Cheryl told me, “When Dad helped me move in during my freshman year in college, he went away for a while, returned, and stocked the fridge with four cases of beer, one for me and each of my roommates.”

These behavior swings were all barely noticeable at the time, but they were accumulating in my mind. Eventually, in Dad’s increasing absence, I had to mow the lawn and it grew shaggier by the week. All the excitement about instantly hot food dissipated. The television’s picture worsened until it stopped working entirely and our small black-and-white set returned atop the otherwise useless Heathkit cabinet. We ate at the coffee table—and even in our bedrooms.

AuThursday – T.J. Fier

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

My name is Tiffany Fier, but I write under T.J. Fier. By day I’m an associate professor of set design at NDSU, and I write when I can around my hectic professorial schedule. I have several short stories in several anthologies, and my debut novel has recently been released: THE BRIGHT ONE.

What does your writing process look like?

Each project is a little different. Sometimes I put together a detailed outline primarily to get to know my characters better. Other times I pants my way through a story. Or, especially with short stories, I’ll give myself a few guiding notes and plot points and work the story around those ideas.

Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Depends on the project and the task at hand. Sometimes it’s incredibly energizing, and sometimes, it’s not. Sometimes the story pours out, and sometimes you need to drag it out by its ears.

 What genre are your books and what draws you to this genre?

I oscillate between contemporary fantasy, dark fantasy, paranormal fantasy, urban fantasy, and horror. There is a dark undercurrent to most of my writing. It’s just how I’m wired. However, I often try to throw in a touch of irreverence to my stories or a bit of humor to keep the mood from sinking too deep.

What are your current projects?

BisMan Wr (1)Too many! My debut novel, The Bright One was recently released by my publisher Three Little Sisters. It’s a contemporary sci-fi/fantasy adventure with a surly unicorn named Una. I have a short story in a recently-released anthology, Seasons in the Dark, from Bisman Writers Guild. I’m reviewing edits on another short story for the second Moorhead Friends Writing Group anthology. I’m sharing the sequel to The Bright One with some of my writing group AND another story of mine is in the beta-reading phase of review.

How do you relax?

I read, hang out with furry friends, and curl up on the couch with one of my favorite “comfort shows.”

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

You get better the more you write. Also, having a critique partner or a writing group has been vital to my progression as a writer. Surround yourself with a support system. It takes lots of time, patience, and hard work to have success with writing.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

Check out my linktree:

https://linktr.ee/tjfier

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

From the end of Chapter One of The Bright One:

“Holy crap.” 

The beast flicked a lion-like tail with a cascading plume of white hair. Long enough so strands brushed the floor. The hair shimmered fine as silk threads and light refracted off flaxen curls. A radiant blue eyes stared back at her with a mixture of fear and defiance.

Alexa’s head seemed to disconnect from her body, unable to process what stood before her. She refused to accept the creature and backed away, heart racing beneath her trembling fingers.

The smeared light couldn’t manipulate the shape she had seen, nor could it change the animal in anything but what stood before her.

It was a unicorn.

A real, live unicorn.

AuThursday – P.A. O’Neil

Please welcome P.A. O’Neil to The Clog Blog! Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I was born in southern California but mostly raised in a small town in Washington State. I have been writing for as long as I can remember, but it was only recently that I decided to try my hand as a professional. In fact, it was six years ago this month I wrote my, as yet unedited, novel, Finding Jane.
How do you make time to write?
When I was working, I would squeeze my writing time between my shift work. My husband was still working then, so I found it easy to write between Noon and 5:00 pm. I never wrote on weekends out of respect for him. Now that we are both retired, I write whenever I can, provided he doesn’t call me to hold something while he nails, glues, or clamps something in his workshop. I never write in the evening because I find it difficult to see, no matter how many lights I have on.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
No, I don’t, for there is always something to write about. Just because you haven’t had the opportunity to compose your “magnum opus”, doesn’t mean a poem or a journal entry can’t be written. Using my own personal experience, writer’s block is actually a form of writer’s laziness. Even if all you did that day was send out a submission, you wrote. Did you write a review? You wrote.
Did you jot down some notes for your WIP or a future project? You wrote.
Tell us a bit about the genre you write and why you love it.
After monkeying around with what I thought were various genres, I discovered they actually were variations of Literary work, just set in different genre themes (Western, Romance, Cozy Mystery, etc.). I write so that the reader will recognize the character as someone they might’ve known who now must face an unusual situation to overcome. If I can resolve the protagonist’s difficulties satisfactorily, then my story will have been a success.
How are you publishing your recent book and why?
I have only had one book published so far, Witness Testimony and Other Tales, and that was done by a traditional publishing house as I had won the contract. The majority of my stories have been published in anthologies and online journals. I am presently working on a three-story book that I would like to have traditionally published but just might offer it on my own.
Are you an Introvert or an Extrovert?  How does this affect your work?
I am a loud person. I have no qualms with talking to strangers or speaking before a large crowd. Truth is though, I consider myself an introvert. Being larger-than-life is a shield, and that crowd frightens me if I have to be in it instead of in front of it. My public persona, P.A. O’Neil, has an image to maintain that is a job in and of itself. My personal persona, though very loving with lots of friends, is far from an extrovert.
What is your favorite motivational phrase?
“There are no accidents.”
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
If you want to be a writer, then write! Don’t allow doubt to hold you back. Learn all you can from other writers. Share your work for review, improvement comes from the recognition of repeated errors. Above all, if you chose to set your writing for publication, hire an editor!
Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?
P.A. O’Neil
https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B07BF2D8SP This is my Amazon Author page. https://www.facebook.com/p.a.oneil.storyteller This is my Facebook Author page. https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17994233.P_A_O_Neil This is my Goodreads Author page.
Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?
From the story, “Witness Testimony”:
As we approached the light of the street with its foot traffic and vehicles, Bill said, “Well, that’s not exactly what I had planned for the evening.” I believe he was trying to make light of the situation, hoping it would ease the stress of witnessing such a violent and deplorable act. It was then, that I started to shake. Shake like I had been in the deep snow without a coat. The hairs on my arm began to stand up as all I felt was a wave of panic flow from top to bottom on my body.
“Hey, hey there … it’s going to be all right.” He wrapped his arms around me, not out of any romantic gesture, but more to prevent me from running away. That’s when I started to cry. Not bawling like an angry baby, but silent tears which ran down my face as I looked to him for direction. “C’mon, there’s a park up ahead. Let’s find a place to sit down.”
We walked a short block and a half until we came to the wide grass-covered expanse of Beacon Hill Park. The shadows had begun as the sun approached the horizon. We sat down on a park bench under an unlit streetlamp. His arm was still around me as I buried my head in his chest, this time allowing a fountain of tears to flow onto his shirt. All the while, he rubbed my arm and back and said, “… Atta girl, let it all out.” Eventually, I pulled up my head and apologized for making a scene. “Naw, you didn’t make a scene. Here—your make-up is a little smudged.” He handed me his handkerchief and smiled that soft smile I had so wanted to be meant for me alone.
“Thank you. Oh, look at your shirt. I hope all that color can be washed out,” I said with sadness as I wiped my face. “Looks like I’ll have to work on getting the color out of the handkerchief as well.” I gave a soft laugh, “Oh your poor wife; she’s going to think you’ve been playing with circus clowns.” Then it hit me, “Your wife, does she know? Did you get a chance to call her yet?”
“No, I’ll call her when I get back to the hotel.” He leaned forward with his elbows on his knees. “I wouldn’t know what to say to her.” He put a hand up to his face to mime a telephone receiver, “Hey, Honey, yeah I got here all right. Do I like the city? Yes, I got to see three people die today.” Then he stopped, dropped his hand, and stared at the grass at his feet. “I don’t feel so well, excuse me.”
“Bill?”
“No please, I have to go.” He got up fast and walked twenty feet towards some nearby bushes where he leaned over and began to throw up. I could hear him wretch, again and again, but with his relatively empty stomach, it soon became dry heaves. I cautiously walked towards him but stopped at a respectful distance as he stood up and turned back to me. Instinctively, he began to pat down his hip pocket as he reached for his handkerchief.
“Is this what you’re looking for?” I handed back the once-white cotton cloth now stained with tears and makeup. “It’s a little soiled; sorry.”
He took it without question and wiped his mouth, turned away to spit into the grass, and then wiped his mouth again before pocketing the cloth. I reached up to touch his cheek. He didn’t pull away. I put my arms around his neck and pulled him close. He, in turn, put his arms around my waist to hug me back. We stood there for several minutes; just holding each other, supporting each other was more like it. A young couple quietly laughed as they passed. They must have thought us aged lovers. Little did they understand that we were just survivors.

AuThursday – Gabriella Balcom

QOl9KLjv-2227000682Please welcome Gabriella Balcome to The Clog Blog!  Gabriella, can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I live in Texas with my family, work full-time in the mental health field, and I’ve loved reading and writing my whole life. I write fantasy, sci-fi, horror, romance, literary fiction, children’s stories, and more. I’ve had 360 works accepted for publication and was nominated for the Washington Science Fiction Association’s Small Press Award in 2020. Clarendon House Publications awarded me a publishing contract when one of my stories was voted best in the book in which it appeared. My anthology of short stories, On the Wings of Ideas, came out afterward. In 2020, I won second place in JayZoMon/Dark Myth Publishing’s Open Contract Challenge (a competition in which around one hundred authors competed for cash prizes and publishing contracts), after which my novella, Worth Waiting For, was published. I self-published a novelette, Free’s Tale: No Home at Christmas-time and Black Hare Press released my sci-fi novella, The Return, in 2021. Five others pend publication.
How do you make time to write?
I work full-time but plan in writing time before and after work.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
Writer’s block isn’t something I’ve had trouble with. I usually have the opposite problem, with ideas flooding my mind all the time, to the point it’s hard to keep up with them.
Tell us a bit about the genre you write and why you love it.
I love several genres and write in each of them, too. Many things appeal to me, and all types of ideas come to me, so I don’t restrict myself to just one genre.
How are you publishing your recent book and why? (*e.g. Indie, traditional, or both)
I’ve published both ways, but mainly via traditional publishers. That’s been easier this far because I haven’t had time to publish more myself.
Are you an Introvert or an Extrovert?  How does this affect your work?
Introvert. It makes it harder for me to publicize my acceptances and ongoing steps, not to mention handling marketing.
What is your favorite motivational phrase?
Never give up.
I also like:
You can do anything.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Believe in yourself and NEVER give up. Also, having your work edited is always a good idea.
Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

AuThursday – Chistina Nordlander

chris nordlander photoPlease welcome Christina Nordlander to The Clog Blog!  Chistina, can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I was born in 1982 in Malmö, Sweden, but fell in love with an Englishman (now my husband), and moved to England in 2001. I went to the University of Manchester and hold a Ph.D. in Classics and Ancient History. Nowadays, I live outside Birmingham with my husband and two cats.
How do you make time to write?
I’m unemployed at the moment, so I have more time than I really want. Essentially, I spend the evenings writing. I give myself a set time each day, and once that’s up, I take it easy. Or edit.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
Yes. Sometimes motivation comes, and sometimes it doesn’t. Nowadays, farmers can irrigate their crops so that lack of rain doesn’t automatically equal famine, but we haven’t figured out how to get inspiration on tap.
Tell us a bit about the genre you write and why you love it.
I don’t really have a set genre. I prefer speculative fiction, primarily dark fantasy and horror. Can’t say for sure why; it just seems to be the form most of my ideas take.
How are you publishing your recent book?brinn era djävlar
Are you an Introvert or an Extrovert?  How does this affect your work?
Introvert, definitely. I suppose that makes it easier to write since I like to withdraw and avoid distractions. On the other hand, I might well find more opportunities for publication if I were more extroverted.
What is your favorite motivational phrase?
Pain is just weakness leaving the body.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
When trying to publish your work, send it everywhere (short of obvious scammers, obviously), and don’t give up. I got my first story published in a very narrow small-press anthology that I’d heard of by chance. After the first one is published, you’ll get an enormous boost of self-confidence.
Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?
Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?
The woman, a physician or nurse, got ready to remove the slippers. She started pulling at one lace and underneath was a lipped stripe of red. I still had sensation, because I screamed. Someone came with a pair of scissors to cut up the shoe proper. Perhaps that wouldn’t hurt as much. I knew it would pull up chunks of flesh. I knew they would cut my feet to ribbons.
~from “The Contents of the Shoes”

AuThursday – Lynda Cox

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I’ve been a writer all of my life, but it wasn’t until my mid-30s that I got serious about publication. I now have 11 books published, both traditionally and as an indie. I hold a master’s degree in English that other than being a point of pride doesn’t do much for me. When I’m not writing, I raise and show collies.
How do you make time to write?
I have a set schedule. I may not be writing during that scheduled time, but at least I’m sitting at the keyboard and playing with words.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
Yes and no. Yes, I believe outside influences can stymie the creative flow. But, there are other ways to be creative. When the words won’t come, I play around with promo images or I make beaded “bling” show leads to support my dog show addiction or I make beaded string bookmarks.
Tell us a bit about the genre you write and why you love it.
Under my real name, I write western historical romance, some of it very steamy. I grew up on a steady diet of Westerns and John Wayne movies. I love that so much of that time period seemed to be cut and dry/black and white. It wasn’t because that’s the romanticized version of the Old West, but there is a bit of comfort in holding on to that romanticized ideal. Under my pen name Linnea Fletcher, I write fantasy romance with my writing partner McKayla Jade. That stuff is VERY spicy.
How are you publishing your recent book and why? 
The most recent is under the pen name. It’s called *Monster* and it is indie published. I like the control that is open to indie authors as well as the significant lack of a time lag between acceptance by a publishing house and actually publishing said book.
Are you an Introvert or an Extrovert?  How does this affect your work?
I’m an extreme introvert. Writing under my own name, I struggle with certain “smexxy” scenes. Writing under my pen name takes away that struggle. I can be an extrovert. I can be outgoing and push the boundaries of my comfort zone.
What is your favorite motivational phrase?
Actually, I have two and both are believed to be attributed to Ernest Hemingway. The first one is
“The first draft is always sh*t.”
The second is
“Write drunk. Edit sober.”
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Don’t give up. I signed my first book contract when I was working on my master’s degree when I was 37. Keep writing. Keep cultivating a reader base. Don’t stop writing. The world needs your unique voice because you’re the only one who can tell your story.
Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

AuThursday – Rachel D. Adams

BW normPlease welcome Rachel D. Adams to the Clog Blog! Rachel, tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I grew up in the US South/Bible belt and my research and writing grew from wanting to dive into subjects that many in my culture saw as taboo. I’ve been writing since age 11 and am just now going out on a limb to publish some of my collaborative fiction.
How do you make time to write?
I write for work. I write content for websites and freelance while also managing with the use of HB90 and sprints to keep myself on track – to write, edit, and revise my manuscripts.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
Yes. But so far mine has rarely lasted more than a week and it is usually focused on one type of writing.
Tell us a bit about the genre you write and why you love it.
I write multi-genre fiction. However, the first series I plan to publish is Urban Fantasy / Paranormal Romance. I love these because I used to read Christopher Golden and Anne Rice. Then, I got into some writing groups (fan fic) and someone told me I wrote like Laurel K. Hamilton. So, I had to look her up and that’s when I realized…maybe I liked these kinds of worlds, but with character-driven scenes. I also like steamy scenes (though this 1st book in the series is kind of tame…slow burn folks…) and I love dragons. Being pagan and a previous TTRPG enthusiast, I’ve put a lot of research into the magic systems in my worlds, too. So that makes it a load of fun. The reason I love the Paranormal Romance setting is because all of my books will have a relationship if not more in it. And they are not all conventional romances. Some are LGBTQ, some are polyamorous, some are reverse harem, some are BDSM… and paranormal romances don’t tend to limit the author.
How are you publishing your recent book and why? 
I’m going indie publishing because I like the idea of having control of my work.
Are you an Introvert or an Extrovert?  How does this affect your work?
Introvert – though I often come off like an extrovert. I’ve got anxiety and depression along with ADD – so if I’m over social, I have to go dark and build up those “social batteries” again before I can keep going. As an introvert, I prefer to stay home and don’t like being the center of attention. So…it can be bothersome for any kind of work. But since I work remotely, it doesn’t affect me as much as it used to.
What is your favorite motivational phrase?
To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; To earn the approbation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; To appreciate beauty; To find the best in others; To give of one’s self; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; To have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exultation; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived – This is to have succeeded. — Ralph Waldo Emerson
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Don’t give up. Give your best.
Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?
racheldardams.com has all of my links and my newsletter sign-up on it. Everyone who signs up for the newsletter will be getting a copy of our prequel eBook as soon as it’s published and ready. I spend most time on Twitter and Facebook right now.
Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?
Doppelgängers-&-Deceit---bonus---promo-post-comingThe idea frightened Gabriel – being taken and someone replacing you?
How many human lives had already been taken by the doppelgängers? Had this one not made a mistake, shining a light on other odd deaths or murders in recent months, no one would’ve thought about it. As Gabriel placed the notebooks and scribbled on pads in his briefcase at the desk, he thought back over the unusual amount of missing person reports in Whitley. Reports he hadn’t even had time to peruse. For a college town, the possibilities were deadly. Students could go missing and not be reported for weeks.
He heard the phone vibrate on his desk. Regarding the device, Gabriel sighed heavily. “Jean-Michel Raudine” was on the screen. The Councilor answered the phone immediately. “It’s about time. What use is having a Tasker assigned to me if he never responds? I’ve been trying to get hold of you for two days.”
“This Tasker was on assignment for someone on a higher pay grade than you, Councilor Kennedy,” The sound of ice and sloshing liquid could be heard. “Take my absence up with him.”
“Apparently, the Director is too busy to be bothered. And you’re my Tasker, not his.” All Gabriel heard was a grunt and the sound of liquid being poured from the other end of the call. “Are you drinking, Jean-Michel?” Gabriel flattened the palm of his free hand on the desk while he waited.
“Yes. If you had a day like mine, you’d be drinking, too.”
“No. I would be doing my duty,” Gabriel heard a release of air from the other side of the call. “Sorry to be so boring, but there are things to do besides getting drunk. There may be lives on the line.”
“There are always lives on the line with you lot. You should be taking that stick out your arse and pouring your own drink,” the Tasker chuckled.
Gabriel’s eyes glared down at the phone he had just pulled from his face. Why did this man always get his goat? He took a deep breath, swallowed, and continued.
“In case you were blissfully unaware, there’s a possible emergency happening here. I’m trying to save people from a horrible end.”
“Let me guess, human lives?”
“Well, yes, but it could also be argued that I’m trying to save supernatural lives. Who knows why doppelgängers are doing what they’re doing? So,” Gabriel took another pronounced breath. “I’m trying to save both supernatural and human lives. And for that, I need a Tasker who is available to me. And not drunk.” If it were any other person…
“Oh, come on, Gabriel. Surely you don’t think the Council and Crimson are here for supernatural benefit?” Jean-Michel took another drink.
“It is stated in the vows and pledge of duty….”
“Fuck that! I want your opinion, not some fuckin’ vow!” The Tasker growled from somewhere close to his soul. “Stop hiding behind someone else’s words and empty promises!”
Gabriel’s voice caught. Large brown eyes waited, trying to overcome the sudden catch in his throat and his chest. There was a flash of memory, a sleeker, younger version of his Tasker…using that voice while arguing with his father. The Councilor could feel the anger and tension in the room that day – years ago – and he swore to himself he’d just felt it again. After all, Jean-Michel had been the Tasker assigned to several human Councilors over the years – Kennedys all in a line. He was definitely not human, though he was listed as such. Perhaps, human magi? They had longer lives.
No. he knew better. His eyes moved to the cart where the books had been. He swallowed. “Crimson just wants supernaturals cleaned up and out of sight, so their precious humans don’t ever have to be burdened by knowing supernaturals exist,” the Tasker scoffed. “And you know what the funny thing is? Humans, who know about supernaturals? They want to become them or wipe ‘em from the face of the earth out of jealousy. So which are you?”
“You…are…drunk…” Gabriel spoke with measured patience. “You know how I feel about drinking and being drunk.”
“Why are the rules all made about you creatures? Humans don’t even treat one another properly. Consider all these murders and wars. You use one another and us! Skinner’s a fine example, using Crimson to herd supernaturals and keep’em under control. We’re not the ones out of control.”
“That’s news to me, considering I just got a report of a doppelgänger in Whitley taking the life of a human and becoming him. Supernaturals have the upper hand. A balance must be kept, Tasker. Crimson and the Council are about balance.” This wasn’t the time for a philosophical discussion. He needed to reel this conversation in. “Jean-Michel, I need you to come back here. The supernaturals in question are killing humans, replacing them, and wreaking havoc on other people’s lives,” Gabriel whispered every phrase in the sentence slowly. His hand was popping his thumb against his thigh.
“Yeah, well, I’ll get right on it.”
“Raudine!” Gabriel shouted the Tasker’s last name as if that would better get his attention, but the call had ended before he’d even finished the second syllable. He stared down at the phone. Where had that much venom come from? Why the sudden indignation? They had both taken vows, had they not?