AuThursday – Beck Grey

66428869_padded_logoTell us a little about yourself and your background?
I’m an LGBTQ+ Contemporary Romance author with a day job to pay the bills and have insurance. I live in the NE USA and have two adorable fur babies. When I’m not working or writing I love to listen to audiobooks, play D&D, print and paint minis for D&D, and play RPG video games.
How do you make time to write?
I write on my lunch hour, most evenings, and on the weekends. I’m very picky with how I spend my time because writing is important to me, so I try not to participate in activities I don’t find rewarding because I’m usually wishing I could be writing instead.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
Yes. It’s real and has many different reasons. The trick is to find out what that reason is and fix what you can and accept what you can’t. I couldn’t write a thing during a certain four-year period when things were very scary in the world.
Tell us a bit about the genre you write and why you love it.
I write LGBTQ+ Contemporary Romance. As a non-binary person, typical mainstream romances don’t represent me or how I’d like to envision my HEA. I enjoy reading stories that more closely reflect my self-image and ideal and LGBTQ Romance does that for me. I also think it allows authors to leave the stereotypical baggage behind that usually accompanies MF romance.
How are you publishing your recent book and why?
I’m an Indie published author because my genre still isn’t widely acknowledged or accepted by trad publishing, and LGBTQ+ Romance has a strong grass-roots base that is incredibly supportive and vocal.
Are you an Introvert or an Extrovert?  How does this affect your work?
I’m an introvert until I’m with my people. Put me in a room full of strangers and you’ll find me in the corner with the kids or the dog. Put me in a room full of my friends and you’ll never believe I’m an introvert. It actually helps me work because I don’t have a lot of motivation to go out and socialize. It leaves a lot of time for writing! 😀
What is your favorite motivational phrase?
In typical nerd fashion, it’s Yoda’s
“Do…or do not. There is no try.”
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Find a group of like-minded authors and support each other. There is nothing like going through an experience with people who are at the same stage of career development as you are experiencing. There is an incredible amount of empathy and knowledge-sharing that can happen in a group like that. The support is incredible.
Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?
Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?
This is from my new book Embrace Me. It’s the story of Quinn MacDougall, a hearing man unsuccessfully trying to juggle his career and the demands of a large family with romance, and Tadhg Byrne, a Deaf man doubting his instincts and fighting to make it in the Hearing world.
Embrace Me CoverEmbrace me is a 95,000-word contemporary MM romance about language barriers, loving but demanding families, crappy bosses, and sexy guys in speedos. It contains no cheating and a guaranteed Happily Ever After.
I glance back at Tadhg to find him watching me curiously. I drain my beer and jump up. ‘Need another. You want one?’
He finishes his bottle and stands. ‘I’ll come with you.’
Oh. Okay. That’s. Fine? Sure. It’s fine. We’re just two people who work together, getting a beer. Together. As co-workers. I spin on my heels and hurry into the kitchen, with Tadhg trailing behind me. I toss my empty bottle into the recycle bin and pull two fresh beers out of the fridge. When I spin around, Tadhg is so close I have to lean back so I don’t bump into him. “Oh!” His beautiful blue eyes look into mine and it sucks all the air out of the room. I stand there like an idiot holding a beer in each hand, panting as if I’ve just run a mile flat out.
He gently pulls one bottle from my hand and carefully opens it, his eyes never leaving mine. I hadn’t even noticed he’d picked up an opener. He hands the opened beer back and takes the second one, repeating the process just as easily, like he does this solely by touch all the time. It’s kinda hot.
We stand there, so close I can feel warmth rolling off his body, and he smells so damned good I want to press my face into his neck and inhale lungfuls of him. His gaze drops to my mouth and then snaps back up to meet my eyes. And oh god, he’s going to kiss me. He leans forward and I move closer, unable to fight his pull.

AuThursday – Awunli Eghosasere

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
My name is Awunli Eghosasere – a writing consultant helping professionals birth their thoughts and ideas into books and the founder of hapiwify.site where I publish stories and interviews to inspire young women to achieve their dreams.
How do you make time to write?
I don’t really create the time. I write as I get inspired. My notepad is always with me so I don’t miss any ideas.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
Yes. Especially when you are in terrain you have little experience about.
Tell us a bit about the genre you write and why you love it.
Nonfiction/personal development.
How are you publishing your recent book and why? 
Indie. It’s less stressful for me.
Are you an Introvert or an Extrovert?  How does this affect your work?
Partially an introvert.
What is your favorite motivational phrase?
Your destiny is not Waited for but achieved.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
What you have is invaluable. Share it with the world.
Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?
Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?
“Motherhood is not where dreams go to die.” When I saw this headline on today.com’s website, words of a frustrated mother I had met years ago at a volunteering camp flooded my mind. Minutes into a discussion about ‘a woman and her dreams’, she asked: “why do women’s dream die once they get married”? I just nodded in affirmation to a truth I was coming to terms with for lack of words to give an answer. I had thought along those lines, too, before that day.

AuThursday – Faye Hall

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
 
Faye Hall spent her early years listening to stories about the families – including her own – who settled townships in and around her hometown in North Queensland, Australia. The local townspeople, including her own parents, told her stories of corruption and slavery, along with family secrets and forbidden love. Desperate to remember what she’d been told, along with her already growing love of writing, Faye began to write about the history of her local area. Never could she have imagined the history of her small home town in Australia would become a growing list of published books. Faye’s passionate stories combine controversial subjects and provocative encounters as her characters struggle to survive the lifestyle in early rural townships throughout Australia. She explores slavery and abortion, drug addiction and murder, as well as forbidden love and passionate affairs of the heart. When she’s not writing, Faye enjoys sharing a bottle of wine with her husband in their ever-growing garden, and encouraging the varied interests of their combined family of nine children.
 
How do you make time to write?
 
With such a large family, it’s difficult to plan where and when I’m going to commit time to writing, so I’ve learned to be happy with a few lines here and there on my busiest days. Most of my book ideas come while I’m waiting to do school pick ups, and then it’s a series of late nights and early mornings to piece the rest of the story together.
 
Do you believe in writer’s block?
 
I do, yes. All you need sometimes is one bad review, or some snide remark about sales and it can really deflate you so much the brain just freezes. I’ve learned that for me, I go back over old notes, or try to edit some forgotten about manuscript to try and snap myself out of it. My husband and children are also incredibly supportive and try to get me talking or thinking about new story idea – even humorous ones – just to get my back on track.
 
Tell us a bit about the genre you write and why you love it.
 
I write Australian Historical Romantic Suspense. I’m a born and bred Aussie girl, so it made sense to me to set my stories in and around my hometown. As for the rest, I’ve always loved history, and a good mystery so I wrote the kind of stories I wanted to read.
 
How are you publishing your recent book and why?
 
Carnal Transgression was released in June through a small traditional publisher names Beachwalk Press. They’ve done all of my current releases and gave me hope after I got burned by another publishing company.
 
Are you an Introvert or Extrovert? How does this affect your work?
 
I’m very much an introvert and spend a lot of time lost in my own thoughts. Of course, having children at school forces me to be more social then I would be by choice, which is also good because sometimes ideas come from the strangest of places.
 
What is your favorite motivational phrase?
 
A bad first draft is better than a blank page.
 
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
 
Learn to take criticism and write what you want, not just to please people.
 
Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?
 
Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?
 
Fear of exactly what her sister might have seen directed her steps out of the hotel and into a run down the street. Constance needed to collect her belongings and find a place to hide until she’d found justice for her sister and discovered if her death was connected to her investigation into the boats docking at Lynch’s Beach.
 
She hadn’t gone far when she abruptly collided with the firm figure of a man.
 
“Are you all right?” he asked, his hands on her hips steadying her.
 
Recognizing his melodic brogue, Constance looked up into his green eyes.
 
“It’s you,” he uttered softly, looking confused. Lifting his hands to her face, he gently wiped away the wet tracks on her cheeks. “What’s happened to drive a wee little beauty into my arms again so soon?”
 
His innocent question was the last reality needed for the true horror of what was happening to wash over her.
 
Losing all control, tears streamed down her cheeks, and her lips trembled as she surrendered to her grief.
 
“Now, lass, whatever it is, surely it can’t be that bad,” he said, his arm going around her, holding her tight as he led her to a street bench. Sitting her down, he brushed her hair back from her face. “Where’s the lady you were with last night? Your sister, wasn’t she? I can take you to her if you think that will help.”
 
She struggled to hold her tears at bay. “She’s dead.”
 
“What?” he gasped.
 
“Her body was found washed up on the beach this morning,” Constance blurted out, still unable to believe the words.
 
He squeezed her tight, holding her against him as he rocked her slightly. “My poor, sweet beauty. I’m sorry for your loss.”
 
He felt so strong, so safe, his words comforting her far more than she believed anything capable of in this moment.
 
“I think I should take you to the police station,” he stated, brushing her hair from her tear-drenched cheeks.
 
His words startled her. She didn’t want to be taken anywhere near the police station or Robert. She pushed away from him and stood up, wiping at her cheeks and straightening her dress. “You’ve been most kind, sir, but I can’t ask you to do any more than you already have.”
 
He stood, stepping toward her. “Someone has to investigate what caused your sister’s death.”
 
“And I will,” she assured him firmly.
 
“Please, I want to help you.”
 
Constance’s hands stilled, holding his gaze for several moments, her tears flowing down her cheeks again. How she ached to accept his offer, but she was too scared to put her trust in anyone.
 
“You can’t.” Her words were barely more than a whisper, but she could tell by his scowl he heard her.
 
“Where will you go?” he asked.

AuThursday – Shannon O’Connor

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I’m a twenty something bisexual single mother from New York. I started writing full time during the pandemic and started publishing poetry in 2018, with my first romance novel in 2021.
How do you make time to write?
This is something I’m still figuring out, I honestly write when the creativity strikes.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
I do! It hits me more often than I’d like.
Tell us a bit about the genre you write and why you love it.
Poetry and Contemporary Romance. Poetry is something that has always been there for me and gives me a way to let out my feelings. It helps me process everything I’m feeling and heal. Contemporary romance is something newer for me. I’ve always written growing up but lately I have all these ideas and stories to tell that really feels like an escape. They’re stories I wish I had growing up or character’s who’s stories I feel I need to tell.
How are you publishing your recent book and why? 
Indie! I like the control that indie publishing has. Being able to be in complete control of each step is really important to me.
Are you an Introvert or Extrovert? How does this affect your work?
Extrovert. I like to think this positively affects my work because I will go out and look for new experiences to be able to write about them first hand.
What is your favorite motivational phrase?
You got this. (something my mother has always said)
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Keep writing, take breaks but then keep writing & write the story you wish you could read.
Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?
From my upcoming short story Christmas Sweets featured in the anthology, A Taste of You:
If there’s one thing to know about me it’s this; I hate Christmas. I’m not like a Grinch or anything, I’ll get the ones I love presents, spend the holidays with my family, but I just hate what it brings out in some people. I own a bakery and I have never seen people more hostile than they are at Christmas time. Something about the holidays bring out the worst in people. Because of this, I normally spend most of November and December in the back of the cafe. I’ll busy myself with paperwork, baking cookies, frosting cakes, anything to keep me from interacting with customers.
Except half my staff caught the flu this week so I’ve been forced to take charge of the counter. I guess that’s what I get for being in charge. I’ve already had several customers tell me they wouldn’t be coming back. Another customer angry that we don’t make cakes from scratch on the spot for their children’s birthday party they forgot to order a cake for.
I’m quickly making it through the line of customers asking for pumpkin spice lattes and pumpkin flavored desserts. It’s one of our biggest sellers this time of year, and I can’t say I blame them, it’s one of my favorites too. Most other places give up on Pumpkin after October but this is when it really thrives. Half our front case is decked out in pumpkin flavored cheesecake, muffins, bagels, donuts, bread, and cake.
Although I do miss when just two weeks away I was decorating jack o lanterns and tombstones. Halloween is a much better holiday in my opinion, the chance for you to dress up with no fear or expectations. The day where it’s okay to be the most exuberant you, you can be. I sigh as I finish wrapping up a pumpkin cheesecake and pass it to the customer to pay. She thanks me with a smile and I’m silently grateful for her patience.

AuThursday – Floor Kist

TourBanner_Can Machines Bring Peace gifPlease welcome Floor Kist to the Clog Blog! 

Hi Tina, thank you so much for this interview and for taking the time off of your own writing. I’m really impressed by the diversity of worlds in your novels.

Floor, can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

Well, I live in a town called Voorburg in the Netherlands. It’s near The Hague. Wife, two kids, two cats and a dog named Monty. And I’ve always been involved in public service. At the moment, I’m an alderman in my town. That’s a member of the city executive council, along with the mayor and three other aldermen.

I think I surprised a lot of people when I wrote and published a science fiction novel.

How do you make time to write?

Planning! Just like for the most of us, I can spend time on a lot of different things. So, just making an appointment with yourself to write can really be help. And is really a wonderful gift to yourself.

Do you believe in writer’s block?

I can relate to the moments that I don’t know if the story works or how it continues. I know I can get distracted by all the other things happening in my life. And I’m especially susceptible to wanting to start all the other books I want to write.

So, for me, real writer’s block is the one when I don’t know what to do next in the story. And when that happens, I take a good look at my characters and what motivates them. Because if one of my characters wants something badly enough, they will start moving to get there. Well motivated characters will always keep the story going.

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

For some reason I prefer science fiction over fantasy. Both genres allow you to imagine wonderful worlds, but I guess I like the believable world that may actually happen, intrigues me most.

Jules Verne wrote a story about traveling to the moon, and one hundred years later we did. He wrote a story about an electric submarine, and twenty years later it was built. Isaac Asimov, at an auto show in the 60s, predicted the robocar, and now we are actually building them.

This is why I like science fiction.

How are you publishing your recent book and why? 

My novel is self-published. But that wasn’t my first choice. I had found three publishing houses where I believed my novel would fit. And I’d done my homework on what my audience would be like, so we could target them better. And it also seems that the best time to launch science fiction books is before the summer.

None of them replied. Not even a ‘thank you for your interest’ or ‘thank you, but no thank you’. Nothing, nada, niente.

I can even understand why: because there are about one hundred thousand books being published in the USA alone.

And the idea of spending a year and a half trying to reach a publisher and not hear anything back didn’t sound that appealing. So, I found my way to the Amazon self-publishing service.

Are you an Introvert or Extrovert?

A lot of people are surprised when I tell them I’m an introvert. And one of the most difficult things I’ve had to learn is to go ‘out there’ – even when everything inside me said ‘just stay home, it’s nice and warm here’.

I didn’t mean to overcome being an introvert, because I didn’t like being one. It’s just the way you are. But I did want to experience more than just staying home.

How does this affect your work?

Local politics is probably not where you go to meet introverts. As an introvert, I’m comfortable being me. So, a lot of criticism I get doesn’t affect my self-worth. And being an introvert also helps me talk to everyone in an open and honest way.

What is your favorite motivational phrase?

“Even the longest journey starts with the first step.”

I love this phrase. It kept me motivated when I started writing. It kept me motivated when I was trying to make a serious career switch.

It says that no matter how far you want to go in your life, you need the courage or the ambition or the passion to take that first step in what will undoubtedly be a wonderful journey.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Finish your book! Once you start writing nothing else matters. Plan to write, even if it’s just half an hour a day.

Don’t worry about if anyone will like it, or if it’s any good, because that only counts once the book is finished. Don’t worry about how to publish your book; it can only be published once it’s done.

And please don’t fuss about typos. There is no universe in which there will not be typos in the final edition of your novel.

And when your work is done and you don’t think it’s any good or even if others don’t think it’s any good, there is the sheer reward of making something out of nothing, of creating something that wasn’t there before. And no one can ever take that away from you.

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

Cover_Can Machines Bring PeaceCan Machines Bring Peace?

by Floor Kist

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

GENRE: Science Fiction

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

BLURB:

Can a machine bring peace? Or are humans built for war?

450 years after Earth was bombed back to the Stone Age, a young diplomat searches for lost human settlements. Kazimir Sakhalinsk narrowly escapes an exploration mission gone wrong and searches for ways to make future missions safer for his people. A festival introduces him to the Marvelous Thinking Machine.

A machine Kazimir believes can change everything

For his admiral it’s nothing more than a silly fairground gimmick. But Kazimir is convinced. Convinced enough to go against orders and build one of his own. Convinced enough to think he can bring peace. Convinced enough to think humanity is worth saving. What if he’s wrong?

He asks his hikikomori sister, a retired professor filling her empty days, the owner of the festival machine and the admiral’s daughter for help. Will that be enough?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

NOTE: The book is $0.99.

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Excerpt :

Kazimir hears the beep-beep response to his beacon. The plane is overhead! His breath shortens as he peers through the night. Standard protocol states the plane will land at a safe landing zone within a kilometer radius of ground zero. If Kazimir can find the right direction, he may actually have a chance. There! The shape of the plane against a clouded moon is a beautiful sight. He is afraid to smile, but can’t help himself.

He follows it, stumbling over the thick roots of the trees. Quickly, he looks up.

There she is again. No. ‘That’s… that’s… black flag.’ That means the others are dead.

Standing against the tree, he retches. Cold sweat forms on his forehead and his back. He shouldn’t have left the settlement. He could have saved them. No. He would be dead too. Kazimir gags and coughs. He spits out the sour taste, and wipes his chin. ‘Yuck.’

He looks up, trying to control his breath. The twin rudders and the nose turret machine gun nozzle give the Ki-2 light bomber away. Kazimir has only seen it in the hangar of the Ryūjō. He remembers the pilot telling him about the 500-kilogram maximum bomb load. All headed towards the settlement.

The ground trembles with the explosion. Kazimir sees the red and yellow clouds grow against the dark sky. Seconds later, he hears the wheezing sound of the dropping bombs, followed by the roar of a thousand dragons. Sound travels at three hundred meters per second, so he must be about 300 meters away.

The hot blast wave that follows knocks him down. He hits his head on the root of the tree. ‘Stupid tree.’ He feels a sharp pain. Warm blood dribbles into his hair. Its metallic scent reaches his nose.

Sounds of the explosion die down.

Author Image Floor_KistAUTHOR Bio and Links:

Floor Kist lives in a Dutch town called Voorburg with his wife, two sons, two cats and their dog Monty. He is currently deputy-mayor for the Green Party and an AI researcher. He’s concerned about current divisive public and political debates. But he’s also interested in how AI can be used to resolve society’s big issues.

This is his first novel. He’s been carrying the idea about a story about AI bringing peace for a long time. The Covid-19 lockdown in the Netherlands suddenly gave him time to actually write it.

Link to website:

www.floorkist.nl/author

Link to ebook:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08XK42BMP

Link to paperback:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/151368115X

Blog:

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/21225715.Floor_Kist/blog

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GIVEAWAY INFORMATION and RAFFLECOPTER CODE

Floor Kist will be awarding a $30 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

RAFFLECOPTER:

Enter to win a $30 Amazon/BN GC – a Rafflecopter giveaway

AuThursday – Crystal Estell

Tell us a little about yourself and your background? 

I was raised in South Carolina in extreme poverty. Not as in I didn’t own name brand jeans, but as in I once lived in a condemned migrant worker’s house with no working bathroom until a church rented our family a place, poverty. That place didn’t last long, and then it was on to the next run down trailer we could find for pennies, as my late father was an alcoholic who barely worked. It didn’t help that neither of my parents had more than a 7th grade education. 

At 17, I moved out. And after taking several detours––that I’ll probably write about one day––I put myself through nursing school and now hold a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing Degree, working full time as a registered nurse. While I enjoy taking care of people, something happened that changed my life several years ago. Doctors diagnosed me with two rare conditions, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and a Chiari Malformation, which led to over eleven surgeries, including one on my brain. Shortly after, my then 7-year-old son had open heart surgery. It helped me realize life is short, and that I should do what makes me happy. 

Writing makes me happy. 

And when I’m not working, writing, or caring for my zoo filled with kids, dogs, chickens, and Churro, the rabbit, I find pleasure—and sanity—in deep conversations, coffee, and coloring outside the lines. 

My hope is that the happy endings I write provide an escape to someone who needs it, as books––and a late, inspiring aunt––gave me the emotional support I needed to create an alternate ending to my own story. 

How do you make time to write?

I just do. With a full time job and five very active kids, I have to make sacrifices–not excuses. I treat writing like a second job. My family respects it like a second job. And that makes it a lot easier to do what needs to be done. Otherwise, I’d never find the time. 

Do you believe in writer’s block? 

I have a different view of writer’s block than most. To me, it’s not being stuck or having nothing to write about. It’s more that my mind has so many ideas and possibilities flowing through it simultaneously that it’s hard to focus on just one idea. So everything just feels scrambled. 

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

I write mainly romance because it’s one genre where I know I’m guaranteed a happy ending. I am working on a women’s fiction novel currently w/ some romantic elements–and of course a happy ever after. 

How are you publishing your recent book and why? 

Indie publishing. Ahh…I did try traditionally publishing this book at first. I had lots of requests, compliments from agents, etc. What I learned about traditional publishing though is that having a great book doesn’t always equate to getting a great agent or a great contract. I had an offer from a digital publisher with the possibility of print after so many copies sold, but I declined because of the success I had self-publishing my first book. And because my reason for traditionally publishing would be to see my book in a place like Barnes and Noble (yes, I’m trying to walk before I crawl), I opted to continue Indie publishing for now. Until the next one… My ultimate goal is to do both. 

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

Introvert–although I can fake being an extrovert when forced to. Just don’t look at my armpits…lol. I think being an introvert helps because writing requires a lot of alone time, just me and the characters in my own head. The downside comes when it’s time to network and market. That leans in favor of the extroverts. 

What is your favorite motivational phrase? 

You fail only if you stop writing. ~Ray Bradbury 

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Don’t stop writing. Each book is always better than the one before. It’s only a matter of time before you write your masterpiece. 

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web? 

https://estellsplace.com 

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

Excerpt From: “Field of Secrets.” 

He sat beside her. “This is where you used to spy on me from all those years ago.” 

“I never spied.” Not for malicious reasons, anyway. She enjoyed watching him trot back to the stables on his strong horse, all proud and confident. It reminded her of the cowboys on TV, those handsome young men riding in on powerful stallions, winking at the waiting ladies. She’d say her crush started then, or maybe a little before. She didn’t exactly know. 

Because in all her memories, she loved him.

AuThursday – RT Chambers

Informal head & shoulder RTC - at stable in HungaryTell us a little about yourself and your background? 

Retired trauma surgeon who wrote for much of my career as a stress reliever with no intent to publish. After retirement from surgery I began to publish. 

How do you make time to write? 

In the winter 

Do you believe in writer’s block? 

As a transitory event, yes. 

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

I write about strong women as dating back to the Isle of Skye in the 18th century there are multiple stories of strong women in my family including my mother who earner a four year business degree in the 1930’s, unusual for men and unheard of for women. 

How are you publishing your recent book and why? 

Indie 

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

Extrovert and not sure that it does affect my writing. 

What is your favorite motivational phrase? 

Get off your ass and get going (directed at myself only). 

What advice would you give to aspiring writers? 

Ultimately you need to be concerned with character arcs and plot points but for the first draft just write as your cortex directs you. 

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

www.Amazon.com/author/roberttchambers 

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

FrontCoverForInternet (1)

Facing the central part of the cafeteria, Kimberly could see Layla coming toward them from a corridor on the opposite side. There was a boy she didn’t recognize a few feet behind Layla. Something was not right. He had on a heavy jacket, which was weird this early in the fall. Instinctively she started to get up to find a teacher. Before her eyes, the boy disappeared in a cloud of fire, black and debris. As she ducked under the table, she saw Layla flying to their right. The explosion was sufficiently violent that the glass behind Kimberly and Allison blew out. Kimberly immediately got to her feet and began running toward the blast zone. 

“Wait, Kim, don’t go there,” Allison yelled after her, “we’ve got to get out.” 

Kimberly could hardly hear her but yelled, “Come on, people will need help.” 

The people, kids, and teachers near them, were on their feet or sitting stunned. With Allison following, Kimberly ran to where she had seen Layla. In front of them, there was a black void where nothing was moving. Around the periphery, kids, and adults, were screaming, many people were down. 

Layla was down, her body sprawled grotesquely, not moving; Kimberly squatted and felt for a pulse. There was none. Layla’s head was loosely, grotesquely, positioned on her body. 

“Oh my God, she’s dead, isn’t she,” cried Allison. 

“Yes,” replied Kimberly. She had never seen a dead person before, but there was no way Layla was alive. Kimberly shook her head and swallowed as she tried to process what she was seeing. Allison was sitting crying. “Come on, Allison, we’re Girl Scouts and know first aid. We can’t help Layla, but others need us.” Allison stared at her. Putting her hand out, Kimberly pulled her friend to her feet and got in her face. “Come on; we need to be useful.” 

The crying girl nodded and followed as Kimberly turned to look for living victims who needed help. Within a few steps, she almost tripped over somebody. 

AuThursday – Kim Findlay

_BAY4002-Kim_Findlay (1)Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I’m a (mostly retired) CPA who now lives on a sailboat in the Caribbean and writes romance novels. I’m a Canadian, and previously lived there all my life, mostly outside Toronto, but for 17 memorable and cold years in Winnipeg, which is where you wind up if you go north of North Dakota.

My husband is the sailor, and he suggested we try the cruising lifestyle. The carrot for me was time to write. So I closed my accounting business, and we headed south. I’ve learned a lot about living on a boat.

My first two published books were hockey romances with Harlequin Heartwarming in 2018. I have five books being published in 2021, one in 2022, and a short story in a holiday anthology in November. 

So for me, this has been an awesome change in lifestyle.

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

I write contemporary romance. I do not have the imagination for paranormal or the patience for research for historical – though I enjoy reading those who do. I’ve always written stories in my head, and no matter what I start out thinking I’ll write, there always end up being two people falling in love. I think the draw might be that incredible feeling when those characters find their HEA. 

What are your current projects?6_MooU_Findlay_ebook_FINAL

I signed contracts for six books in 2020 and I’m just about done edits on the last one now. One was out in February, one in April, one in June, July, September and then January. I’ve submitted a proposal to Harlequin Heartwarming for three more books in the Cupid’s Crossing series. I’m fairly optimistic about the chances I have there. 

The non-Harlequin I released in April was part of Sarina Bowen’s World of the True North, featuring two college hockey players. Several people have asked for Cooper’s story (MMC’s friend) so I’m working on that, considering self publishing, and also a short story for the Christmas anthology featuring the FMC’s roommate Penny. 

Beyond that, I have about 20 stories battling for room in my brain, and I need to figure out which one to work on next!

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

I do a kind of hybrid. I start with the idea, and let it lead me, but my brain normally gets ahead of my hands, so I’ll do a plot outline or synopsis so that I don’t forget what I’ve thought of. For proposals, they require a synopsis, so I’ve learned to get the story plot set down even if I can’t get much of the story itself written. But I have friends who plot out chapter by chapter, and I cannot even fathom that. My first draft is just one big thing, and I don’t break it down into chapters until I’ve gone through it several times.

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

Are you a writer if you haven’t had a rejection?

I didn’t start querying, since I came into this a little differently, until after I’d been published. So after I work through the hurt feelings, resign myself to never being accepted by an agent or publisher again, sharing with my writing group (rejections are responded to with pics of hot men and women, and sometimes cute dogs) I remember that I have books out there, and I will again, if I’m willing to do the work. And since I don’t have an agent, I’m open to consider less traditional routes. I’m more aware of the fact that traditional publishing does have issues and limitations for writers, and I’m seriously considering self publishing.

Which means I can then look at dismal sales records to keep  my ego in check.

You are Traditionally published without an agent, how did that come about? 

Someone I knew wrote for Harlequin Romance. She seemed a normal person, but she was doing this. Writing, what I wanted to do! She would often post on social media about opportunities Harlequin had, including the annual So You Think You Can Write contest. I tried a couple of those, joined the forums to talk to other writers and writer wannabes. In 2016, I entered a Blitz Harlequin had for their Heartwarming line. My first chapter and synopsis led to a full request, which led to revisions, which led to “the call” and a two book deal, with of course, more revisions.

I really had no idea about the usual querying process at that time. Part of that was because I had so many ideas in my head, and not enough time to get them written that I didn’t have a complete manuscript, let alone a polished one. The Blitz meant that I had one project that had merit and I could focus on that.

I would still like to get an agent, because of writing opportunities that only exist for writers who have an agent. But mostly, I’d love to have someone look at all these ideas I have and say this is the one you should do. And then this one. Because focus is my problem. 

Since I was published with Harlequin, I have an editor, for whom all things Harlequin feed. I’ve got two Love Inspired Suspense titles coming out under the pen name Anne Galbraith this year, and that happened because I could approach my editor about an idea. 

And I’m now more aware that there are publishers you can approach without an agent. I’m working on some ideas for that now. 

Why was Traditional Publishing right for you vs. Self-Publishing?

A big part of that was because I knew nothing about self publishing. I still know very little, but I have a better idea of where to find the knowledge I need. It will require a big investment of time and some financial resources, but I’m considering it for a future option.

What I liked about traditional publishing was first, the validation. Someone, a professional in publishing, was willing to pay me money for something I wrote. As well, since I knew so little, I didn’t have to worry about the areas I was ignorant of, like covers and formatting. Harlequin especially, puts your books in hands because of the publisher, so it was an opportunity to get my writing out there, which I, with so little marketing knowledge and talent couldn’t do. 

And, as I mentioned before, I needed the focus. Someone else said, yes, that story. Finish it, because I want to read it. That was a big help. And the first edits I received? Were like getting a free class in writing craft. So much that I hadn’t thought of.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Obviously, write. A lot. You keep getting better. 

Also, read. I’ve always been a voracious reader, and from that I’ve learned the basic arc of a story without really working through from a how to book. As well, you’ll find comps, and learn what’s popular and not in your genre. There are books out there that can help you refine your writing skills, or marketing skills or whatever you’re needing.

Find people. I found a great group when I did #RevPit on twitter. We share opportunities and information on agents and publishers. We critique for each other, cheer-lead, and in case of R’s, post pictures of hot people to inspire and console. Writing is a solitary thing, so even if you don’t want to share your work, sharing your experiences with someone who’s been there helps.

Be willing to risk. Putting your work out there is a risk. Getting rejections hurts. But try something new, like sending something to a publisher without using an agent. Enter a contest like #PitMad or #RevPit, and see what happens. 

Finally, persevere. It’s not going to be easy. There are going to be rejections that make you want to curl up in a hole and never come out. Even if you get published, there will be hurtful reviews and one star ratings. But if you want to get your stories out into the world and find the readers that are going to say they love your characters, you have to pick yourself up and try again.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

www.kimfindlay.ca is my website. On facebook, KimFindlayAuthor. My twitter ID is @missheyer74, and on Instagram you can see pretty pictures of the Caribbean and my dog at authorkimfindlay. 

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

Here’s an excerpt from A Valentine’s Proposal, which came out in February. It’s the first book in the Cupid’s Crossing series. Nelson and Mariah are fake dating, for reasons, and she’s suggested they practice kissing in private so they’re able to make a convincing show in public.

9781335179760Nelson looked at Mariah, her cheeks slightly pink, her gaze on her notebook (had she actually researched bad kissing?) and her teeth biting her bottom lip. Maybe it was all this talk of kissing, but right now, he wanted to kiss Mariah.

         Not theoretical, pretty woman, kissing would be great, but kissing the woman sitting there, the one trying to make kissing an item on her list, something they could practice in order to demonstrate to people that they were falling for each other.

         Maybe some people kissed like that. But Nelson never had. He didn’t kiss for anyone but himself and the woman he was interested in. He wanted to kiss Mariah but kiss her so that she wanted to kiss him again, not to impress anyone else or critique his technique.

         He was going to make her love his kisses.

         Being overeager was something that would be on the bad kissing list, so Nelson shrugged.

         “Okay, then. Let’s do it.” He patted the couch beside him.

         He watched Mariah. He saw her swallow. Her teeth were scraping her lip now. She set her computer and notebooks down on the floor beside her chair.

         “I guess we should go ahead and get this taken care of.”

         Was she nervous? She totally was.

         “Mark it off your list.”

         She narrowed her eyes, looking like she suspected something. He smiled back at her.

         “Come on. No time like the present. Then I can get back to the game.”

         Her shoulders snapped back, and her teeth were no longer worrying her lip. He held back a grin. Unless he mistook the expression on her face, she was determined that he wasn’t going to shrug off this kiss and turn on the TV.

         Good. They were on the same page about this.

         She stood and crossed to the couch, dropping on the cushion beside him. He watched the expressions swirling over her face. She was staring at his lips, and leaned forward, starting to pucker. He could almost read the checklist in her mind.

         Unh uh. Kissing wasn’t a checklist.

         He put a hand on her cheek, soft under his palm, and kept her at a distance.

         “Hold on, Mariah. You all but accused me of being a bad kisser. I can’t have that. We’re going to do this right.”

         Her brow creased. “What do you mean?”

         His thumb brushed over her cheek. She blinked. His other hand brushed her arm, fingers running up and down from shoulder to wrist and back. Her gaze followed his hand, her expression confused.

         His fingers slid up her shoulder, across to her neck, gently stroking. He felt her soften under his touch. Soon he had both hands cradling her face. She drew in a breath, watching him intently. He caressed her bottom lip with one thumb, and her mouth parted.

         Bingo.

         He leaned forward and pressed a gentle kiss to her forehead. Her skin was warm and smooth under his lips. Her perfume tickled his nose, and he could hear her breathing. He felt his own speed up. Mariah’s eyes fluttered closed as his lips traced a path down her nose, across her cheek, to one corner of the delectable lips.

         She sighed, relaxing fully into his hold.

         Then he touched her lips with his, softly. He pulled away, just enough to catch his breath, and she moved closer, seeking more.

         He pressed forward again, brushing his lips against hers, back and forth, as she pushed closer to him. His hands slid into her hair, and hers moved up his chest, gripping his sweater.

         Now he increased the pressure, feeling the texture of her lips, the brush of her breath, the slight moan that escaped her.

         Or maybe that was him. Because kissing Mariah was a pleasure he’d have hated to miss.