AuThursday – Constance Bretes

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CB Author PhotoTell us a little about yourself and your background?

I was born and raised in Michigan, met my husband there, and worked for 38 years for the State of Michigan before retiring. We moved from Michigan to Montana in 2015, and then last year, we moved from Montana to Alabama for medical reasons. I have no children of my own, but I do have a step-son. I am owned by 3 kitty cats and the doggie that lives next door. I published my first book, Delayed Justice, in 2014. Elkhorn in the Moonlight is book #9, and Midnight Escape will be #10 and published later this year. When I’m not writing, I like to spend time with my husband and our fur babies, love to read romance novels, love to basket weave, fiddle on the piano, and sit on the swing on my back porch.

How do you make time to write?

Since I’m retired, and a homebody, I have plenty of time to devote to writing. The hardest point for me is to just sit and write. When I finally do sit to write, I have all my resources at my fingers, and my husband is gone to do his thing……

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

I have a loose outline to guide me through the story. Just something that tells me what I want to put in.

Do you ever get writer’s Block?

Yes, a couple of times I went through writer’s block because of my medication. While in Montana, I was sick quite a bit, and couldn’t sit down to write, and when I could, I couldn’t due to the medications. Other times like right now, I have so many manuscripts in various stages of edits, that I just can’t sit and write, so I work on edits.

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

I put them away. Then look at them later, when the sting goes away.

What are your current projects?

I am working with my publisher on the final edits for Midnight Escape to be released this summer. I have a military romance I’m working on, Operation Code Name: Desert Love, I am almost ready to submit another manuscript to my publisher called Love, A Second Time Around, I’m also working with a group of ladies called Common Elements Romance Project, we have taken 5 items, and have agreed to put them in our books, and we are publishing our books later this year. It is the first time I’ve ever self-published. My book is called The Haunted Love Affair. I’m working on three books, Roadside Love, Roadside Desire and Roadside Passion. It centers around two brothers and a sister who find love in a small town in Wyoming. All are related but standalone.

Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?

No actress for Nicole, in Elkhorn in the Moonlight, but someone I know in Basin, Montana, where we lived. For the hero, Marcus, I have Martin Sensmeier, a Native American actor.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Keep writing, keep mastering the craft of writing and don’t give up.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

http://constancebretes.com

https://www.facebook.com/conniebretes/

https://twitter.com/ConstanceBretes

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7737457.Constance_Bretes

Email:  bretesc@gmail.com

http://beachwalkpress.com/constance-bretes/

https://www.bookbub.com/profile/constance-bretes

https://www.amazon.com/Constance-Bretes/e/B00IKSKRES/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

https://plus.google.com/u/0/+ConnieBretes

Instagram: constancebretesauthor

Newsletter:  https://www.constancebretes.com/news–things.html

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

CB-ElkhornintheMoonlight-1600x2400 (6)“You pass it every time you go into Mason. The other two are on the other side of the overpass. Sandpiper Mine you can see from the highway, but you have to go on Gulch Mine to get to the Elkhorn Mountains. The mountain ranges there are the highest, and there are a lot of vertical drops, so you’d have to travel where you can walk it. It’s not something where you can climb it and be there. You have to go in a roundabout way.”

“Do you have a very clear vision of where this cave is, and how to get to it?” he asked.

“Yes. I remember it clear as day now.”

“How soon can you get yourself ready for the hike?”

“What? I’m not going there. You are. I can’t just take off and leave, I have work to do. Plus, it’s way too cold to go there right now. The mountains in that area still have snow on them.”

“You think I would know where to go by the information that you provided?”

“I gave you very good information,” she said.

“Do you have the coordinates for GPS?”

“No. I don’t.”

“So, you think that I, who have never traveled these mountains before, would have no problem finding that cave?” Marcus’s eyes narrowed as he regarded her.

“I don’t have any idea how you intend to get there. Personally, I think you should wait until summer to do it. The weather in the mountains is unpredictable.”

Marcus sat thinking about the situation for a second, and then he said, “Name your price.”

“Huh?”

“I said, name your price,” he repeated.

“I need you to lead me to that cave, and I have to do it this week.”

“You’re not listening to me. I can’t take you there. I have work to do here. I can’t leave to go on a weeklong camping trip.”

“You can for a price,” he said grimly.

“You can’t buy me off to get what you want,” Nicole said defensively.

“Everyone is willing to do certain things for a certain price. Will thirty thousand get you interested and willing to go?”

“I…I…thirty thousand? No, I won’t be bought,” she stammered.

“Look, Nicole. Let’s quit with the games. I’m going to go there to get those Sacred Arrows, and you are the one who is going to take me there and bring me back. I’m offering you thirty thousand for a week…week and a half of work. I think your brother and his wife can handle the motel for that length of time.”

“I’m sorry.” She stopped for a few seconds.

“I won’t be bullied. My answer is no.” She stood up to leave.

“Just think about this. Like I said, thirty thousand for a week and a half of work. Think what you could do with that money. Think of all the possibilities and opportunities you’d have. As for the weather, I know you have lived through worse weather right here in Mason. You know what to expect. I would not let you go up there without your GPS, your cellphone and satellite phone, your two-way radio, and letting your brother know exactly where you’re at should there ever be an emergency. I’ll give you until tomorrow at noon to tell me your decision, and if I were you, I’d think about this very seriously. I intend to have my way in this,” he said sternly. Grabbing his maps and the pictures she gave him, he walked back to the causeway and to his room.  

 

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AuThursday – Dana Ross

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DR author photoTell us a little about yourself and your background?

Like many writers, I was born into a family of bookworms. My maternal grandmother was a librarian for seventy-five years and she was a heavy influence on everything I read growing up. My father was a jeweler, and I grew up in the industry and was groomed to take over my family’s store. I worked under his wing for almost a decade, but after I left Maryland to attend the Gemological Institute of America and earn my Graduate Gemologist degree, I was encouraged to apply for a teaching position at the school. I relocated to California and worked as an instructor at G.I.A.’s Santa Monica campus.

Later, after marriage and kids and moving to Florida, I decided to try writing. After a few poor unstructured attempts, I joined a few critique groups, switched careers, attended grad school. There, I earned my MFA in creative writing. I still have a passion for gems and I try to infuse my writing with gemological factoids whenever possible.

How do you make time to write?

When my children were young, I wrote when they napped or attended school. I knew I had only a few precious hours to get words onto paper, so I made writing part of my daily routine—as much as brushing my teeth and flossing. My kids are almost grown now, but I still adhere to my writing schedule: Coffee first. Then treadmill (to fill my head with ideas/mentally flush out stories). Then I plant myself in my writing chair and work until my son comes home, hunger pangs beckon, or the dog whimpers for attention.

Do you believe in writer’s block?

“Ugh.” Unfortunately, yes. I’ve heard people say they don’t believe such a thing exists, but I suffer from it on occasion. Recently, I started working on two novels, one story I began while participating in NaNoWriMo, and one story that “came to me” out of the blue. I love both ideas, but I haven’t been able to commit fully to either, and until the “Eureka!” or “Aha!” moment comes to me, I can’t find the momentum to write. To help speed along the process, I play songs that remind me of my imagined chapters or work on character profile worksheets or try to write the synopsis of each book until the proverbial “block” has been lifted.

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

Great question. My true love is YA because I love teen angst and quirky characters. The first manuscripts I wrote were YA stories, because writing is cathartic and through YA, I could deal with teen issues I, myself, went through, and issues my daughter experienced. That being said, my first published book is a contemporary romance with elements of suspense. It was a lot of fun to write outside my “regular” genre.

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

My recent book was published traditionally through The Wild Rose Press. I’d learned they had earned an award through Predators & Editors and heard great things about the company, so I queried them and they accepted my “baby.” TWRP really love their authors and go out of their way to teach us about the writing industry, which can be overwhelming at times.

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

I’m an intro/extrovert if there were such a thing. I love working and hanging out with fellow writers, but I’m also introverted at times. While crafting a novel, I’ll retreat into my writing cave and shun friends/society, and I can go days without contact from the outside world. Fortunately, I’m also a mom and the host of a local writers’ critique group, so I get pulled out of the proverbial cave and pushed back into society when my son is with me or when it’s time to moderate the writing group.

What is your favorite motivational phrase?

That’s an easy answer. I stumbled upon this quote by Gloria Steinem and for years it has been my mantra: “Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.”

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

First, the obvious: write and read every day, even if it’s only a paragraph or a page. Second, read and write outside your comfort zone; our writer minds can get stagnant if we do the same thing every day. Third, read the craft books written by the masters. There are many but my favorites are Stephen King’s “On Writing,” Strunk & White’s “The Elements of Style,” and Browne & King’s “Self-Editing for Fiction Writers.” Last, but not least, don’t give up. Your writing might not be everyone’s cup of tea, and writing is a glacial process, but if you write because you love what you do, stick to it, toughen your skin, and be patient. Your day will come, and there’s no greater feeling than having a complete stranger love your prose.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

Thanks for asking, Tina. I’m constantly on social media, and I love to connect with readers and fellow writers. You can find me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and my (under construction) web page:

Website: https://danarossauthor.com

Twitter: @danarossauthor

Instagram: mommawriter (Dana Ross Author)

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DanaRossauthor

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

Yes, thank you for offering. This excerpt comes from chapter two—a scene where my protagonist meets face-to-face with the story’s antagonist.

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There were three things I could not stand—cheap shoes, bad wine, and the man seated across the table from me. William Drummond was staring at me like a half-starved animal. Maybe his greedy gaze was due to my dress’s plunging neckline, but the man obviously had other things on his mind—complications that involved me. And like the pan-fried calamari appetizer slowly digesting in my belly, sharing company with the man who almost killed one of my girls did not sit well.

Nonetheless, I had problems. I had to at least hear him out.

I lifted my empty champagne flute and motioned for a refill.

Drummond obliged.

The bubbly was good and dry, one that cost a pretty penny, which the sockmuppet would probably write off and charge taxpayers. It was tempting to slug my drink down and ask for a third glass, but I refrained since I was dealing with someone less trustworthy than my dry cleaners. As Drummond refilled his glass, I remembered how easily he polished off drinks without showing a hint of an altered mind. In addition to the champagne, there was a glass of whiskey with melting ice cubes by his plate.

Bells in my head rang a warning.

He was slick. Just like that suit. Which was decent, though, probably an Italian label that cost more than my rent. He also sported a rose-gold designer watch—last year’s model—and diamond pavé cufflinks that practically blinded me with their shine. His nails were trimmed and glossy, like he’d had a recent manicure, and his jet-black hair shined like an asphalt lake.

His eyes were a forgettable brown, but they revealed intellect—correction, cunning intellect.

Drummond lifted his champagne glass and aimed the rim in my direction. “Let’s make a toast. To old times.”

I leaned forward and clinked his glass. “Old times.”

 

AuThursday – Seelie Kay

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Seeliekay author photo (1)Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I am a former attorney and journalist who turned to writing after I found myself a single mom with a toddler. Opening my own marketing/pr consultancy turned out to be the perfect choice. After I was diagnosed with MS, I cut back to freelance writing. I began writing romance about two years ago literally on a whim. My son had graduated from high school and was learning how to fly from the nest, so it was time to do something I had longed to do, write books.

How do you make time to write?

I balance my time between making money and writing books! Seriously, I need to eat and I barely make enough money as an author to keep me in Cheetos!  So much of what I do earn goes into promotion because I am so new to the book world. When I am not writing romance, I ghostwrite and edit books for others, mostly other lawyers. As for making time, writing is just something I do. I don’t really think about it, it has always been part of me,

What genre are your books?

I write a broad range of romance, from the erotic to the sweet. However, Snatching Dianna is my first foray into romantic suspense. And yes, it does have just a touch of erotic romance, primarily because the main characters are ones I had written about in my series, Kinky Briefs.

What draws you to this genre?

I am drawn to romance because I believe love is there for anyone who wants, even someone like me. Everyone in search of love has bought into the fantasy and that is not always a bad thing. I am drawn to romantic suspense simply because I am fascinated by mysteries and puzzles. I like to take complicated situations and discover the way out. I have identified with Emma Peel (The Avengers) since I was a kid and you will find part of her in each of my female leads.

What are your current projects?

The second book in the Feisty Lawyers series, Infamy, is due out on my birthday, January 4. I also have a stocking stuffer set for release in December called The President’s Daughter. In addition, I am working on the third book in the Feist Lawyers series called, Cult.

Here’s the blurb for Infamy:

Infamy. An evil or wicked act. Terrorists bent on revenge have found a way to make planes disappear from the sky, without a trace. And when one winds up buried in a Wisconsin cornfield, it’s a race against time to rescue the passengers from certain death.

International law attorneys Sheikh Harun Ali and Marianne Benson Ali are united not only in their love for each other but also by their commitment to fight for the victims of terrorism. Together, they sue terrorist groups to compensate the victims of their violence, raiding terrorists’ coffers and destroying their ability to fund evil acts. Now, the terrorists are targeting them. A mysterious missive draws Harun to the Amazon, where a man claiming to be his brother warns him of a plot against the United States. The Alis enlist the assistance of their neighbors, agent Cade Matthews, who works in black ops, and his wife, former agent and Constitutional Law Professor Janet MacLaughlin, as well as two recent law school graduates, to discover the truth. After two planes disappear and an attempted school shooting is aborted, these feisty lawyers are pushed to the wall, desperate to find a plane that has been buried in an unknown corn field, the passengers still on board. The terrorists’ hatred for the Alis is absolute—they are the people who once left their organization bankrupt and broken—but they hate America more.  However, their fiendish games are only a beginning. They are seeking a much bigger prize. One that could destroy a nation, and possibly, the world. An act that will live in infamy.

Here’s the blurb for The President’s Daughter:

Be careful what you wish for because it just might send your life into a tailspin from which you may not recover.

When presidential candidate Jamisen Powell meets volunteer Sarah Lee Pearson, he is shocked to discover her eyes mirror his own. But Sarah was raised by two loving parents and has no questions about her heritage. Instead, after their death, she merely longs to find an extended family. She becomes convinced that Powell could be a distant relative. Powell, on the other hand, has spent twenty-five long years haunted by the memory of a daughter kidnapped from her bed. He suspects Sarah could be his long-lost daughter. As both launch separate covert searches for the truth, Sarah is found by the estranged parents of the man who raised her. Suddenly, the truth will no longer set her free. It could destroy the happy memories of her childhood. Hang on to your seat, and more importantly, hang on to your heart, as one woman discovers the true meaning of family.

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

I am naturally shy, but once I start talking, I do not shut up! I literally shut off my phone when I write, because I could talk on the phone all day.

What is your writing Kryptonite?

When I am in the zone, nothing else exists for me. I write until I get everything out of my head. Sometimes I write for 10 hours without eating, drinking, speaking, or moving from the computer.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

If you believe you can write and you have a story to tell, just do it. It’s doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. All that matters is what you believe.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

Author links:

www.seeliekay.com

www.seeliekay.blogspot.com

Twitter: @SeelieKay https://twitter.com/SeelieKay

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/seelie.kay.77

Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Seelie-Kay/e/B074RDRWNZ/

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

download (2)From Snatching Dianna:

“After what seemed like hours in the sweltering van, it lurched to a stop.

Dianna heard a man bark orders. A door to the van opened and someone pulled the rope from her feet, then removed her hood. She took a deep breath.  A man grabbed her by the arm, forced to her feet, and pulled her from the van. Dianna stumbled when she hit the ground. The stones were hot and her feet were covered by athletic socks, no shoes. Show no weakness.

Dianna immediately surveyed her surroundings. It was still night, but she was in a well-lit courtyard. A large stone mansion stood in front of her. She looked to her right, then her left. The courtyard was enclosed by a large stone fence, at least eight feet high. A fortress. Fortunately, Dianna was a rock-climber. She could rappel over the fence with the right equipment. All she would need was something to serve as a pick, maybe a rope. A knife, a screwdriver, even a fork. Keep your eyes and ears open. Be ready.

A large black man, dressed in a white suit and a maroon turban, walked out of the front door and down the stairs. He stopped and flashed a malevolent smile. He flung his arms wide and in a cultured baritone boomed, “Welcome to paradise, ladies. I hope you enjoy your stay.”

Some of the guards laughed.

“Crikey,” Tillie muttered. “Sounds like a blasted genie.”

Dianna glanced sideways and for the first time, got a look at her new friend. She was tall and thin, her body well defined. She looked strong and aware, almost fierce. Her eyes seemed to be studying the place, taking everything in. She showed no fear. Instead, she seemed interested. Something was off. Tillie did not act like a victim as the others did. She was not cowed. Was she a cop? Or like Dianna, someone who would not permit themselves to be broken?

There was only one thing of which Dianna was certain. She had found a friend. A useful one.”

 

AuThursday – Sue L. Hamilton

Please welcome my fellow ND author, Sue L. Hamilton to The Clog Blog.  Sue, tell us a little about yourself and your background?

Growing up on a family farm in north central ND provided a strong work ethic that lead to a 20-year corporate career, encompassing direct sales, upper management, employee training, customer service, and business development. 

For the last 15 years, I’ve redirected my passion by encouraging others through the gift of speaking and writing.  This allows others to be motivated and energized and bring them hope.

I’m an eternal optimist that loves life.  On a personal note, I love gardening, cooking, and classic cars and is especially fond of being a wife of 31 years and mother of two grown sons.

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

The structure I use on a regular basis while writing is the following:

  • Personal Story
  • Thoughts about the problem
  • Lessons learned – teaching
  • What to inspire or to move to action
  • Prayer

Do you ever get writer’s Block?

Yep!

Okay, I’ll say a little more.  I’ve felt like I’ve had writer’s block ever since I completed my memoir Carried by Faith in the fall of 2017.  I worked at it for seven years. In the last two of those years, I worked at it every day, even if it was for fifteen minutes.  Now I have to force myself to write a weekly blog and most recently have went to an every other week blog because I just don’t feel like writing. UGH!!

What genre do you write, and what draws you to it?

Blog posts are geared mostly to middle-aged women working on self – improvement.

Memoir Carried by Faith is a wide range audience from male or female, age 16-70 years old.

How do you come up with the idea for your book?

I was forced into writing!  While doing a lot of public speaking I use my life stories in the presentation/training and afterward people would ask me if I had a book or a website that I shared my stories in detail.  The answer was always a resounding, “No!” I continued to hear it and decided to begin writing even though I wasn’t a writer. So, the idea for my memoir was my life stories from around the age of 5 – 30years old and a tragic motorcycle accident I survived.

My current project is a self-help book with the “rest of the story” from where I left off in the memoir.  

How do you publish your book(s) and why?  (Indie, traditional or small press)

Self-publish.  I used TLC Design https://www.tlcbookdesign.com/ which allows for a la carte or packaged options.  I’ve chosen this route because of the cost and the control of timing in producing a finished product.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Start writing and keep writing!  Huh – maybe I need to take my own advice.  

Find your writing voice and style.  The only way I’ve found this is by continuing to write and seeing what I like and don’t like.  In addition, I suggest that you get used to being told you need to improve and change things that you thought were wonderful and after someone else reads it they give you feedback for improvement.  Be ready for constructive criticism because it will help you and improve the end product.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

www.suelhamilton.com

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

Walls as a Way of Life

Excerpts from Carried by Faith: From Substance Abuse to a Life Filled with Miracles page 40-42

Author – Sue L. Hamilton www.suelhamilton.com or www.carriedbyfaith.com

The high, thick walls of protection became my life; they bordered my heart, so no one could enter.  Others didn’t understand what I was living in, this living Hell.  The walls hid the pain and unspeakable things associated with the hard years of alcohol and drug abuse.  

I believed no one would understand, so it was easier to keep everyone away with high, cold walls of silence and no emotion.  No form of light, goodness, or happiness was allowed in. Alcohol and drugs filled the silence.

It was nice and quiet in the walls of protection, I didn’t have to explain myself, but then again, I couldn’t explain myself.  The silence was best, and that is why I would use the “liquid forgetter,” alcohol and drugs. I craved the effect they gave me, and they kept my level of chaotic thinking at bay.  They did for me what I could not do for myself.

I ran after the effect and did whatever I needed to get my supply.  The concoctions of alcohol and drugs along with the need to keep my supply met took me to some very dark places.  It can be explained like this – wickedness danced in the darkness of night, moving in and out of its hiding places and drunkenness was the painful bondage that took over my mind and body.  When I would awaken from its stupor, I would wonder, “Where am I?” “What happened to me?” “What have I done?”

“What was to become of my miserable life?” “Why was I here anyway?”

I looked for a way to escape my life, even a slit to my wrist one dark night would not stop the pain.  I had no answers. It felt like a knife stabbing in my heart. The pain would dull occasionally, but I always felt its continual throb, reminding me of my bondage.

I was constantly trying to get back to the original first feeling of catching a “buzz” or “getting high”.  It would not come back.

Nights turned into weeks, then months, and years of crying and sobbing into my pillow.  The pillow stopped the loud wail coming from deep within my soul. It silenced the fear and absorbed the tears that I couldn’t vocalize.  

No words would ever reach my lips to explain my hopelessness.  I continued to repeat in my head, “Why God…why am I here?”  

I didn’t have any answers, so I continue to hide behind my protective walls.

 

AuThursday – Anthony Thomas

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Please help me welcome Anthony Thomas to the Clog Blog.  We are happy he made this stop on his Breacher’s Blog Tour! Anthony, tell us a little about yourself and your background?

Who would’ve thought an average student with below average grades in high school English would go on to write, and even publish, a book? My teacher was pretty shocked too. Academically, I wasn’t all the way there. Creatively, however, this is where I thrived. I can’t recall a time I wasn’t involved in something of the artistic nature. Drawing my own comic books. Making animation videos with a friend. Creating music with a band. No, I won’t tell you the name because there is still music on myspace. NICE TRY! After many failed attempts at producing more than a single page of writing, I forced myself in the computer chair and didn’t stop typing until I had a chapter. Then another and another. You know what a runner’s high is? Well, this was my drug, and I still can’t get enough.

How do you make time to write?

I usually set a time to write, but if the itch hits me sooner, I’ll just jump right in.

Do you ever get writer’s Block?

It’d be hard to find a writer who hasn’t. Sometimes I notice my words just don’t flow as they normally do, and at that point, I know I need to take some time away. Hours. Days. Sometimes weeks.

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

Too many to count. Like most authors, rejection is just a stripe you have to earn, and hell, I’ve earned a lot. You have to take it in stride. Don’t let one opinion make you lose motivation.  

Can you tell us your story of getting, “The call”?

No call for me. The offer I received through Fiery Seas Publishing was via email, and that was instantly forwarded to my critique partner so we could rejoice together.

What genre are your books?

I write a variety. Fantasy, Sci-fi, and now my work in progress is a Thriller. The way I see it, I love almost every genre, so why would I limit myself to one? I plan on writing them all!

What draws you to this genre?

Writing a genre without rules is always enticing. Sure, a historical fiction is great, but are there powers? Blasters? Jedi? I think not. Sci-fi is fun. And what better escape is there than pretending you’re the protagonist wielding a lightsaber or shooting fire from your palms?

Do you have any advice for Aspiring Writers?

Don’t write what is popular, or what may get you a contract. Trends are exactly that. Trends. By the time you finish a YA Fantasy because that genre is “IN” right now, the tides will have shifted to something else. Write what YOU want to write. The rest will follow.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

I’m usually pretty active on Twitter and Instagram, also my website- Anthonythomasbooks.com

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

“What, Wilson?”

“I have his address. Where are you?”

“Ninth and Eastman.” I exhale the last drag, drop the burning filter to the sidewalk, and snuff out the butt with my heel.

His keyboard swipes cut through the phone. “Okay. Take the next bus and get off on Centennial.”

I glance at the bus stop on the corner. It’s filled with trash, and I don’t mean the homeless people and prostitutes. As I walk over, I’m thrown to the leopard-print wolves. The skirts are so short, I get front row tickets to a show I wish I hadn’t gone to.

“Hey, cutie,” says a blonde with far too much makeup, and a distinct stagger in her heels. “For you, I can go half price.”

“Hi, there, darlin’,” I respond with a southern tick, and sling my arm over her shoulder. The cash stuffed in her bra is poking out, crumpled ones and fives ripe for the picking. “Do you know where the nearest gas station is?”

She lifts a shaky hand and points down the street, her head bobbing all over the place. She’s either drunk, high, or both. Perfect. I tug the bills at the corner and slip them in my sleeve. She doesn’t even notice the money sliding. Could be drugs, or that the numbness has yet to wear off on her newly acquired bust.

“Thanks, ladies.” I rub a hand on the small of her back and widen my grin. “Sorry. Can’t play tonight.”

They all groan in unison, like the wailing of a ghost.

Blondie adjusts her undersized bra, pauses, and gropes her chest. She digs inside, searching for the twenty hard-earned on her knees in an alley. Her chalky white face twists. “Hey, this asshole stole my money.”

I click my tongue on the roof of my mouth and wink. “Thanks again.” Press-on nails reach out to snatch my jacket, but I evade her clutches and rush down the sidewalk, a scuffle of heels tapping after me.

“Tony, that guy has my money!” she screams.

Crisp, almost icy wind forces back my hood, and I laugh with the occasional look over my shoulder. There’s no way they could stop me, even if they were sober. A massive shadow steps out from the alleyway ahead, pear-shaped, and wide enough to block off the entire sidewalk. He pulls a butterfly knife from his pocket, flips it in his hand until the blade is exposed, and takes pavement-shuddering steps toward me.

I lift my fists and shield my face. He thrusts the knife forward, narrowly missing my chest. It isn’t difficult to stop someone more than twice your size; everyone has a weakness to exploit. A swift jab to the throat and a well-placed knee to the junk drop him to the cement with ease. He clutches his neck and chokes while his body topples over.

“See ya later, Tony.” I dash away and sift through the bills in my hand. “Twenty-six dollars? Jesus, what has happened to this economy?” I stuff the cash in my pocket and pull out my headset. “Wilson? Wilson! Put your dick away and find me a different route.”

“Wilson’s not here right now,” he replies. “Please go fuck yourself and try again later.”

“I’m at Sixth and Eastman. Where the hell do I go now?”

“I told you to get on the bus. Wait, why are you running? Did you steal from a hooker again?”

AuThursday – McKenna Dean

GOAC BannerPlease welcome, McKenna Dean to the Clog Blog.   

SignatureLogo_300x218McKenna, please tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I’ve done a number of different jobs over the years: worked as a lab tech, in a vet clinic, as a dog trainer, an actress, a singer. I’ve always walked a fine line between my creative/artistic side and my scientific one. When I graduated from high school, I thought I had to choose—and so I gave up writing and focused on my career. Many years later, I discovered online fanfiction archives and I was obsessed! When I began writing again, it was like opening a floodgate. The encouragement I received from fandom allowed me to submit my first story for publication, but no one was more surprised than I when it was accepted!

Since then, I’ve written over 20 stories, but in so many different genres I didn’t have a recognizable brand. In 2017, I made the decision to re-brand myself and concentrate on just paranormal romance.

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

I’m a die-hard panster—working from just the barest outline, a faint idea of where I want to go and trotting off in that direction. I love it when my stories surprise me! But the longer I do this, the more I realize I’d be more productive with more outlining. I’m trying to find that balance between outlining enough that it streamlines the process without becoming a story killer by taking all the spontaneity out of the writing.

Do you ever get writer’s Block?

I have. Once when I attempted NaNoWriMo—it was a kind of pressure and writing style all wrong for me. But also when I’m too tired and emotionally drained to write. Sometimes a story stalls for weeks. I remind myself of Louis L’Amour’s quote to “Start writing no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.”

What genre do you write?

My focus these days in on paranormal romance and urban fantasy.

What draws you to this genre?

I love the world-building and the way the genre lends itself to political and social commentary. I love the magic of the supernatural, and the power of shifters.

How did you come up with the idea for your book?

I love snowed-in stories, so I wanted to set up a situation in which my main characters were pitted against each other but wound up having to work together for their survival. An inheritance with conditions seemed to be the ideal way to bring a fangirl with a secret and a shifter whose inner wolf is in hiding together. Add in a snowstorm, a stray dog, and a series of increasingly dangerous accidents, and you have Ghost of a Chance.

How are you publishing this book and why? (Indie, traditional or small press)?

I’ve both worked with a small press and done indie publishing before, and they both have their pros and cons. Publishers typically provide quality covers and reputable editing, and these are major perks when you are looking at paying for those services yourself. But working with a press means working on their schedule—meeting deadlines and so forth. It can take up to a year from the time you submit a story to seeing it published and getting royalties—which means you really need to be producing a new work once per quarter at the minimum.

As an indie author, I’m my only client. Yes, I have to pay for cover art and editing, but I can set my own price and launch dates. The amount of promotion is nearly the same in either case, though a well-known press can give you a leg up there too. Honestly, I like doing both. Sometimes it’s nice to turn over the reins to someone else. Sometimes you want to have total control. With the demands of my current job, indie publishing seems to be a better fit, but I intend to offer my next book to a press.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Writing is a muscle—the more you use it, the stronger it gets. Read the kinds of books you want to write. Read good books. Bad books only teach you to imitate them. Don’t read your reviews. I know, no one listens to that one, but if you do read your reviews, try not to let the bad ones derail your process. Keep a folder of all your good reviews—you’ll need them when you are promoting the next book anyway—but more importantly, read those glowing comments when you need encouragement. Read the reviews of your favorite stories too. There’s comfort in realizing there are people who hate a story you know is brilliant.

Follow Chuck Wendig’s blog—he has some terrific things to say about writing. Read about improving your craft, but above all, take what you read with a grain of salt. If advice doesn’t gel with you, no big deal. Do what works for you and ignore the rest.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

The easiest way to find me is to go to my website. There are links to my social media on almost every page, but the most complete line up (including Instagram and Book Bub, as well as my newsletter) is on my blog page: http://mckennadeanromance.com/blog

As a matter of fact, you can just subscribe to my blog there, and you’ll get all the latest news when I post it.

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

ghostofachance_finalThe light faded as they approached the dip in the drive leading down to the bridge crossing the creek. Long shadows were cast from the tree line onto the drive, and as they rode into the shade, the temperature dropped as though they’d walked into a freezer. Casey pulled Indy up as he inspected the tracks. He pointed at a trail going off to one side. “Someone made a break for it here. Didn’t want to cross the bridge, most likely.”

He urged Indy in that direction, following the tracks splitting off into the woods. Indy obliged, trudging through the deeper slow, icicles gathering on his feathered legs.

The other tracks crossed the bridge. That way led to the road. The thought of Athena or the other mares potentially ending up in traffic turned Sarah’s stomach. The horses aside, some driver could get killed if they rounded a corner and found the mares in their path.

Sarah closed her legs around King’s sides and urged him across the bridge. He didn’t want to leave Indy and balked at crossing the wooden structure. The bulk of the missing horses had gone that way, however, and Sarah thumped her heels against the reluctant gelding to follow their trail.

Ghost exploded out of the brush to block her path, barking furiously. The Shepherd favored one foreleg, and as Sarah watched, drops of blood flecked the snow around the dog.

King rocked back on his haunches, preparatory for a spin for home. Sarah pulled up on the reins and closed her legs around the spooked gelding. Behind her, she heard Indy crash through the vegetation. Casey must have turned him around.

“Go home,” she shouted at Ghost. “Bad dog!”

She clapped her calves against King’s flanks and the

gelding sprang forward. Ghost scooted to one side as the horse charged, flinging snow behind him in his wake. Sarah leaned across King’s neck as he galloped across the bridge, belatedly considering the slickness of the wooden planks. Too late now. Once they were across, she’d pull up and wait for Casey.

Halfway across the bridge, a terrible shriek rent the air. Wood splintered and failed. Boards separated under the weight of horse and rider and came apart. King screamed as the footing beneath him gave way, and he plunged into the icy stream below, carrying Sarah with him.

AuThursday – Mary Martinez

URBIMG Banner2

MM author photoTell us a little about yourself and your background?

I live in Utah, just west of Salt Lake City. I love to travel, go to concerts, read and of course hang out with family. I haven’t always loved sports, they were okay but now I love sports, most. We have season tickets to the University of Utah Football and Gymnastics. We love baseball and whenever we get a chance we go to a Yankees game.

I have wanted to write for as long as I can remember. I started one when my kids were little, that didn’t go over well. Before the internet. Yes, I’m old. LOL. But when my kids started moving out I decided it was time. That was in the early 2000’s. I’ve learned a LOT the hard way.

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

I just write a bit of backstory to get the feel of the characters, do an outline of characters and then write by the seat of my pants. I add things to my backstory doc as I go.

Do you ever get writer’s Block?

Not often, it’s usually just problems with a scene so I can move forward. I take a walk or clean to clear my head when that happens.

What genre do you write?

I write more than one. I started with Romantic Suspense, I’ve added Romance, Women’s fiction, one middle grade I wrote with my three oldest grandsons and currently I’m writing a fantasy complete with Wizards, Witches, faeries, Deamhans, Warriors, and Dragons.

How did you come up with the ideas for your books?

WatchingJenny_MaryMartinez300I do not know. The ideas pop into my head at weird times. I was driving to work when Alanis Morissette came on the radio and for some reason, the idea of a stalker came to mind and the idea for Watching Jenny was born.

ChickMagnetFinal300

 

 

My son used to take his nephew to the grocery store with him to pick up girls, hence my idea for Chick Magnet.

RomanceAndMisconceptionsFinal300I am not sure of the others. With Romance and Misconceptions it started out as a romantic suspense but then I liked the twin that was supposed to die so much I turned it into a romantic comedy.

 

 

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Join a book club of readers, not other authors. You’ll read books you’d never have picked up on your own. You’ll have firsthand experience of what a reader likes and dislikes about how authors write. How they react to certain situations. I have found it very valuable. Especially since there is always wine.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

My website: www.marymartinez.comwww.marymartinez.com

Mary’s Garden Blog: http://marysbooksblogger.blogspot.com/

The After Work Cook Blog: http://theafterworkcook.blogspot.com/

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/marylmartinez

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorMaryMartinez/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTww3B2ofa11UPFrSe0WGAg

Pinterest (my fav) https://www.pinterest.com/marylmartinez3/

Mary’s Book Group News: http://www.marymartinez.com/marys-book-group-news.html

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

Excerpt from Classic Murder: Mr. Romance

ClassicMurderMrRomanceMaryMartinez300“Would you like to come up for a drink?” Katie asked and then hiccupped loudly. Placing a hand over her mouth, she looked around. Adam watched her cheeks pinken with embarrassment. Then another giggle escaped. God, she’s cute.

“Come on, Katie. Let’s go to your apartment and get you ready for bed.”

Katie straightened up and looked up at Adam. Adam watched as she started to lean to the side, he hurried to place a steadying handout, but before he could, she started to teeter the other way. He finally grabbed her by the shoulders. Walking her backwards until they reached the side of the building, he propped her up against the brick. He leaned down and took the ridiculously high-heeled shoes off her feet, one at a time. Shoes in hand, he stood up.

“Okay, I think you can walk to your apartment. Come on.”

Adam was glad they didn’t have to take the stairs. He would have had to pick her up and carry her. Not that it wasn’t a tempting idea, but he was having a hard enough time controlling himself without the added temptation. At her apartment, he kept one arm around her waist and half propped her against the wall. He waited while she fumbled in her minuscule silver purse for her key. Then he unlocked the door.

“In you go, Katie. Now which way to your bedroom?” Adam asked.

Before she could answer, Oscar barked from the kitchen where Katie had left him for the evening. First things, first; someone had to take care of the poor dog and then he could deal with Katie. He led her to the sofa, helped her sit and smiled at the silly grin she had on her face.

Standing at the door, Oscar waiting to be let out, Adam looked at Katie. “I’m talking the dog for a walk. Will you be all right?”

Katie blinked and her head rolled to the side to look at him. She grinned wider, then hiccupped. “Yup.”

Adam sighed. He couldn’t just let the dog out; he had to be on a leash. Hoping she stayed on the couch, he let himself and Oscar out.

When Adam let himself back into the apartment a few minutes later, Katie was still sitting where he had left her. Her eyes closed and the same silly grin spread across her face. He walked over and, as his face came level with hers, her eyes popped open and her hand came up quickly. Before Adam knew what was happening, she’d put her hand to the back of his head and pulled him in. Her warm lips locked with his. Desire shot through his body.

Reminding himself that she wouldn’t remember it in the morning, he forced himself to pull away gently. Taking both her hands, he pulled her to her feet, where she slightly swayed.Reviews by Crystal button