AuThursday – Tina Holland (yeah, it’s me)

So I wasn’t able to squeeze in a fellow author, today, so I thought I’d interview myself ahead of Valley Con which begins tomorrow in Fargo, ND. 

How do I make time to write? 

I’m pretty lucky – I’m almost a full-time writer, meaning it’s my day job.   I get up in the morning, eat breakfast and head to write.  I have an office in our guest-room where I write, blog, e-mail, go on Zoom Calls, Stream on Streamyard and craft on Saturdays.   I leave the office between 4 and 5 weekdays.   That’s not to say I don’t sneak writing in at other times, cuz I do.   I don’t write full-time June-August when I’m helping my husband with his crop-dusting business.  I take it easy the month of December because I’ve usually finished NaNoWriMo and also the publishing industry as a whole seems to be taking a break. 

Do I believe in Writer’s Block? 

Yes, but not in the sense there is this great muse that won’t give me words.  I think writer’s block is a manifestation of stress in your personal life or an indication there’s a problem with the story that needs to be fixed.   When I have too much going on, I will cut back on my word count goal for the week and manage self-care along with refilling my creative well.  I find small breaks are helpful in maintaining momentum.  If I step away from a project for more than a week, I have a very hard time getting back into story. So, I find if I at least open the page and stare at it or edit or write a few lines, I don’t lose my place, but I try not to pressure myself to write. 

How am I publishing my recent book and why?

alchemistsofarchangelCurrently my back-list and my most recent work, “Alchemists of Archangel” are published with Book Boutiques.  They are a small distributor that takes care of the copy-editing/line editing, provides a cover, does the formatting and distributes my book on digital platforms.    This removes a lot of components about self-publishing that scare me.   While they don’t do developmental editing, that was unnecessary when I released my back-list as those books were already edited.   I found editors for my two recent novels in the “Archangel Revolution” series to help fix issues with them so the editing was already completed.  

My current manuscript – “The Widow Spy” (this poor ms. has gone through about ten title changes), is being shopped around.  I’m hoping to get in traditionally published but I fear it may be too short for NY and will happily settle for a larger digital press.   I like small presses, but I really want more exposure.  I may Self-Publish it if I have a hard time finding a home, but I still have concerns about doing Indie publishing correctly. 

 

What is my favorite motivational phrase? 

“Just Do It!” 

It’s so cliche’ but when it comes to writing, you have to put butt in chair and muddle through until you reach the end.    

What advice would I give aspiring writers? 

There’s so much, but I think most important is find your tribe of writers.   There are so many out there and the connections can be invaluable.  I’ve found that my writing friends are supportive when you need to be lifted, ground you when you are floating away and commiserate with you through troubles.  It’s no surprise that many have become life-long friends.   

I hope you found this interesting and feel free to ask questions below.  I’ll be happy to answer them.  If you’d like to read some excerpts of my work feel free to hop over to my Books page.   You can find my social links on the About Tina page.

AuThursday – Cass Scotka

Cass-at-Pride-e1615253907974Tell us a little about yourself and your background? 

I’m a born and bred military brat turned military wife, a Texas Longhorn forever, and California is my soul’s home. I have a clinical doctorate in Audiology and by day work for a global hearing amplification company. By night, once my kiddos are in bed, I read, write, and create new worlds. I was chosen for PitchWars in 2016, landed my agent with a different manuscript in 2019, and my debut novel REVOLUTIONARY LOVE came out August 23, 2021. I’m also a die-hard Oxford comma supporter and will never give it up! 

How do you make time to write? 

I don’t sleep! Kidding…kind of. I do primarily write in the evenings after my kids are in bed. I’m not much of a morning person. I also take time on weekends to carve out a few hours and when I take the occasional work trip (pre-pandemic) I also snag the extra alone time for writing, too. 

Do you believe in writer’s block?

Yes!! I’m a pantser by nature so writer’s block can be a bit tricky. I’ve learned to use a very loose outline to help have at least a vague idea where I’m going with a story, and I’ve also learned it’s okay to skip sections or simply put [INSERT SCENE HERE] and circle back later. The main thing to keep in mind is don’t let it stop you from finishing your story! 

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

I write Romance! Contemporary, paranormal, historical – as long as it has love and an HEA I’m here for it! My debut novel is a historical romance set during the American Revolutionary War, I have a contemporary romance on sub, and am drafting a romance with light paranormal elements. My PitchWars manuscript is a YA paranormal romance that I hope will one day see bookshelves, too. I am a sucker for a good love story and I *have* to have a happy ending! Uncertain or sad endings are not my jam. I go into writing (and reading!) with the excitement of seeing how my MCs are going end up happily together! 

How are you publishing your recent book and why

My first book was published through Champagne Book Group and it was a great experience! As with many authors, I hope to land a deal with one of the big five and their imprints one day, but the Indie route was great for having easy and quick communication, one-on-one attention and mentoring, and CBG has been a great group to launch with! 

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

Introvert for sure! Writing is a great way for me to recharge and have alone time while still getting the vibes of spending time with friends. I always know I’m writing the right plot idea when my characters feel real to me and I look forward to my writing time to see what happens next! 

What is your favorite motivational phrase? 

“Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.” – Maya Angelou 

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Keep writing!! Keep writing, keep querying, and keep participating in mentor contests and Twitter parties. Keep going with all the things and YOU WILL BE SUCCESSFUL! 

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

Website/Blog: https://www.cassscotka.com 

Twitter: @CScotka; https://twitter.com/CScotka 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cass.scotka/ 

Instagram: @cassscotkawrites; https://www.instagram.com/cassscotkawrites/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2129915.Cass_Scotka 

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

revolutionary-love-cover-512x716-1

“This world?” A small shake of her head set the moonlight shimmering in her dark tresses. “As if we are living in two different places.” 

His voice turned hard. “We are. You have no idea what I’ve seen. What I’ve done in this blasted war.” He released her arm and looked away, afraid his sins would somehow show on his face. 

She touched his shoulder, but he refused to meet her eyes. “And you’ve no idea what I’ve seen and endured. The British soldiers in New York…they are not kind or decent men. I’ve seen how prisoners are treated. I’ve firsthand experience in how they treat women. Whatever you’ve done, the soldiers I know you’ve killed in battle, is all for the greater good of America.” 

He spun back to her, eyes flashing. “You don’t know what I’ve done! I murder men, Verity. Murder. Not fight in battle, but sit atop hills and cliffs three hundred yards away with my long rifle and shoot men without warning. They have no means to fight back against me. They never see me coming. My sharpshooting skills are exceptional and I’ve been singled out as Washington’s private killer.” His chest heaved from the force of his breathing. Hands shaking with rage and regret, he balled them into fists. “Go to bed.” 

Stay. God, he wanted her to stay, but he’d stain her sweet innocence. He wasn’t worthy of her attention. Not when she discovered— 

“Oh, you are too hardheaded!” She snarled with all the ire of a wet kitten. Plunking her hands on her hips, she scowled. Theo choked back his guffaw at the indignation she displayed. Even angry, she was delightfully charming. Her jaw clenched tighter, brows lowered a fraction more, and her eyes burned. 

Unease stirred within him. Perhaps he’d underestimated her vexation. “Don’t you dare patronize me.” She stepped closer so they were chest to chest. Her chin tilted up to keep their stares locked. “You believe General Washington is so morally corrupt he’d use someone as a trained killer on a whim?” 

“No, but—” 

She sliced a hand through the air. “Tell me, these men you’ve shot from afar, were they key soldiers leading troops into battle?” 

“Yes, but—” 

She poked a finger into his chest. “Did their deaths mean swift victories for the Continental Army without additional bloodshed?” 

“Most of the time, but—” 

“Then you saved lives, you daft man! By working with Washington to choose when and whom to target, you are saving countless American and British soldiers from death on the battlefield. I spent one dinner with the general and I know without qualms he is the very best of men. His Excellency would not be our chosen leader if he did not inspire unwavering trust in his decisions for the good of our country.” 

Theo blinked while his mind whirled over her words. A few points were fair, but still these men did not have the hope of fighting back against him. They did not see their deaths coming at his hands. “They could not fight back! The soldiers I’ve murdered did not even know from which direction death struck.” 

A frustrated growl filled the air and Verity stamped her foot. “As is so for most of us. Not everyone is fortuitous enough to see Death approach and have an option to fight back. People die every day and there is nothing to stop it. My father is proof. Redcoats dragged him from our field without warning. Tortured him for information. Beat him when he refused to pledge allegiance to the king. Hanged him and burned our home to the ground. All while I cried and begged for mercy. The only mercy I found was when they left me to spread the news of what happens to so-called traitors.” Theo’s eyes grew round as horror swept through him. The strength she held inside her tiny frame. It shamed him further to think of how he hid from afar behind his gun. His teeth ground together. He was a worthless coward. A worthless coward who could not provide her the life she so deserved. 

Her face softened. Shaking her head, she lifted a hand to his cheek. “You cannot blame yourself. No matter what your mind tells you, you are a good man.” 

Theo jerked his head away from her touch, afraid to sully her. “You are too naive, Verity.” 

“Stop treating me as a child. I am a full-grown woman, in case you hadn’t noticed.” 

Before he registered it, Theo reached out and swept her into his arms so their bodies touched from chest to thigh. “I am all too aware you are no longer a child.” He shifted his hips against her belly and she gasped as his erection pressed 

there. “There is no mistaking your lush female curves.” 

Their eyes locked and held. In the moonlight, he saw her pupils enlarge, her pulse flutter at her throat, and the small parting of her lips as her breathing quickened. Her body softened and relaxed into his embrace. “Theo,” she whispered and the tip of her tongue peeked out to wet her lips. 

AuThursday – Elaine Sveet

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I’m Elaine Sveet, a pastor, life coach, speaker and author. I’m the founder of Chasing Abundant Life, which is an outreach supporting an online faith community, and offering mental health and stress support in schools through professional development and coaching services for school staff and private clients. I live in Minot ND, and am a married mother to three middle school children. I have a BA in psychology, an Masters of Divinity, and I am a trained ICF Coach (International Coaching Federation).
How do you make time to write?
I set aside certain times in the week. Deadlines are a very helpful motivator for writing. My writing is mainly focused these days on weekly blog articles, Bible studies, and book proposals.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
I’ve never had it seriously. I believe in ebbs and flows in writing motivation and energy. I usually have multiple writing projects going at the same time. I find switching between projects very helpful.
Tell us a bit about the genre you write and why you love it.
I write about faith and life. My aim is to support people in growing spiritually and personally so that there is greater joy in the everyday.
How are you publishing your recent projects and why? 
My Bible Studies and published prayers have been through traditional publishers. They were publications I was familiar with and my submissions were accepted. I’m looking forward to expanding my writing and pitching to other publishers both traditional and Indie.
Are you an Introvert or Extrovert? How does this affect your work?
I’m borderline. I love interactions with others, the learning and stimulation this brings. I also love quiet and work most productively this way.
What is your favorite motivational phrase?
Christ came that we might have life and have it abundantly. John 10:10
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Find a writing group for collegiality, motivation, and support.
Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?
Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?
The Farmer Next Door – The Art of Writing Show touring galleries in ND
When I look out on my neighbor’s field, I see their tilled rows looking smooth and deep. I see their grain bins standing tall. It all looks perfect. Does the moon shine a little brighter on their field? I know I should be happy for my neighbor, and content with my own field. But I struggle. It feels some nights as if the dew is heavier for them, the drought lighter, sun more merciful, and winds less harsh.
Lord God, I’m stuck. I feel myself averting my eyes from the view. Yet surely, their blessing should be hope for me.

AuThursday – Jayce Carter

TourBanner_Hell Raising and Other Pastimes (1)Can you share with us something about the book that isn’t in the blurb?

A lot of this story takes place in Lucifer’s Court, which means it deals with the politics there. We get to see a very involved and detailed culture and world as opposed to Ava living in a world she knows well. This takes her out of her element and forces her to really learn on the fly. 

Does one of the main characters hold a special place in your heart? If so, why?

I have so much love for Grant. I feel like he is a perfect example of someone who smiles all the time, who makes jokes, but is suffering inside. In a lot of ways, I think he is the darkest of the men, the most broken, but he hides it the best. He’s quick to make a joke out of something, to put on a jovial attitude to hide anything he really thinks or feels. In this book, we get to see a little more of him, but he is still hiding so much.

Was the writing process different that your other books and did you face any challenges from it?

Yes, it was! This book is the first series I’ve written that focus on a main character rather than changing from book to book. This means I had to spread a plot out over three books and deal with pacing over a series. Because this is book two, that meant having to learn how to progress the story, that is in the middle, while giving enough closure to feel good about the end. I also had to draw the line between offering background information to remind reader without beating them over the head with things they already knew!

What is the future for the characters? Will there be a sequel? 

Yes! There is one more book to this trilogy, which will wrap up Ava and her men’s story. The last book, Saving the World and Other Bad Ideas, will bring us to the end and let us see if Ava can overcoming everything against her and whether or not she and her men will find a way to make things work. 

What was the highlight when writing this book?

I don’t want to give too much away, but there is a point where Ava accepts what she is. During so much of both this book and book one, she rejects what she is. She runs from it, wanting to be normal, fighting against the idea of being different. At one point in this book, however, she lets that go. She realizes that accepting her own power is the only way to keep her and those she cares about safe, and it is a really empowering moment in the story and her arc. 

BookCover_HellRaisingAndOtherPastimes (1)BLURB:

Lots of people have told me to go to hell—I guess they finally got their wish.

I’ve finally accepted the fact I might not be entirely human, so you’d think life could give me a minute. Instead, I find myself sucked into hell at Lucifer’s demand, and I realize death is even more complicated than my life was.

I’m still searching for how to stop the missing spirits before it’s too late, and with no suspects other than Lucifer, I have to survive hell—where everything wants to kill me—so I can confront the devil himself. Not even my love life can be simple, though. Troy is terrified of his werewolf side hurting me, Kase and Grant are lying to me, and Hunter is keeping his own secrets. I know better than to trust anyone, especially the men who have taken over my life.

Get to Lucifer’s Court, find out the truth about the missing spirits, figure out exactly what I am, and try not to die along the way. Oh, and don’t fall in love with the men who will for sure break my heart and possibly get me killed.

Easy enough, right?

Excerpt 

Why was it that men walked out of quickies like some sort of victory lap, but women felt like we had whore tattooed across our foreheads?

Troy had already headed downstairs after dressing. He hadn’t said a lot, had regained a little of that distance he’d had before. I chalked that up to the awkwardness of the moment.

Besides, I had needed a moment to get myself ready. I’d cleaned up as best I could, using a tiny bit of the water Kase had left for me. No one wanted to walk while still sticky…

Still, as I went down the stairs, as all four sets of eyes swung toward me, I felt like each of them could see what I’d done.

They’ve all seen you naked. They’ve all been inside you. There isn’t much mystery.

My cheeks burned as I tucked my hair behind my ear and tried to look as if I didn’t care.

Men could screw everything that walked. Why not me?

No one spoke at first, and I had a moment of thinking everyone would pretend nothing happened. We didn’t need to address anything, right?

“So what did you think of a knot, shadow-girl? Always wanted to try it myself, but I’m a chicken.” Hunter paired the words with a grin so wide, he looked like some sort of jester.

So much for pretending…

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Jayce Carter lives in Southern California with her husband and two spawns. She originally wanted to take over the world but realized that would require wearing pants. This led her to choosing writing, a completely pants-free occupation. She has a fear of heights yet rock climbs for fun and enjoys making up excuses for not going out and socializing. 

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

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

Website: https://www.jaycecarter.com/

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/jayce-carter

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Jayce-Carter/e/B07Y4T7CHH

Amazon Buy link: https://www.amazon.com/Hell-Raising-Other-Pastimes-Concerns-ebook/dp/B092JPHT6B

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/es/ebook/hell-raising-and-other-pastimes

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/hell-raising-and-other-pastimes-jayce-carter/1139226451

Publisher: https://www.totallybound.com/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=71321

JAYCE CARTER WILL BE GIVING AWAY: 

One randomly chosen winner via rafflecopter will win a $50 Amazon/BN.com gift card.

Enter to win a $50 Amazon/BN GC – a Rafflecopter giveaway

AuThursday – Authors Needed!

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If you are an author and you’d like to be interviewed on my blog.  I’d love to host you.

Over 1200 people subscribe to this page and many want to read about Author journeys.

To make it simple, I’ve created this form so you can just fill it out.   I hope to hear from you soon.

https://forms.gle/b3bhbzuiSjNFgtdi8

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.

AuThursday – Judy Ford

IMG_20180908_095815707Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I’ve lived all my life in Britain. For the last 40 years, I’ve lived with my husband (also a mathematician) in Cheshire, a county in the North West region of England. We have three grown-up children and six grandchildren.

I first attempted to write fiction when I was a young mother at home with my baby son. I don’t suppose those manuscripts were much good and I certainly didn’t have any success in finding a publisher for them!

I was always good at mathematics as a child and I went on to do two degrees in the subject. I’ve worked in universities and as a research manager in the National Health Service. I began writing again during a time between jobs in 2014. By then, things had moved on a lot when it comes to books. E-books and print-on-demand paperbacks made publishing very different from when I’d first tried to get my novels published – and, now that I had more life experience, I had more that I could write about.

How do you make time to write?

I get up early (my alarm is set for 5.20 a.m.) and devote the first hour and a half (before my husband gets up) to writing. That way, I usually manage to make some progress on my current book every day.

Do you believe in writer’s block?

Because most of my books have a “whodunnit” element to them, meticulous planning is essential before I start writing. This means that it’s unusual for me to be completely stuck when I sit down to write, because I can always go back to the plan to decide what needs to happen next. If a chapter goes slowly, it’s often because I suddenly realise that I need to do more research before I can write it. 

I find the first and last pages of each book the hardest to write and I often have to re-write them a few times. The first chapter is hard because there are always several alternative ways of telling a story and it’s important to find one that will capture the reader’s imagination from the start. The ending is hard because I want my readers to feel that they have finished the story rather than that it has just fizzled out – even if there is scope for developing the characters further in a sequel.

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

I write detective fiction. I’ve always loved traditional “whodunnits”. I suppose, being a mathematician, I enjoy the puzzle element, but I’m also interested in why people do what they do. I like to read about three-dimensional characters with mixed motives and complicated feelings. 

I’m a Methodist Local Preacher, which means that I regularly lead church services. In my sermons, I try to get the congregation to think for themselves, asking questions rather than presenting them with my answers. In my writing, I also try to prompt my readers to think about issues that they may not have considered before. For example, one of my detectives is disabled and this sometimes people make assumptions about him (either that he’s incapable or that he’s a hero for doing ordinary things that others take for granted).

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

I self-publish my books through Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), ACX (for the audiobook editions) and Kobo Writing Life. After failing to persuade a literary agent to take on my first two books, I heard from a colleague about KDP and decided to give it a go. Not wanting to be tied exclusively to Amazon, I looked into alternative platforms and found Kobo. Although it means a lot of work, I like the control that self-publishing gives me and I’ve enjoyed teaching myself about type-setting, cover design, narration and audio-recording techniques.

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

I’m an introvert, but one who isn’t fazed by standing up and addressing an audience. Social events scare me, but delivering a lecture or leading a training event is no sweat! I don’t think this affects my writing much – although perhaps it makes me more content to sit alone in my study and write – but it does impede my ability to promote my work. I’m not good at sounding my own trumpet, especially in a one-to-one situation.

What is your favorite motivational phrase?

“If a thing’s worth doing, it’s worth doing badly!”

This is a quotation from one of my favourite writers, GK Chesterton. It’s about not allowing yourself to be deterred from doing something just because there might be someone else who could do it “better”. Everyone has their own unique way of doing things and life would be duller if we handed everything over to the “experts” rather than being willing to “have a go”.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

  • Write because you love it, not because you expect to make a lot of money. 
  • Remember that there’s a lot of luck involved and if your books don’t become best-sellers, that’s not necessarily because they’re no good. 
  • Find one or two people that you trust to read your work before publication and suggest how it could be improved.
  • Be prepared to be ruthless with editing – if you are uneasy about a passage, it probably needs changing (or even eliminating!)

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

I have a website where I put information about my books: https://sites.google.com/view/bernie-fazakerley/home

One of my main characters, Bernie, has her own website: https://sites.google.com/site/llanwrdafamily/

I also have a Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/Bernie.Fazakerley.Publications)  and Twitter account (https://twitter.com/JudyFordAuthor) where I promote my books and post about special offers.

My WordPress site (https://wordpress.com/view/berniefaz.wordpress.com) has more information about the technical side of writing and publishing, including a step-by-step description of how I designed some of my book covers.

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

I hope this passage isn’t too long. It’s a scene from “Weed Killers” which is about the death of a young police officer. In this passage his father, Gavin, also serving in the police, talks with an old friend who has his own earlier experience of the violent death of a loved-one.

You can listen to me narrating this excerpt here: https://youtu.be/HbZsNq1LwfQ

 

9781911083696‘Thank you for coming,’ Gavin murmured apologetically as he let Peter into the house. ‘Come through to the kitchen,’ he added looking down at Peter’s foil-wrapped parcels. ‘We’ll put those in the fridge for later.’ Then he leaned over the bannister rail and called up the stairs, ‘Chrissie darling! Peter’s here!’

Looking round the kitchen, Peter spotted the refrigerator and went over to put away the packets of food. He squeezed them in on the bottom shelf next to a half-eaten meat pie. Straightening up, he turned to see Gavin at the sink, filling the electric kettle.

‘Sit down.’ He indicated a high stool next to a breakfast bar, which extended from the wall near to where the kettle was plugged in. ‘I’ll make us some tea.’

Peter climbed on to the stool and leaned his elbows on the counter. He watched silently as Gavin replaced the kettle on its stand and then crossed the kitchen and opened a glass-fronted wall cupboard containing crockery. While his back was turned, Peter reached over and pressed down the switch on the kettle prompting the power light to come on and the kettle to hiss encouragingly.

Gavin returned with a stainless-steel teapot and three cups and saucers, which he put down on a metal tray that lay on the working surface next to the kettle.

‘I don’t suppose Chrissie will be long,’ he said, reaching for a packet of teabags and starting to count them out into the teapot. ‘She’s in Kenny’s room, sorting out his things.’

‘I thought your sister did all that when she was here at the weekend?’

‘Umm. Well that’s another thing,’ Gavin mumbled miserably, adding two more teabags to the pot. ‘I made her stop. I behaved very badly about it. I don’t know if she’ll ever forgive me.’

‘Of course she will,’ Peter told him emphatically, grasping Gavin’s hand gently in his and moving it away from the teapot, ‘unless you keep giving her tea as strong as the pot you’re making for us just now!’ he added, smiling across the breakfast bar at his friend.

Gavin gazed down at the teapot. Then he turned it over and shook it. A dozen or more teabags fell out on to the work surface. He looked up at Peter and managed a brief grin in return.

‘I don’t seem to be able to concentrate on anything these days,’ he muttered, shaking his head at his own ineptitude. ‘This morning I squirted Chrissie’s face cream on to my toothbrush instead of toothpaste!’

‘Don’t worry. It’s all part of the process,’ Peter assured him gently. ‘That part won’t last for ever. Just try not to let it bother you too much. And seriously: your sister will understand that whatever you did was only because of what you’re going through. I’m sure she won’t hold it against you.’

Gavin put three teabags into the pot and then busied himself trying to squeeze the remaining ones back into the packet.

‘I haven’t shouted at Lorraine like that since the time she deliberately broke the head off my action man when I was seven,’ he told Peter morosely. ‘I don’t know what got into me. It was after we got back from our walk. Remember? You didn’t come in because you needed to get off home, so I said I’d say your goodbyes to Chrissie and the others.’

Peter nodded.

‘I was feeling a lot better for having got out in the fresh air for a bit,’ Gavin continued, ‘and I thought we’d be able to finish agreeing on the funeral arrangements before it was time for them to get off to the station, and then Chrissie and I would have the house to ourselves again.’

The kettle clicked off and Gavin picked it up and added boiling water to the teapot.

‘But then, when I got in, there was Chrissie in the kitchen, weeping buckets into that box of Kenny’s things that Dennis had brought down from his room. Do you remember?’

Peter nodded.

‘She said she wanted them to stop. She said she didn’t want anyone else messing with Kenny’s things. I just grabbed the box and stormed upstairs with it and threw it down on the bed and told them to put everything back where they’d found it and then get out of the house.’

‘I don’t blame you,’ Peter said with feeling, imagining how he would have felt if anyone had touched any of Angie’s possessions uninvited. ‘And I’m sure, when she thinks about it, your sister won’t either,’ he added firmly. ‘She’s probably stressed out too, with thinking about the way Kenny was killed, and I’m sure she thought she was helping.’

‘I know,’ Gavin groaned. ‘That’s what makes me shouting at her like that so awful.’

‘Not at all,’ Peter insisted. ‘Honestly. At a time like this you really can’t be held responsible for what you do. I’m just amazed at how well you’re both holding things together. I still can’t get over how Chrissie coped with that nativity play. She was wonderful.’

‘It was because she didn’t want to let down the kids,’ Gavin told him, wandering over to the fridge and getting out a bottle of milk. He brought it across the room, and set it down on the working surface next to the tray. ‘It was the same this morning. She was up at six getting everything ready for the Homeless party; and then, while we were there, she was pulling crackers and joking with them, almost as if … as if …’

He picked up the milk and returned it to the fridge.

‘Chrissie’s always been the practical one,’ he resumed, leaning across the worktop so that his face was close to Peter’s. ‘She keeps the house running like clockwork, and she always likes to keep busy. I think all the time she had things she had to do, she could push what happened to Kenny to the back of her mind and just get on with getting them done. That’s why Lorraine coming in and trying to take over was such a disaster. And that’s why …’

He wiped his hand across his face and turned away to look for something in one of the wall cupboards.

‘You don’t take sugar, do you Peter?’ he enquired, turning round again and holding up a bag of it.

‘No, but I would like some milk, if that’s OK.’

‘Haven’t I just …?’ Gavin stared blankly at the empty cups and then shuffled over to the fridge again.

‘As I was saying,’ he resumed as he poured milk into each cup. ‘Chrissie was there being the life and soul of the party and I was just sitting in the corner wishing it was all over and we could go home and maybe just sit for a bit and watch a film on the telly. But then, when we got home … I suppose it was the anti-climax, and not having any reason to keep going anymore.’

Peter picked up the milk bottle and carried it back to the fridge to give Gavin time to collect his thoughts.

‘When we walked in the door, the first thing we saw was that teddy bear in the police costume – you know, the one somebody left with the flowers?’

‘Mmm,’ Peter nodded. ‘I remember.’

‘Chrissie had washed it and put it on the radiator in the hall to dry. Anyway, she just picked it up and went upstairs with it. She said she needed to sort out Kenny’s things. I did try to persuade her to leave it for a bit – at least until we’d had a sit down – but she said she needed to feel close to him again. I realised afterwards that Wednesday was her day for tidying Kenny’s room. She used to do it while he was out at the Scouts. I suppose it probably helped her to keep to the old routine. Anyway, I made us a mug of tea and took hers up to her. I know I ought to have stayed with her and helped, but I just couldn’t face it.’

‘Don’t beat yourself up about it,’ Peter said gently. ‘Everyone grieves differently. And if Chrissie always tidies Kenny’s room on her own, she may not even have wanted you there.’

‘The thing is: when I got up there, she wasn’t tidying the room. She was just sitting there on the bed holding that teddy bear and staring into space. I put the mug down on the bedside table and came downstairs again. I’ve been up again a couple of times, but she’s still just the same – staring ahead like she was in a trance. So that’s where she is now,’ he finished. ‘I don’t think she can have heard me call. I’d better go up and get her. She won’t want to have missed you.’

He looked towards the door, but made no attempt to move from his position, leaning on the worktop. Then suddenly he looked up and caught Peter’s eye across the breakfast bar.

‘Why did it happen to Kenny?’ he demanded in an anguished voice. ‘Why was he the one who got sent round the back of the house? With his whole life before him! Why couldn’t it have been me they picked instead?’ He brought both fists down heavily on the work top, staring across at Peter defiantly for a moment before dropping his head and gazing down at the marble-effect work surface.

For a long time, neither of them moved or spoke. Then Gavin straightened up and gave Peter a sheepish grin. ‘I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to …. I’ll go and get Chrissie.’ He looked down at the teacups.  ‘Could you take those through to the front room? We won’t be long.’

Peter came round to the other side of breakfast bar to pick up the tray. As he passed Gavin, he gave him a pat on the shoulder. ‘Please believe me. It never goes away, but it won’t always be as bad as this.’

AuThursday – This could be you.

If you’re interested in promoting yourself or your books. I have openings here on my blog. Here’s a quick form to let me know what you’re interested in.

https://forms.gle/iNjmXTq33FQJksyg9

If you’re not sure, you can poke around my site to get an idea of what AuThursday and Saturday Spotlight are about.

AuThursday – TJ Fier

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

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

How do you make time to write?

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

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

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

Do you believe in writer’s block? 

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

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

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

Tell us about your upcoming Unicorn Novel.

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

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

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

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

Amazon Link 

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

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

What is your writing Kryptonite?

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

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

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

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

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

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

AuThursday – Eliza Peake

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I write steamy, heartfelt, small town contemporary romance. I like to call it happily ever afters with sexy times, a healthy dose of snark, and all the feels.

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

For fun, I read all the panty-melting romances I can get my hands on and drink gallons of coffee. I also love tacos. And the beach.

Currently I live in North Georgia, but I hope to move to the beach in the next few years. 

By day, I work in finance. One of the things I like about being an indie is that I’m able to use my business skills and created a small press that I do all of my book things through. 

How did you come up with the idea for your “Madison Ridge” series? 

Originally, it was going to be set in a small island resort town off the coast of GA. But then I had this idea that ended up being Trouble Me, which was what if a recovering alcoholic is forced to work in a winery? So I moved the setting to the small mountain town I live in that is touristy and has several wineries. It was great fun researching and easy since I’m about a ten minute drive to about a half dozen wineries and tasting rooms. As much as I love the beach I don’t live near it right now, so it made research a little more difficult.  

What are your current projects?

Currently, I’m working on a story that will be part of Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward’s Cocky Hero World as well as a novella for the Madison Ridge series. I’m also getting the process started to have my second book in the Madison Ridge series turned into an audio book. So I’ve got my hands full!

Do you believe in writer’s block? 

Not really for me. I think that your mind can make you believe you don’t have a word to say, making you feel “blocked”. But in my case, that’s usually a symptom of some other issue I’m having. It can be a story issue I can’t see yet or it can be an issue with the story that I don’t want to acknowledge for whatever reason. Once I get past that, I’m good to go. But getting past that is the hard part.

I see you wrote a non-fiction book, “30 Days to the End”.  Do you actually write most of your books in 30 days? 

No, I wish! But I have done several novel length stories in 30 days. The purpose of the book was to offer writers 30 days of inspiration. It can be a long and sometimes tedious road to write a novel in that time-frame. We all need a little cheerleader!

I see you are Indie published, what would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around?

Advantage: being in control of what you publish, when you publish, how you publish, being able to pivot and keep up with trends while they are happening. Better royalty rates. 

Disadvantages: being responsible for what you publish, when you publish, how you publish, and having to cash flow it yourself.

What is your favorite positive saying? 

To help remind me with time management and priority, I say

“I can make more money, but I can’t make more time.”

So when I’m short on time, I try to prioritize the things that I know will move the needle (such as writing) over items that need to be done (like admin items) but can be done when I have more time.   

But my all-time favorite positive saying that I apply in all places of my life is

“One Day at a Time.”

You can apply it to anything and in reality, it’s really the only thing we have semblance of control of, the present time. If I think of the past, I get depressed and if I think of the future, I get anxious. So I try to stay in the one day at a time. 

What advice would you give to aspiring writers? 

Take the time to learn the craft and a process that works for you. You can save yourself a lot of time and frustration if you do that first.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web? 

They can find me at elizapeake.com and on Facebook where I have a page and a reader group, as well as Instagram.