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.

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Saturday Spotlight – Arresting Mason by Amber Daulton

AM AD BannerArresting Mason

Series: Arresting Onyx (book 1)

By Amber Daulton

Giveaway - Beaded Earrings and Topaz Necklace 2Enter for a chance to win this Topaz Gemstone Necklace, Beaded Earrings, and some swag. One winner will be randomly selected. Please use the rafflecopter below to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/0a0982c523/

About Arresting Mason:

Their chance encounter resulted in a steamy affair, but will his former gang and a parole officer tear them apart?

Once you’re in a prison gang, you’re in it for life. That’s what Mason Harding thought until the boss accepted his resignation. After the State releases him on parole, a sexy divorcée behind the wheel of a car almost ends his life quicker than a shank. His chance encounter with Mia Eddison results in a night of passion, but her brother—his parole officer—catches them together and doesn’t approve.

Mia falls hard for the cocky ex-con, but not because of his chiseled body. She vows to break through his walls and discover his secrets but never expects those secrets to threaten her life. When members of an organized crime ring kidnap Mia to force Mason’s return to the gang, he goes up against an old friend to save the woman he loves. Will his sacrifice be enough or will everything fall apart in a blaze of gunfire?

Arresting Mason teaser 1 (cover)

Book Links:  

Amazon | B&N | iTunes   The Wild Rose Press store | Goodreads

youtube Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rc0q0dLLFPM

Publisher: The Wild Rose Press

Release Date: April 30th, 2018

ASIN: B07BHGMQRK

Print ISBN: 978-1-5092-2007-6

Digital ISBN: 978-1-5092-2008-3

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Length: 80k

Heat Rating: 5 Flames

Arresting MasonExcerpt:

“Which one is your car?” She glanced around the crowded parking lot. A few streetlights pushed back the darkness and shadows. The restaurant served customers until midnight on the weekends, but no one loitered in the lot, at least from what Mia could see.

“Don’t have one at the moment.” Mason hooked his thumbs in the belt loops of his jeans. “I took the bus. It stopped a few blocks from here.”

“Would you like a ride?” She pulled the car keys from her purse. “I feel a little ridiculous we met here tonight. I just wasn’t sure if you were some kind of freak.”

His eyebrow lifted, and he closed the distance between them as a tiger would zero in on its mate. A sexy, masculine smile curled his lips. “Have you made up your mind yet?”

“I’ll let you know in the morning.” Desire trickled down her spine. Mia nodded toward the passenger side of the car for him to hop in.

He confiscated her keys instead to unlock and open the driver’s side door for her like a gentleman. Then he leaned closer and nuzzled her temple with his nose.

Not sure if he planned to seduce her in the parking lot or if he merely wanted to tease her, Mia pressed her hand to his chest and tried to think straight. “You’re the first guy I’ve gone on a date with since my divorce. I haven’t slept with anyone since Evan.”

He tunneled his fingers through her wavy, chestnut-brown hair. “I haven’t dated anyone in a long time either. We’ll take it slow or fast, whatever you want, but I promise you one thing. After I’m done with you, you won’t even remember that bastard’s name.”

Oh, God. She almost melted right then and there. “Fast. I want you, Mason.”

“Take me to your place and you can have me.”

NetGalley Opportunity:

Available for Review

Limited Time Only (promotion runs from May 1-15)

Find Arresting Mason on my publisher’s landing page – https://www.netgalley.com/catalog/publisher/82136

Amber DaultonAbout the Author:

Writing is the fruit of happiness.

Amber Daulton lives her life by that one belief even though she normally isn’t so Zen.

As a fan of contemporary, paranormal, and historical romance novels alike, she can’t get enough of feisty heroines and alpha heroes. Her mind is a wonderland of adventure, laughter, and awesome ways of kicking a guy when he’s down. She probably wouldn’t be too sane without her computer and notebooks. After all, what’s a girl to do when people are jabbering away in her head and it’s hard to shut them up? Write! Nothing else works.

Social Media Links:

Blogsite – http://amberdaultonauthor.blogspot.com/

Facebook Author Page – www.facebook.com/amber.daulton.author

Twitter – https://twitter.com/AmberDaulton1

Pinterest – http://pinterest.com/amberdaulton5/

Goodreads – www.goodreads.com/author/show/6624921.Amber_Daulton

Amazon Author Page – http://amzn.to/14JoZff

Smashwords – https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/amberdaulton

LinkedIn – www.linkedin.com/pub/amber-daulton/87/538/368

Google Plus – https://plus.google.com/u/0/+AmberDaulton

The Wild Rose Press – https://catalog.thewildrosepress.com/2362_amber-daulton

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Writer Wednesday – Conferences – Are they worth it?

My general viewpoint on conferences is that they should be viewed as a working vacation.  Part of this is because of what I write and what my expectations are.

The big conferences for Romance writers are RT (Romantic Times) and RWA National (Romance Writers of America).   They serve different purposes.

RT is geared mostly towards readers, although they do have some writing classes.  I’ve attended this conference as an aspiring author, published author and a reader.  I’ve always viewed this particular conference as a working vacation.  It was a chance to visit my author friends, Lyn Armstrong and Debbie Cairo.   It was a chance to see a new city, visit friends and attend parties.  I always attend writing classes there and go to publisher spotlights.  I actually met both my publishers (Liquid Silver Books and Resplendence) at RT.

RWA is geared mostly to the business side of things.   I’ve yet to attend this particular conference, even though I’m a member.  I have attended regional RWA conferences including Midwest Fiction Writers and WisRWA.  I found both beneficial to my writing career.  Classes tend to revolve around business, craft, and publishing in general.

Some other conferences I’ve attended are Lori Foster’s RAGT (Reader and Author Get Together).  This is also a reader geared Con, unlike RT it is much smaller and there are about ten readers for every published author.   Lori keeps the author roster small so readers can interact.   Maddy Barone introduced me to this Con and we’ve traveled the last two years together.

I’ve attended two local Sci-Fi con’s since I write Paranormal Romance.  CoreCon and ValleyCon.   I highly recommend if you write in a genre that falls into the genre of SFFP (Science-Fiction, Fantasy, and Paranormal) that you consider attending a local or regional Con.  It is a great way to meet readers and I find the communities, in general, to be very supportive of creatives.

There are also many Romance Reader Cons popping up.   I ran across this website that might be helpful for those of you writing in the Romance Genre.

http://www.romancerefined.com/list-of-romance-conventions-and-conferences.html

I usually attend RT when I can and if I can rope someone into going with me.   RWA is still on my bucket list.   I’ve attended Lori Foster’s RAGT the last two years.  This year, due to my job loss,  I’ve cut back on my conferences.  I will likely only attend the local sci-fi cons and my annual writing retreat at the end of September.

Overall I love conferences and attend as many as my budget will allow.  If nothing else I get a few classes in, meet a few new authors and network.   That’s a win in my book.

 

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Valentines-Day-Books-1I thought I’d share a few of my top Ten favorite Romance Novelists. There is a pattern here.  Most of them write historical and are either on my auto-buy list or I re-read them over and over.   They are however in no particular order.

Johanna Lindsey – I have a few Johanna Lindsey books I read over and over. “Defy Not the Heart”, “say you Love Me” and “Love me Forever”  I had to purchase Nook versions because I’d worn out the covers so bad.

Catherine Coulter – I cut my teeth on Ms. Coulter’s Regencies.  I’m not as much of a fan of her FBI series, because hey I like Historicals.  A few of my favorites are “Sherbrooke Bride” and “Midsummer Magic”.

KY BrideHannah Howell – I binged and have purchased the Entire Murray Clan Series, but my truly favorite Hannah Howell book remain’s “Kentucky Bride”.

 

 

 

Cathy MaxwelCathy Maxwell – Cathy Maxwell makes me cry in the very best way.  She has some stories where such sacrifices are made you can feel it.  Hence the crying.  I don’t have a particular favorite and have read them over and over, all I can say is keep them coming Ms. Maxwell, keep them coming.

 

 

indexTessa Dare – The first book I picked up by Tessa Dare was “When a Scot Ties a Knot”. Loved it, and was then forced to play catch up when it was the 3rd book in her “Castles Ever After Series” which lead me back to her “Spinster Cove Series”.  Ms. Dare has the right amount of heat in her stories that make me search out Mr. Holland.  So he’s a fan as well.  🙂

Maddy Barone – Maddy Barone writes a post-apocalyptic werewolf series, “After the Crash” which I  adore.  A few of my Read over and overs are “Wolf Tracker”, “Wolf’s Oath” and “Wolf’s Vengence”.  Thank god I have digital copies of these.

 

Kristen Callihan – I remember I was traveling for work and I was looking for something to read in my hotel room and purchased “Firelight” for 99cents.  Then began my binging of her “Darkest London” series.

 

Bec McMasterBec McMaster – I was waiting for the next Kristen Callihan book to come out when  I noticed on my Nook, people who bought “Firelight” bought “Kiss of Steel”, so I did and then proceeded to binge read her “Steampunk London” series.

 

 

 

 

 

Deborah Blake – I love the “People who bought” feature on my Nook.  While waiting for the Baba Yaganext Kristen Callihan book or maybe it was the next Bec McMaster Book, I found Deborah Blake’s “Baba Yaga” series.  And subsequently fell in love with her “Broken Riders”

 

 

 

13273736Beverly Jenkins – I picked up Beverly Jenkins up at the Library on Audio Book and listened to “Indigo” on my daily commute.  Now I read her books as they come out. 🙂  It’s funny but I really dug the historical knowledge she put in her books, and found myself telling people, “Did you know the underground railroad did this and this.” Thank you, Ms. Beverly, for reminding me why I fell in love with the Historical Romance Genre.

Happy Valentine’sDay!  I hope you have a wonderful and teriffic day and curl up with a good romance.   I know I will.

AuThursday – Madison Micheal

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madison michael author photoTell us a little about yourself and your background?

Actually I just rewrote my bio for my website to share more of who I am and where I came from. It sounded so dull before, and I am not a dull person. I am opinionated and not shy about sharing my thoughts. I love to give advice – unsolicited. I adore expensive shoes, bargains on everything else and long baths with a good book. I am addicted to the movies – at the theater. Currently I am acquiring a appreciation for opera and live theater. I love dogs but like to share my digs with cats.

I am originally from Chicago but I have lived on both coasts from Boston to San Francisco, with several stops in between. I spent my career as a technical consultant or manager for a huge software company, but I retired in 2014 and got away from the 9 to 5 life. I miss my coworkers but not the job. To entertain myself upon retiring I started taking classes including one on “How to Write a Romance Novel” and with encouragement from friends, the rest is history.

I am close with my family, reside in suburban Chicago and I love to travel. I am on the board of directors of Mental Health America of the North Shore because they do good work and a member of Romance Writers of America.

How do you make time to write?

I am very fortunate because I am able to write full-time.

What genre are your books?

I write contemporary fiction, usually with some steamy sex. That is my wheel-house so far in my

“Beguiling Bachelor” series. But I did just complete “Our Love is Here to Stay”, which is a time-travel story.

I love reading mysteries, literature, and romance in every genre, so I have sprinkled small pieces of these into my books where I can. My mother was a librarian. She taught me to love reading and respect writers of every kind. Every word I write can be traced back to her teachings in some way or another.

What draws you to this genre?

I grew up on Regency romance, and I am drawn there but haven’t braved the genre yet. Instead, I write more of what I know – current times and current places. I set my books in places that are familiar and I make my characters a bit older than in some romances. Women in their late 20’s and early 30’s and men in their mid-30’s have problems to overcome, responsibilities to juggle and they have sex. That is what I like to write about – their flaws, their journeys, their struggles and the wonderful ways they fall in love.

What are your current projects?

I have just completed the first book in a new series, the Billionaire B&B series. The book, “Desire & Dessert” will be published in a collection this spring, with at least two more volumes to follow. My Beguiling Bachelors will return this summer, and I am always toying with a short story or two.

I am very excited about another new project – a blog for romance writers. Today I blog for my readers, my story every Thursday and an introduction to another author every Tuesday. But begging next month, on Monday’s, I will begin sharing what I have learned about writing and indie-publishing. Am I THE expert as I begin my third year as a writer? Hardly. But I have learned tons about being a new writer that experts have forgotten. Sometimes it is the non-expert that new writers can relate to. I hope to share my wisdom with those people.

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

My whole life I was an extravert, but once I became a writer, I became the complete opposite. Anyone or anything that takes me away from my computer is a disruption. That said, once I have made the break, the extravert in me rules again. I love being with my friends and family, networking with other authors and meeting fans. I just need that initial nudge to put down my writing.

What is your writing Kryptonite?

No feedback. No reviews. I send my books out there into the world representing my hard work and heart. They are a labor of love for me – my babies. When I have no idea how they are received, that leaves me wondering ‘do I write something similar? something different?” I don’t write only for me. I write for my readers and their feedback is priceless.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

I speak with more aspiring writers than I ever could have imagined and I tell them all the same things – read more and write more. I tell them the different betwee a writer and a want-to-be writer is that a writer finishes something.

When I got ready to write my first novel I read tons of romances, paid attention to the covers, the titles, the back-cover blurbs, even the author bios. I wrote down words and phrases that I loved from my favorite books. This became my library of inspriration. Then I wrote and wrote and wrote, edited and rewrote until I finished my first novel, “Bedazzled.”

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

I hope readers will visit me at www.madisonmicahel.net  where I have a blog and a wonderful giveaway for joining my insider group.

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