AuThursday – Shannon O’Connor

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

First Friday Lunch – Goals!

AuThursday – Hiliary Amanda

 
Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
 
I have been writing since I was a child. I was the editor of my high school newspaper and writing has always been a passion of mine. I have 6 kids ages 3-15.
 
How do you make time to write?
 
I dont sleep … I usually write at night or if we are traveling in the car when my husband is driving I will write on the laptop
 
Do you believe in writer’s block?
 
No… I have so many stories floating in my head begging to be let out
 
Tell us a bit about the genre you write and why you love it.
 
Drama/romance. All the twists, turns and of course love that you can experience in each new story.
 
How are you publishing your recent book? (*e.g. Indie, traditional or both)
 
Both
 
Are you an Introvert or Extrovert? How does this affect your work?
 
Both.. very situational
 
What is your favorite motivational phrase?
 
She believed she could and so she did.
 
 
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
 
Keep writing, don’t give up. As long as you have stories to tell, write them down
 
Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?
 
 
 

AuThursday – Katherine Brown

 
20190129172706_IMG_3246_polarrTell us a little about yourself and your background?
 
I’m a Texas girl whol could survive on chocolate and books. I’ve loved both reading and writing since early childhood. It’s an absolute joy to bring new stories to life in hopes to fuel the love of reading in others.
 
How do you make time to write?
 
I currently write while my 18 month old takes her nap in the mornings. Occasionally, I squeeze in a few extra words at night while my husband has the hockey game on.
 
Do you believe in writer’s block?
 
Yes and no. I believe I personally have times extremely lacking in creativity and productivity AKA writer’s block. Sometimes that spurs from exhaustion, or self-doubt. It is hard to write when you are barely functioning as a mom and human lol. Other times I’m guilty of not showing up and sitting down to my writing as the job it is.
 
Tell us a bit about the genre you write and why you love it.
 
I write primarily cozy mysteries, typically with a subplot of romantic interest. I love it because whether reading or writing mystery, it is a fun and twisty path to keep your brain engaged and questioning things. I prefer cozy and clean because I find there is already enough “junk” in the real world. I prefer fiction to be an escape from that, plus I want to create books I’m happy to let my children read one day.
 
How are you publishing your recent book and why? 
 
Indie because I like the way it puts authors in the driver’s seat of the process. Also, let’s be honest, I do not have the patience trying for an agent or publisher requires.
 
Are you an Introvert or Extrovert? How does this affect your work?
 
Introvert! I literally forced myself to get Facebook and eventually Instagram just to try and build relationships with readers. I was pleasantly surprised to discover author connections that are absolutely precious to me, and encouraging in a way I never expected.
 
What is your favorite motivational phrase?
 
If you finish, you get chocolate. Oh, wait….that’s just a bribe I use on myself.
 
Psalm 46:5 is on my mousepad:
God is within her, she will not fail.
 
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
 
Do NOT stop writing. Even if you have to follow a different career path, get the words down. Also…bite the bullet, hire an editor.
 
Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?
 
Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?
 
Gingerbread&Gravediggers Charity Basham Book 3 (1)“Note to self: uninvite all family from future holidays.” ~ MC Charity Basham’s internal thoughts; Gingerbread & Gravediggers coming November 2021
 
 

AuThursday – Amelia Foster

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I have been a lover of the written word for as long as I can remember as a reader and began crafting my own first story when I was five. My biggest love is romance and I will greedily devour practically all sub-genres.
How do you make time to write?
I don’t sleep! Okay, that’s only partially a joke. I work more than full-time in healthcare which is a nightmare on a good day and an absolute study in insanity since COVID-19 hit. But I get up early and try to write for a few hours in the morning.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
I feel like I need something a little more emphatic than yes for this question.
Tell us a bit about the genre you write and why you love it.Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000447_00006]
I primarily write contemporary romance more on the sweet side, but I have forayed into a few spicier works.
How are you publishing your recent book and why? 
TILMy current series is my first indie journey which is both the greatest and most overwhelming decision of my life. But even when my brain feels incredibly full, I still believe it was the perfect choice for me.
Are you an Introvert or Extrovert? How does this affect your work?
I am an introvert who is forced to extrovert as part of my day job career. So because of that I am a little more exhausted than I would be otherwise and I think that it affects my ability to write as much as I’d like because I need the time to recuperate from peopling.
What is your favorite motivational phrase?
Success is not final; failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Breaks are okay and your mental health needs to come first, but just because your passion needs to be on the back burner at times doesn’t mean you need to give up on the overall dream.
Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?
Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?

AuThursday – Casie Aufenthie

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I grew up in Mandan, ND, and fell in love with telling tales after writing my first story for an elementary school project. In university, I studied English and Spanish literature, which enhanced my love for the craft. I published my first novel, The Drift, in March of 2021, and currently reside in Mandan with my husband and young daughter.
How do you make time to write?
Writing comes in stolen moments, usually in the quiet of night when my family is sleeping.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
Yes.
Tell us a bit about the genre you write and why you love it.
Science fiction and fantasy (SFF) are my go-to genres with healthy doses of romance included. My father inspired my love for SFF, passing on his passion for the vast possibilities and ingenuity they allow. I incorporate romance because, growing up, these genres didn’t often show the female characters as equal partners, and I craved that kind of relationship.
How are you publishing your recent book and why? (*e.g. Indie, traditional or both)
Indie.
Are you an Introvert or Extrovert? How does this affect your work?
Introverted for the most part. I think as a wallflower, I have observed interactions more than participated, which allows me to create richer characters.
What is your favorite motivational phrase?
Do you.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Don’t doubt your path. The journey looks different for everyone, but as long as you keep moving forward, you will get to where you want to be.
Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?
Facebook – Casie Aufenthie
Twitter – @CasieAufenthie
Instagram – @authorcasieaufenthie
The Drift is available on Amazon.
Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?
FB_IMG_1618400893514“Thank you.” A small smile graced her face for the first time. It made her eyes look like warm sunshine peeking through the leaves of a tree.
Tristan’s stomach flipped, heart skittering in his chest. He’d never seen anything so beautiful before. The truth of the girl was peeking out from her eyes, and seeing it, something deep in his core pulsed in recognition and longing. He could’ve happily passed eternity staring into those eyes, trying to decipher their mysteries.

AuThursday – Crystal Estell

Tell us a little about yourself and your background? 

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

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

Writing makes me happy. 

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

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

How do you make time to write?

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

Do you believe in writer’s block? 

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

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

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

How are you publishing your recent book and why? 

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

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

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

What is your favorite motivational phrase? 

You fail only if you stop writing. ~Ray Bradbury 

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

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

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web? 

https://estellsplace.com 

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

Excerpt From: “Field of Secrets.” 

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

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

Because in all her memories, she loved him.

AuThursday – RT Chambers

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

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

How do you make time to write? 

In the winter 

Do you believe in writer’s block? 

As a transitory event, yes. 

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

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

How are you publishing your recent book and why? 

Indie 

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

Extrovert and not sure that it does affect my writing. 

What is your favorite motivational phrase? 

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

What advice would you give to aspiring writers? 

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

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

www.Amazon.com/author/roberttchambers 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AuThursday – J.E. McDonald

JEMcDonald_2020SquareTell us a little about yourself and your background?

I was born and raised in Saskatchewan, Canada, and I live there with my husband and three girls ranging in ages from 3 to 10 year old. I’m a coffee addict and a Mine-craft junkie, and I adore spending time with my family, especially at the
lake.
I love writing books infused with humor, mystery, and steam. My series, the Wickwood Chronicles, is set in the fictional
town of Wickwood where the unexpected keeps happening. Book three in the series, Ghost of a Summoning, will be
coming out on September 14th, and it’s all about a prophecy that needs to be stopped or the gates of hell will be opened on Earth. (It’s funny too, I swear!)

How do you make time to write?

I wake up early in the morning and join the #5amwritersclub on Twitter. Sometimes it’s hard to make myself roll out of
bed and sometimes I wake up before my alarm. It’s the best time for me to write because everyone else in my house is
asleep and I find I’m the most productive in the morning.

Do you believe in writer’s block?

I think writer’s block can be attributed to either a lack or inspiration or a lack of motivation. If you really want to, you can
get around those. The biggest dry spell I had with my writing was because of depression. It took a while, but I got back
into my routine a step at a time. Even if I sat down and only wrote fifty words, I did it daily, and eventually returned to my regular pace.
When I feel a lack of inspiration, I read a lot. I’ll return to old favorites, or binge on something new.

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

I write paranormal romance, and I absolutely love ALL romance. Paranormal is especially exciting because I love
mythology and the fantastical paired with high stakes and spice.

Ghost Enchantment DIGTIAL coverNew (quote)How are you publishing your recent book, Ghost of an Enchantment, and why?

I’m with a small press called City Owl Press, and I love being one of their authors. They’re supportive and energetic and I
hope to be working with them for a long time yet.

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

I’m an extroverted introvert. I like meeting new people, but it can be draining, and I have no problem spending time on
my own. I think my biggest challenge is on social media. It’s hard for me to connect with new people, but I work at it a
little bit at a time.

What is your favorite motivational phrase?

Let’s do this!

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Reach out to people in the writing community and make connections. Other authors can be some of your greatest allies,
and you’ll never know what opportunities might come up.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

Lots of places! My website and newsletter sign up at https://www.jemcdonald.net/

And here are my social media links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JEMcDonaldAuthor/?modal=admin_todo_tour
Twitter: https://twitter.com/JEMcdonaldSk
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jemcdonaldsk/

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

I’d love to! This is the beginning of Ghost of a Gamble, the first book in the Wickwood Chronicles.

Her tote bag hitched on her shoulder, Bree picked up her pace as she weaved in and out of the early morning shoppers.
Late. Late. Late. So damn late. One or two hours she could get away with. But three? Even Theo couldn’t be that
forgiving. Could he?
The eviction notice she’d found on her door that morning burned a hole in her back pocket. Trying not to dwell on it, she
trotted through the bustling morning crowd of old downtown. She skirted around a young family, then bumped into a
man with a camera pointed at the clock tower.
“Sorry!” she shouted as she dodged between a dog and bicycle, breezing past the advertisement board. Her short jog
finished in front of Theodore’s Bakery.
Bree inhaled the scent of fresh baked bread and thrust open the door. Chimes tinkled overhead. A line of customers
snaked through the shop, every table full with coffee-drinking, scone-eating patrons.
“Hey, Fran,” she said as she rushed to toss her tote bag on the back counter and grab her apron.
Behind the cash register, a harried Fran, her white hair coming out of her bun, shook her head, unsmiling. “I tried to call
you.”
“I turned my phone off.” As usual when I’m sleeping.
“Theo wants to talk to you.”
Bree glanced at the lineup, then back at Fran.
“Go,” Fran said, jerking her chin to the kitchen.
Tying the apron around her waist, Bree pushed through the swinging doors and found her boss taking a batch of buns
out of the oven. “Hey, Theo. Sorry I’m late. Fran said you wanted to talk to me?”
Theo’s bald head gleamed as he slid the pan into one of the cooling racks before meeting her gaze. “I can’t do it
anymore, Bree. I’m going to have to let you go.” His eyes held regret.
No. No. No. Not again. This wasn’t happening. “I’m sorry. I won’t be late again. I promise.”
He wiped his brow with his forearm. “I thought maybe it could work, but you’re not made for mornings.”
Bree smoothed her apron with shaky hands. “Then I can come later and do the shop work like Fran. I can clear tables
and serve people.”
He shook his head. “That’s what I have Fran for. I hired you for the back and that’s the person I need. I can only hire one
other person and I need that person here at six.”
From his quiet voice and the hard set of his shoulders, Bree knew he’d already made up his mind. She gave him a small
nod and forced her chin not to wobble. “I understand.” She stared at the tips of her sneakers. “I’m sorry I didn’t do a
better job.” Being yelled at would have been so much easier than dealing with his disappointment.
Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?
A heavy sigh made her head snap up. Maybe he’d changed his mind? But the expression in his eyes told her not to get
her hopes up.
“Look,” he began. “I’ll give you a recommendation if you need it. I’ll keep an eye out if there are openings anywhere.”
Her breath hitched. “You’d give me a recommendation?”
“Hey, when you’re here, you’re a good worker. It’s these early hours that don’t suit you.”
If it were only the case. Bree’s stomach squeezed. Nine o’clock. Ten o’clock. It didn’t matter what time her job began.
She’d lay awake at night, wanting to fall asleep, willing herself to fall asleep, and nothing would happen but her brain
playing the haunting sound of the wind whispering through the pine trees in her ears.
And now she’d lost another job because she couldn’t wake up in the morning. Her eyes drifted over the pans stacked in
the sink, all the dough that hadn’t been rolled out yet. Failure had her shoulders slumping. She turned to leave, then
stopped. “Um, I hate to ask this, but my paycheck?”
Another sigh. “Fran’s got it up front.”
“Thanks.” She pushed the swinging door open and paused. “You were a good boss,” she said over her shoulder. The
sound of dough smacking the counter followed her into the storefront.
The line in the bakery had diminished some, but every table had someone at it. Fran gave her a sympathetic smile.
Guess she knew I was getting fired when I walked in the door. Bree took off her apron, grabbed her tote bag, and waited
until the last person in line had paid. She sidled up to the counter, hip pressed against the glass housing everything from cinnamon buns to focaccia, and gave Fran a half smile. “I’ll get an Americano to go.”
Fran rang her up. Bree scanned the patrons, trying not to let the gloom of being fired set in. She needed a new job or
she’d be living on the street in a week. Her eyes darted to the advertisement board full of flyers and posters outside the
bakery. Maybe she could find something there, something that didn’t involve a morning shift.
Fran passed her a coffee and her check. Bree glanced at it and a little of the tension in her chest eased. Just enough to
cover what she owed her landlord.
She dug into her pocket for a five to pay for the coffee. She knew she had one. She’d put it there yesterday and hadn’t
spent it. Or had she? Her front pockets were empty. She quickly checked her back pockets, but only found the eviction
notice. Her cheeks heated. Her bank account probably had enough in it for her to use her card, right? It would be a
gamble. She swallowed and met Fran’s brown eyes.
Fran waved a dismissive hand. “This one’s on me. Consider it a going away present.”
Bree barked out a laugh. “Like, ‘Please go away and never come back’ kind of present?”
Fran’s hand flew to her chest. “Oh, my, no! I’m just sorry it didn’t work out. Now Theo’s going to be a person short until he
finds someone more suitable.”
More suitable. Bree had heard that one before too. The door chimed and a new customer received Fran’s attention. Bree
lifted her cup. “Thanks for the coffee.”
Fran gave her a small smile, then turned her attention to the man in a suit. Bree eyed her check, a hard knot solidifying in her chest. She still needed another full month’s rent in three weeks.
The check wrinkled between her fingers as she squeezed it. One option would be to take the money and run. It was
enough that if she packed up and left tomorrow, she could settle in a new town and not look back. She’d already paid
her last month’s rent when she’d signed the rental agreement. And no one would miss her here.
Inaya would.
The door chimed behind her as she left the yeasty smells of the bakery. Bree inhaled the crisp air of the street, people watching as they bustled around her, trying to focus on anything but the unease in her chest. She sipped her coffee and
winced when it burned her tongue.
Rubbing the sting away on the back of her teeth, she strolled the five steps to the advertisement board. From beneath
the half-wall, she saw someone on the other side in combat boots and black jeans. Bree scanned the ads. Most were
college students searching for roommates. Others were for concerts coming up in the Wickwood area.
The hard knot in Bree’s chest mutated into a hot burn. She really needed a job.
Thunk. Thunk. A stapler hit the other side of the board. She straightened. Thunk. Thunk. Slowly, she edged to the side
and peeked around the board to check out what Mr. Combat Boots had posted. Probably looking for a roommate.
She noticed his hair first. Brown with a hint of red, it swept across his forehead to stop below his chin. A dusting of
stubble showed through his tawny skin, but nothing you could call a beard. And his clothes matched his boots. All black.
He’s cute. Her heart did a double thump. Really cute.
Straightening, she stepped around the board to get a better look at his flyer. His golden eyes tracked her, then quickly
looked away. He stepped back to admire his handiwork, and she stood beside him, shoulder to shoulder. Her body
hummed. Acting casual, Bree took a cautious sip of her coffee and read the flier.
HELP WANTED IMMEDIATELY
PART-TIME FIELD ASSISTANT
RESILIENT PERSONALITY PREFERRED
AVAILABLE NIGHTS
*NEEDS TO KEEP AN OPEN MIND*
She pursed her lips. “What do you do? Make pornos or something?” She wouldn’t want to star in a porno—not that she
didn’t have the skills—but taking a leap into adult entertainment wasn’t a life goal. She wasn’t a prude and could
probably be an assistant.
“What?” He turned so abruptly, he hit her elbow. She managed to hold onto her coffee, but some splashed out of the lid
and landed on his jacket with a splat.
“Oh, my God.” Bree set her cup on the ledge of the advertisement board and dug around in her tote for a tissue. “Are you
hurt? Are you burnt?”
Eyes wide, he shook his head.
“I’m so sorry.” Bree kept digging in her bag. There must be a napkin or something in here. “Not that it was my fault, mind
you, since you hit my hand. But I am sorry I poured coffee on you.” She found a used, crumpled up tissue, stared at it for
a full two seconds, shrugged, and wiped at the front of his jacket. “At least I didn’t get your boots wet.”
As she turned to reaffirm her coffee was secure on the ledge, she hit the cup with her tote. The cup tipped, tipped…she
reached…and it fell to the ground with a dull thud. The lid flew off and coffee splattered her sneakers and his boots.
“Oh my God, I can’t believe I did it again.” Easy come, easy go. That’s how it was with free pity coffees. She went to a
knee and swiped at the moisture on his boots. The embarrassment ringing in her ears made it hard for her to hear.
“Please stop,” he said, the words finally making it through.
She peered up to see his wonderfully beautiful face twisted in distress. Glaring at the tissue, she grimaced, and shoved
it in her tote before hopping to her feet.
“Sorry,” she muttered. Had she ruined her chances?
Most likely.
She glanced at the flyer. She really needed a job, but if he was wanting a fluffer, that was probably a deal breaker.
Probably.
“So, um, you’re needing a field assistant? I’m actually looking for a job.” Best not to mention she’d been fired five
minutes ago.
Instead of saying yes or no, he stared at her with bewildered eyes. She cleared her throat. No change in his expression.
She cocked her chin to the flyer. “The porno thing? I haven’t worked at a porno shoot before.”
“Porno thing?” That snapped him out of it. “What? No.” He shook his head. “No porno thing.”
From the completely shocked look on his face, she knew he had to be telling the truth. She swallowed hard. But was it
something worse? Her mind scrambled to fill in the blanks left by the flier. Grave digger? Grave robber? Neither fit.
No matter what it was, she worried at her bottom lip, believing she might have just ruined her shot at making sure she
didn’t end up homeless.

AuThursday – A J Matthews

Tell us a little about yourself and your background? 

I’m a British author living in NW Ohio with my wife, fellow author Cindy A Matthews. I enjoy writing (of course!), gardening and cooking. 

How do you make time to write? 

I’m lucky to have my own office space which I can retreat to and work in undisturbed for at least a couple of hours most afternoons. 

Do you believe in writer’s block? 

Yes, it can happen. I found that if a plot refuses to move on, more often than not an idea for a later scene in the book presents itself. Working on those later scenes gets them out of my head and always suggests ways in which the tricky scene can be resolved. 

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

I write murder-mysteries set in the 1920’s. There’s something deeply satisfying in crafting the plot and interweaving story-lines to reach a conclusion that-hopefully-the reader won’t guess at too easily from the get-go. 

How are you publishing your recent book and why? Traditional. My books are available in e-format and also POD. 

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

Introvert, definitely. I prefer to stay back and observe rather than get involved in things. 

What is your favorite motivational phrase? 

Butt on chair, fingers on keyboard. 

What advice would you give to aspiring writers? 

Never give up. Listen to advice but have the courage to use your own ideas if you believe them to be better. 

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

https://ajays-blog.blogspot.com/ 

https://twitter.com/AdrianJMatthews 

https://www.facebook.com/A-J-Matthews-1472379789644822 

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

From A Fool in the Marketplace, Book 4 of the Veronica Nash murder-mystery series. 

NIGHTFLIGHTTOBABYLONThe cheering grew in volume. Veronica saw the small shapes of the approaching sculls, the white water thrown up by the oars glistening in the sun. 

“An interesting race, this,” Ben went on. “That chap in the lead, Morris, has a crooked right arm. It’s admirable the way he can wield an oar with his fin all bent like that.” 

“Indeed,” Veronica murmured. 

“You should pop up to Oxford when I return for Michaelmas term, Ronnie.” The dazzling smile was directed at her again. “I’m often out on the Isis with the chaps.” 

“Wouldn’t it be rather boring, Jim-jam?” Claire inquired. “Where’s the fun in watching a band of students thrashing about on the river?” 

Ben put on an air of hurt dignity but Veronica could see the twinkle in his bright blue eyes. “One does not thrash at Oxford. We row with great dignity and style.” 

“Until you catch a crab and fall in the Isis,” Claire retorted then poked out her tongue at him. Veronica saw Lord Desborough taking his leave. With a tip of his straw boater to the ladies he hurried down the gangplank to the riverbank and strode toward the VIP stand. Claire’s second-oldest brother, Edward, watched him go with a thoughtful expression. 

She couldn’t quite make Edward out. A stocky, earnest, bookish young man with a full reddish blond beard, he wore thick spectacles and dark, neat and sober attire. He’d been so stiff and formal at his family’s combined Christmas and Hanukkah celebration. In spite of being in his mid-twenties and therefore not much older than she, Edward had a donnish air more suited to a much older man. 

At that moment he turned and she looked away before she met his eye. He seemed rather too interested in me last Christmas. Ben’s infatuation is more than enough for me to cope with right now. 

She saw His Lordship’s secretary Jacob Levine, a dark handsome man in his early forties looking at her from where he stood smoking a cheroot at the other end of the deck. Unseen by Edward and Ben he gave her a wry smile and jerked his head at the two younger men as if to say boys will be boys. Veronica smiled and nodded back, liking Levine’s quiet demeanour. 

Gabriel and his date put their drinks on the trestle table and moved to the railing, Gabriel’s arm sliding around Elizabeth’s waist in a proprietorial fashion. He appeared rather flushed. Veronica wondered how much drink he’d taken aboard. Lady Sibfield-Murray stood somewhat behind the couple, a calculating look on her face. Her husband joined her as everybody stood to watch the single sculls negotiate the closing stretch of the course. 

Claire stood close to Veronica’s right, Ben to her left, his interest in her plain enough. She smiled at him. My, but he’s a handsome beggar. He turned his head and gazed down at her, his burly form almost blocking her view downriver. And he seems really smitten by me. Oh dear. 

Claire’s lips twitched as she gave her a sidelong look. Veronica guessed her brother’s puppyish interest hadn’t gone unnoticed. She smiled back. Were I not with Claire, I would be tempted. 

The party cheered as the single sculls approached. The leader by a clear three lengths or so was the delightfully-named Morris Morris wielding the blue dashed oars of the London Rowing Club. His rival D. Gollan, wielding the light pink blades of Leander, put on a last spurt of effort but failed to close the gap. Morris shot across the finishing line to the accompaniment of a resounding cheer. 

“Crikey, what a terrific finish!” Ben crowed, punching the air. “I must see if I can have a word with that chap later.” Veronica noticed Gabriel shake his head at his brother’s words and move back to the table with the drinks. He picked up an egg and cress sandwich and examined it before taking a large bite. She noticed his complexion had turned puce. What a sourpuss to take no delight in another man’s achievement. 

A shout of alarm went up from behind her. Veronica spun around and saw the winning oarsman had fallen in the river. “Good gracious, whatever happened?” 

“The poor chap’s exhausted,” Claire’s father said, coming up to lean on the railing and peer at the scene. “I’ve never seen 

anything like it. He just toppled out of his scull.” 

They watched as two of the Conservancy officials’ boats manoeuvred to rescue the man. Between them they managed to get Morris into the motor launch. A heartfelt cheer of relief went up. 

Something thumped hard on the deck behind Veronica. 

“Gabriel? What’s wrong? Gabriel!” Elizabeth’s voice rose to a shriek. The party turned as one to look. Gabriel flopped on the deck, eyes staring, his face turning bright pink. His hands pawed at his throat and chest, as if he were desperate for air. Elizabeth knelt beside him, frantic hands clutching at his. A spurt of foamy vomit shot from Gabriel’s open lips to splatter her peach-coloured dress and she uttered another shriek. 

“Good God!” Lord Sibfield-Murray dashed across the deck as his wife stood paralysed, her hands to her mouth. Levine joined him, kneeling on Gabriel’s other side to loosen his tie and shirt collar. 

“Let me through!” someone shouted. “I’m a doctor.” 

One of the guests unceremoniously pushed His Lordship aside and set to work. Veronica couldn’t remember the man being introduced to her. Levine got up and moved back to let him work. Feet clattered on the gangplank as someone dashed ashore in search for help. 

Everyone watched, eyes wide with shock as the man fought to save Gabriel Sibfield-Murray with what appeared to be professional competence. It seemed touch and go. The young man fought for life with every ounce of his being. Veronica felt Claire take her left hand in a tight grip. A second later Ben’s arm slipped around her waist. She could hear Claire’s breathing, light and quick, almost panicky. 

Gabriel ceased his struggles and turned ominously still. A frozen silence fell upon the yacht. The doctor straightened and stood up with a sad expression. “So sorry, old man. I’m afraid I’ve lost him.” Lady Sibfield-Murray uttered a soft scream and collapsed onto the deck. Before her husband could react the doctor dashed with nimble speed across the deck and took Lord Sibfield-Murray by the elbow, steering him to one side. Veronica stood close enough to overhear the doctor’s soft, urgent words. 

“David, old man, I believe your son was poisoned. We must summon the police.”