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?

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“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 – Melinda Curtis

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

Prior to writing romance, I was a junior manager for a Fortune 500 company, which meant when I flew on the private jet I was relegated to the jump seat—otherwise known as the potty (yes, it has a seat belt). After grabbing my pen (and a parachute) I made the jump to full-time writer. I’m a hybrid author with over 60 titles published or sold, including 40 works to Harlequin and five to Grand Central Forever, mostly sweet romance and sweet romantic comedy. One of my books – Dandelion Wishes – became a TV movie in 2020. Love in Harmony Valley starred Amber Marshall of Heartland fame. 

How do you make time to write? 

Since I write full-time, “finding time” hasn’t been a problem up until a move and “shut-downs” in 2020. You see, all my kids went to college in Oregon and didn’t return to California. Mr. Curtis and I decided to move before the virus hit – just in time for quarantine. With some restrictions lifted, my kids have been popping by. And since we moved into a fixer-upper, workmen have been dropping by. Instead of big blocks of time, I’m writing in stolen moments – lunch hours for workmen, before or after family dinners, early in the morning. Deadlines must be met!

Do you believe in writer’s block? 

I do. But I think some label the inability to write through a draft writer’s block when their problems could be solved by opening their writing craft toolbox. On the other hand, emotional upheaval can steal the words and the joy of writing. I had a hard time writing after my father died. No amount of applied craft could help my sad, racing thoughts.

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

I went from writing traditional romance for Harlequin to Women’s Fiction to Rom-Coms. I’ve taken the emotional characters I’m used to writing and overlaying those stories with humor. Absolutely love this balance!

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

My most recent releases are trad – Montana Welcome, A Very Merry Match. I spent much of 2018-2019 writing to contract, which gave me 8 releases this year in the trad world. I’ve been slowly catching up on my indie series.

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

LOL. I think I’m an introvert but maybe that’s because I work at home and like it. But as soon as you get me around people, it’s yackety-yackety-yack!

What is your favorite motivational phrase?

You’ve got to want it!

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Work on your craft. Feed your soul.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

www.MelindaCurtis.net

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

This is an excerpt from A Very Merry Match, a small town rom-com that features characters in need of a second chance at love and three matchmaking widows who know that love sometimes needs a gentle nudge…

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The stool next to Kevin listed to one side as Jason Petrie tried to belly up to the bar with his broken leg. A clatter of crutches, a scrape of stool footings, and the blond, blue-eyed cowboy had half his butt on the seat. His casted leg rested gracelessly to the side.

Noah had a beer in front of Jason before the cowboy released a put-upon sigh or had time to glance over his shoulder at his ex-girlfriend Darcy.

“Before you start off with your smarmy metaphors and clichés, Kev.” Jason paused to sample his beer. “Remember that I’m the only guy in town who shows up to drink with you.”

And wasn’t that a sad state of affairs? 

Kevin signaled Noah for another whiskey. He’d been nursing his first for thirty minutes, and he was walking home. “I have no life.”

“Good mayors rarely do.” Jason drank some more beer. “You’re like priests. Nobody trusts priests who get out there and have a life either.”

Kevin scowled at him, annoyed that his opinion mirrored his ex-wife’s, doubly so when he realized they were both right. 

If he was ever going to re-activate his social life, he needed a steady girlfriend, someone as boring as he was, someone who was never the talk of the town, someone who wouldn’t ruin his political chances.

“Excuse me.” Mary Margaret Sneed picked up Jason’s crutches and leaned them against the bar. She wore blue jeans, tall black boots, and a chunky fisherman’s sweater that hinted at her curves. She had a full mane of red hair, a pair of tender blue eyes, and was like the Pied Piper when it came to making children behave. “I hate to interrupt, Jason, but…I heard you might be hiring part-time workers.”

“Yep.” Jason patted his walking cast beyond the fringe where he’d cut off one leg of his blue jeans. “The logistics of bull semen collection, storage, and order fulfillment are not what the doctor ordered for another few weeks.”

“Whereas drinking beer is,” Kevin murmured.

Mary Margaret and Jason both paused to look at him. Kevin stared into his whiskey glass.

“I’m looking for a part-time gig,” Mary Margaret continued in that church-girl voice of hers. “But I can’t work until after school during the week.”

“Ahhh.” Jason gave her another once-over. “Didn’t you know? Iggy is a vampire. He and the bulls do all their best work after happy hour.” While Jason explained the horrors of collecting bull semen, storing it with proper labeling in cryogenic units, and shipping it out, Kevin studied Mary Margaret out of the corner of his eye.

She was the complete opposite of his ex-wife. Soft-spoken. Openly kind. Stable. The type of woman a man who was one step from the priesthood would date. It didn’t hurt that she was beautiful or that she knew how to dress well enough to fit in but not loud enough to stand out. He’d seen her circulate in a crowd and not steal the limelight from anyone. She checked a lot of boxes.

And if he looked at the soft bow of her mouth, he could imagine kissing her. And if he imagined kissing her, he could imagine pressing the length of that long, tall body of hers against his. And if he could imagine that…

Kevin sipped his drink, unused to envisioning getting physical with one of his constituents, especially his son’s kindergarten teacher. 

He snuck another glance at her.

At that thick curtain of red hair, at her creamy skin, at the delicate way her fingers interlocked and squeezed intermittently as she listened to Jason.

Kevin swallowed thickly.

With all this talk of the priesthood, a switch had been flipped inside him. It’d been months since he’d burned the sheets with a woman. He could probably look at any single woman and imagine…

He glanced over his shoulder at Avery. She was single and his age. Unlike Mary Margaret, when she wasn’t wearing her theater uniform, Avery’s clothes showed more skin and clung to her curves. But as much as he stared, he couldn’t imagine getting busy with Avery. 

His attention shifted back to Mary Margaret, to intelligent blue eyes and a soft laugh. She shifted her feet, and then he couldn’t stop thinking about her long legs.

“Noah,” he croaked, a dying man in need of a sanity-leveling drink. He held up his empty glass.

AuThursday – Lainee Cole

Lainee Cole author picTell us a little about yourself and your background?

I’m a born and bred Midwestern girl who escaped to Southern California for one year during my early 20’s but came home when I missed the change of seasons. Growing up in Ohio, Michigan, and Illinois will do that to you! On cold winter days, my older bones talk to me, as in “What the heck were you thinking?” Now I live in Central Illinois with my husband, who always wants to talk when I’m trying to write. My two kids and one grandchild live nearby, and we see them often.

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember! I wrote horse stories as a child, then poetry in junior high and high school. My friends and I traded romances starting in high school, and it didn’t take me long to decide I wanted to write them. It took me a lot longer to actually do it, but here I am! My goal is to give readers the same escape I discovered in books.

How do you make time to write? 

I’ve learned it’s important to write every day. My muse is happier that way! I don’t have set writing hours, but usually spend a chunk of afternoons and evenings writing, or doing writing-related tasks. In some respects, it’s easier since I retired from my day job last summer. While my husband is doing outdoor chores or golfing with his buddies, I can write uninterrupted. When I was working, I sometimes struggled to make time to write because it took away family time. But writing has always been important to me. Laptops were a great invention! My laptop allowed me to be on the computer as much as possible, even when my kids were sprawled around the family room watching TV or playing video games.

Do you believe in writer’s block? 

Definitely. If my creative well is low, I struggle to put ideas together, to make words flow the way they should. Self-care is important as well. I try to walk every day for at least an hour. But sometimes the words just aren’t there. In that case, I read, have more conversations with friends, and go for longer walks. Ideas tend to spark for me when I do those things.

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

I write sweet contemporary romance. I love it because I can explore characters and their relationships without being explicit. My characters can have all the feels without restricting their actions to MY imagination. Readers can use their own imaginations for what happens with my characters behind closed doors.

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

I just Indie published my most recent book in January via Amazon. To be honest, I’ve always wanted to be a traditionally published author, and I haven’t given up on that, but the publishing landscape is open now. I discovered the Common Elements Romance Project (https://commonelementsromanceproject.wordpress.com/) and wanted to be a part of it. All books for the project were required to be self-published, so that’s what I did!

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

I’m an Extrovert, very much a people person. I can talk to almost anyone. Being an extrovert is a blessing and a curse as an author. It’s a blessing because, well, people! Everybody has a story and you never know when someone will trigger an idea, whether from something they say, their behavior, or even just their appearance. People-watching can be interesting! Being an extrovert is also a curse because when I’m working on a book, it’s hard to stay isolated and focused. I crave contact with other people. 

What is your favorite motivational phrase?

“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.” 

— Louis L’Amour

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

If you are passionate about writing, don’t just take courses or read books – you have to WRITE. The more you actually write, the more you will learn. 

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

Please follow me on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/LaineeColeAuthor/), Twitter (@LaineeCole), and Amazon (https://amzn.to/2VuobuD). I’d love to hear from you!

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

STORMS OF THE HEART excerpt

Storms of the Heart high resHome. She blinked several times. She’d finally grown up and realized people made a place home, not buildings. Her heart climbed into her throat, but she refused to cry. Breathe in, breathe out, she coached herself. You can do this! Despite Uncle Wayne’s pleas and assurances, it had taken a long time to find the courage to return. Now that she was home, she couldn’t wait to feel his firm bear hug.

She straightened her shoulders and pushed away from the house. Yes, she could do this! At twenty-five, she could finally take control of her own life. She could put her past to rest and look forward to her future.

Emerson flinched when another crack of lightning split the air and forked through the sky, illuminating two cars parked at the side of the house. She hadn’t noticed them before. One was a distinctive black and white car with SHERIFF in gold lettering on the side. 

Her breath hitched as she peered through the downpour. Wait. What is the Sheriff doing here? She’d already lost her parents and her aunt. She couldn’t lose Uncle Wayne, too. Not now.

 Swallowing her panicked thoughts, she hurried toward the front door. Her shoes squished cold water between her toes with every step. She stripped off her wet jacket and dropped it in the corner. The dim yellow porch light flickered and went out. 

With her heart beating faster in the darkness, Emerson scrubbed her hands over her wet face. Add cops and power outages to what else could go wrong.

Damn those negative thoughts! She inhaled deeply and shoved them out of her mind. She knocked on the door. The cop car didn’t mean anything. Uncle Wayne was expecting her. Soon she would be warm and cozy inside.

She knocked again, harder this time.

Still no answer. Maybe Uncle Wayne couldn’t hear her over Mother Nature’s cries, but he wouldn’t expect her to stay out in the rain. She tried the knob and found it unlocked.

Another deafening crack of lightning shattered the air. Something hit Emerson’s knee from the side. The momentum tore the doorknob from her hand. Her backpack fell to the ground as the thing brushed by and sent her stumbling through the doorway.

Ooof!

Strong arms caught and cradled her. She froze as earthy cologne with just a hint of citrus filled her nose. A long, whimpering whine sounded before a voice from somewhere above her head ground out, “Get back out there, dog.”

Snug against his chest, her body absorbed the rumble of the man’s words, while her mind struggled to place the oddly familiar scent of his cologne.

“Oh, let him be,” twittered a high, excited voice nearby. “He doesn’t like storms.”

Welcome to the club. It was too dark to see the woman, but she must be the live-in housekeeper Uncle Wayne had mentioned. Mrs. Beresford. This man, though. She inhaled his scent again. His embrace warmed her chilled body as he steadied her, but didn’t let go. She felt strangely safe in his arms.

“I’m sorry. The lightning startled me,” she offered into the darkness as she pushed against the man’s chest. He released her and she shivered.

“It’s not the dog’s fault.”

The man sighed, and then she heard the front door close heavily against the wind. The dog pressed against the back of her legs. Her jeans soaked up his dampness. He whimpered and her heart went out to him. I’m with you, buddy.

The strong odor of sulfur wafted through the air, followed by a welcome glow lighting the room.

“You must be Emerson.” A woman with a short, layered bob of red hair held a lantern as she came forward, reaching out a thin hand. She smiled, and her touch was gentle on Emerson’s arm. “Wayne told me all about you.”

She squeezed the woman’s hand and smiled. “You must be Mrs. Beresford.”

The older woman glowed with pleasure. “Please, call me Irene.” She gestured toward the door and her smile faded. “This is Sheriff Lomax.”

Emerson’s pulse jumped, but she pasted on a smile and turned. 

Max. His hair was darker than the last time she’d seen him, but even in the shadowy light, she knew those grayish-blue eyes, that straight nose, and that little cleft in his chin. It had been seven years, and yet she’d never forgotten the heat between their bodies as she’d pressed against him down by the creek. The tenderness of his kiss had surprised her, had made her feel when she didn’t want to feel anything. 

She’d tried to seduce her crush and failed miserably. What had she been thinking? Oh yeah. That was the problem. She hadn’t been.

“Hello, Emerson.”

 

 

FREE Friday – To Weave a Highland Tapestry by Mary Morgan

to weave a highland tapestry bannerTo Weave a Highland Tapestry

A Tale from the Order of the Dragon Knights

by Mary Morgan

Genre: Time Travel/Scottish Medieval/Paranormal Romance

Print Length: 196 pages

Publisher: The Wild Rose Press, Inc

Publication Date: December 9, 2019

Patrick MacFhearguis, hardened by battles won and lost, desires what he can never have—peace within his heart and soul. Yet, the ever-meddling Fae weave a new journey for him to conquer—a task this Highlander is determined to resist.

When skilled weaver, Gwen Hywel, is commissioned to create a tapestry for the MacFhearguis clan she embraces the assignment. While seeking out ideas, she finds herself clutching the one thread that can alter the tapestry of her heart and life.

A man conflicted by past deeds. A woman with no family of her own. Is it possible for love to unravel an ancient past in order to claim two badly scarred hearts? Or will the light of hope be doused forever?

Add to Goodreads

Amazon * Apple * B&N * Google * Kobo * Website

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/48481298-to-weave-a-highland-tapestry

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Buy Links

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Weave-Highland-Tapestry-Dragon-Knights-ebook/dp/B07Z2ZWQW7/

Apple: https://books.apple.com/us/book/to-weave-a-highland-tapestry/id1483415813

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/to-weave-a-highland-tapestry-mary-morgan/1134375461

Google: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Mary_Morgan_To_Weave_A_Highland_Tapestry?id=yD_BDwAAQBAJ

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/to-weave-a-highland-tapestry

Website: https://www.marymorganauthor.com/to-weave-a-highland-tapestry
twht - about the author

Mary Morgan_267x400Award-winning Celtic paranormal and fantasy romance author, Mary Morgan, resides in Northern California with her own knight in shining armor. However, during her travels to Scotland, England, and Ireland, she left a part of her soul in one of these countries and vows to return.

Mary’s passion for books started at an early age along with an overactive imagination. Inspired by her love for history and ancient Celtic mythology, her tales are filled with powerful warriors, brave women, magic, and romance. It wasn’t until the closure of Borders Books where Mary worked that she found her true calling by writing romance. Now, the worlds she created in her mind are coming to life within her stories.

If you enjoy history, tortured heroes, and a wee bit of magic, then time-travel within the pages of her books.

Author Links

Website: https://www.marymorganauthor.com/

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/m_morganauthor

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/marymorgan2/

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/marymorgan50/

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/mary-morgan

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Mary-Morgan/e/B00KPE3NWI/

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8271002.Mary_Morgan

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mary-morgan-2634a77a/

twht - giveaway

$25 Amazon Gift Card 

Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!

https://www.silverdaggertours.com/sdsxx-tours/to-weave-a-highland-tapestry-book-tour-and-giveaway

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AuThursday – Amiee Smith

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

Amiee Smith. Author of the Smart Girl Mafia Series. I write sexy, contemporary romance novels about book smart women and hot men. I started the series on the day of the first Women’s March in 2017. I thought: “Women are going to need something good to read for the next four years.”

All my books are set in California and west coast culture is an integral part of each story.

How do you make time to write?

I stick to a small daily word count goal and plan binge-writing weekends.

Do you believe in writer’s block?

No. Not for me anyway.

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

Romance will heal the world. Now more than ever, we need to believe in happily-ever-after. Also, pleasure (in all forms) alleviates pain and suffering. Curling up with a sexy romance novel has got me through some of the most difficult times in my life. Writing and publishing my loving tales is my way of giving back to the genre that has given me so much relief… joy.

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

I’m an Indie. Part business mind, part creative; being my own publisher integrates both sides of me.

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

Introvert. I’m energized by my time alone. I’m not sure if it affects my work. It’s who I am.

What is your favorite motivational phrase?

All things are possible. OR Miracles are normal.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Write [about] what you absolutely love. Polish and make it pretty. Put it out into the world. Repeat. The world needs your unique expression now more than ever.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

www.AmieeSmith.com

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

Excerpt from Break Free, Smart Girl Mafia Series: Book One

CHAPTER 1:
LYNN SCOTT

“We should fuck,” Nick says.

Sugar Ray’s “Fly” streams from the speakers in the backyard a decibel louder than the muffled voices at the party. Jon’s thirty-third birthday celebration, in full swing.

Nick and I are sharing a cigarette in front of our friends’ expansive Craftsman house in the most exclusive neighborhood in Pasadena. The big tree above our heads is decorated in thousands of white lights, illuminating our faces.

Elation. Excitement. Joy forms at the corners of my mouth, but my eyes narrow as I receive the cigarette from his olive-skinned hand.

“Excuse me?” I ask.

“You heard me, Lynn.”

The American Spirit dangles from my brown fingers. Taking the cigarette from me, Nick’s hazel green eyes meet mine. My heart races.

Nick Willingham was my high school crush. He’s the hottest guy I’ve ever seen (like, really). He was the leading man in my schoolgirl fantasies. I taught myself to masturbate using his eleventh-grade yearbook photo.

Back then, we hung out in different cliques. Three years ago, his best friend, Jon, married my best friend, Jen. Since their wedding reception, he and I always share a cigarette during a J + J organized event. During each encounter, we’re cordial. Polite. Responsive in the way friends of friends are, but never anything more… until tonight. In the fifteen years since graduation, I’ve had many dreams come true. But never one as thrilling as the athletic man standing in front of me, initiating a hook-up.

“When?” I whisper.

Nick comes within inches of my face. He’s at least a foot taller than me. I lick my lips. The need to lean into his mouth is intense. I will my hands to stay by my side, fighting the desire to caress his jawline. I can almost feel the dark stubble against my fingertips.

“Now,” Nick says.

Withholding a moan, I long to wrap my arms around his neck and rub my body against his muscular torso. I resist the arousal rooting and sprouting throughout my body— an urge as natural, wild, and organic as bright orange California poppies.

“I’m not having sex with you in the house. And I can’t leave. I have cake duty,” I say, battling every desire within.

J + J assigned all their closest friends a job to do tonight. I can’t skip out on my commitment, even if my impulsive mind would prefer being naked with super-hot Nick Willingham.

“I’m on cake duty too. We have forty-five minutes. How about the back seat of my car?” Nick asks.

An early autumn breeze rustles the leaves in the tree above our heads. The sound beckons my body to proceed. I’ve lost fifty pounds over the last seven months, abstaining from hook-ups to stay focused on my goal. Three weeks ago, I saw my dream number on the scale. I’ve been waiting for the perfect opportunity to relaunch my dirty flirty life with my smaller, fitter body. And he is beyond perfect.

Hooking up with Nick Willingham on a Friday night is a dream come true.

“Let’s go,” I say.

 

AuThursday – Dana Ross

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

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

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

How do you make time to write?

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

Do you believe in writer’s block?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is your favorite motivational phrase?

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

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

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

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

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

Website: https://danarossauthor.com

Twitter: @danarossauthor

Instagram: mommawriter (Dana Ross Author)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Drummond obliged.

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

Bells in my head rang a warning.

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

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

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

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