AuThursday – Cass Scotka

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

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

How do you make time to write? 

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

Do you believe in writer’s block?

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

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

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

How are you publishing your recent book and why

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

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

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

What is your favorite motivational phrase? 

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

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

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

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

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

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

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

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

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

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

revolutionary-love-cover-512x716-1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“No, but—” 

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

“Yes, but—” 

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

“Most of the time, but—” 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AuThursday – Renee Wildes

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Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I live in a big old farmhouse central WI with my husband and a handful of critters. I have 2 grown kids and a 1-1/2 year old grandson. I have a horse, a dog, and 3 cats. I am a Navy brat and a cop’s lid, and the only vet tech/dog groomer in a family of nurses. Right now I have a full-time day job working from home as a customer service for dental insurance. I’m also an author and acquiring editor for Champagne Book Group.

How do you make time to write?

I write before and after work and on my days off/weekends. Depends on if there’s a pitch fest or submissions in my inbox to read and evaluate.

Do you believe in writer’s block?

I’m a plotter so have everything lined up before I start writing. If a scene isn’t gelling for me, I just work on another. They wheels are always turning so it’s usually not too hard to write once I get started. The hardest thing for me used to be transitioning between scenes. Lately I have more issues with how I want to end a chapter. I’ve become very conscious of “hooks.” 

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

I write FFP spec fic (fantasy, sci fi, and paranormal romance) I love being able to mix the fantastical into the “real” world. I love developing new twists on familiar races and themes so my Cinderella story features a half-dragon fire mage and elven prince charming, and my Sleeping Beauty is an assassin nun who’s sleeping is symbolic rather than literal. I did mt first sci fi after seven fantasy books b/c I needed a change of pace before starting a new fantasy series. And now I set myself up for a whole sci fi series also—have the second book plotted out. So there’s always something fresh and new brewing in my imagination!

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

All my books are traditionally published—I like being part of a team. I was with Samhain Publishing for a decade, did a brief stint with both Wild Rose Press and Tirgearr Publishing, and am now with Champagne Book Group as both author, new-author mentor, and now acquiring editor.

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

I’m an introverted extrovert, if that makes sense. I like being out with friends and can navigate through a writer’s conference. I can walk up to a table at an RWA luncheon and ask to sit with strangers. But at the end of the day I’m all for retreating to my room and curl up with a glass of wine, an old movie, and a good book. I like spending time outdoors with just my dog or my horse, though—I need “me” time to clear my head and recharge my batteries.

What is your favorite motivational phrase?

My personal catch-phrase posted on website is

“Believing Is Seeing.”

Only with an open mind and open heart can you truly see the world around you.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

“Don’t Wish For It – Work For It.”

Write every day. Enter contests. Take classes. Stay open-minded to feedback. Keep submitting. If you get a rejection, shake it off and try someone/somewhere else. You need a thick skin and persistence.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

Publisher http://champagnebooks.com/store/185_renee-wildes

Website https://reneewildesromance.com

Blog https://reneewildes1.wordpress.com

Twitter https://twitter.com/ReneeWildes

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/ReneeWildes1

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

Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/reneewildes/

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2465877.Renee_Wildes

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

Seditious Hearts is an enemies-to-lovers sci fi romance with hero & heroine on opposite sides of a war.

Tagline: Sleeping with the enemy…in a time of war

Premise: Daynavian Resistance Operative Lonan Tremayne is tasked with hijacking the IMF Intervention medical frigate and convincing its Chief Medical Officer, Seppala Amundsen, to switch sides and come along with her ship.

Seditious Hearts_frontcoverExcerpt:

It should’ve been a quick transporter jaunt from the shuttle station to the sumptuous main lobby of Harmonies, the exclusive, out-of-the-way Bregorian resort. Routine. People jaunted all the time. It should’ve taken only a moment to get her bearings after the disorientation of rematerialization. Instead, an agonizing tingling and heart-stopping anxiety gripped her. A strangely lucid seizure that lasted forever. Seppala Amundsen, Imperium Sub-Commander, flailed on the platform—gasping, twitching. Her eyes burned with unshed tears.

“Stay still.” A smooth-caramel, baritone voice tore her attention from her odd predicament.

“Wha’ happen’?” Why couldn’t she talk right? She slurred her words like a drunk.

Insectoid Bregorian voices screeched in the background. 

“Look at me.” A chiseled, tanned face topped with a military haircut swam into focus. His concern washed over her, dulling the other presences as dark-chocolate eyes held her gaze, a lifeline.

She jerked back to awareness, and gulped. Stars, she was naked. In public.

“What’s your name?” His question was more demand than inquiry.

Seppala bristled. Wait, she knew this one, honest. “Shalla.” She cleared her throat. “Sepla.” Argh, it came out all wrong. “Sep-pa-la.” Better. She worked her jaw and swallowed. “Seppala—” Got it! “—Am’shenenen.” Whoops.

Some secret knowledge flashed in those remarkable eyes. “Know where you are?”

“Har’nannies?” Hopefully. “Where m’clothes?”

Where were his clothes? She gulped at his bare torso. A jagged scar marred bronze skin over hard muscle. Black-hide trous appeared all but painted on. His thighs stretched the material taut, a slight sheen reflecting the light.

He grinned at her once-over—a flash of white teeth distracting her from deep eye crinkles and a slight dimple that winked in his left cheek—so quick she might have imagined it. “Clothes are actually optional here. The jaunt receivers worried more about retrieving your bio-read molecules. As should you—nude or not.”

Naked. At Harmonies. Before strange men.

This better be a nightmare.

“No, I definitely want clothes.” She yanked her yammering mind into focus. “Who’re you?”

“Lonan Tremayne, your friendly neighborhood translator. Administrator Kellah figured a human face might be more reassuring than a bug-eyed Bregorian one.” He skimmed calloused fingers over her—yep!—still-bare body with clinical thoroughness. “Can you feel this?”

Only too well. “Numb, tingling, like m’legs fell ’sleep.” She could move, though. Her muscles quivered. Her limbs flailed about like a glitchy animated rag doll. She could talk. Sort of.

He placed a steadying hand on her too-bare shoulder. “Easy there. Follow my finger.”

Seppala fought to track the movement…up, down, left, right.

“Delayed but functional. Everything’s reattached correctly and more or less working.” He brushed the hair from her face, tucking a wayward strand behind her ear. “Your molecules spent some extra time in the buffers is all.”

She flinched at his touch, his words. Is all? Jaunting was usually safe enough. Usually. But the rare accident happened.

Maybe the ’verse was trying to tell her something. Coming to Harmonies was, without a doubt, the dumbest thing her best friend had ever bullied her into.

I tried to tell her I should never be allowed off the ship, scheduled shore leave or no shore leave. But does she ever listen? No. Neiara Delaney, I will get you back for this.

Rematerialization-delay complications…What did the Imperium Science Academy database say? Seppala struggled to recall. Akin to getting hit with a disruptor stun blast or any other power surge. Numbness, tingling, incoordination, slurred speech, neuron misfiring.

Damned database never mentioned naked.

Her brain was functioning, albeit sluggishly, but her body still fritzed. She blamed her befuddled state on her sexy, charismatic rescuer. Only she could meet someone like him…like this. Typical.

A sharp scritching noise set her teeth on edge. Lonan glanced up at someone behind her.

“Administrator Kellah insists you get checked out in their medical bay,” he translated for the looming Bregorian nymph casting a mantis-esque shadow over her. “Kellah’s assistant Braykekk here will accompany us.”

Wow. He, a human, understood Bregorian?

She squinted at him. No Utarian translator earwig? How’s that even possible?

Not that those were infallible, especially with such an alien vocalization as Bregorian. And right now, her own was apparently damaged by the delayed rematerialization. Lovely. How was she supposed to do her job if she couldn’t communicate? She’d have to requisition a new implant…and explain to Captain Osande why.

Wouldn’t that be a fun conversation?

More urgent screeching. Seppala winced and tamped down the urge to cover her ears.

“Easy.” He patted her shoulder. “Just a temporary detour. They’ll have you in your room in no time.”

But the infirmary meant an uncensored medical scan.

No way. “Gotta…check in.” She struggled to rise. Her legs churned but refused to support her.

She wasn’t petite by any stretch, but he scooped her up and stood as if she weighed nothing at all. “Later, after we make sure this is temporary.”

“Nothing like getting swept off my feet.” Seppala cursed her current helplessness. Her head swam. Conceding for the moment, she closed her eyes and snuggled in, wrapping her arms around his neck. So warm…

This close, he stole her breath. She cracked her lids open to peer at him. Strong jaw and cleft chin, shadowed with a hint of beard, which begged for a nibble. She never nibbled. Firm, sensual lips she could almost taste. Lonan Tremayne even smelled edible—a faint musk beneath a hint of woods and spice. A rustic scent she wanted to wrap herself up in.

Every taut moment made her skin spark with an unprecedented sizzling awareness until she needed to remind herself to breathe.

Except each breath pulled his essence into her very bones.

What was wrong with her? She never ogled strange men. Never.

But there was so much to ogle here.