AuThursday – James Pyles

james2Please welcome James Pyles to the Clog Blog!  James, can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I’ve been writing information technology textbooks for over 20 years published by houses such as McGraw-Hill and O’Reilly. Since 2019, I’ve branched out into writing science fiction and fantasy short stories and novelettes.
How do you make time to write?
I try to block out time in the evenings after my day job, but it doesn’t always work out. Frankly, I write whenever I can carve in an hour or more.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
I believe that stress and my emotional state can drain away my motivation to write. I have to be in the right space to be creative and to be focused enough to write.
Tell us a bit about the genre you write and why you love it.
I’ve been reading science fiction since I was a kid in the mid-1960s. I’ve always wanted to write SciFi but over the years, my attempts felt forced and derivative. With the advent of indie writing and publishing, I finally got up the nerve (after practicing writing on my blog for a few years) to start submitting stories. I just love time travel, space operas, and all the tales I grew up with. I love being a part of lending my imagination to all of that.
How are you publishing your recent book and why?
I’m finally working on my first novel. It’s set in a shared universe created by an indie publisher. I’ve had stories published by them before and they’re interested in me expanding my ideas into a much larger work. Indie publishing affords opportunities to write innovative stories that otherwise wouldn’t see the light of day with a traditional big box publisher.
Are you an Introvert or an Extrovert?  How does this affect your work?
Introvert. I like my space and I like it quiet. Fortunately, I have a home office where I can close the door and immerse myself in my craft.
What is your favorite motivational phrase?
“When I was young, I used to admire intelligent people; as I grow older, I admire kind people.”Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
There is no one right path to writing and being published. The journey is unique for everyone. You don’t have to follow someone else.
Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?
Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?
This is from the first draft of my WIP, so it’s pretty rough:
Ciara was relieved that the four soldiers who silently accompanied her back to the shuttle bay were Assembly regulars and not DOID Appendices. It was an irrational fear, for if the DOID had been ordered to kill her, she would never have seen them coming.
The footfalls of five pairs of boots echoed metallically off of the deck plates and the barely audible hiss of the doors sliding aside signaled their arrival at the launch bay. Without a word, she was deposited at the foot of the stairs leading into the shuttle, a winged, light-gray dove in stark contrast to the abyss-black of the massive envoy vessel she was currently housed in. The size and armament could have been a response to the constant threat of the Kaamus occupations of the local star group, but in reality, it was a reflection of the authority wielded by the Assembly’s DOIDs.
The pilot officiously announced departure from the shuttle bay and feeling like a tenuous angel, she once again fell toward the planet below.
Once in orbital space, the Representative’s jump ship loomed over her like a harbinger of death, which could still be its role. She would make planetfall in less than thirty minutes and be returned to the chateau of House Palendale two hours hence.
It had been just past dawn that morning when Ciara pulled her battered trunk from a closet in her personal chambers. It could have sheltered a small family from some of the more impoverished corners of the realm, but such were the benefits of both rank and royalty. She had again gone through the ritual of dismantling the chest, eventually reaching the hermetically sealed remains of the La-La doll. The prize had been uncovered by the revered Kekijek over three millennia ago on a frozen moon orbiting a gas giant in the Kaamus system.
“We’ve begun La-La, but our chances are not good. Yet what else can I do and still be worthy of what you represent?”
So unlike a General, Ciara held the plastic-covered stuffed toy to her breasts and strode out to the eastern balcony. There were fifty kilometers of farmland surrounding the estate and she had an unimpeded view of tender crops being watered by large, rolling arms spraying life. Her gaze, however, was directed upward toward the last stars being extinguished by the morning light.
Her brother Amir remained a prisoner of the Kaamus military governor Kenan Isom on Eirsyn, and if reports were accurate, he did rule with an iron fist. As long as Amir had value as a hostage, he would be kept alive and even treated with privilege. But he was still a prisoner in the hands of a master who played with his human possessions as a feline would with its living dinner. Agents reported that large swaths of the planet’s general population were not so fortunate. Over a million had lost their lives so far, and millions more were pressed into service in work camps.
Then there was Jepheth Shinzi who had fallen into her own powerful hands a year ago. In return for a certain freedom, they had woven an alliance that in another reality might have passed for friendship. But upon granting his wish, she used him to fulfill her own, which most likely had sent him to his death.
As the shuttle made its final approach to one of the landing pads in the military compound near the city’s edge, Ciara raised the inside of her left wrist and pressed a code sequence.
“Major Kann. Good evening, General.” Her aide’s pleasant baritone voice reminded her that she wasn’t alone after all.
“My shuttle’s landing at Pad A35. Have my transportation ready when I touch down.”
“Acknowledged, General. Anything else?”
She almost laughed, but a miracle wasn’t something even her devoted second could provide. “That’s all for the present. Ciara out.”
Minutes later the roar of the landing thrusters jolted her out of her musings. She hoped it wasn’t too late to ask for that miracle because she would need so many before this was over. Nearly a day before the DOID’s ship had jumped into the Pheothese system, Code Name Soiran had issued the go order. By now, the assault team had jumped into Eirsyn’s solar system and with any luck, they were already in position to strike. Her audience with the DOID had been perfunctory on her part. She would be damned if she’d wait for the Assembly’s nod before waging her own war.

AuThursday – Becca Turner

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I’m an author from southwestern Missouri, but I spent the first couple of years of my life in a small town an hour north of Oklahoma City. Somehow I got stuck with an Okie accent and I really love Green Country. I noticed that a lot of contemporary western romances are set in Texas. I was like, okay, but Oklahoma has its fair share of cowboys, so I decided to set a book series in a fictional town near Tulsa. Now I can’t stop writing about cowboys.
How do you make time to write?
I write in Google Docs on my phone. I basically have a word processor anywhere I go. I’ve been known to write while standing in long shopping lines, in restaurants, in cars, and pretty much everywhere.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
Yes. Sometimes I just don’t feel like writing, but I find it’s mostly due to real-life stress or a lack of connection with the characters.
Tell us a bit about the genre you write and why you love it.
Specifically contemporary western romance. I used to write historical westerns and even paranormal western romance, but in the last couple of years, I’ve focused on contemporary. When I was 16, I co-wrote a contemporary western romance with a friend. It never made it to publication, but the story stuck with me. In 2017 (almost twenty years later) another friend invited me to write for a boxed set. So I rewrote the first one, changed a bunch of stuff, and now there are six novellas and five novels in my Only an Okie Will Do series. The next novel should be coming out in late July.
How are you publishing your recent book and why?
I publish everything indie. I signed on with a couple of houses a few years ago, but three went under and I couldn’t see eye to eye with an editor at another. I like being my own boss. It’s also opened up pathways for me to learn book formatting. I also have several works published on a visual novel app called Chapters. It’s been a huge learning curve to create visual characters and get the text on there, but it’s really cool to see the stories come to life. And the readers here are so supportive and wonderful.
Are you an Introvert or an Extrovert?  How does this affect your work?
Definitely an introvert. It gives me a lot of time to write.
What is your favorite motivational phrase?
Hope is the feeling you have that the feeling you have isn’t permanent. – Jean Kerr
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Writing isn’t always easy, and it isn’t always fun. It’s full of hardships and disappointment and days of staring at your blank earnings dashboard. But when you touch someone with your words, you know you’re in the right place. Use that to keep going, because if you’re truly meant to be a writer, even after long breaks and slumps and swearing you’re done for good, you’re not done. A reader once told me she was bawling at 12:30 at night over the ending of my book. It moved me to tears because I was amazed that she felt so strongly over my characters. If I’d never gone back to my computer after the last time I said I was done, I’d never have gotten that message, and so many more like it, from readers.
Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?
Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?
This is from my first novel in the Only an Okie Will Do series, Cowboy Kind of Trouble.
trouble“Life’s not fair.” He slapped the side of the wheelchair. “So I guess I’ll sit my pathetic ass in the house all day from now on so you can keep an eye on me.”
“Wait. Listen to me, please?” She skirted Cielo and moved swiftly to Will’s side. “I didn’t panic because I didn’t think you couldn’t or shouldn’t go somewhere. I worried because…because I care what happens to you.”
His expression didn’t soften. “Why?”
“For the same reason you care that I’m upset after Ronni texts me. I guess we’re friends and we want each other to be all right.” She didn’t want to admit she was attracted to him. That maybe her concern went beyond caretaker and client. Because if she was honest with herself, before Will, her life had felt a lot emptier.
“Because I’m a paycheck.” He stared past her. “If you let me get hurt or killed, you’re out of a job. Maybe permanently.”
“Don’t say things like that. That’s not it.”
He stared sullenly at the pasture. “Right. Whatever. Go back to what you were doing before I messed everything up. Again.”
“Will Baxter, be quiet.”
“Why should I? I know you’d have told me where to stuff my attitude if you could’ve after the first day you were here.” He avoided her gaze. “I’m the last person you—or anyone—wants to deal with. Just admit it.”
She kneeled beside him and put her hand on his bicep. With a few words, she’d wrecked his confidence. “You don’t know everything.”
His back was straight, shoulders square, jaw tight. “I know the truth when I see it. Maybe we’d both be better off if you left for the day.” His comment stung, as he meant it to.
“You’re throwing up that wall to prove to yourself that you’re not worth me caring about you. Well, you’re wrong, just like you were when I first started coming here. I’m not going anywhere.” She leaned forward, her stomach pressed against the arm of his chair. Her face was inches from his. “I do care about you. More than I should.”
“Why?” His voice was a dry whisper.
“I can’t help myself.” She pressed her hands to either side of his face and pulled him closer. Damn it anyway. She kissed him, throwing the rules out the door once again. He pushed his fingers into her hair, holding her close. As though he was hungry for her kiss. As though he’d given it considerable thought. The same way she had. When she wasn’t dreading more bad news from Ronni, she thought about Will. About how they’d talked. How he laughed.

AuThursday – Libby Webber

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I am a mom, martial arts instructor, and program director. I’ve been writing my whole life. I write thriller and action stories.
How do you make time to write?
A good support system. And hard boundaries.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
No. I believe that’s there our aspects in life that preoccupy us, or other stories that are needing our attention at that moment.
Tell us a bit about the genre you write and why you love it.
I am currently writing in the thriller and action stories. I love these genres because it deals with the darker side of life.
How are you publishing your recent book and why? 
I indie published my first book, The Assassin’s Legacy, and it is available on October 26, 2021.
Are you an Introvert or an Extrovert? How does this affect your work?
A mix of both. It allows me to get the life experience to make great stories, but also the downtime to write those stories.
What is your favorite motivational phrase?
Words have power.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
It’s your timeline. Do not be on anyone else’s schedule but your own. No one’s habits are the same as yours, no one’s mind works the way yours works, so no one‘s journey will look like yours. I Worked on my book on and off for 10 years, doing the querying doing the pitchwars, and it wasn’t that I wasn’t dedicated, it’s that I was living life, and waiting in the wings for other people to recognize me. I got good feedback on my book, but it was too long for industry standards for a new author. I couldn’t cut the book without losing the story, and I didn’t want to put it away and try to write something shorter to appease big publishers.
Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?
Or
TikTok libbywebberauthor
Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?
IMG_6658Aeron glanced around the familiar hallway, the hardwood floors, crappy lighting, and fake potted plants coated in dust. Nothing about it indicated one of the world’s most influential political players lived just on the other side of the faded wooden door in front of her.
She took a deep breath and smoothed out her skirt, fingers skating over the blade strapped to her thigh, the reassuring pressure reminding her this was not a social call.
“Showtime,” Luke’s low voice whispered into her earpiece. A surge of nerves jetted through her bloodstream.
Should anything go wrong tonight, Luke and her brother, Decius, were perched in a sniper’s nest and guaranteed her a swift death.
She pulled the earpiece out, tucked it inside a pocket on her bra, and knocked. Her heart pounded a few times before the practiced breathing calmed the nerves. This should be like any other mission, he was a target to be eliminated.
But it wasn’t like any other mission. Shaun Brinks was a Legacy Member—a trained assassin like herself. And the man she was sleeping with. Shaun pulled the door open, hair tousled and his brown eyes blinking with sleep.

AuThursday – Floor Kist

TourBanner_Can Machines Bring Peace gifPlease welcome Floor Kist to the Clog Blog! 

Hi Tina, thank you so much for this interview and for taking the time off of your own writing. I’m really impressed by the diversity of worlds in your novels.

Floor, can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

Well, I live in a town called Voorburg in the Netherlands. It’s near The Hague. Wife, two kids, two cats and a dog named Monty. And I’ve always been involved in public service. At the moment, I’m an alderman in my town. That’s a member of the city executive council, along with the mayor and three other aldermen.

I think I surprised a lot of people when I wrote and published a science fiction novel.

How do you make time to write?

Planning! Just like for the most of us, I can spend time on a lot of different things. So, just making an appointment with yourself to write can really be help. And is really a wonderful gift to yourself.

Do you believe in writer’s block?

I can relate to the moments that I don’t know if the story works or how it continues. I know I can get distracted by all the other things happening in my life. And I’m especially susceptible to wanting to start all the other books I want to write.

So, for me, real writer’s block is the one when I don’t know what to do next in the story. And when that happens, I take a good look at my characters and what motivates them. Because if one of my characters wants something badly enough, they will start moving to get there. Well motivated characters will always keep the story going.

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

For some reason I prefer science fiction over fantasy. Both genres allow you to imagine wonderful worlds, but I guess I like the believable world that may actually happen, intrigues me most.

Jules Verne wrote a story about traveling to the moon, and one hundred years later we did. He wrote a story about an electric submarine, and twenty years later it was built. Isaac Asimov, at an auto show in the 60s, predicted the robocar, and now we are actually building them.

This is why I like science fiction.

How are you publishing your recent book and why? 

My novel is self-published. But that wasn’t my first choice. I had found three publishing houses where I believed my novel would fit. And I’d done my homework on what my audience would be like, so we could target them better. And it also seems that the best time to launch science fiction books is before the summer.

None of them replied. Not even a ‘thank you for your interest’ or ‘thank you, but no thank you’. Nothing, nada, niente.

I can even understand why: because there are about one hundred thousand books being published in the USA alone.

And the idea of spending a year and a half trying to reach a publisher and not hear anything back didn’t sound that appealing. So, I found my way to the Amazon self-publishing service.

Are you an Introvert or Extrovert?

A lot of people are surprised when I tell them I’m an introvert. And one of the most difficult things I’ve had to learn is to go ‘out there’ – even when everything inside me said ‘just stay home, it’s nice and warm here’.

I didn’t mean to overcome being an introvert, because I didn’t like being one. It’s just the way you are. But I did want to experience more than just staying home.

How does this affect your work?

Local politics is probably not where you go to meet introverts. As an introvert, I’m comfortable being me. So, a lot of criticism I get doesn’t affect my self-worth. And being an introvert also helps me talk to everyone in an open and honest way.

What is your favorite motivational phrase?

“Even the longest journey starts with the first step.”

I love this phrase. It kept me motivated when I started writing. It kept me motivated when I was trying to make a serious career switch.

It says that no matter how far you want to go in your life, you need the courage or the ambition or the passion to take that first step in what will undoubtedly be a wonderful journey.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Finish your book! Once you start writing nothing else matters. Plan to write, even if it’s just half an hour a day.

Don’t worry about if anyone will like it, or if it’s any good, because that only counts once the book is finished. Don’t worry about how to publish your book; it can only be published once it’s done.

And please don’t fuss about typos. There is no universe in which there will not be typos in the final edition of your novel.

And when your work is done and you don’t think it’s any good or even if others don’t think it’s any good, there is the sheer reward of making something out of nothing, of creating something that wasn’t there before. And no one can ever take that away from you.

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

Cover_Can Machines Bring PeaceCan Machines Bring Peace?

by Floor Kist

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

GENRE: Science Fiction

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

BLURB:

Can a machine bring peace? Or are humans built for war?

450 years after Earth was bombed back to the Stone Age, a young diplomat searches for lost human settlements. Kazimir Sakhalinsk narrowly escapes an exploration mission gone wrong and searches for ways to make future missions safer for his people. A festival introduces him to the Marvelous Thinking Machine.

A machine Kazimir believes can change everything

For his admiral it’s nothing more than a silly fairground gimmick. But Kazimir is convinced. Convinced enough to go against orders and build one of his own. Convinced enough to think he can bring peace. Convinced enough to think humanity is worth saving. What if he’s wrong?

He asks his hikikomori sister, a retired professor filling her empty days, the owner of the festival machine and the admiral’s daughter for help. Will that be enough?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

NOTE: The book is $0.99.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Excerpt :

Kazimir hears the beep-beep response to his beacon. The plane is overhead! His breath shortens as he peers through the night. Standard protocol states the plane will land at a safe landing zone within a kilometer radius of ground zero. If Kazimir can find the right direction, he may actually have a chance. There! The shape of the plane against a clouded moon is a beautiful sight. He is afraid to smile, but can’t help himself.

He follows it, stumbling over the thick roots of the trees. Quickly, he looks up.

There she is again. No. ‘That’s… that’s… black flag.’ That means the others are dead.

Standing against the tree, he retches. Cold sweat forms on his forehead and his back. He shouldn’t have left the settlement. He could have saved them. No. He would be dead too. Kazimir gags and coughs. He spits out the sour taste, and wipes his chin. ‘Yuck.’

He looks up, trying to control his breath. The twin rudders and the nose turret machine gun nozzle give the Ki-2 light bomber away. Kazimir has only seen it in the hangar of the Ryūjō. He remembers the pilot telling him about the 500-kilogram maximum bomb load. All headed towards the settlement.

The ground trembles with the explosion. Kazimir sees the red and yellow clouds grow against the dark sky. Seconds later, he hears the wheezing sound of the dropping bombs, followed by the roar of a thousand dragons. Sound travels at three hundred meters per second, so he must be about 300 meters away.

The hot blast wave that follows knocks him down. He hits his head on the root of the tree. ‘Stupid tree.’ He feels a sharp pain. Warm blood dribbles into his hair. Its metallic scent reaches his nose.

Sounds of the explosion die down.

Author Image Floor_KistAUTHOR Bio and Links:

Floor Kist lives in a Dutch town called Voorburg with his wife, two sons, two cats and their dog Monty. He is currently deputy-mayor for the Green Party and an AI researcher. He’s concerned about current divisive public and political debates. But he’s also interested in how AI can be used to resolve society’s big issues.

This is his first novel. He’s been carrying the idea about a story about AI bringing peace for a long time. The Covid-19 lockdown in the Netherlands suddenly gave him time to actually write it.

Link to website:

www.floorkist.nl/author

Link to ebook:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08XK42BMP

Link to paperback:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/151368115X

Blog:

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/21225715.Floor_Kist/blog

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

GIVEAWAY INFORMATION and RAFFLECOPTER CODE

Floor Kist will be awarding a $30 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

RAFFLECOPTER:

Enter to win a $30 Amazon/BN GC – a Rafflecopter giveaway

AuThursday – Darrah Steffens

Tell us a little about yourself and your background? 

I am a trained as a geologist and paleontologist. I work as a curator at the Pioneer Trails Regional Museum in Bowman, ND. My first book “Rise of the Dragon Queen” was released March 9th. I am also an avid board gamer, enjoys playing music with my husband, and cuddling with my pets. 

How do you make time to write?

I write in the evenings and on the weekends. I tend to carve out times in the evenings to work on my projects. I also take advantage of days when my husband has conferences and school. And I never underestimate the power of carrying a notebook with me for spontaneous inspiration 

Do you believe in writer’s block? 

I definitely believe in writer’s block. I don’t think that you should force your writing. Sometimes you will have days that you cannot come up with the plot. These are times that you need to go out and find new inspiration! 

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

I write in the fantasy genre. I love this fantasy because anything can happen. It stretches the limits of your imagination. 

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

Indie, I like the freedom and autonomy available in Indie press. 

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

I am an introvert. I think that this helps because I am fairly observant. I sit in the background taking in other people’s actions and use them to build the interactions between my characters. I think it can hurt my work a bit because I do not always understand the motivations of people wanting to be around others all the time. 

What is your favorite motivational phrase? 

Don’t wait for an opportunity. Create it. 

What advice would you give to aspiring writers? 

Write what you are interested in. Chances are someone is going to be interested in it too! 

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

darrahsteffenwrites.wordpress.com 

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

Prologue for “Keepers of Knowledge” Book 2 of “Legends of Ethota” series 

Akamon stood in the trees. His concentration focused perfectly on the spell he was conjuring. Black magic seeped up from the ground around him. The magic took the form of different creatures. 

Akamon gave them an unspoken command. The creatures moved to different points around the forest and waited. The air reeked with the scent of the Elvateth. She was carrying something very dear to Akamon. He would find out who those humans were. 

Jennica crept forward along the path. She muttered in elva connecting with the forest. The wind whistled urgently to her ears. 

She had more acute senses in the human world. Everything in Mythral had a voice. None of the humans seemed to hear them. Whenever Jennica visited, they assaulted her with their voices. 

The wind tugged at her hair. Jennica ignored it. It pulled sharply at her. She realized it was trying to speak to her, and she let go of her mental block. She listened carefully. The wind whispered, “Danger! In danger… Black magic!” The wind whipped away from her, leaving the forest silent. Jennica slowly surveyed her surroundings. A shadow sat by a tree that did not belong. Jennica stared at it for a moment. The shadow pulsed. Jennica sprinted away as it leapt toward her. 

The panther was stealthy. It kept pace just behind her. Jennica gritted her teeth. It was toying with her. The beast would attack her, but only after it tormented her. 

Jennica whispered to the wind, asking it to rampage. The wind whispered listlessly around her. She cursed the human realm. 

Her Power was useless. She could hear the voices, but she could not command anything as she could in Ethota. 

Jennica raced down the dirt path. She had to make it to the glaret. If she could only get there in time. Jennica ducked behind a large tree and grabbed her bow. She nocked an arrow. 

The panther darted into the trees. Jennica didn’t relax her bow. She watched the shadows. The darkness shifted in the trees. Jennica stepped out from her hiding spot. She carefully aimed and released. 

The panther leapt from the tree. Her arrow slammed into its eye. It exploded. 

Black magic seeped into the ground. 

Jennica gripped the bow, satisfied. She listened to the wind as it beckoned her. She raced along the path. She would be able to make it before the glaret closed. Akamon cursed. He clutched his walking stick, his knuckles turning white. Pain coursed through his body. He muttered curses under his breath. Akamon ordered his creatures out amongst the trees. They quietly surrounded the fleeing girl. Akamon wanted those papers. 

Jennica skidded to a stop. The land did not look much different from the rest of the trail she had been following. Jennica tossed sand into the air before her. The air shimmered and pulsed. Jennica whispered a string of words in old Elva. The portal opened. 

The old growth forest called to her. She took a step toward her home. A growl pulled her back to the park in which she now stood. The black magic creatures stepped out of the trees. The wolf howled at her. It swiped at her with its large paws. 

Jennica glared at it. This was not the first time she had encountered its ilk. She took another step toward the open portal. A spider jumped in her path. It hissed. 

Jennica pulled a small bronze ball from her belt. She kept her eyes locked on the two creatures before her. She cupped the bronze ball in her hand. She tapped it three times with a single finger. 

Jennica glanced at the portal behind the spider. It reared at her. Jennica took a step backward and launched the ball into the portal. 

The spider screeched. It released a web of silk after it. The ball slammed into the portal crackling as it passed between the worlds. 

The black line of silk burned on contact with the pulsating portal. The spider writhed as the fire trailed up the web and onto its abdomen. The spider fell. The wolf leapt. Jennica stumbled backward. The wolf fell atop her. Jennica kicked the beast off her. She rose to her knees muttering in old Elva. She raised her arms above her head and dropped them. 

The portal closed with a bang. The wolf sprang at her. Jennica rolled out of its way and jumped to her feet. The wolf clamped down on her leg. Jennica fell to the ground, howling. She thrashed in its grip. Blood flowed from her lacerated leg. 

Akamon stepped out of the trees and waved his hand. His phantom creatures froze in place. They seemed to melt into the background. The wolf dropped Jennica. 

Jennica pulled herself to her feet, grimacing. Akamon simply looked in front of her. The spider moved to block her.

Jennica limped back. She frantically searched for an escape. With her damaged leg, she would not be able to outrun the creatures. 

Akamon sneered. He moved with unexpected speed and seized her by the neck, “Where did you send it?” 

Akamon dropped her and turned his back to her, “Tell me and I won’t have to harm you.” 

The wolf snapped its jaws in anticipation. Jennica rubbed her throat. She steadied herself on her damaged leg, “Why would I ever tell you?” Akamon spun, a dagger appearing in his hand. He pressed it into her neck. She gasped as the cool iron bit her skin. 

He growled, “Let’s try this again. What did it say?” 

Jennica said nothing. Akamon laughed, “I am not afraid of hurting you, Princess.” 

Jennica winced as he nicked her skin. Jennica glared at him. Akamon threw her to the ground. The wolf stepped on her chest and lapped at the trickle of blood on her neck 

Jennica turned away in disgust. He kneeled down at her side. He pressed the dagger to her throat once more, “Tell me or pay the price.” 

Jennica said, “Poor Akamon. You will search the world, but you will never find what you are looking for.” 

The old sorcerer’s yellow eyes burned hot. He muttered in an old language. The creatures disappeared, pulling into a black ball hovering in his hand. Akamon said, “Ah, yes. You should be afraid, Princess.” 

Jennica whispered to the wind. The wind whispered back, crying for her. Akamon pressed the black ball to Jennica’s face. Her screams echoed throughout the park. 

Akamon stood over her limp body. He stared down at her and smiled. 

Saturday Spotlight – Brute’s Strength by Karen Renee

Title: Brute’s Strength
Series: Riot MC Biloxi Series Book 2
Author: Karen Renee
Genre: MC Romance (can be read as standalone)
Release Date: July 16, 2021




‘If I had a checklist as to what aspects I love best in a romance novel, Brute’s Strength would fulfill every requirement on that list…’ ~5 Star Amazon Review (Ellie K.)
‘What a wonderful story! I’m a sucker for a good MC book, and this definitely did not disappoint.’ ~5 Star Amazon Review (Nichole R.)

The sexy, action-packed second book in the Riot MC Biloxi series from Karen Renee.

As Vice President of the Riot MC Biloxi Chapter, Brute lives for his motorcycle club. Meeting Kenzie Whitehall challenges his dedication to his carefree lifestyle. Everything about her appeals to him, but he knows she’s looking for commitment. She’s forced to tell him she’s a single mom which should send Brute packing, but he can’t stay away.

Meanwhile, Brute has a homicide detective breathing down his neck. The officer believes Brute has answers in an unsolved murder, and he isn’t above playing Kenzie against Brute to solve the case.

When Kenzie’s ex-husband finds out she’s dating a biker, he threatens to drag her back to court regarding custody and child support payments. Kenzie refuses to give up her shot at happiness with Brute to appease her ex-husband.

Even though he’s falling fast for Kenzie, Brute knows walking away from her is the best thing for her and her daughter. Leaving should be easy. But with three hearts on the line, will Brute find the strength to fight for love?



AuThursday – Jayce Carter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What was the highlight when writing this book?

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

BookCover_HellRaisingAndOtherPastimes (1)BLURB:

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

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

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

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

Easy enough, right?

Excerpt 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Men could screw everything that walked. Why not me?

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

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

So much for pretending…

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JAYCE CARTER WILL BE GIVING AWAY: 

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

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

AuThursday – Authors Needed!

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

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

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

https://forms.gle/b3bhbzuiSjNFgtdi8

AuThursday – Jaycee Jarvis

RT_JL_006Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I’m a fantasy romance author living in the Pacific Northwest of the US. I’ve lived all over the country and even spent a year abroad as a kid. I love to travel and see new places and meet new people. Traveling is a little harder now that I have kids, though they are pretty adventurous too. One of the things I’m most exciting to get back to in 2022 is traveling again.

As for my journey to becoming a writer, I’m what some might consider a late bloomer. As a child I wasn’t motivated to learn to read because with picture books I could always make up a story that interested me as much as the “official” one. When I was eight my mom started reading me chapters books before bed and that’s when I really fell in love with the magic of the written word, and was motivated to learn to read myself. Similarly I’ve always been drawn to story telling, but didn’t really start writing stories until I took a creative writing class in college and really felt the magic in that creative process. It was a long journey from those first classes to my first published book twenty years later.

How do you make time to write? 

As a mom with three school aged children, I’m used to fitting writing in around school schedules and other kid activities. I’ve written a lot of words sitting on the sidelines of dance class or kiddy soccer. That said, this past year has been a whole new level of challenge in terms of time management. My kids have only recently returned to in-person school and we are all adjusting to the new schedule. One thing I’m really looking forward to is writing in coffee shops again.

Do you believe in writer’s block? 

I certainly believe in burn out, and other obstacles to the creative process. Art of any kind takes a certain amount of creative energy, and there are certainly circumstances in a writer’s life that can make it difficult to refill the well.

What genre are your books and what draws you to this genre?

I write fantasy romance novels, because ultimately I want to write the books I most want to read. I’ve always been drawn to the wonder and possibilities of fantasy novels, but I also crave the optimism and emotional resonance of a good romance. With fantasy romance I feel like I have the best of both worlds.

How did you come up with the idea for your series, Hands of Destin? 

I spent a long time world building and playing around with a magic system where everyone has a touch of talent, so much so that the idea of magic doesn’t even really exist. I wanted to explore the lives of ordinary people in an extraordinary world.  I’m a character first writer, so I really established the friend group that is at the core of the Hands of Destin series before diving into any individual book. I’m a huge fan of found family stories and “buddy novels” as they are sometimes called in romance circles, where a series depends on moving from one couple to another in a friend or family group. 

Some my character choices were very deliberate, but my writing is also subject to the whims of the muse. I feel like Madi (the heroine from Deadly Courtship, book two in the series) introduced herself fully formed while I was in the shower one day. And don’t ask me why all the best ideas strike in the shower, but it is surprisingly common!

I see you are Traditionally Published, why was this path right for you? 

I’m a perfectionist and a tinkerer who can always see new ways to improve my work, so external deadlines and expectations are really helpful to my writing process. As a new writer, I also really wanted to focus on the writing, without having to account for all the other moving pieces that go into creating a book. I can imagine self-publishing eventually, but for now I really enjoy the partnership I have with my publisher.

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

My personal philosophy is that you miss all of the chances you don’t take, so it is important to not let the fear of failure hold you back. Rejection and criticism are part of the business of writing. I also believe that fiction is a collaboration between the writer and the reader, which means that my stories aren’t always going to land the way I intend it to land. Understanding this makes it easier to have the thick skin needed for this business. 

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Write the book you’ve always wanted to read, for two reasons. One: if the idea excites you, then you can bet there are readers out there hungry for the same thing.  Two: you are going to be reading your work over and over and over, until there are times when you hate it. If the story doesn’t grab you on some deep level, pushing through those rough patches is going to be that much harder.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

Website: http://www.jayceejarvis.com/

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JayceeJarvis

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/jaycee-jarvis

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18092674.Jaycee_Jarvis

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

I’ll share the moment before Terin and Aurelia’s first kiss in Crowning Courtship—I think this scene captures some of the tensions of their charade, as well as Aurelia’s inner struggle against their mutual attraction.

crowningcourtship600x900Terin chuckled. “Could you be more perfect?”

His toes found hers under the water and his foot rubbed Aurelia’s leg in a subtle caress that filled her with impossible longings.

The smile dropped off her face, as she was reminded of exactly why she was no prize. She looked away, lacking the will to move her foot out of reach. “Hardly perfect.”

His scooted closer, his face serious. “Perfect for me.”

Aurelia’s heart fluttered. He meant she was perfect for his scheme, perfect for his deception, and yet she yearned to take him at his word. To believe that this time, just once, she was enough.

She canted toward him, her breath shallow and her lips parted.

Desire flared in his eyes, visible even in the low light. Would he kiss her? Should she kiss him?

With a groan he pushed away from her. He dropped his head back on the edge of the pool with a loud thump.

She flinched, the hollow thud reawakening the anxiety she had felt on entering the room. Her head flared with a sympathy pain.

He drummed the back of his head against the rock while muttering angrily.

“What’s wrong?” She had never seen him take on so.

“I promised to be good,” he growled, his face still turned up toward the ceiling, though at least he’d stopped banging his head.

Her brow knit. “Have you done something bad?”

He tilted his head to look at her. The heat and longing in his gaze seared right to her core. “I want, rather desperately, to kiss you, but I promised I would behave. That I would wait for you. Wait for your invitation before touching you, and only do what you want me to do. Do you want me to kiss you?”

“Now? Here?” Her eyes darted around the glittering chamber. While they were alone, the room was hardly private.

“Ever.”

He was so beautiful it was almost painful. Of course she wanted this man. How could she not? It was time she be honest with them both. With a feeling like she was tossing her fate to the current, she met his gaze square on. “Yes, Terin, I do.”

AuThursday – Renee Wildes

swords (2)

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.