AuThursday – Shelly Sharp

Tell us a little about yourself and your background? 

I’m a business owner with my husband, I have three adult children and one 17-year-old. I homeschooled my kids for twelve years, I have loved to write since I was a child and now I’m finding time to write books. I’ve published two on Amazon, one last April, and one this February. 

How do you make time to write? 

I have a goal of a chapter a day. I make a list of all I have to do each day and I write a page between each chore or project on my list. 

Do you believe in writer’s block? 

No. I write several books at a time so if I get stuck on one book I simply move to another. 

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

I have a goal to write five books, all of them a different genre. I love to read many different genres so I want to try to write a book in each genre that I enjoy. So far I’ve written non-fiction and romance. Right now I’m writing a psychological thriller, a suspense trilogy, and a satire. 

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

I self-publish on Amazon, so Indie I guess.

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

I am definitely an introvert. I think this enhances my work. I can spend a lot of time alone writing. I enjoy my own company and I find my sense of humor hilarious! I am my own best friend and my imagination is amazing which makes for good writing. The books I write are in my mind in movie form, It helps me visualize the characters I write about. 

What is your favorite motivational phrase? 

“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.”– Helen Keller 

What advice would you give to aspiring writers? 

Publish that book! Hesitation leads to fear. As Winston Churchill said,

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal.” Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web? 

My books are on Amazon.com, I’m also on Twitter and Facebook. 

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

As they descended the hill, the largest bull with the longest horns Dae had ever seen emerged from behind a bush on the path ahead of them.

Jack stopped and stood very still, but the bull noticed him anyway and began pawing the ground and breathing heavily.

Dae moved up to Jack and managed to get in front of him on the narrow path. Dae wanted to put Rose down, but the child was now sleeping heavily and Jack was too small to hold her. Dae shook the picnic basket at the bull and yelled, but that just seemed to make the creature more agitated and focused on them. Dae turned sideways to protect the sleeping child she carried from possible harm and ordered Jack in a quiet voice to back slowly up the hill, gesturing with the picnic basket.

This, unfortunately, seemed to incite the bull, who bellowed and shook its massive head. When the bull began pawing the ground again and lowering its frightening horns, Dae screamed, “Run Jack!” and turned to run up the hill herself, throwing the picnic basket on the ground and moving as fast as she could with one hand holding up her skirt and both arms cradling Rose…

AuThursday – Cee Perkins

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

Ok, well, I’m Cee. I have a husband, three adorable kids, three giant dogs, and I write anti-heroine romances. I have a four-book series planned, the first is out now, titled “Corrupt Love: Love Is Dangerous book 1.” I started writing in high school, but like most teenagers, I needed to learn the hard way to follow what I’m good at. 

How do you make time to write? 

Making the kids nap. Haha. Mostly, I have my mom to thank for that- she moved in with us recently, and she’s been handling the kids so I can work. 

Do you believe in writer’s block? 

Oh, yes. Corrupt Love was an idea that began way back in 2016, but when I got to Chapter 7, I ran out of steam on it and couldn’t get the story out, no matter what I did. Fortunately, I was able to fall back on an old friend and she finally was able to push me through it. 

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

Ah, romance. Who doesn’t love LOVE, really? I’ve always loved the opposites attract trope, and people who make a life together despite differences of opinion and ethics. I love when a happy ending is hard-won and the whole “smooth sailing after the Big Fight” kind of gets on my nerves, so I write (what I hope is) as close to real-life relationships as I can. People aren’t perfect, even after working through a big blow-up with their significant others, and books who portray relationships that way set a standard that I think is too much for most people wanting love. Sure, we all want the perfect wife/ girlfriend or husband/boyfriend, but the reality is, it just doesn’t exist. I don’t like books that make it look common. 

I guess it’s sort of in the same vein of model-perfection. Even Jennifer Lawrence has something about her body she doesn’t like, but society makes it so that she has to pretend it doesn’t exist. It makes it so that people who are overweight or battling acne or something like that feel like they’re not “good enough”. I can’t stand that.

Disclaimer- I love Jennifer Lawrence. I don’t think she needs to change anything, I was just using her as an example. 

Anyway, all of that to say that I love writing romance because I love love, but I write the way I do because I want to contribute to the growing idea that “perfect” doesn’t exist. 

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

Indie because I’m too impatient and scared of rejection to go traditional haha. 

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

Um… I’d say I’m an introvert with some extrovert qualities. I think it affects me in that I can stay at home, away from lots of people for periods of time, and write characters who are outgoing. 

What is your favorite motivational phrase?

“I chose to have these children.”

Wait, that’s my meditation mantra. My favorite motivational phrase is probably

“Just keep swimming.”

No matter what happens, just keep going. The bad will pass. 

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Remember that at the core of being a published author is writing. You are a writer first, then a marketer, decision-maker, self-editor, etc. You’re not expected to know everything immediately, but when you’re lost as to what to do, ask questions. Find groups that have experience and listen to them. They’ve been where you are and will help you cut through a lot of the bs of publishing so that you can stay a writer. 

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

On my website at https://www.ceeperkinsauthor.com/ or on my Facebook page.

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

Sure. This is Dan and Corra’s first date. 

***

Corrupt Love c OTHER SITES (1) (1)Bottom line, I wanted in his pants that night. Likely to happen? Mmm, probably not. Would I work for that goal anyway? Definitely. 

So there I was, sitting across from Dan in that sports bar, trying to sit close enough to him that my boobs brushed his arm every time I leaned over to fake reading the answers on the trivia device. Not surprising, he knew the answers. Not to toot my own flute or anything, but so did I. We made a great team, and we were in First place. Woo. I could die happy with this championship belt. Insert epic eye roll here. But Dan wasn’t taking the bait. I was trying my damnedest to flirt with him, down to pretending to absentmindedly trace my fingers along his neck. God, what would it take to get him to break?

“So, Dan, tell me a little more about yourself. Do you have siblings? Speak to your parents? Have a secret D/s fantasy?” I asked, making Dan choke on his drink. “Sorry, I can be a little off the wall sometimes,” I said to make up for it. But really, I just wanted to see his reaction.

Dan wiped his mouth and gave a little smile. “Ah, no siblings. I speak with my mom regularly, especially lately since my father passed away about a week ago and she doesn’t really have anyone now. She has…a gambling problem and if I don’t check in with her, she can go days without coming up for air.”

“I’m really sorry to hear about your dad. Were you close to him?”

“No, not really. I mean, we had a…tolerable relationship, but he was an alcoholic and sometimes couldn’t function beyond drinking. They gave me the best they could, what with their addictions, and I never wanted them to think I was ungrateful, so I tried to take care of them. Oh, and no D/s tendencies.”

I felt my eyes burn, hearing Dan talk about his parents. What the fuck was wrong with me? They were addicts, but he still spoke of them like they were at least decent. I cocked my head, studying him as a thought occurred. His parents were addicts. They couldn’t have given him a stable upbringing. Is that why he was so rigid and uptight? Because he never wanted to live the life his parents did?

“Um…Corra?” Dan was staring back at me, and I could actually see the insecurity in his eyes. I snapped out of my trance. 

“Yeah, sorry. What’s the next category?” I asked, wanting to sidestep the feelings I was feeling for Dan. I didn’t do feelings like this. Especially for Dan, who was so uptight, he could probably iron clothes with his butt cheeks. He was a conquest, nothing else. Jesus Christ.

We got back to the game while munching on appetizers, trying to keep the conversation light. I’m not sure if Dan wasn’t interested in knowing anything about me or if he was too shy to ask, but he didn’t ask questions about me. Not even about what I did for a living. Regardless, I found that I was actually having fun with him. He was smart, which was not something I was used to. Normally, my hookups were dumb as rocks. It was easy to conquer the dumb ones, but with Dan being intelligent, I knew I wouldn’t be able to simply put my hand on his dick and lick my lips. Figuring out how to get around that hurdle would be just as fun as the rest of them, I think.

When the final round had played and we won the game, we high-fived and sat back in our seats, sipping our drinks. 

“Now it’s your turn. Siblings? Parents? Secret society membership?” he finally asked. 

I grinned. “Yeah, I have parents. They’re great, still married after thirty-six years and two or three affairs. I have an older brother— you may have seen him last night, with the leather vest? Tall, blond, man bun?— that happened from my mom’s first affair. And I have a younger sister who’s a nurse, and a younger brother, who’s in college for software development. We’re a close family, even my dad, and Salty. Hm. I never really thought about that before…my dad never treated Salty any differently than the rest of us.” I looked at Dan then and almost laughed at his expression. “What’s wrong?” I asked.

He shook his head and looked down at the table. “You speak about your parents’ affairs like they’re no big deal. Is…monogamy, not something that’s important to you?”

That drew me up short. I’d never had a relationship, so how could I really answer that? I mean…“Well, I suppose for them, it wasn’t a big deal because they knew they still loved one another best. Even if they had sex outside of their marriage, they always knew they’d come home to each other. As for me, well, I’ve never been in a relationship, so I can’t honestly answer that question.”

Dan’s head jerked up. “You’ve never had a boyfriend?”

I shook my head. “Normally, I’m not interested in someone beyond one night.” Wow, that made me sound awful. Also, made me kind of a liar since meeting him. “You’re actually the first man I’ve had to work for and the first man to make me think the work is worth it.” And that was the damn truth of the matter. The whole crux of my situation, right? Dan didn’t fit my normal, which made me want to pursue him. He was definitely the first to make me think that way. 

“Are you serious?” I looked at Dan and realized he wasn’t being rude or accusing. It was genuine disbelief. “Me? You see me, right? My baggage not only has compartments but also its own separate cargo ship,” he said, then clapped his hands over his mouth like he couldn’t believe he’d said that. 

“Dan…yes, I’m serious. And yes, I do see you, and I know you have issues. But,” I paused so I could say this carefully, “everyone has something about them that makes them unique, even hard to deal with sometimes. Shit, even my siblings find me hard to deal with sometimes. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I can be kind of an asshole. It’s what gives us personality. And maybe I’m crazy, but my personality thinks your personality is the bee’s knees.” God, I could be such a sap.

Dan chuckled, a slight blush across his cheeks. “Well…my personality is starting to think that your personality is the cat’s pajamas.”

So corny. So cute.

AuThursday – Nadine Miller

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I’m an Irish romance writer who writes historical and will be releasing my first contemporaries this year. I write mostly clean with a little heat 🙂 I have a law degree but gave up working in law to write romance! I live in a rural area of Ireland with my husband and three children. 

How do you make time to write? 

I usually write when the children are in school or when I’m sitting in the car at one is their extracurriculars (of which there are a lot!) 

Do you believe in writer’s block? 

I do! And unfortunately, I’ve experienced it. For me, the more I worry about it the worse it gets. So when it happens I need to just take some time away and read, or binge watch Netflix, or bake! Sooner or later, the words come back! 

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

I used to sneakily read my mum’s historical romances and I’ve been a bona fide Janeite for as long as I can remember. There’s something about the regency era, the clothes, the balls, the manners – if you ignore things like lack of plumbing (very easy to do in historical romance) you can just lose yourself in the glamour and romance of the time! And that just makes my heart happy. 

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

I’ve published The Royals Of Aldonia as an indie! It’s been exciting. Protecting The Princess is book two although they can be read as standalones. 

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

I like to think of myself as a hybrid! I enjoy my own company just as much as I enjoy being out and about socialising. I think every writer needs to be a bit of an introvert because you really have to be happy with just your fictional characters for company! 

What is your favorite motivational phrase?

It might not always be perfect, but it’s always worth doing. 

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Write! Just write. Everything else can be dealt with later – covers, marketing reviews. But just keep writing! 

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

www.nadinemillard.com 

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

“So even though it means you hate me, your safety means more to me than your love. I can live with your hatred as long as it means you’re safe. I’d rather have you out there despising me but alive than live in this world knowing you’re not in it.”

Protecting the Princess

AuThursday – Marie Lavender

Marie Lavender Logo_400Tell us a little about yourself and your background? 

I live in the Midwestern U.S. with my family and two cats. I love reading, writing, and shopping. I am obsessed with using colored gel pens! I studied Creative Writing in college, and I earned a Bachelor of Arts. To date, I’ve published twenty-one books in the genres of historical romance, contemporary romance, romantic suspense, paranormal romance, romantic comedy, dramatic fiction, fantasy, science fiction, mystery/thriller, literary fiction, and poetry. An avid blogger on the side, I write adult fiction, as well as occasional stories for children, and have recently started some young adult fiction. I also contributed to several anthologies. Though there are some standalone titles on the market, my current published series are The Heiresses in Love Series, The Eternal Hearts Series, The Magick Series, The Code of Endhivar Series, The Misfits Series and The Blood at First Sight Series. 

How do you make time to write? 

When I am immersed in a project, I just do my best to work a little on that story every day, even if all I accomplish is writing a paragraph or just researching an integral topic. 

Do you believe in writer’s block? 

Yes, I’ve had it in the past. I think it can affect any writer. But I think the malady can be overcome as well. 

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

Marie Lavender banner - FacebookI am a multi-genre writer, so though I feel more comfortable writing romance stories (I am a hopeless romantic!), I leave myself open to trying other types of stories. For example, I published a children’s fantasy a few years ago. And I also have a psychological thriller and a horror project in the works. 

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

I went indie with Chasing Ginger, a steamy romantic comedy. Though I am all too familiar with rom-com books and films, it is my first attempt at a humorous take on romance. Also, the final book of the series will be an LGBT romance, and I didn’t want to use a traditional publisher for my initial foray into that category. 

Universal reader link for Chasing Ginger: https://books2read.com/ChasingGinger 

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

Ah, usually an introvert. Being shy by nature makes it more difficult for me to do public events such as radio interviews. I still go for them, but I get really nervous. I’ve grown in recent years, though, and I’m a little more willing to try new things than I was before. 

What is your favorite motivational phrase? 

“Write what disturbs you, what you fear, what you have not been willing to speak about. Be willing to be split open.”

Natalie Goldberg Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within

I think there’s a lot of useful content in the unknown, in those places we’re afraid to look at too closely. We should be willing to get a little uncomfortable during the creative process, to bring forth a naked truth. It can be cathartic. 

What advice would you give to aspiring writers? 

Persevere, yet be patient and kind to yourself. This is not an overnight journey. It will take as long as it takes to get there. 

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web? 

Official Website: http://marielavender.com/

Blogs:

http://iloveromanceblog.wordpress.com/

http://marielavender.blogspot.com/ http://marielavenderbooks.blogspot.com/

Social Media:

https://www.facebook.com/marie.lavender.58 https://www.facebook.com/MarieAnnLavender https://twitter.com/marielavender1 http://www.linkedin.com/pub/marie-lavender/27/187/10a

https://www.instagram.com/marielavender1/

Amazon author page: http://bit.ly/MarieLavender https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6938764.Marie_Lavender

Universal Reading List links:

https://books2read.com/rl/marielavendersbooks https://books2read.com/ap/xrv162/Marie-Lavender http://authorsdb.com/authors-directory/1578-marie-lavender http://marielavender1.allauthor.com/ https://www.booksradar.com/lavender-marie/lavender.html http://www.pw.org/content/marie_lavender https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJu8HjRVYCFOqcIoX6ZxdqQ/videos

Sign up for Marie’s Newsletter: http://bit.ly/1g3wO13

Follow her on BookBub for new release updates: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/marie-lavender

Fan mail email: marielavender@writeme.com 

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

ChasingGingerFinalCoverEscape, she thought. Now. Panic mode set in, and she stumbled away from the hardwood counter, treaded straight for the exit. A hand caught her arm and spun her around. 

A man with sandy blonde hair, brown eyes, and handsome features appeared before her. “Ginger, baby, come on. Where are you going? The party has just begun.” 

She shrugged his hand off. “I’m sorry. I have to go. I need to cancel—” 

He frowned. “But we had a date.” A nice face didn’t equate to decent moral character. 

“No, I don’t remember you,” she breathed. 

“I saw you and knew I had to have you. You’re mine.” His eyes flashed. 

Ginger stepped back a bit. Seriously? What the hell was up with him? They were virtual strangers. 

“What’s wrong, baby? Haven’t had one like me before?” He flexed his muscles, as if to illustrate a point, and then glanced down at her with a wide smile. It was clear he, in fact, thought he was something. 

At that moment, she noticed the line of quarterbacks not too far behind him. Never one to waste an opportunity when she had it, Ginger ducked under his outstretched arm and beelined around the crowd in the opposite direction. Though there was only one exit, she hoped the man might get stuck by the traffic jam in the main aisle. Once on the sidewalk outside, she ran as fast as her legs would take her in those stupid high heels on the hard pavement. This was insane. 

Surely InstaSin hadn’t caused such chaos? She couldn’t believe that. Maybe it was just poor planning. A guy might take it the wrong way if you went ahead and set up another date after him. Still, most men knew those dating sites weren’t exclusive. So, why get too possessive? The ownership on all their faces was worrisome, to say the least. She’d never met them before today and could just remember a handful of names. Thank God surnames were concealed on the site, or she’d be in real trouble once she got out of this. How many G. Halloway’s could exist in San Francisco? 

After a couple blocks, Ginger paused to take a breath or two. But they’d give up by now, right? Hell, maybe it was paranoia and all those men weren’t after her. Of course not. This was just a bizarre mix-up… 

“Ginger! Stop!” She looked over her shoulder and froze. Sure enough, almost two football teams had come after her. Dressed in various types of attire, from dress casual to ultra-casual, with the same hard look on their faces. It was all about the prize. She hadn’t wanted this, though. 

There was an obvious hunger in their eyes too. The dangerous kind. 

Nausea shifted through her belly, threatened to evacuate the diet sodas she’d had at work, and Ginger veered off to the right. She didn’t know where she was heading, but couldn’t wait to get in a cab and speed toward her apartment. This unique experience wasn’t relished at all. A scream tore out of Ginger as someone snagged at her hair, and she yanked away, stumbling across the street. The pull on her scalp was nothing compared to the panic she felt now. She doubled her efforts as she raced down the pavement, feet pounded in her green heels. Please, please, God. I’ll never use a dating site again if you just get me out of this right now. 

A hand shot out, grabbed her arm, and she screeched again. 

“Darlin’, come on,” a male voice coaxed, and a wonderful scent drifted in her nose. 

But everything happened so fast, she couldn’t register what it was.

 “There’s no time. You’ll be safe in here.” The voice was soothing. 

Ginger calmed at once and found she was led up a short stairway into a tall, light gray structure. Inside, she backed away from the glass a little, breathed a sigh of relief as she saw the group pass by after a few moments. Each breath was labored, and her forehead, upper chest, and lower back were sweaty. Her feet and legs ached. She felt like this when she visited the gym, exhausted, practically passed out, draped over the treadmill’s handlebars. Now, each breath hitched in her chest. And the boob pain wasn’t a joke. She winced, passed a hand down her face, and turned to confront the new threat. 

He was a looker, for sure, with deep brown, spiky hair and nice blue eyes. The man wore a gray business suit. He’d obviously just come from work. And Jesus, he was tall and muscled, topped six feet no problem. He had handsome features, with a Roman nose and somewhat full, made-to-be-kissed lips. Get ahold of yourself, Ginger. His eyes widened as he took in her appearance. 

“Not you too,” she moaned. But hell, for all she knew, maybe he’d never seen a melting green marshmallow before. 

“Are you okay, ma’am? Why were those men chasing you?” 

She managed, “I don’t know.” That was the truth. They hadn’t warned InstaSin would be like this, and it was just twenty-four hours in. Extreme sexiness? Check, if the response she’d received was any indication. Grounds for a restraining order? Nope. They certainly hadn’t covered this in the drug’s description.

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AuThursday – Stephanie Patel

Please join me in welcoming my fellow North Dakota author, Stephanie Patel. 

Stephanie, tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I was born in a little village in Alaska, the ninth of fifteen children, and moved to North Dakota with my mother and remaining siblings when I was nine, after my father and brother died while fishing. I lived in Jamestown, Kathryn and Valley City in North Dakota, graduating from VCHS.  I went to college at the University of Missouri, Columbia and at Moorhead State (now University of Minnesota at Moorhead). I graduated from the University of North Dakota School of Law and practiced law in Alaska for 35 years, minus about seven years creating an alternate junior/senior high school for youth falling through the cracks. I have been writing for many years; however it was only after I retired that I could focus full-time upon it.  My book, Born in the 20th Century: A Novel of the Midwest, was released in eBook form on November 1, 2019 and is now available in print, on Amazon.  

How do you make time to write? 

 I am currently retired and can work 8-12 hours per day if I am motivated. I tend to be obsessive when I am on a project and everything else will fall away. Although I had been working on this book off and on for years, I spent about six months working 6-12 hours per day to get it completed and in final edited form. 

Do you believe in writer’s block?  

Well, I have no reason not to, although I don’t really experience it myself.  I write when I feel the compulsion to do so, and if I don’t feel it, I don’t write.  It’s as simple as that. If I am not writing, it is because I have other things on my plate to which I am giving attention. I have a number of books and other works in progress.  

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

My current book would fit into the “coming of age” genre.  I consider it Literary Fiction. I try to hit all the notes when I write—the entire scale of physical dimension, emotional expression, psychological patterns, intellectual ideas and spiritual context. I love to make people laugh, and so if I can bring humor into what I write, all the better. I like to stimulate thought, assist my reader in getting different perspectives on issues, and most of all give them something that will be interesting and satisfying.

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

I decided to publish my current book myself because I’m a bit of a control freak. Also, it is a long book (almost 225,000 words) and I realized it would be difficult to find a publisher who would take on such a long book, since most traditional publisher’s like to stay in the 150,000 word realm. Finally, although I’d had professional interest in the book while working on it, I did not want to take the time to shop it around.  I did submit the book to Beta readers to test reactions and had such enthusiasm from them that I decided to plow ahead and self-publish, which I did through Kindle Direct Publishing, a branch of Amazon. It’s a pretty simple way to go, involving no expense except for the author copies. 

My current book is  

Born in the 20th Century: A Novel of the Midwest

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

I don’t know that I am either. I like my alone time very much. However, I am not too shy to take the floor when there are issues that are important to me.

What is your favorite motivational phrase?

You will know which path is yours because nobody else is on it. 

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Read and write. Write about what you know. Yes, you can use your imagination and should—however, bring alive your own experience and perspective. Learn the rules of good writing, absorb style from your favorite authors, and then go beyond them. Create your own unique style. As I say, average writers know the rules; good writers know them and when to break them. 

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

I am on Facebook under Stephanie Patel.

My book can be found at Amazon under the following link.  https://www.amazon.com/Born-20th-Century-Stephanie-Patel/dp/1698865740/ref=sxts_sxwds-bia?keywords=born+in+the+20th+century&pd_rd_i=1698865740&pd_rd_r=f80c4a4f-b53a-4949-b906-05f57c085dc8&pd_rd_w=ymPaK&pd_rd_wg=uzz6A&pf_rd_p=1cb3f32a-ccfd-479b-8a13-b22f56c942c6&pf_rd_r=06K081K9DES9ZC45NDV3&psc=1&qid=1574191303

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

Cover half of full 11-9-19-page-0By the time we reached Fargo the predicted snow flurries had arrived, along with a good wind. North Dakota highways had a Midwestern personality like their human counterparts: they were straight as arrows, not so bad, and open to the next kingdom. These characteristics did not combine well with wind and snow. Even when there was little of the latter falling, the wind could kick up what was already on the ground, so that often in winter we seemed to be driving through continuous streams and rivulets that ran across our path. It was not a big step from there to whiteout conditions. In fact, visibility was very poor for the last ten miles or so into Fargo, not an unusual occurrence in that part of the country, and Mother kept both hands on the wheel, her eyes focused in front of her. She hated interruptions when driving through difficult weather events. When Yippee tried to get her to take his side on some dispute with me, she barked, “Play nice. I can’t be distracted right now.”

Once we were in the city proper, driving up South University Avenue, visibility improved along with her attitude. She pulled into the K-Mart parking lot to get some aspirin, and gave us some dimes to ride the mechanical horse in the lobby. Then we all had to use the restroom.

When we emerged, the snow was thicker, the flakes bigger. The temperature was still in the high twenties, which meant that the main roads, where there was heavier traffic, were slushy more than slick. We drove up University Avenue to King Leo’s Drive-In, where Mother purchased us each a fifteen-cent hamburger and a ten-cent fries, which was always a treat when we were in Fargo, and always a condiment fiasco. Two hamburgers had to be sent back to be rectified.

Then it was a stop at a gas station to fill up.

The attendant cleaned all our windows and when the tank was full came around to collect payment. “I hope you’re not going far,” he said when he brought back the change. “They say they’re closing down I-94 past Jamestown.”

“We’re going north,” Mother said. “Only about forty-five minutes.”

“Well, I wouldn’t delay then. You can probably still make it.”

“We’re leaving right now.”

“Drive careful.”

Mother put the Bonneville in gear and headed for US 81, which paralleled the Red River north into Canada.

“Maybe we should turn around,” Myra said worriedly. “I don’t want to get stuck in a blizzard.”

“What good would that do?” Mother asked pointedly. “If it’s coming from the west, it’s going to be as bad going back as it is going forward. We’re more than half-way. We should be able to outrun it.”

As soon as we got out of town, however, the visibility dropped precipitously. Approaching cars materialized a hundred feet in front of us; buildings and sign posts alongside the highway appeared ghostly. I was, however, not worried. It was North Dakota in the winter. Snow and fog were part of the season. In fact, I was too busy eating to pay much attention until I heard Mother exclaim in frustration, “Darn it! I can’t hardly see the road!” My attention captured, I looked out the window at the passing scenery, only to discover that it had disappeared. We were floating in a sea of white.

The wipers were going slip-slap, and with each swipe they cleared snow from the windshield and left rivulets draining down the glass. I could see that the snow was falling even heavier now, the flakes clumping together on the glass so that everything but the half-moon scraped by the wipers was opaque. Mother was hunched over the steering wheel, which she held tightly in both hands, her knuckles white. I could see that the speedometer needle was hovering between twenty and thirty miles-per-hour. It was impossible to judge our speed or location by landmarks, which had disappeared. We were flying on instruments.

“How do you know where you’re going?” I asked Mother curiously.

“Blind faith,” she hissed from between clenched teeth. And then she added more kindly, “I look over to the side of the road. I can just see the ditch. However, I have no idea what’s twenty feet in front of me. Or behind.” She opened her window and stuck her head out to the side to see if she could get more visibility without the slapping wipers, the scudding snow and water on the windshield.

The good part about North Dakota roads was that if we went into the ditch, we went into the ditch, not over a sixty foot cliff or into a close encounter with a tree. The not-so-good part was that we might be covered in the ditch by a snowdrift twice our own height and they might not find us until spring—or until the next strong wind blew us clear. Drifts were forming even as we drove—Mother swerved suddenly to skirt the high point of a snow bank that stretched across our lane, like a white seal basking on the road. Our progress slowed slightly as she churned through the tail of it, and then for the length of two Middleton blocks the highway was swept clear as if by a giant broom. The wind was so strong that it rocked our car, unprotected by anything except the wind’s own caprice as it created and swept away drifts.

Occasional cars approached, going south, their headlamps appearing dully out of the maelstrom, passing us with a swish! Once a car overtook us from behind, trailing in our wake until Mother pulled over toward the shoulder and slowed even more, allowing it to pass on our left, throwing snow. “Arggh. Some people,” she muttered. 

At Mother’s suggestion, Myra dug out one of Nonie’s bottles. Sitting on her lap, alternately sucking and chewing on the nipple, he stared fixedly out the window, stunned into stillness by the whiteness, whether through fascination or disorientation.

Yippee curled up in his corner with a couple of his little men, occasionally talking quietly for them as they hiked up his bent leg or over the driveshaft hump in the floor. “I’s berry steep. Keep goin’, you ken do it.” His plastic people were very encouraging to each other, at least until they encountered the enemy in battle—then they slaughtered each other with joy and abandon, rarely leaving more than one or two survivors, and sometimes none at all. He did not bother to look up at the maelstrom outside the car, as secure in his personal safety as his three-inch plastic alter-egos might have been devoid of hope in theirs. 

Myra and I both kept our eyes on what was happening around us. Perhaps nothing so much represented the differences between us as our individual reactions. Myra was clearly troubled by the possibilities and kept glancing nervously at Mother. I, on the other hand, was pumped up with excitement. In fairness, she was two years older and therefore more aware of the downside of death, mayhem and suffering in general. I fell somewhere between her and Yippee, who acted out death, mayhem and suffering with such glee. I wasn’t playing war, but I was drawn to imagining adventure. Whether it was encountering space aliens with ray guns, alligators in the creek behind Gramma’s house, or a tornado on the horizon, it relieved the monotony of 9:30 bedtimes, waking up in the same bed every day and passing the same houses on the way to school, every one of which I could have described in detail, along with the names of the dogs who lived in them. I had, in fact, no experience with being on the losing end of space aliens, alligators or tornadoes. No one close to me had died, the only maiming with which I was familiar was the mangling of Yippee’s hand in the fan—which he didn’t even remember—and suffering was a stubbed toe or being sent to my room when Saturday cartoons were on. My interest in such matters as the orphaning of the Monsen children was more curiosity than compassion.

In order to reach Sheverak we had to turn off US 81 and head west into the maze of dirt and gravel roads that ran like dikes between rippling seas of wheat and corn in the summer and frozen snow clogged stubble in the winter. Mother was searching through the flying snow for the turnoff, certain it was near—if indeed we had not passed it. The wind let up for a moment, enough for her to see one of the mile markers. “Dang nab it!” she exclaimed. “We’ve come too far. I’m going to have to turn around.”

The problem was that there was no obvious place to do that, other than right in the middle of the two-lane highway in the middle of a blind snowstorm, with the potential of getting t-boned by oncoming traffic. 

“Is that a side road?” Mother asked suddenly, peering through the windshield. The defrost was running full blast, siphoning the heat from the spacious car interior, so that I had to curl my feet up on the seat so they didn’t get cold. “Myra! Look! Isn’t that a road?”

At that moment Mother jerked on the steering wheel, determined not to miss the turnoff. The car spun in a semi-circle and came to a stop with a dull thud. We all sat still for a moment. Then Mother pressed on the gas pedal. The back tires spun. The car remained where it was. 

Mother thumped the steering wheel. Yippee stuck his head up over the front seat back. “Are we der?”

“No, Stupid, we’re stuck,” I informed him. I put my face up against my window to try to see.

 

AuThursday – Danielle Teigen

Please join me in welcoming fellow North Dakota author Danielle Teigen.  Danielle, Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background? 

I’m originally from South Dakota, but came to North Dakota to attend college at North Dakota State University, where I earned bachelor’s degrees in journalism and management communication and a master’s degree in mass communication. While in college, I fell in love with the rich history of Fargo. 

How do you make time to write? 

I have two young children and am expecting another, so I write after they go to bed, in the morning before they’re awake or during my lunch hour in the daylight hours. 

Do you believe in writer’s block? 

I do believe we get stuck sometimes when we’re trying to get to the next part of our story or move on to another facet of the storyline. I think we often get so excited about moving on or making progress that we forget we have to finish telling the part of the story we’re on. 

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

As a journalist, I enjoy researching and telling intriguing, true stories and that’s what nonfiction writing is. The biggest challenge with nonfiction writing is being able to weave together the facts while still telling a story people want to read, a story that comes alive not only because it’s true but because of how it is recounted. 

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

Traditional. Arcadia Publishing/The History Press reached out to me to publish a hyper-local history book about Fargo, and then I pitched the second book about the Fargo Fire of 1893. 

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

I’m actually both. I would say this serves me very well because I am completely content holing up somewhere to research or write for as long as I am able to, but I also really enjoy giving presentations about my book or talking with people about the research. Both are satisfying in different ways. 

What is your favorite motivational phrase? 

Done is better than perfect!

I actually do use that phrase when I’m trying to get words on the paper or the facts all in the right order and then I go back in during the editing phase to polish and refine the story. 

What advice would you give to aspiring writers? 

Make time to write whenever or wherever you can. When I was writing my first book, I thought I’d block off huge chunks of time to write and make monumental progress every time I sat down. In reality, I had to make time throughout the day or week to make what felt like small steps toward completion, but they all did add up to one finished manuscript. I also encourage writers who believe they have a good story to tell to sit down and actually outline their work. Yes, things may change, but I think having a general framework for where you want to go and what you want to cover in your story can be extremely beneficial, especially when it comes to staying focused and having good direction. 

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

You can read more about me and my work at https://danielleteigen.wordpress.com/

Do you have a blurb you’d like to share with us? 

Fueled by ambition and pipe dreams, Fargo’s earliest residents created an entire city out of the dust of a flat, desolate prairie. Roberts Street might not exist if it weren’t for Matilda Roberts, a resourceful pioneer wife who encouraged her husband’s cousin to set up his law firm on that important downtown thoroughfare. O.J. deLendrecie generated so much success through his retail store that he was able to buy President Theodore Roosevelt’s ranch in western North Dakota. Oliver Dalrymple may have been the bonanza farm king, but the better manager was his rival, Herbert Chaffee of the Amenia and Sharon Land Company. Author Danielle Teigen reveals the intriguing true stories behind many of the most engaging characters and what continues to make the “Gateway to the West” unique. 

AuThursday – Justin Cancilliere

FB_IMG_1573480310475Please join me in welcoming my fellow North Dakota Author, Justin Cancelliere, whom I met at October’s ND Library Association Meeting.  Justin, Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I was born and raised in Cleveland, OH. As far back as I can remember I’ve always loved writing and had a passion for the arts. In 2017 I took the plunge and self-published my first book, “The Legendary Creature Project: The Gryphon.” In Feb. of 2019, I decided to create the BisMan Writer’s Guild in an attempt to bring together local writers to uplift them and be helpful to them and their work.unnamed (2)

How do you make time to write?

In between working full time, helping my wife with her business, and podcasting it can be difficult to make time for writing. But I try my best to make at least an hour in the day, it usually ends up being an hour a week but… 

Do you believe in writer’s block?

I do, especially when you can’t get behind a story. 

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

I write in science fiction, for the most part. But I love science fiction because it delves into the horror that can come from the advances in science and technology.

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

As of now, Indie. I love Indie publishing because there are no deadlines except for the ones you set for yourself.

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

Believe it or not I’m kind of a combination, but for the most part introvert. I’m not quite sure how it has affected my work.

What is your favorite motivational phrase?

I really don’t have one.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Whatever you do, never stop writing. It’s very easy to fall into the mentality of “my writing isn’t going to go anywhere, so why bother.” But I beg to differ, if you’ve reached one person with your writing, then that’s one more person that has read your work.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

www.justincancilliere.com

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

From “The Legendary Creature Project: The Wyrm”:

It had been a week since he had injected Steven with a new DNA sequence. It wasn’t too soon after that Steven began to develop scales and large, razor-sharp claws which now protruded out of his fingers. His face had also begun to transform, taking on reptilian-like traits. All of his hair, nails, and teeth had fallen off and laid at the bottom of the tank.