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 – Gayle M. Irwin

Please welcome Gayle M. Irwin to this AuThursday edition of the Clog Blog.  Gayle, go ahead and tell us a little about yourself and your background?

Gayle Irwin and Jeremiah_300 dpi_Author Photo 2019I’ve been an author since 2007, and prior to that, I was a journalist for small-town newspapers. I enjoy sharing stories that inspire, educate and entertain children and adults. I am also a freelance writer, contributing stories to newspapers and magazines, and I’m a contributor to seven Chicken Soup for the Soul books. I grew up in Iowa and now live in the Rocky Mountain region, having been in this area for more than 40 years. In addition to writing, I enjoy spending time in nature, traveling, and taking photographs. I am also an advocate for pet rescue and adoption, serving as a volunteer for various animal welfare organizations and weaving that passion into some of my writing, including my new novel, Rescue Road.

How do you make time to write? 

I work part-time, three days a week, and therefore, I use many of my two weekdays and some of my weekend hours to write. My husband and I have no children, except for the four-legged kind, therefore, I have a lot of quiet time to think and compose. My husband has his own business so he understands and respects my need for time to write and work on my business. I’m a morning writer so I use those hours to compose and afternoons for marketing/learning. Adjusting to time change, however, as we did recently when we “fell back” takes a toll on me now that I’m older, so I’m re-synching my body clock again.

Do you believe in writer’s block? 

I believe we can all come to a point where we have to put a manuscript away for a while and come back later to work on it. Rescue Road is a product of several years. I would talk myself out of finishing the book, whether self-doubt or a new project “calling me.” Also, during the past year, I’d be so involved in the Rescue Road story that I’d meander or “rabbit trail.” So, I had to stop, put it away for a few days, and come back later to focus again. There are various reasons we can’t always “motor through,” and I think that’s okay. I set myself a deadline to complete the final first draft by early summer and turn it over to an editor (I’m an Indie author), and I met that deadline. Now, the book is out, in both e-book and print formats, and I can see the result of my perseverance. To me, that’s what writing is all about, whether a book, short story, article or blog post – a writer must persevere, because we are distracted by so many things and we have “regular life” to do as well. Setting deadlines works for me, likely because of my journalism background, and even though I planned to complete the novel a few years ago, timing wasn’t right, I guess; I had other (children’s) stories to tell first, which I did. Now is the time for the novel, especially this month as November is Adopt-A-Senior-Pet Month, and since my novel weaves pet rescue and adoption into the main romance story, the release is optimal. I donate part of my book sales to rescue organizations, and I have a shortlist of rescue and adoption groups at the back of the book. Again, this month’s release is a benefit for the type of book I’ve written.

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

I started as a children’s author, writing chapter and picture books, and I still have manuscripts for kids in the works. I enjoy sharing animal stories with children, and each of my books weaves an important life lesson or two into the work, such as courage, perseverance, friendship, and appreciation of nature as well as pet rescue and adoption. I’ve written devotionals based on living with dogs, and now I’m graduating into writing novels. I love each genre because I love to inspire, educate, encourage, and entertain. Stories, no matter the genre, can accomplish those aspirations. Rescue Road is my first contemporary, clean romance novel, and it won’t be the last; I plan a series I’ve titled “Pet Rescue Romance,” with Rescue Road being Book 1. I’m already working on Book 2, tentatively titled Discovering Love at Compassion Ranch, with a release planned for Summer 2020.

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

I am primarily Indie published; I do have one book, Walking in Trust: Lessons Learned With My Blind Dog, traditionally published. I enjoy Indie publishing for several reasons, including (1) freedom and (2) publishing more quickly. Perhaps also I’m a control-freak, stemming from being an only child and working independently for many years. Indie fits my personality.

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

I’m primarily an introvert, but the past several years, I’ve become more of an extrovert. I’ve given presentations in schools, for various civic and faith-based groups, and even taught a few classes at the local community college. I’ll be doing some speaking events in the coming months with the release of Rescue Road. I believe “getting out there,” whether speaking or doing other forms of marketing, helps increase awareness and sales of books, therefore, as an author, I need to tamp down my fears, square my shoulders, and let people know about my work, whether through a speaking event, online marketing, or Facebook Live (horrors! HA!). I’ve certainly grown a lot over the past decade, and I enjoy sharing my writings and pet rescue passion with others!

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?

Don’t give up, persevere. We all have a purpose in life, and if you believe you are called to write, then write. Try new things, like article writing and short story creation. A novel, even a picture book, is a big project to undertake; sometimes it’s best to start small. Or, like me, write articles and short stories while you’re also composing your novel, middle grade, chapter or picture book. Grow in the craft of writing as well. Learn from others. Challenge yourself to get better every year and to try something new every year. This work is a journey, not a race, and we can all contribute something wonderful if we persevere and grow. And, have confidence and hope, as Helen Keller said – we need those traits to help us persevere.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

Author Website: http://www.gaylemirwin.com/

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/GayleMIrwin

Pinterest (under Waggin’ Tales): www.pinterest.com/gaylemirwin

Twitter: wyoauthor1

Amazon Author Central Page: amazon.com/author/gayleirwin

Amazon Buy Link: https://amzn.to/2MCklLl

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

Excerpt from Rescue Road – Pet Rescue Romance Book 1 (750 words)

by Gayle M. Irwin

Rescue Road_Smaller Front CoverRhiann stood on the porch of the mid-century ranch house. Cup of coffee in hand, she watched the blazing orange sunrise. Streamers of light cascaded on the mountains west of the property, casting a rosy glow on the rocks and patches of snow upon the higher elevation. October’s morning danced with the browning grasses of the nearby pastures as touches of frost shimmered upon tan sprigs surrounding the house. Overhead, a flock of Canada geese in traditional V formation honked as they winged their way south. 

Rhiann observed them and whispered, “We have something in common. We’re starting over.” 

 

******************************************************************************

 

            As he drove closer to the ranch house, Levi noticed a small, red dual-cab pickup parked near the building. His eyes squinted. He remembered seeing a similar vehicle at the Twin Bridges Campground yesterday. He parked next to the truck.

            “Who in the world could that be?” he murmured as he exited his pickup.

            He looked at the license plate. He didn’t remember George knowing anyone from Washington state. He saw a heart-shaped sticker on the side. Levi scowled. He meandered to the driver’s side and saw the “Rescue Road” emblem. 

“Can’t be,” he muttered.

He looked up when he heard the front door of the house slam. He stared.

            “What are you doing here?” he and Rhiann asked simultaneously.

            

*****************************************************************************

 

            Rhiann couldn’t believe her eyes. Left hand on her hip and straw broom in her right, she glared at the man she had met yesterday.

            “Well?” she questioned, looking Levi in the eye. “Answer my question. What are you doing on my ranch?”

            “Your what? YOUR ranch? This is my land,” he snapped.

            “Uh, unless your last name is Kelly or McCallister, I don’t think so.”

            Levi stalked toward the front porch. Rhiann took a step back. She looked into his smoldering gray eyes as he said, “George Nelson left this place to me. Just who are you to come claim it as yours?”

            Before she could respond, he rushed on, “Are you related to George? I didn’t think he had any kids or grandkids. Are you a niece or something?”

            Rhiann shook her head. “I didn’t know Mr. Nelson. I’m the granddaughter of Mary Martha McAllister. She was born here, in that log cabin over there.”

            She pointed to the two-room dwelling to her right.

            “That’s my house,” Levi said.

             She detected the curt tone, and she responded in kind.

            “I don’t know why you keep saying you own this property. That cabin, this place, has been mine for nearly four months and was in my family for two generations. I’m just now getting here after settling the back taxes.”

            Levi’s face blanched. “Back taxes? What are you talking about?” 

            At that moment, his cell phone rang. She watched him pull the device from a back pocket of his jeans. He turned away from her.

            “Mr. Williamson, Yes, this is Levi Butler. You have news for me?” He paused in his conversation. “I see.”

Rhiann continued observing him. He gradually turned toward her. His eyes darkened, and his teeth clenched. Rhiann took a step back, holding the broom in both hands. I’ll swing this thing at his head if he takes one more step.

            “Yes, yes, I’ve met her. In fact, I’m looking at her right now.”

            His icy statement sent chills up Rhiann’s spine.

 

*****************************************************************************

            Levi gripped the cell phone tighter. His mind tried to process the words spoken by George’s attorney. A few moments later, he said, “I see. Not the news I expected to hear but thanks for letting me know.”

            He clicked off and stared at Rhiann. He noticed she held the broom as if to fend off an attacker. He wanted to punch something but knew he couldn’t. He took a deep breath and clenched a fist. He exhaled a ragged breath. A moment of silence ticked by. Levi inhaled again, trying to steady himself. As he released the air and unclenched his fist, he spoke in a terse, but controlled tone. 

“Someone who knows nothing about this place, it’s history or the man who lived here … I guess it’s yours after all.”

            Levi stalked to his pickup and jumped into the driver’s seat. He backed the Chevy toward the Y junction and stomped the accelerator. He heard a large spray of gravel as the truck tires dug in, and he drove from the house.

Thank you for hosting me on your blog, Tina!!

Thanks for joining me, Gayle!  

 

AuThursday – Cindy Tomamichel

Please welcome Cindy Tomamichel to The Clog Blog.  Cindy, can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I live in rural Australia and have lived and traveled around the country. I have been an underground mine geologist and then worked in environmental science involved in cleaning up soil and groundwater. 

How do you make time to write? 

Squeeze it (and the more onerous marketing and social media aspects of being an author) in around a few other jobs and life stuff. I have been known to write a story while making dinner, and sticky notes for random thoughts are my friend!

Do you believe in writer’s block? 

Usually, you are stuck for a good reason. Either the story needs more research, you are trying to force it in the wrong direction or something – your subconscious is arcing up about it! Otherwise, you may be feeling tired or burnt out, and need rest or fresh air. Search for the reason and the words should flow once more.

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

I write across genres, with short stories in fantasy, sci-fi, and alternate history anthologies. My main novel series is Druid’s Portal, a multi-generational time travel action-adventure romance. I love it because I get to combine historical research with a dollop of fantasy.

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

My Druid’s Portal series is published with Soul Mate Publishing, a small traditional publisher. Other works are small indie publishers, and I hope to dive into self-publishing next year. Why? Firstly, I got accepted by the publisher Soul Mate, and I have found them a great team. Indie and self-publishing mainly to try out a new adventure!

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

Introvert – makes it easy to spend time alone reading and researching or writing.

What is your favorite motivational phrase?

Writers write.

It helps focus when it is often way too easy to get distracted by social media.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Read widely to fill your head with ideas – including non-fiction. Generally just start writing- short stories, poems, etc. you need to write a lot of words to get into a rhythm and find your style. Doing NaNoWriMo (write a novel in November) is also a fun way to challenge yourself.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

Contact Cindy on

Website: http://www.cindytomamichel.com/ 

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CindyTomamichel 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16194822.Cindy_Tomamichel 

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

Newsletter: https://tinyurl.com/AdventureNews 

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/cindy-tomamichel 

Amazon Author page: https://amazon.com/author/cindytomamichel

Youtube: https://tinyurl.com/EscapeTheEveryday

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

An excerpt from Druid’s Portal: The First Journey

DP seriesThe pendant was solid gold, with a stylised oak tree and some symbols and dots she recognised as Ogham, the ancient language of the area. She frowned, turning it over in her hands.

It felt hot, and the heat pulsed through her until she felt dizzy, as if she was standing on the edge of a precipice. She held onto the cabinet as the museum faded around her.

Then she fell into a grey void.

There was a smell of forest earth, long undisturbed, centuries of leaf mould, of the secret growing business of trees. Quiescence. A sense of time. A time long ago, ruled by gods long forgotten. But not far away—distance didn’t register. Somewhere nearby—close to her home and Hadrian’s Wall. Where she had grown up and where the stone and earth were part of her. 

The void split into shadows as the peace was shattered.

Danger. Around her, the grey void echoed with screams of hatred and of death that pounded in her ears. She was in a battlefield, surrounded by the misty shapes of men as they bellowed in agony, and she choked as the smell of blood smothered her. A tall shadow filled her vision. Right in front of her, a shadowy figure raised a sword, and she cried out and fell to her knees. 

Death and danger.

And love.

The grey void vanished, and Janet opened her eyes. She shook her head. It had been the impression of a moment, but death, danger, and love seemed intertwined in a way she could neither explain nor fathom. 

To read more, this is a link to the preview: https://goo.gl/ydf8qK

 

AuThursday – Diane Zhivago

Please welcome author Diane Zhivago to The Clog Blog.  Diane, tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I’m a Gemini.  I’m also a Canadian.  I live in Newfoundland, Canada in a quaint little seaside town with my husband, our 20-year-old daughter who’s still in college, and our 12-year-old son.  I’m also stepmom to my husband’s eldest daughter and step-grandma to two beautiful little boys, 8 and 6. I’m a veterinary assistant by trade, though I’ve worked at everything from postal delivery to heavy equipment operator for Canadian National Railway.    I’ve been writing stories since childhood. My mother was a lover of books and reading and passed on that love to me, so when I ran out of reading material I would sit down and make up my own stories and then read them to my family or friends. I wrote my very first manuscript when I was about 12 or 13.  It’ was over 400 pages handwritten—a romance story involving a boy I had a crush on at the time and with all of my friends as characters.

How do you make time to write?

At the moment I am not working so I usually write during the day when everyone is at school or work.  I carry around a notebook everywhere I go (like to my son’s football games) so that I can jot down any ideas I have for stories or scenes and conversations that might pop into my head.  

Do you believe in writer’s block?

Definitely!  But I find that the best cure is to just sit and read…get absorbed into a story that’s not your own making.  Us writers usually start out as avid readers and reading really does kickstart your imagination so when the words aren’t flowing, I’ll usually take a break for a day and just read.

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

I write steamy romance.  Mostly paranormal though I don’t consider myself locked into that category.  I do enjoy it though! My favorite books to read are paranormal…vampires, werewolves, ghosts, witches; I love all of it!  And it’s so fun to write! You can really let your imagination soar when you write paranormal. My family is of Irish descent, so I grew up with stories about shapeshifters, witches, fairies and such.  I think that played a huge part in why I love to read and write paranormal romance. And who doesn’t love great sex in a romance book, right? My paranormal romance stories have it all!

How are you publishing your recent book and why?

I have five books published as an Indy author.  I had submitted in the past to a publishing company but the rules and regulations of word length, descriptive language allowances, etc. just made it so hard to get my style of writing to pass all the checkmarks, though I came very close a few times.  As an Indy author, I get to write MY story, MY way, and I like that. I like having the freedom of being an Indy author.  

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

I’m an Introvert mostly…though, being a Gemini I can’t truly lay claim to it wholeheartedly.  I’m very at ease with my own self and my own thoughts. I can live happily inside my head and I don’t really long for the company of the human variety.  In a crowd I’m never at the center of attention—I hate attention—and yet I can work a room if I have to but it’s an act…not the real me. I like watching people, studying them.  I’m good at conversation when I have to be, but I abhor small talk.  

I’m a very private person.  That’s been the hardest part of being a published author.  Talking about myself and my writing isn’t something I’m used to doing and I haven’t figured out a character to be when I’m doing it, so I’m still in my learning curve. 

What is your favorite motivational phrase?

My Grandmother used to always tell me,

“As long as you believe in the faeries, there’s always a possibility you’ll see one someday.”

I think that’s motivated me throughout the years to always look for the wonder and joy in the world…to see the magic in every day.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Don’t give up.  Don’t worry about the critics.  Reviews are only opinions so take them with a grain of salt.  And the most important thing…write the whole story first! Before you fix it.  Before you go back and re-edit that chapter for the tenth time…finish the story!  The mistakes will wait. It’s more important to get the story out of your head and onto the paper first.  You can get lost in editing…write the whole story!

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

I’m on Facebook,  www.facebook.com/dianezhivagoauthor

My web page is, www.dianezhivago.webnode.com

Twitter: www.twitter.com/dianezhivago

AllAuthor.com: www.dianezhivago.allauthor.com

And you can find me on Amazon under my Author Central profile at www.amazon.com/author/dianezhivago 

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

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I’d love to share a little peek of my latest release with you.  Pride & Predator is the fourth book in my Therion Beast series of Paranormal romance.  It’s available on Amazon. The excerpt is from Chapter 2.

Inside, the seedy Montreal bar was a welcome relief from the sleet and snow of the Eastern Canadian winter.  Gregor moved through the bodies of people packed tightly together in the club, his gaze locked onto his target while his companion, Aurora, followed closely behind; her mate, Matthew, waited in the black SUV just outside in the alley behind the dive.

At least Leanna had the sense to take a table far enough away from the crowd of people dancing.  He grimaced, wondering why such meetings had to take place in such unsavory settings. What was wrong with an elegant restaurant as the backdrop for such matters?  He cast a sideways glance at Aurora who was still diligently scanning the crowds, her senses on alert for anything that might indicate a threat. Even as she perused her surroundings, though, he couldn’t help but notice how her body seemed to move to the music blaring from the extra-large speakers on either side of the DJ’s table.  Aurora was young, barely into her twenties. She fit into this crowd with her leather jacket, multiple piercings, and colorful hair. He, however, was decades past his one-hundredth birthday—though still quite young for his kind—not that he actually felt young at the moment. He sighed, his thoughts needing to be put on hold as he approached the table where the middle-aged blonde woman was seated, waiting for him.

Leanna smiled as he took the seat next to her, leaning in to kiss her softly aging cheek.  He introduced Aurora as his niece, though he was certain Leanna knew she was nothing of the kind.  The older woman accepted the presence of the younger woman without question, as he knew she would. Leanna was—along with other things—trustworthy at the least.  She refrained from asking too many questions, another reason why he had reached out to her for this particular job. There were very few humans whom Gregor trusted.  But Leanna was one of them.

Her eyes sparkled as she gazed at him now.  “It is so good to see you, Bastian,” she said, in her careful English, the accent of her Acadian heritage still thick on her tongue.  “You have not changed one bit in the years since we last met. Unlike me.”

Gregor inclined his head.  He knew that she was ribbing him in the way she normally did.  She was aware that he was not human—not exactly human, at least.  But that was as far as her knowledge went.  She had been a young child when he’d first met her.  Lost in the woods where he’d been hunting. He had carried her out, brought her to an area where the men searching could easily find her.  And he’d waited, albeit hidden from their view until she’d been discovered and returned safely to her distraught mother. She had told no one that it had been he who saved her, as he’d asked.  A child who was capable of keeping a secret was a special child indeed, and so Gregor had kept in contact with her, unbeknownst to her family. He had watched her grow into a beautiful woman who was still capable of keeping secrets.  

“I must say, I like this…”

She reached out toward him and stroked the side of his face where the full beard he had worn for decades was now shaved, trimmed, and tightened into a well-formed, goatee that managed to make him look as though he were in his early thirties.  

“You look younger, without the beard.  I suspect you would barely pass for thirty without this.”  She gave the hair at his chin a slight tug, her lips curving suggestively.

Gregor grasped her hand and gently kissed her fingers before placing it meaningfully on the table.  Their time together was in the past. Where it should be. What affair they may have had was long over.

She smiled at him ruefully.  Her gaze drifted over to Aurora.  “Your uncle is a man of singular determination, no?”  She chuckled to herself, not waiting for Aurora to answer.  “Here is the information you were seeking. I assume I will find my bank account has been sufficiently updated?”  She chuckled again.  

Leanna would gladly offer her services for free; Gregor had been the one to insist on payment… especially now that they were no longer involved intimately.  He did not believe in using women. Both parties should gain from the relationship. And so, when their short-lived affair ended, Gregor saw to it that Leanna was well taken care of.  She would always be important to him. A dear friend. He was not a man who took that lightly.    

He looked down at the large brown envelope she was sliding toward him on the table.  He reached for it, extracting the 8 by 10 black and white photograph inside.

“This was taken a few weeks ago in North Sydney, Nova Scotia.  The woman in the picture was going by the name of Eve Radcliff.  She purchased a pass for the ferry to Argentia and was checked in as a passenger in a domestic vehicle.”

Gregor stared at the photo.  In it, the woman was wearing a white baseball-style cap, her long, pure white hair was pulled through the back.  She wore a matching white hoody, dark jeans, and sneakers. Dark glasses hid her eyes from view, but nothing could erase those eyes from where they had burned into his memory.  Electric blue—unnatural, even without any sign of her beast. She looked young, beautiful, and human—the latter of which she was definitely not.

Leanna was looking at him.  “Is she a friend of yours?”  

Gregor pressed his lips together and slid the picture back into the envelope.   “You will mention this to no one,” he said by way of an answer to her question.

“Of course not.”  Leanna was a smart woman.  A man who did not age in the forty-plus years she had known him was not a man one should defy.  She accepted another kiss on her cheek then watched him as he stood. “It was wonderful to see you again, Bastian,” she said, sincerely.

“And you, Leanna.  You will take care of yourself?”

She smiled, her eyes warm if a little misty.  “As always, old friend.” Her gaze followed him as he moved away from her, his niece falling into step just beside him.  

Aurora looked up at Gregor as they walked away, her pierced eyebrow lifted in question.  “Bastian?”

Gregor gave an uncomfortable shrug.  “It is my given name.” He did not like talking about himself.  Ever.

“Bastian Gregor.  That’s your name?”   He heard Aurora give a low whistle.  “You can live with someone all these years and not know a single thing about them.”  She shook her head.

“Gregor Savage, is my name.”  It was his badge of honor as well.  Captain of the Alpha guard, bodyguard to the Alpha.  His name signified his exalted rank within the clan, something he was proud of.

“Wait.”  Aurora’s eyes were narrowing as her brain was busily dissecting this new information.  Gregor had to resist rolling his eyes at her, the young pup was exasperating at times. Had she not been one of his best assassins and a damn good guard, he’d have probably strung her up by her ears long ago.  “Nicolai’s middle name is Sebastian, is he—”

Gregor sighed heavily, knowing she would not stop until she had her answers.  “I am his godfather; his second name was given to honor that.” There. Now she knew.  His connection to the Alaskan Alpha was deeper than mere rank. Which was why failing Nikolai, as he had, was not something he could live with.  The intense need to find the woman in the photograph, Eve Radcliff, was more than a deep sense of duty…it was a matter of deep pride for Gregor. As long as she was free, the knowledge that he had failed his Alpha would eat him up alive.

They left the bar and headed out into the blustery Montreal night, turning onto the street and making their way toward Matthew and in the black Chevy Tahoe.  

“What now?”  Aurora wanted to know, pulling the hood of her jacket up to warm her ears.

“Now you go back to Raven Falls,” he told her, “and I go to Newfoundland.”

“Alone?”

He could hear the doubt in her voice.  “You are needed in Raven Falls, Aurora.  This has nothing to do with you.”

“But you might need me!”  She stopped walking, forcing him to stop as well and turn to her.  He was aware of Matthew’s gaze watching them from inside the SUV. Her sielos draugus mate was rightfully protective of her, though, being only a half-blood Therion, he was strongly outmatched against any of his own kind.  That fact never seemed to enter Matthew’s mind, however, especially when defending Aurora was on the table and, even without an ability to change, he had been proving his inner beast—though unable to manifest—was a powerful one.

“I get it, Gregor,” she was saying to him now, “I understand you think you somehow let Niko down by letting Eve get away.  I feel the same way. I met her first, remember?” She was shaking her head, her moonlight blue gaze beseeching him. “We—none of us—had any idea what she was at the time.  For all we knew, she was an innocent prisoner, like so many of our kind. We had no idea of what she was capable of… what she’d done…”

Gregor found he couldn’t meet her gaze.  What she was saying might have been true for her, but… “She told me she was the one they sent to lure us in… the one they sent to destroy us when they were done…”  even now, saying the words out loud, his stomach twisted with his deep sense of failure. He had been given an opportunity to stop Eve, and he’d let her slip from his grasp… mesmerized by her beauty, even his beast had been unable to do what was necessary.

“We were in the middle of a war!”  Aurora exclaimed. She held a hand up to stave off Matthew when he would have gotten out of the SUV.  “You were in fight-mode, Gregor. Defending your life and the Alpha. She was nothing more than a prisoner trying to escape.  How were any of us to know that she was one of Radcliff’s experiments? That she’d been born and raised in captivity like an animal?”

“She is an abomination!  I should have destroyed her when I had the chance!”

Aurora’s eyes widened at his angry outburst and he felt ashamed at his loss of control.  He was a creature who prided himself on control. “And what of Matthew?” Aurora was asking now, the hurt his word had caused evident in her soft voice.  “He was an experiment of Radcliff’s—while not raised in captivity, he was created there… experimented on all those years without his knowledge or consent.  Is he an abomination too?”

He couldn’t bring himself to respond.  He felt Aurora’s small hand in his and looked down at her.  She was the smallest in their clan in stature only; her bravery and personality seemed too much for such a tiny creature.  Her eyes searched his, probing and earnest. “We are Therion, Gregor. One blood, one race, whether we are all or some, as the sielos draugus whom we cherish and protect… you taught me that, old man.  Perhaps now is the time for you to listen to your teachings—old, wise, and ancient one.”  

Gregor couldn’t help the twitch in his lips that threatened to turn into a smirk as he listened to Aurora’s little speech.  But she was right, of course. Eve was Therion, no matter what Radcliff had managed to do to her. But it was still his responsibility to find her and bring her in.  Therion Law was absolute. Her crimes against her own kind were punishable by death. At the very least, the Dominai sought to learn from Eve… to find out exactly what it was that Radcliff had done to her.  They expected her capture. Planned to glean as much information they possibly could from her. And then she would be destroyed—her dept for her crimes would be paid with her life. 

 

 

Cover Reveal – Hidden Kisses by Laura John

Cover Reveal (1)

Title: Hidden Kisses

Series: Love in Sienna #2

Author: Laura John

Release: December 5, 2019

Genre: Contemporary/Sports Romance

Cover Design: Kayla Reese with Destiny Productions

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/48256029-hidden-kisses

Book CoverBlurb:

Johnny Crown is the man everyone loves to hate. He has his dream job as a pitcher on his favorite baseball team, women falling at his feet, and the attitude to match. Life is perfect…until he meets Leah. Then, for the first time, he wants to change and make himself worthy of her. But after he tells a lie that almost ruins his friend’s life, will Leah even bother giving him a chance?

Leah Gulfson works in a man’s world and has dealt with enough jerks to last a lifetime. After her long-term boyfriend cheats on her, she decides to swear off relationships altogether. All she wants is to have fun and maybe mess around a little. Johnny is the last man she should want to be with. Will she change her mind and let Johnny in?

**Trigger warning***

This book discusses child and domestic abuse, and a small sexual assault scene (not rape) please avoid if these would be hard for you to read

 

In the Series:

Secret Smiles (kindle unlimited)

MyBook: http://mybook.to/SecretSmiles

Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2WIs7H8

Amazon CA: https://amzn.to/34jCjIC

Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/36s95Jo

Amazon AU:  https://amzn.to/2NdLdl8

Author Bio:

Laura John is a contemporary romance author with a love for music. She lives in Alberta, Canada with her husband, two kids, and one loveable fur-baby. She loves karaoke, makeup, and of course a good glass of wine. She mixes her love of words with her love of music and hopes to transport you into a world you don’t want to leave.

Social Media Links:

Amazon: amazon.com/author/laurajohn

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/author/show/19182589.Laura_John

Facebook: www.facebook.com/authorlauraj

Facebook group: www.facebok.com/lauraslovelyladies

Bookbub: www.bookbub.com/authors/laura-john

Giveaway:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/81aa78942145

AuThursday – Karlene Tura Clark

Dear Reader,

Recently I attended the North Dakota Library Association’s Author Alley and I got to meet many talented local and regional authors.  Karlene Tura Clark is one of them, and I was ever so glad she consented to be interviewed here.

K head shot 2Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I’m a full time librarian with too many hobbies. Besides writing, I do many handcrafts and have a side business of painting and selling miniature figures for tabletop gaming. I’m married, no children, but with a very sassy African Grey Parrot that isn’t afraid to tell us what she wants. 

How do you make time to write? 

15-minute increments. I use at least my morning break at work to do writing. At some point on the weekends, I will block out an hour or two for editing purposes. 

Do you believe in writer’s block? 

Yes, but only in regards to the story being worked on. When that happens, I set the current project aside and just free write ideas for other stories, voices of other characters, or work on a “rap sheet” with information like you would give to the police if a character was reported missing. 

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

Fantasy has always been a way for me to get away from things, whether that be what’s on the news, what’s happening around me, or simply for the sheer joy and magic of the story. My favorite author is Mercedes Lackey. Many of her creative ideas inspired me. She has books where elves are allergic to cold iron yet race cars, she’s done retellings of fairy tales, and she’s created the Heralds of Valdemar – Vanyel’s story was one of my favorite; I wore out three copies of the book when I was younger! 

Fantasy always involves magic in some form, whether it’s low or high magic. In either case, there are rules and structure that consistently determine the use of abilities. High magic usually means there is a lot of magic with some world dependence on it, while low is just an element of the background of the story. 

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

I have a short story published with Edge, but otherwise, I have done everything independently. The world is becoming more accepting of self-publishing, and doing so gives you greater independence in choosing cover art, design, and royalties. There are also cases where I have known authors that have been “burned” by some of their smaller publishers, which makes me a little nervous. However, I’m still interested in eventually doing a book with someplace like Tor or Orbit! 

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

I’m an introvert. Extroverts tend to be more interested in conversation, engaging others. Introverts like me are people watchers. We observe before we engage. This ability has given me great ideas for stories over the years. 

What is your favorite motivational phrase?

“Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth” (Marcus Aurelius).

It has encouraged me to always consider the other side of situations while I’m writing – what would others think? What might my character have understood incorrectly? What are the results of that misunderstanding?

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Two things. 

BIC-HOK: Butt in chair; hands on keyboard. I’ve heard so many people say “I want to write a novel, but I just don’t have time.” What that really means is you are not serious (yet) about doing it. Think how many times in your life you rearrange things to make time for something. As I said earlier, I often only have 15 minutes a day to write. That means I write. I set a timer. If I get interrupted, I stop the timer until I come back to it. If I get stuck on the current story, I write something else, I journal, I free write. Just… write! No excuses. 

EDIT. Your first draft is never good. It doesn’t matter how many of your friends are impressed – it will still need polish. It will still need details. It will still need to clean up. Do the spellchecks, grammar checks, do a check for words you use A LOT, and have someone check for inconsistencies.A Ranger's Inheritance E-Book Cover Signed

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

www.amazon.com/author/karleneclark 

https://www.facebook.com/ARangersHomecoming 

https://twitter.com/KarleneTClark 

http://www.edgewebsite.com/books/urbangreenman/ugm-catalog.html 

 

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

AssassinsGift CoverArt Titled - FinalFrom my latest book is Assassin’s Gift.

“At least he’s not dead, milord.” The voice was familiar, coming from someone sitting next to him.

“Bless the Lights for that, you idiot.” A man’s gruff voice barked. “What were you thinking leaving your mixtures about?” From the tone of the lord’s voice, the other had made a grave error in his judgment. “Remedial lessons, boy: he dies, and your life will be forfeit as well. You know the rules. Any errors are your sole responsibility.”

A violent tremor shook Aern as a coughing jag swept the entire frame of his eight-year-old body. He was turned to his side, just barely in time as everything in his stomach rushed out. He could barely catch a breath as wave after wave of retching emptied everything back out. It gurgled from his throat, bubbling as it left him to spray outward, running down his cheek, into his black hair. 

Pulling his knees up, Aern tried to relieve the intense cramping in his stomach. As the fit finally passed, Aern opened his pale blue eyes and looked around. His vision was still hazy, but he could see the boy that had given him the treat.