AuThursday- Gabriele Russo

Incoherent Gods Blog BannerPlease welcome Gabriele Russo to The Clog Blog.  Welcome, Gabriele!

Hi, thank you for having me.

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I’m a Québécoise, born in Quebec City. When I was thirteen, I went to an English boarding school. I had to learn how to write the language on my own, which I did through books. Despite my love of reading, I didn’t start writing until my thirties. Oh, I tried a few times, but nothing more than a few pages ever came of it. In my twenties, I went to live in Strasbourg, where I did my Bachelor’s degree in History, with minors in Archeology and History of the Religions. I came back to Quebec, thinking I would continue my studies in International Relations, but the Political Science classes had me running out of there screaming “We’re all doomed!” So I started to work in the hospitality industry instead, and eventually ended up owning two restaurants – which wasn’t great for my sanity either… I sold my shares in them, wrote my first novel, then went back to University to learn how to write, and got my Master’s in Literary Studies, with a concentration in literary creation (the MFA doesn’t exist yet in French universities).

How do you make time to write?

It can be hard sometimes, even without a full-time day job. Like right now, I have a 50000-word unfinished first draft lying around my computer, and with traveling, visitors, promoting Incoherent Gods, I haven’t had a chance to write a word in two months. To be frank, I haven’t even tried making time, because I know I would be too distracted. When my life is quieter, I simply set aside the morning for writing, staying away from social media until I’m done writing the amount of words I set as an objective (usually 1.5 to 2K).

Do you ever get writer’s Block?

Not really. Sure, some days are harder than others; you have to force it a little. When that doesn’t work, I go back, tinker with what’s already written, add a paragraph there – often it gives me ideas, and I usually end up quite close to my objective. And if really nothing is coming out after 2 hours, I just let go, hope it’ll be better the next day.

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

If you know a published fiction writer that has never received a rejection letter, then I hate them a little… It sucks, every single one breaks your heart, but you deal. You write NO on the cue card, and you send another query (after tweaking it, ideally), or you rewrite the book or even another one. If you can’t deal with rejection, don’t go into the arts, because after rejection comes criticism, which can be just as bad.

Can you tell us your story of getting, “The call”?

Actually, as good things come in pairs, I sort of had to make “the call”. Fiery Seas had had my manuscript for a couple of weeks when someone else I had queried requested it. I asked him to wait, which he was happy to do, but I also told Fiery Seas that someone else was interested and could they please give me an answer soon. I think they answered the next day offering a contract for three books. Right before Christmas – that was a very merry Christmas.

What genre are your books?

Fantasy. More specifically, I like to say they are satirical fantasy. Which I guess is comic Fantasy, but the humor is a little darker. You can find out more on a blog I wrote recently: https://www.goodreads.com/author_blog_posts/17138796-what-the-is-satirical-fantasy

I’ve also recently come across the expression “New Weird”, and I guess that could also apply, as well as Mythic and Paranormal.

What draws you to this genre?

I like that the humor has meaning, that it can be hidden and hard to catch, in opposition to waving it your face obvious. I also enjoy the fact that I can point out things I find ridiculous about our world (and there’s a lot of those), and by letting the setting and the story imply the criticism in a usually comic way, avoid ruffling too many feathers.  

Do you have any advice for Aspiring Writers?

Don’t?

All kidding aside, if I had known then what I know now… Ok, maybe I would have done it anyway. My first advice would be to make sure this is really what you want to do: are you ready to invest the necessary efforts, time, and money? (For classes and other learning opportunities – I’m not in favor of paying to get published; there are too many scams out there to be certain of what you will be getting in return.) It took exactly 8 years, 4 drafts, 3 years at university before my first novel was published (and I’m Canadian, so those three years did not cost me a quarter of what they would cost in the US).

Second advice: do not go in this thinking you’re going to be the next J.K. Rowling and make a ton of money. 99% of authors don’t make enough to live on. Third: be very careful of scams. Sorry to insist on this, but it’s really the worst thing about the publishing world today, and the sharks cover all aspects of the process: writing, editing, representation, publishing and promotion. Every time something requires you to shell out money, examine it very, very carefully – if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. And if you’re still not sure, go to Absolute Write and/or Writer Beware.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

Like most authors today, pretty much everywhere. Here are the links:

https://www.russogabriele.com

https://twitter.com/lugabirusso

https://www.facebook.com/GabrieleRussoLGJR/

https://www.amazon.com/Gabriele-Russo/e/B01NCPNOPT

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16180981.Gabriele_Russo

https://www.instagram.com/lugabirusso/

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

Sure, here’s one from the chapter EVIL QUEENS in which the soul of Queen Louhi, having been pushed out of her body by the witch Chiloe, takes residence in Hercules’s:

Jupiter transincarnated a third time, materializing close to the coast, west of the kennels. And there was Hercules, lying unconscious in the middle of the path leading to the sea.

He rushed over the yard that separated them, fell to his knees beside the body and put his ear to the still chest.

His grandson’s heart was beating. Faint but regular. Jupiter raised his head and just as he was about to tap Hercules’s cheeks, he saw it: he’d been bitten. Louhi! Or rather, that Chiloe witch!

He wanted to scream. If he ever got his hands on…

On whom?

Hercules’s eyes fluttered, interrupting the frustrating train of thought.

“Sonny? Sonny? Are you okay?”

The eyes opened. Something was wrong.

Oh, they were the right color and all, but SOMETHING was wrong. This wasn’t his grandson. Was he now a vampire drone?

“Hello, Jupiter.”
Well, that was weird.

“Louhi?” He grabbed Hercules’s collar. “What the hells are you doing in my grandson? Get out!”

“It’s not that simple. And anyway, don’t worry, he’s still in here.” A shadow lifted from the eyes. “Hi, Pappy. It’s okay. It’s just until we find her body and push the witch out. You know I have to help her any way I can.”

Letting go of the collar, Jupiter hit the ground with his fist. “It’s not right. It’s just… not right! How is it even possible?”

A thin veil of cynicism that comes with great age obscured the eyes as Louhi came back to the fore. “When a vampire drinks from a human without killing them, it creates a spiritual link. All the stronger if said human has drunk back, even if it’s only a few drops. You often hear of what happens to the humans, but it also affects the vampire. Or actually, the vampire’s soul. Which is why I feel the connection, but Chiloe doesn’t. This link creates a… I guess you could call it an awareness, but it’s so much more. Anyway, it’s why most vampires end up killing their drones: the pockets of mind-numbing emptiness quickly become unbearable.”

“My grandson’s your drone?” Jupiter grabbed the collar again.

“No,” said Louhi’s unruffled voice. “He’s protected from that by his immortal genes. His danger is of becoming. Now the link, the link happens in all cases of blood transfer, although it does fade after a while if the victim turns.”

“Fine! He’s not your drone! What is he then? A puppet? A Djinny lamp? A-a-a…”

“Jupiter! He gave me permission.”
     “Oh, I bet he did. You know how much he—”

“Pappy!” A fleeting light, now gone. Jupiter saw that if Louhi hadn’t known before, she certainly knew now. And was not a little confused about it.

“Jupiter, my soul can’t find its way back to my body. Skuld cut my bonds to it. It’s really the only way.”

With a deep breath, he stood and brushed his knees. It wasn’t her fault. But oh, how his fists itched! Soon he would need to punch someone, or something.

Instead, he held out his hand, helping Hercules/Louhi up.

“Jupiter, this is a major advantage. I know my body’s weaknesses. She can’t control my soul anymore because the bond to my body has been cut, so the poison doesn’t affect me now.”

“And what if we don’t find her? Or what if we need to destroy your body to destroy her?”

“I doubt it will come to that. A vampire’s body is very hard to destroy, much harder than a god’s. But here’s my promise: whatever happens, I will leave your grandson’s body in less than twenty-four hours… No Hercules, if I stay any longer, there is too great a risk of our personalities melding.”

Jupiter repressed the urge to slap his grandson silly. “Louhi, you swear? On your immortal soul?”

“I do.”
“Okay, then. Let’s find that witch. But how?”
“Hercules said something distracted her, that it’s probably why he’s still alive.”

“Ba’al was going to her lair, to get her body and whatever else he could lay his hands on. I think he was also hoping he’d find you her. This is getting confusing.”

“Maybe she felt him, or he triggered an alarm. Do you know where the lair is? He might need help.”

“Against you? No offense Herc Louhi, but Ba’al is a titan. They’re not all quick on the uptake I grant you – I mean, I was able to trick my father quite easily if that gives you an idea – but they’re strong like you wouldn’t believe.”

“Yes, Ba’al is strong, but have you ever seen him hurt anyone? I know it’s not that he can’t, he just won’t. Add to that the fact that Chiloe is wearing my body.”

“Yeah, I get what you’re saying. The kid said she lived on one of the southern isla

“Shhhh,” said Hercules in his own voice.

He laid his hand on Jupiter’s shoulder and listened attentively for a moment before whispering: “I hear a boat. Let’s hide, maybe it’s her.”

They crouched behind a bush, keeping the path and the beach in view.

“And if it is?” asked Jupiter. “What do we do?”

“I don’t know,” said Louhi. “For now, let’s focus on not losing track of her.”

 

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AuThursday – Seelie Kay

SD Banner

Seeliekay author photo (1)Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I am a former attorney and journalist who turned to writing after I found myself a single mom with a toddler. Opening my own marketing/pr consultancy turned out to be the perfect choice. After I was diagnosed with MS, I cut back to freelance writing. I began writing romance about two years ago literally on a whim. My son had graduated from high school and was learning how to fly from the nest, so it was time to do something I had longed to do, write books.

How do you make time to write?

I balance my time between making money and writing books! Seriously, I need to eat and I barely make enough money as an author to keep me in Cheetos!  So much of what I do earn goes into promotion because I am so new to the book world. When I am not writing romance, I ghostwrite and edit books for others, mostly other lawyers. As for making time, writing is just something I do. I don’t really think about it, it has always been part of me,

What genre are your books?

I write a broad range of romance, from the erotic to the sweet. However, Snatching Dianna is my first foray into romantic suspense. And yes, it does have just a touch of erotic romance, primarily because the main characters are ones I had written about in my series, Kinky Briefs.

What draws you to this genre?

I am drawn to romance because I believe love is there for anyone who wants, even someone like me. Everyone in search of love has bought into the fantasy and that is not always a bad thing. I am drawn to romantic suspense simply because I am fascinated by mysteries and puzzles. I like to take complicated situations and discover the way out. I have identified with Emma Peel (The Avengers) since I was a kid and you will find part of her in each of my female leads.

What are your current projects?

The second book in the Feisty Lawyers series, Infamy, is due out on my birthday, January 4. I also have a stocking stuffer set for release in December called The President’s Daughter. In addition, I am working on the third book in the Feist Lawyers series called, Cult.

Here’s the blurb for Infamy:

Infamy. An evil or wicked act. Terrorists bent on revenge have found a way to make planes disappear from the sky, without a trace. And when one winds up buried in a Wisconsin cornfield, it’s a race against time to rescue the passengers from certain death.

International law attorneys Sheikh Harun Ali and Marianne Benson Ali are united not only in their love for each other but also by their commitment to fight for the victims of terrorism. Together, they sue terrorist groups to compensate the victims of their violence, raiding terrorists’ coffers and destroying their ability to fund evil acts. Now, the terrorists are targeting them. A mysterious missive draws Harun to the Amazon, where a man claiming to be his brother warns him of a plot against the United States. The Alis enlist the assistance of their neighbors, agent Cade Matthews, who works in black ops, and his wife, former agent and Constitutional Law Professor Janet MacLaughlin, as well as two recent law school graduates, to discover the truth. After two planes disappear and an attempted school shooting is aborted, these feisty lawyers are pushed to the wall, desperate to find a plane that has been buried in an unknown corn field, the passengers still on board. The terrorists’ hatred for the Alis is absolute—they are the people who once left their organization bankrupt and broken—but they hate America more.  However, their fiendish games are only a beginning. They are seeking a much bigger prize. One that could destroy a nation, and possibly, the world. An act that will live in infamy.

Here’s the blurb for The President’s Daughter:

Be careful what you wish for because it just might send your life into a tailspin from which you may not recover.

When presidential candidate Jamisen Powell meets volunteer Sarah Lee Pearson, he is shocked to discover her eyes mirror his own. But Sarah was raised by two loving parents and has no questions about her heritage. Instead, after their death, she merely longs to find an extended family. She becomes convinced that Powell could be a distant relative. Powell, on the other hand, has spent twenty-five long years haunted by the memory of a daughter kidnapped from her bed. He suspects Sarah could be his long-lost daughter. As both launch separate covert searches for the truth, Sarah is found by the estranged parents of the man who raised her. Suddenly, the truth will no longer set her free. It could destroy the happy memories of her childhood. Hang on to your seat, and more importantly, hang on to your heart, as one woman discovers the true meaning of family.

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

I am naturally shy, but once I start talking, I do not shut up! I literally shut off my phone when I write, because I could talk on the phone all day.

What is your writing Kryptonite?

When I am in the zone, nothing else exists for me. I write until I get everything out of my head. Sometimes I write for 10 hours without eating, drinking, speaking, or moving from the computer.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

If you believe you can write and you have a story to tell, just do it. It’s doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. All that matters is what you believe.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

Author links:

www.seeliekay.com

www.seeliekay.blogspot.com

Twitter: @SeelieKay https://twitter.com/SeelieKay

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/seelie.kay.77

Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Seelie-Kay/e/B074RDRWNZ/

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

download (2)From Snatching Dianna:

“After what seemed like hours in the sweltering van, it lurched to a stop.

Dianna heard a man bark orders. A door to the van opened and someone pulled the rope from her feet, then removed her hood. She took a deep breath.  A man grabbed her by the arm, forced to her feet, and pulled her from the van. Dianna stumbled when she hit the ground. The stones were hot and her feet were covered by athletic socks, no shoes. Show no weakness.

Dianna immediately surveyed her surroundings. It was still night, but she was in a well-lit courtyard. A large stone mansion stood in front of her. She looked to her right, then her left. The courtyard was enclosed by a large stone fence, at least eight feet high. A fortress. Fortunately, Dianna was a rock-climber. She could rappel over the fence with the right equipment. All she would need was something to serve as a pick, maybe a rope. A knife, a screwdriver, even a fork. Keep your eyes and ears open. Be ready.

A large black man, dressed in a white suit and a maroon turban, walked out of the front door and down the stairs. He stopped and flashed a malevolent smile. He flung his arms wide and in a cultured baritone boomed, “Welcome to paradise, ladies. I hope you enjoy your stay.”

Some of the guards laughed.

“Crikey,” Tillie muttered. “Sounds like a blasted genie.”

Dianna glanced sideways and for the first time, got a look at her new friend. She was tall and thin, her body well defined. She looked strong and aware, almost fierce. Her eyes seemed to be studying the place, taking everything in. She showed no fear. Instead, she seemed interested. Something was off. Tillie did not act like a victim as the others did. She was not cowed. Was she a cop? Or like Dianna, someone who would not permit themselves to be broken?

There was only one thing of which Dianna was certain. She had found a friend. A useful one.”

 

AuThursday – Sue L. Hamilton

Please welcome my fellow ND author, Sue L. Hamilton to The Clog Blog.  Sue, tell us a little about yourself and your background?

Growing up on a family farm in north central ND provided a strong work ethic that lead to a 20-year corporate career, encompassing direct sales, upper management, employee training, customer service, and business development. 

For the last 15 years, I’ve redirected my passion by encouraging others through the gift of speaking and writing.  This allows others to be motivated and energized and bring them hope.

I’m an eternal optimist that loves life.  On a personal note, I love gardening, cooking, and classic cars and is especially fond of being a wife of 31 years and mother of two grown sons.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to see where an idea takes you?

The structure I use on a regular basis while writing is the following:

  • Personal Story
  • Thoughts about the problem
  • Lessons learned – teaching
  • What to inspire or to move to action
  • Prayer

Do you ever get writer’s Block?

Yep!

Okay, I’ll say a little more.  I’ve felt like I’ve had writer’s block ever since I completed my memoir Carried by Faith in the fall of 2017.  I worked at it for seven years. In the last two of those years, I worked at it every day, even if it was for fifteen minutes.  Now I have to force myself to write a weekly blog and most recently have went to an every other week blog because I just don’t feel like writing. UGH!!

What genre do you write, and what draws you to it?

Blog posts are geared mostly to middle-aged women working on self – improvement.

Memoir Carried by Faith is a wide range audience from male or female, age 16-70 years old.

How do you come up with the idea for your book?

I was forced into writing!  While doing a lot of public speaking I use my life stories in the presentation/training and afterward people would ask me if I had a book or a website that I shared my stories in detail.  The answer was always a resounding, “No!” I continued to hear it and decided to begin writing even though I wasn’t a writer. So, the idea for my memoir was my life stories from around the age of 5 – 30years old and a tragic motorcycle accident I survived.

My current project is a self-help book with the “rest of the story” from where I left off in the memoir.  

How do you publish your book(s) and why?  (Indie, traditional or small press)

Self-publish.  I used TLC Design https://www.tlcbookdesign.com/ which allows for a la carte or packaged options.  I’ve chosen this route because of the cost and the control of timing in producing a finished product.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Start writing and keep writing!  Huh – maybe I need to take my own advice.  

Find your writing voice and style.  The only way I’ve found this is by continuing to write and seeing what I like and don’t like.  In addition, I suggest that you get used to being told you need to improve and change things that you thought were wonderful and after someone else reads it they give you feedback for improvement.  Be ready for constructive criticism because it will help you and improve the end product.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

www.suelhamilton.com

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

Walls as a Way of Life

Excerpts from Carried by Faith: From Substance Abuse to a Life Filled with Miracles page 40-42

Author – Sue L. Hamilton www.suelhamilton.com or www.carriedbyfaith.com

The high, thick walls of protection became my life; they bordered my heart, so no one could enter.  Others didn’t understand what I was living in, this living Hell.  The walls hid the pain and unspeakable things associated with the hard years of alcohol and drug abuse.  

I believed no one would understand, so it was easier to keep everyone away with high, cold walls of silence and no emotion.  No form of light, goodness, or happiness was allowed in. Alcohol and drugs filled the silence.

It was nice and quiet in the walls of protection, I didn’t have to explain myself, but then again, I couldn’t explain myself.  The silence was best, and that is why I would use the “liquid forgetter,” alcohol and drugs. I craved the effect they gave me, and they kept my level of chaotic thinking at bay.  They did for me what I could not do for myself.

I ran after the effect and did whatever I needed to get my supply.  The concoctions of alcohol and drugs along with the need to keep my supply met took me to some very dark places.  It can be explained like this – wickedness danced in the darkness of night, moving in and out of its hiding places and drunkenness was the painful bondage that took over my mind and body.  When I would awaken from its stupor, I would wonder, “Where am I?” “What happened to me?” “What have I done?”

“What was to become of my miserable life?” “Why was I here anyway?”

I looked for a way to escape my life, even a slit to my wrist one dark night would not stop the pain.  I had no answers. It felt like a knife stabbing in my heart. The pain would dull occasionally, but I always felt its continual throb, reminding me of my bondage.

I was constantly trying to get back to the original first feeling of catching a “buzz” or “getting high”.  It would not come back.

Nights turned into weeks, then months, and years of crying and sobbing into my pillow.  The pillow stopped the loud wail coming from deep within my soul. It silenced the fear and absorbed the tears that I couldn’t vocalize.  

No words would ever reach my lips to explain my hopelessness.  I continued to repeat in my head, “Why God…why am I here?”  

I didn’t have any answers, so I continue to hide behind my protective walls.

 

AuThursday – Anthony Thomas

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Please help me welcome Anthony Thomas to the Clog Blog.  We are happy he made this stop on his Breacher’s Blog Tour! Anthony, tell us a little about yourself and your background?

Who would’ve thought an average student with below average grades in high school English would go on to write, and even publish, a book? My teacher was pretty shocked too. Academically, I wasn’t all the way there. Creatively, however, this is where I thrived. I can’t recall a time I wasn’t involved in something of the artistic nature. Drawing my own comic books. Making animation videos with a friend. Creating music with a band. No, I won’t tell you the name because there is still music on myspace. NICE TRY! After many failed attempts at producing more than a single page of writing, I forced myself in the computer chair and didn’t stop typing until I had a chapter. Then another and another. You know what a runner’s high is? Well, this was my drug, and I still can’t get enough.

How do you make time to write?

I usually set a time to write, but if the itch hits me sooner, I’ll just jump right in.

Do you ever get writer’s Block?

It’d be hard to find a writer who hasn’t. Sometimes I notice my words just don’t flow as they normally do, and at that point, I know I need to take some time away. Hours. Days. Sometimes weeks.

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

Too many to count. Like most authors, rejection is just a stripe you have to earn, and hell, I’ve earned a lot. You have to take it in stride. Don’t let one opinion make you lose motivation.  

Can you tell us your story of getting, “The call”?

No call for me. The offer I received through Fiery Seas Publishing was via email, and that was instantly forwarded to my critique partner so we could rejoice together.

What genre are your books?

I write a variety. Fantasy, Sci-fi, and now my work in progress is a Thriller. The way I see it, I love almost every genre, so why would I limit myself to one? I plan on writing them all!

What draws you to this genre?

Writing a genre without rules is always enticing. Sure, a historical fiction is great, but are there powers? Blasters? Jedi? I think not. Sci-fi is fun. And what better escape is there than pretending you’re the protagonist wielding a lightsaber or shooting fire from your palms?

Do you have any advice for Aspiring Writers?

Don’t write what is popular, or what may get you a contract. Trends are exactly that. Trends. By the time you finish a YA Fantasy because that genre is “IN” right now, the tides will have shifted to something else. Write what YOU want to write. The rest will follow.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

I’m usually pretty active on Twitter and Instagram, also my website- Anthonythomasbooks.com

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

“What, Wilson?”

“I have his address. Where are you?”

“Ninth and Eastman.” I exhale the last drag, drop the burning filter to the sidewalk, and snuff out the butt with my heel.

His keyboard swipes cut through the phone. “Okay. Take the next bus and get off on Centennial.”

I glance at the bus stop on the corner. It’s filled with trash, and I don’t mean the homeless people and prostitutes. As I walk over, I’m thrown to the leopard-print wolves. The skirts are so short, I get front row tickets to a show I wish I hadn’t gone to.

“Hey, cutie,” says a blonde with far too much makeup, and a distinct stagger in her heels. “For you, I can go half price.”

“Hi, there, darlin’,” I respond with a southern tick, and sling my arm over her shoulder. The cash stuffed in her bra is poking out, crumpled ones and fives ripe for the picking. “Do you know where the nearest gas station is?”

She lifts a shaky hand and points down the street, her head bobbing all over the place. She’s either drunk, high, or both. Perfect. I tug the bills at the corner and slip them in my sleeve. She doesn’t even notice the money sliding. Could be drugs, or that the numbness has yet to wear off on her newly acquired bust.

“Thanks, ladies.” I rub a hand on the small of her back and widen my grin. “Sorry. Can’t play tonight.”

They all groan in unison, like the wailing of a ghost.

Blondie adjusts her undersized bra, pauses, and gropes her chest. She digs inside, searching for the twenty hard-earned on her knees in an alley. Her chalky white face twists. “Hey, this asshole stole my money.”

I click my tongue on the roof of my mouth and wink. “Thanks again.” Press-on nails reach out to snatch my jacket, but I evade her clutches and rush down the sidewalk, a scuffle of heels tapping after me.

“Tony, that guy has my money!” she screams.

Crisp, almost icy wind forces back my hood, and I laugh with the occasional look over my shoulder. There’s no way they could stop me, even if they were sober. A massive shadow steps out from the alleyway ahead, pear-shaped, and wide enough to block off the entire sidewalk. He pulls a butterfly knife from his pocket, flips it in his hand until the blade is exposed, and takes pavement-shuddering steps toward me.

I lift my fists and shield my face. He thrusts the knife forward, narrowly missing my chest. It isn’t difficult to stop someone more than twice your size; everyone has a weakness to exploit. A swift jab to the throat and a well-placed knee to the junk drop him to the cement with ease. He clutches his neck and chokes while his body topples over.

“See ya later, Tony.” I dash away and sift through the bills in my hand. “Twenty-six dollars? Jesus, what has happened to this economy?” I stuff the cash in my pocket and pull out my headset. “Wilson? Wilson! Put your dick away and find me a different route.”

“Wilson’s not here right now,” he replies. “Please go fuck yourself and try again later.”

“I’m at Sixth and Eastman. Where the hell do I go now?”

“I told you to get on the bus. Wait, why are you running? Did you steal from a hooker again?”

AuThursday – Charley Pearson

SCOURGE BLOG BANNERPlease welcome Charley Pearson to the Clog Blog as he makes this stop on his SCOURGE Blog Tour!   Charley, can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I spent a career with the U.S. Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program—we oversee the design, construction, maintenance, and crew training for the power plants in our submarines and aircraft carriers. My main task proved to be managing chemical and radiological environmental remediation at closing facilities after the end of the Cold War, releasing them for unrestricted future use with state and EPA agreement (and much public interaction in the case of closing shipyards). My background in chemistry and biology proved quite useful both there and in the writing of SCOURGE.

How do you make time to write?

I have to stop going for hikes in the mountains, reading books, and otherwise procrastinating. Okay, granted, I started writing before I retired, so that was more of a challenge. Basically, I scribbled notes to myself whenever I thought of something, or as soon as possible after I got out of a business meeting or stopped driving kids to ballet class or whatever. Then I’d gradually turn the notes into stories in the evenings. I found out when I retired that I was way behind on watching movies. LOL

Do you ever get writer’s Block?

Not exactly. I get stuck on plot development, wondering how I’m going to get out of a hole I wrote myself into. I’ve found I have to stop trying to write “from the seat of my pants” and make some notes to myself. Not exactly outlining, but rough-plotting so characters are acting logically based on what they know.

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

Got tons and tons of those, since I started out writing science fiction and fantasy short stories and submitting them to magazines. Then moved on to novels before I’d actually studied the craft of writing fiction, so I was making all the beginner mistakes you can imagine. Submitting that early material? Yeah, I could have wallpapered the White House and made a good run on Congress with all those paper rejection slips. Nowadays all you get are electrons, and they don’t stick to walls very well. Fortunately, I’ve developed a thick skin and can move on when it happens.

Can you tell us your story of getting, “The call”?

I’d about decided to self-publish SCOURGE when several people at the 2016 Killer Nashville writers conference told me Misty Williams of Fiery Seas Publishing was looking for a medical thriller. So I figured, why not try? I pitched it to her (and her husband), and she invited submission. Sent it in that August, and saw from their website that responses may be up to eight weeks, and don’t follow up for at least twelve. At thirteen weeks I sent the follow-up and she said it was still under consideration. This was a somewhat optimistic sign since a “no” often comes quickly. A “yes” can take a very long time, after multiple reads by several people.

Then in the summer of 2017, I’m on a 7125mile drive from NC to Seattle, with stops back and forth to a bunch of parks and monuments. And there I was in Glacier National Park, minding my own business, wondering how they could call it “glacier” when it was about 90 degrees outside, and suddenly this email shows up from Fiery Seas with a contract offer. Whoa! Out of the blue, you might say. But I did manage not to fall off the side of a mountain.

What genre are your books?

SCOURGE is a medical thriller. My prior self-published thingy is a humor collection of short stories, skits, a full-length screenplay, and off-the-wall ballads with no redeeming social value. (No self-respecting agent or editor wants anthologies from unknowns, nor do they want poetry, nor screenplays, so this had to be self-pubbed all the way.) My current work-in-progress (WIP) is a YA-historical. So I guess I’m all over the map, depending on what seems to be forcing its way out at the moment. Oh, I also have a couple of short stories out in Marion Zimmer Bradley’s anthologies; they’re fantasies.

What draws you to this genre?

Humor? Can’t resist it; old Monty Python fan.

SCOURGE? This medical technology is something I first dreamed up back in college, long before computers would have a chance to make it feasible, but I always thought it would make a good story. And when I figured out a way to combine it with a tale of moral ambiguity, a theme of some character who decides to do what she thinks is right no matter the consequences, I couldn’t resist.

The historical? That’s a result of my father serving on Tinian in WWII, where B-29 raids on Japan were launched. His PTSD got me digging into the era.

But I also love fantasy, so you never can tell.

Do you have any advice for Aspiring Writers?

I put a whole bunch of advice on my website. My local writers’ group tries to help each other, and I’ve been asked for suggestions so much I decided to pull material together and put it out where it might help anyone. You can find it at:

http://charleypearson.com/writer-aids/.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

Oh, right, I sort of already pointed you there. Try http://charleypearson.com/ perhaps and link on from there, like to Facebook or Twitter if you use those.

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

Sure! How about this one, from Chapter 18:

In the middle of a fluorescent-filled, eighty-foot square CDC laboratory, Valerie focused a microscope. She raised her head, popped off her stool, put on glasses, and dashed over to pull one printout from a mass spectrometer and another from a gas chromatograph. She opened a small glass door on the latter and flicked the needle on the graph paper. It flopped down.

She tapped a pencil against her teeth, let out a breath, and shook her head. Her cell phone alarmed. She checked the wall clock, swore, and chased out the door.

Valerie emerged from the building into swirling fog, went to the nearest parking lot, and stationed herself at a spot marked for M. Ngono. She rocked from foot to foot, shivering, twisting a diamond engagement ring on her finger while she waited for her supervisor. About the twelfth time she checked her watch, Ngono pulled into the space she was standing in. She backed into a bush. He barely stopped before she jumped out and opened his door.

“The data are plain weird,” said Valerie. “Maybe it’s me.” She handed him a folder on their way to the building.

“I got everything you emailed up to thirty minutes ago,” said Ngono, “and two voice mails. That’s it so far?”

“Yeah.”

“How many victims have you checked?”

“Over a thousand. Everyone we’ve got samples on,” she said. “Blood, marrow, liver. I stole a few technicians to help me.”

Ngono shuffled through the folder. Photo after color photo of contorted victims showed a consistent pattern of twisted limbs, uncontrollable fingers, and blood showering from eardrums.

“Some nosebleeds,” said Valerie, “but not many. I’d have expected more, with all the spuming from ears.”

“That could help ID patients. Nothing wrong with idiosyncratic features.”

“But useless for finding the cause of the problem.”

They pushed past a couple of other people, entered the building, and stormed down the hall.

“Maybe you can see something in the spectra,” said Valerie. “I can’t.”

“Nothing?”

“Oh, killer reverse transcriptase, making DNA out of the viral RNA and immune to everything we’ve tried. Except stuff that kills the whole cell.”

Ngono waited a second. “And?”

“A pea-soup of nasty proteins, destroying mitochondria and starving every cell.”

“But what’s the source?”

“That’s just it,” said Valerie. “There is none. All the normal bugs are there. E. coli, a dozen flu varieties, reaction to bad food.”

“Over a thousand patients and nothing ties them together?”

“Except not a one has anything unusual.”

They crashed through a door labeled Pathogenesis.

Thanks for inviting me to the interview. Hope your readers enjoy SCOURGE!

– Charley

AuThursday – McKenna Dean

GOAC BannerPlease welcome, McKenna Dean to the Clog Blog.   

SignatureLogo_300x218McKenna, please tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I’ve done a number of different jobs over the years: worked as a lab tech, in a vet clinic, as a dog trainer, an actress, a singer. I’ve always walked a fine line between my creative/artistic side and my scientific one. When I graduated from high school, I thought I had to choose—and so I gave up writing and focused on my career. Many years later, I discovered online fanfiction archives and I was obsessed! When I began writing again, it was like opening a floodgate. The encouragement I received from fandom allowed me to submit my first story for publication, but no one was more surprised than I when it was accepted!

Since then, I’ve written over 20 stories, but in so many different genres I didn’t have a recognizable brand. In 2017, I made the decision to re-brand myself and concentrate on just paranormal romance.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just to see where an idea takes you?

I’m a die-hard panster—working from just the barest outline, a faint idea of where I want to go and trotting off in that direction. I love it when my stories surprise me! But the longer I do this, the more I realize I’d be more productive with more outlining. I’m trying to find that balance between outlining enough that it streamlines the process without becoming a story killer by taking all the spontaneity out of the writing.

Do you ever get writer’s Block?

I have. Once when I attempted NaNoWriMo—it was a kind of pressure and writing style all wrong for me. But also when I’m too tired and emotionally drained to write. Sometimes a story stalls for weeks. I remind myself of Louis L’Amour’s quote to “Start writing no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.”

What genre do you write?

My focus these days in on paranormal romance and urban fantasy.

What draws you to this genre?

I love the world-building and the way the genre lends itself to political and social commentary. I love the magic of the supernatural, and the power of shifters.

How did you come up with the idea for your book?

I love snowed-in stories, so I wanted to set up a situation in which my main characters were pitted against each other but wound up having to work together for their survival. An inheritance with conditions seemed to be the ideal way to bring a fangirl with a secret and a shifter whose inner wolf is in hiding together. Add in a snowstorm, a stray dog, and a series of increasingly dangerous accidents, and you have Ghost of a Chance.

How are you publishing this book and why? (Indie, traditional or small press)?

I’ve both worked with a small press and done indie publishing before, and they both have their pros and cons. Publishers typically provide quality covers and reputable editing, and these are major perks when you are looking at paying for those services yourself. But working with a press means working on their schedule—meeting deadlines and so forth. It can take up to a year from the time you submit a story to seeing it published and getting royalties—which means you really need to be producing a new work once per quarter at the minimum.

As an indie author, I’m my only client. Yes, I have to pay for cover art and editing, but I can set my own price and launch dates. The amount of promotion is nearly the same in either case, though a well-known press can give you a leg up there too. Honestly, I like doing both. Sometimes it’s nice to turn over the reins to someone else. Sometimes you want to have total control. With the demands of my current job, indie publishing seems to be a better fit, but I intend to offer my next book to a press.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Writing is a muscle—the more you use it, the stronger it gets. Read the kinds of books you want to write. Read good books. Bad books only teach you to imitate them. Don’t read your reviews. I know, no one listens to that one, but if you do read your reviews, try not to let the bad ones derail your process. Keep a folder of all your good reviews—you’ll need them when you are promoting the next book anyway—but more importantly, read those glowing comments when you need encouragement. Read the reviews of your favorite stories too. There’s comfort in realizing there are people who hate a story you know is brilliant.

Follow Chuck Wendig’s blog—he has some terrific things to say about writing. Read about improving your craft, but above all, take what you read with a grain of salt. If advice doesn’t gel with you, no big deal. Do what works for you and ignore the rest.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

The easiest way to find me is to go to my website. There are links to my social media on almost every page, but the most complete line up (including Instagram and Book Bub, as well as my newsletter) is on my blog page: http://mckennadeanromance.com/blog

As a matter of fact, you can just subscribe to my blog there, and you’ll get all the latest news when I post it.

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

ghostofachance_finalThe light faded as they approached the dip in the drive leading down to the bridge crossing the creek. Long shadows were cast from the tree line onto the drive, and as they rode into the shade, the temperature dropped as though they’d walked into a freezer. Casey pulled Indy up as he inspected the tracks. He pointed at a trail going off to one side. “Someone made a break for it here. Didn’t want to cross the bridge, most likely.”

He urged Indy in that direction, following the tracks splitting off into the woods. Indy obliged, trudging through the deeper slow, icicles gathering on his feathered legs.

The other tracks crossed the bridge. That way led to the road. The thought of Athena or the other mares potentially ending up in traffic turned Sarah’s stomach. The horses aside, some driver could get killed if they rounded a corner and found the mares in their path.

Sarah closed her legs around King’s sides and urged him across the bridge. He didn’t want to leave Indy and balked at crossing the wooden structure. The bulk of the missing horses had gone that way, however, and Sarah thumped her heels against the reluctant gelding to follow their trail.

Ghost exploded out of the brush to block her path, barking furiously. The Shepherd favored one foreleg, and as Sarah watched, drops of blood flecked the snow around the dog.

King rocked back on his haunches, preparatory for a spin for home. Sarah pulled up on the reins and closed her legs around the spooked gelding. Behind her, she heard Indy crash through the vegetation. Casey must have turned him around.

“Go home,” she shouted at Ghost. “Bad dog!”

She clapped her calves against King’s flanks and the

gelding sprang forward. Ghost scooted to one side as the horse charged, flinging snow behind him in his wake. Sarah leaned across King’s neck as he galloped across the bridge, belatedly considering the slickness of the wooden planks. Too late now. Once they were across, she’d pull up and wait for Casey.

Halfway across the bridge, a terrible shriek rent the air. Wood splintered and failed. Boards separated under the weight of horse and rider and came apart. King screamed as the footing beneath him gave way, and he plunged into the icy stream below, carrying Sarah with him.

AuThursday Madison Micheal

Besotted MM Banner

madison michael author photoTell us a little about yourself and your background?

Oh my, this may be the question I least enjoy answering. I am a retired software manager from corporate America who always loved romance as an escape from life’s realities. I grew up on romantic musicals like “My Fair Lady” and “Gigi” and so, when I had time on my hands after years working 60 hour weeks, it felt natural to write romance. I had no expectations but the writing bug bit me and I am hooked.

I still love to read romance. I love to travel.  I love the movies and exploring Chicago’s neighborhoods and restaurants. I am close with my family and friends who give me loving support and edit my books. And I am almost always surrounded by cats, junk food, and 24-hour cable news.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just to see where an idea takes you?

I do a broad brush outline to get a novel started, what Point of View I will use per chapter, how the plot will unfold chapter to chapter. I never stick to it. My characters take over about ¼ into the book and everything starts to change.

Do you ever get writer’s Block?

Writer’s block is just the worst! I had it for about three months last winter and thought I would never get back on track. I did a lot of research for my books during that time and wrote blog posts, but I just could not get my novel going. Finally, I came across an article that mentioned that writer’s block was really the brain saying it didn’t like the project. It rang true for me, so I did a deep dive on my characters, got to know them better and poof – the block was gone.

What genre do you write?

Mostly I write contemporary romance because I like dealing with the issues facing couples today – careers, families, and friends that pull couples in so many directions. Also, I enjoy the steamy aspects of a contemporary romance. But, I have written a time travel novel, Our Love is Here to Stay, and I had a wonderful opportunity to research Chicago in the 1950’s and keep my characters true to the period. I would love to do that again, or even try writing a Regency Romance. I love the manners and the clothes.

How did you come up with the idea for your book?

Besotted.jpgBesotted is the fourth novel in a series about four friends so the idea was really coming to me as I wrote the prior three books in the series. I loved creating four separate stories yet overlapping the characters so that readers could really get to know them. I am more about the characters when I write than the plot and I expect that the characters from the Beguiling Bachelor series will continue to make appearances in future books as well.

How are you publishing this book and why? (Indie, traditional or small press)

(Indie) I have more control over my story this way – the length, the plot lines, cover art, every aspect. I have a passion for marketing and interaction with my fans that equals my love of writing. I want to stay close to the novel and the readers.

All of my books to date have been published by me. I love being an indie publisher.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Don’t be too hard on yourself. I actually mentor a few aspiring writers and I warn them to keep moving forward and avoid falling into the rewrite pitfalls until they finish a full draft. Its great to polish until you are happy, but not until you actually have a full work to publish. Also, start small if you are unsure. Write short stories, write novellas so you can put yourself out there and get reader feedback, and momentum. Talk to other authors, they will be encouraging. You, on the other hand, will be your harshest critic.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

www.madisonmichael.net or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MadisonMichaelRomance

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

Thanks for asking, I would love to.

Besotted Teaser 5.2