AuThursday – Kathryn Halberg

HalbergHeadshot2022Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I write spicy, contemporary romances that take place largely in the Cincinnati area, where I’m from. When not writing, I work full-time for a local university and am an unpaid shuttle driver for my children’s various sporting activities 😉
How do you make time to write?
Insomnia.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
Not in those words, but I sometimes have to pause to wait for a character to better develop in my mind, and find out more about what they really want.
Tell us a bit about the genre you write and why you love it.
I was always told to write what you know. There’s nothing I know more than the here and now! I love to write contemporary romances that feature strong, independent women in fairly realistic situations. I try to avoid drama for the sake of drama.
How are you publishing your recent book and why?
Both (Indie and Traditional) – I just published the second book of my trilogy with GenZ Publishing, and am self-publishing the third book of the series to learn the ropes. I attended a 20Books conference last fall that really made me want to examine my options.
Are you an Introvert or an Extrovert?  How does this affect your work?
Ambivert. I grew up a full-fledged introvert and parenting has made me come out of my shell a bit more. This helps me be able to better grasp the needs of my characters.
What is your favorite motivational phrase?
No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. ~Eleanor Roosevelt
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Like a good wine, let your work breathe before you enjoy it again. My best work comes when I edit a manuscript at least six months after I wrote it.
Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?
KathrynHalberg.com and @KathrynHalberg on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok.
Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?
She grabbed a soft pretzel and lemonade and waited for Carlie to show. Why was it that shopping depression meant eating more carbs, which increased the likelihood of more shopping depression? It’s a vicious cycle, she thought as she tore off another bite of buttered therapy. It really wasn’t fair. She had hella good body image and loved her curves, but put her in a dressing room and her self-esteem fled like an autobahn speed demon.

AuThursday – Melinda Curtis

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

Prior to writing romance, I was a junior manager for a Fortune 500 company, which meant when I flew on the private jet I was relegated to the jump seat—otherwise known as the potty (yes, it has a seat belt). After grabbing my pen (and a parachute) I made the jump to full-time writer. I’m a hybrid author with over 60 titles published or sold, including 40 works to Harlequin and five to Grand Central Forever, mostly sweet romance and sweet romantic comedy. One of my books – Dandelion Wishes – became a TV movie in 2020. Love in Harmony Valley starred Amber Marshall of Heartland fame. 

How do you make time to write? 

Since I write full-time, “finding time” hasn’t been a problem up until a move and “shut-downs” in 2020. You see, all my kids went to college in Oregon and didn’t return to California. Mr. Curtis and I decided to move before the virus hit – just in time for quarantine. With some restrictions lifted, my kids have been popping by. And since we moved into a fixer-upper, workmen have been dropping by. Instead of big blocks of time, I’m writing in stolen moments – lunch hours for workmen, before or after family dinners, early in the morning. Deadlines must be met!

Do you believe in writer’s block? 

I do. But I think some label the inability to write through a draft writer’s block when their problems could be solved by opening their writing craft toolbox. On the other hand, emotional upheaval can steal the words and the joy of writing. I had a hard time writing after my father died. No amount of applied craft could help my sad, racing thoughts.

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

I went from writing traditional romance for Harlequin to Women’s Fiction to Rom-Coms. I’ve taken the emotional characters I’m used to writing and overlaying those stories with humor. Absolutely love this balance!

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

My most recent releases are trad – Montana Welcome, A Very Merry Match. I spent much of 2018-2019 writing to contract, which gave me 8 releases this year in the trad world. I’ve been slowly catching up on my indie series.

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

LOL. I think I’m an introvert but maybe that’s because I work at home and like it. But as soon as you get me around people, it’s yackety-yackety-yack!

What is your favorite motivational phrase?

You’ve got to want it!

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Work on your craft. Feed your soul.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

www.MelindaCurtis.net

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

This is an excerpt from A Very Merry Match, a small town rom-com that features characters in need of a second chance at love and three matchmaking widows who know that love sometimes needs a gentle nudge…

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The stool next to Kevin listed to one side as Jason Petrie tried to belly up to the bar with his broken leg. A clatter of crutches, a scrape of stool footings, and the blond, blue-eyed cowboy had half his butt on the seat. His casted leg rested gracelessly to the side.

Noah had a beer in front of Jason before the cowboy released a put-upon sigh or had time to glance over his shoulder at his ex-girlfriend Darcy.

“Before you start off with your smarmy metaphors and clichés, Kev.” Jason paused to sample his beer. “Remember that I’m the only guy in town who shows up to drink with you.”

And wasn’t that a sad state of affairs? 

Kevin signaled Noah for another whiskey. He’d been nursing his first for thirty minutes, and he was walking home. “I have no life.”

“Good mayors rarely do.” Jason drank some more beer. “You’re like priests. Nobody trusts priests who get out there and have a life either.”

Kevin scowled at him, annoyed that his opinion mirrored his ex-wife’s, doubly so when he realized they were both right. 

If he was ever going to re-activate his social life, he needed a steady girlfriend, someone as boring as he was, someone who was never the talk of the town, someone who wouldn’t ruin his political chances.

“Excuse me.” Mary Margaret Sneed picked up Jason’s crutches and leaned them against the bar. She wore blue jeans, tall black boots, and a chunky fisherman’s sweater that hinted at her curves. She had a full mane of red hair, a pair of tender blue eyes, and was like the Pied Piper when it came to making children behave. “I hate to interrupt, Jason, but…I heard you might be hiring part-time workers.”

“Yep.” Jason patted his walking cast beyond the fringe where he’d cut off one leg of his blue jeans. “The logistics of bull semen collection, storage, and order fulfillment are not what the doctor ordered for another few weeks.”

“Whereas drinking beer is,” Kevin murmured.

Mary Margaret and Jason both paused to look at him. Kevin stared into his whiskey glass.

“I’m looking for a part-time gig,” Mary Margaret continued in that church-girl voice of hers. “But I can’t work until after school during the week.”

“Ahhh.” Jason gave her another once-over. “Didn’t you know? Iggy is a vampire. He and the bulls do all their best work after happy hour.” While Jason explained the horrors of collecting bull semen, storing it with proper labeling in cryogenic units, and shipping it out, Kevin studied Mary Margaret out of the corner of his eye.

She was the complete opposite of his ex-wife. Soft-spoken. Openly kind. Stable. The type of woman a man who was one step from the priesthood would date. It didn’t hurt that she was beautiful or that she knew how to dress well enough to fit in but not loud enough to stand out. He’d seen her circulate in a crowd and not steal the limelight from anyone. She checked a lot of boxes.

And if he looked at the soft bow of her mouth, he could imagine kissing her. And if he imagined kissing her, he could imagine pressing the length of that long, tall body of hers against his. And if he could imagine that…

Kevin sipped his drink, unused to envisioning getting physical with one of his constituents, especially his son’s kindergarten teacher. 

He snuck another glance at her.

At that thick curtain of red hair, at her creamy skin, at the delicate way her fingers interlocked and squeezed intermittently as she listened to Jason.

Kevin swallowed thickly.

With all this talk of the priesthood, a switch had been flipped inside him. It’d been months since he’d burned the sheets with a woman. He could probably look at any single woman and imagine…

He glanced over his shoulder at Avery. She was single and his age. Unlike Mary Margaret, when she wasn’t wearing her theater uniform, Avery’s clothes showed more skin and clung to her curves. But as much as he stared, he couldn’t imagine getting busy with Avery. 

His attention shifted back to Mary Margaret, to intelligent blue eyes and a soft laugh. She shifted her feet, and then he couldn’t stop thinking about her long legs.

“Noah,” he croaked, a dying man in need of a sanity-leveling drink. He held up his empty glass.

AuThursday – Marie Johnston

Please welcome my fellow North Dakotan and Romance Writer, Marie Johnston, to The Clog Blog!  Marie, can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I started out as a science geek, and I guess I’m still one. I left full-time lab work ten years ago when we had our third kid (we now have four), worked for almost five years part-time, and then wrote full-time in the last few years. But COVID has drawn me back to the lab and I’m really enjoying it. Now that my kids are older, I’m determined to juggle both my writing gig and my med tech career. It won’t be easy, but I’m too social to work at home during another North Dakota winter. 

What are your current projects?

I’m usually working on more than one book at a time. I have a paranormal romance that releases in July that I’m finishing edits on. It’s the last one planned in that series, which spawned from my first series ever. I’m in the middle of writing a contemporary romance that will be published by K. Bromberg in her Everyday Heroes World in December. It’s been a bit harder (a whole lot harder) to find the time to write while I’m working. I miss those long stretches where I can really sink into the story.  

Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?

I’m fortunate to be a versatile writer. If needed, I’ll write on anything, anywhere. I prefer to sit for long, uninterrupted stretches, usually before noon. Some of my best writing has been done while waiting in the car with my computer propped on the steering wheel outside of one of my kids’ practices. No one’s called the cops on me yet for sitting in a dark, almost empty, parking lot of a school for over an hour. 

When I don’t have my computer or space is limited, I’ll type out an email to myself on the phone. If I’m really time-crunched, I’ll dictate, but I don’t prefer it. I like physically typing. If I only have a pen and paper, then I’ll plot even though I’m typically a linear pantser. I like to write from beginning to end and let the story unfold, which works better for me since I don’t care for the editing stages, which I have a lot of if I jump around to write different scenes and then seam them all together. 

You’ve written over forty books, where do your ideas come from?

Anywhere and everywhere. I’ll hear a song, a phrase, anything that evokes emotion and puts a scene in my head. From there, I’ll ask questions and more of the story will be revealed. Sometimes, all I have is that scene or idea and I’ve incorporated those in my stories. One of them was the idea of the heroine sitting in a coffee shop, eavesdropping from a booth on a lovey-dovey couple who are ordering. When they leave, the barista makes a comment to her about how she loves seeing a guy dote on his girlfriend like that. The heroine thinks to herself She isn’t his girlfriend. I am. I used that as an opening scene. I even paired it with a what-if idea I had. What if the scorned heroine had to move out of her place and one of the guys helping her move is the new love interest? That became the second scene and I felt like I got two hooks for one. 

Thankfully, I don’t lack in ideas. Just the time to write them all. 

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

I’ve always been indie. I started that way because I needed a shot at an income now and not maybe years from now. Little did I know how fickle both routes can be. Shortly after I started, I wrote a couple of manuscripts and pitched agents and nothing came of it. I self-published those books and I love the flexibility of that route. I can change prices and covers and blurbs within minutes, or days depending on the retailer. I’m changing a three-book series I have—new covers, new blurbs, new titles, and I’m even switching a series from 3rd person POV to 1st person POV. 

This year, I’ll be writing two books in other authors’ worlds. I have one releasing in September in the Cocky Heroes World and one in December in K. Bromberg’s Everyday Heroes World. It’s not quite like traditional publishing. I used my own editors and my own cover artist, but they publish it under their brand. Their audiences are huge so I’m hopeful I’ll find new readers. It’s been a good experience, but I don’t think I’ll do it again. I’d rather put that effort into the worlds I built. (Unless they sell like kettle corn and make a lot of money. Then I’ll totally do more!)

I wouldn’t mind being hybrid but I think I’d try that again with a non-romance book. I have too many romance books I want to get out in the next year and a half, so I’ve tabled those plans for a while. 

What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around?

I mentioned the flexibility with pricing and advertising, but I think the speed is a huge benefit. I’m a fast writer and I’ve built up a sizeable backlist. While I’m working heavier hours at the lab, I can ease off the keyboard a little and play with what I have. I can repackage different boxsets, run them for a limited time, and take them down. I can change covers and do special edition sales. For me, the biggest benefit is that if I’m not earning royalties, I can do something about it.  

What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?

I love any review I can get. Somehow, my book resonated enough with someone for them to go through the time and effort of a review. As long as the book’s average stays above 4.0, I don’t worry about it. But I never read them. They are by the readers, for the readers, and even the good reviews stifle my muse. The bad ones echo in my head for months. Some authors read reviews and gather information about how to improve their writing, but it’s not good for me and I leave it at that.  

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

There’s so much, but the best advice I got was Just Write. Even after 45 books, it still comes down to that. It’s what I have the most control over. It’s what drives my business. Just write.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

Website mariejohnstonwriter.com/

Twitter twitter.com/mjohnstonwriter

Facebook facebook.com/mjohnstonwriter/

Instagram Instagram.com/mariejohnstonwriter

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/11248716.Marie_Johnston?from_search=true

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

This is from my upcoming release A Shifter’s Salvation. It (was released)… on July 20th. Enjoy!

A lumpy bundle in the ditch captured her attention. Patience was past it before she braked. Frowning, she peered in the rearview mirror and waited for the dust cloud to settle. 

Still there. 

What was it? Too large to be a dog. Maybe a bear? A garbage bag? It wouldn’t be the first time some idiot tried getting rid of their trash on the side of a rural road. 

Squinting, she couldn’t make out what it was, but she swore part of the blue appeared to be denim material. 

No. It couldn’t be a person. 

Looking around, she couldn’t see a motorcycle or anything that suggested an automobile wreckage of any sort. 

She ran her tongue along her teeth. Good thing she fueled up. Someone had to check this lump out.

She stepped out of her car and blinked in the sunlight. It was a cool day, typical for late spring. Dirty snow was still piled in the ditches, but it’d been a mild winter, and whatever the bundle was hadn’t landed in more than dried grasses. 

“Hello?” She inched closer to the edge of the road. If it was garbage, please be old rags. Something that didn’t ooze. Picking up other people’s trash was full of icky surprises.

The lump didn’t move. 

“Garbage dumpers,” she muttered and crept closer. A mop of rich brown hair caught her gaze. 

The pile wasn’t small. And it had hair. 

Her heart rate kicked up. A person. But there was no vehicle around. Was he dumped?

She knew it was a he because of the size. Not that women couldn’t be that big. But this was definitely a guy. Because the more she studied him, the better able she could make out that he was on his side and had incredibly broad shoulders. 

“Excuse me?” she said, sounding more timid than she cared to.

No movement.

“Sir?” She took a step closer. 

No response. 

She closed the distance between them and stood over him. His shoulders moved in time with his steady breathing. Good, he was alive at least. Before she could wonder about her personal safety, she crouched as far away as possible but close enough to reach out and nudge one heavily muscled arm. “Hey?”

Nothing. 

Circling him, she had a dying need to know what he looked like. If she was getting taken down by a stranger, she wanted to see his face. 

Admittedly, this stranger didn’t seem like he’d attack anyone any time soon. 

A leather coat flap obscured his face. Since he was breathing, she pushed him to his back. A normal person would call an ambulance, but there was no way she’d risk that. With her luck, Damian would be on duty, and she couldn’t risk running across him. The restraining order had expired and he hadn’t bothered her—yet. 

The man groaned as he settled on his back. 

Her lips parted. He was a mess. But he was a hot mess. Bits of grass mixed with rich brown strands. A neatly trimmed beard framed his chiseled face. Everything about him screamed strength and power. Quite a feat for an unconscious man. She didn’t have to move his jacket and shirt around to know that he had a great body. 

But she had no wish to touch his shirt. Blood was spattered across it. She couldn’t see any open wounds. Not his blood? Her gaze swept his long body. No major injuries other than bloody knuckles. 

Her jaw tightened. He was in a fight before he ended up here. Self-defense? Or was he a mean bastard? 

“What’s your story?”

 

AuThursday – Adriana Anders

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

Hi there! Thank you for having me today! I write moody, sexy, and suspenseful Romantic Thrillers and Contemporary Romance. While my first books—the Blank Canvas Series—focused on the turmoil and secrets in a small Virginia town, my upcoming Survival Romances take things global. Which makes research especially fun!

So, background… Though I’ve been an avid reader for most of my life, I started writing seriously in a circuitous way. I used to be a singer and actor and did voices for video games—then I translated video games (from French into English) and, finally, got a chance to write them. Getting from there to Romance was a long, arduous road with lots of ups and downs… but I wouldn’t change it for the world.

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

I’m 60% extrovert and 40% introvert, which means that after hanging with my friends for a few hours, I need about the same amount of time to recover alone with a good book. I prefer to work in coffee shops, with headphones on. Even better if it’s at a table with other writing friends!

Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?

I’m a morning writer. I’ve had periods of time when I wake up at 5am to get that special quiet before the kids descend upon me, but I’m generally a morning to early afternoon person. I think it’s because my brain isn’t fully awake, which often makes for better results.

Do you ever get writer’s Block?

Yes. And how. This past year has been a long, complicated journey of cleaning out a house and moving an entire family’s life from one country to another. Writing has been VERY tough and the thing is, I’ve finally figured out why: If I don’t take the time to just think and be with the characters, then I never quite grasp who they are.  Right now, my goals are to write, think, brainstorm, and let myself get to know my people before putting too many words on the page.

I see you have quite a few series, including BLANK CANVAS, LOVE AT LAST, and THE ROGUE SERIES. What are your thoughts on writing a book series?

Series appeal to me on a few levels. There’s something so incredibly comforting about familiarity. It’s what draws me to series—getting to see familiar places and characters and how they progress through the pages. Writing a series around a small town, a family, or other groups of people gives readers a chance to get really entrenched in a way that feels intimate. I love that.

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

My novella, DEEP BLUE, is out in a March anthology called TURN THE TIDE, published by Sourcebooks, which is also publishing my upcoming series of Survival Romances. I love the freedom of publishing independently and the excitement of seeing my books in bookstores, which is what my traditional contracts give me. What’s great is that, though there’s overlap, I am able to reach two different audiences.

What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around?

Self-publishing is wonderful because I can decide what I write, when I write it, what the cover looks like, etc. And if none of it works, I can go back to the drawing board and re-brand. I love the freedom and flexibility. But it costs money. And I know that what I invest in my own books (including on edits, promo, etc.) is a fraction of what my publisher spends to put my books out. Beyond the cost, there are two aspects to traditional publishing that I really appreciate: one is the network and reach. My publisher gets my book into places I’d never manage on my own. The second is the team. The number of passes my books go through—from my acquiring editor to the copy editors and proofreaders—the number of people involved—designers, the PR team, and beyond—make the final product as close to perfection as there is, while the experience of having a team to back me up is absolutely priceless.

I’m not going to say to write every day, because it doesn’t work that way for me. In fact, I think there’s a path for each and every writer—a method or habit or system that will work—but it might not be easy to find. I know authors who write all night and sleep during the day, others who can get a thousand words in over a lunch break, others plot everything out before they even start, which isn’t at all how I work. So, I guess what I’m trying to say is that if something doesn’t work for you, don’t give up. That’s it, in a nutshell, try things, stop it if they’re only making it harder. Then try something else. And DON’T. GIVE. UP.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

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

Oh, I’d be delighted! This is from DEEP BLUE, my novella in the free TURN THE TIDE anthology from Sourcebooks!

Zoe shouldn’t have come out to the oil platform alone.

How many times had Jane warned her? How many times had she promised her partner that she wouldn’t scuba dive offshore rigs on her own? But she’d done it before, and she’d do it again.

Unless, of course, this time was her last.

Crap.

Eighty-five feet beneath the surface of the water, she spun, taking in details she hadn’t noticed above. The absolute stillness was disquieting, when usually the water around the rig’s coral- and crustacean-coated legs was teeming with life. The sea turtles and tiny reef fish that always investigated her presence were nowhere to be seen. The only sound was her own breathing as she sucked air from the tank, the only movements the gentle swish of sea anemone and the flurry of bubbles rising from her mouth.

The flat, washed-out blue she usually found so calming looked dead without the flash of garibaldi dashing between the old oil platform’s maze of support beams like playful orange flames. Usually they’d be swarming, but today…nothing.

It was Sea Lion Bob’s absence that transformed her sense of general unease into full-blown worry, however. He’d greeted her every time she’d come to check the Polaris platform reef.

Something was very wrong.

Get out of here, her instincts screamed, even as her training forced her to relax. A slow inhale, the sound thin under the weight of the water, and a kick up, as languid as she could make it with the panic weighing her limbs down. A long exhale churned the water above, and she added bubbles to the mix by venting enough air to rise slowly.

Relax. Stay calm.

Why hadn’t she paid attention to the niggling in her belly as she’d driven her boat toward the platform? It was impossible to pinpoint exactly when the feeling had started or what had set it off, but it was undeniable. Funny how fear changed things. It turned the platform’s shell-encrusted support beams into a phantom forest. The pinks and purples, leached of all color, were the wan gray of death.

I’ll never come alone again, she promised the Fates or God or the ocean itself.

As she slowly ascended, her eyes searched feverishly for some clue as to what had turned a busy, dynamic reef into a foggy, blue ghost town.

Had she missed something on the trip out here?

She remembered passing the two working platforms closer inland. Nothing strange there. A few miles farther out, just before San Elias Island, she’d spotted the Daphne and drawn her boat up alongside her, as she did nearly every time she came this way. Blushing, of course. Always blushing with that guy.

“Hey, Eric.”

Slow as syrup, he had leaned against the rail of his boat, lean body indolent-looking, though his face remained serious as always. “Evening, Zoe. Kinda late today, aren’t you?”

She had shrugged, working hard to keep her gaze above chest level so she wouldn’t stare. What was it about this guy that made her want to eat him up with her eyes? He wasn’t even her usual type, which was dark and intellectual. No, this guy had Paul Newman good looks, with the build of a roughneck. She’d bet anything his hands were as coarse as his voice.

“Yeah,” she’d managed to shout against the wind. “Been a couple weeks since I checked in on Polaris.”

“I noticed,” he’d said without the hint of a smile.

The words—straight, serious, and a touch accusatory—did things to her. Good God, what was wrong with her? Those two innocuous words made her heart race more than anything she’d done with her last boyfriend. Ridiculous, considering that Eric showed no more interest in her than in his fishing pole.

Besides, she knew absolutely nothing about him.

“All right.” She reached forward to pull the throttle out, but stopped at his next words.

“You alone today?”

“Yeah,” she had to admit. “Jane’s not—”

“You diving the rig?”

“Yes.” She had sounded defensive. Weird how that came back to her now, with a hiccup of embarrassment.

The lines around his mouth tightened, his too-blue eyes narrowed, and he nodded once, quick and short.

“Careful. Weather headed our way.”

When his worry warmed her insides instead of sparking a snarky Yes, sir, she’d known she should get out of there. Throwing him a smile and a wave, she’d taken off as fast as she could. Everything about the man said trouble—for her, at least. Oh, he’d always been friendly and respectful, but it was the unspoken stuff that got to her, like the hungry way he eyed her or, much more worrisome, the way that look lit her up inside.

She should have listened to his warning about weather, should have turned around right there and headed back to the mainland. Or, even better, she should have paused there longer, flirted a bit, maybe even screwed up the courage to finally ask him out.

But she hadn’t. And now she was pushing back the panic and slowly working through the eerie calm to the surface, which seemed to be getting farther away with every kick of her fins.

Inhale…stop kicking. Loosen up. Be big. Exhale…

BOOM!

The sound hit her, and she threw up her hands to cover her ears. Less than a second later, the rig’s supports shook, releasing a blinding dust cloud that could mean only one thing—earthquake.

Oh God, oh God, oh God. At fifteen feet below the surface, she fought the desire to head all the way up and counted down the seconds for her three-minute safety stop.

Calm down. I’m better off in the water than on land.

Not if the platform collapsed.

She’d never been scared like this on a dive, never shivered so hard underwater.

BOOM!

Another gray puff billowed from the platform, joining the dust rising from the depths like smoke from a forest fire.

She didn’t have to check her gauge to know she was running low on air.

Yeah, I’m done here.

Buy Links

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07NWZJT8Y

 

 

 

AuThursday – Dana Marton

TOD DM Banner

DM author photoTell us a little about yourself and your background?

I like putting plenty of romance and suspense into my stories, including my current release, a second-chance love story about a kickass Hollywood stuntwoman and a former Navy SEAL turned bestselling thriller author. In real life, I try to have the same ‘never give up, never surrender’ attitude as my characters. It took me thirteen years of trying to finally get published. I’ve written over fifty novels since! All while moving across the Atlantic Ocean five times. I swore never to move again with a ship—and have my furniture broken because the ship got into a storm. I cope with life’s constant changes by hanging tight to those closest to me: my family, my dog Toby, coffee, and chocolate. I’m a great fan of all things sugar, which is why Threat of Danger is set on a maple syrup farm in Vermont. I love chatting with readers, so if you’re on Facebook, look me up and say hello.

How do you make time to write?

I prioritize writing over everything but family. If dishes are not done, I can live with that. Right now, the weeds are about knee-high in my garden. I’ll deal with that once my edits are done for the book I’m currently working on. Very early in my writing career, someone said, What do you want to see in your obituary? She was a New York Times bestselling author, or she was the best housekeeper ever? I decided then and there that I wanted to be a bestselling author. So I schedule my time accordingly.

Do you believe in writer’s block?

I have the opposite problem. Way more ideas than I’ll ever have the time to write. I have a giant folder of book outlines. If I’ll get to write a third of them, I’ll be happy.

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

I LOVE romantic suspense. I like action/adventure type of stories. There is just that extra oomph and excitement, that pulse-pounding thrill that makes you hold your breath. The stakes are high, and I believe that character is revealed in hardship. Any hero can say “I love you” to the heroine. But will he step in front of a bullet to save her?

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

I publish both as an indie author and with a publisher. My current title was released by Montlake. It’s lovely to have that larger team around me, to be able to bounce ideas off my editors.

 

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Keep writing. Write the best book you can, then study the craft of writing and make the book even better. If you write a story that connects with people, readers will recommend it to their friends. That’s the best promotion any author can hope for. There used to be a lot of pressure to put out a book every ninety days. Then people started putting out a book a month. Now some authors put a book out every week. I didn’t have a single new release last year. I still did okay, because my readers kept recommending my older books to others. My readers are still with me. Make those connections, build those relationships. If you want writing to be a long-term career, don’t set up a schedule that will cause an early burn-out. This year is my 15th anniversary of getting my first publishing contract. Slow and steady can be a wonderful thing.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

www.danamarton.com

www.facebook.com/danamarton

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

Absolutely! This is the intro to the book, the hero and heroine heading into danger.

tod“Hurry up!” Derek drew Jess forward on the narrow path in the woods.

Jess didn’t need urging. She couldn’t wait to be alone with him at the cabin. Her heart drummed: faster, faster, faster.

The two eighteen-year-olds dashed through the undergrowth, breathless with laughter. Winter sunshine gilded webs of branches, the sky the most innocent shade of blue, each gap between the tree trunks a stained glass window. The trees—mostly maple—reached up and up, as tall as church spires. Within the magnificent cathedral of the Vermont forest, the joy of young love sang.

The patches of shadows seemed far away. Jess barely even noticed the dark spots. Each step they took was into light, each breath of crisp air a thrill.

They jumped a log together, strong and nimble. Jess thought of nothing but the old family cabin, the two of them alone, Derek’s firm and eager body all around hers. Desire tingled through her, her fingers tightening on his as he pulled her forward.

“We’re almost there.”

Derek Daley—crush of her life, boy next door, every girl’s dream—wanted her. Finally!

Jess had pined after him all through high school and would have handed him her heart on a platter, if he’d only noticed her. He hadn’t then, but he did now, home from college on break. Nothing else mattered. He’d noticed her and he’d kissed her, and then he’d asked if she would go out to the old cabin with him.

Jess knew what boys did with girls at the derelict cabin off the abandoned logging road. That knowledge burst through her in a shower of sparkling light.

“What’s with the crows?” Derek jerked his head toward the treetops, but he didn’t slow for a second, as desperate for the cabin as Jess.

His eagerness tasted sweeter on her tongue than maple candy.

She glanced up, dazed. What? What did anything else matter beyond how fast they could be in each other’s arms? They had the rest of the day, hours and hours, just the two of them, together, but she didn’t want to waste a single moment.

She wanted his lips back on hers. She was dying for another kiss.

Derek must have felt the same, because he halted and dragged her into his arms in a wild move that almost toppled them. He kissed the breath out of her before spinning away to run again. Thank

God he was holding her hand or she would have stumbled. When it came to Derek’s kisses, Jess’s schoolgirl fantasies paled compared to reality.

The black dotting of crows watched them from the trees. They didn’t see the humans as two lovers flying to their nest, but merely prey as yet unaware of the hunter. The same small, sharp eyes that trailed Derek and Jess from above also trailed the hunter who closed in, moving faster than his prey, eager on the scent.

The birds knew the hunter. He always fed them well.

Down below, everything was movement.

Up in the trees, the crows perched still and waited for the bloody bits.

Then the story cuts to 10 years later. To escape the memories of what had happened to them in the woods, Jess had gone to Hollywood and became a top stuntwoman. Derek joined the Navy and became a SEAL. Then they suddenly both find themselves back home and have to deal with their shared past at last. They’re surprised to find that the love and attraction between them is still there. But so is the killer who is itching for a second chance at them.

AuThursday – Marianne Rice

MRiceAuthorPicTell us a little about yourself and your background?

I’m a wife and the mother of three children. Two girls (17 and 14) and a son (12). I moved from California to the east coast in high school and made Maine my home. Now, you can find me teaching high school English, writing when I can, or curled up with a romance novel.

How do you make time to write?

Ha ha ha! This is a funny one. I don’t seem to be able to “make” time, but I take advantage of the little bits I get here and there. Family watching a movie? I escape to my room to write. Stuck at lacrosse practice? I hide out in the car to write. Summer vacation? Mommy writing time!

Do you believe in writer’s block?

Nope. But maybe it’s because I have such little time to write. I’m always thinking about my stories so when I have a moment of peace at my laptop, the words fly pretty quickly. The issue is…not enough time to write it all down!

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

I fell in love with Jill Shalvis, Susan Mallery, Kristan Higgins, Brenda Novak and many, many more. I love reading about real-life romances, especially those set in small towns. Well, the stories are made up but they could happen, right? My books are sort of a blend between contemporary romance and women’s fiction. I focus on the characters and their internal conflict and the budding romance between the hero and heroine. I also love writing about friends and families. There’s so much material there, right?

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

I’m a hybrid. I have three series with small presses and my latest series in self-published. I like the blend; I’ve learned so much from my small presses and have gained fabulous writer friendships with my fellow authors, but it’s a whole new adventure self-publishing!

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

Total extrovert. However, I was a major introvert–I’m talking social anxiety disorder–until my college years. I was shy in my early twenties, and then something happened. I have no idea what. I absolutely love going to writer and reader conferences and have no trouble speaking in front of a huge crowd. Which is helpful with my day job. Standing up in front of 16-18 year olds trying to inspire them to write and love literature is one of the most challenging jobs I can think of. Talk about daily rejection!

What is your favorite motivational phrase?

“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” Confucius and “Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.” C.S. Lewis

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Don’t stop writing. Ever. And reach out to fellow writers. Often. Attend local writing groups (my local RWA chapter is fabulous, even if you’re not a romance author) and conferences. NEVER stop learning. And don’t publish a book just because you “can”. Get your work in front of as many eyes as possible. And I’m not talking about your Aunt Mabel. You need advice from those in the writing community. Also, hire a professional editor and do your research!

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

I’m everywhere!

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

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Marianne-Rice/e/B00SICUIRM

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/mariannericeaut

My website: http://www.mariannerice.com

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/MarianneRice

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/marianne-rice

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

“Sure! This is from Where There’s Hope. It’s the second book in my Well Paired novels, but each book is a stand alone.” ~Marianne Rice

Where There's HopeThe front door opened before his foot touched the front step. Hope’s welcoming smile lit up the front stoop, and he did all he could to keep from picking her up in his arms and covering her mouth with his.

Those lips, though. Julia Roberts had nothing on Hope Windward.

“Hey,” she said coyly, her voice wrapped around his heart, giving it a gentle squeeze he hadn’t felt since he was a young boy.

“You’re beautiful.”

Hope looked down at her feet then back up at him, scrunching her nose in that adorable manner she did when she was confused. “I’m wearing jeans and a sweater.”

“I didn’t notice.” And he hadn’t. It was her rich hazel eyes and her sunshiny sparkle that brightened his dark world. She wore her hair down tonight, soft ribbons of dark blonde hair flowing just past her shoulders. Hair he longed to run his fingers through.

Cameron walked up the steps, stopping in the open doorway.

“Well, I’m noticing you. And you look very handsome. I don’t know what I like better, though. Sexy whiskers or the soft skin.”

Cameron rubbed his cheeks with his fingers. He’d shaven tonight for her family, thinking the clean look was more presentable to her parents and her daughter than the usual scruff on his face.

“You name it, beautiful, and I’ll do it.”

Hope raised an eyebrow and her gaze dropped to his lips. “You should probably come in and meet my parents first, don’t you think?”

 

AuThursday – Elizabeth Meyette

Elizabeth MeyetteTell us a little about yourself and your background?

I wrote my first book, Love’s Destiny, on a dare many years ago. Life threw me a few curves, so I had to return to college, get a teaching degree, and find a job. I taught secondary English and journalism for most of my career, though I did a delightful stint as an elementary media specialist (school librarian). As an English teacher, I never had time to pursue my own writing, so my novel gathered dust under my bed until I retired. My friend said I didn’t retire, I refired, and she is right. I started writing full time, and Love’s Courage is my fifth novel since I left teaching.

How do you make time to write?

I am fortunate to be able to write full time. I so admire authors who juggle a job, young children, and other responsibilities and still commit to their writing. I tend to become so focused on writing that I let other things go like exercise, meditation, reading, and just plain fun. My husband Rich is very understanding though. He says I get cranky when I’m not writing. He’s right.

Do you believe in writer’s block?

I do, but I have been fortunate to evade it thus far. My problem is too many ideas and too little time.

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

I write in two genres—historical romance and paranormal mystery. I love historical romance because I love to research what it was like to live in earlier times. The Brentwood Saga (Love’s Destiny, Love’s Spirit, and Love’s Courage) is set during the American Revolution, an era I adore. Rich and I have gone to Colonial Williamsburg, VA and New York City to do research and for him to take copious photographs for me to use.

I also love paranormal mystery. Mystery has always been my favorite genre, and while I was writing my first one, The Cavanaugh House, suddenly this ghost appeared. Readers wanted more of my characters from The Cavanaugh House, and the characters had more to tell. Buried Secrets came out in 2016, and the third in my Finger Lakes Mystery series will be out in 2018.  The rest is history, or rather, mystery.

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

I am a hybrid author. My first two books, Love’s Destiny and Love’s Spirit, are with Simon & Schuster/Crimson Romance. All my other books are indie. I like the control I have over my indie books. I get to choose my own cover (Rich created both my mystery covers), my publishing schedule, and my marketing strategies. I have my indie books professionally edited and formatted, and the cover for Love’s Courage was done by a different cover artist. I guess I’m a control freak, but it works because my indie books outsell my traditionally published books by thousands.

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

I am an extrovert. This works well for me because I am in several writers’ groups, so I interact well with people. I also love to do book talks and give presentations at workshops and conferences. After teaching for so many years, I feel very comfortable speaking to large groups, especially if they don’t throw spitballs.

What is your favorite motivational phrase?

“She believed she could, so she did.”

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Write, write, write. Read, read, read.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

www.elizabethmeyette.com

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

I sure do! This is from my latest novel, Love’s Courage.

LovesCourage_CVR_MEDShe glanced at the shore again as the ship passed the end of the wharf on its journey up the York River to Chesapeake Bay and out into the Atlantic Ocean. A flash of color along the ridge caught her eye. Her heart thumped as a rider careened along the road that ran down the Great Valley leading from the ridge to the port. Even from this distance, she recognized Andrew. How could he possibly have made that journey so quickly?

The letter she had sent him should not have arrived in time for him to see her off. She had never intended it to. His presence would make her departure impossible, and she could not bear that. So, she had delayed sending her letter.

That had been first of her lies.

Snatching his hat off his head, he waved it and whistled, piercing the heavy air as he reached the base of the hill and thundered along the riverbank. He pulled the horse up causing it to plant its hooves, its rigid front legs angled straight out. As he slid from the saddle, he again whistled shrilly, waving his cocked hat.

“Jenny!” The sleeves of his white linen shirt billowed as he signaled to the ship.

How could it be? He must have ridden at break-neck speed.

“Jenny! Jonathon, turn back!” Andrew ran along the wharf until he reached its end.

Would his brother-in-law hear Andrew’s plea? But neither Jonathon nor anyone in his crew looked up. They would not hear him over the sails slapping the wind, arcing and spreading high above the deck, or over the bosun’s piping Jonathon’s orders. The crew were all occupied with raising the sails and navigating the departure from Yorktown.

She did nothing to call their attention to Andrew.

She could see errant strands of his light brown hair blowing about his head. The disheveled look of his shirt, untucked, flapping in the breeze was quite a contrast to how he had looked the last time they’d been together at a formal dinner at Brentwood Manor. Then, he’d worn a cream-colored long coat and russet breeches, his cravat billowing at his neck. His tawny hair had been tied back in a neat queue, as usual. He’d swept off his wool cocked hat in a regal bow, his blue eyes smoky with passion as they shared a secret smile. He’d pulled her to the empty parlor and wrapped her in his arms.

As the ship continued its slow passage along the York River, she leaned against the rail, Andrew’s form ever more distant. She stretched out her arm toward the shore as if, somehow, she could reach him. But it was no use. She dropped her arm to her side. This was what she had hoped for.

This was what she had dreaded.

“Andrew.” His name escaped her throat in a moan. How she had wanted to hold him and kiss him goodbye. She would never hold him again.

“Jenny. I love you, Jenny.”

Although he bellowed the words, they floated over the water to her in a shimmering, faint declaration. Tears ran down her cheeks, and she hugged herself to stop the sobs that shuddered against her ribs.

“I love you, too, my dearest Andrew,” she whispered against the catch in her throat.

 

“Thank you so much for inviting me to your blog today. It’s been delightful visiting with you.”~Elizabeth Meyette

 

 

 

AuThursday – JC Hannigan

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I am a twenty-eight year old mother and wife of two boys. We have a black lab and live in Southern Ontario. Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to write books. I would write books, on lined paper with crayon coloured “covers”.

I see you’ve written a lot of series, including COLLIDE, DAMAGED and REBEL. What are your thoughts on writing a book series?

I love reading series, following as characters grow and change. For the Collide series, I wasn’t quite done with Harlow Jones after the first book…or the second book. So I wrote a third, and I feel like that story is definitely one that couldn’t be condensed and told the same way. I encountered the same problem with the Damaged Series; I knew that Everly and Grayson’s story couldn’t be condensed to just one book.

But for the Rebel Series, I did try something different…while it is a series, each book can be read as a standalone as each book focuses on one of the three Miller siblings; Brock, Becky, and Braden. The first book–Rebel Soul, is Brock and Tessa’s story. Rebel Heart is Braden and Elle’s story, and Rebel Song is Travis and Becky’s story. I had a blast writing this series, and I think I’ll do more in the future because it appeals to both series lovers and those who prefer standalones.

What do you owe the real people upon whom you base your characters?

A LOT, I owe them a lot! Everyone around me has influenced or inspired aspects and personality traits in my characters. For example, Bill Armstrong (from the Rebel Series) is a lot like my father–traditional, productive, stubborn, hard-working, a man of few words. Everly Daniels (the Damaged Series) has my naive nature and wears her heart on her sleeve.

What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?

Nailing their emotional response to things! I always have to hit up my husband for advice with my male characters.

What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around?

I have tried the hybrid publishing house method, and that didn’t end well. The publishing company went under, and that kind of stress and uncertainty didn’t jive well with me, so I really like the control I have with independant publishing. But I can only really speak from my experiences thus far. I’m not against traditional publishing, or closed off to the idea, and who knows what the future will bring.

Do you let the book stew – leave it for a month and then come back to it to edit?

I’m not really good at letting things stew, so I edit right away. But I usually do several cycles of editing, revising, and tweaking before sending it to the editor and beta team. In between those edits and revisions, I work on other projects.

What is your writing Kryptonite?

MUSIC! I need music!

Do you believe in writer’s block?

Yes, writer’s block is definitely a thing. I like to refer to it as “word constipation”.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Just keep writing 🙂

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

Author Website – http://jchannigan.com
Amazon Author Page – http://amzn.to/2bvioNg
Twitter – http://twitter.com/jcahannigan
Facebook – http://facebook.com/jcahannigan
Google Plus – http://tinyurl.com/qaqex3f
Instagram – http://instagram.com/jcahannigan
Personal blog – http://sarcastica.ca
FANnigans – https://www.facebook.com/groups/FANnigans/
Do you have a sexy teaser you’d like to share with us?

Sure do! This is a teaser from my new release, REBEL SONG. Available in KU September 18th!

21246144_10155388046199845_207316690_o

Join me next Thursday when Izzy Syn joins us.  ~Tina

AuThursday – Helen Henderson

henderson-headshot-portraitTell us a little about yourself and your background?

Thank you, Tina, for letting me stop by. To my readers of fantasy and romance, I’m Helen Henderson. To those of my historical westerns, they know me by the name of my ancestress, Jessie Treon. My Gemini sign matches my heritage and shows in my writing in multiple genres which are perfect for a tour guide to the stars, the Old West, and worlds of imagination.

What are you working on at the minute?

A companion book to the Dragshi Chronicles is readying for flight. First Change consists of a collection of short stories and novellas from history and legend of the dragshi–humans with a twinned dragon soul. Another tale of the Archmage, Lord Dal, and the sea captain, Lady Ellspeth, is drifting just offshore, awaiting the scribe to capture it. Besides working on the novels, I’ve decided to try something new in 2017. I will be participating in my first writing challenge, a post a week on a specified topic in 52 weeks.

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

Shorter works such as novellas are usually free written. I do like structure for full-length novels, but I don’t hold to the hard rule of outlining the entire work before starting to write. When I write, I storyboard or write the draft of a scene or chapter depending on how much the muse is visiting. A scene in the storyboard might have a line describing the setting, an annotation of whose point of view I expect it to be in, and maybe three to five bullet points. Or, if the muse is visiting that block in the storyboard will be completely fleshed out with dialog, transitional phrases and be a true first draft. As I get deeper and deeper into the story and the characters take over, there are less stubbed scenes and more completed ones. Usually by the time I get to the end of the storyboard I have a complete first draft ready for editing and peer review.

How long on average does it take you to write a book?

That really is an unfair question. A number of items impact the time to complete a story. A book written in the early days of my career took longer than the most recent one. Generally, a full-length novel takes a year from initial draft to the publication-formatted manuscript. A novella can be completed in a month if the fates allow. As a caregiver sometimes emergencies and life gets in the way of writing which can impact the time to write. Although I have written while sitting in doctors offices, emergency rooms, and at 2 in the morning.

Do you ever get writer’s Block? Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?

My response in the past to a question regarding writer’s block was that I usually don’t get it. I have too many projects going on. However, never say never. Two novels, both set in the world of Windmaster, refuse to cooperate. There was too great an age difference between the male and female lead characters. That problem was solved by changing the point-of-view to different characters. However, the storyline had one of the “now-secondary” characters go on a journeyman walk and after a battle stay in a foreign land. To keep the series integrity, the original intent that it would be the tale of the next generation, the girl going walkabout would be no older than seventeen. Again the age felt inappropriate for the storyline. That is being re-evaluated.

henderson-windmasterlegacy-200x300The second novel in the Windmaster series awaiting a scribe faced the problem of expanding a paragraph-long legend to a full-length novel. The first two chapters came easily, then life interfered and a break occurred.

As to how to overcome the writer’s block, for the one book, time will be set aside to re-read the first two novels in the series and re-immerse myself in that world. A visit with the original characters will, hopefully, get the next generation talking to me.

I see you’ve written a series called THE DRAGSHI CHRONICLES.  Can you tell us a bit more about your series, and what draws you to writing it?

The Dragshi Chronicles are action-filled, romance-laden fantasies about a group of men and women who are more than just what you see, but are two beings—one human, the other a dragon. The pair share one body in space and time and are able to change forms with the other at will. But be warned, a dragon form comes with more than just the freedom of the sky.

Each book is a stand-alone tale. The first book is Dragon Destiny. For hundreds of years, Dragshi Lord Branin and his dragon soul twin Llewlyn searched for their intended mates. Lady Broch of Ky’Port, the firebrand leader of a band of raiders, vowed to marry the dragon lord, with or without his willing cooperation. Everything changed the day a wistful thought touched Branin’s.

Hatchlings Curse continues the story of Lord Branin and the trader girl Anastasia. Branin means to break the hatchling’s curse and end the childlessness of the dragshi. To save his kind he has to win the mating flight. And the cost? All he treasures. Throwing the competition is not an option.

The series continues with Hatchling’s Mate. Talann’s dilemma. No dragons sang a welcome at his birth, so how is he to save all dragon shifters. Or, save himself from the mind control wielded by the leader called – the Parant.

Hatchling’s Vengeance completed the series. Lady Glynnes Janaleigh had found her mate, but finding him is only half the battle. Keeping him alive is the other when duty has other demands and Fate holds all the cards. On one card is written: “Vengeance has two paths—death or love. And a long memory.”

As to what drew me to the world of the dragshi? My heritage is the child of a coal miner’s daughter and an aviation flight engineer. My world was grounded in the rural life and the skies. I grew up on a farm watching hawks soar overhead. The hawks became dragons and my desire to fly became real.

henderson-windmaster-200x300You have so many lovely book covers, can you tell us if you have a favorite and why?

While I love all the covers (even the ones I created), my favorite cover is Windmaster by Michelle Lee. The alluring model and ship hints at fantasy, magic, pirates and romance. Oh, wait a minute. Windmaster is all those things.

 

What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around?

At this point in my career, I am now what is called a hybrid author–someone with one foot in the indie world and the other in the more traditional publishing arena. When I first embarked on publishing my own works, I was fortunate enough to have the contacts to overcome a disadvantage many independent authors encounter–the building of your own stable of technical experts from cover designer to copy editor to proofreader. An even bigger disadvantage is the social isolation. When you’re with a publisher, the authors support each other. You benefit from their social media reach and they yours. Fortunately, if you look for them, groups of independent authors have formed that provide a similar function.

Publishers, especially small press, can be a security blanket, a launching pad, or the perfect place for an author to call home. They have extended reach, resources, and enable authors, who don’t want to run their own company, to learn, grow, and become “published authors.”

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

WEBSITE: helenhenderson-author.webs.com/

BLOG: helenhenderson-author.blogspot.com

AMAZON: http://amzn.com/e/B001HPM2XK

GOODREADS: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/777491.Helen_Henderson

FACEBOOK – https://www.facebook.com/HelenHenderson.author

GOOGLE + –http://ow.ly/JEZug