AuThursday – Darrah Steffens

Tell us a little about yourself and your background? 

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

How do you make time to write?

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

Do you believe in writer’s block? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is your favorite motivational phrase? 

Don’t wait for an opportunity. Create it. 

What advice would you give to aspiring writers? 

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

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

darrahsteffenwrites.wordpress.com 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Black magic seeped into the ground. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AuThursday – Crystal Estell

Tell us a little about yourself and your background? 

I was raised in South Carolina in extreme poverty. Not as in I didn’t own name brand jeans, but as in I once lived in a condemned migrant worker’s house with no working bathroom until a church rented our family a place, poverty. That place didn’t last long, and then it was on to the next run down trailer we could find for pennies, as my late father was an alcoholic who barely worked. It didn’t help that neither of my parents had more than a 7th grade education. 

At 17, I moved out. And after taking several detours––that I’ll probably write about one day––I put myself through nursing school and now hold a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing Degree, working full time as a registered nurse. While I enjoy taking care of people, something happened that changed my life several years ago. Doctors diagnosed me with two rare conditions, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and a Chiari Malformation, which led to over eleven surgeries, including one on my brain. Shortly after, my then 7-year-old son had open heart surgery. It helped me realize life is short, and that I should do what makes me happy. 

Writing makes me happy. 

And when I’m not working, writing, or caring for my zoo filled with kids, dogs, chickens, and Churro, the rabbit, I find pleasure—and sanity—in deep conversations, coffee, and coloring outside the lines. 

My hope is that the happy endings I write provide an escape to someone who needs it, as books––and a late, inspiring aunt––gave me the emotional support I needed to create an alternate ending to my own story. 

How do you make time to write?

I just do. With a full time job and five very active kids, I have to make sacrifices–not excuses. I treat writing like a second job. My family respects it like a second job. And that makes it a lot easier to do what needs to be done. Otherwise, I’d never find the time. 

Do you believe in writer’s block? 

I have a different view of writer’s block than most. To me, it’s not being stuck or having nothing to write about. It’s more that my mind has so many ideas and possibilities flowing through it simultaneously that it’s hard to focus on just one idea. So everything just feels scrambled. 

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

I write mainly romance because it’s one genre where I know I’m guaranteed a happy ending. I am working on a women’s fiction novel currently w/ some romantic elements–and of course a happy ever after. 

How are you publishing your recent book and why? 

Indie publishing. Ahh…I did try traditionally publishing this book at first. I had lots of requests, compliments from agents, etc. What I learned about traditional publishing though is that having a great book doesn’t always equate to getting a great agent or a great contract. I had an offer from a digital publisher with the possibility of print after so many copies sold, but I declined because of the success I had self-publishing my first book. And because my reason for traditionally publishing would be to see my book in a place like Barnes and Noble (yes, I’m trying to walk before I crawl), I opted to continue Indie publishing for now. Until the next one… My ultimate goal is to do both. 

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

Introvert–although I can fake being an extrovert when forced to. Just don’t look at my armpits…lol. I think being an introvert helps because writing requires a lot of alone time, just me and the characters in my own head. The downside comes when it’s time to network and market. That leans in favor of the extroverts. 

What is your favorite motivational phrase? 

You fail only if you stop writing. ~Ray Bradbury 

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Don’t stop writing. Each book is always better than the one before. It’s only a matter of time before you write your masterpiece. 

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web? 

https://estellsplace.com 

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

Excerpt From: “Field of Secrets.” 

He sat beside her. “This is where you used to spy on me from all those years ago.” 

“I never spied.” Not for malicious reasons, anyway. She enjoyed watching him trot back to the stables on his strong horse, all proud and confident. It reminded her of the cowboys on TV, those handsome young men riding in on powerful stallions, winking at the waiting ladies. She’d say her crush started then, or maybe a little before. She didn’t exactly know. 

Because in all her memories, she loved him.

AuThursday – RT Chambers

Informal head & shoulder RTC - at stable in HungaryTell us a little about yourself and your background? 

Retired trauma surgeon who wrote for much of my career as a stress reliever with no intent to publish. After retirement from surgery I began to publish. 

How do you make time to write? 

In the winter 

Do you believe in writer’s block? 

As a transitory event, yes. 

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

I write about strong women as dating back to the Isle of Skye in the 18th century there are multiple stories of strong women in my family including my mother who earner a four year business degree in the 1930’s, unusual for men and unheard of for women. 

How are you publishing your recent book and why? 

Indie 

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

Extrovert and not sure that it does affect my writing. 

What is your favorite motivational phrase? 

Get off your ass and get going (directed at myself only). 

What advice would you give to aspiring writers? 

Ultimately you need to be concerned with character arcs and plot points but for the first draft just write as your cortex directs you. 

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

www.Amazon.com/author/roberttchambers 

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

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Facing the central part of the cafeteria, Kimberly could see Layla coming toward them from a corridor on the opposite side. There was a boy she didn’t recognize a few feet behind Layla. Something was not right. He had on a heavy jacket, which was weird this early in the fall. Instinctively she started to get up to find a teacher. Before her eyes, the boy disappeared in a cloud of fire, black and debris. As she ducked under the table, she saw Layla flying to their right. The explosion was sufficiently violent that the glass behind Kimberly and Allison blew out. Kimberly immediately got to her feet and began running toward the blast zone. 

“Wait, Kim, don’t go there,” Allison yelled after her, “we’ve got to get out.” 

Kimberly could hardly hear her but yelled, “Come on, people will need help.” 

The people, kids, and teachers near them, were on their feet or sitting stunned. With Allison following, Kimberly ran to where she had seen Layla. In front of them, there was a black void where nothing was moving. Around the periphery, kids, and adults, were screaming, many people were down. 

Layla was down, her body sprawled grotesquely, not moving; Kimberly squatted and felt for a pulse. There was none. Layla’s head was loosely, grotesquely, positioned on her body. 

“Oh my God, she’s dead, isn’t she,” cried Allison. 

“Yes,” replied Kimberly. She had never seen a dead person before, but there was no way Layla was alive. Kimberly shook her head and swallowed as she tried to process what she was seeing. Allison was sitting crying. “Come on, Allison, we’re Girl Scouts and know first aid. We can’t help Layla, but others need us.” Allison stared at her. Putting her hand out, Kimberly pulled her friend to her feet and got in her face. “Come on; we need to be useful.” 

The crying girl nodded and followed as Kimberly turned to look for living victims who needed help. Within a few steps, she almost tripped over somebody. 

AuThursday – Leslie Hachtel

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

Years ago I was cleaning house and I thought I can change the sheets or write a book. I have no idea where that thought came from, but I wrote a book. It was a terrible book, but it ignited my passion.

How do you make time to write?

I get up early every morning and write while the house is quiet. Then I tend to my other stuff.

Do you believe in writer’s block?

No. Nora Roberts spoke at a conference and said (and I’m paraphrasing…) if you wait for the muse to strike, there is no muse. It’s just ‘sit your butt in the chair and write.”

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

I write romance – historical, historical paranormal, romantic suspense, crossover. I guess I just love love and a happily ever after.

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

I’ve written fourteen books so far and I’ve published both traditionally and indie. I think I’ll try traditional again and if that doesn’t work out, I’ll self-publish.

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

I’m actually both. I can talk to a room of 1000 people just fine, but I am shy at small parties. I tap into both for my characters.

What is your favorite motivational phrase? 

Don’t quit!

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Read everything you can in your genre and then read some more. And take workshops. There is always so much to learn. And each book you write should be an improvement over the last one.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

Website https://www.lesliehachtel.com/

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

Twitter:  @lesliehachtel

Blog: https://lesliehachtelwriter.wordpress.com

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/leslie-hachtel

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

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

This is from the first book in my “Morocco” series, Bound to Morocco… 

Spring, 1713

The throbbing was relentless. Shera, Lady Edgerton, squinted and reluctantly peeked out from beneath her eyelids. She immediately regretted it. A thousand needles of light stabbed her with brutal fury and she quickly closed her eyes again to ease the misery. She drew in a deep breath, trying to quell the pounding in her head. Mindful of the pain, she very slowly opened her eyes again, fighting the agony of vicious brightness that assailed her. Sunlight pierced the room through a narrow slit in the wall high up in the small space and pooled about her. Nausea threatened but she swallowed hard and stiffened her spine.

Gathering her senses and forcing herself to focus, she looked around. Where was she? A small room made of wood? The walls were bare except for four sets of chains attached to the wood by rings hanging a few inches from the floor. Was this an area used to confine prisoners?  But that did not answer why she was here. She was an innocent. Her being here must be a terrible mistake.

          She heaved in a deep breath and listened carefully. Naught but a kind of creaking. Raising herself gently, she sat up. Her head spun and she took in a few shallow breaths to ease the dizziness. The space around her gradually took shape. She was indeed in a small room with walls of horizontal planked wood. Beneath her, the floor swayed gently back and forth. And the smell? It was the scent of despair. Someone had been held here before her. Or many someones. And there was also the unmistakable odor of the sea. I am aboard a ship? How is that possible? A slither of terror crawled up her back. Had she been kidnapped? Was her life at risk? Who did this and what did they want? The lack of answers was tormenting.

AuThursday – Judy Ford

IMG_20180908_095815707Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I’ve lived all my life in Britain. For the last 40 years, I’ve lived with my husband (also a mathematician) in Cheshire, a county in the North West region of England. We have three grown-up children and six grandchildren.

I first attempted to write fiction when I was a young mother at home with my baby son. I don’t suppose those manuscripts were much good and I certainly didn’t have any success in finding a publisher for them!

I was always good at mathematics as a child and I went on to do two degrees in the subject. I’ve worked in universities and as a research manager in the National Health Service. I began writing again during a time between jobs in 2014. By then, things had moved on a lot when it comes to books. E-books and print-on-demand paperbacks made publishing very different from when I’d first tried to get my novels published – and, now that I had more life experience, I had more that I could write about.

How do you make time to write?

I get up early (my alarm is set for 5.20 a.m.) and devote the first hour and a half (before my husband gets up) to writing. That way, I usually manage to make some progress on my current book every day.

Do you believe in writer’s block?

Because most of my books have a “whodunnit” element to them, meticulous planning is essential before I start writing. This means that it’s unusual for me to be completely stuck when I sit down to write, because I can always go back to the plan to decide what needs to happen next. If a chapter goes slowly, it’s often because I suddenly realise that I need to do more research before I can write it. 

I find the first and last pages of each book the hardest to write and I often have to re-write them a few times. The first chapter is hard because there are always several alternative ways of telling a story and it’s important to find one that will capture the reader’s imagination from the start. The ending is hard because I want my readers to feel that they have finished the story rather than that it has just fizzled out – even if there is scope for developing the characters further in a sequel.

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

I write detective fiction. I’ve always loved traditional “whodunnits”. I suppose, being a mathematician, I enjoy the puzzle element, but I’m also interested in why people do what they do. I like to read about three-dimensional characters with mixed motives and complicated feelings. 

I’m a Methodist Local Preacher, which means that I regularly lead church services. In my sermons, I try to get the congregation to think for themselves, asking questions rather than presenting them with my answers. In my writing, I also try to prompt my readers to think about issues that they may not have considered before. For example, one of my detectives is disabled and this sometimes people make assumptions about him (either that he’s incapable or that he’s a hero for doing ordinary things that others take for granted).

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

I self-publish my books through Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), ACX (for the audiobook editions) and Kobo Writing Life. After failing to persuade a literary agent to take on my first two books, I heard from a colleague about KDP and decided to give it a go. Not wanting to be tied exclusively to Amazon, I looked into alternative platforms and found Kobo. Although it means a lot of work, I like the control that self-publishing gives me and I’ve enjoyed teaching myself about type-setting, cover design, narration and audio-recording techniques.

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

I’m an introvert, but one who isn’t fazed by standing up and addressing an audience. Social events scare me, but delivering a lecture or leading a training event is no sweat! I don’t think this affects my writing much – although perhaps it makes me more content to sit alone in my study and write – but it does impede my ability to promote my work. I’m not good at sounding my own trumpet, especially in a one-to-one situation.

What is your favorite motivational phrase?

“If a thing’s worth doing, it’s worth doing badly!”

This is a quotation from one of my favourite writers, GK Chesterton. It’s about not allowing yourself to be deterred from doing something just because there might be someone else who could do it “better”. Everyone has their own unique way of doing things and life would be duller if we handed everything over to the “experts” rather than being willing to “have a go”.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

  • Write because you love it, not because you expect to make a lot of money. 
  • Remember that there’s a lot of luck involved and if your books don’t become best-sellers, that’s not necessarily because they’re no good. 
  • Find one or two people that you trust to read your work before publication and suggest how it could be improved.
  • Be prepared to be ruthless with editing – if you are uneasy about a passage, it probably needs changing (or even eliminating!)

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

I have a website where I put information about my books: https://sites.google.com/view/bernie-fazakerley/home

One of my main characters, Bernie, has her own website: https://sites.google.com/site/llanwrdafamily/

I also have a Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/Bernie.Fazakerley.Publications)  and Twitter account (https://twitter.com/JudyFordAuthor) where I promote my books and post about special offers.

My WordPress site (https://wordpress.com/view/berniefaz.wordpress.com) has more information about the technical side of writing and publishing, including a step-by-step description of how I designed some of my book covers.

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

I hope this passage isn’t too long. It’s a scene from “Weed Killers” which is about the death of a young police officer. In this passage his father, Gavin, also serving in the police, talks with an old friend who has his own earlier experience of the violent death of a loved-one.

You can listen to me narrating this excerpt here: https://youtu.be/HbZsNq1LwfQ

 

9781911083696‘Thank you for coming,’ Gavin murmured apologetically as he let Peter into the house. ‘Come through to the kitchen,’ he added looking down at Peter’s foil-wrapped parcels. ‘We’ll put those in the fridge for later.’ Then he leaned over the bannister rail and called up the stairs, ‘Chrissie darling! Peter’s here!’

Looking round the kitchen, Peter spotted the refrigerator and went over to put away the packets of food. He squeezed them in on the bottom shelf next to a half-eaten meat pie. Straightening up, he turned to see Gavin at the sink, filling the electric kettle.

‘Sit down.’ He indicated a high stool next to a breakfast bar, which extended from the wall near to where the kettle was plugged in. ‘I’ll make us some tea.’

Peter climbed on to the stool and leaned his elbows on the counter. He watched silently as Gavin replaced the kettle on its stand and then crossed the kitchen and opened a glass-fronted wall cupboard containing crockery. While his back was turned, Peter reached over and pressed down the switch on the kettle prompting the power light to come on and the kettle to hiss encouragingly.

Gavin returned with a stainless-steel teapot and three cups and saucers, which he put down on a metal tray that lay on the working surface next to the kettle.

‘I don’t suppose Chrissie will be long,’ he said, reaching for a packet of teabags and starting to count them out into the teapot. ‘She’s in Kenny’s room, sorting out his things.’

‘I thought your sister did all that when she was here at the weekend?’

‘Umm. Well that’s another thing,’ Gavin mumbled miserably, adding two more teabags to the pot. ‘I made her stop. I behaved very badly about it. I don’t know if she’ll ever forgive me.’

‘Of course she will,’ Peter told him emphatically, grasping Gavin’s hand gently in his and moving it away from the teapot, ‘unless you keep giving her tea as strong as the pot you’re making for us just now!’ he added, smiling across the breakfast bar at his friend.

Gavin gazed down at the teapot. Then he turned it over and shook it. A dozen or more teabags fell out on to the work surface. He looked up at Peter and managed a brief grin in return.

‘I don’t seem to be able to concentrate on anything these days,’ he muttered, shaking his head at his own ineptitude. ‘This morning I squirted Chrissie’s face cream on to my toothbrush instead of toothpaste!’

‘Don’t worry. It’s all part of the process,’ Peter assured him gently. ‘That part won’t last for ever. Just try not to let it bother you too much. And seriously: your sister will understand that whatever you did was only because of what you’re going through. I’m sure she won’t hold it against you.’

Gavin put three teabags into the pot and then busied himself trying to squeeze the remaining ones back into the packet.

‘I haven’t shouted at Lorraine like that since the time she deliberately broke the head off my action man when I was seven,’ he told Peter morosely. ‘I don’t know what got into me. It was after we got back from our walk. Remember? You didn’t come in because you needed to get off home, so I said I’d say your goodbyes to Chrissie and the others.’

Peter nodded.

‘I was feeling a lot better for having got out in the fresh air for a bit,’ Gavin continued, ‘and I thought we’d be able to finish agreeing on the funeral arrangements before it was time for them to get off to the station, and then Chrissie and I would have the house to ourselves again.’

The kettle clicked off and Gavin picked it up and added boiling water to the teapot.

‘But then, when I got in, there was Chrissie in the kitchen, weeping buckets into that box of Kenny’s things that Dennis had brought down from his room. Do you remember?’

Peter nodded.

‘She said she wanted them to stop. She said she didn’t want anyone else messing with Kenny’s things. I just grabbed the box and stormed upstairs with it and threw it down on the bed and told them to put everything back where they’d found it and then get out of the house.’

‘I don’t blame you,’ Peter said with feeling, imagining how he would have felt if anyone had touched any of Angie’s possessions uninvited. ‘And I’m sure, when she thinks about it, your sister won’t either,’ he added firmly. ‘She’s probably stressed out too, with thinking about the way Kenny was killed, and I’m sure she thought she was helping.’

‘I know,’ Gavin groaned. ‘That’s what makes me shouting at her like that so awful.’

‘Not at all,’ Peter insisted. ‘Honestly. At a time like this you really can’t be held responsible for what you do. I’m just amazed at how well you’re both holding things together. I still can’t get over how Chrissie coped with that nativity play. She was wonderful.’

‘It was because she didn’t want to let down the kids,’ Gavin told him, wandering over to the fridge and getting out a bottle of milk. He brought it across the room, and set it down on the working surface next to the tray. ‘It was the same this morning. She was up at six getting everything ready for the Homeless party; and then, while we were there, she was pulling crackers and joking with them, almost as if … as if …’

He picked up the milk and returned it to the fridge.

‘Chrissie’s always been the practical one,’ he resumed, leaning across the worktop so that his face was close to Peter’s. ‘She keeps the house running like clockwork, and she always likes to keep busy. I think all the time she had things she had to do, she could push what happened to Kenny to the back of her mind and just get on with getting them done. That’s why Lorraine coming in and trying to take over was such a disaster. And that’s why …’

He wiped his hand across his face and turned away to look for something in one of the wall cupboards.

‘You don’t take sugar, do you Peter?’ he enquired, turning round again and holding up a bag of it.

‘No, but I would like some milk, if that’s OK.’

‘Haven’t I just …?’ Gavin stared blankly at the empty cups and then shuffled over to the fridge again.

‘As I was saying,’ he resumed as he poured milk into each cup. ‘Chrissie was there being the life and soul of the party and I was just sitting in the corner wishing it was all over and we could go home and maybe just sit for a bit and watch a film on the telly. But then, when we got home … I suppose it was the anti-climax, and not having any reason to keep going anymore.’

Peter picked up the milk bottle and carried it back to the fridge to give Gavin time to collect his thoughts.

‘When we walked in the door, the first thing we saw was that teddy bear in the police costume – you know, the one somebody left with the flowers?’

‘Mmm,’ Peter nodded. ‘I remember.’

‘Chrissie had washed it and put it on the radiator in the hall to dry. Anyway, she just picked it up and went upstairs with it. She said she needed to sort out Kenny’s things. I did try to persuade her to leave it for a bit – at least until we’d had a sit down – but she said she needed to feel close to him again. I realised afterwards that Wednesday was her day for tidying Kenny’s room. She used to do it while he was out at the Scouts. I suppose it probably helped her to keep to the old routine. Anyway, I made us a mug of tea and took hers up to her. I know I ought to have stayed with her and helped, but I just couldn’t face it.’

‘Don’t beat yourself up about it,’ Peter said gently. ‘Everyone grieves differently. And if Chrissie always tidies Kenny’s room on her own, she may not even have wanted you there.’

‘The thing is: when I got up there, she wasn’t tidying the room. She was just sitting there on the bed holding that teddy bear and staring into space. I put the mug down on the bedside table and came downstairs again. I’ve been up again a couple of times, but she’s still just the same – staring ahead like she was in a trance. So that’s where she is now,’ he finished. ‘I don’t think she can have heard me call. I’d better go up and get her. She won’t want to have missed you.’

He looked towards the door, but made no attempt to move from his position, leaning on the worktop. Then suddenly he looked up and caught Peter’s eye across the breakfast bar.

‘Why did it happen to Kenny?’ he demanded in an anguished voice. ‘Why was he the one who got sent round the back of the house? With his whole life before him! Why couldn’t it have been me they picked instead?’ He brought both fists down heavily on the work top, staring across at Peter defiantly for a moment before dropping his head and gazing down at the marble-effect work surface.

For a long time, neither of them moved or spoke. Then Gavin straightened up and gave Peter a sheepish grin. ‘I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to …. I’ll go and get Chrissie.’ He looked down at the teacups.  ‘Could you take those through to the front room? We won’t be long.’

Peter came round to the other side of breakfast bar to pick up the tray. As he passed Gavin, he gave him a pat on the shoulder. ‘Please believe me. It never goes away, but it won’t always be as bad as this.’

New Writer – Orville Evjen

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I grew up in South Dakota on my family ranch. I am half native Lakota and Norwegian. My ranch was homesteaded 100 years ago. I learned to draw when i was real little. I would watch Saturday morning cartoons and try to draw what i saw. When i 18 my folks passed away and i moved up here after wandering around for two years. I created a native Lakota comic book in 1999 called Myth and Lore, but it didn’t sell. Later i wrote and Illustrated a graphic novel about Lewis and Clark and Sacajawea. In 2007 i enrolled in to Bismarck State college for graphic design, or commercial art. In 2012 i started researching for my last graphic novel on Abe Lincoln. In 2018 i self published Lincoln. In 2018 i also relaunched my line of comic books called Myth and Lore. 

How do you make time to write?

I am big believer in staying busy but also in keeping my nerves calm. I had a rocky childhood so now i work much better when I’m totally at ease. I exercise, try to get my sleep, and watch inspirational shows and books along with comic books. 

Do you believe in writer’s block?

Yes this happens when I’m stressed and tired. I try to avoid working when i am both of those.

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

I love fantasy art, but after working on Lewis and Clark and Lincoln, I have found that I love working on history based books.

How are you publishing your recent book and why?

Independent or self published. I tried for a year looking for a publisher but because my book was history the comic book publishers would not get back to me and a big publisher said its not the right book for them. So I went to Xlibris out of Indiana. 

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

I think I’m an introvert. It actually works well. I stay home and work. I do like to socialize some, but I’ve learned to stay away from alcohol and i do not date much. Not that i don’t want to date but with out bars its more difficult.

What is your favorite motivational phrase?

Off the top of my head I like the phrase

“You can crap in hand and wish in the other, guess which one fills up?” ~Grandpa off of Grumpy old men.

Also, I thought of a couple of my favorite quotes from authors other than myself

“Life is the greatest fairy-tale!” ~Hans Christian Anderson. 

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

If you find an author  you really love then read everything they have done. I do more research than leisurely reading.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

Under Amazon and Lincoln by Orville Evjen. Also at my website www.bravecrowcomics.com  I’m also on Barnes and noble.

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

I am assuming you mean from my book, So on page 161, I didn’t write this, but its my favorite quote from my book, Abe at the first Republican convention:

“In my opinion it will not cease until a crisis shall have been reached and passed. A house divided against itself cannot stand, I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the union to dissolve. I do not expect the house to fall, but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other.’” ~Abe Lincoln

AuThursday – Shivon Gunalan

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Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I have always been working in the corporate sector for years and have loved building relationships. I am passionate in working with women and young adults and have been active in helping women build their confidence and rediscovers themselves. On a personal note, I love to read, cook, travel and just enjoy hanging with my friends.

How do you make time to write?

I used to enjoy writing short stories as a teenager but due to work commitments did not pursue writing. During the COVID-19 Circuit Breaker in Singapore, I had more than enough time to dabble in writing.

Do you believe in writer’s block?

Yes, I do. I think every writer, will face that some point in their life. It will be a time for them to retreat, re-calibrate and just rush into it again.

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

I am writing romance stories, but with a little twist. I absolutely love drama, and I enjoy the interactive characters portrayed by people. I wanted to translate that into a book, where people can enjoy the romance not from a reader’s perspective but actually able to go on that journey with the characters in the book.

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

Indie, as it shortens the whole process.


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

Extrovert. I think its always a challenge to sit still in a place and work on my book, so I try to give myself time limits, and also breaks in between days so I am not too affected.

What is your favorite motivational phrase?

 “I can’t think of any better representation of beauty than someone who is unafraid to be herself” -Emma Stone

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Take the tips of established writers, but find your own pace and comfort level. Enjoy the process of writing and not rush to pass a dateline.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

I am available on social media platforms like FB, Instagram, Twitter and also on my website www.shivongunalan.com

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

Yes! Rosella meeting Ian for the first time.

51Smgb9tuoL._SY346_Rosella removed her sleeping mask and took a peek when the flight came to a halt. It was a long flight, at least fifteen hours from Rome. She could feel her muscles ache. She couldn’t wait to get out of the plane so she can walk around more freely. The man next to her was unbuckling his seat belt. “We have finally arrived! I am going to head down to the casino first,” he said gleefully. Rosella rolled his eyes at him. She was not able to get a decent hour’s sleep because the man would not stop talking. He kept going on even when she had her headset on pretended to watch a movie. Her ears had ached throughout the journey but thankfully she managed to sneak in a few winks when the man fell asleep.

Rosella has never traveled so far in her entire life. She was both nervous and excited at the same time. When her parents passed away in a car accident, she moved in with her sister, Rina and her husband Hunter. They moved from the city to the small town to take care of Rosella. Rina and Hunter were fifteen years older than her. As they were childless, they doted
on Rosella who was only nine years old at that time. Hunter took on the role of her father and adored her like his own daughter. He always affirmed her so she grew secure in her identity as someone who was cherished. Under their care, she grew into a confident woman of God.

Rosella spent a lot of her time in their local parish church as she grew up. She enjoyed singing to the Lord. Rina will often joke that she started singing even before she was capable to construct full sentences. The local pastor signed her up to be part of their choir team.  During her spare time, she will twirl around the garden with her tambourine, singing hymns unto the Lord. She accepted the Lord as her saviour at the age of sixteen. Hunter and Rina held a massive celebration for her. After the celebrations, Rina came up to her room that night to present her with a beautiful purity ring with the inscription “My beloved is mine and I am His.” Rina had taught Rosella the importance of keeping herself pure for the man the Lord will bring into her life.

She loved the feel of the ring around her finger, as it made her feel valued and important. It has been ten years since Rina gave her that ring, and by the grace of God, she had kept her end of the bargain. She twirled the purity ring around her finger. Her friends had started dating in their teens. But Rosella spent her time teaching the local children in her neighborhood. She was very skilled in arts and was very good at needlework. The Lord had
anointed her with talent in that area and she didn’t want it to go to waste. She wanted to be a good steward of those talents. She also taught the older children in the school to teach and write. When the opportunity to teach at an international school presented itself to her, Rosella was quick to jump at the opportunity.

She shared her desire to work in an international school with Hunter and Rina. She explained how it will give her the advantage to learn how the education system was being structured in a foreign country. She was eager to start her own school in their town one day, and she will benefit from this experience gained. After much persuasion, her guardians relented and gave her their blessings. Rosella had enough savings to help pay for her flight and living expenses.  Hunter offered her some money but she wanted to be independent. After booking her plane ticket with the local agent, Rosella started doing her research on Singapore. The city was vibrant and it featured many interesting sights. She was fascinated with the statue of the merlion and began to list down the names of the attractions that she wanted to see upon her arrival.

The country was also famous for its diverse cuisine. Some of the foods looked too spicy for her taste, but she was ready to begin a new adventure. She will be staying with her friend, Ashley who had moved from Italy a couple of years ago. Her friend was an auditor and she worked in a reputable audit firm in Singapore. The international school was her client and she found out about the job vacancy through them. The school accepted Rosella’s application because of her good credentials and referrals. But she knew in her heart it was the Lord who had opened the door of opportunity for her. She had talked to Him about her dreams of starting her own school one day.

The moment she exited from the plane, Rosella plugged on her earpiece. Music was her life, and it was also her way of finding her escapism. When she was back home, she had loved the old hymns they sang in church. Recently, Ashley had introduced her to some new worship songs that have been gaining popularity. Her friend has been part of the worship team in a church that was based in Singapore. She always sends her new songs for her to listen to. “I am reaching out, I will chase you down. I dare you to believe how much I love you now.” She was humming the lyrics of the song as she headed to collect her luggage. “Jesus! I know you are going to guide me every step of the way,” she prayed under her breath. She placed her luggage on the trolley and headed out the gate.

She pushed the trolley towards the nearest chair and plopped herself on it. She stretched her legs and massaged the back of her neck. She placed her handbag on her lap and started to rustle around for Ashley’s address. She did not want to trouble Ashley to come and pick her up. She was very grateful to her for offering her a place to stay rent-free for the first two months. “You can start paying rent after the third month when you have settled down,” Ashley told her. As she was looking for the address, she noticed a man seated next to her from the corner of her eye. He was talking animatedly on his mobile phone.“Ia adalah masalah kecil. Jangan risau. Nanti, kita cakap, ya.” Rosella surveyed the man, trying to figure out the language he spoke. She knew the people in Singapore spoke different languages like Mandarin, Tamil, or Malay.

From the side view, the man looked very handsome and had a dimple on his left cheek. He was dressed neatly in a blue checkered shirt and black tailored pants. The Patek Philippe watch on his right wrist looked very costly. Rosella had tried to purchase a watch for Hunter on his birthday. It was so expensive that she decided to buy him a wallet instead. She knew that a watch like that can be very expensive. She heaved a sigh, wishing her future husband could be someone well dressed like this man. She stopped herself quickly and knocked herself on her head to come to her senses. What if he was someone’s husband or fiancee? It was really hard to tell these days, and she did not want to be caught up in any drama. She tore her gaze away from him and started rummaging through her handbag again. She was so occupied with her search that she did not realize the man next to her, had left his seat.

“Finally!! Thank you, Jesus!!” She smiled gleefully holding the address victoriously in the air. Rosella checked her wallet to ensure she had enough local currency for a taxi fare. She had two hundred dollars which should be more than enough for her taxi fare and her meals over the next few days. She stood up, slung her handbag across her shoulder, and started to move her trolley. She then noticed the empty seat next to her. Mr. Fancy Pants was nowhere to be found. As she was about to leave, something on the seat of the chair caught her eye. It looked like a card from afar. She looked around and saw no one nearby. She picked up the card. From the back, it looked like a membership card. She flipped it around and saw Driving License spelled out on the top. The name on the card read, Ian Jacobs.

She looked closely at the picture on the card. He looked familiar. “Aayyy” she exclaimed when she realized it was Mr. Fancy Pants who was seated next to her earlier. “Ian!” So, that was his name. She stood up and walked around with the trolley trying to track him down. But he was nowhere to be found. She looked at the clock and realized it was going to be 10 pm soon. It was getting late and Ashley will be waiting up for her. She did not want her to worry.  Without thinking much, she stuffed the license into her handbag. She proceeded to drag her luggage to the assigned taxi stand. Even as she was waiting for her turn, Rosella kept looking around to see if she can spot him. When her taxi arrived, she got in and told the driver to drive her to Bencoolen Condo.

AuThursday – Luke Ganje

 
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Tell us a little about yourself and your background.
 
I don’t think there’s anything I hate more than talking about myself, so I’ll try to make this as painless as I possibly can. I’m Luke Ganje and I’ve been writing seriously for over a decade, not just because I love to do it but also because a writer is the only thing I’ve ever wanted to be. It wouldn’t be any great exaggeration or burst of dramatic flair to say that I have no interest in a life that doesn’t include telling stories. It is, in a sense, everything I am. As such, I’ve written five novels (seven if you count the two I’m not proud of), somewhere in the neighborhood of seventy short stories, and hundreds of poems, and they range in tone and genre from absurdist humor to horror to contemplative fiction. Someone asked me once what I want out of this, what the goal of my artistic pursuit was, and to be honest the answer was simple enough: In time this life will end and in the blink of an eye who we’ve been and what we’ve done will be lost to an inevitable decay. I write because, while I’m here, I want to experience this life just a little bit more and feel and understand things I might have otherwise missed.
 
 
 
How do you make time to write?
 
For me, it’s all about routine and dedication. I set aside two hours a night to work and no matter how trivial the project of the day, I fill that time. I no longer work a day job on Fridays, having set aside that day for a sort of mini marathon in which I can make significant headway in whatever novel happens to be my primary focus, and that’s been a joy to experience. In those moments I almost feel like the full-time writer I aspire to be, whether it’s a self-constructed illusion or not. The time to write, to pursue what you love, is always there. Sacrifices simply need to be made or else that pursuit and the work that stems from it will only ever wind up being hollow, empty, and dead.
 
 
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to see where an idea takes you?
 
My process in this regard has changed over the years. When I first started, I spent a great deal of time wandering down the unmarked roads of exploratory writing but as the years go by and my attention span and memory continue to falter and fade, I find myself having to outline a little more each time. These days I tend to write all my dialogue in a notebook, filling pages as if I’m script-writing, and then rewrite the entire thing as a finished and detailed experience on my laptop. It works well enough and tends to give my dialogue a lived-in edge that I prefer, so I’ll continue down that path until I have to tinker with my process again for the sake of clarity and not driving myself completely insane. 
 
 
What are you working on at the minute?
 
Frustratingly enough, I’m torn between two projects that both demand my full attention and yet I haven’t quite decided which one to focus on. I don’t mean to treat trivially the perils of wartime, but I’m almost positive this is precisely how Meryl Streep felt in Sophie’s Choice. As it stands, I’m splitting my time between my first ever horror novel and a more quiet and contemplative piece of magical realism. The former will be bitter, vicious, and unforgiving. The latter is a character piece about a young man whose life begins to fall apart because he continually sees one small thing no one else can, and believes without a shadow of a doubt that it is real. Both deal with family, loss, and our uncomfortable relationship with mortality, but neither is the clear front-runner and so I’m a bit adrift at the moment. I keep trying to reach out to Mrs. Streep for advice, but sadly she won’t return my calls.
 
 
I’m almost afraid to ask, where do your ideas come from?
 
I suppose it would be abhorrently trite to simply tap the side of my head, doubly so seeing as how this isn’t that kind of visual medium. Nevertheless, this is something that I think about a lot. Sometimes you write things that push you to places you don’t want to go and yet you have to for the sake of the story, so in that sense a French term comes to mind: l’appel du vide. The Call of the Void. Known also as “High Place Phenomenon”, it’s the little trigger in your mind that kicks in when you’re standing on a ledge and tells you to jump, or while you’re driving down the highway and you suddenly have the urge to whip the steering wheel into oncoming traffic. It’s an ordinary part of the human experience and something I’ve felt in waves my entire life, heightened as it is by anxiety (of which I have plenty), so it weaves almost constantly in and out of the stories I tell. Complicating things is the manner in which I tend to process even the most mundane aspects of everyday life, where everything shows as infinite spirals in which I find myself reliving conversations dozens of times right after they happen, following them down rabbit holes until I find myself having visceral emotional reactions to things that never happened and words that were never said. That’s probably where my stories travel from, I suppose. Out of the void and along an incessantly spiraling road.
 
 
Do you ever get Writer’s Block?
 
Put simply, no. I view writing not just as my passion but also as work, as a job, and the funny thing about work is that responsibilities don’t just magically go away if you’re not feeling it. So I’ve had bad days where the words don’t flow quite like they should and there are definitely days where I haven’t managed to write much of anything at all, but it’s never been a lingering thing in the form of that towering “Writer’s Block” wall. Doing what you love is hard work and I’ve never once found that it gets any easier by avoiding thought obstacles that inevitably pop up along the way.
 
 
 
It looks like you independently published “It Seemed Like A Good Idea at the Time”. What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around?
 
Put simply, I have a hate-hate relationship with self-publishing. It’s not something I ever really saw myself doing as I tend to see life as overcoming obstacles and there’s little about the process that I see as anything more than an end-run around the publishing world’s absurd hurdles. It’s like running a marathon and then taking a taxi from mile three to mile twenty-five, expecting the same accolades when you cross the finish line as those who’ve traveled the road of the established process. So that’s my annoyed sense of the disadvantage. There’s a stigma around the whole affair and, while there will always be exceptions, the framework of stigmas exists for a reason. Then again, there’s a fairly sizable advantage as well and one that made me put all my annoyance and irritation into my anthology that was released in August: It takes away the chance of you dying before any of your creations are unleashed on the world, and that was always an odd little fear of mine. So it’s not how I saw things going and to be honest I’m unsure whether or not I’ll self-publish anything again; there might be another anthology but my novels are reserved for the traditional road I will always pursue. That being said, it was a nice experience and for the most part it was undertaken so that all the people who’ve supported me over the years could have a memento of my time here sitting comfortably on their bookshelves. In a way, I couldn’t ask for anything more.
 
 
What is your writing Kryptonite?
 
I have two actually, which would make me the world’s worst version of Superman. It’s basically a two horse race in which both the horses have to be euthanized because they’re rabid and ate a jockey. But I digress. The first is that I will always possess a crippling self-doubt when it comes to my work, to such an extent that (with one exception) I’ve never finished anything without feeling like it’s the worst thing ever committed to printed page by a functioning adult. That may sound like an exaggeration but it’s not. As much as I’m driven by the love of the written word, I’m just as driven by the creeping sense that I’ll never write anything of note and anyone who’s said differently has been lying for the sake of some strange social etiquette I don’t understand. As you can imagine, this makes me a joy at parties. The second piece of Kryptonite is at least functionally more problematic and can be found in the slow but inevitable decline of my memory. It’s frightfully true that, no matter what I write on a given day, I will not remember what it was by the time I sit down again twenty-four hours later. Characters, plots, names, descriptions…they vanish as soon as I close my eyes, and so every day when I sit down at my desk, my process begins with an hour spent re-reading all that I wrote the previous night and hoping I still know where I’m going. It’s scary, in a way. What a terrifying thing to forget the friends I’ve made.
 
 
Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?
 
My work is most prominently displayed on my website www.keywordnovelist.com and that’s where you can find a lot of my short stories and poetry. There’s also a blog, because blogs go with writers about as reliably as pumpkin spice lattes flock to their own comically specific demographic. There’s some good stuff on there and, if all you know of me is the absurdist comedy found in my anthology release, it’ll be sure to raise some eyebrows. I can also be found on Twitter and Instagram under that very same moniker: Keywordnovelist.
 
 
Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?
 
Certainly. This snippet is taken from the story that leads off my catastrophically absurd debut, “It Seemed Like A Good Idea at the Time.” Author’s Note: It only gets weirder from here.
 
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“Hello? Hello? How’s the reception up there?”

Artemartedoxtorix, called Art by his friends, squinted at the blood in the sand as it rolled like the weeping tides of humanity and also heavy cream. It danced with static before it eventually flared to life when the sound of screaming filtered through. Art looked around but no one was really paying attention. He covered his blood screen anyway because he wasn’t the type to make a scene if he could help it. Some jobs you just don’t want to draw attention to yourself while performing and his hallowed position of receptionist was one of those jobs. 

“Art? Is this Art? I was told to call Art,” screamed the voice from the other end of the line.

“What? Well yeah of course it’s me. Is this…” he looked at his sheet of paper. “I’m sorry, I can’t pronounce your name.”

“It’s Dave.”

Art stared blankly at the dancing blood. “I’m sorry, that doesn’t help,” he said. “What does that rhyme with?”

“I don’t know…Cave?” 

“What about Potato?” asked Art. “I know that one.”

“My name doesn’t rhyme with Potato, Art,”

“Ah…” said Art. “Well can I just call you Potato? It’d make this a lot easier.”

For a long moment there was silence on the other end of the line. 

“Can I talk to someone else?”

“I’m afraid not. Everyone else is out on assignment,” said Art. “What’s the problem?”

“Well, I put the kid in the burlap sack but he doesn’t seem to be drowning and now the whole thing is wet,” said Dave, also known as Potato. 

“Do you have the blood already?” asked Art. 

“The what?” he asked.

“The blood. You know you can’t kill him until you have his blood, right?”

“Oh yeah. For sure. Totally,” said Dave. “I was just about to do that.”

“While he’s underwater and suffocating in a sack?”

“Yep. I’m thrifty,” said Dave.

Art looked around the receptionist center and threw a rock at a winged adder. This wasn’t his fault. The project had been passed on to him by someone with a better castle in the aftermath of one of Potato’s many mistakes, at which point his superior decided that temptation and possessions were more his bag. He’d said Art was on track for a promotion if he succeeded, so the receptionist who’d always seen himself as more of a hero type leapt at the opportunity. It was only a matter of time until greatness was his. 

“Look, Potato,” said Art. “We’re in this together so all I need to know is one thing.”

There was silence on the other line. “What?” asked the human.

Art rubbed his temples and winced when he pricked himself on a horn. 

“Can you find a rock?” he asked. “I just threw a rock at a flying adder and that seemed to work.”

“What’s an adder?”

“A snake,” said Art, and for a moment Potato was silent. 

“Wait. There are snakes down there?” he asked finally. “If there are snakes down there I don’t think I can do this.”

Art looked up at the swarms of flying adders that soared through lakes and clouds of fire. 

“Are there what?” he asked, a master of changing topics. 

“Snakes. Are there snakes in hell?”

If a demon could look awkward, Artemartedoxtorix, Demon of the Fourth Degree, definitely looked awkward. 

“What? Oh yeah no, definitely not,” he said. “You misheard me.”

“Well what did you say then?

Art looked around for anything his mind could seize on. 

“Pits of endless despair,” he said finally when his eyes fell on the pool of weeping where acid carved canyons in the faces of the suffering.

“Well hold on now, that actually sounds worse.”

“Look, Potato. Do you want eternal glory or not?”

 
 
 

AuThursday – Eliza Peake

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I write steamy, heartfelt, small town contemporary romance. I like to call it happily ever afters with sexy times, a healthy dose of snark, and all the feels.

I’m also a podcaster, co-hosting The Misfits Guide to Write Indie Romance with Adrienne Bell.

For fun, I read all the panty-melting romances I can get my hands on and drink gallons of coffee. I also love tacos. And the beach.

Currently I live in North Georgia, but I hope to move to the beach in the next few years. 

By day, I work in finance. One of the things I like about being an indie is that I’m able to use my business skills and created a small press that I do all of my book things through. 

How did you come up with the idea for your “Madison Ridge” series? 

Originally, it was going to be set in a small island resort town off the coast of GA. But then I had this idea that ended up being Trouble Me, which was what if a recovering alcoholic is forced to work in a winery? So I moved the setting to the small mountain town I live in that is touristy and has several wineries. It was great fun researching and easy since I’m about a ten minute drive to about a half dozen wineries and tasting rooms. As much as I love the beach I don’t live near it right now, so it made research a little more difficult.  

What are your current projects?

Currently, I’m working on a story that will be part of Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward’s Cocky Hero World as well as a novella for the Madison Ridge series. I’m also getting the process started to have my second book in the Madison Ridge series turned into an audio book. So I’ve got my hands full!

Do you believe in writer’s block? 

Not really for me. I think that your mind can make you believe you don’t have a word to say, making you feel “blocked”. But in my case, that’s usually a symptom of some other issue I’m having. It can be a story issue I can’t see yet or it can be an issue with the story that I don’t want to acknowledge for whatever reason. Once I get past that, I’m good to go. But getting past that is the hard part.

I see you wrote a non-fiction book, “30 Days to the End”.  Do you actually write most of your books in 30 days? 

No, I wish! But I have done several novel length stories in 30 days. The purpose of the book was to offer writers 30 days of inspiration. It can be a long and sometimes tedious road to write a novel in that time-frame. We all need a little cheerleader!

I see you are Indie published, what would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around?

Advantage: being in control of what you publish, when you publish, how you publish, being able to pivot and keep up with trends while they are happening. Better royalty rates. 

Disadvantages: being responsible for what you publish, when you publish, how you publish, and having to cash flow it yourself.

What is your favorite positive saying? 

To help remind me with time management and priority, I say

“I can make more money, but I can’t make more time.”

So when I’m short on time, I try to prioritize the things that I know will move the needle (such as writing) over items that need to be done (like admin items) but can be done when I have more time.   

But my all-time favorite positive saying that I apply in all places of my life is

“One Day at a Time.”

You can apply it to anything and in reality, it’s really the only thing we have semblance of control of, the present time. If I think of the past, I get depressed and if I think of the future, I get anxious. So I try to stay in the one day at a time. 

What advice would you give to aspiring writers? 

Take the time to learn the craft and a process that works for you. You can save yourself a lot of time and frustration if you do that first.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web? 

They can find me at elizapeake.com and on Facebook where I have a page and a reader group, as well as Instagram.

AuThursday – Sadie Torrance

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I have always been a creative type even as a child. I would write to entertain myself. It was my favourite pastime as a child and remained my favourite pastime as an adult. When I started my own family, I shared my love of stories with my children. I would write fantastic tales of magic and adventures and regale my kids with stories designed just for them. At the same time, I would write books to amuse myself. When my kids became adolescents, they discovered Wattpad and suggested I post my work so others could enjoy it. I gave it a go, and it took off. Within a year, I was approached by an editor from Dreame and was signed as a paid author on their site. Again, my work was well-received by readers. Encouraged by this small success, I decided to try publishing and hopefully build a professional writing career.    

How do you make time to write? 

I find it easy to make time because it something I love and am passionate about. Even when the day demands, my attention be focused on family, work, or errands; the writing is always in the back of my mind. When I am genuinely inspired, and on a roll, I will sacrifice sleep to write.  

Do you believe in writer’s block?

I absolutely believe in writer’s block. I have suffered from it many times. It’s frustrating when you sit there and stare at the black page, knowing you should write, but nothing good comes to you. When I’m faced with writer’s block, and I can’t work past it, I turn to other amusements. I have a passion for music almost as much as writing. So, I put on my headphones, crank up the music, and lose myself in the private concert in my head. More often then not, it gets my creativity flowing once more and sparks inspiration, curing my writer’s block. 

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

My chosen genre is Romance/Adventure. I don’t limit myself to one type of romance style. I have written historical romances, contemporary romance, science fiction romance, and even paranormal romance. I like romance because I enjoy the emotion and the banter between the characters. I love throwing in aspects of adventure and plot twists to keep things exciting. I find a story is always more gripping when the reader has no idea what is going to happen next.

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

I chose self-publishing. I had often tried to publish traditionally but found it impossible to get any publisher or literary agents to even speak to me. It was incredibly frustrating and discouraging. Every time I thought about giving up, I told myself, “even Harry Potter was rejected thousands of times before it was published.” Just because someone else couldn’t see my worth didn’t mean I wasn’t a good writer. So, I decided to do it myself. I went online and collaborated with professional freelance editors and formatters, making sure my book was polished and professional. It took some time, but once I had a professional finished product, I uploaded it and put it up for sale.  

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

I am an introvert. I enjoy my own company and the company of family and close friends. I keep my circle small. Since I spend most of my time at home with my husband and children, I have plenty of time to write. I choose the people I interact with carefully. Those I let into my life are all interesting and wacky people. Their life stories and crazy antics often inspire characters and situations in my work. 

What is your favourite motivational phrase? 

“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” ―Confucius 

It reminds me that the only way to succeed is never to give up. Setbacks happen. Obstacles present themselves. The only people who reach their goals are the ones that fall, but get up and try again. 

What advice would you give to aspiring writers? 

Write for yourself. If you love the story, someone else will love it too. Believe in yourself, because if you don’t, no one else will either.  

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web? 

I have four e-books available on Smashwords.com and AmazonKDP.com.  

https://www.smashwords.com/THE BARBARIAN KING SAGAS (historical romance) 

PROJECT HELLFIRE (contemporary science fiction romance) 

RUTHLESS (contemporary crime romance) 

THE CARIBBEAN’S MOST WANTED (historical romance) 

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

The Barbarian King Sagas: 

“She is not a witch; she never was. She lied to me, and my father paid the price.” He confessed, knowing that Finn would keep his confidence. 

“Oh,” Finn sighed as he finally grasped the gravity of his woe. “Cain, do not dwell on it. I know you wanted to save him; we all did, but Regin was very sick, and he was going to die no matter what you did. He knew that, we all knew that, the only person that had not accepted that was you. Do not hate the girl. She did what she had to do to survive. She is a strong woman and a strong man needs a strong woman behind him.” 

“I cannot excuse her lies.” His father was dead, and it was Zahra’s fault. 

“You threatened to kill her if she were not a witch. What would you have done in her position? 

“I would have fought,” he said with defiance. “And I would have won.” 

Finn snickered, “Well, that is because you are a man, but she is but a small, frail woman.” 

“I will never forgive her.” 

“Forgive her or not unless you throw her overboard you, my dear friend, are stuck with her. The joys of marriage.” Finn laughed and slapped Cain on the back hard. 

He was right. Why his father chose Zahra for his wife, Cain would never understand. What about her made his father believe she would make a good queen? “Throwing her overboard has merit.” He grinned, knowing he would never do it. Zahra’s deception left him fuming, but he did not wish her harm. After all, she had saved his life when the snake had bitten him. She could have let him die and escape, but she had saved his life and stayed even though she had no reason to. He supposed not tossing her overboard was a fine way to make them even. 

“Come now, lad. It is better to kiss and make up. War is fine, but when women are concerned, peace is preferred.”