AuThursday – M.S. Ocampo

Please welcome M.S. Ocampo to The Clog Blog, Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I’m an indie writer and tutor in the process of publishing my YA urban fantasy novel, My Ex is a Vampire.
How do you make time to write?
I join up with writing sprints. I usually write around the same time every day.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
Yep. It usually means I have to take a break or talk things out.
Tell us a bit about the genre you write and why you love it.
My debut novel is YA urban fantasy. It’s a love letter to Buffy the Vampire Slayer with Filipino-American protagonists. I love mixing up high school drama with action.
How are you publishing your recent book and why?
Indie
Are you an Introvert or an Extrovert?  How does this affect your work?
Introvert
What is your favorite motivational phrase?
“Bird by Bird.”
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Lean into what you love. Don’t be afraid to put a lot of yourself into your writing.
Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?
Twitter and Instagram as well as my blog.
Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?
Inconceivable! Some vampires had the gall to go out in the daytime, risking their undead existence for the sake of a meal.

AuThursday – Todd Ford

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I’m in my early sixties, married with two grown daughters, you know, a classic empty-nester. We have a menagerie of cats, five as of this moment, although the one that’s pawing at me as I type is aged and on twice-a-day meds to keep her from withering away even more rapidly. We’ve had dogs as well. We’re happy to no longer have dogs. They’re a lot more work.

I grew up in Southern California, Santa Barbara, and thereabouts to be exact. I have a lot of lazy beach bum and listening to “Hotel California” on the radio 27 times a day in my DNA. I’m pretty liberal as well. I studied mechanical engineering and landed my first job in the Seattle area in 1984. I was there for ten years, long enough to learn I don’t much like the reality of engineering work, to discover an affection for cinema, and to meet my wife through a personal ad.

We’ve lived in Mandan since 1994. Why Mandan? Why North Dakota? My wife grew up in Williston and her parents had retired in Mandan. I got laid off from Boeing in Seattle. The dots become pretty easy to connect from there.

How do you make time to write?

Short answer: I don’t, not enough anyway. I always think I should establish a daily routine, but I’m too easily distracted. I read a lot. I watch movies constantly. I daydream.

Long answer: I write constantly when I’m inspired. I’m a writer who first needs something to say, I guess. When inspiration strikes, my wife starts to wonder what’s up because she hardly sees me for days—and our house isn’t large. (Maybe that’s why she’s constantly dreaming about tiny homes and campers. I would have zero opportunity for escape.) Part two of the long answer is I do write almost every day. I always have something burning a hole in me to share on Facebook. You know the sorts of posts. The ones that pop up on your feed X number of years later and make you wonder about your mental health on that day long ago.

Do you believe in writer’s block?

I believe frustration over sitting for hours and not being able to find words is a real thing. Happily, I don’t experience it often—if at all. I seldom sit down to write unless I already have words ready to go. I also tend to rehearse them during water-heater-draining showers, out loud (yes, I’m one of those talking-to-himself types). It usually takes me longer to make a cup of coffee than to move that blinking cursor halfway down my computer screen.

Also, the two types of writing I’ve specialized in are movie reviewing and memoir. I always have something to say about a movie by the time the end credits scroll. (That was a good thing. My first writing “job” was as a movie critic for the Bismarck Tribune. To earn my $8.00 a week (don’t get me started, and, yes, I’m daring to nest parenthesis within parenthesis (I’m also a computer programmer)), I would watch a movie on Sunday and have to have my review finished and emailed to the editor by Tuesday.) And I can always find stuff in my life to write about. For instance, I’ve never written about the time, I was maybe nine or ten, when I took off with a friend carrying only matches and candles into a culvert, you know, to see where it went. Exiting the other end into Narnia was our hope. Long after the light of day had vanished, wind was causing the candles to flicker, like two stupid kids our boxes full of matches were actually nearly empty, and hot wax was burning our hands, we tripped over something. We looked down in the flickering shadows to see the remains of a rattlesnake. (There. Now I have written about it.)

My story for the SEASONS IN THE DARK anthology titled “The Whites of My Eyes” is filled with true stories. My book-length memoir THS DATING THING: A MOVIE BUFF’s MEMOIR is, of course, also littered with remembrances of my sordid past.

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

Yes, I consider myself a memoirist. I fell in love with the genre while reading THIS BOY’S LIFE by Tobias Wolff, CHERRY by Mary Karr, and KING OF THE HILL by A.E. Hotchner. I’m also fond of FARGO ROCK CITY by Chuck Klosterman. I’ve since accumulated three shelves of memoirs and autobiographies. I’m pleased I wrote one of my own because it makes all of these favorite authors feel in a way like kin. What I love about the genre is how it allows you to sort through all the stuff that’s happened, make sense of it, and find meaning. You might say it’s like a form of therapy—for free. I keep starting to turn the corner toward writing fiction. I always just end up on a new sidewalk through my past.

How are you publishing your recent book and why? 

I self-published my books on KDP. The aforementioned THIS DATING THING as well as a collection of my favorite movie reviews titled SEE YOU IN THE DARK: TWO DECADES OF MY CINEPHILIA IN NORTH DAKOTA. I didn’t make much effort to try to find a traditional publisher for either book. I knew the movie review book had less than zero commercial potential. My main goal was to rescue the reviews from oblivion and have a copy for my own bookshelf. I’m fairly confident that at least three or four copies exist on other bookshelves, somewhere. I know a copy resides in Mumbai because that young reader ecstatically emailed me half a dozen times to tell me how much he enjoyed all three times he read it. I also know that at least one copy has changed hands because a friend cautiously informed me she’d spotted a copy in a box at the Bismarck Public Library used book sale. I did, briefly, have a small publisher lined up for my memoir, but that publisher kinda went out of business, a fate that I imagine awaits many small publishers. At least I can rest easy knowing it wasn’t the publishing of my book that killed them.

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

I’m an Introvert. That probably goes without saying. I read a lot, watch movies, talk to myself in the shower, and experienced 2 ½ years of COVID by seldom leaving my house—and not noticing anything being different. It helps my writing, for sure. It’s easy for me to sit alone at a computer for hours with nothing but Chopin and Liszt to keep me company while I type away. Introverts are also good at looking inward; so, I’m not sure if I found memoir or memoir found me.

What is your favorite motivational phrase?

“Mistakes are the portals of discovery.”—James Joyce

You know how when you go through a draft and find mistakes scattered everywhere? I enjoy making a game out of it. I trust that Freud was at least onto something when he wrote about slips of tongue revealing unconscious truths. I don’t always fix my mistakes at first. I look for ways to use them. Some of my favorite slips of phrase have started with typos—like typing “slips” when I meant “turns.” (Okay, ninety-nine times out of a hundred, I have to fix the damn thing and move on.)

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

If you enjoy it, do it. If you don’t enjoy it, stop doing it. If you have a change of heart, start doing it again. It’s best if it feels like play. And no matter what, try not to fret over past work. In fact, I find it best to not even read my stuff after it’s published.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

Nowhere, really, other than looking my two books up on Amazon.

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

I sure do. I’ll end with this passage from my memoir describing my dad:

During the following two years after arriving back home, Dad became fanatical about new trends. After my lifetime of never seeing him exercise, he lingered in the master bedroom puffing and sweating through morning push-ups, squats, and sit-ups in his underwear—and not just any underwear, but bright red, teeny tiny briefs. I’d see him on the floor sweating before taking his shower, hair on his chest and back, his pot belly, his graying and receding hairline, and how his thing barely stayed out of sight. Cheryl could walk in at any moment! Mom could walk in! It horrified me his wife might see the outline of his… thing. His efforts paid off. The pot belly melted away.

But the effect was short-lived, and he soon found a way to re-pack on the pounds. We were the inaugural family in our cul-de-sac to purchase a microwave oven. After hauling the Amana monstrosity home, attempting to shimmy it from the box before losing patience, cutting it free with a steak knife, and plugging it in, Dad demonstrated how we could bake apples in record time—a mere minute and a half.

He removed a green apple already cored and filled to overflowing with brown sugar from the fridge, ready to go on a paper plate. He lowered the heavy, spring-loaded door and placed the apple in the oven. He released the door and it closed on its own. He pushed a few buttons and the machine whirred.

“HEEERE WE GO!” he said, resembling an infomercial.

(When I recall his words, now, they sound more like “HEEERE’S JOHNNY!”)

We’d never had baked apples before, so I’m not sure if the brown, bubbly messes he created were typical, but over the next few weeks, we—well, mostly he—ate a lot of them. He invited neighbors to experience the miracle of instant baked apples. He entertained the idea of going into the instant baked apple business, but soon the fashion wore off. Until we discovered quick popcorn, the fast cup of tea, and the art of bringing leftovers back from the dead, we simply became the house on the block with the least amount of usable kitchen counter space.

As if changing channels still again, Dad switched to color television. He didn’t buy one, not exactly. He mail-ordered one through a company called Heathkit. The ads declared, “Announcing the first solid-state color TV you assemble yourself!” as if it were a prize-worthy idea.

Our “television” arrived in several boxes. To Dad’s excitement and everyone else’s dismay, the boxes contained a jumble of wires, tubes, screws, and twisted scraps of metal and plastic. The objects giving me hope and promising future enjoyment were the picture tube and the cabinet.

“Do you guys have any idea how much a twenty-five-inch color set costs?” he asked, and continued without waiting for an answer, “I’m sure you don’t so I’ll tell you. A lot.”

Every Saturday morning for weeks, I stared at the corner of the living room—a makeshift workshop—and hoped to see something capable of playing cartoons. Each time, I turned away disappointed and returned to watching Bugs and Elmer in black and white. Making matters worse, the television once “finished” never fully worked. It always had strange bands of indistinct colors running through the picture. Dad didn’t—or couldn’t—see them, so captivated was he by his accomplishment. (He never truly completed it. A few parts left over didn’t fit anywhere. He considered them “extra” parts and tossed them into a drawer.)

He talked to us less and less the closer the “television” came to being a semi-television. One day, I walked into the living room to check his progress and saw him mounting the picture tube into the cabinet. From where I stood, I saw his two legs sticking out from beneath the set. He’d been consumed by the TV. It reminded me of the Wicked Witch of the East after Dorothy dropped the house on her. I swear his socked feet curled and disappeared.

I don’t remember the moment the project was “finished,” the black-and-white set was banished, and the intruder assumed its post in the center of the living room wall. I do remember our old set sitting on the floor of my parent’s closet facing the corner. It had been placed in a time-out. A few times, after trying to watch the interloper for a while, I snuck into their room, slid the closet door open a crack, and patted my old pal atop the head.

After Dad’s labors, I don’t recall him ever once sitting and watching his Heathkit. Always “at work,” he spent his days at IBM, but he never talked about what he did there, and I never thought or cared to ask. I knew it had to do with something futuristic and electrical called “computers,” assembling them, fixing them if they broke. My one experience of him working on electronics had been our television set. I pictured his desk at work cluttered with “extra” bits and pieces of computers he’d later stash in drawers. I imagined him as not a particularly competent computer whatever he was and, given his lack of shoptalk and general grumpiness at home in the evening, not in love with his job either.

Mom was terrified when he came home early from work one day and announced he had been “let go.” His income and future retirement prospects had gone poof, but he looked oddly relieved.

He increased the intensity of his bedroom floor, semi-naked workout sessions. He washed his cherished Oldsmobile Cutlass daily. He wore shiny silk shirts unbuttoned to his navel. He dangled a gold chain around his neck and experimented with hair dyes and comb-overs. He eventually bought the SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER soundtrack album and wore it out. He embodied a walking, talking, dancing cliché—the dad in the movie DAZED AND CONFUSED who thwarts his son’s attempt to throw a keg party. Richard Linklater set his marvelously researched movie in 1976 and Dad found polyester in 1977. Despite his efforts, Dad always lived a bit behind the times.

One detail did separate him from the father in DAZED AND CONFUSED. Dad never would have prevented a keg party. He would’ve joined in and smiled at all the girls. Cheryl told me, “When Dad helped me move in during my freshman year in college, he went away for a while, returned, and stocked the fridge with four cases of beer, one for me and each of my roommates.”

These behavior swings were all barely noticeable at the time, but they were accumulating in my mind. Eventually, in Dad’s increasing absence, I had to mow the lawn and it grew shaggier by the week. All the excitement about instantly hot food dissipated. The television’s picture worsened until it stopped working entirely and our small black-and-white set returned atop the otherwise useless Heathkit cabinet. We ate at the coffee table—and even in our bedrooms.

AuThursday – Lynda Cox

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I’ve been a writer all of my life, but it wasn’t until my mid-30s that I got serious about publication. I now have 11 books published, both traditionally and as an indie. I hold a master’s degree in English that other than being a point of pride doesn’t do much for me. When I’m not writing, I raise and show collies.
How do you make time to write?
I have a set schedule. I may not be writing during that scheduled time, but at least I’m sitting at the keyboard and playing with words.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
Yes and no. Yes, I believe outside influences can stymie the creative flow. But, there are other ways to be creative. When the words won’t come, I play around with promo images or I make beaded “bling” show leads to support my dog show addiction or I make beaded string bookmarks.
Tell us a bit about the genre you write and why you love it.
Under my real name, I write western historical romance, some of it very steamy. I grew up on a steady diet of Westerns and John Wayne movies. I love that so much of that time period seemed to be cut and dry/black and white. It wasn’t because that’s the romanticized version of the Old West, but there is a bit of comfort in holding on to that romanticized ideal. Under my pen name Linnea Fletcher, I write fantasy romance with my writing partner McKayla Jade. That stuff is VERY spicy.
How are you publishing your recent book and why? 
The most recent is under the pen name. It’s called *Monster* and it is indie published. I like the control that is open to indie authors as well as the significant lack of a time lag between acceptance by a publishing house and actually publishing said book.
Are you an Introvert or an Extrovert?  How does this affect your work?
I’m an extreme introvert. Writing under my own name, I struggle with certain “smexxy” scenes. Writing under my pen name takes away that struggle. I can be an extrovert. I can be outgoing and push the boundaries of my comfort zone.
What is your favorite motivational phrase?
Actually, I have two and both are believed to be attributed to Ernest Hemingway. The first one is
“The first draft is always sh*t.”
The second is
“Write drunk. Edit sober.”
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Don’t give up. I signed my first book contract when I was working on my master’s degree when I was 37. Keep writing. Keep cultivating a reader base. Don’t stop writing. The world needs your unique voice because you’re the only one who can tell your story.
Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

AuThursday – Rachel D. Adams

BW normPlease welcome Rachel D. Adams to the Clog Blog! Rachel, tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I grew up in the US South/Bible belt and my research and writing grew from wanting to dive into subjects that many in my culture saw as taboo. I’ve been writing since age 11 and am just now going out on a limb to publish some of my collaborative fiction.
How do you make time to write?
I write for work. I write content for websites and freelance while also managing with the use of HB90 and sprints to keep myself on track – to write, edit, and revise my manuscripts.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
Yes. But so far mine has rarely lasted more than a week and it is usually focused on one type of writing.
Tell us a bit about the genre you write and why you love it.
I write multi-genre fiction. However, the first series I plan to publish is Urban Fantasy / Paranormal Romance. I love these because I used to read Christopher Golden and Anne Rice. Then, I got into some writing groups (fan fic) and someone told me I wrote like Laurel K. Hamilton. So, I had to look her up and that’s when I realized…maybe I liked these kinds of worlds, but with character-driven scenes. I also like steamy scenes (though this 1st book in the series is kind of tame…slow burn folks…) and I love dragons. Being pagan and a previous TTRPG enthusiast, I’ve put a lot of research into the magic systems in my worlds, too. So that makes it a load of fun. The reason I love the Paranormal Romance setting is because all of my books will have a relationship if not more in it. And they are not all conventional romances. Some are LGBTQ, some are polyamorous, some are reverse harem, some are BDSM… and paranormal romances don’t tend to limit the author.
How are you publishing your recent book and why? 
I’m going indie publishing because I like the idea of having control of my work.
Are you an Introvert or an Extrovert?  How does this affect your work?
Introvert – though I often come off like an extrovert. I’ve got anxiety and depression along with ADD – so if I’m over social, I have to go dark and build up those “social batteries” again before I can keep going. As an introvert, I prefer to stay home and don’t like being the center of attention. So…it can be bothersome for any kind of work. But since I work remotely, it doesn’t affect me as much as it used to.
What is your favorite motivational phrase?
To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; To earn the approbation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; To appreciate beauty; To find the best in others; To give of one’s self; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; To have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exultation; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived – This is to have succeeded. — Ralph Waldo Emerson
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Don’t give up. Give your best.
Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?
racheldardams.com has all of my links and my newsletter sign-up on it. Everyone who signs up for the newsletter will be getting a copy of our prequel eBook as soon as it’s published and ready. I spend most time on Twitter and Facebook right now.
Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?
Doppelgängers-&-Deceit---bonus---promo-post-comingThe idea frightened Gabriel – being taken and someone replacing you?
How many human lives had already been taken by the doppelgängers? Had this one not made a mistake, shining a light on other odd deaths or murders in recent months, no one would’ve thought about it. As Gabriel placed the notebooks and scribbled on pads in his briefcase at the desk, he thought back over the unusual amount of missing person reports in Whitley. Reports he hadn’t even had time to peruse. For a college town, the possibilities were deadly. Students could go missing and not be reported for weeks.
He heard the phone vibrate on his desk. Regarding the device, Gabriel sighed heavily. “Jean-Michel Raudine” was on the screen. The Councilor answered the phone immediately. “It’s about time. What use is having a Tasker assigned to me if he never responds? I’ve been trying to get hold of you for two days.”
“This Tasker was on assignment for someone on a higher pay grade than you, Councilor Kennedy,” The sound of ice and sloshing liquid could be heard. “Take my absence up with him.”
“Apparently, the Director is too busy to be bothered. And you’re my Tasker, not his.” All Gabriel heard was a grunt and the sound of liquid being poured from the other end of the call. “Are you drinking, Jean-Michel?” Gabriel flattened the palm of his free hand on the desk while he waited.
“Yes. If you had a day like mine, you’d be drinking, too.”
“No. I would be doing my duty,” Gabriel heard a release of air from the other side of the call. “Sorry to be so boring, but there are things to do besides getting drunk. There may be lives on the line.”
“There are always lives on the line with you lot. You should be taking that stick out your arse and pouring your own drink,” the Tasker chuckled.
Gabriel’s eyes glared down at the phone he had just pulled from his face. Why did this man always get his goat? He took a deep breath, swallowed, and continued.
“In case you were blissfully unaware, there’s a possible emergency happening here. I’m trying to save people from a horrible end.”
“Let me guess, human lives?”
“Well, yes, but it could also be argued that I’m trying to save supernatural lives. Who knows why doppelgängers are doing what they’re doing? So,” Gabriel took another pronounced breath. “I’m trying to save both supernatural and human lives. And for that, I need a Tasker who is available to me. And not drunk.” If it were any other person…
“Oh, come on, Gabriel. Surely you don’t think the Council and Crimson are here for supernatural benefit?” Jean-Michel took another drink.
“It is stated in the vows and pledge of duty….”
“Fuck that! I want your opinion, not some fuckin’ vow!” The Tasker growled from somewhere close to his soul. “Stop hiding behind someone else’s words and empty promises!”
Gabriel’s voice caught. Large brown eyes waited, trying to overcome the sudden catch in his throat and his chest. There was a flash of memory, a sleeker, younger version of his Tasker…using that voice while arguing with his father. The Councilor could feel the anger and tension in the room that day – years ago – and he swore to himself he’d just felt it again. After all, Jean-Michel had been the Tasker assigned to several human Councilors over the years – Kennedys all in a line. He was definitely not human, though he was listed as such. Perhaps, human magi? They had longer lives.
No. he knew better. His eyes moved to the cart where the books had been. He swallowed. “Crimson just wants supernaturals cleaned up and out of sight, so their precious humans don’t ever have to be burdened by knowing supernaturals exist,” the Tasker scoffed. “And you know what the funny thing is? Humans, who know about supernaturals? They want to become them or wipe ‘em from the face of the earth out of jealousy. So which are you?”
“You…are…drunk…” Gabriel spoke with measured patience. “You know how I feel about drinking and being drunk.”
“Why are the rules all made about you creatures? Humans don’t even treat one another properly. Consider all these murders and wars. You use one another and us! Skinner’s a fine example, using Crimson to herd supernaturals and keep’em under control. We’re not the ones out of control.”
“That’s news to me, considering I just got a report of a doppelgänger in Whitley taking the life of a human and becoming him. Supernaturals have the upper hand. A balance must be kept, Tasker. Crimson and the Council are about balance.” This wasn’t the time for a philosophical discussion. He needed to reel this conversation in. “Jean-Michel, I need you to come back here. The supernaturals in question are killing humans, replacing them, and wreaking havoc on other people’s lives,” Gabriel whispered every phrase in the sentence slowly. His hand was popping his thumb against his thigh.
“Yeah, well, I’ll get right on it.”
“Raudine!” Gabriel shouted the Tasker’s last name as if that would better get his attention, but the call had ended before he’d even finished the second syllable. He stared down at the phone. Where had that much venom come from? Why the sudden indignation? They had both taken vows, had they not?

AuThursday – Claire Kohler

Claire Kohler
Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
My favorite preschool activity was story time if that tells you anything. I’ve loved writing since I was ten years old. I wanted to pursue an English degree in college but felt it would be too hard to make a career out of writing, so I became a teacher. My husband actually encouraged me to get back into writing in 2016, and that’s when I got the idea for what became my debut novel. It took me five years from that idea to publication, but now I’m finally chasing my dream and am about to publish my second novel in October.
How do you make time to write?
I have a three-year-old and a one-year-old. I made it a habit to write during afternoon naps five days a week.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
Yes! One of my strengths from the Clifton Strengths Finder is intellection. That means it’s important for me to turn ideas over and over in my mind. If I go too fast, I tend to get stuck or the story won’t feel right, and I’ll have to go back and think for a while until the right idea comes to me (I’m a discovery writer, so I don’t plan out my stories before I start writing them). It’s also important to soak up new information, and sometimes that means taking your nose away from the grindstone and enjoying others’ stories, so you can improve your own.
Tell us a bit about the genre you write and why you love it.
I write historical fantasy! I’ve always enjoyed monsters and the magic of fantasy, but I also love learning about cultures from around the world. Historical fantasy allows me to blend the two, so fantasy seems like maybe it isn’t such a stretch to believe in. Maybe mythical creatures did exist once upon a time.
How are you publishing your recent book and why? 
I’m an indie author. I originally tried the traditional route, but without connections, it’s hard to get an agent. Plus, you’re limited to the type of story a publishing house wants to print. With indie, I can create what I would like to read.The Heart of Everton Inn
Are you an Introvert or an Extrovert?  How does this affect your work?
I’m an introvert! I love people, but working with them can be intimidating, so being an author is great. I hide away in my office/cave and create works of art that I can then share with the world.
What is your favorite motivational phrase?
What you do today can improve all your tomorrows.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Learn, learn, learn as much as you can, and then be brave enough to chase your dream.
Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?
First off, there’s my website: www.clairekohlerbooks.com, but I’m also on Facebook and Instagram.
Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?
“I shall always love you, my dear bairn. Remember that, no matter what happens. And you must promise me something before I go,” the older woman whispered.
“Anything, Mum,” Briony answered.
“You must stay away from the water.”
Briony looked down at the floor, holding back tears as she tried to get a handle on herself. She couldn’t fathom why this was her mother’s dying wish, why this was so important.
Is her fear o’ the sea that strong? How can she hate it so much?
Briony felt the enigmatic pull she always did when she thought of the ocean. It called to her in a way she could neither explain nor understand. She had no reason to desire it as she did, for the sea had stolen her father from them years ago. At least, that was what her mother told her since Briony had no memory of the man.
She glanced out the window of the small cottage, wishing she could run to the waves at that very moment and escape the expectation lurking in her mother’s eyes. No matter how Briony replied, she knew she would cause misery; the only question was who would have to bear it.
She turned back to her mother, ignoring the lump in her throat as she said, “I promise.”
At hearing those words, Bethany gave Briony an earnest smile that lit up the room much more than the candles around them. Then, with a small sigh, the older woman closed her eyes and relinquished her spirit.
Briony almost felt it depart, ascending from her mother’s physical form before slipping away.
And it was at that precise moment that a series of bloodcurdling howls rang through the air. The sounds rose from just beyond Everton’s shores, filling the entire village with dread. The only person who didn’t notice them was the young woman herself, for the cries melded with her own moans of anguish as perfectly as if they had all come from the same throat.
The Secret of Drulea Cottage (Betwixt the Sea and Shore, Book 1) by Claire Kohler

AuThursday – Katherine Brown

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Please welcome Katherine Brown to The Clog Blog!  Katherine, can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I’m a book-obsessed mom raising a book-obsessed toddler and a great teen while trying to carve out time to write and occasionally shower. I live in Texas and love spending time with my husband and family. Also, there is no such thing as too much chocolate.
How do you make time to write?
I cram all of my writing in when my two-year-old daughter is napping or the one day a week she stays with my mom.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
I believe in writer’s procrastination and in tired brains that find creativity hard, at least for myself.
Tell us a bit about the genre you write and why you love it.
I’ve written a few genres. Primarily cozy mystery, a few kids mysteries, short sweet romance, and am preparing to publish my first steampunk mystery/adventure. One thing all of my works have in common is that they are clean fiction meaning fade to black and minimal to no swearing etc. I want any age to be able to enjoy them and I want to model my personal values for my daughters even when I write. With mystery, I love it because you can follow the trail and still be surprised by the ending even if you are the writer in my experience.
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How are you publishing your recent book and why? 
Indie and probably because I’m too impatient to wade through years of potential rejections before being able to offer my story to book lovers everywhere.
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Are you an Introvert or an Extrovert?  How does this affect your work?
An introvert who can mingle and hold conversations with no problem but finds too much peopling to be exhausting and also struggles to market my books because I hate to be “pushy” or “selly” lol.
What is your favorite motivational phrase?
Do something today you will thank yourself for tomorrow is probably one of them.
Another is Psalm 46:5
God is within her she will not fail. Even when I feel like I’m failing, I remind myself I can’t see the future or even the whole picture of now; if I’m pursuing my writing with the creativity I was given, then I’m blessed.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Write. Then write more. Don’t stop even if you have to work another job. You can’t edit a blank page or publish an idea. Write it and figure out what to do with it when you get the chance.
Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?
_cover a spoonful of gunpowder
“A woman who can still give orders when she’s scared; just what I need.” He pulled a cutlass from the scabbard at his side. Pushing Marie further back, he swung and smoothly severed the head from the wriggling creature. Not that decapitation ceased the wriggling.
Marie closed her eyes. It was one of the things she hated about the wily little devils, snakes didn’t have the decency to just die and be still.”
~An excerpt from my steampunk mystery coming in 2022!

AuThursday – Freida Kilmari

Please welcome Freida Kilmari to The Clog Blog!  Freida, can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I’m an LGBTQ+ Fantasy Romance author who specialises in breaking down barriers and categories by experimenting with gender and sexuality on the page. I grew up reading complex fantasy worlds, beautifully written romances, and tense and exciting plots, but as an author, I like to use those things to explore what it means to be human when you don’t conform to life’s standards.
How do you make time to write?
Writing is now my day job, but it wasn’t always. I used to write at night, where the world was quiet and everyone was in bed. But now I write all day and have a more regular schedule. I do miss the night time writing, but I have more free time now.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
Yes, but no. Yes, I believe that writers get stuck, but no I don’t believe in this “oh, it’s just writer’s block, it’ll move on its own” mentality. We’re usually stuck for a reason: creative burnout, not knowing what comes next, plot holes, lack of confidence, anxiety, or some other reason. If you can pinpoint the reason, then you can work on fixing it and moving forwards.
Tell us a bit about the genre you write and why you love it.
Growing up, I never read any sexually and gender-diverse characters. Even now, as an adult who searches for them, I haven’t read many. And so I decided to write some. I often write the things I feel are missing in the literary world. So I write about characters going through identity crises because the only times we really get to see trans people or gender fluid people or gay people, etc., is when they’ve already transitioned and are comfortable with who they are. But what about before? What about before you knew what label best fitted you? What about before you slept with the same gender for the first time?
How are you publishing your recent book and why? 
Indie. I love running my own business, building my readership, and having control over how my content is consumed. I also really enjoy the publishing aspects of my life.
Are you an Introvert or an Extrovert?  How does this affect your work?
Introvert. All my characters are introverted, I think. And it means I don’t have a lot of social experience to draw from, so I don’t tend to write lots of friend characters and things, but when my main characters do make friends, it always feels kind of beautiful to me.
What is your favorite motivational phrase?
“If I run out of power today, I’ll just borrow some from tomorrow!” – Fairy Tail, Episode 93
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Write something you love. Something you feel passionate about. Delve deep into yourself and write about the things that lie there. Because when you love what you do, it shines across the pages and produces a better product.
Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?
Amazon has my ebooks (Kindle Unlimited), but you can grab my paperbacks from any major retailer, including B&N and Waterstones.

AuThursday – V. Mull

Please welcome V. Mull to the Clog Blog.  Virginia, can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
My name is Virginia, but I go by the pen name V. Mull. I’ve been telling stories since I was five and writing them since I was old enough to. Being a published author was my dream. I had to put it on hold because of life – I got married and had three amazing kids, but something was missing. I finally figured it out. I NEEDED to write, to create. And so I did.
How do you make time to write?
It’s so hard to write when you have the constant needs of those around you. The questions, the noise – it pulls you out of the world you’re creating. But there are ways around that. I use notebooks, of which I have multiple in every room, to jot down ideas that flash through my mind while folding laundry or making lunch. Then, when I do get an hour or two of quiet, I’m able to glue those ideas together.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
I sure do! Writer’s block isn’t the lack of motivation or inspiration, it’s not even laziness. It’s when you have all the tools to write – you have the need – the want – to write, yet forming sentences, even words is difficult!
Tell us a bit about the genre you write and why you love it.
Fantasy romance. Oh, the magic, the creatures born of magic, the amazing relationships between characters – I live for it. Gail Carson Levine (author of Ella Enchanted) was my first inspiration for creating such worlds. And I’m a sucker for a good Jane Austen love story, so I mix the two together.
How are you publishing your recent book and why?
Indie. I was always against self-publishing, only because I didn’t understand it. But I knew how long the wait could be if I chose traditionally, so I decided to take the expensive fate into my own hands. It’s hard, so hard. But I’m happy.
Are you an Introvert or an Extrovert?  How does this affect your work?
I suppose introvert, though I’m not a fan of labeling myself as such. I have extrovert tendencies with certain people and in certain situations, but I need to recharge for at least half a week. I suppose, from the description of an extrovert, being an “introvert” helps me immensely because I really don’t mind being alone. I prefer it at least 80% of the time, which gives me the time to write and create (if I didn’t have the kids, of course)
What is your favorite motivational phrase?
JUST DO IT – Shia LaBeouf.  It was the first thing to come to mind, to be honest!
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Practice makes perfect! Cliché, absolutely. But true! I could never understand the saying because in everything I tried I simply couldn’t do better. But with writing? You can physically SEE the progress. Write something. Write more and more. Then look back on your old work and I promise you will see a difference.
Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?
World Wide Web sounds terrifying! And it is, for an author. I’m on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and my website (where you can find all social media links) authorvmull.org
Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?
The Secrets of Gelid Lake
Again, they laughed like angels. “We all get angry, Nathalia. It’s what you are angry for, and how you choose to react after making a mistake that makes you pure. Your sensitivity is not a weakness, no matter how many tears you shed. You feel to your very core, and that, my child is strength.”
~Excerpt from my upcoming novella, The Secrets of Gelid Lake

AuThursday – James Pyles

james2Please welcome James Pyles to the Clog Blog!  James, can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I’ve been writing information technology textbooks for over 20 years published by houses such as McGraw-Hill and O’Reilly. Since 2019, I’ve branched out into writing science fiction and fantasy short stories and novelettes.
How do you make time to write?
I try to block out time in the evenings after my day job, but it doesn’t always work out. Frankly, I write whenever I can carve in an hour or more.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
I believe that stress and my emotional state can drain away my motivation to write. I have to be in the right space to be creative and to be focused enough to write.
Tell us a bit about the genre you write and why you love it.
I’ve been reading science fiction since I was a kid in the mid-1960s. I’ve always wanted to write SciFi but over the years, my attempts felt forced and derivative. With the advent of indie writing and publishing, I finally got up the nerve (after practicing writing on my blog for a few years) to start submitting stories. I just love time travel, space operas, and all the tales I grew up with. I love being a part of lending my imagination to all of that.
How are you publishing your recent book and why?
I’m finally working on my first novel. It’s set in a shared universe created by an indie publisher. I’ve had stories published by them before and they’re interested in me expanding my ideas into a much larger work. Indie publishing affords opportunities to write innovative stories that otherwise wouldn’t see the light of day with a traditional big box publisher.
Are you an Introvert or an Extrovert?  How does this affect your work?
Introvert. I like my space and I like it quiet. Fortunately, I have a home office where I can close the door and immerse myself in my craft.
What is your favorite motivational phrase?
“When I was young, I used to admire intelligent people; as I grow older, I admire kind people.”Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
There is no one right path to writing and being published. The journey is unique for everyone. You don’t have to follow someone else.
Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?
Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?
This is from the first draft of my WIP, so it’s pretty rough:
Ciara was relieved that the four soldiers who silently accompanied her back to the shuttle bay were Assembly regulars and not DOID Appendices. It was an irrational fear, for if the DOID had been ordered to kill her, she would never have seen them coming.
The footfalls of five pairs of boots echoed metallically off of the deck plates and the barely audible hiss of the doors sliding aside signaled their arrival at the launch bay. Without a word, she was deposited at the foot of the stairs leading into the shuttle, a winged, light-gray dove in stark contrast to the abyss-black of the massive envoy vessel she was currently housed in. The size and armament could have been a response to the constant threat of the Kaamus occupations of the local star group, but in reality, it was a reflection of the authority wielded by the Assembly’s DOIDs.
The pilot officiously announced departure from the shuttle bay and feeling like a tenuous angel, she once again fell toward the planet below.
Once in orbital space, the Representative’s jump ship loomed over her like a harbinger of death, which could still be its role. She would make planetfall in less than thirty minutes and be returned to the chateau of House Palendale two hours hence.
It had been just past dawn that morning when Ciara pulled her battered trunk from a closet in her personal chambers. It could have sheltered a small family from some of the more impoverished corners of the realm, but such were the benefits of both rank and royalty. She had again gone through the ritual of dismantling the chest, eventually reaching the hermetically sealed remains of the La-La doll. The prize had been uncovered by the revered Kekijek over three millennia ago on a frozen moon orbiting a gas giant in the Kaamus system.
“We’ve begun La-La, but our chances are not good. Yet what else can I do and still be worthy of what you represent?”
So unlike a General, Ciara held the plastic-covered stuffed toy to her breasts and strode out to the eastern balcony. There were fifty kilometers of farmland surrounding the estate and she had an unimpeded view of tender crops being watered by large, rolling arms spraying life. Her gaze, however, was directed upward toward the last stars being extinguished by the morning light.
Her brother Amir remained a prisoner of the Kaamus military governor Kenan Isom on Eirsyn, and if reports were accurate, he did rule with an iron fist. As long as Amir had value as a hostage, he would be kept alive and even treated with privilege. But he was still a prisoner in the hands of a master who played with his human possessions as a feline would with its living dinner. Agents reported that large swaths of the planet’s general population were not so fortunate. Over a million had lost their lives so far, and millions more were pressed into service in work camps.
Then there was Jepheth Shinzi who had fallen into her own powerful hands a year ago. In return for a certain freedom, they had woven an alliance that in another reality might have passed for friendship. But upon granting his wish, she used him to fulfill her own, which most likely had sent him to his death.
As the shuttle made its final approach to one of the landing pads in the military compound near the city’s edge, Ciara raised the inside of her left wrist and pressed a code sequence.
“Major Kann. Good evening, General.” Her aide’s pleasant baritone voice reminded her that she wasn’t alone after all.
“My shuttle’s landing at Pad A35. Have my transportation ready when I touch down.”
“Acknowledged, General. Anything else?”
She almost laughed, but a miracle wasn’t something even her devoted second could provide. “That’s all for the present. Ciara out.”
Minutes later the roar of the landing thrusters jolted her out of her musings. She hoped it wasn’t too late to ask for that miracle because she would need so many before this was over. Nearly a day before the DOID’s ship had jumped into the Pheothese system, Code Name Soiran had issued the go order. By now, the assault team had jumped into Eirsyn’s solar system and with any luck, they were already in position to strike. Her audience with the DOID had been perfunctory on her part. She would be damned if she’d wait for the Assembly’s nod before waging her own war.

AuThursday – Lesanda Moore

20201126_141648Please welcome Lesanda Moore to the Clog Blog,  Lasanda, can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I’m a mother of 3, a lover of nature, and an avid reader. Oh and I love to travel. I’m a licensed educator as well.
How do you make time to write?
By making it a priority and scheduling writing time.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
No
Tell us a bit about the genre you write and why you love it.
I write romance, women’s fiction, and children’s picture books. I love telling stories about love and life lessons with relatable characters.
How are you publishing your recent book and why?
I’m an indie author. I’ve only been published since January 2021. I want to learn as much as I can about the industry before pitching to a traditional publisher.
Are you an Introvert or an Extrovert?  How does this affect your work?
I think I’m a bit of both. Sometimes I write alone and other times I participate in live sprints with other authors. It depends on my mood.
What is your favorite motivational phrase?
It’s gotta work or it’s gotta work!
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Start writing
Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?
Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?
what the heart wants ebook cover #1What the Heart Wants
Chapter 1: Cheers to Summer Break
Cirilla
June 2018
Sweat dripped down my forehead as the afternoon announcements blared through the loudspeaker. It was the last day of school before summer break, the last day in hell, both literally and physically. The air conditioning system conked out a week ago and the whole school was riddled with fans to combat the Virginia heat.
“Boys and girls, make sure to grab all of your belongings or else they’ll be going in the trash,” I said, fanning myself with a piece of folded construction paper.
As I watched the fifth graders interact with each other, I counted down the seconds until the final bell rang, until I was a free woman.
“We’re gonna miss you, Miss Matthews.”
“I’m gonna miss you guys, too.”
They lined up against the wall and waited for the principal to dismiss the bus riders. I walked to the front of the line and handed each student a bag of treats. After the last rider left, I escorted the remaining students to the front of the building for parent pickup. While waiting, I made small talk with the other members of the fifth-grade team.
“Are you ready for some fun in the sun?” I asked.
“Yep. Me and somebody’s son,” said Maddie.
“Girl, you are too much.”
“I’m tryna get like you. I want to go to South Beach and get my booty rubbed by that fine-ass boss of ours, too.”
“Shhh,” I said, looking around to see who else heard our conversation. “Are you tryna get me fired on the last day?”
“My bad,” she whispered.
The last two students dashed across the grass to meet their parents and I headed back to the classroom to gather my belongings. Looking around the room, I took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. I made it through another stressful, but successful school year and now it was time to go home and pack for my much-needed baecation to Miami. Butterflies fluttered in my stomach just thinking about how much fun, and sex, I was about to have.
“See you later,” I said, turning off the lights and closing the door behind me.