AuThursday – Kathleen Rowland

ONIH Bannerkathy2(1)Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I grew up in Sioux City, Iowa.  My dad was the first psychiatrist in town and mother was a nurse.  I’m married to the love of my life who is a CPA.  Our five children have flown the coop.  We have four grandchildren and one on the way.

How do you make time to write? 

Writing is a fun emotional outlet, and I write about four hours a day.

Do you believe in writer’s block? 

Yes, and that happens when I have something else must do.  I am chairing a writers’ contest this year.  My chapter, OCCRWA, is depending on me.

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

I love the combination of mystery and romance. There’s a time clock. Urgency adds to the impact of the entire book.

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

Traditional with Tirgearr Publishing in Ireland. What an amazing publisher, and I feel so lucky with great editors and cover artists.

Are you an Introvert or Extrovert?

How does this affect your work? I’m an extrovert and people person. I like socializing with family, friends, and other writers.

What is your favorite motivational phrase?

“Just do it.” I had to remind myself to find judges for the Orange Rose Contest before the date of publicizing the contest.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Take classes.  Join a chapter for writers. Maybe join a critique group if inclined.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

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

OneNightinHavanabyKathleenRowland200 (1)One Night in Havana

Through binoculars, Carlos Montoya had been watching Veronica when she’d had a conversation with a security guard from the cruise ship in question. As a part-time Cuban border enforcer, he was aware of all of the different ways dirt-bags smuggled crap into and out of Cuba. He worked this job to stop them.

Something made her nervous. Now onboard, he’d smothered a smile when she watched the action heat up across the water. Time for a bit of fun. She was a fish out of water when it came to drug transport via cruise ships.

He had his eyes where hers were, on tonight’s final loading of drugs across the channel. Some shady characters he’d encountered through the past few years made regular nocturnal visits. Each night, a variety of activities took place with a procession of scantily clad women. Not that he’d get an opportunity to try them out. He was stuck here on his boat until he nabbed the bad dudes. When this stint ended, he’d catch up with his grandmother’s tenant, a woman with an edgy, artsy vibe that suited her business of running a hair salon. If she weren’t available, he’d find a pretty vacationer looking for fun. Too bad Veronica would be heading home in twenty-four hours.

Tonight’s boredom had disappeared when his competitor in the black silk dress had dropped in and inched along to the back of his boat.

Carlos had stood inside and watched from the hatch as she leaned against the side of the cabin so close to the hatch, he could have reached out and touched her with a hand. Sometimes people under the influence stepped onto the wrong boat. There were plenty of drugs if someone knew basic operations. This wasn’t the case. She made her way to the back of his boat with purpose. She sat her adorable ass on an old life jacket for a perfect vantage point.

Veronica was a looker without the jaded appearance of the many women he’d seen wandering from her cruise ship. Most of the time she dressed in business attire, but her curves smoldered underneath. Her high heels fit with Cuban fashion. The moonlight highlighted her shoulder-length blonde hair. While scuba diving, he’d forced himself to look away from her long, bare legs for fear he’d run his hands up them and tuck his fingers beneath her thighs. At the restaurant, he’d enjoyed a little banter, but tonight he’d gotten another glimpse of her toned body as she crept across the deck. The short dress plastered against her and she hitched it up to move around. The light sway of her hips brought him to his knees. He shuffled around the cabin, his dick pressing against his zipper. Cruise vessels were being monitored by Border Protection, and he’d make sure no harm came to her. He glanced across the water and reminded himself to be useful.

It’d been the same since he and his buddy, Alberto, from the military police put two and two together. They’d sat on a rooftop deck of a bar overlooking the harbor, watching local criminals getting on and off her ship, the Ecstasy.

“That operation needs extra eyes,” Alberto had said with a swig of beer.

“What’s going on?”

Alberto had glared at him. “Crims are dealing from the cruise ships. Your boat has—”

“A perfect location?” The next day, with military cameras and other equipment installed, Carlos started his surveillance job. Same drugs, different participants and ways of operation. Stuck on his cabin cruiser with no company was tough on the libido. Before leaving in the early hours of the morning, he connected his recording device to a landline provided by the port authority. At his house, he filed reports, uploaded photographs to support his narrative, showered, and then changed into his usual garb.

Most days he taught students studying abroad in English at the University of Havana. Cuban students interacted with American, South American, and European exchange students. Socializing made them seek a better life. New hopes and dreams threatened to divide their insular Cuban community. Now, during winter break, he attended the Oceanography Conference.

Every session had been a snore until he’d learned Veronica was pitted against him for the same grant. Stiff competition brightened the experience. The daughter of the late Cephalopodiatrist, Ronald Keane, didn’t churn out an article a month for ten plus years without honing in on the power of eight. Octopuses changed shape and color at will, squirted ink, vanished through tiny cracks, and even tasted with their suckers. The predators reminded him of himself, but everything about Veronica put her in the guileless category.

Did she not know he’d invited her to scuba dive with a handful of judges to even out the playing field? He’d won a handful of grants. Networking was about making connections and building mutually beneficial relationships. Instead of joining the crew afterward for drinks, she’d assisted his eighty-year-old abuela off the boat and down The Malecón seawall. That day a cold front blew in, and massive waves crashed against her chances to expand her sphere of influence. Too bad Bela had lit on her like a sticky butterfly. His heart skipped with Veronica in the midst of a beat.

He was aware of the routine when anyone researched and wrote scholarly articles. She had to plan. Make predictions. Envision. Check data, and then double-check. On paper everything was perfect. But in reality, when competing for a grant, something went wrong. She didn’t sell herself. Perhaps he’d frostily point that out, later, somehow, and help her future efforts.

Movement on the deck outside his cabin brought him back to the present. Veronica stood and turned toward the dock, and he followed her silently to the front of the boat.

A guard in a light blue uniform stormed down the dock. Will she jump toward him?

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