AuThursday – Joshua Knels

Please welcome Josh Knels, a fellow member of the BisMan Writer’s Guild!  Joshua, can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

My name is Joshua Knels. I grew up in Fairview, MT, and moved to Bismarck after I graduated high school and attended Bottineau for a little while. I didn’t get into writing until I was fifteen. I suffered a back injury during a football game that took me out of sports for the remainder of my time in school. That’s when I started reading books and grew a passion for reading and writing. I started writing my first project when I was a sophomore in high school, but later dropped the project when I went to college.

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

Introvert. It gives me plenty of time to write since I don’t go out much (even less so since Covid-19). The only time I go out nowadays is for work or D&D nights with friends during the weekend

How do you make time to write? 

I usually write between shifts when I get home from work or on my days off. 

What genre are your stories and what draws you to this genre?

I usually write fantasy adventures since I enjoy world-building and creating new worlds. I often mix it with other elements, such as romance and horror. 

Do you ever get writer’s block? 

Not as much as I thought I would get. I am always thinking about character development and story elements and rarely get burned out from it. When I do, I just relax for a day or two and I am back at it. Listening to music while writing a scene also helps me out a lot.

What is your writing Kryptonite?

Depression for sure. When I feel overwhelmed and depressed from work and personal matters, it has an impact on my writing. Whenever I am in these funks, I either write scenes where characters feel the same as I do, or I just take a personal day to myself and try to get over whatever is stressing me out or depressed at the time.

So, what have you written? 

Nothing complete right now, I’m afraid, except two books that I self-published in 2011 and 2012.

41xd2DMgXuLThese books, The Seattle Massacre & Trails of Blood were two books of a series of murder mystery & horror books that I was writing a long time ago under the pen name J.J. Knight. I stopped writing them when I lost progress on the third book several times and a lot of my other projects when my computer went out and I didn’t have them saved on any other source. I had lost the passion for writing this series and in general when I hit a very deep depression that lasted for over three years and didn’t write anything during that time. It wasn’t until 2016 when I started writing some Pokemon fanfiction to get back into the groove of writing until 2018 when I started my D&D project. In 2019, I fell in love with one of my favorite D&D characters, Victoria “The Scarlet Rose” Valentine, and decided to write a book series based on her and in a modern setting. 

Where can we buy or see them? 

I think you can see the two books on Amazon. I don’t intend to continue that series unfortunately since there’s no passion left for that project and all energy will be devoted to my next project. 

What are your current projects?

My current project is The Scarlet Rose, a planned multi-part series. It is a modern fantasy story that was inspired by my favorite D&D character, Victoria “Scarlet Rose” Valentine. The story follows the main character Victoria, a girl born with the appearance of a devil (horns, tail, and red tail). I was inspired to write this project from elements of Hellboy, Supernatural, and Men in Black.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Never give up your dream and always practice. Write what makes you happy and don’t be afraid to ask others for help and opinions.

AuThursday – Rosanna Leo

Rosanna Leo author photoWelcome Rosanna!  Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

Thanks so much for having me here, Tina!

I’m Rosanna Leo and I write contemporary and paranormal romance. When not writing, I work at my local public library in an Acquisitions role, so I’m one of the lucky ones who gets to see all the new books when they first arrive. I come from Toronto, Canada, and I try hard to insert a bit of Canadian flavour into my books. I’ve been writing for over ten years now and am fortunate to be part of the romance community, as a writer, blogger, and reader.

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

With the subgenres of romance that I write, I really do get the best of both worlds. With my contemporary romances, I get to explore the conflicts of “real” people, and I love showing how they can grow and learn to love. In the case of my paranormal romances, the characters and situations might be a bit more outrageous, but it’s fun for me to be able to push those envelopes. Each type of writing compels me to think differently, so it’s a great exercise. The one commonality, of course, is that in those stories, the protagonists have to fall in love and be committed to one another by the end of the book. However, that journey to love is the whole point, and it’s the reason I love this genre so much. It carries a powerful sense of hope. 

What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?

For me, the part I dread is the initial brainstorming. I know of writers who can just shoot out fresh ideas on the spot, but I’ve never been good at that, not even in non-writing situations. I have to let my thoughts marinate for a while, and I second-guess a lot of my ideas. Nevertheless, as much as it sometimes pains me, I do try to get some ideas down. It’s the first step, after all, so it has to be done.

Do you believe in writer’s block? 

I do believe in writer’s block, and I know I’ve experienced it before. It tends to affect me at particular times, however. I had it after losing a loved one, during moments of stress in my career and family life, and I’ve experienced when I’ve written myself into a hole (when I haven’t thought out a story properly and I begin to flounder.) It happens. I won’t call myself an expert in dealing with it. For the most part, I just try to either write through it, or I take a break from writing altogether. 

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

My recent release is A Good Man, Handymen 1, a contemporary romance. It released on June 9, 2020. It’s been published traditionally with Totally Bound Publishing. I’ve been working directly with publishers for a few years now and have worked with some great people. I appreciate that my publisher handles a lot of the details that I don’t feel confident handling (i.e. covers, formatting.) So, for me, it’s a good fit.

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

I haven’t ruled out self-publishing and may attempt it down the road. I have many author friends who prefer that method, and they have it down to a fine art. Not having done it myself, I probably can’t speak to its disadvantages, and I think a writer should always do their research before committing to either path. 

How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?

I like to think my writing is more polished now, more pared down. When I started writing, I used some overly-descriptive language and made some interesting style choices. It’s all part of learning, and it was definitely part of my process. Now, I try to take a lot of care with my word choices, and if I can simplify a statement, I will.

What is your favorite motivational phrase?

I don’t have a favorite motivational phrase, but I do believe in the power of positive affirmations. For the most part, I try to express gratitude for where I am in life, and I try to be grateful for something each day. 

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

Blog: https://rosannaleoauthor.wordpress.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LeoRosanna

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rleoauthor1

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

Bookbub:  https://www.bookbub.com/authors/rosanna-leo

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

Sure! I’d love to share an excerpt from A Good Man, Handymen1:

AGoodManCover_1500x2400Emily threw herself at him and wrapped her arms around his torso, cutting off his words and his breath. Only when he hugged her back did he realize how hard she was quivering.

She wasn’t just crying about the old photos.

“It’s okay, Em. Let it out, sweetheart.”

The collar of his shirt grew wet but he didn’t care. Wardrobe had tons of shirts. Besides, she felt good in his arms, all soft and warm. He rubbed her shoulders and the back of her waist, exploring and familiarizing himself with her luscious body. He breathed, drinking in her scent. His nasal cavities had never known such bliss. It was like that first clear breath after a long period of congestion. His fingers were pretty happy too, enjoying the give of her body. It was all he could do not to slide them down, cup her sweet ass, and pull her up against him.

Just not while she was crying over another man.

She lingered in his arms and he did nothing to push her away. In fact, it surprised him how badly he wanted to keep her there, so much so that when Emily finally extricated herself, he wanted to pull her back into his embrace. Instead, he wiped her cheeks clean of the remaining tears.

“The makeup ladies are going to kill me for making you cry.”

It might have been his imagination, but her tears made her eyes appear even greener. In fact, her entire face seemed a riot of tempting color. Each shade called to him. The crushed roses in her cheeks. Her strawberry lips, so plump and moist. Even the doeskin brown of her freckles fascinated him to no end. He wanted to count them, to kiss and mark them all.

Kissing her made a whole lot of sense right now. Kissing her senseless seemed even better.

Emily’s eyes widened. Her lips parted in invitation. Michael paused, knowing it was wrong, even though every raised hair on his arms told him it was right.

As he debated with himself for a split second, she brushed her lips against his. It was quick and soft, hunger masquerading as something platonic. Even though a spectator might have called it a friendly kiss, he knew the truth. As brief as it may have been, he felt her yield to him, even if just a little.

From the startled look in her eyes, Emily knew it too.

 

AuThursday – Shilah Ferr

nLvYYxkJReGf1dtc+aE4pwPlease welcome Shilah Ferr to The Clog Blog.  Shilah, can you tell us a little about yourself and your background? 

I grew up in northern New Jersey with my brother and sister. We share treasured memories of high school, the Jersey shore, and skiing with cousins, all of which became a part of April’s Heart! I went to college in Washington, DC, and became a teacher. I live in Virginia Beach, Virginia with my husband of thirty years. Our two boys are in their twenties making their own way in the world. 

How do you make time to write? 

Well, before the pandemic, my husband often worked nights, so I would write at night. Now I find time between working at home, and on the weekends. 

Do you believe in writer’s block? 

Not really. My second book is not coming as easily as the first, but I believe in writing about things that really happened, and I have a ton of memories that eventually will make another epic story. 

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

I love the feeling Romance novels can give you. I love feeling the character’s angst, hurt, and joy. I love erotic romance too. It gets your blood flowing! 

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

I am a first-time author, so definitely publishing independently! 

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

I am more of an extrovert because I cannot say I am introverted. Yet, some of the content I write is controversial (underage drinking, mild drug use, sex) and I sometimes feel self-conscious about it. Afraid of what people might think. I’ve learned to deal with that. 

What is your favorite motivational phrase? 

Whether you say you can or you can’t, you are right. 

What advice would you give to aspiring writers? 

My advice is the advice that was given to me, and I keep it in mind always. And that is that not every book is everyone’s cup of tea. So understanding that not everyone is going to like your book, and that’s ok. If I become afraid of content because of what somewhat might think, I tell myself to be brave, and just put it in there! 

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web? 

https://aprilsheartbook.com 

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1Pi1L9k2v7dGlCGm2PWF0e3KpcswUnvExKnDXTeZWyoo/e

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

Mitch and April made plans to meet at the pool. 

He waited for her just inside the entrance structure, in the shade. 

She walked up in her string bikini top and cut off jean shorts. The fly was splayed open, a sexy little look that exposed a little more of her tight belly. Holy crap! 

God love her, thought Mitch to himself, feeling his erection beginning already. 

She saw him leaning against the wall on his hands. April walked up to Mitch, and seeing his hair in his face, pushed her hand through his hair for him. It was such an intimate gesture. No words were spoken. Her hands in his hair was her way of saying hello. 

Quick as a wink he had switched places with her and had her up against the wall. 

They looked into each other’s eyes. They were desirous for each other in the worst way. 

April’s heart was pounding in her chest. She was nervous. It had been such a long time. 

He put his hand over her heart to feel it, thus confirming for April that if your heart beats loud enough, another person CAN hear it. 

She filled her lungs with air taking a deep breath. 

He moved his hands behind her neck and kissed her, passionately, for a small moment breathing her in. 

They were standing in a public place. 

“We gotta get out of here,” Mitchell said. 

“No swimming?” April teased. 

AuThursday – Autumn Stone

Please welcome Autumn Stone to The Clog Blog.  Autumn, can you tell us a little about yourself and your background? 

I am a personal finance influencer who was fell into writing romances. It was an experiment that has become one of my favorite ways to make passive income. I run two very different projects: a website and podcast about personal finance and a website and podcast about Colorado (I’m from Colorado). I also speak at different conferences such as Podcast Movement, FinCon, and others. I’m also a mentor for a podcasting program that is being held here in Denver for the second time this summer. 

How do you make time to write? 

I try to write when I’m feeling relaxed. Typically, I will write from a coffee shop patio or carry a journal with me so that I can capture inspiration whenever it hits me. I don’t have a daily writing goal. 

Do you believe in writer’s block? 

Absolutely, sometimes the muse slips from you. 

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

I write both fiction and non-fiction books. For my romance books I write in the BWWM genre and I love sharing endless love stories that show women like me in different situations ranging from the fantastical to realistic situations depending on the story. I’m a romantic and love writing about love! 

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

Self-publish! I love it so much because there are no limits placed on me and I can publish as many books as I would like. I don’t have to wait for someone else (other than my fans) to validate my stories. 

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

Extrovert. I’m very comfortable with marketing my work. 

What is your favorite motivational phrase? 

“Do one thing every day that scares you.” –Anonymous 

What advice would you give to aspiring writers? 

Keep trying, keep learning, it’s never a mistake it’s a learning opportunity. Most content creators (authors/bloggers/podcasters/vloggers/etc) Don’t spend enough time marketing their work. It’s a daily process. 

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web? 

https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B07FCT2BNF 

 

AuThursday – Lainee Cole

Lainee Cole author picTell us a little about yourself and your background?

I’m a born and bred Midwestern girl who escaped to Southern California for one year during my early 20’s but came home when I missed the change of seasons. Growing up in Ohio, Michigan, and Illinois will do that to you! On cold winter days, my older bones talk to me, as in “What the heck were you thinking?” Now I live in Central Illinois with my husband, who always wants to talk when I’m trying to write. My two kids and one grandchild live nearby, and we see them often.

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember! I wrote horse stories as a child, then poetry in junior high and high school. My friends and I traded romances starting in high school, and it didn’t take me long to decide I wanted to write them. It took me a lot longer to actually do it, but here I am! My goal is to give readers the same escape I discovered in books.

How do you make time to write? 

I’ve learned it’s important to write every day. My muse is happier that way! I don’t have set writing hours, but usually spend a chunk of afternoons and evenings writing, or doing writing-related tasks. In some respects, it’s easier since I retired from my day job last summer. While my husband is doing outdoor chores or golfing with his buddies, I can write uninterrupted. When I was working, I sometimes struggled to make time to write because it took away family time. But writing has always been important to me. Laptops were a great invention! My laptop allowed me to be on the computer as much as possible, even when my kids were sprawled around the family room watching TV or playing video games.

Do you believe in writer’s block? 

Definitely. If my creative well is low, I struggle to put ideas together, to make words flow the way they should. Self-care is important as well. I try to walk every day for at least an hour. But sometimes the words just aren’t there. In that case, I read, have more conversations with friends, and go for longer walks. Ideas tend to spark for me when I do those things.

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

I write sweet contemporary romance. I love it because I can explore characters and their relationships without being explicit. My characters can have all the feels without restricting their actions to MY imagination. Readers can use their own imaginations for what happens with my characters behind closed doors.

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

I just Indie published my most recent book in January via Amazon. To be honest, I’ve always wanted to be a traditionally published author, and I haven’t given up on that, but the publishing landscape is open now. I discovered the Common Elements Romance Project (https://commonelementsromanceproject.wordpress.com/) and wanted to be a part of it. All books for the project were required to be self-published, so that’s what I did!

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

I’m an Extrovert, very much a people person. I can talk to almost anyone. Being an extrovert is a blessing and a curse as an author. It’s a blessing because, well, people! Everybody has a story and you never know when someone will trigger an idea, whether from something they say, their behavior, or even just their appearance. People-watching can be interesting! Being an extrovert is also a curse because when I’m working on a book, it’s hard to stay isolated and focused. I crave contact with other people. 

What is your favorite motivational phrase?

“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.” 

— Louis L’Amour

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

If you are passionate about writing, don’t just take courses or read books – you have to WRITE. The more you actually write, the more you will learn. 

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

Please follow me on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/LaineeColeAuthor/), Twitter (@LaineeCole), and Amazon (https://amzn.to/2VuobuD). I’d love to hear from you!

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

STORMS OF THE HEART excerpt

Storms of the Heart high resHome. She blinked several times. She’d finally grown up and realized people made a place home, not buildings. Her heart climbed into her throat, but she refused to cry. Breathe in, breathe out, she coached herself. You can do this! Despite Uncle Wayne’s pleas and assurances, it had taken a long time to find the courage to return. Now that she was home, she couldn’t wait to feel his firm bear hug.

She straightened her shoulders and pushed away from the house. Yes, she could do this! At twenty-five, she could finally take control of her own life. She could put her past to rest and look forward to her future.

Emerson flinched when another crack of lightning split the air and forked through the sky, illuminating two cars parked at the side of the house. She hadn’t noticed them before. One was a distinctive black and white car with SHERIFF in gold lettering on the side. 

Her breath hitched as she peered through the downpour. Wait. What is the Sheriff doing here? She’d already lost her parents and her aunt. She couldn’t lose Uncle Wayne, too. Not now.

 Swallowing her panicked thoughts, she hurried toward the front door. Her shoes squished cold water between her toes with every step. She stripped off her wet jacket and dropped it in the corner. The dim yellow porch light flickered and went out. 

With her heart beating faster in the darkness, Emerson scrubbed her hands over her wet face. Add cops and power outages to what else could go wrong.

Damn those negative thoughts! She inhaled deeply and shoved them out of her mind. She knocked on the door. The cop car didn’t mean anything. Uncle Wayne was expecting her. Soon she would be warm and cozy inside.

She knocked again, harder this time.

Still no answer. Maybe Uncle Wayne couldn’t hear her over Mother Nature’s cries, but he wouldn’t expect her to stay out in the rain. She tried the knob and found it unlocked.

Another deafening crack of lightning shattered the air. Something hit Emerson’s knee from the side. The momentum tore the doorknob from her hand. Her backpack fell to the ground as the thing brushed by and sent her stumbling through the doorway.

Ooof!

Strong arms caught and cradled her. She froze as earthy cologne with just a hint of citrus filled her nose. A long, whimpering whine sounded before a voice from somewhere above her head ground out, “Get back out there, dog.”

Snug against his chest, her body absorbed the rumble of the man’s words, while her mind struggled to place the oddly familiar scent of his cologne.

“Oh, let him be,” twittered a high, excited voice nearby. “He doesn’t like storms.”

Welcome to the club. It was too dark to see the woman, but she must be the live-in housekeeper Uncle Wayne had mentioned. Mrs. Beresford. This man, though. She inhaled his scent again. His embrace warmed her chilled body as he steadied her, but didn’t let go. She felt strangely safe in his arms.

“I’m sorry. The lightning startled me,” she offered into the darkness as she pushed against the man’s chest. He released her and she shivered.

“It’s not the dog’s fault.”

The man sighed, and then she heard the front door close heavily against the wind. The dog pressed against the back of her legs. Her jeans soaked up his dampness. He whimpered and her heart went out to him. I’m with you, buddy.

The strong odor of sulfur wafted through the air, followed by a welcome glow lighting the room.

“You must be Emerson.” A woman with a short, layered bob of red hair held a lantern as she came forward, reaching out a thin hand. She smiled, and her touch was gentle on Emerson’s arm. “Wayne told me all about you.”

She squeezed the woman’s hand and smiled. “You must be Mrs. Beresford.”

The older woman glowed with pleasure. “Please, call me Irene.” She gestured toward the door and her smile faded. “This is Sheriff Lomax.”

Emerson’s pulse jumped, but she pasted on a smile and turned. 

Max. His hair was darker than the last time she’d seen him, but even in the shadowy light, she knew those grayish-blue eyes, that straight nose, and that little cleft in his chin. It had been seven years, and yet she’d never forgotten the heat between their bodies as she’d pressed against him down by the creek. The tenderness of his kiss had surprised her, had made her feel when she didn’t want to feel anything. 

She’d tried to seduce her crush and failed miserably. What had she been thinking? Oh yeah. That was the problem. She hadn’t been.

“Hello, Emerson.”

 

 

AuThursday – Shelly Sharp

Tell us a little about yourself and your background? 

I’m a business owner with my husband, I have three adult children and one 17-year-old. I homeschooled my kids for twelve years, I have loved to write since I was a child and now I’m finding time to write books. I’ve published two on Amazon, one last April, and one this February. 

How do you make time to write? 

I have a goal of a chapter a day. I make a list of all I have to do each day and I write a page between each chore or project on my list. 

Do you believe in writer’s block? 

No. I write several books at a time so if I get stuck on one book I simply move to another. 

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

I have a goal to write five books, all of them a different genre. I love to read many different genres so I want to try to write a book in each genre that I enjoy. So far I’ve written non-fiction and romance. Right now I’m writing a psychological thriller, a suspense trilogy, and a satire. 

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

I self-publish on Amazon, so Indie I guess.

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

I am definitely an introvert. I think this enhances my work. I can spend a lot of time alone writing. I enjoy my own company and I find my sense of humor hilarious! I am my own best friend and my imagination is amazing which makes for good writing. The books I write are in my mind in movie form, It helps me visualize the characters I write about. 

What is your favorite motivational phrase? 

“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.”– Helen Keller 

What advice would you give to aspiring writers? 

Publish that book! Hesitation leads to fear. As Winston Churchill said,

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal.” Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web? 

My books are on Amazon.com, I’m also on Twitter and Facebook. 

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

As they descended the hill, the largest bull with the longest horns Dae had ever seen emerged from behind a bush on the path ahead of them.

Jack stopped and stood very still, but the bull noticed him anyway and began pawing the ground and breathing heavily.

Dae moved up to Jack and managed to get in front of him on the narrow path. Dae wanted to put Rose down, but the child was now sleeping heavily and Jack was too small to hold her. Dae shook the picnic basket at the bull and yelled, but that just seemed to make the creature more agitated and focused on them. Dae turned sideways to protect the sleeping child she carried from possible harm and ordered Jack in a quiet voice to back slowly up the hill, gesturing with the picnic basket.

This, unfortunately, seemed to incite the bull, who bellowed and shook its massive head. When the bull began pawing the ground again and lowering its frightening horns, Dae screamed, “Run Jack!” and turned to run up the hill herself, throwing the picnic basket on the ground and moving as fast as she could with one hand holding up her skirt and both arms cradling Rose…

AuThursday – Janet Walden-West

MeCC3 (1)Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I live in the southeast with a couple of kids, a pack of show dogs, and a confused but supportive husband.

Fun fact—I never considered myself creative enough to be a writer. There’s a professor out there with a chronic eye-twitch thanks to The Great Thesis Crisis of 20-mumble-mumble. I only picked up a pen thanks to a newborn. Who. Would. Not. Sleep. I multi-tasked while also not-sleeping, and caught up on a favorite show. Where the writers killed off my favorite character.

DED, dead.

I’m blaming it on the sleep deprivation because my (very fuzzy) thought process went something like ‘What? WHAT??? Are you kidding me?’ I could come up with a better ending.” 

Yeah, not really. But that drunken moment led to my debut coming out this year. 

How do you make time to write? 

I’m lucky in that I can write anywhere, and in spurts—in the grooming area at shows, medical waiting rooms, sports’ practices, in the parent pick-up line.

 That also means plot breakthroughs scribbled on the back of receipts, and notes on Starbucks sleeves. Everyone in my household has learned to ask if random wrappers and bags are book outlines or safe to go in the recycle bin.

What are your current projects?

I always, accidentally, have multiple projects going at a time. Right now, I’m working on another contemporary romance, and an urban fantasy romance. Watch my website and newsletter for deets.

Do you ever get writer’s Block?

Is there ever an answer other than yes? 

As a reformed pantser, I don’t hit as many walls as compared to when I first began. When I do stall out, I turn to my Coven crit partners. So named because tossing around ideas and brainstorming with them is magic. Shiny, sparkly, save-my-butt magic.

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

Laughs until tears ruin my latte 

I have enough to wallpaper my house. And car. Maybe do the front and back porches to tie the look together. 

No lie, those first rejections as a baby writer hurt. But they also kinda felt like a badge of honor. I was sending my work out in the world. I was in the game. This is where my writing community was priceless though. It’s always cathartic to vent to people who get it, and are willing to cheer-lead and send Jason Momoa* gifs. 

*Dwayne Johnson gifs also work.

Can you tell us your story of getting “the call” (or e-mail)? 

My path was more like a labyrinth. 

I had stacked up rejections for SALT+STILETTOS. There were still agent queries out, but let’s just say they’d been out there for… a while. After a heart to heart with Brighton Walsh, my Pitch Wars mentor, I had the option of shelving yet another story, or querying imprints and publishers accepting un-agented work.

Critically, my manuscript had been through several in-depth revisions, and was sound. Emotionally, thanks to an anthology, I’d had a taste of the fun side of writing, and wow, was it tasty. Like, Samoa Girl Scout cookies tasty. I wanted more of that, so January 1st 2019, I queried every publisher I was interested in. It was one and done. Either someone gave my story a chance or I had to move on.

At the same time, I entered the Golden Heart as part of a pact to get my crit partners to enter. I’d sent in a different version of SALT+STILETTOS in 2018 so didn’t hold out any hope, but wanted to see my girls shine. I was just there as a cheering section.

Then I got the call that I had finaled. At Brighton’s urging, I updated my queries with “GH Finalist.” 

Things blew. Up. I got multiple publisher offers. Updated the outstanding agent queries, only to be polite, while I angsted over which publisher to go with.

Then multiple agents asked to be upgraded to fulls or promised to read by the deadline. Many passed, because this is real life. But I ended up scheduling several calls. Ultimately, I signed with the fabulous Eva Scalzo, who seemed to get the story and my career hopes, dumping the publisher offers in her lap five minutes later. 

 What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

The writing community has its issues, but when it comes through, it comes through big time. 

I was blessed with Brighton Walsh and JC Nelson, both amazing mentors during my Pitch Warsstints. Some wonderful contest judges reached out post-judging to an obvious newb writer, as well as the ladies from The Ruby Slippered Sisterhood. I won a random draw during Mentees Helping Mentees before Pitch Wars, and Jen DeLuca’s encouraging notes came just as I was ready to trash this story. Laura Threntham, my TGN mentor, has been invaluable since. 

I’m also lucky enough to have the best ride-or-die crit partners evah—Anne Raven, Gia De Cadenet, and Megan Starks.  

Have you written in collaboration with other writers?

Not yet, but the idea is intriguing.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

My website: https://janetwaldenwest.weebly.com/

Twitter: @JanetWaldenWest

Instagram: janetwaldenwest

Facebook

Goodreads

Amazon

The Million Words Blog

BookBub

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

I hope you enjoy Brett and Will’s first meeting in SALT+STILETTOS.

Brett turned to Will and that softness evaporated. He froze while her gaze tracked over him.

When she pulled a phone out—from where in that tight outfit, he had no clue—and her fingers danced over the screen, he breathed again, one thankful wheeze.

Right. “I’ll be in the kitchen. It was nice to meet you, ma’am.” And by nice, he meant terrifying. Like looking at a tiger in the zoo. Gorgeous, but strictly hands-off.

He bobbed his head at the seemingly oblivious woman and scouted a path out.

“Don’t move.” The command snapped out though she didn’t put away the phone.

He shot Richard a look, begging for help.

“Don’t you dare let him leave.” She used some creepy sixth sense in place of vision, flicking away on the phone.

“You could start tomorrow,” his friend said, but rocked back on his heels, gaze on the rafters. Avoiding Will’s silent plea.

“With forty-five days until opening? I think not.” She continued a conversation Will didn’t get.

“Um—”

She closed the screen and her gaze pinned Will in place. “Let’s begin immediately. Either stay silent or state what you have to say. No ums, likes, qualifiers, or upticks at the end that turn statements to questions. None of those engender trust in listeners or viewers. The absolute first thing you must do is establish that you’re an authority.”

Anxiety settled in, turning the sweat on his skin clammy. “Man, what’s—”

“Ahht.” Brett’s sharp noise shut him up. “No questions.”

This was a waking nightmare he couldn’t escape, where he was destined to never get the right answer.

Richard slapped Will’s shoulder. “Breathe. We talked about Brett.”

Betrayal replaced the last of the confusion. He’d trusted Richard. “The makeover thing? You said we’d discuss that. I don’t—”

“Oh, you do.” Brett tapped the phone on her chin, eyeing him again.

Will’s stomach lurched, swirling chimichurri, eggs, and distrust together.

Like she felt it, Brett sighed. “Let me explain. ‘We’ll talk’ is Richard-speak for the topic being a done deal.”

“I never agreed.” Will pulled up to all six and a half feet, which usually intimidated people whether he meant to or not.

Brett just did that eyebrow thing again. “You signed a contract with Richard.”

“Yeah, but only with him.” Will gave up and slumped, hands in his pockets since the attempted intimidation didn’t do anything but make him feel like a bully. 

“Richard’s standard Fleur de Lis Hospitality contract language states that you are committed to any and all modifications necessary to further the FDL line and brand, in a favorable light. The clause was originally my idea.”

“But—”

“FDL has a standing contract with me for my company’s services. Which means you are mine for the next forty-five days. I assume you’re testing at The Coop with Richard since Khalli isn’t completed yet. I’ll meet you there.” She crooked a finger at Will, then slid through the crowd, slick as a shark through a wave, clearly expecting him to follow.

AuThursday – Laura Brown

Laura Brown author photoPlease welcome author Laura Brown to the Clog Blog, I’m so happy she could join us.   Laura, your tagline is “Romances full of heart, heat and hearing loss”, can you tell us more about you and your stories? 

As a Hard of Hearing person I grew up without many role models, and felt I was less deserving of love because of my disability. In my stories, I put characters with hearing loss front and center and give them their happy endings! I love stories with complex characters, where the reader roots for them to find love and other ambitions, and I do my best to create characters worthy of this.

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

As a mom with a day job, I feel like I steal time to write wherever I can! On my days off while my son’s at school I write, slow moments at the day job I write, weekends at home. I used to write at night but that time is now reserved for unwinding from the day and watching something with my husband.

What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?

Titles. Hands down the titles. I always struggle with them and so many of my titles get changed before publication.

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

From start to finish, it takes me about three months to write a book. I tend to “word vomit” my first drafts, so they roll out quickly, revising often takes much longer.

Do you believe in writer’s block? 

Definitely. I hit many walls along the way as I write and revise. Sometimes it’s because I haven’t figured out the right direction the scene needs to go. Other times it works out to be that I know where it needs to go, but I’m fighting with myself because it doesn’t feel like the right direction just yet. I’m working on trusting those ideas more.

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

Rejection is part of being a writer. You get rejections from agents, editors, readers, etc. I don’t always have the thickest skin, but I expect to get those rejections. When I was a querying author, I took those agent rejections and turned around and sent out another query. I also find that you can learn things in rejections. My first main character with a hearing loss came from a comment in a rejection letter. For those rejections that sting more than the others, I reach out to my close group of writer friends and they hold my hand through it.

Can you tell us your story of getting “the call” (or e-mail)? 

I’m on my second agent, and it really is just as exciting the second time around! Different, because the experience was not brand new, but a good different. We get conditioned to the rejections, so when I saw the email I thought it was going to be a pass, but it turned out to be a request to chat. I’m super nervous on the phone, and with my hearing loss I have a caption phone to help me understand, so I scheduled some time when I was home to use my caption phone. Connected with my agent right away and then was on cloud nine when it turned into an offer!

Where do you see publishing going in the future?

Good question. Things are shifting more digital in many ways, but die hard book lovers still love the feel of a paper book. I think we’re going to continue seeing digital and paper mixing together.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Connect with other writers. I wrote in my own bubble for years and it wasn’t until I ventured out and met fellow writers that I truly expanded on my craft. That’s where I learned all those little rules and tips and tricks. And where I gained critique partners to help show me where my writing needed to be stronger, and point out where it already worked! I would be nowhere without my fellow writers.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

https://www.laurabrownauthor.com/

https://www.facebook.com/LauraBrownAuthor/

https://twitter.com/AuthorLBrown

https://www.instagram.com/a_laurabrown/

https://www.pinterest.com/LauraBrownAuthor/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7829692.Laura_Brown

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

Not an excerpt, but I can share my latest blurb:

MatzahBallSurprise_1600Gaby Fineberg just wants to get through Passover Seder without her “well meaning” family playing matchmaker. She needs a date, just for one simple meal—that includes singing, the history of her forefathers, and not one bit of yeast. The hot guy at her gym would be perfect. He probably hates bread, anyway, with a body like that. But when she finally works up the nerve to ask him, he doesn’t hear a word she said…

Levi Miller is Deaf and happily single. He doesn’t know why this beautiful woman is talking to him, but it’s clear she needs help—and suddenly so does he. When his bad-news ex shows up trying to rekindle their romance, pretending Gaby is his new girlfriend is an easy decision. But to return the favor? He has to convince her family they’re the perfect couple, when they can barely communicate without writing every word.

This Passover is starting to feel like the ten plagues might be coming back to haunt them before the weekend is over…one hilarious misstep after the next.