AuThursday – Emily Vieweg

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Please welcome from The BisMan Writer’s Guild, Emily Vieweg.  Emily, can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
here’s a short bio:
Emily Vieweg is a poet and writer originally from St. Louis, Missouri. Her full-length poetry collection “but the flames” is available through Finishing Line Press. Emily’s work has been published in or is forthcoming in North Dakota Quarterly, Dribble Drabble Review, Soundings Review, Art Young’s Good Morning, and more. She lives in Fargo, North Dakota where she is a mother of two, pet parent, and university program assistant.
How do you make time to write?
I write one sentence per day. I have a daily journal I write in once a day, so there’s something to consider as future inspiration. Just started this practice this week, we’ll see how it goes. Aside from that, I find inspiration in moments, they happen here and there…
Do you believe in writer’s block?
yes – because sometimes we’re just clogged. Our brains are busy with work, home, school, life – and that can cause a block to the creative energy. It’s okay – because it happens to everyone.
Tell us a bit about the genre you write and why you love it.
I write poetry and creative non-fiction essays, flash, and microfiction. I love finding the moments to capture. Jumping right into a scene that is so descriptive and direct, we don’t need back-story.

How are you publishing your recent work and why? 

I don’t have any plans to publish a new collection yet – but I will likely publish through an independent press or traditional. I don’t have the patience or expertise to self-publish – that is a HARD job, and I don’t have time or energy to pursue that option.
Are you an Introvert or an Extrovert?  How does this affect your work?
I’m what they call an introverted extrovert. I can be “on” in a big group of people, but the serious socializing is exhausting for me. Another aspect of being an introvert is that I am able to sit back and observe – people, situations – and create some pretty interesting worlds from those observations.
What is your favorite motivational phrase?
Do the best you can with what you have.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Criticism should teach, not scold. Take constructive criticism for what it’s worth – it’s an opinion. A good mentor will not be offended if you disagree with them – that said, they’re mentors and leaders for a reason. You will be rejected more than published. Embrace those rejections, and learn from them. Get feedback if you can, and see if you can understand where they’re coming from.
Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?
Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?
forthcoming in the next edition of North Dakota Quarterly
A Privacy
When I tell my daughter I need some privacy, her brain hears:
aha! A ‘privacy’ is a thing to hold or have available.
I must retrieve this privacy for my
mother, as quickly as possible!
“Okay, Mama! I get it for you!”
The first time she ventured on her expedition to discover
some privacy, I did not hear her right away, until she reappeared.
Okay, Mama… I get it for you?
She returned to my side in the spare bathroom, and I see It.

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 – P.A. O’Neil

Please welcome P.A. O’Neil to The Clog Blog! Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I was born in southern California but mostly raised in a small town in Washington State. I have been writing for as long as I can remember, but it was only recently that I decided to try my hand as a professional. In fact, it was six years ago this month I wrote my, as yet unedited, novel, Finding Jane.
How do you make time to write?
When I was working, I would squeeze my writing time between my shift work. My husband was still working then, so I found it easy to write between Noon and 5:00 pm. I never wrote on weekends out of respect for him. Now that we are both retired, I write whenever I can, provided he doesn’t call me to hold something while he nails, glues, or clamps something in his workshop. I never write in the evening because I find it difficult to see, no matter how many lights I have on.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
No, I don’t, for there is always something to write about. Just because you haven’t had the opportunity to compose your “magnum opus”, doesn’t mean a poem or a journal entry can’t be written. Using my own personal experience, writer’s block is actually a form of writer’s laziness. Even if all you did that day was send out a submission, you wrote. Did you write a review? You wrote.
Did you jot down some notes for your WIP or a future project? You wrote.
Tell us a bit about the genre you write and why you love it.
After monkeying around with what I thought were various genres, I discovered they actually were variations of Literary work, just set in different genre themes (Western, Romance, Cozy Mystery, etc.). I write so that the reader will recognize the character as someone they might’ve known who now must face an unusual situation to overcome. If I can resolve the protagonist’s difficulties satisfactorily, then my story will have been a success.
How are you publishing your recent book and why?
I have only had one book published so far, Witness Testimony and Other Tales, and that was done by a traditional publishing house as I had won the contract. The majority of my stories have been published in anthologies and online journals. I am presently working on a three-story book that I would like to have traditionally published but just might offer it on my own.
Are you an Introvert or an Extrovert?  How does this affect your work?
I am a loud person. I have no qualms with talking to strangers or speaking before a large crowd. Truth is though, I consider myself an introvert. Being larger-than-life is a shield, and that crowd frightens me if I have to be in it instead of in front of it. My public persona, P.A. O’Neil, has an image to maintain that is a job in and of itself. My personal persona, though very loving with lots of friends, is far from an extrovert.
What is your favorite motivational phrase?
“There are no accidents.”
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
If you want to be a writer, then write! Don’t allow doubt to hold you back. Learn all you can from other writers. Share your work for review, improvement comes from the recognition of repeated errors. Above all, if you chose to set your writing for publication, hire an editor!
Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?
P.A. O’Neil
https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B07BF2D8SP This is my Amazon Author page. https://www.facebook.com/p.a.oneil.storyteller This is my Facebook Author page. https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17994233.P_A_O_Neil This is my Goodreads Author page.
Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?
From the story, “Witness Testimony”:
As we approached the light of the street with its foot traffic and vehicles, Bill said, “Well, that’s not exactly what I had planned for the evening.” I believe he was trying to make light of the situation, hoping it would ease the stress of witnessing such a violent and deplorable act. It was then, that I started to shake. Shake like I had been in the deep snow without a coat. The hairs on my arm began to stand up as all I felt was a wave of panic flow from top to bottom on my body.
“Hey, hey there … it’s going to be all right.” He wrapped his arms around me, not out of any romantic gesture, but more to prevent me from running away. That’s when I started to cry. Not bawling like an angry baby, but silent tears which ran down my face as I looked to him for direction. “C’mon, there’s a park up ahead. Let’s find a place to sit down.”
We walked a short block and a half until we came to the wide grass-covered expanse of Beacon Hill Park. The shadows had begun as the sun approached the horizon. We sat down on a park bench under an unlit streetlamp. His arm was still around me as I buried my head in his chest, this time allowing a fountain of tears to flow onto his shirt. All the while, he rubbed my arm and back and said, “… Atta girl, let it all out.” Eventually, I pulled up my head and apologized for making a scene. “Naw, you didn’t make a scene. Here—your make-up is a little smudged.” He handed me his handkerchief and smiled that soft smile I had so wanted to be meant for me alone.
“Thank you. Oh, look at your shirt. I hope all that color can be washed out,” I said with sadness as I wiped my face. “Looks like I’ll have to work on getting the color out of the handkerchief as well.” I gave a soft laugh, “Oh your poor wife; she’s going to think you’ve been playing with circus clowns.” Then it hit me, “Your wife, does she know? Did you get a chance to call her yet?”
“No, I’ll call her when I get back to the hotel.” He leaned forward with his elbows on his knees. “I wouldn’t know what to say to her.” He put a hand up to his face to mime a telephone receiver, “Hey, Honey, yeah I got here all right. Do I like the city? Yes, I got to see three people die today.” Then he stopped, dropped his hand, and stared at the grass at his feet. “I don’t feel so well, excuse me.”
“Bill?”
“No please, I have to go.” He got up fast and walked twenty feet towards some nearby bushes where he leaned over and began to throw up. I could hear him wretch, again and again, but with his relatively empty stomach, it soon became dry heaves. I cautiously walked towards him but stopped at a respectful distance as he stood up and turned back to me. Instinctively, he began to pat down his hip pocket as he reached for his handkerchief.
“Is this what you’re looking for?” I handed back the once-white cotton cloth now stained with tears and makeup. “It’s a little soiled; sorry.”
He took it without question and wiped his mouth, turned away to spit into the grass, and then wiped his mouth again before pocketing the cloth. I reached up to touch his cheek. He didn’t pull away. I put my arms around his neck and pulled him close. He, in turn, put his arms around my waist to hug me back. We stood there for several minutes; just holding each other, supporting each other was more like it. A young couple quietly laughed as they passed. They must have thought us aged lovers. Little did they understand that we were just survivors.

AuThursday – Gabriella Balcom

QOl9KLjv-2227000682Please welcome Gabriella Balcome to The Clog Blog!  Gabriella, can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I live in Texas with my family, work full-time in the mental health field, and I’ve loved reading and writing my whole life. I write fantasy, sci-fi, horror, romance, literary fiction, children’s stories, and more. I’ve had 360 works accepted for publication and was nominated for the Washington Science Fiction Association’s Small Press Award in 2020. Clarendon House Publications awarded me a publishing contract when one of my stories was voted best in the book in which it appeared. My anthology of short stories, On the Wings of Ideas, came out afterward. In 2020, I won second place in JayZoMon/Dark Myth Publishing’s Open Contract Challenge (a competition in which around one hundred authors competed for cash prizes and publishing contracts), after which my novella, Worth Waiting For, was published. I self-published a novelette, Free’s Tale: No Home at Christmas-time and Black Hare Press released my sci-fi novella, The Return, in 2021. Five others pend publication.
How do you make time to write?
I work full-time but plan in writing time before and after work.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
Writer’s block isn’t something I’ve had trouble with. I usually have the opposite problem, with ideas flooding my mind all the time, to the point it’s hard to keep up with them.
Tell us a bit about the genre you write and why you love it.
I love several genres and write in each of them, too. Many things appeal to me, and all types of ideas come to me, so I don’t restrict myself to just one genre.
How are you publishing your recent book and why? (*e.g. Indie, traditional, or both)
I’ve published both ways, but mainly via traditional publishers. That’s been easier this far because I haven’t had time to publish more myself.
Are you an Introvert or an Extrovert?  How does this affect your work?
Introvert. It makes it harder for me to publicize my acceptances and ongoing steps, not to mention handling marketing.
What is your favorite motivational phrase?
Never give up.
I also like:
You can do anything.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Believe in yourself and NEVER give up. Also, having your work edited is always a good idea.
Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

AuThursday – Chistina Nordlander

chris nordlander photoPlease welcome Christina Nordlander to The Clog Blog!  Chistina, can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I was born in 1982 in Malmö, Sweden, but fell in love with an Englishman (now my husband), and moved to England in 2001. I went to the University of Manchester and hold a Ph.D. in Classics and Ancient History. Nowadays, I live outside Birmingham with my husband and two cats.
How do you make time to write?
I’m unemployed at the moment, so I have more time than I really want. Essentially, I spend the evenings writing. I give myself a set time each day, and once that’s up, I take it easy. Or edit.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
Yes. Sometimes motivation comes, and sometimes it doesn’t. Nowadays, farmers can irrigate their crops so that lack of rain doesn’t automatically equal famine, but we haven’t figured out how to get inspiration on tap.
Tell us a bit about the genre you write and why you love it.
I don’t really have a set genre. I prefer speculative fiction, primarily dark fantasy and horror. Can’t say for sure why; it just seems to be the form most of my ideas take.
How are you publishing your recent book?brinn era djävlar
Are you an Introvert or an Extrovert?  How does this affect your work?
Introvert, definitely. I suppose that makes it easier to write since I like to withdraw and avoid distractions. On the other hand, I might well find more opportunities for publication if I were more extroverted.
What is your favorite motivational phrase?
Pain is just weakness leaving the body.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
When trying to publish your work, send it everywhere (short of obvious scammers, obviously), and don’t give up. I got my first story published in a very narrow small-press anthology that I’d heard of by chance. After the first one is published, you’ll get an enormous boost of self-confidence.
Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?
Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?
The woman, a physician or nurse, got ready to remove the slippers. She started pulling at one lace and underneath was a lipped stripe of red. I still had sensation, because I screamed. Someone came with a pair of scissors to cut up the shoe proper. Perhaps that wouldn’t hurt as much. I knew it would pull up chunks of flesh. I knew they would cut my feet to ribbons.
~from “The Contents of the Shoes”

AuThursday – Barbara M. Britton

Britton- Head ShotPlease welcome Barbara M. Britton to The Clog Blog!  Barbara, can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I am traditionally published in Christian Fiction. I write mostly Biblical Fiction, but I have a Contemporary Christmas Romance coming out in October. I have a breast cancer thread in the book, and I put my journey through breast cancer at the end of the book. My e-release date is October 14th–in the middle of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
How do you make time to write?
I schedule time to write. Around a book launch, I may not write as often. With social media and platform building, my writing time can get left out of the equation. I have to be diligent to make time to write. Having a critique group forces me to get pages written in order to exchange for comments.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
I think it’s more a case of writer’s burnout. Or you’re stuck on a story and there’s no one to help you brainstorm options. There are definitely times in my life when I’m more productive than others. Life happens.
Tell us a bit about the genre you write and why you love it.
I love bringing little-known Bible stories to light to help shine a light on stories that no one knows about in the Bible. In “Christmas at Whispering Creek,” I tackle the tough subject of breast cancer with a touch of humor and romance. I felt compelled to shine a light on how younger women are experiencing breast cancer. I was over fifty when cancer struck. Some cancer patients are in their twenties and thirties. Mammography is done mostly on us older gals.
How are you publishing your recent book and why? 
I’m with a traditional publisher. They have published all of my books so far. I am not opposed to being my own publisher. Technology is not my friend. The idea of formatting and interacting with sites on the web scares me. I do feel that indie publishing gives the author more freedom to publish the story in their heart.
Are you an Introvert or an Extrovert?  How does this affect your work?
I’m a combination. I do reach out to friends and family, but I can very easily hold up in my writing cave and not engage with the world. I like to write letters and cards to brighten someone’s day.
What is your favorite motivational phrase?
You can’t fix a blank page.
I have used this phrase when my kids needed to finish writing assignments in college.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
I would give the advice I received as a newbie writer. I was encouraged to join a professional writing organization and to attend writing conferences. I had a lot to learn about the craft of writing and about the business side of writing. Classes are wonderful, but there’s nothing like sitting next to a published author and getting sage advice. Start building your network of writing friends early. I don’t know where I would be without prayer and my writing buddies.
Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?
I have a website-barbarambritton.com    –but I am also on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Goodreads, and BookBub under the name Barbara M. Britton. I have to use the M in my name as there was an older movie actress that went by Barbara Britton. There is also a writer named Barbara Bretton.
Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?
ChristmasAtWhisperingCreek_w13197_680“Thank you, Cole.” She held him a little closer.
A shooting star took flight from his heart.
“For cheering me up with your humor and being cool about…well, earlier.” Her tone nose-dived.
“You mean when my old toy became a prop for discussing breast prosthetics.” He was not letting her bring embarrassment into this hug.
“No seriously.” She swayed in his arms. “I guess I’m still anxious about the cancer. I check in with my oncologist, so I feel pressure to get back to Milwaukee. It’s familiar, and well, I have to think about interviewing for a teaching contract.” She blew out a breath. “And then there’s Christmas.”
“You’re an only child. Wherever you want to be for Christmas, your parents will show up. There’s nothing like a Tennessee Christmas. You probably won’t have to shovel out your drive.” He brushed a hand through her silky hair. “And I bet you could get a few references for teaching jobs either in Whispering Creek or Sperry’s Crossing. Lucinda’s reference will be glowing.” Come on, Wisconsin Sam. Stay for Christmas and beyond.
Do you have a preferred Thursday Date?
October 20th

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 – 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 – 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.