AuThursday – Floor Kist

TourBanner_Can Machines Bring Peace gifPlease welcome Floor Kist to the Clog Blog! 

Hi Tina, thank you so much for this interview and for taking the time off of your own writing. I’m really impressed by the diversity of worlds in your novels.

Floor, can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

Well, I live in a town called Voorburg in the Netherlands. It’s near The Hague. Wife, two kids, two cats and a dog named Monty. And I’ve always been involved in public service. At the moment, I’m an alderman in my town. That’s a member of the city executive council, along with the mayor and three other aldermen.

I think I surprised a lot of people when I wrote and published a science fiction novel.

How do you make time to write?

Planning! Just like for the most of us, I can spend time on a lot of different things. So, just making an appointment with yourself to write can really be help. And is really a wonderful gift to yourself.

Do you believe in writer’s block?

I can relate to the moments that I don’t know if the story works or how it continues. I know I can get distracted by all the other things happening in my life. And I’m especially susceptible to wanting to start all the other books I want to write.

So, for me, real writer’s block is the one when I don’t know what to do next in the story. And when that happens, I take a good look at my characters and what motivates them. Because if one of my characters wants something badly enough, they will start moving to get there. Well motivated characters will always keep the story going.

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

For some reason I prefer science fiction over fantasy. Both genres allow you to imagine wonderful worlds, but I guess I like the believable world that may actually happen, intrigues me most.

Jules Verne wrote a story about traveling to the moon, and one hundred years later we did. He wrote a story about an electric submarine, and twenty years later it was built. Isaac Asimov, at an auto show in the 60s, predicted the robocar, and now we are actually building them.

This is why I like science fiction.

How are you publishing your recent book and why? 

My novel is self-published. But that wasn’t my first choice. I had found three publishing houses where I believed my novel would fit. And I’d done my homework on what my audience would be like, so we could target them better. And it also seems that the best time to launch science fiction books is before the summer.

None of them replied. Not even a ‘thank you for your interest’ or ‘thank you, but no thank you’. Nothing, nada, niente.

I can even understand why: because there are about one hundred thousand books being published in the USA alone.

And the idea of spending a year and a half trying to reach a publisher and not hear anything back didn’t sound that appealing. So, I found my way to the Amazon self-publishing service.

Are you an Introvert or Extrovert?

A lot of people are surprised when I tell them I’m an introvert. And one of the most difficult things I’ve had to learn is to go ‘out there’ – even when everything inside me said ‘just stay home, it’s nice and warm here’.

I didn’t mean to overcome being an introvert, because I didn’t like being one. It’s just the way you are. But I did want to experience more than just staying home.

How does this affect your work?

Local politics is probably not where you go to meet introverts. As an introvert, I’m comfortable being me. So, a lot of criticism I get doesn’t affect my self-worth. And being an introvert also helps me talk to everyone in an open and honest way.

What is your favorite motivational phrase?

“Even the longest journey starts with the first step.”

I love this phrase. It kept me motivated when I started writing. It kept me motivated when I was trying to make a serious career switch.

It says that no matter how far you want to go in your life, you need the courage or the ambition or the passion to take that first step in what will undoubtedly be a wonderful journey.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Finish your book! Once you start writing nothing else matters. Plan to write, even if it’s just half an hour a day.

Don’t worry about if anyone will like it, or if it’s any good, because that only counts once the book is finished. Don’t worry about how to publish your book; it can only be published once it’s done.

And please don’t fuss about typos. There is no universe in which there will not be typos in the final edition of your novel.

And when your work is done and you don’t think it’s any good or even if others don’t think it’s any good, there is the sheer reward of making something out of nothing, of creating something that wasn’t there before. And no one can ever take that away from you.

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

Cover_Can Machines Bring PeaceCan Machines Bring Peace?

by Floor Kist

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GENRE: Science Fiction

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BLURB:

Can a machine bring peace? Or are humans built for war?

450 years after Earth was bombed back to the Stone Age, a young diplomat searches for lost human settlements. Kazimir Sakhalinsk narrowly escapes an exploration mission gone wrong and searches for ways to make future missions safer for his people. A festival introduces him to the Marvelous Thinking Machine.

A machine Kazimir believes can change everything

For his admiral it’s nothing more than a silly fairground gimmick. But Kazimir is convinced. Convinced enough to go against orders and build one of his own. Convinced enough to think he can bring peace. Convinced enough to think humanity is worth saving. What if he’s wrong?

He asks his hikikomori sister, a retired professor filling her empty days, the owner of the festival machine and the admiral’s daughter for help. Will that be enough?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

NOTE: The book is $0.99.

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Excerpt :

Kazimir hears the beep-beep response to his beacon. The plane is overhead! His breath shortens as he peers through the night. Standard protocol states the plane will land at a safe landing zone within a kilometer radius of ground zero. If Kazimir can find the right direction, he may actually have a chance. There! The shape of the plane against a clouded moon is a beautiful sight. He is afraid to smile, but can’t help himself.

He follows it, stumbling over the thick roots of the trees. Quickly, he looks up.

There she is again. No. ‘That’s… that’s… black flag.’ That means the others are dead.

Standing against the tree, he retches. Cold sweat forms on his forehead and his back. He shouldn’t have left the settlement. He could have saved them. No. He would be dead too. Kazimir gags and coughs. He spits out the sour taste, and wipes his chin. ‘Yuck.’

He looks up, trying to control his breath. The twin rudders and the nose turret machine gun nozzle give the Ki-2 light bomber away. Kazimir has only seen it in the hangar of the Ryūjō. He remembers the pilot telling him about the 500-kilogram maximum bomb load. All headed towards the settlement.

The ground trembles with the explosion. Kazimir sees the red and yellow clouds grow against the dark sky. Seconds later, he hears the wheezing sound of the dropping bombs, followed by the roar of a thousand dragons. Sound travels at three hundred meters per second, so he must be about 300 meters away.

The hot blast wave that follows knocks him down. He hits his head on the root of the tree. ‘Stupid tree.’ He feels a sharp pain. Warm blood dribbles into his hair. Its metallic scent reaches his nose.

Sounds of the explosion die down.

Author Image Floor_KistAUTHOR Bio and Links:

Floor Kist lives in a Dutch town called Voorburg with his wife, two sons, two cats and their dog Monty. He is currently deputy-mayor for the Green Party and an AI researcher. He’s concerned about current divisive public and political debates. But he’s also interested in how AI can be used to resolve society’s big issues.

This is his first novel. He’s been carrying the idea about a story about AI bringing peace for a long time. The Covid-19 lockdown in the Netherlands suddenly gave him time to actually write it.

Link to website:

www.floorkist.nl/author

Link to ebook:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08XK42BMP

Link to paperback:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/151368115X

Blog:

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/21225715.Floor_Kist/blog

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GIVEAWAY INFORMATION and RAFFLECOPTER CODE

Floor Kist will be awarding a $30 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

RAFFLECOPTER:

Enter to win a $30 Amazon/BN GC – a Rafflecopter giveaway

AuThursday – Kellie Doherty

KDohertyPlease welcome Kellie Doherty to The Clog Blog!  Kellie, please tell us a little about yourself and your background?

Of course! First I’d like to thank you for having me today; I really appreciate the opportunity to be interviewed on your blog. To start off, my name is Kellie Doherty. I’m a queer author writing science fiction and fantasy novels, short stories, and flash fiction pieces. (And some poetry, but only once in a strawberry moon.) I graduated with a master’s degree in book publishing back in 2016 and while I didn’t land a full-time job in publishing (yet), it was a very valuable experience and has helped tremendously when marketing my books. I’ve three books out thus far—a sci-fi duology Finding Hekate and Losing Hold and book one of my adult fantasy series The Broken Chronicles titled Sunkissed Feathers & Severed Ties. All three of my novels were published by Desert Palm Press, a fabulous indie publisher of queer works that have hints (or wallops) of romance. I’ve also had my short stories and flash fiction pieces get picked up by journals, anthologies, and magazines like Image OutWrite, Astral Waters Review, and Other Worlds, Inc, among others. Along with being an author, currently, I work as an office assistant and a freelance editor! I like to keep myself busy.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just to see where an idea takes you?

I used to like seeing where an idea took me, but with my novels, I really do have to outline it, especially with the fantasy series that I’m working on right now. I call it “wayfarer-style outlining.” I know how important it is to plot things out, both the bigger incidents and the smaller chapter-by-chapter points, but I also need the flexibility to roam in my writing. So if I’m writing a chapter and the idea I had for it doesn’t feel right, I allow myself to explore new ideas. Sometimes the new thought is brilliant; other times it’s an exercise in patience as my meandering writing gets back to the original point of the chapter and I can’t use any of it. For flash fiction pieces and short stories, I tend to just see where the character takes me.

Do you ever get writer’s Block?

Yes! I think all writers get blocked every now and then. It usually occurs when I’m not motivated to write or I simply don’t like the scene I’m working on. I tend to really love emotionally charged scenes or high-tension scenes so writing the middling events can sometimes be challenging for me. But writing is a job and you just have to go to work. Generally, I take a walk or watch something funny on YouTube…then I get back and figure out why I wasn’t motivated to write the particular scene. I recently watched a panel with VE Schwab and Neil Gaiman where they talked about writer’s block and Schwab had mentioned that when she gets writer’s block it simply means that somewhere earlier in the story she went off track. When that happens, she’ll basically backtrack and read through what she already wrote to see where that divergence happened. It’s an interesting concept and one I’ll use the next time I get stuck!

What are your current projects?

Currently, I’m working on Curling Vines & Crimson Trades, book two of my adult fantasy series. It’s a story centered on a woman named Orenda whose wife gets kidnapped and she has to do this long list of tasks for the kidnappers in order to get her wife back. The problem is, her best friend has a task list, too, and the final job on her list is to kill Orenda. The series will be five books long with the first four books being stand-alone and in one main character’s point of view and the fifth book will bring them all together to complete their journey. Aside from that book, I’ve been writing some flash fiction pieces and poetry, but nothing major. I can’t really work on multiple things at once—too many competing voices and worlds and storylines for me to keep up.

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

I write adult science fiction and fantasy with a dash of romance and queer characters. I write this genre for multiple reasons, the number one being I am a queer nerd who grew up on science fiction and fantasy stories. I love the possibilities of new worlds, life-altering technology, magic beyond our wildest imaginations, and how all of that reacts and sits with the everyday issues that people need to deal with. I love the escape science fiction and fantasy provide—you can be transported to a whole new galaxy or come face-to-face with a wyvern or go on a grand adventure through space find a long-lost treasure that also happens to be a badass magical bow. It’s fun and it’s different, but there are always tethers to the real world, whether it’s simply characters who are relatable in a land not like our own or actual Earth cities as the setting. Plus, when writing Sci-Fi and fantasy that I do (aka: not urban or set on Earth), I get to make everything up—the foods, the communities, the settings—and that freedom is amazing!

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

Oh man, before Desert Palm Press picked me up I had plenty of rejections. Some were form letters (which I completely understand considering how many manuscripts agents and editors get) and others seemed like they had a more sincere tone to them. I got good comments back, but each one was a definite blow. I kept a spreadsheet and color-coded it, but eventually, the red “rejected” color block got so distracting I had to hide that column. It didn’t really get me down for long, though, as I’ve always known that the rejection isn’t personal. It just meant my story didn’t fit with their company and that’s okay. I kept at it and eventually found a place for my novels: Desert Palm Press.

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

Interesting question! I’d say publishing my first book ramped up the “realness” of being a writer. Before, I was just writing for myself and my friends and my critique group. It wasn’t a big thing but when I got published it was suddenly a Big Thing. All these questions swirled in my mind: What if people didn’t like my characters? What if people couldn’t connect with the story? What if they thought it was boring? What if I never sell any copies at all? So it made the process more intense, but I just had to learn to quell those questions. I realized that building a readership takes time—many years and many books. As for changing my process for writing specifically, being published did make me want to work harder, to write better.

I love your cover for “Sunkissed Feathers and Severed Ties”, who designed the cover?

Rachel George of Rachel George Illustrations! She’s amazing. I couldn’t ask for a better cover designer; her colors pop, the illustrations are always dynamic, and her talent is inspiring. She’s planning on being the illustrator for my series so the covers will have coherency in style, even though the first four books are stand-alone! It’s so cool. I really do love working with her.

Visit her website to learn more about her work: https://www.rachelgeorgeillustration.com/

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Don’t rush your craft, no matter your age. Enjoy each phase of writing: drafting, writing, querying, marketing, etc. and try not to compare yourselves with other writers. (It’s so hard, I know. Be inspired by them instead.) Read as much as you can and sink deep into your chosen genre. Read all kinds of authors from all walks of life—debut authors and established ones. And get a critique group! Once you find a group that you connect with and who aren’t afraid to both praise and punch, they’ll be your go-to source for writing.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

You can find me in all kinds of places:

Desert Palm Press website: https://desertpalmpress.com/

Author Website: http://kelliedoherty.com/

Twitter: @Kellie_Doherty

Facebook: @KellieDoherty89/

Instagram: @kellie_201

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

Yes! Here’s a snippet from Sunkissed Feathers & Severed Ties, my newest release.
 

SFST-cover-final-web-optimizedPale white blood dripped down Misti Eildelmann’s curved short sword as she readied herself to meet her next attacker. Ignoring the shouts of the battle around her and her own frantically beating heart, Misti eyed the banished one. The overly bright pale blue eyes. The slight smirk on the woman’s face. The confidence in her expression frightened Misti, and she hesitated, the upward slash with her sword halting for a moment. The banished crafter snarled and leapt, knocking Misti’s blade aside with her staff and sending an aching jolt through Misti’s arm. The banished one reached out to grab her neck, eyes glowing white as her fingers dug into Misti’s skin. 

In the span of a heartbeat, many thoughts tumbled through Misti’s mind. Blood crafting. Moon above, not now. Not yet. Her eyes. Her veins! Misti swept her gaze down the woman’s arm, and sure enough, the banished ones’ veins had brightened to white, same as her glowing eyes, the color tracing the banished one’s blood and heading right for Misti. The sight of this woman’s crafting sent a spike of fear down Misti’s spine. Blood crafting was meant for healing of the body and the mind and the soul, but it could also be used to suck life-energy from a person. Suck the life-energy from me. Especially in this banished one’s hands. She latched onto the woman’s arm to try to wrench her away from her neck. It didn’t work.

 

Saturday Spotlight – Dare to Hope by Madison Micheal

 

Dare to Hope
Double Dale Romance Series (Book 1)
By Madison Michael

♥♥GiveAway♥♥
Maddy is offering a few great prizes. Please use the Rafflecopter below to enter! You may enter each day for a chance to win so be sure to follow along with us on the New Release Tour.
 

About Dare to Hope: 

She’s Betting on Love and the Stakes are High

The “Crazy Eights,” eight women who have been friends for 30 years, have a powerful connection yet rarely see each other. At a pivotal time in their lives, they create a way to remedy this predicament, an audacious dare contrived to bring them together for weddings – each participant must get married within twelve months. The stakes are high. Win the bet and lose your heart, or lose the bet and perform a personally mortifying task.

In the first of their stories, we meet Eliana, beautiful and brilliant, but starting over, focused on her career, not on some foolhardy dare. Longing for a family but recently divorced and on her own, Eliana sets her sights on a new job, a new home, and accepting her single, childless status. Independent and determined, she has no idea that in less than six months she will both win and lose her heart’s desire.

Jeremy Klein, genius engineer, and inventor is also making life changes. He’s sold his startup to a major medical device company, becoming President and CEO, and a billionaire before he is forty. Although he’s gun-shy about the dating game, Jeremy knows it’s time to apply his smarts, sex appeal, and new-found success to finding true love.

When Eliana meets Jeremy, they bond quickly. The couple has so much in common and a chemistry that sizzles. Winning Eliana feels like a fantasy come true to Jeremy. Their attraction is immediate and electrifying, and a one-night stand morphs into planning a future. But plans change. On track to wedded bliss, baby and all, Jeremy and Eliana are derailed by accusations that threaten their relationship, Eliana’s career, and Jeremy’s future as CEO.

Spies, lies, allegations, and misunderstandings abound, threatening to destroy their happiness. That is, until those “Crazy Eights” get involved, scheming and manipulating to win Eliana her happily ever after. Can a group of determined friends help Eliana and Jeremy hold onto love?

In the tradition of The Beguiling Bachelor Series, Madison Michael creates a romance series about independent and sassy women, sexy and successful men, true love, and lasting friendships.

Genre: Steamy Contemporary Romance

Buy Links:

 

An Excerpt from Dare to Hope:

His grin was devastating up close – wide and welcoming, with a hint of naughtiness and the promise of shared pleasures. But it was his eyes, deep coffee brown and fringed with long dark lashes that were his best feature; piercing, intelligent and inquisitive eyes, trained on her.

Please, God, Eliana prayed quickly, do not let this man be the new sales manager. It would be lamentable if she had to keep him at arm’s length. He was the first man Eliana had felt drawn to since Nico. If she was honest with herself, he was the first man she had ever felt this attracted to so immediately. It was enough to make her believe in love at first sight or fate.
“Hi,” he stepped closer, ignoring the empty stool beside her to halt just inside her personal space. Usually, Eliana would have reflexively backed up, but she savored his closeness, the power emanating from his presence. Even in this stuffy bar, he smelled good – fresh, like soap and good whiskey. And up close, his eyes were more magical – a hint of gold dancing in their depths.
“Hi,” she responded on a breath, letting the single word hang there for a moment before adding “You aren’t in sales, are you?”
“Nope.” If he thought it was a strange conversation starter, he kept it to himself. “Engineering and design, although I have dabbled in sales. I could be in sales for you,” he offered in a voice smooth as brandy, redolent with sexual promise and a hint of curiosity. She laughed at his offer. “Are you in sales?”
“Yes, I am. I was thinking of what a crime it would be if you turned out to be my new boss. I’m meeting him tomorrow.”
“Jeremy,” he responded, extending his hand to shake hers. “Not in sales. Is your boss named Jeremy?”
“Thankfully, not.” Eliana extended her hand, savoring the moment as Jeremy wrapped his long fingers around hers. She noticed there was no wedding band as she admired the strength and length of his fingers, the fine hairs on the back of his hand, and his grip – warm and dry. His skin was soft over fine bone and healthy muscle. Everything about him captivated her. “Eliana.”
Jeremy seemed in no hurry to release her hand, but after several beats too long for politeness, Eliana pulled hers from his. “Is this seat taken?” he asked, already sitting down, not thinking twice about it. “Or perhaps that table against the wall? I am anxious to learn why you don’t know who you work with, Eliana.”
Eliana laughed and watched as Jeremy’s breath stopped. His every emotion was transparent, especially the desire flaming in his eyes right now. A passion she reciprocated. Wholeheartedly. She couldn’t remember such an instantaneous attraction. But with Jeremy, she felt electricity and lust move through her entire body, just from the touch of his hand and the sound of her name spoken in his rich baritone.
“Eliana,” he rolled the word around his mouth as if tasting a fine wine. “What a lovely name.” Eliana panties dampened. He was just saying words, but their underlying promise was undeniable. She wanted to be alone with him. She wanted to be naked with him. And all she knew was his first name.
Eliana nodded toward the table, questioning her sanity. She was sure about what this man wanted, but after only minutes, her body governed her head. Jeremy spoke briefly with the bartender, passed him a fifty like it was a single, and motioned for her to lead the way to the empty table. Before they had settled in their chairs, both had fresh drinks. Earlier, the bartender had responded to her beauty with decent service and half-hearted flirting, but he reacted with alacrity to the big tip.
“So, spill,” Jeremy directed, leaning forward on his elbows and putting his mouth dangerously close to hers. Just a few inches, Eliana imagined, and they could be kissing. “I am dying to hear your story. I want to know absolutely everything about you.” The way he lingered on the word ‘everything’ made Eliana wetter still. Oh man, she was in way over her head.

 

 ~♥~♥~♥~♥~

Meet Madison Michael:

Madison Michael loves to binge news, movies, books, Oreos, and romance – reading romance novels, writing romantic stories, watching Rom-Coms over and over. Maddy has spent her self-isolation fretting about the health of her friends and neighbors and catching up on TV programs from ten years ago. Hunkered down with her cat, Gracie, and a Zoom life-line to the world, she is wondering how people date and social distance, how much junk food she can consume in a day and why Gracie only wants to play when Maddy needs to work.

Oh, and Madison is also hard at work on the rest of the Double Dare Romance series. Watch for more of the series in Autumn and Winter, 2020.

Madison’s Social Links:

All Caught up on Madison’s Books?
The Beguiling Bachelor Series – 
Four Successful, Sexy Men meet their matches – and how!
The B&B Billionaire Books – Second Chance at Love stories set in small town America
Standalone Stories – from Sweet Time Travel to Sexy May-September Romance
(available only when you sign up to be an Insider)


 

AuThursday – Stephanie Patel

Please join me in welcoming my fellow North Dakota author, Stephanie Patel. 

Stephanie, tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I was born in a little village in Alaska, the ninth of fifteen children, and moved to North Dakota with my mother and remaining siblings when I was nine, after my father and brother died while fishing. I lived in Jamestown, Kathryn and Valley City in North Dakota, graduating from VCHS.  I went to college at the University of Missouri, Columbia and at Moorhead State (now University of Minnesota at Moorhead). I graduated from the University of North Dakota School of Law and practiced law in Alaska for 35 years, minus about seven years creating an alternate junior/senior high school for youth falling through the cracks. I have been writing for many years; however it was only after I retired that I could focus full-time upon it.  My book, Born in the 20th Century: A Novel of the Midwest, was released in eBook form on November 1, 2019 and is now available in print, on Amazon.  

How do you make time to write? 

 I am currently retired and can work 8-12 hours per day if I am motivated. I tend to be obsessive when I am on a project and everything else will fall away. Although I had been working on this book off and on for years, I spent about six months working 6-12 hours per day to get it completed and in final edited form. 

Do you believe in writer’s block?  

Well, I have no reason not to, although I don’t really experience it myself.  I write when I feel the compulsion to do so, and if I don’t feel it, I don’t write.  It’s as simple as that. If I am not writing, it is because I have other things on my plate to which I am giving attention. I have a number of books and other works in progress.  

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

My current book would fit into the “coming of age” genre.  I consider it Literary Fiction. I try to hit all the notes when I write—the entire scale of physical dimension, emotional expression, psychological patterns, intellectual ideas and spiritual context. I love to make people laugh, and so if I can bring humor into what I write, all the better. I like to stimulate thought, assist my reader in getting different perspectives on issues, and most of all give them something that will be interesting and satisfying.

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

I decided to publish my current book myself because I’m a bit of a control freak. Also, it is a long book (almost 225,000 words) and I realized it would be difficult to find a publisher who would take on such a long book, since most traditional publisher’s like to stay in the 150,000 word realm. Finally, although I’d had professional interest in the book while working on it, I did not want to take the time to shop it around.  I did submit the book to Beta readers to test reactions and had such enthusiasm from them that I decided to plow ahead and self-publish, which I did through Kindle Direct Publishing, a branch of Amazon. It’s a pretty simple way to go, involving no expense except for the author copies. 

My current book is  

Born in the 20th Century: A Novel of the Midwest

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

I don’t know that I am either. I like my alone time very much. However, I am not too shy to take the floor when there are issues that are important to me.

What is your favorite motivational phrase?

You will know which path is yours because nobody else is on it. 

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Read and write. Write about what you know. Yes, you can use your imagination and should—however, bring alive your own experience and perspective. Learn the rules of good writing, absorb style from your favorite authors, and then go beyond them. Create your own unique style. As I say, average writers know the rules; good writers know them and when to break them. 

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

I am on Facebook under Stephanie Patel.

My book can be found at Amazon under the following link.  https://www.amazon.com/Born-20th-Century-Stephanie-Patel/dp/1698865740/ref=sxts_sxwds-bia?keywords=born+in+the+20th+century&pd_rd_i=1698865740&pd_rd_r=f80c4a4f-b53a-4949-b906-05f57c085dc8&pd_rd_w=ymPaK&pd_rd_wg=uzz6A&pf_rd_p=1cb3f32a-ccfd-479b-8a13-b22f56c942c6&pf_rd_r=06K081K9DES9ZC45NDV3&psc=1&qid=1574191303

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

Cover half of full 11-9-19-page-0By the time we reached Fargo the predicted snow flurries had arrived, along with a good wind. North Dakota highways had a Midwestern personality like their human counterparts: they were straight as arrows, not so bad, and open to the next kingdom. These characteristics did not combine well with wind and snow. Even when there was little of the latter falling, the wind could kick up what was already on the ground, so that often in winter we seemed to be driving through continuous streams and rivulets that ran across our path. It was not a big step from there to whiteout conditions. In fact, visibility was very poor for the last ten miles or so into Fargo, not an unusual occurrence in that part of the country, and Mother kept both hands on the wheel, her eyes focused in front of her. She hated interruptions when driving through difficult weather events. When Yippee tried to get her to take his side on some dispute with me, she barked, “Play nice. I can’t be distracted right now.”

Once we were in the city proper, driving up South University Avenue, visibility improved along with her attitude. She pulled into the K-Mart parking lot to get some aspirin, and gave us some dimes to ride the mechanical horse in the lobby. Then we all had to use the restroom.

When we emerged, the snow was thicker, the flakes bigger. The temperature was still in the high twenties, which meant that the main roads, where there was heavier traffic, were slushy more than slick. We drove up University Avenue to King Leo’s Drive-In, where Mother purchased us each a fifteen-cent hamburger and a ten-cent fries, which was always a treat when we were in Fargo, and always a condiment fiasco. Two hamburgers had to be sent back to be rectified.

Then it was a stop at a gas station to fill up.

The attendant cleaned all our windows and when the tank was full came around to collect payment. “I hope you’re not going far,” he said when he brought back the change. “They say they’re closing down I-94 past Jamestown.”

“We’re going north,” Mother said. “Only about forty-five minutes.”

“Well, I wouldn’t delay then. You can probably still make it.”

“We’re leaving right now.”

“Drive careful.”

Mother put the Bonneville in gear and headed for US 81, which paralleled the Red River north into Canada.

“Maybe we should turn around,” Myra said worriedly. “I don’t want to get stuck in a blizzard.”

“What good would that do?” Mother asked pointedly. “If it’s coming from the west, it’s going to be as bad going back as it is going forward. We’re more than half-way. We should be able to outrun it.”

As soon as we got out of town, however, the visibility dropped precipitously. Approaching cars materialized a hundred feet in front of us; buildings and sign posts alongside the highway appeared ghostly. I was, however, not worried. It was North Dakota in the winter. Snow and fog were part of the season. In fact, I was too busy eating to pay much attention until I heard Mother exclaim in frustration, “Darn it! I can’t hardly see the road!” My attention captured, I looked out the window at the passing scenery, only to discover that it had disappeared. We were floating in a sea of white.

The wipers were going slip-slap, and with each swipe they cleared snow from the windshield and left rivulets draining down the glass. I could see that the snow was falling even heavier now, the flakes clumping together on the glass so that everything but the half-moon scraped by the wipers was opaque. Mother was hunched over the steering wheel, which she held tightly in both hands, her knuckles white. I could see that the speedometer needle was hovering between twenty and thirty miles-per-hour. It was impossible to judge our speed or location by landmarks, which had disappeared. We were flying on instruments.

“How do you know where you’re going?” I asked Mother curiously.

“Blind faith,” she hissed from between clenched teeth. And then she added more kindly, “I look over to the side of the road. I can just see the ditch. However, I have no idea what’s twenty feet in front of me. Or behind.” She opened her window and stuck her head out to the side to see if she could get more visibility without the slapping wipers, the scudding snow and water on the windshield.

The good part about North Dakota roads was that if we went into the ditch, we went into the ditch, not over a sixty foot cliff or into a close encounter with a tree. The not-so-good part was that we might be covered in the ditch by a snowdrift twice our own height and they might not find us until spring—or until the next strong wind blew us clear. Drifts were forming even as we drove—Mother swerved suddenly to skirt the high point of a snow bank that stretched across our lane, like a white seal basking on the road. Our progress slowed slightly as she churned through the tail of it, and then for the length of two Middleton blocks the highway was swept clear as if by a giant broom. The wind was so strong that it rocked our car, unprotected by anything except the wind’s own caprice as it created and swept away drifts.

Occasional cars approached, going south, their headlamps appearing dully out of the maelstrom, passing us with a swish! Once a car overtook us from behind, trailing in our wake until Mother pulled over toward the shoulder and slowed even more, allowing it to pass on our left, throwing snow. “Arggh. Some people,” she muttered. 

At Mother’s suggestion, Myra dug out one of Nonie’s bottles. Sitting on her lap, alternately sucking and chewing on the nipple, he stared fixedly out the window, stunned into stillness by the whiteness, whether through fascination or disorientation.

Yippee curled up in his corner with a couple of his little men, occasionally talking quietly for them as they hiked up his bent leg or over the driveshaft hump in the floor. “I’s berry steep. Keep goin’, you ken do it.” His plastic people were very encouraging to each other, at least until they encountered the enemy in battle—then they slaughtered each other with joy and abandon, rarely leaving more than one or two survivors, and sometimes none at all. He did not bother to look up at the maelstrom outside the car, as secure in his personal safety as his three-inch plastic alter-egos might have been devoid of hope in theirs. 

Myra and I both kept our eyes on what was happening around us. Perhaps nothing so much represented the differences between us as our individual reactions. Myra was clearly troubled by the possibilities and kept glancing nervously at Mother. I, on the other hand, was pumped up with excitement. In fairness, she was two years older and therefore more aware of the downside of death, mayhem and suffering in general. I fell somewhere between her and Yippee, who acted out death, mayhem and suffering with such glee. I wasn’t playing war, but I was drawn to imagining adventure. Whether it was encountering space aliens with ray guns, alligators in the creek behind Gramma’s house, or a tornado on the horizon, it relieved the monotony of 9:30 bedtimes, waking up in the same bed every day and passing the same houses on the way to school, every one of which I could have described in detail, along with the names of the dogs who lived in them. I had, in fact, no experience with being on the losing end of space aliens, alligators or tornadoes. No one close to me had died, the only maiming with which I was familiar was the mangling of Yippee’s hand in the fan—which he didn’t even remember—and suffering was a stubbed toe or being sent to my room when Saturday cartoons were on. My interest in such matters as the orphaning of the Monsen children was more curiosity than compassion.

In order to reach Sheverak we had to turn off US 81 and head west into the maze of dirt and gravel roads that ran like dikes between rippling seas of wheat and corn in the summer and frozen snow clogged stubble in the winter. Mother was searching through the flying snow for the turnoff, certain it was near—if indeed we had not passed it. The wind let up for a moment, enough for her to see one of the mile markers. “Dang nab it!” she exclaimed. “We’ve come too far. I’m going to have to turn around.”

The problem was that there was no obvious place to do that, other than right in the middle of the two-lane highway in the middle of a blind snowstorm, with the potential of getting t-boned by oncoming traffic. 

“Is that a side road?” Mother asked suddenly, peering through the windshield. The defrost was running full blast, siphoning the heat from the spacious car interior, so that I had to curl my feet up on the seat so they didn’t get cold. “Myra! Look! Isn’t that a road?”

At that moment Mother jerked on the steering wheel, determined not to miss the turnoff. The car spun in a semi-circle and came to a stop with a dull thud. We all sat still for a moment. Then Mother pressed on the gas pedal. The back tires spun. The car remained where it was. 

Mother thumped the steering wheel. Yippee stuck his head up over the front seat back. “Are we der?”

“No, Stupid, we’re stuck,” I informed him. I put my face up against my window to try to see.

 

AuThursday – Jennifer Vettor

unnamedTell us a little about yourself and your background?

My name is Jennifer Vettor. I am a Canadian author living in southern Ontario. I’ve been married 28 years to my first husband (he hates this joke.) We have three grown children, two dogs, and 2 cats. I also work as a Reiki Practitioner and a Holistic Nutritionist.

How do you make time to write?

I have the privilege of working from home. This allows free time between clients to write! I also am lucky enough to make my own schedule, so I will often schedule in writing days. (I admit these days have often turned into Netflix binging and Facebook comas. I need more discipline.)

Do you believe in writer’s block?

While I have experienced blocks of time that I’ve been unmotivated, I have yet to experience writer’s block. Even when I’m not writing I have lots of ideas and stories bouncing around my unruly brain.

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

I write spicy romance novels. I love it because it is a place for my imagination to safely wander, AND it keeps me out of trouble.

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

I have chosen to publish independently. I’m a bit of a control freak and am not afraid to get my hands dirty. I was writing as a ghostwriter for an Indie publisher and when the time came to launch my own work, I just followed in their footsteps. I’m not opposed to traditional though. Maybe next time!

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

I tend to be a bit of both. I do love being around others, but I prefer small, intimate occasions. Call me a “social introvert”. I don’t mind the time spent alone and generally use this time to write.

What is your favorite motivational phrase?

Don’t quit before the miracle happens.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

For the first draft, just write your thoughts, and don’t worry about structure. You ’ll have plenty of chances to edit. Just let your creativity flow or you’ll get hung up on form, and start nit-picking everything. Nothing kills your writing buzz faster than self-doubt. Just bang away on that keyboard!

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

jennifervettor.com

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

This is from my recent offering ‘Fated’.

unnamed (1)Meg spent her weekend sorting, organizing, and cleaning, clearing as much space as she could for Kade to move around. She was overwhelmed by the amount of work ahead of her, and several times had to calm herself on the porch with a cup of tea just to stave off a panic attack. Although she might have bitten off more than she could chew, she’d much rather choke on ambition than be swallowed by apathy. She’d just take things a day at a time.

It was late Sunday evening. She was sitting cross-legged on the floor, searching through boxes of old books, piled two and three rows high. She was hoping to salvage much of their contents for the shelves of the bookery, maybe even find a treasure or two, but much of what she found was questionable in its usefulness. Dusty, old fashioned books, perfumed with a musty aroma of decay and neglect.

She assumed most of the books were donated castaways the previous owner never had the time, or the desire, to sort through. He seemed more a hoarder than a collector, Meg thought ruefully. Most of the boxes were untouched, still sealed with yellowed, crumbling packing tape that had long ago lost its sticky residue.

She was about to push aside a box, certain she wouldn’t find anything interesting when something caught her eye. It was a vintage diary, the kind that would have been filled with the longings, secrets, and fantasies of a young girl; red leather with a gold scroll design, long ago faded. It was locked, but the leather was compromised, cracked along the flap that held the metal edge in place. She took a moment to search the bottom of the box for the key, piling the remaining books around her, but found nothing, even after turning it upside down. She placed the box down and retrieved the diary, inquisitively rolling it over in her hands. It seemed a shame to break it, almost impolite, but Meg was curious about its contents. She carried the book with her into the kitchen, hoping to find a tool to unlatch it.

“This should work,” she spoke out loud, to no one in particular. She slipped a small butter knife behind the seal and it easily popped open on the first try, as though its secrets begged to be revealed. She slowly opened the book, pleasantly surprised by the soft texture of the paper. It was quite extraordinary, made even more striking by the elegant script decorating the pages. Meg felt the familiar flutter of excitement that always happened whenever she first opened the pages of a new book; the promise of a new adventure waiting to be devoured, fresh mysteries to unfold, and
delicious characters to fall in love with.

It had been years since she’d read cursive, raised in a computer generation, but there was something mysteriously beautiful about those swirling consonants and vowels. It struck a deep chord with her, luring her into an era where things were simpler, slower, with more attention paid to detail. An idyllic world where folks really took the time to engage with each other; computers, cell phones, and Instagram just a cold, distant, impossible reality. She often felt like she’d been born in the wrong era, dropped onto the planet generations later than she should have been. She longed for those deeper connections. Excited, she opened the first page, allowing the words to transport her, like a literary time machine.