AuThursday – Shannon O’Connor

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I’m a twenty something bisexual single mother from New York. I started writing full time during the pandemic and started publishing poetry in 2018, with my first romance novel in 2021.
How do you make time to write?
This is something I’m still figuring out, I honestly write when the creativity strikes.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
I do! It hits me more often than I’d like.
Tell us a bit about the genre you write and why you love it.
Poetry and Contemporary Romance. Poetry is something that has always been there for me and gives me a way to let out my feelings. It helps me process everything I’m feeling and heal. Contemporary romance is something newer for me. I’ve always written growing up but lately I have all these ideas and stories to tell that really feels like an escape. They’re stories I wish I had growing up or character’s who’s stories I feel I need to tell.
How are you publishing your recent book and why? 
Indie! I like the control that indie publishing has. Being able to be in complete control of each step is really important to me.
Are you an Introvert or Extrovert? How does this affect your work?
Extrovert. I like to think this positively affects my work because I will go out and look for new experiences to be able to write about them first hand.
What is your favorite motivational phrase?
You got this. (something my mother has always said)
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Keep writing, take breaks but then keep writing & write the story you wish you could read.
Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?
From my upcoming short story Christmas Sweets featured in the anthology, A Taste of You:
If there’s one thing to know about me it’s this; I hate Christmas. I’m not like a Grinch or anything, I’ll get the ones I love presents, spend the holidays with my family, but I just hate what it brings out in some people. I own a bakery and I have never seen people more hostile than they are at Christmas time. Something about the holidays bring out the worst in people. Because of this, I normally spend most of November and December in the back of the cafe. I’ll busy myself with paperwork, baking cookies, frosting cakes, anything to keep me from interacting with customers.
Except half my staff caught the flu this week so I’ve been forced to take charge of the counter. I guess that’s what I get for being in charge. I’ve already had several customers tell me they wouldn’t be coming back. Another customer angry that we don’t make cakes from scratch on the spot for their children’s birthday party they forgot to order a cake for.
I’m quickly making it through the line of customers asking for pumpkin spice lattes and pumpkin flavored desserts. It’s one of our biggest sellers this time of year, and I can’t say I blame them, it’s one of my favorites too. Most other places give up on Pumpkin after October but this is when it really thrives. Half our front case is decked out in pumpkin flavored cheesecake, muffins, bagels, donuts, bread, and cake.
Although I do miss when just two weeks away I was decorating jack o lanterns and tombstones. Halloween is a much better holiday in my opinion, the chance for you to dress up with no fear or expectations. The day where it’s okay to be the most exuberant you, you can be. I sigh as I finish wrapping up a pumpkin cheesecake and pass it to the customer to pay. She thanks me with a smile and I’m silently grateful for her patience.

AuThursday – Luke Ganje

 
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Tell us a little about yourself and your background.
 
I don’t think there’s anything I hate more than talking about myself, so I’ll try to make this as painless as I possibly can. I’m Luke Ganje and I’ve been writing seriously for over a decade, not just because I love to do it but also because a writer is the only thing I’ve ever wanted to be. It wouldn’t be any great exaggeration or burst of dramatic flair to say that I have no interest in a life that doesn’t include telling stories. It is, in a sense, everything I am. As such, I’ve written five novels (seven if you count the two I’m not proud of), somewhere in the neighborhood of seventy short stories, and hundreds of poems, and they range in tone and genre from absurdist humor to horror to contemplative fiction. Someone asked me once what I want out of this, what the goal of my artistic pursuit was, and to be honest the answer was simple enough: In time this life will end and in the blink of an eye who we’ve been and what we’ve done will be lost to an inevitable decay. I write because, while I’m here, I want to experience this life just a little bit more and feel and understand things I might have otherwise missed.
 
 
 
How do you make time to write?
 
For me, it’s all about routine and dedication. I set aside two hours a night to work and no matter how trivial the project of the day, I fill that time. I no longer work a day job on Fridays, having set aside that day for a sort of mini marathon in which I can make significant headway in whatever novel happens to be my primary focus, and that’s been a joy to experience. In those moments I almost feel like the full-time writer I aspire to be, whether it’s a self-constructed illusion or not. The time to write, to pursue what you love, is always there. Sacrifices simply need to be made or else that pursuit and the work that stems from it will only ever wind up being hollow, empty, and dead.
 
 
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to see where an idea takes you?
 
My process in this regard has changed over the years. When I first started, I spent a great deal of time wandering down the unmarked roads of exploratory writing but as the years go by and my attention span and memory continue to falter and fade, I find myself having to outline a little more each time. These days I tend to write all my dialogue in a notebook, filling pages as if I’m script-writing, and then rewrite the entire thing as a finished and detailed experience on my laptop. It works well enough and tends to give my dialogue a lived-in edge that I prefer, so I’ll continue down that path until I have to tinker with my process again for the sake of clarity and not driving myself completely insane. 
 
 
What are you working on at the minute?
 
Frustratingly enough, I’m torn between two projects that both demand my full attention and yet I haven’t quite decided which one to focus on. I don’t mean to treat trivially the perils of wartime, but I’m almost positive this is precisely how Meryl Streep felt in Sophie’s Choice. As it stands, I’m splitting my time between my first ever horror novel and a more quiet and contemplative piece of magical realism. The former will be bitter, vicious, and unforgiving. The latter is a character piece about a young man whose life begins to fall apart because he continually sees one small thing no one else can, and believes without a shadow of a doubt that it is real. Both deal with family, loss, and our uncomfortable relationship with mortality, but neither is the clear front-runner and so I’m a bit adrift at the moment. I keep trying to reach out to Mrs. Streep for advice, but sadly she won’t return my calls.
 
 
I’m almost afraid to ask, where do your ideas come from?
 
I suppose it would be abhorrently trite to simply tap the side of my head, doubly so seeing as how this isn’t that kind of visual medium. Nevertheless, this is something that I think about a lot. Sometimes you write things that push you to places you don’t want to go and yet you have to for the sake of the story, so in that sense a French term comes to mind: l’appel du vide. The Call of the Void. Known also as “High Place Phenomenon”, it’s the little trigger in your mind that kicks in when you’re standing on a ledge and tells you to jump, or while you’re driving down the highway and you suddenly have the urge to whip the steering wheel into oncoming traffic. It’s an ordinary part of the human experience and something I’ve felt in waves my entire life, heightened as it is by anxiety (of which I have plenty), so it weaves almost constantly in and out of the stories I tell. Complicating things is the manner in which I tend to process even the most mundane aspects of everyday life, where everything shows as infinite spirals in which I find myself reliving conversations dozens of times right after they happen, following them down rabbit holes until I find myself having visceral emotional reactions to things that never happened and words that were never said. That’s probably where my stories travel from, I suppose. Out of the void and along an incessantly spiraling road.
 
 
Do you ever get Writer’s Block?
 
Put simply, no. I view writing not just as my passion but also as work, as a job, and the funny thing about work is that responsibilities don’t just magically go away if you’re not feeling it. So I’ve had bad days where the words don’t flow quite like they should and there are definitely days where I haven’t managed to write much of anything at all, but it’s never been a lingering thing in the form of that towering “Writer’s Block” wall. Doing what you love is hard work and I’ve never once found that it gets any easier by avoiding thought obstacles that inevitably pop up along the way.
 
 
 
It looks like you independently published “It Seemed Like A Good Idea at the Time”. What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around?
 
Put simply, I have a hate-hate relationship with self-publishing. It’s not something I ever really saw myself doing as I tend to see life as overcoming obstacles and there’s little about the process that I see as anything more than an end-run around the publishing world’s absurd hurdles. It’s like running a marathon and then taking a taxi from mile three to mile twenty-five, expecting the same accolades when you cross the finish line as those who’ve traveled the road of the established process. So that’s my annoyed sense of the disadvantage. There’s a stigma around the whole affair and, while there will always be exceptions, the framework of stigmas exists for a reason. Then again, there’s a fairly sizable advantage as well and one that made me put all my annoyance and irritation into my anthology that was released in August: It takes away the chance of you dying before any of your creations are unleashed on the world, and that was always an odd little fear of mine. So it’s not how I saw things going and to be honest I’m unsure whether or not I’ll self-publish anything again; there might be another anthology but my novels are reserved for the traditional road I will always pursue. That being said, it was a nice experience and for the most part it was undertaken so that all the people who’ve supported me over the years could have a memento of my time here sitting comfortably on their bookshelves. In a way, I couldn’t ask for anything more.
 
 
What is your writing Kryptonite?
 
I have two actually, which would make me the world’s worst version of Superman. It’s basically a two horse race in which both the horses have to be euthanized because they’re rabid and ate a jockey. But I digress. The first is that I will always possess a crippling self-doubt when it comes to my work, to such an extent that (with one exception) I’ve never finished anything without feeling like it’s the worst thing ever committed to printed page by a functioning adult. That may sound like an exaggeration but it’s not. As much as I’m driven by the love of the written word, I’m just as driven by the creeping sense that I’ll never write anything of note and anyone who’s said differently has been lying for the sake of some strange social etiquette I don’t understand. As you can imagine, this makes me a joy at parties. The second piece of Kryptonite is at least functionally more problematic and can be found in the slow but inevitable decline of my memory. It’s frightfully true that, no matter what I write on a given day, I will not remember what it was by the time I sit down again twenty-four hours later. Characters, plots, names, descriptions…they vanish as soon as I close my eyes, and so every day when I sit down at my desk, my process begins with an hour spent re-reading all that I wrote the previous night and hoping I still know where I’m going. It’s scary, in a way. What a terrifying thing to forget the friends I’ve made.
 
 
Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?
 
My work is most prominently displayed on my website www.keywordnovelist.com and that’s where you can find a lot of my short stories and poetry. There’s also a blog, because blogs go with writers about as reliably as pumpkin spice lattes flock to their own comically specific demographic. There’s some good stuff on there and, if all you know of me is the absurdist comedy found in my anthology release, it’ll be sure to raise some eyebrows. I can also be found on Twitter and Instagram under that very same moniker: Keywordnovelist.
 
 
Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?
 
Certainly. This snippet is taken from the story that leads off my catastrophically absurd debut, “It Seemed Like A Good Idea at the Time.” Author’s Note: It only gets weirder from here.
 
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“Hello? Hello? How’s the reception up there?”

Artemartedoxtorix, called Art by his friends, squinted at the blood in the sand as it rolled like the weeping tides of humanity and also heavy cream. It danced with static before it eventually flared to life when the sound of screaming filtered through. Art looked around but no one was really paying attention. He covered his blood screen anyway because he wasn’t the type to make a scene if he could help it. Some jobs you just don’t want to draw attention to yourself while performing and his hallowed position of receptionist was one of those jobs. 

“Art? Is this Art? I was told to call Art,” screamed the voice from the other end of the line.

“What? Well yeah of course it’s me. Is this…” he looked at his sheet of paper. “I’m sorry, I can’t pronounce your name.”

“It’s Dave.”

Art stared blankly at the dancing blood. “I’m sorry, that doesn’t help,” he said. “What does that rhyme with?”

“I don’t know…Cave?” 

“What about Potato?” asked Art. “I know that one.”

“My name doesn’t rhyme with Potato, Art,”

“Ah…” said Art. “Well can I just call you Potato? It’d make this a lot easier.”

For a long moment there was silence on the other end of the line. 

“Can I talk to someone else?”

“I’m afraid not. Everyone else is out on assignment,” said Art. “What’s the problem?”

“Well, I put the kid in the burlap sack but he doesn’t seem to be drowning and now the whole thing is wet,” said Dave, also known as Potato. 

“Do you have the blood already?” asked Art. 

“The what?” he asked.

“The blood. You know you can’t kill him until you have his blood, right?”

“Oh yeah. For sure. Totally,” said Dave. “I was just about to do that.”

“While he’s underwater and suffocating in a sack?”

“Yep. I’m thrifty,” said Dave.

Art looked around the receptionist center and threw a rock at a winged adder. This wasn’t his fault. The project had been passed on to him by someone with a better castle in the aftermath of one of Potato’s many mistakes, at which point his superior decided that temptation and possessions were more his bag. He’d said Art was on track for a promotion if he succeeded, so the receptionist who’d always seen himself as more of a hero type leapt at the opportunity. It was only a matter of time until greatness was his. 

“Look, Potato,” said Art. “We’re in this together so all I need to know is one thing.”

There was silence on the other line. “What?” asked the human.

Art rubbed his temples and winced when he pricked himself on a horn. 

“Can you find a rock?” he asked. “I just threw a rock at a flying adder and that seemed to work.”

“What’s an adder?”

“A snake,” said Art, and for a moment Potato was silent. 

“Wait. There are snakes down there?” he asked finally. “If there are snakes down there I don’t think I can do this.”

Art looked up at the swarms of flying adders that soared through lakes and clouds of fire. 

“Are there what?” he asked, a master of changing topics. 

“Snakes. Are there snakes in hell?”

If a demon could look awkward, Artemartedoxtorix, Demon of the Fourth Degree, definitely looked awkward. 

“What? Oh yeah no, definitely not,” he said. “You misheard me.”

“Well what did you say then?

Art looked around for anything his mind could seize on. 

“Pits of endless despair,” he said finally when his eyes fell on the pool of weeping where acid carved canyons in the faces of the suffering.

“Well hold on now, that actually sounds worse.”

“Look, Potato. Do you want eternal glory or not?”

 
 
 

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.

 

AuThursday – Jennifer Lemming

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I am a writer mostly of poetry, but of other things as well. I always wanted to be a writer of novels, but the poetry came first, the novels have yet to completely emerge. I’ve had poetry published for many years. My husband and I moved to Bismarck, North Dakota from Indianapolis, Indiana because my husband accepted a new job as a psychiatric nurse. We hike, camp, and read. We enjoy learning and seeing this part of the country, it is very new to us. 

What genre do you write in and what draws you to this genre?

I write mostly poetry, some flash fiction, and finally some essays speaking about culture (music, books, and tv. shows) 

Have you written any other novels in collaboration with other writers?

No, but I am working on a visual/poetry collaborative project with a fellow poet/friend. 

What excites you most about your current WIP (Work In Progress)?

I’ll talk in general terms about the visual/poetry project that I am working on with my poet friend. I’m just excited how each of our visual creations are sent to the other for writing inspiration. This is creating a cross-artistic energy since visual art and writing for me happen at two separate energy levels.

Almost everything, about any WIP, excites me. Where the flow of the writing is going, what the rough draft will revel, and what direction then it points to for revision. I realize that if I lose a certain level of excitement, then it is time to set that particular work aside until later. 

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

Mostly free form, just go with the flow of a general idea, or I have a visual and write down what I “see” as the action. I also will write mini-bios of characters – so that I may get to know them better away from what I write. I get a deeper “feel” of who they are, what their motivations are, the bios aren’t long or complicated. Sometimes that is just a fun exercise, getting to know the character outside of the writing somehow deepens my relationship with that character. 

How do you relax?

I read, watch shows and movies, listen to many different genres of music – my musical taste is very eclectic. I also hike and have an active interest in historical preservation, 

I have a series of journals that I work with, that are mostly visual, this is very relaxing. The journals are free-form, rarely when I sit down in front of an open journal do I have even a plan or thought how I will visually express myself. I may have a phrase or quote that I want to record in the journal, but then the visual work just emerges around that brief written passage. 

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

A couple of thoughts and I believe these thoughts about beginning the writing journey are related. I am concerned that aspiring writers are overly anxious for success, for finding their “voice” more quickly, with more self-confidence. I know I was eager and sometimes anxious about this as well. What I would like to say to aspiring writers, (and to my back in the day writer self) is that the writing will come, your “voice” will be found if you follow your instincts and try not to push it forcefully.
I’ve learned from the advice “write what you know”  that when you are beginning, the frustration can be overwhelming because sometimes it is, for example,  I want to write about dragons, or such and such author writes brilliantly about dragons, but how can anyone really “know” about dragons that makes writing about them unique and special? I understand now that, that phrase, that advice really means “write what you are passionate about, what you have deep, authentic feeling about”. If you have that sincere interest in a topic you will acquire the knowledge that will naturally fit into your writing, your world-building (whatever genre you write in, you are world building), and you will find your specific “voice” for your writing. That said,…

Also, learn your craft for skill, and practice that skill with care. 

Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven’t included?

Just random facts, my family is from the south, West Virginia specifically. I have the experience of a different culture to draw on, for example, the family stories about our family’s participation in the Civil War. Two of my patriarchal lines were Confederates (gg -grandfathers), one great grandfather was Union, yes my grandmother’s father was a Union veteran, and one I confirmed recently was neutral. So I have this rich, sometimes odd emotional history to at least fuel the feeling of my writing. 

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

My work that I would classify as weird Fiction and edgier poetry can be found on Yellow Mama/Black Petalspublishing site. Amazon has both my most recent chapbook “Star Slough”  by Dark Heart Press, and my dark, gothic (fairytale?) published in the anthology Indiana Horror Review 2015

I’ve recently had poetry published in Redshift#4, AlienBuddaPress, The Shrew (ezine), and more, just google Jennifer Lemming poet. Oh, and KDAK 102.5 has frequently played my song Thunder Song (vocals Peter Kobal,  CD The Only Star)

I am a contributor with reviews of movies and Streaming shows at a great cultural site, Drunk Monkey’s

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

This is the first poem I wrote after moving to North Dakota in 2014, (following my husband’s job relocation). It was published by Hobo Camp review in January 2016.

Plains Song

Avoiding gopher dugs and digs,

I rub sandalwood oil

mixed with buffalo grease

on my bare arms. Opening

my mouth to bite at the cold,

I finally see the moon

after the membrane of clouds pass

and I try to hold on

until your love reaches shore break

inside my heart,

and shatters all geography.

 

AuThursday – Lainee Cole

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

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

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

How do you make time to write? 

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

Do you believe in writer’s block? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is your favorite motivational phrase?

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

— Louis L’Amour

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

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

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

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

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

STORMS OF THE HEART excerpt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She knocked again, harder this time.

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

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

Ooof!

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

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

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

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

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

“It’s not the dog’s fault.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Hello, Emerson.”

 

 

Saturday Spotlight – Chasing Paige by Ellen Devlin

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000447_00006]Title: Chasing Paige

Series: Washington Guardians Hockey #2

Author: Ellen Devlin

Release: June 25, 2019

Genre: Hockey Romance

Cover Designer: Deranged Doctor Design

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/45755318-chasing-paige

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000447_00006]Blurb:

“Love at first sight.” It’s such a cliché. But when I saw her across a crowded room I couldn’t take my eyes off her.

One can say I’m the modest type. I don’t walk up to a girl, introduce myself and expect her to fall at my feet just because I’m an NHL player. If friends didn’t give me a little push me in her direction, I probably never would have approached her. But I’m so glad I did.

The electricity between us blew me away. From our first kiss to the first night we spent together it was clear. Paige was the one.

But something is holding her back, And with the trade deadline looming, she’s using it as an excuse to push me away.

Luckily, I know how to chase dreams; it’s how I made it to the NHL. I like a challenge, and I never quit until I get what I want. 

And what I want is Paige.

Buy links (Kindle Unlimited)

Amazon US: https://amzn.to/31wW9PZ 

Amazon CA: https://amzn.to/2N04V5E

Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/2Xk1g6N

Amazon AU: https://amzn.to/2FdjTPu

Praise:

Red Hatter Book Blog – “Chasing Paige is dipping cotton candy into powdered sugar and topping it off with frosting and sprinkles levels of sweet.”

chasing page tag line 1 (2)

Giveaway: (US and CA only)

 

  • $10.00 Amazon Card
  • A signed copy of Chasing Paige
  • Book of Poetry by Yeats
  • Metal Bookmark

 

Direct Link:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/81aa78942066

In the Series:

Kissing Micky (Washington Guardians Hockey)

Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2FiyAQv

Amazon CA: https://amzn.to/2YeNKPy

Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/2ulOcxC

Amazon AU: https://amzn.to/2OkNJ87

Author Bio:

Law firm office cog by day.

Writer of steamy romance by night.

Hockey fan all the time.

Ellen lives in the Northern Virginia area with her husband and two sons, along with various furry and scaly creatures.

Life is good.

Social Media Links:

https://twitter.com/ellendev_author

https://www.facebook.com/ellen.devlin.5494

https://www.amazon.com/Ellen-Devlin/e/B07CYCPYRN

https://www.bookbub.com/authors/ellen-devlin

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17945607.Ellen_Devlin

http://ellendevlin.allauthor.com/

#AuThursday – Marie Lavender

Marie Lavender LogoTell us a little about yourself and your background?

Well, I am a multi-genre author of 22 books in the genres of historical romance, contemporary romance, romantic suspense, paranormal romance, fantasy, science fiction, mystery/thriller, dramatic fiction, literary fiction and poetry. And the list just keeps growing. Some of my works in progress include comedy, time travel or dystopian tales.  I come from the Midwestern U.S., and I live with my family and three cats. I’ve pretty much always known I wanted to be a writer, at least since I was old enough to officially write stories.

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

I’m actually more introverted, though my writing career has forced me to be more public than I’m accustomed to. I guess you could say it’s a bit harder to put myself out there, but I do it anyway. I’ve had several radio interviews, I host three blogs and I have moderated lots of major book giveaways. I like meeting new people. Now and then, I still get nervous, though.

How do you make time to write?

When I’m balancing a side job and family obligations, it can be difficult. I usually aim to work a little on my current project every day, even if it’s a paragraph or a scene, or just researching different aspects of the story.

What excites you most about your current WIP?

The book I’m currently editing is Blood Instincts, a futuristic paranormal romance/urban fantasy which is also book two of the Blood at First Sight Series. I adore the characters, and designing the Other World. I’m very excited for fans of Second Nature, the first book, to read its sequel!

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

Oh, I received quite a few when I was submitting Upon Your Return, my first historical romance, to agents and publishers. Whenever I’d get a rejection, I forced myself to feel more determined. I just sent out another five submissions to other places. Perseverance is a good quality to have in this business. And my persistence paid off. Not too long after that, I received my first book contract!

Have you written any other novels in collaboration with other writers?

Actually, I have. I am in the midst of writing a romantic suspense novel with another writer. It’s titled Certain Death.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

They can find me at my author website, through my blogs at the MLB blog, the I Love Romance Blog, or Writing in the Modern Age. They can follow me on Twitter, Facebook and Google+. I also have an author newsletter, which I send out monthly, so feel free to subscribe!

Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share for Saturday?

DoHpromo15

Sure! This one is from my new release, Directions of the Heart, a modern romantic drama collection, which just came out on July 25th!

Join me on Saturday as we read an excerpt from “Directions of the Heart” by Marie. ~Tina

AuThursday – Barbara Meyers

Please welcome Author, Poet and Lyric Writer Barbara Meyers.  Barbara, Can you tell us your latest news?

FANTASY MAN is my sixth book with Samhain Publishing and was just released in February. I’m excited about being part of Florida Writers Association’s multi-genre book signing in Altamonte Springs, Florida on May 1st. And my short story, “Hidden Heart” was recently accepted for judging to be part of FWA’s 2016 Collection. More news (I hope) on that later. Oh, and the Lakeland (Florida) Ledger did a great article on me. Barista by day/Novelist by Night. You can read it here: http://bit.ly/1V3wIgY

 Q: To date which of your books was the hardest to write and why?

It might be FANTASY MAN. I started this book a very long time ago and it underwent numerous rewrites over the years because I never give up on a story I love. It was, in fact, initially turned down by my editor (the wonderful Noah Chinn). But Noah did something editors don’t always do. He told me why he turned it down. I rewrote it (again!) based on his input and even after he accepted it, we still had a lot of work to do and we both learned a lot from the process. Why it was a difficult process is because I’ve improved as a writer since I first wrote the story. And, of course, at that time, I did not have an editor. Good editors make all the difference between an okay book and a really good book.

Q:  What is your writing process? Do you outline, fly by the seat of your pants or a combination of both? Do you use mood music, candles, no noise, when you write?

I’m a total pantser. Zero music although I wrote my first manuscript listening to a Michael Bolton CD on repeat. “When a Man Loves a Woman…” Perfect romance music, right? But now I need quiet. I often light candles, though. I usually start with the idea and I write down every possibility I can think of about who the hero and heroine are and why they are where they are in life. Often it’s just a tiny seed of an idea in a Word document in a file titled “Story Ideas.” I keep adding to it over time until I decide I’ve got enough and the time is right to start working on the book. It’s not a great system and I don’t recommend it to anyone else. But I can’t seem to work any other way.

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

If I’m not working my early morning day job as a barista for a global coffee company, I try to get an early start writing and keep at it until my brain turns to mush.

Q: Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate or longhand?

I write on an older laptop that is not connected to the internet which limits distractions.

Q: So, what have you written?
I have written books, short stories, song lyrics, poems and blogs.

Q: What draws you to Poetry and Lyrics?

I have a weird ability to occasionally write poems with a Dr. Seuss-like rhyming scheme in a matter of minutes. I wrote lyrics for a song after my daughter was in a car accident. Later I met up with a friend who plays guitar, sings and also writes songs, so we collaborate. I like telling an entire story in short form through poetry or lyrics.

Q: What are you working on at the minute, and what’s it about?

Finishing up a contemporary romance, Soft Core. A former adult film star starts life over in a small Iowa town.

Q:  What do you feel is the most important aspect for all new authors to remember when writing or creating their own stories?

That their eyes only on their story is not good enough. Their work needs to be PROFESSIONALLY edited. I cannot stress enough what a difference this will make between a so/so book and a really good book. Most authors cannot see the forest for the trees in their own work even though they think they can. This is what I’ve learned from working with an editor like Noah. He does freelance editing, btw.

Q: It looks like some of your works are self-published, what would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around?

The advantage is the freedom to write what you want to write. The disadvantage is you have to do all the work from cover design to getting it into the marketplace. And, as I’ve learned, you should never put unedited work out there. Find a good editor and invest in your book. It will pay off in the long run.

Q:  What is on tap for the rest of 2016?

I have a couple of contemporary romance projects I hope to release later this year. Also the second book of the Grinding Reality series which I write under my pen name, AJ Tillock, entitled Cool Beans. And another contemporary romance I’m close to completing, entitled Soft Core. And who knows what other surprises the year may hold?

Q:  Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

Author Barbara Meyers Social Media Links:

Web Site:  http://www.barbarameyers.com

Blog: http://barbmeyers.wordpress.com/blog/

Facebook Author Pages: https://www.facebook.com/BarbaraMeyersAuthorPage

https://www.facebook.com/AJTillock/?ref=tn_tnmn

Samhain Author Page:

https://www.samhainpublishing.com/author/210/barbara-meyers

Amazon Author Page:  http://amazon.com/author/barbarameyers

Pinterest:  https://www.pinterest.com/barbmeyers1/

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/barbmeyers

BookBub:  https://www.bookbub.com/authors/barbara-meyers

Twitter: @barbmeyers and @ajtillock

Twitter URL:  https://twitter.com/barbmeyers

Draft2Digital:  http://books2read.com/author/barbara-meyers/subscribe/1/33163/

Please join me on Saturday when we read an excerpt from Barbara’s February Release, Fantasy Man. ~Tina