AuThursday – Tina Holland (yeah, it’s me)

So I wasn’t able to squeeze in a fellow author, today, so I thought I’d interview myself ahead of Valley Con which begins tomorrow in Fargo, ND. 

How do I make time to write? 

I’m pretty lucky – I’m almost a full-time writer, meaning it’s my day job.   I get up in the morning, eat breakfast and head to write.  I have an office in our guest-room where I write, blog, e-mail, go on Zoom Calls, Stream on Streamyard and craft on Saturdays.   I leave the office between 4 and 5 weekdays.   That’s not to say I don’t sneak writing in at other times, cuz I do.   I don’t write full-time June-August when I’m helping my husband with his crop-dusting business.  I take it easy the month of December because I’ve usually finished NaNoWriMo and also the publishing industry as a whole seems to be taking a break. 

Do I believe in Writer’s Block? 

Yes, but not in the sense there is this great muse that won’t give me words.  I think writer’s block is a manifestation of stress in your personal life or an indication there’s a problem with the story that needs to be fixed.   When I have too much going on, I will cut back on my word count goal for the week and manage self-care along with refilling my creative well.  I find small breaks are helpful in maintaining momentum.  If I step away from a project for more than a week, I have a very hard time getting back into story. So, I find if I at least open the page and stare at it or edit or write a few lines, I don’t lose my place, but I try not to pressure myself to write. 

How am I publishing my recent book and why?

alchemistsofarchangelCurrently my back-list and my most recent work, “Alchemists of Archangel” are published with Book Boutiques.  They are a small distributor that takes care of the copy-editing/line editing, provides a cover, does the formatting and distributes my book on digital platforms.    This removes a lot of components about self-publishing that scare me.   While they don’t do developmental editing, that was unnecessary when I released my back-list as those books were already edited.   I found editors for my two recent novels in the “Archangel Revolution” series to help fix issues with them so the editing was already completed.  

My current manuscript – “The Widow Spy” (this poor ms. has gone through about ten title changes), is being shopped around.  I’m hoping to get in traditionally published but I fear it may be too short for NY and will happily settle for a larger digital press.   I like small presses, but I really want more exposure.  I may Self-Publish it if I have a hard time finding a home, but I still have concerns about doing Indie publishing correctly. 

 

What is my favorite motivational phrase? 

“Just Do It!” 

It’s so cliche’ but when it comes to writing, you have to put butt in chair and muddle through until you reach the end.    

What advice would I give aspiring writers? 

There’s so much, but I think most important is find your tribe of writers.   There are so many out there and the connections can be invaluable.  I’ve found that my writing friends are supportive when you need to be lifted, ground you when you are floating away and commiserate with you through troubles.  It’s no surprise that many have become life-long friends.   

I hope you found this interesting and feel free to ask questions below.  I’ll be happy to answer them.  If you’d like to read some excerpts of my work feel free to hop over to my Books page.   You can find my social links on the About Tina page.

AuThursday – K.S. Trenten

IMG_1441Tell us a little about yourself and your background? 

Previously published author discovers pitfalls of trying to create her own genre (or subgenre) along with balancing creative ambition with an attempt to actually sell her work. 

How do you make time to write? 

I’m fortunate. I’m being supported by my marriage partner, leaving me time to write, yet somehow I still end up constantly running out of time. 

Do you believe in writer’s block?

Just one block? Lately it’s been a rain of stones accompanied by the Apocalypse song in Revolutionary Girl Utena. (wry grin) 

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

I’m suffering from a genre crisis right now. What I write is very close what Storm Constantine writes and anime/manga such as Revolutionary Girl Utena or Clover. It’s out of the box, emotionally driven fantasy which I call ambient fantasy. It appeals to a different crowd than what the market expects fantasy to be. (wry grin) 

How are you publishing your recent book and why? 

I’m having a crisis about that, too. I’ve been published, but my sales have been so bad, I’ve gotten seriously shy about submitting. There are more steps to self publishing, but I’m wanting to make certain I market myself right. 

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

Extrovert with introverted tendencies. I love to sit and read (or write), but I also really enjoy talking to people. Dialogue is what comes first to me when writing a story. 

What is your favorite motivational phrase?

Keep going and I’ll get better. 

What advice would you give to aspiring writers? 

Keep going and you’ll get better. 

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

https://www.amazon.com/author/kstrenten 

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

ASymposiuminSpace-f500A floating, pink orb drifted up to the open panels of Pausania’s apartment and fixed me with its lidless stare. 

I froze, unsure how to react. An unfashionable citizen of the Intergalactic Democracy, I still ran around in a vest with pocket protectors, unfamiliar with the latest technology. The bobbing globe made me think of tales of magic from Ancient Earth. 

“Phaedra, beloved of Pausania.” A melodic voice, filled with sly suggestion, came from the orb. “I’d be very pleased if you and your lover would attend my symposium in space.” 

AuThursday – Tracy Brody

Head shot medium cropped

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I was one of those kids who loved to read and loved library day at school. I was also the daydreamer whose mind would wander and create stories. I thought everyone did that. 

However, I went to college and studied business because my dad told me I should so I could get a job when I graduated. Yes, he was a business guy. I worked in banking, got married, had two kids, but was always spinning stories in my head. Usually, they involved me as a character on a TV show opposite my current celebrity crush. 

Then I came up with this story that I couldn’t get out of my head. I finally decided to write it as a movie script. Remember, I was a business major. The longest thing I’d written was a ten-page term paper. But when I’d tell people the story, they’d listen to the whole thing. I had a gift for storytelling, but I had to learn the craft of writing. I did that for script writing but after two friends told me they’d love to see the story as a book, I switched gears to writing novels and had a lot to learn. I joined RWA and my local chapters and spent several years learning and taking classes and entering contests to get feedback.

That original story still lives in the recesses of my mind and a hard copy in a drawer, but it would need a total rewrite. I did a lot of research for the first movie script turned book as the hero was an Army Ranger, and that research got me involved supporting troop and my heroes all tend to be in or have served in the Army.

How do you make time to write?

I’m fortunate not to have an outside job. While my kids were home and in school when I started writing, both have graduated college. My son is married and lives across the country. My daughter is living with us during this fun time known as the CO-VID Pandemic and my husband has been working from home – which has presented some challenges and changes in process this past year, but I typically spend most of my day in my office writing (okay, and playing some games and spending too much time on Facebook) but I also love writing retreats and go on one or two a year from a few days to a week. However, I really miss meeting up with my writer friends at Panera!

Do you believe in writer’s block?

I believe in it, however, I don’t suffer from a lack of ideas. I have a folder of story ideas that pop in my head and may write someday. My problem is focusing and writing fast enough — which is where the retreats come in handy.

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

I have four books published in my romantic suspense series. It features the Army Bad Karma Special Ops team whose love lives are as dangerous as their missions. It hails back to my start with screenwriting which got me involved in troop support. Many secondary characters are based on military friends I made, however, they rarely tell me mission stories so those are all from my overactive imagination. I love being able to honor our troops with stories of their heroism and give them happily-ever-afters. I also like writing smart, strong, kick-ass heroines with lives far more exciting than my own. 

I’ve just finished my first romantic comedy, FAKING IT WITH THE BACHELOR, which is based on a reality TV dating show. The hero just got out of the Army and is ready to find love, so his sisters nominated him to be on the show. He lost the bet with them and is now cast to be the lead, only tears are his kryptonite and once he realizes what he’s got himself into, he’s having major second thoughts. He’s also crushing on the producer planning the fabulous dates for him and the women battling for his heart. It’s full of drama, snark, villainesses, and more drama.

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

I indie published my romantic suspense series after parting with my former agent and my second agent sharing how the big traditional publishers were not signing debut romantic suspense authors. I wanted to release the three books I had written fairly quickly and felt I could make more money and enjoy the process more as an indie. I wrote a prequel novella and published the four books in 2020.

I just sent the Rom-com to beta readers and may query agents and possibly traditionally publish it – but only if I’m offered a sweet print deal to get on bookshelves and expand my reach. 

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

I’m an extrovert who can talk to strangers and in front of groups. That’s helped me network with other authors and I enjoy interacting with readers and fans. It’s also helped when it comes to research as I made friends with many of the troops I supported, and they are my go-to men and women for military questions – though I still haven’t managed to get a ride in a Black Hawk helicopter. The nice thing is, even with CO-VID and not getting to be around a lot of people, my characters keep me company, so I don’t get lonely. 

What is your favorite motivational phrase?

If it’s not fun, why do it?

That’s probably why I like having the control of doing it indie. I can keep it fun. 

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

One person’s opinion is their opinion, however, if two or three people, especially contest judges or critique partners, tell you the same thing, pay attention. Learn. Develop a thick skin. Be patient and persistent. Your first book may be practice and have to be rewritten (like a dozen times) and still not sell but move on to the next book. Don’t give up after five or ten or fifty rejections, because writing is subjective and finding the right agent or editor is like finding a person you want to spend the rest of your life with – and it doesn’t always work out. The dream and affirmation of publishing traditional isn’t as romantic and picture perfect as you might think, so be open to publishing indie, but take the time to learn craft and hire professionals to do the things you are skilled to do or don’t enjoy doing.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

https://www.amazon.com/Tracy-Brody/e/B083G9NHTL

https://www.facebook.com/tracybrodyauthor

https://www.instagram.com/tracybrodybooks

https://www.bookbub.com/authors/tracy-brody

https://www.tracybrody.com/

Series Promo w free novelette

And if you sign up for my author newsletter, https://www.tracybrody.com/newsletter-signup you can get the free novelette, UNDERCOVER ANGEL, which is the backstory or how Sergeant First Class Tony Vincenti met FBI Special Agent Angela Hoffman. 

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

Of course. Here’s the opening from DEADLY AIM, the first full length in the Bad Karma series.

Series Banner

Colombia, South America

Training mission, my ass.

Kristie Donovan banked her Army Black Hawk to the right and pushed the helicopter to max speed. It wasn’t the time for an I-knew-it moment over her suspicions that there was more to this assignment than being sent to train Colombian Army pilots on the electronic instrument systems in their newer Sikorski UH-60 Black Hawks.

Command radioing new orders to pick up a “package with wounded” had Black Ops written all over it. Especially when the coordinates took them right into the heart of an area known for cocaine production. Army “need to know” at its best.

“How far to the LZ?” she asked her Colombian co-pilot trainee.

Josué checked the GPS. “Thirty klicks. If I am right, this is not what you call ‘landing zone.’”

“Meaning …?” Even with the tropical heat and full uniform, goosebumps erupted over her arms.

“Like sixty-meter clearing.”

“You use it for practice?” She could hope.

“Never.”

“But helicopters use it?”

“Small ones owned by cartel.”

Josué might be a relatively inexperienced pilot, but he knew the players here, and his wide, unblinking stare told her more than she wanted to know about who used this clearing. And for what. Great. Let’s use a drug lord’s landing pad. I’m sure he won’t mind. He might even send a welcoming committee—a well-armed one.

Sixty meters—if the jungle hadn’t encroached. Drops of sweat trickled down her neck the closer in they flew.

She pulled back on the cyclic stick and slowed the helicopter. The blur of the jungle came into focus. She leaned forward, her gaze sweeping left to right through the windscreen at the terrain below. Nothing but trees, trees, and more trees. The thick veil of green hid anything, or anyone, on the ground. 

“Do you see the LZ?” she asked her crew chief and gunner.

“Negative,” they reported from their vantage points on either side of the aircraft.

“We’re not giving anyone extra time to make us a target. Not in daylight.” She keyed the radio mic to hail the package on the ground. “Ghost Rider One-Three to Bad Karma, come in.” Energy drained from her limbs as she envisioned the scenario that would keep them from answering. “Ghost Rider One-Three to Bad Karma, come in.” 

Continued silence saturated the air. No, she wasn’t too late. She refused to believe—

AuThursday – William Schlichter

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

Being a published author has always been a life goal. It’s taken me a while to get there, and it was not a straight road—sometimes there was no map. Along the way, I became an English teacher, received a Master’s degree in Theater, and am currently working on a second Master’s in Creative Writing. I am a hardcore sci-fi and horror fan. I will gladly talk about writing, books, and zombies any day. 

How do you make time to write?

Writing comes first. I make time to do the rest of life. When I’m not writing, I keep an audio-book on my phone, because authors should be reading as well as writing. When I ride the bike at the gym, I read an actual book. I always have pages to edit if I get stuck and have time to color purple on my pages. I spend my evening reaching my daily goal of 1,000 words. Sometimes when I’m heavy into editing, I don’t write part of a new story. Teaching writing allows me to talk about my writing. I will toss out questions sometimes just to see how my students answer. Trust me, some of those answers will end up in print. 

Do you believe in writer’s block?

No. Even if I’m having a slow day on one story, I’ll switch to another. I have a couple of side stories. I have too many ideas not to be writing. The so-called writer’s block is a lack of confidence in oneself. I accepted a long time ago that whatever a person is writing will suck. It’s terrible and no one will ever want to read it. Including the author. But once those words are on a page, it can be transformed into a masterpiece. The key is getting the words down and it can be turned into art. No matter what, someone will read and love it and someone will hate it.  

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

Horror and Sci-Fi. I saw Star Wars when I was three and a half and knew I wanted to create worlds. Sci-Fi and horror have no limits. And I can explore a side of people that terrifies and fascinates us at the same moment—serial killers. I enjoy the macabre, and I don’t always chase the monster under-the-bed stories. I find real terror lies in people. I think that is my fascination with serial killers. They are real and that is where terror lies.

 

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

I am publishing my current novel through a small press publisher under a hybrid model. I pay some of the publishing costs and they cover some. It allows for more control on my part but gives me support and access to publishing you may not have with total self-publishing. I would still like to see a traditionally published book—which might be happening soon. And by soon in the publishing world means three years. I fully support Indie authors. I still fall in that category, but before someone goes on full-fledged self-publishing, send it off. Collect those rejection letters. It makes you a better writer. We learn more from failure than success.  

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

I never met a stranger. It helps with book sales. I’ll give you an example; if I want to know how a nurse deals with cancer patients, I’ll ask a nurse. Then I write my scene. I think it makes the moment more real. It is not the medical terms or the science. It’s what would they actually say that makes it feel real to the reader. And it feels real because it’s what a real nurse would say.

What is your favorite motivational phrase?

I can fix anything but a blank page (I’ve seen it credited to several authors).

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Through teaching writing, the biggest trap (and what makes them hate me) is the inability to let go of what they have written. The beginning author writes a chapter. They spend weeks, months—even years—perfecting this chapter. It’s the most beautiful piece of writing they will ever create. And it doesn’t serve the story and must be cut. They take it as a personal attack, or they feel they wasted their time. They have not. Every time they write and rewrite, they are getting better at it. But sometimes no matter how good a paragraph seems, it doesn’t fit into the story and must go. And they can’t let it go. When you cut your work to the bones and still tell a good story, it is ready. I recently read a freshman effort by a published author, and he spent pages beautifully describing this Victorian home and it had nothing to do with the story. It destroys the flow of the book and many readers won’t keep reading. The worst offense was that we never returned in the book to this home.  

It hurts but cuts the unnecessary bits.

One other area is the outline. I write the last chapter first. I like to know where my characters will end up. I then do a basic plot outline. And this is where some writers and Comp teachers get upset. I am not married to my outline. It is not a stone-cold road-map; it is a suggestion. If my characters need to go in a different direction, then I follow. If they toss the map, then so be it. Sometimes we get back to the final chapter, sometimes I have to rewrite to match the direction the character traveled. But I don’t get upset because I didn’t stay true to my pre-planning. If anything, it was a direction that wasn’t meant for those characters.    

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

https://www.instagram.com/wschlichter/

https://sandmenandzombies.com/

https://www.bhcpress.com/Author_William_Schlichter.html

https://www.facebook.com/wmschlichter

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

Sirgrus Blackmane Demihuman Gumshoe and The Dark-Elf

1

DEAD PARTNER

The Great War is over, Prohibition is in full swing, and fairies have the right to vote. Sprinkle-dust fae, not those bloody orcs. Don’t give me any “bleeding heart,” “love your enemy” buggery. Ending a war with signatures on a paper doesn’t change what I witnessed. No way. The only good orc is a dead one. Dwarves are born hating orcs. And I’ll die hating orcs. 

Cops would be a close second. I’ve no ancestral urge to butcher them, but I don’t have a desire to cooperate without a warrant either. I’m jammed between two uniformed officers in the back of a coupe. I’m not under arrest, so I don’t appreciate the perp treatment. Sandwiched between them, one thing is clear: I’m not trusted. 

I’ve nothing better to do. My caseload is open. Private dicks aren’t normally called to the busting of a rum-runner ring—especially dwarf detectives outside the Quarters. I’ve got little to do with Prohibition, other than that it’s a law I fail to practice. Mead is a staple of the mountain dwarf diet. 

I slip a golden clam-shell case from the inner pocket of my trench coat and remove a cigarette. I prefer pipes, but in a pinch, a cig will do. If I don’t catch a case after this, I’ll have to roll my own. 

The driver hits every pothole in the road before pulling into a field. They let me out. I crush my cig, using the moment of freedom to grind the cherry into the green grass. I’m not manhandled, but the brusque movement of my escorts suggests I’m expected to follow the officers.

The sight of wooden box after wooden box being dragged from the barn makes me want to cry. Uniformed men outside smash case after case labeled “Perfect Maple Syrup,” and their acts are the true crime. Hard rum vapors hover in the air, wafting from the growing pile of shattered glass and growing pond of brown liquid soaking into the ground.

My escorts bring me to the man in charge.

His suit gives away that he is no patrolman. I can’t get over the paisley print stitched into his blue silk tie. His tie reveals his talents if a person knows what the symbols mean. He’s human, and human mages are a dying breed. Mages have always been feared. Hell, they used to be burned for heresy. 

I light another cig. 

“We found a body.”

Now, a body does pique my interest. Bodies are to be expected when rum-runners are raided, but not always. Most middlemen bootleggers surrender, and the lawyers have them out on bail within twenty-four hours. But other than drinking the product, I’ve nothing to do with such nefariousness. Anyway, I don’t deal with stiffs. They tend to skip out on the check.

 “Agent Edgeangel, since when does the Justice Bureau’s Mage Division enforce the National Prohibition Act?” I speak with disdain, mostly because of the smell. Magic stinks worse than the wafts of spilt rye. 

 “Sirgrus…Blackmane.” He bites off my clan name as if it’s tough, overcooked meat. “Magic crimes are on a downward trend since the end of the war. Drinking-related crimes are rising.”

When you pass a pointless law to help those returning from war to curb their drinking, you create more criminals. The Great War wielded the tools of men over ancient mysticism. Europa suffered, centuries of culture was decimated, and magic failed to restore the old ways. This surly baboon won’t admit mages of any race are going extinct. But I’m here about a dead body, not a dead culture. I puff a series of smoke rings, contemplating how best to remind him wizardry is obsolete. “The trenches gutted the ancient countryside, destroying the old ways. No magic will ever bring it back.”

Edgeangel wags a finger toward the silver rune-etched beads laced into my beard’s braids—a long-standing dwarf superstition. Some claim the runes have a charmed origin. “The technology of men rules the world now. But I didn’t ask you here to discuss the diminution of the old ways.”

“I figured not.” I stand next to the classy G-man. Even on a government salary, his suit is tailored. Mage-users are elitists. I’m not a fan. Mages failed us in Europa. 

The G-man gazes down his long nose at me. 

Not because of my height. Dwarf is a species, not a size. I reach a stature of five feet, without the fedora. 

Edgeangel’s blue eyes reveal his distaste for me. Or perhaps he just thinks all non-mages are beneath him. I don’t need the gift of clairvoyance to understand his assignment was no career builder. Rum-running busting is a job for the common officer, not a master of the Dark Arts. 

Agent Edgeangel marches past the men carting case after case of booze from the barrel-house. They must smash it here onsite. Somehow, if they don’t, it never arrives to be booked into evidence. Another reason the lawyers get the minions out on bail so fast: no proof. 

We continue past a paddy wagon. The shackled men ignore me.

In a back room of the barn—maybe for tools or tack storage—a white sheet shrouds a human figure. The corpse isn’t wide enough to be a dwarf. I had thought maybe a dwarf crossed the line to work outside the Quarter, which might’ve explained my presence here. Edgeangel might have supposed I knew a dwarf. Men always think dwarves know each other. We all look alike to them.

A red bloom of blood is centered over the forehead. Edgeangel kneels, gripping the corner of the blanket. “Prepare yourself.” 

I’ve seen dead bodies before. Dead ones don’t disturb me like some of the living. I crush out my cig.

AuThursday – TJ Fier

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I’m Associate Professor of Set Design at North Dakota State University, I also (pre-pandemic) worked as a freelance set designer and scenic artist. I’ve been writing since before I had the ability to actually write (I dictated my stories to my mother) and got serious about writing again back in the summer of 2017. I’ve been writing like a madwoman ever since!

How do you make time to write?

I usually write in the evening when I’m done with work or when I have short breaks in my day. As long as my laptop is working, I can find a time and space to write. 

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

I’m a “plantser” which means I plot a whole bunch, but then often deviate from my outlines as I write the story. I prefer plotting first because it helps me get to know my characters and have a sense of where I want to go with my stories. Since I get to know my characters before I write their words, they sometimes take over a plotted scene and send it in better, more interesting direction.

Do you believe in writer’s block? 

I believe in creative exhaustion. I work in a creative field so sometimes there isn’t the space for being creative anymore and writing becomes difficult. I don’t believe in writing every day. I believe we all need some mental rest now and again.

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

I’ve dealt with a ton of rejection. That’s the life of an artist. What I prefer is rejection with some helpful feedback. Too often I receive form letters so I have no idea why my story didn’t work for them. It’s wonderful when someone points out the problems and you can then address them. 

Tell us about your upcoming Unicorn Novel.

The Bright OneTHE BRIGHT ONE is being published by The Three Little Sisters coming December 2020. 

Alexa never expected to stumble across a unicorn trapped in the women’s bathroom, especially not one on the run from a monster. Totally freaked out but unable to leave the magical beast behind, Alexa offers the unicorn, Una, a refuge in her parent’s backyard shed until they figure out what to do next. 

When the monster, a beast made of cloud and rage, shows up on her doorstep, Alexa and Una have no choice but to run for their lives. Alexa recruits the aid of her best friend, Mateo, and her unrequited crush, Sid, to help her save Una. Together they pile into Alexa’s Honda Civic and begin a race across the American Midwest. But the monster is clever as it is quick, attacking both from above and below, as well as within. 

As their deadly game of cat and mouse unspools, the monster focuses its attention on Alexa, claiming Una is not what it seems. Despite her inner turmoil, she must find the strength to fight for the ones she loves and figure out who is the real monster. 

Amazon Link 

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

I feel the key to improving your writing is sharing your work with other writers. The first version of THE BRIGHT ONE was really rough. The version that came out of my writing group was far superior to where I started. Don’t write in a vacuum. Be brave and take criticism.

What is your writing Kryptonite?

I hate writing query letters. Figuring out pitches used to be impossible for me, but I feel like I’m improving bit by bit. A good elevator pitch is really important. Same with a solid query letter.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

My author page on Facebook is here: https://www.facebook.com/iamfierless

My Twitter profile is here: https://twitter.com/iamfierless

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

I don’t yet have access to the final, edited version, but I should once the book is finally released. I will be reading excepts on my Facebook author page and on Twitter once my book is released.

The Courtesan of Constantinople is available for Pre-Order and LIVE 11/10

Title: The Courtesan of Constantinople 

Series:  Archangel Revolution  Book 1

Author: Tina Holland

Genre: Gaslamp Steampunk Romance 

Release Date:  November 10, 2020

Publisher:  Book Boutiques 

Editor:  Misti Moyer

Cover Artist:  Valerie Tibbs, Tibbs Designs

Courtesan of Constantinople-HighRes

Blurb:

Laurel Gunn’s freedom and body were traded for queen and country following her husband’s death on the battlefield.  Laurel Gunn is a courtesan, a spy, and a fae.  Like most Fae, she is not free. 

Doctor Benjamin Gunn is sent to investigate a body for clues as to the Cleaver’s identity.  Ben Gunn has been keeping secrets and is unsure if he can reveal what creature he is to Laurel, and why he is among the living.

Constantinople, also known as the Global City, is filled with politicians, espionage, and magic.  In a world of spies, not everyone is who they seem, but those seeking justice aren’t even human. Laurel must tread carefully as allies become foes and her very fate lies with England’s Queen. 

Courtesan-meme

Excerpt: 

“Did you mean what you said about my being your only lover?” Ben asked. He simply had to know. The thought of spending every night with her would be more than pleasurable. She had a way of chasing away his nightmares.

“You think I lie?” Laurel asked.

“No, I simply wonder why me? You could have any man here.” He leaned in and breathed against her ear.

“Don’t you understand, husband?” She pulled back. The hurt was evident in her liquid brown eyes.

“I believe I do, but I want to be clear.” Ben didn’t know why he risked her safety to satisfy his own heart. He seemed helpless around this woman. Ben wanted to believe he wouldn’t hurt her. Those damnable blackouts made him uncertain.

Laurel drew closer to him, her lips were close, brushing his ear as she cooed, “Ben, you must know, I still love you.” Without warning, she kissed him. In front of the table at large and her current lover, she kissed him.

Her kiss was a simple touch of the lips, but to him, the gesture conveyed much more. A pink stain spread over her cheeks. Was she embarrassed or did she feel the same longing in her soul?

Buy Links: 

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08MJQHYP3

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-courtesan-of-constantinople-tina-holland/1138010535

https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/the-courtesan-of-constantinople

https://books.apple.com/us/book/the-courtesan-of-constantinople/id1538628214

First Friday Lunch – The Courtesan of Constantinople

This month I’m talking about the process of querying, rejections and why I chose a small press for this project.

Happy Birthday to Me

Since today is my birthday, I decided to let a few of my friends from Facebook interview me.  Here are their questions.

What do you feel is the hardest part of the publishing process? (From Vania Rheault)

Rejection – The hardest part for me is finding a home for finished work.   I haven’t been brave enough to enter into the Self-Publishing world because that all seems hard to me.   So finding a home for whatever completed project I have is hard in the sense a certain amount of prediction for agents and editors on what readers may want a year or more out makes it difficult.  I’ll send out a query and then get a rejection and if I’m lucky they will tell me why.  Sometimes I get a form letter or even worse that they liked the writing but it wasn’t a good fit.   

How are you just so damn adorable all the time? Inquiring minds want to know. (From Lyn Armstrong)

Lyn is biased, her and maybe my husband.  I love and miss you, lady. 

Do you work plots out with writing buddies or plot all by yourself? (From Marie Johnston)

Normally, I plot by myself.  But recently I asked for some input on a finished Regency I just finished and my local critique group helped me come up with a plot (it involves murder) that I will weave back in through the story.  This isn’t uncommon for me to finish a manuscript and then change one, maybe two, things, and then have to layer those elements back in. 

When you write so many books, what’s your strategy for keeping plots, characters, and settings fresh? (from Natalie Pierce)

It helps that I write in a few different sub-genres of romance.  Once you change the setting everything else can be fresh or new based on a new place or time.  I have started keeping series bibles so I can remember how old someone is at story X so I make sure to age them by story Y. I usually keep these in either Pinterest, Google Keep, or in a Notebook. 

Happy birthday! Let’s see. I’d love to know more about how you got started writing stories. How much of real life is included in your books? Do you have other business ideas you might work on in the future? (from A. Catherine Noon)

Figures A. Catherine Noon would have the most questions.   Here we go.  

I have been writing since childhood, before my grandmother passed she gave me a collection of stories I wrote for her about the various mythical holiday creatures, like the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, A Leprechaun trying to find Baby New Year.   Unfortunately, they didn’t find him because I had only gotten as far as writing their origin stories.  I loved info dumps even as a child. 

I include much of real life in my contemporaries, including some of my friends (you know who you are).  Of course, I changed their names to protect the not so innocent.  I’ve used their professional knowledge among which include a pilot, an architect, a nurse, firemen, and of course a writer.   Most of my paranormal, sci-fi, and fantasy stories are entirely fiction.  

Future Business Projects – Writing Wise I’m working on my Brave the Elements Series – Wind Resistant is my Nano project.  I will be querying my Regency this month and maybe a bit in November.   I take December off because I find I need the break for the holidays.  Non-writing wise – I’ve thrown my hat in on a contest in ND pairing artists and writers.  Long Term I’m hoping to get a North Dakota Writers Conference so if you are thinking about something like that my fellow writers, let me know.   There are far more of us than the world knows about. 

I’m wondering what percent of your writing is actually non-fiction, in a fictional book. (Brian Daly)

It depends on the fiction.  In my Steampunk Series, I’d say 50%.  I altered parts of the timeline significantly.  

My Regency is fairly historically accurate but I did change a few things – my hero knows cane fighting which isn’t really a thing until closer to the Victorian period and was invented in France, not England.  So those are pretty liberal. My Contemporaries including my paranormal books are about 25% fiction accounting for characters and the mythology of fairies.   But the career choices are based on people I know. 

And I would say my Post-Apocalyptic books are 75% fiction the only real elements being geography and locations in the future. 🙂 

I hope you’ve enjoyed this Q&A.  If I missed your question here leave a comment below and I’ll try to answer it.  ~Tina

AuThursday – Amalia Theresa

Playing to Win banner4 less negative space FINAL FINAL violet edit

Please welcome Amalia Theresa to The Clog Blog!  Amalia, can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

All my life, I’ve wanted to be a writer. Even as early as second grade, I was getting up for show and tell with tiny little “books” I’d written and illustrated on scratch paper and stapled together to share with three classes of kids, and now I’m the author of nearly two dozen novels/novellas and a handful of short stories spanning the genres of historical fiction, fantasy, and romance, building off my degree in Classical Studies and English, both. 

I was raised extremely Catholic in upstate New York but realized Thor had been knocking on my door for maybe the whole of my life sometime in my early twenties, and after writing a sprawling romantic fantasy series to make sense of it all within the context of how I was raised and what I was supposed to believe, I embraced Norse Paganism/Heathenry, and now I continue to write about what it means to be pagan as I continue a spiritual journey I never expected to take. 

Of course, I also just write fun stuff, too, which is why this year I launched a THIRD pen name, Amalia Theresa, for sexy rom coms that don’t fit under my Amalia Dillin (fantasy) or Amalia Carosella (historical fiction/women’s fiction) brands.

How do you make time to write? 

I’m a full-time author so making time both to read and to write is literally my job and has been since 2009! But I find that making sure I start putting down words FIRST THING when I sit down at my laptop makes a big difference to my productivity for the day. And, it’s taken me a long time to realize it, but making time to refill the well with reading and enjoying other story-telling formats and let myself have fallow periods is just as important as the time I spend writing.

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

As Amalia Theresa, I’m writing sexy rom coms for the sheer JOY and DELIGHT of accompanying these characters on their romantic journeys. I’ve always enjoyed reading romance, and I’ve particularly fallen in love with contemporary rom coms in the last five to seven years or so, so while I was in denial for a while, it really isn’t a surprise to find myself writing a few, myself. They’re just FUN, and I needed a little bit more fun, to remember that writing, for me, is about the fun of discovery and spending time with characters I enjoy as much as it is everything else.

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

As Amalia Carosella I took part in the History 360 Team’s A SEA OF SORROW: A NOVEL OF ODYSSEUS, which was a collaborative novel comprised of a novella by each contributing author that when read together form a complete narrative (but said novellas can also be read individually as well!) It was a lot of fun to find my way back to the Bronze Age and an interesting challenge to incorporate the perspectives of a handful of other authors alongside my own! 

I also wrote a goofy, just for fun series on my blog with Mia Hayson, called Thor in Zombie Land—it’s comprised of two adventures, Wheels on the Bus and Aesir Legal, both about the girls Amalia and Mia, who get caught up in a lot of trouble thanks to their thundergod and their zombies respectively. We had a BLAST writing it together! (And periodically talk about writing more, someday.)

Do you ever get writer’s Block?

Not Writer’s Block, no, but periods in which I am tapped out and need to recharge and refill my well creatively, absolutely. There have also been times when writing a particular story was not something I could emotionally take on because it became too real or too resonant to something that I was experiencing or echoed unfortunately somehow in another respect, but I’ve found each time that there were bigger reasons in addition for why I had to break from that project and work on other things instead—that the project was enriched by the time I spent away from it, writing something else because the lessons I learned in writing those other things meant I was better able to do the story I had to put aside justice. 

For example, one book that I had to step away from and came back to YEARS later and feel I did absolutely right by in doing so, was FROM ASGARD, WITH LOVE. If I had not written DAUGHTER OF A THOUSAND YEARS between starting and finishing FROM ASGARD, I could not have written the book it needed to be—and I’m incredibly proud of how it turned out as a result.

I see you have three pen names, Amalia Dillin, Amalia Carosella, and Amalia Theresa, why do you choose to write under a pen name and why three? 🙂 

To be fair, I’m not sure I really chose my second pen name (Amalia Carosella) so much as it was deemed necessary by the industry in order to launch myself in historical fiction after publishing fantasy as Amalia Dillin (I had published with a micro-press and my sales were not Traditional Publishing Impressive). My Carosella books and my Dillin books, though the former are historical fiction and the latter are fantasy are thematically not SO different from one another—I’m asking and answering a lot of the same big questions about what it means to be a human and engage with myth and the divine, I think, under both names. 

That said, my sexy rom coms were such a huge break from what I had previously been writing that I felt like I did definitely need to distinguish them from the rest of my work, and by using the names we shared (Amalia Theresa) I also wanted to honor my great aunt, who said once that if I wanted to be successful as an author, I needed to learn to write the sex!

In my PLAYING TO WIN rom-com series, I think I can confidently say that I have, in fact, learned how to write the sex! *fans self*

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

Publishing is such a tricky business. 

The Short Answer is: Since PLAYING TO WIN, the first book in the series skewed toward the New Adult end of the romance spectrum and the traditional side of the industry has not quite figured out how best to capture that market, especially not at PLAYING TO WIN’s length, I opted to self-pub/indie-pub my PLAYING TO WIN series. 

The Long Answer involves the ghost of my great aunt and some spiritual experiences that felt as though they were telling me to just get the books out into the world because they mattered, but I think it is probably a lot to get into in this kind of interview! Ha. (I am getting weirder and weirder the longer I live this author life.)

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Build time off from writing into your writing discipline/practice. It is JUST as critically important as the time you spend doing the actual writing. Do not fall into the trap of “I should be writing” guilt that sucks all the joy out of any scrap of time you have to enjoy your other hobbies. Yes, show up for your writing time, but make the time you spend NOT writing, refilling the well of your creative self, just as sacred. Burn out isn’t something I’d wish on anyone.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

I’m most active on twitter as @AmaliaTd and @AmaliaTheresa, but you can also join me on Patreon https://www.patreon.com/Amaliad and of course my main website/blog www.amaliadillin.com, and on Facebook, too, at https://www.facebook.com/AmaliaDillin 

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

Thanks so much for having me and I’d be THRILLED to share a taste of my third rom-com: From PLAYING HOUSE, releasing today! August 13th!

 

Playing House CURLY VI FINAL FRONT FLAT web“Hey, Mom,” Abe said, pressing his phone to his ear and sliding his cereal bowl back onto the table. He’d settled onto one of the stools at the breakfast bar like he belonged there, watching me fish out silverware and dishes as if he were waiting for the pop quiz on where to find things later. Until his phone had started buzzing, anyway.

Now his eyes had locked on mine from across the room, narrowing slightly. “Sel called you?”

I grinned. It had been simple, really. Shoot a couple texts to Sully talking about how spooky the house was at night. How I’d scared myself awake because of some stupid shadow on the ceiling, woken myself up screaming the night before and it had taken me hours to get back to sleep, knowing I was alone, thinking about how if anything happened to me if someone tried to break-in, we were too far from any neighbors for anyone to hear my scream.

Of course, Sully wouldn’t be able to resist. He called Will his fixer, but Sully had the same impulse. Always wanting to help. Ready to lend a hand or do a favor for the people he loved, whether they wanted him intruding or not. Pair my (totally real, for the record) nightmare with what Sully would of course know about his brother’s ambivalence in returning home, and it was a no brainer. He’d call his mom, tell her I needed some extra support and oh, by the way, since Abe was in town maybe he could offer it, and then Dr. O’Sullivan would connect that with what I’d told her over Abe’s phone the night before—and here we were. Abraham O’Sullivan on the phone with his mother, staring at me with something like awe.

“Yeah, we didn’t really talk about it, but I can see that. She was pretty jumpy about keeping the lights on,” he said, then paused, listening for another span. “No, I don’t have any solid plans. But you can’t really think Midge is going to want me hanging around, imposing myself…”

He trailed off, listening again. “Yeah.” He shook his head, his eyes bright with amusement now. “I mean, I can only offer. It’s up to her to say yes.” Silence again. “All right,” he said, pretending doubt. “I’ll leave that up to you, then.” Quiet again. “Love you, too, Mom.” Pause. “Bye.”

“Well?” I asked.

“Should I be afraid of you, Violet?” he asked, his lips twitching. “Because I’m starting to wonder.”

I laughed. “If you needed to be afraid of me the question of whether you should be would never have crossed your mind. Didn’t we go over this last night?”

“Yeah, yeah,” he said. “Don’t let the people you’re trying to dupe cotton on to the fact that you’re duping them. But you also said Sully knows what you’re capable of, and from where I’m sitting, you just worked him and my mom like puppets on strings.”

“Then I guess you’re just going to have to take your chances,” I said, lifting a shoulder. “But either way, a bet is a bet, and I own you for the next two weeks.”

“Not quite, Midgelet. You’ve still got another call from my mother to field,” he said. “Without giving away the game.”

“Pfft.” I waved that away. Dr. O’Sullivan may have been a psychologist but getting her to come up with the plan of having Abe stay was ninety percent of the battle on this one. And even if she thought I might be manipulating her, as long as she didn’t realize it was Abe who was looking for an excuse not to go home, I was still in the clear. “Child’s play.”

“Wouldn’t want you to get cocky, there, Champ,” Abe said, laughing. “Are you sure you’re not some kind of psychopath?”

“Nah,” I said. “I definitely care about people’s feelings. But working in the restaurant business, you really hone your people skills. Learn how to work them so they leave happy, even if their meal or their service wasn’t perfect. Will’s pretty good at it too, when he wants to be, and if you’d ever seen my Gramps in the dining room…” I kissed my fingers and raised them in salute to the genius that was my grandfather’s talent. “The man could have sold fur coats to sunbathers on the hottest day of the year. That Fowler charm was legendary.”

“Seems like you’re not so far behind him,” Abe said. “Little Miss Snake Oil Saleswoman.”

“Are you calling me a conman again, Abraham?” I asked. “Because once again, I must remind you that I’m doing all this for your benefit.”

He shook his head. “I don’t believe that for a second, Midgelet. If I were a betting man—” (Which clearly he was.) “—I’d put money on the fact that you really are getting jumpy alone at night in this house. Did you have some shitty customer give you a hard time after your parents left or something?”

I flushed, spinning on my heel and opening the fridge as if I were looking for something more to eat while my stomach twisted in memory. It was kind of inevitable. There was always one asshole who took doing my job as an invitation of a more personal nature. And once in a very great while, even after I had them thrown out, they might linger in the parking lot around closing. But that could happen to anyone, in any service industry. In any industry at all, really, where you worked with other human beings. It wasn’t anything I hadn’t dealt with before—and I certainly wasn’t going to admit that coming home to an empty house with my skin crawling from a close encounter had turned my resting state of anxiety up a notch. I didn’t really need Will worrying about any of that. He’d probably try to come home if he found out.

“Hey,” Abe said, and suddenly he was behind me, his hand covering mine on the refrigerator door. Closing it and urging me back around. “You know we’ve all got your back, right? If some asshole is creeping on you, just point me in the dude’s direction and it’s done. He won’t even so much as look at you again without his balls trying to climb back up inside his body.”

I made myself laugh. “It’s not anything I can’t handle.”

He ducked his head, catching my eyes. “I’m not questioning your ability to handle it, Midgelet. But if you want a little back-up, there’s no shame in asking for it. Or using me for the purpose while I’m already houseboying, for that matter. If I’m going to be running errands and providing maid service, why not add bodyguard to the mix?”

“I don’t need a bodyguard,” I said firmly, stiffening. “I don’t need help or support, but it would sure be nice if people stopped acting like I can’t handle myself or the problems that come with running a restaurant when I’ve literally been training for it my whole life.”

“All right.” He backed off, holding his hands up. “You don’t need help or support; you’ve got this all by your onesie. I’m sure that’s all true—but it doesn’t mean that a little help or support wouldn’t make it easier. That having a team doesn’t still help, even if you can skate circles around the rest of us.”

I shook my head. “The minute I even so much as think I need help, you know how it’s going to be. My parents and Will all worrying about me, feeling guilty for leaving and immediately making plans to come back. I have to do this, and right now I have to do it alone.”

“Well, if you ask me, that’s bullshit,” he said and when I straightened, opening my mouth to argue, he hurried on. “Bullshit of them to make you feel like you don’t have any other choice but to do it all by yourself, without any kind of support, because otherwise they’ll think you can’t. Everyone needs a hand once in a while, even when they’re pros.”

“So why are you so pissed about having to accept some help of your own?” I asked. “You’re doing everything you can to drag out moving back home.”

“I haven’t turned you down, have I?” he asked. “I’m accepting your offer to stay here instead. At least for a couple of weeks. You help me, I help you—I don’t see what the problem is.”

I didn’t really know, either. Why shouldn’t I accept Abe’s help? It wasn’t like he was going to run home to his mother and spill all my secrets. Clearly they didn’t have that kind of relationship. And even if he did, Dr. O’Sullivan wasn’t going to break his confidence. That wasn’t how she operated, and she’d understand that I wanted to do this without giving my family reason to doubt.

It was just that he was Abe. I didn’t want to get used to having him around. And telling him he could stay here—that had already been a lapse in judgment. As good as he looked, and as ridiculously kind as he’d been (this Midgelet nonsense aside), I was basically asking for heartbreak.

“No one ever finds out,” I said despite myself. “Not that you’re trying to avoid moving back in with your parents, and not that I was nervous about being alone because of one asshole at Fowler’s. The story is that I’m just a little afraid of the dark, and you just happen to have nothing better to do with your time.”

“Suits me just fine,” he said. “Whatever you need to feel safe the next two weeks, I’ve got you.”

“How do you feel about dropping in every evening for a beer or whatever, and then walking me out?” I asked. “That and knowing you’re in the house at night should be all I really need. I don’t think anyone is going to be loitering around the parking lot if they know you’re with me.”

“With you or with you?” he asked.

I shook my head. “No fake relationships. That never ends well for anyone.”

Abe laughed. “All right. Just physically nearby. I can do that.”

“In addition to being my house and errand boy,” I said. “A deal is a deal, after all.”

He grinned down at me, so beautiful I practically melted into the floor. “Assuming you don’t still manage to tip off my mother, of course.”

But I think we both knew that on that score, I’d already won.

Playing House #bookqw wait