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

 

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 – Idabelle Aylor

idabelle transparent logoPlease welcome Author Idabelle Aylor to the Clog Blog.  Idabelle, can you tell us a little about yourself and your background? 

I’m a wife. I’m a mom of teens and a 6-year-old. I have loved writing my entire life. I am a US Navy veteran. I am a business owner and a licensed massage therapist. 

How do you make time to write? 

Funny this question is here. We used to own a tire shop but it has pretty much gone under. So, now my husband is my agent and I get to write! 

Do you believe in writer’s block? 

Yep.

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

I am currently writing in sweet romance but also want to write women’s fiction/chick-lit. I like sweet romance because I like happy endings. I like happy stories even if there is some drama. There’s enough sadness in life, if I’m going to escape in a story I want it to be a happy/funny one or at least one where love always wins. 

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

Indie. I co-write in a different genre under a different pen name and have gotten a dozen rejections and after learning that you still need to promote yourself, I figured I’d publish myself and keep more of my hard-earned money. 

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

A bit of both. I don’t like promoting myself so I’m glad my husband does. But I do love talking to people and learning about them. I use what I learn and people’s personalities and some life experiences in my stories as well. A good thing about being a little introverted is that it doesn’t hurt my feelings to stay in and write instead of going out. 

What is your favorite motivational phrase? 

Success is not so much achievement as achieving. Refuse to join the cautious crowd that plays not to lose; play to win. – David J Mahoney 

What advice would you give to aspiring writers? 

Keep writing. Keep talking about your work. Keep writing. 

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web? 

http://www.idabelleaylor.com/

Amazon 

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

413XYrwZY-LSofey smiled, the backyard condo for June’s pet squirrel and magpie had been quite the project. 

“I remember when we built that condo. That was fun.” Sofey wiped the condensation from her bottle, “I miss Barney.” 

“Me too, Dolly.” June finished her drink and stood up. 

“Hey, why don’t you come over tonight and watch the finale of Jury of Love with me. I didn’t even know the dadgum show had started a season!” June pursed her lips and took a sip of her pop. 

“They say there’s a local guy on there this season. Well, local like a Caraway.” 

“Caraway? Really? Huh, that’s only like 15 miles away.” 

“I know, I’m sure he’s a celebrity now around these parts but I doubt I’d know a celebrity from Adam, if I ran into one.” June set her empty pop bottle on the table and stood up.

 “Well, I’m ordering pizza. You bring the refreshments.” She was already at the front door when she added, “See you in an hour!” 

 

AuThursday – Lainee Cole

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

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

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

How do you make time to write? 

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

Do you believe in writer’s block? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is your favorite motivational phrase?

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

— Louis L’Amour

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

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

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

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

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

STORMS OF THE HEART excerpt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She knocked again, harder this time.

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

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

Ooof!

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

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

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

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

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

“It’s not the dog’s fault.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Hello, Emerson.”

 

 

AuThursday – Laura Brown

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

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

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

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

What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?

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

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

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

Do you believe in writer’s block? 

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

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

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

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

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

Where do you see publishing going in the future?

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

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

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

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

https://www.laurabrownauthor.com/

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

https://twitter.com/AuthorLBrown

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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