AuThursday – Constance Bretes

EITM CB Banner

CB Author PhotoTell us a little about yourself and your background?

I was born and raised in Michigan, met my husband there, and worked for 38 years for the State of Michigan before retiring. We moved from Michigan to Montana in 2015, and then last year, we moved from Montana to Alabama for medical reasons. I have no children of my own, but I do have a step-son. I am owned by 3 kitty cats and the doggie that lives next door. I published my first book, Delayed Justice, in 2014. Elkhorn in the Moonlight is book #9, and Midnight Escape will be #10 and published later this year. When I’m not writing, I like to spend time with my husband and our fur babies, love to read romance novels, love to basket weave, fiddle on the piano, and sit on the swing on my back porch.

How do you make time to write?

Since I’m retired, and a homebody, I have plenty of time to devote to writing. The hardest point for me is to just sit and write. When I finally do sit to write, I have all my resources at my fingers, and my husband is gone to do his thing……

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

I have a loose outline to guide me through the story. Just something that tells me what I want to put in.

Do you ever get writer’s Block?

Yes, a couple of times I went through writer’s block because of my medication. While in Montana, I was sick quite a bit, and couldn’t sit down to write, and when I could, I couldn’t due to the medications. Other times like right now, I have so many manuscripts in various stages of edits, that I just can’t sit and write, so I work on edits.

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

I put them away. Then look at them later, when the sting goes away.

What are your current projects?

I am working with my publisher on the final edits for Midnight Escape to be released this summer. I have a military romance I’m working on, Operation Code Name: Desert Love, I am almost ready to submit another manuscript to my publisher called Love, A Second Time Around, I’m also working with a group of ladies called Common Elements Romance Project, we have taken 5 items, and have agreed to put them in our books, and we are publishing our books later this year. It is the first time I’ve ever self-published. My book is called The Haunted Love Affair. I’m working on three books, Roadside Love, Roadside Desire and Roadside Passion. It centers around two brothers and a sister who find love in a small town in Wyoming. All are related but standalone.

Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?

No actress for Nicole, in Elkhorn in the Moonlight, but someone I know in Basin, Montana, where we lived. For the hero, Marcus, I have Martin Sensmeier, a Native American actor.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Keep writing, keep mastering the craft of writing and don’t give up.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

http://constancebretes.com

https://www.facebook.com/conniebretes/

https://twitter.com/ConstanceBretes

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7737457.Constance_Bretes

Email:  bretesc@gmail.com

http://beachwalkpress.com/constance-bretes/

https://www.bookbub.com/profile/constance-bretes

https://www.amazon.com/Constance-Bretes/e/B00IKSKRES/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

https://plus.google.com/u/0/+ConnieBretes

Instagram: constancebretesauthor

Newsletter:  https://www.constancebretes.com/news–things.html

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

CB-ElkhornintheMoonlight-1600x2400 (6)“You pass it every time you go into Mason. The other two are on the other side of the overpass. Sandpiper Mine you can see from the highway, but you have to go on Gulch Mine to get to the Elkhorn Mountains. The mountain ranges there are the highest, and there are a lot of vertical drops, so you’d have to travel where you can walk it. It’s not something where you can climb it and be there. You have to go in a roundabout way.”

“Do you have a very clear vision of where this cave is, and how to get to it?” he asked.

“Yes. I remember it clear as day now.”

“How soon can you get yourself ready for the hike?”

“What? I’m not going there. You are. I can’t just take off and leave, I have work to do. Plus, it’s way too cold to go there right now. The mountains in that area still have snow on them.”

“You think I would know where to go by the information that you provided?”

“I gave you very good information,” she said.

“Do you have the coordinates for GPS?”

“No. I don’t.”

“So, you think that I, who have never traveled these mountains before, would have no problem finding that cave?” Marcus’s eyes narrowed as he regarded her.

“I don’t have any idea how you intend to get there. Personally, I think you should wait until summer to do it. The weather in the mountains is unpredictable.”

Marcus sat thinking about the situation for a second, and then he said, “Name your price.”

“Huh?”

“I said, name your price,” he repeated.

“I need you to lead me to that cave, and I have to do it this week.”

“You’re not listening to me. I can’t take you there. I have work to do here. I can’t leave to go on a weeklong camping trip.”

“You can for a price,” he said grimly.

“You can’t buy me off to get what you want,” Nicole said defensively.

“Everyone is willing to do certain things for a certain price. Will thirty thousand get you interested and willing to go?”

“I…I…thirty thousand? No, I won’t be bought,” she stammered.

“Look, Nicole. Let’s quit with the games. I’m going to go there to get those Sacred Arrows, and you are the one who is going to take me there and bring me back. I’m offering you thirty thousand for a week…week and a half of work. I think your brother and his wife can handle the motel for that length of time.”

“I’m sorry.” She stopped for a few seconds.

“I won’t be bullied. My answer is no.” She stood up to leave.

“Just think about this. Like I said, thirty thousand for a week and a half of work. Think what you could do with that money. Think of all the possibilities and opportunities you’d have. As for the weather, I know you have lived through worse weather right here in Mason. You know what to expect. I would not let you go up there without your GPS, your cellphone and satellite phone, your two-way radio, and letting your brother know exactly where you’re at should there ever be an emergency. I’ll give you until tomorrow at noon to tell me your decision, and if I were you, I’d think about this very seriously. I intend to have my way in this,” he said sternly. Grabbing his maps and the pictures she gave him, he walked back to the causeway and to his room.  

 

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AuThursday- Gabriele Russo

Incoherent Gods Blog BannerPlease welcome Gabriele Russo to The Clog Blog.  Welcome, Gabriele!

Hi, thank you for having me.

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I’m a Québécoise, born in Quebec City. When I was thirteen, I went to an English boarding school. I had to learn how to write the language on my own, which I did through books. Despite my love of reading, I didn’t start writing until my thirties. Oh, I tried a few times, but nothing more than a few pages ever came of it. In my twenties, I went to live in Strasbourg, where I did my Bachelor’s degree in History, with minors in Archeology and History of the Religions. I came back to Quebec, thinking I would continue my studies in International Relations, but the Political Science classes had me running out of there screaming “We’re all doomed!” So I started to work in the hospitality industry instead, and eventually ended up owning two restaurants – which wasn’t great for my sanity either… I sold my shares in them, wrote my first novel, then went back to University to learn how to write, and got my Master’s in Literary Studies, with a concentration in literary creation (the MFA doesn’t exist yet in French universities).

How do you make time to write?

It can be hard sometimes, even without a full-time day job. Like right now, I have a 50000-word unfinished first draft lying around my computer, and with traveling, visitors, promoting Incoherent Gods, I haven’t had a chance to write a word in two months. To be frank, I haven’t even tried making time, because I know I would be too distracted. When my life is quieter, I simply set aside the morning for writing, staying away from social media until I’m done writing the amount of words I set as an objective (usually 1.5 to 2K).

Do you ever get writer’s Block?

Not really. Sure, some days are harder than others; you have to force it a little. When that doesn’t work, I go back, tinker with what’s already written, add a paragraph there – often it gives me ideas, and I usually end up quite close to my objective. And if really nothing is coming out after 2 hours, I just let go, hope it’ll be better the next day.

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

If you know a published fiction writer that has never received a rejection letter, then I hate them a little… It sucks, every single one breaks your heart, but you deal. You write NO on the cue card, and you send another query (after tweaking it, ideally), or you rewrite the book or even another one. If you can’t deal with rejection, don’t go into the arts, because after rejection comes criticism, which can be just as bad.

Can you tell us your story of getting, “The call”?

Actually, as good things come in pairs, I sort of had to make “the call”. Fiery Seas had had my manuscript for a couple of weeks when someone else I had queried requested it. I asked him to wait, which he was happy to do, but I also told Fiery Seas that someone else was interested and could they please give me an answer soon. I think they answered the next day offering a contract for three books. Right before Christmas – that was a very merry Christmas.

What genre are your books?

Fantasy. More specifically, I like to say they are satirical fantasy. Which I guess is comic Fantasy, but the humor is a little darker. You can find out more on a blog I wrote recently: https://www.goodreads.com/author_blog_posts/17138796-what-the-is-satirical-fantasy

I’ve also recently come across the expression “New Weird”, and I guess that could also apply, as well as Mythic and Paranormal.

What draws you to this genre?

I like that the humor has meaning, that it can be hidden and hard to catch, in opposition to waving it your face obvious. I also enjoy the fact that I can point out things I find ridiculous about our world (and there’s a lot of those), and by letting the setting and the story imply the criticism in a usually comic way, avoid ruffling too many feathers.  

Do you have any advice for Aspiring Writers?

Don’t?

All kidding aside, if I had known then what I know now… Ok, maybe I would have done it anyway. My first advice would be to make sure this is really what you want to do: are you ready to invest the necessary efforts, time, and money? (For classes and other learning opportunities – I’m not in favor of paying to get published; there are too many scams out there to be certain of what you will be getting in return.) It took exactly 8 years, 4 drafts, 3 years at university before my first novel was published (and I’m Canadian, so those three years did not cost me a quarter of what they would cost in the US).

Second advice: do not go in this thinking you’re going to be the next J.K. Rowling and make a ton of money. 99% of authors don’t make enough to live on. Third: be very careful of scams. Sorry to insist on this, but it’s really the worst thing about the publishing world today, and the sharks cover all aspects of the process: writing, editing, representation, publishing and promotion. Every time something requires you to shell out money, examine it very, very carefully – if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. And if you’re still not sure, go to Absolute Write and/or Writer Beware.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

Like most authors today, pretty much everywhere. Here are the links:

https://www.russogabriele.com

https://twitter.com/lugabirusso

https://www.facebook.com/GabrieleRussoLGJR/

https://www.amazon.com/Gabriele-Russo/e/B01NCPNOPT

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16180981.Gabriele_Russo

https://www.instagram.com/lugabirusso/

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

Sure, here’s one from the chapter EVIL QUEENS in which the soul of Queen Louhi, having been pushed out of her body by the witch Chiloe, takes residence in Hercules’s:

Jupiter transincarnated a third time, materializing close to the coast, west of the kennels. And there was Hercules, lying unconscious in the middle of the path leading to the sea.

He rushed over the yard that separated them, fell to his knees beside the body and put his ear to the still chest.

His grandson’s heart was beating. Faint but regular. Jupiter raised his head and just as he was about to tap Hercules’s cheeks, he saw it: he’d been bitten. Louhi! Or rather, that Chiloe witch!

He wanted to scream. If he ever got his hands on…

On whom?

Hercules’s eyes fluttered, interrupting the frustrating train of thought.

“Sonny? Sonny? Are you okay?”

The eyes opened. Something was wrong.

Oh, they were the right color and all, but SOMETHING was wrong. This wasn’t his grandson. Was he now a vampire drone?

“Hello, Jupiter.”
Well, that was weird.

“Louhi?” He grabbed Hercules’s collar. “What the hells are you doing in my grandson? Get out!”

“It’s not that simple. And anyway, don’t worry, he’s still in here.” A shadow lifted from the eyes. “Hi, Pappy. It’s okay. It’s just until we find her body and push the witch out. You know I have to help her any way I can.”

Letting go of the collar, Jupiter hit the ground with his fist. “It’s not right. It’s just… not right! How is it even possible?”

A thin veil of cynicism that comes with great age obscured the eyes as Louhi came back to the fore. “When a vampire drinks from a human without killing them, it creates a spiritual link. All the stronger if said human has drunk back, even if it’s only a few drops. You often hear of what happens to the humans, but it also affects the vampire. Or actually, the vampire’s soul. Which is why I feel the connection, but Chiloe doesn’t. This link creates a… I guess you could call it an awareness, but it’s so much more. Anyway, it’s why most vampires end up killing their drones: the pockets of mind-numbing emptiness quickly become unbearable.”

“My grandson’s your drone?” Jupiter grabbed the collar again.

“No,” said Louhi’s unruffled voice. “He’s protected from that by his immortal genes. His danger is of becoming. Now the link, the link happens in all cases of blood transfer, although it does fade after a while if the victim turns.”

“Fine! He’s not your drone! What is he then? A puppet? A Djinny lamp? A-a-a…”

“Jupiter! He gave me permission.”
     “Oh, I bet he did. You know how much he—”

“Pappy!” A fleeting light, now gone. Jupiter saw that if Louhi hadn’t known before, she certainly knew now. And was not a little confused about it.

“Jupiter, my soul can’t find its way back to my body. Skuld cut my bonds to it. It’s really the only way.”

With a deep breath, he stood and brushed his knees. It wasn’t her fault. But oh, how his fists itched! Soon he would need to punch someone, or something.

Instead, he held out his hand, helping Hercules/Louhi up.

“Jupiter, this is a major advantage. I know my body’s weaknesses. She can’t control my soul anymore because the bond to my body has been cut, so the poison doesn’t affect me now.”

“And what if we don’t find her? Or what if we need to destroy your body to destroy her?”

“I doubt it will come to that. A vampire’s body is very hard to destroy, much harder than a god’s. But here’s my promise: whatever happens, I will leave your grandson’s body in less than twenty-four hours… No Hercules, if I stay any longer, there is too great a risk of our personalities melding.”

Jupiter repressed the urge to slap his grandson silly. “Louhi, you swear? On your immortal soul?”

“I do.”
“Okay, then. Let’s find that witch. But how?”
“Hercules said something distracted her, that it’s probably why he’s still alive.”

“Ba’al was going to her lair, to get her body and whatever else he could lay his hands on. I think he was also hoping he’d find you her. This is getting confusing.”

“Maybe she felt him, or he triggered an alarm. Do you know where the lair is? He might need help.”

“Against you? No offense Herc Louhi, but Ba’al is a titan. They’re not all quick on the uptake I grant you – I mean, I was able to trick my father quite easily if that gives you an idea – but they’re strong like you wouldn’t believe.”

“Yes, Ba’al is strong, but have you ever seen him hurt anyone? I know it’s not that he can’t, he just won’t. Add to that the fact that Chiloe is wearing my body.”

“Yeah, I get what you’re saying. The kid said she lived on one of the southern isla

“Shhhh,” said Hercules in his own voice.

He laid his hand on Jupiter’s shoulder and listened attentively for a moment before whispering: “I hear a boat. Let’s hide, maybe it’s her.”

They crouched behind a bush, keeping the path and the beach in view.

“And if it is?” asked Jupiter. “What do we do?”

“I don’t know,” said Louhi. “For now, let’s focus on not losing track of her.”

 

AuThursday – Anthony Thomas

Breachers Blog Banner

Please help me welcome Anthony Thomas to the Clog Blog.  We are happy he made this stop on his Breacher’s Blog Tour! Anthony, tell us a little about yourself and your background?

Who would’ve thought an average student with below average grades in high school English would go on to write, and even publish, a book? My teacher was pretty shocked too. Academically, I wasn’t all the way there. Creatively, however, this is where I thrived. I can’t recall a time I wasn’t involved in something of the artistic nature. Drawing my own comic books. Making animation videos with a friend. Creating music with a band. No, I won’t tell you the name because there is still music on myspace. NICE TRY! After many failed attempts at producing more than a single page of writing, I forced myself in the computer chair and didn’t stop typing until I had a chapter. Then another and another. You know what a runner’s high is? Well, this was my drug, and I still can’t get enough.

How do you make time to write?

I usually set a time to write, but if the itch hits me sooner, I’ll just jump right in.

Do you ever get writer’s Block?

It’d be hard to find a writer who hasn’t. Sometimes I notice my words just don’t flow as they normally do, and at that point, I know I need to take some time away. Hours. Days. Sometimes weeks.

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

Too many to count. Like most authors, rejection is just a stripe you have to earn, and hell, I’ve earned a lot. You have to take it in stride. Don’t let one opinion make you lose motivation.  

Can you tell us your story of getting, “The call”?

No call for me. The offer I received through Fiery Seas Publishing was via email, and that was instantly forwarded to my critique partner so we could rejoice together.

What genre are your books?

I write a variety. Fantasy, Sci-fi, and now my work in progress is a Thriller. The way I see it, I love almost every genre, so why would I limit myself to one? I plan on writing them all!

What draws you to this genre?

Writing a genre without rules is always enticing. Sure, a historical fiction is great, but are there powers? Blasters? Jedi? I think not. Sci-fi is fun. And what better escape is there than pretending you’re the protagonist wielding a lightsaber or shooting fire from your palms?

Do you have any advice for Aspiring Writers?

Don’t write what is popular, or what may get you a contract. Trends are exactly that. Trends. By the time you finish a YA Fantasy because that genre is “IN” right now, the tides will have shifted to something else. Write what YOU want to write. The rest will follow.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

I’m usually pretty active on Twitter and Instagram, also my website- Anthonythomasbooks.com

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

“What, Wilson?”

“I have his address. Where are you?”

“Ninth and Eastman.” I exhale the last drag, drop the burning filter to the sidewalk, and snuff out the butt with my heel.

His keyboard swipes cut through the phone. “Okay. Take the next bus and get off on Centennial.”

I glance at the bus stop on the corner. It’s filled with trash, and I don’t mean the homeless people and prostitutes. As I walk over, I’m thrown to the leopard-print wolves. The skirts are so short, I get front row tickets to a show I wish I hadn’t gone to.

“Hey, cutie,” says a blonde with far too much makeup, and a distinct stagger in her heels. “For you, I can go half price.”

“Hi, there, darlin’,” I respond with a southern tick, and sling my arm over her shoulder. The cash stuffed in her bra is poking out, crumpled ones and fives ripe for the picking. “Do you know where the nearest gas station is?”

She lifts a shaky hand and points down the street, her head bobbing all over the place. She’s either drunk, high, or both. Perfect. I tug the bills at the corner and slip them in my sleeve. She doesn’t even notice the money sliding. Could be drugs, or that the numbness has yet to wear off on her newly acquired bust.

“Thanks, ladies.” I rub a hand on the small of her back and widen my grin. “Sorry. Can’t play tonight.”

They all groan in unison, like the wailing of a ghost.

Blondie adjusts her undersized bra, pauses, and gropes her chest. She digs inside, searching for the twenty hard-earned on her knees in an alley. Her chalky white face twists. “Hey, this asshole stole my money.”

I click my tongue on the roof of my mouth and wink. “Thanks again.” Press-on nails reach out to snatch my jacket, but I evade her clutches and rush down the sidewalk, a scuffle of heels tapping after me.

“Tony, that guy has my money!” she screams.

Crisp, almost icy wind forces back my hood, and I laugh with the occasional look over my shoulder. There’s no way they could stop me, even if they were sober. A massive shadow steps out from the alleyway ahead, pear-shaped, and wide enough to block off the entire sidewalk. He pulls a butterfly knife from his pocket, flips it in his hand until the blade is exposed, and takes pavement-shuddering steps toward me.

I lift my fists and shield my face. He thrusts the knife forward, narrowly missing my chest. It isn’t difficult to stop someone more than twice your size; everyone has a weakness to exploit. A swift jab to the throat and a well-placed knee to the junk drop him to the cement with ease. He clutches his neck and chokes while his body topples over.

“See ya later, Tony.” I dash away and sift through the bills in my hand. “Twenty-six dollars? Jesus, what has happened to this economy?” I stuff the cash in my pocket and pull out my headset. “Wilson? Wilson! Put your dick away and find me a different route.”

“Wilson’s not here right now,” he replies. “Please go fuck yourself and try again later.”

“I’m at Sixth and Eastman. Where the hell do I go now?”

“I told you to get on the bus. Wait, why are you running? Did you steal from a hooker again?”

AuThursday – Charley Pearson

SCOURGE BLOG BANNERPlease welcome Charley Pearson to the Clog Blog as he makes this stop on his SCOURGE Blog Tour!   Charley, can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I spent a career with the U.S. Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program—we oversee the design, construction, maintenance, and crew training for the power plants in our submarines and aircraft carriers. My main task proved to be managing chemical and radiological environmental remediation at closing facilities after the end of the Cold War, releasing them for unrestricted future use with state and EPA agreement (and much public interaction in the case of closing shipyards). My background in chemistry and biology proved quite useful both there and in the writing of SCOURGE.

How do you make time to write?

I have to stop going for hikes in the mountains, reading books, and otherwise procrastinating. Okay, granted, I started writing before I retired, so that was more of a challenge. Basically, I scribbled notes to myself whenever I thought of something, or as soon as possible after I got out of a business meeting or stopped driving kids to ballet class or whatever. Then I’d gradually turn the notes into stories in the evenings. I found out when I retired that I was way behind on watching movies. LOL

Do you ever get writer’s Block?

Not exactly. I get stuck on plot development, wondering how I’m going to get out of a hole I wrote myself into. I’ve found I have to stop trying to write “from the seat of my pants” and make some notes to myself. Not exactly outlining, but rough-plotting so characters are acting logically based on what they know.

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

Got tons and tons of those, since I started out writing science fiction and fantasy short stories and submitting them to magazines. Then moved on to novels before I’d actually studied the craft of writing fiction, so I was making all the beginner mistakes you can imagine. Submitting that early material? Yeah, I could have wallpapered the White House and made a good run on Congress with all those paper rejection slips. Nowadays all you get are electrons, and they don’t stick to walls very well. Fortunately, I’ve developed a thick skin and can move on when it happens.

Can you tell us your story of getting, “The call”?

I’d about decided to self-publish SCOURGE when several people at the 2016 Killer Nashville writers conference told me Misty Williams of Fiery Seas Publishing was looking for a medical thriller. So I figured, why not try? I pitched it to her (and her husband), and she invited submission. Sent it in that August, and saw from their website that responses may be up to eight weeks, and don’t follow up for at least twelve. At thirteen weeks I sent the follow-up and she said it was still under consideration. This was a somewhat optimistic sign since a “no” often comes quickly. A “yes” can take a very long time, after multiple reads by several people.

Then in the summer of 2017, I’m on a 7125mile drive from NC to Seattle, with stops back and forth to a bunch of parks and monuments. And there I was in Glacier National Park, minding my own business, wondering how they could call it “glacier” when it was about 90 degrees outside, and suddenly this email shows up from Fiery Seas with a contract offer. Whoa! Out of the blue, you might say. But I did manage not to fall off the side of a mountain.

What genre are your books?

SCOURGE is a medical thriller. My prior self-published thingy is a humor collection of short stories, skits, a full-length screenplay, and off-the-wall ballads with no redeeming social value. (No self-respecting agent or editor wants anthologies from unknowns, nor do they want poetry, nor screenplays, so this had to be self-pubbed all the way.) My current work-in-progress (WIP) is a YA-historical. So I guess I’m all over the map, depending on what seems to be forcing its way out at the moment. Oh, I also have a couple of short stories out in Marion Zimmer Bradley’s anthologies; they’re fantasies.

What draws you to this genre?

Humor? Can’t resist it; old Monty Python fan.

SCOURGE? This medical technology is something I first dreamed up back in college, long before computers would have a chance to make it feasible, but I always thought it would make a good story. And when I figured out a way to combine it with a tale of moral ambiguity, a theme of some character who decides to do what she thinks is right no matter the consequences, I couldn’t resist.

The historical? That’s a result of my father serving on Tinian in WWII, where B-29 raids on Japan were launched. His PTSD got me digging into the era.

But I also love fantasy, so you never can tell.

Do you have any advice for Aspiring Writers?

I put a whole bunch of advice on my website. My local writers’ group tries to help each other, and I’ve been asked for suggestions so much I decided to pull material together and put it out where it might help anyone. You can find it at:

http://charleypearson.com/writer-aids/.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

Oh, right, I sort of already pointed you there. Try http://charleypearson.com/ perhaps and link on from there, like to Facebook or Twitter if you use those.

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

Sure! How about this one, from Chapter 18:

In the middle of a fluorescent-filled, eighty-foot square CDC laboratory, Valerie focused a microscope. She raised her head, popped off her stool, put on glasses, and dashed over to pull one printout from a mass spectrometer and another from a gas chromatograph. She opened a small glass door on the latter and flicked the needle on the graph paper. It flopped down.

She tapped a pencil against her teeth, let out a breath, and shook her head. Her cell phone alarmed. She checked the wall clock, swore, and chased out the door.

Valerie emerged from the building into swirling fog, went to the nearest parking lot, and stationed herself at a spot marked for M. Ngono. She rocked from foot to foot, shivering, twisting a diamond engagement ring on her finger while she waited for her supervisor. About the twelfth time she checked her watch, Ngono pulled into the space she was standing in. She backed into a bush. He barely stopped before she jumped out and opened his door.

“The data are plain weird,” said Valerie. “Maybe it’s me.” She handed him a folder on their way to the building.

“I got everything you emailed up to thirty minutes ago,” said Ngono, “and two voice mails. That’s it so far?”

“Yeah.”

“How many victims have you checked?”

“Over a thousand. Everyone we’ve got samples on,” she said. “Blood, marrow, liver. I stole a few technicians to help me.”

Ngono shuffled through the folder. Photo after color photo of contorted victims showed a consistent pattern of twisted limbs, uncontrollable fingers, and blood showering from eardrums.

“Some nosebleeds,” said Valerie, “but not many. I’d have expected more, with all the spuming from ears.”

“That could help ID patients. Nothing wrong with idiosyncratic features.”

“But useless for finding the cause of the problem.”

They pushed past a couple of other people, entered the building, and stormed down the hall.

“Maybe you can see something in the spectra,” said Valerie. “I can’t.”

“Nothing?”

“Oh, killer reverse transcriptase, making DNA out of the viral RNA and immune to everything we’ve tried. Except stuff that kills the whole cell.”

Ngono waited a second. “And?”

“A pea-soup of nasty proteins, destroying mitochondria and starving every cell.”

“But what’s the source?”

“That’s just it,” said Valerie. “There is none. All the normal bugs are there. E. coli, a dozen flu varieties, reaction to bad food.”

“Over a thousand patients and nothing ties them together?”

“Except not a one has anything unusual.”

They crashed through a door labeled Pathogenesis.

Thanks for inviting me to the interview. Hope your readers enjoy SCOURGE!

– Charley

AuThursday – Brandy Woods Snow

DSC_0096Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I have a BA in English/Writing from Clemson University. While creative writing has
always been my first love, the media has been my home for more than 17 years, during
which time I’ve built a strong platform that includes articles in Delta Sky magazine,
Greenville Business Magazine, Columbia Business Monthly, and Home Design & Décor magazine (Charlotte, Triangle). I have also worked in corporate communications,
marketing, public relations and business development for several regional and
international companies. At age 35, I finally embraced my true calling as a novelist and
began writing the first draft of what is now my debut release MEANT TO BE BROKEN.
I am a member of RWA and YARWA as well as a number of online romance-inspired
writing communities.

When I’m not writing, reading, or spending time with my husband and three kids, I also
enjoy kayaking, family hikes, yelling “Go Tigers!” as loud as I can during football
season, playing the piano and taking “naked” Jeep Wrangler cruises on twisty, country
roads.

How do you make time to write?

I didn’t for the longest time, which is why it took me 10 years to write my first book after
the inspiration struck. I don’t make that mistake anymore. Life gets busy with the kids, a
husband that’s often away from home, and two businesses under my belt, but I’ve learned to take time where I can get it. My favorite place to write (and where I wrote most of MEANT TO BE BROKEN) is the school car line. I go early, park out front and have an hour or two for focused writing time. In the car line, there’s no laundry or dishes or
countless other chores calling my name. It’s just me and my notebook.

Honestly, though, I also have to give credit to my family. They are so supportive. They
understand this is my passion, and they are terrific about giving me the time I need to
steal away and write in private when inspiration is really kicking into high gear.

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

I wrote an entire blog on my path to publication for MEANT TO BE BROKEN, which
you can find here: http://brandywsnow.com/the-long-and-winding-road-to-publication-installment-1-a-timeline-of-meant-to-be-broken/. It gives a comprehensive look at the
process, from first inspiration to THE CALL.

But to give a quick summary, I did receive rejections on MEANT TO BE BROKEN. I’d
lie if I said they didn’t sting. They do, and there’s no getting around that. But for me, that
was the trick. So many people tell you to shrug off the rejection and consider it one step
closer. And that’s true to a certain degree, but I don’t recommend just shrugging it off.
Sure the industry is highly subjective, and in most cases you’ll get that “it’s not you, it’s
me” explanation after the “no thanks,” but there’s nothing wrong with taking a moment
to FEEL the rejection. Scream. Yell. Cry. Go to the gym and beat on the heavy bag for a
while. Let it out, get in touch with that negative outflow and then harness it and repurpose it—pour it back into your drive to continue onwards, to find success.

Can you tell us your story of getting “THE CALL”?

I got THE EMAIL—the one that led to THE CALL—in July 2017. I was standing in the
checkout line at a local department store, waiting to pay for a fab new pair of shoes when the email notification dinged and appeared on my phone screen. I opened it immediately and cried—tears rolling sort of crying—in the middle of everything.
THE CALL was incredible. A small press publisher, Filles Vertes Publishing, had read
my manuscript and was completely taken. The owner, Myra Fiacco, shared my vision for
it and had a plan moving forward. I loved the fact they were open to my being an active
part in the process, even allowing my input on the final cover design. It took a month to
negotiate contract specifics and call in other outstanding submissions. In the end, I knew
FVP was the perfect place for my book, and I officially signed the contract in August
2017.

What are you working on at the minute?

I think for the moment the question might be what am I not working on? LOL I’m in one
of those unique spaces of time where I’m able to see the industry from several different
angles all at once. While I’m promoting the release of my debut YA contemporary
romance, I’m also busy writing the sequel and another WIP that just won’t leave me
alone (I’ve tried to put it aside until I’m finished with the other one but it just won’t go!).
I’m also once again in the trenches, querying another standalone YA contemporary
romance and am an acting mentor in the #WriteMentor program, helping two mentees
polish their manuscripts for the upcoming agent round in September.

It’s busy, but I love it and wouldn’t have it any other way. And I’m excited to be able to
give a little back to the writing community that has been so good to me.

What do you think of “trailers” for books? 

I love book trailers if they’re done right. I think they are essential, especially in cases like
mine where I’m trying to reach the YA market. The younger generations have been
raised on technology and the ease of access to visual information on social media
platforms. Trailers are a perfect way to tap into that vein.
My book trailer was done by Brando Jones Films. I wanted something a little more
cinematic, and they came through with flying colors, planning and putting together a
small production piece that captured MEANT TO BE BROKEN with such style and
artistry.
You can see the trailer for MEANT TO BE BROKEN here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j9LjG_02TF8&t=6s

How do you relax?

Oh, lots of ways! Spending time with family is my number one, closely followed by a
long hot bath with a good book. I also have to plug my favorite product, the Spoonk Mat,
which is a therapeutic acupuncture mat that I lay on to alleviate stress and anxiety.
Other than that, I’d have to say a trip to the SC coast always works wonders, too, with
heartaches and all being healed by the sea.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Three things jump to mind immediately.
Find your tribe. A healthy group of critique partners is a necessity to get your manuscript polished to perfection. They’re also great for rooting you on during querying, consoling you during rejections, and cheering you on when that Call does come in.
Read in your genre and then read some more. I know you’ve heard this advice before. It’s
true. The truest true that ever was true. Just do it!

Never give up. Rejection is a part of the process, but what determines our success is our
ability to keep going in the face of adversity. I love to recall this quote from Oliver
Goldsmith: “Success consists of getting up just one more time than you fall.”

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

I do my best to stay active on a range of social media platforms and on my website’s
blog. I’ve also just started a fledgling YouTube channel to begin posting vlogs soon. Find
me at any of the below:

www.BrandyWSnow.com
www.twitter.com/brandy_snow
www.facebook.com/BWSnowWrites
www.goodreads.com/goodreadscombrandy_snow
www.tumblr.com/authorbrandywoodssnow
www.amazon.com/author/brandywsnow

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

Absolutely! The book is told in a dual POV from both the female (Rayne) and male
(Gage) protagonist. Here’s an excerpt from the book’s opening in Rayne’s POV. I love
these opening lines because they hint at the relationship to come, they give you a good
sense of the small town Southern setting and they set-up the conflict Rayne will face
with her Mama.

MeantToBeBrokenFrontCover

At 9:30 Saturday morning, I find out Preston Howard wants to date me. At 11:30, my mama hears it from old lady McAlister and has a “spell” in aisle three of the Piggly Wiggly. It’s taken seventeen years, but I finally understand the two things my social life and Mama have in common. They’re both erratic and one usually suffers because of the other.

The store manager calls me on my cell and asks me to come get her. He has my number
because he’s Daddy’s best friend’s brother and used me to babysit his kids a few times last year. I answer, expecting another job offer.

“Rayne? This is Dave Sullivan, you know, the manager down at the Piggly Wiggly? There’s been an incident with your mama.”

Apparently, it’d happened in front of the Luzianne tea bags. She was comparing the family size to smaller ones when Mrs. McAlister offered her a coupon… and a piece of news.

The details get a little sketchy from there—something about her sinking to the floor and
gasping for air. That’s when the manager came over with one of those small brown paper sacks they use to bag up ice cream and had her breathe in it. A nurse and a vet, both in the crowd assembled around her, agreed from their varied medical expertise it didn’t appear to be life-threatening. When the paper bag seemed to work, he decided to call me instead of the ambulance.

I pull into the parking lot ten minutes later. She’s sitting on the front bench beside the
automatic doors where the employees go to smoke, under the “I’m Big on the Pig!” sign. Mrs. McAlister sits beside her, a little too close, waving a folded-up circular in her face. I wonder what the store employees and shoppers think of me, casually parking the car, walking-not-running, and looking both ways before crossing the main traffic flow. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out they’re all watching from between the weekly specials scribbled on the plate-glass windows.

I don’t feel the need to rush. It isn’t a heart attack or stroke. I call it her bipolar though Daddy gets mad when I refer to it like that. The diagnosis is anxiety, better known as my evil little sister—always around, always a pain, and always ruining my life.

This sort of episode has happened before, just not too often in public. In most societies that’s considered good news—but not in the South. They say we don’t hide our crazy, we dress it up and parade it on the front porch. And even if we don’t, someone else will do the parading for us—telegraph, telephone, tell-a-southern woman. We know how to reach out and touch some people.

Mrs. McAlister jumps up from the bench and grabs my arm as I step up on the curb. “I
suwannee, child. She liked to turned over her buggy and spilt them groceries everywhere.”

Talking to some of the older ladies in town always feels like walking out of real life and into some part ofSteel Magnolias. She gives me her version of the sordid details. Mama created quite a scene, not just with her episode but also by her scandalous choice of groceries. The mayonnaise was the only casualty, rolling out the leg hole of the kiddie seat portion of the cart when Mama accidentally gave it a rough shove while collapsing on the linoleum.

Mrs. McAlister hadn’t bothered to pick that up and put it back in the buggy, which was now waiting by the customer service desk. It wasn’t Dukes Mayonnaise. She leans in close to whisper because how embarrassing would that be for Mama. To her, it’s further proof Mama hadn’t been feeling well.MeantToBeBrokenFullCover

AuThursday – Gloria Joynt-Lang

Beyond Circumstances Blog Tour BannerGloria's Author pic

Tell us a little about yourself and your background.

I’ve spent a considerable amount of time in prison. In fact, I headed to prison every morning for twentyfive years as an employee of the Canadian Criminal Justice System. As a Correctional Officer and Parole Officer, I was used to spending a good portion of the day writing reports. When I retired, I found myself missing the writing component of the job, so I started writing fiction. I’m a proud book nerd, who can be found lurking in bookstores enjoying the new book smell.

I left the city a few years ago, for a small community in Alberta, Canada. I spend my summers at the lake with my husband and our two dogs. During the winter months, we escape the cold and head to sunny California.

How do you make time to write?

Being retired one would think I would have lots of time to write, but I still have to make the effort to set time aside. I usually don’t start writing until late morning, as I need a good workout first. My husband would agree I’m a better human when I burn off energy. I normally write for a couple of hours, take a long coffee break, and then work another hour or two. If I’m busy doing something else during the day, I try to sit down and write for at least a couple of hours in the evening. I have more on the go now than when I was working full time. My husband is quite sociable, so he ensures I take time off to hang out with family and friends on a regular basis. When I first started, I wasn’t so good at setting boundaries and I would write all day. I’m much better now. Achieving balance is key in whatever you do.

Do you ever get Writer’s Block?

Surprisingly, not as often as I thought I would, but it still happens from time to time. When it does, I try not to worry and do something else. Going for long walks or heading to the movie theater seems to help get the creative juices flowing again.

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

When I first started sending the dreaded query letter, I thought agents and publishers would be brutal in their rejection. I envisioned them to be meanspirited and total dream crushers. But they aren’t. I’ve received some wonderful rejection letters. They’re polite, professional, and usually they noted that my work was not a right fit for them. But they also mentioned that it’s a very subjective business and encouraged me to continue to query. Most of them were form letters, but every once

in a while I received some specific feedback. It was like hitting the jackpot when this happened, even though it was still a big fat no. A few times I did get discouraged, but my wonderful husband always steers me out a funk.

Can you tell us your story of getting, “The call”?

I was having one of those downer days when I received the offer from Fiery Seas Publishing. It was late in the evening, and I was just about to take my pity party to bed when I opened the email with an offer. I ran down the hallway of our house to tell my husband, causing our Yorkie dog to lose her mind. There was a lot of pandemonium. My husband started calling our family and friends to share the good news. I was pretty quiet about writing, so a lot of them were shocked that I had even written a book.

What genre are your books?

I write contemporary romance. After seeing the darker side of humanity, I felt drawn towards uplifting stories. I deal with a rather heavy topic in Beyond Circumstances, but it’s a love story at its heart.

What draws you to this genre?

There are a lot of horrible things that happen in the world, and unfortunately, they often happen to really great people who deserve better. I’m an optimist, but I’m also a realist, so I don’t believe a positive attitude will overcome all obstacles or falling in love means you won’t have problems, but it can sometimes make a difference in getting through a difficult time. Romance novels provide a sense of hope and I think we can all benefit from hope.

Do you have any advice for Aspiring Writers?

Write what you’re passionate about, and don’t give up. Often people will look at what a particular agent or publisher is looking for in their wish lists, and that’s okay as long as it’s what you want to write about. If not, create something fresh. Something that hasn’t been done before.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

I’d love to hear from readers through twitter, facebook, or my website.

https://twitter.com/glojoyntlang

https://www.facebook.com/gloria.joyntlang.1

https://www.gloriajoynt-lang.com/

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

Absolutely.

Beyond CircumstancesShe reached into her purse to grab her phone. Hopefully, tow trucks operated on

Saturdays in this rural area.

Crap. The phone was dead. She had meant to charge it, but then forgot. Just calm down, she told herself. Maybe there’s a charger in the glove box. Frantically, she searched. Damn.

At least she had a full tank of gas. She could avoid freezing to death for several hours.

Hours? God no. She couldn’t imagine being stuck in the vehicle for even several more minutes.

Maybe someone would come along. Yes, she was in the countryside, but it wasn’t some remote mountain village in Peru. She was only about an hour and a half from Chicago, and although it wasn’t a highway, it was a paved road. She thought back to how many cars she had passed on the way to town. She cursed, unable to recall any.

She tilted her head back and closed her eyes. No, she wasn’t going to cry. Not because she was strong, but because tears weren’t going to get her car to move back onto the road. She opened her eyes and looked around. It was so hard to see with all the snow swirling around. It was what meteorologists referred to as a ground blizzard. There wasn’t snow falling from the sky. Rather the white stuff was violently twisting up from the ground. The sixty-mile-per-hour winds were creating havoc on visibility. If only the wind could slow down for a second.

Then it happened. There were a few seconds when the wind paused, and Lexie was able to catch a glimpse.

“A driveway,” she exclaimed. She did a quick fist pump in the air. The gravel clearing was only a few yards away. The driveway would lead to a house. She would walk up the snow

covered road and ask to use a phone.

Oh, but what if it was a long driveway, or what if no one was home? Or maybe it was just an entrance to some wheat field with no house or residents.

She slammed her hands on the steering wheel in frustration, making the horn blare.

No, no. Don’t you dare cry.

She stared into the distance as she racked her brain for options. None came to her. Finally, she pulled the hood on her jacket over her head. She would take her chances and trek down the lane. If it looked like it was too far, she would simply return to her car.

She was about to open the door when she saw the outline of someone approaching. Relief washed over her. However, it quickly turned to fright when she saw an ax-wielding, masked man coming toward her.

Oh, my God. I’m going to die.

Quickly, she locked her door. If he was intent on killing her, she wasn’t going to make it easy for him. No, he would have to smash the window and pry her clenched hands off the steering wheel. She would make damn sure he exerted energy while dragging her away. Bludgeoning her to death would be work.

AuThursday – Megan O’Russell

Boy of Blood BannerTell us a little about yourself and your background?

My name is Megan O’Russell, and I am the author of three YA series: Girl of Glass, How I Magically Messed Up My Life in Four Freakin’ Days, and The Girl Without Magic. I am also a professional musical theatre performer currently on The Wizard of Oz national tour.

How do you make time to write?

I use any chance I can get. Backstage at my dressing room station, on the tour bus, late at night after a show. Writing is a priority for me, so I’ll do what I must to make the time. I’m also lucky enough to have a partner who supports my checking out of life to type whenever I can.

Do you ever get writer’s block?

Not very often (knock on wood). It’s usually more of trying to find a way to untie a knot in the plot. When it happens, I like to hike. Find a nice long trail and just go for it. By the time my legs are hurting so badly I don’t want to think about them anymore, I’ve figured out where I want the story to go.

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

Oh, I’ve gotten plenty of rejections. There are some that stung. Like when an agency or publisher requested a full manuscript. There are some that made me giggle. Like when you get a rejection for a book that was already published a year ago.

I know it sounds awful, but you’ve really just got to brush it off and keep going. There will be plenty of nos for every yes. You have to accept rejection as a part of the process.

Can you tell us your story of getting, “The call”?

It’s happened a few times. Always through email. You see the response in your inbox. Your stomach soars. You warn yourself that it’s probably a rejection. You open the email, read it three times because you’re sure you’ve missed the part where they say they don’t want the project. Then you squeal and dance and buy nice wine. Getting a manuscript accepted makes any day great!

What genre are your books?

All of my books are young adult, but each is in a slightly different genre.

The Girl of Glass series is YA dystopian.

The Girl Without Magic is a YA fantasy.

And How I Magically Messed Up My Life in Four Freakin’ Days is YA Urban Fantasy.

What draws you to this genre?

I love young adult because of the amazing possibilities it offers. You’re dealing with protagonists who are entering a world of firsts. First love, first big mistake, first taste of independence. But they also have the autonomy to move in the world of adults without the weight of actual adulthood.

Do you have any advice for Aspiring Writers?

Just write. You can’t edit a blank page. If you write a thousand words and have to edit nine-hundred, you’ve still got a hundred words left, which is a lot better than nothing.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

On my website (which is home to my author blog): https://www.meganorussell.com/
My Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ORussellauthor/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MeganORussell
And on my non-author blog: https://lifebeyondexaggeration.com/

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

Sure! See below!

“You’re going to throw us out to starve? You’ve got extra food and space and you’re going to send us out into the city as soon as you’re done with us? Let us burn in the riots or bleed for the Vampers? Better yet, be meat to feed the wolves? You’re worse monsters than any of them! At least when a wolf wants you dead, he’s got the courtesy to do it fast with no lies about saving the world or pretending it isn’t plain old murder!”

A sharp pop sounded from the pack of guards. A tiny silver dart hit the side of the woman’s neck, instantly dropping her to the ground.

It was only a tranquilizer dart to make the woman sleep, but the outsiders didn’t seem to know or care.

The others in the screaming woman’s group ran forward, stepping between her and the guard that had shot the woman. Screams echoed from all sides of the Amber Dome as people started to panic.

“They’re going to kill us!” a man shouted, charging toward the guards and hitting one in the stomach with a shovel before being knocked backward by another guard, who shot a silver dart into his neck.

All of the guards in the dome surged toward the fighting. And the rest of the outsiders ran toward the fight, as well.

“Beauford, no!” Catlyn screamed, catching his arm as he moved to join the fray.

A young man had run forward and was using a ladder to push back the guards. A dart struck him in the chest, but two women grabbed up the ladder, using it like a battering ram to attack the guards.

“It won’t help!” T held onto Beauford’s other arm, but he was strong. The two women wouldn’t be able to hold him much longer.

“Follow me.” Nola added her weight to Beauford’s arm as she helped Catlyn and T drag him away.

“We can’t let them do this to us!” Beauford shouted, fighting to pull away from them.

“You can’t stop it either!” Nola said. “Try and fight if you want, but it’ll only be one more dart they have to fire.”

Beauford froze for a moment before his arms sagged.

“Good, now come on.” Running away from the fighting, Nola led them toward the back of the dome, where thick rows of vines sat low along the wall.

Ducking under the leaves, Nola winced as she felt a vine snap.

More voices were shouting in the dome now. Nola glanced back. She could barely make out a dozen black-clad guards running up the stairs to join the fight.

“Get down and be quiet,” Nola whispered, as she pushed aside the last of the vines. A set of low, thorny bushes were between them and the glass. Creating a gap between bushes, she ignored the thorns that pulled at her palms, crouching down and using her weight to ease the way through the brambles for the others.

“Are we just going to hide back here?” Beauford hissed as soon as he was through.

“Yes, we are.” Nola leaned back against the glass.

The sounds of the fighting were already changing.

Guards were shouting orders, and Lenora Kent’s voice cut above it all.

“I don’t care what you’re trying to do, stay the hell off my plants!”

Nola smiled. Of course, her mother would be standing in the middle of a fight, screaming about plants.

Blood oozed out of the scratches on her hands. She wiped it onto her gardening suit; she would be able to wash her hands soon enough.

“I didn’t take you as the type to run from a fight,” T whispered, as the last of the screaming stopped. “I figured you for the type to run in and try to stop it.”

“That lady shouldn’t have attacked the guard,” Nola said, closing her eyes against the bright sun. “But the domes shouldn’t be using you the way they are. Sometimes I feel like the right thing is too abstract for me to understand.”

“How poetic.” Catlyn smirked.

“But I do know that all those people will be put outside on the road before dark, and I don’t want that to happen to the three of you. The most right thing I could think of was to keep you three safe. So that’s what I did.”

“Who the hell’s got time for a moral compass when north keeps changing?” T smiled.