#AuThursday – Dee S. Knight

DeePlease welcome Dee S. Knight to the Clog Blog!  Dee, tell us a little about yourself and your background.

As Dee S. Knight I have been writing for about 16 years, taking breaks every now and then. I’m so glad to have found writing! I’ve worked at many different jobs, but writing is the only one I’ve thought I could do for a long time and be happy. It’s pretty different from book to book—because I get to make things up and do what I want. What fun!! Before and during my writing years I taught high school and also trained adults, worked as an acquisitions librarian, drove a truck cross-country, worked as a clerk and a receptionist, did gift wrapping one memorable Christmas, and headed a technical writing department and edited training manuals. You’d think I couldn’t hold down a job, lol! But in my defense, married to the man of my dreams who worked as a computer consultant, we moved an awful lot. Living various places and doing a lot of different things has given me a rich background to draw from when writing, so I can’t complain.

Dee writes erotic romance and expanded briefly in ménage romance. But as Anne Krist, I’ve written sweet(er) romance, and as Jenna Stewart, historical and ménage romance. It’s all been a kick!

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

I can deal with small groups—maybe up to eight or so. But any larger and I hide in a corner. Being introverted has never been a problem, though. I’m happy with who I am, and as long as I have a good book available to read, I’m happy being on my own. Well, that’s not quite true—I need the people I love nearby, too. I don’t think spending a lot of time alone has bothered my work too much. As long as I hear about hubby’s experiences and can draw from my own, it all seems to work.

What are your current projects?

I’m trying to finish up Book 2 in the Good Man series, a trio of books about identical triplets. Book 1, Only a Good Man Will Do, Daniel Goodman, walks a fine line between being respectable and staid and being with the woman he lusts after, a former exotic dancer. In the current book, One Woman Only, brother Jonah is a mechanic extraordinaire who wants a second chance with his high school love. The third book, featuring genius brother Mark is still in the planning stages.

 

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

Actually, Vanessa Hart and I started a book collaboration but other deadlines and life swept us up before we could finish it. I later expanded my part of the book into Daniel’s story in Only a Good Man Will Do. I call Resolutions a book written by four friends about four friends. Vanessa Hart, Jasmine Haynes, Leigh Wyndfield and I wrote separate novellas but each story began and ended at a common point, making it a collaborative process. I love that book. And I’ve been in anthologies. Ain’t Your Mama’s Bedtime Stories is a grouping of several short stories all built around fairy tales. Right now I’m in a supernatural anthology coming out this fall from Black Velvet Seductions called Mystic Desire. Several BVS authors contributed, with each short story carrying a supernatural theme.

Do you believe in writer’s block?

I do. I had what I consider writer’s block with my paranormal romance Passionate Destiny. I started writing the book in February and by October I couldn’t figure out what to do with it. Finally, I said to myself that if I didn’t have the book finished by Thanksgiving, I’d give up and put it away. Maybe it’s a stubborn streak, but that was the incentive I needed to get it done. I sent it in to Liquid Silver Publishing a week before Thanksgiving! I’m glad I did, too because it went on to be a Romantic Times Top Pick!

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

*sigh* Sadly, I have received rejection letters. I wouldn’t mind them if they gave some idea of why there was a rejection. “The work isn’t right for us” is the typical reason, and okay, I eventually have come to deal with that one. I can see where not every brilliant piece of writing, that sparkles with witty dialogue, livable, breathable locations, conflict that cuts like a razor blade, and characters that feel like your next-door neighbor might not be right for every agent or editor… Yes, I can see that, and understand it.

Oh heck. No, I don’t, lol. I don’t deal with rejections any better than any other writer. I scream at the moon for a night or two, figuratively cry on hubby’s shoulder, and complain to my mom about how unfair life is after throwing pillows at the wall. And then I move on. What else is there to do?

I will say, however, that there are ways agents/editors can soften the blow a bit. I was rejected by one agent (who shall remain nameless though her name is burned into my memory) whose rejection letter was folded so many times the letter was an inch or so high and the standard text (“Thank you for submitting your work. It’s not for us at this time. Best of luck in the future.”) looked to be mimeographed!! Yes. It was not printed or copied. It’s like she prepared thousands of rejections in 1965 and stored them up to use over the years. And I know because I was rejected by her more than once. That’s like kicking an author when she’s down. At least add the author’s name, send the letter to a printer, and stamp your name. And fold it right. Be professional, even if you have to reject an author’s work.

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

I’ve only used online publishers for my books. And I’ve been with some of the best publishers, really. Liquid Silver Publishing, Siren-Bookstrand, Samhain (when they were in business), and now Black Velvet Seductions. I’ve heard horror stories about publishing houses but have been lucky enough to avoid the problems. I will say, it’s sad that so many publishers are going out of business. I’ve thought about self-publishing, but if you called me chicken you wouldn’t be wrong! 😉

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Write, write, write! Learn some self-editing so when you submit your work the publisher won’t find a reason to turn you away. Accept editing with grace (this is sometimes a do-as-I-say-and-not-as-I-do situation). Find a good critique partner. Don’t believe all the praise your relatives and best friends heap upon your book—they’re usually too nice to be helpful when it comes to improving your work. And (did I mention?) WRITE!!

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

Website: https://nomadauthors.com

Blog: http://nomadauthors.com/blog

Twitter: http://twitter.com/DeeSKnight

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DeeSKnight2018

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/265222.Dee_S_Knight

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B079BGZNDN

Newsletter (sample): https://preview.mailerlite.com/o2g1i0?fbclid=IwAR0COlyuPY-Hu30KTBdT092j_GZeuN5z4pc1LtsvHTyr6IbiSpsGqeIgT90

FBBanner

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

I do, thanks! And thanks for hosting me, Tina.

This is from Only a Good Man Will Do, when Daniel, a teacher at Westover Academy, first admits that he’s drawn to Eve Star like a kid to chocolate. He knows she’s bad for his future but can’t help wanting her in his present.

Knight_OnlyGoodMan_236x360Daniel took his seat in the Academy dining room with a few of the boys from his dormitory. Each table sat six, with a permanent place for a dorm master or table monitor. Each month, the boys rotated tables, assuring they spent casual dining time with their dorm master and others and learned proper table manners. Usually, Daniel enjoyed meals with his young charges. They were more willing than the older students to talk about what happened during the day, and he often picked up on budding problems by listening to their conversations. For this reason, even though late afternoon-early evening was the part of the day he had free, he usually liked to attend dinner.

However, he’d changed his calls to Eve from four-thirty to after dinner, and now Daniel counted the minutes until the evening meal ended. He urged the boys not to tarry after dessert and then cursed the fact he had to walk sedately rather than sprint back to the dorm. Once there, he made sure to lock the doors and get comfortable before punching her number on the telephone face. A minor dorm crisis requiring both him and his assistant had prevented their saying much more than hello yesterday, and today, though he’d just eaten, he felt like a starving man.

“Nothing a little sugar won’t cure,” he muttered, using Southern slang for kisses.

At the same moment, a deep, male voice answered. “Well, honey, you ain’t getting’ it from me.” The man laughed. “Hey, doc. Eve told me to tell you she had to go out, and if she missed you, she’d call back as soon as possible.”

“Hi, Jed.” Of course, Eve shouldn’t be hanging around waiting for his calls, but he couldn’t help the disappointment that hit like a sledgehammer. “Say, why’d you call me doc?”

Jed laughed. “Ask Eve.”

“I’ll do that. Thanks.” Well. Daniel set the phone back on the side table. All dressed up and nowhere to go. He looked at the remaining term papers he had to grade, but reading the opinions of high school boys on any subject, much less Romeo and Juliet, a love story that ended tragically, didn’t appeal. What he wanted was to hear the voice of the woman who’d ridden him hard and put him away wet on Tuesday evening.

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AuThursday – Christina Lynn Lambert

christina-lynn-lambert-author-bio-pic.jpgPlease welcome author Christina Lynn Lambert to the Clog Blog!  Christina, can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I didn’t originally plan on being a writer. I went to school for psychology and then got an MBA. I worked in sales, then as a case manager for people with disabilities. I was also a running coach and a personal trainer. I liked to write poetry and short stories in my spare time but considered any writing I did just a fun hobby, not something to ever share. When I was studying to take a certification in personal training, intending to take my small business to the next level, I had this idea for a story. The idea wouldn’t leave me alone until I began to write it out in my composition notebook. 

Love, courage, hope, and second chances are a few of my favorite themes. I look forward to writing many more stories with strong heroines and imperfect but determined characters. When I’m not writing, I enjoy spending time outside and finding ways to avoid cooking. I live in beautiful Virginia with my husband, two daughters, and a sweet, hairy monster of a dog. 

Where do your ideas come from?

For me, the ideas always begin with the characters. I create heroes and heroines who have survived tragedies, who have made mistakes but haven’t lost their humanity. Working in sales and other hectic jobs helped me see the uglier side of human nature. The greedy, lost, warped out villains I create are often caricatures created from different interactions I’ve observed.

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

The books I have written so far are a paranormal romance with a major suspense element. I like the paranormal genre because I can bend reality to create a strange, extraordinary version of our world. I add a dose of suspense to everything I write because I have always loved to read stories that keep me wondering what will happen next.

How do you make time to write? 

It’s hard to find the time I need to go into the deep concentration mode it takes to create the plotline for a story and write the first draft. My kids interrupt me repeatedly even though they can clearly see me at the computer, either lost in thought with my head in my hands because an idea is evading me or I’m trying to push a pen across paper or type as fast as the words are forming in my mind. I try to manage my writing time carefully and use moments where I am doing something solitary like going for a run or taking a shower to reflect on ideas. 

Do you ever get Writer’s Block?

When I get stuck in writer’s block hell, I try to do something else other than stare at a blank page. Often, I’ll work on another book or poem when I can’t figure out how to move forward on a current work in progress. Sometimes I fall into the procrastination trap and avoid the writer’s block issue by cleaning my whole house, reading a book, or watching something on Netflix.   

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

Rejection is all part of the process. The first book I wrote received a rejection but the letter I received had some really helpful suggestions on how to make the book better and I used those suggestions. The rude rejection letters that basically say “thanks but no thanks, your work is trash” aren’t fun for anyone to receive and I recommend not taking that kind of thing personally. After any type of rejection, I look at my work again to see if there’s anything I can do to improve the manuscript and after changes are made, I start sending it out again elsewhere. 

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

I’m probably closer to being an introvert. I’m not really shy but I am quiet, though I find that works out alright for me. I get a lot of story ideas just by observing the ordinary things people do and how they do them, then I ask myself how those people would react if something amazing or catastrophic happened right then and there.  

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Joining writers’ groups can help put aspiring writers in touch with people who can share great advice on writing, publishing, and marketing. Joining groups, whether online or locally also helps writers connect with one another, which can make the writing journey seem less daunting and isolated. I also suggest reading books about all aspects of the writing process, including marketing. Take writing classes if you can. Most importantly, don’t give up. 

There are days when I want to throw my computer out the window because I’ve rewritten the same sentence twenty-five times and can’t think of what should happen next in the story. When this happens, I take a step back, maybe work on a different story or find any number of other ways to distract myself. Every stage of writing has the potential to be hard or overwhelming, but don’t stop writing. Even when you’re faced with piles of rejection letters, keep writing! 

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/christinalynnlambert

WordPress: https://christinalynnlambertwordpress.com 

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/chris4lamb

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15900423.Christina_Lynn_Lambert 

Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Christina-Lynn-Lambert/e/B01MCYK0K7

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/christinalynnlambert

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

I would love to share an excerpt from steamy, suspenseful paranormal romance, Bear’s Edge, which is book 2 in my Stranger Creatures series.

Bear's Edge-sc-Amazon-NEWWhat is it about Grant? Looking at the man beside her was no hardship; that was for damn sure. He had the tall, broad body of a heavyweight UFC fighter, but he never used his size to intimidate the people around him. Shayla wanted to sweep his wavy, slightly shaggy dark hair out of his gorgeous brown eyes. His dark hair and eyes complemented his bronze skin. He was hot, in a serious, dangerous kind of way. But in the two and a half years he had worked for her, she had hardly learned anything about him. 

The waitress at the popular nature-themed restaurant, the Greenhouse Effect, showed them to their table. The plants growing around all the walls and columns made the place look like a wild garden. The smell of lavender and jasmine mixed with the delicious scents drifting from the kitchen. She tried not to drool, but breakfast seemed like eons ago. Shayla sat next to Sydney and across from Grant. A too-tall centerpiece of yellow-and-purple flowers blocked most of her view. Being short occasionally sucked. Grant moved the centerpiece to the side and gave her a shy smile. His smile made her want answers, among other things. 

She knew he was from New Jersey and had gone to school in Wisconsin before moving to Richmond, Virginia, to work with Brook’s Comprehensive, a huge company that did everything from urban development projects to financial management for celebrities and politicians. 

“Why do you want to make such a big change from a large corporation to a simple start-up company?” she’d asked him in the interview. 

“Honestly?” He had paused then, the question hanging. 

“Yes,” she’d assured him. She’d take honesty over smooth-faced, calculated interview answers any day. 

“I want to live somewhere I can have a house and some land. Maybe spend more time outside. Also, I want a job where I can do more than just run numbers for projects where I never see the outcome.” 

The last part had seemed to come as a surprise to him. Maybe he hadn’t really known he wanted something more than a change of scenery until he had said it out loud. 

His answer had been simple and honest instead of a long, drawn-out elaboration about the projected success of new companies in the area or an extensive list of projects he had helped to fruition. She could look at his résumé for those kinds of details. He had wanted to be there, so she’d hired him. Simple as that—after a clean background check and drug screening, of course. 

Grant the mystery man—a delicious mystery Shayla would like to unravel, piece by piece, layer by layer. Ah, but I can’t. I’m his boss. In a different lifetime, if we didn’t have the whole boss-employee obstacle going on…. No harm in looking, though, just a little, since he sat so close. She promised herself to keep her thoughts G-rated—okay, maybe PG-13. Grant had a talent with numbers and paid attention to detail. Also, he was a little shy and standoffish to a lot of people when it came to anything other than work. Shayla wondered where he sometimes went in his head, because, every now and then, his smile slipped from his face, just for a second, before being replaced with one a little harder. None of my business, she reminded herself. 

She had really wanted to hug him this morning after seeing him so frustrated but decided it might be wiser and more appropriate to show him there were a few people on his side. Seeing him break things and try to be all strong and humorous about it made Shayla want to unravel the Grant mystery even more. It kind of hurt to watch him pretending to be fine, but all she could offer him was lunch and good conversation. Hopefully, Mr. Strong and Silent—Sydney called him that sometimes, although never to his face—knew Shayla and Sydney cared. And Shayla did care. Because he’s a friend. Just a friend. 

Grant raised his soda in a toast. “To things not being worse,” he announced with a rueful half-smile. “And, uh”—he cleared his throat—“to good company.” He nodded at Sydney, and when he met Shayla’s gaze, he held it. In his dark eyes, she saw hunger, wide-open desire, and about a million other things she couldn’t puzzle out. Grant looked at her that way sometimes, and she did her best to ignore it. He might have a small crush on her, or he could have a thing for petite, small-breasted girls possessing a great fashion sense. 

Sydney broke the silence. “To good food and even better friends.” She clinked Grant’s glass, and Shayla came back to reality and smiled, pretending she wasn’t experiencing several different kinds of inappropriate thoughts and feelings for a sexy, complicated man who was her employee and also her friend. She needed to behave and remember things could never go any further than a panty-melting gaze.

 

AuThursday – Seelie Kay

seeliekayrevisedphotoWelcome to the Clog Blog, Seelie!  Tell us about your latest release.

My latest release is “Cult.” It’s the third book in my romantic suspense series: Feisty Lawyers. Feisty Lawyers.3books.release day

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

When I write depends on my work schedule. I also ghostwrite and edit for clients, and their needs have to come first. So, I write my books around those assignments. I keep a regular work schedule, though. I am at my desk at 8 a.m. and work until 5 p.m. unless I have appointments out of the office and need a break. 

Where do your ideas come from?

I find inspiration everywhere. A news story, a conversation with a friend, a Tweet, the grocery store, a funny sign. As a journalist, I am a natural observer. Wherever I am, my mind is recording and cataloging ideas. 

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

I start with an idea and really have no idea where it will go. The stories just seem to flow and when they don’t, I know I’m headed in the wrong direction. 

What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

I have a lot of colleagues I am touch with online, primarily those associated with my publisher, eXtasy Books or the Marketing for Romance Writers group. I have found my fellow authors to be exceptionally helpful in responding to questions, providing assistance with marketing, and just generally serving as cheerleaders.

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

The only rejection letter I received was for a book I wrote many years ago. It wasn’t very good and I didn’t know what I was doing, so it was a kick in the butt. After that I decided to get serious and learn about writing books, actually following the rules for submissions. eXtasy Books was the second publisher to offer me a contract for my first book. The first sent me an incredibly one-sided contract and as a lawyer, I knew it was unacceptable. We haggled, then I began to submit to other publishers. So, I guess the answer is that I took the rejection to heart and learned from it.

Do you believe in writer’s block? 

My problem with that term is the definition. For example, sometimes I get stuck in a story, so I take a break and work on something else, or shut down my computer and head into the kitchen to bake. But I have never taken more than a day off, so I’m not sure that was writer’s block. I know people who, for various reasons, have been unable to write for weeks, months, even years, but again, I’m not sure if they were actually blocked or simply distracted by other things. To me, writing is pretty instinctual, so it is hard for me to imagine that part of my brain shutting down. However, if someone else claims to have writer’s block, who am I to doubt them?

How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?

I think I care much less what people will think about my books now. I am not self-editing my words and thoughts anymore. When I first started writing, I got some negative feedback about the fact that some of my stories were erotic. I finally realized that if I was going to enjoy writing, I had to write for me and hope that I could find an audience. 

How do you relax?

Many years ago, I participated in a study about how people relaxed. I was required to wear a “mood dot” 24/7 and record the color and what I was doing at certain times throughout the day. Guess what? I was most relaxed while I was writing! However, my fingers would fall off if that was all I did, so I also enjoy cooking, reading, gardening, live theatre, light opera, and just chatting with friends.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

Website: www.seeliekay.com

Blog:  www.seeliekay.blogspot.com

Twitter: @SeelieKay https://twitter.com/SeelieKay

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/seelie.kay.77

Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Seelie-Kay/e/B074RDRWNZ/

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

Cult.onsale.reviews 6.8.19Here’s the blurb:

It’s supposed to be a simple assignment. A quick trip to a South American country for an “in and out” fact-finding mission. Unfortunately, the cult has other ideas.

When college students begin disappearing from American campuses, a notorious cult, God’s Delight, is the primary suspect. God’s Delight has been hosting shows featuring sex, drugs, and rock and roll around the country, and young people are flocking to them. 

Among the missing is the President’s goddaughter, and he wants answers. When he asks Agent Cade Matthews, a member of a secret covert organization, to find her, the mission appears fairly straightforward. Find the God’s Delight compound, determine whether a welfare check on American cult members is warranted, and get out. Simple. Clean. Easy. 

Cade sends newly-married Agents Dianna Murphy and Anders Mark to the University of Wisconsin to follow the trail to God’s Delight, but when they wind up in Bolivia, things go sideways. Suddenly, what appeared to be nothing more than a simple in-and-out could cost Dianna her life. When an Agency extraction is ordered, chaos erupts, and the question becomes, will anyone survive?

cult awardHere’s an excerpt:

“But everyone can leave when they want, right?”

Tillie cocked her eyebrow, clearly amused. “Of course. But why would they? This is paradise.”

“It is indeed, darling Miranda,” drawled a deep sultry voice. A tall, well-built man dressed in a white cossack, a thick wooden cross draped around his neck, wrapped his arms around her and kissed her cheek. His loose, long blonde hair framed a tan, handsome face with a strong nose and a wicked, full-lipped grin. He turned his piercing blue eyes toward Dianna and smiled. “Hello,” he said. 

The man studied her, his expression predatory.

Dianna shifted uncomfortably. So, Tillie is using another name. Meaning she’s undercover. Noted. Dianna stuck out her hand and said. “Hi, I’m Bennie. I’m one of the students from Wisconsin working over at the orphanage. You were kind enough to allow us to stay here.”

The man took her hand and stroked it, his expression suddenly thoughtful. “Tell me, Bennie from Wisconsin, what do you think of my paradise?” His hand moved to her lower arm.

Dianna flushed. My paradise? Is this Reverend John? “It’s beautiful. Peaceful. But hot. And humid. Really humid.” She gazed up into the man’s eyes, somewhat stunned at the lust she found there. My God, he looks like he wants to devour me. Dianna quickly looked away.

The man chuckled. “You get used to it. But we keep the air-conditioning on in the dormitories for the newbies and limit their time in the sun. And of course, we all take a siesta during the hottest part of the day if we need one.” He released her arm. “We worship at day’s end when the air begins to cool. Otherwise, things get a little…sweaty.” He leaned down and kissed her on the cheek, gently tugging her hair. Then he walked away. Dianna’s gaze did not leave him as children followed him, playfully competing for his attention. Just like Jesus.

Buy links:

Publisher:  http://www.extasybooks.com/978-1-4874-2538-8-cult/

Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07S2T722Y/

Barnes & Noble:  https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/cult-seelie-kay/1131766268?ean=2940156528615

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/cult-13

Coming soon: Book 4, “Hope!”

About Seelie Kay:

Seelie Kay is a nom de plume for a writer, editor, and award-winning author with more than 30 years of experience in law, journalism, marketing, and public relations. When she writes about love and lust in the legal world, something kinky is bound to happen!  In possession of a wicked pen and an overly inquisitive mind, Ms. Kay is the author of multiple works of fiction, including the Kinky Briefs series, the Feisty Lawyers series, The Garage Dweller, A Touchdown to Remember, The President’s Wife, and The President’s Daughter. 

When not spinning her kinky tales, Ms. Kay ghostwrites nonfiction for lawyers and other professionals. She resides in a bucolic exurb outside Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where she shares a home with her son and enjoys opera, gourmet cooking, organic gardening, and an occasional bottle of red wine. 

Ms. Kay is an MS warrior and ruthlessly battles the disease on a daily basis. Her message to those diagnosed with MS:  Never give up. You define MS, it does not define you!

Prior Books:

The Kinky Briefs Series:

https://www.extasybooks.com/kinky-briefs/

https://www.extasybooks.com/kinky-briefs-too/

https://www.extasybooks.com/kinky-briefs-thrice/

https://www.extasybooks.com/978-1-4874-1734-5-kinky-briefs-quatro/

https://www.extasybooks.com/978-1-4874-2023-9-kinky-briefs-cinque/

Novellas:

https://www.extasybooks.com/the-garage-dweller/

https://www.extasybooks.com/978-1-4874-1795-6-the-presidents-wife/

https://www.extasybooks.com/978-1-4874-1504-4-a-touchdown-to-remember/

https://www.extasybooks.com/978-1-4874-2032-1-the-presidents-daughter/

https://www.extasybooks.com/978-1-4874-2349-0-seizing-hope/


The Feisty Lawyers Series:

http://www.extasybooks.com/978-1-4874-2263-9-snatching-diana/

https://www.extasybooks.com/978-1-4874-2291-2-infamy/

https://www.extasybooks.com/978-1-4874-2538-8-cult/

 

 

 

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.  

 

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