AuThursday – Janet Walden-West

MeCC3 (1)Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I live in the southeast with a couple of kids, a pack of show dogs, and a confused but supportive husband.

Fun fact—I never considered myself creative enough to be a writer. There’s a professor out there with a chronic eye-twitch thanks to The Great Thesis Crisis of 20-mumble-mumble. I only picked up a pen thanks to a newborn. Who. Would. Not. Sleep. I multi-tasked while also not-sleeping, and caught up on a favorite show. Where the writers killed off my favorite character.

DED, dead.

I’m blaming it on the sleep deprivation because my (very fuzzy) thought process went something like ‘What? WHAT??? Are you kidding me?’ I could come up with a better ending.” 

Yeah, not really. But that drunken moment led to my debut coming out this year. 

How do you make time to write? 

I’m lucky in that I can write anywhere, and in spurts—in the grooming area at shows, medical waiting rooms, sports’ practices, in the parent pick-up line.

 That also means plot breakthroughs scribbled on the back of receipts, and notes on Starbucks sleeves. Everyone in my household has learned to ask if random wrappers and bags are book outlines or safe to go in the recycle bin.

What are your current projects?

I always, accidentally, have multiple projects going at a time. Right now, I’m working on another contemporary romance, and an urban fantasy romance. Watch my website and newsletter for deets.

Do you ever get writer’s Block?

Is there ever an answer other than yes? 

As a reformed pantser, I don’t hit as many walls as compared to when I first began. When I do stall out, I turn to my Coven crit partners. So named because tossing around ideas and brainstorming with them is magic. Shiny, sparkly, save-my-butt magic.

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

Laughs until tears ruin my latte 

I have enough to wallpaper my house. And car. Maybe do the front and back porches to tie the look together. 

No lie, those first rejections as a baby writer hurt. But they also kinda felt like a badge of honor. I was sending my work out in the world. I was in the game. This is where my writing community was priceless though. It’s always cathartic to vent to people who get it, and are willing to cheer-lead and send Jason Momoa* gifs. 

*Dwayne Johnson gifs also work.

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

My path was more like a labyrinth. 

I had stacked up rejections for SALT+STILETTOS. There were still agent queries out, but let’s just say they’d been out there for… a while. After a heart to heart with Brighton Walsh, my Pitch Wars mentor, I had the option of shelving yet another story, or querying imprints and publishers accepting un-agented work.

Critically, my manuscript had been through several in-depth revisions, and was sound. Emotionally, thanks to an anthology, I’d had a taste of the fun side of writing, and wow, was it tasty. Like, Samoa Girl Scout cookies tasty. I wanted more of that, so January 1st 2019, I queried every publisher I was interested in. It was one and done. Either someone gave my story a chance or I had to move on.

At the same time, I entered the Golden Heart as part of a pact to get my crit partners to enter. I’d sent in a different version of SALT+STILETTOS in 2018 so didn’t hold out any hope, but wanted to see my girls shine. I was just there as a cheering section.

Then I got the call that I had finaled. At Brighton’s urging, I updated my queries with “GH Finalist.” 

Things blew. Up. I got multiple publisher offers. Updated the outstanding agent queries, only to be polite, while I angsted over which publisher to go with.

Then multiple agents asked to be upgraded to fulls or promised to read by the deadline. Many passed, because this is real life. But I ended up scheduling several calls. Ultimately, I signed with the fabulous Eva Scalzo, who seemed to get the story and my career hopes, dumping the publisher offers in her lap five minutes later. 

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

The writing community has its issues, but when it comes through, it comes through big time. 

I was blessed with Brighton Walsh and JC Nelson, both amazing mentors during my Pitch Warsstints. Some wonderful contest judges reached out post-judging to an obvious newb writer, as well as the ladies from The Ruby Slippered Sisterhood. I won a random draw during Mentees Helping Mentees before Pitch Wars, and Jen DeLuca’s encouraging notes came just as I was ready to trash this story. Laura Threntham, my TGN mentor, has been invaluable since. 

I’m also lucky enough to have the best ride-or-die crit partners evah—Anne Raven, Gia De Cadenet, and Megan Starks.  

Have you written in collaboration with other writers?

Not yet, but the idea is intriguing.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

My website: https://janetwaldenwest.weebly.com/

Twitter: @JanetWaldenWest

Instagram: janetwaldenwest

Facebook

Goodreads

Amazon

The Million Words Blog

BookBub

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

I hope you enjoy Brett and Will’s first meeting in SALT+STILETTOS.

Brett turned to Will and that softness evaporated. He froze while her gaze tracked over him.

When she pulled a phone out—from where in that tight outfit, he had no clue—and her fingers danced over the screen, he breathed again, one thankful wheeze.

Right. “I’ll be in the kitchen. It was nice to meet you, ma’am.” And by nice, he meant terrifying. Like looking at a tiger in the zoo. Gorgeous, but strictly hands-off.

He bobbed his head at the seemingly oblivious woman and scouted a path out.

“Don’t move.” The command snapped out though she didn’t put away the phone.

He shot Richard a look, begging for help.

“Don’t you dare let him leave.” She used some creepy sixth sense in place of vision, flicking away on the phone.

“You could start tomorrow,” his friend said, but rocked back on his heels, gaze on the rafters. Avoiding Will’s silent plea.

“With forty-five days until opening? I think not.” She continued a conversation Will didn’t get.

“Um—”

She closed the screen and her gaze pinned Will in place. “Let’s begin immediately. Either stay silent or state what you have to say. No ums, likes, qualifiers, or upticks at the end that turn statements to questions. None of those engender trust in listeners or viewers. The absolute first thing you must do is establish that you’re an authority.”

Anxiety settled in, turning the sweat on his skin clammy. “Man, what’s—”

“Ahht.” Brett’s sharp noise shut him up. “No questions.”

This was a waking nightmare he couldn’t escape, where he was destined to never get the right answer.

Richard slapped Will’s shoulder. “Breathe. We talked about Brett.”

Betrayal replaced the last of the confusion. He’d trusted Richard. “The makeover thing? You said we’d discuss that. I don’t—”

“Oh, you do.” Brett tapped the phone on her chin, eyeing him again.

Will’s stomach lurched, swirling chimichurri, eggs, and distrust together.

Like she felt it, Brett sighed. “Let me explain. ‘We’ll talk’ is Richard-speak for the topic being a done deal.”

“I never agreed.” Will pulled up to all six and a half feet, which usually intimidated people whether he meant to or not.

Brett just did that eyebrow thing again. “You signed a contract with Richard.”

“Yeah, but only with him.” Will gave up and slumped, hands in his pockets since the attempted intimidation didn’t do anything but make him feel like a bully. 

“Richard’s standard Fleur de Lis Hospitality contract language states that you are committed to any and all modifications necessary to further the FDL line and brand, in a favorable light. The clause was originally my idea.”

“But—”

“FDL has a standing contract with me for my company’s services. Which means you are mine for the next forty-five days. I assume you’re testing at The Coop with Richard since Khalli isn’t completed yet. I’ll meet you there.” She crooked a finger at Will, then slid through the crowd, slick as a shark through a wave, clearly expecting him to follow.

AuThursday – Laura Brown

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

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

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

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

What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?

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

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

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

Do you believe in writer’s block? 

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

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

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

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

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

Where do you see publishing going in the future?

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

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

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

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

https://www.laurabrownauthor.com/

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

https://twitter.com/AuthorLBrown

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

AuThursday – Seelie Kay

As I will be running a Spotlight with Seelie Kay tomorrow I wanted to share an interview originally posted July 7, 2019.  

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/

 

#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 – 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.”