AuThursday – Suzanne Baltsar

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I grew up a dancer and theatre kid, always into the arts. In grades school, I wrote NSYNC fan-fiction which was my first step into what would become me writing romance. After college, I formed a film company and produced a couple of things, including a feature that I wrote and directed. After that I thought, if I could write a movie, I could totally write a book. My debut book, Trouble Brewing, came out in 2018, and now I’m in an MFA program, always working on the next project.
How do you make time to write?
I have two little kids at home and recently left my job to actually have more time to write while they are at pre-school. Being in school for writing forces me to be more disciplined about it because I have papers to write, but I need to write. It helps clear my head, so I just put aside time to do it. If I don’t, I get cranky.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
Yes. HAHAHA. For sure.
Tell us a bit about the genre you write and why you love it.
I currently write romance and women’s fiction. I love romance because there is always a happy ending. It’s a comfort in this wild world to find joy.
How are you publishing your recent book and why? 
I am indie publishing a 4 book series this summer because the last few books that my agent had in the submission were all passed on so I figured I have nothing to lose.
Are you an Introvert or an Extrovert?  How does this affect your work?
I’m an extroverted introvert, and I’ve never really thought of how it affects my work. But now that I am, since I have always had jobs that require me to be “on” all the time when I come home I’m very quiet and need my space, which is what writing provides for me. It clears my head of clutter.
What is your favorite motivational phrase?
What’s the worse thing to happen? You can fail. So what? Try again.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Run your own race. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?
Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?
I literally wrote this line a few minutes ago and it still has me giggling…
“She was out there crying over you, so I’d say so, you fucking potato.”

AuThursday – Adele Buck

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
 
I’m a self-published author of five romance novels and one novella. I’ve recently started writing more in my age range (>40) and I LOVE it! I’m also querying a non-romance (women’s fiction).
 
How do you make time to write?
 
I don’t have kids and my husband loves to cook. It’s as disgustingly simple as that.
 
Do you believe in writer’s block?
 
I believe that there are places in various stories were writers get stuck, for sure. I’m not sure I’d call it writer’s block for me – it’s more that I have lost track of something (stakes, motivation, conflict usually.).
 
Tell us a bit about the genre you write and why you love it.
 
I write mostly romance and I love the challenge of it – it’s harder than it looks to take two people (or more, though I only write couples) and believably get them through the story so that they fall in love on the other end!
 
How are you publishing your recent book and why?
 
Indie. I had an agent for a few years, but wasn’t selling anything to New York publishers. We finally amicably split and now I’m looking for a new agent while I self publish.
 
Are you an Introvert or Extrovert?  How does this affect your work?
 
I’m what I call a “performative introvert.” I definitely need alone time to recharge, but I was also an actress and a singer in my younger years, so I also love applause!
 
What is your favorite motivational phrase?
 
I don’t have one.
 
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
 
Surround yourself with astute, generous critique partners – and be one in return.
 
Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?
 
Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?
 
“I’m serious.” Vati took a long pull of her drink. “You have a leaky pipe, you call a master plumber. You want to bait your ex-husband into looking like the dumpster fire he is, you—”
 
“Hire a master…baiter?” Tove broke in, laughing in spite of herself. “What, like a boy toy? Do Anthony one better by bringing someone even younger than Emily?” She snorted and rolled her eyes. “Even if I wanted to do something like that, Anthony would see straight through it. It’s absolutely not my style. Also utterly hypocritical, considering how I’ve been rolling my eyes at his increasingly younger wives for years.”
 
– From The Wedding Bait (an >50 romance novella)

New Release – Snow by Any other Name

Title:  Tales From the Frozen North Anthology featuring “Snow by any other Name,” by Tina Holland

Series: A Brave the Elements Short Story

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Release Date:  Kindle Anthology March 15th. 

Editor: Robin Pope Cain

Cover Artist: Anthology Tiffany Fier 

Blurb:

Holly Frost has a problem. She can’t make it snow in Innocent, Minnesota. As a descendent of Jack Frost, she should be natural, but something is very wrong. She needs help so she goes to Sheriff Andy Finn.

Andy Finn is a grouchy, not-yet hibernating bear shifter. All he wants is for the snow to fly so he can get some sleep, but it’s forty degrees in December. When Holly Frost approaches him for help, he sets aside his dislike of the Frost family and does his job by taking her to a powerful elemental.

Excerpt: 

Sheriff Andy Finn watched as trouble—AKA Holly Frost—made her way towards him. What did the woman want?  Why did she look as if she had him in her sights? All he wanted was to manage this town of shifters and humans and make sure everyone got along. Having the fae parked in his backyard didn’t help, and he didn’t want to tangle with them any more than necessary. 

Andy had a job to do, and he did not need the distraction of Holly. It was bad enough he was still awake. As a bear shifter, he needed to hibernate, but his clock was off until the weather dropped below thirty-two degrees. It was nowhere near freezing, not even a frost—unless he counted the Frost standing in front of him. 

“Sheriff,” Holly sounded out of breath. “I need your help.”

Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09T3N12GG/

About the Author:  

Tina studied journalism at University and then went to work for a fortune 500 company working Logistics for over 20 years.  She now writes full-time and helps her husband run his Crop Dusting business in the summer months.  When she’s not writing she likes to travel, read and spend time with her farm critters.  

Social Media Links:  

Website – www.tinaholland.com

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/author.tina.holland

Twitter – https://twitter.com/haveubeenaughty

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/tina_holland

Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.com/haveubeenaughty

Author Central – https://www.amazon.com/Tina-Holland/e/B003OLKLA6?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_2&qid=1647117774&sr=1-2

AuThursday – Miriam Newman

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I began publishing poetry in my twenties but never attempted a novel until I was in my 50s, life as a wife, stepmother and social worker having gotten in the way. I’m now 30 books in, attempting my second retirement so I’ll have more time to write! Many of my books were written or started in Ireland, my second home. They range from historical romance to fantasy, fantasy historical romance and science fiction.
How do you make time to write?
Primarily by doing it when I should be sleeping, LOL.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
Absolutely. I have learned not to fight it. It will cure itself when it is ready. I think of it as incubation, because when it breaks, I write like a demon. So I know all those books were just churning around in there, unseen.
Tell us a bit about the genre you write and why you love it.
I am a true history geek. My reference library is somewhat staggering. I love writing historical romance because I can draw on some of the more fascinating nuggets I have discovered to craft a story. I say that I write “romance with realism.” Equally, I love fantasy historical romance because I can create my own worlds.
How are you publishing your recent book and why? 
My most recent release, “The Eagle’s Lady,” is through a publisher who published its predecessor, “The Eagle’s Woman.” I have also indie published a number of books, most notably The Chronicles of Alcinia. The Chronicles are a continuing project.
Are you an Introvert or Extrovert? How does this affect your work?
Totally an introvert. Because I thrive in solitude, it produces books at a rate that sometimes surprises me.
What is your favorite motivational phrase?
Butt in chair, fingers on keyboard.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Keep doing it! Even when you don’t think it’s good or what you want at the time, keep those scraps in your documents file. You will be surprised how many times they will come out just when you need them.
Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?
Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?
The prologue to The King’s Daughter, Book I of The Chronicles of Alcinia, reflects my writing style:
“I was the King’s daughter once, so many years ago that sometimes now it is hard to remember. Before the tide of time carried away so many things, so many people, it was worth something to be the daughter of a King. Our little island nation of Alcinia was not rich, except for tin mines honeycombing the south. It wasn’t even hospitable. Summer was a brief affair and fall was only a short time of muted colors on the northernmost coast where my father sat his throne at the ancient Keep of Landsfel. Winter was the killing time and spring was hardly better, with frosts that could last into Fifth-Month. But from the south, where men cut thatch in a pattern like the bones of fish, to the north where rock roses spilled down cliffs to the sea, it was my own. One thinks such things will never change, yet all things do.”

AuThursday – Karen J. Hicks

COVER IMAGE
Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
A Wisconsin farm girl now retired and living in Green Valley, AZ. Worked for author/comedian Steve Allen; comedian Richard Pryor; and the Oak Ridge Boys. Have published 7 books. Complete info on my website!
How do you make time to write?
By saying NO to things. It’s a small word that’s hard to say sometimes, but essential.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
Yep. Been there. Found THE ARTIST’S WAY a good book of exercises to work past it. Also STIRRING THE WATERS.
Tell us a bit about the genre you write and why you love it.
I’m all over the place. lol I’ve got a self-help book on being organized, another more spiritual self-help book on what birds can teach us, a biographical novel about the first woman to run for U.S. President (1872!) , a collection of O’Henry-type short stories, and a three-book romance series I call my Dream Series.
How are you publishing your recent book and why? 
First two books were published by traditional books-on-demand publishers. Now I self-publish through KDP.
Are you an Introvert or Extrovert? How does this affect your work?
People think I’m an Extrovert because I am very social, but I’m actually quite shy and very introspective so I’d call myself an Introvert.
What is your favorite motivational phrase?
This too shall pass.
Works for both positive and negative situations to keep me on track.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Write from your heart. Don’t overthink. Spew it all out on the page and then edit, edit, edit.

AuThursday – Faye Hall

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
 
Faye Hall spent her early years listening to stories about the families – including her own – who settled townships in and around her hometown in North Queensland, Australia. The local townspeople, including her own parents, told her stories of corruption and slavery, along with family secrets and forbidden love. Desperate to remember what she’d been told, along with her already growing love of writing, Faye began to write about the history of her local area. Never could she have imagined the history of her small home town in Australia would become a growing list of published books. Faye’s passionate stories combine controversial subjects and provocative encounters as her characters struggle to survive the lifestyle in early rural townships throughout Australia. She explores slavery and abortion, drug addiction and murder, as well as forbidden love and passionate affairs of the heart. When she’s not writing, Faye enjoys sharing a bottle of wine with her husband in their ever-growing garden, and encouraging the varied interests of their combined family of nine children.
 
How do you make time to write?
 
With such a large family, it’s difficult to plan where and when I’m going to commit time to writing, so I’ve learned to be happy with a few lines here and there on my busiest days. Most of my book ideas come while I’m waiting to do school pick ups, and then it’s a series of late nights and early mornings to piece the rest of the story together.
 
Do you believe in writer’s block?
 
I do, yes. All you need sometimes is one bad review, or some snide remark about sales and it can really deflate you so much the brain just freezes. I’ve learned that for me, I go back over old notes, or try to edit some forgotten about manuscript to try and snap myself out of it. My husband and children are also incredibly supportive and try to get me talking or thinking about new story idea – even humorous ones – just to get my back on track.
 
Tell us a bit about the genre you write and why you love it.
 
I write Australian Historical Romantic Suspense. I’m a born and bred Aussie girl, so it made sense to me to set my stories in and around my hometown. As for the rest, I’ve always loved history, and a good mystery so I wrote the kind of stories I wanted to read.
 
How are you publishing your recent book and why?
 
Carnal Transgression was released in June through a small traditional publisher names Beachwalk Press. They’ve done all of my current releases and gave me hope after I got burned by another publishing company.
 
Are you an Introvert or Extrovert? How does this affect your work?
 
I’m very much an introvert and spend a lot of time lost in my own thoughts. Of course, having children at school forces me to be more social then I would be by choice, which is also good because sometimes ideas come from the strangest of places.
 
What is your favorite motivational phrase?
 
A bad first draft is better than a blank page.
 
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
 
Learn to take criticism and write what you want, not just to please people.
 
Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?
 
Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?
 
Fear of exactly what her sister might have seen directed her steps out of the hotel and into a run down the street. Constance needed to collect her belongings and find a place to hide until she’d found justice for her sister and discovered if her death was connected to her investigation into the boats docking at Lynch’s Beach.
 
She hadn’t gone far when she abruptly collided with the firm figure of a man.
 
“Are you all right?” he asked, his hands on her hips steadying her.
 
Recognizing his melodic brogue, Constance looked up into his green eyes.
 
“It’s you,” he uttered softly, looking confused. Lifting his hands to her face, he gently wiped away the wet tracks on her cheeks. “What’s happened to drive a wee little beauty into my arms again so soon?”
 
His innocent question was the last reality needed for the true horror of what was happening to wash over her.
 
Losing all control, tears streamed down her cheeks, and her lips trembled as she surrendered to her grief.
 
“Now, lass, whatever it is, surely it can’t be that bad,” he said, his arm going around her, holding her tight as he led her to a street bench. Sitting her down, he brushed her hair back from her face. “Where’s the lady you were with last night? Your sister, wasn’t she? I can take you to her if you think that will help.”
 
She struggled to hold her tears at bay. “She’s dead.”
 
“What?” he gasped.
 
“Her body was found washed up on the beach this morning,” Constance blurted out, still unable to believe the words.
 
He squeezed her tight, holding her against him as he rocked her slightly. “My poor, sweet beauty. I’m sorry for your loss.”
 
He felt so strong, so safe, his words comforting her far more than she believed anything capable of in this moment.
 
“I think I should take you to the police station,” he stated, brushing her hair from her tear-drenched cheeks.
 
His words startled her. She didn’t want to be taken anywhere near the police station or Robert. She pushed away from him and stood up, wiping at her cheeks and straightening her dress. “You’ve been most kind, sir, but I can’t ask you to do any more than you already have.”
 
He stood, stepping toward her. “Someone has to investigate what caused your sister’s death.”
 
“And I will,” she assured him firmly.
 
“Please, I want to help you.”
 
Constance’s hands stilled, holding his gaze for several moments, her tears flowing down her cheeks again. How she ached to accept his offer, but she was too scared to put her trust in anyone.
 
“You can’t.” Her words were barely more than a whisper, but she could tell by his scowl he heard her.
 
“Where will you go?” he asked.

AuThursday – Hiliary Amanda

 
Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
 
I have been writing since I was a child. I was the editor of my high school newspaper and writing has always been a passion of mine. I have 6 kids ages 3-15.
 
How do you make time to write?
 
I dont sleep … I usually write at night or if we are traveling in the car when my husband is driving I will write on the laptop
 
Do you believe in writer’s block?
 
No… I have so many stories floating in my head begging to be let out
 
Tell us a bit about the genre you write and why you love it.
 
Drama/romance. All the twists, turns and of course love that you can experience in each new story.
 
How are you publishing your recent book? (*e.g. Indie, traditional or both)
 
Both
 
Are you an Introvert or Extrovert? How does this affect your work?
 
Both.. very situational
 
What is your favorite motivational phrase?
 
She believed she could and so she did.
 
 
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
 
Keep writing, don’t give up. As long as you have stories to tell, write them down
 
Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?
 
 
 

AuThursday – Crystal Estell

Tell us a little about yourself and your background? 

I was raised in South Carolina in extreme poverty. Not as in I didn’t own name brand jeans, but as in I once lived in a condemned migrant worker’s house with no working bathroom until a church rented our family a place, poverty. That place didn’t last long, and then it was on to the next run down trailer we could find for pennies, as my late father was an alcoholic who barely worked. It didn’t help that neither of my parents had more than a 7th grade education. 

At 17, I moved out. And after taking several detours––that I’ll probably write about one day––I put myself through nursing school and now hold a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing Degree, working full time as a registered nurse. While I enjoy taking care of people, something happened that changed my life several years ago. Doctors diagnosed me with two rare conditions, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and a Chiari Malformation, which led to over eleven surgeries, including one on my brain. Shortly after, my then 7-year-old son had open heart surgery. It helped me realize life is short, and that I should do what makes me happy. 

Writing makes me happy. 

And when I’m not working, writing, or caring for my zoo filled with kids, dogs, chickens, and Churro, the rabbit, I find pleasure—and sanity—in deep conversations, coffee, and coloring outside the lines. 

My hope is that the happy endings I write provide an escape to someone who needs it, as books––and a late, inspiring aunt––gave me the emotional support I needed to create an alternate ending to my own story. 

How do you make time to write?

I just do. With a full time job and five very active kids, I have to make sacrifices–not excuses. I treat writing like a second job. My family respects it like a second job. And that makes it a lot easier to do what needs to be done. Otherwise, I’d never find the time. 

Do you believe in writer’s block? 

I have a different view of writer’s block than most. To me, it’s not being stuck or having nothing to write about. It’s more that my mind has so many ideas and possibilities flowing through it simultaneously that it’s hard to focus on just one idea. So everything just feels scrambled. 

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

I write mainly romance because it’s one genre where I know I’m guaranteed a happy ending. I am working on a women’s fiction novel currently w/ some romantic elements–and of course a happy ever after. 

How are you publishing your recent book and why? 

Indie publishing. Ahh…I did try traditionally publishing this book at first. I had lots of requests, compliments from agents, etc. What I learned about traditional publishing though is that having a great book doesn’t always equate to getting a great agent or a great contract. I had an offer from a digital publisher with the possibility of print after so many copies sold, but I declined because of the success I had self-publishing my first book. And because my reason for traditionally publishing would be to see my book in a place like Barnes and Noble (yes, I’m trying to walk before I crawl), I opted to continue Indie publishing for now. Until the next one… My ultimate goal is to do both. 

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

Introvert–although I can fake being an extrovert when forced to. Just don’t look at my armpits…lol. I think being an introvert helps because writing requires a lot of alone time, just me and the characters in my own head. The downside comes when it’s time to network and market. That leans in favor of the extroverts. 

What is your favorite motivational phrase? 

You fail only if you stop writing. ~Ray Bradbury 

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Don’t stop writing. Each book is always better than the one before. It’s only a matter of time before you write your masterpiece. 

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web? 

https://estellsplace.com 

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

Excerpt From: “Field of Secrets.” 

He sat beside her. “This is where you used to spy on me from all those years ago.” 

“I never spied.” Not for malicious reasons, anyway. She enjoyed watching him trot back to the stables on his strong horse, all proud and confident. It reminded her of the cowboys on TV, those handsome young men riding in on powerful stallions, winking at the waiting ladies. She’d say her crush started then, or maybe a little before. She didn’t exactly know. 

Because in all her memories, she loved him.

AuThursday – J.E. McDonald

JEMcDonald_2020SquareTell us a little about yourself and your background?

I was born and raised in Saskatchewan, Canada, and I live there with my husband and three girls ranging in ages from 3 to 10 year old. I’m a coffee addict and a Mine-craft junkie, and I adore spending time with my family, especially at the
lake.
I love writing books infused with humor, mystery, and steam. My series, the Wickwood Chronicles, is set in the fictional
town of Wickwood where the unexpected keeps happening. Book three in the series, Ghost of a Summoning, will be
coming out on September 14th, and it’s all about a prophecy that needs to be stopped or the gates of hell will be opened on Earth. (It’s funny too, I swear!)

How do you make time to write?

I wake up early in the morning and join the #5amwritersclub on Twitter. Sometimes it’s hard to make myself roll out of
bed and sometimes I wake up before my alarm. It’s the best time for me to write because everyone else in my house is
asleep and I find I’m the most productive in the morning.

Do you believe in writer’s block?

I think writer’s block can be attributed to either a lack or inspiration or a lack of motivation. If you really want to, you can
get around those. The biggest dry spell I had with my writing was because of depression. It took a while, but I got back
into my routine a step at a time. Even if I sat down and only wrote fifty words, I did it daily, and eventually returned to my regular pace.
When I feel a lack of inspiration, I read a lot. I’ll return to old favorites, or binge on something new.

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

I write paranormal romance, and I absolutely love ALL romance. Paranormal is especially exciting because I love
mythology and the fantastical paired with high stakes and spice.

Ghost Enchantment DIGTIAL coverNew (quote)How are you publishing your recent book, Ghost of an Enchantment, and why?

I’m with a small press called City Owl Press, and I love being one of their authors. They’re supportive and energetic and I
hope to be working with them for a long time yet.

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

I’m an extroverted introvert. I like meeting new people, but it can be draining, and I have no problem spending time on
my own. I think my biggest challenge is on social media. It’s hard for me to connect with new people, but I work at it a
little bit at a time.

What is your favorite motivational phrase?

Let’s do this!

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Reach out to people in the writing community and make connections. Other authors can be some of your greatest allies,
and you’ll never know what opportunities might come up.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

Lots of places! My website and newsletter sign up at https://www.jemcdonald.net/

And here are my social media links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JEMcDonaldAuthor/?modal=admin_todo_tour
Twitter: https://twitter.com/JEMcdonaldSk
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jemcdonaldsk/

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

I’d love to! This is the beginning of Ghost of a Gamble, the first book in the Wickwood Chronicles.

Her tote bag hitched on her shoulder, Bree picked up her pace as she weaved in and out of the early morning shoppers.
Late. Late. Late. So damn late. One or two hours she could get away with. But three? Even Theo couldn’t be that
forgiving. Could he?
The eviction notice she’d found on her door that morning burned a hole in her back pocket. Trying not to dwell on it, she
trotted through the bustling morning crowd of old downtown. She skirted around a young family, then bumped into a
man with a camera pointed at the clock tower.
“Sorry!” she shouted as she dodged between a dog and bicycle, breezing past the advertisement board. Her short jog
finished in front of Theodore’s Bakery.
Bree inhaled the scent of fresh baked bread and thrust open the door. Chimes tinkled overhead. A line of customers
snaked through the shop, every table full with coffee-drinking, scone-eating patrons.
“Hey, Fran,” she said as she rushed to toss her tote bag on the back counter and grab her apron.
Behind the cash register, a harried Fran, her white hair coming out of her bun, shook her head, unsmiling. “I tried to call
you.”
“I turned my phone off.” As usual when I’m sleeping.
“Theo wants to talk to you.”
Bree glanced at the lineup, then back at Fran.
“Go,” Fran said, jerking her chin to the kitchen.
Tying the apron around her waist, Bree pushed through the swinging doors and found her boss taking a batch of buns
out of the oven. “Hey, Theo. Sorry I’m late. Fran said you wanted to talk to me?”
Theo’s bald head gleamed as he slid the pan into one of the cooling racks before meeting her gaze. “I can’t do it
anymore, Bree. I’m going to have to let you go.” His eyes held regret.
No. No. No. Not again. This wasn’t happening. “I’m sorry. I won’t be late again. I promise.”
He wiped his brow with his forearm. “I thought maybe it could work, but you’re not made for mornings.”
Bree smoothed her apron with shaky hands. “Then I can come later and do the shop work like Fran. I can clear tables
and serve people.”
He shook his head. “That’s what I have Fran for. I hired you for the back and that’s the person I need. I can only hire one
other person and I need that person here at six.”
From his quiet voice and the hard set of his shoulders, Bree knew he’d already made up his mind. She gave him a small
nod and forced her chin not to wobble. “I understand.” She stared at the tips of her sneakers. “I’m sorry I didn’t do a
better job.” Being yelled at would have been so much easier than dealing with his disappointment.
Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?
A heavy sigh made her head snap up. Maybe he’d changed his mind? But the expression in his eyes told her not to get
her hopes up.
“Look,” he began. “I’ll give you a recommendation if you need it. I’ll keep an eye out if there are openings anywhere.”
Her breath hitched. “You’d give me a recommendation?”
“Hey, when you’re here, you’re a good worker. It’s these early hours that don’t suit you.”
If it were only the case. Bree’s stomach squeezed. Nine o’clock. Ten o’clock. It didn’t matter what time her job began.
She’d lay awake at night, wanting to fall asleep, willing herself to fall asleep, and nothing would happen but her brain
playing the haunting sound of the wind whispering through the pine trees in her ears.
And now she’d lost another job because she couldn’t wake up in the morning. Her eyes drifted over the pans stacked in
the sink, all the dough that hadn’t been rolled out yet. Failure had her shoulders slumping. She turned to leave, then
stopped. “Um, I hate to ask this, but my paycheck?”
Another sigh. “Fran’s got it up front.”
“Thanks.” She pushed the swinging door open and paused. “You were a good boss,” she said over her shoulder. The
sound of dough smacking the counter followed her into the storefront.
The line in the bakery had diminished some, but every table had someone at it. Fran gave her a sympathetic smile.
Guess she knew I was getting fired when I walked in the door. Bree took off her apron, grabbed her tote bag, and waited
until the last person in line had paid. She sidled up to the counter, hip pressed against the glass housing everything from cinnamon buns to focaccia, and gave Fran a half smile. “I’ll get an Americano to go.”
Fran rang her up. Bree scanned the patrons, trying not to let the gloom of being fired set in. She needed a new job or
she’d be living on the street in a week. Her eyes darted to the advertisement board full of flyers and posters outside the
bakery. Maybe she could find something there, something that didn’t involve a morning shift.
Fran passed her a coffee and her check. Bree glanced at it and a little of the tension in her chest eased. Just enough to
cover what she owed her landlord.
She dug into her pocket for a five to pay for the coffee. She knew she had one. She’d put it there yesterday and hadn’t
spent it. Or had she? Her front pockets were empty. She quickly checked her back pockets, but only found the eviction
notice. Her cheeks heated. Her bank account probably had enough in it for her to use her card, right? It would be a
gamble. She swallowed and met Fran’s brown eyes.
Fran waved a dismissive hand. “This one’s on me. Consider it a going away present.”
Bree barked out a laugh. “Like, ‘Please go away and never come back’ kind of present?”
Fran’s hand flew to her chest. “Oh, my, no! I’m just sorry it didn’t work out. Now Theo’s going to be a person short until he
finds someone more suitable.”
More suitable. Bree had heard that one before too. The door chimed and a new customer received Fran’s attention. Bree
lifted her cup. “Thanks for the coffee.”
Fran gave her a small smile, then turned her attention to the man in a suit. Bree eyed her check, a hard knot solidifying in her chest. She still needed another full month’s rent in three weeks.
The check wrinkled between her fingers as she squeezed it. One option would be to take the money and run. It was
enough that if she packed up and left tomorrow, she could settle in a new town and not look back. She’d already paid
her last month’s rent when she’d signed the rental agreement. And no one would miss her here.
Inaya would.
The door chimed behind her as she left the yeasty smells of the bakery. Bree inhaled the crisp air of the street, people watching as they bustled around her, trying to focus on anything but the unease in her chest. She sipped her coffee and
winced when it burned her tongue.
Rubbing the sting away on the back of her teeth, she strolled the five steps to the advertisement board. From beneath
the half-wall, she saw someone on the other side in combat boots and black jeans. Bree scanned the ads. Most were
college students searching for roommates. Others were for concerts coming up in the Wickwood area.
The hard knot in Bree’s chest mutated into a hot burn. She really needed a job.
Thunk. Thunk. A stapler hit the other side of the board. She straightened. Thunk. Thunk. Slowly, she edged to the side
and peeked around the board to check out what Mr. Combat Boots had posted. Probably looking for a roommate.
She noticed his hair first. Brown with a hint of red, it swept across his forehead to stop below his chin. A dusting of
stubble showed through his tawny skin, but nothing you could call a beard. And his clothes matched his boots. All black.
He’s cute. Her heart did a double thump. Really cute.
Straightening, she stepped around the board to get a better look at his flyer. His golden eyes tracked her, then quickly
looked away. He stepped back to admire his handiwork, and she stood beside him, shoulder to shoulder. Her body
hummed. Acting casual, Bree took a cautious sip of her coffee and read the flier.
HELP WANTED IMMEDIATELY
PART-TIME FIELD ASSISTANT
RESILIENT PERSONALITY PREFERRED
AVAILABLE NIGHTS
*NEEDS TO KEEP AN OPEN MIND*
She pursed her lips. “What do you do? Make pornos or something?” She wouldn’t want to star in a porno—not that she
didn’t have the skills—but taking a leap into adult entertainment wasn’t a life goal. She wasn’t a prude and could
probably be an assistant.
“What?” He turned so abruptly, he hit her elbow. She managed to hold onto her coffee, but some splashed out of the lid
and landed on his jacket with a splat.
“Oh, my God.” Bree set her cup on the ledge of the advertisement board and dug around in her tote for a tissue. “Are you
hurt? Are you burnt?”
Eyes wide, he shook his head.
“I’m so sorry.” Bree kept digging in her bag. There must be a napkin or something in here. “Not that it was my fault, mind
you, since you hit my hand. But I am sorry I poured coffee on you.” She found a used, crumpled up tissue, stared at it for
a full two seconds, shrugged, and wiped at the front of his jacket. “At least I didn’t get your boots wet.”
As she turned to reaffirm her coffee was secure on the ledge, she hit the cup with her tote. The cup tipped, tipped…she
reached…and it fell to the ground with a dull thud. The lid flew off and coffee splattered her sneakers and his boots.
“Oh my God, I can’t believe I did it again.” Easy come, easy go. That’s how it was with free pity coffees. She went to a
knee and swiped at the moisture on his boots. The embarrassment ringing in her ears made it hard for her to hear.
“Please stop,” he said, the words finally making it through.
She peered up to see his wonderfully beautiful face twisted in distress. Glaring at the tissue, she grimaced, and shoved
it in her tote before hopping to her feet.
“Sorry,” she muttered. Had she ruined her chances?
Most likely.
She glanced at the flyer. She really needed a job, but if he was wanting a fluffer, that was probably a deal breaker.
Probably.
“So, um, you’re needing a field assistant? I’m actually looking for a job.” Best not to mention she’d been fired five
minutes ago.
Instead of saying yes or no, he stared at her with bewildered eyes. She cleared her throat. No change in his expression.
She cocked her chin to the flyer. “The porno thing? I haven’t worked at a porno shoot before.”
“Porno thing?” That snapped him out of it. “What? No.” He shook his head. “No porno thing.”
From the completely shocked look on his face, she knew he had to be telling the truth. She swallowed hard. But was it
something worse? Her mind scrambled to fill in the blanks left by the flier. Grave digger? Grave robber? Neither fit.
No matter what it was, she worried at her bottom lip, believing she might have just ruined her shot at making sure she
didn’t end up homeless.

AuThursday – Jaycee Jarvis

RT_JL_006Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I’m a fantasy romance author living in the Pacific Northwest of the US. I’ve lived all over the country and even spent a year abroad as a kid. I love to travel and see new places and meet new people. Traveling is a little harder now that I have kids, though they are pretty adventurous too. One of the things I’m most exciting to get back to in 2022 is traveling again.

As for my journey to becoming a writer, I’m what some might consider a late bloomer. As a child I wasn’t motivated to learn to read because with picture books I could always make up a story that interested me as much as the “official” one. When I was eight my mom started reading me chapters books before bed and that’s when I really fell in love with the magic of the written word, and was motivated to learn to read myself. Similarly I’ve always been drawn to story telling, but didn’t really start writing stories until I took a creative writing class in college and really felt the magic in that creative process. It was a long journey from those first classes to my first published book twenty years later.

How do you make time to write? 

As a mom with three school aged children, I’m used to fitting writing in around school schedules and other kid activities. I’ve written a lot of words sitting on the sidelines of dance class or kiddy soccer. That said, this past year has been a whole new level of challenge in terms of time management. My kids have only recently returned to in-person school and we are all adjusting to the new schedule. One thing I’m really looking forward to is writing in coffee shops again.

Do you believe in writer’s block? 

I certainly believe in burn out, and other obstacles to the creative process. Art of any kind takes a certain amount of creative energy, and there are certainly circumstances in a writer’s life that can make it difficult to refill the well.

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

I write fantasy romance novels, because ultimately I want to write the books I most want to read. I’ve always been drawn to the wonder and possibilities of fantasy novels, but I also crave the optimism and emotional resonance of a good romance. With fantasy romance I feel like I have the best of both worlds.

How did you come up with the idea for your series, Hands of Destin? 

I spent a long time world building and playing around with a magic system where everyone has a touch of talent, so much so that the idea of magic doesn’t even really exist. I wanted to explore the lives of ordinary people in an extraordinary world.  I’m a character first writer, so I really established the friend group that is at the core of the Hands of Destin series before diving into any individual book. I’m a huge fan of found family stories and “buddy novels” as they are sometimes called in romance circles, where a series depends on moving from one couple to another in a friend or family group. 

Some my character choices were very deliberate, but my writing is also subject to the whims of the muse. I feel like Madi (the heroine from Deadly Courtship, book two in the series) introduced herself fully formed while I was in the shower one day. And don’t ask me why all the best ideas strike in the shower, but it is surprisingly common!

I see you are Traditionally Published, why was this path right for you? 

I’m a perfectionist and a tinkerer who can always see new ways to improve my work, so external deadlines and expectations are really helpful to my writing process. As a new writer, I also really wanted to focus on the writing, without having to account for all the other moving pieces that go into creating a book. I can imagine self-publishing eventually, but for now I really enjoy the partnership I have with my publisher.

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

My personal philosophy is that you miss all of the chances you don’t take, so it is important to not let the fear of failure hold you back. Rejection and criticism are part of the business of writing. I also believe that fiction is a collaboration between the writer and the reader, which means that my stories aren’t always going to land the way I intend it to land. Understanding this makes it easier to have the thick skin needed for this business. 

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Write the book you’ve always wanted to read, for two reasons. One: if the idea excites you, then you can bet there are readers out there hungry for the same thing.  Two: you are going to be reading your work over and over and over, until there are times when you hate it. If the story doesn’t grab you on some deep level, pushing through those rough patches is going to be that much harder.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

Website: http://www.jayceejarvis.com/

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JayceeJarvis

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/jaycee-jarvis

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18092674.Jaycee_Jarvis

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

I’ll share the moment before Terin and Aurelia’s first kiss in Crowning Courtship—I think this scene captures some of the tensions of their charade, as well as Aurelia’s inner struggle against their mutual attraction.

crowningcourtship600x900Terin chuckled. “Could you be more perfect?”

His toes found hers under the water and his foot rubbed Aurelia’s leg in a subtle caress that filled her with impossible longings.

The smile dropped off her face, as she was reminded of exactly why she was no prize. She looked away, lacking the will to move her foot out of reach. “Hardly perfect.”

His scooted closer, his face serious. “Perfect for me.”

Aurelia’s heart fluttered. He meant she was perfect for his scheme, perfect for his deception, and yet she yearned to take him at his word. To believe that this time, just once, she was enough.

She canted toward him, her breath shallow and her lips parted.

Desire flared in his eyes, visible even in the low light. Would he kiss her? Should she kiss him?

With a groan he pushed away from her. He dropped his head back on the edge of the pool with a loud thump.

She flinched, the hollow thud reawakening the anxiety she had felt on entering the room. Her head flared with a sympathy pain.

He drummed the back of his head against the rock while muttering angrily.

“What’s wrong?” She had never seen him take on so.

“I promised to be good,” he growled, his face still turned up toward the ceiling, though at least he’d stopped banging his head.

Her brow knit. “Have you done something bad?”

He tilted his head to look at her. The heat and longing in his gaze seared right to her core. “I want, rather desperately, to kiss you, but I promised I would behave. That I would wait for you. Wait for your invitation before touching you, and only do what you want me to do. Do you want me to kiss you?”

“Now? Here?” Her eyes darted around the glittering chamber. While they were alone, the room was hardly private.

“Ever.”

He was so beautiful it was almost painful. Of course she wanted this man. How could she not? It was time she be honest with them both. With a feeling like she was tossing her fate to the current, she met his gaze square on. “Yes, Terin, I do.”