AuThursday – Sue L. Hamilton

Please welcome my fellow ND author, Sue L. Hamilton to The Clog Blog.  Sue, tell us a little about yourself and your background?

Growing up on a family farm in north central ND provided a strong work ethic that lead to a 20-year corporate career, encompassing direct sales, upper management, employee training, customer service, and business development. 

For the last 15 years, I’ve redirected my passion by encouraging others through the gift of speaking and writing.  This allows others to be motivated and energized and bring them hope.

I’m an eternal optimist that loves life.  On a personal note, I love gardening, cooking, and classic cars and is especially fond of being a wife of 31 years and mother of two grown sons.

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

The structure I use on a regular basis while writing is the following:

  • Personal Story
  • Thoughts about the problem
  • Lessons learned – teaching
  • What to inspire or to move to action
  • Prayer

Do you ever get writer’s Block?

Yep!

Okay, I’ll say a little more.  I’ve felt like I’ve had writer’s block ever since I completed my memoir Carried by Faith in the fall of 2017.  I worked at it for seven years. In the last two of those years, I worked at it every day, even if it was for fifteen minutes.  Now I have to force myself to write a weekly blog and most recently have went to an every other week blog because I just don’t feel like writing. UGH!!

What genre do you write, and what draws you to it?

Blog posts are geared mostly to middle-aged women working on self – improvement.

Memoir Carried by Faith is a wide range audience from male or female, age 16-70 years old.

How do you come up with the idea for your book?

I was forced into writing!  While doing a lot of public speaking I use my life stories in the presentation/training and afterward people would ask me if I had a book or a website that I shared my stories in detail.  The answer was always a resounding, “No!” I continued to hear it and decided to begin writing even though I wasn’t a writer. So, the idea for my memoir was my life stories from around the age of 5 – 30years old and a tragic motorcycle accident I survived.

My current project is a self-help book with the “rest of the story” from where I left off in the memoir.  

How do you publish your book(s) and why?  (Indie, traditional or small press)

Self-publish.  I used TLC Design https://www.tlcbookdesign.com/ which allows for a la carte or packaged options.  I’ve chosen this route because of the cost and the control of timing in producing a finished product.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Start writing and keep writing!  Huh – maybe I need to take my own advice.  

Find your writing voice and style.  The only way I’ve found this is by continuing to write and seeing what I like and don’t like.  In addition, I suggest that you get used to being told you need to improve and change things that you thought were wonderful and after someone else reads it they give you feedback for improvement.  Be ready for constructive criticism because it will help you and improve the end product.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

www.suelhamilton.com

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

Walls as a Way of Life

Excerpts from Carried by Faith: From Substance Abuse to a Life Filled with Miracles page 40-42

Author – Sue L. Hamilton www.suelhamilton.com or www.carriedbyfaith.com

The high, thick walls of protection became my life; they bordered my heart, so no one could enter.  Others didn’t understand what I was living in, this living Hell.  The walls hid the pain and unspeakable things associated with the hard years of alcohol and drug abuse.  

I believed no one would understand, so it was easier to keep everyone away with high, cold walls of silence and no emotion.  No form of light, goodness, or happiness was allowed in. Alcohol and drugs filled the silence.

It was nice and quiet in the walls of protection, I didn’t have to explain myself, but then again, I couldn’t explain myself.  The silence was best, and that is why I would use the “liquid forgetter,” alcohol and drugs. I craved the effect they gave me, and they kept my level of chaotic thinking at bay.  They did for me what I could not do for myself.

I ran after the effect and did whatever I needed to get my supply.  The concoctions of alcohol and drugs along with the need to keep my supply met took me to some very dark places.  It can be explained like this – wickedness danced in the darkness of night, moving in and out of its hiding places and drunkenness was the painful bondage that took over my mind and body.  When I would awaken from its stupor, I would wonder, “Where am I?” “What happened to me?” “What have I done?”

“What was to become of my miserable life?” “Why was I here anyway?”

I looked for a way to escape my life, even a slit to my wrist one dark night would not stop the pain.  I had no answers. It felt like a knife stabbing in my heart. The pain would dull occasionally, but I always felt its continual throb, reminding me of my bondage.

I was constantly trying to get back to the original first feeling of catching a “buzz” or “getting high”.  It would not come back.

Nights turned into weeks, then months, and years of crying and sobbing into my pillow.  The pillow stopped the loud wail coming from deep within my soul. It silenced the fear and absorbed the tears that I couldn’t vocalize.  

No words would ever reach my lips to explain my hopelessness.  I continued to repeat in my head, “Why God…why am I here?”  

I didn’t have any answers, so I continue to hide behind my protective walls.

 

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AuThursday Madison Micheal

Besotted MM Banner

madison michael author photoTell us a little about yourself and your background?

Oh my, this may be the question I least enjoy answering. I am a retired software manager from corporate America who always loved romance as an escape from life’s realities. I grew up on romantic musicals like “My Fair Lady” and “Gigi” and so, when I had time on my hands after years working 60 hour weeks, it felt natural to write romance. I had no expectations but the writing bug bit me and I am hooked.

I still love to read romance. I love to travel.  I love the movies and exploring Chicago’s neighborhoods and restaurants. I am close with my family and friends who give me loving support and edit my books. And I am almost always surrounded by cats, junk food, and 24-hour cable news.

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

I do a broad brush outline to get a novel started, what Point of View I will use per chapter, how the plot will unfold chapter to chapter. I never stick to it. My characters take over about ¼ into the book and everything starts to change.

Do you ever get writer’s Block?

Writer’s block is just the worst! I had it for about three months last winter and thought I would never get back on track. I did a lot of research for my books during that time and wrote blog posts, but I just could not get my novel going. Finally, I came across an article that mentioned that writer’s block was really the brain saying it didn’t like the project. It rang true for me, so I did a deep dive on my characters, got to know them better and poof – the block was gone.

What genre do you write?

Mostly I write contemporary romance because I like dealing with the issues facing couples today – careers, families, and friends that pull couples in so many directions. Also, I enjoy the steamy aspects of a contemporary romance. But, I have written a time travel novel, Our Love is Here to Stay, and I had a wonderful opportunity to research Chicago in the 1950’s and keep my characters true to the period. I would love to do that again, or even try writing a Regency Romance. I love the manners and the clothes.

How did you come up with the idea for your book?

Besotted.jpgBesotted is the fourth novel in a series about four friends so the idea was really coming to me as I wrote the prior three books in the series. I loved creating four separate stories yet overlapping the characters so that readers could really get to know them. I am more about the characters when I write than the plot and I expect that the characters from the Beguiling Bachelor series will continue to make appearances in future books as well.

How are you publishing this book and why? (Indie, traditional or small press)

(Indie) I have more control over my story this way – the length, the plot lines, cover art, every aspect. I have a passion for marketing and interaction with my fans that equals my love of writing. I want to stay close to the novel and the readers.

All of my books to date have been published by me. I love being an indie publisher.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Don’t be too hard on yourself. I actually mentor a few aspiring writers and I warn them to keep moving forward and avoid falling into the rewrite pitfalls until they finish a full draft. Its great to polish until you are happy, but not until you actually have a full work to publish. Also, start small if you are unsure. Write short stories, write novellas so you can put yourself out there and get reader feedback, and momentum. Talk to other authors, they will be encouraging. You, on the other hand, will be your harshest critic.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

www.madisonmichael.net or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MadisonMichaelRomance

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

Thanks for asking, I would love to.

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AuThursday – CG Coppola

Tell us a little about yourself and your background.

My name is Caitlin and I write (mostly) romance as C.G.Coppola. I actually majored in Creative Writing which has led me to my fifth desk job, but thankfully, also into the world of Indie authorship. I self-published my first book, Escape from Harrizel, in 2013 when I had no idea what I was doing (still don’t) and I’ve been publishing regularly since. I have a boyfriend whom I refer to online as “Batman” and we live together with our dog, Appa. It’s a good life.

How do you make time to write?

I demand it. Having a fulltime job with an attention-starved boyfriend and dog makes it difficult, so I have my required “writing time” – usually in the evenings and early weekend mornings. I make a big fuss when I miss it, so I tend to get my way when I say, “I’m going to work.” (I’ve trained my boys well).

What are your current projects?

I’m in the middle of releasing the Better Than This trilogy, a YA contemporary romance that follows the story of Autumn and Alex, and how the sudden end to their high-school romance led to his famously iconic “A.M.S.” songs—written for the girl who got away. The first book, Better Than This released on May 18th, and the second, Better Than Now is due out on August 17th. The final book—and the climactic conclusion to their epic love affair—will be released on November 16th. Eeeek! Can’t wait!

I see you have a series titled Arizal Wars. What are your thoughts on writing a book series?

I never thought I’d write a series, but some stories go deeper than they seem. I think Shrek explained it best with his onion analogy. Stories—like onions—have layers, and the more layers you peel back, the more you find. Series are an awesome way to fall deeper into the worlds you love and writing them—it’s like the VIP experience. (Basically, I really like writing series).

BETTER THAN THIS - THUMBHow are you publishing your latest book, Better Than This and why?

I self-published Better Than This because I didn’t want to wait for an agent/publishing house to come along when I know it’s ready to be shared. In fact, the second and third books were written when I decided to publish all three of them three months apart this year (I was unemployed for a spell so I had plenty of time to write). I think traditional publishing is great, but if there’s a story needing (and ready) to be told, why keep it to yourself?

What is your writing kryptonite?

Cartoon shows in the background. Or maybe the phone going off. Distractions. I can’t deal with them because it’s the quickest way to pluck me out of the world I’m writing and back into this one.

Where can readers find you?

I have a very lovely blog where I post regularly about writerly things and sometimes when I’m feeling social, I jump on my author Facebook or Twitter. I have very little free time so I try to cram as much writing into it as possible. But, if you’re feeling stalkery:

https://Authorcgcoppola.com

https://www.facebook.com/cgcoppola

cgcoppolawrites@gmail.com

@writercgcoppola

AuThursday – Ivy Hayes

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I will try and keep it short 😊
I am 25 and from Seattle, and I got my start writing when my boyfriend and I had an itch to travel. I quit my non-profit healthcare job so we could spend 2018 out of the country.  Since I now has all this free time, I started to go crazy so I quickly settled on writing a book to pass the time (which had been a long-time dream of mine, I just never thought it would actually happen) and finished my first manuscript about a month later in a coworking space in Dunedin, New Zealand.
I am still so new in the writing world I feel I am learning something each day that hones my craft, just a little bit more. The best part though, I truly found something I love and writing books has shaped my career goals in a way I didn’t even know was possible.

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

My best writing hours are in the late afternoon to evenings.  I spend my mornings learning all I can about self-publishing/marketing/etc. then usually take a nap and wake up to write for a few hours. I break this when I am in the last third of a manuscript and I tend to write all day.
I have been spoiled with having writing be my ‘full-time job’ while I have been traveling, I am going to miss it when I start working again in September, then I will join the 5am writing club and probably do a bit after work/on the weekends.

What genre are your books?

So far, they are all Paranormal Romance, but I am working on a Contemporary Romance, coming out sometime in the fall.

What draws you to this genre?

Romance novels have gotten me through a lot. I feel like they helped keep me sane in college and the years after. I studied pre-med, so my mind was constantly overloaded from all the coursework. After college, I worked in a fast-paced healthcare non-profit. With both, I needed some content that was fun and easy to read. I always had a romance novel downloaded on my phone that I could veg out with for fifteen minutes.
I love that the stories almost always end with a happy ending. So, when I started writing, it didn’t take me long to settle on this genre. I guess right that it would be a blast to write and I wanted to spread even more happiness (and sexiness).

How did you come up with the idea for your SHIFTING HEARTS series?

I am the kind of writer that just writes and lets the story take me where it wants to go. When I started the first book, all I knew is I wanted it to do something with shifters. At first, it was a modern-day novel, mixed with Greek gods, so very different than what it ended up being.

I wrote and rewrote the first few chapters until something made sense, then I ran with it.

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

Indie. I played with the idea of going to traditional route, but that almost seemed like the easier route (well, after you get picked up, it would be easier). I wanted to maintain autonomy and control over my novels and work to build my brand, as I wanted it.

What is your writing Kryptonite?

I have a hard time focusing on just one project. I write for a few weeks on one then get a great idea and start another novel.
Like right now, I am in the middle of three.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Take all the advice you read with a grain of salt. People have what works for them, but I can almost guarantee it won’t work for you. The main thing is just keep working at it and pushing through until you find the groove that is right for you.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

I have a WordPress blog: http://ivyhayesbooks.wordpress.com
Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram: @Ivyhayesbooks
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/default/e/B07BR7TRJR/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0?redirectedFromKindleDbs=true
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17882231.Ivy_Hayes

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

From Shifting Hearts:

I start to drink my tea and after the first sip, I put it down. The pine was a terrible idea, it only reminds me of Gregory’s soap. There goes all hopes of the tea putting me to sleep, in fact, it did the opposite. After last night’s restless sleep, tonight should have been cake to fall asleep, but plagued by the memory of Gregory’s touch, my mind is wide awake. Sighing, I dump out the tea and sit staring at the fire for a while. I try and get comfortable, but I am not near anything to lean on. I might as well lay down, perhaps the position will help lull me into sleep. So, wrapped up in my cloak, I find myself lying down. Naturally, I am reminded of Gregory’s giant bed. Instead of waking up with my head on Gregory’s hard chest, I am resting it on the hard forest floor.

Given that I am already depressed, I don’t stop my memories from today replaying in my mind. Those short minutes of intimacy were the best minutes I have had in years. If it wasn’t for Grant knocking, I am sure we would have gone even further. Further to do something I have never done with anyone. Thank god we didn’t though, I doubt I would have had the strength to leave after losing myself to Gregory like that. Thinking of his mouth on my breasts, about his arms holding me close, I feel myself start to get wet. His instant effect on me is uncanny. A wicked thought passes my mind, pleasuring myself thinking of him might be just what I need to fall asleep.

Reaching one hand down to my sex, I hear a rustling in the trees. I look up and see an owl watching me. I am sure it will fly off in a second, chasing a mouse or whatever owl’s do. Not letting it deter me, I slide one finger inside myself, starting a slow massage.  

I let out a low moan, grateful there is no one around to hear me. It feels so good. Sliding my finger back out, I rub the soft nub of my clit, soon that is not enough and I plunge my finger back in my pussy. As soon as I do, the owl flies off the tree and lands right in front of me.

I immediately stop what I was doing and sat up on my elbow, “What the hell?” Before I finish that sentence, the owl disappears and Gregory’s naked, very erect form is standing right in front of me. Holy shit, he is a shifter too. That must be why he didn’t turn me in right away, he understands the weight of that secret.

“I was determined to just watch over you tonight, then find you in the morning.” He knelt on the ground to get closer to me, “But as soon as you started touching yourself, I lost all my resolve.” He leaned forward and took my mouth in his.

AuThursday – Marianne Rice

MRiceAuthorPicTell us a little about yourself and your background?

I’m a wife and the mother of three children. Two girls (17 and 14) and a son (12). I moved from California to the east coast in high school and made Maine my home. Now, you can find me teaching high school English, writing when I can, or curled up with a romance novel.

How do you make time to write?

Ha ha ha! This is a funny one. I don’t seem to be able to “make” time, but I take advantage of the little bits I get here and there. Family watching a movie? I escape to my room to write. Stuck at lacrosse practice? I hide out in the car to write. Summer vacation? Mommy writing time!

Do you believe in writer’s block?

Nope. But maybe it’s because I have such little time to write. I’m always thinking about my stories so when I have a moment of peace at my laptop, the words fly pretty quickly. The issue is…not enough time to write it all down!

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

I fell in love with Jill Shalvis, Susan Mallery, Kristan Higgins, Brenda Novak and many, many more. I love reading about real-life romances, especially those set in small towns. Well, the stories are made up but they could happen, right? My books are sort of a blend between contemporary romance and women’s fiction. I focus on the characters and their internal conflict and the budding romance between the hero and heroine. I also love writing about friends and families. There’s so much material there, right?

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

I’m a hybrid. I have three series with small presses and my latest series in self-published. I like the blend; I’ve learned so much from my small presses and have gained fabulous writer friendships with my fellow authors, but it’s a whole new adventure self-publishing!

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

Total extrovert. However, I was a major introvert–I’m talking social anxiety disorder–until my college years. I was shy in my early twenties, and then something happened. I have no idea what. I absolutely love going to writer and reader conferences and have no trouble speaking in front of a huge crowd. Which is helpful with my day job. Standing up in front of 16-18 year olds trying to inspire them to write and love literature is one of the most challenging jobs I can think of. Talk about daily rejection!

What is your favorite motivational phrase?

“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” Confucius and “Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.” C.S. Lewis

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Don’t stop writing. Ever. And reach out to fellow writers. Often. Attend local writing groups (my local RWA chapter is fabulous, even if you’re not a romance author) and conferences. NEVER stop learning. And don’t publish a book just because you “can”. Get your work in front of as many eyes as possible. And I’m not talking about your Aunt Mabel. You need advice from those in the writing community. Also, hire a professional editor and do your research!

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

I’m everywhere!

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

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Marianne-Rice/e/B00SICUIRM

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/mariannericeaut

My website: http://www.mariannerice.com

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/MarianneRice

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/marianne-rice

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

“Sure! This is from Where There’s Hope. It’s the second book in my Well Paired novels, but each book is a stand alone.” ~Marianne Rice

Where There's HopeThe front door opened before his foot touched the front step. Hope’s welcoming smile lit up the front stoop, and he did all he could to keep from picking her up in his arms and covering her mouth with his.

Those lips, though. Julia Roberts had nothing on Hope Windward.

“Hey,” she said coyly, her voice wrapped around his heart, giving it a gentle squeeze he hadn’t felt since he was a young boy.

“You’re beautiful.”

Hope looked down at her feet then back up at him, scrunching her nose in that adorable manner she did when she was confused. “I’m wearing jeans and a sweater.”

“I didn’t notice.” And he hadn’t. It was her rich hazel eyes and her sunshiny sparkle that brightened his dark world. She wore her hair down tonight, soft ribbons of dark blonde hair flowing just past her shoulders. Hair he longed to run his fingers through.

Cameron walked up the steps, stopping in the open doorway.

“Well, I’m noticing you. And you look very handsome. I don’t know what I like better, though. Sexy whiskers or the soft skin.”

Cameron rubbed his cheeks with his fingers. He’d shaven tonight for her family, thinking the clean look was more presentable to her parents and her daughter than the usual scruff on his face.

“You name it, beautiful, and I’ll do it.”

Hope raised an eyebrow and her gaze dropped to his lips. “You should probably come in and meet my parents first, don’t you think?”

 

AuThursday – Gail Ward Olmsted

 

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Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I spent my career in the field of marketing in the telecom industry and have now been teaching Marketing and Consumer Behavior at the college level for more than twenty years. I have been married to the love of my life for over thirty years, have two adult children (a daughter and a son) and two cats. I didn’t start my writing career until after AARP came calling. It’s been a wonderful life!!

How do you make time to write?

I really enjoy writing, so a better question for me is: how do you make time for anything other than writing? I also enjoy my day job- I have my summers free and I try to balance time with my husband, kids and our friends. We moved to a house on a lake a couple of years ago and do a lot of boating and entertaining. Multitasking works for me. I read while on a treadmill, listen to books during my commute and knit while watching TV with one or more cats on my lap. I don’t sleep all that much or clean my house or cook very often. My family would probably say that I didn’t clean or cook very much even before I started writing and they’re probably right!

Do you believe in writer’s block?

Sure, it happens but I usually work through it fairly quickly. My writing time is limited, so if I’m stuck on something, I will read over what I’ve already written or do some research to get through it. If you sneak a peak at my search history, you would see just how crazy I truly am. Recent searches include: covers of Tiger Beat magazines over the past 20 years, signs of Erotomania (fans stalking celebrities) symptoms of clinical depression and life on the Upper East side of Manhattan. I love Google!!

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

I write contemporary romance, which I absolutely love. There are no rules in dating these days, which is so refreshing. I grew up in a time where my friends and I spent hours waiting by the phone for a certain boy to call us. What a waste of time and opportunity! I like to write strong women characters, who don’t spend much time sitting around and waiting for anyone. A common theme of mine is second chances because I believe that we all deserve a second or even third chance at a ‘happy ever after’. When I wrote JEEP TOUR, I truly wasn’t sure until I was 2/3 of the way through whether my main character Jackie would ‘get the guy’ or a different guy or end up blissfully single. Any of these would have been satisfying endings.

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

Second Guessing is my 4th novel. I decided to seek a traditional publisher and was thrilled when Roane Publishing offered to sign me. In 2014, I self-pubbed my first book JEEP TOUR. The following year, I went with hybrid publisher Booktrope for publishing my second book Guessing at Normal and they also re-repubbed JEEP TOUR. They went out of business shortly before publishing my third title Driving on the Left. So I regained my rights and self-pubbed all three titles. In less than 4 years, I’ve experienced self-publication, hybrid publishing and now a traditional form of publishing. I have to say I truly enjoy the support I get from the Roane team.

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

I’m an Extrovert so I truly enjoy readings, signings and book club appearances. That being said, I also enjoy the solitude of writing quite a bit as well. I try to find a healthy balance which keeps me somewhat sane.

What is your favorite motivational phrase?

Do something now and do exactly the right thing later. What this means to me is- don’t wait for the perfect opportunity to do something. If you can’t make time to prepare a home-cooked meal for a sick friend, call for takeout or send a card. Don’t wait to lose that final five pounds to buy that dress you’ve been wanting. If it’s on sale, buy it now! If you don’t have the whole morning free to hit the gym, take a walk around the block. If you don’t have unlimited hours to devote to writing, take the hour you do have and get the most out of it that you can. If I waited for the perfect opportunity to do anything, I would waste so much time. You’ve just got to make the most of what you do have instead of wishing for more or better. I sound like a Nike ad- just do it!

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Write often. Talk to other writers. Listen to how people really talk and watch how they react to things. Join a group on FB or an actual writing group. Study what’s selling in your genre. Get feedback. Don’t quit your day job. Develop a really thick skin. Don’t expect your friends and family to be your biggest fans. They might be, but their feedback might be biased, because they love you. Find an editor and a proofreader and a cover designer. This is money well spent if you are self-publishing.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

All of my titles are available on Amazon, Kindle Unlimited and Barnes & Noble.  My author page on Amazon is www.amazon.com/author/gailolmsted and my website is www.GailOlmsted.com .  Readers can interact with me via Facebook www.facebook.com/gailolmstedauthor on Twitter @gwolmsted, on Instagram gwolmsted or via email gwolmsted@gmail.com

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

SecondGuessing_Cvr“Sure do!! This is from Second Guessing. Jill and Ben are on their first date. They saw a movie and are now in a Chinese Restaurant.”~Gail Olmstead

“I hope you enjoy it. I already ordered,” Ben began somewhat apologetically. “Well, actually it was my assistant Ian.”

Jill was already chewing a second dumpling and she nodded enthusiastically. As soon as she could swallow, she placed the uneaten portion of the dumpling on her plate and leaned forward to squeeze his hand. “This is amazing. I can’t believe you went to so much trouble just for me.”

“I don’t want you to think I always have to be in charge, you know? I mean tonight, it’s all been organized, but I usually like to be more spontaneous.”

“So next time, I get to choose?”

Ben’s gaze was warm and he grinned at her. “I hope there’ll be a next time.”

Jill looked at him and her heart did another in a series of little flips. What is this man doing to me? She felt herself blushing again, but managed to nod enthusiastically. Ben popped a dumpling into his mouth and chewed and they grinned at each other happily. They managed to make short work of the appetizers and Jill moaned with pleasure as, after removing the empty plates, their server replaced them with huge bowls of pork fried rice, shrimp lo mein and chicken in a garlicky sauce. Their dinner was served family style, and Jill helped herself to large portions of everything. They ate in companionable silence, punctuated by Jill’s moans of delight as she sampled each dish.

After she had eaten most of the food she had taken, she drank some water, and then sat back with a satisfied sigh. “Carly says I could have a food baby and no one would even notice.” God, where had that come from?

“No one, huh?” he said with a smirk. When he saw Jill blush, he sat back and smiled. “I’m dying to know more about you, Jill Griffin.”

Jill shrugged her shoulders. Always shy and intensely private, she had grown increasingly wary over the years and disliked talking about herself. She had been burned a few times by those claiming to be interested in her, when all the while they only wanted to learn something about James, as if she would relay some juicy bit of gossip about him, posthumously or not.

She knew that since Ben was well on his way to the level of celebrity James had enjoyed, it was highly unlikely Ben had any kind of ulterior motive. He was probably sincere in wanting to get better acquainted with her. But even though she felt comfortable with Ben, she was out of practice with any sort of personal narrative.

“Not much to tell. I was married to James and we had Carly and then James died.”

Ben frowned at her and his brown eyes looked sad. “I’m not asking about Jill the wife or Jill the mother.”

“Well, that’s all there is to me, I’m afraid.” Jill laughed nervously.

Ben was shaking his head at her. “I think you’re wrong. I see so much more than that. I see a beautiful woman. A talented woman. A woman I want to get to know much, much better.” Jill put down the cloth napkin she had been folding and unfolding underneath the table. She had regained some of her self-confidence and she watched him closely as she spoke.

“A mature woman. Ben, I’m 42 years old. I have an 18-year old daughter. I don’t know what you want from me. I’m not a ‘Mrs. Robinson’ okay? You’re so…young,” she ended weakly.

But Ben was not to be put off. “I like you Jill. Yeah, I’m a little younger than you, but so what? Just a number, am I right? I want to know what makes you tick. How you come up with all those amazing song lyrics. What you love, what you wish for. And more than anything, I want to know how it will feel to hold you in my arms. What it will be like to kiss those lips. What you taste like…” He stopped as he noticed Jill was staring at him, open-mouthed.

He pushed his chair back and slipped over next to her in the banquette. Jill needed to say something, before she started kissing him like she had been dreaming about all day.

“I just want to keep this private, okay? I haven’t been with anyone since, well, you know. Carly says she’s ready for me to start dating again, but I’m not at all sure I believe her. You and I kind of work together, and I have to keep it professional. And there’s going to be a big tribute concert for James this fall and there will be a ton of press. I can’t have this, whatever it is, taking center stage. So this is just between us, okay?”

Ben was watching her closely and at his nod of agreement, she continued. “And just for the record,” she whispered, “I imagine I taste like Whoppers and garlic sauce.”

 

Ben took her in his arms and just before he started kissing her, he assured her, “That’s my favorite.”

 

 

 

AuThursday – Madison Micheal

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madison michael author photoTell us a little about yourself and your background?

Actually I just rewrote my bio for my website to share more of who I am and where I came from. It sounded so dull before, and I am not a dull person. I am opinionated and not shy about sharing my thoughts. I love to give advice – unsolicited. I adore expensive shoes, bargains on everything else and long baths with a good book. I am addicted to the movies – at the theater. Currently I am acquiring a appreciation for opera and live theater. I love dogs but like to share my digs with cats.

I am originally from Chicago but I have lived on both coasts from Boston to San Francisco, with several stops in between. I spent my career as a technical consultant or manager for a huge software company, but I retired in 2014 and got away from the 9 to 5 life. I miss my coworkers but not the job. To entertain myself upon retiring I started taking classes including one on “How to Write a Romance Novel” and with encouragement from friends, the rest is history.

I am close with my family, reside in suburban Chicago and I love to travel. I am on the board of directors of Mental Health America of the North Shore because they do good work and a member of Romance Writers of America.

How do you make time to write?

I am very fortunate because I am able to write full-time.

What genre are your books?

I write contemporary fiction, usually with some steamy sex. That is my wheel-house so far in my

“Beguiling Bachelor” series. But I did just complete “Our Love is Here to Stay”, which is a time-travel story.

I love reading mysteries, literature, and romance in every genre, so I have sprinkled small pieces of these into my books where I can. My mother was a librarian. She taught me to love reading and respect writers of every kind. Every word I write can be traced back to her teachings in some way or another.

What draws you to this genre?

I grew up on Regency romance, and I am drawn there but haven’t braved the genre yet. Instead, I write more of what I know – current times and current places. I set my books in places that are familiar and I make my characters a bit older than in some romances. Women in their late 20’s and early 30’s and men in their mid-30’s have problems to overcome, responsibilities to juggle and they have sex. That is what I like to write about – their flaws, their journeys, their struggles and the wonderful ways they fall in love.

What are your current projects?

I have just completed the first book in a new series, the Billionaire B&B series. The book, “Desire & Dessert” will be published in a collection this spring, with at least two more volumes to follow. My Beguiling Bachelors will return this summer, and I am always toying with a short story or two.

I am very excited about another new project – a blog for romance writers. Today I blog for my readers, my story every Thursday and an introduction to another author every Tuesday. But begging next month, on Monday’s, I will begin sharing what I have learned about writing and indie-publishing. Am I THE expert as I begin my third year as a writer? Hardly. But I have learned tons about being a new writer that experts have forgotten. Sometimes it is the non-expert that new writers can relate to. I hope to share my wisdom with those people.

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

My whole life I was an extravert, but once I became a writer, I became the complete opposite. Anyone or anything that takes me away from my computer is a disruption. That said, once I have made the break, the extravert in me rules again. I love being with my friends and family, networking with other authors and meeting fans. I just need that initial nudge to put down my writing.

What is your writing Kryptonite?

No feedback. No reviews. I send my books out there into the world representing my hard work and heart. They are a labor of love for me – my babies. When I have no idea how they are received, that leaves me wondering ‘do I write something similar? something different?” I don’t write only for me. I write for my readers and their feedback is priceless.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

I speak with more aspiring writers than I ever could have imagined and I tell them all the same things – read more and write more. I tell them the different betwee a writer and a want-to-be writer is that a writer finishes something.

When I got ready to write my first novel I read tons of romances, paid attention to the covers, the titles, the back-cover blurbs, even the author bios. I wrote down words and phrases that I loved from my favorite books. This became my library of inspriration. Then I wrote and wrote and wrote, edited and rewrote until I finished my first novel, “Bedazzled.”

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

I hope readers will visit me at www.madisonmicahel.net  where I have a blog and a wonderful giveaway for joining my insider group.

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