AuThursday – J.M. Stebbins

Please welcome my fellow North Dakota author, J.M. Stebbins.   Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I grew up on a small farm, outside of Bowman, North Dakota. I began reading John Grisham books in 5th grade, and decided I wanted to become a lawyer. I was a political science major in college, and became very active in the Democratic Party. After law school, I began working at a small law firm in Bismarck, North Dakota, and later started my own law firm with a partner. I predominantly practiced in the areas of family law, criminal defense, and civil litigation, for almost ten years. Admittedly, I was a workaholic, but I loved what I did. In 2018, after a grueling and prolonged onset, including a 48-hour stint in the psychiatric ward where I was misdiagnosed, I was diagnosed with autoimmune encephalitis (AE). AE is a rare and can be fatal brain illness wherein the patient’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy brain cells. I recovered from the disease in near isolation for over a year. It blew my life to smithereens, and it took away my career as a lawyer. But, it also opened up some doors for me as a writer and motivational speaker. I am proudly in remission from AE, and am excited about where life takes me next. I am a mother of three. I have an 8-year old girl, a 9-month old girl, and a 5-year old boy, who is a middle child, just like me. My husband of twelve years, Sean, is my love, friend, and supporter. My mom is my confidant. 

How do you make time to write?

It is my preference to write in the morning, but my preference isn’t always conducive to my reality. I began writing my first (and probably only) book, the day after my one-year anniversary date of having a grand mal seizure, which was the grand finale of my AE diagnosis. When I began, I woke up early, and peacefully wrote in my home office in the morning. Months later, when my kids went to school, I wrote a lot during the day. My book was mostly finished by March, 2020, when the world went into lock-down for Covid-19. Which was great, because Covid forced my family to be in our home 24/7, and I had a miracle baby in April. Since March, 2020, I write on the weekends, or during any hour or two I can muster with all the chaos in the house!

Do you believe in writer’s block?

If you write novels, I’m sure writer’s block is a true thing. My book is a memoir. It’s a reflection on my life leading up to AE, the horror story of the onset, and the daunting challenges I faced after. It’s the no holds barred story of who I was when the disease hit and who I became after. I’m a humorous storyteller by nature, and I’m really long winded. I have a gift to make short stories long. Thus, writer’s block hasn’t been a challenge for me. I struggled a bit with how I would end the book, but as my surprise pregnancy unfolded, the ending just came to me. It was at about the same time that I met my friend, Clay, for lunch and began to ask him questions about writing a book (I started my venture completely in the dark). He asked me about word count and we realized that the beginning of my book alone, was about three books. The problem for me in my writing is always cutting, and never adding.

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

My rare and devastating illness prompted me to write a book. I hadn’t given much thought to it before. I don’t have the imagination to write fiction, as I know anything I would attempt would sound an awful lot like Harry Potter. And, I never believed I had enough of a story to write some type of biography, until I woke up from amnesia and learned about my illness. I loved writing this memoir, because it allowed me to put my life down on paper. It was therapy for me when I needed it the most. It gave me time to self-reflect and heal. I want this book to help spread awareness about AE, so others don’t suffer my same fate. I want to share my interesting story with a wide audience. I want to be proud of this book, and make it something that my children are proud of when they grow up and read it. My friend, Tony, told me that writing a book is a college education in and of itself, and I believe he’s correct. I loved this project, but it also frustrated me. Writing about my life in this way made me very emotional. Every time I read or edit it, I go back through hell. It’s also a challenge to literally, write a book! Putting together a story that’s sensical, enjoyable, informative, emotional, scary, true, and (hopefully) a page turner, is one thing, but recalling (looking up) rules of grammar and punctuation, is a real challenge. And then figuring out what to do with it when you’re done writing …

How are you publishing your recent book and why? 

I’m goal oriented, and I always have big dreams. Thus, when I began writing, I did set one goal for myself: I wanted the book to be traditionally published. I’d like to stick to that goal as long as I can. But, the world seems to live and die by Amazon, so I could always self-publish through there, and would still be proud of my accomplishment. I’m currently working on finding a publisher.

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

I am a very extroverted introvert. I’m a people person, and I’m very outgoing. I love to be in the center of groups, I love having a vast network of friends, and I love to tell stories. However, I’m also very introspective, especially since my illness. I like to have time to myself to contemplate my life and the world around me. I like time to write, whether it’s a blog or in my various journals. And, I love quiet time to read books. Being introspective helped me pen my story, but I had to exercise a lot of self-restraint to not show anyone the project until it was “complete.”

What is your favorite motivational phrase?

The “old” me would have said:Do it one way, the right way, and do it that way every single time.  The “new” me would say Julian of Norwich’s: “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.” Writing this book has forced me to reconcile my achievements with my past mistakes. My intense and driven personality has served me well, but it has also been destructive. I’m learning to temper myself by putting these two quotes together, which will be a lifelong process.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

The same advice that I often heard from my old senior partner, David, who wrote a great novel. If you want to write, you must write. Just start writing! He also recommended Stephen King’s book, “On Writing,” which I read during my recovery and really enjoyed. Overall, I took on this book in my own way, and then asked for advice and help later. I don’t regret that.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

In October, 2019, I founded JM Stebbins, LLC, as a place to share my story through my speaking and writing. My website – – has all of my contact information, stories about me, news and events, my blog, and my AE podcast, Brain Fever. You can download Brain Fever where you subscribe to podcasts.

You can also follow me on Facebook @JM Stebbins; on Twitter @jmstebbs; on Insta @jmstebbs84, and on LinkedIn @Jackie Stebbins.

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

May 15, 2018. Psychiatric Ward, Sanford Hospital, Bismarck, North Dakota. ~ I called Sean. Sean said he would call him and ask him to come and visit me. I need a priest. 

He’s on his way now. I’m sitting here waiting for him. I feel like I’m in a closet. There are shelves and clutter around me. Everything before me is dim, and everything swirls around me. I keep getting confused. I never really know where I am at.

He’s here. I meet him at the door. I know that I look like a mess. I’m in shorts and a t-shirt. Or wait, I’m in t-shirts and leggings. I don’t even know what I’m wearing. I’m bawling all over him. He’s frightened of me. I can see it in his face. Is he afraid of me because I’m in here? Maybe he’s embarrassed of me. I hoped he would understand.

We talk for a while and then he asks me if I want him to hear my confession. I don’t even believe in confession. Yes, yes, I desperately want to confess my sins. I cannot say the prayers with him, I can hardly even follow along, but I can tell him what I’ve done wrong. I can tell him that it’s all my fault. I did this to myself. I’m here because of me. I finally did it. I overdid it so much that I harmed my mind. It was being a lawyer. I let go of all my priorities. I look like this and sound like this, because of what I have done.  

I cannot say the final prayer after I confess my sins, but that’s okay, he can do it while I sit here and cry.

~The Lawyer Who Wasn’t Crazy, by Jackie M. Stebbins. Copyright © Jackie M. Stebbins 2020.

AuThursday – Brian Barr

IMG_4457Please welcome Brian Barr to The Clog Blog, who like me is a member of Writer Zen Garden.  Brian, can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I’m an author of speculative fiction: science-fiction, fantasy, and horror primarily. I write novels, short stories, and comic books. The first novel of my Carolina Daemonic series, Book I: Confederate Shadows, was released in 2015, followed by Book II: Rebel Hell last year and Book 0: The Daemonic Civil War this year. I co-created and co-wrote the comic series Empress with Chuck Amadori in 2014, drawn by Sullivan Suad and Zilson Costa, which I would love to resurrect after we can garner more interest and possibly get a comic publisher behind. So far, my most-read books have been The 3 H’s Trilogy, which starts with The Head.

What draws you to the genres that you write in?

I’ve always loved speculative fiction since I was a kid. I grew up in a household where Stephen King, John Saul, and Dean Koontz were on the shelves. By the time I got into Clive Barker as a teenager, I knew the main type of fiction I wanted to write- dark fiction with a mix of the bizarre. When it comes to science-fiction, I’ve always leaned towards cyberpunk since I watched Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira, which is one of my favorite stories.

I’m almost scared to ask but, where do your ideas come from?

Dreams, my life, and out of nowhere. I believe in writing what you know and what you’re passionate about, but my best ideas will just come when I least expect them.

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

I submit to other places or publish the works myself. Rejection letters can be helpful when the editors tell you the things you could work on to improve the story, even if they liked them. I’ve had editors who rejected my stories but asked me to change a few things, then accepted them. I’ve had other stories that had been rejected by other houses by accepted by others. So I’d tell any writer not to get bummed about rejections- it doesn’t mean that your work isn’t good or that you’re an inept writer; most of the time, a work doesn’t fit an anthology or publisher and there are always other places where you can submit.

What are your current projects?

I’m writing the last Carolina Daemonic novel, Book III: Union. Be on the lookout for it! I’m also planning on writing some more short stories, including a sequel to my short story Hover.

How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?

I’ve become more aware of what I like to write, how I like to write it, and which audiences work best for me.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

Amazon is the main place you can find my works, but I’m also on Barnes and Noble, Comixology for Empress, and other book retailers.

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

Sure! Here’s an excerpt from my Carolina Daemonic series:

Novel Excerpt:


Many final scenes and memories flashed in Zev’s spiritual sight, as he slowly rose from his induced coma; his hands ripping at the cocoon of chaotically pulsing skin and tissue wrapped around him. He could remember the feel of the amulets on his neck and in his hands, the summoning of great golems sweeping the Southern landscape, disguised as Union soldiers with Hebrew letters on their foreheads, giving each earth-made man their own name and number. 

Figures formed from American dirt and clay rose from the earth, wearing blue uniforms and carrying guns of their own, while the South played the hand with its own collected brand of zombie soldiers. The dead and the supernaturally conceived blended in well with the horrors of war, fighting alongside their human comrades; farms burnt to ash, slaughtered civilians rested in mud pits, and along dirt roads. 

I had been commissioned, the rabbi’s son remembered, commissioned, and given asylum. 

Back in the President’s office, in hidden rooms behind brothels, in the homes and tents of generals… everything was coming back in flashes, in stretched moments of time. Zev had sat in backrooms with war strategists, watched them draw up maps of Gettysburg, Appomattox, Yorktown, and New Orleans. A usually drunk Ulysses S. Grant had offered the magician a swig of liquor and scowled when it was politely refused. Zev had drawn up his own images to show the generals that had hired his services, explaining the intricacies of the Etz HaChaim, the powers of the Melakhim… most of the time, the men offered blank stares to the rabbi’s son, but none of them thought he was crazy. They knew of his great reputation, and they had already seen his powers on the open field, along with the other occultists they had a pleasure to work with.”


AuThursday – Kayelle Allen

FFIF by KA banner

kayelle-allen-author-blurb-450Please Welcome Kayelle Allen to the Clog Blog!   Kayelle – What excites you most about your book, Bringer of Chaos: Forged in Fire?

Right now, it’s that I’ve finally finished it. I’ve worked on this book for a long time. It’s the second in the Bringer of Chaos series and I can’t wait to start on book three, Watch Your Six. One of the main characters is named Six, and this book is going to feature a lot of scenes with him.

Tell us about the cover/s and how it/they came about.

I’m a graphic designer, so I usually do my own covers, but for this book, I just couldn’t get it right. I changed it multiple times but was not satisfied with it. I searched for a different artist, somehow who knew how to capture an aetheric quality that I was missing. I found it in Brumae. She’s wonderful and so easy to work with. I love the version she created.

You’ve written so many series, what are your thoughts on writing a book series?

I have a one off. It’s a contemporary holiday very sweet romance and it sells bazillions of copies. But it is that — a one off. I hope to write a sequel to it, but my focus is on my science fiction series, which has sub-series within it.

What are your current projects?

I’m writing Bringer of Chaos: Watch Your Six, plus a sequel to Surrender Love called Surrender Trust. I’m also working on a new book set in the Tarthian Empire that I won’t describe yet. It’s hush hush for now.

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

Oh definitely an Introvert. I get my energy by being alone. Crowds exhaust me. I’m a closet extravert in the sense that I love speaking to groups and doing public presentations. But afterward, I need my alone space. On the Myers Briggs system, I’m an INFJ. We’re rather rare, but we are mighty. LOL

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

I write in the early morning and then set aside time after I’ve finished my social media time in mid-morning. I write again at night. I set aside Sunday as a full day to devote to writing. Writing is what I do. I make it a priority.

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

I’m not submitting to traditional publications. I have had a couple, and they were disappointing, but I see it this way. If they don’t “get” what I’m doing, why would I want to work with them? But again… not something I even get anymore. All my books are published by Romance Lives Forever Books, which I own. I publish no one else. This is a private enterprise.

What tools/books do you recommend for writers?

I’m currently reading Creating Character Arcs by KM Weiland and I just got a copy of On Writing by Stephen King. I read constantly and always look for new craft ideas. I highly recommend the writing course Empowering Characters’ Emotions by Margie Lawson. I learned an incredible amount of material from that study.

How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?

I am nowhere near the amateur I was when I started but I am not where I want to be. I think that goal will always be unobtainable. I strive for perfection, which we all know is always a bit out of reach. But I try!

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?kayelle-allen-logo

I’m all over, but here’s where I spend the most time.

Blog/Website (I call this my homeworld)
Anyone interested in sampling my work can try my reading group. I give away a set of four books to members as soon as they join.



AuThursday -Kat Henry Doran

kathy_4june2016Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I am a nurse by (the) first profession. A volunteer position at the local Rape Crisis Service turned into a paid position and eventually I was promoted to Director of a four-county regional program serving more than 1,000 survivors of rape and child sexual assault, and their significant others, each year. Eventually, I went back to school and became a paralegal which turned into my current job as a legal nurse consultant.

So, what have you written?

Under Kat Henry Doran, I’ve written two full-length romantic mysteries, Captain Marvelous and Try Just Once More, both published through the Wild Rose Press. Try Just Once More won the Barclay Gold for best in romantic suspense several years ago

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

sh-cover_newWriting as Kat Henry Doran and Veronica Lynch, I’ve been part of four anthologies for TWRP:  Out of the Dark [Raising Kane] The Class of ’85 [ The List, Mad Dog and Archangel, Embraceable You]; Candy Hearts [For Keeps] and Haunting in the Garden [Caper Magic]. Each was a lot of fun to write. Currently, I am involved with an anthology out of the Maine Romance Writers group, Welcome to Serenity Harbor [my story is It Had to Be You]. Embraceable You was a finalist in the IDA contest a few years ago.


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

I write when I can which isn’t often enough I’m sorry to say. Weekends are the best time for me, especially between January and April.

Do you ever get writer’s Block?

If I do, I take a nap and wait for it to go away.

What book/s are you reading at present?

I just finished Stephen King’s “On Writing”. Loved it, laughed out loud in fact. I’m a huge fan of audio books and just finished Sandra Brown’s “Sting”. Great story, terrific ending. More recently, Nora Roberts’ “Obsession” knocked my socks off.

How do you relax?

I sew. I like to design and create tote bags and aprons. While I’m doing that, I listen to the audiobooks so I’m able to kill two birds with one stone. I sell those totes and aprons [along with other items] at craft shows so I travel a lot and listen to audio books while driving.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Read what you want to write, particularly works by those authors whose message reaches out to you. Go to conferences, large and small, and take workshops. Listen to the pros who’ve been there and done that. Take rejection with a grain of salt and remember, your writing will always improve. Above all, listen to what others are saying about your writing. If more than two people say the same thing [as in weak POV or conflict or plot structure] about your stuff, pay attention. One person’s thoughts may be full of beans, more than one is telling you something. Listen to it.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

Join me on Saturday when we read an excerpt from Kat’s story TRY JUST ONCE MORE. ~Tina

AuThursday – Kimbra Kasch

kim-kasch-2016Please welcome Romance Writer Kimbra Kasch.  Kimbra, do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to see where an idea takes you?

I’ve never been a person who could follow a recipe when cooking or writing. I add a pinch of something here and a dash of spice there; I have to go with the moment and what I think will “taste” good at the moment. It’s the same with writing. I have to go where my heart leads me.

What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book, Morgaine Le Fay and the Viking?


Staying true to the legend(s). Morgaine Le Fay and the Viking involves King Arthur, his half-sister, Charlemagne of France and Holger Danske. So, I wanted to stay true to the themes of France’s King, Britain’s legends, and Denmark’s. It took a lot of research.

What is the easiest thing about writing?

The romance. Love is an easy path to take and the most fun…

Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors?

I LOVE Stephen King, Charlaine Harris, Mary Janice Davidson, Poe and dozens of others. That’s a question like asking me what flavor of ice cream is my favorite: rocky road, coffee, chocolate, Cherry Garcia, I could go on and on.

How do you relax?

Reading, writing, knitting, baking, running, playing tennis, hiking, sewing, … The real question is how do I NOT relax… ;D

What is your favorite motivational phrase?

It’s something like this from Mother Teresa: I know God never gives us more than we can handle. Sometimes I just wish he didn’t have so much confidence in me.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Write because you love telling stories. Write because you love reading and writing. Just write.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

Purchase Links:

You can find my book here:











Plus, on Instagram

Join me on Saturday when we read an excerpt from Kim’s latest release, Morgaine LeFay and the Viking.  ~Tina