AuThursday – KP Loundy

Tell us a little about yourself and your background? 

I am a mom to two awesome little girls. I did not graduate college, as I really loved my job in the restaurant industry. I have been writing since I was in grade school, and had won a few writing contests, but always felt it was more of a hobby than a career. I finally took a chance to put my writing out there for the world and it was extremely liberating! I am now trying to fully commit to seeing if I can make turn my love of writing into my dream job. 

How do you make time to write? 

I write during bath time! The kids are happy and no one can grab my glass of wine. Other than that it’s just stealing time where I can. 

Do you believe in writer’s block? 

1000% 

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

I just published my first book a picture book, and am working on publishing a collection of fairy tale graphic novels. I am also working on a YA fairy tale. Fairy tales/fantasy are my jam, as that is what made me fall in love with reading as a child, though eventually I would love to write a good who-dun-it mystery. 

How are you publishing your recent book and why? 

Self publishing! I didn’t have the patience for traditional publishing. 

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

I am an introverted extrovert. I like the idea of socializing and being the “life of the party”, but really deep in my soul I want seclusion and sweat pants. 

What is your favorite motivational phrase? 

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the second best time is today. 

What advice would you give to aspiring writers? 

If you love your writing someone else will too. 

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web? 

My website! www.KPPages.com 

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

One monster was plenty! This many were scary.

The monsters as well seemed especially wary.

The silence was so loud you could hear a dropped pin, the quiet dragged on with no sight of an end.

They both were afraid what the other may do, so they stayed still until someone sneezed, ACHOO!

One monster giggled and another guffawed, all their cold feelings were thoroughly thawed. 

AuThursday – Tina Holland (yeah, it’s me)

So I wasn’t able to squeeze in a fellow author, today, so I thought I’d interview myself ahead of Valley Con which begins tomorrow in Fargo, ND. 

How do I make time to write? 

I’m pretty lucky – I’m almost a full-time writer, meaning it’s my day job.   I get up in the morning, eat breakfast and head to write.  I have an office in our guest-room where I write, blog, e-mail, go on Zoom Calls, Stream on Streamyard and craft on Saturdays.   I leave the office between 4 and 5 weekdays.   That’s not to say I don’t sneak writing in at other times, cuz I do.   I don’t write full-time June-August when I’m helping my husband with his crop-dusting business.  I take it easy the month of December because I’ve usually finished NaNoWriMo and also the publishing industry as a whole seems to be taking a break. 

Do I believe in Writer’s Block? 

Yes, but not in the sense there is this great muse that won’t give me words.  I think writer’s block is a manifestation of stress in your personal life or an indication there’s a problem with the story that needs to be fixed.   When I have too much going on, I will cut back on my word count goal for the week and manage self-care along with refilling my creative well.  I find small breaks are helpful in maintaining momentum.  If I step away from a project for more than a week, I have a very hard time getting back into story. So, I find if I at least open the page and stare at it or edit or write a few lines, I don’t lose my place, but I try not to pressure myself to write. 

How am I publishing my recent book and why?

alchemistsofarchangelCurrently my back-list and my most recent work, “Alchemists of Archangel” are published with Book Boutiques.  They are a small distributor that takes care of the copy-editing/line editing, provides a cover, does the formatting and distributes my book on digital platforms.    This removes a lot of components about self-publishing that scare me.   While they don’t do developmental editing, that was unnecessary when I released my back-list as those books were already edited.   I found editors for my two recent novels in the “Archangel Revolution” series to help fix issues with them so the editing was already completed.  

My current manuscript – “The Widow Spy” (this poor ms. has gone through about ten title changes), is being shopped around.  I’m hoping to get in traditionally published but I fear it may be too short for NY and will happily settle for a larger digital press.   I like small presses, but I really want more exposure.  I may Self-Publish it if I have a hard time finding a home, but I still have concerns about doing Indie publishing correctly. 

 

What is my favorite motivational phrase? 

“Just Do It!” 

It’s so cliche’ but when it comes to writing, you have to put butt in chair and muddle through until you reach the end.    

What advice would I give aspiring writers? 

There’s so much, but I think most important is find your tribe of writers.   There are so many out there and the connections can be invaluable.  I’ve found that my writing friends are supportive when you need to be lifted, ground you when you are floating away and commiserate with you through troubles.  It’s no surprise that many have become life-long friends.   

I hope you found this interesting and feel free to ask questions below.  I’ll be happy to answer them.  If you’d like to read some excerpts of my work feel free to hop over to my Books page.   You can find my social links on the About Tina page.

AuThursday – Alexander Vayle

Author Photo II (2)Please welcome Alexander Vayle to the Clog Blog.  Alexander and I are both members of The Moorhead Friends Writing Group.  So Alexander, tell us a little about yourself and your background? 

I’m a father of four, a former paramedic, and a registered nurse. I grew up in the country and I believe the quiet and calm out there helped nurture my imagination. I wrote my first story in elementary and writing has been a hobby of mine off and on ever since. A few years ago I found an excellent writing group and really buckled down to produce some work. Since then I have published my first book, a collection of Supernatural suspense titled “Among the Stray”, and I have a novel in the works. 

How do you make time to write? 

Early morning has always been my best for clarity and creativity. I try to get up around 5am so I can get in an hour or two of writing before the rest of the house starts waking up. 

Do you believe in writer’s block? 

I haven’t found it yet. If get stuck on something I simply change gears, free-write, whatever it takes. I don’t believe in beating my head against a story until it starts to work. I’ll think about my book or other stories at night, as I’m falling asleep, so I usually have pile of ideas ready to go by the time I sit down in front of a keyboard. 

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

Supernatural suspense, drama, Syfy, Murder mystery. It’s hard to pin down a genre I enjoy the most. As long as the characters are real and story draws out emotion from the reader, I’m happy. 

How are you publishing your recent book and why? 

My first book was published traditionally through All Things That Matter Press. If I can, I will always go traditional. The amount of advertising and the work they have done getting my book out is something I simply wouldn’t have time for on my own. Working with professionals also gave me a better grasp of how the industry works. 

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

Introvert. I’m comfortable by myself and I always have been. I think it comes from growing up in the country where we didn’t have a lot of neighbors. My sister and I made up a lot of stories to entertain ourselves and it became a big part of who I am. 

What is your favorite motivational phrase? 

Hard to pick a favorite, but one that I’ve always liked is:

“If it doesn’t challenge you it doesn’t change you.”

Getting up early is not always easy. Trying to find time to edit other people’s writing and my own and come up with new material isn’t easy either. But it certainly is satisfying when I lean back and look at what I’ve accomplished. 

What advice would you give to aspiring writers? 

FIND. A. WRITING. GROUP. Seriously, it made all the difference for me. Working on your own is fine, but getting feedback from other people takes writing to a whole new level. I think some people feel like their work is not good enough to be reviewed by their peers, and that hesitancy is what stops their work from becoming as good as it can be. I’ve had my writing reviewed by a lot of other writers and most of them have been very gracious with constructive criticism and compliments. Writers, in my experience, love to help other writers. 

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

@Alexandervayle on Twitter

email me at Alexandervayle@gmail.com, check out “Among the Stray” on Amazon, booksamillion, and basically any site where books are sold.

For those who prefer brick and mortar you can find “Among the Stray” at any of the Ferguson Book Store locations, Zambroz in Fargo, or at the Fargo Public Library. 

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

You bet! Here’s a few lines out of Back From Where You Came, the final story in “Among the Stray” 

Among the stray“Getting in the house was the easy part. The streetlight on their block was out. The back door, the one going out to the detached garage, wasn’t locked. It seemed like … like everything was set up just for me that night. I walked right in. Little mud room off the kitchen. Kicked off my shoes so I be quiet. I even set them on the rug so I wouldn’t get the floor dirty. Imagine that, huh? There to shoot somebody and I didn’t want to get the floor dirty. Habits, I guess.” 

AuThursday – Elaine Sveet

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I’m Elaine Sveet, a pastor, life coach, speaker and author. I’m the founder of Chasing Abundant Life, which is an outreach supporting an online faith community, and offering mental health and stress support in schools through professional development and coaching services for school staff and private clients. I live in Minot ND, and am a married mother to three middle school children. I have a BA in psychology, an Masters of Divinity, and I am a trained ICF Coach (International Coaching Federation).
How do you make time to write?
I set aside certain times in the week. Deadlines are a very helpful motivator for writing. My writing is mainly focused these days on weekly blog articles, Bible studies, and book proposals.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
I’ve never had it seriously. I believe in ebbs and flows in writing motivation and energy. I usually have multiple writing projects going at the same time. I find switching between projects very helpful.
Tell us a bit about the genre you write and why you love it.
I write about faith and life. My aim is to support people in growing spiritually and personally so that there is greater joy in the everyday.
How are you publishing your recent projects and why? 
My Bible Studies and published prayers have been through traditional publishers. They were publications I was familiar with and my submissions were accepted. I’m looking forward to expanding my writing and pitching to other publishers both traditional and Indie.
Are you an Introvert or Extrovert? How does this affect your work?
I’m borderline. I love interactions with others, the learning and stimulation this brings. I also love quiet and work most productively this way.
What is your favorite motivational phrase?
Christ came that we might have life and have it abundantly. John 10:10
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Find a writing group for collegiality, motivation, and support.
Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?
Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?
The Farmer Next Door – The Art of Writing Show touring galleries in ND
When I look out on my neighbor’s field, I see their tilled rows looking smooth and deep. I see their grain bins standing tall. It all looks perfect. Does the moon shine a little brighter on their field? I know I should be happy for my neighbor, and content with my own field. But I struggle. It feels some nights as if the dew is heavier for them, the drought lighter, sun more merciful, and winds less harsh.
Lord God, I’m stuck. I feel myself averting my eyes from the view. Yet surely, their blessing should be hope for me.

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.”

AuThursday – Kim Findlay

_BAY4002-Kim_Findlay (1)Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I’m a (mostly retired) CPA who now lives on a sailboat in the Caribbean and writes romance novels. I’m a Canadian, and previously lived there all my life, mostly outside Toronto, but for 17 memorable and cold years in Winnipeg, which is where you wind up if you go north of North Dakota.

My husband is the sailor, and he suggested we try the cruising lifestyle. The carrot for me was time to write. So I closed my accounting business, and we headed south. I’ve learned a lot about living on a boat.

My first two published books were hockey romances with Harlequin Heartwarming in 2018. I have five books being published in 2021, one in 2022, and a short story in a holiday anthology in November. 

So for me, this has been an awesome change in lifestyle.

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

I write contemporary romance. I do not have the imagination for paranormal or the patience for research for historical – though I enjoy reading those who do. I’ve always written stories in my head, and no matter what I start out thinking I’ll write, there always end up being two people falling in love. I think the draw might be that incredible feeling when those characters find their HEA. 

What are your current projects?6_MooU_Findlay_ebook_FINAL

I signed contracts for six books in 2020 and I’m just about done edits on the last one now. One was out in February, one in April, one in June, July, September and then January. I’ve submitted a proposal to Harlequin Heartwarming for three more books in the Cupid’s Crossing series. I’m fairly optimistic about the chances I have there. 

The non-Harlequin I released in April was part of Sarina Bowen’s World of the True North, featuring two college hockey players. Several people have asked for Cooper’s story (MMC’s friend) so I’m working on that, considering self publishing, and also a short story for the Christmas anthology featuring the FMC’s roommate Penny. 

Beyond that, I have about 20 stories battling for room in my brain, and I need to figure out which one to work on next!

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

I do a kind of hybrid. I start with the idea, and let it lead me, but my brain normally gets ahead of my hands, so I’ll do a plot outline or synopsis so that I don’t forget what I’ve thought of. For proposals, they require a synopsis, so I’ve learned to get the story plot set down even if I can’t get much of the story itself written. But I have friends who plot out chapter by chapter, and I cannot even fathom that. My first draft is just one big thing, and I don’t break it down into chapters until I’ve gone through it several times.

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

Are you a writer if you haven’t had a rejection?

I didn’t start querying, since I came into this a little differently, until after I’d been published. So after I work through the hurt feelings, resign myself to never being accepted by an agent or publisher again, sharing with my writing group (rejections are responded to with pics of hot men and women, and sometimes cute dogs) I remember that I have books out there, and I will again, if I’m willing to do the work. And since I don’t have an agent, I’m open to consider less traditional routes. I’m more aware of the fact that traditional publishing does have issues and limitations for writers, and I’m seriously considering self publishing.

Which means I can then look at dismal sales records to keep  my ego in check.

You are Traditionally published without an agent, how did that come about? 

Someone I knew wrote for Harlequin Romance. She seemed a normal person, but she was doing this. Writing, what I wanted to do! She would often post on social media about opportunities Harlequin had, including the annual So You Think You Can Write contest. I tried a couple of those, joined the forums to talk to other writers and writer wannabes. In 2016, I entered a Blitz Harlequin had for their Heartwarming line. My first chapter and synopsis led to a full request, which led to revisions, which led to “the call” and a two book deal, with of course, more revisions.

I really had no idea about the usual querying process at that time. Part of that was because I had so many ideas in my head, and not enough time to get them written that I didn’t have a complete manuscript, let alone a polished one. The Blitz meant that I had one project that had merit and I could focus on that.

I would still like to get an agent, because of writing opportunities that only exist for writers who have an agent. But mostly, I’d love to have someone look at all these ideas I have and say this is the one you should do. And then this one. Because focus is my problem. 

Since I was published with Harlequin, I have an editor, for whom all things Harlequin feed. I’ve got two Love Inspired Suspense titles coming out under the pen name Anne Galbraith this year, and that happened because I could approach my editor about an idea. 

And I’m now more aware that there are publishers you can approach without an agent. I’m working on some ideas for that now. 

Why was Traditional Publishing right for you vs. Self-Publishing?

A big part of that was because I knew nothing about self publishing. I still know very little, but I have a better idea of where to find the knowledge I need. It will require a big investment of time and some financial resources, but I’m considering it for a future option.

What I liked about traditional publishing was first, the validation. Someone, a professional in publishing, was willing to pay me money for something I wrote. As well, since I knew so little, I didn’t have to worry about the areas I was ignorant of, like covers and formatting. Harlequin especially, puts your books in hands because of the publisher, so it was an opportunity to get my writing out there, which I, with so little marketing knowledge and talent couldn’t do. 

And, as I mentioned before, I needed the focus. Someone else said, yes, that story. Finish it, because I want to read it. That was a big help. And the first edits I received? Were like getting a free class in writing craft. So much that I hadn’t thought of.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Obviously, write. A lot. You keep getting better. 

Also, read. I’ve always been a voracious reader, and from that I’ve learned the basic arc of a story without really working through from a how to book. As well, you’ll find comps, and learn what’s popular and not in your genre. There are books out there that can help you refine your writing skills, or marketing skills or whatever you’re needing.

Find people. I found a great group when I did #RevPit on twitter. We share opportunities and information on agents and publishers. We critique for each other, cheer-lead, and in case of R’s, post pictures of hot people to inspire and console. Writing is a solitary thing, so even if you don’t want to share your work, sharing your experiences with someone who’s been there helps.

Be willing to risk. Putting your work out there is a risk. Getting rejections hurts. But try something new, like sending something to a publisher without using an agent. Enter a contest like #PitMad or #RevPit, and see what happens. 

Finally, persevere. It’s not going to be easy. There are going to be rejections that make you want to curl up in a hole and never come out. Even if you get published, there will be hurtful reviews and one star ratings. But if you want to get your stories out into the world and find the readers that are going to say they love your characters, you have to pick yourself up and try again.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

www.kimfindlay.ca is my website. On facebook, KimFindlayAuthor. My twitter ID is @missheyer74, and on Instagram you can see pretty pictures of the Caribbean and my dog at authorkimfindlay. 

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

Here’s an excerpt from A Valentine’s Proposal, which came out in February. It’s the first book in the Cupid’s Crossing series. Nelson and Mariah are fake dating, for reasons, and she’s suggested they practice kissing in private so they’re able to make a convincing show in public.

9781335179760Nelson looked at Mariah, her cheeks slightly pink, her gaze on her notebook (had she actually researched bad kissing?) and her teeth biting her bottom lip. Maybe it was all this talk of kissing, but right now, he wanted to kiss Mariah.

         Not theoretical, pretty woman, kissing would be great, but kissing the woman sitting there, the one trying to make kissing an item on her list, something they could practice in order to demonstrate to people that they were falling for each other.

         Maybe some people kissed like that. But Nelson never had. He didn’t kiss for anyone but himself and the woman he was interested in. He wanted to kiss Mariah but kiss her so that she wanted to kiss him again, not to impress anyone else or critique his technique.

         He was going to make her love his kisses.

         Being overeager was something that would be on the bad kissing list, so Nelson shrugged.

         “Okay, then. Let’s do it.” He patted the couch beside him.

         He watched Mariah. He saw her swallow. Her teeth were scraping her lip now. She set her computer and notebooks down on the floor beside her chair.

         “I guess we should go ahead and get this taken care of.”

         Was she nervous? She totally was.

         “Mark it off your list.”

         She narrowed her eyes, looking like she suspected something. He smiled back at her.

         “Come on. No time like the present. Then I can get back to the game.”

         Her shoulders snapped back, and her teeth were no longer worrying her lip. He held back a grin. Unless he mistook the expression on her face, she was determined that he wasn’t going to shrug off this kiss and turn on the TV.

         Good. They were on the same page about this.

         She stood and crossed to the couch, dropping on the cushion beside him. He watched the expressions swirling over her face. She was staring at his lips, and leaned forward, starting to pucker. He could almost read the checklist in her mind.

         Unh uh. Kissing wasn’t a checklist.

         He put a hand on her cheek, soft under his palm, and kept her at a distance.

         “Hold on, Mariah. You all but accused me of being a bad kisser. I can’t have that. We’re going to do this right.”

         Her brow creased. “What do you mean?”

         His thumb brushed over her cheek. She blinked. His other hand brushed her arm, fingers running up and down from shoulder to wrist and back. Her gaze followed his hand, her expression confused.

         His fingers slid up her shoulder, across to her neck, gently stroking. He felt her soften under his touch. Soon he had both hands cradling her face. She drew in a breath, watching him intently. He caressed her bottom lip with one thumb, and her mouth parted.

         Bingo.

         He leaned forward and pressed a gentle kiss to her forehead. Her skin was warm and smooth under his lips. Her perfume tickled his nose, and he could hear her breathing. He felt his own speed up. Mariah’s eyes fluttered closed as his lips traced a path down her nose, across her cheek, to one corner of the delectable lips.

         She sighed, relaxing fully into his hold.

         Then he touched her lips with his, softly. He pulled away, just enough to catch his breath, and she moved closer, seeking more.

         He pressed forward again, brushing his lips against hers, back and forth, as she pushed closer to him. His hands slid into her hair, and hers moved up his chest, gripping his sweater.

         Now he increased the pressure, feeling the texture of her lips, the brush of her breath, the slight moan that escaped her.

         Or maybe that was him. Because kissing Mariah was a pleasure he’d have hated to miss.

AuThursday – A J Matthews

Tell us a little about yourself and your background? 

I’m a British author living in NW Ohio with my wife, fellow author Cindy A Matthews. I enjoy writing (of course!), gardening and cooking. 

How do you make time to write? 

I’m lucky to have my own office space which I can retreat to and work in undisturbed for at least a couple of hours most afternoons. 

Do you believe in writer’s block? 

Yes, it can happen. I found that if a plot refuses to move on, more often than not an idea for a later scene in the book presents itself. Working on those later scenes gets them out of my head and always suggests ways in which the tricky scene can be resolved. 

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

I write murder-mysteries set in the 1920’s. There’s something deeply satisfying in crafting the plot and interweaving story-lines to reach a conclusion that-hopefully-the reader won’t guess at too easily from the get-go. 

How are you publishing your recent book and why? Traditional. My books are available in e-format and also POD. 

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

Introvert, definitely. I prefer to stay back and observe rather than get involved in things. 

What is your favorite motivational phrase? 

Butt on chair, fingers on keyboard. 

What advice would you give to aspiring writers? 

Never give up. Listen to advice but have the courage to use your own ideas if you believe them to be better. 

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

https://ajays-blog.blogspot.com/ 

https://twitter.com/AdrianJMatthews 

https://www.facebook.com/A-J-Matthews-1472379789644822 

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

From A Fool in the Marketplace, Book 4 of the Veronica Nash murder-mystery series. 

NIGHTFLIGHTTOBABYLONThe cheering grew in volume. Veronica saw the small shapes of the approaching sculls, the white water thrown up by the oars glistening in the sun. 

“An interesting race, this,” Ben went on. “That chap in the lead, Morris, has a crooked right arm. It’s admirable the way he can wield an oar with his fin all bent like that.” 

“Indeed,” Veronica murmured. 

“You should pop up to Oxford when I return for Michaelmas term, Ronnie.” The dazzling smile was directed at her again. “I’m often out on the Isis with the chaps.” 

“Wouldn’t it be rather boring, Jim-jam?” Claire inquired. “Where’s the fun in watching a band of students thrashing about on the river?” 

Ben put on an air of hurt dignity but Veronica could see the twinkle in his bright blue eyes. “One does not thrash at Oxford. We row with great dignity and style.” 

“Until you catch a crab and fall in the Isis,” Claire retorted then poked out her tongue at him. Veronica saw Lord Desborough taking his leave. With a tip of his straw boater to the ladies he hurried down the gangplank to the riverbank and strode toward the VIP stand. Claire’s second-oldest brother, Edward, watched him go with a thoughtful expression. 

She couldn’t quite make Edward out. A stocky, earnest, bookish young man with a full reddish blond beard, he wore thick spectacles and dark, neat and sober attire. He’d been so stiff and formal at his family’s combined Christmas and Hanukkah celebration. In spite of being in his mid-twenties and therefore not much older than she, Edward had a donnish air more suited to a much older man. 

At that moment he turned and she looked away before she met his eye. He seemed rather too interested in me last Christmas. Ben’s infatuation is more than enough for me to cope with right now. 

She saw His Lordship’s secretary Jacob Levine, a dark handsome man in his early forties looking at her from where he stood smoking a cheroot at the other end of the deck. Unseen by Edward and Ben he gave her a wry smile and jerked his head at the two younger men as if to say boys will be boys. Veronica smiled and nodded back, liking Levine’s quiet demeanour. 

Gabriel and his date put their drinks on the trestle table and moved to the railing, Gabriel’s arm sliding around Elizabeth’s waist in a proprietorial fashion. He appeared rather flushed. Veronica wondered how much drink he’d taken aboard. Lady Sibfield-Murray stood somewhat behind the couple, a calculating look on her face. Her husband joined her as everybody stood to watch the single sculls negotiate the closing stretch of the course. 

Claire stood close to Veronica’s right, Ben to her left, his interest in her plain enough. She smiled at him. My, but he’s a handsome beggar. He turned his head and gazed down at her, his burly form almost blocking her view downriver. And he seems really smitten by me. Oh dear. 

Claire’s lips twitched as she gave her a sidelong look. Veronica guessed her brother’s puppyish interest hadn’t gone unnoticed. She smiled back. Were I not with Claire, I would be tempted. 

The party cheered as the single sculls approached. The leader by a clear three lengths or so was the delightfully-named Morris Morris wielding the blue dashed oars of the London Rowing Club. His rival D. Gollan, wielding the light pink blades of Leander, put on a last spurt of effort but failed to close the gap. Morris shot across the finishing line to the accompaniment of a resounding cheer. 

“Crikey, what a terrific finish!” Ben crowed, punching the air. “I must see if I can have a word with that chap later.” Veronica noticed Gabriel shake his head at his brother’s words and move back to the table with the drinks. He picked up an egg and cress sandwich and examined it before taking a large bite. She noticed his complexion had turned puce. What a sourpuss to take no delight in another man’s achievement. 

A shout of alarm went up from behind her. Veronica spun around and saw the winning oarsman had fallen in the river. “Good gracious, whatever happened?” 

“The poor chap’s exhausted,” Claire’s father said, coming up to lean on the railing and peer at the scene. “I’ve never seen 

anything like it. He just toppled out of his scull.” 

They watched as two of the Conservancy officials’ boats manoeuvred to rescue the man. Between them they managed to get Morris into the motor launch. A heartfelt cheer of relief went up. 

Something thumped hard on the deck behind Veronica. 

“Gabriel? What’s wrong? Gabriel!” Elizabeth’s voice rose to a shriek. The party turned as one to look. Gabriel flopped on the deck, eyes staring, his face turning bright pink. His hands pawed at his throat and chest, as if he were desperate for air. Elizabeth knelt beside him, frantic hands clutching at his. A spurt of foamy vomit shot from Gabriel’s open lips to splatter her peach-coloured dress and she uttered another shriek. 

“Good God!” Lord Sibfield-Murray dashed across the deck as his wife stood paralysed, her hands to her mouth. Levine joined him, kneeling on Gabriel’s other side to loosen his tie and shirt collar. 

“Let me through!” someone shouted. “I’m a doctor.” 

One of the guests unceremoniously pushed His Lordship aside and set to work. Veronica couldn’t remember the man being introduced to her. Levine got up and moved back to let him work. Feet clattered on the gangplank as someone dashed ashore in search for help. 

Everyone watched, eyes wide with shock as the man fought to save Gabriel Sibfield-Murray with what appeared to be professional competence. It seemed touch and go. The young man fought for life with every ounce of his being. Veronica felt Claire take her left hand in a tight grip. A second later Ben’s arm slipped around her waist. She could hear Claire’s breathing, light and quick, almost panicky. 

Gabriel ceased his struggles and turned ominously still. A frozen silence fell upon the yacht. The doctor straightened and stood up with a sad expression. “So sorry, old man. I’m afraid I’ve lost him.” Lady Sibfield-Murray uttered a soft scream and collapsed onto the deck. Before her husband could react the doctor dashed with nimble speed across the deck and took Lord Sibfield-Murray by the elbow, steering him to one side. Veronica stood close enough to overhear the doctor’s soft, urgent words. 

“David, old man, I believe your son was poisoned. We must summon the police.” 

AuThursday – Leslie Hachtel

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

Years ago I was cleaning house and I thought I can change the sheets or write a book. I have no idea where that thought came from, but I wrote a book. It was a terrible book, but it ignited my passion.

How do you make time to write?

I get up early every morning and write while the house is quiet. Then I tend to my other stuff.

Do you believe in writer’s block?

No. Nora Roberts spoke at a conference and said (and I’m paraphrasing…) if you wait for the muse to strike, there is no muse. It’s just ‘sit your butt in the chair and write.”

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

I write romance – historical, historical paranormal, romantic suspense, crossover. I guess I just love love and a happily ever after.

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

I’ve written fourteen books so far and I’ve published both traditionally and indie. I think I’ll try traditional again and if that doesn’t work out, I’ll self-publish.

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

I’m actually both. I can talk to a room of 1000 people just fine, but I am shy at small parties. I tap into both for my characters.

What is your favorite motivational phrase? 

Don’t quit!

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Read everything you can in your genre and then read some more. And take workshops. There is always so much to learn. And each book you write should be an improvement over the last one.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

Website https://www.lesliehachtel.com/

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

Twitter:  @lesliehachtel

Blog: https://lesliehachtelwriter.wordpress.com

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/leslie-hachtel

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

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

This is from the first book in my “Morocco” series, Bound to Morocco… 

Spring, 1713

The throbbing was relentless. Shera, Lady Edgerton, squinted and reluctantly peeked out from beneath her eyelids. She immediately regretted it. A thousand needles of light stabbed her with brutal fury and she quickly closed her eyes again to ease the misery. She drew in a deep breath, trying to quell the pounding in her head. Mindful of the pain, she very slowly opened her eyes again, fighting the agony of vicious brightness that assailed her. Sunlight pierced the room through a narrow slit in the wall high up in the small space and pooled about her. Nausea threatened but she swallowed hard and stiffened her spine.

Gathering her senses and forcing herself to focus, she looked around. Where was she? A small room made of wood? The walls were bare except for four sets of chains attached to the wood by rings hanging a few inches from the floor. Was this an area used to confine prisoners?  But that did not answer why she was here. She was an innocent. Her being here must be a terrible mistake.

          She heaved in a deep breath and listened carefully. Naught but a kind of creaking. Raising herself gently, she sat up. Her head spun and she took in a few shallow breaths to ease the dizziness. The space around her gradually took shape. She was indeed in a small room with walls of horizontal planked wood. Beneath her, the floor swayed gently back and forth. And the smell? It was the scent of despair. Someone had been held here before her. Or many someones. And there was also the unmistakable odor of the sea. I am aboard a ship? How is that possible? A slither of terror crawled up her back. Had she been kidnapped? Was her life at risk? Who did this and what did they want? The lack of answers was tormenting.

AuThursday – Renee Wildes

swords (2)

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I live in a big old farmhouse central WI with my husband and a handful of critters. I have 2 grown kids and a 1-1/2 year old grandson. I have a horse, a dog, and 3 cats. I am a Navy brat and a cop’s lid, and the only vet tech/dog groomer in a family of nurses. Right now I have a full-time day job working from home as a customer service for dental insurance. I’m also an author and acquiring editor for Champagne Book Group.

How do you make time to write?

I write before and after work and on my days off/weekends. Depends on if there’s a pitch fest or submissions in my inbox to read and evaluate.

Do you believe in writer’s block?

I’m a plotter so have everything lined up before I start writing. If a scene isn’t gelling for me, I just work on another. They wheels are always turning so it’s usually not too hard to write once I get started. The hardest thing for me used to be transitioning between scenes. Lately I have more issues with how I want to end a chapter. I’ve become very conscious of “hooks.” 

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

I write FFP spec fic (fantasy, sci fi, and paranormal romance) I love being able to mix the fantastical into the “real” world. I love developing new twists on familiar races and themes so my Cinderella story features a half-dragon fire mage and elven prince charming, and my Sleeping Beauty is an assassin nun who’s sleeping is symbolic rather than literal. I did mt first sci fi after seven fantasy books b/c I needed a change of pace before starting a new fantasy series. And now I set myself up for a whole sci fi series also—have the second book plotted out. So there’s always something fresh and new brewing in my imagination!

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

All my books are traditionally published—I like being part of a team. I was with Samhain Publishing for a decade, did a brief stint with both Wild Rose Press and Tirgearr Publishing, and am now with Champagne Book Group as both author, new-author mentor, and now acquiring editor.

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

I’m an introverted extrovert, if that makes sense. I like being out with friends and can navigate through a writer’s conference. I can walk up to a table at an RWA luncheon and ask to sit with strangers. But at the end of the day I’m all for retreating to my room and curl up with a glass of wine, an old movie, and a good book. I like spending time outdoors with just my dog or my horse, though—I need “me” time to clear my head and recharge my batteries.

What is your favorite motivational phrase?

My personal catch-phrase posted on website is

“Believing Is Seeing.”

Only with an open mind and open heart can you truly see the world around you.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

“Don’t Wish For It – Work For It.”

Write every day. Enter contests. Take classes. Stay open-minded to feedback. Keep submitting. If you get a rejection, shake it off and try someone/somewhere else. You need a thick skin and persistence.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

Publisher http://champagnebooks.com/store/185_renee-wildes

Website https://reneewildesromance.com

Blog https://reneewildes1.wordpress.com

Twitter https://twitter.com/ReneeWildes

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/ReneeWildes1

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

Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/reneewildes/

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2465877.Renee_Wildes

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

Seditious Hearts is an enemies-to-lovers sci fi romance with hero & heroine on opposite sides of a war.

Tagline: Sleeping with the enemy…in a time of war

Premise: Daynavian Resistance Operative Lonan Tremayne is tasked with hijacking the IMF Intervention medical frigate and convincing its Chief Medical Officer, Seppala Amundsen, to switch sides and come along with her ship.

Seditious Hearts_frontcoverExcerpt:

It should’ve been a quick transporter jaunt from the shuttle station to the sumptuous main lobby of Harmonies, the exclusive, out-of-the-way Bregorian resort. Routine. People jaunted all the time. It should’ve taken only a moment to get her bearings after the disorientation of rematerialization. Instead, an agonizing tingling and heart-stopping anxiety gripped her. A strangely lucid seizure that lasted forever. Seppala Amundsen, Imperium Sub-Commander, flailed on the platform—gasping, twitching. Her eyes burned with unshed tears.

“Stay still.” A smooth-caramel, baritone voice tore her attention from her odd predicament.

“Wha’ happen’?” Why couldn’t she talk right? She slurred her words like a drunk.

Insectoid Bregorian voices screeched in the background. 

“Look at me.” A chiseled, tanned face topped with a military haircut swam into focus. His concern washed over her, dulling the other presences as dark-chocolate eyes held her gaze, a lifeline.

She jerked back to awareness, and gulped. Stars, she was naked. In public.

“What’s your name?” His question was more demand than inquiry.

Seppala bristled. Wait, she knew this one, honest. “Shalla.” She cleared her throat. “Sepla.” Argh, it came out all wrong. “Sep-pa-la.” Better. She worked her jaw and swallowed. “Seppala—” Got it! “—Am’shenenen.” Whoops.

Some secret knowledge flashed in those remarkable eyes. “Know where you are?”

“Har’nannies?” Hopefully. “Where m’clothes?”

Where were his clothes? She gulped at his bare torso. A jagged scar marred bronze skin over hard muscle. Black-hide trous appeared all but painted on. His thighs stretched the material taut, a slight sheen reflecting the light.

He grinned at her once-over—a flash of white teeth distracting her from deep eye crinkles and a slight dimple that winked in his left cheek—so quick she might have imagined it. “Clothes are actually optional here. The jaunt receivers worried more about retrieving your bio-read molecules. As should you—nude or not.”

Naked. At Harmonies. Before strange men.

This better be a nightmare.

“No, I definitely want clothes.” She yanked her yammering mind into focus. “Who’re you?”

“Lonan Tremayne, your friendly neighborhood translator. Administrator Kellah figured a human face might be more reassuring than a bug-eyed Bregorian one.” He skimmed calloused fingers over her—yep!—still-bare body with clinical thoroughness. “Can you feel this?”

Only too well. “Numb, tingling, like m’legs fell ’sleep.” She could move, though. Her muscles quivered. Her limbs flailed about like a glitchy animated rag doll. She could talk. Sort of.

He placed a steadying hand on her too-bare shoulder. “Easy there. Follow my finger.”

Seppala fought to track the movement…up, down, left, right.

“Delayed but functional. Everything’s reattached correctly and more or less working.” He brushed the hair from her face, tucking a wayward strand behind her ear. “Your molecules spent some extra time in the buffers is all.”

She flinched at his touch, his words. Is all? Jaunting was usually safe enough. Usually. But the rare accident happened.

Maybe the ’verse was trying to tell her something. Coming to Harmonies was, without a doubt, the dumbest thing her best friend had ever bullied her into.

I tried to tell her I should never be allowed off the ship, scheduled shore leave or no shore leave. But does she ever listen? No. Neiara Delaney, I will get you back for this.

Rematerialization-delay complications…What did the Imperium Science Academy database say? Seppala struggled to recall. Akin to getting hit with a disruptor stun blast or any other power surge. Numbness, tingling, incoordination, slurred speech, neuron misfiring.

Damned database never mentioned naked.

Her brain was functioning, albeit sluggishly, but her body still fritzed. She blamed her befuddled state on her sexy, charismatic rescuer. Only she could meet someone like him…like this. Typical.

A sharp scritching noise set her teeth on edge. Lonan glanced up at someone behind her.

“Administrator Kellah insists you get checked out in their medical bay,” he translated for the looming Bregorian nymph casting a mantis-esque shadow over her. “Kellah’s assistant Braykekk here will accompany us.”

Wow. He, a human, understood Bregorian?

She squinted at him. No Utarian translator earwig? How’s that even possible?

Not that those were infallible, especially with such an alien vocalization as Bregorian. And right now, her own was apparently damaged by the delayed rematerialization. Lovely. How was she supposed to do her job if she couldn’t communicate? She’d have to requisition a new implant…and explain to Captain Osande why.

Wouldn’t that be a fun conversation?

More urgent screeching. Seppala winced and tamped down the urge to cover her ears.

“Easy.” He patted her shoulder. “Just a temporary detour. They’ll have you in your room in no time.”

But the infirmary meant an uncensored medical scan.

No way. “Gotta…check in.” She struggled to rise. Her legs churned but refused to support her.

She wasn’t petite by any stretch, but he scooped her up and stood as if she weighed nothing at all. “Later, after we make sure this is temporary.”

“Nothing like getting swept off my feet.” Seppala cursed her current helplessness. Her head swam. Conceding for the moment, she closed her eyes and snuggled in, wrapping her arms around his neck. So warm…

This close, he stole her breath. She cracked her lids open to peer at him. Strong jaw and cleft chin, shadowed with a hint of beard, which begged for a nibble. She never nibbled. Firm, sensual lips she could almost taste. Lonan Tremayne even smelled edible—a faint musk beneath a hint of woods and spice. A rustic scent she wanted to wrap herself up in.

Every taut moment made her skin spark with an unprecedented sizzling awareness until she needed to remind herself to breathe.

Except each breath pulled his essence into her very bones.

What was wrong with her? She never ogled strange men. Never.

But there was so much to ogle here.