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.

AuThursday – William Schlichter

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

Being a published author has always been a life goal. It’s taken me a while to get there, and it was not a straight road—sometimes there was no map. Along the way, I became an English teacher, received a Master’s degree in Theater, and am currently working on a second Master’s in Creative Writing. I am a hardcore sci-fi and horror fan. I will gladly talk about writing, books, and zombies any day. 

How do you make time to write?

Writing comes first. I make time to do the rest of life. When I’m not writing, I keep an audio-book on my phone, because authors should be reading as well as writing. When I ride the bike at the gym, I read an actual book. I always have pages to edit if I get stuck and have time to color purple on my pages. I spend my evening reaching my daily goal of 1,000 words. Sometimes when I’m heavy into editing, I don’t write part of a new story. Teaching writing allows me to talk about my writing. I will toss out questions sometimes just to see how my students answer. Trust me, some of those answers will end up in print. 

Do you believe in writer’s block?

No. Even if I’m having a slow day on one story, I’ll switch to another. I have a couple of side stories. I have too many ideas not to be writing. The so-called writer’s block is a lack of confidence in oneself. I accepted a long time ago that whatever a person is writing will suck. It’s terrible and no one will ever want to read it. Including the author. But once those words are on a page, it can be transformed into a masterpiece. The key is getting the words down and it can be turned into art. No matter what, someone will read and love it and someone will hate it.  

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

Horror and Sci-Fi. I saw Star Wars when I was three and a half and knew I wanted to create worlds. Sci-Fi and horror have no limits. And I can explore a side of people that terrifies and fascinates us at the same moment—serial killers. I enjoy the macabre, and I don’t always chase the monster under-the-bed stories. I find real terror lies in people. I think that is my fascination with serial killers. They are real and that is where terror lies.

 

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

I am publishing my current novel through a small press publisher under a hybrid model. I pay some of the publishing costs and they cover some. It allows for more control on my part but gives me support and access to publishing you may not have with total self-publishing. I would still like to see a traditionally published book—which might be happening soon. And by soon in the publishing world means three years. I fully support Indie authors. I still fall in that category, but before someone goes on full-fledged self-publishing, send it off. Collect those rejection letters. It makes you a better writer. We learn more from failure than success.  

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

I never met a stranger. It helps with book sales. I’ll give you an example; if I want to know how a nurse deals with cancer patients, I’ll ask a nurse. Then I write my scene. I think it makes the moment more real. It is not the medical terms or the science. It’s what would they actually say that makes it feel real to the reader. And it feels real because it’s what a real nurse would say.

What is your favorite motivational phrase?

I can fix anything but a blank page (I’ve seen it credited to several authors).

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Through teaching writing, the biggest trap (and what makes them hate me) is the inability to let go of what they have written. The beginning author writes a chapter. They spend weeks, months—even years—perfecting this chapter. It’s the most beautiful piece of writing they will ever create. And it doesn’t serve the story and must be cut. They take it as a personal attack, or they feel they wasted their time. They have not. Every time they write and rewrite, they are getting better at it. But sometimes no matter how good a paragraph seems, it doesn’t fit into the story and must go. And they can’t let it go. When you cut your work to the bones and still tell a good story, it is ready. I recently read a freshman effort by a published author, and he spent pages beautifully describing this Victorian home and it had nothing to do with the story. It destroys the flow of the book and many readers won’t keep reading. The worst offense was that we never returned in the book to this home.  

It hurts but cuts the unnecessary bits.

One other area is the outline. I write the last chapter first. I like to know where my characters will end up. I then do a basic plot outline. And this is where some writers and Comp teachers get upset. I am not married to my outline. It is not a stone-cold road-map; it is a suggestion. If my characters need to go in a different direction, then I follow. If they toss the map, then so be it. Sometimes we get back to the final chapter, sometimes I have to rewrite to match the direction the character traveled. But I don’t get upset because I didn’t stay true to my pre-planning. If anything, it was a direction that wasn’t meant for those characters.    

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

https://www.instagram.com/wschlichter/

https://sandmenandzombies.com/

https://www.bhcpress.com/Author_William_Schlichter.html

https://www.facebook.com/wmschlichter

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

Sirgrus Blackmane Demihuman Gumshoe and The Dark-Elf

1

DEAD PARTNER

The Great War is over, Prohibition is in full swing, and fairies have the right to vote. Sprinkle-dust fae, not those bloody orcs. Don’t give me any “bleeding heart,” “love your enemy” buggery. Ending a war with signatures on a paper doesn’t change what I witnessed. No way. The only good orc is a dead one. Dwarves are born hating orcs. And I’ll die hating orcs. 

Cops would be a close second. I’ve no ancestral urge to butcher them, but I don’t have a desire to cooperate without a warrant either. I’m jammed between two uniformed officers in the back of a coupe. I’m not under arrest, so I don’t appreciate the perp treatment. Sandwiched between them, one thing is clear: I’m not trusted. 

I’ve nothing better to do. My caseload is open. Private dicks aren’t normally called to the busting of a rum-runner ring—especially dwarf detectives outside the Quarters. I’ve got little to do with Prohibition, other than that it’s a law I fail to practice. Mead is a staple of the mountain dwarf diet. 

I slip a golden clam-shell case from the inner pocket of my trench coat and remove a cigarette. I prefer pipes, but in a pinch, a cig will do. If I don’t catch a case after this, I’ll have to roll my own. 

The driver hits every pothole in the road before pulling into a field. They let me out. I crush my cig, using the moment of freedom to grind the cherry into the green grass. I’m not manhandled, but the brusque movement of my escorts suggests I’m expected to follow the officers.

The sight of wooden box after wooden box being dragged from the barn makes me want to cry. Uniformed men outside smash case after case labeled “Perfect Maple Syrup,” and their acts are the true crime. Hard rum vapors hover in the air, wafting from the growing pile of shattered glass and growing pond of brown liquid soaking into the ground.

My escorts bring me to the man in charge.

His suit gives away that he is no patrolman. I can’t get over the paisley print stitched into his blue silk tie. His tie reveals his talents if a person knows what the symbols mean. He’s human, and human mages are a dying breed. Mages have always been feared. Hell, they used to be burned for heresy. 

I light another cig. 

“We found a body.”

Now, a body does pique my interest. Bodies are to be expected when rum-runners are raided, but not always. Most middlemen bootleggers surrender, and the lawyers have them out on bail within twenty-four hours. But other than drinking the product, I’ve nothing to do with such nefariousness. Anyway, I don’t deal with stiffs. They tend to skip out on the check.

 “Agent Edgeangel, since when does the Justice Bureau’s Mage Division enforce the National Prohibition Act?” I speak with disdain, mostly because of the smell. Magic stinks worse than the wafts of spilt rye. 

 “Sirgrus…Blackmane.” He bites off my clan name as if it’s tough, overcooked meat. “Magic crimes are on a downward trend since the end of the war. Drinking-related crimes are rising.”

When you pass a pointless law to help those returning from war to curb their drinking, you create more criminals. The Great War wielded the tools of men over ancient mysticism. Europa suffered, centuries of culture was decimated, and magic failed to restore the old ways. This surly baboon won’t admit mages of any race are going extinct. But I’m here about a dead body, not a dead culture. I puff a series of smoke rings, contemplating how best to remind him wizardry is obsolete. “The trenches gutted the ancient countryside, destroying the old ways. No magic will ever bring it back.”

Edgeangel wags a finger toward the silver rune-etched beads laced into my beard’s braids—a long-standing dwarf superstition. Some claim the runes have a charmed origin. “The technology of men rules the world now. But I didn’t ask you here to discuss the diminution of the old ways.”

“I figured not.” I stand next to the classy G-man. Even on a government salary, his suit is tailored. Mage-users are elitists. I’m not a fan. Mages failed us in Europa. 

The G-man gazes down his long nose at me. 

Not because of my height. Dwarf is a species, not a size. I reach a stature of five feet, without the fedora. 

Edgeangel’s blue eyes reveal his distaste for me. Or perhaps he just thinks all non-mages are beneath him. I don’t need the gift of clairvoyance to understand his assignment was no career builder. Rum-running busting is a job for the common officer, not a master of the Dark Arts. 

Agent Edgeangel marches past the men carting case after case of booze from the barrel-house. They must smash it here onsite. Somehow, if they don’t, it never arrives to be booked into evidence. Another reason the lawyers get the minions out on bail so fast: no proof. 

We continue past a paddy wagon. The shackled men ignore me.

In a back room of the barn—maybe for tools or tack storage—a white sheet shrouds a human figure. The corpse isn’t wide enough to be a dwarf. I had thought maybe a dwarf crossed the line to work outside the Quarter, which might’ve explained my presence here. Edgeangel might have supposed I knew a dwarf. Men always think dwarves know each other. We all look alike to them.

A red bloom of blood is centered over the forehead. Edgeangel kneels, gripping the corner of the blanket. “Prepare yourself.” 

I’ve seen dead bodies before. Dead ones don’t disturb me like some of the living. I crush out my cig.

AuThursday – G.M.J.

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

Hi! My name is Gordana Mucha Jakelic. I go under the pen-name of G.M.J. I come from a small town, Split, on the coast of Croatia. I wrote this book, ‘Aurora . . . and God’ when I was 17.  I was still in high school then, and I just got inspired like many teenagers as I was daydreaming about romance. But eventually, it felt like as if someone took my hands and wrote the book through me, making it all about faith and something deeper. I don’t know; I just let it come out of me like it was a spirit guidance or an old inspiration – But I wrote it like that. 

How do you make time to write?

Well, my whole day is usually packed with a schedule. So, when I get up, I usually have coffee in a café first. Then, I go to the Gym, and after that I head to work. During the evening hours, I relax, and I write depending on the current book project I am working on. Sometimes my writing can go on for two months straight. Sometimes I do not write anything for another two months. Because, I usually go by inspiration. 

Do you believe in writer’s block? 

Well, I don’t really see it as a writer’s block. I as usually go by inspiration, I guess maybe you can say that writers block comes when the inspiration runs dry?

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

There are a lot of genres in my writings. But I am always trying to celebrate life, whether it’s the one we are living in now, or the one where we departure to another world. I like to write about faith because I experience some miracles and I saw other people experiencing the same too. I like to write about those experiences and real-life sample stories where people struggle, and how through their struggle, they reach to find faith and God. In that way, I like theology as well, so, I am always trying to mix these two up and make a book with a strong message and motivation. 

How are you publishing your recent book and why? 

I self-published my recent book, Aurora . . . and God, on Amazon. However, my first book was published by a traditional publisher 11 years ago in Serbia. That book was titled ‘A handful of nothing’. Since Aurora . . . and God was translated to English, I decided to publish independently on Amazon, but I am still not sure if it is a good idea to push and try for a traditional publisher too. 

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

I am an introvert, but it does not affect my work. Because my work is affected by faith and my believe and love for people. I try to be objective in my writing and not thing about being an introvert or extrovert. 

What is your favorite motivational phrase?

Beside a few biblical ones, I would say

“Be good to yourself”.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Write whether you are trying to publish or not. Always write because it feeds your soul. You become a better person when you do something good when you feed your soul. 

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

I do not have a website currently, and I am still contemplating if I should start one. However, you may find my ‘About the Author’ page on Amazon. My book is also on Goodreads, and I am on Instagram too. 

Amazon Link: bit.ly/AuroraandGodGMJ

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/53450198-aurora-and-god

Instagram Link: https://www.instagram.com/the_curious_editor/

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

Maybe I could share a …(blurb)… of my book: 

Aurora and God GMJ400A young troublesome addict, Aurora, and a priest on a mission, Sebastian, form a beautiful friendship. Slowly their friendship takes a turn when Sebastian starts to slowly distance himself from Aurora, hiding his true reasons.

This book delves into the depths of one family’s struggles to reveal the core of human existence and the basis for all human life; the love of God. We long for it, even if we do not admit it, even though it is all around us. We run from it, even though we want it. We push it away, even though it is life sustaining. No matter how hard we deny it, push it away, or run from it, it is always there. Because God is always there. Simply waiting for us to accept it.

First Friday Lunch – The Courtesan of Constantinople

This month I’m talking about the process of querying, rejections and why I chose a small press for this project.

AuThursday – Melinda Curtis

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

Prior to writing romance, I was a junior manager for a Fortune 500 company, which meant when I flew on the private jet I was relegated to the jump seat—otherwise known as the potty (yes, it has a seat belt). After grabbing my pen (and a parachute) I made the jump to full-time writer. I’m a hybrid author with over 60 titles published or sold, including 40 works to Harlequin and five to Grand Central Forever, mostly sweet romance and sweet romantic comedy. One of my books – Dandelion Wishes – became a TV movie in 2020. Love in Harmony Valley starred Amber Marshall of Heartland fame. 

How do you make time to write? 

Since I write full-time, “finding time” hasn’t been a problem up until a move and “shut-downs” in 2020. You see, all my kids went to college in Oregon and didn’t return to California. Mr. Curtis and I decided to move before the virus hit – just in time for quarantine. With some restrictions lifted, my kids have been popping by. And since we moved into a fixer-upper, workmen have been dropping by. Instead of big blocks of time, I’m writing in stolen moments – lunch hours for workmen, before or after family dinners, early in the morning. Deadlines must be met!

Do you believe in writer’s block? 

I do. But I think some label the inability to write through a draft writer’s block when their problems could be solved by opening their writing craft toolbox. On the other hand, emotional upheaval can steal the words and the joy of writing. I had a hard time writing after my father died. No amount of applied craft could help my sad, racing thoughts.

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

I went from writing traditional romance for Harlequin to Women’s Fiction to Rom-Coms. I’ve taken the emotional characters I’m used to writing and overlaying those stories with humor. Absolutely love this balance!

A person on a horse

Description automatically generated

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

My most recent releases are trad – Montana Welcome, A Very Merry Match. I spent much of 2018-2019 writing to contract, which gave me 8 releases this year in the trad world. I’ve been slowly catching up on my indie series.

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

LOL. I think I’m an introvert but maybe that’s because I work at home and like it. But as soon as you get me around people, it’s yackety-yackety-yack!

What is your favorite motivational phrase?

You’ve got to want it!

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Work on your craft. Feed your soul.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

www.MelindaCurtis.net

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

This is an excerpt from A Very Merry Match, a small town rom-com that features characters in need of a second chance at love and three matchmaking widows who know that love sometimes needs a gentle nudge…

A close up of a dog

Description automatically generated

The stool next to Kevin listed to one side as Jason Petrie tried to belly up to the bar with his broken leg. A clatter of crutches, a scrape of stool footings, and the blond, blue-eyed cowboy had half his butt on the seat. His casted leg rested gracelessly to the side.

Noah had a beer in front of Jason before the cowboy released a put-upon sigh or had time to glance over his shoulder at his ex-girlfriend Darcy.

“Before you start off with your smarmy metaphors and clichés, Kev.” Jason paused to sample his beer. “Remember that I’m the only guy in town who shows up to drink with you.”

And wasn’t that a sad state of affairs? 

Kevin signaled Noah for another whiskey. He’d been nursing his first for thirty minutes, and he was walking home. “I have no life.”

“Good mayors rarely do.” Jason drank some more beer. “You’re like priests. Nobody trusts priests who get out there and have a life either.”

Kevin scowled at him, annoyed that his opinion mirrored his ex-wife’s, doubly so when he realized they were both right. 

If he was ever going to re-activate his social life, he needed a steady girlfriend, someone as boring as he was, someone who was never the talk of the town, someone who wouldn’t ruin his political chances.

“Excuse me.” Mary Margaret Sneed picked up Jason’s crutches and leaned them against the bar. She wore blue jeans, tall black boots, and a chunky fisherman’s sweater that hinted at her curves. She had a full mane of red hair, a pair of tender blue eyes, and was like the Pied Piper when it came to making children behave. “I hate to interrupt, Jason, but…I heard you might be hiring part-time workers.”

“Yep.” Jason patted his walking cast beyond the fringe where he’d cut off one leg of his blue jeans. “The logistics of bull semen collection, storage, and order fulfillment are not what the doctor ordered for another few weeks.”

“Whereas drinking beer is,” Kevin murmured.

Mary Margaret and Jason both paused to look at him. Kevin stared into his whiskey glass.

“I’m looking for a part-time gig,” Mary Margaret continued in that church-girl voice of hers. “But I can’t work until after school during the week.”

“Ahhh.” Jason gave her another once-over. “Didn’t you know? Iggy is a vampire. He and the bulls do all their best work after happy hour.” While Jason explained the horrors of collecting bull semen, storing it with proper labeling in cryogenic units, and shipping it out, Kevin studied Mary Margaret out of the corner of his eye.

She was the complete opposite of his ex-wife. Soft-spoken. Openly kind. Stable. The type of woman a man who was one step from the priesthood would date. It didn’t hurt that she was beautiful or that she knew how to dress well enough to fit in but not loud enough to stand out. He’d seen her circulate in a crowd and not steal the limelight from anyone. She checked a lot of boxes.

And if he looked at the soft bow of her mouth, he could imagine kissing her. And if he imagined kissing her, he could imagine pressing the length of that long, tall body of hers against his. And if he could imagine that…

Kevin sipped his drink, unused to envisioning getting physical with one of his constituents, especially his son’s kindergarten teacher. 

He snuck another glance at her.

At that thick curtain of red hair, at her creamy skin, at the delicate way her fingers interlocked and squeezed intermittently as she listened to Jason.

Kevin swallowed thickly.

With all this talk of the priesthood, a switch had been flipped inside him. It’d been months since he’d burned the sheets with a woman. He could probably look at any single woman and imagine…

He glanced over his shoulder at Avery. She was single and his age. Unlike Mary Margaret, when she wasn’t wearing her theater uniform, Avery’s clothes showed more skin and clung to her curves. But as much as he stared, he couldn’t imagine getting busy with Avery. 

His attention shifted back to Mary Margaret, to intelligent blue eyes and a soft laugh. She shifted her feet, and then he couldn’t stop thinking about her long legs.

“Noah,” he croaked, a dying man in need of a sanity-leveling drink. He held up his empty glass.

AuThursday – Darlene DeLuca

Please welcome Darlene DeLuca to The Clog Blog! Darlene can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

Hi, everyone. Thanks for having me, Tina! My degree is in Journalism, and I started my writing career as a newspaper reporter. That was before kids. The hours were long and I spent many nights attending planning commission meetings and city council meetings. While I learned a lot, after a few years, I moved into corporate communications. I spent about 25 years writing for employee and consumer publications with a little art direction thrown in as well. Then I was “downsized” and left Corporate America for creative writing. I have to say, writing novels is a lot more fun! Summer is my season. I love a sunny day at the beach with a good book, a little dark chocolate and a cold glass of iced tea!

How do you make time to write? 

For me, the great thing about writing is the flexibility, because life happens and often eats into regular business hours. I can, and do, write whenever. I’m probably most productive in the middle of the day when I get all the busywork out of the way and I have the house to myself. I’m not one of those get-up-at-4 a.m.-and-start-going types. I need my beauty sleep! 

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

I write women’s fiction and contemporary romance. Basically, I like stories about people. I like the affirmation that generally accompanies women’s fiction, and I like the good old-fashioned happy ending of a romance.

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

Oh, yeah, I’ve received them! They’re hard, but you’ll never achieve success by quitting. The hardest ones are the “passes” after a revise-and-resubmit because it’s easy to get your hopes up then. I just try to glean what I can from them and move on. It helps to have a support network of other writers!

How did you come up with the idea for your Women of Whitfield series? 

It’s hard to ever pinpoint an exact moment of inspiration. The tiniest thing can spark an idea and it just grows with time and attention. Once I started developing the characters, it became obvious that each one of these friends needed her own story. I also liked the idea of featuring women in their fifties and delving into the issues of that life stage.

What are your thoughts on writing a book series?

I like the Whitfield series and the characters began to seem like real people to me, but honestly, by the time I finished the third story, I was ready to move on to something else. I’m currently developing a romance series that I’ve dubbed the “Masterpiece Series, where Love is an Art and every Romance a Priceless Treasure.” The stories are all related to art in one way or another.

How are you publishing your most recent book “The Story between us” and why? (*e.g. Indie, traditional or small press)

This is my first step into traditional publishing. My earlier works were self-published on Amazon’s direct publishing platform. “The Story Between Us” is part of the Sweetheart Line from The Wild Rose Press. It’s a very different process, and I’m hoping to reach a wider audience through their publishing connections. It would have been much faster to publish myself, but I’m happy to try something new!

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Learn the craft. Read a lot. Join a critique group. Look for and accept genuine feedback and criticism. 

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

Everywhere, I hope! Here are the links to my social media sites:

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6879809.Darlene_Deluca

https://www.instagram.com/darlenedelucaauthor/?hl=en

https://www.facebook.com/Darlene-Deluca-282385088481413/?ref=bookmarks

Website:

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

Reed pulled his keys out of his pocket. In the doorway, he folded his arms and leaned against the casing. “Can I ask you a question?”

Chest pounding, Kristen forced a smile. “Of course.” She took a couple of steps toward him and braced a hand against the back of the sofa.

“Is writing your only reason for being here?”

Heavy, charged air closed around her. How to answer that? Honestly, of course, but…how honestly? “Well, writing is my goal for sure. But—” She glanced around the room before looking at him again. “I’d love to ride my horse, er, Star, and spend some time with…with people I like, too.”

As he pushed off from the door, a slow grin spread across his face. “Sounds like an excellent plan.” He sauntered closer. About a foot away, he stopped. “You’re good with dinner at the main house tonight? Don’t let Dylan bully you. You decide.”

She gave a shaky laugh. That was the plan, right? She couldn’t remember for sure. Her brain was going fuzzy. “I’d love to,” she managed to say.

He leaned closer, his breath warm on her cheek. She braced herself for a friendly peck, but when her eyes fluttered shut, his lips grazed hers. Hovered there, and when she thought her legs might give out, Reed caught her arm and pulled her slightly toward him, his lips covering hers again.

Sparks exploded in her brain, and she grabbed hold of his arm. All of her senses came alive and responded to the unexpected deluge.

A long moment later, he pulled back and brushed a thumb across her cheek. “See you in about an hour.”

Kristen could only nod. As soon as the door closed behind him, she collapsed against the sofa. She ran a finger along her bottom lip. That kiss…Oh, man. The chances of her getting any writing done this weekend just dropped from unlikely to who-said-anything-about-writing?

AuThursday – Marie Johnston

Please welcome my fellow North Dakotan and Romance Writer, Marie Johnston, to The Clog Blog!  Marie, can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I started out as a science geek, and I guess I’m still one. I left full-time lab work ten years ago when we had our third kid (we now have four), worked for almost five years part-time, and then wrote full-time in the last few years. But COVID has drawn me back to the lab and I’m really enjoying it. Now that my kids are older, I’m determined to juggle both my writing gig and my med tech career. It won’t be easy, but I’m too social to work at home during another North Dakota winter. 

What are your current projects?

I’m usually working on more than one book at a time. I have a paranormal romance that releases in July that I’m finishing edits on. It’s the last one planned in that series, which spawned from my first series ever. I’m in the middle of writing a contemporary romance that will be published by K. Bromberg in her Everyday Heroes World in December. It’s been a bit harder (a whole lot harder) to find the time to write while I’m working. I miss those long stretches where I can really sink into the story.  

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

I’m fortunate to be a versatile writer. If needed, I’ll write on anything, anywhere. I prefer to sit for long, uninterrupted stretches, usually before noon. Some of my best writing has been done while waiting in the car with my computer propped on the steering wheel outside of one of my kids’ practices. No one’s called the cops on me yet for sitting in a dark, almost empty, parking lot of a school for over an hour. 

When I don’t have my computer or space is limited, I’ll type out an email to myself on the phone. If I’m really time-crunched, I’ll dictate, but I don’t prefer it. I like physically typing. If I only have a pen and paper, then I’ll plot even though I’m typically a linear pantser. I like to write from beginning to end and let the story unfold, which works better for me since I don’t care for the editing stages, which I have a lot of if I jump around to write different scenes and then seam them all together. 

You’ve written over forty books, where do your ideas come from?

Anywhere and everywhere. I’ll hear a song, a phrase, anything that evokes emotion and puts a scene in my head. From there, I’ll ask questions and more of the story will be revealed. Sometimes, all I have is that scene or idea and I’ve incorporated those in my stories. One of them was the idea of the heroine sitting in a coffee shop, eavesdropping from a booth on a lovey-dovey couple who are ordering. When they leave, the barista makes a comment to her about how she loves seeing a guy dote on his girlfriend like that. The heroine thinks to herself She isn’t his girlfriend. I am. I used that as an opening scene. I even paired it with a what-if idea I had. What if the scorned heroine had to move out of her place and one of the guys helping her move is the new love interest? That became the second scene and I felt like I got two hooks for one. 

Thankfully, I don’t lack in ideas. Just the time to write them all. 

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

I’ve always been indie. I started that way because I needed a shot at an income now and not maybe years from now. Little did I know how fickle both routes can be. Shortly after I started, I wrote a couple of manuscripts and pitched agents and nothing came of it. I self-published those books and I love the flexibility of that route. I can change prices and covers and blurbs within minutes, or days depending on the retailer. I’m changing a three-book series I have—new covers, new blurbs, new titles, and I’m even switching a series from 3rd person POV to 1st person POV. 

This year, I’ll be writing two books in other authors’ worlds. I have one releasing in September in the Cocky Heroes World and one in December in K. Bromberg’s Everyday Heroes World. It’s not quite like traditional publishing. I used my own editors and my own cover artist, but they publish it under their brand. Their audiences are huge so I’m hopeful I’ll find new readers. It’s been a good experience, but I don’t think I’ll do it again. I’d rather put that effort into the worlds I built. (Unless they sell like kettle corn and make a lot of money. Then I’ll totally do more!)

I wouldn’t mind being hybrid but I think I’d try that again with a non-romance book. I have too many romance books I want to get out in the next year and a half, so I’ve tabled those plans for a while. 

What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around?

I mentioned the flexibility with pricing and advertising, but I think the speed is a huge benefit. I’m a fast writer and I’ve built up a sizeable backlist. While I’m working heavier hours at the lab, I can ease off the keyboard a little and play with what I have. I can repackage different boxsets, run them for a limited time, and take them down. I can change covers and do special edition sales. For me, the biggest benefit is that if I’m not earning royalties, I can do something about it.  

What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?

I love any review I can get. Somehow, my book resonated enough with someone for them to go through the time and effort of a review. As long as the book’s average stays above 4.0, I don’t worry about it. But I never read them. They are by the readers, for the readers, and even the good reviews stifle my muse. The bad ones echo in my head for months. Some authors read reviews and gather information about how to improve their writing, but it’s not good for me and I leave it at that.  

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

There’s so much, but the best advice I got was Just Write. Even after 45 books, it still comes down to that. It’s what I have the most control over. It’s what drives my business. Just write.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

Website mariejohnstonwriter.com/

Twitter twitter.com/mjohnstonwriter

Facebook facebook.com/mjohnstonwriter/

Instagram Instagram.com/mariejohnstonwriter

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/11248716.Marie_Johnston?from_search=true

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

This is from my upcoming release A Shifter’s Salvation. It (was released)… on July 20th. Enjoy!

A lumpy bundle in the ditch captured her attention. Patience was past it before she braked. Frowning, she peered in the rearview mirror and waited for the dust cloud to settle. 

Still there. 

What was it? Too large to be a dog. Maybe a bear? A garbage bag? It wouldn’t be the first time some idiot tried getting rid of their trash on the side of a rural road. 

Squinting, she couldn’t make out what it was, but she swore part of the blue appeared to be denim material. 

No. It couldn’t be a person. 

Looking around, she couldn’t see a motorcycle or anything that suggested an automobile wreckage of any sort. 

She ran her tongue along her teeth. Good thing she fueled up. Someone had to check this lump out.

She stepped out of her car and blinked in the sunlight. It was a cool day, typical for late spring. Dirty snow was still piled in the ditches, but it’d been a mild winter, and whatever the bundle was hadn’t landed in more than dried grasses. 

“Hello?” She inched closer to the edge of the road. If it was garbage, please be old rags. Something that didn’t ooze. Picking up other people’s trash was full of icky surprises.

The lump didn’t move. 

“Garbage dumpers,” she muttered and crept closer. A mop of rich brown hair caught her gaze. 

The pile wasn’t small. And it had hair. 

Her heart rate kicked up. A person. But there was no vehicle around. Was he dumped?

She knew it was a he because of the size. Not that women couldn’t be that big. But this was definitely a guy. Because the more she studied him, the better able she could make out that he was on his side and had incredibly broad shoulders. 

“Excuse me?” she said, sounding more timid than she cared to.

No movement.

“Sir?” She took a step closer. 

No response. 

She closed the distance between them and stood over him. His shoulders moved in time with his steady breathing. Good, he was alive at least. Before she could wonder about her personal safety, she crouched as far away as possible but close enough to reach out and nudge one heavily muscled arm. “Hey?”

Nothing. 

Circling him, she had a dying need to know what he looked like. If she was getting taken down by a stranger, she wanted to see his face. 

Admittedly, this stranger didn’t seem like he’d attack anyone any time soon. 

A leather coat flap obscured his face. Since he was breathing, she pushed him to his back. A normal person would call an ambulance, but there was no way she’d risk that. With her luck, Damian would be on duty, and she couldn’t risk running across him. The restraining order had expired and he hadn’t bothered her—yet. 

The man groaned as he settled on his back. 

Her lips parted. He was a mess. But he was a hot mess. Bits of grass mixed with rich brown strands. A neatly trimmed beard framed his chiseled face. Everything about him screamed strength and power. Quite a feat for an unconscious man. She didn’t have to move his jacket and shirt around to know that he had a great body. 

But she had no wish to touch his shirt. Blood was spattered across it. She couldn’t see any open wounds. Not his blood? Her gaze swept his long body. No major injuries other than bloody knuckles. 

Her jaw tightened. He was in a fight before he ended up here. Self-defense? Or was he a mean bastard? 

“What’s your story?”

 

AuThursday – Rosanna Leo

Rosanna Leo author photoWelcome Rosanna!  Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

Thanks so much for having me here, Tina!

I’m Rosanna Leo and I write contemporary and paranormal romance. When not writing, I work at my local public library in an Acquisitions role, so I’m one of the lucky ones who gets to see all the new books when they first arrive. I come from Toronto, Canada, and I try hard to insert a bit of Canadian flavour into my books. I’ve been writing for over ten years now and am fortunate to be part of the romance community, as a writer, blogger, and reader.

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

With the subgenres of romance that I write, I really do get the best of both worlds. With my contemporary romances, I get to explore the conflicts of “real” people, and I love showing how they can grow and learn to love. In the case of my paranormal romances, the characters and situations might be a bit more outrageous, but it’s fun for me to be able to push those envelopes. Each type of writing compels me to think differently, so it’s a great exercise. The one commonality, of course, is that in those stories, the protagonists have to fall in love and be committed to one another by the end of the book. However, that journey to love is the whole point, and it’s the reason I love this genre so much. It carries a powerful sense of hope. 

What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?

For me, the part I dread is the initial brainstorming. I know of writers who can just shoot out fresh ideas on the spot, but I’ve never been good at that, not even in non-writing situations. I have to let my thoughts marinate for a while, and I second-guess a lot of my ideas. Nevertheless, as much as it sometimes pains me, I do try to get some ideas down. It’s the first step, after all, so it has to be done.

Do you believe in writer’s block? 

I do believe in writer’s block, and I know I’ve experienced it before. It tends to affect me at particular times, however. I had it after losing a loved one, during moments of stress in my career and family life, and I’ve experienced when I’ve written myself into a hole (when I haven’t thought out a story properly and I begin to flounder.) It happens. I won’t call myself an expert in dealing with it. For the most part, I just try to either write through it, or I take a break from writing altogether. 

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

My recent release is A Good Man, Handymen 1, a contemporary romance. It released on June 9, 2020. It’s been published traditionally with Totally Bound Publishing. I’ve been working directly with publishers for a few years now and have worked with some great people. I appreciate that my publisher handles a lot of the details that I don’t feel confident handling (i.e. covers, formatting.) So, for me, it’s a good fit.

What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around?

I haven’t ruled out self-publishing and may attempt it down the road. I have many author friends who prefer that method, and they have it down to a fine art. Not having done it myself, I probably can’t speak to its disadvantages, and I think a writer should always do their research before committing to either path. 

How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?

I like to think my writing is more polished now, more pared down. When I started writing, I used some overly-descriptive language and made some interesting style choices. It’s all part of learning, and it was definitely part of my process. Now, I try to take a lot of care with my word choices, and if I can simplify a statement, I will.

What is your favorite motivational phrase?

I don’t have a favorite motivational phrase, but I do believe in the power of positive affirmations. For the most part, I try to express gratitude for where I am in life, and I try to be grateful for something each day. 

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

Blog: https://rosannaleoauthor.wordpress.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LeoRosanna

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rleoauthor1

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

Bookbub:  https://www.bookbub.com/authors/rosanna-leo

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

Sure! I’d love to share an excerpt from A Good Man, Handymen1:

AGoodManCover_1500x2400Emily threw herself at him and wrapped her arms around his torso, cutting off his words and his breath. Only when he hugged her back did he realize how hard she was quivering.

She wasn’t just crying about the old photos.

“It’s okay, Em. Let it out, sweetheart.”

The collar of his shirt grew wet but he didn’t care. Wardrobe had tons of shirts. Besides, she felt good in his arms, all soft and warm. He rubbed her shoulders and the back of her waist, exploring and familiarizing himself with her luscious body. He breathed, drinking in her scent. His nasal cavities had never known such bliss. It was like that first clear breath after a long period of congestion. His fingers were pretty happy too, enjoying the give of her body. It was all he could do not to slide them down, cup her sweet ass, and pull her up against him.

Just not while she was crying over another man.

She lingered in his arms and he did nothing to push her away. In fact, it surprised him how badly he wanted to keep her there, so much so that when Emily finally extricated herself, he wanted to pull her back into his embrace. Instead, he wiped her cheeks clean of the remaining tears.

“The makeup ladies are going to kill me for making you cry.”

It might have been his imagination, but her tears made her eyes appear even greener. In fact, her entire face seemed a riot of tempting color. Each shade called to him. The crushed roses in her cheeks. Her strawberry lips, so plump and moist. Even the doeskin brown of her freckles fascinated him to no end. He wanted to count them, to kiss and mark them all.

Kissing her made a whole lot of sense right now. Kissing her senseless seemed even better.

Emily’s eyes widened. Her lips parted in invitation. Michael paused, knowing it was wrong, even though every raised hair on his arms told him it was right.

As he debated with himself for a split second, she brushed her lips against his. It was quick and soft, hunger masquerading as something platonic. Even though a spectator might have called it a friendly kiss, he knew the truth. As brief as it may have been, he felt her yield to him, even if just a little.

From the startled look in her eyes, Emily knew it too.