AuThursday – Floor Kist

TourBanner_Can Machines Bring Peace gifPlease welcome Floor Kist to the Clog Blog! 

Hi Tina, thank you so much for this interview and for taking the time off of your own writing. I’m really impressed by the diversity of worlds in your novels.

Floor, can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

Well, I live in a town called Voorburg in the Netherlands. It’s near The Hague. Wife, two kids, two cats and a dog named Monty. And I’ve always been involved in public service. At the moment, I’m an alderman in my town. That’s a member of the city executive council, along with the mayor and three other aldermen.

I think I surprised a lot of people when I wrote and published a science fiction novel.

How do you make time to write?

Planning! Just like for the most of us, I can spend time on a lot of different things. So, just making an appointment with yourself to write can really be help. And is really a wonderful gift to yourself.

Do you believe in writer’s block?

I can relate to the moments that I don’t know if the story works or how it continues. I know I can get distracted by all the other things happening in my life. And I’m especially susceptible to wanting to start all the other books I want to write.

So, for me, real writer’s block is the one when I don’t know what to do next in the story. And when that happens, I take a good look at my characters and what motivates them. Because if one of my characters wants something badly enough, they will start moving to get there. Well motivated characters will always keep the story going.

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

For some reason I prefer science fiction over fantasy. Both genres allow you to imagine wonderful worlds, but I guess I like the believable world that may actually happen, intrigues me most.

Jules Verne wrote a story about traveling to the moon, and one hundred years later we did. He wrote a story about an electric submarine, and twenty years later it was built. Isaac Asimov, at an auto show in the 60s, predicted the robocar, and now we are actually building them.

This is why I like science fiction.

How are you publishing your recent book and why? 

My novel is self-published. But that wasn’t my first choice. I had found three publishing houses where I believed my novel would fit. And I’d done my homework on what my audience would be like, so we could target them better. And it also seems that the best time to launch science fiction books is before the summer.

None of them replied. Not even a ‘thank you for your interest’ or ‘thank you, but no thank you’. Nothing, nada, niente.

I can even understand why: because there are about one hundred thousand books being published in the USA alone.

And the idea of spending a year and a half trying to reach a publisher and not hear anything back didn’t sound that appealing. So, I found my way to the Amazon self-publishing service.

Are you an Introvert or Extrovert?

A lot of people are surprised when I tell them I’m an introvert. And one of the most difficult things I’ve had to learn is to go ‘out there’ – even when everything inside me said ‘just stay home, it’s nice and warm here’.

I didn’t mean to overcome being an introvert, because I didn’t like being one. It’s just the way you are. But I did want to experience more than just staying home.

How does this affect your work?

Local politics is probably not where you go to meet introverts. As an introvert, I’m comfortable being me. So, a lot of criticism I get doesn’t affect my self-worth. And being an introvert also helps me talk to everyone in an open and honest way.

What is your favorite motivational phrase?

“Even the longest journey starts with the first step.”

I love this phrase. It kept me motivated when I started writing. It kept me motivated when I was trying to make a serious career switch.

It says that no matter how far you want to go in your life, you need the courage or the ambition or the passion to take that first step in what will undoubtedly be a wonderful journey.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Finish your book! Once you start writing nothing else matters. Plan to write, even if it’s just half an hour a day.

Don’t worry about if anyone will like it, or if it’s any good, because that only counts once the book is finished. Don’t worry about how to publish your book; it can only be published once it’s done.

And please don’t fuss about typos. There is no universe in which there will not be typos in the final edition of your novel.

And when your work is done and you don’t think it’s any good or even if others don’t think it’s any good, there is the sheer reward of making something out of nothing, of creating something that wasn’t there before. And no one can ever take that away from you.

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

Cover_Can Machines Bring PeaceCan Machines Bring Peace?

by Floor Kist

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GENRE: Science Fiction

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BLURB:

Can a machine bring peace? Or are humans built for war?

450 years after Earth was bombed back to the Stone Age, a young diplomat searches for lost human settlements. Kazimir Sakhalinsk narrowly escapes an exploration mission gone wrong and searches for ways to make future missions safer for his people. A festival introduces him to the Marvelous Thinking Machine.

A machine Kazimir believes can change everything

For his admiral it’s nothing more than a silly fairground gimmick. But Kazimir is convinced. Convinced enough to go against orders and build one of his own. Convinced enough to think he can bring peace. Convinced enough to think humanity is worth saving. What if he’s wrong?

He asks his hikikomori sister, a retired professor filling her empty days, the owner of the festival machine and the admiral’s daughter for help. Will that be enough?

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NOTE: The book is $0.99.

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Excerpt :

Kazimir hears the beep-beep response to his beacon. The plane is overhead! His breath shortens as he peers through the night. Standard protocol states the plane will land at a safe landing zone within a kilometer radius of ground zero. If Kazimir can find the right direction, he may actually have a chance. There! The shape of the plane against a clouded moon is a beautiful sight. He is afraid to smile, but can’t help himself.

He follows it, stumbling over the thick roots of the trees. Quickly, he looks up.

There she is again. No. ‘That’s… that’s… black flag.’ That means the others are dead.

Standing against the tree, he retches. Cold sweat forms on his forehead and his back. He shouldn’t have left the settlement. He could have saved them. No. He would be dead too. Kazimir gags and coughs. He spits out the sour taste, and wipes his chin. ‘Yuck.’

He looks up, trying to control his breath. The twin rudders and the nose turret machine gun nozzle give the Ki-2 light bomber away. Kazimir has only seen it in the hangar of the Ryūjō. He remembers the pilot telling him about the 500-kilogram maximum bomb load. All headed towards the settlement.

The ground trembles with the explosion. Kazimir sees the red and yellow clouds grow against the dark sky. Seconds later, he hears the wheezing sound of the dropping bombs, followed by the roar of a thousand dragons. Sound travels at three hundred meters per second, so he must be about 300 meters away.

The hot blast wave that follows knocks him down. He hits his head on the root of the tree. ‘Stupid tree.’ He feels a sharp pain. Warm blood dribbles into his hair. Its metallic scent reaches his nose.

Sounds of the explosion die down.

Author Image Floor_KistAUTHOR Bio and Links:

Floor Kist lives in a Dutch town called Voorburg with his wife, two sons, two cats and their dog Monty. He is currently deputy-mayor for the Green Party and an AI researcher. He’s concerned about current divisive public and political debates. But he’s also interested in how AI can be used to resolve society’s big issues.

This is his first novel. He’s been carrying the idea about a story about AI bringing peace for a long time. The Covid-19 lockdown in the Netherlands suddenly gave him time to actually write it.

Link to website:

www.floorkist.nl/author

Link to ebook:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08XK42BMP

Link to paperback:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/151368115X

Blog:

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/21225715.Floor_Kist/blog

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GIVEAWAY INFORMATION and RAFFLECOPTER CODE

Floor Kist will be awarding a $30 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

RAFFLECOPTER:

Enter to win a $30 Amazon/BN GC – a Rafflecopter giveaway

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 – Kat Turner

Tell us a little about yourself and your background? 

I have a very full life, for which I am quite blessed. I work for a university, where I fulfill a couple of roles, teach yoga on the side, and have a family (which we might be adding to soon!). I started writing fiction a little over five years ago and found tremendous satisfaction in the creation of fictional worlds. It feels like a calling. I like to think that I was able to parlay my background in academic writing into the fiction world and expedite the craft learning process a bit through that. My hobbies are working out, podcasts, yoga, walks, and of course reading and writing. 

How do you make time to write? 

I force myself to carve out a 2-hour chunk of time to sit and focus. Two hours is usually the sweet spot for getting a decent amount of writing or editing done and feeling reasonably accomplished. Sometimes late nights are involved. Other times, it’s a matter of sacrificing a yoga class or chores to get the words down. 

Do you believe in writer’s block? 

I definitely believe in lack of creative inspiration that can lead to feelings of stagnation. So yes. Tell us a bit about the genre you write and why you love it.

I’ve written mostly romance, which I love because I find that stories about falling in love are so fundamentally optimistic and uplifting. And who couldn’t use a little elevation now and then? The paranormal element is fun to add in because then you can explore the adventures that arise when romantic feelings develop in the midst of outlandish circumstances. 

How are you publishing your recent book and why?

My most recent and upcoming book are both traditionally published through City Owl Press. I adore my publisher everyone from the art team to the editors, administrative staff, and author community are so helpful and supportive. We really are like a loving family. 

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

I’m pretty introverted, so I recharge through alone time. It affects my work insofar as my solitary time spent reading, watching, listening, and thinking nourishes my creative well. 

What is your favorite motivational phrase? 

You are stronger than you think. 

What advice would you give to aspiring writers? 

Keep improving your craft. Find your people and listen to their advice. Rewrite and edit, and allow yourself to notice when the results improve. 

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

https://katturnerauthor.com/ 

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19786105.Kat_Turner 

https://www.amazon.com/Kat-Turner/e/B08KGVL811?ref_=dbs_p_ebk_r00_abau_000000 

https://twitter.com/Kat_A_Turner 

https://www.facebook.com/kat.turner.50364/ 

https://www.instagram.com/katturnerwrites/ 

https://www.bookbub.com/authors/kat-turner-8e084db2-0533-46c5-8961-9747f771b5d9 

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

Here’s one of my favorite lines from Blood Sugar, coming 8/24 from City Owl Press! 

“Mr. Mystery looked Eve in the eye. Maybe what interested her most about this man was how large he loomed despite his nameless, anonymous status. Like some old-world deity walking amongst mere mortals.” 

AuThursday – Crystal Estell

Tell us a little about yourself and your background? 

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

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

Writing makes me happy. 

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

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

How do you make time to write?

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

Do you believe in writer’s block? 

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

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

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

How are you publishing your recent book and why? 

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

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

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

What is your favorite motivational phrase? 

You fail only if you stop writing. ~Ray Bradbury 

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

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

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web? 

https://estellsplace.com 

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

Excerpt From: “Field of Secrets.” 

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

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

Because in all her memories, she loved him.

AuThursday – RT Chambers

Informal head & shoulder RTC - at stable in HungaryTell us a little about yourself and your background? 

Retired trauma surgeon who wrote for much of my career as a stress reliever with no intent to publish. After retirement from surgery I began to publish. 

How do you make time to write? 

In the winter 

Do you believe in writer’s block? 

As a transitory event, yes. 

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

I write about strong women as dating back to the Isle of Skye in the 18th century there are multiple stories of strong women in my family including my mother who earner a four year business degree in the 1930’s, unusual for men and unheard of for women. 

How are you publishing your recent book and why? 

Indie 

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

Extrovert and not sure that it does affect my writing. 

What is your favorite motivational phrase? 

Get off your ass and get going (directed at myself only). 

What advice would you give to aspiring writers? 

Ultimately you need to be concerned with character arcs and plot points but for the first draft just write as your cortex directs you. 

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

www.Amazon.com/author/roberttchambers 

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

FrontCoverForInternet (1)

Facing the central part of the cafeteria, Kimberly could see Layla coming toward them from a corridor on the opposite side. There was a boy she didn’t recognize a few feet behind Layla. Something was not right. He had on a heavy jacket, which was weird this early in the fall. Instinctively she started to get up to find a teacher. Before her eyes, the boy disappeared in a cloud of fire, black and debris. As she ducked under the table, she saw Layla flying to their right. The explosion was sufficiently violent that the glass behind Kimberly and Allison blew out. Kimberly immediately got to her feet and began running toward the blast zone. 

“Wait, Kim, don’t go there,” Allison yelled after her, “we’ve got to get out.” 

Kimberly could hardly hear her but yelled, “Come on, people will need help.” 

The people, kids, and teachers near them, were on their feet or sitting stunned. With Allison following, Kimberly ran to where she had seen Layla. In front of them, there was a black void where nothing was moving. Around the periphery, kids, and adults, were screaming, many people were down. 

Layla was down, her body sprawled grotesquely, not moving; Kimberly squatted and felt for a pulse. There was none. Layla’s head was loosely, grotesquely, positioned on her body. 

“Oh my God, she’s dead, isn’t she,” cried Allison. 

“Yes,” replied Kimberly. She had never seen a dead person before, but there was no way Layla was alive. Kimberly shook her head and swallowed as she tried to process what she was seeing. Allison was sitting crying. “Come on, Allison, we’re Girl Scouts and know first aid. We can’t help Layla, but others need us.” Allison stared at her. Putting her hand out, Kimberly pulled her friend to her feet and got in her face. “Come on; we need to be useful.” 

The crying girl nodded and followed as Kimberly turned to look for living victims who needed help. Within a few steps, she almost tripped over somebody. 

AuThursday – Shivon Gunalan

2020-07-27 (4) (1)

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I have always been working in the corporate sector for years and have loved building relationships. I am passionate in working with women and young adults and have been active in helping women build their confidence and rediscovers themselves. On a personal note, I love to read, cook, travel and just enjoy hanging with my friends.

How do you make time to write?

I used to enjoy writing short stories as a teenager but due to work commitments did not pursue writing. During the COVID-19 Circuit Breaker in Singapore, I had more than enough time to dabble in writing.

Do you believe in writer’s block?

Yes, I do. I think every writer, will face that some point in their life. It will be a time for them to retreat, re-calibrate and just rush into it again.

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

I am writing romance stories, but with a little twist. I absolutely love drama, and I enjoy the interactive characters portrayed by people. I wanted to translate that into a book, where people can enjoy the romance not from a reader’s perspective but actually able to go on that journey with the characters in the book.

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

Indie, as it shortens the whole process.


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

Extrovert. I think its always a challenge to sit still in a place and work on my book, so I try to give myself time limits, and also breaks in between days so I am not too affected.

What is your favorite motivational phrase?

 “I can’t think of any better representation of beauty than someone who is unafraid to be herself” -Emma Stone

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Take the tips of established writers, but find your own pace and comfort level. Enjoy the process of writing and not rush to pass a dateline.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

I am available on social media platforms like FB, Instagram, Twitter and also on my website www.shivongunalan.com

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

Yes! Rosella meeting Ian for the first time.

51Smgb9tuoL._SY346_Rosella removed her sleeping mask and took a peek when the flight came to a halt. It was a long flight, at least fifteen hours from Rome. She could feel her muscles ache. She couldn’t wait to get out of the plane so she can walk around more freely. The man next to her was unbuckling his seat belt. “We have finally arrived! I am going to head down to the casino first,” he said gleefully. Rosella rolled his eyes at him. She was not able to get a decent hour’s sleep because the man would not stop talking. He kept going on even when she had her headset on pretended to watch a movie. Her ears had ached throughout the journey but thankfully she managed to sneak in a few winks when the man fell asleep.

Rosella has never traveled so far in her entire life. She was both nervous and excited at the same time. When her parents passed away in a car accident, she moved in with her sister, Rina and her husband Hunter. They moved from the city to the small town to take care of Rosella. Rina and Hunter were fifteen years older than her. As they were childless, they doted
on Rosella who was only nine years old at that time. Hunter took on the role of her father and adored her like his own daughter. He always affirmed her so she grew secure in her identity as someone who was cherished. Under their care, she grew into a confident woman of God.

Rosella spent a lot of her time in their local parish church as she grew up. She enjoyed singing to the Lord. Rina will often joke that she started singing even before she was capable to construct full sentences. The local pastor signed her up to be part of their choir team.  During her spare time, she will twirl around the garden with her tambourine, singing hymns unto the Lord. She accepted the Lord as her saviour at the age of sixteen. Hunter and Rina held a massive celebration for her. After the celebrations, Rina came up to her room that night to present her with a beautiful purity ring with the inscription “My beloved is mine and I am His.” Rina had taught Rosella the importance of keeping herself pure for the man the Lord will bring into her life.

She loved the feel of the ring around her finger, as it made her feel valued and important. It has been ten years since Rina gave her that ring, and by the grace of God, she had kept her end of the bargain. She twirled the purity ring around her finger. Her friends had started dating in their teens. But Rosella spent her time teaching the local children in her neighborhood. She was very skilled in arts and was very good at needlework. The Lord had
anointed her with talent in that area and she didn’t want it to go to waste. She wanted to be a good steward of those talents. She also taught the older children in the school to teach and write. When the opportunity to teach at an international school presented itself to her, Rosella was quick to jump at the opportunity.

She shared her desire to work in an international school with Hunter and Rina. She explained how it will give her the advantage to learn how the education system was being structured in a foreign country. She was eager to start her own school in their town one day, and she will benefit from this experience gained. After much persuasion, her guardians relented and gave her their blessings. Rosella had enough savings to help pay for her flight and living expenses.  Hunter offered her some money but she wanted to be independent. After booking her plane ticket with the local agent, Rosella started doing her research on Singapore. The city was vibrant and it featured many interesting sights. She was fascinated with the statue of the merlion and began to list down the names of the attractions that she wanted to see upon her arrival.

The country was also famous for its diverse cuisine. Some of the foods looked too spicy for her taste, but she was ready to begin a new adventure. She will be staying with her friend, Ashley who had moved from Italy a couple of years ago. Her friend was an auditor and she worked in a reputable audit firm in Singapore. The international school was her client and she found out about the job vacancy through them. The school accepted Rosella’s application because of her good credentials and referrals. But she knew in her heart it was the Lord who had opened the door of opportunity for her. She had talked to Him about her dreams of starting her own school one day.

The moment she exited from the plane, Rosella plugged on her earpiece. Music was her life, and it was also her way of finding her escapism. When she was back home, she had loved the old hymns they sang in church. Recently, Ashley had introduced her to some new worship songs that have been gaining popularity. Her friend has been part of the worship team in a church that was based in Singapore. She always sends her new songs for her to listen to. “I am reaching out, I will chase you down. I dare you to believe how much I love you now.” She was humming the lyrics of the song as she headed to collect her luggage. “Jesus! I know you are going to guide me every step of the way,” she prayed under her breath. She placed her luggage on the trolley and headed out the gate.

She pushed the trolley towards the nearest chair and plopped herself on it. She stretched her legs and massaged the back of her neck. She placed her handbag on her lap and started to rustle around for Ashley’s address. She did not want to trouble Ashley to come and pick her up. She was very grateful to her for offering her a place to stay rent-free for the first two months. “You can start paying rent after the third month when you have settled down,” Ashley told her. As she was looking for the address, she noticed a man seated next to her from the corner of her eye. He was talking animatedly on his mobile phone.“Ia adalah masalah kecil. Jangan risau. Nanti, kita cakap, ya.” Rosella surveyed the man, trying to figure out the language he spoke. She knew the people in Singapore spoke different languages like Mandarin, Tamil, or Malay.

From the side view, the man looked very handsome and had a dimple on his left cheek. He was dressed neatly in a blue checkered shirt and black tailored pants. The Patek Philippe watch on his right wrist looked very costly. Rosella had tried to purchase a watch for Hunter on his birthday. It was so expensive that she decided to buy him a wallet instead. She knew that a watch like that can be very expensive. She heaved a sigh, wishing her future husband could be someone well dressed like this man. She stopped herself quickly and knocked herself on her head to come to her senses. What if he was someone’s husband or fiancee? It was really hard to tell these days, and she did not want to be caught up in any drama. She tore her gaze away from him and started rummaging through her handbag again. She was so occupied with her search that she did not realize the man next to her, had left his seat.

“Finally!! Thank you, Jesus!!” She smiled gleefully holding the address victoriously in the air. Rosella checked her wallet to ensure she had enough local currency for a taxi fare. She had two hundred dollars which should be more than enough for her taxi fare and her meals over the next few days. She stood up, slung her handbag across her shoulder, and started to move her trolley. She then noticed the empty seat next to her. Mr. Fancy Pants was nowhere to be found. As she was about to leave, something on the seat of the chair caught her eye. It looked like a card from afar. She looked around and saw no one nearby. She picked up the card. From the back, it looked like a membership card. She flipped it around and saw Driving License spelled out on the top. The name on the card read, Ian Jacobs.

She looked closely at the picture on the card. He looked familiar. “Aayyy” she exclaimed when she realized it was Mr. Fancy Pants who was seated next to her earlier. “Ian!” So, that was his name. She stood up and walked around with the trolley trying to track him down. But he was nowhere to be found. She looked at the clock and realized it was going to be 10 pm soon. It was getting late and Ashley will be waiting up for her. She did not want her to worry.  Without thinking much, she stuffed the license into her handbag. She proceeded to drag her luggage to the assigned taxi stand. Even as she was waiting for her turn, Rosella kept looking around to see if she can spot him. When her taxi arrived, she got in and told the driver to drive her to Bencoolen Condo.

AuThursday – Sadie Torrance

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I have always been a creative type even as a child. I would write to entertain myself. It was my favourite pastime as a child and remained my favourite pastime as an adult. When I started my own family, I shared my love of stories with my children. I would write fantastic tales of magic and adventures and regale my kids with stories designed just for them. At the same time, I would write books to amuse myself. When my kids became adolescents, they discovered Wattpad and suggested I post my work so others could enjoy it. I gave it a go, and it took off. Within a year, I was approached by an editor from Dreame and was signed as a paid author on their site. Again, my work was well-received by readers. Encouraged by this small success, I decided to try publishing and hopefully build a professional writing career.    

How do you make time to write? 

I find it easy to make time because it something I love and am passionate about. Even when the day demands, my attention be focused on family, work, or errands; the writing is always in the back of my mind. When I am genuinely inspired, and on a roll, I will sacrifice sleep to write.  

Do you believe in writer’s block?

I absolutely believe in writer’s block. I have suffered from it many times. It’s frustrating when you sit there and stare at the black page, knowing you should write, but nothing good comes to you. When I’m faced with writer’s block, and I can’t work past it, I turn to other amusements. I have a passion for music almost as much as writing. So, I put on my headphones, crank up the music, and lose myself in the private concert in my head. More often then not, it gets my creativity flowing once more and sparks inspiration, curing my writer’s block. 

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

My chosen genre is Romance/Adventure. I don’t limit myself to one type of romance style. I have written historical romances, contemporary romance, science fiction romance, and even paranormal romance. I like romance because I enjoy the emotion and the banter between the characters. I love throwing in aspects of adventure and plot twists to keep things exciting. I find a story is always more gripping when the reader has no idea what is going to happen next.

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

I chose self-publishing. I had often tried to publish traditionally but found it impossible to get any publisher or literary agents to even speak to me. It was incredibly frustrating and discouraging. Every time I thought about giving up, I told myself, “even Harry Potter was rejected thousands of times before it was published.” Just because someone else couldn’t see my worth didn’t mean I wasn’t a good writer. So, I decided to do it myself. I went online and collaborated with professional freelance editors and formatters, making sure my book was polished and professional. It took some time, but once I had a professional finished product, I uploaded it and put it up for sale.  

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

I am an introvert. I enjoy my own company and the company of family and close friends. I keep my circle small. Since I spend most of my time at home with my husband and children, I have plenty of time to write. I choose the people I interact with carefully. Those I let into my life are all interesting and wacky people. Their life stories and crazy antics often inspire characters and situations in my work. 

What is your favourite motivational phrase? 

“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” ―Confucius 

It reminds me that the only way to succeed is never to give up. Setbacks happen. Obstacles present themselves. The only people who reach their goals are the ones that fall, but get up and try again. 

What advice would you give to aspiring writers? 

Write for yourself. If you love the story, someone else will love it too. Believe in yourself, because if you don’t, no one else will either.  

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web? 

I have four e-books available on Smashwords.com and AmazonKDP.com.  

https://www.smashwords.com/THE BARBARIAN KING SAGAS (historical romance) 

PROJECT HELLFIRE (contemporary science fiction romance) 

RUTHLESS (contemporary crime romance) 

THE CARIBBEAN’S MOST WANTED (historical romance) 

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

The Barbarian King Sagas: 

“She is not a witch; she never was. She lied to me, and my father paid the price.” He confessed, knowing that Finn would keep his confidence. 

“Oh,” Finn sighed as he finally grasped the gravity of his woe. “Cain, do not dwell on it. I know you wanted to save him; we all did, but Regin was very sick, and he was going to die no matter what you did. He knew that, we all knew that, the only person that had not accepted that was you. Do not hate the girl. She did what she had to do to survive. She is a strong woman and a strong man needs a strong woman behind him.” 

“I cannot excuse her lies.” His father was dead, and it was Zahra’s fault. 

“You threatened to kill her if she were not a witch. What would you have done in her position? 

“I would have fought,” he said with defiance. “And I would have won.” 

Finn snickered, “Well, that is because you are a man, but she is but a small, frail woman.” 

“I will never forgive her.” 

“Forgive her or not unless you throw her overboard you, my dear friend, are stuck with her. The joys of marriage.” Finn laughed and slapped Cain on the back hard. 

He was right. Why his father chose Zahra for his wife, Cain would never understand. What about her made his father believe she would make a good queen? “Throwing her overboard has merit.” He grinned, knowing he would never do it. Zahra’s deception left him fuming, but he did not wish her harm. After all, she had saved his life when the snake had bitten him. She could have let him die and escape, but she had saved his life and stayed even though she had no reason to. He supposed not tossing her overboard was a fine way to make them even. 

“Come now, lad. It is better to kiss and make up. War is fine, but when women are concerned, peace is preferred.” 

AuThursday – Jennifer Wilck

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

Jennifer started telling herself stories as a little girl when she couldn’t fall asleep at night. Pretty soon, her head was filled with these stories and the characters that populated them. Even as an adult, she thinks about the characters and stories at night before she falls asleep or walking the dog. Eventually, she started writing them down. Her favorite stories to write are those with smart, sassy, independent heroines; handsome, strong and slightly vulnerable heroes; and her stories always end with happily ever after.

In the real world, she’s the mother of two amazing daughters and wife of one of the smartest men she knows. She believes humor is the only way to get through the day and does not believe in sharing her chocolate. 

She writes contemporary romance, many of which feature Jewish characters in non-religious settings (#ownvoices). She’s published with The Wild Rose Press and all her books are available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

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

I’ve tried writing to an outline and it really doesn’t work for me.  So I do a deep dive into my characters and then I write and see where they take me. I do outline afterwards, though. It helps with editing and making sure the story makes sense.

Do you ever get writer’s Block?

Oh yes! As well as being convinced I’m no good at what I do and will never succeed. Best thing for it is to just keep writing. If I can lose myself in the story, even going back to what I’ve previously written, then I can move on from there.

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

I allow myself to get into a funk for the day. And then I move on and keep writing. This is a subjective business and no one is going to like everything I write. But someone will. Hopefully a lot of someones. And there’s always a good review to make me feel better.

Can you tell us your story of getting “the call” (or e-mail)?

My current publisher, The Wild Rose Press, sent me an email telling me they loved the story I submitted and wanted to publish it. I was so excited, I called everyone I knew. It was a wonderful feeling. And I love working with them. They truly care about all their authors, and super communicative, and always make sure my books are the best they can possibly be.

What are your current projects?

I’m currently working on three stories right now. One I hope to entice an agent with, one I’m self-publishing as part of a multi-author anthology (mine comes out in the fall), and one, well, I’m not sure what I’m doing with it yet. All are contemporary romance. Two feature Jewish characters, one is the first in a four-book series.

How do you relax?

Hanging out with friends and family, mostly.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Don’t give up, and learn from as many people as you can.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

Website: http://www.jenniferwilck.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Jennifer-Wilck-201342863240160/

Newsletter: https://www.jenniferwilck.com/contact.html#newsletter

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JWilck

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

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/jennifer-wilck

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

This is from my upcoming book, Whispers in Washington, that will be published as part of a multi-author anthology, in September.

Naomi wanted to finish, but she was full, and with reluctance, she pushed her plate away. “That was amazing. You can order for me anytime.”

A shard of interest sparked in Max’s eyes and he leaned forward. “Does this mean you’ll go to dinner with me again?”

Her stomach fluttered. Warning lights flickered in her brain, but something else whispered, “’go for it.” She paused. “I will.”

He smiled, his look of satisfaction somehow attractive, instead of arrogant. She liked confident men, and Max oozed confidence. Except Max carried confidence with ease, his broad shoulders emphasizing good posture, rather than a puffed out chest. Whoa, I might have had too much to drink. She looked at the wine bottle. Had she drunk three or four glasses? She couldn’t remember. Her neck was warm and she felt the same glow she felt after drinking. Maybe she should slow down.

What she did know was Max was sexy, and she liked the attraction sparking between them. After such a long time of feeling like a prop, and a duped one at that, it was nice to have a man look at her like she was worth something.

He rose, and she realized he’d paid the bill while she was woolgathering. He held out a hand to her and she took it. His grasp was warm and firm, and her skin prickled beneath his touch. Was this what her daughters felt when they met a new guy? God, it had been ages since she’d done this. Rising, she met his gaze. His brown eyes were attractive—there was depth there, kindness, and interest.  Depending on the light, the color changed from gold to walnut and shades in between. He smelled good, too.

She squeezed his hand, and he kept her palm in his as he led her out of the restaurant. They stood in the doorway, her body only inches away from his, heat zinging between them, as he walked the few blocks to their apartment. He still didn’t let go of her. She concentrated on the tensile strength of his fingers wrapped around hers. 

He didn’t lead her around or pull her in a particular direction. Their hands together joined them. It felt natural. Holding hands with Malcolm always made her feel like a prop. 

She didn’t want to think about Malcolm now, and she shook her head.

“Problem?” Max asked. They’d stopped in front of their building.

She turned so fast, her hair caught on the stubble at his jaw. 

“No,” she said, and brushed the hair away from his cheek. His lips parted and he leaned forward. 

Was he going to kiss her? Did she want him to? She shouldn’t, she barely knew him, but try telling that to her libido. It was practically doing back-flips in its excitement.

He didn’t kiss her. Instead, he reached his free hand out and stroked the side of her head, smoothing her hair in place.

“Yes,” he whispered.

She frowned. “Yes, what?”

“Your hair is as silky as I wondered.”

He let his hand glide down her neck to her shoulder, and the contact brought out goose bumps.

“Are you cold?” he asked.

She didn’t know how to answer. Was it okay for her to say, “no, I’m attracted to you?” Or should she say “yes”?

As if understanding her dilemma, he let go of her hand, slid his arm behind her shoulders, and drew her into the warmth of his body.

The man was a furnace and she wanted to groan in pleasure. They stood toe to toe, his hand running up and down her spine, her breasts pressed against his chest. Would he kiss her? Should she kiss him? This close, she couldn’t think straight. All she could do was focus on the warmth flooding through her, the soothing sound of his humming something she couldn’t quite catch, and the zings of desire running through her body. 

Too soon, Max pulled back, the cool evening air doing little to stop the yearning for the man. Once again, he took her hand, and without speaking, he led her into the elevator, down their hallway to where their front doors met. Her legs were wobbly, and she leaned against the wall. The last thing she wanted to do was fall at this man’s feet.

“I liked getting to know you better,” Max whispered, leaning his free hand against the wall next to her head.

She was boxed in between the wall and Max, in her own little cocoon. He’d said there were limits to how far a reporter should go. For some reason, she felt safe. His eyes were dark—more mahogany than walnut, his forehead touched hers, and his breath was warm and minty. Her mind drifted to when exactly he’d taken a breath mint, and why, and should she. She opened her mouth to tell him how much she’d enjoyed it too, and to ask for a mint, but he didn’t let her utter any words.

Instead—finally—he took her mouth in his and kissed her. 

AuThursday – Amalia Theresa

Playing to Win banner4 less negative space FINAL FINAL violet edit

Please welcome Amalia Theresa to The Clog Blog!  Amalia, can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

All my life, I’ve wanted to be a writer. Even as early as second grade, I was getting up for show and tell with tiny little “books” I’d written and illustrated on scratch paper and stapled together to share with three classes of kids, and now I’m the author of nearly two dozen novels/novellas and a handful of short stories spanning the genres of historical fiction, fantasy, and romance, building off my degree in Classical Studies and English, both. 

I was raised extremely Catholic in upstate New York but realized Thor had been knocking on my door for maybe the whole of my life sometime in my early twenties, and after writing a sprawling romantic fantasy series to make sense of it all within the context of how I was raised and what I was supposed to believe, I embraced Norse Paganism/Heathenry, and now I continue to write about what it means to be pagan as I continue a spiritual journey I never expected to take. 

Of course, I also just write fun stuff, too, which is why this year I launched a THIRD pen name, Amalia Theresa, for sexy rom coms that don’t fit under my Amalia Dillin (fantasy) or Amalia Carosella (historical fiction/women’s fiction) brands.

How do you make time to write? 

I’m a full-time author so making time both to read and to write is literally my job and has been since 2009! But I find that making sure I start putting down words FIRST THING when I sit down at my laptop makes a big difference to my productivity for the day. And, it’s taken me a long time to realize it, but making time to refill the well with reading and enjoying other story-telling formats and let myself have fallow periods is just as important as the time I spend writing.

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

As Amalia Theresa, I’m writing sexy rom coms for the sheer JOY and DELIGHT of accompanying these characters on their romantic journeys. I’ve always enjoyed reading romance, and I’ve particularly fallen in love with contemporary rom coms in the last five to seven years or so, so while I was in denial for a while, it really isn’t a surprise to find myself writing a few, myself. They’re just FUN, and I needed a little bit more fun, to remember that writing, for me, is about the fun of discovery and spending time with characters I enjoy as much as it is everything else.

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

As Amalia Carosella I took part in the History 360 Team’s A SEA OF SORROW: A NOVEL OF ODYSSEUS, which was a collaborative novel comprised of a novella by each contributing author that when read together form a complete narrative (but said novellas can also be read individually as well!) It was a lot of fun to find my way back to the Bronze Age and an interesting challenge to incorporate the perspectives of a handful of other authors alongside my own! 

I also wrote a goofy, just for fun series on my blog with Mia Hayson, called Thor in Zombie Land—it’s comprised of two adventures, Wheels on the Bus and Aesir Legal, both about the girls Amalia and Mia, who get caught up in a lot of trouble thanks to their thundergod and their zombies respectively. We had a BLAST writing it together! (And periodically talk about writing more, someday.)

Do you ever get writer’s Block?

Not Writer’s Block, no, but periods in which I am tapped out and need to recharge and refill my well creatively, absolutely. There have also been times when writing a particular story was not something I could emotionally take on because it became too real or too resonant to something that I was experiencing or echoed unfortunately somehow in another respect, but I’ve found each time that there were bigger reasons in addition for why I had to break from that project and work on other things instead—that the project was enriched by the time I spent away from it, writing something else because the lessons I learned in writing those other things meant I was better able to do the story I had to put aside justice. 

For example, one book that I had to step away from and came back to YEARS later and feel I did absolutely right by in doing so, was FROM ASGARD, WITH LOVE. If I had not written DAUGHTER OF A THOUSAND YEARS between starting and finishing FROM ASGARD, I could not have written the book it needed to be—and I’m incredibly proud of how it turned out as a result.

I see you have three pen names, Amalia Dillin, Amalia Carosella, and Amalia Theresa, why do you choose to write under a pen name and why three? 🙂 

To be fair, I’m not sure I really chose my second pen name (Amalia Carosella) so much as it was deemed necessary by the industry in order to launch myself in historical fiction after publishing fantasy as Amalia Dillin (I had published with a micro-press and my sales were not Traditional Publishing Impressive). My Carosella books and my Dillin books, though the former are historical fiction and the latter are fantasy are thematically not SO different from one another—I’m asking and answering a lot of the same big questions about what it means to be a human and engage with myth and the divine, I think, under both names. 

That said, my sexy rom coms were such a huge break from what I had previously been writing that I felt like I did definitely need to distinguish them from the rest of my work, and by using the names we shared (Amalia Theresa) I also wanted to honor my great aunt, who said once that if I wanted to be successful as an author, I needed to learn to write the sex!

In my PLAYING TO WIN rom-com series, I think I can confidently say that I have, in fact, learned how to write the sex! *fans self*

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

Publishing is such a tricky business. 

The Short Answer is: Since PLAYING TO WIN, the first book in the series skewed toward the New Adult end of the romance spectrum and the traditional side of the industry has not quite figured out how best to capture that market, especially not at PLAYING TO WIN’s length, I opted to self-pub/indie-pub my PLAYING TO WIN series. 

The Long Answer involves the ghost of my great aunt and some spiritual experiences that felt as though they were telling me to just get the books out into the world because they mattered, but I think it is probably a lot to get into in this kind of interview! Ha. (I am getting weirder and weirder the longer I live this author life.)

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Build time off from writing into your writing discipline/practice. It is JUST as critically important as the time you spend doing the actual writing. Do not fall into the trap of “I should be writing” guilt that sucks all the joy out of any scrap of time you have to enjoy your other hobbies. Yes, show up for your writing time, but make the time you spend NOT writing, refilling the well of your creative self, just as sacred. Burn out isn’t something I’d wish on anyone.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

I’m most active on twitter as @AmaliaTd and @AmaliaTheresa, but you can also join me on Patreon https://www.patreon.com/Amaliad and of course my main website/blog www.amaliadillin.com, and on Facebook, too, at https://www.facebook.com/AmaliaDillin 

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

Thanks so much for having me and I’d be THRILLED to share a taste of my third rom-com: From PLAYING HOUSE, releasing today! August 13th!

 

Playing House CURLY VI FINAL FRONT FLAT web“Hey, Mom,” Abe said, pressing his phone to his ear and sliding his cereal bowl back onto the table. He’d settled onto one of the stools at the breakfast bar like he belonged there, watching me fish out silverware and dishes as if he were waiting for the pop quiz on where to find things later. Until his phone had started buzzing, anyway.

Now his eyes had locked on mine from across the room, narrowing slightly. “Sel called you?”

I grinned. It had been simple, really. Shoot a couple texts to Sully talking about how spooky the house was at night. How I’d scared myself awake because of some stupid shadow on the ceiling, woken myself up screaming the night before and it had taken me hours to get back to sleep, knowing I was alone, thinking about how if anything happened to me if someone tried to break-in, we were too far from any neighbors for anyone to hear my scream.

Of course, Sully wouldn’t be able to resist. He called Will his fixer, but Sully had the same impulse. Always wanting to help. Ready to lend a hand or do a favor for the people he loved, whether they wanted him intruding or not. Pair my (totally real, for the record) nightmare with what Sully would of course know about his brother’s ambivalence in returning home, and it was a no brainer. He’d call his mom, tell her I needed some extra support and oh, by the way, since Abe was in town maybe he could offer it, and then Dr. O’Sullivan would connect that with what I’d told her over Abe’s phone the night before—and here we were. Abraham O’Sullivan on the phone with his mother, staring at me with something like awe.

“Yeah, we didn’t really talk about it, but I can see that. She was pretty jumpy about keeping the lights on,” he said, then paused, listening for another span. “No, I don’t have any solid plans. But you can’t really think Midge is going to want me hanging around, imposing myself…”

He trailed off, listening again. “Yeah.” He shook his head, his eyes bright with amusement now. “I mean, I can only offer. It’s up to her to say yes.” Silence again. “All right,” he said, pretending doubt. “I’ll leave that up to you, then.” Quiet again. “Love you, too, Mom.” Pause. “Bye.”

“Well?” I asked.

“Should I be afraid of you, Violet?” he asked, his lips twitching. “Because I’m starting to wonder.”

I laughed. “If you needed to be afraid of me the question of whether you should be would never have crossed your mind. Didn’t we go over this last night?”

“Yeah, yeah,” he said. “Don’t let the people you’re trying to dupe cotton on to the fact that you’re duping them. But you also said Sully knows what you’re capable of, and from where I’m sitting, you just worked him and my mom like puppets on strings.”

“Then I guess you’re just going to have to take your chances,” I said, lifting a shoulder. “But either way, a bet is a bet, and I own you for the next two weeks.”

“Not quite, Midgelet. You’ve still got another call from my mother to field,” he said. “Without giving away the game.”

“Pfft.” I waved that away. Dr. O’Sullivan may have been a psychologist but getting her to come up with the plan of having Abe stay was ninety percent of the battle on this one. And even if she thought I might be manipulating her, as long as she didn’t realize it was Abe who was looking for an excuse not to go home, I was still in the clear. “Child’s play.”

“Wouldn’t want you to get cocky, there, Champ,” Abe said, laughing. “Are you sure you’re not some kind of psychopath?”

“Nah,” I said. “I definitely care about people’s feelings. But working in the restaurant business, you really hone your people skills. Learn how to work them so they leave happy, even if their meal or their service wasn’t perfect. Will’s pretty good at it too, when he wants to be, and if you’d ever seen my Gramps in the dining room…” I kissed my fingers and raised them in salute to the genius that was my grandfather’s talent. “The man could have sold fur coats to sunbathers on the hottest day of the year. That Fowler charm was legendary.”

“Seems like you’re not so far behind him,” Abe said. “Little Miss Snake Oil Saleswoman.”

“Are you calling me a conman again, Abraham?” I asked. “Because once again, I must remind you that I’m doing all this for your benefit.”

He shook his head. “I don’t believe that for a second, Midgelet. If I were a betting man—” (Which clearly he was.) “—I’d put money on the fact that you really are getting jumpy alone at night in this house. Did you have some shitty customer give you a hard time after your parents left or something?”

I flushed, spinning on my heel and opening the fridge as if I were looking for something more to eat while my stomach twisted in memory. It was kind of inevitable. There was always one asshole who took doing my job as an invitation of a more personal nature. And once in a very great while, even after I had them thrown out, they might linger in the parking lot around closing. But that could happen to anyone, in any service industry. In any industry at all, really, where you worked with other human beings. It wasn’t anything I hadn’t dealt with before—and I certainly wasn’t going to admit that coming home to an empty house with my skin crawling from a close encounter had turned my resting state of anxiety up a notch. I didn’t really need Will worrying about any of that. He’d probably try to come home if he found out.

“Hey,” Abe said, and suddenly he was behind me, his hand covering mine on the refrigerator door. Closing it and urging me back around. “You know we’ve all got your back, right? If some asshole is creeping on you, just point me in the dude’s direction and it’s done. He won’t even so much as look at you again without his balls trying to climb back up inside his body.”

I made myself laugh. “It’s not anything I can’t handle.”

He ducked his head, catching my eyes. “I’m not questioning your ability to handle it, Midgelet. But if you want a little back-up, there’s no shame in asking for it. Or using me for the purpose while I’m already houseboying, for that matter. If I’m going to be running errands and providing maid service, why not add bodyguard to the mix?”

“I don’t need a bodyguard,” I said firmly, stiffening. “I don’t need help or support, but it would sure be nice if people stopped acting like I can’t handle myself or the problems that come with running a restaurant when I’ve literally been training for it my whole life.”

“All right.” He backed off, holding his hands up. “You don’t need help or support; you’ve got this all by your onesie. I’m sure that’s all true—but it doesn’t mean that a little help or support wouldn’t make it easier. That having a team doesn’t still help, even if you can skate circles around the rest of us.”

I shook my head. “The minute I even so much as think I need help, you know how it’s going to be. My parents and Will all worrying about me, feeling guilty for leaving and immediately making plans to come back. I have to do this, and right now I have to do it alone.”

“Well, if you ask me, that’s bullshit,” he said and when I straightened, opening my mouth to argue, he hurried on. “Bullshit of them to make you feel like you don’t have any other choice but to do it all by yourself, without any kind of support, because otherwise they’ll think you can’t. Everyone needs a hand once in a while, even when they’re pros.”

“So why are you so pissed about having to accept some help of your own?” I asked. “You’re doing everything you can to drag out moving back home.”

“I haven’t turned you down, have I?” he asked. “I’m accepting your offer to stay here instead. At least for a couple of weeks. You help me, I help you—I don’t see what the problem is.”

I didn’t really know, either. Why shouldn’t I accept Abe’s help? It wasn’t like he was going to run home to his mother and spill all my secrets. Clearly they didn’t have that kind of relationship. And even if he did, Dr. O’Sullivan wasn’t going to break his confidence. That wasn’t how she operated, and she’d understand that I wanted to do this without giving my family reason to doubt.

It was just that he was Abe. I didn’t want to get used to having him around. And telling him he could stay here—that had already been a lapse in judgment. As good as he looked, and as ridiculously kind as he’d been (this Midgelet nonsense aside), I was basically asking for heartbreak.

“No one ever finds out,” I said despite myself. “Not that you’re trying to avoid moving back in with your parents, and not that I was nervous about being alone because of one asshole at Fowler’s. The story is that I’m just a little afraid of the dark, and you just happen to have nothing better to do with your time.”

“Suits me just fine,” he said. “Whatever you need to feel safe the next two weeks, I’ve got you.”

“How do you feel about dropping in every evening for a beer or whatever, and then walking me out?” I asked. “That and knowing you’re in the house at night should be all I really need. I don’t think anyone is going to be loitering around the parking lot if they know you’re with me.”

“With you or with you?” he asked.

I shook my head. “No fake relationships. That never ends well for anyone.”

Abe laughed. “All right. Just physically nearby. I can do that.”

“In addition to being my house and errand boy,” I said. “A deal is a deal, after all.”

He grinned down at me, so beautiful I practically melted into the floor. “Assuming you don’t still manage to tip off my mother, of course.”

But I think we both knew that on that score, I’d already won.

Playing House #bookqw wait