AuThursday – Luke Ganje

 
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Tell us a little about yourself and your background.
 
I don’t think there’s anything I hate more than talking about myself, so I’ll try to make this as painless as I possibly can. I’m Luke Ganje and I’ve been writing seriously for over a decade, not just because I love to do it but also because a writer is the only thing I’ve ever wanted to be. It wouldn’t be any great exaggeration or burst of dramatic flair to say that I have no interest in a life that doesn’t include telling stories. It is, in a sense, everything I am. As such, I’ve written five novels (seven if you count the two I’m not proud of), somewhere in the neighborhood of seventy short stories, and hundreds of poems, and they range in tone and genre from absurdist humor to horror to contemplative fiction. Someone asked me once what I want out of this, what the goal of my artistic pursuit was, and to be honest the answer was simple enough: In time this life will end and in the blink of an eye who we’ve been and what we’ve done will be lost to an inevitable decay. I write because, while I’m here, I want to experience this life just a little bit more and feel and understand things I might have otherwise missed.
 
 
 
How do you make time to write?
 
For me, it’s all about routine and dedication. I set aside two hours a night to work and no matter how trivial the project of the day, I fill that time. I no longer work a day job on Fridays, having set aside that day for a sort of mini marathon in which I can make significant headway in whatever novel happens to be my primary focus, and that’s been a joy to experience. In those moments I almost feel like the full-time writer I aspire to be, whether it’s a self-constructed illusion or not. The time to write, to pursue what you love, is always there. Sacrifices simply need to be made or else that pursuit and the work that stems from it will only ever wind up being hollow, empty, and dead.
 
 
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to see where an idea takes you?
 
My process in this regard has changed over the years. When I first started, I spent a great deal of time wandering down the unmarked roads of exploratory writing but as the years go by and my attention span and memory continue to falter and fade, I find myself having to outline a little more each time. These days I tend to write all my dialogue in a notebook, filling pages as if I’m script-writing, and then rewrite the entire thing as a finished and detailed experience on my laptop. It works well enough and tends to give my dialogue a lived-in edge that I prefer, so I’ll continue down that path until I have to tinker with my process again for the sake of clarity and not driving myself completely insane. 
 
 
What are you working on at the minute?
 
Frustratingly enough, I’m torn between two projects that both demand my full attention and yet I haven’t quite decided which one to focus on. I don’t mean to treat trivially the perils of wartime, but I’m almost positive this is precisely how Meryl Streep felt in Sophie’s Choice. As it stands, I’m splitting my time between my first ever horror novel and a more quiet and contemplative piece of magical realism. The former will be bitter, vicious, and unforgiving. The latter is a character piece about a young man whose life begins to fall apart because he continually sees one small thing no one else can, and believes without a shadow of a doubt that it is real. Both deal with family, loss, and our uncomfortable relationship with mortality, but neither is the clear front-runner and so I’m a bit adrift at the moment. I keep trying to reach out to Mrs. Streep for advice, but sadly she won’t return my calls.
 
 
I’m almost afraid to ask, where do your ideas come from?
 
I suppose it would be abhorrently trite to simply tap the side of my head, doubly so seeing as how this isn’t that kind of visual medium. Nevertheless, this is something that I think about a lot. Sometimes you write things that push you to places you don’t want to go and yet you have to for the sake of the story, so in that sense a French term comes to mind: l’appel du vide. The Call of the Void. Known also as “High Place Phenomenon”, it’s the little trigger in your mind that kicks in when you’re standing on a ledge and tells you to jump, or while you’re driving down the highway and you suddenly have the urge to whip the steering wheel into oncoming traffic. It’s an ordinary part of the human experience and something I’ve felt in waves my entire life, heightened as it is by anxiety (of which I have plenty), so it weaves almost constantly in and out of the stories I tell. Complicating things is the manner in which I tend to process even the most mundane aspects of everyday life, where everything shows as infinite spirals in which I find myself reliving conversations dozens of times right after they happen, following them down rabbit holes until I find myself having visceral emotional reactions to things that never happened and words that were never said. That’s probably where my stories travel from, I suppose. Out of the void and along an incessantly spiraling road.
 
 
Do you ever get Writer’s Block?
 
Put simply, no. I view writing not just as my passion but also as work, as a job, and the funny thing about work is that responsibilities don’t just magically go away if you’re not feeling it. So I’ve had bad days where the words don’t flow quite like they should and there are definitely days where I haven’t managed to write much of anything at all, but it’s never been a lingering thing in the form of that towering “Writer’s Block” wall. Doing what you love is hard work and I’ve never once found that it gets any easier by avoiding thought obstacles that inevitably pop up along the way.
 
 
 
It looks like you independently published “It Seemed Like A Good Idea at the Time”. What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around?
 
Put simply, I have a hate-hate relationship with self-publishing. It’s not something I ever really saw myself doing as I tend to see life as overcoming obstacles and there’s little about the process that I see as anything more than an end-run around the publishing world’s absurd hurdles. It’s like running a marathon and then taking a taxi from mile three to mile twenty-five, expecting the same accolades when you cross the finish line as those who’ve traveled the road of the established process. So that’s my annoyed sense of the disadvantage. There’s a stigma around the whole affair and, while there will always be exceptions, the framework of stigmas exists for a reason. Then again, there’s a fairly sizable advantage as well and one that made me put all my annoyance and irritation into my anthology that was released in August: It takes away the chance of you dying before any of your creations are unleashed on the world, and that was always an odd little fear of mine. So it’s not how I saw things going and to be honest I’m unsure whether or not I’ll self-publish anything again; there might be another anthology but my novels are reserved for the traditional road I will always pursue. That being said, it was a nice experience and for the most part it was undertaken so that all the people who’ve supported me over the years could have a memento of my time here sitting comfortably on their bookshelves. In a way, I couldn’t ask for anything more.
 
 
What is your writing Kryptonite?
 
I have two actually, which would make me the world’s worst version of Superman. It’s basically a two horse race in which both the horses have to be euthanized because they’re rabid and ate a jockey. But I digress. The first is that I will always possess a crippling self-doubt when it comes to my work, to such an extent that (with one exception) I’ve never finished anything without feeling like it’s the worst thing ever committed to printed page by a functioning adult. That may sound like an exaggeration but it’s not. As much as I’m driven by the love of the written word, I’m just as driven by the creeping sense that I’ll never write anything of note and anyone who’s said differently has been lying for the sake of some strange social etiquette I don’t understand. As you can imagine, this makes me a joy at parties. The second piece of Kryptonite is at least functionally more problematic and can be found in the slow but inevitable decline of my memory. It’s frightfully true that, no matter what I write on a given day, I will not remember what it was by the time I sit down again twenty-four hours later. Characters, plots, names, descriptions…they vanish as soon as I close my eyes, and so every day when I sit down at my desk, my process begins with an hour spent re-reading all that I wrote the previous night and hoping I still know where I’m going. It’s scary, in a way. What a terrifying thing to forget the friends I’ve made.
 
 
Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?
 
My work is most prominently displayed on my website www.keywordnovelist.com and that’s where you can find a lot of my short stories and poetry. There’s also a blog, because blogs go with writers about as reliably as pumpkin spice lattes flock to their own comically specific demographic. There’s some good stuff on there and, if all you know of me is the absurdist comedy found in my anthology release, it’ll be sure to raise some eyebrows. I can also be found on Twitter and Instagram under that very same moniker: Keywordnovelist.
 
 
Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?
 
Certainly. This snippet is taken from the story that leads off my catastrophically absurd debut, “It Seemed Like A Good Idea at the Time.” Author’s Note: It only gets weirder from here.
 
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“Hello? Hello? How’s the reception up there?”

Artemartedoxtorix, called Art by his friends, squinted at the blood in the sand as it rolled like the weeping tides of humanity and also heavy cream. It danced with static before it eventually flared to life when the sound of screaming filtered through. Art looked around but no one was really paying attention. He covered his blood screen anyway because he wasn’t the type to make a scene if he could help it. Some jobs you just don’t want to draw attention to yourself while performing and his hallowed position of receptionist was one of those jobs. 

“Art? Is this Art? I was told to call Art,” screamed the voice from the other end of the line.

“What? Well yeah of course it’s me. Is this…” he looked at his sheet of paper. “I’m sorry, I can’t pronounce your name.”

“It’s Dave.”

Art stared blankly at the dancing blood. “I’m sorry, that doesn’t help,” he said. “What does that rhyme with?”

“I don’t know…Cave?” 

“What about Potato?” asked Art. “I know that one.”

“My name doesn’t rhyme with Potato, Art,”

“Ah…” said Art. “Well can I just call you Potato? It’d make this a lot easier.”

For a long moment there was silence on the other end of the line. 

“Can I talk to someone else?”

“I’m afraid not. Everyone else is out on assignment,” said Art. “What’s the problem?”

“Well, I put the kid in the burlap sack but he doesn’t seem to be drowning and now the whole thing is wet,” said Dave, also known as Potato. 

“Do you have the blood already?” asked Art. 

“The what?” he asked.

“The blood. You know you can’t kill him until you have his blood, right?”

“Oh yeah. For sure. Totally,” said Dave. “I was just about to do that.”

“While he’s underwater and suffocating in a sack?”

“Yep. I’m thrifty,” said Dave.

Art looked around the receptionist center and threw a rock at a winged adder. This wasn’t his fault. The project had been passed on to him by someone with a better castle in the aftermath of one of Potato’s many mistakes, at which point his superior decided that temptation and possessions were more his bag. He’d said Art was on track for a promotion if he succeeded, so the receptionist who’d always seen himself as more of a hero type leapt at the opportunity. It was only a matter of time until greatness was his. 

“Look, Potato,” said Art. “We’re in this together so all I need to know is one thing.”

There was silence on the other line. “What?” asked the human.

Art rubbed his temples and winced when he pricked himself on a horn. 

“Can you find a rock?” he asked. “I just threw a rock at a flying adder and that seemed to work.”

“What’s an adder?”

“A snake,” said Art, and for a moment Potato was silent. 

“Wait. There are snakes down there?” he asked finally. “If there are snakes down there I don’t think I can do this.”

Art looked up at the swarms of flying adders that soared through lakes and clouds of fire. 

“Are there what?” he asked, a master of changing topics. 

“Snakes. Are there snakes in hell?”

If a demon could look awkward, Artemartedoxtorix, Demon of the Fourth Degree, definitely looked awkward. 

“What? Oh yeah no, definitely not,” he said. “You misheard me.”

“Well what did you say then?

Art looked around for anything his mind could seize on. 

“Pits of endless despair,” he said finally when his eyes fell on the pool of weeping where acid carved canyons in the faces of the suffering.

“Well hold on now, that actually sounds worse.”

“Look, Potato. Do you want eternal glory or not?”

 
 
 

AuThursday – Joshua Knels

Please welcome Josh Knels, a fellow member of the BisMan Writer’s Guild!  Joshua, can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

My name is Joshua Knels. I grew up in Fairview, MT, and moved to Bismarck after I graduated high school and attended Bottineau for a little while. I didn’t get into writing until I was fifteen. I suffered a back injury during a football game that took me out of sports for the remainder of my time in school. That’s when I started reading books and grew a passion for reading and writing. I started writing my first project when I was a sophomore in high school, but later dropped the project when I went to college.

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

Introvert. It gives me plenty of time to write since I don’t go out much (even less so since Covid-19). The only time I go out nowadays is for work or D&D nights with friends during the weekend

How do you make time to write? 

I usually write between shifts when I get home from work or on my days off. 

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

I usually write fantasy adventures since I enjoy world-building and creating new worlds. I often mix it with other elements, such as romance and horror. 

Do you ever get writer’s block? 

Not as much as I thought I would get. I am always thinking about character development and story elements and rarely get burned out from it. When I do, I just relax for a day or two and I am back at it. Listening to music while writing a scene also helps me out a lot.

What is your writing Kryptonite?

Depression for sure. When I feel overwhelmed and depressed from work and personal matters, it has an impact on my writing. Whenever I am in these funks, I either write scenes where characters feel the same as I do, or I just take a personal day to myself and try to get over whatever is stressing me out or depressed at the time.

So, what have you written? 

Nothing complete right now, I’m afraid, except two books that I self-published in 2011 and 2012.

41xd2DMgXuLThese books, The Seattle Massacre & Trails of Blood were two books of a series of murder mystery & horror books that I was writing a long time ago under the pen name J.J. Knight. I stopped writing them when I lost progress on the third book several times and a lot of my other projects when my computer went out and I didn’t have them saved on any other source. I had lost the passion for writing this series and in general when I hit a very deep depression that lasted for over three years and didn’t write anything during that time. It wasn’t until 2016 when I started writing some Pokemon fanfiction to get back into the groove of writing until 2018 when I started my D&D project. In 2019, I fell in love with one of my favorite D&D characters, Victoria “The Scarlet Rose” Valentine, and decided to write a book series based on her and in a modern setting. 

Where can we buy or see them? 

I think you can see the two books on Amazon. I don’t intend to continue that series unfortunately since there’s no passion left for that project and all energy will be devoted to my next project. 

What are your current projects?

My current project is The Scarlet Rose, a planned multi-part series. It is a modern fantasy story that was inspired by my favorite D&D character, Victoria “Scarlet Rose” Valentine. The story follows the main character Victoria, a girl born with the appearance of a devil (horns, tail, and red tail). I was inspired to write this project from elements of Hellboy, Supernatural, and Men in Black.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Never give up your dream and always practice. Write what makes you happy and don’t be afraid to ask others for help and opinions.

AuThursday – Kimberly Marie

Kimberly Marie

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I am a 24-year-old author based out of New Jersey. I grew up in this area after moving from Maryland at 4 years old with my family. I am the youngest of four children, so the house was always busy. It was in the moments when I had to entertain myself that I found my creativity. Growing up with the woods as my backyard was akin to growing up with the world at my fingertips. In an instant, I could be lost in a fairytale or a nightmare. It only depended on how I chose to view my scenery. I graduated from college with a degree in communications and journalism, and after spending years in DC working for Congress and non-profits, I came home to Jersey to chase a dream of being a writer. 

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

My day is not structured much at all when it comes to writing. I typically write best at night, as I am a night owl, but can find inspiration anywhere at any time. I have been known to rush out of the bathroom after a shower because an idea hit me while I was shampooing my hair and I didn’t want to lose it. My notes app on my phone is full of all the ramblings bouncing around my skull, but I couldn’t imagine writing any other way.

Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Writing exhausts me, it’s as simple as that. It takes a lot of my creative energy to put words to paper, and everything I write is so personal and vulnerable to me, that it is an emotional outlet when I write. I like to say that I leave pieces of myself in everything I do creatively, so I always need time to recharge after spending long stretches behind a computer. There are moments when I get so excited about a scene that I can’t stop writing until I have all my thoughts written out, but always need to decompress after.

What are your current projects?

I have just finished my first draft of my second book and am moving into the editing stages of it before starting the querying process. I don’t think I have ever believed in a project as much as I believe in this one, so I can’t wait to get to the point where I can start sharing it with people.

Do you believe in writer’s block? 

Absolutely. I also believe that there are steps we can take as writers to overcome it quicker than just waiting it out. I have spent months unable to find the motivation to add to my works but have also found that putting energy into other creative projects has helped remedy it quicker. I like to dabble in photography and have an Instagram where I post poetry that I put a lot of effort into when working on my novel writing becomes strained. I also believe that writers put far too much pressure on themselves to hit certain word counts or finish projects by unrealistic deadlines, which leads to burnout. When writing isn’t fun anymore, it is best to just take a step back and breathe. Take notes when scenes come to your head, but don’t try to force yourself to put pen to paper when you have nothing left to give.

What is your writing Kryptonite?

Daydreaming. I get lost in my head so easily and am always coming up with new ideas for books and stories. I have so many unfinished projects that I am working through but have found that I cannot write linearly. I need to bounce around from scene to scene and project to project in order to write effectively. It is just the way my mind works, and while it has become an effective method, the constant daydreams do take away from time actually spent working on current works.

As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

I have always loved wolves. White Fang by Jack London was the first book I remember reading as a child, and I have re-read it hundreds of times since. I have always loved the bond wolves share with each other and how they rely on not only their instincts but also their family. It’s a beautiful relationship, and I have always been one to romanticize the wild in my work, so the wolf fits that bill perfectly.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Don’t give up. Don’t listen to those that can’t instill life into you. Don’t measure your success by the success of others. When I was in my sophomore year of high school, my English teacher gave my class a narrative project. This was the moment in my life where things became real for me. He was an odd character. He reminded me of a cross between Jack Black and Robin Williams from Dead Poets Society, and he drove an atrocious lime green car that I would see every morning when my mom dropped me off at school. For this narrative project, instead of writing a pithy short story, I just let my mind wander and ended up with a piece about a haunted United States soldier who was fighting overseas. It wasn’t written in story format and was structured in stanzas. It was not a poem though and was told in (the) first person. I didn’t know what to call it when I handed it to my teacher, but five minutes after handing him the page, he shouted to the class about how great it was and gave me an A on my rough draft, then and there. He taught me something that day that I have carried with me ever since. Words don’t need a box. Your writing does not need a definition, and everyone will interpret your writing differently. A year later I gave the same piece to another teacher who I liked more as a person, and she tore the piece apart. She told me it needed to conform to a certain style of writing and that she could not grade it because she did not know what it was. It took me a while, but eventually, I decided that I would listen to my sophomore teacher’s opinion of my work because that was what spoke life into me and my creativity. It was what fueled me to continue telling stories, and that was what I needed to cling to as I chased my dream.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

I have my website that has a link to my social media and book on it (www.bykimberlymarie.com). 

My debut novel, a historical women’s fiction titled The Sun at Dawn, is available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Walmart. I am also on Instagram (@by.kimberlymarie), Twitter (@bykimberlymarie), and Pinterest (bykimberlymarie). I’d love to connect with fellow readers and writers on Goodreads as well!

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

This is (a quote) from Chapter 14 of my debut novel The Sun at Dawn.

“Remember little one, love can solve many problems that logic cannot. The heart is much smarter than the head.”

The Sun at Dawn by Kimberly Marie

AuThursday – Sofia Sawyer

Sofia Sawyer HeadshotPlease welcome Sofia Sawyer to The Clog Blog.  Sofia, can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I’m a contemporary romance and women’s fiction author based in Charleston, South Carolina. I write about independent women who take control of their destiny.

I was born and raised in a small New Jersey beach town before fleeing to Charleston with my best friend a decade ago. Since then, I’ve lived in Boston for about three years before migrating back to Charleston with my husband and dog.

I work as an employer branding and recruitment marketing program manager for my day job (I’m in the process of leaving my employer to become a consultant and freelancer). When I’m not working, I travel as much as I can. I’ve been incredibly lucky to have gone to so many beautiful places these last few years and I’m looking forward using these trips as inspiration for upcoming books.

When I can’t hop on a plane, I’m usually taking advantage of everything Charleston has to offer. The beaches are gorgeous, and the food scene is hard to beat. Also, as an amateur photographer, the historic buildings downtown give me a lot to work with. 

And, of course, I read a ton.

How do you make time to write? 

I’ve gotten serious about my writing these last few years and work to protect my time. Rather than set daily goals, I focus on weekly goals because it offers more flexibility to account for the unexpected things life throws at me. My goals could be hitting a specific word count, getting a synopsis to my agent, taking an online course, drafting a book outline, creating a freebie for my newsletter subscribers, building a launch plan for a new release, and so on. 

Every Sunday, I identify my top three goals for the week and look at my availability, slotting in chunks of time to dedicate to them. I also wake up an hour earlier before work to write because it’s easier to let the words flow first thing in the morning before my brain turns to mush from my day job.

Where do your ideas come from?

They pop up at the strangest times. Usually, while I’m trying to escape the mundane tasks of everyday life like going to the gym or washing dishes. However, music is the most consistent source of inspiration for my stories. If the lyrics are just right, my mind makes up a “music video” that goes along with the song. From there, I develop a full story from the little snippet of inspiration.

For example, I’m starting to plot a friends-to-lovers romance that was inspired by the song “Blinded” by Third Eye Blind. It popped up on my Pandora station one day at the gym and a clear vision of a story filled my mind. I just knew I had to write it.

Do you believe in writer’s block? 

I did for a bit but realized it’s something that can be overcome. When I lived in Boston, I couldn’t write a word. Nothing worked and I felt incredibly uninspired. Later, I realized my writer’s block was caused by some sort of challenge rather than lack of skill or inspiration. I found that taking courses, getting involved in the writing community, plotting, and generally building writing skills helped solve those problems. Now, if I feel like I’m hitting a wall, I take a step back and try to uncover what’s really causing the issue and tackle it head on.

Since looking at it that way, I’ve been writing consistently for more than three years after my Boston hiatus. I’m confident this approach will prevent me from running into that issue again.

So, what is you most recent project? 

I’m juggling a few different projects right now. Typically, I try to stick to writing one manuscript at a time but because I have a couple with my agent and a couple that I’m self-publishing, I need to incorporate time to manage the process for all of those too. Here’s a quick run down of what I’ve been working on:

  • Finished edits for a forced-proximity romance that my agent is putting out for submission
  • Started working with an editor for my frenemies-to-lovers romance I plan to self-publish
  • Just completed the first draft of a contemporary romance (a modern Cinderella retelling)
  • Starting to plot my friends-to-lovers romance

Where can we buy or see it?NO PLACE TO HIDE KINDLE EBOOK COVER

My frenemies-to-lovers romance will likely be released in summer 2020. You can subscribe to my newsletter for updates on its release date. Otherwise, my debut novel came out this past October and is available to purchase on Amazon, B&N, Kobo, and iBooks. It’s a romantic suspense based in Portland, Maine. You can read the blurb for No Place to Hide here (the links to purchase are also on this page).

What is your writing Kryptonite?

Probably social media or my phone in general. Because I’ve worked in marketing for years, I’ve had multiple corporate social media accounts on my phone. Even if I turn off the notifications, my habit to pick up my phone and check if I’ve missed anything leads me to mindlessly scroll for several minutes. I started to put my phone in another room when I write, but even then, my computer distracts me with email alerts and what not.

I just finished reading a book called Digital Minimalism that had a lot of great advice about how to manage digital tools in a world where they’re working to grab your attention and keep it there. Although I won’t nix social media altogether because it’s been valuable to connect with readers and writers, I want to be mindful about how I use it. That might mean creating more meaningful posts even if that leads to posting less frequently. I need to put aside some time to think through my approach. I’m really curious to see how taking the social pressure off transforms my writing. Will it allow me to write more openly if I don’t compare myself to others or worry about letting readers down? It will be interesting to find out.

What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

Get involved in the writing community ASAP. For years, I was terrified of putting my work out there. I finally found the courage in October 2018 and started author-focused social media accounts. It opened up a whole new world for me. Not only did I connect with other writers who I could relate to, I joined a writing association, found helpful writing resources, and even discovered Twitter pitch contests that ultimately landed me a literary agent. I wish I had done this back in 2013 when I finished my first novel-length manuscript. I can only imagine how much further along I would have been in my writing career had I done it then.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

I’m present on most of the social media channels but I’m mostly active on Instagram and Facebook. Additionally, my newsletter is a great way to get a look behind-the-scenes and exclusive details that I don’t share elsewhere. Subscribers can reply to my emails too, which is a great way to connect.

Here’s where you can find me:

 

AuThursday – Tricia Schneider

Tricia Schneider author picTell us a little about yourself and your background?

I’m a single mom of four children. I worked for several years as Assistant Manager and bookseller at my local Waldenbooks until the company closed its doors. I took that opportunity to focus full-time on my writing career in between naptimes and baseball games.

How do you make time to write?

It’s not as easy as it used to be! Before I had children, I would write during my lunch breaks at work or when I got home after my shift. For the last several years now, I write during naptimes and try to squeeze some writing time in when most of my children are at school during the day. Summer vacations get trickier. I typically write early in the morning before they all wake up and late at night after they go to sleep.

What genre are your books?

Paranormal and Historical Romance. Some are a combination of both.

What draws you to this genre?

I love happily-ever-afters. In the romance genre, HEA’s are a guarantee.

What are your current projects?

I have several shifter romances in the works. Also, a fantasy romance and a couple gothic romances. I always have a couple of projects going at the same time.

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

Introvert. Although I learned how to talk up a good storm with just about anyone from my days as a bookseller, I feel most comfortable on my own or with a few close friends. Writing is a very solitary job which I enjoy.

What is your writing Kryptonite?

I have a couple. Is that bad? Laundry is one for me. With four kids, I have to take care of a lot of laundry. Then that usually leads to tidying the other messes that my adorable little sugarplums make of my house. A messy house drives me crazy. It’s difficult to focus on writing when I see so much that needs to get done around the house.

Self-doubt and perfectionism are others. I think these two go together. I’m always thinking that my writing can be better, so I’m constantly striving to make my writing stronger, more emotional, more action-packed, more…everything. I put a lot of pressure on myself which leads to procrastination, which leads to getting more laundry done.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Read. Read everything you can get your hands on and then read some more. Reading in your chosen genre gives you a sense of what readers expect and helps you learn about the genre as you go. And then when you feel ready (or even if you don’t), write and keep writing. Don’t stop. Just keep writing. With every piece of writing you do, your writing gets stronger. Keep reading and writing.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

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

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/triciashneider

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/authortriciaschneider

Bookbub: http://www.bookbub.com/triciaschneider

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/triciaschneider

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

This excerpt is from The Wolf’s Bride, included in Guardian: A Collection of Wolf Shifter Romances http://www.triciaschneider.com/books/paranormal-romance/guardian/

 

GuardianMadeline’s fingers tightened around the pistol. She approached the figure reclining in a wooden bathtub lined with linens from behind. With his head resting against the rim, he faced the windows making it easy to approach with him unaware of her presence. She measured each footstep so as not to make a sound, all the while keeping the pistol pointed in his direction.

She was only a few steps away when he spoke.

“Do I owe you money?” His deep voice reverberated through her bones. Madeline stopped moving. Her hand clenched around the pistol, continuing to aim it at the back of his head.

“No.”

“Then why are you here?”

He didn’t move a muscle. He made no attempt to stand. He remained exactly as she’d found him when she entered the room, reclining in the bathtub.

She tilted her head wondering how he had sensed her.

“I have it on good authority that a woman was killed here last night, and you are the man responsible.”

His head lifted.

“How did she die?”

“She was torn to pieces. They say she was ravaged by a wild animal.”

He turned his head to the side as if to see her better, but she stood directly behind him. Madeline suspected he might see her silhouette, but he couldn’t view her completely. Even if he could, he’d have difficulty identifying her with the hood of her cloak pulled low over her face.

“Why would you think I am responsible if they’re saying it was an animal attack?”

“Because I know what you are.”

He inhaled softly. She might have missed the reaction, but beside the crackling of the fire within the hearth nearby, there was nothing but silence in the room.

“And what am I?”

“The stable boy found bloody clothes buried near the edge of the forest. He identified those clothes as belonging to you. They were ripped apart. Shredded.”

The man considered this for a moment. “And how does that condemn me?”

“Because I’ve been searching for you,” Madeline whispered the words, but she knew he heard her when his back stiffened against the rim of the bathtub. “I recognize the signs of a werewolf.”

 

AuThursday – Sylvia Hubbard

Please join me in welcoming Sylvia Hubbard to the Clog Blog.  Sylvia, can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

1267ddc6480ee77ddde01630e66af7a3My mother knew I was a writer before I knew. I used to lie to her when I was little, – very horribly and after a whooping to my backside, I would have to write my lies down and then I come back and read what I had written. My self-discovery was that the lie always looked so much better on paper and soon lying because little to null while storytelling increased more and more. Due to my mother, she made my pain my passion and I love her for that.

How do you make time to write?

I make no excuses to give myself. Whether carrying a journal or a Bluetooth keyboard to attach my cell phone, I make sure I can write.

I also keep an electronic digital writer so I may even jot down ideas to type up later.

I think of time not in 24 hours but in 1400 minutes and everything that I need to do takes ten minutes in my mind or I try to make it that way and then I can fit even more in my day.

What genre are your books?

I love romance and I love suspense, so I’m often overlaying this with a lot of contemporary urban problems that happen to women with children or women who need to finally take charge of their happiness. I was always in both places in my life and I reflect how a full figured woman handles what life throws at her.

What draws you to this genre?

When I was twelve in the library, I saw this romance cover with this naked man and a woman standing in front of him with a long dress properly covering his necessary parts. I had to HAVE this book, but The librarian wouldn’t let me check the book out. So, I did what any twelve-year-old from Detroit would do it, I stole the book from the library. (I replaced the book about twenty years later by buying it off of Amazon and dropping it off at the library with a note inside saying sorry and just walking out.)  I read that book from cover to cover in one day and was taken over with this need to create a Happily Ever After. (HEA)

Being from Detroit, you see suspense all the time and you’re intrigued by what can happen. Entwining these two together and bringing my unique voice creates special stories that I know can enrapture myself and readers.

What are your current projects?

Currently, I’m completing the editing on Part 2 of Emperor’s Addiction, finishing up Betrayed and Black’s Innocence, while starting a new story called Tempting Heaven.

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

I always say I’m a writer so I’m an introvert, but as an author, I know I have to be an introvert pretending to be an extrovert.

I love being alone, but I love getting in front of an audience and teaching them something, enlighting them and encouraging the best out of them.

In terms of affecting my work, when I actually have to talk about my writing or me as a writer, I get extremely nervous.

What is your writing Kryptonite?

I over think writing the story and then I can’t write. Overthinking is the devil.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

If it’s in your head, put it on paper. Don’t care what others think or say, just know you were given a story to help others. You never know who needed to hear what you have to say, but it was vital to them, which is why you were given the message.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

www.facebook.com/sylviahubbard

www.twitter.com/sylviahubbard1

www.instagram.com/sylviahubbard1

www.youtube.com/sylviahubbard1

www.periscope.tv/sylviahubbard1

www.snapchat.com/sylviahubbard

www.goodreads.com/sylviahubbard

www.amazon.com/author/sylviahubbard

My website is http://sylviahubbard.com and you can find all the books at http://sylviahubbard.com/books

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

beautifulrev1From my recent book Beautiful, you can read an excerpt at

https://claims.prolificworks.com/free/ZYbQa

AuThursday -Barbara Monajem

TROTS BM Banner2OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATell us a little about yourself and your background?

I’ve been making up stories ever since I could read and write. The first story I remember writing was in third grade about apple tree gnomes. Unfortunately, I have lost that story!

How do you make time to write?

Luckily, I can write anywhere, anytime, but since I have a job during the week, I get most of my writing done on weekends, or on vacation while my husband does the driving!

What genre are your books?

Most of them are Regency romance, but I also have some vampire mystery/romances out there, and I just finished writing a Regency mystery. Some of my romances have magic in them. They’re a lot of fun to write.

What draws you to this genre?

I love reading both mystery and historical romance, so I naturally tend to write a blend of the two.

What are your current projects?

I’m working on a Regency romance where the heroine is a French refugee and a smuggler. She’s VERY feisty and fun to write. I’m also writing a Regency with magic, in which the heroine can see the fairies, and therefore people think she is crazy. The hero is half-fairy and super sexy and exciting. Lastly, I’m polishing my Regency mystery about a wealthy lady who has to confront all her class prejudices while solving a mystery that centers around herself. The hero of that story is a clever, intriguing Scot.

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

Introvert all the way. It means I’m pretty terrible at being sociable. I love hearing from my fans, but I dread meeting them and having to make small talk!!

What is your writing Kryptonite?

Um…well, so far I haven’t found it. Yikes, is that something more to worry about?

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Persevere. Get critiques, enter contests, learn to rewrite and revise, believe in yourself. And again, persevere.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

http://www.facebook.com/barbara.monajem

http://twitter.com/BarbaraMonajem

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3270624.Barbara_Monajem

http://www.BarbaraMonajem.com

TROTS Teaser 4.3Do you have a sexy excerpt you’d like to share with us?

Hmm. Not really, because the heroine and heroine don’t get together until pretty late in the book. But here’s a teaser.

redemtionoftheshrew480Years earlier, Gloriana tried to seduce Philippe by coming to him naked in the moonlight, but he spurned her and left. Now they can hardly tolerate each other…but the attraction still lingers.

Gloriana gaped at Philippe, and their eyes met. It was dim in that tavern, but not dim enough. The awareness in his eyes sent a bolt of desire through her, top to toe.

“I do covet you, but I am an honorable man,” Philippe said. “I shall not act upon my desires, however, tempted I may be—or have been in the past.”

She surged up, gripping the tankard. “There’s nothing honorable about being a coward.”

His eyes flashed, but he slouched at ease in his chair. “Shall I call you a few choice names, too?”

She flung the tankard at him. Ale dripped down his waistcoat. He rose slowly to his feet. A babble of crude commentary broke out. Hands shaking, she dug in her reticule, dropped a shilling on the table, and stalked out into the night.

To the sound of laughter and jests, Philippe’s among them.

TROTS Teaser 2.2Reviews by Crystal button (1)

AuThursday – CG Coppola

Tell us a little about yourself and your background.

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

How do you make time to write?

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

What are your current projects?

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

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

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

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

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

What is your writing kryptonite?

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

Where can readers find you?

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

https://Authorcgcoppola.com

https://www.facebook.com/cgcoppola

cgcoppolawrites@gmail.com

@writercgcoppola

AuThursday – Ivy Hayes

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

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

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

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

What genre are your books?

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

What draws you to this genre?

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is your writing Kryptonite?

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

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

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

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

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

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

From Shifting Hearts:

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

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

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

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

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

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

AuThursday – Aidee Ladnier

WATC AL BannerAideeLadnier

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

Hi! I’m Aidee Ladnier and although I’ve been writing since I was a preteen, I’ve only been publishing romance for the last six years. I saw a call for submissions online and I’d been listening to a podcast where the host, Kevin Allison, ends each show by saying “Today’s the day. Take a risk.” So I wrote a story and submitted it. I took a risk. And the publisher liked the story and published it. And I haven’t looked back. My writing career is due in part to comedian Kevin Allison.

How do you make time to write?

This is a difficult question! I write on the weekends, of course. But during the week I have a demanding day job. So my writing is confined to early mornings before work and on my lunch hour. I sometimes write in the evenings if my DH has something he’s also working on. Otherwise, he gets that time. 🙂 And as you can imagine, prioritizing so little time to write means I only produce one novel a year—but I’m not in a race so it suits me fine.

What genre are your books?

To date, I’ve published paranormal, science fiction, holiday, and mystery. But I have a steampunk novel and a young adult that I’m also working on. I can’t seem to stick to just one genre. LOL! But all of them have love at their core.

What draws you to this genre?

The paranormal shifter genre is well-established and one I never thought I’d be writing in. I’m not that fond of either the alpha male or fated mate tropes. But I started thinking about werewolves and how they might be perceived in our world—as if they had a rare medical condition. My wolf wouldn’t be an alpha or even part of a pack, and he certainly wouldn’t have a fated mate. But he would be awkward and adorkable and lonely. I knew the minute I saw him in my head that I had to write about him.

What are your current projects?

As I mentioned above, I’ve got a paranormal young adult novel I’m working on. In it, two young women discover that it takes two people to lay a ghost. I’m also working on a steampunk novel that intersects the Spiritualist Movement of the 1900s with the delay of Westward Expansion. It’s got strange inventions, a technology cult, and a plot against the government to thwart.

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

Definitely an introvert, but I try not to let it keep me from experiencing the world. I believe that adventure lies behind every corner, but if you don’t answer that call to adventure, you end up sitting at home a lot. Which is pretty boring. I love meeting people and doing new things but I also have to take a little time for myself every so often.

What is your writing Kryptonite?

Oooooo! That’s a good question. Usually, it’s television, the internet, online games, and good books. I always give them priority over my writing. I’ve been obsessed with the Great British Baking Show lately. And the Sims. Why oh why are they so much fun?

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

The best advice is to sit your butt in a chair and write. You can never finish anything if you don’t actually write. The second best piece of advice is to read. Read as much as you can in every genre you’re interested in writing. Read genres that you’re not interested in writing. If you like a book, start analyzing why  you like it. Is it the characters, or the way the writer describes the setting, or maybe the plot twist at the end? If you’re not a reader, you’ll never be a writer.

 

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

I have a website and blog at https://www.aideeladnier.com.  I write about my books, publish short fiction there, and post all my coloring pages there. I love adult coloring pages, so I have one for every book I’ve written. I also lurk on Tumblr (http://aideemoi.tumblr.com/) because it makes me laugh. I post a bit on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/aideelad), too. But Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/aideelad/) is where my horrible sense of humor comes out the most. I find the most bizarre things to take pictures of.

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

I’d love to!! Here’s a scene after the “meet cute” where Tom and Frank are getting ready to have dinner with Tom’s family:

WolfAroundTheCorner-f500

Tom rinsed the arugula, shaking off the water over the sink. “I couldn’t find candied walnuts, so I bought pecans instead.”

“The thweet oneth?” His niece Marcie jumped up and down, trying to see what he was doing. Her lisp was a new development caused by a couple of missing front teeth.

“Yep, the sweet ones, sweet pea.” Tom held one up for her inspection. Marcie smiled back, all but two of her teeth showing, and then took off out of the room.

“I had to drive to Waynesboro to get the gorgonzola, but it will totally be worth it.”

Annie stopped whisking her salad dressing and fixed Tom with a funny stare. “Hey, I hope you don’t mind, but I invited my store manager to dinner tonight.”

Tom shook the greens again but glanced back at his sister. “Sure. Why would I mind?”

“Well, he might be gay.”

Tom set the colander down beside the sink and turned around to face her. He leaned back against the counter and crossed his arms. “Might? Might, as in, you’d like to play matchmaker?”

Annie stirred the vinaigrette again. “Maybeee?”

“Uh-huh.” Tom grabbed the greens and tossed them into the waiting bowl. “I thought we were going to discuss what show to put on in your performance space.”

“Oh, we are.” Annie tipped her vinaigrette onto the waiting arugula. “He’s a creative guy, and he’ll have some good ideas. You’ll like him.”

As if on cue, the doorbell rang. Marcie’s footsteps thundered down the hall.

“Don’t forget to look out the glass first,” Annie called out to her. “You don’t open the door to strangers, remember?”

“Hey, kiddo.” The deep voice wasn’t strange at all.

Tom grabbed a rag to wipe off his hands and ambled into the hallway.

There was the buff guy from his apartment, Frank, clothed this time, in dark jeans so stiff and pressed they could have been dry-cleaned. His biceps bulged out of a short-sleeved brown shirt that brought out the auburn highlights in his hair and made his eyes appear almost golden. Frank’s cheeks reddened just enough to spread across the bridge of his nose, making him utterly adorkable. And gay. Tom so wanted to tap that. All those lascivious thoughts he’d tried to bury about Frank’s lickable frame were now roaring back to the forefront of his mind. And his pants.

“Hey, neighbor.” Tom transferred the towel to his other hand and held his right out to Frank.

“Neighbor? I didn’t realize you two knew each other.” Annie had followed Tom out of the kitchen. Her eyebrows rose in faux innocence. “So glad to see you, Frank.” She pecked him on the cheek as she closed the door behind him.

“I’m sure you didn’t, Sis. Especially since you were the one that told me Mrs. Anderson had a vacancy.” Tom booped her on the nose to let her know she wasn’t fooling anyone.

“Fwank, come and thee my new printheth pony!” Marcie hauled on Frank’s hand, her little sock feet sliding as she lost traction on the parquet floor.

“Hey, Frank.” Annie’s husband, John, swooped in to grab his six-year-old around the middle, hefting her up in a tickle hold. “Let’s get you washed up for dinner, young lady.” Marcie’s squeals and giggles echoed down the hall as John carried his daughter to the bathroom.

Annie gestured at the kitchen with a thumb that made her look like she was hitchhiking her way back to dinner. “I’ll go finish cooking.” Her sly grin hitched up the corner of her mouth. “Tom, could you entertain our guest for me?”

Tom smirked as his sister scooted past. He waited until she disappeared around the corner before zeroing in on Frank again. Frank stood frozen in the hallway next to him.

“So, clothes.” Tom did a visual sweep of Frank from head to toe, not missing the fidgeting fingers or the crooked eyetooth that bit into the pad of Frank’s lip.

Frank’s cheeks went strawberry red, and he ducked away from Tom’s gaze. “I usually wear clothes.”

“That is a shame.” Tom laughed as Frank’s ears turned red too. “You’ve got to tell me—what were you really doing in the bushes?” Because no way could somebody this well put together be that stupid. Annie had nothing but good things to say about her “store manager,” so Frank couldn’t be the guy brainless enough to fall out of an open second-story window.

Frank studied his shoes before peeping up, shamefaced. “Running naked in the woods?”

Tom almost laughed out loud at the absurd, obviously untrue answer. And then he sobered up as the image took shape in his mind of Frank’s gorgeous frame, free and unbound, dashing through the forest. That would be a sight to behold. And Tom would pay premium for a front-row ticket.

But he realized that whatever Frank had been doing, it had embarrassed the man, or he wouldn’t keep evading. Tom should just drop it, but Frank was so fun to tease.

“Is that what they’re calling it nowadays…?” Tom strode back toward the kitchen. “Wanna help set the table?”

Frank hesitated a moment in the entryway and then followed him.

Annie had already set out the stacks of plates and silverware. Tom handed the plates to Frank with a bow, their fingers brushing. The heat of that small touch sent a frisson of excitement down Tom’s spine. He met the golden brown of Frank’s eyes, seeing them wide and shocked as if he’d felt it too.

“I haven’t seen you around the apartments much lately.” Tom grabbed the silverware, and they escaped Annie’s watchful eyes by ducking into the formal dining room.

Frank smiled, but it flattened a little around the edges of his mouth. He moved to the other side of the table, laying down plates as he went. “I was afraid of giving you a worse impression than the first one.”

Tom tilted his head and nodded, placing the flatware at attention beside the plates. “Hey, I understand. I’m willing to put awkward first meetings behind us if you are.” He finished with the last spoon and found himself in front of Frank again. “But I have to say, some of what I saw was too good to forget.”

For a moment, Tom stared straight into the gold of Frank’s eyes. A rising anticipation fizzed in his veins. He was definitely going to get to know Frank better on this trip.

Reviews by Crystal button (1)