AuThursday – Lainee Cole

Lainee Cole author picTell us a little about yourself and your background?

I’m a born and bred Midwestern girl who escaped to Southern California for one year during my early 20’s but came home when I missed the change of seasons. Growing up in Ohio, Michigan, and Illinois will do that to you! On cold winter days, my older bones talk to me, as in “What the heck were you thinking?” Now I live in Central Illinois with my husband, who always wants to talk when I’m trying to write. My two kids and one grandchild live nearby, and we see them often.

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember! I wrote horse stories as a child, then poetry in junior high and high school. My friends and I traded romances starting in high school, and it didn’t take me long to decide I wanted to write them. It took me a lot longer to actually do it, but here I am! My goal is to give readers the same escape I discovered in books.

How do you make time to write? 

I’ve learned it’s important to write every day. My muse is happier that way! I don’t have set writing hours, but usually spend a chunk of afternoons and evenings writing, or doing writing-related tasks. In some respects, it’s easier since I retired from my day job last summer. While my husband is doing outdoor chores or golfing with his buddies, I can write uninterrupted. When I was working, I sometimes struggled to make time to write because it took away family time. But writing has always been important to me. Laptops were a great invention! My laptop allowed me to be on the computer as much as possible, even when my kids were sprawled around the family room watching TV or playing video games.

Do you believe in writer’s block? 

Definitely. If my creative well is low, I struggle to put ideas together, to make words flow the way they should. Self-care is important as well. I try to walk every day for at least an hour. But sometimes the words just aren’t there. In that case, I read, have more conversations with friends, and go for longer walks. Ideas tend to spark for me when I do those things.

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

I write sweet contemporary romance. I love it because I can explore characters and their relationships without being explicit. My characters can have all the feels without restricting their actions to MY imagination. Readers can use their own imaginations for what happens with my characters behind closed doors.

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

I just Indie published my most recent book in January via Amazon. To be honest, I’ve always wanted to be a traditionally published author, and I haven’t given up on that, but the publishing landscape is open now. I discovered the Common Elements Romance Project (https://commonelementsromanceproject.wordpress.com/) and wanted to be a part of it. All books for the project were required to be self-published, so that’s what I did!

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

I’m an Extrovert, very much a people person. I can talk to almost anyone. Being an extrovert is a blessing and a curse as an author. It’s a blessing because, well, people! Everybody has a story and you never know when someone will trigger an idea, whether from something they say, their behavior, or even just their appearance. People-watching can be interesting! Being an extrovert is also a curse because when I’m working on a book, it’s hard to stay isolated and focused. I crave contact with other people. 

What is your favorite motivational phrase?

“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.” 

— Louis L’Amour

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

If you are passionate about writing, don’t just take courses or read books – you have to WRITE. The more you actually write, the more you will learn. 

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

Please follow me on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/LaineeColeAuthor/), Twitter (@LaineeCole), and Amazon (https://amzn.to/2VuobuD). I’d love to hear from you!

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

STORMS OF THE HEART excerpt

Storms of the Heart high resHome. She blinked several times. She’d finally grown up and realized people made a place home, not buildings. Her heart climbed into her throat, but she refused to cry. Breathe in, breathe out, she coached herself. You can do this! Despite Uncle Wayne’s pleas and assurances, it had taken a long time to find the courage to return. Now that she was home, she couldn’t wait to feel his firm bear hug.

She straightened her shoulders and pushed away from the house. Yes, she could do this! At twenty-five, she could finally take control of her own life. She could put her past to rest and look forward to her future.

Emerson flinched when another crack of lightning split the air and forked through the sky, illuminating two cars parked at the side of the house. She hadn’t noticed them before. One was a distinctive black and white car with SHERIFF in gold lettering on the side. 

Her breath hitched as she peered through the downpour. Wait. What is the Sheriff doing here? She’d already lost her parents and her aunt. She couldn’t lose Uncle Wayne, too. Not now.

 Swallowing her panicked thoughts, she hurried toward the front door. Her shoes squished cold water between her toes with every step. She stripped off her wet jacket and dropped it in the corner. The dim yellow porch light flickered and went out. 

With her heart beating faster in the darkness, Emerson scrubbed her hands over her wet face. Add cops and power outages to what else could go wrong.

Damn those negative thoughts! She inhaled deeply and shoved them out of her mind. She knocked on the door. The cop car didn’t mean anything. Uncle Wayne was expecting her. Soon she would be warm and cozy inside.

She knocked again, harder this time.

Still no answer. Maybe Uncle Wayne couldn’t hear her over Mother Nature’s cries, but he wouldn’t expect her to stay out in the rain. She tried the knob and found it unlocked.

Another deafening crack of lightning shattered the air. Something hit Emerson’s knee from the side. The momentum tore the doorknob from her hand. Her backpack fell to the ground as the thing brushed by and sent her stumbling through the doorway.

Ooof!

Strong arms caught and cradled her. She froze as earthy cologne with just a hint of citrus filled her nose. A long, whimpering whine sounded before a voice from somewhere above her head ground out, “Get back out there, dog.”

Snug against his chest, her body absorbed the rumble of the man’s words, while her mind struggled to place the oddly familiar scent of his cologne.

“Oh, let him be,” twittered a high, excited voice nearby. “He doesn’t like storms.”

Welcome to the club. It was too dark to see the woman, but she must be the live-in housekeeper Uncle Wayne had mentioned. Mrs. Beresford. This man, though. She inhaled his scent again. His embrace warmed her chilled body as he steadied her, but didn’t let go. She felt strangely safe in his arms.

“I’m sorry. The lightning startled me,” she offered into the darkness as she pushed against the man’s chest. He released her and she shivered.

“It’s not the dog’s fault.”

The man sighed, and then she heard the front door close heavily against the wind. The dog pressed against the back of her legs. Her jeans soaked up his dampness. He whimpered and her heart went out to him. I’m with you, buddy.

The strong odor of sulfur wafted through the air, followed by a welcome glow lighting the room.

“You must be Emerson.” A woman with a short, layered bob of red hair held a lantern as she came forward, reaching out a thin hand. She smiled, and her touch was gentle on Emerson’s arm. “Wayne told me all about you.”

She squeezed the woman’s hand and smiled. “You must be Mrs. Beresford.”

The older woman glowed with pleasure. “Please, call me Irene.” She gestured toward the door and her smile faded. “This is Sheriff Lomax.”

Emerson’s pulse jumped, but she pasted on a smile and turned. 

Max. His hair was darker than the last time she’d seen him, but even in the shadowy light, she knew those grayish-blue eyes, that straight nose, and that little cleft in his chin. It had been seven years, and yet she’d never forgotten the heat between their bodies as she’d pressed against him down by the creek. The tenderness of his kiss had surprised her, had made her feel when she didn’t want to feel anything. 

She’d tried to seduce her crush and failed miserably. What had she been thinking? Oh yeah. That was the problem. She hadn’t been.

“Hello, Emerson.”

 

 

AuThursday – Shelly Sharp

Tell us a little about yourself and your background? 

I’m a business owner with my husband, I have three adult children and one 17-year-old. I homeschooled my kids for twelve years, I have loved to write since I was a child and now I’m finding time to write books. I’ve published two on Amazon, one last April, and one this February. 

How do you make time to write? 

I have a goal of a chapter a day. I make a list of all I have to do each day and I write a page between each chore or project on my list. 

Do you believe in writer’s block? 

No. I write several books at a time so if I get stuck on one book I simply move to another. 

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

I have a goal to write five books, all of them a different genre. I love to read many different genres so I want to try to write a book in each genre that I enjoy. So far I’ve written non-fiction and romance. Right now I’m writing a psychological thriller, a suspense trilogy, and a satire. 

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

I self-publish on Amazon, so Indie I guess.

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

I am definitely an introvert. I think this enhances my work. I can spend a lot of time alone writing. I enjoy my own company and I find my sense of humor hilarious! I am my own best friend and my imagination is amazing which makes for good writing. The books I write are in my mind in movie form, It helps me visualize the characters I write about. 

What is your favorite motivational phrase? 

“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.”– Helen Keller 

What advice would you give to aspiring writers? 

Publish that book! Hesitation leads to fear. As Winston Churchill said,

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal.” Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web? 

My books are on Amazon.com, I’m also on Twitter and Facebook. 

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

As they descended the hill, the largest bull with the longest horns Dae had ever seen emerged from behind a bush on the path ahead of them.

Jack stopped and stood very still, but the bull noticed him anyway and began pawing the ground and breathing heavily.

Dae moved up to Jack and managed to get in front of him on the narrow path. Dae wanted to put Rose down, but the child was now sleeping heavily and Jack was too small to hold her. Dae shook the picnic basket at the bull and yelled, but that just seemed to make the creature more agitated and focused on them. Dae turned sideways to protect the sleeping child she carried from possible harm and ordered Jack in a quiet voice to back slowly up the hill, gesturing with the picnic basket.

This, unfortunately, seemed to incite the bull, who bellowed and shook its massive head. When the bull began pawing the ground again and lowering its frightening horns, Dae screamed, “Run Jack!” and turned to run up the hill herself, throwing the picnic basket on the ground and moving as fast as she could with one hand holding up her skirt and both arms cradling Rose…

AuThursday – Nadine Miller

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I’m an Irish romance writer who writes historical and will be releasing my first contemporaries this year. I write mostly clean with a little heat 🙂 I have a law degree but gave up working in law to write romance! I live in a rural area of Ireland with my husband and three children. 

How do you make time to write? 

I usually write when the children are in school or when I’m sitting in the car at one is their extracurriculars (of which there are a lot!) 

Do you believe in writer’s block? 

I do! And unfortunately, I’ve experienced it. For me, the more I worry about it the worse it gets. So when it happens I need to just take some time away and read, or binge watch Netflix, or bake! Sooner or later, the words come back! 

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

I used to sneakily read my mum’s historical romances and I’ve been a bona fide Janeite for as long as I can remember. There’s something about the regency era, the clothes, the balls, the manners – if you ignore things like lack of plumbing (very easy to do in historical romance) you can just lose yourself in the glamour and romance of the time! And that just makes my heart happy. 

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

I’ve published The Royals Of Aldonia as an indie! It’s been exciting. Protecting The Princess is book two although they can be read as standalones. 

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

I like to think of myself as a hybrid! I enjoy my own company just as much as I enjoy being out and about socialising. I think every writer needs to be a bit of an introvert because you really have to be happy with just your fictional characters for company! 

What is your favorite motivational phrase?

It might not always be perfect, but it’s always worth doing. 

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Write! Just write. Everything else can be dealt with later – covers, marketing reviews. But just keep writing! 

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

www.nadinemillard.com 

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

“So even though it means you hate me, your safety means more to me than your love. I can live with your hatred as long as it means you’re safe. I’d rather have you out there despising me but alive than live in this world knowing you’re not in it.”

Protecting the Princess

AuThursday – Marie Lavender

Marie Lavender Logo_400Tell us a little about yourself and your background? 

I live in the Midwestern U.S. with my family and two cats. I love reading, writing, and shopping. I am obsessed with using colored gel pens! I studied Creative Writing in college, and I earned a Bachelor of Arts. To date, I’ve published twenty-one books in the genres of historical romance, contemporary romance, romantic suspense, paranormal romance, romantic comedy, dramatic fiction, fantasy, science fiction, mystery/thriller, literary fiction, and poetry. An avid blogger on the side, I write adult fiction, as well as occasional stories for children, and have recently started some young adult fiction. I also contributed to several anthologies. Though there are some standalone titles on the market, my current published series are The Heiresses in Love Series, The Eternal Hearts Series, The Magick Series, The Code of Endhivar Series, The Misfits Series and The Blood at First Sight Series. 

How do you make time to write? 

When I am immersed in a project, I just do my best to work a little on that story every day, even if all I accomplish is writing a paragraph or just researching an integral topic. 

Do you believe in writer’s block? 

Yes, I’ve had it in the past. I think it can affect any writer. But I think the malady can be overcome as well. 

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

Marie Lavender banner - FacebookI am a multi-genre writer, so though I feel more comfortable writing romance stories (I am a hopeless romantic!), I leave myself open to trying other types of stories. For example, I published a children’s fantasy a few years ago. And I also have a psychological thriller and a horror project in the works. 

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

I went indie with Chasing Ginger, a steamy romantic comedy. Though I am all too familiar with rom-com books and films, it is my first attempt at a humorous take on romance. Also, the final book of the series will be an LGBT romance, and I didn’t want to use a traditional publisher for my initial foray into that category. 

Universal reader link for Chasing Ginger: https://books2read.com/ChasingGinger 

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

Ah, usually an introvert. Being shy by nature makes it more difficult for me to do public events such as radio interviews. I still go for them, but I get really nervous. I’ve grown in recent years, though, and I’m a little more willing to try new things than I was before. 

What is your favorite motivational phrase? 

“Write what disturbs you, what you fear, what you have not been willing to speak about. Be willing to be split open.”

Natalie Goldberg Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within

I think there’s a lot of useful content in the unknown, in those places we’re afraid to look at too closely. We should be willing to get a little uncomfortable during the creative process, to bring forth a naked truth. It can be cathartic. 

What advice would you give to aspiring writers? 

Persevere, yet be patient and kind to yourself. This is not an overnight journey. It will take as long as it takes to get there. 

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web? 

Official Website: http://marielavender.com/

Blogs:

http://iloveromanceblog.wordpress.com/

http://marielavender.blogspot.com/ http://marielavenderbooks.blogspot.com/

Social Media:

https://www.facebook.com/marie.lavender.58 https://www.facebook.com/MarieAnnLavender https://twitter.com/marielavender1 http://www.linkedin.com/pub/marie-lavender/27/187/10a

https://www.instagram.com/marielavender1/

Amazon author page: http://bit.ly/MarieLavender https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6938764.Marie_Lavender

Universal Reading List links:

https://books2read.com/rl/marielavendersbooks https://books2read.com/ap/xrv162/Marie-Lavender http://authorsdb.com/authors-directory/1578-marie-lavender http://marielavender1.allauthor.com/ https://www.booksradar.com/lavender-marie/lavender.html http://www.pw.org/content/marie_lavender https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJu8HjRVYCFOqcIoX6ZxdqQ/videos

Sign up for Marie’s Newsletter: http://bit.ly/1g3wO13

Follow her on BookBub for new release updates: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/marie-lavender

Fan mail email: marielavender@writeme.com 

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

ChasingGingerFinalCoverEscape, she thought. Now. Panic mode set in, and she stumbled away from the hardwood counter, treaded straight for the exit. A hand caught her arm and spun her around. 

A man with sandy blonde hair, brown eyes, and handsome features appeared before her. “Ginger, baby, come on. Where are you going? The party has just begun.” 

She shrugged his hand off. “I’m sorry. I have to go. I need to cancel—” 

He frowned. “But we had a date.” A nice face didn’t equate to decent moral character. 

“No, I don’t remember you,” she breathed. 

“I saw you and knew I had to have you. You’re mine.” His eyes flashed. 

Ginger stepped back a bit. Seriously? What the hell was up with him? They were virtual strangers. 

“What’s wrong, baby? Haven’t had one like me before?” He flexed his muscles, as if to illustrate a point, and then glanced down at her with a wide smile. It was clear he, in fact, thought he was something. 

At that moment, she noticed the line of quarterbacks not too far behind him. Never one to waste an opportunity when she had it, Ginger ducked under his outstretched arm and beelined around the crowd in the opposite direction. Though there was only one exit, she hoped the man might get stuck by the traffic jam in the main aisle. Once on the sidewalk outside, she ran as fast as her legs would take her in those stupid high heels on the hard pavement. This was insane. 

Surely InstaSin hadn’t caused such chaos? She couldn’t believe that. Maybe it was just poor planning. A guy might take it the wrong way if you went ahead and set up another date after him. Still, most men knew those dating sites weren’t exclusive. So, why get too possessive? The ownership on all their faces was worrisome, to say the least. She’d never met them before today and could just remember a handful of names. Thank God surnames were concealed on the site, or she’d be in real trouble once she got out of this. How many G. Halloway’s could exist in San Francisco? 

After a couple blocks, Ginger paused to take a breath or two. But they’d give up by now, right? Hell, maybe it was paranoia and all those men weren’t after her. Of course not. This was just a bizarre mix-up… 

“Ginger! Stop!” She looked over her shoulder and froze. Sure enough, almost two football teams had come after her. Dressed in various types of attire, from dress casual to ultra-casual, with the same hard look on their faces. It was all about the prize. She hadn’t wanted this, though. 

There was an obvious hunger in their eyes too. The dangerous kind. 

Nausea shifted through her belly, threatened to evacuate the diet sodas she’d had at work, and Ginger veered off to the right. She didn’t know where she was heading, but couldn’t wait to get in a cab and speed toward her apartment. This unique experience wasn’t relished at all. A scream tore out of Ginger as someone snagged at her hair, and she yanked away, stumbling across the street. The pull on her scalp was nothing compared to the panic she felt now. She doubled her efforts as she raced down the pavement, feet pounded in her green heels. Please, please, God. I’ll never use a dating site again if you just get me out of this right now. 

A hand shot out, grabbed her arm, and she screeched again. 

“Darlin’, come on,” a male voice coaxed, and a wonderful scent drifted in her nose. 

But everything happened so fast, she couldn’t register what it was.

 “There’s no time. You’ll be safe in here.” The voice was soothing. 

Ginger calmed at once and found she was led up a short stairway into a tall, light gray structure. Inside, she backed away from the glass a little, breathed a sigh of relief as she saw the group pass by after a few moments. Each breath was labored, and her forehead, upper chest, and lower back were sweaty. Her feet and legs ached. She felt like this when she visited the gym, exhausted, practically passed out, draped over the treadmill’s handlebars. Now, each breath hitched in her chest. And the boob pain wasn’t a joke. She winced, passed a hand down her face, and turned to confront the new threat. 

He was a looker, for sure, with deep brown, spiky hair and nice blue eyes. The man wore a gray business suit. He’d obviously just come from work. And Jesus, he was tall and muscled, topped six feet no problem. He had handsome features, with a Roman nose and somewhat full, made-to-be-kissed lips. Get ahold of yourself, Ginger. His eyes widened as he took in her appearance. 

“Not you too,” she moaned. But hell, for all she knew, maybe he’d never seen a melting green marshmallow before. 

“Are you okay, ma’am? Why were those men chasing you?” 

She managed, “I don’t know.” That was the truth. They hadn’t warned InstaSin would be like this, and it was just twenty-four hours in. Extreme sexiness? Check, if the response she’d received was any indication. Grounds for a restraining order? Nope. They certainly hadn’t covered this in the drug’s description.

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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 – Jacie Floyd

Please Welcome Jacie Floyd to the Clog Blog! Jacie, can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

From the time I read my first Nancy Drew mystery, I’ve been an avid reader and writer. The public library was my happy place when I was a child. Throughout my professional career, I utilized my non-fiction writing skills in business and legal writing, but the desire to create my own stories became a secret obsession. While polishing my craft as an unpublished author, I was lucky enough to be named a six-time Golden Heart Finalist and two-time Golden Heart winner by the Romance Writers of America. After years of scraping together whatever time I could to generate one manuscript after another, I gave in to the inevitable, abandoned my day job, and moved away from the chilly Midwest to Florida in order to write full-time and self-publish the kind of stories I like to read. 

How do you make time to write? 

Now that I’m a “full-time” writer, I can structure my writing time to fit my schedule. Outside activities and travel do interfere, but I’m a night owl and don’t need a lot of sleep. I’m often at my desk writing from 10 PM to 1:00 or 2:00 AM. I realize not everyone has that kind of flexibility.

Do you believe in writer’s block? 

No, not for me. It’s a real thing that some people do experience, but I always have three or four projects going on simultaneously. If the words don’t flow for the one I’m currently slaving over, I switch to one of the others for a while. I believe that if I just keep writing, the right words will break free.

What are your thoughts on writing a book series?

Since I’m currently writing four series (The Good Riders, Sunnyside, The Billionaire Brotherhood, and The Billionaire Brides), I’d have to call myself pro-series. I prefer to write books that stand alone in the series but are loosely related by some unifying element like setting, club, friend group or family relationship. The main characters appear in multiple books, but their conflict or story arc don’t necessarily overlap. I consider series the most reliable way for an Indie author to build an audience—the theory being that if readers like Book One of the series, they’ll want to read Book Two and so on. Hopefully, if they happen to stumble on Book Four, they’ll go back and look for the previous ones.

I see you are Indie Published.  Why did you choose this route?

I think it’s safe to say that my daughter chose it for me! Back when I started writing seriously, the Indie route wasn’t a viable option. I tried for years to get a traditional publisher or agent interested in my books through standard queries, conference attendance, and contest entries because those were the only options. I got really, really close several times, before receiving soul-crushing rejections. In 2013 I was a Golden Heart finalist, and my brilliant, tech-savvy, librarian daughter went to the RWA conference with me. Indie publishing was really starting to boom, and after attending a lot of workshops, she encouraged me to go in that direction—with her technical help. I sorted and revised my existing completed manuscripts into series, published MEET YOUR MEET in 2014, and things grew from there.

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

Now I always have to consider my readership and ways to keep that number growing. I have to determine which characters from the existing series have the most compelling story that needs to be told next. And I have to stick to a schedule, so I write better, sharper, clearer first drafts than I used to. And even when the book is finished, I have to allow time in the schedule for social media, promotion, and even occasional personal appearances. Writing is a business for me now instead of a diversion, but the writing part is still fun.

How do you relax?

Time on a beach with waves lapping the shore, clear, sunny skies, sand in my toes, and a book in my hand is absolutely my happiest, most relaxing place. Luckily, I live close enough to the beach to make that happen as often as necessary.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

I have seven pieces of advice:

  1. Complete a manuscript and then another one. Until you know for sure you can get from the start to the finish, all you have is a hobby. 
  2. Don’t overlook the necessity of learning your craft and polishing your manuscript. 
  3. Whether you’re planning on Indie or Traditional publishing, a competent editor is a must. 
  4. Establish a media presence for your author name BEFORE you have anything to promote. 
  5. Have clear career goals, not just writing goals. 
  6. Join writers’ groups and make friends with other aspiring authors. 
  7. Don’t take rejection too personally.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

I’m everywhere! I love to talk to readers and authors, old friends and new about reading, writing, books, travel, cooking, shopping, you name it! Feel free to reach out to me on your favorite social media platform and sign up for my newsletter on my website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Bookbub, Goodreads 

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

Absolutely! Thanks for the opportunity to visit with you and your followers. This excerpt is from my latest release ALWAYS ALLIE, the first book in The Billionaire Brides series.

-Jacie Floyd

As Allie slipped into bed, a familiar form emerged from the shadows. Her hand went to her heart, and a gasp escaped her.

But not from fear.

She propped herself on an elbow. “How did you get in?”

A light twinkled in his eye. “It wasn’t so hard.”

“Why are you here?”

Wearing the same jeans and T-shirt he’d had on earlier, Buck took a step toward her. “Wyatt called. He thought you could use a friend. I told him you’d made it clear you didn’t want to see me tonight, but he said that might have changed.”

And just like that, the tears Allie had been holding back all night filled her eyes and spilled over.

He rushed to her side. “Sweetheart! What’s wrong? Don’t cry. Are you all right?”

With her shoulders shaking, she nodded. “I’m fine.” Wiping her eyes with the corner of the sheet, she shrugged. “I’m sorry. That’s not like me.”

“Don’t be sorry. If you’ve had a bad night, you’re allowed to cry.” He scooted her over and climbed into the bed beside her. “How can I help?”

“I’m shocked to be saying this but having you here has helped.”

“Good.”

She’d had to be strong for Xander, and Mother hadn’t been sympathetic.

But Buck was here to support her, not lean on her. He had no expectations whatsoever about how she should behave, and he’d let her vent in whatever way she needed. All of that was a rarity. She knew they had issues to discuss, but for now she just wanted to breathe him in.

He stacked her pillows behind them and put his arm around her. “Can you give me a clue? Is it Xander? Something with the business? Your mother? Are you sick? I’m not trying to pry, I need to know what kind of support to offer.”

“How many kinds of support are there?”

“There’s the goofy, silly kind where I bring you a Beanie Baby.” He pulled a little green frog wearing a crown out of his pocket. “That often works for Bella.”

“Cute, but I don’t think a frog will do it.”

“There’s the huge soul-crushing disappointment where I buy you a Lamborghini.”

“Thanks, but I don’t need a new car.”

“There’s the small heartbreak or scuffed knee where I offer you a chocolate kiss.” Yep, he dug in his pocket and pulled one of those out too. Taking the candy out of the shiny silver wrapper, he held it to her lips. “There’s emotional distress where something unfixable has happened, and I give you a big hug and sit quietly with you while your head wrestles with wrapping itself around the new normal.” He put his other arm around her and pulled her against his chest. Holding on tight, he rested his chin on her head and rocked her back and forth. “Like this.”

“Ding, ding, ding, ding. That one works.” She listened to the reassuring beat of his heart against her ear, but she wanted more. “If accompanied by a real kiss.”

“Happy to oblige, but what kind? Sweet, sexy, comforting, hot?” He stopped between words to bestow a sample of each one.

With her hands cupping his face, she leaned in. “The kind that makes me forget everything else.”

“My favorite.” Sitting up, he pulled off his shirt and tossed it over the side of the bed. “And for the record, that’s always my goal when I kiss you.”

When he tapped her hip, she lifted up, and her gown followed the way of his shirt. “Not fair. I’m naked, and you still have on jeans and who knows what else.”

“Jeans and nothing else, but hang on, we’ll get there. I’m concentrating on you first. I can see I’ve got my work cut out for me.”

“Take your time. I’ve got all night. My trainer doesn’t get here till six.”

“You won’t need him,” he assured her as his lips teased hers. “You’ll get your workout tonight.”

AuThursday – Janet Walden-West

MeCC3 (1)Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I live in the southeast with a couple of kids, a pack of show dogs, and a confused but supportive husband.

Fun fact—I never considered myself creative enough to be a writer. There’s a professor out there with a chronic eye-twitch thanks to The Great Thesis Crisis of 20-mumble-mumble. I only picked up a pen thanks to a newborn. Who. Would. Not. Sleep. I multi-tasked while also not-sleeping, and caught up on a favorite show. Where the writers killed off my favorite character.

DED, dead.

I’m blaming it on the sleep deprivation because my (very fuzzy) thought process went something like ‘What? WHAT??? Are you kidding me?’ I could come up with a better ending.” 

Yeah, not really. But that drunken moment led to my debut coming out this year. 

How do you make time to write? 

I’m lucky in that I can write anywhere, and in spurts—in the grooming area at shows, medical waiting rooms, sports’ practices, in the parent pick-up line.

 That also means plot breakthroughs scribbled on the back of receipts, and notes on Starbucks sleeves. Everyone in my household has learned to ask if random wrappers and bags are book outlines or safe to go in the recycle bin.

What are your current projects?

I always, accidentally, have multiple projects going at a time. Right now, I’m working on another contemporary romance, and an urban fantasy romance. Watch my website and newsletter for deets.

Do you ever get writer’s Block?

Is there ever an answer other than yes? 

As a reformed pantser, I don’t hit as many walls as compared to when I first began. When I do stall out, I turn to my Coven crit partners. So named because tossing around ideas and brainstorming with them is magic. Shiny, sparkly, save-my-butt magic.

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

Laughs until tears ruin my latte 

I have enough to wallpaper my house. And car. Maybe do the front and back porches to tie the look together. 

No lie, those first rejections as a baby writer hurt. But they also kinda felt like a badge of honor. I was sending my work out in the world. I was in the game. This is where my writing community was priceless though. It’s always cathartic to vent to people who get it, and are willing to cheer-lead and send Jason Momoa* gifs. 

*Dwayne Johnson gifs also work.

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

My path was more like a labyrinth. 

I had stacked up rejections for SALT+STILETTOS. There were still agent queries out, but let’s just say they’d been out there for… a while. After a heart to heart with Brighton Walsh, my Pitch Wars mentor, I had the option of shelving yet another story, or querying imprints and publishers accepting un-agented work.

Critically, my manuscript had been through several in-depth revisions, and was sound. Emotionally, thanks to an anthology, I’d had a taste of the fun side of writing, and wow, was it tasty. Like, Samoa Girl Scout cookies tasty. I wanted more of that, so January 1st 2019, I queried every publisher I was interested in. It was one and done. Either someone gave my story a chance or I had to move on.

At the same time, I entered the Golden Heart as part of a pact to get my crit partners to enter. I’d sent in a different version of SALT+STILETTOS in 2018 so didn’t hold out any hope, but wanted to see my girls shine. I was just there as a cheering section.

Then I got the call that I had finaled. At Brighton’s urging, I updated my queries with “GH Finalist.” 

Things blew. Up. I got multiple publisher offers. Updated the outstanding agent queries, only to be polite, while I angsted over which publisher to go with.

Then multiple agents asked to be upgraded to fulls or promised to read by the deadline. Many passed, because this is real life. But I ended up scheduling several calls. Ultimately, I signed with the fabulous Eva Scalzo, who seemed to get the story and my career hopes, dumping the publisher offers in her lap five minutes later. 

 What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

The writing community has its issues, but when it comes through, it comes through big time. 

I was blessed with Brighton Walsh and JC Nelson, both amazing mentors during my Pitch Warsstints. Some wonderful contest judges reached out post-judging to an obvious newb writer, as well as the ladies from The Ruby Slippered Sisterhood. I won a random draw during Mentees Helping Mentees before Pitch Wars, and Jen DeLuca’s encouraging notes came just as I was ready to trash this story. Laura Threntham, my TGN mentor, has been invaluable since. 

I’m also lucky enough to have the best ride-or-die crit partners evah—Anne Raven, Gia De Cadenet, and Megan Starks.  

Have you written in collaboration with other writers?

Not yet, but the idea is intriguing.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

My website: https://janetwaldenwest.weebly.com/

Twitter: @JanetWaldenWest

Instagram: janetwaldenwest

Facebook

Goodreads

Amazon

The Million Words Blog

BookBub

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

I hope you enjoy Brett and Will’s first meeting in SALT+STILETTOS.

Brett turned to Will and that softness evaporated. He froze while her gaze tracked over him.

When she pulled a phone out—from where in that tight outfit, he had no clue—and her fingers danced over the screen, he breathed again, one thankful wheeze.

Right. “I’ll be in the kitchen. It was nice to meet you, ma’am.” And by nice, he meant terrifying. Like looking at a tiger in the zoo. Gorgeous, but strictly hands-off.

He bobbed his head at the seemingly oblivious woman and scouted a path out.

“Don’t move.” The command snapped out though she didn’t put away the phone.

He shot Richard a look, begging for help.

“Don’t you dare let him leave.” She used some creepy sixth sense in place of vision, flicking away on the phone.

“You could start tomorrow,” his friend said, but rocked back on his heels, gaze on the rafters. Avoiding Will’s silent plea.

“With forty-five days until opening? I think not.” She continued a conversation Will didn’t get.

“Um—”

She closed the screen and her gaze pinned Will in place. “Let’s begin immediately. Either stay silent or state what you have to say. No ums, likes, qualifiers, or upticks at the end that turn statements to questions. None of those engender trust in listeners or viewers. The absolute first thing you must do is establish that you’re an authority.”

Anxiety settled in, turning the sweat on his skin clammy. “Man, what’s—”

“Ahht.” Brett’s sharp noise shut him up. “No questions.”

This was a waking nightmare he couldn’t escape, where he was destined to never get the right answer.

Richard slapped Will’s shoulder. “Breathe. We talked about Brett.”

Betrayal replaced the last of the confusion. He’d trusted Richard. “The makeover thing? You said we’d discuss that. I don’t—”

“Oh, you do.” Brett tapped the phone on her chin, eyeing him again.

Will’s stomach lurched, swirling chimichurri, eggs, and distrust together.

Like she felt it, Brett sighed. “Let me explain. ‘We’ll talk’ is Richard-speak for the topic being a done deal.”

“I never agreed.” Will pulled up to all six and a half feet, which usually intimidated people whether he meant to or not.

Brett just did that eyebrow thing again. “You signed a contract with Richard.”

“Yeah, but only with him.” Will gave up and slumped, hands in his pockets since the attempted intimidation didn’t do anything but make him feel like a bully. 

“Richard’s standard Fleur de Lis Hospitality contract language states that you are committed to any and all modifications necessary to further the FDL line and brand, in a favorable light. The clause was originally my idea.”

“But—”

“FDL has a standing contract with me for my company’s services. Which means you are mine for the next forty-five days. I assume you’re testing at The Coop with Richard since Khalli isn’t completed yet. I’ll meet you there.” She crooked a finger at Will, then slid through the crowd, slick as a shark through a wave, clearly expecting him to follow.