AuThursday – Vanessa Marie Caron

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
Mom of 4 with 5th on the way. Canadian, horse lover, fitness fanatic, bookworm and writer. Currently in process of publishing my first novel.
How do you make time to write?
It’s a struggle. I try to do it first thing when I drink my coffee in the morning.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
In a sense, I do. However, I think with persistence, a writer can conquer the block.
Tell us a bit about the genre you write and why you love it.
I write multiple genres but especially love fiction. I have written YA fantasy, sci-fi and contemporary adult fiction. I enjoy exploring the characters and their stories. Writing is my art of choice, a way to explore and challenge my creativity.
How are you publishing your recent book and why? 
Indie, likely KDP & Ingram. Looking at audiobook also and partnering with Scribd. I didn’t know it was possible to publish without necessarily breaking the bank! Now that I am learning more, I want to pursue my lifelong dream of becoming a published author.
Are you an Introvert or Extrovert? 
Introvert.
What is your favorite motivational phrase?
Fake it until you make it.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Write everyday, setting modest goals and remain consistent.
Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?
“Still leaning comfortably in his chair, Kyle cocked his head, examining me, perhaps reading my thoughts as desperately as I’d tried to read his. But his face was calm and satisfied, as if he’d been successful at breaching my barriers. The tension grew and my heart thudded in my chest.”
–Excerpt from my current contemporary adult fiction WIP, “Straddling the Void.”

AuThursday – Abbey Franer

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
My name is Abbey and I’m a mom with a degree in English currently living in Ohio. I’ve been writing creatively since I was in second grade, but started writing original stories more seriously in high school. I just published my debut novel, YA/NA Fantasy titled Dragonhearted.
How do you make time to write?
I try to carve out time in the mornings while the kids are in school or at night once they’ve gone to bed. It can be a challenge to have dedicated time, but I try to keep things moving in any little way I can (sometimes that means jotting down scene ideas in the Notes app on my phone at red lights or in the school pick up line).
Do you believe in writer’s block?
Yes and no. We all have moments when we feel stagnated and words aren’t flowing but that doesn’t necessarily mean we are blocked. Actively putting words on a page aren’t the only way we can be creative! Part of the creative process is taking in inspiration and that can come from reading, watching movies and tv shows, listening to music, or being in nature or people watching.
Tell us a bit about the genre you write and why you love it.
I write YA/NA Fantasy mostly because it’s the genre I most enjoy to read. I enjoy suspending disbelief to immerse myself in a fantasy world. Unique world building and story lines especially appeal to me!
How are you publishing your recent book and why?
I just self published my debut novel with KDP. After talking to published writers in my writing groups, doing a lot of publishing market research, and taking time to evaluate what my goals were, I decided self publishing was the best option for this book. I am happy I still maintain all my rights and could let go of the stress of the query and submission process while I “dip my toes in the water” so to speak. I do plan to consider the traditional publishing route for my current work in progress.
Are you an Introvert or Extrovert? How does this affect your work?
Introvert! I think it can make marketing my work a little harder because actively putting myself and my work out there is not my strong suit. I also think being introverted has helped me develop a knack for reading people and that can translate to writing realistically fleshed out characters.
What is your favorite motivational phrase?
It may not sound like a typical motivational phrase, but I particularly love this quote from Victor Hugo:
“A writer is a world trapped in a person.”
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Read and write as much as you can! Join writing groups and engage with other writers. And don’t be afraid to be harsh in your editing. If it feels too painful to cut a scene, save it in a separate document so it’s never really gone.
Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?
I’m on Twitter, TikTok, and Goodreads @abbey_author.
Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?
One defining moment from Dragonhearted comes to mind:
Tori laughed and threw open her arms, lifting her face to the kiss of the stars. Free. No longer bound to the earth. Something stirred in her, some wild awakening, like she’d been waiting for wings all her life.

Author Interview – Kelly Pawlik

TourBanner_Yesterday's Gone

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I’m a mother of three, a mediocre gardener, and an avid RPG player. I live on Vancouver Island, BC with my husband, our three inquisitive children, and two lazy cats.

In addition to writing the Olympic Vista Chronicles novellas, I am a tabletop roleplaying game (TTRPG) writer and have released multiple RPG supplements with my husband under our micro-publishing company, Dire Rugrat Publishing. I’ve also contributed to several best-selling works with Kobold Press.

How do you make time to write? 

It can be tricky at times for sure! I often set a timer, carving out twenty minutes here or there. If I’m on a roll with it, I might write longer.

Do you believe in writer’s block? 

Yes, and no. I think there can be a bit of a hurdle, but I think sometimes you just have to push through it. Or write something else! Sometimes, when I’m not feeling as inspired with the novellas, I work on short stories. They can be a fun change of pace and a good way to work around writer’s block. 

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

I write YA sci-fi and YA horror. I’m not even sure how I stumbled into it, but I had this story and I started writing it. I love YA. I devoured YA books when I was younger, and at some point, I’m not sure when, I stopped reading YA. And then I hit a reading slump. I picked up some YA books again and it was like finding an old friend. I hope when people pick up my books, they get the same feeling. 

How are you publishing your recent book and why? 

I published the books myself. Some people look down on self-published books, but many indie book authors hire professional editors and proofreaders. I did for these books. An upside to self-publishing is retaining more control over the books. Also, Yesterday’s Gone is the first book in a series of novellas and I feel novellas are more difficult to have traditionally published. I have a vision for the series that wouldn’t fit as well with a traditional publisher. 

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

Absolutely an introvert! I’m not sure how much it affects what I write, but it certainly affects my ability to promote the book. Being self-published means I do the marketing and promotion myself, and that isn’t as easy when you’re an introvert. 

What is your favorite motivational phrase?

“The goal is not to live life perfectly, but to live it completely.”

My philosophy teacher in college said that in one of our classes and it really stuck with me. Sometimes, when I’m paralyzed with a fear of failure, I remember that quote and I push forward. 

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Just do it. Write. Read. Edit. Practice. 

Read books in your genre, read books outside your genre, read books on writing. 

And just write.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

You can find my website here: http://olympicvistapublishing.com/

But you can also join me on Facebook and Instagram

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

BookCover_YesterdaysGoneLaughter and playful screams echoed across the lake. The light sparkled on the water as Adelaide floated on her back and kicked her feet gently back and forth. She closed her eyes and turned her face up toward the sun. The air was still. Combined with the clear sky and warm sun, it was the perfect summer day, which was a rare feat for Olympic Vista.

She needed to be here today. Rico, her mother’s latest boyfriend, was over. Adelaide hated being around Rico. She sighed in contentment as she stretched her limbs like a starfish and basked atop the water. 

Her eyes snapped open as something wrapped around her ankle. Adelaide tried to kick her leg free, but whatever it was held fast. She opened her mouth to call out, but only took in a mouthful of water as she was pulled below the surface. 

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

kellyKelly Pawlik dabbled with story writing from a young age. She spent her childhood reading, dressing her beloved cat, Midnight, up in doll clothes and hunting garter snakes in the backyard. Her childhood dream was to be a writer and she is proud to have made her fiction debut with the Olympic Vista Chronicles novellas.

Kelly is a tabletop roleplaying game (TTRPG) writer and has released multiple RPG supplements with her husband under their micro-publishing company, Dire Rugrat Publishing. She has also contributed to several best-selling works with Kobold Press.

Kelly lives on Vancouver Island, BC with her husband, their three inquisitive children, and two lazy cats.

Yesterday’s Gone is available on Amazon.com

Songs from the Wood, book two in the Olympic Vista Chronicles series, will be available on Amazon in September 2021. 

You can follow Kelly on:

Facebook: kellypawlikauthor

Instagram: kellypawlikauthor

Twitter: @KellyPawlik84
Or visit her website at olympicvistapublishing.com

FREE SHORT STORY: Sign up to receive Kelly’s newsletter and get access to sneak peeks of upcoming novellas, behind the scenes information and other exclusive content. PLUS, you’ll get “Snow Day,” a short story set in the Olympic Vista Chronicles universe, right away!   Sign up now.

The book will be on sale for $0.99.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

GIVEAWAY INFORMATION and RAFFLECOPTER CODE:

Kelly Pawlik will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
Enter to win a $25 Amazon/BN GC – a Rafflecopter giveaway

Cover Reveal – Cruel Summer

 

Title: Cruel Summer
Author: L.L. Hunter 
Genre: YA Contemporary Romantic Suspense, Mystery
Cover Designer: Emily Wittig
Publication Date: Sept. 30th, 2021
Hosted by: Lady Amber’s PR

Blurb:

Over the summer, Stacey Miller lost her innocence.

But it’s not how people think.

The pastor’s step- daughter has a dark secret, one she’d rather keep hidden forever.

But when recent events force her to open up and tell Darcie, her best friend, the truth, Stacey knows she can’t run or hide.

Besides that, there is still a killer on the loose, and Darcie might be next.

They’ll do anything to keep the town, and Darcie, from uncovering the truth.

 

The thrilling third instalment of the Summervale series.

L.L. Hunter is the author of over 20 published works, including The Legend of the Archangel Series and The Garden of Eden. She has studied everything from veterinary nursing, forensic science, and dramatic arts, but has always known her true calling was to be an author. 

She has been writing since her teens – everything from fan fiction, to song lyrics, to plays and musicals. When not working on her next paranormal romance, she can be found at home in Australia, reading somewhere comfortable with one or both of her “fur babies.” Follow her on Facebook, Twitter @llhunterbooks, and her blog – http://llhunter.blogspot.com.au.

Author Links:




Cover Reveal – Gravebriar by Casey L. Bond

   

Title: Gravebriar
Author: Casey L. Bond
Genre: YA Epic Fantasy
Editor: Stacy Sanford/ The Girl with the Red Pen
Proofread by: Kendra’s Editing and Book Services
Blurb by: The Blurb Doctor
Cover Designer: Melissa Stevens/ The Illustrated Author Design Services
Publication Date: March 19th, 2021
Hosted by: Lady Amber’s PR


Blurb:
Sometimes witches hunt their own…

 

Someone knows my secret and they’re wielding it as the weapon of my execution. I stand accused of poisoning my Gravebriar coven mate. To my fatal regret, I can’t prove my innocence without revealing the truth I’ve long kept hidden: while every other Gravebriar witch are green witches and healers, my magic lies in poisons.

 

There is one witch who believes me – the same boy who was sent to kill me with instructions to pluck the briars that sprouted from my grave – the only cure for a Gravebriar witch. Forge Silverthorn will be my undoing… or my salvation.

 

He claims there is a malicious plot vining through the witch town of Cauldron that threatens to tighten around my throat in a deadly noose. Promising I can escape by seeking the help of a banished witch who hides our kind in plain sight, he leads me to a dark circus full of witches.

 

The ringmaster will only help us if we agree to join his circus of uncanny tricks and diabolical feats for two nights only, using our magic to thrill his patrons. In exchange for our participation under the big top, he’ll divulge the information I need to save my coven mate and clear my name.

 

But when dark secrets emerge from the shadows of this promised sanctuary, I’m forced to decide if I can truly trust anyone, especially Forge… my would-be executioner, my coven’s sworn enemy, and my could-be love.  

 

 

Praise for Gravebriar:

 

 “Spellbinding and rich, Gravebriar is a wildly creative, witchy journey.” 

– Heather Lyons, author of The Collectors’ Society

 

“Casey L. Bond seamlessly weaves a world of magic, intrigue, betrayal, and wonder that you’ll never want to leave, and characters that will become dear to your heart!” 

– USA Today bestselling author C.L. Cannon

 

“Cracking open the pages of Gravebriar was like stepping into a world where witches roamed and magic abounded. I never wanted to leave.”  

– Christy Sloat, bestselling author of The Librarian Chronicles

 

“Casey L. Bond weaves an enchanting world filled with magic and intrigue. Gravebriar is spellbinding and romantic, and will keep you turning the page until the end.” 

– USA Today bestselling author Ali Winters



Casey Bond lives in West Virginia with her husband and their two beautiful daughters. She likes goats and yoga, but hasn’t tried goat yoga because the family goat is so big he might break her back. Seriously, he’s the size of a pony. Her favorite books are the ones that contain magical worlds and flawed characters she would want to hang out with. Most days of the week, she writes young adult fantasy books, letting her imaginary friends spill onto the blank page.

Casey is the award-winning author of When Wishes Bleed, Things That Should Stay Buried, and With Shield and Ink and Bone.

Author Links






Saturday Spotlight – The Princess and the Jester by A.D. McCammon

Title: The Princess and the Jester
Series: Westbrook Three #3
Author: A.D. McCammon
Genre: YA/NA Contemporary Romance
Release Date: December 16, 2020


Cole Masterson is an imposter.
Fake. Phony. Liar.
And, once upon a time, he was mine. He’s the fearsome jester of Westbrook High, and I’m the spoiled princess.

They don’t know the real Cole—not the way I did. He’s been a stranger to me for years, pretending to be one of them. And I’m desperate for him to see me again.

Until he moved in down the hall. Now, there’s no escaping his hungry emerald gaze or wickedly sexy smile.

Gwendolyn Rhodes is one of the rich elite.
Privileged. Entitled. Pampered.
She’s out of my league. No matter what I do to fit in, they’ll always see me as the housekeeper’s son. I’ve tried to forget about her—to move on with my life.

But I let her games pull me back in. All bets were off the second I got too close to her.

She’s been messing with my head, but I’ve changed the rules.
She didn’t plan to wager her heart.
But I’m playing for keeps.







A shadowy figure on the top of my mattress catches my eye as I enter my room, and my stomach does a free fall. I freeze, but the fear strangling my throat keeps my scream from escaping.

The shape moves and there’s a click before my lamp lights the room. My lashes flutter as my eyes adjust, my panic increasing once I finally get a good look at what or who is on my bed.

“Welcome home, Princess.”

He looks very comfortable, all sprawled out with his arms folded behind his head and feet crossed. The buttons on his shirt are undone, putting his bare chest and abdomen on display. His sandy blond hair is disheveled in a way that makes him look insanely gorgeous. The jeans he’s wearing rest low on his hips, the top band of his Calvin Klein boxers peeking out. 

The image is much like the ones I’ve imagined countless times before, and for a brief moment I wonder if this is all a dream. Until I notice the sparkle of mischief in his emerald eyes as his lips curl into a villainous grin.

This is no dream, it’s a nightmare.

Oh god. He knows it was me.

Icy panic floods my veins, my mind scrambling for a plausible excuse or explanation for what I’ve done. I merely wanted to talk to him. Not the exchange of blows that seems to be our normal form of communication these days. A real conversation. Yes, it was deceptive. But it’s not like I intentionally tricked him.

“Cole?” Terror is palpable in my voice, and I clear my throat, feigning a calm indifference to his presence as I continue. “What the hell are you doing in my house?”

“Technically, this is our house.” The cavalier response holds a sinister tone, warning me of his cruel intentions.

My limbs begin to tremble, fighting off the chill of my fright. “You haven’t lived here for two years, Cole.”

It feels more like a lifetime; the nearly ten years we shared here nothing more than fading memories I’m desperately clinging to.

I try to recall the last time we were in my bedroom together. Had we laughed? Did he hold me? Tell me he loved me? Had I said it back?

But the only memory I can grasp is the very one I’d like to forget forever. The night I made him believe I didn’t want him. The one that changed him. When I lost his love and earned his hate.

“A crushed soul and broken heart are no good to me.”

“True.” He stretches like a cat lazing about and sits up, locking his hard glare onto me as he places his feet on the floor. “And I know you’ve been so torn up over it. But the good news is I’m back. All moved in right down the hall.”

He stands, and I instinctively scoot back as my head shakes in protest. “You’re lying. I talked to my mom this morning. She didn’t say anything about you living here.”

“Yeah…I asked Nina and Mark to let me surprise you.” His dark chuckle keeps me rooted while he moves closer, the heat of his body blanketing over my exposed skin as he invades my space. “Surprise.

His proximity makes me acutely aware that the only thing covering me is a small floral towel, and I cross my arms over my chest. “Get out of my room.”

He snorts at my feeble attempt to sound stern. “No need to be modest on my account. I rather enjoyed your little striptease when you came in.” My veins heat with embarrassment, and Cole’s lips spread wide as he reaches out to brush his thumb over my reddening cheek. “Don’t be shy. It’s not like I haven’t seen it all before, Princess. In fact, there isn’t a single inch of this luscious body of yours I haven’t touched or tasted.”

My eyelids fall as his fingertips run down my neck, across my collarbone, and over my shoulder. It’s been so long since I’ve felt his touch, and I revel in it. Once upon a time, he was mine—my everything.

When I open my eyes again, the resentment and malice in Cole’s gaze is gone. They’ve been replaced with a swirl of lust and sadness, his brow stiff with contemplation. The air in my lungs stills as he leans in like he’s about to kiss me, but his lips bypass mine and land on my temple instead.

“Playing with you is going to be so much fun,” he whispers in my ear.

There’s a wickedly sexy grin on his face as he backs away, his eyes hungrily roaming over me. Then he turns on his heel and strolls out of my room, his laughter echoing through the hallway.













HOSTED BY:

Saturday Spotlight – When We Crash by Cynthia A. Rodriguez

Title: When We Crash
Duet: The Souls Duet #1
Author: Cynthia A. Rodriguez
Genre: YA/NA Contemporary Romance
Release: February 20, 2020
Two lost souls, bound by love, unable to let go.
Given a second chance to find his soulmate after a horrific accident takes their lives, a young man returns as a teenager named Dexter Andrews.
 
But there are rules:
 
She won’t remember him and he’ll have to rely on fragmented memories of the life he once knew.
 
Finding her is one thing; loving her and her self-destructive ways is another.

 
Cynthia hates writing her own bio. In her down-time, you can find her watching movies, ranging anywhere from classic to action flicks (she has a weakness for Marvel adaptations), and reading any novel she can get her hands on.

 

She loves hearing from her readers! You can reach Cynthia at cynthia.a.rodriguez6@gmail.com. Both her Twitter and Instagram handles are @thecynrodriguez.
HOSTED BY:

 

AuThursday – Annie J. Kribs

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

In real life, I’m an IT analyst for an insurance company. I spend a lot of my time coordinating programming resources and working with internal staff to develop the best product possible. This often involves leading negotiations between business users and technical resources. I like to joke that I’d be great at hostage negotiation! This probably seems like a really left-brain job for a writer, but in actuality, it gives me great insight into how people interact, what makes them tick, and how they deal with change. The project management experience is a huge help with writing, too.

I’m married with two ‘tween-agers so my writing time tends to be limited to sitting in dance rehearsals, Boy Scout meetings, and baseball games. We live on 20 acres of wooded land in Michigan where we farm, hunt, swim and play. We have a Doberman pinscher, a cat who thinks he’s a Doberman, another cat who thinks she’s a princess, a guinea pig who is the cutest rodent on Earth, and usually a handful of fish.

How did you come up with the idea for your WOLF CREEK series? 

It started as a really weird dream! I dreamt about this enormous old house with a hidden room and something lost there.  I thought about that dream for days before I felt like it had enough “meat” in it to make a book. Once I developed my characters, I started seeing the town come together. I hadn’t really considered writing a series until I was nearly finished with the first book, Resurrected Hearts. I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving my characters behind, and BAM! A series was born.

Do you ever get writer’s Block?

Yes. Oh my, yes. Because it takes me so long to write a first draft, I often lose my train of thought or excitement for the scene I’m writing. This is the case right now, actually. When I get writer’s block, I liken it to skipping the gym for a few days. I know I have to return to the story, and I know it’ll be painful at first, but it’ll all come right back with practice and dedication.

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

My mantra about rejection letters; the more you get, the less they hurt! I’ve had a few rejections.  Some bordered on rude, some were polite and encouraging. Those polite letters kept my hope alive.

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

Ahh.  Such a happy memory!  The acquisitions editor at the publishing house sent me an email offering a publishing contract.  I read the email while on a break at work and I literally jumped out of my seat. Mind you, I work in an office with 650 employees, so the action didn’t go unnoticed. (lol) I called my husband first, and then my mom.  About a half-hour later I received a huge bouquet of flowers from my parents congratulating me on my first book. I think I floated on that high for several months! And, the release of each subsequent book has felt nearly the same way.

What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?

Strangely, I have a harder time identifying with my own sex. I’ve always been a tomboy.  My best friend was my little brother and I spent the summers of my most formative years at a Boy Scout camp.  I feel like I understand the male brain better than the female brain. Maybe that’s a gift. Maybe it’s a curse.  Sometimes I have characters whose personalities I just can’t identify with, and that’s where I really struggle. I may know the character belongs in the book (and heaven forbid it’s a main character!), but no matter how much I think on it, I just can’t put myself inside that character’s head.  Characters who are fashionable, for example, completely shut me out. Fashion left me behind in the ’80s and I have to turn to my daughter for descriptions of hair, nails, and clothes.

What is your favorite motivational phrase?

I’m a strong Christian, and I turn to God daily for inspiration, patience, guidance – everything.  My favorite bible verse is from Genesis 28:15

“I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”

I carry this phrase on a tiny sheet of paper in my wallet and it brings me a great deal of comfort.

What are your current projects?

I’m feverishly trying to finish the last book in my Wolf Creek series.  I’m probably halfway through and I have no idea what to call it. I pitched a series idea to a new publisher recently and they loved it so I’m anxious to get started on it.  I’m also working on turning a YA short story I wrote about a school shooting into a full-length novel. This is a work that’s close to my heart, but also extremely painful to write so it’s taking some time.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

I’m active on Facebook as “Annie J. Kribs”, on Instagram at @anniekribsauthor, on Twitter at @ajkribsauthor, and I have a website www.anniekribs.com.  I love communicating with readers!

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

From my recent release Healing Hearts:

“So, you’re interested in me, huh?” His expression had now changed from teasing to smug satisfaction as he stepped back and sized her up.

“I didn’t say that.” Bailey turned her back on him and locked the heavy door. She needed to compose herself. She was so out of practice with the whole dating scene and anyway, Brent had never been flirtatious. What was it about Luke that made her feel like a fumbling teenager? Unfair!

“Yeah. You kinda did. You said you could have been interested in any other guy at the coffee shop. That implies that you were interested in someone, and saying that it might not have been me was just your way of throwing doubt across my path. But I didn’t fall for it. You like me.” His complete conviction was as sexy as his megawatt smile. Until now, she’d always thought swooning only happened in romance novels. She tried to cover herself with a stern look.

“Less and less all the time,” Bailey assured him, which only made him chuckle. “Well, it was nice, um, chatting with you, Luke. I’ve got to get back.” Bailey took a step away from the door, which turned out to be too wide, and slid down the cement steps. Luke was there in a flash, his arms around her keeping her from landing flat on her back.

Bailey clutched at his arms, her torso pressed tightly against him. Oh my! He felt every bit as good as he looked in his form-fitting T-shirt. She licked her lips, hoping he couldn’t feel her heart pounding, though whether it was from the near slip or his amazing body, even she couldn’t tell.

Luke watched her, first with concern, and then interest as he held her. His head came down as if he was about to kiss her. Bailey scrambled to free herself.

“Sorry. I really do have to go. Now.” She put space between them the instant her feet met the ground, backing away toward Rose Avenue and the relative safety of Buzzy’s Bed and Breakfast.

 

AuThursday – Dana Ross

FGE Banner

DR author photoTell us a little about yourself and your background?

Like many writers, I was born into a family of bookworms. My maternal grandmother was a librarian for seventy-five years and she was a heavy influence on everything I read growing up. My father was a jeweler, and I grew up in the industry and was groomed to take over my family’s store. I worked under his wing for almost a decade, but after I left Maryland to attend the Gemological Institute of America and earn my Graduate Gemologist degree, I was encouraged to apply for a teaching position at the school. I relocated to California and worked as an instructor at G.I.A.’s Santa Monica campus.

Later, after marriage and kids and moving to Florida, I decided to try writing. After a few poor unstructured attempts, I joined a few critique groups, switched careers, attended grad school. There, I earned my MFA in creative writing. I still have a passion for gems and I try to infuse my writing with gemological factoids whenever possible.

How do you make time to write?

When my children were young, I wrote when they napped or attended school. I knew I had only a few precious hours to get words onto paper, so I made writing part of my daily routine—as much as brushing my teeth and flossing. My kids are almost grown now, but I still adhere to my writing schedule: Coffee first. Then treadmill (to fill my head with ideas/mentally flush out stories). Then I plant myself in my writing chair and work until my son comes home, hunger pangs beckon, or the dog whimpers for attention.

Do you believe in writer’s block?

“Ugh.” Unfortunately, yes. I’ve heard people say they don’t believe such a thing exists, but I suffer from it on occasion. Recently, I started working on two novels, one story I began while participating in NaNoWriMo, and one story that “came to me” out of the blue. I love both ideas, but I haven’t been able to commit fully to either, and until the “Eureka!” or “Aha!” moment comes to me, I can’t find the momentum to write. To help speed along the process, I play songs that remind me of my imagined chapters or work on character profile worksheets or try to write the synopsis of each book until the proverbial “block” has been lifted.

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

Great question. My true love is YA because I love teen angst and quirky characters. The first manuscripts I wrote were YA stories, because writing is cathartic and through YA, I could deal with teen issues I, myself, went through, and issues my daughter experienced. That being said, my first published book is a contemporary romance with elements of suspense. It was a lot of fun to write outside my “regular” genre.

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

My recent book was published traditionally through The Wild Rose Press. I’d learned they had earned an award through Predators & Editors and heard great things about the company, so I queried them and they accepted my “baby.” TWRP really love their authors and go out of their way to teach us about the writing industry, which can be overwhelming at times.

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

I’m an intro/extrovert if there were such a thing. I love working and hanging out with fellow writers, but I’m also introverted at times. While crafting a novel, I’ll retreat into my writing cave and shun friends/society, and I can go days without contact from the outside world. Fortunately, I’m also a mom and the host of a local writers’ critique group, so I get pulled out of the proverbial cave and pushed back into society when my son is with me or when it’s time to moderate the writing group.

What is your favorite motivational phrase?

That’s an easy answer. I stumbled upon this quote by Gloria Steinem and for years it has been my mantra: “Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.”

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

First, the obvious: write and read every day, even if it’s only a paragraph or a page. Second, read and write outside your comfort zone; our writer minds can get stagnant if we do the same thing every day. Third, read the craft books written by the masters. There are many but my favorites are Stephen King’s “On Writing,” Strunk & White’s “The Elements of Style,” and Browne & King’s “Self-Editing for Fiction Writers.” Last, but not least, don’t give up. Your writing might not be everyone’s cup of tea, and writing is a glacial process, but if you write because you love what you do, stick to it, toughen your skin, and be patient. Your day will come, and there’s no greater feeling than having a complete stranger love your prose.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

Thanks for asking, Tina. I’m constantly on social media, and I love to connect with readers and fellow writers. You can find me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and my (under construction) web page:

Website: https://danarossauthor.com

Twitter: @danarossauthor

Instagram: mommawriter (Dana Ross Author)

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

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

Yes, thank you for offering. This excerpt comes from chapter two—a scene where my protagonist meets face-to-face with the story’s antagonist.

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There were three things I could not stand—cheap shoes, bad wine, and the man seated across the table from me. William Drummond was staring at me like a half-starved animal. Maybe his greedy gaze was due to my dress’s plunging neckline, but the man obviously had other things on his mind—complications that involved me. And like the pan-fried calamari appetizer slowly digesting in my belly, sharing company with the man who almost killed one of my girls did not sit well.

Nonetheless, I had problems. I had to at least hear him out.

I lifted my empty champagne flute and motioned for a refill.

Drummond obliged.

The bubbly was good and dry, one that cost a pretty penny, which the sockmuppet would probably write off and charge taxpayers. It was tempting to slug my drink down and ask for a third glass, but I refrained since I was dealing with someone less trustworthy than my dry cleaners. As Drummond refilled his glass, I remembered how easily he polished off drinks without showing a hint of an altered mind. In addition to the champagne, there was a glass of whiskey with melting ice cubes by his plate.

Bells in my head rang a warning.

He was slick. Just like that suit. Which was decent, though, probably an Italian label that cost more than my rent. He also sported a rose-gold designer watch—last year’s model—and diamond pavé cufflinks that practically blinded me with their shine. His nails were trimmed and glossy, like he’d had a recent manicure, and his jet-black hair shined like an asphalt lake.

His eyes were a forgettable brown, but they revealed intellect—correction, cunning intellect.

Drummond lifted his champagne glass and aimed the rim in my direction. “Let’s make a toast. To old times.”

I leaned forward and clinked his glass. “Old times.”

 

AuThursday – Charley Pearson

SCOURGE BLOG BANNERPlease welcome Charley Pearson to the Clog Blog as he makes this stop on his SCOURGE Blog Tour!   Charley, can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I spent a career with the U.S. Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program—we oversee the design, construction, maintenance, and crew training for the power plants in our submarines and aircraft carriers. My main task proved to be managing chemical and radiological environmental remediation at closing facilities after the end of the Cold War, releasing them for unrestricted future use with state and EPA agreement (and much public interaction in the case of closing shipyards). My background in chemistry and biology proved quite useful both there and in the writing of SCOURGE.

How do you make time to write?

I have to stop going for hikes in the mountains, reading books, and otherwise procrastinating. Okay, granted, I started writing before I retired, so that was more of a challenge. Basically, I scribbled notes to myself whenever I thought of something, or as soon as possible after I got out of a business meeting or stopped driving kids to ballet class or whatever. Then I’d gradually turn the notes into stories in the evenings. I found out when I retired that I was way behind on watching movies. LOL

Do you ever get writer’s Block?

Not exactly. I get stuck on plot development, wondering how I’m going to get out of a hole I wrote myself into. I’ve found I have to stop trying to write “from the seat of my pants” and make some notes to myself. Not exactly outlining, but rough-plotting so characters are acting logically based on what they know.

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

Got tons and tons of those, since I started out writing science fiction and fantasy short stories and submitting them to magazines. Then moved on to novels before I’d actually studied the craft of writing fiction, so I was making all the beginner mistakes you can imagine. Submitting that early material? Yeah, I could have wallpapered the White House and made a good run on Congress with all those paper rejection slips. Nowadays all you get are electrons, and they don’t stick to walls very well. Fortunately, I’ve developed a thick skin and can move on when it happens.

Can you tell us your story of getting, “The call”?

I’d about decided to self-publish SCOURGE when several people at the 2016 Killer Nashville writers conference told me Misty Williams of Fiery Seas Publishing was looking for a medical thriller. So I figured, why not try? I pitched it to her (and her husband), and she invited submission. Sent it in that August, and saw from their website that responses may be up to eight weeks, and don’t follow up for at least twelve. At thirteen weeks I sent the follow-up and she said it was still under consideration. This was a somewhat optimistic sign since a “no” often comes quickly. A “yes” can take a very long time, after multiple reads by several people.

Then in the summer of 2017, I’m on a 7125mile drive from NC to Seattle, with stops back and forth to a bunch of parks and monuments. And there I was in Glacier National Park, minding my own business, wondering how they could call it “glacier” when it was about 90 degrees outside, and suddenly this email shows up from Fiery Seas with a contract offer. Whoa! Out of the blue, you might say. But I did manage not to fall off the side of a mountain.

What genre are your books?

SCOURGE is a medical thriller. My prior self-published thingy is a humor collection of short stories, skits, a full-length screenplay, and off-the-wall ballads with no redeeming social value. (No self-respecting agent or editor wants anthologies from unknowns, nor do they want poetry, nor screenplays, so this had to be self-pubbed all the way.) My current work-in-progress (WIP) is a YA-historical. So I guess I’m all over the map, depending on what seems to be forcing its way out at the moment. Oh, I also have a couple of short stories out in Marion Zimmer Bradley’s anthologies; they’re fantasies.

What draws you to this genre?

Humor? Can’t resist it; old Monty Python fan.

SCOURGE? This medical technology is something I first dreamed up back in college, long before computers would have a chance to make it feasible, but I always thought it would make a good story. And when I figured out a way to combine it with a tale of moral ambiguity, a theme of some character who decides to do what she thinks is right no matter the consequences, I couldn’t resist.

The historical? That’s a result of my father serving on Tinian in WWII, where B-29 raids on Japan were launched. His PTSD got me digging into the era.

But I also love fantasy, so you never can tell.

Do you have any advice for Aspiring Writers?

I put a whole bunch of advice on my website. My local writers’ group tries to help each other, and I’ve been asked for suggestions so much I decided to pull material together and put it out where it might help anyone. You can find it at:

http://charleypearson.com/writer-aids/.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

Oh, right, I sort of already pointed you there. Try http://charleypearson.com/ perhaps and link on from there, like to Facebook or Twitter if you use those.

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

Sure! How about this one, from Chapter 18:

In the middle of a fluorescent-filled, eighty-foot square CDC laboratory, Valerie focused a microscope. She raised her head, popped off her stool, put on glasses, and dashed over to pull one printout from a mass spectrometer and another from a gas chromatograph. She opened a small glass door on the latter and flicked the needle on the graph paper. It flopped down.

She tapped a pencil against her teeth, let out a breath, and shook her head. Her cell phone alarmed. She checked the wall clock, swore, and chased out the door.

Valerie emerged from the building into swirling fog, went to the nearest parking lot, and stationed herself at a spot marked for M. Ngono. She rocked from foot to foot, shivering, twisting a diamond engagement ring on her finger while she waited for her supervisor. About the twelfth time she checked her watch, Ngono pulled into the space she was standing in. She backed into a bush. He barely stopped before she jumped out and opened his door.

“The data are plain weird,” said Valerie. “Maybe it’s me.” She handed him a folder on their way to the building.

“I got everything you emailed up to thirty minutes ago,” said Ngono, “and two voice mails. That’s it so far?”

“Yeah.”

“How many victims have you checked?”

“Over a thousand. Everyone we’ve got samples on,” she said. “Blood, marrow, liver. I stole a few technicians to help me.”

Ngono shuffled through the folder. Photo after color photo of contorted victims showed a consistent pattern of twisted limbs, uncontrollable fingers, and blood showering from eardrums.

“Some nosebleeds,” said Valerie, “but not many. I’d have expected more, with all the spuming from ears.”

“That could help ID patients. Nothing wrong with idiosyncratic features.”

“But useless for finding the cause of the problem.”

They pushed past a couple of other people, entered the building, and stormed down the hall.

“Maybe you can see something in the spectra,” said Valerie. “I can’t.”

“Nothing?”

“Oh, killer reverse transcriptase, making DNA out of the viral RNA and immune to everything we’ve tried. Except stuff that kills the whole cell.”

Ngono waited a second. “And?”

“A pea-soup of nasty proteins, destroying mitochondria and starving every cell.”

“But what’s the source?”

“That’s just it,” said Valerie. “There is none. All the normal bugs are there. E. coli, a dozen flu varieties, reaction to bad food.”

“Over a thousand patients and nothing ties them together?”

“Except not a one has anything unusual.”

They crashed through a door labeled Pathogenesis.

Thanks for inviting me to the interview. Hope your readers enjoy SCOURGE!

– Charley