May’s Featured Blogger: D.L. Finn

My Featured Blogger this Month is author D.L. Finn.

D.L. Finn is a native of the Bay Area who now lives in Nevada.

Her work includes children’s books, poetry, fantasy for young
adults and adult paranormal romance.

Her latest work is a book of poems, ‘Just Her Poetry, Seasons of a
Soul’.


What was it like to grow up in the Bay Area 70’s and 80’s?

It was an awesome time and place to grow up. I was born and raised in Castro Valley, which then still had some open land with horses and farms. I was within walking distance to town and the bus. So, I could go anywhere my feet, or the bus took me. It was great to live by The City, San Francisco, and visit Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 39, Union Square, Golden Gate Park, etc.  I also was a big fan of the ocean, redwoods, and Berkeley. As a teenager, I appreciated the music and local bands that included attending many Day on the Greens. Sports were always a big part of my life, too. My grandparents took me to baseball or hockey games in Oakland; football was deemed too rowdy for me.  I was never bored. Now it’s a place I visit but it will always be close to my heart.

When did you start writing?

I always enjoyed writing in English classes, but when I took a writing class in high school, I was able to explore writing more. The teacher of this writing class accused me of copying a writing assignment out of a magazine that I had spent a great deal of time working on. It was a questionnaire for teens on dating. In a very strange way, it was a compliment, but I could never convince the teacher that I had written it. She had both of my parents as a teacher, so I suppose I was pre-judged. I was a very rebellious teenager and being told I couldn’t do something, only managed to encourage me. I didn’t write much out of high school, but in my mid-twenties got back into writing again. Then, I just kept building on it and learning.

How does a poem come to you?

I usually decide I’m going to write a poem. I grab a notebook and write what comes to me. I relax and pour out what I see or what I’m feeling. It’s different than writing a story where the ideas come to me first, and then I write. Here I write and the ideas come through. At first, it may be a few odd lines, but then it begins to flow as I go on. I love sitting out front and feeling the landscape through words.

 

 

 

You write that you use poetry to vent your frustrations. How do you decide to share a poem?

My poetry book was twice the size when I began. I took out the ones where I mainly got off my chest how someone made me feel angry. One poem might have been all swear words…lol. The ones I removed were what I decided had no point or value. I also had several on my feelings about the current divide in our country. I felt adding those would only add to the divide that currently is frustrating me. What I wanted to do was mostly nature, but found I had other things to say. There were some I went back and forth with and decided to share how I felt dealing with illness or weather-related issues with the fires and the shootings, or death. I guess I took my darker poems out and left the ones I felt offered some hope in the darkest of situations. I did talk about abuse, which was in my books, but I always want to leave it open for hope. I’m very conscious of the words I put out.

How did you come to write the motorcycle poems?

I got the idea to write poetry in as many different places as I could when I decided to do a poetry book. I’ve always felt free sitting there with no walls around me, and that made it the perfect place to do it. The first time I took a pen and a couple of sheets of paper and gave it a try–it worked. Later, I was given a wonderful gift of a small journal by an amazing fellow writer, and that made it much easier.

When you say embrace your inner child, what do you mean?

When I think of that inner child, I think of that innocence we all come into the world before we learn what hate and judgments are. It’s that pure way of looking at the world through your soul. It’s a hard place to hang on to in this world with instant information and so much discord, but worth it when we can.

What sparked your interest in the paranormal?

I’ve always loved a good ghost story. I would watch “Creature Features” with my grandmother when I visited her. Night Gallery caught my interest as a young girl, too. I do believe there are things we don’t understand around us. I’ve seen things I can’t explain over the years. Some of that gets channeled into my writing and poetry.

While going through your books I was drawn to No Fairy Tale: The reality of a girl who wasn’t a princess and her poetry. I love the title, what inspired the book?

 

My main intent in writing that book was to talk about my experience at 14-years-old when I was in a coma. I had tried to kill myself, bad home life, and ended up floating over my body and being told “You’re not done yet. You have to go back.” I’ve always felt pushed to get that message out. I struggled writing that book and decided to present myself as a princess.  Later, I went to my voice and finally added in poetry to finish showing who I was.

How much if your personal history goes into your writing?

There’s a lot of me in “The Button.” I’ve used what I’ve seen or experienced with others in my writing. “This Second Chance” was based on a good friend and what I watched her go through. I’m always looking for a happy ending, so my books do the same thing. My love of sports came through in my children’s books, along with looking for that magic that I experienced in the coma. I throw little things in each story for my family and friends to
find.

 

What advice do you have for new writers and bloggers?

If this is your calling, then learn the craft, believe in yourself and above all never give up.

 

You released a new book of poems in late April, will you tell us a little about it?

After writing “No Fairy Tale” that’s a half memoir and half poetry book, I got some good feedback on my poems. So, I began thinking about doing just a poetry book. That’s where I came up with the title.  I have always been drawn to nature, and that came out in my poetry. I was going to do a book of that, but other things came up in the two years when I was writing it. These poems became a part of the book and why I added in part two.

 

Will you share a poem?

THE JOURNEY is a favorite of mine. I was on my elliptical watching a storm rage when I spotted a small bird. The bird’s struggle got me to thinking about my journey.

 

THE JOURNEY

The tiny brown and white bird clung to the cedar’s bark

The corn snow fell heavy and hard around it.

Then, the bird slowly began its journey by climbing upward.

A few feet up the tree, it was knocked back down to the ground

It paused for only a few seconds and tried again.

Deliberately, it made its way back to where it fell

The tiny bird carefully passed that point without stopping

It moved higher, toward the promised shelter from the pounding chaos.

Wings open, it faltered a few times, but hung on…

It kept rising until it reached the first bare branch.

Tucked underneath, the little bird found limited shelter

But it wisely did not linger there as it continued the climb…

Finally, the brave bird is immersed into the green branches

Now it is safely nestled in the cedar, as the storm rages around it.

Gone from my sight now I contemplate its journey.

When the bird was knocked down it got up and tried again

It passed the point where it had been impeded

There was no hesitation as it kept advancing.

Not looking back, it climbed higher and higher.

It didn’t accept the first offer of partial protection,

Instead it kept climbing until it reached its goal…

Until it found sanctuary from the pelting ice and winds.

And, having watched this journey—I was just a bit wiser for it

Because I knew whatever life threw at me, I needed to pick myself up

And keep climbing, no matter what the odds, until I reached the top

Exactly like the wise and brave bird did on its journey in the storm.

 

This is one of the first poems I ever wrote:

THE BEARDED OLD MAN (No Fairy Tale)

The bearded old man

Walks across the quiet desert,

His hooded white robe

Protecting and sheltering him

From the burning sky.

His feet are silent against the sand.

He walks day and night,

Going to a place that he knows exists.

He beckons strangers to join him

As he keeps walking toward…

That place he calls home.

 

 

 

 

Thank you, Denise.


Purchase Links:

AMAZON

SMASHWORDS

BARNES & NOBLE

D.L. Finn Links:

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram

Pinterest

D.L. Finn blog

 

Rob Goldstein 2019

All images, videos and poetry in this post are the property of D.L. Finn.

Featured Blogger, April: John Howell

This month’s Featured Blogger is John Howell.

From John’s profile pageJohn writes thriller fiction novels and short stories. His story Cold Night Out won an honorable mention in Writers Digest Popular Fiction contest this year. He also won first place in the Kurt Vonnegut Kilgore Trout novel contest, celebrating Kurt Vonnegut as an author. His short story Never Give Inn was selected to be published in the Miracle E-zine fifth issue published in April of 2014.

John lives on Mustang Island in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of south Texas with his wife Molly and their spoiled rescue pets.”

Why did you take up writing?

Since I was a kid, I always enjoyed doing homework assignments that involved a story. “What I did on my summer vacation “ type assignments were my cup of tea. I was the kid who always volunteered to write the script for the class play or Thanksgiving pageant. When in High school I worked on the school newspaper and the yearbook. I always enjoyed being closely associated with the written word. In college, I took some creative courses, and for whatever reason, I drifted into organized commerce and was held prisoner until I escaped in 2012. It was then I decided to go back to my original love and take up writing. I have been writing ever since.

What kind of writing did you read as a child?

I read most everything. I like the picture books but then got into novels when I was in the fourth grade. I remember doing a report on a book titled “The Raft.” It was about some airmen who were forced to live in a tiny life raft during World War II. I got the report back, and the teacher made a note that the book was way too adult for my age. She also suggested I didn’t understand some of the words used. We had a conference, and I walked out with an A and a note for my mother. As long as I can remember I read books about bigger than life situations with bigger than life heroes. The Red Badge of Courage was one of the first

What kind of work did you do before writing?

Before I started writing I lead three work lives. The first was the head of a fortune 500 company where I had worked my way from sales representative to President. The second work life was as a marketing consultant. The final was as a director of contracting working for a huge telecommunications company.

You mention Kurt Vonnegut in your profile statement. Is he one of your influences?

He more than any writer had a profound impact on my decision to write. His stories were, by and large, pulled from daily life with significant historical significance as a backdrop. They were well written and carried an element of humor that made them seem so easy to pen. Of course, once starting I discovered Kurt was a genius in using a few words to say the most profound things.

How does your personal history influence your writing?

I have drawn from the experiences I had as a child and an adult. I think the influence on my writing centers on using characters in my books as ways to explore some of the feelings these experiences caused me to have. I remember some fun times and some tragic, but in each, there is energy that can be tapped to tell a story. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to lead the kind of life that provided enough life moments to be utilized in such a positive way.

What drew you to writing thrillers?

I have always enjoyed reading mysteries and Thrillers. It has been fascinating to discover along the way a thriller differs from a mystery. A mystery has an occurrence like a dead body. The story then goes on to offer clues and in the end to find out who killed whom. A thriller, on the other hand, has the murder take place right before the reader’s eyes and by a perpetrator who is readily identified. The idea of the thriller is to see if the guilty party is brought to justice. If found that it is more fun to go ahead and build a story around the guilty party than to try and to find out who did the deed.

When did you start your blog?

I started blogging in April of 2012. I had just retired from organized commerce and was ready to take on writing as a full-time occupation. I thought it would be a good thing to help build a voice for my writing efforts. Secondarily I thought it would be good practice.

6. How did you come up with the idea of using dialogue to bring the reader into the story?

Dialog has always been the weakest part of my writing. Before I published my first book, I wrote short stories and comments always came back about the dialog. Most of the criticism was in two areas.

1. The conversations seemed stilted since I used a few contractions.

2. My tags were atrocious.

To work out of these two problems I decided to construct stories with only dialog and without tags. The key here was to give the reader a story with just conversation and to identify each speaker by the content of the words and not “He/she said” or any other tag.

I have been doing these stories for about four years, and I think I might be getting close to working out the weakness

How do you come up with story ideas?

I am a raving pantster. I usually have no idea what I’m going to write when I first sit down to do a story or book. When I do prompts I typically have a visual to get me started, but a novel requires some thinking about the story and where the story is going to go. I spend about three or so weeks working on the last three lines of a book. Once these are done, I know how the story is going to end and then can go back to the beginning and start working. The last three lines don’t usually survive, but the idea is there.

What excites you most about blogging?

I get a charge out of folks commenting on what I have done. My blog is not one of those writer “how to” type of blogs. I post, and my objective is to keep the post under 500 words and to elicit a smile from everyone who takes the time to visit. I have three stories a week. Two of them are prompt driven, and the third is a serial that I make up. The other four days are devoted to happy things around the neighborhood, a Top Ten list of things not to do, a pictorial of my dog’s adventures, and musing about life. The biggest criticism I received about my content was I don’t write about writing. It is a valid criticism. I write about life.



What makes your day a good and happy one?

An excellent and happy day to me is one filled with the following.

1. A thousand words on my WIP.

2. Visits to my blog by the regulars

3. A romp with my dogs.

4. Dinner with my wife.

What advice do you have for new writers and bloggers?

It was once said that you have not mastered the writing craft until you write one million words. New writers and bloggers ought to think about that and feel good about trying their best to become a master. Notice I didn’t say trying their best to become published or to have their first thousand followers. I honestly believe that too many new writers and bloggers do not exercise enough patience to become a master at what they do. To illustrate what I’m thinking here think of learning to skydive. Sure you want to jump out of a plane more sooner than later, but imagine if the instructor handed you a parachute and told you to jump. None of us would do that I’m sure. When we start writing it is as if we are hell-bent for publication or to find a short cut to more followers. Take the time to build quality and publication and followers will come. Trust me.

Describe yourself in 3 words.

Obsessed, dedicated, loyal

 

Book cover for our Justice
Our Justice

Please share an excerpt from your newest or most recent novel.

This is an excerpt from Circumstances of Childhood.

Chapter One

 

So, with nothing better to do, I figure I’ll stop at Jerry’s place and grab a couple a drinks and a burger. Usually, I don’t go there on Saturday night since there’s a crapload of amateurs taking up what would be considered prime space. I figure since this is a Friday, and close to Saturday, it may be packed but not as crazy as Saturday. It’s the kind of place where everyone minds their business. Today’s events will, probably, not register with the people in the bar. They’re there for a good time and will likely not notice me. Even so, I go through the door, stop, and have a look around, trying not to make eye contact. I hope that the ball cap and large coat will keep me from getting noticed. The bar holds a weekday crowd, all right, hanging on each other like they never had a date before. I tighten my eyelids against the smoke and make out four guys near the pool table and what looks like a couple of girls fetching drinks. I search for a seat beyond the table in the back, but it seems like they’re all taken.

A guy bumps into me as I stand here. I say excuse me, and he looks me in the face. “Hey, don’t I know you?” he says.

“I don’t think so.” I make to turn away.

“Yeah, you’re the sports hero who lost all his money. I saw you on TV.”

“Naw, people always say stuff like that. I’m not him, buddy; trust me.”

He gives me a puzzled look but doesn’t want to push it in case he has it wrong. I turn away and continue to look for a seat.

Straight ahead lies the bar, and it has a place right in the middle. I move in the direction of the empty place and look over to the other side of the room. The tables look full of happy drunks. Buckets of empties line the bar top, and the barmaid’s trying to sell more. She doesn’t have much luck since most of these people just spent their last five bucks on this outing. Upon making it to the stool, I hoist myself up and lean on the bar.

“Hey, Greg,” Jerry says. “Whadda you have?”

“Evening, Jerry. I’ll have a gin on the rocks with a water back.”

“Comin’ up.”

I like Jerry’s no-nonsense way of handling things. He doesn’t like small talk and gets right to business. My eyes smart from the smoke, and I wonder how Jerry gets away with letting people kill themselves when, clearly, it’s not supposed to be allowed in this kind of establishment.

“Here you go. Want me to run a tab?”

“Yeah, I would appreciate that. I intend to have another drink and then a burger.”

The guy who thinks he knows me grabs my shoulder from behind. I almost fall off the stool.

“You’re Greg Petros, the big fund manager. I knew I saw you on TV. You took a beautiful career in football and ran it into the ground.”

Jerry leans over the bar and lays his hand on the guy’s shoulder. “Move on, my friend. You made a mistake. This guy is nobody. Go sit down and let me buy you a drink.”

“You sure? You called him Greg.”

“Yeah, I’m sure. Go get a table, and I’ll send someone over.”

The guy looks at me one more time but does as Jerry suggests. He believes Jerry’s wrong, but the idea of a free drink lets him get away without losing face.

“Thanks. I didn’t mean for you to have to jump in.”

“No problem. Gimme the high sign when you’re ready for another drink.”

“Will do. Thanks.”

“For you buddy, anything.”

I should mention that Jerry and I go back aways. When I fell on hard times, he became the only one that seemed to give a shit. I take a sip of my drink and wait for the burn in my throat, which signals the good stuff. Here it comes. I take a swig of the water and almost believe life is good. The gin needs to get to the brain before making any honest judgment.

While I wait for the warmth to go from my stomach to my head, I check out the folk seated on either side of me. They both have their backs turned to me and sit engrossed in some discussion with their neighbor. I figure it’s just as well since I don’t want to go through that old “don’t I know you?” bullshit again. Also, I don’t figure on staying the night, so no use in getting into any long discussions about life.

I look down at my drink and wonder what will happen tomorrow. My daughter Constance wants to come and visit. She lives in New York, and before all hell broke loose, we didn’t see each other often. I missed her so much, and it seemed as if I had to beg her even to talk on the phone. Now, it’s like she wants to be here every weekend. It’s only an hour’s flight by the shuttle or three by train, so she can come when she wants. I just can’t figure out why she got so clingy. I have my troubles, but it doesn’t have anything to do with her. No use in asking her husband either. Though a nice enough guy, I always wonder if he has someplace important to go when I visit. He never sits still and stays busy on the phone or at the computer. He makes a good living, but it seems a person could take an hour to sit and talk. I’d looked forward to some kind of relationship when he and Constance got married. It’ll never happen with him.

When I take another pull at my drink, I notice the burn feels less. It happens every time. First sip initiation, I call it. It’s like the first puff of a cigarette, hits hard then, after, nothing. I decide to let Constance pretty much have the agenda tomorrow. She and I have not had a chance to talk about anything deep for a while. It could just be that she blames me for her mother running off with that guy with the house on the Hudson. He has a title, and the old gal couldn’t resist, but I think the daughter always felt I should have done something. Her mother’s sleeping with another guy and what the hell can I do about that?

I’ll just go with the flow. If she wants to go out, we will. If she wants to stay in, we can do that too. I better think about getting some food in the house. Of course, we can always order take out. I need to move on to my drink and let this go. Tomorrow will be what it is. I remember the day she was born. I looked down at her in my arms and promised I would do anything for her. I love her more than life itself, and I hope we can somehow get to the root of whatever’s wrong. She sounded strange on the phone this morning, and I feel helpless to do anything about it. I hope she opens up when she gets here.

For some reason, I feel tired. Perhaps I’ll go ahead and finish my drink. Maybe I’ll just go home and forget the burger. First, though, I’ll just shut my eyes for a minute. My hands feel good when I put my head down.

“Hey, Greg,” Jerry says. I barely hear him. “What’s the matter? You taking a nap? Greg?” I can feel him shake me, but I have no interest in waking up. His voice gets further away, and I think he says, “Oh, my God, Sophie, call 911, quick.” Now the room goes silent.

 

 

Thank you, John.

Contact information

Blog Fiction Favorites, http://johnwhowell.com/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/john.howell.98229241

Twitter –https://www.twitter.com/HowellWave

Authors db –http://www.authorsdb.com/authors-directory/6604-john-w-howell

LinkedIn –http://www.linkedin.com/pub/john-w-howell/48/b59/462/

Google +https://plus.google.com/+JohnHowellAuthor/

Goodreads –https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7751796.John_W_Howell

Amazon Author’s page –https://www.amazon.com/author/johnwhowell

 

Rob Goldstein 2019

Images owned by John Howell, all rights reserved.

February’s Featured Blogger: Teagan’s Books

I was unwell for most of December and January and did not find a featured
blogger for February so am re-posting my feature of friend and sometimes collaborator, Teagan Geneviene.

Since the first publican of this interview, Teagan released Atonement in Bloom.

Lilith and the Blue Rose of the Impossible

The quaint town was stranger than Ralda Lawton could have imagined.  The local population included supernatural beings.  Yet only she and a few others knew about that.

Although she didn’t know the details, in a past life, Ralda ― Esmeralda had been involved in something with those supernaturals and it had carried into her present life.  In Atonement, Tennessee, that almost got her killed.  Now she has new problems, and new supes to complicate matters.

Atonement in Bloom continues the misadventures of Ralda, her friends, and neighbors in the small (but far from peaceful) town of Atonement, Tennessee.  Her old house and cemetery are still there, along with Lilith the cat, quirky townsfolk, and assorted supernaturals.

Now Lilith the calico sniffs out a strange beast.

Fae foolery backfires.

A friend is abducted.

On a cold December day, Atonement, Tennessee comes into bloom.
Atonement in Bloom.

This month I’m honored to feature Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene of
Teagan’s Books.

Marketing Graphic for Thisledown
Thisledow

When did you start writing?

My seventh-grade teacher gave us an assignment that truly inspired my young mind — Write a story.  However, we only had two options about the story 1) Write it from the point of view (POV) of a cartoon character, or 2) from the POV of the shoes of a famous person.  Well, 12-year-old me watched talk shows after school, not cartoons.  So, I saw plenty of “famous people” and “used to be famous” ones too, on Merv Griffin’s TV show.  I liked the ones who talked about their pets.  So, I wrote my story as a pair of red pumps belonging to actress Doris Day.  (Back then I don’t think she was still making movies, but she was known for all her dogs.)  I had so much fun that I also gave half the class verbal outlines for their stories.

In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I did a few stories on my own.  My teacher wanted to see them.  She said good things about the one for the assignment so (not that I thought I had any choice) I let her have the stories.  They were Twilight Zone-ish stories and one was about child abuse.  They got a lot of attention…

My teacher spoke to my parents. 

My parents told me very sternly to never do that again!

That said, I guess I started writing in my late thirties.  Throughout my life novels were my only escape from the personal difficulties (yes, abuse too) that I faced each day.  I had read a couple of interviews with writers, and decided to write a fantasy novel.  I did a lot of research and work, read more interviews, and then I dove into it.  With that start, I never stopped.

Marketing Graphic for Teagan's Books
Teagan’s books

You started your blog as an adjunct to self-publishing, how do you define your blog now?

I’m sure you’ve seen the same advice I always see for us Indies – You must have a blog to promote your work!  Well, I couldn’t bear the thought of droning on about my novel with every post.  Instead, I modified a writing exercise I created for myself long ago.  I brought that exercise to my blog (Teagan’s Books).  I had the readers send me three random things.  I let the random things drive every detail of a serial story, setting, plot, and characters.  That resulted in  The Three Things Serial Story, which gave birth to my current release, a culinary mystery.  However, this time the “things” are food related — or ingredients.  So that one is Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I.  I’ve published both of those serials in book form.

That “pantser” style of writing, combined with engaging my audience (having them send “things” or otherwise promoting them) seems to have defined my blog.

I also mean for my blog to be a sanctuary for everyone.  I keep it free from religion and politics, even though there are issues about which I feel strongly.

Where were you raised and how does that affect your style?

I’m a southerner by birth, but I was “enchanted” by the desert southwest of the USA when I moved to New Mexico.  Like the old John Denver song, I had come home to a place I’d never been before.  The truth is, I wish every day that I had never left.  However, many things about the southeast – the deep south made an impact that remains with me.  Following the advice, “Write what you know,” many of my stories have a southern setting.

What writers give you inspiration?

Robert Jordan (the Wheel of Time series) inspired me with his detailed world-building.  Charlaine Harris influenced me with writing in first-person.  That was something I never cared to do until I did my first National Novel Writing Month and created my début novel, Atonement, Tennessee.  To my surprise, all the serial stories at my blog turned out to be written in first person as well. David Eddings influenced me with the way he showed his sense of humor, particularly in the Belariad series.

What are your top 3 tips for new bloggers?

Reciprocate.  Answer every comment, and try to do so with more than just “Thank you.”

Don’t “act/look like an expert” if you are not.  If you have credentials then say so – and make that information something the reader can find without digging.  If you found useful information, and you just want to share it, then say so.

Make it easy to read.  Light colored (or splotchy, speckled) backgrounds with medium colored text are hard to read, no matter how good your content.  Also, those horrid pop-ups, soliciting subscriptions.  If I’ve barely started reading and one of those things blocks me from that read, I don’t care to continue.

Thank you Teagan! A short section from one of your books would be great way to close the interview.

Marketing Graphic for Teagan's Books on Amazon
Teagan’s Books Header Image

Since I’ve been promoting the release of Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I,  I want to share a short story.  It is not in the book, but it’s still from that “universe,” and features the heroine of that 1920s series.

Here goes:

Pip’s a Chicken

“Bock, bock-bock.  Bock!  Baaawk!

Of all the nerve!  My mouth dropped open.  I was speechless.  Granny Phanny bocked at me like a chicken.  She bocked.  She put her fists under her armpits and flapped her boney elbows — and she bocked at me!

Then, to make matters worse, she laughed.

Why that banty little old woman.  Of all the self-important, cockalorem…

“Oh Pip, if you could see the look on your face,” she said, still chuckling.  “It’s not like you to chicken out.  Now tie on your apron and we’ll look at this recipe together.

Granny hung an apron around my neck, and then put her hands on my shoulders to forcibly turn me around.  She tied a bow in back that I knew without looking was perfectly symmetrical.

“But Granny, I nearly set the kitchen on fire last time,” I complained, sincerely afraid of what damage I might cause.

“Hush that nonsense right now, Sweetpea.  We’ll not be having any fires.  Just because your fried chicken turned out as tough as an old rooster doesn’t mean you can quit.”

“An old rooster?” I exclaimed, mortified.

I looked at the recipe card.  “Chicken Fricassee…” I read aloud.  “Dredge chicken pieces in the flour mixture; coat well.  Oh Granny, this sounds pos-i-lutely like a repeat of the fried chicken disaster.  Granny?”

Phanny Ilene Peabody was gone.  Her purse was missing from the corner table.  I called out again and she hollered from the living room.

My eyes fell on the calendar that hung on the wall.  Wong’s Chinese Restaurant made one annually for Chinese New Year.  Granny was going to an early dinner with friends.

“No wonder she wasn’t worried about me ruining dinner again,” I grumbled.  “Granny!” I yelled.

“I’ll be back this evening, Pip.  Just keep the stove set to low while you fry that chicken, and follow the instructions for the fricassee.”

I blew a raspberry as the front door closed with a thud.  My hand plopped down on the plump poultry with a smacking sound.

“Old rooster, huh?  I’ll show her,” I muttered and went back to the recipe card.

***

Copyright © 2017 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

The Three Things Serial Story

Amazon USA, Paperback and Kindle

Murder at the Bijou

Amazon USA Paperback  and Kindle

Atonement, Tennessee Amazon Kindle and Paperback

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January’s Featured Blogger: Jacquie Biggar



Jacquie Biggar has a wonderful gift for writing hot and extremely likable military men!

Jacqui Nelson

This month’s featured blogger is Jacquie Biggar

. Jacquie is a writer of romantic suspense novels.  She writes tough, alpha males and strong, contemporary women.  Jacquie lives on Vancouver Island with her husband.

When did you start writing?

I wrote a few short stories in middle school that were well received by my teachers and fostered my dream of making it a career one day.

Unfortunately, I set it aside for many years while working and raising a family. I didn’t get serious about writing until 2012. I signed up to Romance Writers of America, took numerous classes to learn my craft and joined a couple of critique groups. One year later, I published my first suspense novel, Tidal Falls.

Did you always have a gift for writing hot guys?

Lol, I don’t know about that, but I do like writing about strong, alpha males with protective instincts. I think it stems from a love of Harlequin. I’ve read their books since my pre-teen years and used to race for the mailbox each month for that subscription box filled with romantic heroes.

Tell us about Count Daffodil?

Count Daffodil is kind of a funny tale. I was a bit of an over-achiever in school and hated to get any bad grades. I’d been sick for a week or so and when I returned to class it was to learn I had a short story assignment due within two days. I stewed over it for more than a day; there was no way I could finish in time and disappointment rode me hard. I’d flopped onto the couch and was staring into space when suddenly a bouquet of daffodils I’d bought my mom for Easter jumped out at me from the kitchen table.

The story came to me almost fully formed (I’ve almost never had that happen since) and I turned my fantasy/mystery in on time. A few days later, when we received our grades I was stunned to learn I received the highest mark in class and was rewarded with a narration over the school loudspeaker at lunch the next day! So exciting!

What was it like to own and manage a diner?

The diner, The Blue Jay Café, is a landmark in our small town of seven thousand. It sits squarely in the middle of the business district on Main Street and seats fifty people. There are big bay windows, blue bench seats, a pass-through window to the kitchen, and old-time pictures on the walls. Every day it’s filled to the brim with my regulars—as I like to call them. People I’ve grown up with, ones who know my parents and grandparents, family and friends. It’s not work, it’s more like a social gathering J

When I was fifteen, I worked there as a server and dreamed then of owning a restaurant just like it. Gordon—my boss—had found and installed those individual jukebox machines on each table, had old-fashioned sundaes, and made the best trapper fries. (Thin sliced potatoes deep fried) He never had an unkind word for anyone and instilled loyalty in his staff.

Many years later, the restaurant came up for sale and my husband, knowing my vision, cashed in his RRSPs so I could put in an offer. You can’t imagine how thrilling—and frightening—it was to receive ownership!

I had no idea how to run a business, much less bookkeeping and payroll. And then, the cook I thought I had quit do to a knee injury and I was left to learn that aspect as well. What a steep learning curve! It took a few years to get into a smooth rhythm, but, gosh, I loved it. I miss it still.

What caused you to make the leap to writing as a full-time job.

When my daughter was accepted to university, she moved over twelve hundred miles away, but had trouble finding daycare for my then five-year-old grandson. I came out to the island with our RV to help until she could get organized. Then, winter came, and I had to stay—there was no way to haul the RV over the mountain passes with the snow. Hubby was back home working, the kids were in school (I’d do pickups here and there) and I was at loose ends, so I decided to try my hand at my old dream of writing.

I joined a local group here for inspiration and encouragement and found a new focus in romance writing.

When my grandson was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes a year later, we made the decision to sell everything back home and stay nearby to help our girl. That’s the key reason I decided to pursue a career in writing. I could work to their schedule and be on call whenever I was needed.

Who inspires you?

That’s easy—my daughter.

She’s a single mother, working her way through a double major in university for chemistry and biology (She’s been on the Dean’s list three times so far!), and has sole care for her son who is diabetic. For anyone who doesn’t know, this is a life-threatening disease and takes 24/7 care to control. There’s special training required, not just for the family, but also for his daycare and school administrators. He’s athletic, which is great, but unlike other kids, has to be closely monitored for blood sugar highs and lows with the increased activities. He can’t go to other children’s homes for events like birthdays without a LOT of planning, and even then, she tends to go with him for safety. Sleepovers are rare and filled with worry. And, over all that she’s somehow managing a high-grade level.

She’s my hero!

How do you organize your workday?

I tend to start my morning by going through the blogs socializing. My website is my home base and the best way to build recognition there is by commenting and liking other blogs. A side benefit are the connections and friendships gained along the way J

The afternoon is spent promoting to Facebook groups (a free and easy way to get noticed) and Twitter, reading my e-mails, and doing critiques. I belong to two critique groups and believe their input on my work is the single best way to edit. By the time ten or twelve sets of eyes have gone over my chapters they’ve caught most of my errors.

I take a break from six to ten for the news and my favorite television programs, then write until midnight-one o’clock. I realize this is short compared to some authors, but it works for me. If I’m on a role I can do a chapter a night, otherwise it might take a couple of days.

Writing is important, but for indie authors the business aspect has to take precedence. Not much sense writing that award-winning novel if no one sees it, right?

What was the biggest obstacle for you to overcome?

My insecurities.

I’m an introvert and find it impossibly hard to put myself out there for people to pick apart. One piece of advice you hear is to read your reviews and learn from them. I rarely look at any of my poor ones. It hurts too much. I put a lot of myself into my work—it’s like being flayed alive when I get negative feedback. Yes, I understand it’s bound to happen. My stories aren’t going to resonate with everyone, the same way some customers didn’t like how I flipped their eggs—it doesn’t mean I have to like it, though.

How does a story idea come to you?

Most of my ideas come from something I’ve seen on TV or read on the news. The Wounded Hearts series stems from hearing about a lawyer who was gunned down in his driveway and was later found to have ties to a Mexican drug cartel.

How much of your ‘self’ goes into your novels.

There are a lot of my family ideals in my books. That’s an underlying trope in every story. My grandmother passed away after suffering years of dementia, I’ve touched on that and how it affected the characters (and us). I’ve talked about Juvenile Diabetes and the dangers involved. Most of my stories revolve around family dynamics because that’s what’s important to me. Family is everything.

What advice do you have for beginners?

Be true to yourself. When you hear write what you know, it means from the heart. Locations can be faked or investigated, jobs learned, but emotion? Emotion comes from within and it’s priceless—it’s the thing that will set you apart, your voice.

Will you share a section of your favorite or most recent novel?

This is an excerpt from a new romantic suspense novel I’m currently working on. I’m hoping to turn it into a series in the future. It’s set in the world of NHL hockey and is titled Skating on Thin Ice.

Blurb:

Will a killer accomplish the greatest hat trick of his career?

Sam Walters has made a deal with the devil. In order to win a much-needed contract as physical therapist to one of the NHL’s leading hockey teams, she must delay the recovery of their sniper, Mac Wanowski. The trouble is, the more she gets to know the taciturn hockey player, the more she aches to help him.

Mac ‘The Hammer’ Wanowski has chased the Stanley Cup dream for too many years. Last time he was close it cost him his wife. As injuries continue to plague the team, Mac works to catch a killer and keep the woman he’s come to love from the hands of a madman.

Hockey can be a dangerous sport, especially when millions of dollars are at stake.

International: http://books2read.com/SkatingonThinIce

 

Excerpt:

Sam removed a full container of eggs, a tomato, onion, a bright yellow banana pepper, and a block of cheddar cheese from the refrigerator and used her butt to close the door. She juggled her armload past the cat and dumped it on the granite countertop. “Okay, Cleo, your turn.” She stooped to scratch her between the ears, then returned to the fridge. “Does Dad give you milk, hmm?” The carton was in the door, the seal broken, so she gave it a sniff before deigning it good enough for her new four-footed friend. A quick search of the pantry later and Cleo the cat was daintily eating her dinner, ears flicking at every little sound.

Sam frowned. How long did it take to start a fire? Maybe Mac was taking his time so she’d do the cooking. Not happening. She wandered down the hall, expecting to see him relaxed on the sofa—instead, the fire was little more than a flicker and the room was empty.

Puzzled, she was about to leave the room when a glimmer of light caught her attention. She moved closer to the bay window and hugged herself against the draft coming off the glass. What is that? She leaned forward, squinting through the swirling snow into the pitch-black night. There. There it was again. It almost looked like…

A fire.

Her heart catapulted into her throat as her brain caught up to her eyes. Horror stories of vast tracts of forest going up in smoke fueled her fear. What could she do? The phone. Hurry, hurry, call for help. She scrambled to the handset thrown carelessly onto the sofa and dialed the emergency number, her fingers trembling with nerves.

“Come on, come on,” she chanted under her breath, but no amount of wishing could get the phone to connect. The storm must be playing havoc with the lines. Another glance out the window showed the lick of flames climbing up the outer wall of the garage Mac had pointed out earlier.

Mac. He must have spotted the blaze, as she had, and rushed outside to put out the fire. He would need help. Giving up on getting through, Sam dropped the phone and raced for the kitchen. She’d noticed a fire extinguisher in the pantry while searching for Cleo’s food. Yes, there it was, tucked into a corner and hooked to the wall. She wasted precious seconds figuring out how to undo the clasp before hefting the surprisingly heavy canister into her arms and racing for the door.

A noxious stench of gas and rubber permeated the air. Thick black plumes of smoke drifted above the dark outline of the trees, obscene against the virgin white of the snow.

“Mac,” Sam yelled, shocked by the strength of the fire. The heat slapped her chilled skin and she realized she’d run out of the house without a jacket. No time to change that now, the sliding doors of the garage were totally engulfed, and the hungry flames were eating their way to the only other exit—the side door. She had to do something.

She pointed the canister at the door and pulled the trigger. Nothing happened. Vibrating, she looked at the stupid canister. Why had she never taken the time to learn how to use these blasted things? Just as she was about to fling it across the yard, she noticed a ring sticking sideways from the top of the handle. She jerked the pin out and aimed again, and this time a thin spray of foam exploded from the rubber hose. The fire hissed, angry at the creature seeking to destroy its fun. But it knew it would lose against this foe, and baring orange-red fangs, leaped to the roof in a bright burst of sparks.

Relieved, Sam yanked the door open, wincing when the knob burned her palm, and stepped inside. She covered her mouth against the smoke sneaking in through the cracks and gazed nervously around the packed room. The dark outline of a truck ghosted out of the gloom. Hoping against hope, Sam edged her way between ATV’s and skidoos, keeping low to avoid the haze creeping down from the ceiling. “Mac,” she choked. Where are you?

 

 

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(C) Rob Goldstein 2018

Images and book excerpts (c) Jacquie Biggar