Charlie, thank you for the opportunity to appear on your blog for my new novel, Enforcing Emory. Even though I’m not sharing an excerpt today, I do bring many giveaways which your readers can avail of by adding their name to the Rafflecopter. Winners will be chosen at the very end of the blog tour. I’d like to mention that this novel is set in a new-to-me universe (figure skating/hockey) so there’s no need to catch up on any other books as it’s not part of a series. Yet. The characters continue to reside in my head and are talking sequel or spin-off. Right now I’m asking them to be quiet as I have other works in progress.
What was the most challenging part of writing this story?
The hockey. I love the sport and have watched many games, but writing a play-by-play sequence was difficult. I had to enlist the help of a few guys who were players and one who did announcing. They were very helpful. I also recorded parts of some games to listen to the announcer and get a better sense of the common lingo.
Is there a genre you haven’t written in that you would love to write?
I’ve never written a paranormal; in fact, I don’t even read the genre, but you changed that with your Thirds series. I held off for the longest time because I was sure I’d be bored out of my mind, but when I saw it available in audiobook format, I thought I’d give it a try. Boy, was I wrong! I really enjoyed the world building, your great characters, and the entertaining dialog. The premise kept me engaged from start to finish. I just downloaded the second book in the series, which goes to show you how much I enjoyed it. Would I ever write something in this genre? My muse hasn’t nudged me yet, but I’m more open to the idea.
What’s a typical writing day like for you?
I wake up very early to create new material. I can only do it after I’ve had a solid six hours of sleep and my brain is refreshed. Coffee starts automatically brewing at 3:30 and that’s when I sit down and write. I try and do a chapter a day (usually 3-4K words), but it doesn’t always work out. Sometimes it takes me two days to finish a chapter. Then I go on FB and Twitter for about thirty minutes. I try not to stay on there too long or I won’t get anything done. I’ve recently retired from the EDJ, so my schedule might change as far as the waking hours but I honestly doubt it. I’ve always been a morning person. I do all my edits in the afternoon or evening.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
Full body massages. I rarely indulge because they’re so expensive, but when I go on a cruise I usually cave. I figure, what the hell. They’re going to take my left kidney by the end of the trip, so I might as well enjoy all the amenities while I’m on board.
Do you have any pets? If not, and you were given the choice to have any pet (fictional or real), what type of pet would you choose and why?
I had a beautiful Dalmatian for 13 years. His name was Charlie, coincidentally, and he loved to cuddle. He’d squeeze in beside me at night while I read or watched TV. His guilty pleasure was popcorn, and we shared a bowl whenever I was in the mood. It’s been almost 4 years since he passed, and I’m starting to think about getting another dog. Thanks to Brandon Witt and his love of Corgis, I’ve become obsessed with the idea of owning one. I’d like a shelter dog though (Charlie was), so I don’t know if I’ll get my wish on the Corgi. We’ll have to see how it all plays out.
What do you do when you’re not writing?
I came to the realization a while back that writing is terrible for one’s health unless you make a concerted effort to get off the damn chair or couch and do some form of exercise. Ugh…what a chore…but necessary or the alternative is genuine pain down the road. I’ve been trying very hard to get on the treadmill at least 4 days a week and then do some free weights for my arms, shoulders, and neck, which take a beating with the constant writing. I get together with my kids as often as possible, but they’re grown and have their own lives. I’m not the kind of mom who just shows up unannounced. Mostly, I write. I always tell my editor I have no life so it works
What are you working on now?
By the time this interview is posted, I hope to have submitted my current WIP set in Karachi, Pakistan, where I lived for a brief time. I’ve been doing extensive research on the region—its people and the Muslim faith—and hope I don’t end up on someone’s list because of all my Google searches. It’s creepy how big brother always knows what you’re up to while you’re on the internet.
What did you enjoy most about writing this story?
My characters. Emory is probably the most flamboyant gay man I’ve ever written. Conversely, he’s also the most courageous, and I loved telling his story. His father, Tom, is a secondary character who practically steals the show. My beta readers and editors mentioned how much they enjoyed his presence in the story. Nik’s role is fairly typical—the beleaguered athlete who’s conflicted about his orientation and terrified to come out—but I hope that I was able to throw in a few twists to make his story unique.
How did it feel to sign that first contract?
It was my ticket to freedom. My 29-year marriage was crumbling, and I was waffling on my decision to stay and be miserable or walk away and hope for the best. I’d submitted Horizons (my first novel) to another publisher, and it had been rejected, so I was pretty despondent. After reworking it, I sent it to Dreamspinner Press for consideration. A few weeks later, I was driving home from work and really wishing I was going somewhere else. I said a prayer to my mother (who’d died years before) and asked her for a sign on what I should do about my marriage. When I got home and opened my email, I saw the acceptance letter from Elizabeth North and I started bawling. It was the push I needed to pull up my big girl pants and move on. I’ve never told this story to anyone in the public forum but it’s the honest truth. I don’t think I’d be sitting here answering questions as a published author if not for Elizabeth and her faith in me and my talent.
What advice would you give to an aspiring author looking to get published?
Write every day, read as much as you can in the genre you’re drawn to, and never, ever give up. It’s the age-old story of the tortoise and hare. The one who sticks to it, no matter how long it takes, will get the prize in the end. Keep on dreaming and do your homework to make each and every dream come true. Talking about your ideas will get you nowhere. You need to write them down!
Olympic figure skater Emory Lowe falls in lust the moment he lays eyes on his new neighbor, hockey player Nikolai (Nik) Vetrov. On the surface, Nik is a typical badass enforcer, intimidating and dangerous, on and off the ice. The only son of Ukrainian immigrants, Nik has been groomed from childhood to fulfill his father’s dreams of seeing him in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Igor guides his son toward that goal with a controlling—and abusive—hand, steering him clear of anyone who might ruin his chances.
Although Emory is the US National Figure Skating champion, he’s in-your-face gay, and his audacious persona rubs Nik and his family the wrong way. Raised by supportive and loving parents, Emory is Nik’s polar opposite in every way but one—his desire to succeed. Underneath the fluff and glitter beats the heart of a fierce competitor, and this side of Emory’s personality begins to close the distance between the two athletes.
While the attraction was one-sided in the beginning, Nik finds himself responding to Emory’s flirting. Before the incongruous pair have a chance at any sort of relationship, they must survive the pressures of career, separation, and most importantly, Igor’s ruthless homophobia.
Mickie B. Ashling is the alter-ego of a multifaceted woman raised by a single mother who preferred reading over other forms of entertainment. She found a kindred spirit in her oldest child and encouraged her with a steady supply of dog-eared paperbacks. Romance was the preferred genre, and historical romances topped her favorites list.
By the time Mickie discovered her own talent for writing, real life had intruded, and the business of earning a living and raising four sons took priority. With the advent of e-publishing and the inevitable emptying nest, dreams were resurrected, and the storyteller was reborn.
She stumbled into the world of men who love men in 2002 and continues to draw inspiration from their ongoing struggle to find equality and happiness in this oftentimes skewed and intolerant world. Her award-winning novels have been called “gut wrenching, daring, and thought provoking.” She admits to being an angst queen and making her men work damn hard for their happy endings.
Mickie loves to travel and has lived in the Philippines, Spain, and the Middle East but currently resides in a suburb outside Chicago.
Using Rafflecopter below, enter to win one of these prizes (contest open internationally): a $20 Dreamspinner gift certificate, one of five ecopies of Enforcing Emory, or an audio copy of Fire Horse. Must be 18 or older to enter.
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