Good evening and happy Friday, everyone! Today I have a brand new feature for you: the author spotlight! I’m hoping to do one of these a month, and I hope it takes off. If you are an author interested in doing a spotlight with me, drop me a line! Here or at talya.andor at gmail.
This month’s feature is Summer Michaels, who can be found on her Blogspot, Goodreads, and Less Than Three Press. I’m hosting an Author Spotlight with Summer today, and she’ll be hosting me over on hers come Monday.
Without further ado, take it away, Summer!
Tell us about yourself, beyond the standard bio: any quirky habits, fun facts, or little-known anecdotes?
Outside of the author role, I’m a mother of four. As a rule in our house, dinner MUST be danced for! A dinner doesn’t turn out well unless it is danced to. 😉 I can also talk the green off grass. You know the woman at the grocery store that doesn’t know, but still talks to you? Yeah, that’s me!
Where’s your favorite place to write?
I usually write in my kitchen. When I’m working on a story and get stuck, I fold the laundry or wash the dishes and come back to it. I also take a pen and notebook with me wherever I go. When I am stuck, staring at a white screen doesn’t help, pen and paper helps bring me focus.
Music: a must, or a no-go?
A must- When I’m writing, it’s Newton Faulkner! Just a musician and a guitar, simple but hits home with me. I also tend to enjoy artist who write their own music more.
No-go- I love all types of music, so I never rule anything out.
What kind of stories do you like to write? (Relationship, humor, historical?)
I tend to write based on relationships. Whether it’s a brother/sister, mom/son, or a partnership, I like to focus on all relationships. I want to crawl into my character and show them from all angles.
Do you prefer to write fiction to a prompt or call specification, or have an open field?
I write by the seat of my pants. I will get a glimpse of something that I see in my mind and HAVE to use in a story. I let that carry me. There have been some calls that have created new plot bunnies, but I mostly keep an open field.
Any advice for writers who are getting started?
Advice that I cannot stress enough would be to join/start a writing critique group. A good group to support and give advice when you need it is a MUST! Not everyone can pick up a pen and paper and be an author. It takes a lot of worry, tears, and rewrites. Having a cheerleading system makes the ups and downs sufferable.
Are there any tropes that you wish authors would retire, or fiction pet peeves?
I tend to stay away from stories based on sex. I want a little meat with my bone. I feel like I don’t get to know the characters as well in these types of stories. I don’t think it should be retired, some readers enjoy it. I just don’t happen to be one of them.
What are your methods to relax and take a break from writing?
When I am on a break from writing, I love to read! My Nook is loaded with books waiting for me to discover. Any recommendations are greatly welcomed!
Thanks for spending time with us! What’s a title we should pick up from your catalogue?
Thank you so much for having me! My current release is Substitute Heart by Less Than Three Press.
Seven men in military dress blues stood at the top of the hill, their shoulders squared as they lifted M16 rifles and fired. I jerked as the first shots rang out loud. Deafening quiet followed. A2 casings fell to the ground beside the neatly polished black shoes.
I stared at the flag-draped coffin as tears slid down my face. I made no effort to wipe the damn things away. Only in this way could I show my grief. Only in this way could I show the man in the coffin that I loved him too. I wasn’t allowed to sit with the family, I wasn’t allowed to be presented the Stars and Stripes, and I was not thanked for the honor my loved one bestowed on this great nation.
So I let my tears fall.
Before Staff Sergeant Lane Foster left for Afghanistan, we said vows to proclaim our love and we exchanged rings. I didn’t need the state of Virginia to recognize our marriage. The statement of our love was more than enough. I looked down at the platinum band circling my third finger on my left hand. Slowly I grasped the matching band hanging around my neck. I wore it every day waiting for its rightful owner to reclaim it. Now it would never be returned to my husband. I gripped the necklace tighter. It was the only link I still had to Lane I could hold. I silently begged for this all to be a huge misunderstanding. Surely they had the wrong man. At any moment Lane was going to walk back in our lives and explain the unexplainable. I squeezed my burning eyes shut. Just keep breathing. Just keep breathing.
I opened my eyes to find eight soldiers removing the flag from the wooden coffin. Three soldiers on each side of Lane and one in the front and back. To the left, a bald man wearing a dark suit and purple tie eyed me. I could tell he was a soldier even out of uniform. He watched me, eyes moving from my face and again to the necklace. A slight nod of his head suggested he understood who I was. I doubted it. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell meant this bald soldier could never know how it felt to want to pull the man you love into your arms. To want to kiss him so bad, you ached. The nodding soldier would never understand the emptiness I now lived in. I wanted everyone to know of the love we shared, but I didn’t say a word. I knew I wanted to share only for myself. I was afraid our love was only a dream now. Does love still exist if only one person is still alive to remember it?
The crowd of family and friends came to say their final farewell. We live in the small town of Quantico which houses the largest Marine base in the world. When one of Prince William County’s own was laid to rest, mourners gathered in large numbers.
The United States flag was presented to Lane’s mother. She grasped it to her chest and hunched over. Her sopping cries silenced the other mourners. Lane’s father didn’t reach out for his wife. He pulled himself up and sat straighter in his chair, only to stare at the coffin. The minister invited everyone back to the church for a bereavement meal. One by one, those gathered returned to their cars and left without so much as backward glance.
I couldn’t move. I couldn’t walk away from my husband. My feet felt like someone had cemented them to the cold concrete. If I left, Lane was gone forever. I couldn’t go on without him. I didn’t know how. He had always been the strong one in our relationship. I had gotten used to him coming and going on missions throughout the years. Having him gone forever was unbearable. I grabbed at my chest, willing my heart to slow down. I could feel a panic attack building.
I only snapped out of my stupor when the soldiers began to push Lane’s coffin out of the way. “Wait!” I yelled. My shoes echoed as I forced myself onward. Don’t take my husband, don’t take my life.
Editorial note: You can purchase Substitute Heart here through Less Than Three Press.