I love discovering new authors, so I wanted my blog to be a place where readers and my author pals could come together. Only we like to do this Speed-Dating style. Check out a new author and her work here every Wednesday, and if the spark is there, you’ll have a match.
This week’s guest: Holly Mayes
1. If you celebrate, name a holiday food you would eat your weight in if you could do it guilt-free.
Not sure if it falls under the category of a holiday, but white wedding cake. All other foods pale in comparison.
2. Give the title of the first manuscript you ever wrote. How many years ago did you pen this masterpiece, and whatever happened to it?
I wish I could remember the title of it; unfortunately, I don’t. I was in elementary school, and it had to do with two girls and one loved square dancing. I won a young author’s award and got to visit an author at MSU.
3. If you could keep only the possessions that would fit in one suitcase, and you were limited to two books – one you wrote and one by someone else – which titles would you tuck inside your bag? Explain your choices.
This gives me anxiety. I can’t even imagine not being able to bring all my favorites. My book would be my very first novel, GEMS. I’m proud I was able to finish a full-length book. The other book would be any of the series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. They’re classics, and I grew up reading them.
4. In the winter, would you rather be zipping through powdery snow on skis or a snowmobile or escaping to a sandy beach? Now how do you really spend most of your winter?
Sandy beach. All the way. But how I really spend my winter is cussing and shoveling snow away from my vehicle on the back roads we live on after I get stuck in snow drifts.
5. Which character in “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” is your favorite, and what does that say about you?
I didn’t grow up believing in Christmas, but I do remember watching it. I guess I’d have to say Rudolph, although I feel like he’s the obvious choice. I don’t recall many other characters in the story. Wasn’t there an abominable snowman or something, too?
6. In which genres and sub-genres are you published, and which others do you plan to add to the list in the next two years?
My first book is a speculative fiction YA novel. My second novel is a contemporary romance. My third book (just released) is the follow up to the first novel. I’ll be working on more fiction in the future, but I’m also interested in memoir. I feel like I’m all over the place when it comes to my writing.
7. If you could visit the studio and hang out with any visual artist, past or present, whose creative space would you be invading? Why?
Annie Leibovitz. Definitely. She’s iconic and has been pushing the limits for years. I used to study photography in school. Her work has always mesmerized me.
8. Do you listen to music when you’re writing? If so, name some of the artists whose work you use to get you creative juices flowing.
I can’t listen to music with words. It throws me off. I listen to Shakuhachi Sakano (Bamboo Flute Music, Japanese Flute), or the Relaxing Music Orchestra or Classical Piano stations on Amazon Prime.
9. What are you reading now, and what is the best book you’ve read in a long time?
I’ve taken a bit of a break from writing so I can “fill the well” again by reading. I just finished THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS by M.R. Carey. Great read, couldn’t put it down. The best book I’ve read in a long time would probably have to be ELEANOR OLIPHANT IS COMPLETELY FINE by Gail Honeyman.
10. What is your strategy for writing over the holidays?
I don’t. Haha. I know better than to stress myself out like that. Writing is hard enough as it is.
11. Name three things that are in your purse or pockets right now.
My jack knife my Uncle David gave me, a notebook for writing down thoughts or notes, and about a million stupid cards to every different store I go to that always end up hiding from me at the cash register when there’s 5 people lined up behind me rolling their eyes and saying “c’mon already” under their breath.
12. Do you write a synopsis before you write a book, and, if so, does your finished product look anything like that road map?
I’ve never written a synopsis. That’s probably what scares me away from traditional publishing. How the devil do I know what’s going to happen until my characters tell me?
13. Are you a fan of reality TV, or could the current Bachelor marry every contestant on Cake Boss and then sing his lungs out on The Voice for all you care?
I usually don’t get stuck on TV, but it is the holidays, and I’m not in the middle of writing so, yeah, I kind of got attached to The Voice. Because Adam Levine…omg… (insert drooling image here). Except for recently he had some pervy pornstar mustache thing going on, and no. Just no.
14. What is your biggest dream for your writing career? The New York Times bestseller list? A movie deal? Your own island in the Caribbean? All of the above?
I guess it’d be nice to think about hitting it big with a novel. But at the same time I think that could be stressful. I’m getting more introverted the older I get, and I don’t like people enough to be recognizable. The people who do follow me and enjoy my books make me happy with their encouragement. That’s enough for now.
15. What is your biggest hope for a reader when she opens one of your books?
That I was able to transport them to the world that was shown to me by my characters and my setting. If they can forget real life for a moment, my job is done. If it lingers after they’re done reading, then double bonus.
16. Are you more a Times Square-ringing-in-the-New Year-type on New Year’s Eve, or will we find you at home, tucked into bed by nine o’clock.
Home tucked in bed. I wake up super early.
By H. J. Mayes
My head is cradled between my hands as I crouch on the floor. The only sound is my own voice screaming the word “no”, echoing in the walls of my mind. Bits of dust and plaster make my mouth bitter and force me to cough.
There seems to be damage to the hearing in my left ear, but sounds register around me. My hearing picks up the sound of sirens, howling in the distance above ground and coming closer. Coughs and moans rise from the dust near me.
My blurry vision sharpens as I wipe my shirtsleeve across my eyes. The explosion has not affected my legs or arms; they’re intact and moving with little pain.
The door to the break room is thrown open; it’s actually off the frame and tilted in the hallway. Lights flicker on and off, there are wires swinging from the ceiling.
As I stagger to my feet, that’s when I see them. My breath catches and panic makes my chest feel tight.
The leader of the group is slumped over the overturned table in the corner. The other man is buckled on the floor by the door; his head tilted and blood trickling from his mouth. The canvas bag still in his hand. Neither of them is moving. The third one is on the floor by my feet, the needle tossed off to the side.
Bile rises in my throat.
What did I do? Where’s Jack?
Someone with dark hair—maybe Jack’s hair—is unconscious in the hallway by the door. I rush over to him and lean down, gently pulling him back to see his face. It isn’t Jack, but someone else. His face is bloody and some of his teeth are missing, possibly from the door hitting him in the explosion. I pull back, gasping in shock.
The main leader inside the room groans and struggles to sit up. He rubs the dust from his eyes, shaking his head as he stands. When he makes eye contact with me, he slowly reaches for a gun lying near him on the ground.
I stumble backward further into the hallway and trip over someone else. It’s Joe. He’s not moving either. His leg is twisted backward at the knee.
My scream echoes through the hallway.
The lights in the ceiling begin to pop, one by one. As the emergency lights flicker on, the man with the gun appears in the break room doorway. He’s holding his arms up to protect himself from the breaking bulbs raining down on him.
I’m not sure who these people are, but they knew my name and they weren’t worried about my abilities. That’s not what I would consider a normal reaction if people find out who, or what, I am.
GEMS, Book 1 in the GEMS Series, may be purchased through Amazon.
Holly Mayes is a native of Michigan and enjoys reading, writing, photography and spending time with her two daughters, husband, cat and dog.
She has been published for her short stories in the Lansing Community College Washington Square Review, the women’s online journal When Women Waken, and the Rescued Pets Anthology by Splattered Ink Press.
Her romance FADE TO BLACK, the first in the Love in Bloom series, is currently available on Amazon.