Blog Guest – P.J. MacLayne

Thanks for giving me the opportunity to appear on your blog!

You’re very welcome.  I’m happy to have you here.  How about you introduce yourself to my lurkers.

I’m a computer geek by day and a writer at night. I grew up in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania, and much of my writing is set there. I currently make my home in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains and think I must have been a mountain man in a previous life.

What can you tell us about your career so far in writing?

I can’t remember when I started writing. I remember winning an award for an essay I wrote in sixth grade about the Mafia, of all things. I gravitated to poetry in high school, and only switched to fiction a few years ago.

I’m still experimenting with genres, and am open to whatever the story requires. The common factors are a strong female lead and a romantic element. So far I’ve kept the heat level of my books to subtle because the storylines didn’t require anything more, but if my characters demanded more I’d be open to meeting their requirements.

I like writing strong female characters as my heroines. I think a woman needs to be able to stand up for herself, but also be willing to accept help when it’s needed and offered, not only in fiction but in real life. But I believe that’s important for men as well.

Although I’ve only published one book, I’ve written several. They all started off as stand-alone books, but I’m not sure they will stay that way. One of the minor characters in Wolves’ Pawn has been bugging me to tell her story. We’ll see.

I have a general plot in mind when I start my books, but since I let my characters tell me their stories, things do change before I get to the end. So sometimes I have to go back and change or add to what I’ve already written to give readers a clue to the new development instead of just springing it on them like it was sprung on me. Other than that, I write my books in order from start to finish. I tend to know what I want my ending to be, but getting there can be quite the adventure.

My favorite character from my books is the lead from the book I am currently writing. The working title is The Ghost Who Loved Me, but that may change before I publish the book. She’s a strong-willed ex-librarian, and a bundle of contradictions, which made her fun to write.  Even her name is fun—Harmony Duprie, and no, she doesn’t moonlight as a stripper.  She’s definitely series material.

What would you like to share with us about your experience with the self publishing?

I chose to go the self-publishing route for a variety of reasons. Biggest one is the control it gives me over my work.  I’m able to write for myself and my readers, and not write what is expected by “the powers that be.”  Sure, that makes it harder to find readers, but I can live with that.

I’ve found quite a few resources that have helped me out along the way. I joined several email loops where information is shared freely, and the other writers who belong have been a tremendous help. (Yahoo groups IndieRomanceInk and Marketing For Romance Writers) I also participate in an on-line critique group which has been invaluable, as I haven’t been able to find a writers group locally.

What are your favourite books?

My favorite books are the Dragonriders series by Anne McCaffrey. She did such a great job creating characters and places that readers could believe in, while telling engaging stories at the same time.  I spend a lot of time reading (if I’m not writing or working my day job!) and I rarely watch TV. I can’t stand commercials!

If you could meet anyone at all, from either the past or present, who would it be and why?

If I could meet anyone from the past, it would be John Denver. I love his music and I frequently listen to it when I’m writing. And in a way, he was responsible for my husband and I meeting. I was between colleges and career choices when I first heard “Rocky Mountain High” and it gave me the inspiration to go to a college in Wyoming. While I was there, I met the wonderful guy who became my husband.

What are you working on now and what might we expect from you in the future?

I’m currently working on “The Ghost Who Loved Me.” As I mentioned earlier, it’s the story of a rather non-conventional ex-librarian who is recovering from a relationship that went south when she and her lover were arrested for selling drugs. To tell you any more would give away the story!

I just released my debut novel, Wolves Pawn. It’s the story of Dot McKenzie, a lone wolf-shifter on the run, using everything available to her to stay one step ahead of her pursuers. When she is offered a chance for friendship and safety with the Fairwood pack, she accepts.

Gavin Fairwood, reluctant heir for Fairwood pack leadership, is content to let life happen while he waits.  Old longings surface when he appoints himself as Dot’s protector and becomes more than a friend.

Dot goes into hiding again when her presence puts the pack and her new friends at risk. When old enemies threaten the destruction of the Fairwood pack, it will take the combined efforts of Dot and Gavin to save it. But can anything save their love and Dot’s life when she becomes a pawn in a pack leader’s deadly game?

And here’s a short excerpt:

Her choices were limited. She needed to get back to her bike and leave. The only thing in the house was her sleeping bag and it could be replaced. Before she could move, she saw the fourth man go to the fire pit and grab the firewood the campers had left. He stacked it against the house, then grabbed a can from the saddlebag of his bike and poured some sort of liquid over the wood. Her other sight showed her the malicious grin on his face and her other smell caught a strong odor of kerosene. He pulled a pack of cigarettes from his pocket and lit one. Carelessly, he tossed it on top of the stack and watched as the stack lit, catching the dried wood of the old house on fire as well.

The rush of emotions caught Dot by surprise.  Anger, sadness, and fear warred for her attention. Instinct took over and she started to run away, but hit an unexpected obstacle. The largest gray wolf she’d ever seen blocked her path, its yellow-brown eyes staring into hers.

“Follow me.” The words echoed in the back of her skull. She looked wildly around, trying to figure out who had spoken.

“No time to explain.” The wolf stepped away. “Follow me.”

Still she hesitated. The wolf moved behind her and pushed her with its nose. “Quickly, unless you want those men to catch you.”

She stumbled, almost fell, but caught herself. The wolf moved in front of her, guiding her away from the road. “My bike!” she said, stopping.

“A friend will take care of it. We need to get you out of here. Follow!” She heard voices yelling nearby. The wolf moved off at a quick lope and she had to run to keep up with it. Its path wound between trees and large stones before it scrambled effortlessly up a rocky slope. It stopped at the top and waited for her to catch up. She was out of breath and paused to rest.

“Not yet. Hurry!”  The wolf moved away again, leading her down the other side of the ridge. It splashed into a small creek as it headed downstream. She tried to follow along the creek bank, but there was too much brush and she was forced to move into the water. She thought she knew these woods, but the wolf led her into unfamiliar territory.

The wolf slowed as they entered a cluster of old pines. Its paws made no sound as it padded across a thick layer of pine needles. “Almost there,” its voice encouraged her. Dot hoped so. Her T-shirt was soaked in sweat, her legs were rubbery and close to giving out, and her pulse raced. She didn’t know how much farther she could go. The wolf stopped. “Wait here.”

Her muscles collapsed and she sank to the ground, exhausted. The wolf moved off and she quickly lost sight of it. She closed her eyes and tried to remember the Zen breathing exercises Aunt Mary had taught her. What kind of crazy dream was this anyway?

It’s currently only available on Amazon.  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HVDD1G4

I can be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pjmaclayne

And on Twitter @pjmaclayne

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