I was recently asked where I came up with the name “Reluctant Retiree.” In all honesty, it’s because I had to “retire” even though I didn’t want to.
My husband and I had just moved to Florida to be nearer to my father. Neither one of us were having any luck finding good jobs. We’d settled for delivering papers at night. When my husband had to go to the hospital for a problem he was having, the ER doctor set him up with an appointment for a Primary Care Doctor.
Imagine our surprise when the first words out of the doctor’s mouth were “Are you on Disability yet?” We had tried several times before to sign him up but never got anywhere. The doctor had him signed up for a VA pension within a month. The only catch? It was based on family need so I had to leave my job (retire) so we remained eligible.
Since the amount of the pension was enough to cover our bills, I reluctantly retired! My blog started as a way to share my favorite books with others.
So there you have it! The story behind the name!
Publication date: July 30th 2022
Genres: Adult, Dark Fantasy, Fantasy, Horror
Balin stands between two great Powers. One will shatter his mind; the other will destroy his soul. Only one of them can save his people.
Fort Resonbirg, a Norse stronghold in the New World, is besieged by the evil sorcerer Ursulard the Dreamspinner. Though their fields are scorched and homes destroyed, the residents and refugees do not worry, because Fort Resonbirg is Awakened with the power to provide, protect, and grow. But not all is as it seems when a wall of impenetrable mist surrounds the fort, and within the mist hunts the dragon, Nidhogg. Nidhogg hungers for more than flesh and bone. It instills nightmares on its prey, feeding on fear and pain, inevitably taking lives.
Balin Tremore, a commoner bound for the militia but hoping to stay by his noble love’s side, never expected to amount to grand things. When the great power of Cradleweaving is awakened within him, Balin unknowingly becomes the one person with the power to pierce the wall of mist and banish the deadly beast within before it destroys them all—if he can master the new power in time. But to master the power, he must sacrifice much. The question is, will it be his position, his Lady, or his very soul?
The Mist meets Nightmare on Elm Street in this classic tale of personal sacrifice.
He rapped his knuckles against the wooden door, leaning against the frame to take the strain from his leg.
“Who is there?”
“It is I, Balin Tremore.” He glanced up and down the hallway. Vacant. “I request an audience.”
The door swung open. “Please enter with an open heart, Balin.” Elaine beamed at him, her joy evident in the musical laughter in her words.
Balin stepped inside, and Elaine slammed the door closed.
“Is Kirsten here?” he asked, scanning the suite for Elaine’s handmaiden.
Elaine shook her head. “She’s getting fabric.” With no warning, she threw her arms around Balin’s shoulders and hugged him close. “I’m so, so, so glad you are well,” she said, her words held stiffly, as if voicing a vow. “Don’t ever do that again. Don’t ever.” She squeezed him. His body took a moment to react, and then he melted into her hold.
He embraced her, brushing his cheek against her plum silk shirt, holding her close, praying to Baldr that she’d never be taken from his arms. He inhaled her lilac scent and closed his eyes.
She pulled back, and the intensity in her gaze captured his breath. They were of a same height, except for when she wore ball shoes and could stare down at him with haughty superiority. She’d tease him then, drape her arm over his shoulders when nobody was looking their way. He didn’t mind, he just enjoyed being close to her. Now, however, no tease twinkled in her stormy eyes. Only worry and determination resided there, and he hated to see all those emotions in turmoil over her sweet features.
“Balin, would you just give in? You don’t have to return to the field.”
Balin took in a breath and let his gaze slip from hers to stare at the side of her nose. “I can’t do that.”
“Yes. You can.” She pulled away sharply, turning her back on him as she charged into her sitting room, her strong trouser-clad legs cutting the distance to a few strides. She gleaned pieces of paper from her writing desk and tromped back towards him, shaking the papers in his face. “I’ve completed the requisition. All I need is the Hauld’s approval, and after you and William—” she waved her hands through the air in a grand gesture, the papers crackling under the abuse, “—there’s no way he wouldn’t agree to you being my steward.”
They’d had this argument before, and Balin found it harder and harder to refuse her.
But he wanted to be so much more to her than just her steward.
“I don’t even need your approval, you know.” Her eyes narrowed, and her mouth turned into a frown.
He dropped his shoulders back, attention wandering over the copper molding encircling her ceiling. “You wouldn’t do that.”
“Don’t you tempt me, Balin Tremore. If it means keeping you out of the war, I will do what I have to do.”
The command in her voice drew his attention back to her face. He scooped up her hands, papers and all, and pressed his forehead to hers. They stood that way for a moment, Elaine’s breathing fast, Balin’s heart thumping in his ears. Those weeks in the cage, cold, starving, he’d wanted her. Wanted her soft touch. Her amused smile. He’d kept her stored in his mind in the hidden places Zebbens couldn’t beat out of him.
“We have to fight him, Elaine. Every one of us, we all have to do what we can.”
“Then, Balin,” she argued, her voice a terse whisper, “that means I need to be out there, too.”
Through his bangs, he saw her looking at him. He rolled his forehead against hers until their noses touched. “You can’t go out there, Elaine,” he whispered, the words hovering between their nearly touching lips.
“I’m a better fencer than you.”
“Fencer, not swordsman, they aren’t the same.”
Behind him, the door opened.
“Oh, Miss, I’m so sorry to intrude,” Kirsten said.
The air crackled with anticipation, but Kirsten, so-sorry-to-intrude, didn’t leave.
Balin bowed his head and slowly pulled away. Then he turned to the handmaiden. “Hello, Kirsten.”
Vanessa MacLellan was born and raised in the farmlands of eastern Washington, works as an environmental engineer, and is an avid birder, naturalist and hiker living in Portland, Oregon.
What are your top favorite books/authors?
- Romance – Nora Roberts, Mary Stewart (from back in the day,) Lily Morton, Lucy Lenox, Bryan T. Clark, Tal Bauer… well the list is never-ending I’m afraid.
- Fantasy/UF – Jeff Jackson, Terry Brooks, M.D. Neu, Seb Carter, again, I could go on and on…
- Historical Fiction: Glenn Quigley, Edward Rutherford…
What book do you think everyone should read?
Depends on the genre. Nora Robert’s Three Sisters is one of my all time favorite series in romance. Edward Rutherford’s Sarum is one of the best historical fiction ever written, Terry Brooks Shannara series is amazing… My take is just read a lot and hopefully, you’ll get most of the great ones in the process. 😊
Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write?
It depends on the story. Most of the time, my characters show up as the book is progressing. Occasionally, like in Emerald Earth, most of the characters show up in the beginning.
What kind of research do you do before you begin writing a book?
Lots, and lots, and lots… I have never minded the research, so I do it before, during and even sometimes after I finish a book’s draft. I try to look at all the angles to make sure I represented the characters the best way possible. I will say, the Witch Brothers was one of the most difficult books I’ve written because I had to do extensive amounts of research to represent the magical community appropriately. And yes, there is a magical community that exists in the real world!
Do you see writing as a career?
Yes, this is what I do. Do I make enough money to live off of it? Well, let’s just say, I’m lucky my hubby has a good job! 😊
Do you read yourself and if so what is your favorite genre?
A good writer has to be a great reader. That’s always been my philosophy. My favorite genres are romance and fantasy. If they mix as with paranormal romance or romantic fantasy, then I’m a happy camper!
Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise? Why?
I’m ADHD, so any distraction will completely halt the creative writing process. I write when the dogs are asleep, and the hubby is at work or asleep (if he works nights.) I can edit anytime though, so when they are all around me making noise, that’s what I’m doing. 😊
Do you write one book at a time or do you have several going at a time?
I have found that when a book isn’t ready to be written, it doesn’t matter how hard I push it, the dang thing won’t move. So, I’ve learned that when one book is sticking its heels into the sand refusing to budge, I can simple move over to another project that is choosing to be a bit more… accommodating.
I have over twenty ideas, we call them plot bunnies, swimming around in my head. Some are close to being written (drafted,) while others might only have a few pages done. There is no shortage of project I can be working on at any given time.
Pen or type writer or computer?
I write on my laptop. The hubby has tried to get me to do dictation writing, and I hated it. I’ve got a strange brain condition called dysgraphia (just learned about that in the past 10 years) that keeps me from being able to write well by hand, but even in high school, I found I was a fast typist, so that’s my go to.
Thank you to whomever came up with the idea of creating the laptop!
A day in the life of the author?
Boring as all heck… I get up, I have coffee, I FB, I answer emails, I FB some more, I argue with my beloved PA before he goes to bed (he lives in India,) then sometime around one in the afternoon, I start to write… I may write up until time to go to bed but if not, I tend to either watch TV (if I’ve been writing all day,) or if I’ve been editing, I might curl up to a book, which always has to be the complete opposite than the one I’m editing…
See told you, boring.
Do you have any advice to offer for new authors?
Yeah, I have offered this more than a few times. When you sit down to pen (type) your first novel, remember the first draft is for you. Don’t worry about what your English teachers would’ve said, don’t worry about your spelling or grammar, in fact, move any and all things out of your head that might stop you from getting the words on paper.
This is important to remember because the moment your draft is done, the moment you begin to read it and clean up the grammar, plot holes, spelling mistakes, and all the other things that you’ll have to fix, the book belongs to others.
You write the first draft for yourself; you edit it for others.
Describe your writing style.
Eclectic… I write what I love, so it’s a mix of happy and sad, frustrating and endearing… I almost always have a moral (although I don’t like to admit that about my writing,) and ultimately, it’s about giving the reader a fun journey.
What makes a good story?
A good story takes you on a journey, and a great story causes you to lose track of time, get lost in the story, or have a hard time putting it down.
What are you currently reading?
I’ve got a long list. Today, I’m reading Never Stay Gone by Tal Bauer, because it’s set in the same part of the world as my (Blake Allwood’s) ghost story, The Big Bend Series.
What is your writing process? For instance do you do an outline first? Do you do the chapters first?
If it’s a stand alone book, I always pants it. However, for a series I have to continue to plan and outline the story since my characters are always pulling a fast one on me. I have to keep notes to keep them from completely leaving the ballpark.
Unfortunately, I’ve found I simply can’t pants (write by the seat of my pants) a fantasy or urban fantasy series. There are just too many moving parts.
What are common traps for aspiring writers?
Trying to do it right. You can’t do a creative project right. You just have to go with the flow. Get your story down in print then worry about all the “doing it right” stuff later.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
My bleeding family. LOL My husband, who is like an emotional stoneman most of the time, wants to chat when I’m writing, or the dogs love to take walks or need snacks, or… well you get my drift. Luckily, hubby has to work, and dogs get tired and sleep so I’ve found my way around them.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
A bit of both. I let the stories go where they go, so sometimes that’s not exactly what the readers want. However, I do read a lot and do try to read popular books as much as I can, so I know what readers are reading.
Ultimately though, I’m a rebel at heart, so there’s only so much conformity I’m able to provide.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Don’t wait to try. The water isn’t nearly as deep nor as full of sharks as you thought it would be.
What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from other genders?
I have zero problem writing characters from other genders. Why? Well, cause most of my friends are women and they have NEVER hesitated to fill me in on all the intricacies of their lives… even when I would’ve really preferred they not!
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
I write roughly a thousand words per hour. A typical novel can be between 50k to 100k. So, you can do the math. It’s a lot more time consuming than people realize. I like to tell my friends who ask this question that I’m basically writing a thesis, but without a degree or student loans…
Do you believe in writer’s block?
I think it’s real for some writers. I don’t really relate to writers block personally. If a book is being a jerk, (yes I think of them as people, and yes some of them are jerks,) I just set it aside and go on to the next project.
There’ve been times when I’ve gotten up against a wall with my writing. Sometimes it’s been like if I have to write or edit another word, I might just start killing off every character in the book… in those instances, reading a few books or watching a nice movie seems to fix the problem.
For me, writing is something I love to do. Even when it’s hard, even when I’m fighting my characters, so, my attitude is if it’s not working, give it a break and see what happens. At least up until now, I can only resist the process for a week or so before I’m itching to get back into it.
**New Release – Aug 5th 2022!!**
Adam J. Ridley is the pen name used by Blake Allwood for his urban fantasy and fantasy novels. I travel full time with my husband and two dogs in a forty-foot motor home, constantly looking for inspiration in the towns we find ourselves in.
I’ve loved fantasy all my life, and after several years of writing romance, finally took the time to try my hand at a romantic urban fantasy.
The Witch Brothers Saga is my debut series. Next year, I’ll release a Selkie series and possible my first science fiction, superhero novel as well.
Thanks for joining me on this journey and I look forward to reading your reviews on the Witch Brothers Saga.
Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!