Can you believe how quickly this year is flying by, my lovelies? I sure can’t. Seems like only yesterday I was wishing you a happy summer. The weather has turned chilly here in Philly (hey, that rhymed!) but I have something to warm you up. Help me welcome Kelle Z. Riley to FoX Friday! She’s here with a sneak peek at book three in her Undercover Cat Series, The Tiger’s Tale, out January, 2019.
Before we get to the book, Kelle sat down to answer some fun questions.
Did you always want to be a writer?
From a very young age I always told myself stories. Back then, it was how I coped with a world where I didn’t fit in. I was awkward and shy, with a fractured family and struggles the children around me didn’t understand. Fortunately my fictional friends helped me “pretend” to be outgoing and confident until—as if by magic—I finally became what I had pretended to be.
Not long after, I fell in love with words. How they sound. How they evoke emotions. The power they have to transform a blank page into a world of its own. But it wasn’t until my late 20s that I realized I was, at heart, a writer.
Since then, I’ve worked to hone my craft and create stories worthy of sharing with others. I’ve found my passion in storytelling and I can’t imagine giving it up.
What advice would you give to another author who’s struggling with procrastination?
First, learn the difference between positive and negative procrastination.
Positive procrastination happens when a writer is stressed or overwhelmed. Under these conditions, she simply cannot write. She needs to step back and let the subconscious creative process work for her. Positive procrastination is really a chance to fill your creative well. When you get back to work, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much work the subconscious did for you while you were taking a conscious break.
Negative procrastination, on the other hand, is usually driven by fear. Specifically, the fear of being imperfect. At those times a writer simply needs to do two things: (1) give herself permission to write utter crap and (2) employ the technique of “BICHOK” (butt in chair, hands on keyboard).
The trick, of course, is knowing yourself well enough to know which type of procrastination is the problem. Often your writer friends will be able to help you determine which type of procrastination you’re dealing with. Be sure to give them permission to drag your butt to the chair if need be!
It always helps to have a tribe to back you up. 🙂 Do you listen to music while you write, or do you need silence?
Most times I write in silence—the better to hear the voices in my head. If I do choose music, it has to be something I’m not tempted to sing along with!
Haha! How do you balance writing and your personal life?
Between the day job and the writing job, there isn’t much of a personal life most days. Lately I’ve been reminding myself that, no matter what task I’m working on, this is my one and only life. Real life happens between the milestones we set for ourselves. So I try to make the most of the moments and let the hours take care of themselves.
What was the last book you read that made you laugh out loud or cry inconsolably?
The last book that made me cry was Still Alice by Lisa Genova. She used the skills of a fiction writer to put me in the place of a woman diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s. My mother was dealing with the disease at the time and Lisa’s book tapped into all of my fears and sorrow and brought it to the fore. The book also gave me great insight into what my mother might have been feeling and, thus, made me more compassionate. But what an emotional roller coaster!
I can only imagine.
Short answer, your favorite:
Dessert: Molton lava cake
City: Chicago—it pulses with life and has endless variety
Season: Spring, when the world is waking up after its winter nap
Type of hero: Princes and billionaires (but only charming ones)
Type of heroine: Any heroine who is feisty and intelligent. Bonus points if she breaks stereotypes or norms
Actor: I don’t follow actors. I follow characters. But I love Thor, as portrayed by Chris Hemsworth
Actress: Wonder Woman, as portrayed by Gal Gadot
Band/solo singer: Josh Groban!!
Cuisine: I’m into Thai food these days
Yum! I love Thai food. 🙂 Thanks for chatting with me!
More about the book…
Fresh from a successful undercover operation, scientist/spy-in-training Bree Watson should feel on top of the world. Instead, the ground is shifting under her feet. When her handler abandons her to follow a lead with his sexy ex-partner, Bree must choose between a normal life, or proving her worth as a spy. Not an easy choice, when she factors in:
- A police detective’s amorous intentions
- Her handler’s mixed signals
- A teaching post at a university filled with intrigue
- A dead administrator with a sordid past
- A timid tiger and her tenacious trainer—both being framed for murder
Combined with fanatic football fans, beatnik poets, an orphaned monkey, a demanding boss, quirky colleagues, and her angry cat, the result may be a recipe for disaster.
Can she take the heat? Or will she get burned?
Excerpt from The Tiger’s Tale…
Six months ago, Bree had been a confirmed dog person. Until she’d inherited a cat from her murdered boss. Now she held a tiger by the tail. Or rather, by a leash. But when it came to tigers the difference was just splitting hairs.
“This way,” shouted the tour guide, his thick Australian accent a sharp contrast to the murmurings of the local Thai tiger trainers. “And stay with your tigers.”
Bree was fairly certain he didn’t mean for her to follow the energetic tiger cub over the dusty, rock-strewn flatlands to her right. But it tugged on the leash, intent on exploring, so she followed. Sweat trickled down her back as she scrambled over the barren, dusty terrain of the Thailand Tiger Sanctuary. Her foot caught on a rock and she stumbled when the wayward cub pulled her forward.
A strong male hand grabbed the leash and jerked the tiger back onto the path. Bree suppressed a shiver of awareness and turned to Matthew Tugood, both grateful for—and irritated by—his presence.
“Tell me again why we’re here,” he grumbled.
“My sorority is donating a rescued tiger cub to Terrance University for their exotic animal vet clinic.”
“I know that part. I cut through the red tape to make it happen, remember?” He slowed his pace, widening the gap between them and the rest of the tour group. “But why are we spending the day in a tourist trap?”
“I wanted to meet the cub’s trainer and get first-hand experience.”
Matthew answered with a dissatisfied grunt. His mouth firmed into a tight line as he scanned the horizon, squinting against the bright sunlight. “You’re wasting time you could spend preparing for your assignment.” His voice dropped low and he kept his eyes trained on the horizon. After a slow pivot, he leaned close, his breath warm on her ear despite his harsh tone. “Or have you forgotten about your mission?”
Bree disentangled the leash from his hands. “I liked you better before I knew you were a spy.”
“No, you liked my cover story.” His voice softened, and he glanced her way. “That’s not the same thing.” Despite the ninety-degree heat, a shiver chased down Bree’s spine, as if he’d touched her rather than just looking at her.
“What I don’t like is that you never stop thinking about your mission. Not for a minute. Look around you, Matthew.” She gestured to landscape, the tourists, the tigers. “We’re exploring a new culture. Bottle feeding tiger cubs. Having adventures. Living. And you’re missing it.”
“Lower your voice. We don’t want to be overheard.”
Bree eyed the terrain, wondering if the clumps of scrub grass and rocks were cleverly disguised surveillance devices. She dismissed the idea with a snort. “Can’t you think about something besides the mission?”
“May I remind you, that my single-minded focus on the mission saved your life on more than one occasion?”
Bree dropped the argument. For one thing, his interference had saved her life when a murderer—make that two murderers—had wanted her out of the picture. On the other hand, she hadn’t found a single dead body before she met Matthew. So, in her mind, it was a toss-up.
“I helped you with your project.” He glowered at the tiger cub.
“You can repay me by focusing on our mission. I don’t need thanks, I need you to complete your assignment.”
“Fine. You’ve made yourself very clear.” Bree shrugged. “Next topic.” Beside her Matthew bristled. Bree hid her smile, taking secret delight in being able to needle him the same way he constantly needled her.
“Zed will be at the Royal Thai Energy Summit tomorrow night. He is convinced you’re a brilliant researcher with access to cutting edge technology.”
Bree stopped in her tracks so fast the tiger cub did a back flip at the end of his leash. She whirled on Matthew. “In case you’ve forgotten I am a real researcher, complete with a PhD in science. Just because my cover story involves a fictional company doesn’t negate my real experience.” Behind her, the tiger cub let out a noise—something between a growl and a whine—as if to support Bree’s statement.
“Your science degree isn’t the only reason you’re an asset to the Sci-Spy organization.”
Another yowl, accompanied by a tug on the leash, made Bree turn back to her tiger cub. The rest of the tour group was no longer in sight. Ning, the tiger trainer she’d come to meet, hurried to them, chattering in Thai and gesturing. “Hurry,” she said, pointing to the others.
Bree followed Ning and her tiger, moving quickly to catch up with the group. Tugood kept pace, his voice low and insistent in her ear. “Your days as a simple researcher ended when you signed on with Sci-Spy. Your fictional energy research could be the key to thwarting a terrorist.”
“The meeting isn’t until tomorrow.”
“You need to prep for it today.”
“We’ve prepped for weeks. In the office. After hours at home. On the flights here.” Bree stopped again, at the edge of the tour group and turned to Matthew. “Please. I need a day to do something fun. Something… normal.”
As if anything about her days could be normal. Across the clearing, a large tiger roared, shaking the ground under her feet. The tour guide explained the procedure for approaching—and being photographed with—the massive, 500-pound animal.
Bree surrendered her leash to Ning, without releasing Matthew’s gaze. When he nodded in reluctant agreement, she turned to the tour group, but all thoughts of fun—and normal—had fled at Matthew’s mention of the man they’d code-named Zed. Tomorrow, she’d confront him, while trying to find information to link him to his network of associates. Compared to that, even the 500-pound tiger seemed docile.
Kelle Z. Riley, writer, speaker, global traveler, Ph.D. chemist and martial artist weaves bits of her real life into the Undercover Cat Series books. The series features a scientist-turned-sleuth who juggles mystery, romance and the search for a perfect cupcake recipe.
By day Kelle is a full time chemist working in water treatment with multiple U.S. patents. At night she turns into an author whose accolades include finals in the RWA Golden Heart and numerous chapter contests. More information on her workshops can be found on her website.
Starting December 6th, Kelle is having a giveaway/preorder promotion period on Facebook and Instagram! Join her reader’s group: KelleZRiderReaders or visit her Facebook Page or Instagram. Post a comment on a book promo post for a chance to win. Extra Karma if you share the page or post with someone who has not heard of her yet. Prizes include cute stuffed kitties, travel kits and other book themed swag. Large prizes are U.S. only while supplies last. Smaller prizes for non-U.S. destinations. Prized to be mailed between the end of Dec. and book release day on January 15, 2019
ALSO: Everyone who preorders The Tiger’s Tale will receive a link to a free Bree Watson short story!