Apr 28, 2014

In the Spotlight with Ava Louise!

Ava was born overseas as an Army brat. She has been married to a retired Navy sailor for 25 years. Life in and around the military has afforded her many opportunities to see many parts of our beautiful country. Currently she resides in the Midwest. She has two wonderful sons serving in the Army. 

Writing came to Ava later in life. She is living proof that it’s never too late to not only reach for a dream, but to achieve it. With the blessing of friends and family, she was encouraged to do something she enjoys, which goes hand-in-hand with her passion for reading. Before writing her own stories, Ava usually read a book a day from a wide array of genres. She loves Science-Fiction, Fantasy, Romance, Mysteries, Thrillers, and even Young Adult.

Shirley’s Story
Intergalactic Matchmaking Series 2


This is Chapter 1 of “Shirley’s Story.”

“Women Wanted: Must have a sense of adventure and be open to new experiences. Must also be willing to relocate. Please contact Claire O’Donnell at Intergalactic Matchmaking Services, (360) 555-4416, for more information.”

Monday, December 9

Home Sweet Home, thought Shirley. It was good to be home after a day of teaching first-graders. She pulled into the driveway of the only home she had ever known. Taking a deep breath of the cool air blowing in off the Skagit River, heavy with the scent of salt from the Puget Sound, she felt her insides start to unwind. The old clapboard house was inherited from her parents on their death several years ago. A member of the Hampton family had lived in this house on Dunbar Road since the early 1900’s. Shirley was the last of the Hamptons in this area.

Before heading inside, she walked down the long driveway to the mailbox at the curb. With the mail in hand Shirley headed to the house. She could hear Oreo barking excitedly from inside the house. It was nice to have someone to come home to, but she would have liked it even more if there was a partner to come home to. Someone to share news with about the kids she taught. Someone to snuggle on the couch with. Oreo, the black and white Whippet she received as a gift three years ago, did her best to fill the void in Shirley’s life. It was easy to trust a dog; not so easy to trust men. Not after what she had endured.

“Hey, girl, how’re you doing, hmm?” she asked the bouncing dog. She bent down to pet her behind her ears; Oreo loved having her ears scratched. Her whole head was black except for the thin strip of white down the center from her forehead to her nose. Little Hannah Ford had named the dog Oreo.
Shirley put away her coat and purse. Gathering the mail to take with her to the back of the house, she turned to the adorable black and white dog.

“Let’s get you in the back yard, Oreo,” she said to the dog as she walked to the sliding glass door leading into the large yard from the dining room.

Shirley picked up the mail she had dropped onto the kitchen table. Junk, junk, junk, a postcard, and a business envelope. […]

[…] She picked up the last envelope. A sense of dread crawled up her spine; sweat broke out on her brow and her palms became clammy. The return address on the envelope was the Washington Department of Corrections. She could think of only one reason they would contact her. They must be planning to release him.

Dear Miss Hampton,

This letter is to notify you that Mr. Bruce Mayfield has served his sentence in full and is being released on parole December 9, 2013. He has been advised to stay away from you, but there is no longer a Restraining Order or Order of Protection in place. If you have any concerns, please contact your local law enforcement office.

Shirley was breathing hard by the time she got to the end of the letter. What do they mean if she has concerns? Of course she would be concerned! The maniac had tried to kill her and had almost succeeded. Her legs folded then, no longer able to hold her up. Oh, god, please don’t let him come back to Mount Vernon, she prayed silently.

Shirley’s hand went to her abdomen. She could feel the hard line of the scars on her stomach; scars left on her by Bruce five years ago. He didn’t take it well when she ended their short, yet tumultuous relationship. He had been her first serious relationship, her first in so many things. After the death of her parents she had been so alone, so vulnerable. And Bruce had come into her life just when she needed someone to lean on. She thought he was her Mr. Right. Little did she know at the time he would turn out to be more Mr. Hyde. After she broke things off with him, Bruce had stalked her at all hours, coming to the school where she worked, parking outside her house, intimidating her by seeming to be everywhere she went.

One night he broke into her house, drunk and screaming that she had no right to dump him, that she was his. He had been served that day with a Restraining Order and Order of Protection. It set off his hair-trigger temper. […] The police arrived in time to catch Bruce, but not in time to keep him from hurting her. He had attacked Shirley with a large serrated hunting knife that he carried in his boot. He had stabbed her three times in the abdomen and once in the back.

She had spent over a week in the hospital. The effect of that attack would be with her the rest of her life, though. Just the thought of the damage he had done to her angered her. The anger helped to burn away the fear. She was scarred, but the worst part of all was that her whole future would be affected by him. She would never be able to put the incident behind her completely. 

When he had stabbed her in the lower abdomen, he had hit one of her ovaries and the doctors had to remove it. She wanted kids someday, but her chances were now cut in half thanks to Bruce. Of course, it wasn’t like she was in the running for motherhood as it was. Trusting men did not come easy these days; it had been a long time since she had gone out on a date.
[…] Counting on Bruce to do the smart thing, and stay away from her, wasn’t something she would do. The smartest thing about Bruce were his wisdom teeth. The guy had drank too deeply from the well of ignorance.

Behind the Scenes

Thinking back on your first book, is there anything you would have done differently?

I wouldn’t have ended it as soon. It being my debut book, I think I got caught up in the excitement of nearing the end of the book and lost my pacing on it. It still makes sense, and I didn’t leave anything hanging that I didn’t intend to, but I think I would have drawn it out more.

Has your perspective on the writing process changed since you became published?

Yes, definitely. I do my best to read up on the writing craft and have been trying to apply it the best I can on each subsequent writing.

Do you work best on a deadline, or do you need freedom from time constraints?

No deadline please! Then it feels too much like work. Deadlines seem to block my thinking when it comes to writing.

How do you know you’ve written a good book?

Hard question! Most writer blogs say to write what you would enjoy reading yourself. So I use that approach, and when I am done with the story, I hope the readers will find the story as engaging as I did while writing the story.

How do you keep your characters and stories organized?

I use a character sheet I found and modified; one for each character. It’s a collection of questions about their looks, mannerisms, strengths, weaknesses, etc.

Are you a Swooper (write first, edit later,) a Basher (edit each sentence as you go,) or both?

Both. If I want to be working on the story, but am stuck on what should come next, I will sit down and read what I have so far, then tweak it if needed.

What is the one thing you must have to be able to write?

Irish Breakfast Tea. My caffeine addiction of choice.

What are you currently working on? How is it different from other books you’ve written?

I’m working on Story 3 in the series. It’s different because I am trying to handle the romance connections of two couples in this book instead of just one. It’s definitely challenging me!

Is there anything you haven’t written that you would like to try some day? Why have you avoided it in the past?

I would like to write mystery, but I am not sure I have the skills for it. When I either finish the Intergalactic Matchmaking Series I may try my hand at it. I haven’t decided.

Do you have any rituals, habits, or superstitions about your writing?


What types of scenes are your favorite to write?

Scenes including animals. I like trying to imagine how our human interactions would appear to someone from another world. What would they find shocking or hilarious about the way we live with pets.

Do you prefer to write 1st or 3rd Person POV? Why?

3rd Person. When I try to write in 1st Person, I forget to keep observations in that view, which leads to a lot of “fixing” later.

What do you feel are the most important aspects to a good romance?

A basis of friendship. I think the best romances, in real life, have a solid basis in friendships

Are you always in the driver’s seat? Or do your characters drag you along for the ride?

The characters have dragged me along once or twice. In Book 2 of the series, I had in mind an existing character from Book 1 to be the Romantic Lead for Shirley. When it came time to start writing, I realized he wouldn’t work in that role. I had to create a new character, which I think turned out much better.

Inside the Book

Describe your setting and why you chose to write about this place.

I chose Mount Vernon, Washington, because I used to live on an island close to that town. It’s a beautiful town as is all of Western Washington. I felt connected to WA again while I was writing the first two books. One day we hope to be able to move back to WA; we miss the ocean.

Give at least three interesting details about your heroine.

I want my Leading Ladies to be strong, independent, and likeable even while being flawed. I think each of us is happier when we are honest with ourselves about our flaws. Perfection is a myth. Women need to know it is okay to be flawed. We can still be loveable when we have flaws.
What is one thing about your heroine you hope readers connect with?

I hope they see my Leading Ladies as strong women. Yes, they may have encountered situations that run them through the ringer, but they come out the other side determined to still stand on their own two feet. No damsels-in-distress waiting for a macho-male to come swooping to their rescue in every situation.

What makes your hero a hero?

I wanted to portray males that didn’t act like possessive cavemen. That is how many aliens are portrayed in books, and it would annoy the hell out of me to encounter someone like that. A Hero can have a soft spot without being a wimp, too.

Does the title have a special meaning?
The subtitle does. I wanted it to reflect the fact that the women in the stories choose to leave Earth. The whole kidnap/abduction thing doesn’t appeal to me.

Where did the inspiration for this book come from?

I think it came from me reading several Sci-Fi books and the humans were always kidnapped and treated like property. That irritates me in many ways. I am a firm believer in controlling your own destiny. Therefore, I wondered what situations would cause a human to even consider leaving Earth. And since I am owned by cats, I wondered how that decision would be handled by a pet owner.

 Contest: Enter to win a $10 Amazon Gift Card. Leave a comment with your email address. Contest ends Saturday, May 3rd at Midnight. 


  1. The premise sounds interesting. I think I have just found a new to add to my purchase pile :)


  2. I have read both books in the series and have really enjoyed them. I to love sci/fi romance but really dislike the whole abduction, possessive caveman scene. Also it is difficult to find sci/fi romance that is not borderline porn and this series provides the romance without the smut. I am eagerly awaiting book three!

  3. Just awesome sounds very thought out and researched

  4. Have really enjoyed the first 2 books and am looking forward to more from Ava. Had never really thought about the differences in various types of science fiction romance. Voluntarily leaving Earth sets up the story and characters much differently from an abduction story where the hero is one of the abductors or an abduction story where the hero saves the heroine from the abductors.

  5. She is one of my favorite new author's. I've read both of her first in the series and I'm hooked. I keep telling her on Facebook I'm sitting here with "baited breath" waiting for the 3rd in the series. lol I think she has a bright future in writing with her imagination and her understanding of a modern woman. I wish her the best and wonderful future with her writing.

    Susan Morgan

  6. Thank you so much everyone for the kind words! I enjoy hearing from fans so much; it means a lot to know my work is so appreciated. The winner of the Amazon Gift Card is Susan Morgan. Just so you know how the winner was selected, I wrote each entrant's name on a piece of paper, tossed them in the air, and picked the piece of paper that Mamzell pounced on first! No way would the first book have been as much fun without her, so I let her pick the winner! Congratulations, Susan. I will be in touch shortly. Thanks again folks!