Happy Friday Eve! Today I’m really excited to have one of my author friends, and all-around cool lady, H.N. Sieverding back on my blog! I interviewed her some years back, around when I first started this blog, so we’re long overdue to check in with her. In addition to being a bestselling author of vampire and sports fiction novels, Ms. Sieverding is a fabulous graphic designer (she’s made all the book covers for the Reborn series!). She was also one of the first author friends I met via WordPress, and I’m so glad we’ve been able to keep in touch over the years.
Check out my interview with her below, followed by an excerpt from her sports romance novel, Verona Wolves.
Author Bio: H.N. Sieverding is an author and graphic artist. Several of her novels have hit bestsellers’ lists, including the Christian’s Kisses, Nightwalkers, and Check Mate series. She’s known for her vampire and sports fiction novels, but writes in many genres, from horror and fantasy to sports fiction and suspense.
Outside of writing, she designs book cover art and promotional material for authors and publishers. Several of her cover designs have won cover art competitions for literary magazines.
Coffee or tea? – Coffee. I think I drink more coffee than I eat some days. I started drinking it to replace pop years ago. I don’t drink soda anymore, but coffee became a worse addiction. Less sugar, but…lol.
Favorite place to visit or go on vacation? – It’d be a tie between the smoky mountains, or bumming on the beach. I love the ocean.
How long have you been writing? – If you mean “novels”, I wrote my first novel when I was about sixteenish, and wrote short stories when I was a kid. I’ve wanted to be an author for as long as I can remember. Though, after watching She-Devil as a little girl and thinking authors were rich, I thought writing would pay way more than it does.
Tell me about your current WIP. – I’m working on two. I’m editing Vulcan’s Nightmare (a paranormal/horror) and writing Astoria Foxes (a sports fiction/romance).
Since I chose an excerpt from Verona Wolves, I’ll introduce its sequel, Astoria Foxes.
It follows the life of a professional hockey player, Firebird Callahan, and his move to a different country when he signs for a foreign team. Not wanting to leap on his own, Firebird marries his girlfriend on a whim and promises to become the perfect father to both her teenage brother and the couple’s new baby. Firebird struggles with the role of Dad, and at nineteen and still a kid himself, Firebird’s in way over his head.
Worse yet, he clashes with his new team’s alpha, Kai Tremblay, and the pair can’t find common ground. Firebird’s perfect life seems like it’s falling apart, and as he drowns in his mistakes, and all he worked for seems to slip away, Firebird fears he’ll lose more than his career if he doesn’t get back on his feet.
What’s the hardest part of writing a book? – Editing. Writing the first draft is like coasting down a hill. You can see the end, and it’s a fast ride. Editing feels more like climbing a mountain on a cloudy day. You can’t see the peak, the pace is slower, and it requires more work. You get tired as you go, and sometimes you feel like you’ll never get there, but if you keep trekking, you’ll get to the top. Once you’re there, the view is worth all the hard work. 😉
Tell me about your latest/upcoming book release. When will it be published, and where can we buy it? – My last book released last fall, and you can buy it on Amazon. It’s a sports fiction/sport’s romance called Verona Wolves and is part of the Firebird Series. I’m writing the sequel to it now, Astoria Foxes. It’s a comedy, so it’s lighter than the darker themed novels I’ve written. It’s fun to switch up genres.
And now, an excerpt from Verona Wolves! (Sport’s Romance/Sport’s Fiction)
Book Description: When an accident takes the lives of her mother and step-father, Sophie moves to Verona to care for her brother, Christopher. Sophie struggles to connect with him, but can’t find common ground. Obsessed with anything hockey, its Christopher’s greatest passion and the one thing that will help her get closer to him. She finds an ally in Firebird Callahan, the loud-mouthed center for the Verona Wolves. Not only does Callahan school her on hockey, he gives her the cringe-worthy nickname, Mistletoe.
Get Verona Wolves on Amazon.
In this scene, Sophie meets Hunter after going to the wrong rink. She doesn’t realize he’s her brother’s favorite player on the Wolves, Firebird Callahan. To mess with her, he chooses not to tell her.
Location: Wolves Ice Arena: Verona, Palisades
Five minutes later, Sophie arrived at the ice arena. Christopher told her to park in the lot, but she only found a parking garage. It said ARENA PARKING, so it should be fine. She paid the fee to park there.
Late, she scurried to the first door she saw. It didn’t have a sign posted near it, but women came out of it, so she assumed it was an entrance. It should take her where she needed to go. A lady on her way out held the door for Sophie, and Sophie thanked her with a smile.
Sophie moved here in August and never stepped foot in the arena before. She took Christopher to buy hockey gear yesterday, and he left his stick in her car. Now, he had hockey practice and didn’t have what he required. She wanted his hockey season to be perfect, but it was already bumpy.
She and her sister still scrambled to get the hang of this parenting thing, and Christopher didn’t give them any breaks. But given what happened to him in the last few weeks, he should be moody, so she let it slide.
When Sophie opened the door to the main arena, she peeked inside. They dimmed the lights, and a Zamboni made runs over the ice. Massive, the stands held thousands, and they covered the walls with screens and advertisements.
Sighing, she realized this wasn’t the place. This was the arena for the Verona Wolves, a team part of World League Hockey. The league had teams all over the globe competing for the coveted Webley Cup. This was hockey royalty, and it showed.
Annoyed with herself, she backtracked. There must be a hallway leading to the public rink. The ramp’s directions led her here and there wasn’t another rink on the street, so it was close.
Frustrated and fretting about not getting to Christopher in time, she trotted through the halls searching for it. Weighted down, she toted a bag with her tablet and work materials in it, a zip-up hoodie over her arm, and Christopher’s hockey stick.
She wore Christopher’s Pup’s T-shirt, but it was tighter than she predicted, and her amble breasts stretched the logo. The long necklaces and bangles she wore didn’t match her casual shirt, and either did her black jeggings and tall boots.
When she fled the house, she took off her blouse and forced the tee over her tank. It was a splendid idea to cheer him on, but now she wished she didn’t do it. She looked silly.
Her phone sounded off with a text. Sophie tucked the stick under her arm to read the note from her boss. Distracted, her attention glued to her cell as she typed and walked to her destination. After banging into the wall a few times, she paused near an intersection to complete it.
Annoyed, Sophie tried to finish fast and concentrate on finding Christopher. She didn’t have time for this, and it showed in her stiff jaw and thinned lips.
A man dashed around the corner and knocked into her. The impact slammed her into the concrete wall. Shrieking when she landed on her brother’s stick, Sophie’s back burned. She gritted her teeth as she hissed, pain running down her spine. She dropped the stick and it fell to the floor.
The man startled and ripped off his headphones. He held a phone, and it appeared to be an accident. “Fuck, I’m sorry. I didn’t see you.” Apologetic, he spoke with a quick tongue. He slung a duffle bag over his shoulder and wore a tight black long-sleeved shirt and loose track pants. “You all right?” He shoved his earphones and cell into his sack.
“What are you composed of? Concrete?” Sophie pressed her lips together, her jaw rigid as she groaned and rubbed her back. She spoke under her breath in Italian, “Hard as rock.” As she readjusted the strap on her bag over her shoulder, she checked the floor for the stick.
“Shit, I’m told.” He smoothed his wet reddish-blond hair as he sought to make a joke. When she went for the stick, he swept it up before she did.
“Must be coprolite, because it really hurt,” she replied in a whiney tone as she ripped the hockey stick from him with a swift hand.
“Corpro what?” Still in a stupor, he gawked at her with a vacant expression.
She spoke with a quick tongue. “You know—fossilized feces—like rock.” She shifted her focus to the stick as she examined it for damage.
As he licked his lips, he ran both hands through his wet hair. Her eyes ticked to his and back to her task. Sophie gasped as she took note of the split wood.
“Damn it,” she uttered in Italian. She stomped her foot as she ran her hand over the fracture, her pout growing. “I snapped it. Christopher will be so mad at me. I just bought this stupid thing yesterday, too.” She grumbled as she banged the butt of the stick on the tile and scanned the surrounding signs.
“Lemme see.” In a lightning-quick action, he stole the stick and surveyed the damage.
She took a step closer and fawned over the stick’s injury. “It’s bad, isn’t it?” she whispered in a babyish voice.
She inhaled the cologne mixed with a spicy body wash radiating off him. The fresh scent ignited butterflies in her belly, but now was not the time to flirt, so she gulped and drove back the interest.
Because of this seductive-smelling man of steel, Christopher would have to sit out on his first practice, and he would be livid with her.
His eyes narrowed as he checked out the stick from various angles. “Ouch—sorry. You must’ve hit it just right. Happens with those cheaper brands.”
“Cheap my ass,” she breathed. She crammed her cell in her back-jean pocket and was furious with herself. Stretchy, her jeans hugged her body and revealed the outline of her phone. “They are not.”
“Who’s Christopher?” His baby blues gave her a quick once over. His eyes paused on the logo on her T-shirt, then moved to her eyes. “Your boyfriend?” His question was sarcastic, but she couldn’t tell if it was a joke or he hit on her.
“My brother,” she corrected. She shied from the dapper man’s eyes. On closer scrutiny, she noted his roots were flaming red, and he added blond highlights to tone it down.
She wasn’t fond of redheads, nor did she date guys younger than her. He looked about twenty, so she guessed he could be younger. Though he was attractive, their age difference made her back off. His flirting wouldn’t get to her.
“He plays junior hockey.” She seized the stick and studied the damage further. As she ran a finger over the crack, she avoided his eyes.
“Junior hockey?” Confused, his eyes narrowed, but his manner was cordial. “The Wolves are a world league team.” He shifted a three-foot duffle bag on his shoulder. Black, it bore a prominent sports brand emblem on the side. It was like the hockey bag Christopher threw his gear in for practice. lea
“No, like kids’ hockey.” She was unsure of her answer and fumbled with her words. Flustered, she couldn’t think.
“Kids? Like pee wee? Bantam?”
“What’s that?” She met his eyes and though he found the exchange humorous, she didn’t. He had a cheerful smile, his teeth an unnatural white like he bleached them. His top row was perfect and straight, and she guessed they were false. If he played hockey, it wouldn’t surprise her.
“Kids’ hockey.” He slicked back his hair with both hands, but it tumbled down again and fell into his face.
After discharging a huff, she bounced the stick on the ground to ease her nervousness. “Christopher plays for the Pups. He’s a freshman in high school.”
“Oh, he’s a Midget, eh?” He motioned toward her shirt.
“Midget,” he spoke in a deeper tone as he sought not to snicker. “That’s what they call kids his age.” He drifted closer and picked at the yellow tape woven around the rounded end of the stick. Christopher taped it yesterday on the car ride home, and this guy peeled it up with ease. It must not be stuck tight.
“Really?” She laughed off her ignorance.
He gave a slow nod as his attention ticked to the logo on her breast. His eyes lingered and he fisted the toe of the stick. “Now you know.” In play, he rattled the stick until she met his gaze.
She still fisted the shaft and kept the stick steady. “Sorry, I’m not familiar with hockey ranks.”
“Apparently,” he quipped as he withdrew his hand to tuck hair behind his ear. “And I was just fucking with you.” He snickered and danced on his feet as he waved the discussion away with his hand. “I know who the Pups are.”
“And I don’t mean to be grumpy, it’s just—” Her phone beeped, and Sophie pulled it out of her pocket to view the message.
[Christopher] Did you bring my stick?
She huffed and palmed her forehead. Sophie pleaded with him, “You know hockey stuff. Can you help me? Is this fixable for the night?” She tapped the end of the stick on the tile and gestured to the damage. She joked as she shot him a stressed smile. “Like, with tape? Don’t you guys use it to fix everything?”
“Tape doesn’t fix everything.” He threw her a mischievous smile and held in a chuckle. A genuine redhead with light skin, there was a troupe of freckles dancing over his nose and dotting his thick neck.
She pushed her lips together and studied the stick, her attention fixated on the break. “Darn,” she grunted. “I thought maybe it could be a temporary fix.”
He plucked at the tape on the curved end of the stick again and brushed against her side. The flirt caused her to meet his eyes. Dry, the skin on his fists bore a few splits. “But, hey, since it was my fault, I’ll get you one he can use. I’d hate to see the kid have to sit out on a game because he doesn’t have one.”
“Thanks.” Her tone brightened with his offer. “And it’s practice, silly. They don’t start games until October.” She giggled as she took in his expression. “As a hockey guy, you should know.”
“’Ya got me there.” He shrugged and showed his palms. “Practice, then. How old did you say he is?”
“Fourteen—almost fifteen. His birthday is at the end of this month. The twentieth.” Shivering, she bounced the stick in a nervous action. They cranked the air conditioner here because of the ice, and there was a drastic temperature difference inside versus outside. She set her bag down and plunged her arms in the zip-up hoodie she carried. The emblem of Azure Magazine was on the front.
As she picked up her bag and hoisted it over her shoulder, she met his eyes. His eyelashes were a light brown, and his eyes an alluring ice blue. He trapped her in his gaze, and she averted her eyes.
“And thanks so much. You made a terrible day better.” She removed her hair from under the collar of her sweater. Her complexion was darker than his and her eyes a light greenish-blue.
“Glad to help…” He gestured for her to fill in her name with his hand.
“Sophie.” With a sunny smile, she held out her hand in greeting. She repeated, “Sophie Moretti.” She introduced herself in the same generic tone she used with clients.
“Hunter.” He shook her hand, his grip tight, and his hands rough and calloused. He peeked at her fingers, rings covering most of them. She loved jewelry, and it showed.
“Nice to run into you, Hunter.” Her cheeks reddened as they shared a laugh.
“How long’s he played?” Hunter motioned for her to go with him, and Sophie hopped to his side. The halls were silent, and their words echoed in the vacant hall.
“Since he was four. He’s my half-brother, so we didn’t grow up together. He’d call me when he won games and sent me videos and pictures, but I’ve never seen him play in person. So, I’m excited to get the opportunity to now.”
“Where you from?”
“The Marion Hills.”
“I can believe that,” he snickered and watched the tile at his feet as they strolled.
She ignored his remark. “But maybe I’m too involved. Like, he gets annoyed with me because he says I drill him about hockey like I’m interviewing him. Like I’m weird.”
She palmed her chest as she spoke, her words casual. “I don’t mean to. I just want to learn about it, you know.” She pouted her lips as she fidgeted with her necklaces. Her worry showed in her hurried words. “So, when I’m watching him play, I know what’s going on. I don’t want to say the wrong thing around his friends and embarrass him. He’s sensitive about stuff. I like to enter the scene researched and prepared.”
He opened his mouth to speak, but she cut him off.
“Oh, my gosh!” She covered her mouth and gasped as she talked over him. “Do you think I’m trying too hard? I don’t want to make him feel that way or smother him.”
He tried to speak again, but she continued.
“I am, aren’t I?” She pouted, a babyishness in her voice. “And I wore his shirt and I look so stupid.” She dropped her hand and groaned. “I’m such an awful sister.”
“Naw.” He faced forward, his gaze bouncing over the banners in the hall. “It should thrill him you’re researching.”
“Maybe,” she whispered. As she adjusted the belt on her shoulder, her gaze bounced around the corridor. “So, do you play hockey? You look like an athlete. I mean—” She gestured to him, her eyes narrowing on his tight shirt defining his muscles. Before she grew flustered, she adverted her eyes to crush the wicked thoughts he kindled. “Like, you—”
“Work out?” He caught onto her fumble and threw her a mischievous grin.
“Yeah.” She refocused and swung the stick as she walked. She skimmed the wall lined with endorsements for the Wolves. “This complex is so huge, there’s like a million teams playing here.”
“Just so you know,” he gave his answer with a chuckle. “All the city stuff is at the rink across the street.” He pointed to his right. “This is the Wolves arena, so technically, you’re not supposed to be in here. I don’t even know how you got in here without a key.”
“Seriously?” She halted as her jaw dropped. Wiping away her worry, she scowled and stiffened her lip. She resumed walking and mumbled, “Well, that explains why I can’t find the way to the public rink.” She spun to face him, irritation in her voice. “The signs on the ramp make it look like it connects all the rinks. They need to fix that.” She pointed the stick at him. “So, technically, it’s the sign maker’s fault I’m lost.”
“Don’t worry about it. It happens a lot,” he whispered as he peeked behind them and back at her.
“Do you play for the Wolves?” Her lips filled with a grand smile flushing her cheeks. “My brother loves you guys.”
“Yeah.” Annoyance replaced his upbeat mood. She wasn’t sure why, but she overlooked it.
She signaled to him with her stick. “And this may sound a little silly but—” She shot him a smile, her eyes meeting with his. “—maybe you can autograph something for me? Christopher would be so thrilled. He’d forgive me for the whole ‘forgetting his stick’ thing.”
“Sure. I’ll get you something before we leave.” He nodded. “So, who’s your favorite player on the Wolves?” Hunter fished, his grin devious. From his expression, he wanted her to choose him. If she knew his last name, she would say it.
“You, right now. So, what’s your name and number? I know players from that.” She giggled, but it was soft as she hopped ahead a few strides. Sophie palmed his shoulder and squeezed his hard bicep in play.
He fired off a caustic remark. “Don’t I have to sleep with you before I give that out?”
“Stop,” she quipped as she waved the stick as she walked. “That was a serious question.” Her sweetened tone showed he didn’t offend her. “Since I can’t choose you, I’ll go with Christopher’s favorite, Callahan. They call him Phoenix.”
“Firebird,” he corrected. His cheeks flushed as he shied from her.
“I guess he’s amazing.” Her gaze ticked to a hanging banner of Callahan in full gear. Taken at a game, it was a shot of Callahan chasing a puck, his teammates near him. Though a helmet covered his face, she noted “24” on his sleeve. Christopher claimed Callahan was the VIP, though she didn’t know if that was true. Callahan was Christopher’s favorite, so it might just be his opinion. His dad liked Bellows, and she discovered a few jerseys in her mother’s bedroom.
“Christopher makes this dumb joke about him.” Her eyes ticked to the ceiling. The lights installed in it were sharp, but it was white light and not harsh yellow. “Stick with twenty-four. He always scores.” She scrunched her nose and grinned. “It’s so cheesy. He says it whenever I tell him I like his shirt.”
“I bet he could score in your five-hole.” He snickered and stared at his white sneakers as they strode. The remark amused him, and his cheeks flushed red.
“Knock it off.” She punched his arm and sought to contain her laugh.
“Seriously, though.” He shook her shoulder in play and revved for another dirty joke.
“You think I’m hot as fuck—” He fisted the fabric of his shirt near his chest and shook it. “—but I’m only the warm-up. ‘Ol Firebird’s the game, baby. Fucker brings more pussy to the ice than a bowl of tuna.”
“I never said either of you were hot, Bello,” she chirped as she faced ahead, and strolled at his side. “I said he’s Christopher’s favorite, and he has like ten shirts with his name on it. I think he plays middle and—”
“Forward,” he corrected her as he wet his lips with his tongue and rubbed his red stubble. “Everyone likes those guys.” He dodged her gaze and peered into an open door they passed. They were now in a section closed to the public, and he appeared uneasy to be here with her.
She sought to blow off the worry. “See?” she cooed as she patted his bicep. “I told you I don’t know much.”
He released a muffled chuckle from his nostrils and ran his hand up and down the strap of his bag. “Apparently.”
“Yeah, maybe I need to research him more to impress Christopher. Or you can teach me about your position.”
“Sure, then I’ll give you a ride on my zam-boner.”
“Knock-it-off,” she said between laughs. She punched him in the chest, her face sore from laughing. “You’re horrible.”
As he walked backward, he got in her face. He jabbed at the logo on her sweater. “Why? Gonna give me five minutes in your penalty box for misconduct, Sophie?”
She filled the gap between them and tapped his nose. “It’ll take more than that to get in there.”
“I could check you from behind. Smash you to the boards. Make you go down.” Returning the advance, he scrunched his nostrils as he tickled her sides. “Huh, Sophie?” He was rough, his play making her drop the stick and her knees buckle. “Maybe you’ll give me a few extra minutes for high sticking?”
Giggles escaped her lips and echoed in the corridor. He held her hips, so she didn’t slip to her knees. He kept up the banter. “Let me beat on that box like I lost the winning shot with ten seconds in the game. Angry like a frenzied gorilla.”
Her eyes watered with her laughter. After a few seconds, she swatted him away and took a step backward. “Seriously, knock it off.” She plucked a strand of hair sticking to her lip. Smitten, he got to her. By his cocky smirk, he knew it.
She drew a deep breath and sought to calm her voice. “Okay, stop. I’m trying to be a good sister and get my brother his gear and you’re distracting me.” She paused when her phone beeped. She plucked it out of her back pocket and read the note aloud. “Coach had an extra woody. You owe me ice cream for being late and making me ride with Camilla.” She glanced at Hunter. “What’s a woody?”
“Stick.” He tapped the top of the stick as he retrieved it from the floor. He stopped next to her and read her new message from her brother.
[Christopher] Next time YOU take me. Tell Camilla NOT to come to practice.
“Nice kid,” Hunter noted.
“He’s just grumpy.” She wrote a note back.
“Little pucktard.” Hunter chuckled.
“He’s not. He’s fourteen and mad at the world.” She grimaced as she opened her social media account. “My mother and stepfather died in a car accident along with three of his siblings two months ago. That’s why I moved here—to take care of him.”
Dumbfounded, he regarded her with a blank expression. “That’s horrible. I’m sorry to hear about that, Sophie.”
“Thanks.” Her voice dipped, and the loss was still raw. “Maybe you read about it. The Rosewoods? It happened out near the turn on Burden. Semi hit them coming off the ramp. Christopher was at a friend’s that night, so he wasn’t with them.”
“Actually,” he said with a drawn-out tone, “I think I remember that.”
“Well, that’s our story.” She opened Christopher’s social media profile and handed her cell to Hunter. “This is my brother.”