Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Where have you been?

Tell Me Your Story Tuesday

Where have you been? 
Or the story of how life slapped me in the face and I quit blogging for a while.
By Dawn Alexander

 If you're still reading this blog, thank you. I've been out of touch for a while. Paul A. Shortt got a month long feature for his new release and if you look past that you will see that I missed the entire month of October.

 Honestly, I thought no one would notice until this weekend when the president of my RWA chapter said, "I keep stopping by your blog and that man's still there."

So, if like Jen, you've been dropping by and seeing Paul alot. I thank you for continuing to check in.

I wrote in September about getting myself together. Everything was under control.I was ready to start writing, blogging, playing on social media. 

I was ready to be me, again. 

Then, October happened. 

Sometimes, just to let you know you ain't running nothing, as my dad would say, life backhands you.

Five deaths in 9 weeks. 

That's where I've been. 

Two family friends, two high school students and one cousin, who is being laid to rest today.  

All with their own stories that they don't get to tell anymore. 

I am making a proclamation that this year is done. 

No one else can get sick. No one else can be hurt. No one else can die. 

2012 has not been a pleasant experience. I have high hopes for the year to come. 

I just have to get there...with this little thread of sanity I am clutching intact. 



Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Happy Release Day To Paul A. Shortt

Tell Me Your Story Tuesday

Happy Release Day! 

Welcome back to the blog! I looked back at your first interview from August of 2011. So much has changed for you since then!

Thanks for having me again! Yeah, things have come along a lot. It's been a really exciting time.

First, tell us about Locked Within.

Did the inspiration for this book come from any particular source? 

I had seen an increase in the amount of books where the hero was some powerful supernatural creature. I wanted to try something different, where the hero was just a man. Sure, Nathan Shepherd gains knowledge from past lives through the course of the book, and learns how to harness the power of being reborn, but compared to his enemies he's just a mortal. He has vulnerabilities and has to use his wits to get by.

Reincarnation has always interested me. The idea that we've been here before, and will be again, is kind of comforting. One thing I hadn't seen much of was a setting where reincarnation was considered the norm, and it was assumed that most people had been reborn at least once. Although Locked Within features conflict over the matter, it's still a world where reincarnation forms a central point in the development of the supernatural society.

Locked Within is set in New York City. I know you recently took a trip there. Had you visited there before writing the book? Where did you visit that is mentioned in the book? 

My wife and I had our honeymoon in New York 4 years ago. The book was firmly in my mind at the time, and had been for many years, but I hadn't started writing yet. We spent 2 weeks in Manhattan. Between that and our week there earlier this year, we still haven't seen or done everything we wanted to!

I've visited several places that appear in Locked Within. The New York Public Library and Riverside Park in particular play important roles, and Grand Central Station appears as well. There's also a bar called Druids in Hell's Kitchen which pretty much serves as the location for a disused bar that features in a particular scene.

Can you describe the feel of holding a book with your name on the cover? ('cause some of us are still waiting for that, you know!)

There's no one feeling that can really describe it. Excitement. Fear. Giddiness. Pride. Fear. It was more than just a feeling of accomplishment; it was also a sense of responsibility. I'm a professional author now, I've achieved my lifelong dream, so I have to work even harder than ever to stay here. 

But at the same time, yeah, I've achieved my lifelong dream. It's amazing to look at the book, feel the pages, smell the paper, then read my name on the cover and think "Wow, I did this."

So, you are doing a live book launch as well as a virtual launch on Twitter (which I think is awesome.) How is that going work? 

The live launch is being held in Hughes and Hughes bookstore in Dundrum, which is near Dublin. The store is doing an amazing amount to promote the event and we've already reached 100 confirmed guests on the Facebook event. I can't wait!

The virtual launch will be the following night. I'll make sure to start it at a time when people from the other side of the Atlantic can make it. I'll assign a Twitter hashtag for people to use so that anyone who's online can join in and chat about the book. 

And, do I understand correctly, that you are already working on a sequel? Tell us about that and when we can look for it. 

Yeah! I've actually been working on it since last year. I'm currently in the middle of a hefty re-write before sending it back to my publisher. Originally my plan was to write 6 books about Nathan Shepherd, but after thinking things over, I decided to shorten the series into a much more manageable trilogy.

The sequel, Forgotten Cause, continues Nathan's story and has him facing not only the consequences of his actions in Locked Within, but also actions taken in his past lives. He comes face to face with an old nemesis, and a woman who could be an ally, lover, or a traitor. If the manuscript is accepted by my publisher and the editing goes well, we should be on course for a release date in 2013.

Last, on a personal note, tell us about the twins! 

Hehe, yeah, those two are currently kicking lumps out of my wife's insides. As you may know, last year we had our first baby, a boy named Conor. We lost him after only three days. It was a really hard time, the worst we could possibly imagine, but we had our friends and family to get us through.

We knew we wanted more kids, so when we found out Jen, my wife, was pregnant again, we were thrilled. You can imagine our surprise at the first scan when the midwife said "I think that's another fetal sac." It was small, less than half the size of the larger one, but there was a definite heartbeat. The midwife was concerned we might lose the smaller one. My wife said that as soon as she saw the heartbeat on the monitor, she knew the second twin would be fine. At the next scan Twin 2 had caught up completely and now the pair of them are weighing in well above the average, even for single babies!

We're expecting them to be delivered by c-section on the 28th of December, but based on their size they could decide to come early. It's been a pretty incredible year. Our lives are changing in big ways and I can't wait to see what's next!

It has been awesome getting to know Paul through his writing journey. 

What else would you like to know? You can leave a question in the comments, or if you have minute, leave him a note of congratulations on his first release. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Alyson Reuben

Tell Me Your Story Tuesday
Back in elementary and high school, Alyson was always in trouble for jotting stories in her notebooks when she should’ve been studying for math tests. Detentions and trips to the principal's office aside she was determined to become an author someday, no matter the price.
Fast forward a few years — okay, actually several years — she began writing historical romance and women's fiction, leading to the debut of ABEAUTIFUL CAGE, published by the Wild Rose Press in 2011.
Now she gets in trouble for writing stories when she should be cooking dinner for her family.
Alyson is with us today to talk about her latest release
She has a chance to relive her past. But at what cost?
When Julia married the man of her dreams, Landon Sloane, neither of them could have predicted the destructive impact of The Great War. Finding herself a widow and single mother in a period ripe with women’s suffrage and the prohibition, Julia married wealthy industrialist Ford Hampton.
Now, ten years later, with a son attending an academy for the gifted, a daughter with special needs, and a flapper stepdaughter who tests her daily, Julia is hardly prepared for Landon’s return from his long foreign captivity to announce he has never stopped loving her.
Faced with unrequited love for Landon, her life truly begins to unravel with the intrusion of her mother, who abandoned her as a child, a devastating factory fire, and an alarming encounter with a tawdry bootlegger. Finally, when her son is kidnapped in a diabolical scheme of revenge, Julia knows she has to make a final decision that will forever change everyone and everything in her life.

Isn't that a beautiful cover?  
Keep scrolling after the interview to read an excerpt.
Let's get to know Alyson!

Welcome! First, tell us a little about yourself. How long have you been writing? What genre do you write? 
I’ll start out by saying how glad I am to be here today, Dawn!
 My writing career launched itself in 2nd grade, after I listened to a visiting author give a lecture at my school about his children’s books.  Immediately following his visit, I sat down and penned my first story (untitled) about a girl and her dog.  As a young adult, I wrote several short stories.  Later, I wrote for my local newspaper and contributed to several online sites.  But it wasn’t until just a few years ago that I became truly serious about my writing.  Last year, the Wild Rose Press published A BEAUTIFUL CAGE, a WWII historical romance.  My latest, CASTLES WE BUILD, is set in the roaring 1920’s.  A FALLEN STARR, my current work in progress, is a young adult story, set in the 1940’s, about a girl who is working with a fortuneteller in a carnival.  They’re all very separate stories, written in different ways.  The one thing that links them is that they’re set in the “vintage years”.

Tell us more about Castles We Build
The theme in CASTLES WE BUILD gives new meaning to the adage, “When it rains it pours”.   Julia Hampton is an ordinary wife and mother living in extraordinary times, swallowed into even more extraordinary circumstances.  The story starts out with Julia happily living with her second husband, Ford, and their three children in their lavish beachside home.  When her first husband, Landon, who she thought died nearly ten years ago in WWI, shows up alive, claiming he still loves her, Julia’s calm life is suddenly turned upside-down in an avalanche of shocking events.  Passing through fire, water, and wind – literally – by the end of the story, everything centers on which man she chooses to spend the rest of her life with.

You seem to have a favorite time period in to use as a setting in your work. What draws you to that time?  
I enjoy reading several types of stories, from contemporaries to futuristic.  Yet, as I sit down to start a new book, it will almost always end up having a historical slant, specifically the vintage years of the 1920’s – 1950s.  That doesn’t mean my stories are old-fashioned, though.  Not at all!  Although CASTLES WE BUILD is set nearly eighty years ago, modern readers will easily connect with Julia’s way of dealing with specific dilemmas.  After all, no matter what time period, issues involving men, marriage, and family are ones that women can always relate to.  This is why the story is also categorized as a contemporary women’s story.

I hear you also have a love of vintage fashion. What fashion trend from the past do you wish would come back in style today so you could wear it?
Oh Lord, there are too many of them to list!  lol  I guess if I had to choose just one vintage trend, I’d pick hats.  I collect the 1920’s cloches and the adorable little hats of the 1930’s – 1960’s.  If they ever come back into vogue, I’ll try wearing a different one every day!  I’m also crazy about vintage jewelry, although I’m not about to wait to wear the pieces I’ve collected.  I pair-up vintage jewelry with my outfits on an almost daily basis.

What has been the best part of your writing journey?  
Oh, wow, that’s another tough question to answer.  There are several awesome things about my writing journey.  Probably, the most important one is seeing my characters come alive, not just for me, but for those who read my books.  I’ll never grow tired of hearing people tell me that they are sad when they finish the last page of one of my stories, because they wanted to find out what is going to happen next in the characters’ lives.  That’s a very rewarding feeling for any author!  Also, I’ve met so many new friends along the path to publication, from fellow authors to reading fans.  The world of books is almost like one huge family – all the better since writing can be a very solitary profession.

What do you do when you aren't writing?
There’s absolutely nothing I like better than spending time with my husband and daughter.  We live in a small community and there is always something going on, whether it’s ballgames, fundraisers, or parties.  I’m also an artist, so I try to save room for sketching and painting.  My other hobbies (and there’s never enough time for them all) are antique-hunting, being outdoors, taking long walks, cycling, touring old scary houses, watching good movies, going out with my fab friends, and, of course, reading!  It might sound like I’m very busy – and I am- but, overall, I consider myself pretty average.

What's next for you? What are you working on now?
Besides A FALLEN STARR, I’m writing a couple of short stories for The Wild Rose Press, both in early stages.  I’m not very good at sticking with writing just one story at a time.  I catch myself starting a new story while I’m still working on another.  It works out to my advantage by keeping me out of a writing-rut.  Plus, I can be involved in several different adventures at once!

How can readers get to know you better?
You can find me at the following locations:
My Amazon page:
Goodreads site

Thank you for visiting with us. I'll step aside now and let our readers have a peek at Castles We Build

There he is.  A man whose memory I desperately tried to lay to rest at his memorial site in Westbrook Cemetery. 
            Landon Sloane.
            For a few seconds, I wobble, my peripheral vision closing in.  I’m about to pass out….
            Suddenly, he grins.  And the grin does the same thing to me now that it did nine years ago, saving me from losing consciousness.  Saving me, period.
            He holds out his arms, and I rush into them, moaning as his mouth claims mine in a kiss that’s like a drowning man clutching a lifesaver. Pulling me inside and reaching behind me to slam the door shut, his hands grip at my clothes and my hair, tangling in them as if hoping to extract the essence of everything I am.
            Now he’s kissing my cheeks.  My forehead.  My chin.  The places behind my ears.  The hollow of my neck.  The skin above my lace collar.  My breasts through the voile fabric.  My legs as he pushes up the hem of my frock. 
            And I’m falling backward on a bed that seems to have appeared like magic.  Calling his name.  Over and over.  He answers me with a voice tinted by a slight brogue, as familiar as the sound of leaves rustling in the wind.  Yes.  Yes, he’s really Landon Sloane.  Alive.  Very alive.  And my name is also on his lips, coming out in hoarse whispers, pressed against my skin, branding me with what’s always been there, never disappearing completely, but only lying dormant — my love for him.
            Rising above me, his body comes down over mine in the ancient way that has coupled countless lovers.  In the same way that summoned us in the past with pleasure and intoxication.  I grip him, pulling him closer, needing him to complete what’s lacking.  To satiate me with his heat and energy….
            A little girl’s cry floats through the room. 
            Gracie!  Just that suddenly, I push Landon back, forcing his flushed face away from mine.  No, I’m not thinking clearly.  That wasn’t a girl’s voice.  Just a bird outside the open window.  One that has a trill similar to a child’s outburst.
            For several seconds Landon and I stare at each other, saying nothing.  He looks the same.  Yet, different in several ways.  Slimmer…a little too slim.  A leathery tan that makes his eyes brighter, as potent as midnight’s navy sky in a flash of lightning.
            I’m lying here half naked.  With a husband I thought would never return from the war he left to fight nine years ago.  And the question hits me like a rock to the stomach.  “Why, Landon?  Why didn’t you come home?  Where have you been?”
            He visibly swallows, his face glistening with perspiration and what might very well be tears.  “My ship sank off the coast of South Africa.  Most of the men didn’t….  Anyway, me and my lieutenant were rescued by natives.  They had bartering friends who traded with them.  Local radicals who supported the enemy forces.  I think a few of them even had direct ties with Germany.”
            His voice has deepened, grown huskier with age.  I try to concentrate on his words, needing desperately to understand.  To make sense of this unexpected phenomenon: the miracle of his rise from the dead. 
            “So me and the lieutenant were arrested and held in an encampment.  Seventeen straw huts surrounded by a high fence.  Guards with guns and long pikes.  Shared it with criminals and other detainees.  We didn’t even know when the war was over.  Guess they liked having free laborers too much to set us free.  Or maybe they just liked trapping us like mice in a maze.”  His voice is hard now.  Gritty.  Full of hatred and anger.  In a tone I don’t recognize. 
            “They finally released us last month.  Because of some new political uprising, I think.  I don’t know exactly who or what…. I only care that I’m free.  Back where I can see you.  Hold you.  And…oh, God, if I can just get all this filth out of my head.”  He sits up beside me, gripping the sides of his head.
            The hair at his temples is peppered with silver.
            It used to be completely dark, the color of coffee with no creamer. 
            Like Brent’s.
            I reach for him, pulling him to me.  Prison.  For almost a decade.  What a nightmare that must’ve been.  The hurt is palpable, transferring between us.  “It’s over, darling,” I whisper near his ear.  “And I’m so glad you’re back, safe and sound.  Alive.”
            He folds his arms around me so that we’re huddled in a ball.  And we stay that way.  Unmoving.  Quiet.  For a very long time.
            His heavy breathing steadies to a hoarse snore; the sound of a man who hasn’t had good, clean rest for a long time.  He shifts, spreading out his arms in unconscious freedom.  And I release him, sitting up gently in order not to wake him. 
            The bedroom is mostly bare.  A utilitarian iron bed.  A dresser.  A shabby club chair.  But nothing else.  I stare at the open window where the cage hangs, dangling slightly in the breeze.  There are no finches in it.  Or any other birds.  The door is hanging open, facing the outside.
            He won’t cage anything again.
            I push my tousled hair from my face, combing both hands through the chin-length strands.
            None of this is the way it should be. 
            It’s all messed up somehow.
            Ford’s face enters my mind.  Just the way he looked last night, smiling at me from the dinner table.
            Oh, God.
            I’m married to someone else.
            And I have a family.
            Two men. 
            Two husbands.

 Castles We Build can be found in paperback and Kindle format at: amazon

Friday, September 21, 2012

Friday Plot Swap~Love gone wrong style

Dawn's Plot Swap
Have a plot? Leave one.
Need a plot ? Take one.
I knew I was going to use this first one the moment I saw it. 
This screams mystery to me. Who is the woman? Why did the man feel the need to be "dead" to be away from her? The woman found out when she went to his former house. Can you imagine that conversation?

Maybe he needs to take a hint from this guy?

Mystery Man Spells Out Heartbreak on His Van

 First of all, Dude, WHAT DID YOU DO?!?! Second, what makes  you think "Linda" is going to see your random van? Lastly, how is she supposed to respond? Throw herself on the hood? 
I could see this working for a sweet, light romance or a creepy, stalker thriller.

Speaking of creepy, stalker stuff

Woman Finds Ex-Boyfriend Living In Her Attic.

 Oh, the places you could go with this one. The article has details about how he was living up there and the fact he was staring at her through the ceiling vents.

 So, Swap with me!!! What could make of these? Heard any other good plots lately?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Jody Hedlund: Secret #11

Tell Me Your Story Tuesday


Jody is awesome and I am so excited to have her sharing secrets with us today! Before we get to the juicy stuff, I absolutely have to recommend her latest book: 
I may or may not have devoured this book in basically one setting. I read the first two chapters on the treadmill and had every intention of only letting myself read it in the mornings while I was working out. Yeah, that night I stayed up until my eyes wouldn't focus getting it finished. So much for my reading-to-improve my thighs plan. 
But, the book was just that awesome! 
Enough about me!
Today is about Jody.

Secret #11: The area in my life I'm the most inconsistent.
By Jody Hedlund, @JodyHedlund

Overall, I count myself a very self-disciplined person. I  water my plants every Monday. I set my coffee maker every night before going to bed.  I always get up early. I write a certain number of words per day.  I pay my bills on time. I respond promptly to emails. 

Yes, I'm consistent and self-disciplined with most of my life.

But I'm terrible at being self-disciplined in one particular area. And that is exercising regularly.

I have good intentions when it comes to exercising. I always tell myself I need to exercise more and come up with plans. But for some reason, I can't seem to stick with those plans for very long.

Last winter, my goal was to walk with my Leslie Sanone DVD each weekday morning for approximately twenty minutes. I started out walking most mornings. But then occasionally I skipped because of an early morning headache or because I had too many emails to respond to. 

And once you get into the habit of skipping occasionally, it becomes all too easy to skip more regularly, until you're hardly doing it at all anymore.

Then I went in for a yearly doctor's visit and discovered that my blood pressure is borderline high. As I evaluated ways I could work on getting it down (without having to take meds), I learned that exercise was one way to work on lowering blood pressure. 

So, once again, I vamped up my efforts to be more consistent with exercising. Over the summer, I tried to take a twenty minute power walk every weekday morning before the kids woke up. And I realized it's a beautiful, cool time of the morning, with very few people out—mostly just me and my dog.

I realized it's easier to stay consistent with something if you plan it into your schedule for the same time every day, eliminate excuses, and just do it whether you feel like it or not.

Even with all my resolutions, I still find myself missing days now and then. But I'm getting better at becoming more consistent at this area in my life where I've always been completely inconsistent.
Maybe one day, I finally get there.

How about you? In what area of your life do you struggle to be consistent?

Publisher's Weekly calls Unending Devotion " A meaty tale of life amid the debauchery of the lumber camps of 1880s Michigan . . . exciting and unpredictable to the very end."

To celebrate the release of Unending Devotion, Jody is giving away a signed copy. Leave a comment (along with your email address) to enter the drawing. Valid only with US or Canadian addresses. Giveaway ends Friday, Sept. 21st. A winner will be chosen on Saturday. 
For more secrets about Jody and additional chances to win her newest release, visit her Events Page to see where she'll be next in her "Fun Secrets About Author Jody Hedlund" blog tour.
Also join in the Pinterest Photo Contest she's hosting. Find more information about it on her Contest Page.
Jody would love to connect with you! Find her in one of these places: