Friday, February 24, 2017

State of Allegiance RELEASE Day: Plus, Prize Pack and Gift Card Giveaway!



Title: State of Allegiance 
Series: Collapse #9 
Author: Summer Lane 
AVAILABLE NOW!
Buy Links:

Synopsis:

Be brave. Be vigilant. 
But above all, be loyal. 

In the wake of a dangerous but successful mission to Yukon City in Alaska, Cassidy Hart now finds herself back in California, at the naval air station in San Diego. Together, she and Chris now face their most terrifying threat yet: nuclear destruction. 

Surviving in a world gone nuclear is easier said than done. Faced with the prospect of being wiped off the face of the earth by Omega's nuclear arsenal, Cassidy, Chris and their fellow rebel friends stage an incredible, daring journey into the Pacific Rim with the hope that they will be able to seize a weapon that could turn the tide of the war in the militia's favor. 

The clock of the apocalypse is counting down. 
Choices must be made. Relationships will be strained. True love will be put to the ultimate test. 
It's militias versus Omega. Hope versus destruction. 

Where does your allegiance lie? 

Choose carefully. 

The ninth installment in the national and international phenomenon by #1 bestselling author Summer Lane.





Thank you so much for supporting the Collapse Series this far! This is the 9th installment - unbelievable! 

This is also the first part of the finale, which will conclude this summer of 2017 with State of Hope!

To show my appreciation, I'm giving away some prizes for readers. You can enter EVERY DAY for chances to win until the contest ends. 

Here's what I'm giving away: 
Collapse Prize Pack: 
$20 Amazon Gift Card, Collectible Collapse Tote Bag, Megnetic Cassidy Hart Calendar, Collapse Tee-Shirt, Special Edition Pen, Autographed Copy of Bravo: Apocalypse Mission, Bravo Plush and Personal Note from the author.

Runner Ups (2): 
Two runner-ups will receive $10 gift card to either Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Enter the giveaway using the Rafflecopter form below! Please read Allegiance, leave reviews and share the news with your friends. Let's make this launch BIGGER THAN EVER BEFORE! 












Monday, February 13, 2017

CLAN: A YA Science-Fiction Thriller (Plus, $20 Gift Card Giveaway!)


Clan
Realm Lovejoy
Publication date: November 12th, 2013
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult

“Highly enjoyable, thought-provoking sci-fi by an author with considerable talent and promise.”–Kirkus Reviews
____

Clans are Unity.
No variation. No deviation.
On Clades, to be a Clan is to be an exact copy. A perfect society cloning themselves to survive, even as the zombielike Frags threaten to overrun them on an unforgiving planet.
Clan 1672 (privately known as Twain) was never supposed to survive the Incubation Tank. But he did. Illegally. He is different from the other Clans.
A secret that could destroy him.
*Now available on audio!*
EXCERPT:
A glitch. Being a glitch was somewhat bearable, but an intentional glitch was not. Twigg had told Father Krume and Brisbane that Twain had been an accident. Twain wanted to believe that he had been locked up because Twigg had wanted to protect him, not because Twigg had wanted to cage him like some sort of sick scientific experiment. All those years he had spent, hidden—agonized by solitude…
“Son.” His sponsor stood at the door. “Mandy reported to me that you’ve thrown away dinner two nights in a row. Don’t tell me you’ve got nausea again.”
Twain eyed his sponsor’s silhouette. “Father, are there other mutants besides us?”
“Why would you ask that?”
“We were wondering—someone mentioned that there were more.”
Twigg eyed him sharply. “Who told you this? I knew the Contribution Center was dangerous for you…”
“We didn’t catch his number.”
“I have never seen another mutant and neither have you. Are you sure you didn’t get the Clan’s number?”
Something about the tone of Twigg’s voice gave Twain the feeling that he shouldn’t talk about it anymore. “We honestly don’t know. We’re all the same after all.”


About the Author
Realm Lovejoy is an American writer and an artist. She grew up in both Washington State and the Japanese Alps of Nagano, Japan. Currently she lives in Seattle and works as an artist in the video game industry. CLAN is her first book. You can find out more about her and her book at realmlovejoy.com






XBTBanner1



Thursday, February 9, 2017

Candid Author Talk: Staying Positive, Strong and Achieving Your Dreams

Staying at the top of your game is hard work. Like an athlete training for the Olympics or the Super Bowl, nothing is handed to you. It requires a lot of pushing, working and overcoming self-doubt. In life, you're going to experience ups and downs. Hard things are going to happen. People are going to kick you when you're down, they're going to walk away when you want them to stay, and they're going to wish they were you when you finally rise above them and achieve your dreams. We live in a harshly judgmental world pockmarked with egotists who use social media as a byway to torture public figures, punish their ex-boyfriends/girlfriends and compare themselves with airbrushed pictures of models, becoming depressed in the process when they don't measure up like they think they should. 

So how are we supposed to keep our chin up and keep moving on when everything seems to suck? 

This has been a real challenge for me in my life, and it's taken many years, many hardships and boatloads of tears to finally realize how to survive the harsh reality that not everybody in your life is going to be nice to you, and not everybody is going to understand your goals and dreams! This article is designed to be a pep-talk, a self-help guide and an encouragement to anyone who might be struggling to rise above the negativity of bad influences. 

Here's how I deal with it. 

Realize that negative people are toxic and have no place in your life. I have learned a lot about people and relationships over the course of my life. I'm a fairly quiet gal. I keep to myself, I have a sarcastic sense of humor, I enjoy reading books, watching Wheel of Fortune, cooking new things and going on fun road trips with my husband (can somebody say Sierra Nevadas or Disneyland?). In other words, I'm not exactly a social butterfly. Sure, I hang out with friends, go to parties and Bible study and all that - but I'm pretty reserved, and part of why I'm reserved is because I like to stay focused. I like keeping my eye on the prize - I like working, building my career, setting new goals, and subsequently achieving them! I have found that anybody who is chronically negative or dramatic will suck the energy and peace out of your heart. They'll stomp on you and deflate your creative energy like popping a hole in a balloon. Let me say this right now: People like that are not good for you. People who bring you down, chew you out, or bully you aren't worth your time. They are essentially taking your beautiful sparkle, your incredible talent and your creativity and drowning it. Politely and kindly send them packing. Nobody needs that. 

Grow up. Friends or colleagues who can't seem to mature beyond the realm of Middle School when it comes to dependability and reason are the kinds of people who really need to either grow up or find their way out of my house! I'm a working woman, and I've got things to do! I don't have time for pointless drama. This isn't meant to sound insensitive, either. There is a time and place for drama, sometimes, but you have to draw the line. I am including this here because I feel that so many young men and women in their 20s allow "drama" to suck up way too much of their time. If you want to be productive, surround yourself with people who build you up, not tear you down. The harsh reality is that real "grown-ups" don't allow themselves to play games with people, and they don't take crap from anyone. They're hardworking, common-sense and direct. My point is this: if you're a grown up, hang out with grown-ups. If you're not a grown-up, remember to try to act with maturity and grace. It will greatly enrich your life. 

You get rejected. You get hurt. Now what? Everybody's been hurt at some point! EVERYBODY. You can't avoid heartbreak, rejection or broken dreams. I've experienced my fair share in life, and guess what? I'll experience many more before my life here is over. Let's face it: living means that there is going to be ups and downs. One of my biggest struggles growing up (and to a degree, presently!), is avoiding the shock and hurt of being rejected or stomped on by someone I trusted deeply. OUCH. This kind of hurt can really depress you and threaten to pull you away from achieving your goals, whether you want to write books, become a doctor or travel to faraway places. The best method? Absorb the hurt for a moment - feel it. Experience it. Cry if you have to. And then, fasten your seat belt, steel your shoulders and dust your boots off. Move on, babe. Use every rejection and hurt as a teachable moment - it's experience, and you'll be smarter next time. Plus, if you're like me...you'll use the emotional experiences to further enrich your writing! (You know what they say: Don't annoy a writer, they'll get their revenge in print!) 

I'm making no progress! I want to give up. Um, excuse me? Never! I think it's the Marines who supposedly don't know how to spell the word "defeat," or so it's been said. I love that mentality. When you go after something, realize that you're doing it with the mentality of a zero failure possibility. Look, there's a difference between taking a rest (You're sick! You have to attend a funeral! You need a vacation!) and flat-out GIVING UP. I'm sorry, but successful people don't give up. Ever. There are no excuses. Do what you have to do to get it done. Be a boss. Conquer your fears. Ignore anybody and everybody who doubts you, undervalues you or underestimates you. Your best revenge will be to kindly and lovingly be a smashing, knock-out, dazzling success story. 

What if I fail? Try again! A lot of people are afraid to try, simply because they're afraid to fail. I have this problem when it comes to bonding with people - I'm sometimes afraid of getting close to someone, because inevitably, something bad is going to happen. I just know it! This is not true, by the way, but it's a fear that I have - along with a lot of people, I think. How do you overcome this? You go for it anyway. And if you fail, you pick yourself up and keep going. Remember what I said about learning experiences? This would be one. 

Don't try to control everything. Let's be really honest for a moment: we as humans are always trying to control everything about our lives. I think this is especially true for women, because we tend to be more emotionally in tune with the world, and we want everybody and everything to be cohesive and happy. Unfortunately, this is not reality. We can't control everything, and the more we accept this, the happier we'll be. We can control our own outlook, behavior, work ethic, personal conduct and more - but we can't control anyone else's. We are responsible for our own attitudes and behavior. If somebody else has a crummy tude', that's their fault. If you try to help them and they refuse to be helped, take a step back. If they're smart, they'll figure it out themselves, eventually. If they're not that smart, say adios and stay focused on the objective: your objective. 

Don't speak before you think. If I could only tell you how many people I have encountered who lack a filter! For the love of all that's good and decent, THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK. As adults, everyone should know better than to send a text message or make a phone call in the heat of emotion. It's a good way to say things you'll regret. A sign of maturity is to be able to restrain yourself from outbursts, to give some logical thought to a situation before you flip out. Sound harsh? Guess what, this is the method of champions! Be SMART. If someone sends me a message that's unkind, I sometimes will wait a day or two before responding - if I respond at all. Why? Because you never want to respond in anger. Ever. 

Remember to be kind, and to be the bigger person. Sometimes, life is messy. M-E-S-S-Y. It's no fun when it's rough, but hey: welcome to the human race, sweets. Being kind and professional even when somebody is spitting in your face is often the best option. Remain above reproach, as they say. You being in control and polite is the best way to defend yourself, anyway. Let me tell you, I have had some people say some awful things to me, whether it's in the form of online bullying (welcome to being an author, guys) or from someone who is close to you. The best way to respond is to remain silent. And sometimes, if you need to defend yourself, do so with calm and logic. After that, you've done all you can do. 

I wanted to share this article with you today to encourage you to keep your chin up. It's easy to feel defeated when things aren't perfect. I've had my fair share of disappointments and failures in life. I'm human. You're human. We've all had hard times. My main point is that you use the hard times to lift yourself up, to make yourself stronger. That, my friend, is what will make you a success in life. Be kind, be firm, be powerful, be focused, be smart and be awesome. Now, go out there and get it done! 











Monday, February 6, 2017

WIN $1,000 & 22 Free Books! (Blog-Wide Dystopian Giveaway Party!)

Welcome to the PNR, Urban Fantasy & Dystopian Party!


This giveaway is brought to you by 22 fabulous Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, and Dystopian authors!In this giveaway, EVERYONE who enters will win TWENTY-TWO FREE – EXCLUSIVE – ebooks by the sponsoring authors (to be delivered at the conclusion of the giveaway), and one GRAND PRIZE winner will also receive a $1000 Amazon Gift Card! The Winner will be announced on April 1st at our Facebook Event. 
The winner will also receive an email directly.

There will ALSO be other prizes and giveaways happening at that event between now and our Grand Prize announcement! So make sure you mark yourself as attending so you don’t miss those great opportunities to win more prizes and snag more freebies!
Here's a sneak peek from one of the sponsors:

Discern 
An award-winning and bestselling urban fantasy novel by Andrea Pearson!




Excerpt: 

Nicole put her things down, not wanting anything to be in her hands when she picked up the disgusting book. She reached for it, but hesitated. Already, she could sense warmth coming from the leather cover, and she wasn’t even touching it. Its magical pulses were different from the other items—they seemed to drip off the book like sweat.
Nicole hesitated, but wasn’t sure why. It wasn’t as if something bad would happen, right? She took a deep breath and placed her hands on the book. It shivered under her touch and she cringed, pulling back. The sensation of warm leather made her flesh crawl, and she rubbed her hands and arms on her jeans, trying to get the feeling to go away.
Come on, Nicole. Don’t wimp out.
Without letting herself think about it, she picked up the book and lifted the cover.
A wind rushed over her, blowing her hair back, roaring in her ears. She caught a brief whiff of tobacco smoke before the surge of air reversed and sucked the breath out of her lungs, making her gasp.
The floor under her quaked. The book vibrated. The leather on the cover moved, muscles beneath it flexing. Nicole tried to drop the book, but couldn’t. She was unable to control her hands or fingers. They clenched so tightly, they ached. A shadow covered the pages of the book, preventing her from reading.
What was going on? She gasped again, trying to breathe against the strong wind. She felt someone touch her shoulder, but she couldn’t move. Her fingers still clung to the book. The shadow on the pages shifted, roiled, and turned toward her, the brief outline of a face visible. It watched her for several moments.
Nicole . . .
The voice was soft, deep. A strange yearning inside her made her want to read the book, to understand. To join the owner of the voice, though she didn’t know where or what he was.
The wind slowed to a gentle and familiar caress across her cheek. Familiar?
Then suddenly, it all stopped. The book fell from her hands and slammed itself shut. She backed away, her arms, legs—everything—shaking.
“What happened?” Professor Coolidge asked next to her, making her jump.
“I—I don’t know.” Nicole tried to smooth her hair, but her hands shook too much. She tucked them under her arms. “It said my name . . . and there was a shadow. In-inside it.”
Coolidge lifted the leather book. His mouth popped open in surprise. “You’ve activated a force within it—something alive.” He looked at her, fear and worry on his face. “How did you do that?”
Nicole shook her head. “I don’t know,” she repeated.
Professor Coolidge put the book back on the table. “I’m not sure what to say, other than the book is much more powerful than it used to be.” He peered at her, scrutinizing her. “And I’d love to know why it called to you, why you woke it up, when so many others have not.”
 


This party is brought to you in partnership with:
XBTBanner1




Monday, January 30, 2017

Using Your Author Platform to Encourage Others! (Be Positive!)

First of all, let me just say this: I am NOT going to get political! I'm all about being informed, but politics tends to put a knot in my stomach that I can't deal with. So what's the point of this article? Mainly, I've been seeing a lot of authors online - and by a lot, I mean a TON - using their social media platforms to give their own play-by-plays of the world's current events. This leads me to my second disclaimer: free speech rocks, so hang in there with me. This leads me to the entire point: HOW CAN WE, AS AUTHORS, USE OUR PUBLIC PLATFORM AND INFLUENCE FOR SOMETHING POSITIVE? 

The world we live in seems like a hectic place. I see a lot of unhappiness online, but there are a few things I like to remind myself of when I'm feeling blue: First, the Internet is, indeed, a "virtual reality." Removing myself from the online realm is a wonderful way to calm down and feel happier about your life. Second, there are way too many people out there who think it is their job to shove their political opinions in your face. I don't always want to hear about it. Yes, I know it's important to know what's going on. But no, I don't need to hear it ALL THE TIME. To be honest, I'm SICK OF IT. 

Which brings me to the big kahuna: It's my personal believe that we as authors, or any public figure, for that matter, falls prey to the tempting seduction of being a "keyboard warrior." It's easy to post our feelings or opinions online in a moment of passion, but it's important to stop and think about our readership! 

Let me put this in perspective: There are some authors I LOVE. And I mean, REALLY LOVE. I adore their books, I get sucked into the worlds they have built and I stand in awe of their literary brilliance. I have, in fact, emotionally connected so deeply with their stories that their books and their pen names are intertwined. They provide a beautiful escape from the gritty reality of life. Seriously - don't we all read to escape reality? I know that's what initially drove me into the open pages of books: the allure of fictionally engaging in amazing adventures around the world, and removing myself from any pain or discomfort by stimulating my imagination! But sometimes, the illusion of adventure and fiction is broken when the author chooses to use their platforms to discuss ideas or projects that could be controversial. I'm in no way saying that authors don't have a right to do this - I'm just saying, that sometimes I have been sorely rattled when I am hit with the sour reality that my author and the world that they have built are two entirely different things. It kind of kills their fiction for me, and that's a sad thing. A very sad thing indeed. 


It's my belief - and you will see this in the way I have always operated with the public - that those in the public eye, with any kind of platform at all, should use that platform for positivity, not division, and not for politics. I'm sorry if you're into politics - that's cool! Good for you. I personally think that my place as an author is to tell a story and provide an escape from reality for my readers, and that is all! I am an entertainer, to be honest. I entertain people with the words that I weave. I want to use my platform for something positive and cohesive. In this world, so many people are choosing to be divided, and I don't want to add to that tragedy. I want to bring people together with the power of beautiful storytelling, breathtaking adventure and amazing creativity! 

So how do I, Summer Lane, choose to use my platform? For one, I love to promote the creative endeavors of other artistic minds, such as writers, illustrators, editors and literary agents. Boo-yah! I also love to bring awareness to organizations that truly help people or animals, like World Wildlife Fund, my local SPCA or the no-kill cat shelter a few miles from my house, Cat House on the Kings. I love promoting Operation Christmas Child, knowing that impoverished children from other countries are receiving joy and medical care from Samaritan's Purse. I like to talk to kids about reading and help them find books that speak to them, so that they can cultivate a love for literature and learning. I love visiting the zoo and trying to bring awareness to conservation efforts through my social media platform, and being respectful of the incredible natural world around us by protecting forests and natural habitats for endangered animals...the list goes on and on! 

Why use your presence as an author to divide or fight? I see far too many authors, young or old, liberal or conservative, fighting with other people online about their opinions. Go for it if that's your thing, but arguing online isn't going to help anyone. And let's be honest, getting into a verbal argument as an author doesn't look professional: it looks juvenile. We should be above that! 

Let me take this a step further: Keep it classy. Cussing, vulgarity and unfiltered profanity online isn't cute, intelligent or witty. It's unprofessional, childish and offensive. If you're going to fight about something, do so in a respectful way. Yes, I'm talking about authors, here. Some will strongly disagree with me, and that's okay, but the truth is that nobody looks less credible than a potty-mouth. Ooh, did I just say that? Guess I did. Oopsies. 

Let's just be clear. I didn't write this article to rail on authors or celebrities or WHOEVER and shake my little finger at them and tell them to "play nice." I'm just pointing out that the old adage, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all," is a strong and applicable motto to live your life by. As tempting as it might be to think that you're a powerful keyboard warrior while logged into your Twitter account, the reality is that words hurt, they stick, and they are remembered. Don't sacrifice your dignity in the heat of the moment. Think about what you say before the words leave your mouth - er, keys. Be respectful. The Internet has given you a voice, but that doesn't give anyone the right to be a bully. 

With that in mind, I encourage you to go into this next week with a positive mindset, showing love to all. Use your platform to do GOOD, and to lift people UP. There is enough negativity in this world - let's not add to it, please. 













Wednesday, January 25, 2017

A Venture of the Heart: Romance Novel by Amelia Judd


A Venture of the Heart
Amelia Judd
(Silver Bay, #1)
Publication date: January 24th 2017
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

LOVE IS A RISKY VENTURE IN AMELIA JUDD’S AWARD-WINNING NEW ROMANCE
“Hello, Pax. It’s good to see you again.”And with those frigid words, karma kicked his ass and blew his dreams into a million tiny fragments.
Paxton Bennett walked away from a privileged upbringing to devote his life to La Vida de Ensueño, the socially responsible luxury resort he manages in Costa Rica. No way will Pax let a hotel chain swallow up La Vida and turn it into another lifeless clone. All he needs is a loan so he can match a buy-out offer. Unfortunately, every damn bank keeps saying no. He has one last hope–an on-site visit from a loan officer that he’s sure he can impress…
Banker Sage Somerset doesn’t want to see Pax Bennett across a busy coffee shop, let alone spend a week at a tropical resort with him. After their cringe-worthy last encounter, just hearing his name makes her blush or curse. Plus, there are snakes in Costa Rica. A lot of snakes! Determined to remain professional on her unwelcome assignment, Sage hopes she can survive a week in Pax’s world…
But a quirky staff, meddlesome family, and the night-time visit of a tiny green gecko soon threaten to turn business into pleasure. Will Pax and Sage fight their troublesome chemistry? Or will they take a chance on the biggest venture of all–each other?



About the Author 
Award-winning author Amelia Judd writes fun and flirty contemporary romance. She loves to entertain her readers with memorable characters and fast-paced plots that blend humor, heart, and heat.
After receiving a degree in international affairs, Amelia lived and studied in Belgium for over three years. During her time in Europe, she traveled extensively, earned a master’s degree, and fell in love with writing contemporary romance.
Amelia now lives in the Midwest with her sports-loving husband, two active kids, and a lovable dog that insists on staying by her side day and night. When she isn’t writing, she’s spending time with family, hanging out with friends, chauffeuring her kiddos around town, or planning her family’s next getaway.

GIVEAWAY!




Partnered With:
XBTBanner1









Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Returning Bestselling Author DAVONNA JUROE!

Fantasy is pure magic. Ask Davonna Juroe, the bestselling author of Scarlette, Seeing Red and her newest hit with co-writer John Bladek, Winterbay Abbey. Several years ago, I interviewed Davonna here on Writing Belle to talk about what was then her new debut novel, Scarlette. Since then, Davonna has been a very busy lady, and her success is well earned! 

I love Davonna's books because they mix fun with fantasy and Gothic lore with ghostly chills. Her books are well researched and she's an all-around class act! I encourage you to check out her books online and give them a try. 

Today, we're visiting with Davonna for the first time since 2014 (although the first time she visited with us was in 2012 - time flies, right?). Are you ready? Let's go! 




Welcome back to Writing Belle, Davonna! It's a pleasure having you here again. What have you been up to lately? Tell us about your new novel, "Winterbay Abbey". 

Thanks for having me, Summer! Besides playing my harp and taking enchanting photos for social media, I just released a new novel this Fall, which I'm thrilled about. The book, "Winterbay Abbey", is a modern Gothic ghost story that I co-wrote with author John Bladek ("Lost in Ghostville", Capstone Publishing – “Roll Up the Streets!”, Kane Miller). Inspired by classic ghost tales, "Winterbay Abbey" is a contemporary thriller, reminiscent of Susan Hill’s "The Woman in Black" (twice adapted for film) and Alejandro Amenábar's "The Others". It also actually landed onto the Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and iTunes Top 100 Bestseller Lists over the holidays, and went to #1 in ghost fiction on Amazon, too!

The story follows Seattle architect Will Larson on his last chance to save his stagnant career: design a grand restoration for a long-abandoned abbey. Looming above the breathtaking, windswept coast of Maine, Winterbay Abbey offers a picturesque spot for a charming hotel. But the locals harbor a peculiar distaste for the ruined Gothic convent. 

After witnessing a drowning within sight of the abbey, Will wonders why the police seem disinterested in the case. He begins looking deeper into the incident, gradually uncovering chilling secrets behind the old nunnery’s walls. Will’s wife, Emily, becomes convinced the drowning is a ghostly replay of a past tragedy. But their investigation into the abbey’s frightening history soon becomes a desperate struggle to escape Winterbay’s dark curse.

It's the perfect book to read with a warm cup of tea in front of the fire this winter.


I personally love books with a little chill, a little fantasy and a little mystery. Who are some of your favorite authors/books? 

I'm absolutely crazy about creepy Gothic ghost stories, and I think we're starting to see some revival in that genre. People still like to be scared, but many prefer these tales without gore etc. Some of my favorites are ALL of Susan Hill's ghost stories, Michelle Paver's "Dark Matter", and "This House is Haunted" by John Boyne – all contemporary stories. I also love the classics, "The Turn of the Screw", "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow", "Carmilla", "The Picture of Dorian Gray", "The Fall of the House of Usher", "Dracula", "Frankenstein". I could list forever.

What was it like collaborating with John Bladek for Winterbay Abbey? 

Now that I've co-written a book with another author, I'm not sure I want to write solo again. Collaborating is truly one of the best experiences I've had in my writing career.

John and I live 300 miles apart, so we used Google Docs to bridge the distance. We started with an outline and then took turns writing chapters and then passed the manuscript to each other for full edits.

I can't over emphasize how wonderful it is to have instant feedback and to problem solve with a writing partner. Novel writing is solitary and sometimes difficult with having to manage an entire storyline in your head. While critique groups are helpful, having someone who knows the story inside and out like you do is invaluable and produces high-quality work.

How long did it take you to complete the novel - from conception to finished product? 

Exactly two years from conception to the publication date. Two months before Halloween in 2014, John and I challenged each other to write a ghostly tale based on a list of supposedly haunted buildings and locations in the U.S. We settled on a combination of a haunted hotel and a lighthouse, which morphed into the Winterbay Abbey setting along with its brooding lighthouse offshore.

What kind of research went into this novel?

This novel, unlike my historical novella "Seeing Red" and my historical fairy tale retelling of "Little Red Riding Hood" ("Scarlette"), did not require as much research. However, we did investigate the Magdalene laundries that inspired our setting, and John has a PhD in History, so he brought a lot of knowledge to the table on the topic.
We chose an abbey as the setting based on my research from my previous book, "Seeing Red". Set in the 1960s, "Seeing Red" tells the story of a young woman navigating the "Mad Men" era in NYC. My investigation into that period led me to discover a disturbing yet common practice for handling many unwed pregnant girls. Their ashamed families sent them to asylums or convents for the duration of their pregnancies to avoid public humiliation.
These asylums comprised an expansive institution throughout Europe and North America for much of the 19th and 20th centuries. They were an untalked-of secret that society knew were places for “bad girls.” And they were often much more than places where middle-class daughters hid from shame. For the poor, they could become prisons with virtually no way out. Forced to purchase their freedom at often exorbitant prices, some girls were enslaved for many years.
The Magdalene asylums or laundries, Irish institutions run by Catholic nuns that housed unwed mothers, prostitutes, and other “wayward girls”, became popularized by films like the "Magdalene Sisters" and "Philomena". These movies dramatized life for the destitute and abandoned women living in convents. The films, admittedly fictionalized accounts with some accuracy problems, depict true horror, as women suffered incredible abuses and were robbed of their children and their freedom. A mass grave uncovered in 1993 near one of the Magdalene laundries in Dublin, Ireland contained the bones of 155 forgotten women and children.
These stories stuck with me, and John and I decided to make "Winterbay Abbey" a place of terror while integrating in some of this history. However, “Winterbay” is a work of fiction and not intended to depict any real events.

John Bladeck
Are you planning on releasing any more novels soon? Anything you're currently working on? 

John Bladek and I are at it again on two projects. We are in the middle of adapting "Winterbay Abbey" into a screenplay. Additionally, we are working on an action-adventure novel (set to release in 2019) in the same vein as the "Indiana Jones" films. This new project entitled, "Origin" is about a paleoanthropologist who has just discovered the possible existence of mermaids. We are super excited about it!

"Origin" is a very research-intensive project. I’ve already talked to a paleontologist to make sure the marine science aspect is sound, not to mention John Bladek and I are drawing on John's extensive anthropology/history knowledge. It’s important to get the science right, as this book grew out of my love for mermaids and wishing they had existed ever since I’d been a child. It’s been fun to come up with different scientific — and I will even say somewhat plausible — angles of how they could have come to be.

You live in Washington - a very rainy, very beautiful state! Have you found inspiration for your stories from the world around you?

Very much so. Writing "Winterbay Abbey" during the winter here with all its rainstorms and being close to the coast helped me channel the mood for the novel. Part of the story also takes place in Seattle around the neighborhood I live in, so yes, there is a lot of inspiration here!

Any advice for aspiring young writers out there who would like to see their own books in print? 

If you are looking to have your book printed by a New York publishing house, be prepared for how long it could take to master your craft and research the right agent to get you in the door. I've known some people who took ten years to break in. Don't give up, though. Everyone who continues to keep trying in this business, eventually gets into print.

It's also crucial that you make friends with other writers. People in my critique groups from eight or so years ago have become my good friends, and those friendships have inadvertently led to opportunities in publishing.

In regards to independent publishing, I only recommend it to those who have some marketing savvy and are prepared to spend upward of $2500 for good editing, a cover, and marketing. It's hard to be successful without a product that competes with what you see in bookstores. Knowing your competition and having high quality is important. If you book isn't top-notch, you run the risk of damaging your reputation as an author and not being taken seriously by publishing professionals. I can't stress that enough.

Where can readers can connect with you online? 

Davonna's:

Website: http://www.davonnajuroe.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/davonnaljuroe
Instagram: @davonna_juroe


John's:

Website: http://johnbladek.blogspot.com/
Facebook: www.facebook.com/JohnBladekAuthor/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/JohnBladek

Thank you so much for visiting with us, Davonna! Always a treat! 

Thanks for having me and Happy Holidays!



All images provided by Davonna Juroe