An Interview with the Hero of New Duet Dan Sweeney

As promised, I have Dan Sweeney, the hero of my latest novel New Duet. And once again we’ll be talking about some interesting factoids that may not have made it into the novel.

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Welcome Dan, or should I call you Daniel?

No ma’am, the name is Dan. Dad never liked long names. Then Uncle Paul told me an Old Testament character was named Dan. I had a heck of a time convincing teachers and the army that Dan was my legal name.

If you hadn’t mentioned the army, I’d have guessed it by the ma’am address. Is that where you lost your leg?

No, ma’am. I left my fingers in Afghanistan and shards from an IED explosion cut my cheek. I lost my leg in the good old USA. You’ll need to read the novel to get the whole story. God only knows why I’m not dead and only lost my leg. I’m grateful for the second chance. I’d planned a career in the army so it’s taking time to readjust to civilian life and my disability. It’s harder than anything I did while in uniform.

Tell us a bit about Brutus.

Even though I tell myself I don’t need a service dog, I do. Brutus keeps my panic attacks at bay reducing my need for meds. He helps me if I fall. Super dog, Brutus knows how to perform tasks beyond my needs. Which is at times annoying. He was trained for a boy with severe disabilities who died. Brutus has bonded with me. He seems to know my thoughts. He’s a great companion but his manners around women need work.

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I understand you have a home in Aurora you’re fixing up. Why Aurora?

My uncle lives in Aurora. I’m not close to my sister, and my folks passed. I graduated from East Aurora High School, so it made sense to find a place there. I’ve been working on it every leave I had for three years. Then I had the accident. My buddy Steve and a few friends rehabbed the bathroom and some doors to make my ranch home handicap accessible. I won’t let them do any more. It’s my house, my project.

How’s your social life?

You sound like Steve. He grilled me on it hard one day. Tried his hand at matchmaking. And I’m not saying anymore, ma’am. Any further reference to my social life is on a need to know basis. Only those who buy New Duet will be upgraded to need-to-know status.

Clever, Dan, very clever way not to reveal too much of the plot. What’s been the hardest thing for you since you got out of the service?

Adjusting to a lost leg and a lost career. I’m back in college with a bunch of kids and it’s not easy. But good friends, a supportive family, my goofy dog and a special someone makes the adjustment easier.

 

Thanks for giving us a peek into your world.

Here’s the link to the book trailer.

New Duet is available in e-book and paperback on Amazon. You can request it at any bookstore and it’s also available to order online at Barnes & Noble. Don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss future posts with interviews of real people and information on other writerly stuff.

 

 

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An Interview with My Heroine Isabella Wilson from New Duet

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Today I’m welcoming Isabella Melinda Wilson to my blog. If you’ve read New Duet, you know she is the heroine. I thought it would be fun to learn a little about her. A morsel or two of trivia that may not be in the novel. So, welcome, Isabella.

I’m surprised you wanted to interview me. As surprised as I was in the reporter from the Beacon News who came to my mural reveal.

Take a seat on the couch, and we’ll begin.

Isabella, tell us a bit about your background.

I was born in Nicaragua and spent time as an orphan on the streets. I can’t recall my mother, but I do recall a sweet voice that made me feel safe. I was six when the Wilson’s adopted me. My sister Ming was adopted from China. She was part of the Wilson family three months before I joined them. There was a mix up with my paperwork, and it looked to my parents like the adoption wasn’t happening. They applied for Ming. And when my paperwork was sorted out, they had two daughters the same year. Ming was three. We spoke a combination of Spanish and Chinese the first year. When I was in junior high, my parents went on a mission trip to Haiti and fell in love with a young teen. They adopted Henri when I was in eighth grade.

He was my age. The three of us always got funny looks from students when my dad’s job moved us to a new school. Ming told everyone she and I were twins. She sounded so sincere, people believed her. She is the humorous one and the most caring. I have two older siblings, Ken and Carla. They are my parent’s natural born children. Carla was a great big sister and Kenny was your typical big brother—a pain. My parents encouraged all of us to follow our dreams. Mine was to be an artist so I attended the American Academy of Art in Chicago. Not until I moved to Aurora did I really come into my own as an artist.

That brings up another question. Why did you move to Aurora?

Well, it’s complicated. Much of that story is in the novel. Briefly, as a widow I needed to start over in a new place. My sister Ming had moved to Aurora a few years earlier at the suggestion of a friend. I moved in with her and started over. It was hard finding my true self again. Exploring the art community in Aurora and with help from some great friends, I found my art muse and grew in my faith.

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What was your first impression of Aurora?

Paraphrasing Dorothy form the Wizard of Oz, I’m not in Iowa anymore. Although my family moved a lot growing up, the three of us would spend the summer with our grandparents. They lived in a small farming community. I have fond memories. My late husband and I lived in Indiana, but the atmosphere was quite different from Aurora. It has a population over 200,000 and lots of interesting things to see and do. Ming took me on a tour and showed the sights. I loved exploring the downtown on my own. There are museums and art galleries and fun restaurants.

Sounds like you have adapted well to your new hometown. Now we’re shifting directions a bit. What is your biggest fear?

Not being good enough. When I was first adopted, I felt unworthy of these wonderful people. It took me years before I believed all their words of affirmation. After I married Ron, he reminded me daily how I fell short.  His sudden death fed that feeling of unworthiness. It took me a longtime to release all the guilt others had put on me, not to mention the guilt I put on myself.

I can see by your smile that isn’t the case anymore. Do you have someone special?

Yes. But you’ll need to read New Duet for all the details.

Cool segue there, Isabella. Tell my readers why they’d want to read your story.

New Duet is about broken people finding love. A simple statement with a powerful message of hope and renewal. God loves healing broken people. It’s more than a simple love story because life is complicated. But complicated is much easier to unravel with the right person. It’s available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and your local bookstore. Just ask the clerk to order it. It’s also available in e-book.

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Thanks for stopping by. Thursday it will be Dan’s turn to be in the hot seat.  

 

Click here for link to trailer.

If you’ve not subscribed to Jubilee Writer, then please do so before you exit this blog so you don’t miss meeting the adorable hero of New Duet, Dan Sweeney.

 

 

How to Throw a Facebook Book Launch Party

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Tomorrow is my Facebook Book Launch party for my newest release, New Duet. This is my second time doing a launch party. I thought I’d share for those who’ve never had one or never participated as a guest in a Facebook Book Launch Party what it’s all about.

What is it

Launch Parties are an opportunity to both celebrate and sell your book. It’s a party without refreshments but full of fun. Like any party it needs planning. Invitations, prizes, decoration (a banner) and games.

 

Invitation-Event page on Facebook and social media announcements on all platforms

Create an event page and share it with all your friends. FB gives you step by step instructions for creating the event. Design a banner to grab attention. There are templates for FB size banners.

New Duet Release Banner

Be sure to send out the invitations to the event at least a week ahead. Then announce it a few more times before the event. Send out ticklers by talking about the prizes and show the cover.

Create a meme for twitter and other social media to announce your party also.

What to do during the Facebook Party

Here are the kind of games that make the party fun: Book trivia questions, drawings, author trivia, and background about the creation of the story. These games get the guest to comment. And comments are what make a Facebook party.

Be sure you have trivia questions or talking points already typed out, so you can cut and paste in comments to create interaction with your guests quickly. Cut and paste eliminates typos due to nerves.  Take pictures of each item that is being given away in advance too. Every fifteen, twenty or thirty minutes (depending on the length of your party) have prize drawings.

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Trivia questions are easy to do. I usually do multiple choice or true/false questions. My guests don’t need to have read my book before they can answer questions. The idea of the party is to pique interest in my book and add followers.

Help

Have someone keep track of all those who commented so their names can be entered in the drawing. At the end of the party or the next day on the party site post the winners. Request the winners send you a PM or email with their address or email (depending on the prize).

Have your street team comment and ask questions during your Q & A in the last portion of your party. This keeps the other guests engaged. Think through possible questions and have answers prepared so you can cut and paste the answers and worry less about typos or foggy brain.

New options

This time I’m planning on using Facebook Live to visit my guests in person and read a portion of New Duet.  We will see how that goes.

I’ll be showing my book trailer as well. It’s is awesome.

Hope to see some of you there tomorrow too.

Those of you who have had experience with Facebook Book Launch parties tell me how you party and engage your guests in all the fun.

 

 

 

Why I Set My Novel in My Hometown

 

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Aurora, Illinois has the Fox River flowing through downtown

 

 

The idea for New Duet ruminated in my mind for a while before I chose a setting. During that time, my husband and I went to a First Friday celebration. (Aurora, Illinois has fun events downtown every first Friday during the summer, starting in May and runs until September.)  The theme for that Friday was spotlighting local artists.

 

My husband and I walk around downtown visiting art galleries and stores, bars and restaurants that featured artists and photographers’ offerings from Aurora and surrounding areas.

 

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Isabell Wilson is inspired by this sculpted water fountain called The Dancing Stones

 

When we visited some artist’s studios, I knew my characters would meet in Aurora. Isabella has an art degree from a Chicago art school and yet, she married a music minister and never create art again.

Isabella needs to rebuild her life after her husband’s untimely death. Resurrecting her art muse in a city that supports the arts was a perfect plot twist.

 

Aurora has a diverse ethnic population of over 200,000. Museums, fun restaurants and the beautiful Fox River gave me scene settings—not to mention possible date opportunities in Chicago, 70 minutes to the lake shore by car. The local college and wonderful local architecture play a part in my story.

 

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The Paramont Theater a great place to see Broadway quality productions

 

The biggest challenge for me is I’m directionally challenged. My sweet hubby double-checked all my physical references and made sure they were on the correct street and my characters were headed in the right direction.

An extra bonus to placing my setting in Aurora are local book signings. I’ll be signing books at If These Walls Could Talk this summer.  This lovely framing store is also a gallery for local artists to display their work.

 

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If These Wall Could Talk Framing and Gallery

 

A wonderful scene in New Duet takes place in that shop. The co-owner and gallery manager, Jennifer Rauch was happy to feature me on…drum roll… First Friday in August. What a great cycle of creativity.

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Buy Link Click here

If any of you are in the Aurora area the First Friday in August come by and say hello. I’ll be sharing more behind the scenes things from New Duet in future posts. Don’t miss out. Subscribe.

 

 

 

 

Announcing My New Baby : New Duet

My new baby, contemporary romance, New Duet arrived May 1st on Amazon in e-book format. It already has 5-star reviews. Check out the wonderful cover.

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Here is the back-cover blurb.

Isabella Melinda Wilson has been squeezed into the music ministry model of her controlling husband’s making. Before she can leave him, he leaves her a guilt ridden widow. Her mother-in-law is no comfort and presses the guilt button at every turn. Isabella flees to her sister’s home in Aurora Illinois insearch of her own identity and a new beginning.

Dan Sweeney has one goal. Be as normal as possible. After losing a leg, some fingers and his self-worth, he needs his service dog Brutus to help keep his PTSD at bay. Career-less and clueless about the future, he struggles to put his life back together.

Isabella isn’t looking for a new relationship and Dan feels unworthy of one. Can these two broken people heal into one whole love?

Here’s the buy link for the e-book.

Paperback coming soon.

Why I wrote a contemporary romance

Writing a contemporary romance after writing a Historical romance was a challenge but so much fun. An editor at a conference asked me why I wrote a contemporary after writing a historican. I told him the  characters called to me. I had to write this story.

The struggles these characters face is in part things people I love have gone through. But the lessons they learn about life and faith are mine.

Stay tuned for some fun upcoming blogs. I’ll be talking about New Duet’s setting. And interviewing Isabella and Dan.

I hope if your purchase New Duet you will leave a review. That would be wonderful.

If you’d like to keep tabs on my upcoming babies, read other author interviews and learn writerly things please sign up to receive this blog so you don’t miss a thing.

 

 

 

How Does A Wedding Mirror Story Arc

This past Sunday was my daughter’s wedding. And as I mentioned in my last post, I would be laying my pen aside, but my mind would still be doing writerly things. Reflecting on the wedding, I found the day was a great analogy for story arc. Each part of the wedding and reception reflected how a story line grows in a novel.  As I smile thinking about the wonderful event on Sunday, I’ll share how I see the analogy and a few pictures not only to illustrate my point but also to share my joy.21314833_10214203649511292_4022649231922811820_n

Wedding theme

Today couples create a theme for their wedding that goes beyond colors. My daughter and her fiancé chose favorite things. Every part of the day a reflection of that choice.

(Photo of Cake Topper, table decorations and favors.)

Favorite superheroes cake topper. A CD of music representing their journey to marriage (Note the label looks like the one from Guardian of the Galaxy.) Favorite games in the table decorations.

Novels need a theme

Each novel we write must have a theme. Secrets and Charades’ theme: Your past does not have to determine your future.  New Duet has a similar message: leave the past behind. Writer’s weave the idea through the story from opening line to the end.

Novels can have settings that help carry the theme. My novels speak of new beginnings so the settings are opposite of the protagonist’s former lives.secret-charades-front-cover click here to order.

Wedding surprises and novel structure

My daughter and her husband wanted their guests to enjoy some of their favorite things. While the venue for their wedding and reception were typical, the whole day was uniquely their own.

The Bride and Groom represented the hero and heroine in the structure of a romance novel. Both have distinctive character qualities with their individual goals and desires. The wedding like a story arc has basic bones. The Bride and Groom enter a church or other setting where guests watch them say their vows. Everything beyond that is up for grabs.

Pam and Jon chose to have my niece perform the ceremony keeping it more of a family affair. The flower girl passed out flowers rather than sprinkling petals on the floor. And the ringbearer had a Chicago Bears Teddy Bear ring pillow to carry. There was a string trio, but the bride (to the surprise of her groom) entered to a recording of Somebody to Love, by Queen. The couple exited to Star Wars music after reciting traditional vows. Bubbles were showered on the couple who drove away in a classic 60s convertible.

Disasters a must

A microphone malfunction and the flower girl standing frozen in the aisle reminded me that stories must have a few disasters. Not necessarily an explosion but something to create tension. Perhaps the heroine can’t cook or the hero really isn’t very good at fixing things.

Unique elements

Our novels need to have unique bits that keep the reader engaged. A female doctor in the 1800s is unique but becoming a mail order bride is over the top. A wounded warrior after returning from a tour of duty in Afghanistan loses his leg in a motorcycle accident stateside which adds to his angst.

Unique elements for the decor : favorite superhero cake topper, party favors and a CD for every family of all the music representing their romance and each table had a different game for guest to play.

The wedding had a traditional photographer and a videographer but there was also a photo booth with props. A few added twists that spoke to the favorite things theme greeted guests at the reception. The table center pieces were games the guests were encouraged to play. Prizes were given to the first person at each table who won a game. The games were available to play all evening.

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Grandchildren engaged in a fun game.

Children’s games helped keep my grandchildren engaged, and many adults were loving the opportunity to play games rather than dance. All the games were ones Jon and Pam have enjoyed.  But the game curve intensified just like a plot twist. There were several pictures mixed into the decorations that represented favorite movies. There was a prize for the person who deciphered all the clues.

Plot Twists are a must to engage the reader

Twists are what make your story sing. Characters that aren’t who they seem, unexpected solutions and buried secrets. The protagonist doing what no one thought they could.

That brings me to my favorite part of the reception. My husband is not a dancer with a capital N. Pam wanted to do something unique for the father/daughter dance. So, for months they worked out the steps for Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious from the musical Mary Poppins complete with straw hat, cane and umbrella. The guests were surprised and delighted.

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The Father/Daughter Dance gets a 10. I have no photos to share of the dance right now. But this unexpected twist is priceless.

As in a well-written novel there was a challenge to the plan. In this case on the dance floor. Jon had no idea what Pam and her father had planned, but he wanted to do something extra special as well. (Sound like a familiar plot twist.) His mother made him a coat like the one from Beauty and the Beast that he put on after the initial traditional first dance. Jon insisted this dance would be the best yet. (the challenge.)  He changed into the coat bowed and took her hand as they danced to Beauty and the Beast. After the lovely dance, Pam threw down the gauntlet (in a joking manner of course), and she and her father to quote Jon, “Smoked him.” Yet he had another surprise up his sleeve. As the applause died down the Bridal Party held up paddles with the number 10. Another awesome surprise. Laughter and more applause resonated around the room. The DJ in his 30 years had never seen both the bride and groom keep a surprise from each other. Again, unique things sprinkled in a story arc.

During the toasts Pam’s brother David, who is serving in the Army gave a toast via Facebook Live on his brother Nathan’s phone that was broadcast to the whole room. So cool. David also viewed the wedding ceremony from his brother’s cellphone. Again, a sweet surprise thanks to technology that intensified the emotion.

A great The End

The reception wound down and the couple headed out for their honeymoon.

In a romance novel, the couple struggles with and overcomes all the disasters and unexpected twists in the plot. They enjoy or work through all the surprises to reach their happily-ever-after whether that is a wedding, a honeymoon or a declaration of love. In my novels, the theme of putting your past behind has been resolved and a promising future loom. The reader like the wedding guests will talk about what they experienced for a long after The End.

Thanks for indulging my afterglow thoughts. Happy writing.

What events in your life were fuel for your story arc?