Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Sharon Buchbinder - Giveaway, Book Review, Author and Character Interview, Plus Sneak Peak

When Charlene Johnson's parents die in a single-car accident, she's left behind as guardian for her severely disabled older brother. When her father's death is ruled a suicide she is forced to move to the sleepy rural town of Eden, Kentucky, the very place her mother always warned her about. 

From the moment Zack Abingdon sees Charlene, he knows she's the one. Despite the electrifying bond between them Charlene senses things are not all what they seem. Secrets within secrets unfold, and ultimately Charlene has to make a life and death decision between rejecting her true nature and accepting her place within the wolf pack.

My Review:
Interesting story. Writing style was developed very well. The pace and the plot was excellent. The originality was great. The book cover is very eye catching. The characters well good, however I felt that there could have been a little more improvement room for the main character (Charlene). Overall it was a great book. I would suggest you give it a try.
My Rating 4 out of 5 Stars!
Author Interview

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

As a child, I got into a lot of trouble for "making things up." Now, I?m rewarded for making things up. LOL! I?ve been writing fiction since in middle school and have the rejection slips to prove it. After graduating with a BA in Psychology and no job, I realized her dreams of working in the attic writing great prose would have to take a back seat to the simple pleasures of eating, drinking, and having a roof over my head. After working in health care delivery for years, I became a researcher, then an academic. I had it all-- a terrific, supportive husband, an amazing son, and a challenging job. But that itch to write (some call it obsession), kept beckoning me to "come on back" to writing fiction. I found friendship, support and the opportunity to develop as an author with the Maryland Romance Writers and the Romance Writers of America (RWA) Since romance has over a dozen sub-genres, I was able to turn my fascination with horror and mystery into paranormal romance and romantic suspense.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

Every writer I know says that they have been obsessed with writing since childhood. I always had an active imagination, read voraciously at a very young age (Nancy Drew--all of them) and wanted to tell my own stories. When my sister was in college, I wrote letters to her that made her and her roommate howl with laughter. That was all the reinforcement I needed. In school, I had a habit of mis- reading directions for writing assignments. The one that still stands out in my mind is: ?Write about something in detail.? I was in fourth grade and my mother worked full-time. My brother, sister and I were responsible for all house and yard work. I wrote about what I knew. I knew it was my job to clean the kitchen, so I wrote about coming home to a sink piled up with dirty dishes and my black cat jumping down from licking the dishes, guilt all over his whiskers. The teacher failed me for the essay, saying she had expected me to describe something beautiful, like my classmate, who had described a marble. A marble? You have got to be kidding. How is a marble interesting? My essay had characters with goals and motivation. His had a hunk of glass. Even as a child, I had a different world view and I was perplexed as to why that was ?wrong.? I continued to write out of spite.

What surprised you the most about the writing/publishing process?

The biggest surprise I had was a pleasant one. After years of very competitive scholarly peer- reviewed journals, horror writers who were horrible and mystery writers who were afraid I would steal their puzzle, I found romance writers to be incredibly supportive. Unlike academia and other genres that eat their young, romance nurtures new writers and helps them rise to their potential.

How do you develop your plots and characters? Do you use any set formula?

I learned the hard way what not to do in a plot. At a horror writing retreat, I submitted the original short story of what was to become years later, KISS OF THE SILVER WOLF. One of the leaders of this workshop weekend held up my manuscript and dangled it in the air. ?Look,? he said, ?there?s no red ink on this manuscript.? (The nine documents preceding mine looked as if they were bleeding to death.) Your grammar and punctuation are flawless. Your setting is incredible, I felt as if I were there. Your dialogue is spot on. Do you know what?s wrong with this story?? Mute, I shook my head, fearing the shoe drop. He shouted, ?IT?S AN IDIOT PLOT BECAUSE ONLY AN IDIOT WOULD DO WHAT YOUR CHARACTER DID.? I did not return to that workshop ever again, but I will never forget those lessons. First, be KIND in critiquing; second, make sure the motivation is believable for the character to drive the plot. I?ve read numerous books on storytelling and myths (such as, Joseph Campbell), watched DVDs of Michael Hauge on The Hero?s Journey, taken online plotting courses and attended Alexandra Sokoloff?s workshop on using screenwriting tricks for novels. All these experiences have made my stories stronger.

What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?

The following are generalizations. There are exceptions to every rule, but these are my top picks. Before you can break the rules of fiction and genre tropes, you must know what those rules are. You must know the structural basics of grammar, spelling, punctuation and formatting, or the reader will put the story down. You must know your characters as well as you know yourself. That back story (where the character was born, why she hates lima beans) should live in your head and your notes--but may never be used in the story. Get into your character?s skin. Then make sure that whatever that character does makes sense in her world, her mind, her history.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?

I?m presently working on a paranormal thriller, a sequel to my erotic thriller, DESIRE AND DECEPTION, called DESIRE AND OBSESSION. Here?s the prologue.

November, One Year Ago, Maryland Eastern Shore

Angie Edmonds? screams echoed through the sparsely furnished room as another contraction ripped across her abdomen. Wincing from the glare of a naked light bulb, she tried to shake off wet strands of hair that fell into her eyes and clung to her neck. As the pains receded, she loosened her white knuckled grip on the damp sheets and looked at her watch. Only a minute?s respite between agonies? For over twenty-four hours she?d been locked into this drama, pushed to the edge, then pulled back with increasing frequency. Her arms, legs, belly--everything-- felt as if they?d been rolled over by a tractor. She wondered how much more the baby--or she--could take. If her judgment hadn?t been so awash with pregnancy hormones, maybe she wouldn?t have fallen for her mother?s invitation for a ?quiet family dinner?. She should have known better. If only she?d said no, she?d be in Baltimore, near healthcare providers who didn?t practice medieval midwifery.

As her stomach began to harden and the urge to push down began its dominion over her body, she grabbed her father?s callused hand and forced words out between gasps for air.

"Something. Wrong. Call. The. Doctor.? She shrieked the last word. ?Pleeeeease.?

The old man jerked his hand away. His gaunt, sun weathered face twisted with disgust. He leaned in close to Angie?s head and his heavy circular pendant struck her brow, narrowly missing her eye.

"Your Momma?s the best midwife on the Eastern Shore. She ain't never lost a baby. God is on her side."

A pain free moment. Then another. She blew rapidly through pursed lips. The still rational part of her mind wanted to beg him to bring a doctor for the baby?s sake, if not hers, but she had to puff for the baby.

"Women were meant to suffer in childbirth.?

As if on cue, pain exploded in her belly. Angie arched her back and clutched the sweaty bed sheets.

Her mother whispered, "The baby is breech, Father."

The old man turned and roared at his wife, "Do something, you stupid woman. That child belongs to me. I don't care if you have to cut her open like a pullet. Get him out alive.?

"Yes, Father."

Barely able to catch her breath as the throbbing cramps receded, she focused on the sound of his heavy work boots as he clomped out of the bedroom, taking his threatening presence away from her side. She was only thirty-two, in the prime of her life, it wasn?t fair. Where was God when she needed him? Arms and legs trembling uncontrollably with a mixture of exhaustion and fear, Angie prayed they wouldn't be forced to carve her up to rescue her child.

"If I can't turn the baby, he'll die." Her mother grabbed Angie's small hands with her large work worn ones and pulled. "Stand up."

?My legs. So weak--" A swift, hard contraction took her off guard, knocking the wind out of her. She threw head back fought to catch her breath. Remember the mantra. Puff, puff, blow.

Iron hands circled her wrists. "Get up--or so help me God, I will use that on you." The butcher?s knife glinted on the nightstand, a stark reminder of her father?s command.

Angie heaved herself onto rubbery legs that shook, but held her weight.

"Put your back to the bedpost." The older woman grabbed the knife and placed the steel tip against her sweat drenched nightgown.

"Mama--no--please don't--"

Metal entered cloth.

Angie closed her eyes and wailed, "Mama, no!"

The fabric ripped and cool air hit her naked belly.

She blinked. Her mother set the knife down. Half of Angie?s nightgown puddled on the floor, covering her bare feet. Hot tears ran down her cheeks. She wasn't going to die--yet.

The older woman began to knead Angie's stomach, massaging and twisting the womb, attempting to move the baby's head into a downward position. She whispered, alternating between begging God for help and urging the child to come out. After an eternity of wobbly legs, wrenching contractions, prayers and almost constant belly massage, her mother shouted, "Thank you, Lord!"

The baby?s head must be, at last, in position for his passage into the world.

Eyes burning with tears of pain and gratitude, her breath coming in short, searing gasps, Angie attempted to swing her right foot up onto the clammy sheets. Halfway up, her weight-bearing leg gave way. She collapsed onto the cold floor. Lead-limbed, she couldn?t even think about moving.

So tired. She closed her eyes and slipped away from the pain, away from the sounds and pungent smells of the room, into nothingness. Silence enveloped her like a thick wrapping of cotton batting. Suddenly alert and pain free, Angie opened her eyes and watched the room fall away beneath her. The hardwood floors gleamed in the early morning light peeking through the windows. Her mother stood over her body, the old woman?s mouth working--but no sounds coming out. Her father burst into the room, his face twisted into a snarl of rage. Heart heavy, unable to gaze at the scene anymore, Angie turned away and found herself in a long, dark corridor.

At the end of the black tunnel, a blinding light shone. A large, shadowy figure emerged between the darkness and the light. As she watched with wonder, glittering white wings unfurled and a creature of awesome beauty shimmered and formed before her. With skin like fine white marble and piercing azure eyes, the being towered over her in all his glory.

Her heart rejoiced. There were angels. Despite her father?s dire predictions, she had not been thrown to the dark realm. She was going to heaven. Unable to resist his magnetic pull, she reached out and touched the angel?s smooth cheek. It was warm--and wet.

Was he crying? Why? Was he sad or happy?

He gently took her shoulders in his hands, turned her, and pointed to the silent tableau below.

Her father and mother lifted her limp body and dropped it onto the bed.

Dead. She was dead. She closed her eyes. The realization filled her not with fear and dread, but with peace and relief. Every molecule of her being rejoiced. Her earthly trials were over. No more pain. No more captivity. No more beatings when she tried to escape. Safe at last from her obsessed, delusional father. She sighed--and a thought jolted her back to the moment.

The baby. Was he dead, too? Where was he?

She had to know what became of her child.

Below, her mother worked with frenzied movements, a bloodstain spreading across the bed sheets. The old woman pulled the limp-limbed, mottled gray, blood-slicked infant out.

Angie mouthed the words, Save him, dear God, please save him, but no sounds came out.

A membrane covered the child?s face. The old woman snatched up the knife and cut a hole in the sac. With swift, sure movements, she swung him by his feet and slapped his back. Mucus flew out of his mouth. The child took a deep breath, pinked up and flailed his arms. Her mother?s wrinkle and stern expression were erased by her smile of joy. Holding the child as if he was made of glass, she placed the child on the bed, tied and cut the umbilical cord, then cleaned him. She left his face for last. With slow, careful motions, she peeled the gauzy membrane off his nose, eyes, cheeks and ears and set it on a nearby towel. The old woman held the child out to her husband. He examined the baby?s hands, feet and abdomen and traced a crescent-shaped mark on the child?s right side. At last, a radiant grin burst across the old man?s face. He swung the baby up in the air, his lips moving as he danced around the room.

Angie?s body lay pale and still, ignored by her parents. She had served their purpose, her body a vessel for their grandchild?s life. Sad to be tossed to the side like road kill, but grateful her baby was safe, Angie turned back to the angel. She was at peace and prepared for her journey to the next level--but he shook his head--and vanished.

The black tunnel became a tornado, its force sucking Angie down to earth and pulling her back into her body. Heart racing, jumping in her throat, breathless, utter panic at being trapped, held hostage again, but this time in her own body, overtook her. She wanted to be free of this thing, this heavy weight, the burden of her past life. No, no, no. She wanted to be with the angel--something pulled on her nipple and the soft silence was shattered by her mother?s exultant voice ?--the Chosen One!?

Angie blinked. Her parents stood at the side of her bed, eyes pinched, hands clutched, fervent prayers being raised on high. What happened? One moment she was content to stay with the angelic being--the next thing she knew she was back to reality. Why couldn?t she stay with the angel? Her newborn son sucked noisily at her breast. A fierce swell of protectiveness washed over her and she clutched her baby closer to her breast.

Her job was here, with her son and no one was going to hurt him. Angie counted his perfect fingers and toes and touched his impossibly tender cheek. Bright red hair crowned his head in an exuberant soft thatch. A rush of euphoria overwhelmed her. Hot tears of joy streamed down her face.

She was alive, alert and, oddest of all, pain free.

Angie kissed the top of her son?s head and reflected on her fantastic dream. The pain of child birth must have induced an altered state, one where her father?s religious tirades took over her subconscious and ran riot with her imagination. There was no tunnel, no light, no angelic being. There was only the here and now--and the cold, hard reality that she had to get her son away from her father and his cult.

In Twitter Fashion use140 characters or less, sum KISS OF THE SILVER WOLF for us.

Woman seeks to unravel family web of secrets & discovers her true love and real identity in this Werewolf meets X-files paranormal novella.

How did you come up with a story that was such a whirl wind of events?

Using the hero?s journey as a template, I originally opened the story with the funeral scene and Charlene?s overwhelming grief. My critique partners loved the emotional funeral scene, but wanted to meet the hero and signal to the reader that this was a very different kind of werewolf story sooner--so I added the prologue to introduce Zack in his wolf form and Eliana Solomon, the Jinn Hunting Homeland Security Agent as soon as possible. Then, as the saying goes, I put the heroine up in a tree and threw rocks at her. (I stole that from Alex Sokoloff!) At every possible moment, I ratcheted up the bad news, until the reader is thinking, ?Ohmigod, what ELSE could go wrong?? And then, I threw another rock. Or boulder. Or whatever was handy. And I was cognizant of pacing at every turn. The saying, ?Come late and leave early? applies to my chapters.

How long did it take you to write it, and did you have any writer?s block along the way?

In 2004, I saw a story on the news about a school bus full of children with disabilities that turned over on the highway. The news story trickled into my subconscious and that night, I dreamed about being a bus driver for feral children. So, tell me, how creepy is that. I was on the bus, trying to drive them to school and they were literally wildebeest children, shrieking and carrying on and attacking me. I woke up and wrote down all the details. Then I wrote a short story based, in part on that dream. Fast forward to several re-writes and a trip to that horror workshop in 2005. Yup, that one. The one where I was told it was an IDIOT PLOT. I went home, whined to my husband and put it in the deep dark drawer where wounded stories go to fester and die. But the damn story wouldn?t die. It came to me at night, teasing and taunting me. Charlene demanded that I tell the RIGHT story, the one she was trying to get me to tell all along. She said, ?You missed the point. It?s a Werewolf story--and more.? So, a year later, I submitted it to the Wild Rose Press ?Got Wolf?? Contest. It did not make the anthology, but I did get an email saying that I should revise and resubmit the story. Well, I was pretty busy in my day job about then as a professor and department chair, plus I had a textbook coming out. So, it sat. For another year. Charlene was not happy. She badgered, prodded, poked and harassed me. Finally, I sent it off to Amanda Barnett, who said, ?I like the story, but it?s not there yet.? Did you hear me screaming? A year and three (3) major revisions later, I received the contract from the Wild Rose Press for KISS OF THE SILVER WOLF. When it came out on October 20, 2010, I was crying with happiness. Charlene was, too. :) She waited six years for me to get the story right.

Will we be seeing a following book to this story?

KISS OF THE VIRGIN QUEEN, the second book in my Jinn Hunter Trilogy will explore the space between science, religion and the paranormal and the effects of the epic romance between King Solomon and Queen Makeda of Sheba that continue to ripple down the centuries to their descendant, Eliana Solomon. For more information about this wonderful legend, go to my blog on Royal Watching, Part I and Royal Watching Part II KISS OF THE AVENGING ANGEL, the third book, will star Eliana Solomon and the Archangel Gabriel in a war between good and evil Jinn.

How did you come up with the character Charlene?

Like most authors, parts of me reside in my heroes and heroines. Paranormal events have played a role in my life since childhood. I have always accepted this alternate reality that many others do not experience or recognize. Their disbelief doesn?t dismiss my psychic experiences: dreams that come true, that I think of someone?and that person calls, and that I knew my sister was pregnant before she did. In the 1970?s while a psychology major at the University of Connecticut, I participated in telepathy experiments using the now famous J.B. Rhine Zener cards and other images. My ?hit rate? as a receiver was statistically greater than chance occurrence. Curiosity and pragmatism took me down the paths of psychology (BA), neuroscience (MA in Psychology), Nursing (AAS) and finally, public health (PhD). So, it?s really not surprising that I?ve gravitated to paranormal romance as one of my favorite sub-genres to read and to write.

In KISS OF THE SILVER WOLF, I decided to make Charlene Johnson a rational neuroscientist who has been told all her life that the paranormal is ?garbage? and to stay away from the pseudoscience--all the things I heard growing up with my psychic gifts. When her parents die in a mysterious car crash and the police rule it a suicide, leaving Charlene and her severely disabled older brother destitute, she has no choice but to take refuge in her mother?s home town of Eden, Kentucky. There, contrary to her rational, logical beliefs she discovers a family that?s really a pack of werewolves and a passionate lover who is the alpha male in waiting. Denying her own senses, she fights the paranormal world every step of the way. At last, Charlene is forced to make a life and death choice between who she believes she is and accepting who she really is.

I always must ask, If you could pick one actor to portray Zack on the big screen who would it be and why?

If KISS OF THE SILVER WOLF were made into a movie, I would love to have Zack played by Leonardo DiCapria. He?d make a perfect werewolf. LOL!

Was there anything you find particularly challenging when writing this book?

Everything was challenging about writing this book! I think the story behind the story and my dogged persistence (with Charlene?s insistence) to keep at it make it a stronger, more compelling tale over all for readers and writers.

What were your feelings when you first saw the cover of your finished book?

It took my breath away. Nicola Martinez is an amazingly talented artist and I was so blessed to have her create this cover for my story.
Character Interview
Zack Abingdon
Where are you from?

From a little village a couple of towns over the mountains, east of Eden--well, it?s gone now. It was really just a few families in my pack of origin. Hunters found my family, our neighbors and the few farmers and their wives who had allowed my people to live among them in peace for centuries. The humans were followers of the old way, understood we wouldn?t harm them. But the hunters came from another county in their pick-ups, drunk and wild. By the time I got home from my run, they?d slaughtered every man, woman, wolf and pup. I tried to avenge my family?s death, but was outnumbered. The Old One, Jethro Carter, found me in a stream, bleeding to death. He carried me back to Eden, called to his mate, Rebekkah and rallied his pack. He gave me his blood and saved my narrow ass. I owe him everything.

How Old Are You?

 In moons, I?m twelve-hundred moons old--give or take a few blue ones. In human years, I?m a century old. For my kind, I?m still young. I?m told I look like a thirty year old human.
What are you called? Nick name?

Zachariah Abingdon, but you can call me Zack.

How would you describe your looks??

In a word: lupine. In several words: Silver hair--both human and wolf. Blue-green-orange eyes, Long, lean, and lanky body. I love to run in human and wolf form, so I have a runner?s body as a human. As a wolf, I?m what the veterinarian who specializes in our kind calls ?well muscled.? I almost nipped her when she said that. But, I always save my nips for Charlene.

In Twitter Fashion use 140 characters or less, sum your personal ad for us. (If you were to have one)

Lonely silver alpha male ISO smoky-eyed golden goddess for equal status to mate for life. Must love pups. No cougars need apply.

What kind of childhood did you have?

I had the best birth pack a Werewolf could ever wish for. Loving, nurturing parents. Aunts and uncles who doted on me. Great cousins to play with. I nearly died of loneliness and sorrow in the long five years between losing my pack and finding Charlene.

What do you do for a living?

Alpha wolf of the Carter-Abingdon pack and CEO of Jericho Bus Company. We provide bus service for all the school districts in the county. Used to be just Werewolves, but ever since word got out that Eden was a safe haven for shape-shifters, we?ve got Werecats, Werecougars, Werefoxes, Wereraccoons, Wererabbits, Weredeer, you name it, we have it. Except Werebears. They?re too unpredictable, even for me and the Alpha Werecougar to handle. We draw the line at them.

What is your most embarrassing memory?

When Charlene first saw me on the foot of her bed, she caught me in the middle of shape- shifting. It?s a wonder she didn?t run away screaming. The stage between being between human and Werewolf, well, let?s just say, I?m all legs and teeth. It ain?t pretty.

What was your first date like?

Full of nips, licks and ?.well, a gentleman shouldn?t tell everything.

What do you want more than anything?

More pups!

What is your biggest secret--the one thing you don't want ANYBODY to know?

All Werewolves are descended from those who served King Solomon in Biblical times. We share a special bond with Special Agent Eliana Solomon, aka, ?The Jinn Hunter.? But that?s a story for another day and another time.

Follow This Author!
Sharon Buchbinder
Website: www.sharonbuchbinder.com

Blog: www.sharonbuchbinder.com/blog

Twitter:  @sbuchbinder

FACEBOOK: http://www.facebook.com/sharon.buchbinder.romanceauthor

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4417344.Sharon_Buchbinder



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