Friday, November 9, 2018

Friday Five - Playing with Fire

Senior Mom/Son photo
Happy Friday!!! This cold Michigan weather has me wishing I had a warm fireplace to curl up next to. Give me a good book (or a chick flick) and a hot cup of coffee with some Irish Creme in it and I'd be a super happy girl.  As it is, I'm bundled up in my sweatpants and a hoodie, staring out my office window at the cold day and dreading having to be out in the temps later tonight.  Though it is for a great reason - our local varsity football team is in the Regional Play-off game tonight so I gotta go out and show my #royalpride! I'm bummed my kiddo has been sidelined most of the season with a knee injury, especially because it's his #seniorseason, but I am so proud that he still puts his heart and soul into showing his support to his football brothers and goes to practice every day to encourage them and help where he can. Definitely a proud momma.

Before I get all into #braggingmommode let me redirect to today's #fridayfive...though I will segue it by saying I know the #blissfieldroyals will be #playingwithfire tonight! 😁😉

Today I am talking my own PLAYING WITH FIRE. This is the second book in the California Dreamin' Series and follows FINDING HOME, which I talked about in last week's Friday Five. This book was actually the third book I wrote since TAKING CHANCES from the Small Town Series was written and released before this one came to life.

I loved writing PLAYING WITH FIRE. The leading lady, Noelle Dupre has been nearly broken in love, but still finds a way to keep that internal fire alive. Add in sexy Trent Torres and these two bring the heat in more ways than one!  Here is the full book description:

PLAYING WITH FIRE follows the intertwining paths of Noelle Dupre and Trent Torres. Noelle is on the run from the abusive ex-boyfriend she left behind in Arkansas. She's got a personality to match her fiery red hair and though on the outside she seems like a bit of a tomboy, underneath that exterior is a passionate woman yearning to be released. Life has never been easy for her, but Noelle is fighting mad and is not about to let anyone stop her from finding the peacefulness she craves. Enter Officer Trent. 

Trent has been a ladies' man for the better part of his life and settling down always seemed too constricting to him. But that was before his best friend, Damien, got married and Trent felt maybe he was missing out on something after all. He comes from a large Hispanic family, that at times can be overbearing, but they mean well, even if they try to set him up at every opportunity. 

Trent has seen Noelle before - on the day of his best friend's wedding. That flaming hair and creamy skin somehow stuck with him, so when a breaking and entering call puts her as the lead suspect, he struggles with doing his duty and letting her get away. Noelle doesn't like cops, where she comes from they're corrupt and never did anything to stop her ex's violence toward her - of course it didn't help his father was the sheriff and just as abusive. But when Noelle meets Trent, it isn't his ability to uphold the law that she doesn't trust, it's the pounding in her heart and the thoughts running through her head that make her back away. 

Noelle doesn't have a choice to stay away from Officer Torres too long when her ex shows up with revenge on his mind. Trent isn't about to let someone hurt any woman, let alone one so full of life. He's got to show Noelle that he's willing to give his life to protect her and hopes she'll give him forever in return.

So here are the top 5 questions I get about PLAYING WITH FIRE.

1 - You've said all your leading ladies are written with your traits, how is Noelle like you? Of all my heroines, Noelle is the LEAST like me.  Besides that fiery spirit of course!  Though I have known the fear of domestic violence, it was never at the level I wrote for her. But that fighting spirit and refusal to just stay stuck are very much traits I have.

2 - Domestic violence?! How is that in a romance novel? Because I don't just write fictional romance, I want my characters to be relate-able.  And frankly, with a statistic like 1 in 4 women report being battered in their lifetime, I think that is something a lot of women can relate to.  I also think that learning to love and trust again after being in that situation is something those same women hope for, even if it's scary. I want my characters to come across as someone you know, or someone you may be, and show that there is life on the other side of trauma.  Even love.

3 - That's kind of crazy that Noelle hated law enforcement, but fell for Trent, who is a police officer! Did you do that on purpose? Actually it wasn't until after the story came together that I saw the connection. But I love how she didn't let her past completely cloud her judgement. I love that she was brave enough to get to know Trent as he was and not make conclusions based on her past.  So let's just say the law enforcement theme was a happy coincidence...especially since I wrote about Trent being a police officer in FINDING HOME and had no foresight into the character of Noelle or her backstory at the time.

4 - Speaking of FINDING HOME, that was pretty cool how you intertwined Noelle into the last part of the book and then wrote the scene again from her perspective in PLAYING WITH FIRE. That was on purpose right? Lol, another happy accident.  I didn't get the idea to give Noelle her own book until FINDING HOME was nearly done. At that point it was just to be a stand-alone book, not part of a series. But as I wrote her into the book I wanted to know more about her, another dreamer heading to a new life...though some would argue she was just another woman outrunning her past...either way, it got her to where she needed to be and to the man that would help save her life and heal her heart.

5 - Trent is bi-lingual, was it hard writing him like that? Did you know Spanish before you wrote the book? Si, dos anos en alto esquela...yes, 2 years in high school.  My brother-in-law (Ruben) is Hispanic and bi-lingual.  Trent's abuela (grandmother) was actually mirrored after Ruben's mother Juanita. I love how she blends English and Spanish together effortlessly. It's so beautiful.  I actually had Ruben read those scenes to make sure I was using words or phrases correctly. I also used very basic terms that I felt most people would understand what they were saying even if the reader didn't know Spanish.

FUN FACT - PLAYING WITH FIRE is the only book I've written to have its own book trailer! Someday I will go back and create one for each of my other releases, but here is the trailer for your viewing pleasure:

AUTHOR NOTES - I released PLAYING WITH FIRE in the fall of 2012.  That summer, while writing the book, my small town was the scene of a violent domestic attack which left two sisters  and an unborn child dead, their mother injured, and their children motherless. The attacker was the ex of one of the women, when police closed in on him days later he killed himself. The former couple had a child together as well. It was heartbreaking and tragic and many were left to wonder "how can something like that happen in a town like this"...the truth is it happens everywhere. Violence doesn't discriminate wealth or location, upbringing or any other factor.  I know this first hand.

I struggled with if I should even finish writing PLAYING WITH FIRE or if I needed to scrap the sub-plot, but after talking with my editor, I knew that having been there myself, I could talk about what it is like to be in a home that is hostile and relay it in a way that the readers will know I was not using it to "sell books" or "shock value" but was writing it because it's isn't fiction and I don't want my books to be fairy tales.

When the book was released, I took 25% of royalties from the first few weeks and donated it to, I spoke about my 'why' in THIS post. I was able to raise $125.  I also used book signings to collect bedding and was able to donate an entire Jeep Grand Cherokee FULL of bedding to my local women's shelter.

It's never just been about writing books to me, it's about using my abilities to help others...whether through words or actions or both. 

Thank you for your questions on PLAYING WITH FIRE!!! This is my heaviest book by far for sure. But I am so proud of it and the good that I've been able to use it for. If you haven't read it yet, click it's title anywhere in this post and grab a copy on Amazon!

Next week I am talking about TAKING CHANCES!!!

As always.....

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