Welcome to Jersey Girl Book Reviews Deanna!
Before we get to the interview, can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?
I was a California girl who moved to a farm in northern Minnesota in my late teens and have lived in this state ever since (although I will always be a California girl at heart). When I was in college, majoring in accounting, I was encouraged by my English professors to pursue writing and I've had the writing bug ever since. I have published hundreds of non-fiction articles in newspapers, small magazines and on women's websites, but my first love has always been novel writing. Nine months ago I turned my focus to self-publishing novels and haven't looked back. I've published three novels, two are women's fiction and one is a middle-grade action/adventure novel.
How long have you been a writer?
I've been publishing non-fiction articles for over 20 years as well as writing novels during this time. I've only recently self-published those novels.
Do you have a day job, or is being an author your career?
Over the years I've had several "day jobs" but my goal was always to become a full-time writer. For the past three years, I earned my living as a full-time freelance writer of non-fiction articles (I had been doing this for years before but only part-time) but now I have changed my focus to writing novels full-time. It's been a long time coming, and I feel lucky to be able to write fiction full-time.
What inspired you to become a writer? Describe your journey as a writer.
As I mentioned before, I had two college English professors who encouraged me to change my major from accounting to writing. After that I began to take writing seriously and a couple of years later I sold my first article to a regional parenting publication. By then I was a mother and worked part-time around my husband's full-time job, so I had to use every available second to spend time on writing. I wrote non-fiction articles for newspapers, print media and then websites off and on for years in-between raising two children and working part-time jobs. I also completed two of my novels during this time. I was able to finally pursue a full-time writing career three years ago and then I decided it was time to finally follow my dreams and publish the novels I'd written.
Please give a brief description / storyline about Memories.
Memorie is a love story that spans a lifetime. Michael and Dana met years ago when he was still struggling with returning from his tour in Vietnam and she was only 18 years old. The are separated and years later run into each other again, only Michael doesn't understand why Dana holds so much hate for him. As their lives continue to intertwine because of Dana's job, their story unfolds and the deep connection they still feel for each other is hard to fight. There are many twists and turns in their story, but this is the basic setup for the novel.
What was the inspiration for this story?
I started writing a love story and it soon evolved into a more complicated story about the lives of these two people and the tragedies they face. I knew I wanted Michael to be a Vietnam Veteran, so I had read many autobiographies of Vietnam Vets in order to create a realistic background for Michael. Once I was deep into the story, I realized that this was turning into more than a simple love story – which is a good thing because it is a romance/drama all packed into one.
How did it feel to have your first book published?
All of my books are self-published, but no matter how you publish, it always feels like a major accomplishment. Just completing an entire novel is an accomplishment, let alone publishing it for others to read.
Do you write books for a specific genre?
Not really. Memories and Widow, Virgin, Whore are both women's fiction but one is a romance and the other is a family drama. I have also written a middle-grade action/adventure historical novel. I write the stories that come to me, not stories to fit a particular genre.
What genres are your favorites? What are some of your favorite books that you have read and why?
I read books in all genres, especially women's fiction, romance-comedy, mystery, horror, paranormal and historical. I also love a few of the classics like Jane Eyre and The Great Gatsby. The most recent books I've read and enjoyed were Yellow Crocus by Laila Ibrahim, Daughters by Elizabeth Buchan and Leaving Serenity by Alle Wells. They are all wonderfully written books with good, solid stories.
Do you have a special spot/area where you like to do your writing?
I keep my laptop on my dining room table where there are two large windows so I can enjoy the sunshine even in the winter. Our parrot's cage is also right next to me so she talks to me sometimes while I'm writing. In the summer, I also like to go out to the patio table and write on nice days.
How do you come up with the ideas that become the storyline for your books?
Ideas come to me from all around. An idea may come to me from a song, a conversation or even a news story. I'm a people watcher, and I notice the small details in a person's personality that others may miss. I see or hear certain situations, then wonder "What if?" That may lead to an idea for a novel. I usually think through my novels for a few months before even starting them. Once I actually start writing, I know exactly who my characters are and what they are going to do.
When you write, do you adhere to a strict work schedule, or do you work whenever the inspiration strikes?
I try to sit down to write at least two hours each day and then again for two to four hours each night. But, I am usually thinking about it all the time when I'm doing mindless chores like laundry, cleaning or cooking. That way, when I do finally sit down to write, I know exactly where my story is going.
What aspects of storytelling do you like the best, and what aspects do you struggle with the most?
Quite honestly, I like working on all aspects of storytelling. I enjoy creating the characters and situations as well as any research I need to do for the story. It's after the novel is written when the boring work begins. Editing can be tedious, especially after you've read your own work ten times. I don't mind editing for changes in the story, but I don't always find every error or misspelling. I've found that having a proofreader or editor is the best way to find all the errors.
What are your favorite things to do when you are not writing?
I love traveling. I also enjoy going out on the lake in our boat on a nice, sunny day or walking the forest trails around our home with my dog.
What is/was the best piece of writing advice that you have received?
A successful author once said to just write without thinking of errors so you can get the story written before you lose your inspiration. You can always go back and edit, but if you let little mistakes get in your way, you will never finish writing your book.
What is the most gratifying thing you feel or get as a writer?
I just love being able to share my stories with readers and hear that they have enjoyed them. Having the ability to entertain other people with my stories is the greatest reward of all.
How do you usually communicate with your readers/fans?
I communicate with readers through several social media sites as well as my blog. My readers can find me on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads and my blog. I enjoy hearing their thoughts about my books as well as the other authors and books they enjoy.
Is there anything in your book based on real life experiences or are they purely all from your imagination?
No, this book is not based on real-life experiences but it would be hard to write a story like Memories without adding a little of your own experiences into it. I've put a couple of places that I've visited in the story as well experiences that either I, or another person I've known, has experienced. We've all felt love, loss and heartache at some point in our lives, so those are experiences that show in the novel. However, this book is mostly written from my very active imagination.
What authors have been your inspiration or influenced you to become a writer?
I wouldn't say that any particular author influenced me to become a writer and I don't think any inspire my style of writing because I try to use my own voice when writing. However, I am an avid reader and I'm sure my love of reading is part of what influences me to write. I enjoy many authors from different eras, such as Charlotte Bronte, Louisa May Alcott and F. Scott Fitzgerald. I also enjoy current authors such as Elizabeth Buchan, Anne Rivers Siddons, Janet Evanovich, Jodi Picoult, Dan Brown and even Stephen King (loved his Tower series). Recently I've found a few indie authors whose work I admire such as Alle Wells, Ann Swann and Jan Romes. Like I said, I just love to read!
What is your definition of success as a writer?
I really believe that the ability to share stories with readers who actually enjoy them is a large measure of success. I am thrilled every time someone leaves a nice review of any of my books and I feel lucky to be able to do something I love doing. Yes, monetary success would be nice too, but it isn't the only factor that defines success as a writer – or at least not for me.
Are you currently writing a new book? If yes, would you care to share a bit of it with us?
I am currently working on a women's fiction/romance novel titled Sara's Promise that I plan to release in December 2012. Sara's Promise is a little different from the other women's fiction novels that I've written in that it isn't as much a tear jerker (however, you may still shed a tear or two) as it is a story that may give you a few goosebumps. Here is the book description that I haven't shared with anyone until today:
Do you believe in soul mates?
William Grafton had the perfect life. He had a lovely wife, Sara, and two wonderful children. But one day his perfect forever was shattered when Sara suddenly died, leaving him alone to raise his children and figure out how he would ever get through life without his one true love. Five years later, he finds himself looking into a familiar pair of blue-green eyes that remind him of Sara. The woman is the exact opposite of Sara, yet he finds himself drawn to her. But a few odd events occur that make him begin to wonder – has his Sara truly come back to him as she once promised in the form of this new woman? And can he let go of Sara to open his heart to a new love in his life and a new forever?
Does love last forever - even in death?
Annie Paxton doesn't believe in soul mates or fate. She had watched her father die of a broken heart after her mother passed away and has since cast away any fairy tale ideas of love. Then one day she meets the man who has been haunting her dreams, and she begins to see love in a whole new light. But her dream man is still tied to his deceased wife, and Annie doesn't know if he will ever be able to break away from his past. As strange occurrences unfold, Annie wonders if William could ever truly love her for herself and not for the traits that remind him of Sara.
Were William and Annie brought together by fate, coincidence, or by Sara keeping her promise?
Thank you Deanna for stopping by and sharing a bit about yourself and your writing career with us!
About The Author
AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE
Deanna Lynn Sletten's Memories Virtual Book Tour Page On Chick Lit Plus
Virtual Book Tour Contest Giveaway
Win A $50 Amazon Gift Card
Contest Dates: Sept 24 - Oct 8
Publisher: Deanna Lynn Sletten / CreateSpace Independent Publishing
Publication Date: February 24, 2012
Format: Paperback - 242 pages / Kindle - 375 KB / Nook - 651 KB
Genre: Contemporary Romance / Chick Lit / Women's Fiction
BUY THE BOOK: Memories
BARNES & NOBLE
Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours.
Michael DeCara came home from the Vietnam War a wounded man, both physically and emotionally. He tried putting his life back together, but found civilian life difficult after all he'd experienced in Nam. Raising his young daughter, Vanessa, by himself after his wife left, he found it difficult to commit to one job or one woman for any length of time. Then he met a young woman who made him feel good about himself again and who fell in love with Vanessa as well. But then a life-changing event occurred and he had to choose between his past and the present. He chose to leave without a word to the young woman, believing he was doing what was best for her. Now, years later, she has walked back into his life and he believes they may have a second chance at love-except she hates him and he doesn't understand why.
Danielle Westerly fell in love when she was only eighteen and her heart was broken when he left her without a word. Her heartache was increased when she made a fateful decision that would alter her future, and she blamed him for her loss. Years later, she is single and has built up a successful career when she accidentally runs into the man who was responsible for her past pain. Yet, their chemistry is undeniable. Can Dani give up her anger and let go of the pain of the past and fall in love again with the man she has hated all these years?
Dani and Michael share a journey of heartache, loss and painful memories that threaten to keep them apart. Can they break past these and finally find love again?
My Book Review:
Love found ... love lost ... an emotional journey that brings a man and a woman together again for a second chance at love.
Danielle "Dani" Westerly was only eighteen years old when she met and fell in love with twenty-five year old Vietnam Vet Miguel "Michael" DeCara, a single father with a six year old daughter named Vanessa. Miguel had come home from a traumatizing tour in Vietnam to a wife who couldn't deal with his nightmares and didn't want to be a wife or mother any longer. Addicted to women, Miguel went from one woman to another until he meets Dani, who was spending the summer before starting college working as a waitress in a California coffee shop. Dani was able to soothe his fears by holding him in her arms until he calmed down. They had a loving relationship for a few months until a sudden event occurred in his life and without saying a word, he left Dani behind. Dani's heart was broken and filled with hatred for a man who took her youth away, and she blamed him for a fatal decision that would change her future.
Nineteen years later a chance meeting in Chicago brings Dani and Michael together again. Dani is a retail clothing merchandise buyer for a large Minneapolis department store. Michael is the owner of a family-owned coat manufacturing business, Regal Coats, with divisions in Chicago and New York. Electricity sparks between them, but Dani's hardened heart leaves Michael confused and wondering what he did to make her despise him so much.
A trail of memories will send Dani and Michael on a journey to reignite a lost love, seek forgiveness and redemption, and provide them a second chance at love.
Memories is a poignant tale of love found, love lost, and second chances that will captivate your heart and soul. The author weaves a beautiful and dramatic tale written in the third person narrative with alternating perspectives on Dani and Michael's love story.
The story opens up with Dani at Michael's funeral, then flashes back to the beginning of their relationship, leading up to their chance meeting nineteen years later and how their relationship was renewed. This touching love story takes the reader along on Dani and Michael's emotional memory woven journey, it will draw you into their lives and will pull at your heartstrings. The story is rich in detail and descriptions of the retail merchandising business and the various settings, the author easily transports the reader to California, Minneapolis, Chicago and New York. The author's descriptive writing style is phenomenal, she simply captivates your imagination and engages you to come along on the emotional roller coaster ride that is Dani and Michael's love story.
The author has created an intriguing cast of characters who are realistic and complex people that the reader can relate to. Their engaging personalities grab a hold of you with dialogues and interactions that leap off the pages. The emotions and passion between Dani and Michael are palpable, you can't help but feel for them as they deal with their past demons and relationship issues. Dani's revelation of why she despised Michael and Michael's Vietnam nightmares that still haunt him was simply heart wrenching, author Deanna Lynn Sletten sure knows how to draw out the emotions from her readers! The supporting cast of characters: Catherine and Vanessa are both wonderful additions to the storyline as their lives are intricately interwoven with Dani and Michael. This emotionally charged story is one that everyone who believes in love should read, it is a powerfully compelling story that will leave you satisfied, I could easily see this novel becoming a movie.
Memories is a beautiful story of a couple's journey to rekindle a lost love through old memories and a painful past brought to the surface and healed through the power of communication, compassion, forgiveness and redemption. This love story is one for the ages, it will resonate with you long after the last word has been read.
RATING: 5 STARS *****