Wednesday 16 August 2023

A Slice of Cake With... Zoe Dawson

Today I am delighted to have a slice of cake with author Zoe Dawson.

Zoe says "I love to write. I always have. For me it doesn’t matter what genre it is, the constant is always the happily ever after.

I’m producing work that runs the gamut of genre—romantic comedy, new adult contemporary, urban fantasy, romantic erotica, and syfy/fantasy. Sounds crazy like I can’t make up my mind, but that’s so far from the truth.  Writing across all the genres is what excites me, keeps my mind fresh, and lets me tell the stories that are clamoring to get out. I’d tell you about the people in my head who talk to me, but don’t want you to freak out too much. So, I’ll keep that to myself.

I currently live in North Carolina, but hail from the beautiful Green Mountain State, Vermont. I miss the mountains, but love the warmth of not only the climate here in NC, but the warmth of the people I’ve meet since moving here.

The words feed my soul and the happily ever afters feed my heart."

What kind of books do you write?

I’m an outside-the-box thinker, so my plots are complex, nonconventional, and unpredictable, and you can expect expansive settings and deeply engaging characters that populate my stories. I write strong heroines who don’t care about stepping on toes, fight for what they believe in and know how to kick some ass, either verbally or physically and look good while doing it. My heroes are sexy guys with hearts of gold. Some live in small towns or big cities, and others travel a global landscape with a solid home base. Some have that laid back charm and bad boy quality, and others the special training to back up their disregard for danger, whether it’s running into bullets, shielding people, or doing what’s necessary. All of my stories are emotional, suspenseful tales of beating the odds, finding their place in the world, and falling deeply in love. That’s always the constant in my novels, the happily ever after.

Can you describe your writing why?

I have voices in my head who clamber for attention and their own, concrete story. (Don’t tell the guys with the white coats.) Seriously, I’m fueled by an imagination that won’t let me just live a normal life. I’ve got scenarios and fight scenes, people dangling off cliffs, firefights, sweat, blood, and tears, epic love, sassy characters, dangerously sexy men, and larger-than-life ideas for vast tales that I can’t contain. Writing is like breath for me. If I’m not telling a story, there’s no oxygen.

Share with us your favourite passage from the book you enjoyed writing the most

This excerpt is from my recently completed manuscript, Easy, part of the SEAL Team EAST series, but Easy was actually introduced in my SEAL Team Alpha novel, Hemingway. Easy and Hemingway were swim buddies while they endured Basic Underwater Demolition/SEALs or BUD/S. He’s now on the East Coast with the Gold Guardians (a unit I made up), a covert, secret part of Special Operation Command, under the Department of Defense. They are stationed at Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story in Virginia Beach, Virgina.

She shivered at the sudden drop in temperature and stayed close to Easy. They walked against the howling wind driving water into their faces, so they could barely see where they were going. The whole world seemed to be made of sheets and sheets of water. 
They made it into the meager cover of the trees. The sky gave them very little light. Mountains rose around them, the tree line silhouetted in silver against the gray sky.  As she took a step, she could feel the water rushing over her ankles. She looked down, thinking she had stumbled into a stream. Confused, she looked at Easy, but then there was a rumbling roar and she looked to her side. A ten-foot rushing wave of water rolled toward her, and if that wasn’t bad enough, it had swept over the truck and caught it up with debris and branches. It was a raging flash flood.
Easy shouted, but it was too late. The water hit her with a driving force that knocked the breath out of her and took her off her feet in an instant. The power of it rolled her around in the stream like a rag doll and she couldn’t even get her bearings to try to swim, the sudden current swift and treacherous. Part of the truck’s door came perilously close to her head, the edge of the rusted metal scoring her cheek with a painful slice of pain. Without warning, the ground was gone and there was nothing there. She couldn’t even draw a breath to scream.
Then suddenly she stopped short, someone had her wrist as the water continued to pour over them and disappear below. It was a drop-off, and she couldn’t even see anything but darkness underneath her as she dangled in midair, the water continuing to strike her face, flowing over her shoulders.
Finally, the deluge slowed then stopped altogether. She gasped for breath as she looked up to see that Easy had his arm securely around a tree root.
“Don’t panic, Jack. If you thrash, I’ll lose my grip.”
It took everything she had, every ounce of willpower and trust she had in the man above her. “Okay,” she said, gritting her teeth.
“Good.” There was that beautiful calm voice, and it worked its soothing magic. “Look over your left shoulder. See that outcropping of land?”
She swiveled her head, and her mouth went dry. There was an outcropping all right, but the land was ragged and torn. It was clear trees had toppled, their roots ripped from the ground. There was no way to know if the rain and flash waters had loosened the dirt.
“I’m going to toss you over there. Grab on and don’t let go.”
Don’t let go? Oh, God. She looked up at him and met his gaze. They stared at each other as seconds passed. She felt a connection with him, strong and unbreakable. There was no way he was going to drop her, and no way he was going to let them die. All of that was in those gorgeous blue eyes.
“Are you going to count to three on this He-man maneuver, Prince Charming?”
He huffed a breath. “Jack–I can’t be both.”
“I would appreciate it if you didn’t argue with a woman dangling in mid-air. Now, that three-count?”
“Will that help?”
“No, but at least I’ll know when to dig deep for my inner spider woman.”

Tell us about your latest project

My current release is GQ, the third book in my SEAL Team Tier 1 series. My Tier 1 team has been battling an elusive and shadowy terror group called No Safe Haven, who leave behind a mutilated American flag with a red X through it and the no safe haven slogan. They have attacked Americans in Paris (Iceman, Book 1), and Bolivia (Preacher, Book 2). Usually a three-pronged attack: civilian, government, and military. But they have now confiscated a laptop leading them to London, England where the third book takes place. Here’s a description.

Ready to deliver some well-deserved justice to the terror group Remington "GQ" Nash and his teammates have been fighting, No Safe Haven, he and the team head to England where the next attacks are scheduled to happen. But this time they have confiscated a laptop they hope contains the information on the attacks they need to prevent them. To top it off, they have a team of NSA cryptologists on hand to decrypt the safeguards on the computer. That's when GQ meets, shy, repressed, and brilliant Dr. Celeste Potter, a woman so buttoned-up she hides behind her large glasses, baggy sweats, and unbound hair. He can't seem to help himself as he gets involved in bringing this woman out of her shell...and falling hard for her during an active and dangerous mission. Celeste is nonplussed to discover that this gorgeous Navy SEAL has taken an interest in her. It's the last thing she would have expected. Her life is reclusive by choice, the world is so intrusive, but this man draws her out bit by bit until she can no longer deny how much she has missed in her life, nor how she's going to handle this dynamic man. As the mission progresses, Celeste finds disturbing evidence that NSH has their sights set on her, and she can no longer ignore the real world for her safe bubble. Is she up for the final showdown where their lives are on the line and NSH's plans are so extreme, they could succeed in destroying everything?

What is your favourite cake?

Pretty simple. Chocolate layer cake—chocolate frosting, yellow cake. I prefer the store-bought kind from Harris Teeter. It’s so darn delicious and HT has my back, the slices come in individual servings, so I don’t overindulge (except on my birthday). 

Connect with Zoe here:

Claire Buss is a multi-genre author and poet, completely addicted to cake. Find out more about her books on her website Join the discussion in her Facebook group Buss's Book Stop. Never miss out on future posts by following me

Thursday 3 August 2023

A Slice of Cake With... Naima Haviland

This week I am delighted to have a slice of cake with author Naima Haviland.

Naima says " I write novels and short stories, mostly in the dark fantasy, and horror genres. Lately, I've branched out into romance, erotica, and literature. There's no telling where my imagination will take me next!

I'm inspired by the Southeast United States, including the Florida panhandle, an ocean paradise that has been home to pirates, outlaws, eccentrics, explorers, UFOs -- and me!"

What kind of books do you write?

Readers can expect immersive worlds and complex characters. However, my plots go in unexpected directions. I’ll mix vampires with folk magic or modern gothic with erotica. Or I’ll start a short story as a romance and finish it as a time-travelling mystery. My latest novel, The Name I Chose, weaves the worst of our influencer culture into an alternative version of Victorian England. The story combines romance, body positivity, and social justice.

Can you describe your writing why?

I want something of myself to live on after I die – hopefully, I have lots of time ahead to make that happen but I write like there’s no tomorrow. I want to uplift, fascinate, and entertain people I don’t know.

Share with us your favourite passage from the book you enjoyed writing the most

After all the day’s shock and danger, it was the subterranean tunnels that threatened Philomena’s spirit. She had the feeling now, as she had whenever they’d locked her in the closet, that she should never see daylight or people again. Philomena sat against the tunnel wall in the darkness and stifled a sob against her knees. 
But then her mind’s eye conjured the image of Mordecai from the encompassing darkness. She considered the challenges arising from physical malformations. How mean the array of opportunities presented him, yet he’d built a career that earned him a comfortable income. How cruelly people may have treated him, yet in his chosen profession Mordecai helped people flourish. 
Philomena dried her tears with the back of her hand. She stood, felt about in the dark for the track, and began once again to follow it.
Mordecai persevered, and if she intended joining her life to his, she must match him. He thought you too delicate. Prove him wrong.
Though she had much to make her anxious, Philomena gave preference to reliving the pleasure Mordecai’s infrequent smiles had afforded her. When they composed together at the piano, her soul frolicked with its sympathetic twin. Despite his physical asymmetry, his form fit perfectly with hers when he embraced her. Though absent at the moment, his presence sustained her.

Tell us about your latest project

The Name I Chose is a novel of passion and peril set in an alternative Victorian England. 

Bold inventions usher in a new age, while genetic and cosmetic sciences reinforce an age-old class system. For the rich, immunity to disability and disease justifies their hold on power. Born disfigured, Mordecai Michaelson has employed his musical talent to rise above a life of poverty. Philomena Paulson appears no less perfect and no more talented than her upper class world requires. But she has secrets only Mordecai understands. Acceptance, trust, and a passion for music compose bonds of forbidden love between them. When chance discovery of Philomena's darkest secret threatens scandal and revolution, she's determined to save Mordecai from the gallows. But Mordecai is just as determined to keep her from social suicide, even if it costs him his life.

The Historical Fiction Company gave The Name I Chose a 5-star review: "... what we have here is an excellent screen play for an equally excellent film. All the necessary component parts are present: romance and love interest, beautiful music..." — and distinguished the novel with 2022 Silver and Highly Recommended Awards. 

Order The Name I Chose from your favourite bookseller. While we’re sharing a slice of cake, try a yummy bite of the audiobook

What is your favourite cake?

The mint-chocolate birthday cake I baked for myself on my last day of being 29. I put so much green food coloring into the homemade icing that the whole thing looked like a malformed TicTac. I circled the top of the round layer cake with chocolate-covered coffee beans. I woke up 30 years old to find that all the icing had slid off and the coffee beans now lay on the plate. It looked like a metaphor for aging. That was a tasty cake, though.

Connect with Naima here:
Learn more about her books and creative projects on her website:
Connect with her on Facebook

Claire Buss is a multi-genre author and poet, completely addicted to cake. Find out more about her books on her website Join the discussion in her Facebook group Buss's Book Stop. Never miss out on future posts by following me.