Monday, March 3, 2014

Author Interview & Giveaway: Touching the Moon by Lisa M. Airey

Touching the Moon
Lisa M. Airey

Genre: Romantic Suspense with a Paranormal Twist
Publisher: Aakenbaaken & Kent, NY
Number of pages: 272
Cover Artist:

Book Description:
A gifted healer with a genetic secret and a haunted past, Julie Hastings takes her new veterinary degree to South Dakota hoping to bury memories of a physically abusive stepfather and unprotective mother.
Although intending to lead a quiet life, she finds herself relentlessly pursued by two unwelcome suitors: the Chief of Police and a powerful member of the Sioux Indian Nation.
The man she chooses shatters her world-view.
Her stepfather taught her that not all monsters run on four legs. Now Julie must face another truth—some beasts are good.

An Interview with Lisa M. Airey, author of “Touching the Moon”

Q: How long did it take to write “Touching the Moon”?
A: Three months. And I wrote every day. My daughter was away in college and homesick, so I started sending her chapters of my manuscript to keep her spirits up. Her requests for “more” kept me moving at a very fast clip to the finish line. She made for a super beta-reader and editor; her immediate critiques allowed me to write and revise simultaneously so my first-draft was more like a second-draft!
Q: How did you land your publisher?
A: Ah! That is a crazy story! My daughter and I were on a Route 66 road trip in New Mexico and stopped in a local bookstore to get some reading material. We picked up a murder mystery written by local author and Lefty Award Winner, J. Michael Orenduff entitled “The Pot Thief Who Studied Escoffier”.  It was fabulous! The author had included his email address on the back cover so I wrote to tell him how much I enjoyed the book and to point out that his main character’s favorite libation, Gruet sparkling wine, was not really “champagne” (as referenced in the book). Champagne comes from Champagne, France; Gruet is sparkling wine made in New Mexico. (I’m in the wine industry.) A number of emails followed and I became a beta-reader for him. When I worked up enough courage, I asked him to read my manuscript. He liked it and recommended me to his publisher…who then offered me a book contract. In a nutshell, my book contract was the result of a pot thief, New Mexico and champagne! (I highly recommend all three!)
Q: How long did it take to move from signed book contract to book on Amazon?
A: Approximately ten months. There was a lot of work to do. The publisher had me change the title from “Wounded” to “Touching the Moon” (too many other books out there with the “Wounded” title). I had to change the name of the town in which the story takes place. I had to cut 35K words! The publisher wanted me to move the story from South Dakota to Colorado…but I lobbied hard to keep my story where it was. (And won.) The manuscript had to be re-formatted and checked for spelling, grammar and punctuation. Then there was cover design! All of this took longer than it took to write the novel itself! But I have to say…as soon as the book went live on Amazon, I bought a copy! What a thrill!
Q: What has the journey been like for you?
A: To be honest, the easiest part of the process was writing the story. I had no idea that the editing process would be so gut-wrenching, nor promotion so exhausting. There are 700 new titles published every day. Trying to get noticed in “haystack” that large is very hard, especially for a debut author.
Q: Have there been any shining moments?
A: Yes! I ran a Halloween promotion on Amazon and gave away free Kindle downloads for five days. My publisher was hoping for 500 downloads to generate some buzz. In the end, there were 7,255 downloads to Kindles in the USA, Canada, the UK, Germany, Spain, India and France! And the reader reviews are still coming!
Q: What have been the challenges?
A: Learning the industry jargon. Learning how to work within the world of social media (I tweet but still don’t understand Twitter!) Choosing how to spend my time: do I promote the book in print or write on the sequel? There are not enough hours in the day!
Q: How to you fit writing into your life?
A: It’s tough. I’m the Education Director for the French Wine Society so I write wine study manuals for the wine trade by day. Sitting. In front of a computer. I can usually get a couple hundred words in on my WIP (work-in-progress) each night…but most of my quality writing time comes in longer chunks on the weekend. The challenge is to make sure I don’t sit 24/7. I’ve taken up gardening to keep me moving.
Q: Where do you get your ideas?
A: Interestingly, the characters in my novel kind of take over and take charge. They write their own story.  I would have never admitted to this except for the fact that I’ve heard other authors say the same thing. So I guess I’m not out in left-field and that it’s a fairly common occurrence.
Q: Has writing a book changed the way you read a book?
A: Absolutely! I look for breaks in character, breaks in plot, breaks in logic. I am aware of pacing, typos, natural vs. unnatural dialogue. I can’t help but dissect a book now!
Q: Does this take the fun out of reading for you?
A: No. But it has to be a really good story for me to lose myself completely now. I read with both sides of the brain these days!
Q: Favorite authors? Favorite books?
A: The “Alchemist” has earned a spot on my list of all time favorite books! And Isabelle Allende writes powerful stories that leave long-lasting impressions. I’m a big fan of Anthony Capella. Loved his book “Food of Love”, a modern-day Cyrano de Bergerac for foodies. Jonathan Stroud did a masterful job with “Amulet of Samarkand” creating my favorite “bad guy” of all time: Bartimaeus. I enjoyed Laini Taylor’s “Daughter of Smoke and Bone” and “Days of Blood and Starlight”. (I’m fascinated by the world she has built.) J. Michael Orenduff has a super murder-mystery series set in New Mexico. My favorite in his line-up is “The Pot Thief Who Studied Ptolemy”. Love Charlaine Harris. Love Patricia Briggs. I enjoy Janet Evanovich also. (Sincerely hoping that Stephanie Plum will pick Morelli!) 
Q: What do people say when they find out you’re a writer?
A: They assume I’m rich or they assume I’m unemployed. Neither assumption reflects reality so I always end up doing a lot of explaining.
Q: Why did you choose to write a book in the paranormal genre?
A: I read books to relax. I prefer not to read something with a box of Kleenex at the elbow. (This pretty much knocks out every selection in Oprah’s Book Club.) I’m not big on Science Fiction because it takes too much work to learn the “world” and the rules within it. Paranormal gives me that comfortable sense of the familiar with just the right amount of “otherworldly-ness”. I thoroughly enjoy it…and I like the dystopian genre for the same reason.
Q: Is your book categorically paranormal romance?
A: [Spoiler Alert] No. It’s more romantic suspense with a paranormal twist. There’s romance but the heat is “closed door”, i.e. no explicit sex. However, the sexual tension runs very high and the main plot revolves around a love triangle. There are some murders and a dark stalker element that tie in, hence the suspense. And as to the paranormal twist…well, as I mentioned, there is a love triangle--it’s just that, on occasion, one of the three runs on all fours!
Q: How strong is the paranormal element?
A: [Spoiler Alert] The book is a shifter novel, but you don’t know that straight away. The book is firmly grounded in reality. It starts out as a simple love story, so many readers are totally caught off-guard by the big “reveal”. And I did that on purpose. I have read so many books where the hero or heroine is given introduction into an alternate reality and they are relatively un-phased and quick to accept. I don’t think that would happen in real life. No one in their right mind would say: “Oh, you’re a vampire/leprechaun/faerie/werewolf. Cool!” There would be shock, denial, and fear as they tried to reassemble themselves within a world they didn’t know existed. As a result, this makes the paranormal element of my story very believable. As one reader put it: I put the “normal” in paranormal.
Q: Why did you choose (and fight for) South Dakota as the setting for your novel?
A: My great, great grandmother was Sioux. She married a man in the 1800s that took her back to the east coast. They walked from the Black Hills of South Dakota to Maryland. I set the story in the Black Hills to honor them both, but her in particular.
Q: Do you incorporate Sioux culture into your novel?
A: I do. One of the men involved in the love triangle is Sioux. I tried to be as authentic as I could with regard Sioux customs and ritual. That wasn’t easy. Information is scarce. Many Native Americans tribes are justifiably worried about revealing too much of their culture for fear it will be misinterpreted or misused.
Q: Have you been to South Dakota?
A: Yes! I have visited the Black Hills. It is stunningly beautiful. And quiet. In fact, the silence is so pervasive that even the sound of the wind is a statement with an exclamation point. Last September, I flew out to participate in the South Dakota Festival of Books in Deadwood. Prior to the festival itself, I contacted the stables in Custer State Park to book a two-hour trail ride. When I offered my credit card to confirm the reservation, the woman said simply: You told us you were coming; your word is credit enough. There’s a lot of old fashioned trust out there. It’s a great state filled with great people.
Q: Do you have any advice to aspiring writers?
A: Throw away your television. It’s the biggest time-waster! Once the tv is gone, you’ll read or write or do something interesting and active. You’ll be amazed how much more you will accomplish for yourself each day!

Amazon | BN 

About the Author:
Lisa has worked in the wine industry for 20 years, the most recent eight in education with the Society of Wine Educators and the French Wine Society. In these roles, she has authored and/or edited wine study manuals and developed or expanded certification programs for the wine trade. In her free-time, she writes fiction...naturally, with a glass of wine at the elbow. She is a Maryland Master Gardener and puts that training into practice in her sizable vegetable garden. To assist her, she has recruited the services of a very helpful staff: two Chinese geese, two mini-Rex rabbits and 2,000 red wigglers (worms)…all of which are “master composters”. An adopted feral cat guards the perimeters and keeps the groundhogs at bay. She resides in Monkton, Maryland.

Author Contacts:
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5 copies of Touching the Moon in print or Kindle format (winner’s choice- print open to US Shipping Only)
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