“I will meet him. Even if you refuse to introduce me, I’ll find him myself. You know I will. If he’s as honest and kind as you say he is, he won’t mind meeting your brother. If he’s a horses ass, he will,” Henry snapped.
“You expect him to be an ass already,” Gemma sounded a bit sullen.
“I do, yes.”
“You’re being completely unfair, Henry.”
“I’m being cautious, Gemma. There are unscrupulous men out there ready to pounce on a helpless young woman of wealth.”
“You make me sound like a damp tissue. I’m not weak. I’m not helpless.”
“In a world full of men, you are. Invite him to dinner tonight. Eight o’clock.”
Savage Heart is the much anticipated (and demanded) sequel to my historical romance, Indian Summer. Set in the early summer of 1740, Gabriella and Manuel are now happily (or maybe not so happily) married.
The bright, green eyes missed little. Touching him fleetingly, she drew his attention. “What makes you sad?” It was strange how she said it, emphasis strong on the pronoun. She knew her own grief, but his sorrow puzzled her.
Many authors hold multiple positions in other areas of our lives. However, regardless of how busy we are, nor how many books we have written, it does not change the fact that each time we have a new release we feel the same as any other author exposing themselves to the world for the very first time. Feelings are often are the combination of joy, nervous anticipation, excitement, and a slight element of fear (at least for me). Dellani Oakes is no exception to the rule of a woman with multiple roles; she is a busy wife, mother, Blog Talk Radio host, publisher, and an author. She lives in Florida, grew up in Western Nebraska, has lived in multiple states, and being a people watcher by nature, this has given her the opportunity to gather information over the years for her work.
She’s written multiple novels, but now has a new romance, set to release November 1, 2017, from Tirgearr Publishing, titled – So Much It Hurts. I’m thrilled to say I had the opportunity to interview Dellani about her work and her new novel.
The main character, Pia Donovan, Pia has just moved to the City from a tiny town in Nebraska. Overwhelmed by the fast pace, and after a long day of getting lost in the worst part of the city possible, she finally arrives at her destination, a historic, grand hotel in the downtown area. Picking her way across the rutted ground in front of the building, she loses her balance, practically falling into the arms of Flynn Chancellor. Handsome and friendly, Flynn presents a happy distraction for a girl who’s trying to recover from a broken heart.
1) You have written several novels. Is this your first romance?
Dellani: I have written other straight romances, but this is the first published romance. The others are either romantic suspense or sci-fi.
2) Does Pia resemble anyone you know?
Dellani: She resembles me in several ways. First of all, she’s an academic brat. My father was a college professor. For Pia, it’s her mom. We both grew up in Nebraska, though she’s from the east and I grew up out west. It’s still the small town girl vibe. Also, her musical loves are mine – hands down, exactly like me.
3) Is the protagonist, Pia, a heroine, victim or neither?
Dellani: She is certainly no victim, though she has some hurt in her life. She does suffer a little in the story, but she rises above. I wouldn’t call her a heroine, as there is no real villain. However, she is a strong female lead.
4) When I think of romance, I often think of love stories. Is this a typical love story?
Dellani: It is a love story, with a bit of a surprise. If you’re asking if this follows the standard romance formula, no. But it is a sweet story of loss, love and redemption.
5) I am sure some scenes maybe steamy. How would you rate them, R rated or X?
Dellani: This particular story is very mild. There are some heavy make-out scenes and certain acts are mentioned, but there is no graphic sex in the story. It’s more of an understood thing. Because there are some sensitive people out there, I would give it a light R. It would be appropriate for 17+
6) Being a visual writer (myself), do you have to visualize your scenes. If so, how fun 🙂 but on another note, is it emotionally draining at times being in someone else’s relationship?
Dellani: Yes and yes. I see the scenes play out in detail. I hear them talking in their individual voices, and try to capture their individual styles.
There are times when character’s don’t get along. That’s inevitable. It’s hard when the actions of one character adversely affect another. Sometimes, there’s reparation. Other times, there’s an irreparable split. Those are hard, especially if I really like both characters.
7) I know by nature you are an observer; the material is all around you, but writing romance, is it hard to find good relationships to mimic these days?
Dellani: I don’t really try to mimic any relationships. If anything, their couple dynamic is similar to my own marriage. We’ve been together 35 years and still have fun together. Our style is a little avaunt-garde but it works for us.
8) If you had to tell your audience/readers one thing about this book that you want them to know?
Dellani: Don’t pick it up expecting a “typical romance”. Anyone who knows my work already knows this, but new readers don’t. I have never followed the boy meets girl, boy and girl fight, boy and girl makeup and live horribly ever after. I can’t even imagine people hating one another throughout a book, then realizing they are in love. I give it a year—maybe.
My couples meet, feel a spark and work together against conflict. They resolve their issues and work through them together.
9) Flynn sounds as if he is gorgeous and delightful, but is he a nice person? Don’t answer if it gives away your story 🙂
Dellani: Flynn is a great guy, but he has some baggage that even he doesn’t recognize. He’s learning and growing as a person. I love Flynn. (I love Yancy and Pia as well) 🙂
10) While writing romance is hard to put original spins on twists that are already out there and make them your own?
Dellani: Yes, it can be. People have certain expectations for romance, which I don’t give them. I do my best to find ways to bring my characters closer, not drive them apart. Not to say they don’t have problems, but at least they try. Finding a new spin isn’t easy, but I hope I still deliver a good story.
11) Greenlee honestly could have been any kid, in any town, anywhere in America. Could Pia be any woman, anywhere, in any small town or is she special?
Dellani: She’s very universal, in my eyes. Although she is a musician, she could be anyone, anywhere—a displaced small town girl in the big city. I love that she’s like that, but retains her individuality – just as Greenlee did. (I love her)
12) Who is your favorite character in this book, and why?
Dellani: I love all my leads, but as far as favorite – I’m gonna have to go with Oz. He’s not a major character, but he is pivotal. Oz is special, a young man with Asperger’s, who lives down the hall from Pia. He is fiercely loyal, intuitive and sees into a person with a great clarity. He talks to Pia about seeing the pattern. At first, she’s not quite sure, but when she sings for a group of the residents, she sees it quite clearly. Glancing at Oz, she realizes that he knows what she’s seeing. It’s a cool moment.
13) What would you tell your fans excites you about this release?
Dellani: I love this book! I fell in love with the characters, I love the plot twists and I can’t wait for it to be out so that they can enjoy it too.
14) Did you learn anything about your self while writing this piece?
Dellani: Yes, I learned that I’m very sarcastic and have bizarre sense of humor. Oh wait, I knew that already. Let’s say that the dialogue made that abundantly clear.
15) I cannot go back and reread my pieces for a long time. I would change too many things (it is a personal author/writer thing). Now your new book is ready for release, is there a single thing you would have written differently and will you ever go back and rewrite it?
Dellani: Usually, I’m the same way. I read my books later and find things I’d change. This time, I can’t say that. I am really pleased with how this came out. Of course, five years from now, I might feel differently, but right now, no.
16) Will you write a sequel to this piece?
Dellani: I’m not sure about a sequel. It’s possible, but I think I tied up the loose threads successfully. However, I’m very likely to bring these characters into other books set in the same city. There are a few incidental characters that the three core characters encounter, who are featured in other of my books (which aren’t published yet).
17) Is there an element of mystery to this romance?
Dellani: For once, there is no real mystery involved. Since I mostly write romantic suspense, I thought it would be interesting to break away from that for once. I think I was successful.
18) How do you define success as an author?
Dellani: If I get positive feedback from readers, I feel I’ve been successful. I would love to be the writer making millions (who wouldn’t?) but I’m realistic. Those contracts are rare. If I make even one reader laugh, cry or sweat, I have done my job.
19) Define the best makebelieve day as a writer?
Dellani: My best makebelieve day would be to have a movie company call me up and tell me they want to turn one of my books into a movie and I can pick the leads.
20) If you could speak to a stadium full of Dellani Oakes fans about this book, what is the very first thing you would say after the initial introduction?
Dellani: I think I’d channel comedienne Minnie Pearl. I’d walk onto the stage in a big, flowered hat, wave my hand and say, “Howdy!” Once I had everyone laughing, then I’d start to talk.
“You weren’t kidding about how close it all is. I’ll have to explore Making Music soon. I can’t go long without a fix.”
“We can go in now, if you want.” He turned to face the store.
The front window was filled with shiny saxophones, sparkling flutes, and tantalizing objects Flynn couldn’t name. It caught his artist’s eye, drawing him in.
“Today’s goal is campus.”
“As the lady wishes.” He swung her around to face the way they’d been going. “I should see if they’ll let me do a camo piece there. I could have fun with all the shiny objects. Matching things like metal and leather is tricky.”
“I imagine so. The textures and the way it catches the light. And suede versus tanned hide would be an additional challenge.”
“You must have taken painting classes.”
“A few. Mom thought we should all have a well-rounded education. Her granddad was an artist in Mexico. Quite well known. Maybe you know the name. Rafael Dominguez?”
Flynn stopped in his tracks. “No! Really? Shit!” His hand flew to his head, searching for a cap that wasn’t there. He grasped his hair instead. “I am the hugest fan of his work. My first copies were of his Santa Rosada Sitting. The colors are so hard to match, I couldn’t do it justice. It’s phenomenal.”
Pia’s eyes watered and she sniffled. “That was my great-grandmother. He painted that of her just before she died.”
“The play of light…the textures…his use of bold colors. It just leapt off the canvas. Incredible! Is it true he made his own paints?”
“Yes. Mom even has some containers of his original paints. Would you believe, they’re still good? We don’t use them, of course, but Mom has his recipes. Virtually unintelligible, though. We’re hoping someone will be able to read through them and figure them out. He used a very bizarre shorthand, since he couldn’t read or write.”
Flynn dug his hands into his pockets, biting his lower lip. “I need a project for my final semester. I chose the work of Rafael Dominguez. Do you have copies of the notes, or could you get them? Because I would be honored to try to translate them.”
“I do! Well, Mom does. We loaned the originals to a museum, along with some of his paintings, and sketches. They scanned them for us and put them in a display case. I can make that happen.”
Swept away by the moment, Flynn grabbed her face and kissed her. It was brash and impulsive, but he didn’t even think. As soon as he realized what he was doing, he considered stopping, but Pia took his face in her hands and kissed him back. From there, it took on a life of its own and he couldn’t stop. Sighing contentedly, Pia disengaged and smiled up at him.
“Unexpected,” she murmured. “Nice.”
“I’m sorry. I got carried away…”
“Don’t apologize unless I rack your balls.”
“Yes, ma’am.” He pulled her close, resting his forehead against hers. “Does that mean I can hope for another?”
“We’ll see.” She cut her eyes at him, grinning. Swishing away, she walked down the street.
Yesterday, which is roughly a month before this article is actually posted, I asked my fellow Cereal Authors if one of them wanted to write the Sarcasm post for October. An overwhelming chorus of “Go for it!” reached my ears. Kind of what I expected, because my life is not only sarcastically oriented, it’s also peppered with irony. The message we take away from this? Don’t ask if you don’t want to be told to go for it.
Another irony: I had started a post months ago, and lost it. In fairness to me, it was hand written and in a notebook that I’d taken to the doctor’s office. Sadly, I can’t remember which notebook it’s in, and I don’t feel like looking for it right now. That isn’t entirely my fault, the hurricane blew in stuff that’s making me sneeze. Blame it on Mother Nature. (But don’t tell her, my home insurance will go up if she has a tantrum.)
However, we aren’t here to discuss the weather or irony, we’re talking sarcasm. I’ve been told that I’m mildly—just a tad—sarcastic. Can’t imagine where that idea came from, but since it’s true-ish, I might as well run with it, right? Sarcasm isn’t limited to me, but tends to appear in my characters as well. That’s okay, though. I like sarcasm and find it an effective tool in dialogue, as well as every day life. Grant you, it can get you in trouble if the person who’s listening to you takes your words literally, not sarcastically. Can you believe there are people in this world who don’t get sarcasm? How is that possible? I don’t understand it. It must be something in the water. (That could be true. Right?)
Be that as it may, I’m rambling (I do that when I haven’t got my thoughts together) I’m hoping that a real focus will come to me before I finish this article, but I’m pretty sure it won’t. This may very well be gibberish by the time I’m done. I guess the best thing to do is share a sarcastic snippet from my own work. I saved a few, just for fun, and in case I was told by my friends, “Go for it!” This is me, going for it.
Below is an excerpt from an unpublished story, Blacksmith’s Heart. Jasper is a blacksmith. More specifically, he’s a farrier, but most people don’t know the difference. He’s been contacted by one of his wealthy clients, Mitch, who adopts wild Mustangs. He’s just gotten a new herd and wants Jasper to shoe them. Jasper agrees and invites his girlfriend, Hana, to join him at Mitch’s ranch. Shortly after they arrive, they are sharing refreshments and talking with Mitch and his wife, Issy.
“Do you want me to get started right now?” Jasper asked.
“Rest a bit,” Mitch said. “Those critters can wait. They’ve gone this long without shoes, they can go a little longer.”
“You could consider barefoot or in boots,” Jasper said as they sat around the living room on low couches.
“Yeah, but I’m a traditional guy. Not only that, given the terrain around here, I’m a little nervous about barefoot horses.”
“They’ve gone their entire lives unshod, Mitch,” Jasper laughed.
“Yeah, and you should see the condition their hooves are in. I’ll let you decide. They all need a good trim even if we don’t put shoes on. Never did see such a man as him trying to talk customers out of parting with their cash,” Mitch chuckled. “If it were up to him, he’d be the only unemployed farrier in the business.”
“I wouldn’t say that,” Jasper leaned against the back of the couch, putting his arm behind Hana. “It’s just the Mustangs. I feel like they ought to stay like God made them.”
“That’s the Native soul,” Issy said. “You want the freedom of the plains, the open prairie.”
“Yeah, that and putting a shoe on a wild Mustang that don’t want it ain’t the most fun I’ve had in a day,” he laughed, copying Mitch’s drawl perfectly.
“What is the most fun you’ve had in a day, Jasper?” Issy asked, feigning innocence.
“Miss Issy, you don’t like that kinda talk round your kids, remember?”
She giggled, blushing prettily. Hana laughed at him, kissing his cheek.
“Reckon you’ll tell me sometime?” she murmured.
“Probably not.” He winked at her.
“Before this conversation degenerates, let me show you those horses. Boys, Willow, I need your help now. Get your boots on and come out directly.”
“Yes, Dad,” all three replied as they went to do what they were told.
“The twins are too young to help. They just turned nine. The others have been rounding up horses forever. Got your gear?”
“Would I travel all this way without it, Mitch? That would make sense, right?” Jasper led the way to the SUV.
“You can stay in here for the time being,” Issy said. “This process takes forever. Mitch could have had those horses in the corral all day, but he waits until Jasper gets here.”
“Doesn’t Jasper mind?”
“It’s all part of the pageantry. They are very into the pageantry. I believe they think up new ways to complicate it each time.”
This is not the most, nor the least, sarcastic excerpt I can find. It is, though, what you get this month. I could dish up another one, but if you keep up with my daily Character Quotes, you’re getting a fairly high dose of sarcasm already. Too much is bad for your spleen, I’m sure I read that somewhere. Since I’d hate to be responsible for a splenic fracture, I’ll curtail my desire to share every little bit of sarcasm I can reap from my books.
I find it noteworthy that when I was writing my original post for Sassy Sarcasm, I was looking at my flashdrive and running a quick search for sarcasm – since the post had that in its title. Everything I’d ever written came up in response – except the sarcasm post, which I found truly ironic. Maybe next time, I’ll try writing a post on irony and see if it will have more sarcasm for me. I feel as if I could be far more sarcastic, but the words simply won’t bend to my will. I’m sure that can’t have anything to do with the fact that I’m falling asleep at the computer, can it? Na, not possible.
Ben hopped in his truck and went to find a parking place. “What are you doing?” he asked himself out loud. “Are you insane? You keep rescuing this woman. If you aren’t careful, you’ll be her best friend and pretty soon you’ll be drinking Chai tea and talking about periods!” He was tempted to bang his head on the steering wheel, but didn’t want to leave a mark.
Alone in the big city, Pia Donvan is feeling rather lost when she finally arrives at the majestic, old hotel in the downtown area. All that changes when she meets Flynn Chancellor. He and his roommate, Yancy Fredrick, take an interest in Pia, introducing her to their city. Pia seems to have found her niche, making friends with the friendly residents in the old hotel. Life seems perfect, until one weekend when everything changes forever.
“How about you unpack and grab a shower and I’ll take you to dinner? There’s a good Thai place around the corner,” Flynn said.
“That would be really great, thank you. I could sure use a shower. I was on the bus for hours! I feel grungy,” Pia replied.
“I’ve got to get another one myself. I didn’t get all the paint off.”
“You’re an artist?”
“Yes. I’m a body painter. I also model for others. You can’t tell now, but I was most recently the subject of a camouflage painting along the wharf.” He took out his phone and showed her pictures. It took her a moment to pick him out of the background.
“That’s very cool! You did that?”
“No. I’m good, but I still haven’t figured out how to paint my own ass.”
Pia stared at the picture and picked out the pose. He was facing the water, a perfect depiction of a weathered wood piling on his right leg. His left was on a packing crate, making him look rather like the Captain Morgan’s Rum pose. He had a very nice ass under all that paint.
“Very cool. Even if you can’t paint your own ass. But think how much money you’d make if you could!”
Fiddlestix has met the leader of the Shine Clan, General Deacon Scott, newly promoted after the death of his father. Though they don’t really trust one another, they have an uneasy truce. Fiddlestix says she’s been sent by General T. H. McLain. The name resonates with Deacon – and not in a good way.
“He used to be one of us,” Deacon sighed. “There was some trouble about twenty years ago between him and our father. He got tossed out on his ass.”
Fiddlestix took in this information without blinking. Her mind clicked into high gear. All sorts of new, unpleasant possible scenarios popped into her head. As she sorted through them, she listened to what Deacon Scott had to say.
“This makes your story somewhat less plausible, Miss Braun.”
Fiddlestix pursed her lips, relaxing her pose. “I’d say it has pretty much the opposite effect, Mr. Scott.” If he was going to leave off her hard earned rank, she’d do the same. “Sounds to me like we just validated everything. McLain’s a snake. It wouldn’t surprise me if he’d done this on purpose.”
“With what motivation, Miss Braun?” Deacon rose, leaning across the table.
“Well, Mr. Scott,” she stood up, looking small and vulnerable in comparison. “I can think of half a dozen different reasons. You look like a relatively intelligent man. I bet if a little, bitty girl like me can think of that many, a big, strapping man like you could come up with a least—four.” She hid a smirk, but it was in her voice, the tilt of her head, the angle of her shoulders. She was laughing at him.
Deacon wanted to throw something. He fought the urge to roar, punch the wall or toss his chair across the table at her. He heard Jasper snicker, trying hard to make it sound like a sneeze. At least three of his men were also finding humor in this confrontation. If it hadn’t pissed him off so damn much, he’d have been laughing too.
Fiddlestix’ men looked terrified. They saw an enormous, angry man looming across a narrow, flimsy table in a room deep underground with no sure way out. What was Sarge doing? Why was she baiting him like that? Shouldn’t she be negotiating? Playing nice? Maybe doing whatever a woman did to a man to make him more compliant? So far, she’d done everything except shoot him. If it was possible to verbally castrate a man, she was working on it. Kaz, who was a short, wiry built man, swallowed with difficulty, his hands shaking. Harmony, who wasn’t used to feeling small, was. They didn’t dare speak. Neither man wanted to draw attention to himself.
“Suppose you share one of your theories with us.” An older man with graying hair leaned over, striking a pose much like Jasper’s.
Fiddlestix’ eyes flickered over to him. She liked what she saw. He was slightly shorter than Jasper, lean built, but strong. His green eyes glimmered with humor, his lips twitched with suppressed humor.
“Yes, sir,” she sat smoothly, crossing her legs elegantly. Despite her combat gear, she comported herself like a lady.
“No need to sir me, Master Sergeant. We’re the same rank. Master Sergeant Frank Lord.” He nodded at Jasper and Deacon. “Their uncle. I was by their father’s side when some of those wild men cut him down.”
She saw now that he carried himself carefully, as if nursing a wound. There was a tightness around his lips that spoke of great pain. He’d been wounded, rather severely, but he’d never in a million years show weakness in front of her.
“Yes, Master Sergeant Lord. I’d be happy to. Provided General Scott doesn’t object.”
Frank Lord glanced at his nephew. “He don’t mind. He’s just a dumb hillbilly who can’t control his temper.” He nodded sharply at Deacon to sit. Fiddlestix suppressed a smile as Deacon sat without argument.
“If General McLain is who we think,” she continued. “Then none of this should surprise us. In fact, it fills in a lot of gaps in his narrative. I think it’s a good possibility that he sent them here to attack you. If they can get a toehold, they can wipe the whole lot of you out. There’s very little defense against these guys.”
“Why would he want to do that, Master Sergeant?” Lord asked quietly.
“Like I said, he’s a snake and a dumb son-of-a-bitch. He carries a grudge and he’s now in a position to do something about it. Even if they don’t take you all out, you’re weakened and vulnerable. Then he sends me in with my people, without asking, and that would, in my opinion, constitute a warlike act. I don’t take kindly to well armed interlopers on my turf. I don’t suppose you do either.”
Jasper’s eyes twinkled, but he didn’t speak. Frank Lord smiled gently, his eyes softening. “No, I don’t suppose we do.”