Monday, December 13, 2010

LETTERS IN THE ATTIC - DeAnna Julie Dodson - Free Book

Welcome to my blog, DeAnna. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.

The more I write, the less I end up in my stories. I started my first book, In Honor Bound, when I was nineteen, and it has a lot of youthful angst in it. But people who know me well still probably couldn’t pick out which bits of which of those characters are really me and which are other people who were in my life at the time and which I created just to make the story work. I think that’s because there isn’t a specific character who completely represents me, but several of them reflect something about me. As time has gone on and I continue to explore different themes, there are fewer and fewer of my own personal issues involved in my stories. I think as a writer and as a wannabe actress, it’s my job to imagine how people who aren’t me would feel and react to situations I’ve never had to deal with personally.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

I guess I get craziest when hockey is involved. I’m a huge fan of the Dallas Stars, and their divisional rivals are the Anaheim Ducks, the Los Angeles Kings, the Phoenix Coyotes and the San Jose Sharks. So I keep a rubber duck, a toy Burger King king and a stuffed shark on the shelf in my office, all with their eyes X-ed out because, obviously, they’re dead. I still haven’t found a plush Wyle E. Coyote to deface.

My grandson is one of the official bloggers for the Stars. When did you first discover that you were a writer?

I wrote a long time before I ever considered myself to be an author. I’ve always loved books and dramas, so I started writing when I was in high school and college to amuse myself when I was bored. The habit got to be more and more of an intense interest after college, but I still didn’t even consider the idea of trying to get published. Finally a friend of mine suggested that I should take all my writings and make them into a chronological story and then try to get it published. That’s how I got In Honor Bound and some of its sequel, By Love Redeemed.

Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.

I enjoy a good story, no matter what it’s about or where it’s set, but I gravitate toward historicals, especially if they have a romantic side to them. I especially love medieval, regency, and American Civil War stories, but my current passion is the classic mysteries of the 1920s and 1930s. I want to write like Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers and Margery Allingham when I grow up.

How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?

Mostly I make a conscious decision that I just won’t run. Yes, there’s a certain amount of hecticness inherent in merely making a living, but I refuse to needlessly add to that. I choose not to be constantly on the phone or texting or Twittering or instant messaging. I don’t have to watch every new reality show. I don’t care who is or isn’t voted off in Survivor or what the Smoke Monster in Lost is supposed to be. Yes, that makes me hopelessly outdated regarding pop culture, but that’s why I write historicals.

How do you choose your characters’ names?

Names for main characters are extremely important to me. They need to fit the time period without being off-putting to modern readers. Ideally they ought to indicate something about the character as well. For minor characters, I tend to glance around my office and swipe authors’ names off of books, though not the same first and last name together. That keeps things fresh.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?

In my writing career, I’d have to say getting my first book published is my proudest moment. That was when I felt I was a real author.

If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?

I would definitely be a cat. A house cat in a loving home has the greatest life ever. As they say, dogs have family, cats have staff. Dogs come when you call, cats take a message and consider getting back to you later.

What is your favorite food?

Just one? I guess my ultra-favorite, only-on-special-occasions treat is grilled lobster tail. Dessert wise, give me German chocolate cake or banana pudding.

All three are favorites of mine. What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?

Prioritizing seems to be a big one with me. It’s easy to let family concerns or the day job or other interests push writing onto the back burner of the day. There’s no cure for it except self discipline. Sit in your chair and write. Set yourself some achievable, measurable goals and don’t get up until you’ve met them.

Tell us about the featured book.

Letters in the Attic is my frist book for DRG, though it is Book Four in the Annie’s Attic Mystery series. Annie is a fairly young widow who moves from Texas to Maine in order to empty out and sell her deceased grandmother’s old Victorian house. Up in the attic, she finds various items related to the local mysteries she solves. In my book, she finds a packet of letters from a childhood friend and decides to find out where she is now. The problem is that nobody knows what happened to the friend, or at least they’re not saying.

Letters is my very first contemporary novel, though it’s not my first mystery. I’m working on the second book in my series of Drew Farthering Mysteries set in 1930s England. All my Christie and Sayers and Allingham reading has certainly come in handy for this kind of writing.

Please give us the first page of the book.

Annie Dawson stood on the front porch of Grey Gables, forgetting for the moment the bags of groceries she carried in each arm. The light dusting of early-October snow had melted, and now the day was crisp and clear, the brilliant reds and yellows of the maple trees and the rich green of the white pines vibrant against the aqua sky. Maybe these were exactly the colors she needed for her next crochet project.

The colors of Maine in autumn.

The ladies at the Hook and Needle Club had told her weeks ago that she ought to make herself a nice sweater for the cool weather to come.

“Maine’s not like Texas where it stays hot until November sometimes,” Mary Beth had told her.

Annie smiled to think of that now. Just yesterday, her daughter, LeeAnn, had mentioned that the temperature was up to eighty-five in Dallas. But a few weeks ago, back when Mary Beth had made her comment, Annie hadn’t decided if she would still be here in Stony Point when the cold weather came, if she would even need a sweater warm enough for a chilly fall evening in Maine. Now it was October, and she still hadn’t really decided. But she hadn’t left either.

There was too much yet to be done here at Grey Gables. Gram had left her the old house and an attic full of memories and mysteries, too, treasured handwork and precious remembrances from a long life well and thoroughly lived. Having those things properly cared for, seeing them sold or given to those who would truly appreciate them, was a task Gram had entrusted to Annie. As much as she missed her daughter and her twin grandchildren, Annie couldn’t go back to Texas quite yet.

How can readers find you on the Internet?

Mine’s easy: Besides information on my published and upcoming books, the site has features on my four spoiled cats, my favorite hockey team, my quilting and cross-stitch projects and more.

Thank you, DeAnna, for spending this time with us.
Readers, here's a link to the book. By using it when you order, you help support this blog.

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. Please tell us where you live, at least the state or territory. (Comments containing links may be subject to removal by blog owner.)

Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws.

The only notification you’ll receive is the winner post on this blog. So be sure to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won. You will have 6 weeks from the posting of the winners to claim your book.

If you’re reading this on Feedblitz, Facebook, or Amazon, please come to the blog to leave your comment. Here’s a link.


Annette W. said...

An attic...a mystery....I'm in!!

karenk said...

what a beautiful cover...thanks for the chance to read this wonderful novel :)

kmkuka at yahoo dot com

misswrite said...

Didn't they do a lovely job on the cover? I was extremely pleased.

Thanks for letting me visit, Lena.


Linda Kish said...

I'd love to read this book.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Miriam said...

Thanks for the chance to read another great book. Thank you for providing this opportunity to your readers. Miriam from Ohio

Nancye said...

Sounds like a wonderful book! Thanks for the chance!

nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

Cindy W. said...

Sounds like an intriguing mystery. Would love to be entered to win a copy. Thanks for the chance.

Cindy W.


Debra Collins said...

Great interview! This book sounds like it's going to be a good one. Thanks for the opportunity on a chance to win a copy.
And, I love the cover...beautiful!!

misskallie2000 said...

I love mystery and Letters in the Attic Mystery should be great. Letters make great fodder for mystery.
Thanks for this opportunity to enter giveaway.

misskallie2000 at yahoo dot com

Anne Payne said...

I've been wanting to read this one for months! Enter me :)
Merry Christmas!!!

Robyn said...

I'm so glad there are more and more Christian mysteries. Thank you so much for sharing with us. I can't wait to read this one.

coolestmommy2000 at gmail dot com

Karin said...

Can't resist a mystery in Maine with a big old Victorian house as its setting.


karin56381 (at)

grannyvon said...

Have'n read a book about finding thing in an attic in a long time so this one should be a fresh breath of air. Thanks for the chance to win it.

Linda said...

I agree: An attic...some letters...enter me, please.
Haven't read anything by DeAnna.

desertrose5173 at gmail dot com.

Carole said...

I have loved mysteries since discovering Judy Bolton and Nancy Drew many, many years ago. I've read a couple of earlier books in the Annie's Attic series and look forward to Letters in the Attic. Thank you so much for the interview and chance to win a copy.

I'm also eager to read the Drew Farthering series. I couldn't find it at Amazon, but hope it will be available soon - maybe even for the Kindle.

cjarvis [at] bellsouth [dot] net

apple blossom said...

Please include me in this drawing thanks

ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

misswrite said...

Hi, Carole!

Thanks for your interest in Drew and the Drew Farthering Mysteries. I'm having a blast working on the books, but I don't have any information on when they'll be contracted at this point. My agent is working on it, so I just try to be patient.

But you can read excerpts on my website.

I hope you enjoy them.


Wendy said...

I have been wanting to read this book.

Pam K. said...

Like DeAnna, I enjoy reading mysteries by Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers. "Letters in the
Attic" sounds like an interesting book. Thanks for the opportunity to win a copy.

Nancye said...

Sounds like a great book! Thanks for the chance!

nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

Anonymous said...

Please enter me.

Wendy from MN
ebeandebe at gmail dot com

Brenda said...

I'd love to read this book! What a great premise...

dancealert at aol dot com

Trinity Rose said...

I love mysteries.
Thanks for all of the great authors that you tell us about.
Would love to win.
Trinity Rose

Katy M said...

Ohh, a mystery book about letters in the attic - sounds exciting! Please count me in! :-)

Katy M

Molly said...

Loved the interview! Please count me in on this giveaway, Lena!

Molly from NC

Jo said...

Sounds like another great book that I would love to read. Please enter me.


Patsy said...

This sounds really good. Would love to read it. From Southern US.

Ann Lee Miller said...

Thanks for the chance to win. :)
Ann Lee Miller
Gilbert, Arizona

A J Hawke said...

LETTERS IN THE ATTIC sounds like a lot of fun.

Thanks for the opportunity to receive a copy.

A J Hawke in Texas

Maureen said...

I enjoy a good mystery. Maine is surely not like Texas!

Charlotte Kay said...

It sounds like an intriguing read!
Please enter me:)

Many blessings,
Chakasa58 at gmail dot com