Monday, February 3, 2014

Stronger Than the Rest by Shirleen Davies: Interview and Excerpt



Welcome!  It's great to have you visit here again. Thank you so much for stopping in and agreeing to answer some of my questions.   What motivates you to write?

The stories that just seem to pop into my head and need a way out. They mostly come at night when the house is quiet and I have time to jot down notes. Sometimes they come when I’m lying in bed, sometimes in the shower, and sometimes driving. If I didn’t have the stories pulling at me then I’d probably never write. Beyond that, I like the challenge and doing something that can be done as I mature, while traveling about the country, and that meshes well with the commitments of our large family.

Location and life experiences can really influence writing. Tell us where you grew up and where you live now.

I grew up in Southern California between homes near the beach and a small town at the base of the mountains. Camping, hiking, and going to the beach were the main activities when I was younger. I was also fortunate in that both sides of the family owned farms or ranches, so I grew up around horses, cattle, sheep, and chickens, especially during the summers when I spent a considerable amount of time with my relatives. I’ve lived in the western part of Oregon, in the mountains of northwest Colorado where we had horses and were exposed to cattle operations and trail rides. My husband and I currently live in a northwest community with a long history of cattle ranches. I guess you could say the western way of life has been in my blood from the start.

What marketing works for you?

Social media has been my greatest marketing tool as it has made me aware of marketing opportunities such as book tours, book blogs, author interviews, and inexpensive promotional ideas. All of these have worked great, but I wouldn’t have known about them without first getting into social media.

It is vital to get exposure and target the right readers for your writing. Tell us about our marketing campaign.

It is a multi-pronged approach that includes:
(1) reaching out to readers who have enjoyed my previous books and offering some of them an ARC in return for an honest review,
  • (2) updating my Amazon Author page with each new book,

  • (3) scheduling book tours and blog blasts,
  • (4) participation on solo reader blogs that have shown on interest in my books,

  • (5) scheduling free promo spots on various reader sites,

  • (6) scheduling select paid promo spots on readers sites,
  • (7) posting release announcements on all my social media sites and the groups within them that accept promo postings,

  • (8) making sure that banners are up to date with current book covers and descriptions,

  • (9) repeat steps (4) through (8) as needed.

Tell us about your new book. What’s it about and why did you write it?

My latest book is Stronger than the Rest, Book 4 in the MacLarens of Fire Mountain series. This book focuses on Drew MacLaren and his struggle after a bullet paralyzes him from the waist down. It is the story of determination, love, and redemption, all set against the rugged backdrop of 1880s Arizona and Colorado. Drew is the only one of the brothers to attend college and law school. He first works for a firm in New York before being hired as an attorney for a businessman with wide-spread business interests in the West. Stronger than the Rest follows Drew’s life from rancher to lawyer then back again to his roots while encountering numerous obstacles. It is the story of how internal strength can sustain a person through difficult times.

When you are not writing, how do you relax?

There many other things I like to do but it’s often hard to pull myself away from writing. Spending time with family and friends, reading, cooking, dancing, exercising, target shooting, fishing, traveling, and being the backseater on my husband’s motorcycle are a few of the activities that keep me sane.

What social issues interest you the most?

Foster care and children who are sent into the world without an adequate emotional or educational foundation. Laws in most states allow the emancipation of foster care children at 18 regardless of where in their schooling that occurs. If a person turns 18 in January, during the middle of their senior year in high school, they are often pulled from their foster parents, given an embarrassingly low stipend, and told “good luck.” In my opinion, this is not only inhumane, but short-sighted as it creates a pipeline to poverty and failure. Everyone needs a support system, but these children are often left with none.

What is your favorite quote, by whom, and why?

“Never give in–never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.” Winston Churchill. I believe this pretty much sums up my thoughts on how to approach a project, your family, your job, and life.

What do you consider the most challenging parts of writing a novel or writing in general?

Finding the time to write the stories and the time to market the final product. It is truly a balancing act as a writer must learn to do both in parallel. This applies to both Indie and traditionally published authors. All writers these days must be actively involved in marketing their books—social media presence, book tours/blogs/release parties, book release announcements, advertising, book signings, giveaways, etc. The time this takes is enormous and a writer must develop the discipline to do this aspect well in additional to creating a high-quality story for readers.

Title:  Stronger Than the Rest
Author:  Shirleen Davies
Published:  January 13th, 2014
Word Count:  approx. 68,000
Genre:  Western Historical Romance
Content Warning:   Mild Sexual Content
Recommended Age:  18+
Synopsis: “Smart, tough, and capable, the MacLarens protect their own no matter the odds. Set against America’s rugged frontier, the stories of the men from Fire Mountain are complex, fast-paced, and a must read for anyone who enjoys non-stop action and romance.”

Drew MacLaren is focused and strong. He has achieved all of his goals except one—to return to the MacLaren ranch and build the best horse breeding program in the west. His successful career as an attorney is about to give way to his ranching roots when a bullet changes everything.

Tess Taylor is the quiet, serious daughter of a Colorado ranch family with dreams of her own. Her shy nature keeps her from developing friendships outside of her close-knit family until Drew enters her life. Their relationship grows. Then a bullet, meant for another, leaves him paralyzed and determined to distance himself from the one woman he’s come to love.

Convinced he is no longer the man Tess needs, Drew focuses on regaining the use of his legs and recapturing a life he thought lost. But danger of another kind threatens those he cares about—including Tess—forcing him to rethink his future.

Can Drew overcome the barriers that stand between him, the safety of his friends and family, and a life with the woman he loves? To do it all, he has to be strong. Stronger than the Rest.
He opened his arms and Tess fell into them, clutching his shirt, and burying her head in his neck. 
Drew pulled her tighter and buried his face in her hair. He was vaguely aware of a door opening and closing. He looked up to see that Jericho was gone. 
It was just the two of them. She squirmed a little on his lap and Drew felt a slight hardening of his body. He’d felt the sensations for the last few days and hoped they were an indication that his entire body was healing. Relief washed over him as he realized another hurdle was being crossed. 
When Tess lifted her face to his it seemed natural to move his lips over hers. It was a soft caress, just a touch. He brushed his lips over hers. She strained to get closer. His hands moved to the back of her head and deepened the kiss. Her lips parted, and his tongue traced the edges of her mouth. He knew she had little experience and didn’t want to frighten her. 
Tess melted into his arms. She was totally unprepared for the warmth that swam over her body. She could smell the mixture of pine soap and fresh sweat and couldn’t stop herself from running her fingers along his cheek bones, and wrapping her hands around his neck to draw him closer. She never wanted the kiss to stop.
About the Author
Shirleen Davies began her new series, MacLarens of Fire Mountain, with Tougher than the Rest, the story of the oldest brother, Niall MacLaren. During the day she provides consulting services to small and mid-sized businesses. But her real passion is writing emotionally charged stories of flawed people who find redemption through love and acceptance. She grew up in Southern California and now lives with her husband in a beautiful town in northern Arizona. Between them they are the proud parents of five grown sons.
Giveaway Details:
There is an international tour wide giveaway.
Prizes include the following:
  • $25 Amazon Gift Card
  • $10 Amazon Gift Card
  • 2 eCopies of Tougher Than the Rest
  • eCopy of Harder Than the Rest
  • eCopy of Faster Than the Rest

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