Thursday, June 26, 2014

Interview, Excerpt and Giveaway with D.L. Koontz

Please Welcome DL Koontz to the Write at Home Mom today.

First, hi Wenona!  Thanks for the opportunity to answer these questions!

Please share a little about yourself, your genres, any other pen names you use.

I am a wife, mother and consultant (energy field), living in southeastern Georgia. I grew up in Pennsylvania, lived in West Virginia for a while (which I miss desperately) and now reside with my husband, Joe, on our 400-acre ranch in GA.  We raise cattle (free-range), grow organic food, and share our home with two dogs (Tug-a German Shepherd and a Jaz-a Border Collie) one cantankerous cat (Ash), and a bunch of uninvited (but very welcome) deer, foxes, armadillos, an occasional bobcat and a occasional traveling alligator.

I’ve had several non-fiction book published...years a different season of my life and under a former married name.  But it never satisfied me.  So I left writing for years. Turns out, it never left me. Fiction festered in my soul...which is not surprising because I come from a long-line of fablers in the Appalachian Mountains. One day, I woke up with a story in my mind that I just had to write and I haven’t looked back since.

Tell us a little about your latest or upcoming release.

Latest release: Crossing into the Mystic. My first novel. In brief: Insufferably independent teen orphan tackles the unfinished business of the ghosts she finds in her new home, but begins to wonder if she's dealing with angels and demons in disguise. As if the thrills and chills of ghosts and demons aren’t enough, she finds herself embroiled in a love quadrangle – with two living guys and one dead. 

It addresses the notion that: Now and then, you see something that alters how you view the world.  And it explores the question: Do ghosts exist, or are they angels and demons in disguise?

Are you a mom?

Absolutely! A mom of a son now in college. I could not be prouder...which is funny because before he came along I didn’t much like children.  After his birth, I thought he was the best thing since the invention of the wheel.  I began to look at all children with new love and respect.

If yes do you find it hard to juggle writing and parenting?

Again, absolutely! And through it all, I learned that you CAN have it all....just not all at the same time.

There is a season for everything, and sometimes you just have to trust that the season for writing will return. And, it will. It’s a matter of priorities.

Have you ever based your book or characters on actual events or people from your own life?

Only the good characters – those with a positive attitude who do good things.  As for my villains, angry dolts, liars, manipulators and general nasty guys, I try to steer very clear of modeling them after people I know because I never want that to come back to haunt me!

Is there a theme or message in your work that you would like readers to connect to?

Just this: It’s possible we can’t even see what’s right around us.

Scientists tell us that ninety-five percent of the universe consists of dark matter and dark energy whose fundamental nature is a mystery. In short, you can’t see most of what’s out there. And, I harbor a strong spiritual side, a strong faith that anchors me and gives me purpose. I believe in the potential for incredible miracles.

So when you merge all that together – Well, that’s where my mind goes and where my writing goes.

When you’re not writing what do you do? Do you have any hobbies or guilty pleasures?

I used to live in the city and go to the country. Now I live in the country and go to the city.  So, my forays into the city are my guilty pleasure. I love a quaint café with a good cup of coffee. But, I’m always SO GLAD to get back to my peaceful ranch. In every direction, I can see nature and animals – not another house or living person.  It’s quite tranquil.
I am also a music buff – any type, except rap. When I’m not writing, the music is on. Ironically, I can only write in complete silence. I also play piano.

Other than that, my joys are being with my animals, and jumping on my 4-wheeler to ride into the back woodsy swamp area with my camera.

Which romance book or series (or other genre, if you don’t write romance) do you wish you had written?

Trite as it sounds, the Harry Potter series. Those books were intriguing, well-written, imaginative, and opened up a whole new world to young boys – one of whom was my son. I loved what the books did for him, and I wished I could give such a gift to the world.

If this book is part of a series…what is the next book? Any details you can share?

Yes, Crossing into the Mystic is book I of III – a trilogy. Book II is in the hands of the publisher at this time, but as yet is unnamed for reasons too lengthy to get into.  I’m working on book III at this time.

Books II and III further Grace’s (main character) move into darkness and explore the notion that sometimes we’re chosen to do extraordinary things. I don’t want to say more lest I create a spoiler.

What is in your to read pile?

I like to give back, so on my pile are books from a few authors that served as beta readers for me. 

Crossing Into the Mystic:
A Civil War Paranormal Romance
The Crossings Series
Book One of a Trilogy
D.L. Koontz

Genre: Inspirational Fantasy, paranormal (contains Christian themes)

Print Length: 258 pages

ISBN: 1941103030

Publisher: Lighthouse Publishing
of the Carolinas

Book Description:

Three years after losing her family in a car crash, Grace MacKenna is set to inherit her stepfather's ancestral estate among the mountains of West Virginia. Seeking solace and healing, Grace discovers the ghost of William Kavanaugh, a dashing Civil War captain in Virginia s 17th Infantry, haunts the property. When William charms Grace into investigating the mystery that led to his death a hundred and fifty years ago, she finds herself drawn into a world of chivalry and honor, but also deception with secrets too dark to speak aloud.

Meanwhile, Clay Baxter, home from service in Afghanistan, fights his own demons and ghosts. When Clay senses Grace falling deeper into the realm of the dead, he seeks to pull her back. But is he too late?

Torn between her love for two mysterious young men - one living and one dead - Grace stands in the shadows of the Antietam Battlefield with a choice: one that could leave Grace lost forever, "crossing into the Mystic."

Available at Amazon  Amazon Paperback    BN

Book Trailer:

Chapter 1

All of it became mine that day: the hefty trust fund, my mother’s red SUV, and my stepfather’s ancestral estate isolated amidst the caverns of the Blue Ridge Mountains. I was embarking on a 500-mile journey to make solo use of all three. As long as I remained in Boston, I would continue to live my life backward—dwelling on the past and longing for the parents and sister who were dead. Buried. Gone. There was no way I could have known that by turning away from death I would be running into it.

Th day seemed like the perfect time to launch my escape. Th rising sun shot beguiling streaks of crimson through the divisions of the massive brown- stones on Boston’s Beacon Hill, teasing away any threat of “Red sky at morn- ing, sailor take warning.”

In the stillness of the morning, I heard a house door latch, then a husky voice grumble. “Ouch ... ouch ... dang!”

My cousin, Michael, barefoot and clad only in gym trunks and a T-shirt, pranced between stones as he hurried up the steep three-block incline toward me. He was carrying travel snacks, but what I hoped he was bringing me was reassurance of our individual escapes.

“Grace, go! Go! Go! Click your heels and get the Sam Hill out of Oz before she changes her mind!”

Though Michael’s words echoed my resolve, I laughed. He was four inches taller and eight years older, but a million times more sociable and often reminded me of an oversized little boy.

“Auck, Dorothy.” He reached my car, glanced back toward our house, and handed me a zip-locked bag stuffed with trail mix. “You’re too late. You’ll never get to Kansas now.”

I turned to see the subject of his wicked witch allusion exit through the over- sized front door of our ivy-covered brownstone and begin her march up the side- walk with Uncle Phil dawdling behind. Aunt Tish wasn’t toting a flying broom, but she was storming along, face scowling, hands fisted.

Michael grinned. “I guess she’s saving the flying monkeys for me.”

“Maybe. She wasn’t very happy about you leaving tonight for Chile. You sure you’re tough enough to stand up to her?” I elbowed him, knowing he wouldn’t feel the jab. Despite his baby face and wire-rimmed glasses, he had the abs of a bodybuilder.

“No problem. She can’t control me anymore. It’s you who better leave quickly.” “I’m going. Don’t worry about that.” I tossed the trail mix on the back seat. From  the front, my dog, Tramp, watched it land and turned back to the front window,more excited about going somewhere than the goodies. He barked twice. 

Let’s go. “Good. It will be two years before you’ll get another chance,” Michael warned in a whisper. “I won’t be here this summer to save you like I have before.” “Which is exactly why I’m leaving today. Thanks for coming home to see me off. 

She’s not that bad you know.” Maybe voicing such hope would make it so.

Eyes wide, he said, “What? She’s an unstable, soul-sucking—” “Shush.” I stifled laughter. “She’ll hear you.”

He sobered and leaned against my car, crossing his arms. “You’re sure about this?” “The trip? Of course.”

He shook his head. “Th house. It sounds … weird. Like Norman Bates lives there.”

I looked at him, startled. Michael was generally carefree and titillated by the unknown. He loved the notion that people held secrets within themselves.

“That’s crazy,” I affirmed, lest his uncharacteristic concern unnerve me. “Is it? Jack was so close-mouthed about the place.”

“Michael, stop it! It’s only a house. Jack was there three years ago. How bad could it be?”

“Remember. I’m only a phone call away. You have to live there what— three months?”

“That’s what the will says. Then it’s mine to do what I want. Including selling it. And, of course, that’s exactly what Aunt Tish expects me to do.”

“We’ll work that out later. Stick with this charade that you’re fixing it for your senior project, then selling it and moving back to Boston. By the end of summer, my new company will transfer me back to the states, and you can live with me. Just don’t come back here.”

“I know, I know.”

“And keep Tramp close by.”

I shook my head to indicate his concern was unnecessary. But inside, I couldn’t help but wonder if Tramp would be able to stop all threats that I might encounter.

* * *

After stopping to assess her own vehicle and bark orders at my Uncle Phil to take it to the car wash, Aunt Tish reached us. As her eyes scanned my car, Uncle Phil plodded up behind.

Beside me, Michael murmured, “Shoulda’ tied garlic around our necks,” then he donned a Cheshire grin and bellowed, “Good morning, Mother dearest.”

“Nice of you to grace us with your company, darling,” Aunt Tish clucked with saccharin sarcasm and crossed her arms. Her face was stern, her eyes leveled. “If I didn’t know better, I’d think you were trying to sleep your way through the day until your fl      leaves.”

“Got in late, Mom.”

She arched a skeptical brow. “If you’re turning right around and leaving for that ridiculous job in Chile, why did you even bother coming home? You could have been working at MacGruder’s, you know. They  are the most prestigious firm in Boston.”

“Yeah, Mom, I know.”

“Th certainly would have paid better. Must be nice to have no concerns about money.”

“I haven’t cost you a cent since I turned twenty-one. And if you’re so worried about money, why do you live in this pretentious place? How can you afford it anyway?” He clicked his thumb and middle finger. “Oh, that’s right. You used Grace’s education fund.”

She exhaled into a pout. “You kids are so disrespectful. Why do you do these things to me? Haven’t I suffered enough?”

“Here we go.” Michael rubbed his forehead.

“And look at you. Go put on some clothes. What will the neighbors think?” Her eyes darted to the windows of the lofty brownstones shadowing the street.

“Yeah, Mom. Th ’ll probably think I feed nails to little children since I don’t wear shoes.” He turned his back to her and smiled at me, then withdrew to the back of the car and shook my bike as though to make sure it was tethered securely. I could see his grin from the corner of my eye.

“We’ll talk later about you arriving home one day just to leave the next.”

She turned to me, swapping irritation with sadness as easily as if she’d replaced a straw hat with a ball cap. Wiping at invisible tears, she sniffled and brushed back a lock of frizzled hair, causing her peace sign earrings to sway to and fro. With characteristic dramatic flourish, she took one of my hands and pressed an object into my palm.

“Your keys. Why your mother insisted you keep this atrocious gas-guzzler, I’ll never know. I never did understand her.”

I wrapped my fingers around the keys, feeling the shape of independence. “Thank you.”

It was expected of me to treat this as a heart-rending gesture on her part, even though she had readily agreed to the trip because she wanted the house to be sold as quickly as possible, thereby placing more money into my accounts, to which she had access.

Aunt Tish pouted. “You selfish kids are breaking my heart with these trips.” I kept quiet. Best not to acknowledge her fabricated sadness or her varnished insult.

Receiving no response from her selfish kids, she turned to my uncle. “Philip, I must be crazy. I’m going to be thrown in jail for letting a 16-year-old live by herself ... in some creepy house in a … a … redneck wilderness.”

From the back of the car, Michael groaned. “Aunt Tish––” I began.

Uncle Phil cleared his throat and stood tall, looking for a moment more like the commanding professor he was when teaching Chaucer at Boston College than the ventriloquist’s dummy he played at home for his formidable wife. “Tish, she’ll be fi     It’s only for the summer.”

“But it’s so far away from Beacon Hill and civilized society, for bloody sake,” she responded stiffly. “She won’t be around our kind. Those people are so provin- cial. What will my friends think? And that house ...”

Uncle Phil sighed. “The house is fine. The management company said so.” “Yeah, Mom,” Michael scolded from his retreat, “just because the place is old doesn’t make it creepy. Heck, our house is old.”

Uncle Phil shot his son a quelling look. “Jack loved the place. He spent a lot of time there. It must be in good shape. And if it’s not, then Grace will fi  it up. Th  ’s the whole point of this trip anyway.” He frowned. 

“Besides, by the time you were six- teen, you had already been arrested for disturbing the peace and indecent exposure.” “Oh gawd, Pops.” Michael cringed and reached up to rub his temples. “Too
much information.”

Uncle Phil continued. “You already set up a bank account for her. She has a credit card. She’s got everything she needs. If anyone can take care of herself, it’s Grace.” “Yeah, Mom,” Michael chimed from behind the car. “Crimeny, she’s been taking care of you for the past three years.”

Aunt Tish pushed her tangled hair behind her ears and huffed. “Fine. Obvi- ously no one cares what I think. Just go, Grace. But stay out of trouble. I don’t want any calls from the police.”

I mouthed a “thank you,” to Uncle Phil, shoved my backpack on the heap of boxes lining my back seat, and shut the door. Tramp sat waiting on the passenger seat. On the fl , my cat Chubbs crouched in his carrier, obviously annoyed. On the con- sole sat an envelope containing $5,000 in cash, covered with road maps graphing my way from Massachusetts to West Virginia.

“Aunt Tish, I’ll be fine.” I pulled her into a sideways embrace as I rounded to the driver’s side and opened the door. She was my only aunt and despite her opinions of me, I wanted to believe her capable of feeling genuine concern. “I promise to call every day.”

“Be careful. If something goes wrong, it’s a reflection on me.” As she pulled away, she flicked at my hair. “And for pity’s sake, Grace, do something with that ridiculous hair while you’re there.”

I ignored her. “Remember your dentist appointment tomorrow. I left a note on the fridge.”

She waved that away with a Yes, yes, I know all this dismissal, but I knew she would forget.

Then, because I felt it was expected of me, I looked back toward the house and lied, “I’ll miss this place.”
I voiced some inane comment about what I’d miss, but my thoughts were on the excitement of being me, rather than a dead couple’s orphaned child or Tish Rosenburg’s ungrateful niece.

The goodbyes complete, I climbed into my car and pulled away. I could see Michael standing behind my aunt and uncle, fl his arms in a dramatic don’t- stop-keep-going wave.

“Call your Grandma Sadie, she’s not doing so well,” was the last thing I heard Aunt Tish bark as I descended the hill and rounded the corner onto Beacon Street, took a final glance at Boston Common, and headed toward I-95 South.

The trip underway, I exhaled deeply. I’d loved to have driven into the future without looking back, to have fast-forwarded to summer’s end when Michael and I could plant roots somewhere together. But, there was no shortcut to that time, and I felt dread press in on me as if each accumulated mile were adding a hole to the safety net I hadn’t yet hung in place.

About the Author

D. L. Koontz was born in Pennsylvania, but with her husband, now splits her time between their home in mountainous West Virginia and their cattle ranch in coastal plains Georgia. She has a son and a stepdaughter. A member of ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) and ASJA (American Society of Journalists and Authors), she is a former journalist, business consultant, spokesperson, and college instructor. After several non-fiction books, Crossing into the Mystic is her first novel.

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1 comment:

Wenona said...

this book sounds so amazing. I must read it