1. Tell us a little bit about Alvin and Madeline from Worth The Risk, your upcoming book. What inspired you to write this story?
The book takes place in my city, Houston, Texas. Alvin is a music critic who meets Madeline, who is a violinist, while reviewing a performance. It is love at first sight for him, but she refuses to go out with him. What Alvin doesn’t know is Madeline has a good reason for playing hard to get. She is HIV positive and because of her failed attempts with relationships, she believes no man would truly love her. She begins to develop a curiosity for Alvin, which leads to an attraction on her part. The story centers on how much Alvin wants Madeline, and Madeline’s willingness to confront his attraction.
I wrote this book because my cousin has HIV, and has struggled with finding love because of it. I don’t think society comprehends how difficult it can be to have relationships with HIV. It’s sad that people are still ignorant about this disease. I also wrote it because I believe characters in romance especially should reflect all kinds of people and situations.
2. You mention Kay Hooper as being a huge influence on your writing, what is your favorite book by this author?
I can’t name just one. I’ve loved many of her books. What attracts me is her ability to weave a solid romance with a great mystery. That’s what I try to do with my romantic suspense work.
3. If you could change one thing on your path to being published what would it be, and why that one thing?
When I first got started, I got suckered into a vanity publisher. I was 19 and didn’t understand how the business worked. Even though it hurt at the time, my desire to write was too big to stop me from fulfilling my dreams. I used to say I would change that moment in time to where I hadn’t gotten suckered, but I feel like if it hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t be the strong person I am today. I wouldn’t have buckled down and learned everything I could about the industry if that hadn’t happened. In a way, it was a good thing because it taught me an invaluable lesson. Sometimes bad experiences affect us in positive ways.
4. How do you come up with ideas for your stories? Who is your muse if you have one?
My muse is an invisible, female entity. LOL! I come up with ideas all kinds of ways. Sometimes an idea just hits and I have to jot it down. Other times, I get my ideas from movies. I might see a movie that really resonated and I’ll try to switch up the plot and idea to something others wouldn’t think to do. There is no such thing as a new idea, but there are ways for a writer to put their own spin on anything.
5. What is your guilty pleasure?
I’m too embarrassed to say my main one. LOL! Let’s just say I love fantasizing about a certain celebrity I’ve become obsessed with. Ha, ha!
6. Which character of all your characters has been your favorite to write about?
Wow. Hmm. That seems to change as time goes on. I’ll say Lisa Swanson from the Bruised series. She is a detective and domestic violence survivor. I love how she is vulnerable yet strong. She’s a powerful character and I created her to show people that domestic violence can happen to anyone no matter their lifestyle or status. She’s a great role model.
7. If you could meet one of your male lead characters in real life, which one would you choose and why that one?
I’d say Cross Evers. He is a hero from a novel I’ve just finished. He is so positive and supportive of the heroine, and I think all women long for that. I love people who bring good energy. I can’t stand negativity or negative people because they bring you down. Hopefully, I’ll introduce audiences to Cross sometime soon.
8. What piece of advice did you receive as newbie writer that was the most helpful?
Research and watch your back!
9. What is your favorite free promotions tip?
Do what you enjoy doing and pay attention to your genre. What some authors don’t seem to understand is that just because something works for others, it does not mean it works for them. Every author and every book is different. I also tell people to keep writing and releasing books regularly. That’s the most rewarding thing you can do to promote. A big backlist is what keeps sales going.
10. What is your favorite paid for promotions tip?
I don’t pay for promotion. There are many free options that I don’t feel it’s necessary to pay. Many times authors pay for promotion and it does nothing. I’m not into wasting money so I’d need some type of guarantee before I paid. LOL! There is an abundance of free promotional opportunities. You just have to be dedicated to finding them and creative enough to come up with new things. Most authors who’ve sold very well have never paid for any promo. Once again, this is where a big backlist helps.
Worth the Risk Blurb:
Houston music critic Alvin Zak becomes smitten with violinist Madeline Deever from the first moment she lays her bow to her violin to perform a concerto. Sent to review the orchestra, Alvin becomes so enraptured by Madeline that he asks her if he can do a feature on her. The polite, yet elusive Madeline agrees to think it over while declining Alvin’s invitation for coffee. Alvin does not understand Madeline’s abrupt refusal to his invite and it makes him even more interested in getting close to her.
The last thing Madeline is looking for is love since she is harboring a secret that has the power to ruin any potential relationship. Convinced no man would love her enough to accept her situation, she fights off Alvin’s advances, but begins to fall in love with him.
Can Alvin convince Madeline to trust him and give into her feelings or is Madeline destined to spend her life alone?
Release Date: August 30th from Secret Cravings Publishing
All eyes were on the caramel-toned black woman with the light-brown, shoulder-length hair. She illuminated in the middle of the stage in a red gown that hit just above her slightly knocked knees. With her head tilted, she played Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35 as if she’d composed the piece herself.
Alvin Zak sat in one of the middle rows with his gaze glued to the striking violinist. He glanced at the program in his hand then back up just as she struck the last chord of the piece. The audience rose around him but he remained mesmerized. It wasn’t until everyone had migrated from his or her seats that he realized the performance had ended. The songbird lingered on the stage, chatting with other musicians from the orchestra.
“Al.” Brayden tapped Alvin’s shoulder. “Come on.” He put his blazer back on and fixed the collar. “Al?” He snapped his fingers in Al’s face. “Hey.”
“Huh?” He couldn’t tear his gaze from Madeline Deever.
She leaned on the piano, conversing with the pianist as the other musicians left the stage.
Brayden bent down. “Earth to Al.”
“Huh?” Alvin shook from his trance. “What?”
“Duh.” Brayden gestured. “The concert is over and it’s time to leave. You got enough for your review?”
He stared at Madeline as he stood.
The pianist seemed to bid her goodnight and walked off the stage.
Madeline laid her violin in the case and closed it up.
“Come on.” Brayden walked into the aisle. “I’ve just wasted four hours I won’t get back.”
“You should be ashamed of yourself.” Alvin climbed out of the row, still staring at Madeline. “Don’t tell me you didn’t feel every inch of that performance down to your soul.”
“Look, I’m not the music critic. You are.” Brayden checked his watch. “You’re not the only one who has a feature due at the end of the week. I came here as a favor to you when I should’ve been writing my story.”
“She’s amazing.” Alvin folded his program. “Simply amazing.”
“Who?” Brayden glanced at Madeline. “Oh, here we go. Anything with a dress—”
“No, she’s different.” Alvin slipped his hand in the pocket of his slacks. “I’ve been to a million performances and none have touched me like hers. She stole the entire show. She played Tchaikovsky as if she were born to do it.”
“She’s a violinist.” Brayden shrugged. “I’m sure she wouldn’t be playing at one of the most prominent opera houses in Houston if she weren’t good.” He pulled on Alvin’s sleeve. “Can we go—”
“Wait.” Alvin headed to the stage. “I wanna talk to her.”
“Why?” Brayden rushed in behind him. “I’ve gotta finish editing my article that’s due in a day in case you’ve forgotten.”
Alvin strutted up the stage steps.
“Al?” Brayden scoffed.
“Excuse me?” Alvin approached Madeline. “You’re Madeline Deever.”
Her brown eyes looked him up and down. “And you are?”
“I’m Alvin Zak.” He held out his hand. “Maybe you’ve heard of me? I’m the music editor for Houston Pride Magazine.” He dipped his head to her. “The Arts and Entertainment Magazine.”
Website: http://www.stacy-deanne.net (sign up for mailing list while there!)
Secret Cravings Publishing: http://www.secretcravingspublishing.com/