Wednesday, July 24, 2013

BBF Day Three - EXCERPT and INTERVIEW with Dana Mansfield:

Welcome to day one of the Blogger Book Fair!
Check the BBF Page for giveaways, author & blog links as well as book deal!

Todays Tour Follows author Dana Mansfield - Sunset Park
Genre - Contemporary Romance

Book Blurb:
We need to talk. This phrase spoken by Ben to his longtime love Laurie changes their lives drastically. He uses those words to springboard his intent to leave her and their childhood neighborhood in Memphis. Sunset Park is just as much engrained in their souls as their horrific childhoods they survived with each other’s help. Ben returns to Sunset Park five years later amid the impending festivities of his cousin’s wedding. He has an ulterior motive other than walking Jamie down the aisle – he wants to make amends with Laurie. This goal is a delicate one as both of them are fragile from Ben’s actions that fateful April night five years earlier. After a scare, they make the complicated attempt to reconcile their relationship and move forward. However, an old mystery resurfaces from their five years apart that threatens not only Ben and Laurie’s hopes but also their lives.

Excerpt from Sunset Park 

Chapter 7: Back Home

By midnight, Ben settled into the small apartment that overlooked the front street. It was a mirror image of the apartment he shared with Laurie for so long but it lacked the warmth of that previous dwelling. The furniture was sparse – a bed in the sleeping alcove, The Old Man’s lumpy couch, a card table with a couple chairs and a dresser. It wasn’t much but it already felt more like a home than the furnished rat trap he rented in the bad part of Panama City Beach. When you drank and shot up most of your earnings, you couldn’t afford the best surroundings.

He sat on the side of the bed and tried to rub the stress of the last few days from his face. A variety of emotions ripped through him in the four days since returning to Sunset Park and he did not expect them to dissolve easily. There was fear at seeing his cousin Jamie for the first time in five years, worry about what people might say at her wedding and a ton of Laurie anxiety in general. When he saw how beautiful his cousin looked before he walked her down the aisle, he felt nothing but joy and happiness. A different fear and worry hit him when Marcus took Jamie to the hospital and then relief when she came back home. Nervous excitement followed the phone call from Marcus where he was offered the job in the café and a place to live. Fear returned again as he wondered how Jamie would take the news of his extended drinking and drug abuse and that fear was relieved a bit after Marcus told her. And now he felt a slight surge of optimism. Just a small amount but it was enough for him to look forward to the coming days.

He slipped off his long sleeve t-shirt and caught sight of the crooks of his arms. It was just over a year since the last time he shot up but the scars were still there. Maybe not as visible as Ben believed; he often covered them at his most pathetic moments. The yearning for a hit was bad enough but seeing the scars often weakened him to the point of wondering where he could score just enough to make the pain go away.

Shame exploded within Ben. To differentiate himself from his drunken father, Ben added heroin to his arsenal. The crash from the brief euphoria deepened the guilt he tried to eradicate and he would begin the vicious cycle all over again. Ben wished he never took the needle when presented to him; the cravings for heroin were ten times worse than the craving for Jack Daniels.

“Stop it,” he told himself aloud. The year sober taught him to stop the fall downwards before he lost it completely and he focused on what was important at that moment. Ben pulled off his boots, then stripped to his boxers. Five in the morning would come quickly but he was far from tired. Leaning back on the bed, his thoughts immediately went to Laurie. How could they not? She was entwined so deep into his soul that death would be the only way to separate them.

With his first stretch of sobriety, alcohol being his only drug at that time, he finally accepted what a huge mistake he made in walking out on her but what he could never forgive himself for was not coming back when he was begged by the two most important women in his life. Bits and pieces of those messages haunted him whether he was sober or drunk. No matter how much he drank, and later injected, he could never get away from those words. Missing, abducted, knife wounds, stroke, life support, coma, raped… Over and over they haunted him. He was numb; unable to do the right thing after leaving her. And then Ben did the one thing he promised himself he would never do – he went into a bar and took a drink. It was a split second decision that turned him right into his father, minus the physical abuse.

Ben languished in the bottle before realizing that drinking wasn’t solving his problems and he went to his first AA meeting but stayed sober for only three months. It was April; one year after the breakup and Laurie’s nightmare began. There was no thought other than trying to forget everything and back to the bottle he went and eventually, the needle when it was offered. For three years he used and abused but even at that he failed and after Jamie asked him to walk her down the aisle, he turned to his old sponsor for help. Ben did ninety days in treatment and it was during rehab that he realized his only hope for long term sobriety was to face his darkest fear – Laurie. Another April came and he was back in Memphis and Sunset Park. Hopefully, he would find the strength he needed and make amends. If he couldn’t, deep down he knew that his next round with heroin would be his last. Only once did he come close to overdosing and that offer of complete absolution of his pain had been very tempting.

The streetlights cast a pale beam on the wall behind Ben. He wondered if Laurie was lying in the old brass bed just a few inches away from his own head on the other side. Quietly, he sat up and put his ear to the wall and listened. Nothing. It was silly for him to even try to hear what was going on next door but that’s how bad he was hurting inside for his huge mistake.

Ben settled back into bed and with horrific whispers of past regrets bouncing around his head, he fell into a fitful sleep.

Sunset Park Can Be Purchased At:

About the Author:

I was born, raised, and still live in northwest Iowa where I've lived for all my life with the exception of one year spent in South Jersey as a nanny. I enjoy the intricacy and problem solving of creating stories and thankful to have achieved remission from leukemia to have the chance to see my literary dreams come to fruition. I teach reading to at-risk high school students and spend my time writing, watching cooking and clothing competitions on television and being an overprotective mom to my two cats, Boots and Joey.

My interests are varied. An Iowa Hawkeye football fan and longtime NASCAR fan, I hope to one day experience a perfect fall football day at Kinnick Stadium (with a magical win over Michigan, Iowa State, or Nebraska) and the Daytona 500 (go Jr!). I could get lost for days at Walt Disney World or a good book. I have been reading Diane Mott Davidson and Joanne Fluke for several years. I would love to re-envision my first favorite television show (The Pretender), meet the cast of my second favorite television show (The Big Bang Theory), see another story from my third favorite television show with the original cast (Firefly), and create a storyline for a music video for my favorite band (Daughtry). ROCK ON!

Contact Author:
Website -- Blog -- Twitter -- Facebook -- Goodreads

Q & A with Dana

1. What’s your latest book about?

Sunset Park is about Ben who is returning to his childhood neighborhood in Memphis five years after leaving Laurie, his longtime girlfriend. He’s returning to Sunset Park for his cousin’s wedding but he also hopes to make amends with Laurie for leaving. It’s a tricky situation for a couple reasons. First, when he left he was basically running away from Laurie because he felt he could no longer deal with some of her issues (OCD, agoraphobic tendencies). Second, after he left that night, Laurie was brutally attacked and left both physically and mentally fragile. Ben and Laurie make the complicated attempt to reconcile their relationship and move forward. However, an old mystery resurfaces from their five years apart that threatens not only Ben and Laurie's hopes but also their lives.
2. What genre do you prefer to write and why?
I honestly have not pinned one down yet; I just want to write the stories in my head. With Sunset Park and the Deceptions trilogy that I’m working on now, there is no one genre that would hit you over the head. I consider Sunset Park a reconciliation story with drama and a touch of mystery. With the Deceptions trilogy, it’s part drama, thriller, mystery, and a little romance but not a rip your shirt off romance.
3. How did you get started as a writer?
As a kid, I always wanted to be somewhere else other than where I was. The stories I thought up in my head could take me away from the life I was living so I was always doodling little stories in notebooks. (To this day I am a sucker for a brand new notebook.) Once I started college, that’s when I began to really focus on my writing and becoming a writer. I took all the creative writing classes that I could in the hopes of one day being a published author. It took twenty-two years from the time I started college until my first novel was published this past November. During that time I switched careers from Fortune 500 to teaching and was treated for leukemia while also taking care of my ailing mother but during that all, I never stopped believing I could become a published author. So in other words – NEVER GIVE UP!
4. How many books do you have out?
Sunset Park is my first published novel and hopefully, not the last.
5. What’s the next project you plan to release?
I’m currently working on a trilogy. I started this story before I began Sunset Park. It was originally just a practice piece that I kept coming back to. About a year ago, the story began to expand and I knew I had an actual story going on and not something to just doodle with and this past spring, I realized the story I wanted to tell was longer than just one book and is now a trilogy. The first book is called Deceptions with Aftermath and Closure rounding out the trilogy. The story is about Jack and Penny who have been best friends since meeting at a scholarship luncheon at Princeton. Penny becomes the nanny to his children and on a snowy Thanksgiving night in the Poconos, Jack and Penny are kidnapped. I tell the story of their friendship along with their back stories as they endure their captivity. Hopefully the trilogy will be published and you can find out what happens.
6. Name a favorite book hero and why you chose him/her.
I have to go back to my favorite children’s series by Beverly Cleary and choose Ramona Quimby. I could relate a lot to what her and her family went through from owning a cat (I am a crazy cat lady in training) to the struggles the family went through when her father lost her job.
7. Name a favorite book villain and why you chose him/her.
I actually think my favorite villain might be one that shows up in my Deceptions trilogy. One of the villains is not an actual entity but is the voice we have inside of all of us. It’s the voice that tells us if we look good in an outfit or maybe tells us to be careful in a sticky situation. For some people, it’s this voice that fuels negative thoughts and actions. For Penny, one of the main characters, her voice drives her eating disorder and low self-worth. Jack, one the other main characters, was born in Russia and he calls this voice the strashnyi golos in his first language. This voice haunts Penny for most of her life and nearly kills her. Since we all have this voice inside of us, the possibility that the voice could become a villain is frightening when we think that we truly can be our own worst enemy.

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