In Today’s Spotlight Dellani Oakes

The Fantastic Blog Hop Tour bus is moving along and it’s making a stop in Florida (again) to pick up a woman who is responsible for encouraging my writing addiction.  I’m talking about none other than Dellani Oakes.

Dellani Oakes is an author, blogger and a Red River Writers pocaster.  Her latest sci-fi book Shakazhan is available at Second Wind Publishing.  She took time from her hectic schedule to speak with us and participate in the 10 Questions segment.

Indian Summer1. Are you a fan of the genre that you write in? Surprisingly, I am – to an extent. I write romance and I get burned out on the books where the two leading characters argue throughout the majority of the book. I want my characters to get along, fall in love, have some hot sex and fight the bad guys together. What an unusual concept!

2. Are you a pen and paper author or do you use a computer to write? Some of both, actually. If I have to go to an appointment, I take a notebook and pen. It’s impossible to find a spot to set up a laptop and I can’t type while balancing it on my lap. (I think the name laptop is a misnomer, by the way)

3. If you couldn’t write what would you be doing instead? If I’m not writing, I’m reading or watching Netflix. I watch WAY too many movies and TV shows when I get bored. I hibernate in the summer because I can’t stand the heat – brilliant of me to live in Florida! I love to cook, though I hate planning meals, and I love digging around doing research for my books.

4. What about this business surprised you the most? I would have to say the amount of marketing shocked me. I’m not good at talking myself up, but if I don’t, I don’t sell books. It took me a very long time to hit on an approach I can handle. It takes far more time than I like, but if I don’t do it, no one else will.

5. Do you blog? I do indeed! I have Writer’s Sanctuary – where I am hosting my guests for Fantastic Blog Hop. http://writersanctuary.blogspot.com/ I also have http://dellanioakes.wordpress.com/

6. Are you on social media? Do you enjoy it? I am on Facebook and always welcome new friends and fans https://www.facebook.com/pages/Dellani-Oakes/98897574794 I enjoy my time there and count it towards my marketing time. A wise author friend told me once that “You don’t market your books, you market yourself”. In other words, you reach out, get to know people and treat them as friends, not customers. People are far more likely to buy a new book a friend wrote than that of a complete stranger. Be friendly, genuine and honest. It takes time, but it will pay off in the long run.

7. The house is on fire, which do you save, your laptop or your Lone Wolfbook collection? Neither. I would save my flashdrives. All my books are on them. If my computer melted or my books went up in smoke, I can replace them. If I lost my flashdrive, I might as well die because my books would die with them.

8. The publishing industry is changing, do you think this is good or bad time for authors? In some ways, it’s great! There are opportunities for authors to publish their own work. However, there are so many other books out there, it makes it much harder to get recognition and build a following.

9. How do you promote your books? I do two shows month on Blog Talk Radio: Dellani’s Tea Time – every 2nd Monday and What’s Write for Me every 4th Wednesday. I chat with other authors about their work, giving each of us a bit of exposure. I have my blogs where I post fairly regularly. In addition to the two above, I have Dellani’s Choice which is my review site. http://dellanischoice.wordpress.com/ I also post the 17th of every month on my publisher’s website: http://secondwindpub.wordpress.com/ In addition to all this, I am on Facebook, getting to know people and posting about my shows & books. The main thing that seems to have made a bigger difference, is Twitter. With the help of a buffer program, I can schedule my tweets for select hours during the day. I have also been able to link my blog posts so that they show up automatically on other sites. That has been a godsend and I wish it had been around 5 years ago when I started!

10. Your editor says you have to kill a character, which one would get the ax? Hmm…. If we’re talking about a main character, I’d have to create one with the editor’s name and brutally murder it. Not that any of my editors would do that – they are wonderful people. If they actually suggested that, there would have to be a really good reason. If it worked for the betterment of the book, I would do it – crying the entire time.

Excerpt from Shakazhan

Shakazhan By Dellani Oakes
Picking up where Lone Wolf ends, Shakazhan follows the further adventures of Wil VanLipsig and Matilda Dulac. Having chased the evil John Riley to a far off planet known as Iyundo, they find themselves once more confronted with a problem of John’s making. However, this time they have powerful allies – the Kindred. These people put them in touch with a race of sentient ships. In the following excerpt, Wil and Matilda meet their ship for the first time.
       The cavern they entered dwarfed the other one. The ships inside were enormous. Flotilla and Hannibal could fit in there easily with room to spare. The design was unlike anything Wil had ever seen. The ships were shaped like horizontal teardrops, the narrow end foremost and the full end aft. The colors ranged from dull gray to a lustrous blue. The hulls shifted color as they walked by, particularly if Wil and Matilda spoke or touched them.
Wil laid his hand on one. It throbbed like a gigantic heart. To their right, a green light flashed rapidly, accompanied with odd, piercing, urgent sounds. The High Elder motioned them to follow. It took several minutes, but soon they were close enough to see blue and red and amber yellow had joined the display.
“Wil, I think it’s singing to us! Listen!” Matilda approached, mesmerized.
The ship was a deep, rich peacock blue. Larger than those below, it dwarfed any ship Wil had seen. Even the huge Guild ore transports weren’t this big. He felt like an ant in comparison.
Reaching up to the ship, Matilda’s hand smoothed the side. “It is singing!”
The tune changed when she touched it. Removing her hand, she heard the sounds modulate yet again. She stroked the hull of the ship, the colors shifted, altered and realigned themselves following the movement of her hand. A contented purr vibrated under her palm.
“Wil, it’s alive! Feel it!”
She grabbed his hand before he could pull away. Their two left hands brushed the hull together, hers atop his. The skin of the ship glowed a vibrant red, changing gradually to orange, flickered to dark yellow, settling to blue again.
Wil laid both his hands beside each other, leaning against the ship, placing his cheek to the side. As he moved back from it, the imprint of the outline of his face and hands remained for a moment, gradually receding.
“By God, Matilda, you’re right!”
The smiles of Felix and the High Elder confirmed their suspicions.
“I’ve heard legends of ships like this, but never expected to see one! This is incredible!”
Grabbing Matilda’s hand, Wil dragged her around the side of the ship, looking for an opening. About twenty feet from the point, a doorway appeared where none had been before. Steps descended, the ship molding them from its skin, forming depressions for their feet. They entered excitedly. Moments later, Felix, The High Elder and Aisulov joined them.
The sight greeting their eyes was one they hardly expected. The inside was ultra high tech, the instrumentation so advanced, they could only imagine what most of it was. The consoles had an Art Nouveau feel, with flowing lines and organic shapes. Here too, the colors melded and shifted.
“She’s beautiful!” Matilda’s eyes glowed happily as she walked around.

Bio

Dellani OakesWhen she moved to Florida, Dellani Oakes had no idea the history was so rich and fascinating. Visiting St. Augustine for the first time, she felt the allure of the country’s oldest city. She decided then to write a story based there. It wasn’t until nearly twelve years later that Indian Summer took its final form.
Dellani is a happily married mother of four, substitute teacher and former English teacher. When she isn’t being one of the above, she is an avid writer, spending every possible moment immersed in her other worlds.
She has also written a series of futuristic romance novels, contemporary romances and short stories. Dellani’s interests include reading, going to the beach, listening to all kinds of music and cooking.

 

Author Interview with Dellani Oakes Author of Lone Wolf

fantastic blog hop bus

Today, the Fantastic Blog Hop Bus makes a stop in Daytona, FL to speak with Dellani Oakes, author of several romance novels including; Indian Summer, Ninja Tattoo and the Sci-Fi thriller, Lone Wolf.

What is your story about?

DO: I have three books published.

The Ninja Tattoo is a contemporary romantic suspense set in Florida. A violent biker gang targets Army veteran Teague McMurtry for death. He must use all his skills to protect himself & the woman he loves.

Indian Summer is an historical romance set in St. Augustine, Florida in 1739. Gabriella Deza stands on the brink of womanhood & must choose her mate. Will it be the cheerful Englishman, Dr. James Stevens or the dark and mysterious Spaniard, Manuel Enriques?

Lone Wolf is a futuristic romance set in space in the year 3032. Matilda Dulac and her lover, Wilhelm VanLipsig, must capture John Riley before he can unleash the ultimate evil on an unsuspecting universe.

Is writing a natural talent, or did you take classes to hone your craft?

DO: Writing comes very easily for me. I had a very strict grammatical upbringing in a home with a school teacher mother and college English professor for a father. Other than the usual high school and college classes, I haven’t had any “formal” training. As far as the writing conventions everyone preaches about, I probably violate them all. I write in first person when the story calls for it. I “head hop” from one point of view to the next. The story demands to be told a particular way and I do my best to tell it. Dellani Oakes

Do you have a ritual when you write? (Special time of day, music etc.)

DO: My writing schedule is all broken up by phone calls, errands, writing groups and the demands of my family. I write when I can find the time. I always listen to music when I write. Sometimes the listening choices are dictated by the story, other times I simply listen to the same list and keep it as background noise. I listen to a wide variety of music, but that could be an interview all by itself.

Do you write in multiple genres?

DO: I write mostly romance, but I choose different permutations of the genre. I have 3 books published. One is contemporary romantic suspense, another is historical romance and the third is a futuristic romance. I also have (as yet unpublished) a “retro” romance set in 1976, and several contemporary romance novels. I seem to favor romantic suspense as it combines my love of romance and mystery.

Most people want to know, is writing really all that hard?

DO: It can be very hard. Finding the right words isn’t easy. Many people think that writing a story isn’t that big a deal, but it’s quite an undertaking. The author builds a plausible world with believable characters. S/he puts them into situations and has to get them back out in a satisfactory way. Dialogue, pacing, plotting, characterization… these are all under the writer’s auspice, but have to be balanced and controlled. I’d like to see the average person sit down and compose a story from scratch with nothing but a pen and paper and see how easy it is.

Do your family and friends read your work?

DO: Yes. My husband used to read everything I wrote. Now, with the cost of ink & paper, I don’t run hard copies anymore. He refuses to read things on the computer, so he doesn’t read them as much as he did.

My daughter has read my books and particularly likes the sci-fi series. She has helped me with editing Indian Summer by Dellani Oakeson a couple of them and has been an enormous help.

When my historical novel came out, my mother bought copies for all my cousins. I hope that some of them have read it.

Have you ever had writers block and if so, how did you overcome it?

DO: Sometimes the Muse takes a vacation. I don’t get completely blocked, but I will run out of words for one story or another. I either go back through and re-read it, doing a little editing, or I move on to another project. I have dozens. If the Muse isn’t speaking for one, I wake up another one and wait to see where it will go.

Do you have an illustrator, or co-author, if so, who?

DO: No.

Do you write according to the trends or from the heart?

DO: I’ve never been able to write to trends. My mind doesn’t work that way. I strictly write from the heart. I think that I get a more genuine, better product that way. Writing to a trend, while popular, doesn’t always create a story of lasting worth. In fact, once the trend is over, that story no longer has an audience. A well crafted novel will last regardless of trends.

Who is your favorite author of all time?

I can’t pick just one! I love Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Richard Brautigan, Ray Bradbury, Andre Norton, Janet Morris, Elizabeth Peters, Ellis Petes, Shakespeare, Harper Lee, Mark Twain and dozens of others. I could never limit myself to just one author.

Have you gotten in trouble for your work?

DO: No, fortunately I haven’t.

Do you read online reviews? If so, how do you deal with the negativity?

DO: I know it’s probably hiding my head in the sand, but I don’t read the reviews. I’ve had a few negative reviews, mostly on a story I gave away for free on Barnes & Noble and Smashwords. The main complaint was “It’s too short, don’t bother”. I ignore those comments because we all have different taste in stories. Obviously, they just don’t get it. Yes, it makes me feel kind of bad, but I hope that other readers will be less swayed by a one line review and concentrate on the free preview of the story.

What’s best: Pen and paper, or laptop?

DO: I don’t have a laptop. I have a PC that sits under my desk. I know that’s kind of a dinosaur, but I like it. I do have a little Acer Notebook that I take with me when I travel. It’s very small & hard for me to type fast because the keys are so close together. I sometimes use a pen & spiral notebook when I have a doctor’s appointment. I’ve taken my Notebook, but that gets awkward if there’s no table for it. I much prefer my computer, but there are times when a story flows from a pen, not a keyboard.

What are you reading now?

DO: I’m reading three books: Deeds of the Disturber by Elizabeth Peters, Shelters of Stone by Jean Auel and The Road to Transplant: The Final Mile by Brian M. Hayden.

If your house was on fire, what would you save: your computer, or your book collection?

DO: I would risk my life for my flashdrive. It has all my writing on it. I would let the books burn because Lone Wolf by Dellani Oakesthey can be replaced. My writing can’t.

Do you consider yourself a tech wiz?

DO: Hah! No. That is, actually, quite laughable.

What’s your next project?

DO: I am part of an on-going anthology, Rubicon Ranch: Necropieces. I am also working with several other authors on Rubicon Ranch: Secrets. In addition to that, I’m working on rewrites of one novel, editing two more and trying to complete a variety of others, none of which are cooperating.

What’s the strangest length you ever went to research your book?

DO: When I was researching Indian Summer, I made my husband take me to St. Augustine for a week. It was our 25th wedding anniversary and we’d never had an actual honeymoon, so we made an event of it. St. Augustine is about 2 hours away. We spent the week at a beautiful B&B up there and toured the town by day, enjoying the sights. I won’t call that strange, exactly, but it was (for me) extreme.

What would you like aspiring authors to know about the realities of a writing career?

There are predators out there who are ready to rob you blind. Research carefully any agent or publishing company before you commit. If they ask for any money in advance, then be very leery that they are actually legit. This is different with self-publishers and vanity presses, but there are still people waiting to sucker the unwary.

Read contracts carefully. If you aren’t sure what you’re reading, consult a lawyer or someone who can weed through the legalize and tell you just what you’re signing. IF YOU DO NOT RETAIN YOUR COPYRIGHT THEN YOU DO NOT WANT TO SIGN THAT CONTRACT!

On a lighter note, enjoy yourself with your writing. Explore new settings, get to know your characters, let them off the leash and see where they go. Don’t limit yourself or your imagination. Let it fly into outer space or drift into the past. Put yourself in another pair of shoes and view the world from someone elses point of view. Keep it fresh and fun and you – and your readers – will never be bored.