Welcome to my blog!

I'm so excited that my lifelong dream of becoming a published author has come true. If you'd like to go straight to excerpts, descriptions, and buy links for my books, click on the covers below on the right.

I love to hear from my readers! If you have a comment for me or if you'd like to submit a character for published character interview or unpublished character analysis, please use the form below or email me at cecilia (at) ceciliadominic (dot) com.

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Thursday, February 11, 2016

Happy Thursday and Valentine's Day!

Greetings, lovely readers! I have a couple of surprises for you today. First, though, I'm on a review tour with CCB Book Promotions, which includes a Rafflecopter giveaway for a $25 Amazon gift card.
  a Rafflecopter giveaway

And now for the goodies...

Since I love all of you who read my books and follow my blog, I have a free short story for you to download. It's a silly story I wrote a few years ago - apparently when Valentine's Day was on a Tuesday - that features an undercover witch, a young man running away from his troubles, and a talking catfish. I put it in my public Dropbox folder, so to download, click on the menu at the top right, the box with the three dots, and select "Download." Here are the links:

If you'd like a .pdf, please use the contact form at the right and let me know. Sorry, I'm still figuring all this tech stuff out. And of course I'm open to feedback, especially if any of you would like to see the story continue. Don't worry, it doesn't end on a cliffhanger, but there is more to tell.

The second surprise for you is a dual cover reveal! The first is for a prequel novella to the Aether Psychics series, and it will be released toward the middle of March. If you'd like a preview copy in exchange for an honest review, please let me know - I should have advance copies by the end of next week.

Danger. Love. Lies.

After tragedy hits and danger moves in, Pauline Donahue flees London, searching for sanctuary and a way to start over. A job at a small university provides the escape she needs. Keeping recalcitrant professor Edward Bailey on task after a shattered heart renders him broken and destroyed becomes her daily routine. But when the same vicious man from her past sets his malicious sights on Pauline, her safe haven comes crashing down.

Duke of Waltham, Christopher Bailey, never counted on the gentle commoner, Miss Donahue, to save his brother--and himself--from broken pasts and a lifetime of mistakes. But she does just that. As their love blossoms, danger closes in, threatening Pauline and Christopher's lives. Together, they are forced to face their biggest fears, revealing secrets that could ruin them both.

The second cover reveal is for the third book in the Aether Psychics series, Aether Spirit. As you saw in Light Fantastique, aether isn't exactly the innocuous substance our characters thought. Now the series picks up with Dr. Chadwick Radcliffe, who is reunited with his beloved Claire, but of course it's complicated.

Forgetting her is impossible. Remembering him could kill her.

Aether Psychics, Book 3

When Chadwick Radcliffe arrives at Fort Daniels to assume the position of medical chief, the prejudice against his mixed heritage is no surprise. But he never expected to encounter the one woman who’s beyond his reach—medically and emotionally.

A steamcart accident stole three years of Claire McPhee’s memories, and now as she helps soldiers cope with combat-related neuroses, she secretly hopes to find the key to filling that gaping hole.

There’s something vaguely familiar about Dr. Radcliffe, but every time she comes close to determining why, he pushes her away—and her hypnosis-induced memory blocks explode with pain.

Chadwick knows the Eros Element can heal, but its unintended side effects are too dangerous to risk using it to bring Claire’s memories out of the shadows. But with the key to the Union’s victory buried in Claire’s mind, Chadwick and Claire are forced to push past the boundaries others have placed on them—even if rediscovering their love risks their lives.

Warning: Vast amounts of Victorian mental health geekery and copious amounts of tea were poured into the writing of his book. No matter how pretty the aether is, the author cautions readers not to try using it to manipulate others’ emotions. The side effects could be atrocious.

It's in final edits now, so I'll let you know when it's available for preorder and when I have review copies. The release date is May 31.

I hope everyone has a fabulous Valentine's Day weekend!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Characters on the Couch: Leanna Renee Hieber's Clara and Harold

Today I'm excited to welcome Clara and Harold, two of the main characters from Leana Renee Hieber's Gaslamp Fantasy trilogy. I met Leanna first at DragonCon and then at last year's Authors After Dark. She is charming and approachable, and I can't wait to read this series!

Welcome to The Eterna Files, written by Leanna Renee Hieber, "the brightest new star in literature"(True-Blood.net)

London, 1882: Queen Victoria appoints Harold Spire of the Metropolitan Police to Special Branch Division Omega. Omega is to secretly investigate paranormal and supernatural events and persons. Spire, a skeptic driven to protect the helpless and see justice done, is the perfect man to lead the department, which employs scholars and scientists, assassins and con men, and a traveling circus. Spire's chief researcher is Rose Everhart, who believes fervently that there is more to the world than can be seen by mortal eyes.

Their first mission: find the Eterna Compound, which grants immortality. Catastrophe destroyed the hidden laboratory in New York City where Eterna was developed, but the Queen is convinced someone escaped―and has a sample of Eterna.

Also searching for Eterna is an American, Clara Templeton, who helped start the project after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln nearly destroyed her nation. Haunted by the ghost of her beloved, she is determined that the Eterna Compound―and the immortality it will convey―will be controlled by the United States, not Great Britain.

1. If your character were to go to a psychologist – willingly or unwillingly – what would bring them in? Yes, a court order is a valid answer.

Because The Eterna Files trilogy is a very character-driven historical fantasy / paranormal saga set in 1882, and it's a large cast novel featuring two X-files kinds of teams, one in London, one in New York, I have to answer for two of my leads across the respective pond. One, twenty-nine year old New Yorker Clara Templeton, a strong-willed Clairvoyant, Spiritualist and Sensitive, who heads The Eterna Commission in New York City, a commission that began as a search for a cure for death but became the first line of defense against supernatural terrorism, and stoic Englishman Harold Spire, just as strong-willed and determined, not to mention a staunch skeptic. He is a police-chief turned paranormal officer and he doesn't really believe one word of what he's been summoned by Queen Victoria to pursue and protect. Their voices are very strong in my head and heart, so in some cases here I'll answer in their voice...

Clara Templeton:

"A psychologist? Is that like a psychic? If so, I always like to talk to one of my kind. As long as they don't summon too many ghosts, as more than five in a room has an adverse effect upon my health. If this couch has any positive effect on epilepsy I'd be much obliged."

Harold Spire:


"There's nothing that needs examining in my head, thank you very much, it's the heads of my "superiors" that I'd recommend be thoroughly accounted for. And maybe when they came to their senses, I'd be taken off this circus of 'paranormal' detail and returned to blessed, solid, corporeal police work."

2. Is the presenting problem one of the main internal or external conflicts in your book? If so, how does it present itself?

Clara Templeton:

"Oh, dear, well, The Eterna commission was my idea, and it's been a terrible mistake and cost lives I'd never intended. I'm very internally fraught over this, but it's the dark magic that's now begun to unfold around the commission that presents a problem."

Harold Spire:

"Internally, yes, I do have a problem with being appointed to a 'paranormal' appointment I do not support or agree with. But duty is duty and I try to keep my anger and frustration to myself, though I do believe my colleague, the astute Miss Everhart, sees through all my masks. The progressing conflicts of supernatural terror that befall my team and myself are entirely external and I hope to see their swift end."

3. It's always interesting to see how people act when they first enter my office. Do they immediately go for my chair, hesitate before sitting anywhere, flop on the couch, etc.? What would your character do?

They would each, as polite and genteel citizens, wait to be bid to sit and only in the chair or place indicated to them. Once there, they would remain still, poised and thoughtful. Harold Spire might clench his fists if presented with a problem he could not summarily solve, Clara would fold her hands and look into the distance with a laser focus, as if searching for answers from the past lives she is connected to.

4. Does your character talk to the therapist? How open/revealing will your character be? What will he or she say first?

Clara Templeton: "I've nothing to hide about myself. I'd like to hear your thoughts, Madame Therapist, on how I might best shield my mind from an onslaught of spirits and malevolent energy, as I wish to address my most significant weakness and nip it in the bud."

Harold Spire: *staring with steely focus* "Give me insight, please, into the mind and motives of a killer, Madame Therapist, so I may root him out from his lair and make him serve justice."

5. Your character walks into the bar down the street after his/her first therapy session. What does he/she order? What happens next?

Clara Templeton: "I'd like a cordial, please, a soothing liqueur, something of spice and caramel."
Harold Spire: "Pint of ale, please. Quickly."

If Mister Spire and Miss Templeton were at the bar together, they would carefully talk business from two very different perspectives; the skeptic and the believer, and never let the alcohol dim their sharp senses or sensibilities. Both like maintaining control far too much to let any substance get the better of their meticulous awareness.

6. When you're building characters, do you have any tricks you use to really get into their psyches, like a character interview or personality system (e.g., Myers-Briggs types)?

For this book, no, my characters were plain as day to me, I know entirely who they are and if anything, I had to struggle a bit to get them to unfold some of their vulnerabilities to me. With Clara, since she is the most like me of any character I have written, I had to divorce myself from her enough to write her objectively and properly. Now that I'm writing the first draft of book 3 in the trilogy, they're more clear and adamant than ever and I love it, especially as the two leads look at the world in opposite ways, but conduct themselves very similarly, with confident aplomb and fierce commitment to their duty.

Buy link: The Eterna Files

Thank you so much, Leanna! I enjoyed meeting your characters, and I love it when they appear fully formed in my brain, too. Good luck with this new series - I'm looking forward to reading it!

Actress, playwright, artist and award-winning, bestselling author Leanna Renee Hieber has written nine Gothic Victorian Fantasy novels for adults and teens, set in 1880s New York City and London. Her Strangely Beautiful saga hit Barnes & Noble and Borders Bestseller lists, garnered numerous genre awards and will reissue in a special edition from Tor/Forge in April 2016. Darker Still of her Magic Most Foul saga was a Scholastic "Highly Recommended" title and an American Booksellers Association "Indie Next List" pick. Her new Gaslamp Fantasy trilogy, The Eterna Files, an X-Files meets Penny Dreadful kind of series, is now available from Tor/Forge and the sequel, Eterna and Omega, releases August 2016. Her books have been translated into many languages such as German, Complex Chinese, and Polish. A lifelong Goth girl devoted to spreading love and understanding of Gothic literature, she is also a proud member of performer unions Actors Equity and SAG-AFTRA and works as a ghost tour guide for New York City's premiere Ghost and Macabre tour company Boroughs of the Dead. She's been featured in several films and in television on shows like Boardwalk Empire. She's active on Twitter @LeannaRenee, Facebook, and more about her books as well as free reads and writing resources can be found at http://leannareneehiber.com and her Gothic, Steampunk, Neoclassical art and jewelry can be found at https://etsy.com/shop/torchandarrow

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Paranormal Love Wednesdays blog hop

Greetings, all! I've decided to jump in on the Paranormal Love Wednesdays blog hop since I'm trying to figure out what character to write about next in the Lycanthropy Files series. I've got a survey going and thought I'd share excerpts from two of the females in the running, Kyra Ellison and Reine la Fey (Reine ended up being a write-in, so I thought I'd mention her here).

First up, Kyra. She was sort of a villain in The Mountain's Shadow, but I felt she would have an interesting story of her own. Here's her short excerpt, told from the POV of the main character Joanie:

He scurried back into the office, and I turned to see a woman in a long white dress gliding through the cars. My first thought was that it was the angry ghost of one of the vehicles’ former owners, but then Lonna narrowed her eyes.

“Isn’t that the chick who was with Leo in the restaurant on Tuesday? What’s her name, Kyra? The third—”

“Yep, that’s Kyra Ellison.” I interrupted her before she could blurt out the word.

She came closer, and I saw she wore a white sundress. So much for the ghost. But she did look pissed.

“You!” Her shout was almost a shriek. “You’re the one.”

“One what?” I couldn’t tell if she was looking at me or Lonna.

“Man-stealer!” She reached into the pocket of her dress, and Lonna grabbed my arm.


Then there's Reine, the mischievous fairy in Blood's Shadow. Her excerpt is told from the point of view of Gabriel, who looks really hot on this cover, don't you think?

“So you’re older than you look,”

“As are you. And we both have our secrets. You just don’t know as many of yours. Now leave me. I will seal the blood so that it won’t hurt poor Maximilian again, and I’ll do the same upstairs.”

“Could you wait until our detective finishes what he needs to do?”

“No, it is necessary now. Sealing the blood will allow it to rest, which will allow the spirits attached to it to be at peace if nothing else stands in their way. Plus, I need to remove the contamination from Max’s wards around the building and land—his using blood magic, even in small amounts, damaged the spells and allowed the intruders to get in. Nothing I do will interfere with the detective’s work.”

“I trust you,” I said, realizing I did.

“Oh, do you?” She flashed me a wicked grin, and before I realized her intention, she pulled my head to hers and kissed me on the lips. She tasted of honeysuckle and sweet wine, and the passion she ignited flowed through me in golden waves. The static came back, and I pulled her to me to quell the tingling that became a burning need.

I barely heard Selene’s “Gabriel, oh!” before Reine pushed me away with a mischievous laugh.

“That’ll teach you,” she said. “Remember, my kind is never to be trusted. Nor are most others.” With a chuckle that lingered in the air, she disappeared, and I turned to face Selene.

So who deserves their own novella set in Salem at Halloween? Vote here! To vote for Reine, put her name in the "You forgot..." space and click Vote. For a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card, vote, then come back and tell me who you voted for in the comments, and be sure to include your email address with your comment text so I know how to get in touch with you.

Don't forget to stop by the other posts on the blog hop! Click here for the main post with links.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Calling all Lycanthropy Files fans!

Greetings, all, and happy new year!

I hope your holidays were enjoyable, peaceful, or whatever you needed them to be. To my friends who have had a tough time, hugs! Regular life is starting up soon.

My holiday season was busy with lots of eating, cooking, drinking, more eating, more cooking, some writing, and a little bit of reading. You can check out my reviews on my Goodreads author page (and maybe think about following me?). :-) I'll post about the holiday kitchen playtime on the wine blog sometime soon. Tonight's dinner is going to be cassoulet, yes, the Julia Child version. That was a multi-day project.

The exciting news - I was given the opportunity to participate in a Halloween-themed paranormal romance box set, which will be out in the fall. It's been a while since the last Lycanthropy Files book, and some of my fans have been requesting a new one, so I thought it would be fun to have a novella set in Salem (the box set requirements) with one of the secondary Lycanthropy Files characters. I know, it's hard to remember who everyone was, so I set up a handy dandy survey. Don't worry, write-ins are allowed if someone is missing who you'd like to see.

Click here to vote!

Thanks, and happy reading and writing!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Light Fantastique Releases December 15!

Light Fantastique will be available for purchase on December 15. Reviews so far have been great with a four-star review from Romantic Times, which starts with, "This deftly woven adventure is cast with well-developed characters that round out an entertaining mystery." Then Riley over at Smart Girls Love Sci Fi Romance wrote a very perceptive review for her Tea Time Reading column. 

Blurb, excerpt, and buy links are below.

At the Théâtre Bohème, danger decides who takes the final curtain call.

Aether Psychics, Book 2

Hailed as the most talented actress of her generation, Marie St. Jean has something more to her ability than mere talent. She loses a bit of her soul to each role. When the ghostly spirit of the theatre promises her an easy fix, she’s tempted by the chance to finally live a normal life.

Unfortunately, the man she’s drawn to is the last one to settle for normal. But with the Prussians surrounding Paris, there’s no escaping that temptation, either.

Violinist Johann Bledsoe thought he’d left his disgrace in England, but a murder outside the Théâtre Bohème makes him wonder if he’s been exposed. Another reason not to stick around once the siege ends, even if Marie fascinates him.

More murders, steam-powered ravens, and past and present secrets bring them closer to discovering just what lurks within the theatre, and who threatens from without. The only way to save themselves is to reveal their darkest shames—and use the Eros Element in a way that has already driven one man to the brink of madness.

Warning:  Processed in a facility where wine is used as currency and dessert is a reward. If you dislike French cooking and attitudes, move along. Things are cooking in this book, and it ain’t Julia Child.

Purchase Links

Samhain (on sale at time of post for $3.85 all ebook formats, $11.89 paperback)

I'm doing a review tour with CBB book promotions for both Eros Element and Light Fantastique. It also includes a giveaway for a $25 gift card to either Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Click here for the schedule. Stops so far:

Steampunk Sunday at Talk Supe, which includes an interview with Marie. (12/13)

Review of Eros Element at Girl of 1000 Wonders. (12/14)

Reviews of both books at A_TiffyFit's Reading Corner. (12/15)

Review of Eros Element at Candace's Book Blog. (12/16)

Review of Light Fantastique at Girl of 1000 Wonders. (12/17)

Review of Eros Element at Deborah Jay's Author Blog (12/17)

Review of both books at the Shelf Life blog. (12/18)

Character Interview of Johann at Anna Durand's blog (12/22)

Thanks so much for reading, and I hope you enjoy! 

From Chapter Eight:

Sometimes the wanderlust in Johann subsided just enough for him to feel a twinge of homesickness. The snow outside made him think of how his family home would look now at the beginning of the holiday season. Perhaps a light dusting would give the peaks and sharp-angled roofs a glittering edge, or a heavier fall would make the old hall look like a dowager trimmed in white fur—dignified and elegant, but also potentially deadly.

His mouth twisted into an almost-grin at the association. One never escaped a conversation with his grandmother, the dowager Marchioness, without some sort of scar. Typically for him it included a hint or direct statement of what a disappointment he was to the family, a dreamer rather than a doer like his older brother.

A fluttering movement caught the corner of his eye, and he looked up to see Marie standing in the back of the theatre, something clutched in her hand. Whatever it was disappeared into her cloak pocket, and her expression distracted him from curiosity about what she’d caught, if anything. Longing warred with confusion on her face.

“Mademoiselle?” he asked. “Are you all right?”

“That music,” she said and put a hand to her middle between her heart and her stomach. “It made me homesick for something, but it doesn’t make sense. This is my home, such as it is, but now I miss…something. What were you playing?”

Johann had spoken with hundreds and played before thousands, but he’d never told his secret. His gut said he could trust her even if he wasn’t trustworthy himself. What would it be like if he was, if he could bear open his heart to someone else? He’d never wanted to, and the idea struck him as strange, but accustomed to going with his impulses, he stepped into that space between fear and trust.

“It’s my own composition. I call it Winter.”

She moved closer, and the amused lift of her cheeks became apparent when she stepped into the light cast by the lamps in the orchestra pit. “Original title.”

He put his violin on its stand. “You mock me, Mademoiselle?”

Her smile vanished, and now her cheeks reddened. “Oh, no! It was lovely, but it needs a name that’s less bleak and more poetic, maybe Blossoms Under Snow?”

He liked seeing her blush and wondered if she was one of those women whose flush covered her entire torso if it was deep enough. He sent a desist thought to his groin, but it bounced the notion back with the urge to keep her talking and blushing. “I can’t use a word like Blossoms in a composition title. I’m far too manly for that—it would make me appear weak.”

“Then how about icy shards? That shouldn’t challenge your masculinity.” The temperature in her tone matched that of the hypothetical ice.

What had he said? It figured he would get himself in trouble before long. What did she want?

The answer came to him, then—to be respected for who she was. And he saw her as a very strong woman. But he didn’t know what to say to get himself out of this mess. He only knew one thing—he didn’t want her to leave angry.

“Forgive me,” he said and took her hand. That was always a safe bet, much safer than the ones that had ended him up in this mess, the ones he’d taken to escape his father’s influence.

“For…?” She wouldn’t look at him, and she snatched her hand away.

“For being an ass. I’m too good at it. I didn’t mean to imply that womanliness was the opposite of strength. In truth, you and Iris are two of the strongest people I know.”

“Iris? You are on such intimate terms with her?”

“Miss McTavish, then. Yes, we’ve been working together to help Edward, and no, nothing improper has occurred between us. We’re…friends.”

“You’re not accustomed to being friends with women.” Her statement was almost a question.

“Not typically. I’ve not treated them well in the past, I fear.”

What was she doing to him to make him want to confess and clear his conscience to make room for… For what? He certainly had no desire to be tied down to anyone. As soon as he got this little problem with the Clockwork Guild worked out, he planned to continue the adventure they’d started, perhaps even to the Ottoman Empire and beyond, and he wasn’t afraid to go on alone.

She drew back, but she didn’t leave. “Why the sudden burst of honesty?”

“It was the music. It is a piece about my home, and I play it when I miss it.”

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Characters on the Couch: Jacci DeVera's Calla

Today I'm happy to introduce Jacci DeVera and her character Calla McAmis, a mountain lion shifter. The interview reminded me of when I lived in Arkansas for a year, and the wildlife service swore that there were no mountain lions in the state but said there was a $30,000 fine if you killed one. Because government logic, y'all.

Queen of the Hollow

Calla is a young shifter, the only female within miles High Lonesome, her small southern West Virginia hometown. Her mother had managed to keep her safe from the bounty of male mountain lions in the past, but now Calla finds herself alone and without a protector...and the moon is full. 

Haben hasn’t been able to get close to Calla since their first meeting, right around Valentine’s Day. When he shows up at her house a year later, he finds the wounded spit-fire determined for him to keep his distance - despite his instinct to keep her safe. 

Calla must choose to either place her trust and safety to an outsider, or fight off every male mountain lion between here and Charleston with just her wits and a shotgun. The stakes are high and the numbers are against them. Even if they prevail, will Calla be able to keep her heart safe from her protector til sunrise?

1. If your character were to go to a psychologist – willingly or unwillingly – what would bring them in? Yes, a court order is a valid answer.

Lycanthropy isn’t commonly accepted in Southern West Virginia, so if someone got wind that Calla McAmis believed in mountain lions in Appalachia, much less that people changed into them, she probably would be ordered to go.

Otherwise, Calla has lived a very sheltered life and is now 19, so she might willingly go to a psychologist in order to be able to cope with the modern day world she has just found herself forced into. An excerpt from the story reads:  “I just…want to live like everyone else does. Not like this. Not hidden away. Not scared. Not knowing what to do on a – on a Saturday—or a Tuesday night—or wonder why Taco Bell is so great—or what Instagram is—and have a cell phone. All I know is that I will have to fight when the moon is full. Nobody else does that. I don’t want to, either.”

2. Is the presenting problem one of the main internal or external conflicts in your book? If so, how does it present itself?

I would say it is an internal conflict, a problem coping with the world, without Calla’s mother. Her mother died unexpectedly, and Calla had never been out of her mother’s sight until that moment. So now she has to learn to do everything else, outside of being a shifter, all of a sudden with no one to guide or teach her. Calla’s external conflicts are mostly in the form of other shifter-cats that want to encroach on her territory.

3. It's always interesting to see how people act when they first enter my office. Do they immediately go for my chair, hesitate before sitting anywhere, flop on the couch, etc.? What would your character do?

Calla would wait rather awkwardly at the door for you to tell her to sit and where to sit at.

4. Does your character talk to the therapist? How open/revealing will your character be? What will he or she say first?

She’d come across as backwards with a stranger, even one she initiated visiting. She would only answer questions you asked to her. To a question like “Why are you here?” or “What is bothering you?” she might respond with: “I want to be like normal girls.”

CD: Oh, that would be a challenge!

5. Your character walks into the bar down the street after his/her first therapy session. What does he/she order? What happens next?

Calla does not walk into a bar. (The county is probably a dry county anyway.) If she did by some mistake, she would immediately turn around and leave and go home. Home is the only “safe” place to her.

6. When you're building characters, do you have any tricks you use to really get into their psyches, like a character interview or personality system (e.g., Myers-Briggs types)?

We “sit down and visit.” There’s a few interview type questions I ask, but I’m always delighted with a question/answer session like this, as it never fails to shed additional light and depth on the characters. A lot of times I’ll take an opportunity to shove the character into an unrelated scenario, and see how she reacts. That teaches me a lot. Plus sometimes it’s enough of a characterization ‘insight moment that it works its way into the story.

About the author:

Born and raised in the foothills of the Appalachia herself, Jacci has an intimate knowledge with the ways of life, the people, the inherent magic, and the languages of the South. She writes fantasy, paranormal, and western romance.

Jacci enjoys writing as much as she enjoys napping, cats, cookies, myths, and wolves. The only "rule" she has when she writes is that the story must have a happy ending.

Thrilled with the direction writing, and particularly romance, has taken in recent years with genre lines blurring, her love of fantasy, paranormal, and historicals can intermingle without concern for intolerance.

The journey is as important as the destination itself. Stories are found everywhere.

Buy links:

Thanks for stopping by and reading! If you would like help with an unpublished character you're stuck with or would like to feature one of your published characters on my blog, please feel free to email me through the contact form or at cecilia (at) ceciliadominic (dot) com

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Character on the Couch: Luke from Red Jameson's With These Wings

Some characters walk right into my head and take over. This is the first time one walked into a couch session and did. So, without further ado, meet Luke. I think you'll like him.

Hi, Cecilia! I’m Luke Anderson. Actually, that’s Dr. Luke Anderson. I’m a trauma surgeon who’s been in the army for the last four years, since my residency ended. And less than a week after I became a civilian again, my parents died from a drunk driver. So now that I’ve spilled my guts, I guess that means I’m officially on your couch.

1. If your character were to go to a psychologist – willingly or unwillingly – what would bring them in? Yes, a court order is a valid answer.

Okay, so in medical school our psychiatry training was—what?—less than a year of knowledge crammed in with many other classes. Which means I knew the symptoms I was experiencing before I was honorably discharged from the military were PTSD. But it’s completely different when the doctor becomes the patient, isn’t it? My mom, shortly before her death, recommended a therapy support group especially for soldiers with PTSD. And it’s there I’ve made many friends, including the psychologist who runs it.

However, all that said, it’s still tough as sh—sorry. It’s tough to talk about having any problems, any issues. That’s why I thank god every day for my girlfriend, Sam, and that she came into my life when she did. She’s so patient and good with me, good for me. Yeah, she just might beat out any psychologist.

2. Is the presenting problem one of the main internal or external conflicts in your book? If so, how does it present itself?

God, it is weird dissecting myself like this. So I’ll try to be more objective, call myself patient X. Here’s my diagnosis: Patient X experienced PTSD for roughly eight months before his discharge. After his parents were killed in an accident, there were a few days of insomnia, lack of appetite, aggression, anger issues.

But then I met Sam. Sorry, it’s just too weird to call myself patient X. So here I am being me. And I might still have nightmares for…who knows how long. But the daily broken record of guilt and shame are getting quieter and quieter.

3. It's always interesting to see how people act when they first enter my office. Do they immediately go for my chair, hesitate before sitting anywhere, flop on the couch, etc.? What would your character do?

Oh, I love shrinks. This question made me laugh. I don’t know why, but I’m sure you could analyze why. Anyway, I would probably sit anywhere.

4. Does your character talk to the therapist? How open/revealing will your character be? What will he or she say first?

Well, the first time I went to group, I didn’t talk about my problems. Figured, since I was the new guy, I’d better say something, though. So I talked about trying to find a job fresh from being discharged. I’m guessing that means I’m not open to revealing myself.

But I was different with Sam. Yeah, I keep talking about her, but I can’t help it. She—I felt like I could reveal myself. It took a while, and I was still grieving, but I did open to her. It’s still hard to open up in group, though. But I’ve since had a few talks with Mack, the psychologist I was talking about who runs the support group.

5. Your character walks into the bar down the street after his/her first therapy session. What does he/she order? What happens next?

A beer and I’d ask Sam to join me. After talking with Mack, I felt like he cracked my skull open. There were things inside my mind I didn’t even know existed. So, yeah, I’d ask for Sam to join me, to sit next to her, and laugh. Man, she can make me laugh. And sometimes, that’s all you need in life, you know?

6. When you're building characters, do you have any tricks you use to really get into their psyches, like a character interview or personality system (e.g., Myers-Briggs types)?

I’ll let Red answer this one, but it’s been fun being interviewed. I think. I feel a bit like after a talk with Mack, which reminds me I have to call him. Anyway, thanks! -Luke

You're very welcome! Thanks for stopping by.

Red: So, what did you think of Luke? Yep, he popped into my head shortly after his girlfriend, Samuella, popped in there first. While sitting in my mind for a few months, usually when I’m finishing another of my books, my characters tell me things about themselves. I listen. That’s all I do. I just try to listen to what kind of person they are. To become the best listener of your characters, I think it best to listen to real people. I mean really listen. Get to know why people say certain things, why they think the way they do, get to know as many people as possible. And care about them. It not only makes you a great writer but a better person too.

Before I write, I make sure my couples are compatible. So I do a basic questionnaire for them based on the Attachment Theory. Writing romance, I think, takes a lot of responsibility to not just write about a couple falling in love, but also make sure the couple will be good for each other and will stay in love for a long time. That’s why I find the Attachment Theory so helpful.

Thank you so much for interviewing Luke and me! This was a blast and such fun questions! :)

Thank you both for visiting! I like Luke a lot and am looking forward to reading the book.

As a military historian by day, sometimes Red does feel a bit clandestine when she writes romance at night. No one knows that while she researches heroes of the past and present, she uses everything for her characters in her books. Her secret's been safe . . . until now. 

She lives in Montana with her family and far too many animals but never enough books.

She loves her readers, so please feel free to contact her at http://www.redljameson.com 

Blurb:  Book 1 of The With These Wing Series, a paranormal romance

For more than a thousand years Samuella Dís has been a fairy godmother. The fairy title is ironic, since she’s a dís—an ancient society of all-female, winged, immortal avengers who paint their toenails with reckless abandon and have difficulties with real swearwords. However, something’s wrong with Sam’s latest assignment. Her newest orphan is a six-foot-three soldier, who’s indubitably handsome, and a flausching man. Not a boy at all, but a flinging flanging man!

Luke Anderson is home barely a week when he loses his parents in a drunk driving accident. Already plagued by nightmares from his tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, he’s not sure how much more he can take. And maybe he’s gone a bit crazy because he can’t keep his eyes off one spunky strawberry blonde at his parents’ funeral—inappropriate, right? But she offers so much comfort in those huge amber eyes of hers, and, hey, it’s not like the world would end if he hit on the woman.

Since the dís are a dwindling species, The Norns, Sam’s bosses, are trying to matchmake Sam and Luke. Only, the last time they played cupids England almost collapsed. Plus, there’s the issue of human men going insane once they’ve had sex with a dís. And Sam could die from a broken heart. Oh, and there’s the little matter of when a dís gets upset she can cause apocalyptic events. But it might be worth it for love. Then again, the Norns have been stalking Oprah lately, and there’s no guessing if they’re merely insane or certifiably brilliant.

Where you can find With These Wings:

And other retail book sellers


“I never sleep,” she said.


Now she smiled. “Of course I sleep. I mean, I don’t when I’m—I don’t need—I mean, I slept with you.”

“I noticed.”

She reached a hand out, almost touching his cheek, but stopped. “Are you okay?”

He had to refrain from wincing. Again, he was reminded she was here for him because she wanted to comfort him. She didn’t want to get in his pants and see what the hell had inappropriately sprung to life.

She probably thought him too old. He was too old for her. But as soon as he’d told himself as much, the thought flickered away like a spring butterfly, especially as he looked down at her wide lucid brown eyes.

He nodded. “Are you okay?”

“I—” she looked genuinely perplexed. “I never sleep.”

“You sure about that?” he teased.

She grinned again. “I sound like a broken record, don’t I?”

“Do kids your age still use that expression? Do you even know what a broken record is?”

She laughed. “Hey, I’ve listened to many a Forty-Five in my day.”

He popped his brows up. “I’m impressed. You even know the lingo. But don’t tell me you listen to records because the sound quality is better.”

“It is better.”

He rolled onto his back, flinging his free hand over his eyes. “God, you’re not one of those, are you?”

She scooted closer to him. Now, she propped herself up on an elbow and looked down at him, but his arm was still under her. “Who are those?”

“Those people who talk on and on about the difference between digital sound versus…I don’t know…versus anything else.”

She shook her head. “There’s a huge difference in the sound quality. Can’t you hear it? Or are you too old?”

He chuckled at her mocking, removing his hand from his face. “Okay. I have to know. How old are you, missy?”


“Yeah, missy.”

Her smile turned mischievous. “I can’t tell you how old I am.”

“Why not?” He suddenly swallowed. “Jesus, you are over eighteen, aren’t you? Oh god.”

She started to laugh as he placed his hand over his face again. “I’m older than eighteen, yes.”

“Thank god.”

“I’m quite a bit older than eighteen.”

“I doubt it.”

She bit her bottom lip, still not telling him, and in the process giving him a heart attack from worrying she was much too young. Or maybe his heart was spasming because he loved this fun banter they had.

Deciding to confess his age, he said, “I’m thirty-three. Am I…ten years older than you?”


“Twelve years older than you?”

“I’m not twenty-one.”

“Are you older than twenty-one?”

“Of course I am.” She rolled her eyes.


She sighed. “Okay, I’ll tell you, but you can’t tell anyone.”

“Or you’ll have to kill me? Are you a spy? Is your age a national security issue?”

She giggled, shaking her head. “Ready, Mr. Smarty Pants?”

He took in a dramatic breath. “I’m bracing myself. Hit me with it.”

Her smile fell away as she said, “I’m one thousand, seven hundred twenty-six years old.”

“Wow, that’s—that’s very detailed.”