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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Author: Dawn Marie Hamilton Interview and Giveaway!

I'd like to welcome Dawn Marie Hamilton to the blog today to celebrate her debut novel, Just Beyond the Garden Gate. Be sure to stick around until the end to get the chance to win a copy and also a Starbucks gift card!

Welcome to Books à la Mode, Dawn Marie! Let's get this interview started.

Will you please share a brief bio with us?

Author Dawn Marie Hamilton gave up a corporate training career to write what she's passionate about: romance.

Enamored with everything Scottish, it's no surprise Scotland is the setting—along with the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina—for Highland Gardens, her new Scottish historical time-travel romance series.

As a member of Clan Hamilton Society, Dawn Marie enjoys attending the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games and Gathering of the Scottish Clans, which take place near Highland Gardens's fictitious town of Anderson Creek, North Carolina. She is also a member of Romance Writers of America, Celtic Hearts Romance Writers, From the Heart Romance Writers, Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal, and The Golden Network.

A Jersey girl at heart, Dawn Marie lives in Southern Maryland with her husband.

Tell us a bit more about your debut novel.

The Scottish Highlands—a place where faeries and brownies and other fae creatures dance through time. On occasion, so do mere mortals.

Determined to regain her royal status, a banished faerie princess accepts a challenge from the High-Queen of the Fae to unite an unlikely couple while the clan brownie attempts to thwart her.

Passion ignites when a faerie-shove propels burned-out business consultant Laurie Bernard through the garden gate, back through time, and into the embrace of Patrick MacLachlan. The arrogant clan chief doesn't know what to make of the lass in his arms, especially when he recognizes the brooch she wears as the one his stepmother wore when she and his father disappeared.

With the fae interfering at every opportunity, the couple must learn to trust one another while they battle an enemy clan, expose a traitor within their midst, and discover the true fate of the missing parents. Can they learn the most important truth—that love transcends time?

Journey from the lush gardens of the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina to the Scottish Highlands of 1509 with Just Beyond the Garden Gate.
Buy the book at: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Describe Just Beyond the Garden Gate in six words.

Scottish historical time-travel romance with Faeries.

How did you arrive at writing Scottish romance?

I've always been enamored with all things Scottish. I often read Scottish historical romances on long flights. While on business in Brussels, I saw a whisky ad picturing a hunk-worthy Highlander. I decided I wanted to write about men who needed to use their brain and brawn to protect their family and clan.

Are there any other genres you’d like to tackle in the future?

I have an idea for an American Indian paranormal teasing my muse. Only vague images at the moment though.

I agree. Your writing could take you down any genre path. What was the inspiration for Just Beyond the Garden Gate?

I traveled on business a lot for my previous career and often spent alone-time in airports thinking up story plots. I met many women during that period who were tired of the rat race. So, what if they could quit? Perhaps start a garden business. But what if a matchmaking faerie had other plans for them?

What an inspiring start! Readers, click "Read more" to learn about Dawn Marie's self-publishing experience, her most disastrous date, and how to stay sane as a writer! You also don't want to miss the great giveaway at the end—it not only involves a free copy of the book, but also coffee—Starbucks, to be specific. Yummm!

What has your self-publishing experience been like so far? Tell us some things that surprised you and obstacles you've had to overcome.

So far, the experience has been positive. I have control. I determine the book title and choose the cover art. For Just Beyond the Garden Gate, I designed the cover. I'm using a freelance editor and working with her has been great. Promotion is time consuming, but needs to happen whether an author traditionally publishes or self-publishes. Formatting is a tad tricky. In the future, I may consider out-sourcing that.

Having complete control must be awesome—no one messing up your hard work! Are the characters from your book based off anyone you know in real life? How much else of your actual life gets written into your novels?

The characters aren't based on any one individual, but come from years of experiences dealing with different people. Although one of the heroine's memories is actually one of my memories—I was walking along Fifth Avenue in NYC and collided with a famous actor’s entourage. That experience landed in the book.

Which character from Just Beyond the Garden Gate was most difficult to write?

The heroine, Laurie. I had a hard time getting her over the shell-shock from career burnout.

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Some randomness...

Favorite kind of chocolate? Dark, milk, white, coffee-flavored, the kind with nuts or berries inside?? Dark—the darker the better.

I'm so with you on that! All-time favorite quote? "The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it." — Michelangelo

Most romantic thing a man has ever done for you? DH is an engineer. Enough said.

LOL! Most disastrous date you’ve ever been on?

Set-up date where the guy took me to see a Disney animated movie and wanted to talk about body piercings during the movie.

Oh lordie. How do you get over heartbreak? Buy jewelry.

Currently reading? Lover at Last by J.R. Ward.

That series is at the top of my to-read list! Of course, I say that with most books ;) Currently wearing? Sleeveless summer dress.

Pretty! Most visited websites? Writer friends' blogs.

Such a supportive fellow author! Favorite vegetable? (yes, you have to pick one). Green beans sautéed with garlic, mushrooms, and almonds.

*Drool* Biggest celebrity crush?

The cover model for Just Beyond the Garden Gate—Brooks Johnson. Shhh. Don't tell my DH.

*Drool* Guiltiest pleasure? Long soak in a big bathtub.

So relaxing! What did you want to grow up to be when you were little? A ballet dancer.

Store you'd most likely max your credit card out in? Tough question—since we just bought a townhome, perhaps a furniture store. Although I'd rather buy jewelry.

My kind of gal! ;) Go-to comfort food? Ice cream.

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What would you say are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer?

Celebrate the small successes and don't forget to take time for oneself.

Excellent advice. Are there any occupational hazards to being a writer?

Weight gain from sitting too much. I try to walk a couple of miles a several times a week, to stay fit.

That's very important! What are your goals as a writer?

Write, write, and write more.

What dreams have been realized as a result of your writing?

I dreamed of finalling in the RWA® Golden Heart® contest and this year it happened. I'm a 2013 finalist for my paranormal manuscript, Sea Panther.

Amazing feat—congratulations!!! What's next for you?

The second Highland Gardens novel, Just Once in a Verra Blue Moon, is planned for release in September.

Can't wait! Where can you be found on the web?

It was a pleasure getting to know you today, Dawn Marie! Thank you so much for joining us, and best of luck with your future endeavors.

 Thank you for having me as a guest at Books à la Mode.


Books à la Mode is giving away a digital copy of Just Beyond the Garden Gate and a $10 Starbucks gift card—yay!! To enter, leave a comment in response to this question from Dawn Marie:
If you were unexpectedly hurled back in time to the sixteenth century, what would you miss most? Remember to leave your email address so I know who to contact as a winner. Don't make me track you down!
Please make your comment MEANINGFUL. Comments solely consisting of one-worded responses like "My phone" or irrelevant fluff like "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be considered for entry. Dawn and I really want to hear you guys' thoughts! :)

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the author—a huge thank you to Dawn Marie!
Giveaway ends 27 June 2013 at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to anyone in the world! Woohoo! However, please keep in mind the Starbucks gift card can only be redeemed in US locations.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤
Good luck!