Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Guest - Cecilia Dominic

Good Morning! It's Hump Day and we're going to celebrate it with a terrific post by Cecilia Dominic. I think all writers might appreciate her take on characterization and I think all of us might be sympathetic to the loss of a well-loved grandmother.

Today, we're serving cappuccino and anise flavored cookies. Help yourself, find a spot in one of the comfy chairs and enjoy!


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Inspired by Being Italian

One question a lot of writers hear is "where do you get your ideas?" I suspect most people are referring to plot when they ask. Of course characters and their backgrounds also require a lot of thought. In the case of Long Shadows, the main character Lonna Marconi, her context, and back story were inspired by my own Italian heritage. Okay, I'm a stealth half-Italian with red hair and blue eyes, but I happily claim it (the other half is Belgian).

I'd like to dedicate this blog post in memory of my own Italian grandmother, whom we called Noni. She passed away this last Valentine's Day. It was sad, but I'm glad she got to join my grandfather, who was the love of her life and whom we lost in 2001, for a Valentine's evening. She was an avid reader and even started writing a novel once. She passed down the love of the written word to her kids and grandkids. Her favorite genre was mystery, and she said she enjoyed reading the first Lycanthropy Files book The Mountain's Shadow when it came out last fall.

I originally loosely based Lonna on my best friend, who shares her curvy appearance and straightforward manner. At the end of The Mountain's Shadow, I wanted to explore what happened with Lonna, and I was excited when my Samhain editor gave me the go-ahead to write her book. It picks up about two months after The Mountain's Shadow ends.

Like many young people, Lonna struck out from her family to create her own life and identity. Her parents are dead, so her main connection to her family is her aunt Alicia, with whom she isn't as close as she'd like to be. As she says,

I’d ended up talking to [her caretaker] more often than to my aunt, who liked to keep her phone conversations to questions about school and money, nice concrete topics. As I did well in school and was good with money, they were usually short phone calls. – Long Shadows

The Italian side of my family comes from Boston, and as I was growing up, I couldn't help but notice the contrast in manner and attitude between them and my Southern friends' families. The older generation especially has that Northern lack of overt affection. I drew on that while creating Alicia's character, but she has reasons for her reserved manner. She does deeply love Lonna, which readers and Lonna discover as the story goes on. I do want to mention that not all my Boston relatives have prickly exteriors. My grandmother was sweet and gave serious hugs.

Of course a lot of the scenes in Long Shadows take place around kitchens and food. This has gotten to be a Lycanthropy Files theme. The book's disclaimer reads:

Warning: Some sexy scenes, adult language, and alcohol consumption. Also descriptions of Italian food that might offend carbophobes.

Mmm, Italian food… When I was growing up, we'd visit my grandparents' house, first in Boston and then in Florida. Noni pulled out boxes of homemade cookies, and they were always a highlight of the trip, as were her gnocchi, ravioli, and meatballs. As she got older and developed arthritis, she couldn't manage the pans anymore, and she passed her recipes along. Italian brownies are really more like chocolate chip cookies with spices than brownies. As my sister said when I gave her some, "They smell like my childhood and happiness." I gave Lonna good memories of them as well:

Later that morning, I woke disoriented. The sun poured through the leaves of the tall magnolia trees outside the gable windows and made dancing shadows over the walls, bed, and me. The first thing to orient me was the smell. Aunt Alicia’s house had always smelled like cinnamon, ginger, and anise, the flavors in the Italian cookies my mother liked. I’d always gone for the chocolate ones, Italian Brownies, which had a kick of cinnamon as well. – Long Shadows

I'm a stress baker, so I made a large batch around Christmas when we were having some renovation work done on the house and lost the living room and office for three weeks. There's a chocolate glaze on top of them: (Italian brownies.jpg)



Unfortunately, I have not been given permission by the family to share the recipe. Noni was always very protective of her recipes and would only share them with people she approved of. My husband jokes he had to marry me so he could get access to my family's tomato sauce and meatballs recipe. I retort that he's stuck with me now because divorce isn't an option – I'd have to kill him first to keep the family's secret recipe safe.

I am happy, however, to share a link to my go-to lasagna recipe, which I make with homemade sauce and sometimes homemade pasta noodles, and I substitute ricotta for cottage cheese. It's from Cooking Light, so it's not too unhealthy. The best part is that you don't even have to cook the noodles, but you don't have to use those weird no-boil ones, either:  http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/turkey-lasagna-10000000521236/

Readers sometimes wonder how much of an author goes into her characters. In Lonna's case, quite a bit, at least with regard to her Italian heritage. Including some of those aspects made the book fun for me to write, and I hope it will be fun to read as well. I think my grandmother would be proud.


Long Shadows, The Lycanthropy Files Book Two



Being unique isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be.

By day, Lonna Marconi’s busy career keeps her mind off the fact she was turned werewolf against her will. By night, a dose of wolfsbane lets her inner wolf out to play while her physical body stays safe at home.

When an overheard phone call at work warns her a trap is about to be sprung, she turns from hunter to hunted in the blink of an eye.

She finds refuge with the Ozarks pack she never claimed as her own. Upon discovering a family secret that explains why she’s unique among her own kind, Lonna finds heat in the arms of Max, who’s the one thing she cannot trust—a wizard.

Another kidnapping attempt sends her navigating the treacherous metaphysical borders of a centuries-old war, pursued by rogue sorcerers, a band of ghostly wolves, and repressed memories that prevent her from reclaiming her heritage. All the while, trusting her back to a wizard who demands the price of her heart…who may not have the luxury of giving his in return.

Buy links:

From Samhain Publishing (all ebook formats available): http://store.samhainpublishing.com/long-shadows-p-73287.html



Also available anywhere else ebooks are sold.


The Mountain's Shadow, The Lycanthropy Files Book One



Some mistakes can literally come back to bite you.

First it was ADD. Then pediatric bipolar. Now the hot behavioral disorder in children is CLS, or Chronic Lycanthropy Syndrome. Public health researcher Joanie Fisher was closing in on the cause in hopes of finding a treatment until a lab fire and an affair with her boss left her without a job.

When her grandfather leaves her his multimillion-dollar estate in the Ozarks, though, she figures her luck is turning around. Except her inheritance comes with complications: town children who disappear during full moons, an irresistible butler, and a pack of werewolves who can’t seem to decide whether to frighten her or flirt with her.

Joanie’s research is the key to unraveling the mysteries of Wolfsbane Manor.  However, resuming her work means facing painful truths about her childhood, which could result in the loss of love, friendship, and the only true family she has left.

Warning: Some sexy scenes, although nothing explicit, and adult language. Also alcohol consumption and food descriptions that may wreck your diet.

Buy links:




Also available anywhere else ebooks are sold. Paperback release date is October 7, 2014.



Bio: 
Cecilia Dominic wrote her first story when she was two years old and has always had a much more interesting life inside her head than outside of it. She became a clinical psychologist because she's fascinated by people and their stories, but she couldn't stop writing fiction. The first draft of her dissertation, while not fiction, was still criticized by her major professor for being written in too entertaining a style. She made it through graduate school and got her PhD, started her own practice, and by day, she helps people cure their insomnia without using medication. By night, she blogs about wine and writes fiction she hopes will keep her readers turning the pages all night. Yes, she recognizes the conflict of interest between her two careers, so she writes and blogs under a pen name.  She lives in Atlanta, Georgia with one husband and two cats, which, she's been told, is a good number of each. Her debut novel The Mountain's Shadow, an urban fantasy featuring werewolves with a scientific twist, was released in October 2013. The second in the series, Long Shadows, was released yesterday on March 25, 2014.

You can find her at:
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/cecilia_dominic

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-- Lynda Again
   Thanks, Cecilia, for the terrific look into your family and characterization. Those cookies look delish! Too bad you can't share the recipe but I certainly understand family recipes and traditions. Thanks for being with us today.

   Everyone, I have a birthday coming up in April and one lucky member of my newsletter will receive a birthday prize!  A variety pack of Body Essential Oils!


   You can join the newsletter by clicking the link below.

   If you haven't heard, I've sold Rider in a 3 Book deal to Entangled Publishing! To celebrate that, I'll be offering a prize (or maybe a couple of prizes) near its release date. We're going to rename Rider, which was always just a working title and I can't wait to see what we come up with ;-)

Contact me:

2 comments:

Lynda K. Scott said...

Hi Cecelia! Thanks for being with us today. I enjoyed the post and think that many of our readers will too. My sympathies on the loss of your grandmother.

Cecilia Dominic said...

Thank you for having me, Lynda! I enjoyed writing the post, and now I'm thinking I may have to pull some of those cookies out of my own freezer when I get home. :)

Cecilia