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Thursday, October 8, 2009

Guest Post With Dakota Banks and Giveway!!

Today on my blog, I have an extra special guest. I have the pleasure of welcoming Ms. Dakota Banks. She has written several suspense novels and she has agreed to impart some of her words of wisdom (I can use all the words of wisdom I can get!). I recently reviewed her book, Dark Time: Mortal Path Book One (to read my review, click here) and I thought it was a fantastic adventure with her first foray into urban fantasy genre. So please join me in welcoming Ms. Banks to the blog!!!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


I want to thank Dottie for the opportunity to reach out to her blog readers today.





I sat down prepared to write something perky, ending with a few self-congratulatory statements about my book, Dark Time: Mortal Path Book 1. Instead I found myself in a more reflective mood. So stay with me and I promise a treat at the end.

I'm one of those people who had a lifelong urge to write and knew from the age of eight that I'd be a writer someday. That was the year I wrote a 200 word short story and had it published in the school newspaper. Wow, my first byline! I slept with that story under my pillow until it got tattered and smeared (mimeographs were used at that time). It must have been a health hazard, because one morning the story was gone and a quarter was left its place. My mother talked nonsense about the story fairy, but I was convinced it was my first paid writing. I was a pro, and the only thing I had to work on was a higher payment per word and maybe getting an agent.

I was swept up by life after that. Science and computer studies, college, marriage, a career, a couple of adopted sons. The dream never died, though. I kept waiting for the "perfect" time to devote myself to long days and weeks of writing, and naturally something always came up to cause me to put it off. I finally learned what all writers have to learn: there is no perfect time. If you wait for it, they'll carve on your gravestone, "She could have been a writer, but the laundry had to be done." When my first son was a toddler and still taking naps (thank God), my inclination was to nap when he did. Oh, how that pillow called to me! Instead, I chained myself to a desk and began writing. Soon I was staying up late or getting up early to add more writing hours. I'd proven to myself it could be done, and the timing was anything but perfect. Did I mention I was juggling a full-time job as a computer consultant working from home and being a wife, too? Sacrifices had to be made. Watching TV? What's that? A social life? Family time came first.

Six suspense novels later, I let go of the security blanket of continuing with the same type of book. I was at a point where I wanted to try something new, to move into the paranormal genre, and I had an idea for a series that had been building up inside to the point that I couldn't shove it into the background. I had to write it. I was starting to inhabit my protagonist, Maliha Crayne, like an actress immersed in method acting.

Most new writers experience a lot of angst in their search for a first agent. So imagine what it's like to fire one! That's the first thing I did, so I could search for a higher-profile agency. It was like stepping off a giant cliff. I was in freefall with no agent, no contract, and only a new, unconventional idea to offer. There were so many times that I doubted what I had done and berated myself for firing an agent. Was I nuts? What if no one liked the concept of the Mortal Path series except me? And an even deeper fear: what if my writing couldn't stand up to the competition in an already-crowded urban fantasy/paranormal thriller genre?

It took six really scary months to find a new agent. Whew. Thanks for listening as I relived all this. You're a good audience! Somehow I went from age eight to the present in a few paragraphs, complete with some soul-baring. I'm not destined to write an autobiography—it would be too short to publish!

Now for the treat. Here's an excerpt from Mortal Path Book Two, Sacrifice, coming next year. It's from the middle of the book. Thanks again to Dottie for inviting me!


Sacrifice Excerpt


When Maliha woke, she was half-reclined on a chaise lounge in a sunroom overlooking a grand view of forested hillsides. The sun glinted on water in the distance, with a hazy area that might be land to one side.

Lucius was sitting on the edge of the next lounge, looking over at her. When he saw that she was awake, he spoke.

"Please enjoy my hospitality."

She sat up abruptly and faced him. She was wearing a soft, flowing green gown that was the opposite of her killing outfit in every way. It didn't escape her that somewhere between killing outfit and gown, there must have been a nude stage. That riled her. If she was going to get naked with a guy, she didn't want to sleep through it.

"I don't suppose you had your wife change my clothes and give me a bath."

He blinked. "I don't have a wife, or any female but you, here."

"I thought so. You kidnapped me and stripped me," she said, with disbelief and anger fighting for control of her voice. "Whatever you did, you were cowardly enough to do it to an unconscious woman." She pursed her lips. "Where am I?"

"I didn't do anything to you but make you clean and comfortable. If you don't like this gown, I can take you to where there are others choices. You are on my island home in the Mediterranean Sea. I said I wanted answers from you, and short of torture, this seemed to be the best way to get your attention."

Maliha looked around. She could see olive trees nearby, with their evergreen leaves and gnarled trunks. Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore. Or Chicago, either.

She shook her head and regretted it. Dizziness made the world swirl around her.

"The dizziness will wear off. It's from the drug. I'm a skilled physician. You needn't worry about any permanent effects."

"You can take your torture and your permanent effects and this gown"—she grabbed a handful of the fabric—"and shove them up your ass. I'm leaving here now." She stood up and the dizziness was worse. Sitting back down, she said, "I'm leaving here in a few minutes. You should know this isn't the Stone Age. You don't knock a woman on the head with your caveman's club, drag her home, and expect cooperation."

"I've taken women without their consent. But I've matured since then."

"That does it. I'm out of here."

She stood up and began to walk away in spite of the dizziness. Instantly he was in front of her, his hand grasping her wrist tightly enough to signal that he wasn't going to let her just swim off the island. Even though it was a restraining move, his touch stirred something in her. There was no denying that she was physically attracted to him. Relaxed in his own home, with the breeze stirring the curtains on long windows, patches of sunlight on tile floors, and the scent of the Mediterranean in the air, he wore loose shorts and nothing else. She could see the mark of his demon on his chest, faintly pulsing with power.

"I wish you'd stop doing that," she said. "I never did anything that annoying when I was Ageless. Are you going to let me leave?"

"I'd rather you didn't."

His grip on her wrist loosened and his hand slid up her arm all the way to her bare shoulder, leaving an invisible trail of sexual sparks.

"We're not finished," he said. "In fact we haven't even started. You haven't answered my questions about your rogue status. Plus I … " He paused and gave her a slow, appreciative look down her body and back up again, ending by gazing directly into her eyes. He had expressive brown eyes, and at the moment they were expressing passion.

Maliha's legs felt a little weak and warmth radiated from low in her abdomen. He could turn on a rock.

His hand on her shoulder strayed and swept slowly across her body just above where her breasts filled the soft gown. He was very close to her now, close enough to bend and kiss her shoulder. Then his arm moved around her waist and he pulled her against him.

Whoa, girl, don't forget this is a demon's servant and a stone-cold killer. I think it's time to toss a little cold water. Remember that business about taking women without their consent.

She raised her knee to strike his groin, but he caught her leg and gave it a painful jerk. She ended up on her back on the marble floor. He offered her a hand up. She took it, planted both of her feet into his hard, flat belly, and flipped him over her head. He never made it to the floor in a body flop as intended. He twisted like a cat in mid-air, landed on his feet, and ended with a move that left her arm and shoulder half a second way from breaking. She rotated on the floor to face him, taking the pressure off her limb.

"So you like to play," she said. "I've done this cat-and-mouse thing with another demon's slave and he came out the worse for it. Don't think I can't do the same to you."

His face, so warm and welcoming just seconds ago, had taken on a look that frightened her. She thought of all the murderous power contained in his body, no matter how attractive the packaging.

"You are mistaken if you think a cat and a mouse are in this room. A tiger and a mouse are here, and I see no stripes on you."

The words were delivered coldly. She'd switched off both his good will and his lust.

He pulled her up from the floor, gathered her gown in his fist and kept lifting, holding her a foot up in the air with one hand. Lucius brought her to within an inch of his face and paused there. She expected to be flung backwards with murderous force.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
`


Thanks Dakota for being here today, it's been an honor! And you're welcome to come back anytime.

All I can say is WOW, I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of Sacrifice: Mortal Path Book Two! I have so many questions that need to be answered!

Now for the giveaway! The wonderful Dakota Banks not only gave us her words of wisdom and the treat of the excellent excerpt from Sacrifice: Mortal Path Book Two, but she's willing to giveaway a copy of Dark Time: Mortal Path Book One to one lucky commenter.



So, here are the rules:

1. Leave a comment or a question for Dakota, we'd really enjoy hearing from you and she'll be stopping by throughout the day (please include your email address, it will make it easier to track down the winner!).
2. This is an international giveaway, if you have an address on this planet, (hmmm I'll have to check on extra planetary visitors), you are welcome to enter.
3. If you follow this blog, you can have an extra entry. (Don't feel you have to follow. You still get the original entry.)
4. If you spread the word about the contest, let me know, and I give you another entry.
5. This contest will run for one week, so on my daughter's birthday (10-15-09), at midnight anywhere, (that means the next morning for me, lol), I'll let randomizer draw a winner.
6. Most importantly, have fun!!

That's it....nothing difficult.....so start commenting and good luck!

42 comments:

Cecile said...

Hey Dottie ***waving***!!
What a wonderful new author to be introduced to! Thank you! Hello Ms. Banks! It is a pleasure to meet you!

The books sounds very intriguing! And I love the words of wisdom! So, there is not perfect time to write... just do it... *Nike*!

Well, Dottie, you know that I will pimp this out once I get home honey! And you know I stalk you already, lmao!
Have a wonderful day ladies!!

Beleth said...

Thank you, i didnt knew this writer. Now i would love to read her books :D it sounds very interesting!
battyaboutbats at gmail.com

Patricia Altner said...

I certainly enjoyed this interview. Thanks to Dakota and Dottie!

Having heard many good things about Dark Time, it would be wonderful to win a copy.

Bella said...

Wow, sounds like an awesome series! Thanks for introducing me to this author and for the preview of book 2 so far in advance! Thanks for the interview and the giveaway!

I am a follower, I retweeted, and I posted the contest on FB.

Thanks!
~bella
b42bellaATgmailDOTcom

Blodeuedd said...

Hi Dottie and Dakota :)
This book just looks great, and sounds great too. She does look rather kickass in that cover.

My question would be:
Speaking of that kickass cover, you much say did you have in it?

blodeuedd1 at gmail dot com

Gonna go pimp

host said...

HI! Very interesting post, and this applies to anything you want to accomplish - you have to start doing it! Thanks for the great giveaway.

franalokas(at)yahoo(dot)com

I've put a link to this giveaway on my blog(sidebar):http://angel-on-a-move.blogspot.com/

Dakota Banks said...

Cecile - "Just do it" sums up how I got started writing. In fact, I could have used that and had a very short post!

Beleth - I'm new in the paranormal genre and trying to get my name out there, so no surprise that you didn't know me. You do now and I hope you'll look up Dark Time. Try your local library. If they don't have it, request it. I'm a terrific supporter of libraries!

Dakota Banks said...

Patricia - I'm glad you enjoyed the post. :-)

Bella - My thanks go to Dottie for giving me the opportunity for a guest post and enough space for an excerpt, too. Yay, Dottie!

Dakota Banks said...

Blodeuedd - Interesting question about the Dark Time cover. I was asked for my input and I suggested Maliha from the back facing into a dramatic ancient temple.

Much to my surprise, the cover came out very much like that, except that Maliha is showing a lot of skin and holding two sai (trident weapons), which aren't mentioned in the book. I commented on both of these and was told that 1) skin sells; and 2) sai are dramatic.

The original cover art for the book is stunning and only a small part (I'd guess about 35%) is actually used on the book. Outside the book area, Maliha is in a building with a very high arched ceiling. The ceiling suggests pairs of bony fingers clasped together far above her head. The supporting columns seem to be closing in on her, and in a niche on one side the artist tucked in a demon. On the opposite wall from the demon, there are rows and rows of lighted candles, representing Maliha's redemption. On the book cover, you can just begin to see the rows of candles. It's highly symbolic and done by a talented artist who really got the book. My jaw dropped when I saw the cover art, which I saw well before the actual cover design that uses only a piece of it.

Dakota Banks said...

Host - Looking back on it, it amazes me that I spent so much time waiting for the perfect moment to write. I had an idyllic version of the writing life, maybe me in an isolated cabin pounding out memorable chapters by firelight. Perhaps some people actually get to do that, but at least in my case I had to add writing on to the rest of my life. Wowee, it works! And there's always the hope that I'll get that cabin someday.

Mandi said...

I love to hear how authors got started writing and anything about their process of writing..lovely post!!

My Blog 2.0 (Dottie) said...

Hi Dakota!

Thanks for a great guest post this morning. Unfortunately, my internet has been tenuous due to thunderstorms here in central Illinois.

I loved Maliha, how she finds her balance, the re-insertion of her conscious, and how she decides the right the wrongs. I do love kick-ass heroines and the alpha males they attract, lol.

And I'm dying to know....who or what is Jake Stackman???? Ah....Can't wait for Sacrifice!! (and now I need to figure out this Lucius character....)

Dottie :)

Lea said...

Hi Ms. Banks and Dottie!

What a well thought out and written post. The excerpt from "Sacrifice" sounds excellent. The cover art is exceptional and definitely intriguing.

I would love to read you story!

Thanks so much for stopping by Dottie's and to her for hosting the Giveaway!!

Best to you both. :)

Dakota Banks said...

About that mountain cabin I mentioned earlier that was my idyllic view of writing--I just now realized that I subconsciously put that dream cabin into Dark Time. One of the characters Maliha consults for information lives "in a small log cabin at ease with its surroundings of pine trees and mountains." Maliha loves the place and immediately decides to get one like it for herself. How's that for an author identifying with her character? I was unaware of it as I wrote it!

Dakota Banks said...

Mandi - I've heard some authors talk about how they got started, but they rarely talk about personal doubts or fears. I'm really down to earth, definitely the kind of neighbor who'll wave and say hi when I'm taking out the trash. I could be your neighbor. >>hi!<<

I put my all into every book I write and I strive to improve with every book. I can't imagine doing anything else. That's another tip: if you aren't driven to be a writer, don't be. It isn't something you can do half-heartedly.

My Blog 2.0 (Dottie) said...

Hi Dakota!

I find myself identifying with a lot of different heroines for different reasons. Wow, I just realized that.

Too cool that your subconscious is implanting ideas for you to use in your books! I wonder what it will come up with next?

Dottie :)

Dakota Banks said...

Dottie - I think the same storm that hit you came through the St. Louis area earlier. I live just west of the city. It's been raining most of the day here.

I wanted to work with a character who had a seriously bad history and see what happened to her when it began to bother her that people were dying so that she could stay young, beautiful, and immortal.

She started out a good person then had a long period in her life when she was anything but good. For her it was as though she gradually came out of a trance--a killing trance--and realized that her "targets" were good people as she used to be, people with emotions and and loved ones. Try to put yourself in a paranormal situation like that. What do you feel when you slowly get your conscience back? Great shame? Anger at yourself and the demon? Horror that you've helped spread evil in the world? And the biggest question, what do you do from now on?

Maliha has "moral dilemma" written all over her, and faces choice after choice in her new life that test her.

To tell the truth when I wrote the ending for Dark Time, even I wasn't sure who or what Jake was. I know now, though!

Dakota Banks said...

Lea - Oh, please, call me Dakota. Ms. Banks is somebody else. :-) Thanks for your compliments on the post. I sweated over it, thinking I was taking the wrong tone and would turn people off. When I sent it to Dottie, I told her that if she didn't like it, I'd revise it right away. She left it as is, which might have been because I was so late submitting it, only a day in advance. By that time I could have copied an article out of Wikipedia and she probably would have published it. Just kidding! Dottie runs a great blog full of high-class stuff. Makes me wonder how I got on here...

Blanche said...

Hi Ms. Banks and Dottie!!!

I'm very intrigued as well, as you know Dottie I seem to stick more to cowboys than paranormals but this really does sound like an intersting book!! Very neat interview!!

I am a follower (I am right?....I mean to be, so if I'm not tell me so I can fix that HUGE oversight!) and I'm pimping the contest in my sidebar!

Dakota Banks said...

Dottie - About my subconscious planting ideas in the books. I do have a goal to be a bestselling author, and now that we are talking about this idea, I remember that Maliha is an author in her "day job," something she has to have to show a plausible income and be able to have a credit card so she won't have to pay with gold bars and diamonds from her wealth accumulated over the years.

Maliha intended to earn just enough with her writing to establish plausibility, but unexpectedly her novels became huge bestsellers. Hmm...

Patti said...

Hi Dottie! Love your site - I'm your 100th follower :)

This sounds like a great series!

I will post on my contest sidebar:
www.sleeplessinneworleans2.blogspot.com

Thanks!!!

donnas said...

Great post. Thanks for sharing.

I loved the excerpt and would love to be entered to win book one.

How many books are you planning in the series?

I am a follower.

Posted on the sidebar here: http://donnasbloghome.blogspot.com/

bacchus76 at myself dot com

Dakota Banks said...

Donnas - I'd like to have six or seven books in the Mortal Path series, allowing time for the two story arcs to come to natural conclusions.

Donna [Fantasy Dreamer's Ramblings] said...

Enjoyed this post! Thanks for sharing a piece of Sacrifice, I'm looking forward to reading it all. I really enjoyed reading Dark Time, and the ending was such a clincher.

**Dottie don't entry me in the contest. I'll be posting about this contest. Thanks!!

kalynnick said...

I would to be enter win the book. Thanks

kalynnick AT yahoo DOT com

ddurance said...

Thanks for sharing your journey with us Dakota.

I'm a follower.

Deidre
deidre_durance at hotmail dot com

CallMeKayla said...

I love the cover!

kaylajohnson3969@sbcglobal.net

I Heart Book Gossip said...

+1 Dakota, do you listen to anything when writing? The wind? Music, or maybe a little Jazz?

+1 Follower

+1 Blogged

http://juniperrbreeeze.blogspot.com/2009/10/october-contests.html

cindyc725 at gmail dot com

Teddyree said...

OMG I thought this one sounded awesome when you reviewed it Dottie and after reading Dakota Banks' fantastic guest post, I'm dying to read it!

Dakota I really enjoyed reading about your journey in writing and the huge leap of faith you took writing in a new genre. I for one can't wait to try it! Stunning cover for Dark Time, love it :-)

Please count me in Dottie

I'm a follower and I've posted this on the sidebar of my blog The Eclectic Reader

teddyree[at]optusnet[dot]com[dot]au

Bethie said...

Wow! I love that you knew from the age of 8 that you wanted to be a writer. Great post.

lizzi0915 at aol dot com

throuthehaze said...

I'm new to this author but this book sounds like something I would enjoy. I really like the cover of the book.

I am a follower

throuthehaze at gmail dot com

~Sia McKye~ said...

Dottie, I knew there was a reason I liked you, aside from the great blog, your wonderful comments on my blog, and your guests. My Bday is the same as your daughters, lol!

Dakota, it's important to follow kicking of your muse. It took courage to fire a proven agent and look for one that would represent the rest of your creative journeys.

The new series sounds good.

Curious: having had several books under your belt, did that help with getting an agent? Did you submit it as a proposal?

I'll have to check with my bookstore.

Llehn said...

Hello Dakota,

It's nice to meet you here. I was wondering if anything from your real has ever made it into one of your books, with embellishment of course. Can you give an example? Thanks.

I'm a follower.

lesly7ch(at)yahoo(dot)com

RKCharron said...

Hi :)
Thank you for having Dakota Banks on your site.
Thanks to Dakota for sharing here.
I took the words of advice to heart.
I also loved the excellent excerpt.
All the best,
RKCharron
xoxo
PS - New Member here
PPS - email's in Blogger Profile

Dakota Banks said...

I Heart Book Gossip - Most of the time I have silence when I write because I tend to do so in the early morning hours. I get most of my writing done between 11pm-5am. If I do want to listen to music, it's classical. I can't listen to music with lyrics, especially my favorites, because I get caught up in singing them, aloud or mentally. Singing brain does not equal productive writing brain, for me. I do love to listen to rain while writing, either gentle rain or thunderstorms.

Teddyree - Thanks for your comment on the leap of faith that brought me to switch genres. Writers, you have to believe in yourself first, in order to convince anyone else to do so!

Bethie - I think most writers know from an early age that they want to become authors. The question is, will they follow through or will writing remain the road not taken?

Sia McKye - Having written several books did help somewhat when searching for a new agent, but my previous books weren't in the urban fantasy genre. So it was almost like starting over in terms of convincing an agent I could appeal to a different group of readers. Normally I would sell on the basis of a proposal (a synopsis and 30-50 pages of the book), but in this case I had to write the entire book to demonstrate the ability to switch genres. Also, I was going for the cream of the agent crop, most of whom only take on clients by recommendation. I had to give it my best shot (the whole book) rather than hope a proposal would be convincing enough.

Dakota Banks said...

Llehn - The first thing that comes to mind from my real life that made it into the books is that my son has a Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do. He and a good friend of mine have provided inspiration for some of the action scenes in the book. I have Maliha's throwing stars on my desk, and I've tried my hand at using them. To my surprise, I can actually stick them in a tree rather than have them bounce off, but that's a long way from Maliha's skill level! Watch out world, if I ever get my hands on a genuine whip sword. Strangely enough, suppliers are reluctant to sell to sincere, well-meaning purchasers like me due to the danger factor. I haven't been able to sweet-talk one yet.

I think that the humor occasionally used in Dark Time, especially in the chats among Maliha and her friends, is all me. I'd like to think that the hope she brings to her challenges and her desire to help all humankind in addition to completing her own quest spring directly from me.

Paradox said...

To Dakota: What was your first published story about? I'm curious. :)

paradoxrevealed (at) aim (dot) com

blackroze37yahoo.com said...

love dakota humor\follwer

Dakota Banks said...

Paradox - I'll tell you about my first published story if you promise not to laugh. I was 8 years old, and this was heady stuff to me at the time.

The story focused on a character who lived in a regimented society in which there was no freedom of thought, emotion, or job. Everyone else seemed content to live this way, but he wanted something more. When he expressed this to his co-workers, they thought he was bizarre. Finally he couldn't stand it and left the city to live in the freedom of the countryside. Narrowly escaping with his life, he realizes at the end that he has no idea how to live on his own without the things that the city routinely provided, and so faces a very uncertain future in the wild--but at least he exercised choice to be there. In the last couple of sentences, we learn that the character is an ant.

The idea is trite and derivative to an adult, but I didn't know enough yet to realize that.

Dakota Banks said...

Thanks for having me as a guest, Dottie!

My Blog 2.0 (Dottie) said...

Hi Cecile!

You are entered!

Hi Beleth!

You are entered!

Hi Patricia!

You are entered!

Hi Bella!

Love the name, you are entered!

Hi Blodeuedd!

You are entered my friend!

Hi host!

You are entered!

Hi Mandi!

You are entered!

Hi Lea!

You are entered too!!

Hi Blanche!

You are entered!

Hi Patti!

You are entered!

Hi donnas!

You are entered!

Hi Donna!

Thanks for the pimpage!

Hi kalynnick!

You are entered!

Hi ddurance!

You are entered!

Hi CallMKayla!

You are entered!

Hi IHeartBookGossip!

You are entered!

Hi Teddyree!

Extra room yet? You are entered!

Hi Bethie!

You are entered!

Hi throughthehaze!

You are entered!

Hi Sia!

You are entered! & Happy Birthday!!

Hi Llehn!

You are entered!

Hi RKCharron!

You are entered!

Hi Paradox!

You are entered!

Hi Blackroze37!

You are entered!

Lots of multiple entries!

((hugs))

Dottie :)

My Blog 2.0 (Dottie) said...

***Contest Closed****

First, Thanks Dakota for offering this great book as a giveaway! It was excellent!

Thanks everyone for entering and making this a great contest!!

Time to let randomizer do it's thing!

((hugs))

Dottie :)

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