Saturday, October 10, 2015

"34 Seconds" by Stella Samuel

34 Seconds
by Stella Samuel

34 Seconds, the debut novel by Stella Samuel, is currently on tour with Indie Minions. The tour stops here today for my interview with the author, an excerpt, and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

Nikki and Will fell in love a lifetime ago in Deltaville, Virginia. Now living in Colorado with her family, Nikki is invited to attend Will’s wedding back in Virginia where she finds her past staring her in the face.
Will never wanted a wife, and he broke Nikki’s heart long ago. Nikki knew what she wanted: a strong, happy marriage and children, a future. She found those things when she married Chris, and she and Will managed to grow their friendship after heartbreak.
A year after the wedding, Nikki is faced with her painful past again. She soon discovers she must find the strength to help Will on his own personal journey. In thirty-four seconds, she sees him slip from her life forever. Watching Will cross over to his fate, her past collides with her present, and Nikki learns she’s never been in control of her own destiny. Her own journey back to her family in Colorado becomes one of self-discovery. With the help of Will’s voice to carry her across the country, Nikki must decide how she will move forward.

Will’s voice continued from the stereo, “Please go, Nikki. Go live your life to the fullest. Love hard and fierce. Don’t fear. Talk it out with those you care for, and don’t let anyone into your life that cannot offer you something. In turn, don’t offer anyone something you cannot give, but don’t let time scare you into not living. Time is borrowed. Time is never certain as much as we think it might be. Time will not be controlled. Make choices that empower you. Never think about leaving this world wondering what may have been different if…”
His voice paused. I stared across I70 in the middle of Kansas, with a wet face, matted hair, tears and sweat running down my chest, wondering if I could do any of what he asked of me. I could forgive him. I had to. Could l walk around obstacles? Could I live and love fiercely without fear? I was so scared. In that moment, I was terrified.

Praise for the Book
"The ending made my cry. Powerful first book." ~ Jeffrey on Goodreads

Interview With the Author
Hi Stella, thanks for joining me today to discuss your new book, 34 Seconds.
For what age group do you recommend your book?
Most definitely adults, there are some adult content scenes in it. But even more narrowed, people over 25 years old, and even narrower, parents. Or moms.
What sparked the idea for this book?
I lost two people I loved dearly. One was my father, and I felt I needed some closure on the possibility I’d never go back to the little town where he’d lived for thirty five years, Deltaville, Virginia. So I set much of this book in that town, as sort of an homage to a place I love. I’d also lost a dear friend of mine to suicide. He’d never wanted to be married, never wanted children, and I often wondered if he’d lived his whole life waiting to die. Will has many of his characteristics, both songwriters, spiral curls that always hung in his face, and they share some personality traits.

Deltaville, Virginia

So, which comes first? The character's story or the idea for the novel?
My characters usually come first, but as they evolve, they often write the story. It’s true when writers say characters talk to us. 34 Seconds was a different book until I had my characters in their places.
What was the hardest part to write in this book?
The scene with Will dying was very difficult. Nikki counting the seconds between his breaths was certainly a scene that brought me tears while writing. But, the toughest scenes for me were the ones where Will had fallen, leaving those that loved him helpless, almost hopeless, and Will without dignity in his last hours.
How do you hope this book affects its readers?
I guess I hope we all live our lives full of love, full of life, hope, and understanding. All too often, we live in anger, we make decisions based on the cards we think we have been dealt without trying to find solutions that will give us peace.
How long did it take you to write this book?
The process took me years, but that’s because my story changed. Once I got settled and was okay with my decision to make major changes, I had it written in about ten months. Editing took another few months.
What is your writing routine?
I like quiet. I like wine or coffee, depending on the time of day. And I have to have music. I’ve had moments where, if the music isn’t right, I can’t get into the groove I need, so I’ll change that until it fits with the scenes. In the summer, I love to write outside at my patio bar. In the winter, which is when I am most productive, I sit in my office with essential oils diffusing for mood and several half empty coffee cups lying around.
How did you get your book published?
I self-published on CreateSpace and Kindle, which are both Amazon companies. In the coming months, I’ll push the ebook out to different venues.
What advice do you have for someone who would like to become a published writer?
First and foremost, write. Even if it’s not fluent, even if it’s not a cohesive story, even if it’s simple, write every day. Form that habit, find the passion. Once there, join support and/or critique groups; there are several very good ones, and several more not so great ones, online. Get involved in your community; many of your readers might be local first. And finally, be open to learning from others.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I have three children and two Saint Bernard dogs. I love spending time with my family. We hike, run, garden, and entertain.
What does your family think of your writing?
My children are young, so they don’t know this book, but they are proud. I was in a parent-teacher conference last week, and my son told his teacher about my book. My husband is very supportive. I think he’s proud to see me doing what I’ve loved doing for so long.
Fantastic! Please tell us a bit about your childhood.
I was born in Colorado, but raised for much of my childhood in Deltaville, Virginia. We had a large family, and we all lived on the same street. This meant my cousins were my first true friends, we spent every major holiday together, spent summers on a boat, beach, or hanging from a dock collecting crabs from crab pots. Looking back, my favorite times were the crab picking days we’d spend as a family.
Did you like reading when you were a child?
I loved reading when I was younger. I would devour books. Now as a result, I read four or five at a time.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
As soon as I learned to write, I was writing stories, so I knew very early on I wanted to be a writer. This is the first time in my life I’ve had time, or created time maybe, to make it happen every day and follow through with it.
Did your childhood experiences influence your writing?
Yes, as well as the things I’ve been through as an adult and the things I see in others’ lives.
Which writers have influenced you the most?
James Rollins is a big one for me. He’s so nice, connects with his readers, and he inspires me. Colleen Hoover I feel I can relate to. She was a mom with a job outside of the home, and loved to write. If I’m getting her story correct, she wrote a book for her mother, published it on Kindle so her family could read it, and people discovered her writing through Kindle. I was one of those readers. I think it was after reading her first book and her personal story, I was inspired to research how I could publish so I could share my work as well.
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
I’m really new to the scene as an author, so most of my readers are people I know on some level. They are very supportive. Everyone I’ve asked to read 34 Seconds was honest with their thoughts. I look forward to hearing from readers that discover me and would like to connect.
What can we look forward to from you in the future?
I wrote a new book last year. Right now it’s called Just Jules, but as I wrote it, I realized it’s not really just Jules. Jules is surrounded by love and fear of love. She’s a mom afraid to love anyone but her son, but she’s finds she’s unable to stop true love from happening. Love is a force we can’t often control. I’m not sure when it will be released, as it’s in editing right now, but I hope by summer 2016. I have two other books in progress, but I tend to put working projects down when I get to a certain point with one further along.
Thank you for taking the time to stop by today, Stella. Best of luck with your future projects.
Thank you so very much for having me. Sharing my story along with my book is very humbling, and I’m honored to be here.

About the Author
Stella Samuel is a debut author who reads multiple genres. Her first book, 34 Seconds, talks about the moments where life changes suddenly, and the choices we make in those moments where the people that hold parts of ourselves from the past meet. A literate and lyrical view at love, life and fate, this story is both uplifting and satisfying.
Stella lives in Colorado with her husband, three children, two cats, and two beautiful Saint Bernards. She's been writing for years, but decided to begin publishing once her children were in school and away from home a few hours each day. She enjoys writing, reading, watching children laugh, and music.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win a $25 gift card or signed copy of 34 Seconds by Stella Samuel.