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Friday, 12 April 2013

Blog Tour and Interview: Enlightened- Melissa Lummis

 Title: Enlightened
Author: Melissa Lummis
Genre: Paranormal
Tour Host: Lady Amber's Tours

Loti Dupree’s meager healing abilities have been more a curse than a blessing.  What’s the point if she can’t even save her husband from cancer?  Harboring a painful secret, Loti flees the life they had in a small Appalachian town for the ashram, the spiritual retreat where she trained to be a yogini.  But she finds herself running from more than grief when an ominous nightmare sets her on a dangerous path of self-discovery that challenges everything she believes, and threatens her life.
While dodging psychic attacks from an unknown assailant, Loti races to understand who and what she is before her enemy can catch up with her. To make matters worse, events throw her into the arms of a handsome but frustrating vampire.  Love and light are waiting for her—if she can only figure out how to stay alive.
Loti Dupree fears she may have lost her soul.  Harboring a painful secret, she flees her life in a small Appalachian town for the spiritual retreat where she trained to be a yogini. But an ominous nightmare sets her on a dangerous path of self-discovery that challenges everything she believes, threatens her life, and throws her into the arms of a handsome but frustrating vampire.  Love and light are waiting for her—if she can only figure out how to stay alive.
Tag Lines
What do you get when you mix vampires, yogis and healers? Enlightened!

Vampires and healers and yogis, OH MY!  There’s light and love waiting for Loti Dupree, if only she can figure out how to stay alive.

Author Interview Questions for Melissa Lummis

1). Can you explain what your book is about and what inspired you to write it?
Enlightened is about learning who you are and how to love and forgive yourself.  It starts out with a magical accident in the basement of the Metaphysics lab and library of Clark College, and then jumps to our Loti having another in a series of nightmares about her deceased husband. She’s depressed and haunted by the death of her husband and a mysterious unknown assailant who enters her dreams and her house to get to her.  While she’s trying to figure out what’s going on she runs into our broody hero, Wolf the vampire.  
This is the first of the Love and Light Series, and book 2 is scheduled to release next month, May 2013.  The idea for the series started about 15 years ago, while I was hiking the Appalachian Trail.  I met upwith a great bunch of hikers and during the last two months of that hike several of us banded together for moral support and called ourselves the Tribe.  It got me thinking—which you have plenty of time to do hiking 8 hours a day—about what it would be like to live as a tribe on the Trail year round.  And why would you do that?  That’s where I got the idea for the Travelers in Enlightened.  As a matter of fact, I wrote a story just about the Travelers. Then I started studying to be a yoga teacher and this whole world of subtle energy theory exploded in my mind.  Among energy workers (Acupuncturists, etc.) energetic healers are sometimes referred to as light walkers.  The two ideas (Travelers and light walkers) started interacting in my mind.  And I have always been an avid vampire fan—from Love Bites to Twilight, yes, even sparkly vamps do it for me—so it all came together in Enlightened and the Love and Light series.  Whew! *wipes brow*  Does that make sense?

2). How long did it take you to get your book written and published?
From the time I got the idea for Enlightened specifically it took me 2 years to write, edit and publish it.  But I must say that once I “got serious” about being published and set some deadlines, it took me 8 months.

3). What is your favorite part of Enlightened and why?

That’s a tough one.  I love the entire story, but I come back to the drum circle scene and Wolf and Loti’s time in his underground lair over and over.  Why? They are the hottest scenes, and because they are the most emotionally intense parts, revealing both character’s weaknesses and strengths, their histories and how they come together as a couple.  It’s the push and pull and finally, surrendering to what is that gets me. In a nut shell, I’m still a sucker for romance.

4). What was the hardest part in your book to write and why?

The scene at the lotus shrine.  I didn’t want it to come off cheesy, and, trying not to give too much awayhere, the tribe is near and dear to my heart.  As I said in a previous question, I based the Travelers on my hiking buddies and the crew has a snap and rapport I didn’t want to belittle or make too slapstick, although they aren’t above pratfalls in real life.  It was hard to write the spiritual metaphysics, too, without making it seem over the top. But something big is going down and even though I could feel it and see itclearly in my own mind and body, it was challenging to write.  It’s like trying to describe what enlightenment is: hard to say, easy to feel.

5). Who is your favorite character from Enlightened and why?

Again, I love them all, but my favorite character right now is Fiamette. She’s been bugging me to write her story lately, so I am.  Her series, The Little Flame, will be out next January 2014 and it’s edgy, but so isFia.  That’s one of the reasons I love her so much: she tells it like it is and lives her life the way she needs to without apologies.  She’s got a heart of gold, for the most part, but she’s had to be tough to survive.  That makes her come off as unfeeling and judgmental at times, but the more you get to know her, the more you realize you want her on your side.  

6). If one of your characters miraculously had a voice, what would they say?

Sticking with Fiamette, she’d say, “Get a grip and get over yourself.  No one promised you life would be easy and no one owes you a damn thing.  So you have to make life what you want it to be.  Maybe its not always pretty but it is your life.  Don’t be afraid to live it.”

7). What made you decide to write a paranormal novel?

I’m a big paranormal fan.  My favorite PR writers are Angela Knight and Charlaigne Harris; as well asLaurell K. Hamilton and Anne Rice.  I’ve been watching werewolf and vampire movies all my life and I’m a sucker for a good witch story.  I love the magic and the lore and the thrill of the metaphysical.  While I do like a good historical novel or contemporary romance, why stick to the mundane when you can jazz up your escapist reading with spells and shape shifters?

8). This cover is great. How did you decide on the final product? Do you think it connects with the story?
There’s a little story behind this cover.  I had the idea in my head and was trying to convey it to my cover artist, Stephanie Nelson. The title, Enlightened, is a play on words as in “would you enlighten me on that topic” and the spiritual concept of enlightenment as in the “Buddha achieved enlightenment”.   I wanted the cover to convey both concepts and I thought a lotus flower and some sort of image of Loti with closed eyes and light emanating from her would work.  Well, I’m not very good at explaining the images in my head, so I made a bad mockup of what I wanted.  Stephanie at first was reluctant to do it and even let me know she thought that another artist might be better at creating the style I was looking for.  I thanked her for being honest and shelved it for a few months.  About two months before I was done writing the novel, Stephanie pops up on my Facebook messenger with the cover.  I was floored! She’d nailed it despite my pathetic attempts to describe it, and she said she’d never done a cover like that before.  I think she’s anincredibly talented cover artist.  And writer.

9). Do you have a writing routine that you follow?

When I’m in the groove and working on a project, I tend to become a little obsessive.  I will write night and day for three to four days straight with ear buds planted in my ears blasting Skrillex and The Civil Wars while living on protein shakes and wine until l collapse and sleep for two days.  Not the best method, and I am learning some moderation.  When I’m trying to be reasonable, I write in the mornings, after I work out, eat breakfast and start a load of laundry.  I’ll write through my lunch, eating at my desk until it’s time formy kids to come home from school.   I used to try to write through the after school chaos right up until dinner time, but it stressed me out too much.  It’s better to shut down the lappy and engage with my family until after dinner’s been cleaned up and the kids get ready for bed.  Once they’re in bed, I make a point of spending time with my hubby and then back to work. While I still pull all-nighters, at least I’m taking breaks and eating these days. ;-)

10). What other authors and/ or books inspired you to become a writer?

All of them.  Seriously. I have been an avid reader from the time I could read simple picture books.  I particularly loved series like Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, then later the Black Stallion.  As a teenager I devoured Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Tolkien, and all other sci-fi/fantasy series I could find in the library and bookstore.  Then came Stephen King.  He’s probably my biggest influence.  From the moment I finished Carrie (I read it in one night) I was hooked and have read just about everything he’s ever written.  I’m not a horror writer, but he’s still influenced my writing heavily.  He’s the one who taught me that you have to be honest in your writing.  His characters get in your head and his stories affect you because he tells the truth, even if it’s not nice.  Especially if it’s not nice. And I was an English major in college, so the classics are mixed up in my head, too.  My favorites? Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, the Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka, and Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms.  I could go on, but I won’t.  

11). How do you come up with all your ideas?

My mind is an incredibly busy place and it likes to be engaged.   If I don’t give it new stuff to chew on regularly, it makes up scary crap for me to worry about unnecessarily.  So, I make a point of reading a ton, watching lots of movies and getting out of the house to be social and travel as much as possible.  Just the other day I took the kids to see Cirque du Soleil and my mind was reeling with ideas on the drive home.  I also make time to do nothing.  I lie in the hammock and stare at the stars or sit on the back deck and contemplate my belly button.  This is extremely important. I am not kidding.  These “down” times are probably my most creative moments, and not because thoughts are racing through my head. Quite the opposite, actually.  These are the moments when I think about nothing and let the thoughts wander aimlessly until they fade away, leaving an open and empty head.  It’s incredibly peaceful.  How do I know these moments are so important to my creativity? Because when I fail to work them into my busy schedule, I become a stress case without any good writing ideas.

12). What are you working on now, and can you give us any details?

I am currently writing the first novella in Fiamette’s Series, The Little Flame, as well as editing the 2nd book in the Love and Light series, Samskaras.  Fiamette’s story races along at 100 hundred miles per hour and is written in her voice—first person point of view.  She’s hooked up with a dubstep DJ and his crew and is touring with them as a dancer and their on-staff healer/medic.  There are too many secrets and too much spark, but that’s what makes a story fun, no?
Samskaras is more complex and takes you further into the story behind Modore and why he’s so obsessed with possessing our Light Walker, Loti.  It also plays with the concept that everything we go through in our lives contributes to who we become, and if we had the choice to change anything in our past, would we?  Should we?  Because all of it eventually adds up to the brilliant beacon of lights we become.

13). What advice would you give others who are pursuing writing?

Write.  Write some more. Keep writing.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone say, “I’d like to be a writer.”  My first question is, “What are you writing right now?”  I get mumbled responses about some poem or a bunch of notes on an idea.  Yeah, no. If you want to be a writer, write.  And read.  Learn from the masters.  If you’ve been reading since you were a kid, all the better.  Our brains are wired for story, but the more you read, the more ingrained the story formula becomes in your psyche.  And finishwriting something, anything.  Start with a short story.  Just finish the dang thing.  Then try something longer, more complex or pick up where your short story left off.   Then show it to someone and ask for honest feedback.  Be brave and trust that you won’t die from criticism.  Take what seems honest feedback and trust your gut.  It’s your story.  And make a plan for getting published, whether you want to go the traditional route or self-publish.  Do your research, ask those who’ve gone before you and never, ever give up.  If a writing career is what you want, prepare to be in it for the long haul. Very, very few writers make it overnight.  Most have worked at this for years.  Be patient.  Your time will come.

14). If you were stranded on a desert island with one of your characters, who would you pick and why?
Um, Wolf.  Yeah. Hoo, yeah.  Why?  Have you read the book?  First off, he’s hot and I wrote him the wayI’d want my hero to be. Second, he’s vampire.  He can do some amazing stuff and we wouldn’t be stranded too long; just long enough for the good stuff to go down.  *biggest grin*

Author Bio:
Melissa Lummis considers herself a truth seeker, a peaceful warrior, a paranormal and fantasy writer, an avid reader, a thru-hiker GAàME ’98, a wife, a mother, and a free thinker.  She believes the universe conspires to help an adventurer.  And if we live our lives as if it is a daring adventure (and it is!), then everything we need will find its way to us.
The author lives in rural Virginia with her husband, two children, an Alaskan Malamute and a myriad of forest creatures.  The nature of her mind dictates that she write to stay sane.  Otherwise, her fertile imagination takes off on tangents of its own accord, creating scenarios and worlds that confuse the space-time continuum. Namaste, dear friends.

Author Links   - Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Blog
Buy Links - Amazon  Barnes and Noble  Smashwords

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