Sunday, February 21, 2016

Chocolates, First Loves and Book Crushes: Dana Elmendorf (Interview + Giveaway)

Chocolates, First Loves and Book Crushes is a blog event featuring debut authors answering questions that I have sent them as they talk  about their Valentine's day routines, love, book crushes and more. For a list of all the participating authors, check it out here.

Born and raised in small town in Tennessee, Dana now lives in southern California with her husband, two boys and her tiny dog. When she isn't exercising, she can be found geeking out with Mother Nature or scouring the internet for foreign indie bands. After her family’s needs are met, you can find her dreaming up contemporary YA romances with plenty of kissing. Rep'd by Lauren MacLeod with The Strothman Agency.

FIND DANA : Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram

1.    Have you always seen Valentine’s as an important event? What do you usually do on Valentine’s Day?
  • Valentines is SO important. It’s the one day a year I can go overboard and show my husband how important he is to me. We used to spend romantic dinners together but now that we have kids, we kind of make it a family day of love. I usually make heart shaped pancakes for the kids. My husband and my two boys go out and get steaks, flowers for mom and my favorite chocolate covered strawberries. My 10yo usually makes me a homemade card, which I always cherish. And a cute romantic tradition between us is how my husband signs his cards to me. His name is Chris to everyone but his full Greek name is Christos, so he signs all his love notes to me with Christos. 

2. What is your fondest memory about Valentine’s Day? Can you go into details about it?
  • The best Valentine’s I’ve ever had was about 18 months after our first son was born. We were so broke we couldn’t afford much. We made a deal to spend only $20 on gift for each other and it had to be homemade. My husband, who knows how to cook eggs and boil water, learned how to cook Greek chicken from his brother. He made a salad (not from the bag) and steamed green beans on the side. It was the best meal. My gift to him, I bought a lot of discount fabrics, cut up all my husband's old college t-shirts and made him a quilt. To this day we still use the quilt in our living room and that was over 13 years ago. Out of all the Valentine’s gifts my husband and I have exchanged over the last 20 years, it’s the only present I can remember us giving each other. Best Valentine’s ever. 

3. What has always been your idea of the perfect date?
  • Dinner and movies is fine when you’re first starting to get to know someone, but for me, spending a day outdoors hiking, exploring nature would be the perfect date. I love nature, so if a guy lets me geek out over the animals, insects and plants then he’s a keeper.

4. Has it always been a walk in the park or had there been any Valentine’s Day disasters you’ve encountered? (Maybe about your own or someone you know who you would like to share)
  • The worst Valentine’s ever was in high school. It was a big deal if a girl got flowers at school, especially a dozen red roses. My high school sweetheart was planning something, I was hoping for flowers but expected balloons (they were cheaper.) To my surprise he got me pink carnations. Which they weren’t roses but hey, they were flowers. Until I found out that another girl got a dozen red roses from a secret admirer…which ended up being from my boyfriend. I was so devastated. I felt like a fool. Worst Valentine’s ever.

5. Can you tell us about your first love? What was he/she like? 
  • My first love was the guy I mentioned in the previous question. We were together for almost 2 years; it should have never gone past one. I believe I was more in love with him, than he was me. I think that kept me from seeing that he was cheating on me with a girl who lived down the street from me. For years that relationship haunted me. I think there’s just no way around heartache.

6. Any book crushes/boyfriends?
  • I LOVE Jay from THE BODY FINDER by Kimberly Derting. I even have their make-out scene flagged in the book. (pg. 214) I’ll reference to it when I need good make-out scene inspiration. I love Jay because he’s the good guy, boy-next-door type and he’s so in love with Violet. He’s also protective over her but in a loving way. He’s my book boyfriend for sure. 

7. Are the characters in your upcoming novel big romantics or total party poopers?
  • They are total romantics. I’m such a hopeless romantic, I don’t know if I could write a main character that wasn’t. (Or if I did, I’d turn their sour puss into a romantic by the end of the book!) In SOUTH OF SUNSHINE, Kaycee, my main character, has a “hearts in nature” theory. She believes that hearts abound in nature, like little love notes from the universe, telling you to pay attention. Everybody should go find their love note.

8. If you can go out on a date with a character in your book, who would it be and why?
  • Besides Jay from THE BODY FINDER? Adam from ENDLESS SUMMER by Jennifer Echols. He’s a blast, totally funny and makes the worst decisions ever, which means it will always be interesting when you’re with him. Plus, he seems like a great kisser. I’m a sucker for a good kisser.

9. What would you like to say to any reader out there this Valentine’s season?
  • If you have someone special to spend the day with, count your blessings and do something fun and unforgettable. It doesn’t have to cost much when you’re making memories. If you don’t have someone special, don’t let yourself fall into that “anti-Valentine’s” grump-fest that sometimes happens. Keeping your heart open and full of love gives that special someone the chance to find you. 

Title: South of Sunshine
Author: Dana Elmendorf
Publication: April 1st 2016, Albert Whitman


What is Kaycee willing to risk for the sake of love?
And what will she risk for acceptance?

In Sunshine, Tennessee, the main event in town is Friday night football, the biggest party of the year is held in a field filled with pickup trucks, and church attendance is mandatory. For Kaycee Jean McCoy, life in Sunshine means dating guys she has no interest in, saying only “yes, ma’am” when the local bigots gossip at her mom’s cosmetics salon, and avoiding certain girls at all costs. Girls like Bren Dawson.

Unlike Kaycee, Bren doesn’t really conceal who she is. But as the cool, worldly new girl, nobody at school seems to give her any trouble. Maybe there’s no harm if Kaycee gets closer to her too, as long as she can keep that part of her life a secret, especially from her family and her best friend. But the more serious things get with Bren, the harder it is to hide from everyone else. Kaycee knows Sunshine has a darker side for people like her, and she’s risking everything for the chance to truly be herself.

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