Meet Dani Burke

As I've said here once or twice before, I was pretty much a closet writer up until the time my first book was published. As it turned out, I wasn't the only one who'd been holding back---soon after I made my big announcement, I found out that my aunt, Dani Burke, had also been writing a novel!  Since then we've had lots of fun going back and forth about our common passion, and I'm so very proud to announce the release of Dani's debut novel, Highway to Love.

I just received my copy from Amazon (also at Barnes and Noble & Indie Bound) and I'm so excited to get to it, especially after reading her fun answers below. 

Le Interview: 

1.  What was your biggest inspiration for writing this book---the thing that grabbed onto you and wouldn't let you let it go?

Seriously? It was my friend Mary that wouldn't let ME let it go! The first pages I wrote were about four people meeting under unusual circumstances. I kept wanting to know what would happen to them next in their journey to find love. Honestly, I didn't want the story to end. In fact, my epilogue said that very thing. I had grown so attached to my characters. The epilogue gives you a glimpse of the ongoing journey and sequel. The decision of not including this was left to my copy editor. She wanted it saved and developed more in book two. (Side Note: Book 2? Is she kidding? All my friends want Book 2 also. I just finished Book 1!)

2.  What do you think it is about Highway to Love that sets it apart from other romance novels out there?

For this I will use one of my editor's quotes: "This book is probably set apart from other romance novels in that the author maintains the protagonist's resistance to her true love for so long. Instead of there being other types of obstacles in the way of their relationship, it is Alex's own mind that keeps her from him."

3.  Which character was the most fun to write and why?

Obviously the most fun character (well, to me) was Joe. After all, who wouldn't want the perfect man? He was the most fun and interesting character for me to develop. Because he has a guarded personality, you don't really see who he really is. You wonder what he is thinking. But then sometimes he would come up with some funny comments as well as schemes to finally get the woman he loves.

4.  What has been the most surprising thing to you about the publication process, either before or after your book was released?

It amazed me that the publication process is so detailed and involved, especially the editing process. It gave me a tremendous new respect for fellow authors. I didn't realize it would take so much time for completion of the final product. But it was worth it!

5.  If you had to pick one song that captures the essence of Highway to Love, what would it be?

The easiest to answer would be Mariah Carey's "Vision of Love." When you read it you will see I have tons of song references. Many inspired my chapters and I wrote while listening to particular songs.

Now it's my turn to answer these same questions for Dani.  I'll naturally let you know when that interview has posted at her place. ;)

Le Blurb:

Soon-to-be-married Alexis Parker and her flirty friend, Stephanie Bradford, find more than they dreamed of when Alexis's Lexus sputters and dies on a Chicago expressway. The hilarious and disconcerting events that follow introduce both of them to construction workers Joe Baker and Mike Murphy. Readers bounce up and down on their bumpy road to love.

Stephanie Bradford's attraction to Joe Baker initially blinds her recognition of Mike Murphy's charms. When Joe and Alexis arrange a "by chance" meeting, their romance is kindled.

Alexis Parker's engagement to Richard Churchfield causes her to ignore his selfishness and personality flaws, and repeatedly question her attraction to very generous and noble Joe Baker. Highway to Love takes the reader on a pothole-filled journey as Alex repeatedly denies Joe's love and her own feelings. Joe possesses the extraordinary patience of a man in love. His kind and charismatic friend, Carolyn, often shares her feminine perspective with him along the way. As Alex's emotional and moral beliefs are tested, she is forced to create a new and more appropriate definition of true love as she sprints to the finish line.

About Le Author:

Dani Burke has always been an avid fan of women’s fiction. She finally decided it was time to try her hand at a little story telling of her own. Having resided in the Chicago area the better part of her life, it seemed appropriate to use this location as the setting for Highway to Love. Dani has spent her career with various legal teams in several real estate industry related companies. Currently she is a Legal Administrative Assistant for a Chicago real estate developer and resides with the love of her life in a Chicago suburb

Thanks for stopping by, Dani!


What Lord of the Rings Taught Me About Life

I was watching the Lord of the Rings---all of them during an end-of-summer marathon with my son---and I was hit with a miniature epiphany. Heavy on the "mini" so don't get excited.

You know how you write a story?  And you know how during the story something bad happens to your main character...for example, the pitiful creature Golem convinces your Frodo that Samwise (who is, in fact, the most wonderful and loyal of hobbits) is a traitor, and then Frodo has a terrible argument with Sam and ends up sending him away?  But then a bit further down the story, your MC finds himself in a pickle...say, a giant spider wants to eat him...and so the thing that seemed like a bad thing---casting Samwise away---ends up being a good thing---because now Sam is free and can save Frodo?

Well, that's what life is like, isn't it?  Things that seem bad happen, but in the end they serve a good purpose.  Liiike...okay, like the time the company I worked for decided to close its Chicago branch [bad], which lit a fire under me to find a better job [good]. And when that "better" job ended up being at an office filled with overdemanding pricks [bad], causing me so much stress that I began to find more comfort in the idea of stopping dead in the middle of the tracks rather than crossing to board the train that would take me to that hell [very bad], one of the pricks pushed me to improve my writing skills [good], and thus the door finally opened to the world(s) in which I was meant to live [very yay!].       

Sometimes we get the benefit of seeing that good purpose come to fruition and are blessed with an "aha" moment.  But many, many times the bad things are left dangling.  We don't know why they had to happen and never see anything good come from them.  These are the times we have to trust that the great Writer of all of us has a plan. He gives us our hardships and sorrows for a reason, though we may never know why until the end of days.

I guess you could say the moral of this post is that we shouldn't fret over the uncontrollable bad stuff because it just might end up saving us from a giant spider one day.  Or something like that.


I'm Feeling...Transitional

You've caught me in a perfect state of limbo, the great in-between. School starts next week, and yesterday we got locker assignments, so it's no longer summer but it's not school yet either. I've just finished up a big project for work and won't be able to bring myself to look at the next one until tomorrow...at the earliest. Yesterday I finished reading a great book (On the Jellicoe Road) and I want to let it simmer a bit before jumping into the next one.  I've taken my latest writing projects as far as they can go for the moment---wrote & submitted a short story and signed a contract for my next novel (Yay!)---and I'm taking August off from writing to decide what to work on next. Plus all the familial birthdays and celebrations are past, so there are no parties to plan for a good few months...

I'm not used to not being squashed under twenty bazillion things to do so this feels very odd.  But I don't want to start into anything big because come next week, at least nineteen of those bazillion things will be once again upon me. So...maybe...maybe I'll just start by doing the dishes and go from there. I suppose after that I could have a workout, and the garden could use a little love.  Oh right, I never finished reading that Sherlock Holmes short story I started, and what about catching up w/ Dr. Who before the next season starts? Yikes, I should probably go to the store to buy the kids new folders & pencils & stuff, eh? Well, what am I sitting here for when I've got all these things to do??


Fun Stuff & Pictures to Share

Thank you all for your encouraging words before my reading this weekend. It went pretty well, with me not stumbling over too many words (and I now know how to pronounce sang-froid...I think). The art fair itself was set up beautifully as always and that alone made the day worth it.

Not too many people wandered over to the reading tent on Saturday---which reinforces my first rule of public speaking: bring your own posse---but on Sunday I had a nice little smattering of listeners and better yet, got to meet some great people from a local writer's group I've wanted to get more involved with AND one of them even writes for a local paper and wants to do an interview. :) This is why I rarely turn down opportunities presented to me---you just never know what else might come of it.

The Posse

And on Friday I had another nice little treat---I took the Metra train into the big city to meet up with fellow blogger, Michael DiGesu.  Michael is every bit as wonderful in real life as he is on his blog and I can't believe we let 16 months get in between the last time we got together. We met at Lincoln Park Zoo, and here's our posey picture:

But here's what we really do when we're together:

And here's a picture because...just because I think it's a cool shot of Chicago:

I hope your week is off to a great start. And Monday means a new bout at WRiTE Club, a chance to cast your vote for the piece of writing that knocks you out.


Insecure Writers Support Group

It's the monthly meeting of the Insecure Writers Support Group, hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh, and as I told fellow IWSGer, Jennifer Lane, this month's topic is easy for me. For you see, this weekend I am to speak.  In public.

The whole reason I write is because I communicate far better that way than verbally, so it's a cruel irony that a byproduct of writing is being asked to speak.  And yet silly me gets excited every time it happens. I jump at the chance. And this particular opportunity is pretty cool and low key---it's to do a reading at a the annual Art in Your Eye fine art festival in my current home town.

It's not until I hit about this point, days away from the gig, that I ask, "What the hell was I thinking?" So please join me in my anti-pscyche-out exercises.  What I do is look at my fears and then find some way to allay them.

Fear #1: What if nobody comes? 
Well, if nobody's there, then it isn't public anymore, is it? And therefore not scary at all.

Fear #2: What am I going to talk about?
They asked because they think I have something interesting to say, so I'll just keep pretending to be who they think I am.  When all else fails, read from my written works---and in this case that's what I'm supposed to do, so bonus.

Fear #3: What if I flub up?
Marketers keep saying the best way to connect with readers is to do so on a personal level, let them know you're human---what better way than by making a mistake or ten?

There, I feel better.  How about you?