Wednesday, September 10, 2014

BOOK BLITZ: Phantom's Dance

Phantom's Dance
Release Date: 03/01/14

Summary from Goodreads:
Christine Dadey’s family uprooted their lives and moved to Houston for her to attend the prestigious Rousseau Academy of Dance. Now, two years later, Christine struggles to compete among the Academy’s finest dancers, her parents are on the brink of divorce, and she’s told no one about her debilitating performance anxiety and what she’s willing to do to cope with it.

Erik was a ballet prodigy, a savant, destined to be a star on the world’s stage, but a suspicious fire left Erik’s face horribly disfigured. Now, a lonely phantom forced to keep his scars hidden, he spends his nights haunting the theater halls, mourning all he’s lost. Then, from behind the curtain he sees the lovely Christine. The moldable, malleable Christine.

Drawn in by Erik’s unwavering confidence, Christine allows herself to believe Erik’s declarations that he can transform her into the dancer she longs to be. But Christine’s hope of achieving her dreams may be her undoing when she learns Erik is not everything he claims. And before long, Erik’s shadowy past jeopardizes Christine’s unstable present as his obsession with her becomes hopelessly entangled with his plans for revenge.

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When I reached the back corner of the four-story, brick building, I hesitated. The sun had dipped below the adjacent structure, leaving the alley in a gray haze and giving it a creepy vibe. My heart sped up as I replayed all the horror stories Mom had drilled into me. Though we tell everyone we’re from El Paso, the truth is we lived in a small suburb outside the city. So Mom filled my head with tales about the dangers of living downtown in a city the size of Houston—muggings, assaults, drug deals, she’d warned me repeatedly, and now those cautionary tales were hammering through me with every beat in the music spilling from behind the building.
Pressing my back against the bricks, I felt the heavy thump of the bass in my chest. The music issued out, echoing around me, like a rhythmic call to battle. I stood there long enough for one song to end and another to begin. Then, clutching my bag to my side, I peeked around the bend and was surprised to see a group of about a dozen people gathered in a loose circle. A mixture of ethnicities, some shuffled and shimmied, while others bounced and popped to the music’s time.
When their formation shifted, I could see into the ring of figures. A young African-American man danced there, arms snaking in and out and legs nimbly swirling. After several steps, he twitched his head toward someone in the surrounding group, and a woman laughed uproariously before jumping into the center as he sauntered out. She jiggled and jolted to the music in a way that was captivating. It was as if the music emanated from the dancer, rather than the big boom box sitting on the trunk of a car.
Their laughter was exhilarating, and I could see that taunting and bragging was a part of the performance. Completely engrossed, I became careless and before I knew it, I’d drifted from the safety of the building’s shadow to stand in the open. Then someone spoke, and I knew I’d made a horrible mistake.

Author Interview/Post

I'm not good with interviews. The problem is I have an extremely eclectic personality—emphasis on extremely—so it makes it difficult to answer some of the questions asked. But before I try, be aware Lesa Howard is a pen name, so you may see my website and contact information with the name Lesa Boutin, or even Lesa Howard Boutin. They're all me. Did I mention I'm a Gemini, which is represented by twins? Add to that my eclectic tastes in everything from books to food to home décor, and I could easily be described as octuplets rather than twins. That said, here's my attempt to answer a few author questions.

Did I always want to write?
I didn't start writing until I was thirty. I'd dreamed of it, though, since tenth grade when I'd written a short story which scored the highest in the entire sophomore class. The teacher had raved about my imagination and the twists and turns in the story. So much so that I was kind of surprised because I assumed everyone daydreamed like I did.

So why did you wait so long to start writing?
I wanted to be a grown-up, which when I look back on it is crazy, but I married and had children before pursuing a career. And even then I secretly dreamed of writing for a looong time before ever acting on it. I was terrified of letting anyone read what I wrote. Plus, I thought I'd be laughed at for reaching for something outside the realm of my abilities.

Umm, that didn't really answer the question as to why you waited so long to start writing.
For me, writing turned out to be a lesson in getting to know myself, and along the way I discovered something that completely changed who I am, at least who I thought I was. When I finally decided to wrestle my fears to the ground and choke the ever-loving-life out of them, I started attending writing conferences, taking lessons, learning everything I could about the craft, but I still had these horrible doubts about my grammar. I never worried about coming up with a story or having writer's block. My imagination is just too wild for that. But I knew that if there was anything holding me back it was my grammar. It's not that I didn't know the "rules" but sometimes I had trouble executing them. At this point, I'd been immersed in the education field. I planned to get a degree and teach junior high. Yeah, you read that right. I could be reduced to a quivering mass when posed a grammar question, but I was working toward becoming a teacher.
Then at some point, I can't remember exactly when, but whether it was a series of events or conversations with other educators, I had an epiphany. I realized without a shadow of a doubt that I had a learning disability and it had a name, Dysgraphia. When I read all the symptoms of the disorder I was shocked. I'd suffered, dealt with, almost every manifestation on the list of warning signs since elementary school. The National Center for Learning Disabilities defines Dysgraphia as: a learning disability that affects writing, which requires a complex set of motor and information processing skills. Dysgraphia makes the act of writing difficult. It can lead to problems with spelling, poor handwriting and putting thoughts on paper. People with dysgraphia can have trouble organizing letters, numbers and words on a line or page.
I already know what you're next question will be.

Why on earth do you want to be a writer if you can't do it?
I did try not to. Honestly I did. I was going to school to teach math, or science, or maybe even become a librarian. I even have the student loans to prove it. But I couldn't get away from writing. Finally, I had to say, "To hell with it! I'm already broke. Might as well be broke doing what I love." And I have been blessed along the way to connect with people who help me. I rely heavily on my critique partners and beta readers. They help me spot the mistakes I overlook. Sure, that's what an editor is for, but I'm still obsessive about trying to get it as right as I can on my own. So whether it's an issue of incorrect punctuation (I seriously love commas) homophones (pair or pear?) or missing letters (appl) I will keep writing. Even if I'm the only one who ever reads it.

Top Ten Favorite Books
Broken Down by Category

Children's Books:
Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis
Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale by Mo Willems

Young Adult (Tough Category)
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
Holes by Louis Sachar
Beastly by Alex Flinn
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Adult Novels:
Water for Elephants by Sarah Gruen
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas ****** Favorite book of all time******

About the Author
I'm not the typical author. I didn't always enjoy reading or writing. While in school, I found it to be a chore I'd just as soon skip. I would rather have been daydreaming, my favorite past time. It wasn’t until I grew up and didn’t have to, that I realized reading was fun. I soon discovered that reading fueled my daydreaming. So, remembering a short story I'd written in high school, I began imagining expanding that story into a book. Before long I found I had loads of ideas for not just the short story but other books and stories as well. Fast forward a few years, a lot of studying about writing, practicing my writing, studying some more, taking classes from people who knew what they were doing, studying and practicing yet more, and ta-dah, author! In the same way I had learned I loved reading, I learned I loved writing, too. It’s just that writing is a lot harder than reading.

Author Links:
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