"Illuminating Gracie" by Lisa C. Temple

GIVEAWAY and INTERVIEW
Illuminating Gracie
by Lisa C. Temple
Illuminating Gracie by Lisa C. Temple is now on tour with I am a Reader, Not a WriterThe tour stops here today for an interview with the author. You can also enter the tour-wide giveaway for your chance to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash.  Please visit all of the other tour stops as well.
Description
As an old woman’s lifeless body lies on a cold stone floor, her soul stands before an angel who offers her a miraculous opportunity: the chance to do it all again. But that is easier said than done. In order to change the path her life has taken, she must put aside years of self-loathing and pain, so she can help the young girl she once was become the woman she should have been.
At 17 years old, Grace Bennett is a bitter young woman. Though blessed with a loving family, looks and brains to spare, she hides her light under a bushel, spending most of her time in the darkness of her mind with little more than sarcasm and self-pity to keep her company.
But things are about to change for Grace. While delivering food for her family’s bed and breakfast, she turns onto a desolate dirt road and drives straight into her destiny.
It’s on this isolated country lane that the damaged girl meets a strangely familiar old couple and two mysterious young men. Together the group fights the demons that surround Grace, and they teach her what it means to let her light shine.
Illuminating Gracie is, at once, a metaphorical tale of the fight between good and evil and a spiritual saga of one girl’s journey from darkness into the light. If you liked Twilight and The Hunger Games, you will love the story of Gracie.
Excerpt
As if able to read my thoughts, he leaned in even closer, affording me full access to his aroma, and in a husky, almost whisper beseeched, “Please … tell me your name.”
I have no logical explanation for my body’s reaction to his hushed entreaty. My pulse flew matching my heart rate, while every pore and fiber of my skin went on high alert, going hot and cold virtually simultaneously. For once, I was grateful for the dark and the cover it provided my blushing face.
The worst part of the whole thing was that I had the distinct feeling Merc not only knew what embarrassing reactions his close proximity caused in my traitorous body, but he intended on eliciting just those responses. Whether it was my sapped energy from the drama of the night or my own sad lack of experience in the area of male/female relations, I had no resources available to me to mount a proper defense against him. In all honesty, I couldn’t imagine why I should. After all, I knew plenty of girls that would have been on this guy like “white on rice.” Why should I get bogged down with details and unanswered questions like: Who was he really? Why was he being so nice to me? Why hadn’t Mrs. B. and Willem mentioned him?
Why should I look a gift horse in the mouth? If this “uber-hot” boy wanted to be my “knight in shining armor,” why shouldn’t I let him be just that? I had never been anyone’s “damsel in distress,” and it certainly wasn’t because I had some feminist axe to grind. No, that wasn’t it at all. It was because no one had ever applied for the position. So now I was going to ignore the warning bells, silence my fears and pack away my paranoia. For once, I was going to be the one with the romantic story to tell at the lunch table on Monday, instead of the one listening on the far fringes and replying with the obligatory “oohs” and “ahs” to the stories told by all the braver, more beautiful, more fortunate girls.
Having solved my inner conflicts, I answered him with a breath- less and what I hoped was sexy voice, “Grace, my name is Grace.”
I wanted him to say something like my name was beautiful. That would play well with the lunchtime listeners. But, to my surprise, he seemed almost irritated.
“Ha … ha ha,” he barked a short laugh. “Yeah, that’s about right. Well, come on, Grace – let’s get you home.”
I was a little disconcerted by his reaction. Huh … weird. What should my name have been? Veronica … Candy … Jinx?
Never one to keep my mouth shut, I opened it, ready to ask him if he preferred stripper names, but before I could get a word out Merc’s whole body stiffened and he jerked his head sharply to the right. I strained to see what he saw or heard to create such a reaction in him. The only thing visible was the dim outline of the tremendous back portion of the mansion that was softly lit by landscape lighting buried deep in the bushes.
I looked at Merc, wanting an explanation for his behavior. “What’s the problem? Did you hear something … somebody?” I whispered. If he had heard something, then he had better ears than I. Of course, I was hyper-focused on the visual treat that was standing next to me. A hurricane could have blown through, and I might not have noticed.
Praise for Illuminating Gracie
“A well-paced fantasy story of redemption and self-improvement.” ~ Kirkus Review (Sept. 1, 2013 Magazine)
“Just the right amount of love story to the action packed plot line left this book a perfectly balanced read.” ~ Maryann (Amazon “Top 1000” Reviewers)
“The story also contains little mysteries that keep you turning the pages, as gems of insight turn up along the way. It is a story of hope and redemption, and a beautiful request of each of us to let our light shine brightly.” ~ Kimberly Raadt Higgins (Amazon Review)
“On a personal level, I can relate to Grace in so many ways. As I read, a lot of memories and feelings from my teenage and young adult years have come flooding back, some a little painful, others fun and exciting, even hopeful. Yet it also has me contemplating where I am today as a middle-aged adult; am I who I thought I would be, who I want to be?” ~ N.J. Collar (Amazon Review)
“The plot is masterfully drawn and keeps the reader guessing until the end. This book tells the story of the fight between good and evil in a young woman’s life. It is brilliant in its use of humor and emotion to draw the reader into the characters.” ~ J. Pitts (Amazon and Goodreads)
Interview with the Author
Hi Lisa, thanks for joining me today to discuss your new book, Illuminating Gracie.
Thank you very much for having me!
Which writers have influenced you the most?
I don’t think I can point to any one author. I’ve been a voracious reader my entire life, and I think I’ve probably subconsciously picked up a little something from every author I’ve read. My interests and favorites are widely varied – everything from Shakespeare to Stephenie Meyers – The Bronte sisters to David Baldacci.
What age group do you recommend your book for?
When writing the book, the age group I had in mind was 13 and up with a concentration on high school age kids. I’ve been surprised to find that the book resonates with a much broader age range. I have women in their 50s and 60s that have written me to praise Illuminating Gracie.
What sparked the idea for this book?
The idea came from my own desire to go back in time and change some of the things I’d done. When my father was diagnosed with a terminal illness, I became obsessed with the idea – or wish, really – of going back to my younger years and changing my behavior. My teens and 20s were fraught with problems. Depression, addiction, food disorders – you name it – I had it. I caused my father and mother so much pain. I just wanted those years back so bad. I finally turned to writing to find some peace.
Which comes first? The character’s story or the idea for the novel?
It may not always be this way – but, in Illuminating Gracie, the idea definitely came first.
What was the hardest part to write in this book?
I know this sounds nuts, but I’ve always felt that I was meant to write Illuminating Gracie. None of it was hard because I would just sit down and it would come out. There were times that I honestly couldn’t remember writing the words. It sounds so hokey – so corny – to say I felt like I had divine help – and if somebody had told me I would say that 3 years ago, I would have laughed at them. But, the fact is, I believe I did have help.
How do you hope this book affects its readers?
Well, first and foremost, I hope the readers have a good time. But also I’d like them to come away feeling a sense of hope. I’d like to think that if someone were out there feeling hopeless – it might give them a sense that it is never too late to make a change. Yeah – that would be nice. That would make all the work way past worth it!
How long did it take you to write this book?
I was taking care of my father the entire time I was writing Illuminating Gracie, so there were many days I didn’t write at all. When I did write it would be 30 minutes here and 20 minutes there. I even went about three months without writing anything – I guess I just lost my “hope” for a bit. But, then I started back with a vengeance. Start to finish – two years.
How did you get your book published?
Once I really started writing in earnest (after I’d quit for three months), it became my goal to have Illuminating Gracie in writing before my father passed away. I studied the whole “publishing” system and I knew right away that I would not be able to find an agent, secure a deal and get the book in writing before Dad died. So, I studied self-publishing and finally decided to go through Amazon’s CreateSpace. I’ve been very happy with them so far.
Did you enjoy school?
Much like Gracie in the book, I had what I would call an “authority issue.” I was also extremely ADD and had a lot of difficulty staying in class. Some of the first creative writing I did was the notes I wrote and signed my parents names to, requesting I be allowed to leave school! I had a good memory and did well on tests, so fortunately I maintained a good GPA – I just couldn’t sit still. Some of the best teachers I had understood this about me and looked the other way.
Did you like reading when you were a child?
My mother started throwing my bodice-rippers into the fireplace by the time I was in third grade! I’d moved on to adult mysteries by fifth grade. I never went anywhere without two things: a book and my guitar.
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
Yes, I do – quite often – and I can’t tell you how much it means to me. To know that something I said – something I wrote – resonated with another person in the universe is about the coolest thing in the world. Most often they talk about my main character, Gracie. Almost every person that writes me tells me that they see themselves in Gracie. I not surprised that people connect with her because she comes from such an honest place. Her attitude, her fears and her insecurities are all 100% me. I might not have been a military “brat” or an introvert, but Gracie’s insides  are my insides. I think people respond to that kind of honesty.
What can we look forward to from you in the future?
Instigating Gracie will be out in early 2014. Gracie’s got a lot of livin’ to do!
Thank you for taking the time to stop by today. Best of luck with your future projects.
Thank you so much. I appreciate the opportunity to talk with you!

About the Author
On thirty-nine Senior scrolls, the Headmaster of author, Lisa C. Temple’s, small, private school wrote “Good Luck and best wishes for a prosperous future!” On the fortieth and final scroll, which was Temple’s, the Headmaster penned the words, “Lisa, I can’t wait to see to what use you put your unusual talents!” Temple spent the next 30 years trying to assuage her former leader’s curiosity – and her own.
She sold BMWs in her hometown of Montgomery, Alabama, and hillbillies (as a booking agent) in Nashville, Tennessee. In an effort to escape the enforced servitude of the Junior League, she even attended and was graduated from law school and passed the Alabama State Bar exam in 2002. Through it all, she battled problems and illnesses, many of her own making. But, it wasn’t until her father – her hero – was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS), that Temple found her true calling – the “talent” that she finds joy in putting to use.
Illuminating Gracie is loosely autobiographical and born from a desire to, if only, metaphorically right the wrongs of Temple’s own past. It tells the story of a miserable old woman who is given the opportunity – by an angel – to go back in time and help the young girl she once was become the woman she should have been. Illuminating Gracie is the first book in a four-book series. The second book, Instigating Gracie, is due for release in December 2013.
Temple laughs when saying she has a loving and complicated husband she deserves, and a wonderful son and two loving stepchildren that she does not. She also shares her life with her beloved pets: Pomeranian, Phebe; Bordernese, Flash; and Tabby cat, Minx.
Giveaway
Enter the tour-wide giveaway for your chance to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash.
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