Well, now Dellani brings us another wonderful read with Under the Western Sky. This one is a bit of a retro-read, as Dellani takes us back to the mid 1970s. While most of America was squeezing into pants that fit like a second skin and boogieing to Disco, Bobby Mendez and Libby Marshall are living in a small town in Nebraska where life should have been idyllic and peaceful for two people learning their way with each other. Instead, racial tension and violence rears its ugly head, putting Bobby and Libby right in the middle of a race war.
While the characters are seniors in high school, they're all 18, an age when American kids are declared adults, and as such find ways to stretch their wings. Unfortunately, not all young adults use their new-found powers for good. I must say, this book is by no means meant for a young adult audience. This is a gripping read full of adult drama.
Dellani touches upon all of the emotions while following Libby and Bobby through this multifaceted story. From the innocence of young love to the harsh realities of adulthood, from testing the bonds of friendship to fighting for the lives of loved ones, this story has it all.
We were fortunate to snag a moment to talk with Dellani on a rare break from working. Believe me, this woman is busy. Writing full time, book reviewing, blogging, hosting her own radio show, and all the stuff that comes with motherhood, getting a moment alone with Dellani, one has to be quick on the mark and ready to jump when she sits back to take a breath. But in we got, and here's the result. Afterward, we'll include an excerpt from Under the Western Sky, and don't forget our competition!
Welcome, Dellani, and thanks for letting us monopolize a few moments of your time. I know you're busy with a capital B-U-S-Y, so I'll get right down to the nitty gritty (and we're not talking about the Dirt Band here!).
Your schedule is insanely busy. I don't know how you do it all. You must have a Tardis of an office, a Batcave of nifty gadgets, a mad scientists laboratory where minions work in your stead. Really, describe your writing space for our readers.
My writing space used to be the north end of our dining room. Since my second youngest moved out, I have his room as an office. HOORAY! I don't know if it makes me any more or less productive. It has certainly made monitoring dinner more difficult since I am an entire house width away and before I was only about 15 feet. I have my desk with my PC (I'm old school) and two printers. One is a scanner and the other has better ink usage. I have my former dining room table to my left as an additional space to put stacks of things. The rest of the room is ringed round with a small, wooden file cabinet and an array of plastic bins and drawers that hold a variety of items necessary for an office.
I also have five guitars, none of which I play, left over from my son's collection. They are in the corner gathering dust, along with my entire Mary Kay inventory. Anyone need makeup, cleanser or perfume? I have you covered.
The room also serves as my sewing room. It's cluttered, but it's home.
That's wonderful. The last time we chatted, you were on the kitchen table with your laptop. I bet you're thrilled to be able to stretch out now.
So with all that extra space, what is your daily writing routine like?
I can't say I really have a routine. It's more like unsnarling the chaos. I have breakfast and read one of the novels I'm reviewing. After that, I head to the office and start on various tasks. Sometimes, I check my e-mail -- Not often enough, but some days; it is overwhelming.
Wednesday is Fun in Writing day. This is a small, informal writing group I attend. It's hosted by the local Council on Aging. I'm not really old enough to go, but they list me as a volunteer so I can attend. It's odd to admit that most of my dearest friends are old enough to be my mother. We don't really have any goals, we just bring in things to share and have fun reading them. We also do five words from the bag. We each draw five random words and use them to write something. This provides a lot of laughs.
Every other Friday, I attend my own writing group. My friend and I started this group and it's more targeted. We bring in things we're working on and want to have feedback on. We also play the five words from the bag game there. Even the youngest members enjoy doing this. We have a good time with it.
That does sound like a lot of fun with both writing groups. I bet the five words from the bag has inspired some very funny moments.
So, when you're not writing, what do you enjoy doing? How do you relax? With your schedule you must have ways of relaxing.
When I'm not writing, I'm reading, updating my blogs, arranging Twitter posts and chatting on Facebook. I also play a couple of games on there. If I'm not doing any of that, I like to watch movies or TV shows on Netflix. I don't like commercials and don't own a DVR, so I watch my favorite series a year or so late. Please don't tell me about this season's Grey's or Bones! I'll catch up eventually.
I know what you mean. Over here, we tend to get American's top programs 3-9 months later. Don't tell me about Castle. It's just started over here!!
Thanks for chatting with us, Dellani, and best of luck with Under the Western Sky. (have I told you how much I LOVE that title?)
Now, here's that promised excerpt --
• • •
It's small town Nebraska in the late 1970's and life in the small Midwestern town is quiet and uneventful. That's what Libby Marshall and Bobby Menedez think until Bobby's cousin, Ramon is beaten by a group of white boys because he is dating a white girl. Libby and Bobby realize that their relationship might make them targets, but they believe their love is stronger than hate. But is it? Something quite evil lies hidden Under the Western Sky.
Libby Marshal leaned over the pool table lining up her shot, slender hips twitching to KC and the Sunshine Band. She hummed distractedly as she eyed the table. Bobby Menendez stood behind her enjoying the view. His hands moved forward, tingling to touch her.
"Touch me and die, Roberto Hermida Menendez."
"Man, how did you know?"
She made her shot, long distance across the felt top, snapping her pool cue, nearly nailing him when her arm came back.
"Shouldn't stand so close," Danny said across the table from her.
"Oh, man, the view!"
Bobby held his hands the width of her hips apart. He bit his lip as she faced him, a frown on her face. Her green eyes flashed at him. With a toss of her short, blonde, curly hair, she moved away from him with a glare. His dark brown eyes followed her, longing in his well tanned face.
"View's damn good over here, and safer," Danny grinned.
He'd been looking down her top as she bent over to shoot. He loved the fact that it was 1976 and even in this small, conservative, western Nebraska town, girls were liberated, freeing them from the confines of establishment undergarments. The no bra look was great! Bobby could have his dangerous ass view, Danny went for tits every time.
"Boys, behave," Toni's father said from his office behind them.
Funny thing how Toni's old man always had work to do when the boys came over. He would casually follow the four of them down to the pool room in the basement and sit in his work room fiddling with some electrical components while they played pool and listened to music. He didn't mind them coming over, but they weren't going to be unchaperoned either.
"Yes, sir," they chorused.
They stepped back, snapping to attention, not quite saluting. Each with military fathers, it was hard not to when he talked in that tone. Fifteen years as a Marine before a shell shattered his right leg, didn't go away. Everyone in town called him Captain Cristo. Only the very brave called him Grant.
"Girls, Mom's got dinner almost ready. Why don't you hustle up and help her set the table."
"Yes, sir," Libby replied, setting down her cue.
"Sure thing, Daddy," Toni leaned hers against the wall, leaving a blue streak of chalk.
The boys hesitated, unsure how to proceed. They hadn't been included in that request. Captain Cristo solved that for them by setting aside his work. He stood stiffly, old war wound tightening up on him. He motioned them into his work room, closing the door behind him.
"She may not be my daughter," he said without preamble. "But you ogle her like that again, or put a hand on her," he looked right at Bobby. "I'll break all three of your legs."
• • •
Author, journalist, photographer, teacher, reviewer, radio show host—Dellani Oakes has worn many hats.
Addicted to writing, she spends as much time at it as possible and gets cranky if she's late getting a fix.
Under the Western Sky is Dellani's fourth published novel, though she claims to have enough, still unpublished, to keep a publisher busy for the next ten years.
Dellani also enjoys writing short stories and novellas, several of which have received Honorable Mentions in the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest.
Dellani currently lives in Florida with her husband and two of their four children.
Dellani loves hearing from her fans. You can contact her here --
Dellani's Choice Blog
Writer's Scantuary Blog
To enter today's drawing for a copy of Under the Western Sky, just leave Dellani a question or comment with your email address to be automatically entered.
Or if you can't wait and want to buy a copy of Under the Western Sky, be sure to visit Dellani's page on the Tirgearr Publishing website which has all her buy links.
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