Friday, 22 November 2013

Zrinka Jelic: Deck the Halls

Please help me welcome Zrinka Jelic to Heart of Fiction.

Originally from Croatia, Zrinka now calls Canada home. She's a prolific writer -- a member of RWA and it's FF&P chapter, as well as Savvy Authors -- but new to Tirgearr Publishing.

Today we'll be talking with Zrinka about her latest release, Deck the Halls, a wonderful holiday inspired paranormal romance.

Zach can’t get excited about Christmas, especially knowing it's his last day as a human. Evil sorceress, Tia, tries forcing Zach's wolf form out early, but when he fails to fall for her tricks, she punished him by turning him to a dog. Zach has just 48 hours to save his family and trade his own life for another in order to break Tia's spell.

Julie finds a stray dog and resists putting an ad in the paper because he's so cute and friendly. That, and for some weird reason, the dog reminds her of her friend Zach, whom she secretly loves.

Miss Molly, Julie's cat, is onto the dog. She knows who he really is and tries keeping the two apart. But Zach must protect Julie from Tia, regardless what the cat thinks.

When Julie is confronted by Tia, Julie must fight for Zach if they're to have a future together.

Deck the Halls is a wonderful installment to Tirgearr Publishing's collection of holiday stories. The relationship which develops between Julie and Zach is fraught with angst from the start -- Zach's inability to ask out a girl he really likes, Julie's inability to tell Zach how she feels about him, and then Julie's subsequent love of a stray who oddly reminder her of a man she secretly loves. Add the mischievousness of Miss Molly, Tia's angry jelousy, and of course that the holidays have a chance at being truly ruined, and this story already packs a big novel into this short novella. A great read, not just for the holiday season, but all year.

We had a moment to sit down with Zrinka and talk to her about her life away from the computer --

Welcome to Heart of Fiction, Zrinka, and congrats on the release of your new book!

Readers love learning new things about authors, so we're looking forward to getting to know more about you today. For example, when you write, do you schedule time to write, or just catch snippets whenever you can? What is your daily writing routine like?
It changed since I’ve started working full time. There’s very little time at the end of the day and on the weekends that I can dedicate to my writing, but I keep plowing through. Slow but steady onward. Of course, with my time away from home, household chores are waiting too. So that eats into my precious time. But I’m always plotting that next book, chapter, scene. Even if I can’t always write it down and often times it’s hard to remember every detail that came to my mind, but as soon as I’m hit with the answer to the question “Now, there was something else I wanted to write in, what was it?” I open up my wip and put it in. If I’m not near my computer, then I just jot it down.
I know how tough it can be to find time to write when you have family and a full time job, but the dedicated writer will grab even five minutes when it presents itself, as you do.

When you get that precious time to write, where do you do it? Do you have an office or like your time, grab a chair where you can? Describe your writing space.
Not much to describe. It can be anywhere, I can take my laptop wherever I’d like to write, but I find it hard to concentrate with all the noise in let’s say Starbucks. The espresso machines frothing and the barista’s. Tried to listen to my music, but felt awkward having to sit there with my headphones on my head. So for the most part, I’m writing at home. On my burgundy couch, laptop on my well, lap. If I feel like having the music blasting through my headphones and maybe I forget my manners and start to sing and dance in my chair. Until my family tells me to knock it off.
You're right. Not everyone can write in the local coffee shop. I'd be distracted by the noise too. And the pastries!

What do you enjoy doing when you're not writing? Do you have hobbies?
I like to workout. Years ago I was into Yoga, then I got tired of it. But now I’m back and it’s harder to get back into it then start from the scratch. I think the reason for it is that I know the basics and I was once so flexible, now I can hardly do a semi-decent bow pose. Well, at least I can do it. I’ll get better at it. I can only hope. As my yoga instructor said once, you hit a certain age there are two choices, old age home or yoga. I chose yoga. It’s funny how stiff and yet firm you can get without lifting weights and pushing yourself hard in the gym. Though, I just spent some 50 minutes on the treadmill at level 20. Gotta put in those 5 K’s.
Hey, at least you're doing it and not just talking about doing it (like I do), and you'll regain flexibility over time. Your instructor was right though. "The home" or get fit.

Thanks for chatting with us. We'll let you get back to limbering up . . . for the next book ;-). Happy holidays, and thanks for rounding out our week of holiday inspired stories. I hope the Great Fat Man brings you something nice on the day.

Before we check out the excerpt, remember, Zrinka is giving away a copy of Deck the Halls to one lucky commenter today. Be sure to leave your email address so we can contact you.

Also, in Tirgearr's 5-in-5 event, all commenters this week will be put into a draw for the grand prize at the end of the week -- all FIVE books published this week. PLUS the three books from last years' event. That's *EIGHT* books to one lucky commenter. Be *sure* to leave your email address so we can contact you.

And if you're on Facebook, Tigearr is running the same event on their events page. Double your chances of winning by joining the event there and leaving your comments --

• • •

It isn’t the string of crappy jobs, or people’s irrational urge to spend their money, or even his inability to ask Julie out on a date that Zach can’t get excited about Christmas. It is the fact that today is his last day he gets to spend in his preferred human form.

When jealous Tia, a wicked sorceress disguised as the pack’s alpha female, tries to force his wolf out a day early, all-consuming anger sends him into a rage against her. She punishes shape shifter Zach, by changing him to a dog. He has 48 hours to save his family and trade his life for someone else’s in order to break the spell—the only problem, Julie’s cat Miss Molly knows who he is and won’t let him near her owner. But Julie’s safety is the greatest importance and he sticks by her side.

Julie can’t resist falling in love with the stray dog she rescues. She prolongs putting a found dog ad in the local newspaper just to keep him for another day. Strange thing is, the animal reminds her of Zach.
Confronted with the woman who stole the man she secretly loves, Julie discovers the truth about Zach. When his dog form proves useless against the powerful alpha werewolf, the help comes from unforeseen allies.

Zach shoved one more shopping cart left in the middle of the parking lot into the long row of other carts. The cheerful laughter of people added to his vexation. Anger flared in him and he blew another hot breath. Damn it all, he was a son of a Roman Centurion, destined for greatness. He’d proved his worth in many wars, winning countless battles.

It was the heart of a woman he couldn’t win.

A chance to see Julie was the reason enough to get sucked into taking a shift, filling in for someone who was nursing a hangover. Maybe on his last day in human form he would muster enough courage to live up his fantasy. He should be in bed, bringing Julie to Heaven and not just imagine he was making love to her. Then again, not every story ended on a happy note.

On the sidewalk of the large department store, the hired Santa rang his bell. “Ho, ho, ho, Merry Christmas.”

Coins clinked, filling the tin can in Santa’s hand. The perpetual darkness of early winter didn’t seem to dampen human’s giving or shopping mood. Zach tilted his head toward the dusk sky and squinted against the wet snowflakes. The low hovering, gray clouds almost scraped the tops of the buildings, bringing cold winds.

At his shove, the carts rumbled and coasters screeched on the cement. The shift manager would have a fit if he saw him pushing this many carts at once. Not that Zach cared. He’d made the employee of the month for three months in a row despite the nasty boss.

Another step and he’d cross the long driveway of the parking lot, get out of the frigid air and into a heated store foyer. A pickup drove through a puddle. Splashes of dirty, freezing water soaked his worn jeans. Goose flesh raced up his bare legs underneath with icy bite. The black truck’s engine roared and the vehicle peeled out of the parking lot, leaving wet tire tracks on the pavement. He glared at the taillights disappearing in the large snowflakes. The bobbing tip of the Douglas fir, hanging from the edge of the truck’s bed, reminded Zach of dead deer antlers. Strange tradition to chop down a tree, bring it indoors, prop it upright, decorate it, praise it, only to toss it onto the curb a week or so later.

At the store entrance the scruffy guy playing Christmas carols on his guitar shrugged and flashed him a sorrowful look. A patron threw a handful of coins in the open case. He doffed his baseball cap and changed the tune for yet another melody that was supposed to spread holiday cheer. 

Peace and joy, goodwill towards people, my ass.

• • •

Zrinka Jelic lives in Ontario, Canada. A member of the Romance Writers of America and its chapter Fantasy Futuristic &Paranormal, as well as Savvy Authors, she writes contemporary fiction—which leans toward the paranormal—and adds a pinch of history. Her characters come from all walks of life, and although she prefers red, romance comes in many colors. Given Jelic’s love for her native Croatia and the Adriatic Sea, her characters usually find themselves dealing with a fair amount of sunshine, but that’s about the only break they get.

Find Zrinka Online --

Tirgearr Publishing


  1. Welcome to Heart of Fiction, Zrinka, and congratulations on the publication of Deck the Halls.

    This is a fun holiday story . . . and a sexy read! One can't feel bad for poor Zach, but it's a great plot twist.

    What inspired this story?

    1. It's great to be here today. I love reaching out to new audience.
      The story is inspired by those souls that can't get into Christmas spirit due to various reasons. Some are lonely and this time of year when everyone rushes home to be with families, the others have no where to go. Some people have to work over holidays due to extended shopping hours, yet at the end of all the spending, they don't see a difference on their pay-stubs. In books I've read the paranormal creatures are always rich but life doesn't work that way. Yes, Zach could influence minds, so he could have someone hand him all the cash, but to him that's equivalent of "stealing" and he's just one down-to-earth honest guy.

    2. And let's not forget the ones who are far away and cannot spend this special time of year with their loved ones. The ones deployed in military actions who guard our freedom, putting their lives on the line for all of us. They deserve a special mention.

  2. You sound a little homesick. Maybe that had something to do with your story? Something I can appreciate living so far from home too.

    What's next on your writing agenda? Are you working on something now you can share with us?

    1. I'm trying to complete "Rose of Crimson? the prequel to my debut novel "Bonded by Crimson"
      I've started on that the day my first book got accepted for publication and kind of put it on the back burner. In the meantime I've got three other books published and now it's time to go back and finish abandoned project.

  3. I know for a fact this is a fantastic story. Thanks for sharing it. I know too that I will be homesick for the north this Holiday season. Especially my granddaughter. Take heart, hold to what you have. This will be a great holiday season anyway.

    1. Thanks Troy and thanks for your expert insight and editing. Have a great Christmas and New Year.

  4. Sounds like a great read. :) Wishing you many sales.

    1. Thank you, Kristi. Have a great holiday season

  5. Hi Zrinka- congratulations on your new release. An ideal read over the holiday.
    I almost emigrated to Canada, Ontario actually, in the 60s. But it wasn't to be.
    Best of luck.

  6. Lovely to hear about you and your story, Zrinka - I'm so impressed that you have a full-time job too!

  7. Deck the Halls sounds like a wonderful holiday story, Zrinka. Congrats!