Saturday, July 28, 2012

Review & Interview: Twenty-Nine and a Half Reasons by Denise Grover Swank

Denise Grover Swank lives in Lee’s Summit, Missouri. She has six children, three dogs, and an overactive imagination. She can be found dancing in her kitchen with her children, reading or writing her next book. You will rarely find her cleaning.

Q. Using one word only, describe the books you write.

This is hard. I considered a hyphenated word like page-turning. But I decided to go with entertaining. That's the goal I always strive for, no matter the genre of the book.

Q. What is the most rewarding thing about writing, for you?  What is the most challenging part?

The most rewarding part of writing is creating a world full of characters who seem real, out of nothing but my own imagination. That is pure magic.  The most challenging part is when I have a complex plot with multiple characters and I'm trying to weave them in and out. (This happens in my urban fantasy series, The Chosen.) However, when I do weave them seamlessly, that's rewarding too.

Q. Out of the Chosen and Rose Gardner series, which series is your most favorite?  Why?

Most readers might be surprised to read this, but Rose, hands down. Rose is so open and eager to live her life, the story literally falls out of my fingers. I wrote the last third of Twenty-Nine and a Half Reasons in ten days.  But I love the dark relationships in The Chosen books and the persistence to persevere, in spite of everything. It's just more painful to write. I sometimes go to bed with my heart aching for Will, Emma, and Jake.

Q. Are you more confident about "Twenty-Nine and a Half Reasons" than you were about "Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes"?  Which book would you consider your favorite out of the two?

I'm much more confident about Twenty-Nine because I had a developmental editor work with me on the book, although she only had minor suggestions. Unlike Sacrifice, the third book in the The Chosen series. Still, it's often the minor things that can make a huge difference. My favorite? Wow. That's hard, but if I have to pick, I guess Twenty-Nine and a Half Reasons, if nothing else because Rose is a bit more confident and I love some of the new characters. (Confession: I have a crush on my own fictional character, Mason Deveraux.)

Q. Is there a significance with the numbers that you've used (i.e. 28, 29)?

Ha! No! I've said had I really given more thought to sequels I would have numbered the first one differently. The title for Twenty-Eight came the first week I started writing the book and wrote the list. The "and a Half" was thrown on to give it a bit of whimsy. I wanted the lighter tone of the book to be in the title, then I worked her "half wish" into the book later. So when it came time to think about the next book, I realized I'd wrote myself into a corner with titles.  I considered going backward, but that not only seemed more confusing but limited my books in the series.

Q. What are four things you would like for your fans to know about "Twenty-Nine and a Half Reasons"?

The idea for the story came to me when I got a jury summons letter.
An incident in the book REALLY happened to me. (A courtroom scene.)
Four of the characters in the book-- Neely Kate, Marjorie Grace, Heidi Joy, and Anne-- were all named by four readers who won a contest I held last year.
And fourth, Mason's name was originally Martin, but my editor suggested I change it so he didn't sound so old. I posted his picture on Facebook, told my FB friends my dilemma and asked for suggestions for a stuffy, southern gentleman's name. FYI, feel free to friend me on Facebook! I love interacting with my readers.

Q. What are you currently reading?

A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin

Q. What can you tell us about "Thirty and a Half Excuses"?  Will we be seeing more of Neely Kate and Mason Devereaux?

We will DEFINITELY be seeing more of both of them. We'll also see more of Rose's nosy neighbor Mildred when the two team up a bit to investigate the death of an older woman on their street. The Henryetta police determine it was natural causes but Rose and Mildred become suspicious when  they find out the older woman had recently given a bunch of money to a televangelist who just moved into town.

Q. What are you currently working on?

I'm wrapping up the first draft of Redemption, the fourth and final book in The Chosen series. Then I'll write There, the second and final book of my YA series. Outside of writing, I've created a website for Rose-  Several characters will each have their own pages and will providing links to things that interest them. Violet will have household tips and recipes. Violet's husband Mike will have links and Pinterest pins for grilling. There will even be things for Muffy. And of course, Rose and Joe.

Q. Besides the next one, how many more novels can we expect in the Rose Gardner series?

I have two more books semi-plotted out. I'd love to write even more.  

Q. What is your advice to aspiring authors?

Practice, practice, practice.  Which translate into: write, write, write. EVERY DAY. Even if it's just a journal entry. Then get critique. I know how hard it is. Trust me, I know. But getting other writer's insights are invaluable. I'm amazed by the number of writers who query agents or decide to self-publish before their work has been critiqued or beta read.  *I* wouldn't dream of releasing even a short story without my critique partner reading it.

Title:  Twenty-Nine and a Half Reasons
Author:  Denise Grover Swank
Genre:  Romantic Suspense
Publisher:  Bramagioia Enterprises
Release Date:  June 26, 2012
File Size/Pages:  494 KB/275 pgs
Source:  CLP Blog Tour

My Rating:  5/5

Summary:  When Rose reports for Fenton County jury duty she figures she’s lucky to get out of a morning working at the DMV. Instead, despite a disastrous encounter with the new assistant district attorney, Mason Deveraux, she’s picked as a juror on a murder case. As the trial progresses, she realizes an ominous vision she had in the men’s restroom proves the defendant is innocent. And there’s not a cotton picking thing she can do about it.  Or is there?  As if things weren’t bad enough, Rose’s older sister Violet is going through a mid-life crisis. Violet insists that Rose stop seeing her sexy new boyfriend, Arkansas state detective Joe Simmons and date other men. Rose is done letting people boss her around, but she can’t commit to Joe either. Still, Rose isn’t about to let the best thing in her life slip away.

Review:  "Twenty Eight and a Half Wishes" was one of the first novels I reviewed and I absolutely loved it, so when I found out there was going to be a second novel in the series, I think my being ecstatic was an understatement.  "Twenty-Nine and a Half Reasons" takes place a month or two after the murder of Rose's momma; and even after a couple of months, Henryetta nor the people who live there has changed one bit.  Rose and Joe have been dating a little over a month now, she still has her job at DMV, and she is still the "mother" to her little dog, Muffy.  Just when I thought things were easing up for Rose, she finds herself late for jury duty and having a vision in the men's restroom about the real killer.  There were so many additions to this book that made me absolutely love it; I loved the addition of the character's Neely Kate, Heidi Joy, and Mason Deveraux.  I also loved the fact that we got to see another side of Joe when Mason was around.  I enjoyed reading this novel because the characters seem so realistic and are very easy to relate to; I also admired Rose and her friendship with Neely Kate.  I can't believe I'm saying this, but I actually have a crush on Joe; I think this may be my first fictional boy crush…I'm officially deeming Joe Simmons my book boyfriend.  Overall, I thought this novel was great and it is definitely a MUST READ…I'm heartbroken that I have to wait until 2013 for the next novel!

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Samantha said...

So glad you loved it!

Denise Grover Swank said...

I'm so glad you loved it!!! Thank you for taking part in my blog tour!

Josie Ann said...

It was so much fun...can't wait for your next book!!