Today I'm hosting a blog tour stop for the Premier Virtual Author Book Tours for Deep Connections by Rebecca Graf. My stop on the tour will feature an interview with Rebecca as well as my review of Deep Connections.
Title: Deep Connections
Author: Rebecca L. Graf
Publisher: Silver Tongue Press
Published: August 7, 2012
Source: Received from author in exchange
for an honest review as part of a blog tour.
Just as love appears, so does the darkness. With her heart reaching out for one man, Brenna finds herself the target of an unknown stalker. Who is he? What does he want? How far will he go for her? Death is an option. Brenna discovers more than she bargained for and learns that the stalker will kill for her. It all comes down to decisions, and no matter what she chooses it will demand sacrifice and someone's blood
Interview With Rebecca:
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Do you have any unusual talents or hobbies?
I am a pretty boring person. I love to read, write, and crochet. Watching movies with the family is fun, but other than that I’m pretty blah. J
When did you first know that you wanted to be a writer?
For most of my life, I felt drawn to write but never felt that I could. In school, most teachers did not do more than read over my stories I submitted. They would go on about the talent of others. So, I assumed I couldn’t. Then I had some dreams that kept coming and preventing me from sleeping. A friend recommended just writing them to get them out of my system. It worked.
Where did the inspiration for Deep Connections come from?
One of the dreams that was plaguing me was the foundation for Deep Connections. It wasn’t near as scary but more of a sweet romance. I began writing it just to sleep without dreams.
Deep Connections has been described by some readers as a romantic suspense thriller with paranormal elements. What made you decide to incorporate all of these elements into one story?
I never set out to do it. This was my first adult story I had written. It began as a sweet romance that developed from there. It all started with the kidnapping scene and developed from there. I will take no credit for it. It was all the characters who hijacked the story.
Who is your favorite author?
Oh, I don’t think a true reader can have more than one. I love Tom Clancy, Amanda Quick, and many others. My list of favored authors grow every year as I meet new ones.
Do you have writing routine? A special pen, a certain type of music, time limits?
Again, I am boring. I try to write a little every day. If I don’t get a couple of thousand words written a day, I don’t feel like I got much done. I do need to have a general quiet. I can write with noise in a coffee shop, but I cannot have a single bit of noise around me at home.
Do you enjoy edits/rewrites, or not?
I used to not like them, but I have discovered that they can be the most fun part. A friend described my writing as a meal. I put the raw meat down in the first draft. From there, I season it, cook it, and then add the vegetables. I enjoy adding new scenes and adding a few lines here and there that change the entire story.
Do you do a lot of external research for your writing process? If so, what's the most interesting thing you've uncovered in your research?
In this series, I did not do much research. In the books I’m working on now there is a lot of research going into though not as much as I know many other authors go through for their material. It all depends on the story you are writing.
Which character was your favorite to write and why?
Tahnee was my favorite. She was strong and wise. She was supposed to be a minor role, but she has taken on a whole new life. Tahnee has become someone I long to be.
How do you come up with your character names?
I went through a list of names and said them out loud. That is how I got most of them. For Tahnee, I did look up Native American names and then read them. The one that sounded the best got it. J
Please tell us a little bit about your journey to publication
As I was getting into the second or third draft, a friend said I had to publish it. As we went exploring, we did not like most of the options we found. I know I’ll get rejected by all the big traditional publishers. There are way too many writers out there to stand out. I don’t know anyone in the right position. I went toward the self-publishing route. That is when a friend and I decided to pull our knowledge with hers in editing and proofreading and mine in business to start our own publishing company. It was meant to be one to publish our works and maybe a few other people we knew. It exploded and we have 16 books coming out this year with only three or four being ours.
What is the hardest part of being a writer?
Not being able to get it all down immediately. As the muse speaks, I want to just write the whole story in one setting. That is just not possible. Time won’t allow for it. That gets so frustrating.
What is the main theme/feeling you're trying to portray in your work, or the main feeling you hope that readers will come away from the book with?
A sense of adventure. Life is an adventure that many of find in books. This is not a true story. It is not a story that doesn’t have flaws. It’s a story that can take the reader from this world and into another one that has adventure, romance, and a little scare here and there.
When you're not writing, what are your other hobbies/passions?
I read more than anything. Other than that, I crochet or watch movies.
Are you working on any new projects?
Oh, I’m always working on projects. Dark Connections, the sequel, is about ready to go to the proofreader. I am writing three other stories that I hope will be out this year as well as the final in the Connections trilogy.
Quick Fire round:
Coke or Pepsi? Coke
Chocolate or Vanilla? Chocolate
Rainy winter days or blazing hot summer days? Rainy winter days
Hard Copy or e-book? Hard copy
Favorite book? The Hunt for Red October
Last book you read? The Goddaughter
What's a quote that inspires you? You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream. C. W. Lewis
What's your favorite comfort food? Ice cream
And now, I'll share my thoughts on Deep Connections.
My Rating: 2 Stars
Overall, I feel that the story itself has a lot of potential. But, there were several aspects that pulled me out of the story, and really detracted from the reading experience, which is why this has such a low rating.
One of the major drawbacks of the story is the writing style and use of language. The language is so stiff, and formal. It just doesn't flow well, and it doesn't sound natural. This story really could have used another round of editing. The language needs to be tightened in terms of unneccesary phrasing. At the same time, it needs to be loosened in terms of the formality of the language. If these changes were made, it would flow a lot better. Here's an example to demonstrate what I mean. This example stuck out in my reading just because it's so full of unneccessary filler and the phrasing is awkward:
"The beautiful, sunny weather that only increased her good mood was pulling her outside. Before getting dressed, some toast was devoured. As she left the kitchen, she noticed that her bowls had many cracks in them. Since it probably wouldn't be long before they broke or began to leak, it looked like some new dishes were in order. Nodding, she grabbed her purse."-Graf pg 46 (ARC copy)
I would say that at least half of this entire paragraph is completely unneccesary. The descriptions are almost too full. While I'm all for lots of detail, this much just feels forced. Especially the sentence about the toast. No one would say this sentence aloud, it just doesn't sound right. There's also a lot of usage of nearly the exact same words or phrasings within just a few lines of each other, which can make the story drag a little.
These awkward phrasings don't just happen in non-speaking scenes. the stiffness and formality is present in times of dialogue as well.
Despite the stiffness of the language, one of the aspects of this book that I really enjoyed was the closeness of the Lightfoot family. You can tell that they all genuinely care for one another and they support each other, no matter what. It was nice to see them embrace Brenna so thoroughly as well, no matter how much she resists their attempts to include her.
Brenna, herself, is a slightly underdeveloped character, in my opinion. She has brief flashes of potential that could signal that she has some strength of character, but for the most part she seems more like a damsel in distress to me than anything. She just doesn't react the way I expect from a stronger character. She has flashes of anger about being controlled by Eaton or Slaton, but a lot of the time she's very passive. There's a scene in a cave where there's a fight going on between a wolf and her attacker, "The Creeper" Brenna doesn't react. She sits there watching, trying to get her clothes back on. She doesn't try to help, she just moves out of the way. I would think if someone were trying to attack me, and there was a fight going on, I would try to help out the individuals that were on my side in any way possible rather than just standing there. Since this is book one of a trilogy, I'm really hoping that Brenna grows into her own and becomes a more capable character.
I'm always really curious to find out how authors pick names for their characters. And I've always really enjoyed characters with unique names. The names of some of the characters, Tahnee, Eaton, Slaton, Layford, they are all really unique, which is great. The only problem is, they are very similar sounding, which is confusing. Because of their similarity it's all too easy to confuse their personalities at times. And they're easy to mix up. There's one section on page 244 that really through me for a loop:
"Layton, his light fur rippling in the evening breeze, crested a hill and stopped cold."
It seems that the author combined Layford and Slaton and got Layton. Now, I realize that my copy is an uncorrected proof and that this mistake has likely been corrected in the finished copy, I'm simply using the example to illustrate my point that the names are too similar.
One thing that I wished there were more of was action. The story didn't really pick up until about halfway in, and even then it was more explanatory than action filled. If I'm guessing correctly though, there will be more action in the following books as most of the background has already been dealt with in this book.
I also wish that the elements of lore and legend around Slaton and family's tribe were more thouroughly explained. Ms. Graf stated in the interview above that she didn't do as much research for this series, but I feel that it would have greatly benefitted if she had.
I have to admit ,I certainly could have done without the ability of Slaton and his family to turn in to wolves. It feels cliche. I would have been perfectly satisfied with them having telepathic abilities without being able to turn into wolves. That way, you'd still have the supernatural element, without the overplayed aspect of the wolves. I was actually trying to ignore that element of it as I read, because I just didn't care for it, and just trying to focus on the telepathy, which is why I feel that ability would stand just fine on it's own.
Another element of this story that I appreciated is the romance between Slaton and Brenna. That does show through nicely, and the visions that they share are a nice accent to their romance. There's a bit of a love triangle for a while, with Slaton, Brenna and Eaton, but Brenna does eventually make her intentions clear, which is much better than having her stringing both of them along.
The good intentions of the story are clear, but the pull just isn't there with this one.