Wednesday, March 20, 2013

ReGuarding Grace...

Hi there, I would like to introduce Karen Leppert, author of ReGUARDING Grace...
For your chance to get a FREE copy of ReGUARDING GRACE to review, just answer the question at the bottom of this post.
Karen, your novel has recently been released through Museitup Publishing. Can you tell us a little about what inspired you to write “ReGuarding Grace.”
 Having worked with you on this book as content editor, I know what a complex story you have to share. Can you tell us what inspired the many personalities behind ReGuarding Grace?

The idea for ReGUARDing GRACE came from a television show and a documentary. The show, The United States of Tara, was a dark comedy on Showtime some years ago. 

The main character, Tara, had multiple personalities, though unlike mine. Hers were human and the result of abuse. One of her alters wore glasses, reminding me of a documentary about Dissociative Identity Disorder, or people with multiples personalities. 

I marvelled at how the mind can protect itself and especially how the alters had distinct personalities and traits. Unlike humans, my alters have superhuman abilities, traits they possessed in their former lives that are “supersized” as an alter.

Having multiple personalities as characters had to be difficult, how did you get your characters (and their alters) to follow the plot? Did any of them take on a life of their own? How do you keep so many personalities in check?

First and foremost, I gave them distinct personalities and very different paranormal abilities. This made it easy to tell them apart. 

At least I hope so. As the writer, I knew the characters. I hope the reader agrees. 

For instance, even though Jack’s alters share his body and, therefore, looks, they change his look a little. Nathan wears glasses, Tobias’ body appears to “buff up” when he transitions and Oliver wears rugged clothes befitting his earthy personality.

As far as any of the alters taking on a life of their own, I found a kinship with Oliver. I thoroughly enjoyed when Jack “gave him the day”. He was fun to write.

Writing Grace’s story is only half the exercise though, isn’t it. Becoming published is not always easy. Even with self publishing as an option. What do you think is the most important thing a writer needs to face, along the road to publication?

I threw my fear of failing out the door. First and foremost, I write for myself. I promised to take this journey with one expectation. 

I would take the steps toward publishing because it was a part of the process. My only goal was to learn something from this experience, even if it meant accepting failure. 

Great lessons come from failing. At least I could say I tried. I also thought it might give my children (and someday grandchildren) some insight into my soul, other than being their mother.

What was the hardest hurdle for you in getting your story published?

I received an offer to publish from another publisher who didn’t plan to make any changes. I had already sent the manuscript to Muse, so I informed them of the other offer. 

While Muse liked my idea, they thought the story was too passive and offered to accept a re-write. This was the first real critique I received. 

Even though I did not have a guarantee Muse would accept my manuscript, I declined the first offer and proceeded to re-write. It wasn’t easy and I still struggle with a passive voice. I am definitely a work in progress.

Have you always been a writer?

In my heart, but my head got in the way (that fear of failure again). With my children grown and out of the house, I contemplated how I would spend my time. 

Being out of the working world for twenty years, I had few employable skills, so I decided to pursue my dream of writing a novel. 

In five years, I have written two trilogies. I am presently editing the second book in this trilogy, Beyond Grace, with the hopes of Muse accepting it for publication.  

About the Author:
I was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland but now reside in Belcamp, Maryland with my husband, Ed, and two children, Jess and Zach. When my fiftieth birthday approached, I finally discovered what I wanted to be “when I grew up”…a writer. 
When a new student arrives at Mansfield High School, Grace Evans feels an inexplicable kinship with the boy. Strange feelings are not new to Grace, who has experienced lapses in time accompanied by injuries that defy logical explanation. As much as she tries to ignore this latest mystery, Grace cannot deny her already-troubled life is getting darker and more dangerous and wonders if this new boy knows her secret.
Jack Elliott has always known what he is and believes his life is one of destiny and fate because of one person: Grace Evans, a young woman who has haunted him since the day she was born. Everything…his education, training, sacrifices…has led to this moment, but Jack‘s skills are about to be tested beyond his wildest imagination.
Like so many times before, Grace Elizabeth Evans dominated Jack’s thoughts as he waited in the corridor of The Delacroix Institute. Everything around him seemed heightened. While he could blame Oliver, one of three alter personalities who shared his body, Jack knew better. The possibility of another Guardian receiving Grace’s assignment sent Jack reeling. So much so, Nathan and Tobias, Jack’s other alters, left for the day, leaving only Oliver to contend with Jack’s hysteria.

Jack empathized with his sensitive alter, who had the ability to see, feel, taste and hear others. Surely, Oliver felt incapacitated today, overwhelmed by Jack’s worrisome thoughts, trembling body and visions of Grace with another Guardian. Not to mention the outside stimuli Oliver must contend with on a daily basis. 

“You should go,” Jack prompted.

Without a word, Oliver retreated, returning the world to normal. The fluorescent lights no longer buzzed in Jack’s ears like an annoying fly, their brightness dimmed to a tolerable level.

Best of all, his colleagues’ conversations, both external and internal, hushed; the only voices Jack heard belonged to two people chatting beside the water cooler at the end of the hallway.

Yes, Oliver was gone.

Jack longed to flee too. His position, however, forced him to be stay so he ventured down the hall to attend a Board meeting, an annoying nuisance in his life, mandated by the Institute.

My life, not my job, he thought, knowing they were one in the same, because his job consumed his life. While his father accepted Amalgamates’ jobs and lives as one, Jack sometimes wondered, even longed to be human.

Was their existence fate or a gift? Countless theories attempted to explain Amalgamates existence. Hosts bore the responsibility of housing alters with previous, unfulfilled lives; or hosts, with the help of alters, were chosen by a higher being for the greater good. Either way, each time the Board delegated a new assignment, Jack became overwhelmed. 

A new assignment meant a new life, moving to the new recruit’s home, pretending to be a distant cousin, anything and everything not to raise suspicions among humans.

This time proved different. Jack believed he, as well as the Board, didn’t have a choice; Grace’s appointment came the day she was born.

Grace? The Board frowned on coed assignments so Jack expected intense opposition. Even his father questioned approving Jack as Grace’s Guardian. After all, there were plenty of competent woman who could help Grace develop a cohesive partnership with her alters.

“Well, well. Are my eyes deceiving me?” A familiar voice resonated from the end of the hall, bringing him back to reality.

“I’m afraid not,” Jack groaned.

“Jack Elliott,” Christina announced when they met, exchanging a warm embrace. Her eyes penetrated his, trying to ascertain who else might be present.

“Christina Powers,” he greeted and answered her unasked question. “I’m alone. Tobias can’t stand the bureaucracy of our job and Nathan fears he will succumb to the temptation to sway the Board’s decisions so he banished himself. Oliver tried. My emotional state proved exhausting. I sent him away.”

She nodded. “What brings you here?”

“A new assignment.”

“Really? I must not have seen the profile yet. There are two new recruits receiving assignments today. I doubt either is yours.” Christina waved two case files in the air.

“You couldn’t be more wrong,” Jack said, choosing not to share the details.  

“I doubt it.”

“I asked for this one…”



“Interesting.” Christina opened the door. “Shall we?”

“You’re late,” his father admonished after Jack and Christine took their seats.

Jack recognized the faces sitting around the table. His father, Dr. Robert Elliott, Administrator and Chief Resident of The Delacroix Institute; Dr. Charles Phillips, Dean of Education; Christina Powers, Transition Coordinator; Maggie Willington, Chief Psychiatrist; and Louis Flanagan, Facilitator.

“Why is he here?” Charles asked.

“Good question,” Jack muttered for a different reason.

The same question plagued him for years. Jack heard her, dreamt of her, saw her. Why? He knew their lives would intersect one day, just not when. Now “when” had arrived.

Her picture flashed onto the screen at the front of the room; a familiar face, which haunted him. Grace Elizabeth Evans.

Although Grace’s file contained a complete account of her life, Jack already knew everything about her and imagined, in her mind, Grace knew him too.

* * * *
Grace jerked upright in bed, looked around, listening. Did someone come into the room? Had someone talked about her? When she didn’t hear anything, Grace fooled herself into believing it a dream instead of the annoying voice inside her head.

As far back as Grace could remember, she woke tired, as though she never slept at all. Her caretakers blamed sleepwalking, while the experts, physicians, psychologists, didn’t have a clue. Grace endured tests for Attention Deficit Disorder, Sleep Apnea, Bipolar Disorder, as well as any other mental illness imaginable, along with a host of other diseases, which frightened and intrigued her. 

She sometimes wished one of them proved to be true. It might lead to a cure. No such luck. So she lived with the belief she wasn’t normal; no treatment existed for her malady, no miracle cure, no drug, and certainly no magical potion.

When sleep came, Grace experienced the strangest dreams. At least normal people called them dreams. They didn’t feel exactly like nightmares, rather fantastic adventures, which left her exhilarated. Grace even gave them a fancy title, ESMs or Euphoric State of Mind.

Grace’s mind and body did not feel in harmony, however. Most times, Grace woke achy, with unexplained bruises, cuts or other strange anomalies. This morning proved no different.

While Grace managed to avoid the mirror while brushing her teeth, she couldn’t help noticing her hair when dressing for a jog. Well, not her hair, rather what stuck out of it. Her long, curly locks always felt tousled, except now something else knotted through them. 
Twigs, grass, leaves, all twisted and matted in a tangled menagerie Mother Nature bestowed upon her. Why? How? Yet another mystery. Could she crack the case?

Not this morning. Grace headed out the door. 
If you would like a FREE copy of ReGUARDING GRACE to review, just answer the question...
What are the multiple personalities called in ReGuarding Grace?
and email your answer to Caleaths (no spaces)
 and I will contact the author.


Wendy said...

What an intriguing idea for a novel. I know the TV series you mentioned starring our Aussie Toni Collette. I remember the movie which won Joanne Woodward the best actress Academy Award in 1957, The Three Faces of Eve. But your story takes the multi personalities to a whole new level. Very clever. Good luck with your book.

Unknown said...

Thanks for taking the time to comment on my book and thanks for the compliment! This being my first book, it is nice to hear someone thinks my idea is "clever".