Introducing author Heather Dowell and her book Summers and Winters:
1. Tell us a little about yourself.
I love to be adventurous, meet new people, and visit new places. I’ve white-water rafted down the mountains of Turkey, swam in the Blue Lagoon, hiked the mountain sides of Oman, snorkeled in Seychelles, seen the beautiful architecture of Barcelona, slid down the Leap of Faith in Dubai, karaokeed in Bahrain, partied in Djibouti, and became a Shellback after crossing the equator.
2. When did you start writing, and why?
I’m 23 now, so I’ve been writing for about 10 years. I don’t think there was ever really a moment when I decided to write. I never really thought about it until now, but I think I started coming up with ideas after watching A Walk to Remember. The first plot I came up with was for “Summers & Winters”. I didn’t make it past the first 60 or so pages until 2009. On my second deployment, my writing really took off. I was tired of looking at a black screen watching the minutes go by, so I started stealing computer paper, and pretending like I was working on job requirements, when really I was working on this novel. Now that the novel is finished and I have all of these other ideas swarming around in my head, I don’t think I’ll ever stop writing. People always say they were born to do something, and I believe writing is the thing that I was born to do.
3. What do you write, and why? What do you enjoy about what you write?
I write in just about every genre, except for nonfiction, westerns, and horror. I’d never be able to finish a nonfiction book; I’m just not that patient. I won’t even watch Western movies, so I definitely wouldn’t spend the time writing a book. If I wrote horror, I’d probably wind up scaring myself.
For the most part, all of my books, no matter the genre, have at least some bit of romance in them. I enjoy writing romance, because love is one of the best things in life and I want to capture it on paper.
I never thought that I would write anything other than teen fiction, but then I started to do a lot more reading, and book ideas would just come to me - usually at very awkward times, when I needed to be sleeping or doing something important. Now, I can’t see doing general fiction. I love paranormal, sci-fi, dystopia, and fantasy, and I enjoy the challenge of trying to write them and make them realistic.
The thing I love most about writing is giving life to my characters. I don’t feel settled until others can read about them. Sometimes I think of my characters as real people. I cry when they cry, laugh when they laugh, and love when they love.
I love watching people read while I’m writing too. One time I was writing and a guy was looking over my shoulder, so I asked him what he was doing. He smiled. “I’m sorry, it’s just so cool watching you write. It’s like I’m reading your mind, knowing that what you are writing is exactly what you’re thinking at this moment in time.” It’s a interesting way to think of reading. You really are reading the author’s mind.
One of the coolest things that happens when writing is surprising myself. I don’t use outlines, so sometimes I think I’m writing a boring scene to avoid an awkward time gap, and BAM!!!!!! something brilliant just hops on the page and I’m like, “where the heck did that come from?”
4. What is your latest book or series? Any forthcoming books?
My latest book in the series is “The Coldest of Winters”. It picks up right where book one left off, well, a few hours later to be exact. Sorry about the cliff hanger, but it had to be done. It was the perfect ending to book one and lead in to book 2. I’m sure some of you saw it coming, but I doubt you will be able to predict what will happen in book 2.
I love giving titles double meanings. Every title contains a character last name, reflects the season that the events are taking place, and gives you a hint to what will happen in the book.
“Summers & Winters” – Heather Winters and Mitch Summers – reflects the seasons they spend together – lets us know that they are meeting in this book
“The Coldest of Winters” – the focus will be on Heather Winters – the book takes place in the winter – and “cold” lets us know that this is not going to be all rainbows and butterflies. This book gets pretty deep. Expect tears and anger. Some characters are probably going to tick you off, and you’ll want to rip their heads off. Others will make you think “what the hell. I can’t believe you just did that!”. Depending on how you feel about certain charcters, you may be doing a happy dance and screaming “’bout time!”.
“The Coming of Summers” – Mitch Summers will be the focus – it will take place during the spring – “coming” signifies the action, though I won’t give away which meaning I am refering to, you dirty minded people. :)
“A Summers for Forever” – the focus is actually on Mitch and Heather in the this one – it takes place during the summer – the title says it all, but it may not happen or be like what you think.
If you like my writing, don’t worry, there is a lot more to come. I have a few books in the works. I’m not sure if they will turn into a series or not. It all depends on how long it takes me to tell the story. The next two are:
“The Newcomer” – paranormal romance – Due to the complexity of the story's line, this may wind up being a chronicle. It could be up to twelve books. Every creature you can think of: witches, fairies, trolls, werewolves, vampires, dragons, elves, 4 of my own creation, mermaids, seers, seekers, shapeshifters, angels, human warriors - you name it and it’s probably in this book. Evil forces are lurking about and Emma is their best hope at defeating them, but she still think she’s human. Will the creatures of this earth be able to train her in time, and will they accept her if they find out she is the most dangerous creature of them all?
“Alien Invasion” (tentative title) - fantasy/sci-fi/suspense/romance - two co-conspirators, Alora and Luke, fight to stay alive and destroy the aliens that are overtaking the earth. All the while, Alora battles for Luke’s heart, but will she still want it when she finds out who he really is? What he has done in the past?
5. "Welcome To My Worlds": Tell us a little about the world of your latest book or series.
Homestead, South Carolina is a fictional place. I took a few of the settings from places I lived in the past and mixed them together to create Homestead.
Samson’s Creek was modeled after a Creek I went to with my cousins in Mississippi. That is also where I jumped off the tree, played chicken in the water, grilled out, and witnessed my cousin get stung by a bee in the eye.
The courtyard, where the group always has lunch, was at my old high school in Crossplains, TN. I always loved that setting, in the middle of the school but outside and away from the hustle and bustle of the crowded hallways. It’s really beautiful during the winter, snow falling around you as you sit on the cold cement, your lover's arms keeping you warm.
I modeled Homestead High after Portland High School in Tennessee. They are also home of the Panthers.
6. Introduce us to some of your characters. What do you like about them?
I like that Mitch is more mature than most 17-year-olds. He never dated anyone before Heather, which would probably seem weird to most, but you have to realize that he only dates when he thinks there is a prospect of marriage. Though he has had no real experience with girls, he is quite the romantic and says eloquent things that most would find cheesy, but come from his heart.
Heather is a lot like me, strong but overly sensitive at times. Some would find her emotions a little over the top, but the fact that she is so open about how she’s feeling is endearing. She loves with her whole heart and isn’t afraid to be vulnerable.
Brian is my favorite to write. He’s very witty, bold, and sometimes dangerous. He is definitely the clown of the group. Even though most people see the comedian side of him, Brian is a lot deeper than people know. He’s loyal to a fault and often puts others before himself. It’s rare that he find someone he feels he can truly relate to, and when he does, he falls for them – hard. We catch a glimpse of this in “Summers & Winters”, but we’ll really get to see this side of him In “The Coldest of Winters”. Brian can only be loyal to his friends for so long, it eventually developes that he follows his heart in his own desires, putting everything on the line.
Brittany is not your typical cheerleader. Yes, she dates a football player and is very popular, but there’s a lot more to her than that. She's sweet, and kind, and very girly, but she’s also smart and isn’t afraid to stick up for her friends. When she finds out Heather has befriended a girl known for starting trouble, she warns her but still allows Heather to make her own decisions. Brittany also has a knack for knowing just what to say. This comes in handy a few times, when Heather is on the verge of exposing her relationship with Mitch.
Sammy is the voice of reason. When anyone has an issue, they run to him. He’s trustworthy and knows how to hold his tongue. Other than almost ripping the hinges off of Hot Guy’s door to go after Brittany, who went in for a “warm shower”, Sammy is usually calm and collected.
All of the subordinate characters bring something to the table as well, but there too many of them to talk about now. You’ll just have to read the books. But I will tell you, there are a few “mean girls” who are out to destroy everything.
7. A fun fact you would like your readers to know about you or your book.
Some of the events in the book are modeled after real things that I’ve done. For instance, I did jump off of a tree and into a creek, and I did kill a snake with a shovel, though I didn’t eat it like Heather did. A lot of people commented on the Surf War scene, and in case you were wondering, you really can surf on trash can lids. You just need about an inch of water. I take a lot of little things from life and twist them around to fit my books.
8. Blog/site link, and where your book is available.
Book is available at Amazon
About the Author:
Hey everybody. My name is Heather Dowell and I was born in Tennessee on March 12, 1990. My family moved around frequently when I was a kid, mostly from county to county, so I've had a lot of experience with being the new kid. I graduated from Portland High School in Portland, TN in May 2008. Shortly after my 18th birthday, I enlisted in the United States Navy. I went to boot camp in Greatlakes, IL, which is a short train ride away from Chicago. I went to Chicago with my sailor friends as often as I could. I really enjoyed the city.
I've lived in Tennessee, Mississippi, Illinois, and Florida. If you count the womb, then I've also lived in Las Vegas, Nevada, that's part of the reason why I chose for Heather Winters of “Summers & Winters” to live in Las Vegas. I asked myself, "How would my life have been if I grew up in Vegas?", and created a whole new world.
I served four years on the USS Carney(DDG-64) in Mayport, FL and lived in Jacksonville, FL. I met some of the most wonderful people on that ship, and that is when I really started writing. In my upcoming book "The Newcomer", I transformed my real friends on the Carney into mythical creatures, like Mermaids, Vampires, Trolls, Fairies, Werewolves, and some creatures of my own creation, that are battling the Evil Black Dragon and his minions in order to keep them from conquering the world and dominating the human race.
I write books of almost every genre, all with a little hint of Romance, so if you are into that sort of thing, you should definitely try out one of my books.
I'm currently pursuing a bachelors degree in Elementary Education at Western Kentucky University. I have a passion for teaching children and for writing novels. I also love music and I'm a flag girl in the Big Red Marching Band. I'm married to a wonderful husband, and I love seeing my family every weekend. Family and friends are very important to me. You can probably see that through the characters that I have developed. They're all very unique and some of them are based on people I know. Some of the events stem from real events in my life as well, but I twisted them into a very fictional story. I hope you enjoy my work, and if you have any questions, feel free to contact me. Thanks for reading.
Read on for some excerpts from Heather's book!
“Thank you so much for dinner,” I tell Mitch.
“No problem, I'd love to take you out every night.”
“That’d be nice.”
We head out the door and I start walking toward the car, but Mitch takes my hand in his and we head for the beach. I almost retract my hand. I'm still getting used to this whole out in the open concept.
He smiles and gives me a light squeeze. “Heather, do you remember me saying I'd take you to the beach?” I nod. “Well, this isn't Myrtle, but it is a beach.”
I bite my lip and look up at him through my lashes. He's always so dang thoughtful.
“You're going to ruin your dress shoes,” I tell him as we walk over a wooden bridge and onto the sand. He smiles and runs his hand through my hair before planting a light kiss on my forehead.
He slides off his dress shoes and hides them under the bridge. “Hand me your flip-flops.”
I do as he says and watch his luscious body bend over once more. I curl my toes as he straightens and then loosens his tie. Next, he untucks his button up shirt and bends back over to roll up the hem of his dress pants right above the ankles. It’s so nerdy and sexy all at the same time.
“Now that I won’t ruin anything, would you do me the honor of accompanying me on a sunset stroll?”
He does a halfway bow and sticks out his hand, palm up.
“Is this how you get all your women?” I tease. He straightens and tries to hold back a laugh.
“No, but now that you mention it…”
I sock him in the arm.
“There are a lot of sticks.”
“Afraid of cutting your feet?” I nod. “OK, I have a solution for that.”
He bends his knees and picks me up like he’s about to carry me over the threshold. He seems relaxed and unstrained as he carries me over to the smooth part of the beach. I run my hand over his corded bicep and feel his taut muscles. I look up into his deep blue eyes and he slows, heading out into the water, but I’m only focusing on his eyes. His eyes meet mine and I shudder. Our gazes hold. He continues to move steadily forward. I’m surprised he’s still able to carry me as I’m not exactly light, but he makes it seem so effortless, like it is something he was born to do. I feel fragile but in a good way, because it also makes me feel beautiful. I raise my hand to his cheek. He stills and gives me a gentle kiss
“Are you ready for me to put you down?” he asks.
I look around. We are no longer on the shore. We’re about fifty feet out into the ocean, and he’s standing on a strip of relatively dry land, a sand bar.
“This is what is called low tide, when the water starts to recede from the shore. It’s kind of messy during low tide, but it shouldn’t be too bad right now. Do you wanna take you first step into the ocean?”
“Depends. How cold is it?”
“You tell me,” he laughs, putting me down. My toes dip into the water. It’s a little cold at first, but I get used to it quickly. My toes sink into the sand as I look at them, still holding onto Mitch’s shoulder with my hand.
“I wanna take a picture of you,” he says, taking out his camera phone.
“OK.” I release him.
Mitch takes a few steps back and then begins to take pictures. The wind has picked up and my hair is not staying put. Neither is his. It’s not hard to smile looking at him. I love the wind going through his hair. I wanna be the wind – caressing every inch of him. I give up on taming my hair and shift between different poses.
“I wanna get some naturals of you. Don’t pose, just do whatever is natural.”
I look around to see how far this sand bar goes. I start to follow it. There are a few seagulls or pelicans; I don’t really know coastal birds, at the end of the sand bar. I get closer, and one of them snaps its head up to look at me. I get down on my knees, pulling up the hem of my dress so that it doesn’t get wet. The temperature of the water no longer fazes me as I inch forward. I reach out to one of the birds and it flies away, the others following. I lean back on my calves and drop to hem of my dress. I no longer care if it gets wet. I just want to enjoy this. I want to take this all in.
I close my eyes for a minute, breathing in the salty air and listening to the waves crash on the shore. I run my hands through the cool sand. Arms wrap around me from behind.
“I’m so lucky to have you,” Mitch tells me.
I look up into his eyes. “I’m the lucky one.”
I take his phone from him. I can’t believe he’s sitting in the moist sand, wearing dress pants. His mom is going to kill him. But now that he is, we might as well have fun with it. I snap several pictures of him, and then I sit in his lap to take some with him. He wraps his arms around my waist and I lean back into his chest. I feel his breath on my neck and I feel like I’m floating as I snap pictures of us. I just start snapping without even looking at the camera.
I spin around to face him and rest my head on his neck as he smoothes my hair. I hand him his phone back and unbutton his dress shirt from top to bottom as we both breathe heavily. I slide it down his arms and it rests only on his wrists. He’s wearing a white beater tank underneath and I edge it up with my thumbs. He slides his dress shirt off his wrists and slides it under his bottom, freeing his hands. I remove his tank and he puts it under him as well.
His eyes travel from my eyes to my lips to my chest and then to his phone. We have to be careful not to get it wet. I take it from him and slide it under my bra where it will be safe.
“I’m never washing that phone,” he laughs.
“I would hope not. You’d ruin it.”
“Well, right now, I’m really jealous of my phone.”
“I want you to be this phone, but if I let you do that with no barrier, I’ll be done for. I won’t be able to stop. I’m having a hard enough time controlling myself as it is.”
“Kiss me,” he pleads.
“What did I tell you about stealing my lines?”
“Hum, if I recall you said you don’t use lines, you only tell the truth.”
“Do you remember everything I say?”
“Maybe,” I grin.
“Alright, that’s it. I’m kissing you whether you like it or not.”
He places both of his hands tenderly on my face.
“As if I could ever not like it.”
His lips meet mine. His thumb slides down my neck, and when he finds my breast he cups it with his hand, gently caressing it. His other hand chooses that moment to slide down my side as he moves his lips down to my neck, I can’t stop the moan that escapes from me. His touch is all too wonderful. I want more.
I slide my hands down his smooth pecs and then trace his abs with my index finger. His breath hitches. I reposition myself so that I’m straddling him as we begin to kiss with sudden urgency. I lean forward causing him to lie back in the sand. The water is closing in on us. I feel it creep onto my stomach as Mitch’s hands glide down my back, finally resting right above my bottom.
I let out a small giggle midway through a kiss.
“What is it?”
“You don’t have to be so nice. I like you. You don’t have to ask permission for everything.”
“I just don’t wanna disrespect you. This isn’t about sex for me. It’s more than that.”
“I know, which is why I don’t mind if you take a little initiative.”
He plants both of his hands on my behind and squeezes.
“Just keep your hands above my clothes.”
“Whatever you want, Baby.”
I kiss him harder as he runs his hands all over my body. Then I feel the ocean water soak my bra. I look up and the sand bar is completely gone, with some fairly good-sized waves off the horizon. We both jump up and run toward the shore.
“Looks like low tide is over,” Mitch says ringing out his shirts.
“How are we going to explain this?” I ask, motioning to my dress that has sand all over the backside due to Mitch’s caresses.
“Give me the phone and take a full dip.”
I hand it to him and run right back into the water, letting it consume me. I swim out into it until I can no longer touch the bottom. The sun is starting to set, and Mitch was right, it’s so much better watching it from the beach. I linger for a little while longer before Mitch swims in after me.
“We need to get back before dark, or Brian will send out a search party.”
I give him a kiss, we grab our shoes and head back to the car.
“Dare number two… make out, with tongue, with the person to your right…” To my right is Mitch. This is so my dare. “For five minutes.”
“I got it!” I yell. I’m going to make out with Mitch, right here and now.
“Mitch, it looks like it’s your lucky night,” Brian tells him, handing the camera phone over to Kenji. “Heather, make it good for the camera.”
“Oh I will. I just hope Mitch is up for it.”
“Oh I’m up for it,” Mitch grins.
“Alright Kenji, keep track of the time.”
Kenji nods and then says, “Go.”
This is it. It’s now or never. Mitch is looking at my lips. He’s ready. I lace my hand with his and then turn to straddle the log I’m sitting on. He does the same. I’m so nervous. I’ve never made out in public, and I never thought I’d be able to do so with Mitch. I tenderly touch his shoulder with my free hand and then lean slightly forward. The spark returns as soon as I touch him. His breathing is slow and strained like he’s incredibly nervous, too.
“I’m restarting the time,” Kenji says. “I’ll start it when you start kissing.”
Mitch and I both let out a laugh as our foreheads meet. I look up at him through my lashes. He’s so perfect. I drag my hand up to his cheek and then kiss him gently. His free arm goes under my arm and around my back. He licks my bottom lip and I part my lips, giving his tongue room to enter my mouth. Mmm, he tastes so good. Just like winter fresh gum. The tip of his tongue traces a line across the roof of my mouth. I put my hand on his neck and then run it through his hair. I let go of his hand that is holding mine as our tongues dance. I let my now free hand cup his firm peck and push him downward.
I detach myself from his mouth long enough to move on top of him and then I suck and nibble on his bottom lip as he lets out ragged sighs. I love his breathy responses. They make me want to be wild. What’s a game of Dare without a little risk? With him I want to do things I’ve never been brave enough to do with anyone else. And I don’t care what anyone else thinks about it. I’m going to do what I want.
I kiss his cheek and then suck and nibble on his earlobe. He’s breathing so hard now. Or is it me? I don’t know, and I don’t really care. I want him. I wanna make my claim on him, and I want everyone to know that he is mine. “Unsnap me,” I whisper into his ear. He tilts his head to the side and kisses my cheek.
“Are you sure?”
His hands travel to the clasp of my bra and he fidgets. Then I feel the pressure on my back fade away. “Take it off,” I say while tugging on his lip. He doesn’t hesitate. He slides down both of my straps and I slip my arms out. He pulls my bra off with a little tug and then tucks it under him.
“For my eyes only,” he says.
I love the feel of myself on top of him with little between us. I kiss his neck and his hands drift down my back as Ty say, “Go for it, Mitch.” I laugh and nod into Mitch’s neck. His hands drift slowly to my bottom. When he gets there, I can’t help but grind into him inconspicuously. Hopefully, the others won’t notice what I’m doing. He presses me to him and I can feel his hardness. He presses upward and holds me down. My whole body goes hot. I let out a soft moan as he presses me harder against him.
“That’s enough for me,” Christine says.
“It was enough for me before they started,” Marie says.
“Still got two minutes,” Kenji tells us.
There’s a sigh in the background. It must be Brittany. She’s probably making out with Sammy.
“It’s not yawls Dare,” Ty says, confirming my suspicions. “So, Christine...if you don’t like watching, I could always kiss you, instead.”
Brian laughs at Ty’s flirtatiousness. Considering that Ty hasn’t even asked Christine out, it is a little odd that he would try persuading her to kiss him.
Now that Mitch and I are no longer the center of attention, we really go at it. Our kisses become much more urgent. We only have a minute or so left and I’m determined to make the best of it. Mitch must be having the same thought. His hand slides up my dress and to the zipper. He slowly inches it down, waiting for me to protest. I feel the warm breeze on my exposed skin, until he covers it with his hand. He doesn’t try to take my dress off, but he lowers the zipper a tad bit more and presses himself to me. My thighs start squeezing together. Oh no! Not now! Not here! He presses me tightly against him as I let out a much louder moan. How am I going to explain that? This is no longer a Dare. It’s us, alone in his bedroom, that first time he made me wet. I don’t understand how he can have such an effect on me. But…I like it.
His fingers trail down my spine and I come undone. I collapse, no longer able to keep my breathing regulated. He did it again. Except this time, it was in public. I breathe hard onto his neck. He trembles under me. If the group around us didn’t know we were together, they would know now. I can’t believe I just did that in front of everyone here. I really, really hope none of them noticed what just happened. Heat rushes to my cheeks.
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