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Friday, October 22, 2010

Special Guest Dawn Kunda

This Week our guest is Dawn Kunda who will give away a copy of her book to one lucky commenter, so be sure to leave a thought for this new author :-)

Alexis: Hi Dawn. Welcome to Happily Ever After Thoughts. Thank you so much for coming. Can you start by telling us why the switch from Private Investigator to Romance Writer?

Dawn: Thanks for inviting me to your blog, Alexis.

I chuckled when you asked this first question. It’s a huge, long story, maybe a novel someday, but I’ll try to condense it. I wanted to further my career, so I went to law school. Granted, I still worked as an investigator, but I wanted to be “in” further and be a part of civil procedures. I eventually left law school because, knowing myself, I would put 110% forward and work would be my life.

Through work and my education, I ran into so many situations that seemed like a movie or a novel that I couldn’t help but put them into words. I can stay home to do this, use my education, and still have a life.

Alexis: I bet you have run into many situations. They say truth is stranger than fiction. So this is your debut novel. I imagine you learned a lot through the publication process. Would you share something you learned?

Dawn: Two main things stand out in the process, the “editing crunch” and the marketing.

I’ve heard about the “crunch,” but I’ve never been privy to what actually happens until now. It’s an incredible experience to have a professional editor of your genre apply the “rules” of writing to your own work. I will never say that I know everything and will keep learning as I continue to write.

And Marketing. I’m still learning and ferreting out what works best. It could be a full-time job, but I’m always itching to get back to writing the next novel.

Alexis: So what is Court of Lies all about?

Dawn: I’m still excited to talk about Court of Lies, even though I’ve probably read it a hundred times through edits.

Court of Lies is about Brooke and Scott who have combined their talents, stained glass artistry and landscaping, to create a magnificent project. Another project evolves as they develop an interest in each other.

Someone isn’t happy about them interacting and tries to put a stop, or shall I say a bullet, in their way.

Evidence tampering and legal manipulations find their way into the court system during preliminary trials of the suspects of the shooting.

Who’s the “good cop” and who’s the “bad cop?” Or is it the district attorney changing the rules? Do suggestions from a psychic help or hinder the investigation?

Brooke finds it hard to trust anyone during the investigation of the shooting. This includes her ex-husband and her new love interest, Scott. They are both suspects and someone is lying.

Alexis: Wow, sounds like a real web of corruption, but your heroine and hero manage to get through it. What are your favorite character traits of Brooke and Scott?

Dawn: I adore Brooke because she does have insecurities and doubts throughout the legal process, yet she also risks her safety to dig up information that only she knows may exist.

And how could I not love Scott? He’s strong in body and mind. He risks the wrath of the law to watch over Brooke. Every man has his flaws, though. He’s a busy man, as many of us are today. Scott needs to find time for a relationship and accept that Brooke’s time with other acquaintances aren’t a threat.

Alexis: What kind of research did you have to do for this novel?

Dawn: I had a great time with the research. I interviewed a stained glass artist who described the how-to and how she comes up with ideas. If I weren’t so busy, I’d take it up as a hobby.

I also interviewed landscapers and do a lot of homemade landscaping in my own yard. I contacted legal personnel to make sure my use of the law portrayed a realistic fictional version. The fact that I worked with the law for a handful of years gave me a head start. I did peruse my legal volumes to create twists in the story because law is not as black and white as we’d like it to be.

Alexis: I know, but that might be a bonus for some cases I imagine. I understand this book is available electronically now, but it will be released in print sometime next year, correct?

Dawn: Yes, Court of Lies is in many forms for e-book readers right now. The projected paperback release is December or January. I don’t have an exact date yet, but I will announce it on my website,, when I know.

Alexis: Do you have any other romance novels in the works?

Dawn: Definitely. I’m about half-way done with my next romantic suspense, “Dirty Windows.” Briefly, it’s about a black-market baby operation with loose ends. In order to end the operation, the hero must distance himself from the heroine. Which is more important, a romance or justice? Or can there be both?

Hmmm…I don’t know exactly how I’ll answer those questions because I figure it out as I write and the characters put their two cents in, too.

Alexis: Ah, so the plot thickens :-) I understand you are going to give away a copy of Court of Lies to one lucky commenter.

Dawn: Yes, I want to give back to those willing to relay their thoughts. To know what readers want and think helps me write better stories.

Alexis: Well, that’s what this blog is all about, "thoughts." Thank you so much for visiting Happily Ever After Thoughts. We like talking about romance novels here and learning about the wonderful people who write them :-)

Dawn: Your very welcome and thank you for chatting with me:)

Alexis: Here's a quick summary: Brooke's effort to start a new career along with love is shot to pieces as her ex-husband lurks around every corner of change. A bullet changes her course and Brooke must filter the evidence in a corrupt investigation with her ex-husband and lover as suspects of the attempted murder.

And a real teaser. Check out this excerpt from Court of Lies:

“What the hell are we doing here?” Ty demanded with a slight slur.

“Calm down. I have a reason for getting you in here this quickly. It’ll work to your advantage,” District Attorney Sabin said.

“You need to get me out of here, now. I have patients to see in the morning. Their needs don’t go on hold for emergencies,” Marla’s rattled voice added.

Remaining low key, District Attorney Sabin responded, “You both know you’re on the list of suspects?” He turned his attention to Marla, didn’t wait for an answer, and continued with a severe look. “You may have to give up a couple days of work, but this will be better than a whole lot of years.”

After a minute’s delay, Marla wiped the worried look from her face and said with defiance, “Many years? You sound as if you already have it figured out that we’re responsible for this horrible shooting. Maybe I shouldn’t be here period.”

Ty followed her lead. “I don’t want to be here long, either. Considering what we’ve been through, Attorney Sabin,” he stated snidely, “What makes you think you have the right to bring me in here without payback?”

“Trust me. I know this seems backward, but it’s in your best interest.” District Attorney Sabin stood and put his papers back into a brown and tattered brief case. He shoved the steel chair underneath a rickety, matching table provided in the bleak conference room of the county jail.

Frustration replaced the smugness on Ty and Marla’s faces as the guards surrounded them to lead them back to their separate cells.

Sabin approached Ty’s escort. “Leave him behind. I need a few minutes with him yet.”

The guards left the room with Marla in tow. As their footsteps faded, Ty shot out of his seat and turned on District Attorney Sabin. “I want that piece-of-shit Marshall away from Brooke.”

“Hey, I’m working on keeping you from being committed for attempted murder. I don’t think I owe you anything else.”

“I don’t care what you think. I have your job and your life in my hands right now. There’s no limit to what you owe me for not turning your ass in.”

District Attorney Sabin scowled and shook his head. “Okay, you tell me how I’m going to keep Marshall away from Ms. Bellin. You’ve got me there.”

Ty spoke slowly, enunciating his demand. “I don’t care how you do it. Charge him for trying to kill Brooke. Then you can arrest him. If you can’t do that fast enough, put a restraining order or something on him.”

“That’s impossible. I can’t charge him right now and she has to petition for a temporary restraining order.”

Ty glared and slammed his fist on the desk. “Then fake it.”

“Can’t do that.” Sabin paused and looked over Ty’s head, thinking. “I’m not the only one dealing with the evidence for the shooting, and the only way we can get a TRO on Marshall without her consent, would be if she had a guardian and that person petitioned. Marshall doesn’t have to be charged or arrested to be served a restraining order. We just need the right person to file for it.”

“Get her a guardian then.”

“Not that easy. It would take months and a mental or physical reason to have one.”

Ty calmed before he asked, “How does a person get a guardian?”

“The purpose that would best fit Ms. Bellin is to have a court order based on a referral by a psychiatrist claiming she’s incompetent. The court would appoint a guardian. The guardian can petition that she’s an individual at risk against a certain person, Marshall for instance.” Attorney Sabin shook his head. “I don’t see it happening.”

A sly smile escaped Ty’s lessening anger. “I can do that.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, what do you think I did for the last two years when I was recovering from a stroke? I played games. Games on the computer, and not the kind that you buy at the store to download.” Ty rubbed his jaw. “Get me a pass to the computer lab, and I’ll be back in a couple hours with a form making me Brooke’s guardian.”

“Not gonna work.”
“Sure it will. I’ll get the form, scribble a psych’s name on it, and then you call in a quick favor from your buddy the judge. How long will it take to get Marshall the news?”

“If it works, which I doubt, the TRO has to be executed within one day.” Sabin’s mind began to whirl as he realized Ty was serious. If the document appeared authentic, he considered how long it would be until someone figured out the game. Wiping his hand across his forehead, he prayed that it would last long enough to convince Ty to keep his mouth shut.

“Perfect.” Ty locked stares with the district attorney. “Get Marshall away from my wife.”

Sabin adjusted his briefcase under his arm. “She’s not your wife.”

Alexis: Don't forget to leave a comment for your chance to win Dawn's book Court of Lies.

If interested in buying her book click here for an immediate download!

And don't forget to stop by next week on Halloween for the introduction of my new blog contributors and some fun prizes. Hint: Halloween is my favorite holiday :-)


  1. Wow, that is an interesting leap from investigator to romance writer but how lucky for me that romance novels are my favorite with mysteries being a close second! I can't wait to read your book!
    Are you planning on using any of your real-life cases for the plots in any of your books? I hope you didn't run into too many corrupt people who were supposed to be the good guys to have given you inspiration ;)
    I can't wait to read how you connect art/landscaping, a shooting, legal intrigue and a blooming romance. Reading a romance with a mystery throughout is such an added bonus. I can't wait to read your novel "Court of Lies".

  2. Hi Dawn,
    I am also intrigued by your career changes, as I've taken a similar path.

    The clip you've provided reflects your law training, and the dialogue is detailed and spot on.

    Obviously, you are quite knowledgeable on the topics you write about. I take it you soaked in your surroundings while being exposed to the court/law/judges/police system. Do you ever wish you'd gone as far as taking the bar? Or are you a 'no regrets' kind of person?

    Best of luck with the book!

    Lyndee Henderson

  3. Congratulations on the new career! There's nothing better than a bit of romance surrounded by intrigue ... sort of like peanut butter surrounded by chocolate.

  4. Court of Lies sounds like a fantastic book! Can't wait to read it :)

    Wendy Ely

  5. I feel like a just made a new group of friends!

    Paige,thanks for the encouraging review of Alexis and my chat. As far as if I use true cases, the best I can answer that is that part or some of the issues are from real life. I've changed virtually all the details and do not use any real people. I would never want to incriminate anyone or have a reader think "she's writing about me!" The issue is simply the legal concept that is broken resulting in a crime or crimes.
    Oops, here I go issues really thrill me.
    To keep my stories from getting too serious or simpy about the law, I decided to warm it up with my favorite type of romance and I wanted the characters to have interesting or unique trades or careers.
    So, my "interesting" characters happened to be in the way of illegal activities and that's how they meshed.
    I hope you do enjoy Court of Lies, and I'd love to hear from you after!

  6. Lyndee, Thanks so much for your compliments and for the wishes for my novel!
    Now I'm curious and want to ask you what your career exchange was? Or if it's not for public eyes, email me...can I say that?!

    About law school, first, I loved it and breathed it. And that's all I had time for during school. I knew it would only get worse, timewise, and I guess I decided to gamble on enjoying life a tad versus having work as my life. I was offered an associate position in a law firm after my first semester with the contingency of passing the bar, of course. Still, the things being an attorney could do for my life, there'd be no time to enjoy.
    No, I don't regret not taking the bar. If I was single...hmmm...maybe, but I'm happily married.

  7. Lisa, thank you for the congrats! Great way to describe romantic suspense, PB and chocolate. I might add a bit of raspberry, also, but I so know what you mean.

  8. Hi Wendy, so glad Court of Lies intrigues you! I hope the novel is better than you even expect. Please visit my website afterward and let me know:)

  9. Dawn,
    I understand what you mean about a career taking over your life, and I respect you for having the courage and self-knowledge to take that step away.

    My ten years as Realtor, Broker, and Broker/Owner of a real estate firm commanded my every waking hour and my kids, starting at age three and four, spent hours in the car with me as I drove advertisement flyers (before email) between brokers, etc. As a result, my children asked for weird things for Christmas gifts, like file folders and brief cases! At age seven my son requested and received a file cabinet for his room, lol. Today he's in sales while my daughter is a research scientist in corp life with lots of file folders on her desk. So somehow my family survived that career. But I have wondered at times if that was the right choice for my life.

    I've also been a social worker, salesperson selling truck suspensions, president of a doll company, in real estate as mentioned, and since 1999 a writer of newspaper and magazine articles and author of four non-fiction books.

    For me, writing is the perfect marriage of the two things I like the most: writing and sales. It seems like you have a similar marriage with writing and the law. :)


  10. Thanks for your story, Lyndee. You've certainly worked a lot of venues and I bet it kept your life incredibly busy and interesting.
    Maybe a touch different that your son wanted a file cabinet, but what a great idea...I would've been a child with one, too, if I had thought of it.
    And you're right, take life experiences and write about them and it's a perfect duo!

  11. Thanks Dawn. My nickname in HS was Flighty, lol.

    Do you include a disclosure saying that the characters in this book are fictional, etc to cover yourself? Are you planning a 'law series' with this book as the first? Do you see yourself writing something completely off topic in the future such as paranormal, etc?


  12. Hi HS (another interesting item:)

    You're welcome.
    All fiction novels, that I'm aware of, do have a statement claiming all characters, settings, etc. are fictional. I did add a disqualifier in the acknowledgments stating that I am solely responsible for any error in the use of the law as I had named a few of the legal personnel that gave me advice.
    I plan on staying with romantic suspense at this time. And funny you should ask...I've considered a trilogy or series, but honestly most trilogies I've read are connected because a minor character from one novel is the major character in another. Many readers adore this and if they like one they buy them all. It's a great selling point and I should want to do it, but...I have many single title novels in mind. The ideas revolve around law, a touch on politics, and international issues, which I will have to do a lot of fun research. With the political issues, I will do my best to keep it open-minded because everyone has a right to an opinion, and I wouldn't want to insult anyone.
    A legal series, though, huh? It does sound like a great challenge. Is that something you would like, a series or a trilogy?

  13. Dawn, I just started reading your book and I have to say you certainly started it in the middle of the action! What a great idea!
    I think you should definitely think about a trilogy. It could always revolve around three brothers, where one is a cop, one an attorney and one a private investigator or a bondsman or social worker or . . . I guess the options are endless :-)

  14. Alexis, I think I started writing my first novel, Court of Lies is my second, like many writers where I did many of the "no no's" such as too much description and thinking in the head of the heroine. The first novel was great practice.
    As I studied the publishing and writing industry, they go well together, I learned to start with action and in the middle of something. Action can be portrayed in dialogue or physical happenings. I just jumped in and took it from there.
    How do I get rid of all these other single title ideas flitting through my head? Maybe I need to write two books at a time...a series and the stand alones! I need to invent time, too, then. I am thinking about it, and thanks for your encouragement.

  15. Dawn,
    I have to admit that as a reader I enjoy series or trilogies because I become connected to the characters and I hate when I've reached the end of a book and they have to 'leave' me. I've found that when I love a book I tend to let it languish on my counter for a few days or even a week because I don't want say goodbye to them.

    I like Alexis' idea of the three brother's series.


  16. Lyndee, I'm glad you let me in on your reason for liking trilogies. I can easily see those favorite books taking time to find their way back to the bookcase.
    And seriously, I will give a lot of thought to creating a trilogy/series. That's why I ask and want to know readers' opinions.
    Here's a little trivia...Court of Lies was originally the second of a sequel. The first turned out to be the practice novel and hasn't gotten published.