Welcome, Zrinka. Tell us a little about your writing. How much of it is based on people or events familiar to you?
About 100% though the names and places may be somewhat changed, everything else is something or someone who crossed my path be it in a good or bad way.What inspired you to write Deck the Halls?
The holidays in general, the entire rush of it, the spending, the kids that are overwhelmed with gifts. I’ve seen the two sets of grandparents literally compete who will give more. This story is about the two lonely souls finally coming together at Christmas when their circumstances push them into each other arms.A nice break from the holiday rush. How did you come up with the title?
The heroine runs a seasonal business she calls Deck the Halls. She decorates people’s houses, inside and out.Was there much research involved?
Yes, since the hero is a werewolf and I never done shape shifters or wolves before, I had to research both. I found some very fascinating facts about wolves that made me appreciate them on a much higher level.Is there a message in your story you want readers to grasp?
There’s always a message in each of my books and every book should have a message. In Deck the Halls, I wanted to convey that as much as Christmas is beautiful, the commercial part of it sucks the beauty right out of it. As in the Grinch story, Christmas does not come from the store, it means something much more.What do you feel is your biggest strength as a writer?
I took numerous writing workshops and I’m still learning and perfecting the craft, and it feels like I’ll never learn it all. The writing is changing all the time, what was acceptable years ago, would not fly today. Staying in one character’s POV throughout the scene is essential in today’s writing. So is taking POV of only the two main characters –antagonist’s and protagonist’s (unless writing romance, then the author is allowed to show the third POV like hero/heroine and villain). So I’d say as challenging as this is, it is also my biggest strength and biggest pet peeve. I see many self-published books where the author head hops, going into POV of every character so it’s impossible to say whose story it is. It’s hard and confusing for the reader having to wade through all the info dumped since this kind of writing will undoubtedly lead to telling and info dumping.When you first started writing, did anything about the writing process surprise you?
Everything surprised me. I didn’t know the first thing. I too head hopped, couldn’t decide who are my main characters, the story was getting more confusing with every chapter. That is when I knew I’ll need to learn a thing or two about writing fiction for today’s reader. I signed up on Savvy Authors and from there on, the rest was history.Do you celebrate when you finish a story, and if so, how?
I usually celebrate once I get a publishing offer. It depends on how I celebrate. If the story took me away from my family for a long time, I make up to them by taking them to their favorite restaurant. Well, second favorite, since we limit McDonald’s to twice a month and neither me nor hubby’s big on their menu.Do you have a set writing routine?
I used to, but now with a day job that takes most of my day, I’m happy to squeeze a few hours at the end of the day.Do you listen to music when you write?
Of course, music is everything. Funny how each book seems to pick its own music. I swear it has a life of its own.What do you like least about writing?
Keeping the story fresh all the way through. Many books suffer from soggy middle. They have a killer opening that makes you want to devour the book, but a few chapters in and it feels like the author ran out of ideas. The wheels are turning in the spot and the story is going nowhere.Name a few of your favorite non-writing activities.
Just got back in Yoga and loving it. The instructor is great, he tells jokes while we are holding poses and then we burst out laughing. He also takes time to correct your pose so that you don’t end up hurting yourself in the process and I can do stuff with my body I never thought possible before.You do some good stuff with your writing too. Let’s take a peek at Deck the Halls.
It isn’t the string of crappy jobs, or people’s irrational urge to spend their money, or even his inability to ask Julie out on a date that Zach can’t get excited about Christmas. It is the fact that today is his last day he gets to spend in his preferred human form.
When jealous Tia, a wicked sorceress disguised as the pack’s alpha female, tries to force his wolf out a day early, all-consuming anger sends him into a rage against her. She punishes shape shifter Zach, by changing him to a dog. He has 48 hours to save his family and trade his life for someone else’s in order to break the spell—the only problem, Julie’s cat Miss Molly knows who he is and won’t let him near her owner. But Julie’s safety is the greatest importance and he sticks by her side.
Julie can’t resist falling in love with the stray dog she rescues. She prolongs putting a found dog ad in the local newspaper just to keep him for another day. Strange thing is, the animal reminds her of Zach.
Confronted with the woman who stole the man she secretly loves, Julie discovers the truth about Zach. When his dog form proves useless against the powerful alpha werewolf, the help comes from unforeseen allies.
Terror erupted in Zach along with bubbly foam in the bath water. Julie, the first female he’d admired since the death of his life mate, was about to bathe him. He had dreamt of this scenario, but he’d hoped to first invite Julie for a coffee, and not in his present dog form. Perhaps a long walk under the starry sky, eventually hand holding, leading to a sensual kiss while he tasted her lips. Tia had ruined his plans, but there was still a sliver of hope if he could break her spell and live his dreams. Lexa must not fail.
Julie shut off the water and spread a large towel on the vinyl bathroom floor. "It’s ready. Get in boy."
Fine. She could wash behind his ears, but no way would he allow her to cleanse his private parts, as much as he craved her touch. Dog, wolf or human form he still maintained some sense of decency. He jumped into the tub, splashing water and foam over her and the floor.
She hummed her usual melody, the one he’d asked her about on a few occasions, but she didn’t remember the name of the tune. Her soft voice and her fingers worked into his stiff muscles. The tension fled his body starting at the tip of his nose and working its way down to his paws, turning his knees into jelly. Then she went for the tail.
No, not my nuts. He tightened up.
"Come on, bud. I have to wash under there, too. Come on." She tugged at his tail tucked between his hind legs.
But he wouldn’t budge. She threw her hands up in the air as in I give up gesture. "Oh what the heck. You’ll lick yourself there anyhow."
* * * * *About Zrinka Jelic:
Zrinka Jelic lives in Ontario, Canada. A member of the Romance Writers of America and its chapter Fantasy Futuristic & Paranormal, as well as Savvy Authors, she writes contemporary fiction—which leans toward the paranormal—and adds a pinch of history. Her characters come from all walks of life, and although she prefers red, romance comes in many colors. Given Jelic’s love for her native Croatia and the Adriatic Sea, her characters usually find themselves dealing with a fair amount of sunshine, but that’s about the only break they get.
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