Spotlight & Giveaway: Days Made of Glass by Laura Drake

Posted January 20th, 2016 by in Blog, Spotlight / 30 comments

Today it is my pleasure to Welcome author Laura Drake to HJ!
Spotlight&Giveaway

Hi Laura and welcome to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new release, Days Made of Glass!

Thanks for having me back again, Sara – I love HJ!

Please summarize the book for the readers here:

Days Made of GlassDays Made of Glass is a uplifting Women’s Fiction story about the first woman bull fighter. (hired as protection – stepping between charging bulls and downed riders). That’s the outer story. The inner story is about the love between two sisters, and learning to let go.

This book explores the themes:

  • The bond between sisters
  • Shame and the damage it can do
  • Not accepting preconceived boundaries and believing in yourself.
  • Trust and friendship
  • Learning to let go of what’s not yours to save.

 

Please share the opening lines of this book:

Harlie Cooper watched the pair of giggling college coeds seated four rows ahead on the Salinas city bus. BFF’s. From Harlie’s high-school-hall observations, ‘forever’ lasted somewhere between a few hours to six months. They leaned into each other, bumping shoulders and whispering. Why did girls need people hanging off them all the time? Why let people in, when they’d only mess you up, then let you down?

I don’t have ‘trust issues’. I just know better.

She turned back to the window and watched the straw-colored hills rushing past.
It wasn’t like family. Family was everything. Even if hers was down to only two.

 

Please share a few Fun facts about this book…

  • This is a book dedicated to my baby sister, who I lost at 32 to cancer. None of the facts are autobiographical, but the love and dedication between the two sisters, is!
  • I’m in awe of the courage it takes to stare down a bovine one-ton freight train – The idea of a woman doing it captured my imagination.
  • For research, I attended a “Rough stock clinic” – for bull riders, saddle bronc/bareback riders and bullfighters. No, I didn’t ride, or get in the arena, but if I were twenty years younger, I would have!

 

If your book was optioned for a movie, what scene would you use for the audition of the main characters and why?

One of the early scenes, when the main character, Harlie, jumps a bull and, though she doesn’t know it at the time, it changes her life forever.

Clang!

The metal gate swung, and they released the last unbucked bull into the arena. An old, red-coated Hereford-Brahma cross, small, with wicked horns.

The rat dog used the distraction to make his break, joyfully bounding down the bleachers and through the pole fence, long fur flying behind him.

Patrice jumped up screeching. Bo smiled behind her back, as did most of the onlookers. No one liked the irritating little snake-food dog. Most weren’t fond of its owner, either. Yipping in triumph, the dog shot like a flaxen arrow to the center of the arena and faced Patrice with a panting grin.

The bull stood before the gates, snorted, threw his head up and with white rimmed eyes, regarded the irritant. Harlie watched, frozen. The bull strutted, looking around, deciding. It might have walked to the open exit gate if the Pomeranian hadn’t challenged it with a cascade of furious yapping.
The bull wheeled to the center of the arena, dropped its head, and with a heavy snort, charged. The dog held his ground, barking at the charging one-ton animal like a drunk with little-man syndrome.

Patrice shrieked from the bleachers.

Why isn’t anyone doing anything? Harlie jerked her hands from the pole fence. The dog was a pain in the ass but it was about to be pummeled to a bloody rag under the bull’s hooves.

Harlie didn’t think. Ducking between the poles, she judged the bull’s trajectory and ran on a diagonal that would allow her to scoop up the dog without getting stomped.

Maybe.

 

What do you want people to take away from reading this book?

That even when things look hopeless, don’t give up. Things can turn around in ways that you can’t foresee.

 

What are you currently working on? What other releases do you have planned for 2016?

I just finished the edits for Against the Odds, the final book in my Widow’s Grove series. This is Bear’s book – the scary guy from The Reasons To Stay. And at the end, I give the readers updates on all the characters from the series. I loved writing that book. It’ll be out from Superromance in June.

I’m also working on another women’s fiction that is very different – a Jodi Picoultesque book on the right to die. It’s a huge challenge!
 

Thanks for blogging at HJ!

 

Giveaway: I have three signed ARC’s for lucky commenters! (U.S. only please) If you’re selected, and you’re from out of the country, I’ll send you an ebook in whatever format you request.

 

To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and Post a comment to this Q: Please know, this is hopeful women’s Fiction. I’ll never leave you in a bad place, or with a sad ending, promise! Since this is my very first venture into a new genre, I’m dying to know . . . if you read romance, do you also women’s fiction?

 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Excerpt from Days Made of Glass:

Here’s the first scene, in it’s entirety:

Harlie Cooper watched the pair of giggling college coeds seated four rows ahead on the Salinas city bus. BFF’s. From Harlie’s high-school-hall observations, ‘forever’ lasted somewhere between a few hours to six months. They leaned into each other, bumping shoulders and whispering. Why did girls need people hanging off them all the time? Why let people in, when they’d only mess you up, then let you down?

I don’t have ‘trust issues’. I just know better.

She turned back to the window and watched the straw-colored hills rushing past.
It wasn’t like family. Family was everything. Even if hers was down to only two.
Lacing her fingers, she stretched her arms over her head, her muscles resisting with a slight tug of tired. Calf roping at the rodeo team practice had gone well today — she’d shaved a second off her time. The smell of horse drifted off her jeans. Borrowed horse. Batting away the soft wish, she sat up straight. No sense in wanting.

“Hey, isn’t that Mack Tyler’s place?”

At her guardian’s name, Harlie shot a look across the aisle, where several grown-ups stood out of their seats, pointing out the window.

Smoke rolled into the sky, spreading over the dairy like an angry fist.

Angel!

An electric current jerked her to her feet. “Stop the bus!” She snatched her backpack and rushed down the aisle, grabbing seat backs for balance. “Stop!”

She reached the front, ducking her head to keep her eye on the dystopian horizon. Panic swirled in her belly, rising, rising. Grabbing the silver pole, she took the steps to the well in one leap. “Let me out!” She grabbed the handle and rattled the door.

“I’m working on it.” The driver pulled over with a squeal of brakes.

The door lurched open. Her boots hit the pavement and she took off, heart battering her ribs, the frantic wing-brush of her sister’s name in her skull. Angel. Her feet flew, barely touching the ground. But like in a nightmare, the dread-laced smoke column never seemed to get closer.

Angel.

A half-mile down the road, she reached the yard, littered with fire trucks and police cars, strobes flashing. Leaping the ditch she scrabbled through the weeds on the other side, her eyes locked on the flame-licked smoke pouring from the broken windows of the porch.

Angel!

A yellow-coated fireman backed out the front door holding the handles of a stretcher. A limp, blanket-shrouded body came next, another firefighter hefting the trailing end. Harlie’s vision narrowed to a tunnel. She dropped the backpack as her legs buckled. She fell to her knees, fingers clenching the dusty soil. Her panicked brain took a second to process what she was seeing.

Too big.

Mack, then.

When her starved lungs hitched a breath, dizziness receded and the world righted.
Where is Angel? She leapt up and ran to where a fireman stood, shouting into a two-way radio. She snatched at his arm and he started. “My sister.” She screamed up at him. “My sister’s in there!”

Arms grabbed her from behind and she twisted, fighting.

“She’s not!” His fingers dug into the flesh of her arms. “She’s okay. Calm down.”

Harlie stopped struggling and he let go. She whirled, chest heaving. “Where?”
The uniformed cop pointed to the side yard.

She dashed around the corner of the house. Angel, blanket-wrapped and clutching a dirty child, stepped out of the barn, led by a fireman. Sound, previously dulled by fear, surged to full volume. Water blasted the side of the house with a liquid roar. Men shouted. A lone siren wailed a warning in the distance, getting closer.

Angel’s gaze fastened on Harlie. Prying the sobbing child’s arms from her neck, Angel handed her to the fireman, then ran to launch herself into her sister’s arms.

Harlie was shorter than most of her classmates but at thirteen, Angel’s head still fit easily under her chin. The scent of smoke drifted off her sister’s hair — musty ash with the bite of alkaline, leaving a taste like spent adrenaline in Harlie’s mouth. She ran her hands over her sister’s bony back, still reeling from the gaping hole of a future without Angel. Finally, she leaned back, breaking the embrace.

“What the hell happened here?” The fear came out growling – angrier than she meant.

Under the soot, Angel’s face shone slick and pasty. “I – I don’t know.” She glanced at the house, then away. “Jenny’s mom wasn’t due to pick her up for hours. We were in the bedroom playing Old Maid. I smelled smoke. The kitchen was filled with it. I couldn’t even get near the living room. It was full of fire.” A deep, hacking cough shook her narrow chest.

Arm around her sister’s shoulders, she led Angel to the two rusty-white wrought iron chairs resting in the shade of the barn. They sat. “Mack didn’t make it.”

Angel studied her hands, curled in her lap. “I know.” She glanced up, her deep brown eyes reminding Harlie of those dime-store paintings of soulful-eyed puppies digging in garbage cans. Angel whispered, “What’re we gonna do now, Harlie?”

Harlie hugged her sister, fierce protectiveness snapping her muscles taut. “It won’t be nothing we don’t want this time, Angel. I promise.” Harlie had begged the judge last year for custody of her sister. He’d been kind, but told Harlie she was too young – that she shouldn’t give up her own childhood so early. What a joke.

Knowing the system would offer slim odds of them staying together, they discussed it, then chose the devil they knew.

“No one but Mack would take us before. Now they’re gonna split us up. Make us go to foster homes.” Hopelessness threaded through Angel’s raspy whisper.

Mack was dead. He and Mom hadn’t been married, and he had no blood kin. Likely the dairy would go to the state. They’d be allowed to take just their belongings. With a start, Harlie pictured her mother’s photo on the nightstand next to their bed. And the box of her books beneath it. All they had left of her.

An ambulance wheeled into the drive and cut its siren. A county unmarked car pulled up behind it and parked.

Harlie’s glance slid to her fidgeting sister. Easy to see they had different fathers. Angel had always been a dark little fairy, with pixie features and delicate bones. Harlie’d inherited her mom’s fair hair, but her narrow, strong-boned face must’ve come from her father. Harlie wouldn’t know, having never met the loser. Angel’s dad hadn’t been around long either.

Maybe they could wander away in all the commotion . . .

“Well. Harlequin and Angelique Cooper.”

Angel jerked beside her.

Harlie winced. Mom’s romance books had been the inspiration for their names. Harlie’d been grateful that Angel wasn’t born a boy. Knowing Mom, she’d have named him Rhett. Or, God forbid, Fabio. She looked up to the wary gaze of Sheriff Bowman. His eyes reminded Harlie of a hawk she’d gotten close to once.

“I’d hoped to never see you two again in sad circumstances.” He looked sad. “What happened out here today, girls?”

“I —”Angel’s thin voice cracked and she cleared her throat. “I don’t know.”

Harlie heard the ‘want to’ between the ‘don’t’ and ‘know.’ She hoped the sheriff hadn’t.

Angel continued. “Jenny’s mom wasn’t due to pick her up for hours. We were in the bedroom, playing Old Maid when I smelled smoke. The kitchen was filled with it. The living room was full of fire.”

Sheriff Bowman’s hound-dog face settled in mournful lines and he shook his head. “Mack Tyler was a good man. The town is going to miss him. And what he did for all those poor kids.”

Mack was involved big time in local kid’s charities.

Had been.

The Cooper girls had a different perspective. Everything about Mack had been hard: his eyes, his voice, his hands. Not that he’d been abusive, exactly. He was even nice to them when other people were around. But he made it clear he kept them only for the free labor they afforded. Harlie was stronger, so the outside work had fallen to her. Angel had house duty, cleaning up and waiting on him.

And he drank. Not so anyone who didn’t live with him would know, but . . .

Be careful.

“Mack takes a . . . nap, some afternoons, Sheriff.” She looked at her dirty hands, clenched in her lap. “Took, I mean.” She forced herself to meet his eyes. “I’ve taken a lit cigarette from between his fingers more than once.”

A cop walked up and whispered in the Sheriff’s ear. He nodded, then held up a hand. The cop stepped away, but not far.

The Sheriff heaved a sigh. “Girls, you know we’ll need to talk later, about what comes next.”

Angel grabbed Harlie’s hand, tight, as if someone were already pulling them apart.
Goddamn it, they weren’t going to be farmed out as slave labor again. This time would be even worse. They wouldn’t have each other.

Not an option. Harlie’s muscles were strung tight, ready to run. For all the good that would do. Where would they go? How would they get there? Harlie pushed the thoughts away.
Focus on what you can do, not what you can’t.

Those questions wouldn’t matter if they didn’t escape first.

Be ready when you get your chance.

“You know, funny thing about that fire.” The sheriff stood, head cocked with that hunting hawk look. “The fire crew said there wasn’t a piece of glass intact in that house. Even the mirrors were broken. Any idea how that happened?”

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

 

Book Info:

Shared blood defines a family, but spilled blood can too.

Harlie Cooper raised her sister, Angel, even before their mother died. When their guardian is killed in a fire, rather than be separated by Social Services, they run. Life in off the grid in L.A. isn’t easy, but worse, there’s something wrong with Angel.

Harlie walks in to find their apartment scattered with shattered and glass and Angel, a bloody rag doll in a corner. The doctor orders institutionalization in a state facility. Harlie’s not leaving her sister in that human warehouse. But something better takes money. Lots of it.

When a rep from the Pro Bull Riding Circuit suggests she train as a bullfighter, rescuing downed cowboys from their rampaging charges, she can’t let the fact that she’d be the first woman to attempt this stop her. Angel is depending on her.

It’s not just the danger and taking on a man’s career that challenges Harlie. She must learn to trust—her partner and herself, and learn to let go of what’s not hers to save.

A story of family and friendship, trust and truth.
Book Links:  
 

Meet the Author:

Laura Drake is a city girl who never grew out of her tomboy ways, or a serious cowboy crush. She writes both Women’s Fiction and Romance.

She sold her Sweet on a Cowboy series, romances set in the world of professional bull riding, to Grand Central. The Sweet Spot won the 2014 Romance Writers of America® RITA® award in the Best First Book category.

Her ‘biker-chick’ novel, Her Road Home, sold to Harlequin’s Superromance line (August, 2013) and has expanded to three more stories set in the same small town. Twice in a Blue Moon, released July.

In 2014, Laura realized a lifelong dream of becoming a Texan and is currently working on her accent. She gave up the corporate CFO gig to write full time. She’s a wife, grandmother, and motorcycle chick in the remaining waking hours.
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30 Responses to “Spotlight & Giveaway: Days Made of Glass by Laura Drake”

  1. Debbi Wellenstein

    Yes I read women’s fiction. I red a lot of different genres. A good book is a good book.

  2. kermitsgirl

    I don’t think I often read novels that would be defined as women’s fiction rather than just a romance. For me, many of them are just not happy enough and because I connect so strongly with what I read, I try to avoid emotional roller coasters that leave me aching rather than happy at the end.

  3. Patricia B.

    I read a little bit of everything. Women’s fiction is a nice break from romance. It still has some of the characteristics, but the focus is more on the individuals and the nonsexual relationships. They often do not have the HEA we read romances for, but that is much more true to life.

  4. Banana cake

    Yes, one of my favorite authors writes romance and one women’s fiction book a year, Susan Mallery.

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