Today, we’re doing something a little different. If you remember, we interviewed Vivienne Vincent’s character on August 16th and it was so fun that I thought we may as well make an occasional habit of it. I had the pleasure of meeting Monica DeSimone, the debut author of Second Half, on my author journey and I asked if I could borrow a character, Zoey Elizabeth McEvoy from the book. We’ll get a chance to talk to Monica in a bit, but now we have on the stage…Zoey!
Marie Lavender: Hello, Zoey. Please have a seat.
Character Zoey Elizabeth McEvoy: Thank you for having me, Marie.
Marie: Of course! It’s my pleasure!
We’re going to start out with some simple questions, all right?
Marie: So, what is your occupation? Are you any good at it? Do you like it?
Zoey: Founder of the Coach’s Shadow Foundation. I like to think that I am. I have a tendency to be tenacious at times so that I get what I want.
Do I like it? Absolutely love it!
Marie: Great to hear! 😀
Tell us…what is your family like?
Zoey: Both of my parents have passed away so I’m pretty much an orphan! LOL.
My family is amazing, I have a loud, involved, often times obtrusive family that I have had from birth as well as those that I have chosen over the years.
Marie: Oh…😦 Sorry to hear about your parents. I’m glad you have other family, though.
Let’s try something else, okay?
If it doesn’t bother you at all, can you let us know what your childhood home looked like?
Zoey: Considering that Derrick and I live there now, it is an amazing home. Traditional Cape Cod with a lot of extensions added onto it. I think my mother originally fell in love with it because she didn’t want kids. It was often lonely and cold but Claire, my sister, made it a home.
Marie: All right.
Do you have any hobbies, Zoey? What do you enjoy doing?
Zoey: I run. A lot. It is as much a passion for me as running the Coach’s Shadow Foundation and football.
In my down time I love watching Sci-Fi movies and reading. Oh and shoes! I love, love, love shoes! I also enjoy throwing a great gathering with my family and friends. But I hate to cook. So I do the planning and shopping, and Derrick makes my menus come true.
Marie: (Laughs.) Nice! 😉
So, what is your greatest dream?
Marie: Indeed! (Sighs.) I love romance…♥
Okay, back to the interview.
What kind of person do you wish you could be? What is stopping you?
Zoey: I have pretty much accomplished what I wanted to be. It may not be in the traditional way, and I had to take a very dark journey to get where I am, with several set backs, but I’m here. I’m alive, happy and just keep going every day. The one personality trait that I wish I could be better with is not to be so ready to forgive the wrongs that have been done to me.
What is stopping me? My heart and ability to lose.
Marie: I think we all feel afraid sometimes that we’ll lose everything we hold dear. Faith gets us through it all.
I’m going to throw another random question at you now.
Who was your first love?
Zoey: Derrick Hendrickson.
Marie: But you got a second chance, right? That’s great!
So…let’s try another question.
What’s the most terrible thing that ever happened to you?
Zoey: At twenty-one I fell into a deep depression and attempted suicide.
Marie: Oh no! I’m so sorry…
[Briefly touches her guest’s hand.]
Let’s move on to something a bit lighter now, shall we?
What was your dream growing up? Did you achieve that dream? If so, in what ways was it not what you expected? If you never achieved the dream, why not?
Zoey: No. I floundered with what I wanted to do in the months, years really, after my attempted suicide. I was so tired of people telling me that I would find my way. At the time the darkness was all consuming and I didn’t see the light. I was really good at faking things, though; so I faked my way happy. Forced myself to push through the darkness. I finished my degree in English Literature, got a job in corporate America. I loved doing what did. It allowed me to nourish the part of myself that had always felt left behind. Wanting to be a combination between Betty Crocker and a Mother Hen while allowing me to be creative yet in charge behind the scenes, because I hate the spotlight, was my end result.
I ultimately found my dream. My own happiness, which has brought me true contentment. The Coach’s Shadow Foundation was born out of sorrow and guilt. However, it was through that sorrow and guilt that I proved to myself that I am no longer the broken girl who was left behind by both her mother and lover. It took a lot for me to realize that where I am today is exactly where I am meant to be.
Marie: Wow! Tough times.
I’m so glad you found a light to pull you through that darkness. ♥
So, who is your role model, Zoey?
Zoey: My sister Claire. She is everything that I strive to be. Strong, independent, courageous, and kind.
Marie: Great! It sounds like your sister is a very special person.
Now, you’ll probably think I’m digging for dirt on the next question.
Is there someone you pretend to like but really dislike?
Zoey: I absolutely hate Matt, Derrick’s agent. I always feel as though I need a shower after being around him.
Marie: Oh, that’s not good…maybe your intuition is trying to tell you something?
Let’s try another question.
What is your deepest desire?
Zoey: To be loved.
Marie: Can’t blame you there!
What is your greatest fear?
Zoey: Spending my life alone and unloved.
Marie: It’s understandable to have that kind of fear, but I believe there is a stronger force guiding us, that good things come to good people. And I know you’re one of the good ones. 😉
Well, it looks like we’re out of time. Thank you for visiting us today, Zoey. It was so interesting getting to know you!
(Waves goodbye to her guest.)
Now, let’s shift over and get the author’s perspective. We have author Monice DeSimone on the stage today. It’s such a pleasure to have you here! Hello, Monica!
Author Monica DeSimone: Hi, Marie. Thank you so much for having me.
Marie: Oh no, the honor is mine.😀
So, we just got to talk to a female character from your story, Zoey Elizabeth McEvoy, or rather, just Zoey. Quite an interesting character. Can you tell us a little about her?
Monica: Zoey is so tenacious and vibrant. She encompasses everything that I had ever wanted to be. I think that is because she has come so far in her battle with depression. She has fought for what and who she is today. Zoey loves deeply and carries her emotions on her sleeve. The obstacles in which she has overcome, although yes somewhat self-inflicted, are an admirable quality about her. The struggle of depression is overwhelming and all consuming. For Zoey to have pulled herself out of that, yes with help, and still be a kind, loving and generous person is amazing. She gives with all her heart and truly wants the best for everyone. Not everyone has the mental wherewithal to be able to pull themselves from that hole. It is admirable. Although it doesn’t mean that she doesn’t have flaws as well as a bit of a mean streak. Which I have to admit that I love.
So, what are your character’s greatest strengths?
Monica: Zoey loves with everything in her being which feeds her ability to forgive. This can be considered a strength as well as a weakness, but forgiveness would have to be Zoey’s greatest strength. That and not willing to give up on anything she believes in.
Marie: Definitely admirable!
And what are your character’s greatest weaknesses?
Monica: Because of her capacity to forgive Zoey is often left open to be hurt by those she believes in.
Marie: Sorry to hear that… 😦
What are some of Zoey’s favorite foods?
Monica: Gosh, Zoey is “technically” an overall healthy person. A lot of greens and proteins. However, if you put a bowl of Utz Cheese Balls in front of her I would watch out. She is a kind person but sharing those yummy treats aren’t in the cards.
Marie: (Giggles.) Nice!
How about another question?
What’s a positive quality that your character is unaware that he or she has?
Monica: Zoey is a lot stronger then she gives herself credit for. She is the heart of her family. Not necessarily the core of it, because that is Claire, but she is a fierce protector with a strength that she often underestimates.
Will readers like or dislike this character, and why?
Monica: I think that most readers will appreciate how damaged Zoey is and how far she has come to pull herself out of her depression. However, I also think that it is a toss-up if people will love her or want to hit her. If a reader can understand that forgiveness isn’t a weakness, that it is truly a strength and that love often has no rhyme or reason and that sometimes, not always, “soul mates” do exist, truly exist. If they can understand that, appreciate it, then I think that they will love her.
And I prefer characters to be real, flawed human beings anyway. Don’t you?
Now that we have a real taste of Zoey, we have a few questions for you as well as the author.
What first gave you the idea for Second Half?
Monica: I had been writing my entire life, so when my father passed away in April 2015, I promised myself that I would finish one of my books. I have a few sitting on my laptop. One night in December 2015, I had just finished reading A Lover’s Lament by AL Greyson and BT Urruela, and Zoey started talking to me. God, she is a pushy little thing too because it wasn’t until she finally made a deal with me – she would be quiet so that I could work and sleep if I promised to tell her story. That was January 3, 2016. I finished Zoey and Derrick’s story and sent it to my editor on May 17th.
Marie: Interesting how the muse works, huh?
Sorry to hear about your dad. 😦
Let’s try something else.
What is your writing style like? Are you a pantster or a plotter?
Monica: I’m a character-driven writer. As such I like to be surprised. You have to remember, ultimately I’m a reader. So if I can “Holy Sh**” myself, it’s a good day.
I am totally a pantster. My mother always said that I was a fly-by-the seat-of-her-pants girl. My writing isn’t any different. It makes it difficult for Nadine Winningham, my editor, but I think it makes it more enjoyable for everyone.
Marie: (Laughs.) Hey, whatever works for you…
I am also a character-driven writer. They often bug me before I go to sleep. 😉
So, now I’m throwing this one in for our aspiring writers. Did you come across any specific challenges in writing Second Half or publishing it? What would you do differently the next time?
Monica: I reached out to a first-time writer, thinking that because they were up and coming they would be receptive in offering any advice. That was a mistake. After multiple emails, I finally got a response. It was not at all generous and honestly quite hurtful. Which caused me to become blocked. That was my fault, allowing the words of someone else to affect me. But in my defense, I respected this person and what they had accomplished. I was unable to write for six weeks. It wasn’t until I met, rather apprehensively, other authors at a signing and seeing first-hand the openness and kindness within the community that allowed me to get past the block and finish Second Half within three weeks.
What would I do differently the next time? I self-published and I wouldn’t change one thing about that. I was told by a very wise woman that this is a business and that you better treat yourself and writing as such. That my first product better be as good as my most current one. Because someone will always go back and read that first book. I took those words to heart, finished the book and with the help of some amazing people put a product out there that I will never be ashamed of. Whether someone is reading my first book or being introduced to me on my tenth, God willing, book they will find a superior product that they won’t be disappointed in reading.
Marie: Wow! Sorry you had such an unfortunate experience with that writer! 😦
But I’m glad it all worked out for you, that you didn’t let a bitter person ruin your journey.
And you’re right. Generally, there is a nice community of authors who are willing to offer advice, or at least direct you to someone who can answer those questions. So much goes into the process, and we need all the help we can get.
Thanks for the additional tips!
Well, it was a such a pleasure having you here on the I Love Romance Blog! And how apropos is that, considering what a great story Second Half appears to be.
Readers, you will just have to pick up a copy of this modern sports romance by Monica DeSimone, a very talented author!
Here is the blurb for Second Half:
Zoey McEvoy is a strong, sassy, independent woman that has vowed to herself that she will never allow anyone the opportunity to determine her emotional well-being again. After a battle with depression that ended in an attempted suicide, she has clawed her way out of the all encompassing darkness. Founding the Coach’s Shadow Foundation in honor of her father, Zoey finds herself thrown back into the life of the man that emotionally destroyed her eight years earlier.
Derrick Hendrickson chose his career over Zoey and is now back to recapture the love that he so recklessly tossed away. Unaware of the devastation his departure caused, he has to reestablish the trust that he lost when he left her. With the help of their best friends and Zoey’s sister Claire, Derrick has a strong chance of proving that he never stopped loving her. However, Zoey’s trust issues are major hurdles that need to be crossed. Will Zoey ultimately find the strength to forgive and allow Derrick and love back into her life, proving that the Second Half can be so much brighter?
Monica is also offering us a great excerpt from the book!
MY ALARM GOES OFF and I don’t even remember setting it. I always use my cell phone as an alarm, never the actual alarm clock. It is purely for decoration and is actually across the room on my dresser. So the fact that it is going off right now is confusing. I roll over to get out of bed and run smack into a solid mass. I know that I had an emotional day yesterday, but not so rough that I would forget having someone in bed with me.
Derrick. I burrow my nose into his back for just a second, and burn his scent into my memory so that I have it there for later. It’s been so long since I’ve felt him next to me. But then I remember where we are, what year it is, and that he isn’t mine any longer. Jumping out of bed faster than I have ever gotten up, I’m slightly dizzy and trying to gather my bearings.
As I’m getting my feet fully under me, Derrick says, “Duchess, shut off the alarm will you? I don’t have to be at the training facility until eight.”
What the fuck? What did I miss last night? No more blue Xanax, Zoey.
Recovering quickly, or as quickly as I can, I walk to the end of the bed and shove Derrick’s foot buried under my comforter.
Rolling over, Derrick looks all sleepy, disheveled, and sexy as hell. His right arm, the one that has the half sleeve of tattoos on it, is draped over his chest. The chest that is perfectly muscled and beautiful, and that I just want to lick. As I devour him with my eyes, I notice that there is a tattoo on his left ribcage. It’s a saying or something, I can’t tell exactly from this distance and I want a closer lick, I mean look of it.
Jesus… pull it together, Zoey!
“What, Zo?” I’m literally just standing at the foot of the bed, the alarm blaring, gawking at this beautiful man. “You gonna turn that off?” he asks, shifting his head toward the noise. “Then you can come back and cuddle with me.” He’s smirking now. Bastard! He knows that I love to cuddle, and Derrick was always the best at it— warm, strong, and soothing.
“What the fuck, Derrick? Why are you in my bed? With me?” I ask, attempting to recover some of my brain cells and come back to reality. “And where are my dogs?” I’m a horrible pet mom; instead of ogling the hot half-naked man in my bed, I should have realized that Reilly and Steeler aren’t where they always are. “What did you do with my dogs, Derrick?”
“Calm down, Duchess, they’re right here.” He shifts, and I see not just Reilly and Steeler on the right side of him, but that Sam is there as well. Oh… my… God… even my dogs prefer him. Traitors.
“Can you please shut that thing off? I have a hell of a headache and that isn’t helping.”
Walking over to the dresser, I turn off the offending alarm. I still don’t know how it got set, but really, I have bigger things to worry about. Like why there is a six-foot-five-inch god in my bed. Is that a V peeking out from under the covers? Zoey! I chastise myself. I’m staring, hell I’m more than likely drooling.
Recovering as quickly as I can, I ask, “Why are you in my bed, Derrick?”
“I needed to be close to you,” he says as he gets out of bed.
The boys jump to the floor, not liking that Derrick was starting to move around, but knowing that with their humans up they will get fed and go outside. They are now sitting on the bench at the foot of my bed.
As Derrick stands to his full height, I have to bite my lip to hold in the moan. The man has a body that only ancient gods had. I notice his tattoos that are covering half of his shoulder. Yum! He is turning around when I gasp in shock. There are a pair of eyes on his left shoulder, adjacent to his heart. But they aren’t just any eyes… they’re mine.
Ooh! Interesting! I love the tension here…🙂
Universal Amazon link: http://bookgoodies.com/a/B01LWIPOLT
We’ll be sure to get a copy of this sporty romance, book one of the Coach’s Shadow Trilogy! ♥
About Monica DeSimone
Monica lives in northern New Jersey with her three dogs, Sam, Reilly, and Steeler. Raised by a football coach in the heart of Texas, football is a passion that is deep rooted. Introduced to Nora Roberts by her mother at the age of thirteen, she spawned a lifetime love affair with books, all things romance and happily-ever-afters. Outside of writing, you will find Monica on her back porch enjoying time with her “boys”, family, friends, and a really good Dirty Martini.
And, if you want to know how to connect with the amazing Monica DeSimone, here are some author links:
Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/2epiLco
Once again, I want to thank both of our guests, Zoey, a female character from Second Half, and Monica DeSimone, the brilliant author of the novel, for stopping by! It was so much fun to have you here!