Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Circle Dance Blog Tour

Title: Circle Dance
Author: Lynne Constantine & Valerie Constantine
Publisher: Bookbaby
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Format: Paperback/Kindle/Audible/Nook
Pages: 261
Circle Dance 2

Young, smart and beautiful with everything figured out – or so they thought. Born into a prosperous Greek American family, sisters Nicole and Theodora have achieved the perfect balance between the old world rich in Greek tradition and the freedom of life in America.
Nicole’s world spins out of control when she falls for a married senator who shares her heritage and her dreams. The decisions she makes will affect the happiness of those closest to her and will define the woman she is to become.
As Theodora struggles to succeed at her marriage, she seeks the wisdom and council of her beloved Greek grandmother who has been happily married for over half a century. Ultimately she must come to terms with the reality of her own life and take responsibility for the role she has played in deceiving herself.
As the dramatic plot unfolds, the two young women must confront deceit and betrayal and their own shortcomings—while they struggle to preserve the values they cherish.
Set in Baltimore, Annapolis and the tiny island of Ikaria, Greece, Circle Dance provides a view into the lives of a dynamic family that has successfully achieved the American dream without abandoning the customs and traditions handed down through their Greek heritage.

Thank you for spending a few minutes with me today to let us know more about your book and how it is writing as a duo.
 What was the inspiration behind writing Circle Dance?

When my sister and I first agreed to collaborate on a story, we constructed one similar to what we loved to read at the time—stories about women, their emotional lives, and the choices they make in life.We talked about the fact that there were very few stories about the Greek American experience. 

While similar to other ethnic stories—there are unique aspects to being Greek that we felt needed to be shared.  Looking back to our own childhoods, we realized that we took for granted the privilege of knowing first-hand our grandmother—fresh from the Greek soil—her Greek accent and customs intact.  It tied us closely to my roots and cemented forever our connection to Greece and things Greek. 

Our own children,  only half Greek,  feel no such connection.  
We have to build for them, layer by layer, an understanding of the importance of knowing your heritage and of being tied to something that came before.  
Circle Dance is our legacy to them—a view into a world they will never literally enter—but one in which they can vicariously enjoy.  It is our hope that in these pages, they will one day discover the wonderful traditions and customs that are rooted in their genetic makeup—that they will hear the voices of their ancestors.  We hope they might one day desire to return to the country of their origin and appreciate its beauty and splendor.  Whatever their response— of one thing they can be assured—Circle Dance was a true labor of love for my sister and me.  We hope they will pass it along to their children one day and that the legacy will continue.

What are some things unique to your experiences growing up?
Were you able to include that in your book?

The strong sense of community and connection between other Greek families that went back generations. I had more aunts and uncles that were not related to me than were. There was a sense of being a part of a huge family and everyone knowing your family for years.

The Greek community plays a large part and is a central theme of 

How well did it work, writing together, collaberating with your sister?

It was wonderful, so much so, that we have written another book together and are working on a third. We’ve always been close and enjoying being together. 
Valerie gets my sense of humor like no one else, and we always have plenty of laughs. Having another person to hold you accountable, to suffer through the rejections, and to encourage perseverance makes the writer’s life so much easier.

If you disagreed, who usually got her way?

Some memorable disagreements centered on the characters’ appearances when Valerie pointed out to me that we had made all the Greeks thin and beautiful.  I grudgingly allowed some extra weight on Eleni and less chiseled features on everyone else.  
She thought more characters should die and I had to remind her that although this is a Greek story – it is not a Greek tragedy.  
Whomever felt the most strongly about the disagreement generally got her way.

Were there any sections of the books, or any scenes that were most difficult to write?   Any particular research you did specifically for this story?

The medical and the business plot needed research. We reached out to a good family friend who is a nuerosurgeon for the medical and our brother who owns a construction company for some of the technical details  in the business subplot.

Is there any competition between you two when working on solo writing projects?
Did one of you  aim at becoming a published author before the other?

No, this was the first project for both of us so we were both eager to be published. We are very supportive of each other and each other’s biggest cheerleaders. Valerie has read my thriller over and over and been a sounding board for plot and character change and I have done the same for a women’s fiction project she is doing her own.

 Do either of you have a special routine or particular habits as you are writing?

I tend to write rougher first drafts and more quickly, Valerie’s first drafts come out sounding pretty good but take a bit longer. I like to listen to Mozart when I write and over the years have learned to write wherever I am. As long as I have earphones and a chair, I can settle in and write.

Did you write in the same place or alternate chapters and collaborate over the internet?  Or...???? How did you work together?

Every week we would assign chapters or scenes to each other and go our separate ways to write – within the confines of our previously agreed upon plot. We both had full time jobs so our writing was done in the evenings and weekends separately at our own homes. 
Our daily quota was three pages per day or fifteen pages a week. Once a week we got together, excitedly exchanged pages and waited for the other to tell us how wonderful our writing was. 
It was so satisfying to hear the other ooh and aah over new developments, witty dialogue or well-executed scenes. 
Not so satisfying was hearing the not always subtle suggestion that some dialogue be cut or a word be struck.

How do you deal with  criticism that is inherit in a first draft to completed book?

We learned to be diplomatic but firm when making suggestions or helpful criticism. We were both a lot more thin skinned back then. Now, I expect criticism and I don’t really show my first draft to anyone except my sister. I write “First Draft” at the top of any new project to give myself permission to just get it done and not worry about the quality. There’s plenty of time in revision and revision and revision to get it right.

Thank you for sharing so much of the process with us.
Before you go, I have one final question:

What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?

Vanilla with a little caramel and chocolate sprinkles

Lynne Constantine is a coffee drinking, twitter addicted, fiction writer always working on her next book. She is the co-author of CIRCLE DANCE, a family saga written with her sister, as well as the author of several short stories. She is the managing partner of a social media consulting firm & gives talks on the role of social media in publishing. She is a contributing editor to The Big Thrill magazine published by International Thriller Writers (ITW). She likes to run her plots by Tucker, her golden retriever, who rarely disagrees with her.

She recently finished her first thriller, and a second book with her sister. Lynne is now working on a third women’s fiction collaboration with her sister. In her spare time the loves going to the beach, spending time with her family, and reading, reading, reading.

Valerie Constantine was born in Baltimore, Maryland.  She has always loved books and spent too many nights reading by the light of her bedside lamp until 3 a.m.  (Those were the days when she was able to stay up that late.)  She graduated from Nancy Drew to Shakespeare and went on to study at the University of Maryland where she received a degree in English Literature. She is a contributing editor to The Big Thrill magazine and has also worked with St. John’s College as chair of their Meet The Authors Program. She is an active community volunteer working with a Washington, D.C. organization that fights human trafficking and also as president of Assistance League of the Chesapeake, a philanthropic organization that helps and supports children in need. In her spare time she reads, kayaks and travels.  Valerie lives in Annapolis, Maryland with her husband and Zorba, their brilliant King Charles Cavalier.

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