Rock House Grill
The Impact Series Book 1 by D.V. Stone Genre: Contemporary Romantic Suspense
Aden House, successful but driven chef and TV personality, refuses to slow down. His life implodes one night, damaging him both physically and emotionally. He's rescued by a woman he thinks of as his angel.
Shay McDowell has rebuilt her life after her divorce. She juggles volunteer EMT duties and her job, while dreaming of becoming a chef. She finds her way to Rock House Grill and back into the life of the man she helped save.
Can love be the ingredient needed to survive the many obstacles they face?
“Easy, you’re going to be okay.” A soft voice eased through the chaos around him. The owner of the voice grabbed his arms and held them in a firm but gentle grip.
“I’m right here with you. You are not alone.”
“Can hardly m-move.” His voice slurred. “C-can’t see anything.”
“You’ve been in an accident. I’m an EMT with the ambulance squad,” the velvety voice calmly explained. “You can’t see well because we’re under a tarp. Hold still, okay?”
A small light flickered at the edge of his vision. It shone into a bag next to him. Penlight.
“You’re restrained to a board. It’s to keep your head from moving and causing more injury.” She continued to talk to him. The voice reached down somewhere inside him, calming and peaceful, so he focused on it. A glow from spotlights on the outside lit whatever covered them.
The shadow gave the woman the appearance of a halo—like an angel.
Born in Brooklyn, D.V. Stone has moved around a bit and even lived for a time on a dairy farm in Minnesota before moving back east. Throughout her wandering, she always considered herself a Jersey Girl. She met and married the love of her life, Pete--a lifelong Jersey Man, and moved this time to Sussex County. They live with Hali, a mixed breed from the local shelter and their cat Baby.
D.V.'s career path varied from working with the disabled to become a volunteer EMT, which in turn led to working in hospital emergency rooms and then in a women's state prison. After a few years, she took a break from medicine and became the owner of Heavenly Brew, a specialty coffee shop in Sparta NJ, and a small restaurant in Lafayette. Life handed some setbacks, and she ended up back in the medical field, but this time in a veterinary emergency hospital.
During the poor economy, she was laid-off from a long-time position she cared about. Devastated, D.V. wondered what to do with her life. Finding comfort in her love of reading, she realized it was now time to follow her dream of writing. It's been a long road but worth every minute of it. Now a published author, she also works in a people medical office again.
"Thank you for taking the time to read about me. Each time you open the pages to one of my books, I hope you'll be swept away by the story and find encouragement in your own life, never to give up on hope."
Can you, for those who don’t know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
Hi everyone! I’m so excited to be here talking about my favorite things, books, and writing. I began a bit later in life. Having a family while working full-time and volunteering takes a lot of time. These are all important things. Many of you can probably relate to having your dreams put on the back burner. I’d started writing a few times over the years, but it wasn’t until a lemonade from lemons situation. I’d been laid off from a job I loved when the economy tanked. I wallowed for a bit, then realized this was the time I’d been waiting for all those years. My son was grown. So, no kid, no job equaled hours to do what I wanted to. It helps that I have a very supportive husband.
What is something unique/quirky about you?
I used to be an EMT. I volunteered with the local squad in Pennsylvania, worked in an emergency room as one, and then in a women’s state prison. It was in prison that I met my husband, Pete. We love to tease people who meet us by telling them he was a corrections officer and met me in a women’s prison. They stare at me. Their expressions are priceless. I’ve also co-owned a coffee shop called Heavenly Brew who’s sign is hanging in my kitchen. I also ran a small restaurant and ice cream shop with my husband. All these things are inspirations in my books.
Where were you born/grew up at?
I was born in Brooklyn, NY. When I was ten, my family moved to NJ on a small “hobby” farm. Then, during my freshman year in high school, my father wanted to be a real farmer, and we moved to Minnesota bought a herd of dairy cows. My hat is off to all those who live this life. Unfortunately, it was a short-lived dream, and he passed away from a heart attack at the age of 38. My mom sold the farm and moved us all back to New Jersey, where I bounced around for a while between NY, NJ, and Pa. I’m happily ensconced in Northern NJ, where I’ve lived now for 26 years.
Who is your hero and why?
My husband, Pete, is my hero. He embraced my son, who he raised as his own. My grands love him and call him Grumpy, which of course, he’s not. He supports all my crazy endeavors and is my biggest cheerleader. On top of that, he helps build or fix houses for those in need of assistance with a West Virginia Christian organization. Pete also raises money to buy Thanksgiving food baskets for people in need. He’ll do without if he sees someone suffering. And he’s very funny. All year long is Christmas at my house. He builds these huge outdoor displays from January to October. November and December, he sets them up for others to enjoy.
What are you passionate about these days?
Kindness. There’s not enough, especially on social media and the news. People feel free to say whatever they want, even if it hurts someone. We used to be able to disagree with courtesy and discussion. I remember years ago at a family Christmas get together. My former sister-in-law was Wiccan. Her other guests were Jewish, Pete, and I Christians. Guess what? We had a great time. You don’t have to agree with others, but you should respect their right to their beliefs, whether religious, political or whatever. Like momma says, “If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”
What do you do to unwind and relax?
My husband and I are Glampers. That means we have a camper with all the amenities of a home. It’s called a Fifthwhell because the hitch sits in the back of a truck, and her name is 2HOOTS. There’s two of us, I love owls, and we’re hoots. Travel and history are two of my favorite things, but flying is not my cup of tea, and I’ve had some disturbing hotel experiences. I retire next May. Wow, it’s only six months away. We plan on Snowbirding during the winter. Workcamp is an option to reduce the cost and something we can both do. Our camper has a bunkhouse that will be my office, so I can still write. I also read to relax. I’m not much of a TV person except for a few shows I enjoy. My phone is also my preferred reading vessel, especially at night around the campfire.
Do you have a favorite movie?
Several depending on my mood. My go-to genre is action/adventure, and I’m an Avengers fan. Guardians of the Galaxy probably my favorite. But I also love Letters to Juliette and Under the Tuscan Sun. Oh, and Dream Girls get played when I’m in the mood. The first time I saw it was in a movie theater in upstate New York. My sister and I went to Wine On Ice in Elmira. Before the wine tasting began, we went to the movies. Dream Girls was playing. I’ve never experienced anything like what happened before or since. At the end of Jennifer Hudson’s song Your Gonna Love Me, the entire theater leaped to their feet and gave a standing ovation.
Which of your novels can you imagine made into a movie?
Definitely Rock House Grill. It screams movie to me. I also have a work in progress called Aimhirghin, Kingdom At A Crossroad. It’s an epic fantasy along the lines of LOTR but much more romance. One day…
What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
I’ve attended the New Jersey Romance Writers conferences in the past, and next summer, two days after retirement, I’ll be in Tampa for the Florida West Coast Writers, Inc.
Ignite Your Imagination 2021 Conference. Two authors I have on my bookshelf are CL Wilson and Roxanne St. Claire will be there. I’m a fangirl. I expect to gush. I hope when I have more time after retirement to enjoy more conferences.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
The owl. Several years ago, I visited a bird sanctuary in Florida. At the bottom of one of the cages sitting in straw were these three round balls with huge eyes. They enchanted me. Then they stood up, and I laughed until I cried. Google Burrowing Owls. The round balls sat on top of two skinny sticks called legs. Since then, I’ve collected owls. Both my office and my camper, 2HOOTS, are decorated with them. I’ve even put one in my logo.
What inspired you to write this book?
A few years ago, I heard about NaNoWriMo, which incidentally is going on now. National Novel Writing Month is in November. The challenge is 50,000 words in 30 days. I’m pretty competitive, even with myself. But how to do that? It’s an immense amount of writing. With that in mind and not wanting to get lost in the world of research, I wrote what I knew. As a former EMT with restaurant experience and a love of music, off I went. Rock House Grill was conceived and fleshed out. I made the deadline but then shelved it for a few years. Editing is not my most outstanding talent. Then one day, in 2019, I pulled it out and began to submit to publishers. Do you know how sometimes you think you’ve screwed up badly, but then it works out? Well, in May of 2019, I sent out a bunch of submissions. A few days later, I reviewed those and realized I’d sent the wrong salutation to Wild Rose Press. I sent a new email. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I know you’re the Wild Rose Press.” Believe it or not, an hour or so later, there was a reply requesting the manuscript. The rest is history.
What can we expect from you in the future?
I’m working on Jazz House, the second in the Impact Series. I also hope to have my second mid-grade independent in the Agent Sam Carter series. The first is The Mystery At Branch Lake. The one I’m finishing up is The Mystery At High Pointe Tower. I have a great time writing these. Aimhirghin, Kingdom At A Crossroad, is waiting patiently for me as well as my second Shield-Mates book.
Do you have any “side stories” about the characters?
One of my favorite scenes in Rock House Grill deals with Aden in rehabilitation after his accident. The character John is based loosely on a friend of mine. Here’s the scene
“Do you need anything?” John, the rehab aide, popped his head in the door. “Can you get your legs on the bed?”
“I’ll be fine.” The man flinched at his sharpness. Aden took a deep breath. “Sorry, thank you.”
“I know it’s frustrating.” John came in, picked up the grabber, and leaned against the wall. “It might help to talk to someone.”
“I’ve already talked.” Aden grabbed one leg, then the other, lifting them onto the bed. “See, it’s all good.” The other man didn’t back off, though. “So, you’ve talked to someone. What did they say?” Aden leaned back, put his arms behind the pillow, and stared at the ceiling tiles. “I would experience anger, frustration, insecurity—blah, blah, blah.”
“And what were you experiencing when I heard you throwing things and stuck my head in?” Aden closed his eyes. “All of it.” When he opened his eyes, John stood at his bedside. “You’re still the man you were. It’s a rough patch. You’ve hit rough patches before?”
“Welcome to the other ninety percent of humanity.” The aide stooped down, so he and Aden were on eye level. Laugh lines and slight graying at the temples were the only indications he was older than Aden. “Circumstances change us. We can curse them and let them control us. Or, we allow whatever happens to make us better.”
“I get it.”
“No, I don’t think you do.” John paused a moment, grabbed a chair, and straddled it. “I have this friend. He’s a runner.” Aden pulled himself up, leaned against the headboard, and snorted. “I’m getting a bedtime story?”
“Yeah.” John laughed. “The guy wants to be in the Olympics. Every day he runs and practices. Every day he gets home, and he hurts all over, especially his feet. Blisters like I’ve never seen. They bleed. But after a while, blisters go away, bleeding stops, and calluses develop.”
“You’re saying I should develop calluses?”
“Wait, calluses are not the point of the story. The guy makes the team. Heads to Atlanta.”
“Did he win?” Aden couldn’t help being caught up in the story. “Have I heard of him?”
“He got sick.” John leaned his arms on the back of the chair. “Pneumonia, the day the meets started.”
“Then all his work was for nothing.” Well, that wasn’t helpful. Shouldn’t this be a story about a winner? “Just like me.” The other man shook his head. “I didn’t say The End.”
“He went to the hospital and nearly died. But there was this nurse.” John’s eyes went distant. “She was beautiful and determined her patient would make it.”
“Yup. They fell in love, got married, and had a couple of kids.” John pushed the chair back and stood up. “Not the life he’d planned. He regretted not achieving what he’d worked so hard for, but once he adjusted, his life turned out great.” Aden developed a sneaking suspicion in his gut as the aide headed for the door. “What does this guy do now?”
“He gets great satisfaction in helping injured people get on with their lives.” John closed the door behind him.
Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in Rock House Grill?
Rock House Grill follows the lives of Aden House and his twin sister Olivia House. Aden is a chef who dreamed of owning a restaurant. He’s an overachiever who doesn’t know when to step back. Oliva has a degree in business and hospitality. She deals with depression and anxiety (and I hope one day to give Olivia her own story). They conceive and develop first Rock House but are nearly done with Jazz House, Olivia’s baby. Both restaurants are music themed. Shay McDowell is an EMT who dreams of being a chef. She’s been dealt a lot of bad cards in her life, but she’s tough yet vulnerable. Like the Linda Ronstadt song, she’s been cheated, been mistreated, when will she be loved.
Who designed your book covers?
Tina Lynn Stout designed both Rock House Grill and Rainbow Sprinkles’ covers. They are both fantastic, and Rainbow Sprinkles’ looks like a piece of art. I used an online service and created Felice, Shield-Mates of Dar cover. There’s a lot to making a good book cover, and I’ve learned over the years how important they are. Can you judge a book by it’s cover? Absolutely. It the first impression a reader gets. There needs to be a certain balance in the art, text, title, and author name. If it’s a series, the book covers need to be cohesive. Because I’m multi-genre, I’ve struggled with creating my independents. An author needs to be recognizable, which comes from branding. I write romance, contemporary, suspense, fantasy, and mid-grade. What does that logo look like? I’m still figuring it out.
What did you edit out of this book?
There initially was a chapter about Shay and Joanna on duty. The calls that they responded to on one long night. My editor didn’t think it should be in the story. Not moving it forward. Instead, I submitted the chapter to Wild Rose for an addition to their Australia Burns series. Remember the Australian wildfires about a year ago. The Wild Rose Press and the authors all donated stories to raise money for the relief effort. Instead of one book, it became a three books series. 911, What’s Your Emergency, is in the first book of the series.
What are your top 10 favorite books/authors?
Wow, that’s a tough question. My reading is quite varied, depending on my mood. And this isn’t in any particular order just as they come to me. They also encompass books I fondly remember from my childhood up.
Black Beauty, Heidi, Misty of Chincoteague
Thea Harrison, CL Wilson, Jan Karon, JRR Tolkein, C.S. Lewis
The Hiding Place, Hinds Feet On High Places
That was easier than I thought. I didn’t even get to Stephen King, Michael Crichton, Francine Rivers.
Pretty eclectic, huh?
Do you see writing as a career?
Absolutely! This is my next stage in life. I’ve been so many things and had so many jobs. But writing is the place where I’ve found my creative outlet. I’ve tried painting, sketching, music, jewelry making, and photography. I still enjoy these things, but writing is my passion. I’ve even come to enjoy the editing process. When retirement rolls around next year, I hope to finish all the works I have in progress. To continue with creating new stories. I have a very active imagination.
A day in the life of the author?
Right now, I’m on a hamster wheel. The country band Alabama has a song that goes.
I'm in a hurry to get things done
Oh I rush and rush until life's no fun
All I really gotta do is live and die
But I'm in a hurry and don't know why.
It seems to be my life these days. After returning to work from Covid furlough, my hours changed. I used to have the whole morning to write before heading off to work. But now I only have a short time in the morning and then off to my full-time job in a medical office. I get home around 7ish and try to wrap up anything that needs to be done. In addition to my writing and marketing, I also do two blogs a week on my website. Welcome To The Campfire is on Saturdays, and A Peek Through The Window is on Wednesday. I love talking to other authors and highlighting their books. Also, on the 1st of the month, my newsletter goes out. In addition to sharing about my life, I also review books I’ve enjoyed throughout the month and what’s on my TBR (to be read) pile. I just exhausted myself writing that.
Describe your writing style.
Life is hard. I’m sure many of you agree. That said, my writing style can take serious situations, maybe inject a little humor, always hope. My stories are about family, and not only blood relations but the larger family of friends. I write what could be called sweet or clean. All sex is behind closed doors, but intimacy is there. I try not to curse in my real life and my writing reflects that. I want my readers to walk away fulfilled, and thoughtful.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
Research. I tend to follow the rabbit trails and get lost in whatever I’m interested in. One website leads to the next, and before you know it, hours have passed. Social media is also a significant time drain.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
Despite Rock House Grill being first drafted in thirty days, I’m not a fast author. I have no idea how some can put out multiple books a year. 2020 was a big year for me. I had both Rock House Grill and Rainbow Sprinkles release and, hopefully, my second Agent Carter book by the end of the year. But both RS and AC are short. RHG took several years from writing to publication.
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