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19 September 2012

A Giveaway and interview with Lisa Deon, Author of The Carriage Trade

HL: I’m delighted to welcome Lisa Deon  to my blog today.  Lisa not only shares my love of writing, but also my passion for horses and animals in general, so we’ve come down to Earth and made ourselves comfortable in the tackroom, with the smell of saddle soap and leather, and the soft stamping of hooves, and snorting of horses from the barn across the yard.

 First of all Lisa, Tell us a little more about yourself , with three things not many people know about you.

LD: I live a very boring life in the Salt Lake Valley of Utah. I have one child who just completed Army basic training, and is now off to her job training in Texas. There is very little drama in my life, and I'm okay with that. In twelve years, my husband and I plan to retire, sell all of our worldly possessions, buy a nice motor home, and travel the United States until we are no longer able to drive. Then I guess we'll sponge off our daughter until we die. But that won't happen for a while. At least I hope it won't happen for a while.

As far as three things few people know about me, hmm...I know that when people find out that I know how to knit and I used to do a lot of cross stitch, they seem really surprised. I guess I don't skew very feminine. Of course the fact that I'm kind of burley probably adds to that impression. But I started doing needle crafts because I am the type of  person who cannot sit still. So when I watch TV, I have to be doing something. Now, my eyesight is so poor, that trying to do tiny stitches is a problem. So, instead, I write.

Another thing most people don't know about me is I love to work on anything mechanical. For years I have done minor repairs or service on my personal vehicles. I dated a boy in high school who loved to work on cars, and I just sort of picked it up from him. So before I take my Jeep to a mechanic, I try and figure out what's wrong and fix it myself. I've been known to re-wire trailer lights, too.

Third, I hate to shop. Not like grocery shop or run into the store and pick up dog food, but window shopping, clothes shopping, and especially shoes. Yet, I can waste half a day wandering around a hardware or office supply store. Or a sporting goods store. I'm a fiend for gadgets.

HL:   Tell us about your latest release and what you think readers will enjoy about it

LD: The Carriage Trade is a contemporary main stream novel with romantic elements. I want to mention that because, although I'm a member of the Romance Writers of America, my stories are not exclusively romance. Translation: Guys like them too. My novel is about a group of horse drawn carriage drivers who, through their strong urban tribe, help the hero and heroine get their lives sorted out after a life altering accident. I think people can relate to the sense of community the group embodies.

HL:   What do you do for fun when not writing?

LD: I poke dead things with a stick. But only occasionally. And only when no one is looking...

HLLOL - OK, swiftly moving on ... I know you enjoy carriage driving, but do you have time for anything else to relax?

LD: I love to hike, camp and ski. And living in the beautiful state of Utah I am fortunate to be able to indulge my hobbies locally.

HL:  Getting back to the carriage driving, how did you first get interested in driving rather than riding?

LD: I have worked with horses for much of my life. When we moved to Utah, I looked around for an interesting job. I came across an ad in the paper for a position as a carriage driver, applied, and have loved the work from the first day. Nothing is ever the same. Each day brings a new set of challenges, customers, and, in my case, stories.

HL: And can you tell us a little bit more about it?

LD: Salt Lake City is the capitol city for the state of Utah. It's also the headquarters for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, AKA known as Mormons. Our hack line is in front of Temple Square, essentially the center for the church.  Although not affiliated with the LDS church, the company I work for offers tours around the city. Temple Square is not only the most frequently visited tourist attraction in Utah, it's also the most popular religious tourist attraction in the United States; so we have a variety of folks who visit from around the world. I love history, and horses, so having a part time job that enables me to work with horses and talk to people about any subject for hours on end is nothing but a win in my opinion.

HL:  It sounds perfect.  I can't imagine a more pleasurable occupation, except perhaps, of course, writing - talking of which, when did you start writing?

LD:I wrote my first novel when I was around fourteen. I waited until I was forty-six to write my second one. A lot of the technology changed in the interim. I probably would  not have written another one had it not been for laptops and Microsoft Word. Because I'm really lazy, and using White-Out is too much like work.

HL:   What comes first: the plot or the characters?

LD: To me the characters drive the plot. And if you have interesting characters, you want to come along on their exploits, whether it's on a carriage ride or to the second hand store. You want to see how they will react. You want to be the fly on the wall, so to speak, when things happen.

HL:   If someone were to play one of  your characters in a movie, which character and what actor would it be and why?

LD: I like to allow my readers to envision the physical attributes of the characters, but the place holder (person the writer casts to "play" the character in their imagination) for Nora was Queen Latifah. I think she's both beautiful and intimidating, and I'd like her to have my back in a bar fight.

HL:  Enquiring minds want to know - what have you learned about writing since you were published that surprised you the most?

LD:I tried to learn all I could about writing before I published! Lol! But I guess it's the world wide distribution of my product that impresses me the most. And I guess I would have thought there was more demand for paperback copies. My e-downloads outsell my paperbacks by eight to one. The publishing business, once a static and regimented organization, has been thrown into chaos because of the revolution in ePublishing. I am happy to live in this time.

HL:   What’s your writing process?

LD: I spend a lot of time outside with my eyes closed. I envision a scene then make some notes by hand. Later on I wrap it up in my head and transfer it to my laptop.

HL: Has it changed since writing your first book?

LD: Not much, except most of the first book was written in the car while I commuted to work. When I arrived I'd type myself an email on my phone and send it off before I forgot the details.

HL:  Do you listen to music when you write and if so, what kind of music – or do you find it distracts you?

LD: I find music to be an important part of my writing process. For me it defines the emotion, speed and pacing of a scene. I like to incorporate music into the story, also. My characters listen to music, and I make sure the reader knows what they are listening to. I feel it helps the reader immerse themselves into the character's world. And I have eclectic taste when it comes to music. I like everything from Alternative to Zydeco. Having a teenage daughter keeps my musical exposure fresh. She turns  me on to new bands all the time that, left to my own devices, I probably would never have chosen to listen to. In return, I have brought her up to appreciate bands like Aerosmith, Elton John, and the B-52s.

HL:  Do you have a support system?

LD:My family and friends are very supportive. Either they are supportive or they are too frightened of me to tell me I suck. Either way, I'm good with it.

HL:  LOL, it's good to have a supportive family and circle of friends.  Apart from them, do you have a writing community?

LD:I belong to the Utah chapter of the Romance Writers of America.  

HL:  So what valuable lessons have you learned from them?

LD: Not to quit the first time someone says "No."

HL:  Wonderful advice!  And what is your personal definition of success?

LD: A while back a friend of mine was going through chemo. She was tired and felt like crap most of the time. I sent her a copy of my short story, Splitting the Difference. She sent me a great email about how she went to sleep and dreamt of carriage rides amid softly falling snow. It transported her out of her pain and exhaustion for a time, and brought her into a world where her illness was forgotten. To me, that's success.

HL:  What a wonderful accolade to receive. Something like that makes it all worht while, doesn't it.  As I said at the start we both share a love of animals, especially horses and dogs.  I understand you have three rescued dogs.  Can you tell us a bit more about them and how you came to adopt them?

LD: Since we moved to Utah in 2003 my daughter and I, at her insistence,  have done fundraising for a local program called No More Homeless Pets in Utah. Over time we have adopted shelter dogs. My husband was looking for a Bernese Mountain Dog, or something similar. He's a fan of large breeds. We found a thirteen month old Great Pyrenees we named Luna; ninety pounds of goofy white fur that believes in her heart that she is a lap dog. Then we adopted Mindy, a Papillion/Chihuahua/something that jumped the fence mix, an  actual lap dog that lived in a shelter for six months. She was so habituated to shelter life we had to re-potty train her. And then one day I made the mistake of "window shopping" on Petfinder. The next thing you know we have a Pomeranian/Wolf  (I know, it's hard to imagine, but trust me on this...) named Kiowa who is a ten pound force of nature that thinks she's a Saint Bernard. Mindy is the old lady, and prefers to stay out of the action but Kiowa and Luna wrestle around like it's a cage match. Just watching them makes me cringe. My dogs are crazy. But they are also happy, and I cannot imagine life without them.

HL:  What a wondeful dog family you have.  I have a rescued dog myself, and he is the most loving, affectionate little dog one could wish for, despite having been cruelly treated in the past. You also have a horse – an Appaloosa.  I must admit I have a weakness for Appies.  Introduce him to us and tell us about his personality.

LD:. Prairie Dreamer is his registered name, and he was the 2003 High Point Champ for the ICAA (International Colored Appaloosa Association). My husband and I purchased him in 1992 and showed him for several years, but then we had a baby, and it's difficult to find someone willing to babysit at four in the morning so you can wash your horse and haul it to an "A" circuit show. Dreamer has been retired now for a while. He taught my daughter and a few other kids how to ride. He thinks he's funny. He used to peel my husband's pager off of his hip and hold it in his mouth until my husband would scold him, then Dreamer would spit the pager out. One time a boarder left her coat within lip reach of Dreamer's stall. He pulled it inside, dunked it in his water bucket, dragged it around in his bedding, then replaced it on the cross pole where she'd left it. Most recently he helped himself to a set of keys left on a picnic table. The unlucky owner, a stall cleaner, searched for them for two days and was about to call a locksmith when she found them on the end of her muckrake while cleaning Dreamer's stall. He's naughty. But you can ride him with only a single lead rope snapped to the center brass under his chin. He's a good boy, when he's not being a brat.

HL:  Sounds like dreamer is not only beautiful, but a great character!
Is there any advice, as a new writer, that you were either given, or wish you had been given?

LD:Learn your craft before you have a 300+ page book finished. It's easier to start from scratch than edit an epic tome.

HL:   Absolutely!  If you were an animal, which one do you think you would be, and why?  (I have a feeling I might know the answer to this one, too! )

LD: Actually I'd be a giant Sloth, because I'm lazy like that. But I don't know if I could handle all the hanging upside down. That looks like an awful lot of work to me.

HL:  Lol – not the answer I was expecting, but one I can certainly relate to.!
               Who is your favorite character in your book and why?

LD: I love Bill Fantazma for his sense of honor and duty. But Carlos "Carlin" Farley is feisty and won't take crap from anyone.

HL: *Sigh* I have to admit I rather fell for Bill myself, for those same reasons.  I did get to like Carlos as well though. Is there a question you really, really wish someone would ask, but they never do?  If so what would be your reply?

LD: No one has asked about it, but several people have remarked about using the word "Ho" as opposed to the word "Whoa" when asking a horse to stop. For me, it's a regional thing. It's the word we use at work. Besides, you can use whatever word you want to get a horse to stop, as long as you use it consistently.

       HL:      It's funny 'ho' sounded quite natural to me, I think that's because some people use it in my native Wales.  As you say, it doesn't really matter what word you use, as long as it's always the same one, and you don't chop and change.

To finish with, where can readers connect with you?

LD: My website is www.LisaDeon.com and I can be reached at Lisa@LisaDeon.com or connect with me on www.Facebook.com/Lisadeon
Thank you so much for taking time to visit my blog, it’s been a thrill having you here and learning more about you and your writing. I wish you much success now and in the future.

LD: Thank you for chatting with me in your tack room. It smells like horses and leather in here, and I love it!

HL: There is absolutely nothing quite like that smell is there! Thanks again, it’s been fascinating.(My review of  'TheCarriage Trade' is below)

Lisa's books are available in eBook format for Kindle at
for all other eBook formats at
and in paperback at

Do you Wattpad? Read the first three chapters at

How do you get to a "Happily Ever After" when you can't remember where it began? Carlin "Carlos" Farley's life is an open book. Unfortunately, she can't remember most of it. She's losing her barn manager, Bill, the guy who's been running her horse drawn carriage business while she's been in extended care recovering from an accident. Bill has always been there for her, in fact they've grown up together, but now he wants to pursue the career he put on hold and Carlin's resigned to the idea that he's leaving her.

Bill Fantazma is the kind of guy who always tries to do the right thing. But sometimes doing the right thing is not the right thing to do. He's been in charge of Carlin's care and the business he helped acquire for her, and has accepted the accident and her subsequent brain damage as a chance for a do-over, since his previous actions to attract her affection were less than honorable. Richard Cooper appears the answer to their business problems. Knowledgeable about horses, willing to step in and take over the barn manager position, helpful and solicitous to Carlin, he's not put off by her sometimes bizarre and quirky behavior. But when Richard sees an opportunity to move in and draw Carlin's affection, Bill realizes just what she means to him and must make a decision; come clean about their past and risk her anger, or step away and allow Richard to have a romantic relationship with the woman Bill has loved all of his life. It's a romance she can't remember and he can never forget.

Publisher Self
Genre Contemporary Romance
Release Date June 15, 2012

To begin with, I wanted to read  'The Carriage Trade' because I love horses and enjoy reading books which feature them. I was quickly drawn into the story itself though, and intrigued with the characters.  The only little niggle I have is that there is a lot of strong language, and although it's certainly in keeping with Carlos's character, I felt the story would have been just as good without it. That's just a personal view, however, and did not detract from my enjoyment of the story. By the end I felt I knew Bill and Carlos like old friends.

There are a wealth of interesting and diverse characters. Bill Fantazma is such a lovely man, goodlooking, clever and very, very caring. Like all good characters, however, he is not perfect and makes the odd misjudgement, and it is easy to empathise with him

 I wasn't so sure about Carlos to start with.  She is quite a complicated character, and for all her brash exterior is more sensitive than she cares to let on. She has terrible issues to contend with, not the least being the loss of her foot, which she actually copes with amazingly well, giving the impression of not being at all self conscious about it, or the damage to her brain which results in her getting her words confused on occasion. She makes the best of the situation, with, at times, humerous results.Carlos is determined and very self willed, and keen to retain her independence and not rely on Bill any more than she has to.  At times she seemed so short and abrupt with him I wanted to shake her, but then I grew to sympathise with her and even admire her. She could so easily have been self-pitying of herself and her situation, but while she grieves inwardly for the loss of her young son, she presents a brave, even brazen face to the world, despite the physical limitations which now prevent her doing what she loves - carriage driving. 

Richard is introduced as a bit of an unknown quanitity. I started out quite liking him but wasn't sure how genuine he really was. There is a wonderful, knowledgeable and unglamorised backdrop of the carriage driving business,to the story, which is not overdone, so that both horse lovers and those with no knowledge of horses or carriage driving can soak up the atmosphere without it detracting from the characters or story. 

The book is a riveting read, and one I found difficult to put down. The romance, which looks at times like becoming a 'love triangle', smoulders on the page (or the screen). Despite the main characters enduring many setbacks and misunderstandings, the end is satisfying and prepares the way nicely for the next in the series, which I am looking forward to reading.  
Hywela Lyn  

Lisa Deon told stories for years before she ever thought of writing them down. Had it not been for the invention of the PC and Microsoft Word, she never would have, because typing was just not her thing. So much so that her first novel, written in Junior High, was dictated to a friend who was a superior typist, speller and had a much better appreciation for proper grammar and punctuation. After they parted ways, Lisa shared her tales by cornering people at cocktail parties and telling them stories until someone had to give up and go pee.

Now, with the advent of the previously mentioned technological miracles, you can enjoy Lisa's yarns in the comfort and privacy of your home and use the restroom whenever the spirit moves you, without having to formulate a creative way of escaping her clutches, like faking a heart attack or pulling the fire alarm.

If you feel it necessary, you can stalk Lisa online at Facebook or send an email to Lisa@LisaDeon.com which she might answer depending on if you are actually being sincere or if she thinks you are trying to sell her diet water, erection pills, or advise her she has won the Nigerian Lottery. In any case, this "About the Author" is the only place where she talks about herself in the third person.

Offline, she has three rescue dogs, a rescue husband, a daughter in the military, a mother living in her basement (of her own free will) a beloved but seldom ridden Appaloosa and is babysitting a Bearded Dragon. Or would that be Dragon-sitting? Either way, her favorite foods are wine and popcorn, her favorite color is dog, and her favorite smell is horse. Not necessarily in that order.

Lisa will be giving away 3 copies of The Carriage Trade – Reader's choice for paperback or ebook. International is ebook only.

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