Friday, February 24, 2012

Guest Post & Giveaway: Dawn Greenfield Ireland

Curling Up By The Fire would like to welcome Dawn Ireland, author of Hot Chocolate, which released October 20, 2011.  This is the delightful cozy mystery story featuring the Alcott sisters, Madge, Dorothea, and Lila Mae, heiresses to the Alcott Chocolate fortune.  Don't forget to enter the giveaway for Hot Chocolate at the end of this post!!

Meet the middle-aged Alcott sisters: Madge, Lila Mae and Dorothea, heiresses to the Alcott Chocolate fortune and mavens of Houston’s elite River Oaks. 

Madge ambushes Lila Mae with Dorothea’s manipulative plea: she can’t care for Bernie, their 92-year old father, any longer. Lila Mae explodes in a hissy fit—she had warned Dorothea years ago that they should put Bernie in an assisted living center.

Robert, Lila Mae’s astrologer, warns of impending problems and he’s rarely wrong.

The sisters call a meeting with Walter Branson, their solicitor. They discuss Bernie’s nurse Bambi Chaline, a blonde bombshell who looks more like a hooker than a nurse.

Arrangements are made for Bernie to be transferred over to Lake Sides Assisted Living Center in the Uptown Galleria area and a severance package is drawn up for Bambi.

Jimmy Ray Chaline, Bambi’s bowling alley husband, is enraged that Bambi was let go. He hires ambulance chaser Mark Slade to file a lawsuit for wrongful termination. 

The suit is thrown out of court further fueling Jimmy Ray’s rage. Bambi had been more than satisfied with her bonus, letters of recommendation and praise from the Alcott clan.

When Jimmy Ray fails to return home from the bowling alley that night, a series of events unfold that shocks the entire Alcott family and their extended members.

Family Dynamics and the Hot Chocolate Characters
By Dawn Ireland

There is no such thing as a perfect family. I don’t care how rich or poor you are, if you live in a big house in the suburbs, or an efficiency apartment the size of a shoe box. That old saying “you can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your relatives” is a good example of the dynamics that can either glue a family together or tear them apart.

Every family seems to have a boozer, a nutcase, a matriarch or patriarch who rules the roost with an iron fist, or someone else the rest tolerates for the good of the whole. There’s the earth mother, the day-dreaming sister or brother, Uncle Todd who went to jail for an unmentionable subject, a hoarder, the cat lady, a fat relative, someone who’s sick or dying.

Life gives a writer so much to draw from when creating their character’s world. Listening to conversations, people-watching, and observing are some of the greatest free gifts a writer could possibly come by. And folks no one is excused from observation. Give me ten minutes with you and you’ll do something or say something that might end up in a character trait down the road. It’s such fun.

The Alcott’s are a pretty extensive lot that includes the extended members. Not blood related, but by their quirky outlook of life, people in the “inner circle” are considered a part of the family structure. To keep everyone straight in my head, I created a huge family tree that shows the relationships within each household. (I promise to include the family tree in Bitter Chocolate (book two) and when Hot Chocolate gets to the best sellers list and gets printed.)

And I’d say that the Alcott family is more than a little tipped with the great pool of people I have thrown into the pot. The sisters have a tolerable relationship with each other. They love their siblings, but since they are all so different their tolerances of those differences sometimes stretches their boundaries of acceptance or understanding.

They all have their little factions of supporters and like other families, will gang up on one of their own to have their own form of an intervention. Conformity can be very hard to deal with if you don’t fit into a specific mold, especially when the conformists are a little nutty themselves.

Madge is a pillar of stability with her societal and family rules and ideas of how one should act in private and public. Lila Mae broke the mold to emerge as a unique, independent, modern woman who doesn’t take crap from anyone. Dorothea, being the youngest and several years distant from her sisters, replays her tricks from infancy to get her way and to garner sympathy. As cantankerous as their relationships are, they are still glued together pretty tight.

The second tier of the family, the brothers-in-law, the boyfriend, the trusted and beloved domestic staff, and other relationships the family adopts, are the bricks. You remove one and the rest would topple. So it is with Henry, Rick, Chance, Amelia, Joseph, Walter, Uncle Tito, and even Bambi.

And let’s not forget Bernie. The patriarch, who once ruled a billion dollar international chocolate company, appears to be old and infirm. His middle-aged daughters seem to be teeter-tottering between pacifying him and minding him. You’ll get to know Bernie much better down the road in Books 2 and 3.

Won’t it be interesting to see what the next generation of Alcott’s brings forth and how they will fit into the family dynamics? Stay tuned…

Giveaway: One lucky reader will win an ecopy edition of Hot Chocolate.
1) Open internationally.
2) Contest ends at 11:59 pm 05 March 2012. 
3) To enter, leave a comment with your email address.  That's all folks!!

About Dawn Greenfield Ireland:
Dawn Greenfield Ireland has been writing stories since attending summer camp around the age of seven. To date she has five completed novels (science fiction and contemporary), 15 completed screenplays (one optioned in 2009) and as many scripts in various stages of completion. Dawn is the author of two award-winning self-published books: The Puppy Baby Book (hardcover) and Mastering Your Money (print and eBook). Many of her screenplays have won awards. She spends her days editing and formatting engineering documents as a senior technical writer.


  1. This sounds delightful.

  2. Thak you!

  3. Thank you for this great giveaway.
    :) Jeanne,

  4. Thank you so much for the giveaway! I would love to score a copy! *crosses fingers*