Today, I’m happy to welcome Alicia Singleton, author of Dark Side of Valor, to my notebook. I have to say the title of her guest post certaingly caught my attention. Read through to the end of the post and you’ll also find a chance to win a $100 Visa gift card.

Alligator’s Crack-houses and Rats…Oh My! – The Boring Life of an Author?

How does an author spend their day?  Up at dawn, start the coffee brewing, then sit down to type page after page of the characters’ lives that are buzzing in their mind.  They break to pop a frozen diet meal in the microwave, wolf it down, then back to the typing grind.

Boring, right?

Not so.  An author’s life can be solitary, but, it can also be filled with adventure, intrigue and unseen dangers.  Not the, ‘Darn it, I just broke my nail on the keyboard.’ danger.  I’m talking about the kind of danger that can get you shot, scared spitless or eaten.  How can this be, you ask?


Research, deliberate or accidental, can be as docile as reading an article or as perilous as standing in a crack-house.  The research for my recent novel, Dark Side of Valor, provided me with both types of experiences.  Studying the Sudan, the jungles of the Congo, interviewing child advocates, even pulling from my experience of working in a homeless shelter as a nurse, seemed mundane compared to some of the crazier things I’ve done for the sake of a novel.

Research for the most harrowing scenes from the book came totally by accident.  Some years ago, my husband and I were interested in buying rental properties.  We’d venture into boarded houses with our real estate agent.  The strong smell of rodents would stop me near the front door.  On a good day I’d make it to the living room.  I was more afraid of the rats then standing amid the litter of needles, syringes, broken crack pipes, piles of trash or looking through the splintered floor boards wondering if I were going to fall through.  Going to house after house, the heroine, child advocate Lelia Freeman’s encounters became crystal clear.  I thought, ‘This is what Lelia sees when she is going into the crack-houses to save her children.’ Through those experiences, I was able to infuse the emotions I felt, the things that I saw, the smells I smelled, into the story.

More perilous times lay in store for my husband and me on a research trip to a former rice plantation, turned bed and breakfast, in South Carolina.  It was about 11:30 pm when we got near the location.  We passed the entrance to the plantation several times before we saw the plank signage, turned onto the dirt path, then stopped underneath the sign to stare into a hole cut into the woods.  When the inn keeper told us that the bed and breakfast sat about a mile and a half off of the road, I had no idea that it sat ‘off the road’ down a single dirt path, cut through very thick woods.  Did I mention that there were no street lights, no moon light and that it was 11:30 pm?  My husband said, “Uhhh, are you sure about this?” To be honest, I was ready to turn around to try to find a Holiday Inn, but in my mind I kept chanting, ‘bestseller’s list, bestseller’s list.’  Gritting my teeth, I said, “Let’s do it.” and we drove on.

About a half a mile down the road, I was about to ask my husband to turn around and find that Holiday Inn when he decided that it would be fun to turn off the headlights!  Driving 35 to 40 miles per hour isn’t fast, but when it’s pitch black and you can’t see…it feels like warp-speed.

In stressful situations, I’m a fairly calm natured person and generally don’t cuss, but that night was not a ‘generally’ night.  I was yelling at him to turn the lights on, he was saying how awesome it was driving in the dark and all of my previous thoughts of being a bestselling author went out the window.

We finally made it to our room, had a de-stressing sleep and started the next day by  venturing all over the plantation.  It sat on 500 acres, most of which used to be rice patties, river beds and swamps.  Behind the plantation’s main house, there were acres of tall grass, paths and cut-outs in the tall grass.  Each cut out had a trench furrowed in the ground that led down to the river.  I thought about the amount of rain it took to hollow out the trenches and was fascinated.  I knelt down to examine the river at the top of each trench, had a wonderful time being one with nature.

The following day we had the delight of meeting Captain Sandy, our tour guide.  We told him about walking though the grass and the trenches.  He told us, “Yep, those trenches are where the gators slither down into the river.  They lie in the grass waiting for their dinner to come along, catch them in their snouts, then drag them down in the water.  Hold them there till they drown.”  Of course, we didn’t venture back into the tall grass for the rest of our stay.

So, on any given day, the life of an author isn’t boring.  It can take you to the streets of the inner city to the perils of the vast outdoors.  It all depends on a willing heart and the pursuit of the ultimate prize, a great story.

About the Author:

Born and raised in Philadelphia, the Howard University graduate embraced the written word at an early age. She credits this to her loving, older sister whom, while they were youngsters, made the author eat lotion on a regular basis. Realizing the need to sound-out the ingredients on the lotion label, Alicia stopped the lotion-eating practice, but continued to read the labels of the concoctions her sister brought for her to try. This early necessity to read flowered to a passion; hence, a writer was born.The award winning author resides in Maryland with her wonderful husband and son.  Still an avid reader, label or otherwise, Alicia is hard at work completing her next suspense novel.Her latest book is the suspense novel, Dark Side of Valor.

Visit Alicia’s website at

Dark Side of ValorAbout Dark Side of Valor:

Child advocate Lelia Freeman saves children for a living. As the director of ChildSafe Shelters, she ventures to abandoned squats and crackhouses to rescue teens from the hellish streets of Los Angeles. When she is summoned to Washington to serve on a committee that aids the children of a war-torn African nation, Lelia is kidnapped and becomes a political pawn in a sinister conspiracy. Oceans away from everything she knows, she must trust a mercenary to save her life, or die in the clutches of a psychopath.

Hunting, combat and staying alive are Elijah Dune’s specialties. Vengeance is his passion. Haunted by past demons, he’s travels to the Motherland to collect a debt. A debt that demands one payment. Death.

Caught in the crosshairs of a madman, Lelia and Elijah must survive the jungles of Zaire and the horrors of their pasts or be forever consumed by the DARK SIDE OF VALOR.

~ ~ ~ $100 Visa Gift Card Giveaway ~ ~ ~

Pump Up Your Book and Alicia Singleton are teaming up to give you a chance to win a $100 Visa Gift Card!

Here’s how it works:

Each person will enter this giveaway by liking, following, subscribing and tweeting about this giveaway through the Rafflecopter form throughout the tour.

Giveaway open to the US and Canada only.

The $100 Visa Gift Card promotion will run from June 4 – August 24. Winner will be chosen randomly by Rafflecopter, contacted by email and announced on August 25, 2012.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Dark Side of Valor Tour

Monday, June 4

Book Featured at Virginia Beach Publishing Examiner

Tuesday, June 5

Interview at Book Marketing Buzz

Wednesday, June 6

Book Review at Bookin’ It Up

Thursday, June 7

Guest Blogging & Book Giveaway at Darlene’s Book Nook

Friday, June 8

Book Spotlight & Book Giveaway at Sweet Southern Home

Tuesday, June 12

Book Review & Guest Blogging & Book Giveaway at The Bookish Dame

Wednesday, June 13

Book Review at Cindy’s Love of Books

Thursday, June 14

Book Review at Waiting on Sunday to Drown

Friday, June 15

Book Review at Ashley’s Bookshelf

Tuesday, June 19

Book Review & Book Giveaway at Mary’s Cup of Tea

Wednesday, June 20

Book Review & Guest Blogging at My Book Addiction and More

Thursday, June 21

Book Review & Book Giveaway at Books in the Burbs

Friday, June 22

Book Review at Celtic Lady’s Reviews

Monday, July 2

Interview at The Writer’s Life

Tuesday, July 3

Character Interview at Beyond the Books

Thursday, July 5

Interview at Between the Covers

Monday, July 9

Guest Blogging at Literal Exposure

Tuesday, July 10

Book Review at Book Reviews by Martha’s Bookshelf

Wednesday, July 11

Guest Blogging at Literarily Speaking

Friday, July 13

Book Review at Books Books and More Books

Monday, July 16

Book Feature at Books in the Burbs

Tuesday, July 17

Book Review & Guest Blogging at Jersey  Girl Book Reviews

Friday, July 20

Interview at I Am a Reader Not a Writer

Guest Blogging at The Story Behind the Book

Monday, July 23

Interviewed at Examiner

Wednesday, July 25

Interview at Paperback Writer

Thursday, July 26

Book Feature at The Book Loving Busy Mom’s Daily

Friday, July 27

Interview at Between the Pages

Monday, August 6

Interview at Divine Caroline

Tuesday, August 7

Interview at The Book Connection

Wednesday, August 8

Book Review at Words I Write Crazy

Thursday, August 9

Interview at SheWrites

Friday, August 10

Interview at Pump Up Your Book

Monday, August 13

Book Review at  Book Review Club

Tuesday, August 14

Book Review at The Story of a Girl

Wednesday, August 15

Book Review at The Solitary Bookworm

Thursday, August 16

Guest Blogging at Motherhoot

Interview at The Plot Thickens

Friday, August 17

Guest Blogging at Hollywood Daze

Monday, August 20

Guest Blogging at The Top Shelf

Tuesday, August 21

Book Trailer Feature at If Books Could Talk

Wednesday, August 22

Guest Blogging at Carol’s Notebook

Thursday, August 23

Interview at Broowaha

Friday, August 24

Guest Blogging at My Reading Table


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