Thursday, August 1, 2013

Protect Me by Jennifer Culbreth Release Day Spotlight and Interview

by Jennifer Culbreth

Release Date: August 1st 2013

Available at:



Abbi Hastings had never been fearless. She'd been firmly tangled in her small town roots her entire life until an unexpected inheritance provided her a chance to escape. As she took the only chance she’d have to get out, Abbi left all of the what if’s behind as she boarded the plane with her one way ticket to Los Angeles.

Relentless to not fail and fighting for her own independence, it all goes to hell when fate throws a curve in her path. Everything changed the day she accidentally falls into the arms of Ryan Dixon. The tall, dark eyed, and handsome CEO of LA’s hottest bodyguard service who is fighting his own dark demons.

Can Abbi let go of her fears to take a leap of faith and allow Ryan to protect her? From what, she doesn’t yet know…

Can you please share with us a little about yourself?
My name is Jennifer, I am a 26 year old wife to a panty dropping US Navy Sailor. I am an active advocate of a sarcasm font and snarky remarks. I was born and raised in North Florida where we are lucky enough to get the best of both worlds. We have island life where our beach is at and the great outdoors covered with towering hard pines. I like to consider myself a small town girl with big world dreams, and have used that motto throughout my writing.
Never being one for change (yes it is true that I picketed changing our yearly Christmas dinner from turkey and ham to steaks and lobster… I can admit that) after graduating college and being in the banking industry for several years, change seemed to become the only thing I could think of. I had graduated college with a very expensive piece of paper that I proudly hung in my $3.00 Wal-Mart frame, however crunching numbers just never seemed enough, I had to find something to satisfy the creative beast knocking around in my head. So I embraced reading more than I ever had before in an effort to escape the norm.
Little did I know that reading is a gateway drug to writing! Not only did I find that reading got my mind off of the 9-5, the endless deployments of my husband overseas, and the drama of my friend’s dating lives, writing took it to a whole new level. I began embracing my passion for journaling and even ventured into the world of creative writing. As I am sure many other authors can agree, there comes a time when the characters and story just starts coming together and before I knew it my 1000 word story began flowing uncontrollably into a 380+ page novel.
My love for my book goes deeper than an accomplishment, it is also a piece of myself. I used the experiences and encounters over the years to bring together a story that I wanted people to be able to relate to. A character who’s overly trusting, who feels trapped, and needs to find her way in the world. Once you let your imagination take hold you can truly find your inspiration, and by using your imagination you get to bring life to something that was once only words on a paper.
Within two months my story had been written and the real fun began. Bringing together models, photographers, and creative ideas across the board has been an amazing experience. It took a lot of brainstorming… and pinteresting… to come up with ideas behind the cover and I can only hope that what we brought to the table will help to inspire my readers and spark their imaginations. As the visual representation of the cover is truly your means of accessing my thoughts when writing Protect Me, I can only hope that you can see and feel the same things that I did along the journey.

Have you always wanted to be an author?
No, believe it or not my dream was to join the armed forces as to “continue the legacy” as all member of our family had joined and served. However with the begging of my sister to not go into a war zone I went a different approach. I got a full scholarship to college and earned a degree in business. After graduating I went into banking for a few years until deciding that this was the journey I wanted to take. However in one way or another writing has always played a huge part in my life.

Can you share with us your typical writing day.  Is there anything you have to have while writing?
Music and hot tea are must haves! Aside from my writing I am also a caregiver to my two small nieces; one is five and the other two. It makes it very hard to concentrate on writing during the day so my daytime schedule is usually blogging or interacting on my Author page and then during the evenings (and sometimes until the wee hours of the morning lol) I work on my writing.

What would you say is the most challenging or rewarding part of writing?
The most challenging for me would be punctuation! Can anyone else relate to that? I didn’t formally study to be a writer, and though I have taken many English and Composition courses, grammar and punctuation aren’t my strongest points. It is much harder to focus on every aspect of writing and still use proper English. Of course being from the backwoods doesn’t help either! However that is why I have relied heavily on my team of amazing beta readers and editors to help me along the way. They are amazing!

The most rewarding part is to see it all come together and to also have the support of others like yourself who are so willing to help you spread the word and share your baby with the world. It all starts out as words tumbling your head and then it takes on a life of its own. To think that in a few more days it will be live to the masses!

Can you please tell us about your latest book?
(Protect Me is book one of my Protected Love series)

Abbi Hastings had never been fearless. She'd been firmly entangled in her small town roots her entire life until an unexpected inheritance provided her a chance to escape. As she took the only opportunity she’d have to get out, Abbi left her world behind and boarded the plane with her one way ticket to Los Angeles.
Relentless to not fail and fighting for her own independence, it all goes to hell when fate throws a twist into her plans. Everything changes the day she accidentally falls into the arms of Ryan Dixon. The tall, dark eyed, and handsome CEO of LA’s hottest bodyguard service who is fighting some dark demons of his own.
Can Abbi take a leap of faith and dare to experience all that the world has to offer, accepting that fate has brought her here into the arms of the man who will protect her? Protect her mind, body, and soul.

How did you come with the idea for this story?
It started out as two characters in my head. I didn’t have a story or plot line I just knew that I wanted to take them somewhere. A large part of the book is based around experiences that I have encountered along my path, also it is based around some of my closest friend’s personalities. The banter back and forth between the characters really is how my friends and I talk to one another. Once the first ideas began to blossom I found a template online to help plot out my story and after two months of writing Protect Me was finished. Though I will share a secret… some writers will say that it is common, but I wrote the entire story before I even knew what to name it. That was one of my biggest blocks along the way!
Can you share with us your current work in progress?
Well as I have mentioned “Protect Me” is book one of my Protected Love series. The badass alpha males of the book are Bodyguards and they all have prior military experience. Of course our main lady in book one, Abbi, befriends two amazing girls where she works, Judy and Ashley. I want to continue the series but through each couples POV’s so book two (which yes has a name already J ) “Cherish Me” will be through the viewpoints of Judy and Jace, the story will pick up where it left off on book one but through a different set of eyes.

Who are some of your favorite authors?
Oh the list could go on for days! To make it short and sweet Gail McHugh, Teresa Gableman, and Nicole Williams are just the top of the iceberg. Not only do I come from a long line of military service members, I also come from a long line of readers. I love the classics “Wuthering Heights” or “Little Women”, I love romance and even some of the sparkly vampires!

Do you feel that any of your favorite authors have inspired your writing style?
I have to give a shout out to my girls on this one! When I first decided to take my journaling or hobby level writing to the big leagues I reached out like crazy. I sent out emails to dozens of writers and authors asking for help and advice and there have been two amazing ladies that have helped in so many ways throughout this journey. Teresa and Gail have always been there to answer questions and to motivate me when I hit a road block. I have also reached out and become acquainted with Madeline Sheehan who is also just as amazing and helpful. All I can say is that don’t be afraid to reach out because you don’t know them. They all started out at the beginning too and most authors are always willing to help in any way they can. It’s a beautiful community between writers and authors and I am so very proud to be a part of it!

Open your book to a random page and please reads us a few lines.
As she made her way back towards the velvet rope her hand met another on the clasp. Surely it wasn’t the liquor she drank that was causing the electricity to pulse through her body. She had felt it before when he placed his hand on her back. Looking up she snatched her hand away. How could someone she had never met before make her feel like that.  She looked into his dark eyes, and the warmth spread down into her stomach. His eyes looking back at her like he was the hunter and she was the prey.
    “Hi, I’m Ryan.” Extending his hand.
    “Um, hi. I’m Abbi.” Placing her hand in his, she could feel the fire again as his sultry southern accent rang through her ears. Coursing through her body. “Thanks for the help.” Taking back her hand she could feel her head spin. That shot had definitely not been a good idea. Then it happened, her two left feet attempting to move at the same time causing her to fall forward, she could see the ground moving towards her face faster than she would have liked. Oh just kill me now! She felt the glasses in her hand begin falling while throwing her other out in an attempt to catch herself. In slow motion the glasses went crashing to the floor, left over ice flying out into the crowd as a few patrons gasped and jumped out of the way avoiding the shrapnel.
    “Whoa there.” Ryan said grabbing her around the waist; he couldn’t help but chuckle.
    “Yeah my nickname in high school was Grace, Grace-less that is.” This time her smile reached her eyes. How embarrassing. But through her embarrassment she felt the need to just linger in his arms for as long as she could. Slight disappointment spread over her as he stood her back upright. He reached down and grabbed one of the stray glasses off the floor. Thank goodness none of them broke from the fall. She nervously fidgeted as she attempted to brush the stray hairs from her face. Man did this guy make her nervous.
    “That’s ok, you should see me dance. The music might move me, but it moves me ugly.” He joked trying to ease the embarrassment.
    “Ha! Well it’s nice to know even tough guys have their faults.” She smiled.
    “Oh well I have a long list of those. Anytime you want to hear them, you just let me know.” He smiled down at her.
    Oh good grief, was he going to ask her out? No. There was no way that would ever happen. This man was way too gorgeous to be interested in someone like her. She might as well save herself the disappointment and run as fast as she could.
    “Well thanks for saving my face, that one probably would have left a bruise. It might have messed up my tips for the night. Though I could have said I had to break up a bar fight and they should have seen the other guy.” Oh no now she was rambling. A nervous chuckle escaped her lips.
    “I am sure that would have made for a very interesting story, but I like your face just the way it is.” A smile showing his teeth formed across his face as he calmed the free strand of hair she had been struggling with, “Bruise free.”
    Not really sure what to do at this point she awkwardly turned and went straight back towards the main bar. The crowd was starting to thin out as the night was slowly becoming morning. Heading back behind the bar she found Judy checking her phone and Ashley walking towards the end of the bar grabbing a handful of napkins from the box and placing them on the counter. Good, they obviously hadn’t seen that little exchange.

What is in your To Read Pile that you are dying to start or upcoming release you can’t wait for?
Right now my to read list is pretty short, however I would like to finish up “Duncan” by Teresa Gableman, I would also like to check out the Guardian Trilogy and the Vampire Academy.

Have you ever used anyone from your real life encounters in any of your books?
Yes J I have my hubby to thank for showing me that true love does exist and that chivalry isn’t dead. Of course I have mentioned that a few of my friends have been made into characters and you will see a few more before the series is done. I am very thankful to have such amazing people in my life!

What was the most surprising thing you learned about yourself while you were writing?
Honestly, that I could do it. I knew I wanted to, but I didn’t really know I could actually do it from start to finish until it was all done. But once you get that first one under your belt, I feel like it gets easier each time. Every day I learn something new and get new advice; and I have made too many amazing friends and motivators along the way to ever let me fail or give up. 

I was born and raised in a small town that until maybe a year ago, you couldn't find on a map. After high school I did what every wild child from a small town would do and kicked rocks to the farthest college I could go to. Which happened to be about 20 miles out of town, I didn't trust my old clunker of a truck to go much farther than that. After graduating college with a shiny new piece of paper hung in a $3.00 Wal-mart frame I got my first "big girl" job with Synovus Financial Corporation. 

During the five years I stayed at the company, I bought a new truck, moved into my own apartment (in the same small town), and met the man who would eventually accept my craziness and ask me to marry him. I am privileged to call myself a US Navy Wife. My husband currently serves on the USS Hue City, which has been deployed more times during our marriage than it has been home. But we look forward to a three year shore duty in Colorado Springs. 

I have been very lucky to have had the support of my friends and family during the years and I look forward to many more years full of there snide remarks and sarcasm. I wouldn't want them any other way.

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