Blog by VONNIE DAVIS -- International, Award-Winning Romance Author: Adventurous...Humorous...Amorous.

Friday, June 15, 2012


My guest today is Hillary Peak, a self-proclaimed recovering idealist. She became a lawyer to change the world and is still somewhat shocked that didn't occur. Now, her goal is to retire from practicing law and write novels that people love. She is currently a practicing attorney in the District of Columbia. She lives with her family in Alexandria, VA.

Hillary, what is your life like away from the computer? Tell us something about your household.

Unfortunately, I’m still at the computer.  I have a day job as a lawyer, so I spend a lot of time writing and researching.  When I’m home, I’m the mommy to a two-year old.  We play tea party, sing and dance to Mickey Mouse, fairies, Elmo and the Disney Princesses.  It is fabulous!  Two is amazing, sweet and so adorable!

What authors and genres do you enjoy reading? 
I love books.  I read fantasy, science fiction, thrillers and literary fiction.  I read any one who has a book I’m interested in.
What is your writing schedule like? 
I write whenever I can.  I try to do one hour a day, but my real job has been getting in the way of that right now.  I have to use my hour to do things like my virtual book tour!
What is the story behind your book title? 
For me, this story is about the inspiration of hope.  Where do we find hope?  How do you keep it?  So I looked at quotes about hope.  I put them at the beginning of every chapter, picking my favorite as the title.
Do you ever dream of writing in a different genre? 
Yes, I just finished a legal thriller called “Justice Scorned”!
Oh, that sounds very interesting. How do you research your storylines or locations? 
Google.  Then I call people, make stuff up and generally try to fit fiction to seem like reality.
What part of the writing process brings you the most pleasure? The most angst? 
Writing is super fun for me—I love making dialogue.  I have a lot of trouble with descriptions and not “telling” the action.
How do you see your career in five years? 
Hopefully with my name on the best seller list, a part-time job on the Today show talking about what you should be reading and dancing on Dancing with the Stars!

Has your road to publication been a walk in the park or a steep mountain climb? Give us some details? 
A STEEP mountain climb.  In 2003 I wrote my first novel.  A publisher asked me to rewrite it in a way I didn’t feel good about (stupid girl).  I tried to publish it without changes for a couple of years.  Then in 2008 I wrote Wings of Hope.  I tried to find a literary agent.  I got back dozens of letters that said I wrote beautifully, but nobody wanted to take me on.  So, I decided to publish on Amazon.  I have never done anything as difficult as promote on my own!

We all struggle with self-promotion. Publishers no longer promote their authors. Some want a marketing plan from an author before a contract is offered. You've brought us a blurb and excerpt, and I'm eager for my readers to see them. But first, you'll award a $10. Amazon gift card to one randomly drawn commenter during your tour and to the host with the most comments (excluding yours and mine).

Folks, you have to leave a comment to have a chance at winning. The more you comment, the better your chances. Hillary's blog tour stops can be found here:

The letter said he was dying, that’s all Jules Weinstein knows when she leaves her life in San Francisco and moves to New York City to be with her father.  She goes for the remarkable opportunity to really know her father. She never dreamed he had liberated a concentration camp, dealt cards to Bugsy Siegel or saved the life of a Black Panther. Wings of Hope is a road trip through the memories of a man making peace with his life.  Little does she know that by getting to know her father, she will find herself.  While her father struggles with whether his life was meaningful, Jules discovers that her father’s last gift to her is the ability to reach for her dreams.  Her journey teacher her that “the goodbye” is sometimes the most heartbreakingly beautiful part of life.

As we sat at the table sipping coffee, I ventured my first question, “Dad, what were your parents like?  You haven’t told me much about them, except that your mother had more brains in her pinkie than you’ve ever had.”  I worried I wouldn’t have time to find out all I wanted to know.

He looked up, surprised.  “Haven’t I told you about them?”

I shook my head.  “But I’d really like to know more about them--especially what they were like.”

A smile spread across his face, “Really?  I can’t believe that.  My mother would have loved you--eaten you with a spoon.  Remember when I took you to Fiddler on the Roof?”

I nodded, not wanting to break the spell by speaking.

 “You were horrified that Golda hadn’t even met Tevya before they were married?”

I nodded again.  That had horrified me, I couldn’t imagine not falling in love, courting, all that comes with the fun of meeting someone special, dressing up to go out, etc.  The coffee mug warmed my hands, as I listened enraptured.

 “Well, my parents were married like that.”

Rather than actually seeing it, I felt my jaw hit the floor.  “You’re kidding!”  I exclaimed without thinking.

 “Nope.”  He shook his head, watching me with amusement.“They’d never even seen one another.  Married in a little village in Poland called Tarnapole.  It is gone now--burned to the ground by the Nazis, I think.”  His eyes misted over, but continued anyway.  “My mother got pregnant with your Aunt Rebecca almost immediately.  My dad was a barrel maker--and a fine woodworker.  He made furniture for people as well.  Six months after Rebecca was born, my mother got pregnant again--with Aunt Rachel.  The pogroms went on at that time, and getting worse every day from what I gathered from my parents.  Money and food were running out.  It was quite desperate.  My father decided to come to America, make some money with my mother’s brother who already lived here in New York, then send for my mother and the two girls.  He left taking nearly two months to get to New York.  It was barely three weeks after he stepped onto Ellis Island when World War One started.  My mother and your aunts were trapped for the next three years.  For a while, my dad could get in touch with them.  He sent money, but after about a year, the lines were totally cut off.  He didn’t know where they were, if they were even alive.  As far as I know, he kept working, saving money.  My mother on the other hand, was starving.  The pogroms were continuing.  The Cossacks were riding through villages, raping women and running everything that moved through with a sword.”  He licked his lips, concentrating, clearly thinking about what it must have been like for his mother.  My hair stood on end.

 “One day, my mother was in the town rather than at their farm when the Cossacks came riding in.  One grabbed my mother around the waist and lifted her onto the horse while he was moving.  He intended to rape her in the saddle and kill her.  She grabbed his pistol from out of the holster around his waist.  She shot him dead as they rode.”

My mouth was open and my eyes were far bigger than saucers.  My dad laughed at my expression.  “I know.  Totally amazing--she was an amazing woman.  She never told me that story.  Her brother told me after she died.  I remember saying to him, ‘My Mother?’  I couldn’t believe it.”

 “What happened?”  I asked mesmerized.  “How did she get away with it?”

He nodded solemnly.  “I asked the same question.  She rode back to the farm.  Her brothers buried the body.  They slaughtered the horse and ate the meat—they couldn’t keep it, even though it would have been great for the farm, because it would have aroused suspicion and questions--but it was no longer safe for her or your aunts.  People had seen it happen.  They knew it wasn’t long before someone turned her in for a loaf of bread.”  He bit the inside of his cheek, just a bit; frightened for them even though he knew it turned out alright.

 “So she took what she could carry, along with my sisters and started walking to America.”

 “Walking?  Are you serious?”  I literally could not imagine walking thousands of miles.

 “Yep.  She and my sisters hid in the woods during the day and walked at night for months.  Eventually, she joined a refugee line.”

 “How long did it take?”  I couldn’t imagine.  The fear I felt hearing about it was palpable--what must it have been like to go through something like that?

 “Two years.”


Twitter: @hillaryepeak


marybelle said...

I'm looking forward to reading WINGS OF HOPE. I will be looking out for you on Dancing With the Stars - in five years you say!!!


Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thank you for hosting Hillary today.

Catherine Lee said...

What a great excerpt!

I'm in awe that you have the time to be a devoted mom, lawyer, and writer. You're in education law? Does that mean that you have universities and schools as clients?

catherinelee100 at gmail dot com

Hillary Peak said...

First, let me say thank you Vonnie for having me today!

Marybelle, I can only hope that you are making a real prediction!!

Catherine, I am a government lawyer for the District of Columbia. My client is the Office of the State Superintendent. I actually deal with early childhood--daycare, head start, pre-kindergarten.

Thanks to all of you for following the tour! It is a pleasure to get to know you.


bas1chs said...

This book sounds incredible! I can see how your idealism in life can play big in the story.

bas1chsemail at gmail dot com

Anonymous said...

Virginia and DC always seem so interesting--must be a lot of story material there!