Sparks the Matchmaker by Russell Elkins Ollie just wants one thing. The girl. Things haven’t been going so well with Anne lately, though; their relationship has become a perpetual study date, and Ollie’s roommates are starting to worry about him. How to fix things? Why, with a marriage proposal, of course. Unfortunately for Ollie, his relationship with Anne has run out of gas. Life feels like it’s counting down to one. And that one is the only person in Ollie’s life he really cares about: Ollie. Perhaps, then, he should get over himself. But first he has to deal with Sparks, the irritating little Yankees fan who invades his life in order to “help” him. And while Keith, his best friend, is doing all he can to help, Ollie’s other friend Richie never fails to show up and threaten to ruin everything just by being himself. Never mind all the drama Sparks brings to the party by forcing Ollie to take a job actually helping people in need. Will Ollie meet the girl? Will it be in history class? On a road trip to Colorado? Can he get over Anne, or should he try to mend the relationship? Should he pursue the new girl Sparks is trying to set him up with? As the strings of the puppeteer tangle with the strings of the heart, only one person can sort out the mess Ollie has made. It seems that the harder he tries, the more Ollie messes things up. Is Sparks a cruel manipulator, or is he really going to help Ollie find his match?
Author Russell Elkins Russell Elkins has become a leading expert on open adoption through first-hand experience that he now shares in Open Adoption, Open Heart. Russell regularly contributes to Adoption.com. He also writes his own blog at russellelkins.com to educate others in the struggles and beauties of open adoption. Russell has always been a family man at heart, looking forward to the day when he could be a husband and a father. It took him a little while, but eventually his eyes locked onto a beautiful blonde, and he has never looked away. Russell and Jammie were married in 2004. They had the same goals for their home and didn't want to wait too long before starting their family. However, filling their home quickly with children wasn't in the cards, and they found themselves weighing their options to overcome problems with infertility. Their lives changed dramatically the day they decided to adopt. Russell and Jammie have adopted two beautiful children, Ira and Hazel, and have embraced their role as parents through open adoption. Both are actively engaged in the adoption community by communicating through social media, taking part in discussion panels, and writing songs about adoption. Russell was born on Andrews Air Force Base near Washington, D.C., in the fall of 1977. Along with his five siblings, he and his military family moved around a lot, living in eight different houses by the time he left for college at age 17. Although his family moved away from Fallon, Nevada, just a few months after he moved out, he still considers that little oasis in the desert to be his childhood hometown. Even after leaving home, Russell always stayed close to his family. He shared an apartment with each of his three brothers at different times during his college career. They formed a band together back in the 1990s and still perform on a regular basis under the name of the Invisible Swordsmen. After nearly a decade of college and changing his major a few times, Russell received his bachelor's degree in sociology from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. He later graduated from Ameritech College where he learned the trade of being a dental lab technician. Russell now owns and operates Elkins Dental Lab located in Meridian, Idaho.
What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
The Sparks character came to me first. I was actually watching a documentary on something that made me think about the possibilities of what life would be like if someone were to have his abilities. Then my mind migrated to what it would be like if someone like him were to want to play the role of matchmaker, and I laughed the whole time I planned out the plot.
Who is your favorite character in the book?
It's a toss up between Marie and Sparks. Marie was a very small part of this book, but I love her because her character was based on a real person. She was a middle aged woman with special needs who I used to work with when I was in college. She was a handful, but she was a treasure. Sparks is just a fascinating character to me- someone who made me more and more interested in his personality the more I wrote about him. I know it's cliche to say that I let him tell his own story and I just followed along, but that's pretty much what happened.
Which came first, the title or the novel?
The novel. In fact, I changed the title of the book at the last minute, right before it went to the editor. I'm really glad I did, because when I look back at what I almost named it, I have to ask myself what I was thinking.
What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?
I really like the scene with Ollie and Lynn on her doorstep near the end of the book. It's not a very long scene, but I think the mood and emotion really came across well there. Nailed it.
Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you’ve learned as a writer from then to now?
To JUST WRITE IT! The hardest thing for me in the beginning was that I would try to edit so much as I wrote. I don't do that anymore. I lay out a plot map and then just go go go! I don't stop until I get to the end of that first draft. Naturally, my first draft needs a whole lot of work once I get it done, but I have a better view of what I want it to be, and I'm super excited at that point to work on making it better. If I take too long on the first draft, I'm exhausted by the time it's done.
What do you like most about the cover of the book?
I've gotten a few mixed reviews on the cover. I had someone named Damonza do it and he did exactly what I was asking him to do. What I love most is that it really conveys a sense of Sparks (shown up above) toying with the couple down below him. I love the marionette strings idea he came up with. The criticism I've received is that some think it's a little gloomy looking when the book isn't at all gloomy.
What new release book are you looking most forward to?
I like a lot of Indie and lesser-known authors. I think their work is often less "processed" by the big companies. Because of that, I'm looking forward to the last releases in the Airel saga by some friends of mine- Aaron Patterson and Chris White.
What was your favorite book you've read this year?
I recently finished Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell. It's a true story about a Navy Seal who is the only one to survive a terrible ordeal at war. Fascinating.
What’s up next for you?
I just finished the first draft of a book that will be called Through the Fence. I'm doing this book together with my friend Chris White and I'm hoping to release that in the spring. I've also started mapping out the plot for part two in this Sparks series and that one is going to be really fun.
Is there anything that you would like to add?
Just, a little thanks to you and everyone who is taking part in this tour. I love my book and I get giddy every time someone gives me a review. So, thank you.
Tour Giveaway $25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 1/12/14