Monday, September 26, 2011

Charlotte Volnek - Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island

by C.K. Volnek

Twelve year-old Jack Dahlgren must face his fears to save his family from the ancient evil curse haunting Roanoke Island.

(Q) Thank you for joining us today. Before we begin, please tell our readers where they can find you.

Thanks so much for hosting me today, Marva. Readers can find me in a multitude of places on-line.

e-mail: ckvolnek at
Muse Author Page
Facebook: C.K. Volnek
Twitter: CKVolnek
YouTube: CK Volnek

I’m also on GoodReads and JacketFlap.

Buy links will be coming soon! Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island will be available on Amazon, MuseItUp book store, and many other e-book store sites on September 1, 2011.

Before we get too far, I’d also like to tell everyone I’m offering a FREE copy of my new book, Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island to one lucky reader who leaves me a comment. So just say hi and you might win!

Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island buy link (September 26th Release)
Amazon Buy Link (now available)

(Q) Tell everyone a bit about your books.

Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island is a Tween book revolving around the true story of the mysterious disappearance of 117 colonists from Roanoke Island, NC. Add to the mix, a twist of Native American folklore, a terrifying monster and a hurricane and you have a fast-paced story full of action and adventure, along with a lesson of tolerance and forgiveness.

(Q) Where did the concept for the book (or books) come about?

Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island came about as I was reading a news article about how divers thought they might have found a relic of the Lost Colony of Roanoke Island. The mystery intrigued me. Whatever did happen to the lost colonists? My main character, Jack Dahlgren, popped into my head and decided we should come up with our own version of what happened to them. I let Jack have the reins and the story flowed from my fingers.

(Q) How long did it take you to finish, from concept to final product?

I’m not an extremely fast writer. Unfortunately, I have a wicked self-editor in my head that likes to have things tidied up. I battle with her constantly. Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island took me about two years before it was polished enough to pass around to publishers.

(Q) Which authors have most influenced your own writing?

There are so many great authors. It’s hard to even pick a handful of whom I enjoy the most. Every book I read, I am gleaning not only the story but the writer’s style, picking out what I like and don’t like, hoping to better my writing. I can only hope someday someone will glean ‘good’ writing style tips from my books.

(Q) What do you do for fun other than writing?

When I’m not tethered to my laptop I love to spend time with my family and friends, travel, watch movies, hike, make jewelry or take long walks with my four Papillons.

(Q) Do you have any favorite place where you feel your Muse is more apt to come and play while you write? Or perhaps you listen to music? If so, what do you listen to?

My muse pops in in the most unusual of places. I try to keep notebooks in almost every room in the house because I never know when she is going to demand me to take a note or two. I’m a night owl, so most times my muse will find me sitting in my comfortable chair in the living room. But she will also visit me when I travel or go other places. Luckily my laptop goes just about anywhere with me. As for music, I love to listen to Yanni while I write. Intoxicating, invigorating and inspirational.

(Q) Answer the following personal questions:

- Plotter or pantser? – I’ve found I’m a bit of both, though most times the pantser comes out. If my characters aren’t talking to me, it doesn’t matter how much plotting I’ve done, the story is not going to go anywhere. I can’t force my muse.

- What are your writing strengths? Weaknesses?

I believe my writing strength is my imaginative muse. I have more stories to work on than I can count. But my strength is also my greatest weakness. I need to learn how to lasso my muse and make her finish one story before she jumps on to the next.

- Coffee or tea?

Diet Coke actually. Never liked coffee after tasting it when I was 7. I do like a nice glass of sweet tea on a hot summer day, but would still prefer my diet coke. I think the coke has a bigger punch of caffeine to get me motivated.

(Q) Do you have any new projects that you are working on? If so, what are they? (optional if you don't have a WIP to talk about)

I have three distinct projects I’m working on. The Secret of the Wood is the second book to series titled The Lost Diaries of Northumberland. The first book, The Secret of the Stones, comes out in April 2012. It’s a MG series centering around magic and mayhem, a Harry Potter meets Merlin kind of story.

Then I’m also working on two YA books. One is titled the Sleepers and is a paranormal romance. The other is called The Three O’Clock Hour and is a fictional story based on the true story of the school bus accident from my home town that claimed three students and one parent. That one is extremely hard to write. But there were so many miracles that came from it, the story needs to be shared, even if it has a fiction undertone.

…See what I mean about lassoing my muse in to finish just one story?

(Q) What do you do to market your work? How did you start and where do you learn to market?

I’ve found Marketing to be a wild and crazy beast. I’m taking baby-steps each and every day. I built my web page and introduced myself, my characters and my stories. I created a blog page and post weekly to it. I’ve also branched out to build my face book and twitter platforms. I’ve joined countless groups. I’m anxious and excited to meet many new writer and reader friends and have been lucky to be hosted on many blogs. But I’m learning more and more each and every new day.

(Q) If you'd like to add anything, please do so.

I’d like to say thank you so much for hosting me today. I have learned an even greater lesson to life as I’ve embarked on my marketing adventure…that one cannot have enough friends, and that life is 80 percent doing for others and 20 percent doing for yourself. At first I struggled with that notion. I’m too busy to do so much for everyone else, am I not? But it is oh so necessary and the 80 percent of doing for others is even more fulfilling to me than the 20 percent doing for myself. I’m humbled to have gained so many great new friends, just like you Marva.

(Q) How about an excerpt to tantalize the readers?

Here is an excerpt from chapter one of Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island:

Jack rushed to the front door and reached for the doorknob. His hand stopped in midair as the door shuddered violently, shaking on its hinges. A deafening howl roared on the other side. The boards covering the windows shook, the nails screeching as though giant hands were trying to rip them from the house. The lights flickered and went out, leaving the house pitch dark.

Sweat broke out on Jack’s forehead. His heart drummed in his ears. Turning, he fumbled with the dials of the battery-operated radio on the end table. The announcer’s voice sputtered between static crackles. “Hurricane Da...earlier than expec...winds reaching...residents on Roanoke Island…take cover immediately. Stay…”

Jack leaned against the door, his mind whirling. Regret twisted inside as the argument with his dad hammered in his head…

* * * *

“Why can’t I stay home? I don’t need—”

Dad rushed around the front room, putting on his rubber boots and black slicker. “No. Get your coat on. I can’t trust—”

“Come on, Dad. I’ll be fine. It wasn’t my fault Kimmy—”

“Enough! Don’t argue with me, Jackie.”

Jack stiffened at the name. “I’m not a baby anymore. I’m almost thirteen, you know.”

Dad spun around, eyes flashing. “Then why don’t you act like it?” He let out a long breath. “Fine. Stay here. But don’t do anything stupid. I’ll be back before the storm—”

Jack bristled, his jaw twitching. “I’m not stupid.”

“That’s not what I meant—”

Jack didn’t let him finish. “Just leave! And I hope you never come back!” He stomped to his bedroom, slamming his door behind him.

* * * *

Jack swallowed. But, no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t get the beach ball-sized lump out of his throat. “I didn’t mean it, Dad.”

Something banged against the porch, scraping along the boards. Jack jumped and listened. Was someone calling for help? Yanking the front door open, he stepped outside.

“Dad?” His voice was lost in the storm.

He strained to hear, something—anything. The boards of the long walkway leading into the water creaked and groaned. Someone was on the dock.


Ducking back inside the door, he grabbed his yellow slicker off the hook, slipped it on, and charged down the steps. A gust of wind shoved him back. Clenching his teeth with determination, he leaned against it, forcing his eyes to stay focused on the wild ocean. Dad would need his help getting the boat secured in this storm.

Jack staggered down the sloppy trail leading to the dock. The storm howled in his ears. A heavy sheet of rain tore loose from the sky. Dime-sized raindrops pelted his body, plastering his hair against his scalp. He pulled his hood up over his head and clutched it tight with one hand, but the wind tore it off again.

Bracing himself on one leg, Jack leaned over the railing and stared down the long wooden walkway bouncing on the water. Dad’s green runabout was nowhere to be seen. He scanned the choppy waves beyond the pier. Nothing. No one.

Jack shuddered and gazed back at the house; the run-down beach house they’d moved into two months ago.

Had it only been two months? It felt like two years.

Dad spent every free minute cleaning and fixing it up, even drafting Jack to help paint it, though Jack couldn’t seem to do anything right by his standards. Slowly, it had started looking like a normal house. Now, boarded up it looked haunted…like Tyler Johnson said it was.

Jack huffed, a sour taste filling his mouth. That was stupid. Tyler was stupid.

Jack closed his eyes. For a moment he was back in Ohio. In Ohio he had friends. He was on the baseball team, lead archer in boy scouts, and point leader in math wars at school. Here, there was no math wars, no boy scouts, and no teammates. No one wanted to be his friend. Tyler had made sure of that. No one wanted to get close to the kid who lived in the creepy old Ellis place.

The sound of splintering wood crashed behind him. Jack jolted and turned around. Waves heaved the wooden pier upward; smashing it into a hundred pieces.

Something moved alongside the detached garage at the far edge of the yard, sliding past the darkened yard-light. The light’s rusted frame hung in a half salute, a dejected soldier of metal. Jack blinked against the rain as a light-brown figure crept slowly, deliberately following the slope that led to the bluff at the back of the building. It stopped and opened it black mouth, a sad howl drifting on the wind. It was a dog. A Mastiff. Like the one he’d seen at the baseball field in Ohio last summer.

Jack stared. What was a dog doing out in the hurricane? He glanced around the large yard, expecting the dog’s master to appear. But, there was no one.

How could anyone leave a dog out in this?

The Mastiff turned and loped up a trail leading to the top of the bluff, his v-shaped ears flopping, long tan tail swinging.

Where was the dog going?

Jack gazed up at the vine-covered ridge and swiped at the water smearing his face. The bluff wasn’t really that high. Not a mile high cliff or anything. Why was Dad so worked up over it? Jack bit his lip. He knew why.

The Mastiff stopped midway up and looked back, his black eyes drilling into Jack’s. With a quick shake, the dog charged again to the top.

Jack felt dwarfed by the ridge. At the top a massive dead oak towered into the sky. A white sentry; its brittle, leafless branches reached so high they seemed to spear the dark clouds. Since Kimmy’s fall, Dad had forbidden him from ever going up there again. His stomach knotted. He had to save the Mastiff.


  1. Hi Marva. Thanks so much for hosting me today on your blog. It's been so much fun to make the rounds on our blog tour. And waving at all our visitors! Thanks for stopping by.
    C.K. Volnek

  2. Hi Charlie,
    The more I read about your book, the more I want to read it.

    Marva, thanks for hosting Charlie today. Don't forget, you're on my blog, too.

  3. Anita Jackson9/26/2011 8:56 PM

    Hi Charlie, As I write this note we're in the middle of a huge rain and wind storm. It was a perfect ime to read your excerpt--I could almost feel the hurricane! --Anita

  4. I enjoyed reading the book! Loved the suspense got you rooting for Jack and the ghosts to win over the ancient evil and wish the dog was real.