Monday, August 31, 2009

Book-A-Week Challenge Reading "The Truth Lies in the Dark" by Kristin Callender

This week's Book-A-Week Challenge is reading "The Truth Lies in the Dark" by Kristin Callender

To pick up a copy of the book go to Amazon.

Paperback: 188 pages
Publisher: BluewaterPress LLC
ISBN-10: 1604520140
ISBN-13: 978-1604520149

Join us here on Sunday, September 6 when I post an interview with Kristin. In the meantime, enjoy the story!

Blurb: What if you found out that everything you thought you knew was a lie? That the people you loved and trusted kept a life changing secret from you? These are a few of the questions Amanda Martineau must answer in The Truth Lies in the Dark. As a child Amanda survived a plane crash that killed her parents and left her with no memory of her life before the accident. Raised by her grandparents, she only knows what they have told her about her past and her family. But her reoccurring nightmares tell her something different. They leave her feeling like a stranger in her own mind. Then an unfinished letter written by her grandfather thrusts her deeper into confusion. A business trip with her husband Nick quickly turns into a personal journey to expose the secret of her past. As she searches for answers she only finds more questions. Who can she trust? Who is there to help her and who is there to make sure that the truth remains...in the dark?

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Discover all she wanted

Friday's writing prompt was: All she wanted. . .

Did you discover what she wanted? Did you write about it?

I did! And here it is.

All she wanted was to fall in love. To be loved. Was that really too much to ask? Jane didn’t think so. After going out with enough losers, who for the most part, either only wanted her money or wanted her body, Jane decided to take matters out of her own hands. She located and researched several online dating services, and settled on Love Online because they guaranteed she would find love or her money back. Her best friend Amy thought she had lost her mind and right now with her toes aching, Jane reconsidered her decision.

Bob stepped on the top of her foot again. “I’m sorry,” he whispered in her ear.
Jane held her breath as he spoke for fear she might pass out from his foul breath. For all she knew, his breath singed the hair above her left ear. She had offered him a breath mint, but Bob could not take a hint. She winced, biting her lower lip as he crushed her other foot underneath his much larger one. Holding tears of pain back, Jane tilted her head back, and offered the big man a thin polite smile. “No problem,” she wheezed out through tight lips and gave silent thanks to the Gods when the music ended.

“Would you excuse me?” Bob nodded and her hand slid free of his wet grasp. Jane whirled on pencil-thin heels and rushed for the ladies’ room, trying her best not to hobble. She reached the door with the universal sign for women on it, shoved it open, and let out a gush of air as soon as she crossed the threshold. Inside the lush restroom, Jane located the nearest chair and fell into it.

Her toes throbbed and her feet ached. She did not think she would ever voluntarily slow dance with a man again. “It just isn’t worth it,” Jane mumbled as she slipped one black sling back off and then the other. Her eyes widened at the combination of purple and red blotches that covered the tops of her feet. Her toes visibly pulsed, screamed in agony, demanding that she stop this nonsense.

“What had I been thinking?” Jane wondered as she massaged feeling back into her arches. This was her third date with Bob and she had no clue why she had agreed to the date. Had she been ill that day or did she just feel sorry for the man? Whatever the reason she needed to have her head examined.

The first date she met him at the restaurant, that way, she could leave when she wanted. At the end of the evening, he gave her a peck on the cheek and Jane thought that sweet. In spite of the actual dinner conversation boring her to tears, she decided to give Bob a second opportunity, shrugging it off to first date jitters.
The second date consisted of a light dinner and a movie. She had enjoyed that outing until they sat in the darkened movie theater and Bob wanted to hold hands. The man had all his sweat glands in his palms. By the time the movie ended, she needed a chamois cloth to dry up. At the end of the evening, he kissed her on the lips, a hard, fast, closed-mouth chicken lip kiss. Again, she chalked it up to nerves and onions the waiter forgot to leave off his hamburger.

Unbelievably, this date was the worst of all dates in the history of loser dates. Bob took her for dinner and dancing at a very posh restaurant. A red-carpeted foyer greeted the patrons of Top of the World as they exited the elevator on the twenty-sixth floor of a glass and steel building. Beautiful landscape paintings encased in gold frames adorned the entryway and acted as distraction while guests waited to be seated by the Maître-d. White linen covered round tabletops while sparkling crystal and silver shone in the light from the glittering chandeliers. A lone violinist traveled the room and played soothing and tender notes when the pianist took his breaks. The setting was beautiful and romantic, and had she been there with almost anyone else Jane would probably have fallen in love.

Instead, she was with Bob. Jane blew out a frustrated sigh sending her bangs airborne. Bob could not dance, and she had the swollen and bruised feet to prove it. Add to the purple toes, his slimy hands holding hers, and what could have been a very dreamy evening turned out to be the kind where she wished for an escape hatch in the ladies’ room.

The entire time he held her in his arms, her face buried in his stanky armpit, she kept picturing herself hiking up her ankle-length, hip-hugging dress, stepping up on a toilet lid, and crawling out of a window to freedom and fresh, dry air. Being twenty-six stories off the ground put the kibosh on that fantasy, not to mention that after much persistence from Bob, Jane let him pick her up from her place. He was her ride.

“Ouch ouch ouch,” Jane whimpered. She could not get her puffy toes back into her shoes. “Damn!”

“That bad, huh?”

Jane’s head whipped up to see a stunning older woman dressed in red smiling at her while she patted her lipstick in place. “The worst.”

“I have just the cure.” The woman turned from the mirror and moved to Jane.
“You mean besides cutting off the feet.”

She chuckled and opened her six-inch red sequined evening bag. “That would be painful. Besides, better to cut off his feet.”

“That’s whose feet I meant.”

The woman laughed again and handed her a small bottle. Jane took the offering, unscrewed the cap, and gave it a sniff. Her head snapped back in dismay. “It’s baby powder.”

Her savior nodded and gave a wide, perfect grin. “It’s a miracle cure for a great many things. Rub a little on your poor twinkle toes and it will cool the heat and help you slide on your dancing shoes once again.”

Jane wasn’t so sure she wanted to wear her dancing shoes.

“You can also put a little between your décolletage and it will keep the sweat away as you kick up the rest of the evening.”

“Does it work on sweaty palms?” she muttered as she took the woman’s advice and rubbed some talc onto her feet. “Ahh.” The instant the powder made contact, the scorching heat dulled to a warm simmer.

“Amazing stuff that baby powder.”

Jane slid her inflamed toes into her strappy high heels. “A miracle.” Closing the cap back on the bottle, she held it out for the woman.

“No, you keep it. I think you need it more than I do.” She winked at Jane, wished her luck and left the ladies’ room in a whirl of red silk and a light scent of gardenia.

“Thank you,” she said but the door had already shut. “Well, it’s now or never.” Jane pushed on the chair and rose to her feet. She only winced once as she moved to the mirror to check her appearance.

Slipping the powder into her evening bag, she slid out a sample size of her favorite lipstick and glided it over her lips. She pressed her lips together, moved them back and forth in a rolling motion, and then smiled at her reflection. “Perfect.” The natural shade accented her warm skin tone but did not draw attention. She dropped the lipstick case back into her small bag, zipped it shut, then throwing back her shoulders steeled herself for the rest of the evening, which she hoped would be short lived.

The rest of the evening consisted of a third glass of wine which she rarely indulged in, but needed in desperation as she listened to Bob drone on about his accounting business. Thankfully, there had been no more dancing.

As Bob drove her home, Jane’s stomach churned with dread for the upcoming goodnight kiss. Nerves had her wringing her hands and she had to sit on them in order to stop the fidgety movement. Could she get out of the obligatory kiss? Was there a graceful way to exit an evening without an embrace?

By the time Bob pulled up into her drive, Jane did not have a plausible excuse to end the evening at the car and without a lip lock. Standing on her front porch, she braced herself for what she knew would be the worst kiss of her life. She had not been disappointed.

Hands behind her back grasping the teak railing, Jane held on as Bob moved in. He fumbled the slick movement of gliding his hands around her waist and ended up hitting her in the stomach with a beefy hand. As she gathered air back in her lungs, she knew she would have another bruise tomorrow morning. He lowered his head and their noses bumped.

“Shoot,” he said. “I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay, maybe tonight is not a good idea for a goodnight kiss.” She offered him a sympathetic smile and hoped he would take the hint. No such luck.

With quick, more surefooted movements, Bob wrapped an arm around her, tugged her in, and slammed his mouth down on hers. His tongue went everywhere, reminding Jane of an inner tube gliding down an ice-covered slope. It slid everywhere, up one side then the other, leaving her mouth and half her face wet and feeling as if an airplane toilet had sucked her lips off.

“Thank you for a lovely evening, Jane,” he said when he finally came up for air. “I’ll contact you again soon.”

Oh, geez. How was she going to end this? “Thank you.” She waited until Bob’s non-descript sedan pulled away then slipped into her house, shutting the door behind her. Turning the lock with a sharp twist, she rested her head against the heavy wood panel and sighed.

“Why me?” Was it written in ancient scrolls that Jane Doe would not find love and was destined to date losers who hadn’t a clue how to make a woman’s, make her toes curl in a breathtaking, heart-pounding, nipple-hardening kiss? All she wanted was to find true, undying, sparks-flying, mind-numbing, hearts-fluttering love. The kind she imagined existed but had never witnessed. Was that too much to ask?

Friday, August 28, 2009

All she wanted. . .

This is a great opening line! Think of all the possibilities. Come on, see what you can come up with.

What does she want? What does every woman want? Does she want what every man has?

HA! Okay, that last one made me smile.

Friday's prompt: All she wanted. . .


Have fun and write something that makes us want more. Share it here when done.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Let's talk Finger Lickin' Fifteen

Last week we read "Finger Lickin' Fifteen" by Janet Evanovich as our Book-A-Week Challenge.

Since we did not have an opportunity to interview Janet, I thought we could have a book discussion. I will throw a few questions out about the book, feel free to answer and also share your thoughts on the book, even ask your own questions.


How did chef Stanley Chipotle die? What did you think of that?


What disaster do Lula and Grandma Mazur get into this time?


What is happening with Ranger that Stephanie goes to do some work for him again?


Was anyone else disappointed that Stephanie and Ranger did not 'get it on'?


Speaking of which, who would you want to be with? The dark and deadly and oh so sexy Ranger? Or the tough as nails, sports watchin' cop Morelli?

In one quick motion. . .answered

Did you write something for the prompt: In one quick motion. . .


In one quick motion, her life changed forever. The day David gave her the anatomically correct ceramic frogs changed everything for Jane. Jane went from being a poor college student struggling to get by with no real plan for a future to a very wealthy college student who changed her major from just chemistry to a double major in chemistry and business and a strategy of achieving her lifelong dream, along with a new friend.

From that day forward, Jane’s sole focus had been with a goal of starting her own business. And she did it. In three years, she finished school Magna Cum Laude and opened the doors to ‘Not-so-plain-Jane’s’, her first boutique. With David Conrad by her side or more accurately stated, with David behind the glittery doorway beads to the backroom mixing up the herbs and oils, Jane launched her organic cosmetics business.

The original boutique, which she still owned today along with four others across the country and managed herself one day a week began her lifelong dream of belonging. She loved visiting ‘Not-so-plain-Jane’s’. Jane pulled up behind the store that started it all, parked, and stepped out of the car, punching the lock mechanism on the key as she strolled to the back door of the shop.

Shifting the box in her arms, Jane unlocked the steel door, yanked it open, and quickly stepped inside. She had thirty seconds to disarm the alarm before the contraption would sound off. As Jane crossed the threshold and moved into the backroom, the music of Pretty Woman sing-songed throughout the space. She rushed to the keypad, and juggling the box again, she punched in the first two digits of her code then stopped her finger poised over the next number. The alarm was not set. Frowning, Jane looked around the backroom for Marion’s signature rainbow-colored tote, but did not see it.

“Maybe one of the sales girls?” she wondered aloud as she set her own bag on the herb bench, the area where the staff crushed dried herbs and packaged for such things as dryer sachets, drawer sachets, and potpourri. She glanced beneath the bench. No backpacks or pocketbooks hid behind the lace that curtained off a storage space employees used to keep their personal belongings secure from anyone who would mistakenly wander into the room.

Hm. Jane spun on her narrow high heels and hollered. “Anyone here? Marion?”
As she shoved a handful of jade and lavender beads out of the doorway, she snaked her hand around in front of her and flicked the light switch. Jane froze, her wide-eyed gaze skimming the room.

“Oh my gosh!” Jane slapped a hand over her mouth at the sight that greeted her. Not-so-plain-Jane products littered the bamboo floor of the boutique. Bile rose up in the back of her throat and threatened to join the shampoo oozing out of its bottle onto the floor.

Jane took a step in retreat and whirled. A large hand clamped over her mouth, stifled the scream that threatened to escape her lips.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Something was wrong. . .

It's Tuesday and you know what that means. Time for a writing prompt.

For the record, I thought long and hard about this prompt. Okay, not really. Some days these things just pop into my head. The hard part for me is remembering the prompt until I get to a piece of paper or a computer. I thought of this one last week, but could not remember it and this morning WHOOSH! There it is.

Now you get to mull it over, toss it around, and then write something so intriguing, humorous, scary, or whatever that everyone will be asking 'what comes next?' or 'when can we see more?'

Tuesday's prompt is: Something was wrong. . .

This is wide open for all kinds of stuff. Let's see what you come up!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Book-A-Week Challenge Reading "Hot Pursuit" by Suzanne Brockmann

This week the Book-A-Week Challenge is reading "Hot Pursuit" by Suzanne Brockmann

To find out more about Suzanne and her books, check her website at www.suzannebrockmann.com.

For those of you who may not have a read a book by Suzanne Brockmann, her Troubleshooter series is a great place to start. The stories are mixed with engaging characters, tons of action, and dialogue that will keep you reading and wanting more. I am looking forward to this story.

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Pub. Date: July 2009
ISBN-13: 9780345501578
Pages: 416pp
Series: Troubleshooters Series, #15

Buy: B&N
Amazon

Blurb: Alyssa Locke is no stranger to dealing with danger. As team leader of the nation's number one personal security company, Troubleshooters, Inc., she's seen more than her share of action, survived plenty of close calls, and holds her own with the best of them--and against the worst of them. Guarding lives is her game, and no one plays it better. But her toughest challenge will be protecting herself from a serial killer she’s been after for years -- known only as “The Dentist” -- who is determined to make her his ultimate trophy.

The assignment was supposed to be an easy one: teach self-defense techniques to a newly-elected New York State Assemblywoman and her chief of staff, after a political controversy generates a blizzard of hate mail – including some death threats -- from hotheads and cranks. But as soon as she mobilizes in New York City with her squad of moonlighting Navy SEALs, Alyssa begins butting heads with the hard-case cop who thinks they’re chasing shadows.

Until they discover a dead body. And then another. Now Alyssa really has her hands full --.bodyguarding two independent, busy women, managing a murder investigation, and trying to find time for her husband, Troubleshooters operative Sam Starrett, and their infant son. Meanwhile, it wouldn't be a Troubleshooters operation without romantic sparks and heated rivalries--and any time the SEALs of Team Sixteen are involved, there are plenty of both.

But then, in the middle of investigating a suspect, Alyssa is ambushed, and suddenly finds herself imprisoned by The Dentist. Now cut off from everyone she loves and relies on, Alyssa must call upon all of her strength and skill to survive this final confrontation with the sadistic monster, and trust that her Troubleshooter teammates, led by her beloved Sam, will reach her before it’s too late.

Friday, August 21, 2009

The voice she heard. . .response

I finally had a long enough moment to work on Tuesday's writing prompt. You tell me if I captured the scene.

Prompt: The voice she heard. . .

The voice she heard crept into her vision, a dark shadow in the corner of her mind. Jane turned her head on the pillow in an attempt to see who spoke to her. Her search yielded nothing, no one.

“Where are you? I can’t see you.”

The voice was silent. Jane rotated her head to the other side. The cool silk against her cheek offered no comfort as fear plucked at her nerves.

“Who are you?” she yelled in her head.

He chuckled, a low, gravelly sound that echoed, reverberated through a long corridor sending a chill skittering along Jane’s skin, causing the tiny hairs on her arms to stand on end. She paused, her palm resting against a rough rock wall. She did not want to go, did not want to follow him, but her feet refused to listen. Jane moved, her hand sliding over the large, jagged granite that made up the wall of the castle.

Castle? Her heart thudded in her chest, pounded against her ribcage as a fist would pound against a door asking for entry or exit. She wanted out. Instinctively, Jane knew she wanted needed to get out. She twisted and turned in the bed. There had to be a way out. She had to get out.

“This way,” the melodic voice coached.

He spoke! Excitement mixed with uncertainty, and foreboding sent chills racing through her body. She had to find him. Even as a red neon sign flashed ‘go back’ in her mind, Jane picked up her pace. Her feet slapped against the cold concrete floor and her breathing became ragged. She ran now.

Light, a dim glow streamed gold at the end of the passageway, around a bend. She had to be close. Jane sprinted. Her thin nightshirt clung to her body and slid in between her legs as she sweat and ran. Where was he?

“Go back,” her subconscious, demanded. “Go back!”

But she couldn’t.

“Jane,” the shadow man murmured in a breathy whisper of seduction against her neck.

Her shoulders shuddered in a thrill of anticipation. As she reached the end, her hand slid away from the rough wall, scratching it with her nails on the descent.

“Hurry, Jane. Hurry.”

Jane tilted her head. The voice changed, it grew sharp, no longer bewitching.

“Jane.”

Drawn to the voice like a moth to a flame, Jane rushed forward and rounded the corner. Darkness slid across the luminous floor. Her feet skidded to a halt. Chest heaving, she peered through lowered lashes in search of her shadow man. He wasn’t there.

She heard a footstep thud and echo to her right. She spun and a glint of something shiny caught her eye. It moved higher. When it reached eye-level, Jane saw the metallic blade of a knife. Her scream rent the air.

“Noo!”

In one quick motion. . .

It's Friday and you know what that means. . .writing prompt!!

Okay, so I have not written mine for Tuesday's yet, but I will. I'm feeling pressure from the entries already posted. Sheesh! Such talent!!

Anyway, put on that creative writing cap, you know the the one that looks like a rainbow and has a propeller attached to the top. Wind it up and let go. Have fun with the prompt and whether you write a single sentence, paragraph or a short story, share what you come up with. We love to see your work!!

Prompt: In one quick motion. . .

Can't wait to get hooked by your writing!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Write where you live

It's time to do something different, something interesting, and what I hope you all will think is fun.

Where do you write? At a desk? On the sofa? Is your workspace cluttered, neat as a pin? Do you have anything you keep around for inspiration?

Writers - Share pictures of your writing space. Send me an email at deniserobbins2003@yahoo.com with a picture or two and a blurb/bio about you and your writing. If you have a website or blog, pass that along as well.

In the meantime, here are a couple of pictures of my indoor workspace. Some of you know that I love writing on my deck and I have posted a couple of pictures.

This is my desk in my office where I have everything I need to be a good little writer. I've got a comfy chair to sit on and another I move into when I need to take a break. Of course, I have a bookshelf with various books for research and others. In addition, I have a printer or two (cuz one always runs out of ink), and on the walls are framed pictures of street signs that have my characters names.

This is one of my fluffly distractions, Mayhem.

Here you see my two two fuzzy guys finding their respective comfy spots so we can get down to writing business.
This little fur ball is my other distraction, Mischief.

I almost always have a soda, usually Mountain Dew with the occasional Coke sitting near by for that much needed caffeine rush.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Let's talk critique - Help or hinder?

As tonight I am meeting some writers for a critique group, I thought it would be appropriate to discuss writing critiques.

Four of us are meeting at a local restaurant in Lowell to show what we have worked on. A couple of us will bring the start of a new story (like me), another will bring his ending to his WIP (Yea!), and yet another will bring her latest chapter in her WIP.


Do you have a critique partner or belong to a critique group? Or do you choose to go it alone and not get anyone's comments or feedback? Why?

What constitutes a good critique?

Do you listen to everything a critique partner says or suggests? Why or why not?

Where do you do your critiques? Are they online or do you meet someplace? What kind of place? Why?

Who are your critique partners? Are they published authors? Friends or family? Writers belonging to a national organization like RWA, MWA, ITW?

Are all the critique partners male or female, or do you have a mix of genders? How does that work for you?

How much do you take to critiwue when you get together? Do you read the pages in silent mode or do you read it aloud to the other person or group? Why? What's the benefit of one over the other?


Share what works for you and why.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The voice she heard. . .

Tuesday's writing prompt came from Gina Leuci, newly contracted author for L&L Dreamspell. Find out more about Gina at www.ginaleuci.com.

Thanks, Gina!

Here is the prompt: The voice she heard. . .

Ooo! I have chills just thinking about this prompt. What do you picture? Write something up and post it back here when you're done.

Book-A-Week Challenge Reading "Finger Lickin' Fifteen" by Janet Evanovich

This week's Book-A-Week Challenge is reading "Finger Lickin' Fifteen" by Janet Evanovich

Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Press; 1 edition (June 23, 2009)
ISBN-13: 978-0312383282

Buy link: Buy from Amazon

To find out more about Janet and her books, visit her website at www.evanovich.com

This week's challenge will be a little different. I don't have an interview with Janet scheduled, but April from Cafe of Dreams is also reading Finger Lickin' Fifteen this week so at the end of the week we will do a post about the book. Please join us and tell us your thoughts. Feel free to leave a comment all week.

Blurb:

UNBUCKLE YOUR BELT AND PULL UP A CHAIR. IT'S THE SPICIEST, SAUCIEST, MOST RIB-STICKING PLUM YET.


Recipe for disaster:

Celebrity chef Stanley Chipotle comes to Trenton to participate in a barbecue cook-off and loses his head --literally.

Throw in some spice:

Bail bonds office worker Lula is witness to the crime, and the only one she’ll talk to is Trenton cop, Joe Morelli.

Pump up the heat:

Chipotle’s sponsor is offering a million dollar reward to anyone who can provide information leading to the capture of the killers.

Stir the pot:

Lula recruits bounty hunter Stephanie Plum to help her find the killers and collect the moolah.

Add a secret ingredient:

Stephanie Plum’s Grandma Mazur. Enough said.

Bring to a boil:

Stephanie Plum is working overtime tracking felons for the bonds office at night and snooping for security expert Carlos Manoso, A.K.A. Ranger, during the day. Can Stephanie hunt down two killers, a traitor, five skips, keep her grandmother out of the sauce, solve Ranger’s problems and not jump his bones?

Warning:

Habanero hot. So good you’ll want seconds.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Standing on the corner. . .???

Friday's prompt was: Standing on the corner. . .

Who stood on the corner? What happened on the corner? Did you come up with anything?

Here is my attempt:

Standing on the corner in freezing cold weather dressed in women’s clothes was not his idea of fun. The first snow was just days or weeks away, and he stood on some street corner wearing fishnet stockings and a short leather that frigid air wafted up and nipped at his balls. The barely-there silk panties offered no warmth so his gonads crawled so far up inside him that Garrett was not certain he would ever see them again.

He strolled, if that was what you called wobbling on three-inch heels to the end of the street, pivoted and sashayed back swinging his hips as he thought women did.

Again, he wondered how women did it. The bra was killing him! He tried to adjust it the way he would his balls when in a less than comfortable position, but there did not seem to be a comfortable position.
His teeth chattered as he spoke low into the broach pinned to the top of the fuzzy pink sweater he wore. “Any movement?”

“Potential target headed your way, rounding the corner at six o’clock,” a voice said into the receiver tucked into his ear.

Potential target or not, any man who left a warm house to pay for sex or beat up a woman, was a complete fool in his book and deserved what he got. The longer Garrett paced the street the more pissed off he became. “If this guy ever does show up, I will personally string him up by his balls. I’m freezing my nuts off and feel ridiculous,” he mumbled.

“You look great, especially the thick thighs and wide shoulders.”

“Very curvy.”

“Cut the chatter,” Garrett grumbled. “And Jack, you just wait. Payback is a bitch.”

A muffled chuckle vibrated in his earpiece. Bastard.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Gardening is so much fun. . .and wicked hard work!

What did you do this weekend?


My garden/yard is another creative side of me that I like to share every once and a while.

The first three pictures show what I accomplished on Saturday. . .cleaning out my rock wall.

Look at all those leaves and limbs!


The next three photos show what I worked on Sunday, the hottest day of the year so far.

It only took 6 bottles of water to get all this work done. Can you imagine how dirty I was by the time I finished. Not a pretty picture!

Where did all the trees and leaves go? Did you see the tiger lilies I planted near the wall?

Book-A-Week Challenge Interview with Susan Whitfield author of "Hell Swamp"

This week the Book-A-Week Challenge read "Hell Swamp" by Susan Whitfield.
Today, we post the interview with Susan that discusses her books, her writing, and anything else she is willing to share. Stop by and leave a comment or ask a question.

Find out more about Susan and her other books. Visit her website at Susan Whitfield.

Paperback: 196 pages
Publisher: L & L Dreamspell
ISBN-13: 978-1603180948

Buy from Amazon
Buy from B&N

On with the interview:

Are the experiences in the novel based on someone you know or events in your life?

The overall plot in Hell Swamp is fiction—a horrendous crime scene. However, the idea for the novel came from a true story my son told me about a 13-year-old in his neighborhood who killed his first big buck with a nice rack. His picture was published in the local newspaper with the trophy deer. A woman somehow got his mailing address and sent the picture to him with “Murderer! Killer! You should be shot!” scrawled on it. That’s all it took to get my juices flowing.

What are your current projects?

The fourth Logan Hunter Mystery, Gator Creek, is about 75% complete. I also have a stand-alone in the works. I generally work on two novels at the same time. Not sure why.

How do you come up with story ideas and your characters?

With Hell Swamp, it was a true story I was told. Often I find ideas on billboards, in phone books, conversations, the news. Once I decide on a setting for the book (usually what starts the process) and begin writing, the characters create themselves. They tell me what to write, a surreal experience that gets me strange looks from non-writers. I like to have fun with names, such as Nita Quicki, Pepper, whose a chef, Acme Beavers, who chews on toothpicks. Even Logan’s last name is Hunter since she’s in the hunt for justice. When she meets a hunky detective in the mountains, his first name is Chase, since he’s always chasing criminals. Sounds cheesy, but that’s the way it flops. They are instruments of my imagination.

Who came up with the book cover for your book? Why?

I gave Linda my concept and she designed the fantastic cover for Hell Swamp. It seems she has a 12-point buck on her ranch, so he’s on the cover. Can you find him? Cool, huh?

How has your environment/upbringing colored your writing?

I’ve lived in North Carolina all my life so writing about this state seems natural and familiar. I’ve lived in the eastern part most of the time, but I lived in the Blue Ridge Mountains for a year too. This state has plenty of fodder for a writer, even many dialects within our borders. Setting is always a major character in my books. Hell Swamp is set along Black River about five miles from where I grew up. There really is a Hell Swamp, just not where it is in the book. I couldn’t resist using the name for a title and Lisa and Linda agreed.
My upbringing comes out in some scenes, my favorite when Logan reminisces about cutting fields of flowers with her mother to fill the church pulpit on the same Sunday her daddy, head deacon, prepares tiny glasses of wine and bread for the communion service, a sweet memory of mine.

What genre are you most comfortable writing?

I have only written mystery so far. That’s what I generally read although I sometimes vary genres. I’m pulling together noodlings for a less intense, more humorous novel, and possibly an historical mystery about an ancestor of mine who was a Knight of the Bath.

How did you come up with the title for your book(s)?

Genesis Beach is set along North Carolina’s Crystal Coast, so I named it Genesis since it was my first book. There isn’t really a Genesis Beach, NC. The other three, Just North of Luck, Hell Swamp, and Gator Creek, came off a state map. Just North of Luck is set in the Blue Ridge Mountains where a serial killer is on the loose in the remote community of Trust, NC. ( BTW-L&L Dreamspell has picked up this book and it will be printed under their logo in August.) Hell Swamp is really a swamp in eastern NC, and I took liberties with Gator Creek, actually Alligator Creek near Wilmington. The state map has served me well.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Having been a high school principal for much of my first career, I constantly had to deal with unsupervised children before and after school hours. Most of those who got into trouble stayed out all night or all weekend, parents too busy with their own lives to even notice or care. The main plot: Know where your kid is, who he’s with, and what they’re doing.
Also, don’t judge a person by their appearance. In Hell Swamp, Cyrano Blood was practically castrated by his own community because of his looks. Even though he’s gruff-looking, Logan discovers that he does needlework and gives generously to charity. He’s really a wonderful but misunderstood human being.

How much of the novel is realistic?

I think it’s very realistic. The characters are fictional but I tried to make them all believable. Reviews are good, so hopefully I pulled it off. The setting is present day deer-hunting country.

What are you reading now?

John Hart’s Last Child. Awesome! I’m so proud to know him and that he’s a Carolina boy. Look for him to rise to great heights with his literary mysteries.

How do you get inspired to write your romantic scenes?

After 42 years of marriage, my scenes are homicidal, not romantic. Okay, just kidding, but what few romantic scenes I write are suggestive, not graphic. I prefer shock-you intensity.

Who is your favorite character in the book?

I’ve loved Logan Hunter since the day she popped out of my head. We’re in our fourth novel together. She’s quirky but focused. She bends the rules as far as possible and she likes to work alone, highly respected by her male colleagues in the SBI. I also like Magnolia in Hell Swamp. She’s a cute little black woman who sneaks Logan homemade goodies while she’s investigating. I like Rose Paul Hill, too, with her ill-fitting false teeth and her willingness to drink Strychnine in church.

If your book was made into a movie, who do you picture playing the part of the heroine?

Katherine Heigl would be a perfect Logan Hunter.


That's all folks! Stop by and leave your own questions for Susan.

Thank you Susan for a great read, engaging characters, and a terrific interview. Sounds to me like we all need to visit NC for some story ideas.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Standing on the corner. . . Writing Prompt

It's Friday so you know what that means. . .Writing Prompt.

Prompt: Standing on the corner. . .


Now that's a wide open writing prompt!

Who is standing on the corner? Why? What's happening?

Have fun and share what you write.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Did you answer the prompt. . .What made him?

I did!

Tuseday's writing prompt was: What made him. . .

What made him think that becoming the Chief of Police of a small town would be simple, easy? He must have been nuts. At least if he had been in a big city, like New York, Boston, or Minneapolis, he might not have felt so ridiculous. He would have fit in with any number of transgenders who walked the street. But here, in Salem, New Hampshire, he would stick out like a wolf in a pack of cats.

Shit, shit, shit. He would never ever bet against the Patriots again. He lived in New England now, time to forget his Vikings. “Never bet against the house,” he mumbled as a mental reminder to not be so stupid again.

“Who the hell wears fishnet stockings to walk the street in the middle of freakin’ winter?”

“All the boys. . .” Chuckling outside his door. “All the ladies of the night.”

“Yeah, right.” Only the ones that wanted to catch pneumonia.

Garrett held the very large, white, and stretchy bra in his hands, tugging at the material. His ex-wife had never worn anything so ugly. Nor had any woman he ever dated. “Just get it over with,” he encouraged himself then tugged the wide band around his chest. At least he did not have to worry about getting chest hair caught in the hook things. Three hooks? There were three hooks. He had never seen one with three hooks before. Did only big women wear these contraptions?

With a few twists, Garrett had the bra shifted the right direction, and the straps slipped over his shoulders. One quick glance in the mirror told him he looked utterly ridiculous. He rolled his eyes heavenward and silently asked, “Why me?”

When he checked his reflection again, his shoulders slumped and he poked a finger at the bra’s cup. It dimpled and stayed there. Like that looks real! What if some pervert tried to cop a feel and came up with air? Then his cover would be blown and the perp beating up on the local hookers would know they had set a trap for him and get away, move on.

Garrett sifted through the stuff his men had handed him and found two, four to five inch discs that appeared to be made of jelly. He lifted one and squeezed it in his hand. “Hm. Are they real or fake?” Garrett laughed as he stuffed the squishy discs into the cup of his bra. Then he gave one the finger touch test again. This time the bra did not dimple and yeah, he thought they could pass muster with any freehanded groper.

Sliding on a fuzzy, long-sleeved, scoop-necked pink sweater topped off his wardrobe for this ridiculous stakeout. He should have stayed in Minneapolis working on cyber crimes. At least then, he did not have to test his masculinity. With a great deal of effort, Garrett worked the black, wavy wig onto his head, tucking every stray strand of his own up and under.

He paused as he twisted open the cherry lipstick. It was too quiet out there. His men had stopped laughing, cracking jokes. What were they up to? “Focus. The sooner you finish getting dressed, the sooner this will be over.”

Garrett shuffled over in the tight black leather skirt to stand closer to the mirror on the back of his door. He glided the lipstick across his lips. The first attempt made him look like a seriously psychotic clown. He reached over onto his desk, pulled a tissue from the box, and wiped off the disaster.

“How the hell did women do this?”

This time he drew the lipstick across his lips as if coloring inside the lines of a coloring book. He took a step back and eyed his work. “Not bad,” he muttered and pursed his lips.

Now the shoes. Garrett slid his feet into a pair of very large, black stilettos. He wobbled, fell face forward and caught himself before his did a face plant into his desk. Then he got his legs under him and managed to do something between a swagger and a stroll. He tried to turn on the damn pointed heels and he landed on his ankle. “Shit!” Why the hell did women wear these contraptions?

Women were insane.

Garrett grabbed his black handbag with his sidearm inside it then tucked a peashooter, otherwise known as a Lady Derringer inside his thigh-highs and tugged the skirt back down. He straightened, blew out a breath, and with his purse slung over his shoulder, opened his door and strode out on wobbly feet.

The minute he stepped out of his office camera flashes snapped off in a flurry, hoots and hollers, whistles, and jeers sounded. Ah, damn! Then, Garrett paused, waited for the room full of police officers and clerks to quiet. When he had their full attention, he did what he knew none of them would expect.

He vogued.

This time the cheering that went up around him lifted the roof off the station house. Yeah, this is what he had asked for. To be a part of a team, a family, and not sit behind a desk every day catching some damn hacker who built the next virus to bring a business to its knees.

He wanted action, he got it. Even if it had cost him his marriage, or what was left of it.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The shoe is on the other foot. . .the book reviewer/blogger foot.

The shoe is on the other foot. . .the book reviewer/blogger foot.

You've read what book reviewers write on blogs, how they interview the authors of the books they read.

Have you ever wondered about the person behind the book review and blog? Have you ever wondered about the book reviewers/bloggers out there who talk about your books or recommend books you read?

Of course you have!

Now is your chance. Learn how one book blogger does it and why. Sit back, grab a cup of coffee, or in my case a Mountain Dew, and enjoy the interview of April from Cafe of Dreams.

Not only can you read the interview, but feel free to post a comment or leave a question. April will pop in off and on throughout the day to answer any feedback.

If you haven't visited April's blog, please hop over to Cafe of Dreams and see what you are missing.

First, let me thank April for taking the time to answer my questions and share a little of her world with us.

On with the interview:

What made you start a book blog?

The biggest reason behind starting a book blog was to simply keep track of books that I read. I had kept a written journel for a couple of years and thought doing the blog might be fun. Plus with the blog, I gave more detail into my thoughts on the book, rather than just a title and a rating number. It's amazing how the blog has taken off since I began. It's been a very exciting and fun journey. I have to say that it is also quite interesting to go back into Cafe of Dreams' beginning reviews and compare them to the present review. The growth, I would like to think, has developed well.

What are your aspirations for your blog?

I would love to see Cafe of Dreams continue to grow and become better and better. I love that I am able to participate in the Virtual Blog Tours - Dorothy Thompson at Pump Up Your Book Promotions has really sent that aspect of my blog soaring. Meeting authors, doing interviews, guest blogs and giveaways has been so wonderful and fulfilling. One thing that I would like to do is add some of my own writing - short stories, poems, etc. Perhaps that may be better suited to doing on another blog, but we shall see.

Where do you get your books you review?

In the beginning, the books that I reviewed were simply ones that I had on my personal bookshelves. Now, however, after getting my name out there a bit more, I get requests from publishers and authors to do reviews for their books. I cannot tell you how exciting and humbling that is. Also, I will request book periodically from publisher through Shelf Awareness and Bostick Communications. Through book tours, such as Pump Up Your Book Promotions and Kidz Book Buzz, I am able to obtain books for review and tour stops.

How many books do you read and review each week? Year?

Oh jeez, now there's a question. You know, that is one of the reasons that I began keeping track of my books, to see how many I could read. I am waaay behind on my yearly running list on my blog, but if I had to venture a guess, I would say 2 - 3 a week right now. Before summer hit, I was doing probably around 3 - 4. That's not including audiobook reviews. I usually manage 2 of those a month. It really depends on how well my kids get along so that I can read and how willing my eyes are willing to cooperate and stay awake after I put the kids to bed, lol. My goal is to get 100 books read and reviewed this year, so hopefully I will hit that mark. I also do reviews for Children books, so those are pretty quick reads and reviews.

Do you have a blogging philosophy?

Have fun! If you don't have fun doing it, what's the use of doing it? Blogging is such a creative outlet for me and truly relaxes and de-stresses me. I have fun sitting down and searching around the web for fun little tidbits to post about. Holidays are especially a blast - I try to post trivia, recipes, etc. Blogging is also such a great way to meet other people that share your interests. When ever someone says that they are picking up a book that I reviewed because it sounded so good, I feel great.

Do you write?

Well, you told me to be sure to put YES to this question, so I better, lol. Actually I have written since I was a child. I have many of the little stories that I wrote from when I was age 7 and up. I had my very first story published in our city newspaper at 7 and a few throughout the years, so that's always fun to look back on.
I think that first story consisted of one REALLY long sentence, lol.

Playing with words is so much fun for me. Writing out my feelings is also so theraputic for me. Poetry is a great outlet for me in this respect. Also by writing short stories, it's like being able to play God in your own little world. My dream has always been to write a full length novel, however, I have not even begun that journey yet. I have a few outlines and ideas, just need to get my butt in gear and swallow that lump of fear of failure and get to it.

How do you keep your book reading and blogging fun and fresh so you don’t burn out?

Honestly, I do get burnt out. When that happens, I just take a step back and take a break. Every now and then you will notice a few days lapse in between posts and that is usually what I am doing - taking a break (or going crazy insane from my kids, lol)That is one of the reasons I backed off a bit on the Virtual Book Tours during the summer - between the stress of keeping the kids busy and not killing each other and my inablity to get as much reading done. I am always happy to do guest posts and book spotlights, however. Those are always fun and easy to post. I do worry that my blog gets tendious to readers, so my hope is that if that is the case, someone will speak up.

What is your guilty pleasure?

Other than my addiction to reading and being on the computer?! lol I guess it would be a couple of yummy men that I like to invite into my home by the names of Ben & Jerry. Yes, as a child I never had much of a taste for ice cream, but now as an adult I am addicted to Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream! My favorites are Karmel Sutra, Americone Dream and Twisted with choco chip cookie dough and brownies - YUMMY!!! When they are on sale, I stock up, when they are not, I pout, lol!

What are the fundamentals to success in your blogging and building long-term traffic?

I think consistancy. You want to have topics and posts that are interesting to your readers. Also adding the fun of giveaways, trivia, quizzes, etc, makes things interesting and does a bit to liven things up.

What makes a book amazing to you?

If a book draws me into it's pages and refuses to let me go, that is amazing. A story whose characters I think about when not reading the book and long after I have finished the final page is amazing.

Any last comments, April?

Please visit my book blog at: http://cafeofdreams.blogspot.com/
Leave a comment and let me know what you think!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

CJ West of Red River Writers Live interviews Denise Robbins

Denise Robbins visits with CJ West as his guest on Blog Talk Radio, Wednesday, August 12 at 1:00 PM Eastern at Red River Writers Live

Stop in for a listen as CJ discusses with Denise her first novel, It Happens in Threes, her writing, and how she combines technology with adventure and romance.

Listen in for a special announcement regarding an upcoming event!

Learn more about CJ West and his books at www.22wb.com


Danielle of Coffee Time Romance says, "It Happens in Threes is one adventurous scene after another. Ms. Robbins has written an intense thriller filled with hunky men, beautiful women, and one action-packed stunt after another. I could not put this romantic suspense down; it was just so powerful and overwhelmed my senses." Read the full review here.


If you haven't already seen Robbins' latest techno-romantic thriller, KILLER BUNNY HILL visit her website at www.deniserobbins.com.

April of Cafe of Dreams says, “Ms. Robbins blends together secrets, intrigue, suspense, and romance as easily and wonderfully as a master chef blends the ingredients for a delectable gourmet meal.” Read the full review of Killer Bunny Hill from Cafe of Dreams.

What made him. . .

Tuesday's writing prompt starts out with a question, now you get to fill in the blank.

Prompt: What made him. . .

What made him what?

Who is him?

Looking forward to seeing what you come up with in answer to the prompt. Share it in a comment when complete.


PS - Tune in here tomorrow when we interview Book Reviewer/Blogger April Pohren of Cafe of Dreams

Monday, August 10, 2009

Book-A-Week Challenge Reading "Hell Swamp" by Susan Whitfield

This week the Book-A-Week Challenge is reading "Hell Swamp" by Susan Whitfield.
Join Denise and others in reading Hell Swamp and on Sunday, August 16 watch for an interview of Susan to be posted. Stop by and leave a comment or ask a question.

Find out more about Susan and her other books. Visit her website at Susan Whitfield.

Paperback: 196 pages
Publisher: L & L Dreamspell
ISBN-13: 978-1603180948

Buy from Amazon
Buy from B&N

Blurb: Agent Logan Hunter's cast iron stomach and steeled nerves are put to the test in Hell Swamp, a place where snakes, skulls, and sinister secrets abound.

Called back into action from her personal leave to track down a sadistic murderer, Logan traveled to a location in the backwoods of North Carolina, not far from where she grew up.

Across Beatty's Bridge, the familiar Greek revival mansion along the Black River now held a crime scene beyond anyone's worst nightmare. A gruesome mess with blood tracked everywhere, and key evidence already obliterated. With the SBI seriously shorthanded Agent Hunter had the daunting task of piecing everything together to find the killer.

She questioned a strange assortment of suspects and soon discovered the seemingly harmless victim had numerous enemies. Which one committed the heinous crime?

Inching closer to the truth, she dodged increasing danger around every curve as the killer tried to stop her investigation. Even more troubling than the physical attacks, this case brought back Logan's night terrors as she battled Hell Swamp's demons from the past.

Book Trailer:

Sunday, August 9, 2009

At the yard sale. . .writing prompt response

I finally have time to breathe and decided to go back and respond to some of the writing prompts I had missed.

Whew! That may have been a mistake. I could not stop writing. Before I knew it, I wrote 3500 words.

It's amazing how a simple writing prompt can break that writer's block and open the flow of creativity. I won't blame you if you don't read everything, but it is here so feel free.

Prompt: At the yard sale. . .

At the yard sale, her seventh for the day, Jane skirted the long tables overflowing with ‘lightly worn’ clothing according to the sign, moved past the children’s toys and man tools, AKA boys’ toys. She headed straight for what most people considered the junk pile, the stuff pulled out from the back of a great aunt’s closet or a grandmother’s bureau. Those people did not comprehend that the trinkets they tossed into a heap at the back of the yard sale were actually a goldmine.

She had always been a collector, but never had any money. When she first started college as a chemistry major, she met a girl named Amy in her history class. Amy used to sit in class with magazines. At first, Jane thought the magazines were Cosmopolitan or Glamour, the typical magazines college girls would read. In one class, Jane sat right behind Amy and as she flipped the pages, she saw photos of salt-n-pepper shakers, cups and saucers, hairbrush and mirror sets. The journal she read was not a women’s fashion periodical, but a publication on antiques.

While the teacher spoke in the front of the lecture hall, Jane leaned forward and whispered behind Amy. “What are you reading?”

Amy didn’t respond, but she did close the magazine and slide it to the side so Jane could see the title. It read, Vintage Art and Home Décor.

When class finished, Jane hung outside the classroom and waited for Amy. “Why are you reading that magazine? Is it for a class or something?”

Amy wrinkled her nose on one side in a sneer and drew her eyebrows together. “What business is it of yours?”

Jane stiffened and snapped her shoulders back. “It’s not. It just looked interesting. I like to collect stuff and some of those pictures looked really neat. If they’re old they have to be cheap, right?”

This time, Amy scoffed at her question. “Only if you’re lucky do you find antiquities cheap. Not only would you have to be lucky, the person selling it would have to be an idiot.”

“Are you rich?” she asked without thinking. Jane’s grandmother would have rolled over in her grave at the audacity of her question.

Amy never did answer her question, but they ended up grabbing a cup of coffee in the coffee house in the recreation center on campus. She explained to Amy that she rented a small place off-campus and wanted to decorate it but could not afford new or even moderately expensive. “The place is so stark and boring, I have to do something.”
“Have you tried yard sales or flea markets?”

“Other people’s junk?” Jane had asked wrinkling her nose. She may have been poor and desperate, but she didn’t want someone else’s throwaways.

Amy shrugged. “One person’s garbage is another person’s prize.”

Amy explained to Jane the art of selecting collectibles. She told her what to look for, and what to stay away from. Then they set a date to go dumpster diving. That was what Jane had called it and still did.

That cup of coffee started the lifelong friendship she had with Amy today and her love affair with vintage collectibles.

One Saturday her sophomore year in college when Amy was home visiting her parents Jan struck out to go dumpster diving on her own. On the Thursday before, she picked up the Weekend section of the newspaper, looked for the listings of flea markets and yard sales, and planned her route.

After a quick breakfast of cinnamon-raisin bagel with cream cheese and juice, she packed up her notes, and went in search of collectible knick-knacks. None of the places she stopped at had much. She found one old glass jar, butter churn that actually had the wooden paddles. She snatched that up for a mere five dollars. It had been worth ten times that. If she didn’t keep it, she could sell it to an antique shop and still make a profit. Tucked in the very far corners of one flea market, Jane saw an old manual typewriter. She pressed a couple of keys and heard the clinking sound.

“She still works,” an old man dressed in pinstriped overalls, told her from his perch on a folding lawn chair. “She’s all oiled and has a new ribbon in it. Here, let me show you.”

“Oh, you don’t. . .” Jane let her words trail off as the older man hefted himself up from his seat and came to her with a wide grin on his face. Pride radiated from his smile. “Okay. Thank you.”

Mr. Conrad introduced himself then tugged a clean piece of paper out from under the typewriter. He slid it in and rolled it up then typed a paragraph as neat as can be onto the white sheet.

“Now you try.” He gestured with an outstretched hand toward the typewriter and took a step back.

How could she refuse? Jane stepped forward and typed just as smooth and efficient as Mr. Conrad.

“She still hums.”

“Why do you call the typewriter a she?”

Mr. Conrad had laughed a loud raucous of a laugh, one of a joy for life. She liked Mr. Conrad.

“All men’s favorite toys are female.” He winked at her and laughed again.

His laugh was infectious and Jane found herself chuckling right along with him. Then she stopped and asked him about the typewriter.

“The new century caligraph was built in 1899 by American Writing Machine Company in New York.”

“Where did you get it?”

He beamed at her. “My grandfather’s attic when I went to school.”

“What do you do?”

“I’m a retired lawyer.”

Her eyes must have bugged out of their sockets because Mr. Conrad practically spit at her when he laughed.

“Happily retired. Now I can dress and do whatever I want.”

“I see,” she said, but hadn’t understood.

“No, you don’t but you will someday. One day you will want the world to slow down so you can smell the flowers, see the sunrise, love life, and not work.” He winked at her. “Mark my words. You’ll come back to me one day and I will get to say I told you so.”

Jane giggled and hoped that day would come. Then she sobered. “How much?”

Mr. Conrad lifted one black and gray eyebrow. “Ah.” He rubbed his hands together. “Woman after my own heart, a straight shooter.” Fisting one hand on a hip and the other one hand rubbing his head in thought, he eyed her, and then the typewriter, back to her again. “For you, five hundred dollars.”

Jane’s hand flew to her throat where the price was stuck. “Fi. . .five. . . hundred?” she gasped out.

“Too steep for you.”

Hell yeah! “Uh, well, I hadn’t exactly planned on spending that much today.”

Mr. Conrad clucked his tongue. “I’ll make you a deal.”

Jane’s brows shot up toward her hairline.

“Relax. I’m not a dirty old man.”

“I. . .I. . .”

“Calm down girl,” he said waving a hand pushing air toward the ground. “I can tell you are going to be a force to reckon with in the business world.”

She felt her cheeks flush at the compliment. At least she thought it was a compliment.

“Remember though, there is more to life than work and money.”

“Says the retired attorney.”

“Touche.” Mr. Conrad bowed then straightened. “I’m going to teach you how to enjoy the other parts of life.”

Jane’s heart jumped inside her chest and banged against her rib cage. He was a dirty old man.

The burst of laughter that came from his chest surprised her.

“If you could see your face.” He placed a large hand on her shoulder. “I have an herb garden and I need help in it. Besides, you will be surprised what being out in the sun and playing in the dirt can do for one’s soul. It will help balance you and that drive for success I see lurking under the surface.”

“You want me to garden?” she asked in disbelief.

“Yup. That’s the deal. Do we shake on it or what?” Mr. Conrad dropped his hand from her shoulder and stuck it out for her to take.

It hung in the air, a snake ready to strike, but then Jane looked up and into Mr. Conrad’s smiling face. His pale green eyes sparkled with humor and knowledge. Why not? She shrugged and clasped his hand in hers, as much as she could, considering his hand engulfed hers. He gave it a firm shake and they struck a deal.

She had gone to Mr. David Conrad’s house every other Saturday afternoon since the day she met him. Long since paid off her debt to him, she continued to visit him every other Saturday six years later. Jane looked forward to their time together. She would show him the trinkets she picked up for a steal and he would teach her more about herbs and plants and life.

Exhausted from her fruitless search at the dusty and crowded flea markets today, Jane unlocked her small truck and slid behind the wheel. She could not wait to see David.

As she pulled into the drive of David’s Victorian home, she remembered the visit that changed her life forever. On one visit five years ago, she walked into the kitchen and almost tripped over the boxes littering the floor.

“What the heck?”

“It was time,” he announced from the arched entryway that led to the living room.

“Time for what, David?” she asked and knelt next to the cardboard boxes. She opened the first one and saw crystal. Jane lifted one piece out and held it up. The sunlight streaming in through the bay window struck the crystal and send shimmering beams of rainbows dancing around the room. “Beautiful,” she breathed out and looked down. The box was eighteen inches by eighteen inches and held nothing but crystal, crystal vases, dishes, candleholders, even a ring holder. “

“Their yours.” David walked into the room then and sat on a Windsor back chair close to where she knelt.

She stared at him, her mouth agape. David hooked a finger under her chin, closed her mouth, and smiled at her. She swallowed, wet her lips, and finally managed to squeak out some words. “I can’t. . .you don’t. . .”

“I can,” he said nodding. “I want to. It’s just stuff to me. It once meant something to me, but with Sara gone, they are just things that need dusting.”

Jane saw tears pool in his faraway gaze. Then he blinked and they were gone.

“I know how much you love those little do-dads and pretty baubles, so I’m giving them to you.”

“David. You can’t –”

“I most certainly can. It’s done. If you don’t want them then I will take them to a flea market.”

She gasped, snatched the crystal candleholder to her chest, and narrowed her eyes. “Don’t you dare.”

David chuckled and tweaked her nose. “I thought you would see it my way. “ He rose and offered her a hand. “Now, let’s have some lunch then go play in the garden. I think today we’ll learn about lavender and all of its uses.”

As part of her lesson, David had made lavender lemonade and lavender cookies then he taught her how to dry lavender and discussed its many uses in cosmetics and bath essentials. “It has to be one of the best herbs, especially in its oil state for relaxation there is.”

That afternoon her mind had not been on the lavender, but on the boxes of pretty things she could put in her small, dull place and make it beautiful and homey. She could not wait to go home and pick out the just the right spot for every single piece.

By the time Jane arrived at her rental house, it had been late, but she did not feel the least bit exhausted. After carrying the five boxes one-by-one inside, she felt energized. She poured herself a glass of wine then sat on the dingy rust-colored carpet surrounded by the boxes. Jane opened every single one of the cartons. With great reverence and care, she lifted out the delicate baubles and placed them on the floor.

By the time Jane finished opening and setting each piece out, she sat in the middle of sixty-seven pieces of art. To her, they were works of art, not someone else’s throwaways or garbage. What David Conrad had given her that day was love, a love he had lost, and she had found.

Surrounded by crystal, ceramic, pewter, and glass, Jane went from shedding tears to giddy laughter, and back again. In her hand, she held a funny looking ceramic frog dish with big bug eyes and a wide, open mouth used to hold a kitchen sponge. She flipped it over and the sip of white wine she had just taken spewed out in a spray when she couldn’t hold back her shock and laughter. The underside of the frog displayed the anatomically correct parts for a male frog.

With the frog in her hand, she unfolded herself and got to her feet. She stepped over all the baubles and moved to the kitchen to wash her hands and the frog and get a wet paper towel for the floor. When she slid the frog under the slow rain of water from the faucet, wiping off the green ceramic, she felt her world tilt. In gold writing, she saw initials and a number on the underside of the frog. Afraid the wine might have affected her vision, Jane pulled the frog’s bottom closer to her face.

Her eyes crossed and breath caught in her lungs. She panted for air. It was numbered in gold paint. Real gold. With a tight grip on the frog, Jane hurried back to the living room. She glanced down at the eclectic array of decorations and saw another frog. As if her arm were a frog’s tongue, she reached out and snatched up the green ceramic. She flipped it over and yes, there it was, the male frog’s mate with her anatomically correct features clear as day. She shook her head at the thought of David Conrad owning something so whimsical.

Then it hit her and she had to sit. He had a pair, a full set of vintage frogs in perfect condition. According to the gold writing, David owned one of only sixty the artist had made. Stunned, heart beating out of control with excitement, Jane jumped to her feet, still clutching the frogs, and ran to her bedroom.

She set the frogs on the bed then opened up the chest at the foot of it and started pulling out book after book of antiquity magazines and catalogs. When she came across one for kitchen art and collectibles, she paused, and started flipping through the pages. Her hands froze over the page with the image of her frogs. She blinked, looked at the frogs on her bed, then back at the magazine.

“Holy shit!”

She slammed the magazine shut, leaned back and reached for the phone on a little stand she had picked up at an earlier flea market. Her fingers shaky, she managed to drop the receiver on the floor. Oh, well. Blood echoing in her ears, Jane dialed David. No answer. She glanced at her watch. It was only eight o’clock. Maybe he had gone to sit on the deck.

“This can’t wait!”

Jane hopped to her feet, tugged open a drawer and pulled out her thickest pair. She stuffed each frog into a sock, hoping to offer them more protection than just the inside of a box, then with them pinned between one arm and her chest, she ran to the door, snatched up her purse and keys, and left the house without another thought. Fifteen minutes later, Jane pulled up to David’s.

“David!” she yelled as soon as she left her little clunker of a truck. “David! Where are you?”

David opened the front door and met her half way down his front steps. “What is it? Are you okay?” he asked, cupping his hands on both her shoulders.

Out of breath, she panted, “Yes. You. . .” She took a deep breath. “You have to see this.”

David wrapped an arm around her waist and helped her up the stairs and into the parlor where he had a small fire going.

“Turn the light on, David. You have to see this.” While David went to hit the switch, Jane slid the frogs out of their protective sock and set them onto the coffee table.

“Why did you bring those back here?” David asked with his brow furrowed.

Jane tried to suck in more air and instead choked on laughter. She pulled the magazine out, flipped to the correct page, and held it open, pointing her finger at the article.

“What the –”

Jane watched as realization struck David speechless for the first time since she had known him. As his eyes took in the article, he ran his fingers through his dark, silver hair. He finally understood her excitement.

“Well, I’ll be damned.”

Jane covered her mouth and chuckled. “That’s the understatement of the century. You’re rich, David. Rich!” she exclaimed twirling about with her arms flung out at her side.

“No. You’re rich.”

Jane stumbled then righted herself and stared unseeing at him. “What?”

“I gave them to you as a gift. The frogs belong to you.”

Hands fisted on hips, Jane narrowed her eyes. “Well, I don’t want them.”

“Too bad,” David said handing her the magazine then turned and sat down in a wingback chair next to the fire.

Jane spun after him. “Are you crazy?”

Leaning forward in the chair, elbows resting on his knees, David shook his head. “Not crazy. I’m just an old man who knows that I don’t need money to be rich. I have everything I need. You don’t. You’re going to school on college loans and grants. By the time you graduate, you will be in debt up to your eyeballs. Why not have your education paid for and be able to start your own business when you get out rather than work for someone if you want.”

Jane could not believe her ears. David was serious. Her heart squeezed as if in a vise. How had she been so lucky to have found a friend in David. A knot of emotion choked her up, but she managed to find the words. “I don’t want what is yours and was yours and Sara’s.” She moved closer to David, stood inches from his bowed head.
Before she could continue, David reached out and grasped one of her hands in his. He peered up at her, the firelight dancing in his eyes. “Jane, you’re like family to me. You’re the daughter Sara and I never had. Let me do this for you. Please.”

Now tears trickled down her cheeks. As much as she tried not to let them go, they fell anyway. Jane squeezed his fingers. “I’ll make you a deal.”

David sat up straight and she smiled. She would throw the same offer he had given her a year ago back at him and he knew it. Jane swiped at the tears and continued. “I’ll make you a deal. You teach me everything about herbs and how they can be used in cosmetics, be my chief consultant, and we will split the money from the frogs.”

“Cosmetics?”

“Yup.” She bobbed her head. “I want to start an organic cosmetics business.”

Releasing her hand, David sat back and stared at her. “You don’t even wear makeup.”

“Exactly. I can’t.” She wrinkled her freckled nose. “All the chemicals give me a rash or dry my skin.” Jane shook her head. “It’s not pretty.”

Jane saw the corner of David’s mouth twitch. HA! She had him. “Come on. We’ll call it Not-so-plain-Jane’s.”

Now the corners of David’s mouth lifted into a full blow smile that lit the room.

Jane stuck out her hand. “That’s the deal. Do we shake on it or what?”

She waited while he rubbed a hand over the day old scruff on his chin. When she didn’t think she could wait any longer David enclosed her hand in his and shook.

“Deal.”

Five years later, Jane had exactly what she had wanted, what she made a deal with David for, but now, she had to admit, she wanted more, and it had nothing to do with work. Smiling, she shook her head as she exited the same clunker truck she had owned forever. David had been right. There was more to life than work and success. Now if she could just find it.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Congratulations to newly contracted author Gina Leuci


Everyone, please take a moment to learn the name Gina Leuci.

Gina just signed her first book contract with L&L Dreamspell for her novel, A Lesson in Love.

Please join me in congratulating Gina on her hard work and success. Best wishes for A Lesson in Love and a successful career!

To find out more about Gina, visit her website.

She left the meeting. . . writing prompt response

Tuesday's Writing prompt was: She left the meeting. . .

Here is my response:

She left the meeting fuming, her blood bubbling just below the boiling point. Jane marched down the wide corridor, her high heels clacking against the marble tile. When she reached the ladies’ room, she whacked the metal plate on the door with the heel of her hand. The door flung inward, hit the wall, then slammed into her hip.

“Ouch! Damn!”

Jane rounded the corner, tears welling in her eyes, and almost smacked heads with her assistant.

Sarah screeched and hopped backwards.

One hand to her chest, the other pressed against the wall, Jane halted. “I’m sorry, Sarah.”

“Are you okay, Ms. Rouge?”

“Fine. I’m just fine Sarah. Thank you.”

Sarah arched one thin, perfectly plucked eyebrow.

“I’m fine,” she reassured Sarah, patting her young assistant on the shoulder. “You go ahead.” Jane checked her watch. “We have that appointment with the owners of Just Naturals. Can you make certain we have sample bags ready for our guests?”

Sarah bobbed her head. “Yes, Ms. Rouge.” She walked past Jane, pulled the door partially open and looked back. “Are you sure?”

Jane offered the girl a half-hearted smile and nodded. “Yes. I’ll be there in a few.”

As soon as the door shut behind Sarah, Jane flipped the latch and locked the door, resting her forehead against the maple wood. Someone had hacked into the network, stolen or deleted the formulas for her new lipstick line. Jane blew out a breath, gave the door a hard pound with a fist, and pushed away from it.

“Who?” Jane asked no one tossing her bag oil canvas bag onto one of the eggplant chaise lounge chairs. She needed to verbalize the issue, say the words, and hear them so her mind could click into an answer.

“Six months of research and development. Six months,” she mumbled hitting her balled up hand against her thigh as she paced the plush lavender carpet in the sitting area of the ladies’ room. “Six months down the drain.” She pivoted on a thin heel and strode back in the opposite direction then turned again when she reached the door vestibule.

Jane paused mid-stride and scraped her fingers through her hair. “A competitor!” But who?

She began her pacing again and stopped when she caught her image in the mirror that hung over the granite vanity. Disheveled hair, pink splotchy cheeks, and her blouse stuck out of her skirt. “Eek!”

Jane opened one of the drawers she had specially made for the ladies’ room. Inside, it held various samples of her company’s products. Her thought had been that if she made them available not only would her employees use the products and take some for their family and friends to use, but any corporate visitors that came to her offices would also use them whether they meant to buy from her or not. One way or another, they would have her product.

It had proven to be a brilliant idea on more than one occasion, she thought, as she reached in the lipstick section and lifted out her signature color, tangerine. Her face put back together, hair in place, and clothes straightened, Jane looked at her reflection. Her shoulders slumped.

Someone had stolen from her company. Someone had stolen from her company using her credentials.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Killer Bunny Hill receives killer review

Killer Bunny Hill receives killer review from Cafe of Dreams.

April from Cafe of Dreams quoted. "Ms. Robbins blends together secrets, intrigue, suspense, and romance as easily and wonderfully as a master chef blends the ingredients for a delectable gourmet meal."

Checkout the rest of the review written by April of Cafe of Dreams.

April is offering a giveaway of a free copy of Killer Bunny Hill if you post a comment.

In celebration of this killer review, I am going to double the giveaway. All you have to do is leave a comment on April's blog post for Killer Bunny Hill then return here and post a comment with your 'favorite line from April's review' of Killer Bunny Hill.

That's it! Post a comment in both places and you have entered yourself in a chance to win TWO FREE books.

You have until August 21 to post the comments and enter to win. The winner will be announced on my blog on August 22.

Good luck and happy reading!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Happy readers and glad to be seen!

One book club looks for a change of pace in reading KILLER BUNNY HILL.

About two weeks ago, I received a very nice email from a woman in a book club from upstate New York. The following is a snippet from that email.

Hello from upstate NY,

I would like to enter the drawing for an autographed copy of your new book, KILLER BUNNY HILL. Our book club is composed of nine retired ladies. We meet monthly at a little restaurant for lunch and book club meeting. great fun.

We could definitely use some excitement this summer and your book sounds like an exciting read. Thanks for a change of pace.


This email put a smile on my face and made my day! Her group sounded so fantastic, I did one better. I emailed the very nice woman back and offered to send nine copies of KILLER BUNNY HILL for her book club.

The other day, I came home and found another surprise in my email from the ladies of this upstate New York book club. I received a picture of six of the nine ladies all holding KILLER BUNNY HILL in their hands.

How amazing and sweet is that!

On the first Monday of each month, these wonderful readers get together at a local restaurant where the owner pulls out all the stops by reserving and setting up a round table with a white table cloth for them. In September, the book club will be together again to discuss KILLER BUNNY HILL and maybe splurge for the rice pudding that the restaurant is known for.

For the record, I LOVE rice pudding! With a sprinkle of cinnamon on top. I wish I could be there! Who knows, maybe they will email some questions or set up a call to talk about the book and their feedback.

Thank you, ladies, for the picture. Happy Reading!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

She left the meeting. . . Writing Prompt Tuesday

Now that we made it through Monday, we need a little writing motivation. This being Tuesday, it is time for a writing prompt.

This little line was inspired by me walking down a hallway at work mumbling to myself after leaving a meeting. I am certain that most of you can relate to "those" kind of meetings.

Prompt: She left the meeting. . .

Book-A-Week Challenge Reading "Burn" by Linda Howard


This week's Book-A-Week Challenge novel is "Burn" by Linda Howard.

Book Info:

Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-0345486561
Buy from Amazon
Buy from B&N

Blurb:

It’s true what they say: Money changes everything. And in Linda Howard’s red-hot novel Burn, the changes come fast, furious, and filled with the kind of sexy suspense, heart-stopping romance, beautiful people, and risky business guaranteed to give you the most bang for your buck.

Money certainly changes Jenner Redwine’s life when she wins a lottery jackpot. But it also costs her plenty: Her father rips her off and disappears, her fortune-hunting boyfriend soon becomes her ex, and friends-turned-freeloaders give her the cold shoulder when she stops paying for everything.

Flush with new money, Jenner can’t imagine ever finding a place in the world of the wealthy. Seven years later, though, she’s rubbing elbows with the rich, despite the fact she still feels like a party crasher. Luckily she finds an ally–and a guide to the rarefied realm of privilege–in shy, kind-hearted heiress Sydney Hazlett, who quickly becomes Jenner’s confidante and surrogate sister.

When Sydney invites Jenner on a charity cruise aboard a luxury liner, Jenner reluctantly agrees. But while she’s expecting–and dreading–two weeks of masquerade balls, art auctions, and preening glitterati, what she gets is more like a Hitchcock movie than a Love Boat episode. Taken hostage by a menacing stranger, Jenner must cooperate in a mysterious cloak-and-dagger scheme–or else. With nowhere to run, and with Sydney’s life as well as her own at risk, Jenner is drawn into a game of dizzying intrigue and harrowing danger. But as her panic gives way to exhilaration, and fear of her captor turns to fascination, Jenner rediscovers feelings she hasn’t had in years–and realizes she’s found a life worth living. If she survives.


Next week's Book-A-Week Challenge is "Hell Swamp" by Susan Whitfield. More about Susan click here.
Buy from B&N
Buy from Amazon

Monday, August 3, 2009

Tune in Tuesday - Denise Robbins interview on The Authors Show

The Authors Show, features five up and coming authors each week.

Tune in this Tuesday, August 4, when The Authors Show features an interview with author Denise Robbins.

Listen in as the radio show's host, Don McCauley, founder and facilitator of the Free Publicity Focus Group at www.freepublicitygroup.com asks Denise questions about her writing and her first novel, It Happens in Threes.

Available online all day Tuesday at The Authors Show.

After the show, return here and post a comment. Let Denise know what you enjoyed about the interview. Leaving a comment will enter you in a chance to win a copy of her novel, It Happens in Threes.

Cafe of Dreams gives a dream review of Killer Bunny Hill

Cafe of Dreams gives a dream review of Killer Bunny Hill and a chance to win a copy of the book.

As you all know, my latest novel Killer Bunny Hill was just released. And at the end of this exciting tale there will be information on how to win a free copy of Killer Bunny Hill, so read on! (BTW - I don't wite short stories and you'll see why as you read this 'brief' quip.)

Two weeks ago, I came home and found boxes of the book in my driveway, I jumped out of the car (almost forgot to put it in park) and ripped open the first box I came to. Broke a nail doing so, but who cares when it comes to seeing your work in print.

As soon as I held the first book in my hands, I did the screamin' Mimi dance of excitement!

What exactly is that?

In my case, it's me yelling, "Yippee! Yeehaw!" and every other hootin' and hollerin' phrase I can think of. Then the jumping up and down begins along with the screams of joy, followed by the running up and down the driveway all the while shouting, "I got my book! I got my book!" Picture me pumping my arms up and down with a book in each hand. At the end of the drive, I turn, do a little hip shake, and do it all again.

You think I'm kidding?

Ask my neighbors. They will confirm my insanity.

It was when I flipped the book over and saw the back cover that hilarity ensued. I refuse to tell you why because you have to get the book to see for yourselves. Suffice it to say, my publishers have a great sense of humor!

I have, since that day, calmed my excitement to a degree. HA! NOT! Especially after days like this weekend. On Saturday, I went to my favorite bagel shop and as soon as I stepped out of the car, the owner, Lori, walks out the door and yells, "I finished the book!" You have to understand that Lori is so busy she barely has time to breathe let alone read. Apparently she could not put the book down. Before I made it to the sidewalk where Lori stood praising me, she asked, "When is number three coming out?"

I stumbled, made a choking sound, and laughed. "Are you kidding? This one just came out. The next won't be until next year."

"That's too far away," she said, flinging her arms out at her sides and spun on her heels.

I followed her inside the restaurant laughing and shaking my head. Gotta love the woman!

Yesterday afternoon, I received an email from a lovely woman who just finished reading my first novel, It Happens in Threes. To quote her, "I loved it!" She went on to say how much she liked the hero and heroine and that the story kept her on the edge of her seat. To end her note, she said she was ready to read Killer Bunny Hill and could not wait. Yes, she has the book there.

To top that off, I received my contract for my 4th novel. Yea!! I responded back to let my publisher know I would send it back this week (oops! better go get it off the printer) and while I was at it, I mentioned the fact that several people asked about the date of the release for my next novel and how they would like it soon.

This is why I love my publisher!! Because of the requests for the book to come out sooner, they are now going to shoot for releasing Connect the Dots in December instead of January 2010. Wahoo! Just in time for holiday shopping. Tell your friends!

Now, finally, I get to the giveaway. Well, almost. Last night, April of Cafe of Dreams posted her review of Killer Bunny Hill. See the first review of Killer Bunny Hill here.

If you click the link above to read the review then post a comment to April, she is offering a chance to win a free copy of Killer Bunny Hill.

I'm going to add my own giveaway. Here's a chance to win a copy of Killer Bunny Hill and It Happens in Threes.

Visit April's blog Cafe of Dreams and post a comment.

Then return here and leave a comment on this post. Tell me "what was your favorite line in April's review?" If you post a comment in both places then you are entered to win.

You have until August 21 to post the comments and enter to win. The winner will be announced on my blog on August 22.

Good luck and happy reading!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Book-A-Week Challenge Interview with author Cindy Davis


We are interviewing Cindy Davis, author of this week's Book-A-Week Challenge novel "A Little Murder".

Post your comment and/or questions to Cindy and she will pop in to say "Hi" and respond.

To find out more about Cindy and her other books be sure to visit her webstite at http://www.cdavisnh.com/

Buy the book:

B&N
Amazon
L&L Dreamspell

On with the interview:

What motivated you to write this book?

I wanted to do a mystery series. I wanted it different. I wanted it local. I love using small towns as settings because everybody knows everyone. They know who’s seeing who, who’s cheating on who. The conflicts are built-in. I didn’t want to use my hometown, not after what happened to Grace Metalious with her Peyton Place. Everyone in Gilmanton swore the book was about them.


Are the experiences in the novel based on someone you know, or events in your life?

Not at all. It’s a mystery, totally from my imagination.


Do you have a specific writing style?

I suppose so, though it wasn’t cultivated purposely. I’ve been told my style is edgy. Not sure what that means, but I guess that’s a good thing. After all, they could’ve called it crappy.


What are your current projects?

I am working on book three of the Angie Deacon series—Hair of the Dog. It presented some problems plot-wise. I don’t know why, I guess I didn’t plan well enough. My fantastic writers group came through with ideas that germinated into a great plot. It centers around an excessively barking Irish Setter. Boring you say? Not when the dog’s owner is found dead following a confrontation with Angie.


What makes your stories unique?

To be a success, every author has a uniqueness, something out of the ordinary. Whether it’s a voice or a plot or a character, that’s what gets people hot, gets them buying the books.


How do you come up with your story ideas and your characters?

I usually begin with either a character or a setting, something that’s been nagging in the back of my head. Sometimes these are generated from a news story or someone I’ve met.


When do you find you are the most creative or write the most?

Early morning. I’m up seven days a week and at work by 5 a.m. I write till I run out of steam, usually around ten. Then I do chores or errands, have lunch and switch to editing (my day job) until around 8 p.m., taking a break for dinner.


Who came up with the book cover for A Little Murder? Why?

The publisher did the cover. Except what we ended up using wasn’t the original. The first had the same background but a small white boat. First off, it wasn’t like the boat in the book, but more importantly looked exactly like the Minnow on Gilligan’s Island. Linda worked hard coming up with something appropriate to the story. Can’t wait to see what she does with book two—Play with Fire—which has nothing at all to do with fire. It’s about the theft of the world’s first true red iris.


Tell us your latest news?

I signed with an agent. I had one a few years ago but got burned so badly I’ve been gunshy. I’m very proud to announce that two agents were interested in Cold as Ice.


When did you first consider yourself a writer?

When I received my first paycheck. Till then, I felt like I was dabbling, a writer wannabe. I have since realized I was wrong; a writer is a writer regardless of a paycheck.


What genre are you most comfortable writing?

Mysteries. I cut my teeth on Nancy Drew and Agatha Christie. I think in a way, this answers the mentor question also asked. Even though she has been deceased a long time, her writing style and dedication has inspired me.


How did you come up with the title for your book(s)?

For A Little Murder, I wanted something quirky, eye catching. The word murder is compelling so that was a given. I juggled names for the character until I came up with ‘Little’. Nolan Little. Sometimes titles are easy. Sometimes you’ve got to fight for them. With my Final Masquerade I didn’t have a title till the very last words went on the page: With the move to Brandon my love has faced her final masquerade. The sentence has changed since then—the book is in reprint and had some rewrites, but the mood is the same.


How much of the novel is realistic?

One of the characters is a real person. The setting is real. The story is entirely from my mind, though it’s a murder story, so it could be real. One of the subplots—the black bags—could be real.


What books have most influenced your life?

One in particular Gone with the Wind. I’ve always wanted to write something similar—a unique, character driven story that would affect people the way Scarlett O’Hara affected me. It took nine years but I feel I’ve finally accomplished it. Though my writing will probably never equal Margaret Mitchell’s, I hope I’ve captured my wish in Cold as Ice. The story originally began as a mystery but after two rewrites was still—crap. After six years in a drawer I read it and realized I was trying to tell the wrong character’s story. It wasn’t Devon’s life I needed to show, it was his mother’s. So I backed up fifty years. What resulted was Claudia VanBuren’s story; hopefully as full of twists and conflicts as Scarlett and Rhett’s.


What are you reading now?

Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth. Though it’s somewhat overwritten, I love the story, the characters, the time period, and the way something new happens on every page. Someday I will write like Mr. Follett.


If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything?

I would dedicate myself more strongly to developing my writing skills. I would also promote harder. Though I get out all the time in person—book events, talks, craft fairs, I hate telephones so I’m awful at keeping that flow of communication going with stores, etc.


How do you get inspired to write your romantic scenes?

Hard because my husband isn’t a romantic sort. No candles or gushy talk, smile. But he’s loyal and supportive and follows me everywhere. I guess he’s sort of like a big guard dog. I hear you asking what breed. I’ll have to think about that.


What is your guilty pleasure?

Who me? I guess it’s cashews. You know how they talk about people not being able to eat one potato chip? I’m that way with cashews.


If your book was made into a movie who do you picture playing the part of the hero and heroine?

Great question. I don’t watch a lot of movies though so I can’t really say.


If you met your heroine in person what would be the first question you ask her?

Why didn’t you follow your urges with Montez?


What is your favorite way to take a break from writing?

I garden. A few years ago I told my husband I wanted to dig up the strip of lawn (about fifteen feet wide) between our house and driveway, to turn into an herb garden. He was shocked, vehemently said no way and went to work. While he was gone… Anyway, long story short, we now have a great thinking swing amidst heavenly scented herbs and perennials, surrounded by a picket fence. Even he loves it.







Thank you, Cindy, for writing a terrific story and sharing more insight to you the author. Looking forward to reading books more by you.

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