Organ Transference

 

In This Heart of Mine, Leah MacKenzie receives the heart of Eric, a fellow classmate. Not long after she gets out of the hospital, she finds herself craving Indian food, an ethnic food she never cared for before. She even ends up in the same Indian restaurant that Eric used to frequent because he loved their food.  Is that possible? Can that really happen with transplant patients? The answer is that in at least ten percent of all transplant cases, patients report these happenings. Yes, there are many documented stories of organ recipients suddenly developing a taste for a food they never liked before only to find out their donor loved that food. It’s a phenomenon known as organ donor transference.  After his transplant, my husband suddenly found himself craving barbecue.  And before, he simply wasn’t a big fan.  For months when he’d go out to feed this craving, he’d tell me, “I’m going out to feed the kidney.”

There are also cases of transplant recipients developing a liking for the same kind of music their donor loved, or changes in personality similar to that of the donor, developing artistic tendencies when their donor was an artist and even solving a murder. Yes, like Leah, there was a case of an eight year-old girl, who received the heart of a murdered ten year-old girl. She soon began having recurring vivid nightmares about the murder. Her mother arranged a consultation with a psychiatrist who after several sessions, concluded that she was witnessing actual physical incidents. They decided to call the police who used the detailed descriptions of the murder (the time, the weapon, the place, the clothes he wore) given by the little girl to find and convict the man in question.

Now, it is important to note that apart from miscellaneous information such as gender, age and cause of death, profiles of organ donors are traditionally concealed from their recipients for psychological reasons. So these organ recipients had no idea what their donors liked, disliked or how they behaved.

Are they doctors who argue with this theory?  Yes.  They believe that not all cells carry memory.  But so far there had been no proof that they don’t carry memory.

In my husband’s case, he actually had a reoccurring dream after his transplant.  And for as long as I’ve been with my hubby, he’s only been able to recall about five or six of his dreams.  This dream was that he’d wake up and there would be an old man staring him right in the face.  He kept having that dream for about three days.  Then we found out his donor was an older man. Now, the doctors told us that some of the medicine he was on could bring on weird dreams.

And yes, it could have been his meds, but . . .  I’m really doubtful.  I know it all sounds a little woo-woo, but aren’t there a lot of things in life that are hard to explain? You have a dream and it feels like a warning.  You pick up the phone before rings.  You think about an old friend you haven’t seen in years, and then you discover they died the day they came to your mind.   Do you believe in things that are hard to explain?

Winner!

Jennifer Prager, you won an ecopy of This Heart of MIne. Congratulations! Please email me at cc@cchunterbooks.com and let me know if you prefer the Kindle or NOOK version.

Am I Dreaming?

Just the other night I had a dream.  A bad one.  Okay, let me just call it what it was, a nightmare. I woke up, heart racing, unable to breath.  I was at an airport and someone had stolen my purse, my phone and my ticket.  I wasn’t even sure which airport or how I’d gotten there.  Or where I was going. Now, I had my clothes on, because I have those dreams too where I’m naked and afraid, but even with my clothes on in this dream, I got so upset. I felt completely lost.  Unsure of myself. I admit, I didn’t like that dream.

But not all dreams are bad. Several times in my life, I’ve dreamed that I was flying.  Man was that a high.  It made me feel unstoppable. Yes, dreams can be powerful. They can make us feel elated, unhappy or as with the airport dream, terrified. Did you know some statistics state that the average human spends six years of their life dreaming? Except for a few people with psychological problems, they claim everyone dreams. You may not remember your dreams, but you still dream.

Some people look to their dreams for signs, for something that can help or even warn them in their waking life. I kind of believe that.  I think the airport dream is about me feeling lost because I’ve been writing something different.  I feel a little unsure as to where I’m going with this new project.  So my takeaway from the dream is that I need to stop questioning myself.  Remind myself that it’s okay to try something new, maybe relook at my plot to confirm I’m on the right path.

In doing some research on dreams, I found some interesting facts.  Men and women dream differently? Men are more likely to have violent and aggressive dreams and they dream more about other men, about 70% of the dream characters in a man’s dream are men. On the other hand, women dream about women and men equally. See, we females believe in equal opportunity.

In a survey, it was found that between 18-38% of people have experienced at least one precognitive (future sight-acquisition of future information) dream and 70% experienced déjà vu. In addition, 63-98% of people believe that it’s possible to have a precognitive dream.

I have a friend, who is a psychologist who says when you dream of someone, that person is really you.  To interpret the dream, ask yourself how you view this person.  If she a little shy and timid, the dream is trying to tell you something about that part of you that is shy and timid.

In This Heart of Mine, Leah MacKenzie has some really scary nightmares. She’s pretty sure Eric, the organ donor for her heart, is trying to tell her something through her dreams. She’s ready to discount them until she discovers Eric’s twin brother Matt is having the same dreams.

If you haven’t read This Heart of Mine, you can order your copy today at AmazonBarnes & NoblePowell’s, Indiebound, Books-A-Million, and iBooks. 

GIVEAWAY!

Have you ever had a dream that warned you of something or revealed anything to you?  I’m giving away an e-copy of This Heart of Mine to one person who tells me about one of their dreams. (Sorry, this giveaway is limited to U.S. residents only.)

 

What’s It Really Like?

When I tell someone I just finished a book, I get the perfectly normal, acceptable response.  “Congratulations.  I imagine it feels good.”

And they imagine right. It does feel good, but there’s so many other emotions tied to crossing that threshold and finishing a story.  And while this may sound a little crazy, some of those emotions are, well, kind of melancholy. Sort of like having a friend move away or having a long vacation end.  Don’t get me wrong, there’s always a sense of fulfillment, and because I write happy endings, I feel the high of the all’s-well-that-ends-well. And because love plays a part in all of my books, I experience that sweet gooey feeling that love really can solve problems.  I feel that huge sense of success.  Of accomplishment.  And then I find those moments when I’ll stop and wonder, did I tie everything up?  Did I leave something out that I should have included?  I’ll recall a scene I imagined, but didn’t add.  And with every book I finish, I’ll spend some time worrying that my readers will not like it.

For me, writing a book is sort like having people move in with me for three or four months. I spend all those days and nights getting to know them.  They become my friends.  People I worry about.  They are in my head.  They are in my heart.  I’m working endlessly to get them to tell me their secrets.  Tell me what they are afraid of.  What makes them cry.  What makes them laugh.  I need to understand the ins and outs of why they act like they act and why they do what they do. And believe me when I say these people have problems.  Because yeah, I create those problems, because without problems, there are no stories.  And for however long it takes me to tell the story of these individuals, their problems, are my problems.

The word writer in print letter cases

When I close my eyes at night, I think about them.  Sometimes I don’t sleep because I’m can’t stop thinking about them.  And when I wake up in the morning, right after I have my first sip of coffee, I’m thinking about them again.  What’s going to happen next? I’ll hear a line of dialogue from them when I’m making my oatmeal in the mornings.  Or when I’m in the bath tub, they love to spout out lines, and I struggle to keep that bit of info in my head until I can write it down.

As a writer, my job is to make the reader care.  To make a reader feel something.  And to do that I have to care, I have to feel something.  These people in my head have to feel real for me, so I can make them feel real to the reader.  This explains why I get a massage every two weeks.  Because these problems my character have and experience, I experience too.  I get shot at.  My mom had cancer.  I need a heart transplant.  I take on those problems as my own.

So often when I’m knee deep into a book, my husband will ask, “Where’s your head?”  Then he answers the question before I do. “You’re thinking about your book, aren’t you?”  Yeah, the people in my life often share me with the people in my mind.

So often when I’m living my life, I think about the characters that live cozied up in my cerebral storage area I’ve arranged for them.  So often when I’m alone in my study, those characters will crack me up.  I’ll laugh.  Then there are times I cry.  Sometimes I scare the crap out of myself.  Ahh, but I also I fall in love and I get to feel that glowing feeling that makes your chest feel huge.  I experience the wonder of sweet kisses, of those warm hugs.  I make best friends with people who make me laugh and who will be there for me no matter what.

I help find these people resolutions.  In a C.C. Hunter or a Christie Craig book, I always find happy endings.  But after those endings, after a long nose-to-the-grindstone marathon to finish before my deadline, I feel a little lost.  The first day I wake up and no longer need to go spend time with Chloe and Cash, or Mark and Annie, I feel a little lost and anxious. I’m like oh, my, what am I supposed to do now?  Then I realize, oh yeah, it’s almost Mother’s Day and I need to go shopping for my mom.  That’s right, I have a real life that I can focus on.  And I do focus on it.  But I know it won’t take but a few days before I’ll have someone else move in and  they’ll redecorate their special spot in my mind, I’ll discover their problems, their quirkiness, and they’ll become part of my life for the next few months.

Yeah, writing and finishing a book is an amazing thing.  It’s therapy, it’s stressful, it’s powerful, it’s humbling. It’s what I love to do.  Sometimes it takes me away from my own problems, and sometimes it helps me solve them.

For anyone out there who has ever felt the desire to write their own story, to put pen to paper, hands to the computer, I encourage you to do it.  Find the time, the courage, find a part of yourself, and take a journey that only another writer understands.  If you aren’t a writer, pick up a book and lose yourself for a few hours in a world that’s not your own.

Readers Coffeehouse Facebook Chat

Recently, I sat down with my friend and fellow author, Laura Drake, to chat about This Heat of Mine for Readers Coffeehouse Facebook Chat. I wanted to share our chat with you.

What emotion/human condition did you explore with this book?

That’s a big question. And it comes with a big answer. The story was inspired by a personal experience. My husband needed a kidney. Fast. The five-year bout of dialysis was killing his heart. Killing him. I watched him lose almost sixty pounds. I knew he was dying. He knew he was, too. By a miracle we got a call that there was a kidney available. After the surgery, he started having a reoccurring dream. Normally, he never remembered his dreams, so this was odd. His dream was that he’d wake up and find an old man staring him right his face. He had that dream about fifteen times during the first three days. It gave us chills when we learned it was a sixty-five-year-old man who had given him the kidney. Afterwards, it was still an uphill climb. My husband said to me once, that it was odd to know that someone had to die to give him life.

I borrowed everything he went through, even the dream, when I wrote about seventeen-year-old Leah, who needs a new heart. When she gets it, she’s starts having dreams. Dreams that don’t belong to her. Eventually, she connects with the identical twin of the donor, only to learn he’s having the same dreams. The police say the donor’s death was a suicide, but the dreams tell another story. These two young adults reach out to each other and try to find the truth, while they find love, hope, and joy in the midst of grief and survivor’s guilt.

What authors (living or dead) would you love to invite over for coffee?

E.B. White, the author of Charlotte’s Web. And I’d kick his butt for killing off Charlotte. I cried so hard, and I hate spiders.

If you didn’t have writing ability, what other artistic talent would you want?

I’d be a stand up comic. As Christie Craig I’ve written fifteen humorous, romantic suspense novels. Humor shows up in all my books. I love making people laugh. Yes, I won’t lie, This Heart of Mine will also make you cry, probably more than once, but I promise you some chuckles along the way, and an ending you can live with. I don’t want anyone calling me back from the dead for coffee and giving me heck. LOL.

How would you describe your book? Upmarket? Beach Read? Is there romance?

This is a hard one. First, everything I write has a romance in it. But even in my humorous romance novels, it’s always more than just about the romance. I like to write about relationships. Relationships between friends, parents, and siblings. I always add humor to my work and for some, that tends to make it fit the beach read category. However, This Heart of Mine is the closest thing I’ve ever written that would fit in the upmarket genre. There are so many themes about love—holding on to it, and learning to let it go. About moving past grief, living your life to the fullest, and about following your heart—even if that heart hasn’t always belonged to you.

What were your top 3 reads of the past year?

Letters to the Lost by Bridget Kemmerer. I loved it. I’m reading one now that I can hardly put down, it’s Twelve Steps to Normal by Farrah Pen. Both of those are issue themed young adult books that also have a touch of romance. Then I read and loved All The Dead Girls by Rita Herron. It’s a romantic suspense. I read all over the place. I love Susan E. Phillips, Lori Wilde. I love stores that make me care, that make me laugh, that make me fall in love. Stories that make me believe life is journey worth taking.

If you haven’t read This Heart of Mine, you can order your copy today at AmazonBarnes &NoblePowell’s, Indiebound, Books-A-Million, and iBooks. 

 

 

Kylie’s Dance

Did you know I speak at schools and universities? That’s right, I’ve gone to middle schools, high schools and colleges around the country giving talks about everything from writing to inspirational never give up talks. I love meeting the students and teachers, but recently, I had a unique experience when I spoke at North Central Texas College on April 13th. You see they loved my Shadow Falls series so much, they decided to create a dance in honor of Kylie. And while I was there, they performed the dance for me, and it was awesome. I was really blown away. So, I’m sharing it here with you now. Enjoy!

Now if you want me to speak at your school, please have your school principal or librarian contact me at cc@cchunterbooks.com. I’d love to come to your school and meet you and your fellow students.

Winner!

The winner of last week’s giveaway, an ecopy of This Heart of Mine, is Melissa Howell. Congratulations! Please email me at cc@cchunterbooks.com and tell me if you prefer the Kindle or Nook version.

This Heart of Mine Life Lessons

Seventeen-year-old Leah MacKenzie is heartless. An artificial heart in a backpack is keeping her alive. However, this route only offers her a few years. And with her rare blood type, a transplant isn’t likely. Living like you are dying isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. But when a heart becomes available, she’s given a second chance at life. Except Leah discovers who the donor was — a boy from her school — and they’re saying he killed himself. Plagued with dreams since the transplant, she realizes she may hold the clues to what really happened.

Matt refuses to believe his twin killed himself. When Leah seeks him out, he learns they are both having similar dreams and he’s certain it means something. While unraveling the secrets of his brother’s final moments, Leah and Matt find each other, and a love they are terrified to lose. But life and even new hearts don’t come with guarantees. Who knew living, took more courage than dying?

So in This Heart of Mine, Leah has a lot on her plate. She’s also dealing with all the usual stuff teens have to deal with. But she’s a fighter and a quick learner.  And these are just a few of the things she learns in This Heart of Mine.

  • Silly slippers on your feet can put a smile in your heart.
  • Even an artificial heart can break.
  • Dying sucks, but seeing the early signs of grief in the eyes of those who love you, sucks more.
  • Living a day at a time isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be. You need to embrace the future and learn from the past.
  • Getting a second chance at life is a miracle, but knowing someone had to die to give you that life, is hard to swallow.
  • When the identical twin of the brother who is your heart donor starts falling for you, how does one know if they love you for you, or because you have their brother’s heart?
  • First kisses are awesome, but second ones can be even better.
  • Losing a sibling is hard, losing an identical twin is losing a part of yourself.
  • Everyone has secrets, but when a secret may be responsible for a loved one’s death, discovering the truth is essential.
  • Reading is a surefire way to learn to deal with the crap life throws at you.
  • Book snobs should never be allowed to run a book club.

If you haven’t read This Heart of Mine, you can order your copy today at AmazonBarnes &NoblePowell’s, Indiebound, Books-A-Million, and iBooks. 

Winner!

The winner of last week’s giveaway is Meghann Sherman. Congratulations, Meghann, you’ve won a $25 Amazon gift card. Please email me at cc@cchunterbooks.com and tell me where to email your gift card.

Giveaway!

Read my Shadow Falls series, but haven’t read This Heart of Mine? I’ll give away an e-copy of This Heart of Mine to one person who leaves a comment on this post or leaves a comment on my Christie Craig blog (http://christie-craig.com/blog/). Increase your chances to win by leaving a comment at both blogs.

 

Book Trailer Giveaway!

I’ve had several book trailers made for my books. I’ve gotten great feedback on them. But I was wondering how effective they really are. Do you watch book trailers? Do they influence you to purchase a book? What kinds of trailers do prefer?

Here are the book trailers for Midnight Hour, The Mortician’s Daughter: One Foot in the Grave and This Heart of Mine. Tell me which one you like best and why. I’ll give a $25 Amazon gift card to one lucky person who leaves a comment.

Midnight Hour

The Mortician’s Daughter: One Foot in the Grave

This Heart of Mine

You know from my books that I love animals, and I usually add a dog or cat to my books. In fact, This Heart of Mine has a dog named Lady, after my current fur baby. Now I love Lady, but I had one dog, Jake, that really stands out. Jake will always hold a special place in my heart. You know, that one animal that decided you were the end all and be all. But I just wasn’t that keen on him at the start. Boy did that change! You can read my entire Jake story over at Furbaby Fridays. You can also read a new excerpt from This Heart of Mine, one that has hottie Matt with his dog Lady. So, be sure to pop over and read it.

I Borrow From My Life

Feb. 20, 2018 I was delighted to be the guest blogger on YA Books Central. They spotlighted THIS HEART OF MINE and asked me to talk about how the story came about and how I used part of my real life story with my husband as part of the plot. So I hope you enjoy this very personal story.


A part of my heart and soul goes into the characters and plot of every book I write.  I’m dyslexic, so in one book, my heroine was dyslexic and struggled with the issues that come with that.  My parents divorced when I was young and I’ve had my characters deal with the same life-shattering issue. I was shy and insecure, as are many of my characters.  But never has so much of my personal heartache and fear flowed into a book as it did in This Heart of Mine.

Like Leah in the book, my husband needed a transplant. At first, all he needed was a kidney.  While on the transplant list, dialysis kept him alive.  But it was also killing his heart.  He lost sixty pounds and there was no doubt he was going to die soon without a transplant.  His blood type was one of the harder ones to match.  His only sibling was ruled out due to high blood pressure.  I couldn’t become part of the kidney swap team, because I was pre-diabetic.  My son, like his father, has polycystic kidney disease.  My daughter was trying to get pregnant and while she offered to do it anyway, my husband refused.  He preferred to die rather than rob her of the life she deserved.

Unless you’ve been there, you’ll never know how hard it is to love someone and watch them die.  A miracle happened when a kidney became available. With hopes the kidney would improve his heart, he got the transplant. I can’t even explain how grateful we were to the family who had given their loved one’s organs. Or to the donor who signed up.

Only a day out of surgery, he started having a recurring dream.  Before the transplant, he never remembered his dreams, so this was odd for him.  The dream was of him waking up and having an older man staring him right in the face. The doctor said the steroids could cause strange dreams.  But when I learned that the donor was a sixty-five-year-old man, it gave me chills.

After two weeks at home, I drove him to the doctor for a checkup.  We were ten minutes away from the hospital when he started having trouble breathing.  Driving as fast as I could, while listening to the man I love gasp for air, was a nightmare.  But sitting at his bedside while he was in a coma for a week was torture.

Then another miracle happened.  He came out of it without any issues.  His coming so close to dying, and me so close to losing him, made us realize how precious time is.  We stopped taking time for granted and started living life to the fullest, embracing the past, making plans for the future.  The recurring dream was gone, but I was curious. I did some Internet searches and learned that at least ten percent of transplant patients have similar things happen.  Do I believe the dreams were more than steroid dreams?  I guess I do.

Fast forward two years, I met with my editor to talk about future book ideas.  She mentioned that stories about characters facing health issues were popular. But I couldn’t write that. I wrote stories with mystery, maybe a murder, elements of the supernatural and humor. But less than a day later, the plot of This Heart of Mine plopped itself down in my mind and demanded to be written.

So much of Leah’s story mirrored my husband’s. Knowing she was dying, seeing the hurt that caused in those who loved her.  Like Leah, my husband had survivor’s guilt knowing the reason he lived was because someone else died.  The eeriness of the dreams weren’t all fiction. Neither was Leah’s ride to the hospital, struggling to breathe, her mom driving, dying inside with each half gasp from her daughter. I lived a lot of those scenes.  Even the light brushstrokes of humor during the dark times were part of our story.

But mixed in with our own experiences, I’ve created a mystery…

In This Heart of Mine Leah’s donor is accused of killing himself, but Leah’s dreams suggest something different.  Then she learns the identical twin of the donor, Matt,  is having the same dreams she is.  Desperate, she and Matt come together to discover what really happened in the last minutes of his brother’s life. While uncovering dangerous secrets, they discover love.  Leah helps Matt overcome the grief for his brother.  Matt helps Leah learn to live again.  As much as they care about each other, Leah worries that Matt may love her only because she has his brother’s heart.  And if her body ends up rejecting his brother’s heart, will he lose her and his brother all over again?

This was the hardest book I’ve ever written, not because it didn’t flow, but because so much of it flowed with tears.  And when I finished it, I spent that whole day crying.  Yet those tears were somehow different.  They were cathartic. It reinforced the fact that we were survivors, that miracles happen.  And even more, it offered me a chance to let the world know how important it is to sign those donor cards.

Every day people die waiting for an organ.  By signing that card, you could save a parent from the grief and unbearable pain of losing a child.  Or save a spouse from losing the person they have loved for years.  With your death, you can offer someone else life.

I hope you’ll enjoy Leah’s and Matt’s journey, one of overcoming death and grief, uncovering secrets, and finding a love so pure it offers courage to face life’s hardships. It may bring a tear to your eye, but it should offer smiles and lessons of cherishing the time you have with the people you love.  You’ll be swept away by a story of survivors.

So, I hope you’ll pick up a copy of This Heart of Mine. You can order your copy today at AmazonBarnes &NoblePowell’s, Indiebound, Books-A-Million, and iBooks. 

If you have already read THIS HEART OF MINE, who is you favorite character and why?

Brittany’s Book Rambles

March 2, I was invited as a guest to Brittany’ Book Rambles. Brittany asked me a lot of really interesting questions. including my favorite scene from This Heart of Mine. So, I wanted to share this interview with you. Enjoy!

1.What is your writing process like? Are you a plotter or a pantser?

I write most every day.  I’m the type of writer who works best in my office and not at a coffee shop.  I call myself a pantser.  My agent argues with me, saying I always know what’s going to happen in the book.  And yes, I may know the end and a few plot points, but I never write an outline.  I just sit down and start writing.  I love discovering the story as I write.

2. What are the hardest and easiest types of scenes for you to write?

Sad scenes are hard to write.  I tend to cry.  I love writing the scenes with a lot of dialogue.  I love it when my characters are sparring with their words.

3. What is the first book that ever made you cry?

I’m dyslexic and it took me a while to learn to read.  I think I was in fourth grade when I finally completed my first chapter book.  It was Charlotte’s Web. It took me weeks to read it.  I cried when Charlotte died.  I was so mad.

4. Do you have a favorite scene or quote from This Heart of Mine? Do tell!

It’s the first kiss scene.  Leah has an artificial heart and it’s in a backpack with a tube connected to her.  No one has lived longer than four years with the artificial heart.  Since she’s been sick, for over a year, she hasn’t gone to school.  But she’s decided to try to graduate.  As a result, her teachers tutor her at home.  When one teacher can’t make it, she sends Matt, her prize student, instead.  He is an identical twin and Leah’s not sure which twin has come to tutor her.  At first she doesn’t want it, but then well…

He looks up at the clock. “I guess I should be going.”

I want to tell him he doesn’t have to rush off. How sad is it that this is the most fun and the most alive I’ve felt all year?

He stands up. I do the same, then slip on the backpack, always hiding the tube that goes into my side.

He moves down the hall. I follow. I’m staring at his hair, the way it tips up. Again hoping he’s Matt. I’m so into his hair, I don’t notice him swing around.

We run smack-dab into each other.

“Shit.” He grabs me by my shoulders and pulls me against him. “Are you okay?”

His hands are on my upper arms. My breasts are against his chest.

Then bam! I feel something I haven’t felt in a long time. Excitement. My very own I’m-a-girl-and-you’re-a-boy excitement. Not the borrowed thrill I get from reading romances.

I can smell him. Like men’s soap, or deodorant; a little spicy, a lot masculine. The desire to lean in and bury my nose in his shoulder is so strong I have to clinch my hands.

“I’m fine,” I say. Don’t pull away. Don’t pull away. Please don’t pull away.

He doesn’t pull away. He gazes down at me. This close I can see he has gold and green specks in his brown eyes. A voice inside of me says I should step back, but you couldn’t pay me to move. I’m dying. Is it wrong of me to want this?

“I . . . I forgot my books.” The words fall from his lips in an uncertain tone. The pads of his thumbs rubs the insides of my arm. Just the tiniest, softest friction that feels so damn good.

I run my tongue over my bottom lip. “Oh, I . . . I thought you were going to kiss me.” I hear my own words and wonder where I got the balls to say that.

His eyes widen. Not in an oh-crap way, but in a surprised kind of way. “Do you want me to kiss you?”

I grin. “If you’re Matt, I’ve wanted you to kiss me since seventh grade.”

His gaze lowers to my mouth and lingers. “Is your heart strong enough?”

I burst out laughing. “Are you that good of a kisser?”

“Maybe.” A smile crinkles the corners of his eyes. He leans down. His lips are against mine, soft and sweet. I slip into sensory overload. I lean in and open my mouth and ease my tongue between his lips. Yeah, it’s bold, but it’s not like I’ll live long enough to regret it.

His tongue brushes against mine. One hand moves to my waist, the other slides back behind my neck. He gently angles my face to deepen the kiss. I feel it, every contact that is his skin against mine. I feel awesome. So freaking alive.

I get even ballsier and reach up and run my fingers through his hair. It’s even softer than I thought it’d be.

When he pulls back, we’re breathing hard, and we stare at each other. The dazed look in his eyes tells me that this wasn’t a pity kiss. We start inching closer. His lips are almost on mine again when the sound of the front door opening shatters the moment.

5. How much of your real life experiences do you incorporate into your writing? For example, do you base characters on real people?

I always pull from real life.  For example in my Shadow Falls books, every time I killed a villain, it was always my ex.  LOL.  Truthfully, there has been no other book of mine that I’ve put more personal experience into than in This Heart of Mine.  The book is about an organ transplant recipient, and my husband had a kidney transplant four years ago.  So much of the hurt, the facing death, and then having a life saved because of a transplant, all came from my husband’s experience.  Even the mystical thread that goes through the book when Leah starts having dreams that feel like they are from the donor came from his experience.

6. Which authors and books have influenced you the most?

I love romance.  I love stories that spark that feeling of falling in love all over again, but I also love a little mystery.  When I first started writing, I read Susan E. Phillips.  Then I started really enjoying stories with a touch of mystery or suspense.

7.  What is one material possession you can’t live without?

I hate to admit it, but it’s my phone.  I’m not on it at all times, but if I accidentally leave it at the house, I panic.

8. What fictional character (that is not your own) do you identify with most, and why? Could be from a book, TV show, movie, etc.

There are two that I sort of identify with.  Melinda Gordon (Jennifer Love Hewitt in Ghost Whisperer), who has the ability to see and communicate with ghosts. Yes, I’m always sensing someone is trying to communicate with me.  That’s why most of my work has some sixth sense in them.  And then I really loved Kristen Bell in Veronica Mars.  Like her, I’m always looking at life trying to find a mystery to solve.

9. What’s next for you? What are you working on now?

I’m actually working on two new young adult books right now.  One is the second book in my The Mortician’s Daughter series, Two Feet Under and one I have tentatively titled In Another Life.  It’s a story about a girl who discovers an age progression photo that looks just like her. The girl was supposedly kidnapped as a toddler.  What if everything you thought you knew about your family was a lie? It has sold to Wednesday Books, but we don’t have pub. date on it yet.

Have you read This Heart of Mine? Who is your favorite character?

If you haven’t read This Heart of Mine, order it today at  AmazonBarnes &NoblePowell’s, Indiebound, Books-A-Million, and iBooks.

 

 

Inspiration, Writing and Childhood Memories

In February, Jean the Book Nerd was kind enough to feature This Heart of Mine on her blog. She also asked me several interesting question in her interview, and I thought I’d share it with you.

  1. What were your inspirations for the character development?

The plot of This Heart of Mine came from the thought of writing a book about a girl getting a transplant.  The story was born from personal experience.  My husband had recently had a transplant.  So I took a lot of the difficulties, the pain, and the emotion that my husband went through and created a girl with enough gumption to deal with all that it entailed. Once I got into her head and figured out her likes and dislikes, her quirks, what made her laugh, what made her cry, she just blossomed.

  1. Was there a particular event or time that you recognized that writing was not just a hobby.

Good question.  The first book I wrote, I wrote with nothing but gumption.  I really didn’t know how to write a book. I’m dyslexic and lacked the educational background so many authors had. I was someone who never really excelled at anything, and who never really had a passion. I wasn’t good in sports, wasn’t good in school, and had no musical talent. I hadn’t even read a lot because it was so hard. But since I was ten years old, what I had done in lieu of reading was create stories in my head.

When I started writing, I found my passion. I can’t say I was great at it, but I was pretty good.  My passion gave me the willpower to start learning and growing.  I forced myself to start reading.  Studying books.  And in 1988, I entered my very first contest.  It was the Golden Heart contest, a huge contest for romance.  When I finaled, I was validated.  I knew this was what I was meant to do.  From then on, I wrote with purpose. I wrote believing that eventually, I would make it a career.

  1. What was your unforgettable moment while writing This Heat of Mine?

This Heart of Mine is my 38th published book.  I had a set writing schedule, sort of regular hours, but when I started writing this book, it grabbed me by my throat and wouldn’t let me go.  One night, only a few days into writing this book, I went to check my email before bed.  I read the last paragraph I’d written that day and thought of good line.  Then, I couldn’t stop writing.  And I couldn’t stop crying because the scene was so close to what my husband and I had endured.  I just fell into the story.  I think I wrote like thirty five pages that night. I suddenly heard my husband clear his throat.  He said, “I’m going to assume you are writing, and the reason you are sobbing is because it’s a sad scene.  But it’s four in the morning, and I just wanted to make sure you aren’t having an online affair.”  He was joking, and we still laugh about it.

  1. What part of Leah did you enjoy writing the most?

I loved watching her learn to live again and fall in love for the very first time. I loved watching her realize she had an opinion and she should let it be known.  I’ve written a lot of love stories, but Leah’s and Matt’s story left me breathless at times.  They both helped each other survive something so difficult.  I know it sounds crazy, but sometimes my characters teach me something or reinforce something.  Leah and this story reinforced the importance of how precious time is.  And how we should cherish every moment we have with those we love.

  1. What was the most surprising thing you learned in creating Matt?

That the human spirit is amazingly strong and love is thing that can give us strength.  Matt lost his father and shortly after that, he lost his identical twin brother.  At times, all he could feel was grief.  But through love, love of his mother, love of Leah, he overcame the darkness of grief, and began to embrace hope and joy.

  1. What’s your favorite thing to do on a Sunday afternoon?

It’s a tossup.  I love to read, curl up somewhere really comfortable and lose myself in a story.  I also love sitting outside on the porch—if weather permits— sipping a glass of wine and chatting with friends.

  1. What is your happiest childhood memory?

I loved going to my grandmother’s house.  She was the kind of grandmother who made chores fun.  We would go pick strawberries out the garden, or we’d go for a walk in the woods.  Or we’d make fudge.  She always made me feel special.  And I didn’t get that a lot being the middle child between two brothers who excelled at everything.

  1. If you wrote a journal entry today, what would it say?

 Deep breath.  Deep breath.  Too many books to read, and write, and not enough time.  Just stay balanced.  You can do it.  You can.

Right now I’m contracted for five books, so I stay busy.  It’s good thing I love doing this!


I hope you’ve read This Heart of Mine by now. So tell me what did you like most about Leah? How about Matt?

If you haven’t read This Heart of Mine yet, what are you waiting for? Maybe you want to read an excerpt first? Well, you can HERE. Order your copy today at AmazonBarnes &NoblePowell’s, Indiebound, Books-A-Million, and iBooks.