Great Books and A Giveaway!

I’ve been trying to clean my office.  Yes, it’s a mess.  Mostly, it’s a book mess.  I have way to many books. The problem is that when I try to decide which books to donate to the library and which to keep, it’s pure torture. It feels as if I’m giving away friends.  And then there’re the books that have been in my to-be-read pile that I swore I would read before now, but somehow another book, or another deadline, got in the way.  And when I find them I clutch them to my chest and promise soon.

Some of them I may have mentioned before.  And some books I haven’t.  But for today’s blog I thought I’d post about the friends on my  bookshelves that are either on my keeper shelf or on my gonna-read-this-soon shelf.

Soulmated by Shaila Patel

**Winner of the 2015 Chanticleer Book Reviews Paranormal Awards in YA**

Two souls. One Fate.

Eighteen-year-old Liam Whelan, an Irish royal empath, is being forced to search for his elusive soulmate. The rare union will cement his family’s standing in empath politics and afford the couple legendary powers, while also making them targets of those seeking to oust them.

Laxshmi Kapadia, an Indian-American high school student from a traditional family, faces her mother’s ultimatum: Graduate early and go to medical school, or commit to an arranged marriage.

When Liam moves next door to Laxshmi, he’s immediately and inexplicably drawn to her. In Liam, Laxshmi envisions a future with the freedom to follow her heart.

Liam’s father isn’t convinced Laxshmi is “The One” and Laxshmi’s mother won’t even let her talk to their handsome new neighbor. Will Liam and Laxshmi defy expectations and embrace a shared destiny? Or is the risk of choosing one’s own fate too great a price for the soulmated?

Twelve Steps to Normal by Farrah Penn

James Patterson presents this emotionally resonant novel that shows that while some broken things can’t be put back exactly the way they were, they can be repaired and made even stronger.
Kira’s Twelve Steps To A Normal Life
 
1. Accept Grams is gone.
2. Learn to forgive Dad.
3. Steal back ex-boyfriend from best friend…
 
And somewhere between 1 and 12, realize that when your parent’s an alcoholic, there’s no such thing as “normal.”
When Kira’s father enters rehab, she’s forced to leave everything behind–her home, her best friends, her boyfriend…everything she loves. Now her father’s sober (again) and Kira is returning home, determined to get her life back to normal…exactly as it was before she was sent away.
But is that what Kira really wants?
Life, love, and loss come crashing together in this visceral, heartfelt story by BuzzFeed writer Farrah Penn about a girl who struggles to piece together the shards of her once-normal life before his alcoholism tore it apart.

Haven by Mary Lindsey

“We all hold a beast inside. The only difference is what form it takes when freed.”

Rain Ryland has never belonged anywhere. He’s used to people judging him for his rough background, his intimidating size, and now, his orphan status. He’s always been on the outside, looking in, and he’s fine with that. Until he moves to New Wurzburg and meets Friederike Burkhart. 

Freddie isn’t like normal teen girls, though. And someone wants her dead for it. Freddie warns he’d better stay far away if he wants to stay alive, but Rain’s never been good at running from trouble. For the first time, Rain has something worth fighting for, worth living for. Worth dying for.

Not the Girl You’re Looking For by Aminah Mae Safi 

Lulu Saad doesn’t need your advice, thank you very much. She’s got her three best friends and nothing can stop her from conquering the known world. Sure, for half a minute she thought she’d nearly drowned a cute guy at a party, but he was totally faking it. And fine, yes, she caused a scene during Ramadan. It’s all under control. Ish.

Except maybe this time she’s done a little more damage than she realizes. And if Lulu can’t find her way out of this mess soon, she’ll have to do more than repair friendships, family alliances, and wet clothing. She’ll have to go looking for herself.

Debut author Aminah Mae Safi’s honest and smart novel is about how easy it can be to hurt those around you even if —especially if—you love them.

This book doesn’t come out until June 19, 2018, but I was lucky enough to read an ARC. You can pre-order it now.

Giveaway!!

And today I’m giving away a copy of Twelve Steps to Normal and a copy of Haven to two people who tell me about their fictional friends on their bookshelves. (Sorry, but I have to limit this giveaway to U.S. residents.)

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.