About CC

C.C. Hunter

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.

 

First Love

Do you remember your first love? I do. And psychologists say, that most of us do. So why are first loves so unforgettable? Why does our memory of our first love stay with us? Well, according to Psychology Today, “Life changing is how ‘in-love’ feels in adolescence because it is a far more moving and compelling relationship than the young people have known before. The experience is all consuming — so each is always on the other’s mind…They are highly sensitized to each other — so both are alert to subtle interpersonal signals and are easily hurt by small slights from each other. The intimacy is deeper than with anyone else..”

In This Heart of Mine, Leah has had a crush on Matt for years. When they join forces to discover what really happened to his brother, Eric, an attraction between them grows. But even when Matt kisses her and they become a couple, Leah is still filled with doubts. She wonders if Matt only likes her because she has his brother’s heart. Or maybe because he thinks she can help him solve the mystery of Eric’s death. She is constantly reading things into Matt’s actions and wondering where their love will lead. Leah isn’t alone in her feelings.

Falling in love for the first time is a pretty exciting time, but it’s also common to have lots of insecurities about the relationship. I can remember wondering if my first boyfriend was going to dump me because of another girl or something I did or didn’t do. And I still remember him—just maybe not in a good way.  But many people carry a torch for their first love for years, maybe forever. There are even stories of people reuniting with their first loves many years later, but that’s not very common. For most of us our first love is the one that awakened our emotions and showed us how much we can feel. So no matter how the relationship ended, the intensity of the relationship lingers.

Do you remember your first love? Do you still think about him/her?

Read more about Leah and Matt as they put themselves in danger while trying to discover the truth—and fall in love along the way—in This Heart of Mine. You can order your copy today at AmazonBarnes &NoblePowell’s, Indiebound, Books-A-Million, and iBooks. 

THIS HEART OF MINE Reviews Are In!

What an exciting week it’s been! On Feb 28th, This Heart of Mine was released. Since then, I’ve been around Texas for book signings in Houston, Yokum and Dallas. I’ve got more events scheduled, and you can find out if I’m coming to your area on my Events page.

So now that This Heart of Mine is released, the reviews are out, and I just thought I’d share some of them with you. But remember, if you’ve read This Heart of Mine, please be so kind as to leave a review on Goodreads. Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.

“Hunter’s portrayals of the characters and their emotions, and of Leah’s life that walks so close to death, are genuine and full of the hard truths of living with chronic illness…Writing from personal experience, Hunter delivers a read that’s both absorbing and honest.” –Kirkus reviews

“Teens will love the emotional twists and turns…the mystery of the dead communicating with the living through dreams and memories will grip readers and leave them guessing until the very end. With so many unanswered questions and tons of suspense, teens will be on the edge of their seats, eager to know the mystery held within Leah’s heart.”—School Library Journal

This Heart of Mine is a story of loss, grief, friendship and love. I loved this journey.”—The Monitor (McAllen, TX)

”I so didn’t know what I was getting into with this title. But man was it amazing.”—Crossroad Reviews

This Heart of Mine is a moving young-adult novel about life, death, and grief.”–Popsugar

This Heart of Mine is a genuine portrayal of life of a teenage girl living with chronic illness with a dose of mystery.”—Black Plume

“I was addicted from page one!”—New York Times bestselling author P.C. Cast

“Heartbreaking and heroic. Hunter’s characters will leave you breathless and flipping the pages for more.”—New York Times bestselling author Kristin Cast

“Overall, it was a really great read that makes me excited to see what C.C. Hunter will write next!”—Sue’s Reading Corner

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. 

THIS HEART OF MINE

I can’t describe the feeling I get every time a book of mine releases. I’m over the moon, but always apprehensive. After all, I want to put out a book my fans will love. This Heart of Mine releases today, and I know you’re gonna love this one! As I have said before, this book is probably the most personal book I’ve ever written. I always put some of me, my life and the people I know into each book, but with This Heart of Mine, I really plagiarized from my life—BIG TIME!

You see, I know how Leah felt facing death, knowing if she didn’t get a heart transplant (which was unlikely) that she would die. My husband needed a new kidney several years ago. Because of the damage dialysis did to his heart, it wasn’t likely he’d get a transplant either. But then we got “the call,” the one telling us there was a donor, the one that saved his life. My husband got his kidney transplant. That kidney also came with some wild dreams.  For several days after his transplant, my husband had a recurring dream: he’d wake up and an older man would be staring him in the face. When we found out the donor was a sixty-five year old man, it gave us goose bumps!  So when Leah starts having dreams about her heart donor after the transplant, well that’s a page from the book of our life.  But there’s where Leah’s story becomes her own, because her dreams come with a mystery to solve.  With the help of her donor’s cute twin brother, Matt, Leah sets off to solve a murder, and maybe fall in love and learns to live again along the way.

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

AUDIO NEWS!!!

This Heart of Mine is also available as an audio book. You can listen to a sample HERE.

A new heart saved her life—but will it help her find out what really happened to its donor? 

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?

Winner!

The winner of my This Heart of Mine bracelet and door hanger giveaway on last week’s blog is Analisa Garza Lawhon. Congratulations! Please email me at cc@cchunterbooks.com with your postal address.

Identical Twins

I’m talking about bonds again this week, but this time, I wanted to talk about the bond between siblings. I know a lot of people who are really close to their siblings.  But I’ve always been intrigued about the bond that is shared between Identical twins.  Stories where one is hurt and the other feels the pain.  In This Heart of Mine, Matt and Eric are identical twins. When Matt’s brother Eric dies of an apparent suicide, Matt knows in his heart there’s a lot more to it. He is certain his brother is trying to tell him something, even from the grave.

The bond between twins is unique on many levels. Twins that grow up in the same environment are going to have a strong bond no matter what. Science has shown that babies start learning even inside the womb and start a catalog of smells, sounds, and physical feelings even before birth. Identical twins experience identical pregnancies, and it’s not unusual for identical twins to share a psychic connection. Studies have shown that one in five pairs of identical twin claim to have experienced this connection. There have even been reports of identical twins having moments where one will experience the same feelings (physical and/or mental) as the other, even from separate continents.

So, when Matt suddenly finds himself without his brother, his best friend, he feels like he’s missing a part of himself. He begins having dreams about Eric, and he knows Eric wants to tell him what really happened to him. Then when he discovers Leah, the recipient of Eric’s heart, is having the same dreams about Eric, he’s even more certain of this. Together, Leah and Matt set out to find the truth—and maybe heal each other along the way. But both Matt and Leah have to wonder if what they feel for each other is just because of the connection they both have to Eric’s heart.  It’s a story that will break your heart and then heal it.

Do you have a sibling that you are close to?  What kind of bond do you have?

This Heart of Mine releases on Feb 27th, but you can pre-order it now at AmazonBarnes & NobleBooks-A-MillionPowell’s, Indiebound and iBooks. 

Giveaway!!

Have you pre-ordered This Heart of Mine? Let me know by leaving a comment telling me you have, and you’ll be entered to win this beautiful This Heart of Mine bracelet and a door hanger. I’ll announce the winner next week. (Sorry, but this giveaway is for U.S. residents only.)

Winner!

Congratulations, Kira Moericke! You’re last week’s winner of an advanced copy of This Heart of Mine. Please email me at cc@cchunterbooks.com with you postal address.

Where Can You Meet Me?

Feb. 26, 2018, I’ll be signing THIS HEART OF MINE at Blue Willow Bookshop, 14532 Memorial Dr., Houston, TX at 6:30 PM.  I’m giving away a basket with a journal, a bracelet, and a deck of cards.  The first 20 people who buy a book will get a tote. I’ll also have door prizes! For more info go to http://www.bluewillowbookshop.com/.

Feb. 24, 2018, Nikki Lofton and I are teaching writing workshops at Carl & Mary Welhausen Library in Yokum, TX. It’s FREE & OPEN TO THE PUBLIC, Pre-registration Suggested (361) 293-5001.

March 5, 2018, I’ll be celebrating the release of THIS HEART OF MINE and signing at Interabang Book Store in Dallas, Texas, at 7:00 PM.  I’m giving away a basket with a journal, a bracelet, and a deck of cards.  The first 20 people who buy a book will get a tote. For more info go to https://www.interabangbooks.com/event/heart-mine.

March 22, 2018, I’ll be at Katy Budget Books in Katy, TX with fellow YA author Farrah Penn.  I’m giving away a basket with a journal, a bracelet, and a deck of cards.  The first 20 people who buy a book will get a tote. For more info go to  http://www.katybooks.com/.

April 5, 2018, I’ll be in Dallas at the Texas Library Association Conference. If you’re a librarian, I hope I’ll see you there! For more info go to http://www.txla.org/annual-conference.

April 13, 2018, I’ll be speaking at North Central Texas College. (http://www.nctc.edu/visit/index.html)

April 21, 2018, I’ll be teaching at the Georgia RWA, 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Join me for my Build a Character, Build a Book Workshop. You must pre-register by April 14th. For more info go to http://www.georgiaromancewriters.org/meetings/april-meeting/.

June 9, 2018, I’ll be teaching a workshop on how to put more emotion on the page at the West Houston RWA. For more info and to register go to http://www.whrwa.com/.

July 18-21, 2018, I’m looking forward to the RWA National Conference in Denver, Colorado. It’s great conference for writers, and there’s always a huge book signing (500+ authors!) OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. For more info go to https://www.rwa.org/events.

November 3, 2018, I’ll be in Austin, Texas at The Origin Event along with a host of other authors. Tickets for this event are on sale now. Don’t wait to buy your tickets, this sells out! For more info go to http://theoriginevent.com/introducing-the-origin-event-2018/.

Family Bonds and a Giveaway!

The special bond shared between a mother and daughter is the one place in all the world where hearts can be sure of each other. Like branches on a tree, we may grow in different directions, but our roots remain one.

Last week, I talked about the bond between friends.  This week, I want to talk about the bond between a mother and a daughter, or even between a mother and a son.  Now in most of my books, I show that parents aren’t perfect.  And that’s not fiction.  Parents are humans, too.  They make mistakes. They judge too quickly.  They become over protective to try to prevent their kids from making mistakes, forgetting that sometimes the best way to learn is to make a mistake or two.  Or parents push a child in one direction, when it’s not the direction their child wants to go.

Remember Kylie’s mom?  She came off as an Ice Queen until the two of them found their way back to each other.  Kylie’s Dad had a mega flaw. But eventually, Kylie even learned to forgive him.  Della’s parents jumped to conclusions—especially her dad, and that broke Della’s heart.  I swear, I almost killed him in Unspoken.  I was so mad at him.

As teens, you get mad at your parents.  I don’t think you are always right, but neither are the parents.  Right now, I look back at my own parenting style and wish I could have changed a few things.  I can also look back at some of the advice my parents gave me, and I realize I could have saved myself a lot of pain if I’d listened.

That said, in This Heart of Mine, the parental relationships are a little different.  Matt’s mom is drowning in grief over the loss of her husband.  She hurts so badly, she doesn’t realize how badly her children are hurting.  Seeing their mother and son relationship being torn apart by grief broke my heart, but watching them find their way back together was so inspiring.

The real kicker of a bond that brought me to tears many times while writing this book was the bond between Leah and her parents.  You see Leah accepts she’s dying.  Her parents can’t accept it, but it’s killing them knowing it will probably be the outcome.  Believe me, unless you watched someone you love face probable death, watched them get sicker and sicker, that pain probably isn’t completely understandable.  And seeing them get that second chance is so mind blowing.  Because I lived through that with my husband, writing about it was so close to home for me.

But I have to tell you, I think even worse than facing that pain with a spouse would be facing it with a child.  Parents aren’t supposed to see their children die.  That’s just in the BIG RULE book in the sky.  And I count my lucky stars that both my children are healthy.

There is one scene where Leah’s mom is talking to Leah about putting her on birth control because Leah’s relationship with Matt is getting serious.  And you know how hard that subject is with your parents.  Leah doesn’t want to have it, but she knows she needs to.  Her mother doesn’t want to have it because she doesn’t want to think her daughter is ready.  Here’s an excerpt that shows both Leah and her mom dealing with this tender subject.

“I’m not having sex with him,” I blurt out. Don’t leave it there. Don’t leave it there. “But . . .”

“But what?” my mom asks.

“But I’m almost eighteen and . . .” I can’t say more, and not because it’s about sex but because . . . it’s months away. After thinking I was dying for so long, I’m barely thinking a week at a time.

I take a deep, shaky breath. Don’t be afraid to take a chance. Win or lose. That’s what life is, a bunch of chances.

“Maybe it’s not a bad idea,” I finally finish.

Mom’s pupils dilate. I don’t know if it’s disappointment or shock. Part of me feels she’s about to ground me.

“I’ll . . . make you an appointment. I just don’t want . . . Being on birth control doesn’t mean you should do something before you’re ready.”

“I won’t.” I’m shocked it was this easy.

She nods. I glance at the door. “I should go and start . . .” I don’t want to lie, so I let her assume I mean packing, but I really want to talk to Matt.

And announcing I need to speak to Matt feels like a bad idea. She might think I’m going to tell him about the birth control. I’m so not going to tell him about birth control. But right then I realize I like thinking I’m moving in that direction. I kind of like this elusive thing called a future. I’d really like Matt to be in it.

“Go,” she says.

I stand, but before I even turn she’s up and has me in a big bear hug. “My little girl is growing up and I’m not sure I’m ready.” She pulls back. Tears are in her eyes. “I still want to comb your hair and put it up in pigtails.

I smile. “And dress me in pink.”

She nods and then says, “What’s wrong with pink?”

It’s now or never. “Pink isn’t my best color.”

She looks surprised. “But I thought you . . . What about your room?”

“It’s great.” I say quickly. Too quickly.

She hears my lie. “You wouldn’t have chosen pink?”

“No, but—”

“Well, shit!” she says.

I gasp dramatically. “Just because I curse, doesn’t mean you can.”

We laugh together. “We’ll do something about your room. You can pick it out this time.”

I know she paid a fortune for all the pink. “Maybe next . . .” The word years catches on my tonsils. “Later.”

She brushes my hair off my cheek. Her eyes sparkle with mama emotion. “As much as I hate to see you grow up, less than a year ago my worst fear was that you wouldn’t. Just promise me you’ll make wise choices.”

Choices and chances. I think that’s what having a future is all about. I promise, and I mean it. This is my second or perhaps my third chance at life. I don’t want to screw it up. I know not every choice I make is going to pan out. But I’ll never know unless I try.

Giveaway!

So, do you and your parents have a bond? Tell me about it and you could win an advanced copy of This Heart of Mine. (Sorry, but this giveaway is for U.S. residents only.)

This Heart of Mine is up for preorder at AmazonBarnes & NobleBooks-A-MillionPowell’s, Indiebound and iBooks. 

Winners!

I have five winners of my Name That Dog newsletter contest. Yes, five fans sent in the same name that I chose. So the winners are Heather Renee Contreras, Lori McVicar, Janine.Crawford, Melissa Ownsbey and Peyton Lapato.  I had a newsletter contest to name the dog in my next book.  I liked Buttercup the best. So, thanks, ladies! If you haven’t subscribed to my newsletter, do it now. You’ll hear all my latest news, and be able to enter my very special newsletter contests. You can sign up HERE.