Book Fests and a Giveaway!!

I love meeting my fans. I enjoy chatting with them and answering their questions. Some tell me how my books affected their life. How the issues my characters were facing felt similar to the issues they faced in their own lives. Others have specific questions for me or for my characters.  Some just want to get their book signed and snap a selfie with me. Whatever connection they feel to my work, I really have a great time meeting them. It’s probably my favorite part of being an author. What’s the best way to do that? Well, I have book signings at book stores and I attend book fairs, conferences and events with other authors. I also speak at middle and high schools.

And I’ve got some of my favorite events coming up…

On November 3rd, I’ll be at The Origin Event in Austin, TX. I’ll be there with a host of other authors, and we’ll all be signing our books—and chatting with our fans. There will also be bags of swag given out to attendees. This one usually sells out, so get your tickets now.

Then, Feb. 1st, I’ll be back at Teen Book Fest by the Bay at the American Bank Center in Corpus Christi, TX.  I’ll be there with over 50 other YA authors. I’ve been going to this fest every year for a while now. I go back because it’s always a lot of fun.  This event is FREE.

On May 15-19th, I’ll be in the Big Easy. That’s right, I’ll be at the Book Lovers Con in New Orleans, LA. They’re calling this the “Ultimate Reader Experience” with lots of events like Voodoo Vampire, an evening of dinner and dancing with the undead and the huge Book Bash Book Signing.

 

 

 

 

 

Have you ever been to a book festival? Which one? Do you attend author’s book signings? If you and I met up at a book festival, what question would you ask me?   I’ll give away a tote filled with book swag to one person who tells me the question they would like to ask.  And I’ll try to answer these questions in the next few blogs. (Sorry, this giveaway is limited to U.S. residents only.)

Writing Advice

Every now and then I like to give some writing advice on my blog because so many of my readers are also writers. I also get a lot of emails from young (and not so young) fans asking for advice.  So here’s a handout for a talk I give about five things to know before you cozy up to the computer and start writing.

Five Things You Need to Know About Writing Before You Get to Work

By C.C. Hunter

Point of View–POV

POV basically means who is telling your story.  Whose head are you in during this particular moment, in this particular scene?  That is your POV character.  Think of your POV character as your camera, your recording device, and your only method of gathering story data.  If your POV character can’t see it, you can’t describe it for your readers.  If they can’t hear it, you can’t let your readers hear it.  If your POV character doesn’t know it, you can’t tell it to the reader.  If your character wouldn’t think that way, then you can’t write that way.

Goals

What are your character’s goals?  What does she/he want right now and does this goal tie in to what he/she wants as a long term story goal?  Is the goal hero/heroine worthy?  In other words, wanting to become a cheerleader so you can be popular is not a worthy goal for a heroine/hero.  But wanting to become a cheerleader so you can finally feel as if you fit in at your new school . . . that is a hero/heroine worthy goal.

Motivation

The most important question to ask your characters is “Why?”  Why do they do what they do?  Why do they want what they want?  Why do they fear what they fear?  Generally, the answer to the “why” questions will lead you to your character’s motivation.  In real life, sometimes we don’t always understand why we do things.  Sometimes in our books, the “why” may not be clear to the characters, but it definitely needs to be clear to the reader.  The reason for this is simple.  It is human nature to want to understand what motivates people.  If a reader can’t understand the reason your characters are reacting and acting in certain ways, they may not believe in them.

Think about it this way:  Motivation leads to caring.  When an action is good, understanding the “why” behind the action increases the reader’s anticipation of seeing the character achieve his or her goal.

Motivation also leads to understanding. When a character’s actions or emotions are somewhat misguided, hard to grasp, or lean toward the unethical (lying, breaking a law, behaving badly), motivation becomes even more important.

Conflict

A writer’s job is to be mean to their characters.  To say no to everything the character wants and make him/her work harder.  Every story, every scene in a story, needs conflict to be interesting.

Hooks

If you want a reader to read your book, you need an opening hook.  But that’s not all.  You also need an ending hook to every scene.  And you need chapter hooks, too.  So, what is a hook?  A hook is basically anything that instills curiosity or a question in a reader’s mind.  It is the thing that propels the reader to turn the page and keep reading.  It can be new or an unexpected piece of information.  It can be a startling action.  i.e., She looked up and saw the eighteen-wheeler coming right at her.   It can be a character about to come to a conclusion, or even a character internally asking a question that will lead to a realization that puts everything into a different perspective.   i.e., If Johnny showed up today, it would mean he cared.  But if he didn’t show up…What would that mean?

So tell me, are you a writer or do you want to become a writer?

 

 

 

What Are You Reading?

There are quite a few recently released books that have a lot of buzz. I’m always on the lookout for a new author, someone I’ve never heard of. I’m also keeping an eye on what some of my favorite authors are releasing. Here’s what I’m reading at the moment.

Shattered Souls by Mary Lindsey

I just finished reading this one. I really enjoyed this spooky tale of a girl who can talk to the dead.

A thrilling debut story of death, love, destiny, and danger.

Lenzi hears voices and has visions – gravestones, floods, a boy with steel gray eyes. Her boyfriend, Zak, can’t help, and everything keeps getting louder and more intense. Then Lenzi meets Alden, the boy from her dreams, who reveals that she’s a reincarnated Speaker – someone who can talk to and help lost souls – and that he has been her Protector for centuries.

Now Lenzi must choose between her life with Zak and the life she is destined to lead with Alden. But time is running out: a malevolent spirit is out to destroy Lenzi, and he will kill her if she doesn’t make a decision soon.

More Than We Can Tell by Brigid Kemmerer

I’m getting ready to read this book and I can’t wait. I loved her Letters to the Lost.

With loving adoptive parents by his side, Rev Fletcher has managed to keep the demons of his past at bay. . . until he gets a letter from his abusive father and the trauma of his childhood comes hurtling back.

Emma Blue’s parents are constantly fighting, and her only escape is the computer game she built from scratch. But when a cruel online troll’s harassment escalates, she not only loses confidence but starts to fear for her safety.

When Rev and Emma meet, they’re both longing to lift the burden of their secrets. They connect instantly and deeply, promising to help each other no matter what. But soon Rev and Emma’s secrets threaten to crush them, and they’ll need more than a promise to find their way out.

From the author of Letters to the Lost comes a new compulsively readable story for fans of Nicola Yoon.

 

So tell me, what are you reading?

Winner!!

The winner of a tote filled with swag is Morgan Ann. Congratulations! Please email me at cc@cchunterbooks.com with your mailing address.

Suspense Giveaway!

Give me a little suspense.  A big dose of danger.  Maybe even a murder and I’m glued to the page or the movie screen.

I sometimes feel as if I need to join a support group called ID Anonymous and stand up in a room and admit I’m an ID addict.  You see, I’m addicted to the ID channel.  I can stay up until two in the morning watching Forty-Eight Hours and the Cold Case shows. I love sifting through the evidence and trying to figure out who did it and see how the bad guys are caught. 

Suspense has played a part in almost every book I’ve ever written.  All young adult novels, that I write as C.C. Hunter, have suspense. All my Christie Craig books that I write have suspense.  I just started a new series, Texas Justice, it’s an adult thriller and the first book, Don’t Close Your Eyes, is released today.  Now this is not a young adult book, but for my older C.C. Hunter fans, you might want to pick it up. The ebook is on sale for only $2.99. 

Yes, you might call me a thrill seeker, an ambulance chaser, but I just like the safe thrills I get while turning pages, or writing pages.

Remember the suspense woven through the Shadow Falls series?  I loved watching Kylie solve the mysteries of the ghosts.  And Della actually worked the crime cases while working for the FRU, the supernatural version of the FBI.  Even Miranda’s story was about catching the bad guys.

There was a crime in This Heart of Mine that was solved. One that put Matt and Leah in danger.  And in The Mortician’s Daughter, there’s a new crime to solve in every book.

Writing that sense of danger, the unearthing of a crime, and outwitting a villain plays a big part in my new young adult thriller, In Another Life, that will release March 26, 2019.  You can even preorder now at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Indie Bound and Powells.

 

 

Wanna Meet Me?

Sept. 1st, I’ll be at Katy Budget Books with the incredibly talented Sharla Lovelace. I’ll be signing my new Christie Craig romantic suspense, Don’t Close Your Eyes, but I’ll also be signing my YAs The Mortician’s Daughter and This Heart of Mine. Sharla will be signing Charmed at First Sight, her new romance. We’ll be there from 3:00-5:00 PM. I hope you’ll join us. There will be loads of giveaways!

Giveaway!!!

Today, I’ll give away another C.C. Hunter tote bag filled with SWAG, promotional items to one person who tells me one of your healthy addictions.  Is there a show you love?  A food you can’t say no to?  A type of book you just can’t put down? (Sorry, U.S. residents only. If you’re reading this on Goodreads, you must leave a comment on my blog to enter.)

 

 

Winner!!

The winner of last week’s giveaway, another tote filled with swag is Sarita Blackmon. Sarita, send me an email at cc@cchunterbooks.com and give me your mailing address and I’ll send you your swag.

Swag Giveaway!

We all like free stuff, right? We go to a conference or event and someone is giving away free promotional items, otherwise known as swag, and we love it. Or maybe you’ve entered one of my giveaways where I’m giving away swag for one of my books.

Some things are more popular swag, like pens—who can’t use a pen? Some are more sought after like wine openers or tote bags. In the past I’ve done everything from slap bracelets to t-shirts.  For my Christie Craig books I’ve done pizza cutters and even wine glasses.

When I shop for swag, I look for something I think my fans would want to keep.  Not just something with a title or my name on it.  That’s why I like the little notepads with matching pens that you can drop in your purse.  Another favorite of mine is a fingernail file.

A lot of authors look at swag as a selling tool.  Personally, I haven’t bought a book solely because of swag.  Have you?  I buy books for the author, or if someone recommends it.  I personally see swag as sort of gift to my fans and my street team.

Now it’s getting time to buy some more swag for my upcoming books.  And I want to know what kind of swag do you prefer?  If you get a T-shirt from an author, do you wear it?  As fans of C.C. Hunter what would you like to get from me?

This is just some of the swag I’ve given away.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Giveaway!!

Leave me a comment of your thoughts on swag, what you like, what you don’t like, and you’ll be entered to win a C.C. Hunter tote bag with all kinds of swag I’ve bought over the years. (Sorry, this giveaway is limited to U.S. residents. If you’r reading this on Goodreads, you must go to my blog to enter: http://cchunterbooks.com/blog/.)

Winner!!

The winner of last week’s giveaway, an ebook of Lea Nolan’s Conjure is Katherine Bonine. Congratulations! You’re gonna LOVE this book. Please email me at cc@cchunterbooks.com and tell me if you prefer the Kindle or NOOK version.

YA Author Lea Nolan

I’m so pleased to have Lea Nolan, author of the Hoodoo Apprentice series as my guest. The series is about Emma Guthrie, her twin brother Jack and their friend Cooper who discover a treasure and unwittingly unleash an ancient Gullah curse that attacks Jack and promises to steal Cooper’s soul. Emma has to learn hoodoo magic and risk her life to save her friends. I love, love love this series!

Lea agreed to sit down with me and answer a few questions.

  1. In your Hoodoo Magic series your main character, Emma Guthrie, needs to learn hoodoo magic to save her friends. What exactly is hoodoo magic?

I’m so glad you asked! Hoodoo is a uniquely American folk-magic primarily practiced in the southern US that is a blend of African-American, Native American, and European magic systems. It is most often associated with the Gullah people of the Sea Islands off the coasts of South Carolina and Georgia, but others practice it too. In hoodoo, practitioners use herbs and roots, along with some minerals and animal curios such as feathers, chicken bones, alligator paws and teeth for a variety of ends. A unique blend of Christianity, herbalism, and folk magic, Hoodoo can be used as a healing medicine but is also employed as a practical magic to protect against evil, bring love, draw money, assure personal success, or lay jinxes. Sometimes Hoodoo is confused with Voodoo. They couldn’t be more different. Voodoo is a religion that is predominantly practiced in the Caribbean, New Orleans, and “Santería” in Cuba.

I spent a lot of time researching Hoodoo because I wanted to faithfully represent it and be respectful to its practitioners. All of the spells that appear in CONJURE and the other books in the series are based on authentic Hoodoo rootwork. If you’re interested in learning more, check out Hoodoo Herb and Root Magic: A Materia Magica of African-American Conjure byCatherine Yronwode and the Lucky Mojo Curio Company.

  1. You grew up on Long Island and now live in Maryland and say you love the water too much to live inland. You’re a girl after my own heart! What is it about the water that you find so appealing?

Oh, I love the peace and tranquility I feel whenever I’m around or in water. It speaks to a deep place in my soul and helps to center me. I even enjoy watching the sea during a storm or just after one. The raw, churning power is truly awesome. And who can resist watching the sun rise or set over the water? Whenever I’m fortunate enough to see either of those, I’m filled with gratitude.

  1. Besides Young Adult, you also write contemporary romance. Do you favor one genre over another? Is it difficult for you to switch genres?

I do write both and it’s honestly very difficult to pick a favorite. In many ways YA feels like my home genre. It’s what I first started writing and it brings me back to my own teens when I was a voracious reader. YA is great because you get to explore all the firsts—first kisses, hand holds, crushes, and sometimes heartbreaks. Also, there are fewer limits on what you can do in a book for teens. It’s acceptable to mash genres, like romance, paranormal, and suspense elements, while also tackling tough coming-of-age issues. On the other hand, contemporary romance is great because I get to focus on grown-up characters with grown-up problems who are looking for the one person in the world who will make them whole and give them their happily ever after. The hardest thing about switching between genres is the tense change. For YA I write in first person/present tense; but I write contemporary romance in third person/past tense. Sometimes it’s hard to change gears.

  1. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I love being with my family especially since my kids are getting older and they’ll be leaving the nest before I know it. My oldest heads to college in a couple weeks and my middle child is already a junior in high school. If it wasn’t for my baby, who’s about to start middle school, I’d probably be losing it. I know we’re supposed to want our birdies to fly the nest and be successful on their own, but I confess I’m not ready for it! When I’m not with my husband or kids, I’m indulging my love of true crime stories either by watching shows like Cold Justice or anything on the ID Channel, or listening to my new favorite podcast, My Favorite Murder.

  1. What’s next for you? What are you working on?

I’m working on a new project that I’m really excited about. It’s a women’s fiction novel about three suburban best friends, each of whom has a deadly secret.

Conjure (Hoodoo Apprentice Series Book 1)

Be careful what you search for…

Emma Guthrie expects this summer to be like any other in the South Carolina Lowcountry–hot and steamy with plenty of beach time alongside her best friend and secret crush, Cooper Beaumont, and Emma’s ever-present twin brother, Jack. But then a mysterious eighteenth-century message in a bottle surfaces, revealing a hidden pirate bounty. Lured by the adventure, the trio discovers the treasure and unwittingly unleashes an ancient Gullah curse that attacks Jack with the wicked flesh-eating Creep and promises to steal Cooper’s soul on his approaching sixteenth birthday.

But when a strange girl appears bent on revenge, demon dogs become a threat, and Jack turns into a walking skeleton, Emma has no choice but to learn hoodoo magic to undo the hex, all before summer—and her friends–are lost forever.

You can buy Conjure, Allure and Illusion at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Indie Bound and Goodreads.

GIVEAWAY!!

I’ll give away an ecopy of Conjure to someone who leave a comment. (Sorry, but this giveaway is for U.S. residents only. If you’re reading this on Goodreads, you need to go to my blog page to comment.)

A Parent’s Worst Nightmare

Most parents harbor a fear, the worst fear imaginable—their child goes missing. Whether it’s a teenager or a small child, it’s a parent’s worst nightmare.

According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, roughly 800,000 children are reported missing each year in the United States — that’s roughly 2,000 per day. And we’ve all heard the stories about the teen or child abducted and held prisoner for years until they escape one day. But most of these children that go missing are never found. Some are presumed dead and others, well they just don’t know. If you watch TV shows like Criminal Minds or CSI, you’d believe there are kidnappers randomly grabbing people off the streets, but actually only about 1 one hundredth of 1% of kidnappings are committed by strangers. Far more common are children who have run away, have gotten lost or injured, have been taken by a family member (usually in a custody dispute) or simply aren’t where they’re expected to be because of a miscommunication.

So, when I decided to write In Another Life, my YA coming out March 28, 2019, it started with an idea I’d had a while ago. What if you saw an age progression photo of a missing person, and it looked just like you? What if you also knew that you’d been adopted? What would you do? Would you think it must be you or would you blow it off as a coincidence? That’s the dilemma Chloe Holden is faced with in In Another Life. What does she do? Well, with the help of a cute guy, she looks into her adoption—and falls into danger. And since it’s a CC Hunter book, you know there is a happy ending, that Chloe survives to discover the truth. So at least her story has a happy ending—although there’s plenty of suspense getting there.

You can pre-order In Another Life now at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Indie Bound and Powells.

 

Fur Babies!

Anyone who knows me knows I love animals. I’ve had dogs and cats, but one dog in particular tugged hard at my heart strings. So, when I was asked to write a Furbabies blog for One Writer’s Way for April 6. 2018, I immediately thought of Jake. I wanted to share his story with y’all, too.

One cold November day, a big black, mixed lab dog followed my son home from school. I’d only recently lost Bosco, a misbehaving and totally lovable Boston Terrier whom I’d had the terrible misfortune of seeing get run over.  I was in the “Don’t-Want-Another-Dog” stage because it hurt too much.  I was actually out of town on business.  Hubby called and told me about a big black dog with a gray snout.  I didn’t want a dog, but I especially didn’t want a big dog.  Nope, I did little dogs.  And I’d heard how much black labs shed.  Nope, Hubby needed to find who owned the dog and get him back home.  Not a problem, my hubby said, the dog had a collar with two dog tags.

Unfortunately, one tag was for a Chihuahua, and one was for a Great Dane.  Hubby put out signs, but no one came to claim my son’s newest find.  “He’s sweet, Mom,” my son told me over the phone.  “He’s smart, too.”  He tells me how the dog would follow all the basic commands of sit, shake, and roll over.  But my heart was so broken, and I still had flashbacks of seeing Bosco run over, seeing the crazy dog that brought us so much pleasure, take his last breath.

“Don’t get attached,” I told my son. “When I get home I’ll find his owner.”  Well, I was wrong.  I didn’t find his owner, but that dog found his.  He took one look at me, and I saw it in his big brown eyes.  “You are my person!”  Even hubby and son were shocked at how the dog ignored them and was all about me.

“Nooo,” I told him and left the room, but he followed.  He followed me to the bathroom, to the bed, to my office where I spent hours writing my novels.  Hubby would try to coach him away from me with food.  Even bacon wouldn’t get this dog to leave my side.  I relented to keeping him.  How could I take him to a shelter when he was old and probably wouldn’t find a new home.  But I still didn’t want to be his person.  “Choose the boy,” I told him. “He’ll play ball with you. Or choose the hubby, he’s going to be the one to feed you.  All I do is sit in my study and write, you don’t want me as your person.”  But big black dog, now named Jake, wouldn’t hear of it.  I didn’t get a choice.  I’d been chosen.  I had a shedding, big, black labish dog as my sidekick.

Jake liked the boy, he liked my hubby, but Jake was one of those one-person dogs.  And from the moment he looked at me, I was it.

I tried not to love him, but when someone, even a dog, loves you that much, when he looks at you with such devotion… Well, I fell madly in love with Jake.  The vet said he was probably around eight years old.  He lived another six.  Six glorious years, I had a best friend who left a trail of black hair whenever he walked, a best friend who thought I walked on water.   A best friend who broke my heart when he died with his head in my lap.

To this day, I miss my best friend.  Yes, it took a while, but eventually hubby went to the junkyard and came home with a Falcon Ranchero and a dog.  A very sick dog.  The vet said she wouldn’t have lasted another few days.  She gained nine pounds in one week.  Lady is not your normal junkyard dog, she’s sweet, sassy, and I love that girl. But Jake will forever have a special place in my heart.

I’ve always heard and believed that animals make us better humans.  For that reason, almost every book I write has either a dog or a cat. This Heart of Mine, my latest release, stars a golden lab puppy, named Lady.  Matt, Lady’s owner, had lost his father and now his identical twin brother.  Lady offers Matt love, loyalty, and a lot of laughter.

Do you have a fur baby? Is it a dog or a cat? Or something else? What’s their name?

This Heart of Mine

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?

Excerpt

Matt gulps fear down his throat and stares at Leah’s front door. Lady, on her leash, is trying to chew herself free. Matt can relate. With what happened last night, and not knowing what her parents know, it was hard to show up this morning. Even harder to come back the second time.

A phone rings behind the door.

Nerves gnaw on Matt’s sanity. If her father opens the door and says Leah’s still asleep,

Matt’s gonna know the truth. Leah is refusing to see him. And then what? Damn it. She said she’d help. And with his mom riding his ass, he could really use some help. Why would Leah turn her back on him? Seeing him with Paula?

Matt had explained that Paula wasn’t . . . his girlfriend, hadn’t he? Then again, how could she be upset about Paula when she was attached at the hip to Trent Becker, and all snug and warm wearing his coat?

Matt pushes that whole bitter thought aside. Leah and he are just friends.

Yeah, they kissed and it was awesome, but that was then.

An uncomfortable thought hits. What if Leah told her parents she has Eric’s heart? Maybe it’s her parents who don’t want him here?

Footsteps sound behind the door. He stands straighter. The door swooshes open. Mr. McKenzie, holding a phone in his hand, in a at-footed stance just stares.

“Sorry, I had a call.”

Matt waits to be sent packing.

“She’s getting ready,” her dad says. “You want to come in?”

Not really. But does he have a choice? Matt remembers Lady. Maybe he does have a choice. “I’ll wait. I have my dog.” Mr. McKenzie stares at Lady. A jolt of nerves skateboard down Matt’s spine. The meeting-the-dad-of-the-girl-you-like kind of nerves. Not that this is a date. Does Leah’s father know that?

“Is he house trained?” Mr. McKenzie asks.

“She.” Matt hesitates. “Sort of, but—”

“Then come in. The shower’s going. She might be a while.”

He pushes open the door. Matt barely crosses the threshold when Mr. McKenzie looks back at Lady and says, “But if she’s the sort that poops and pees, you clean it up.”

“Of course.” He scoops up the squirming puppy. Her big yellow paws tread the air and her pink tongue is busy trying kiss his face.

Leah’s dad leads Matt into the kitchen. “Have a seat.”

Matt’s unsure if the man is being nice or is about to interrogate him. Matt pulls the chair out from the table, leaving room for Lady in his lap, then drops in the seat. Mr. McKenzie remains standing and staring. The dog starts twisting and turning, right along with Matt’s insides.

Her father finally speaks. “Want a Coke?”

“No, sir.” He remembers his manners. “But thank you.”

“How do you know Leah?” Mr. McKenzie settles in a chair.

Here comes the interrogation. “At school.”

“You tutored her once, right?”

“Yes, sir.” Lady barks, wanting down. She starts the whimpering. Matt sits her on the ground, but holds her leash and hears her sniffing around for table crumbs.

“You’re a senior, too?” Mr. McKenzie asks in a non- interrogation tone.

“Yes, sir.” Matt wishes he could drop the “sir,” but when you had a father in the army, “sir” is ingrained in you.

Her dad runs his hand over the edge of the table. “My wife mentioned you’re a twin?”

Was a twin. Matt’s nod is small.

“You two close?”

Matt nods again, this one slower. He’d done a lot of nodding with people who didn’t know. It hurts less than explaining.

“It’s Matt, right?” Mr. McKenzie asked.

“Yes, sir.”

“What’s the last name?”

“Kenner.”

“Kenner?” Her dad tilts his head slightly to the right as if . . . His eyes round. Instant pity turns his blue eyes a shade darker.

“Your brother, he . . . passed away?”

Matt nods. This one hurts. Thank God, he didn’t say killed himself.

“I’m sorry. My wife hasn’t kept up with the news. And I didn’t put the twin thing together.”

“It’s okay,” Matt offers the hated pat answer and thinks shit. Then he smells it. Shit. Dog shit. He ducks his head down and moans. Lady’s in full hunched mode doing her business. Mr. McKenzie leans sideways and peers under the table. Their frowns meet. Effing great! “I’ll get it, sir.” Matt loops the leash around the chair, bolts up. “Paper towels . . . ?”

“On the counter.” Mr. McKenzie’s voice is muffed from covering his nose.

Matt, paper towels in hand, crawls under the table. “Not ladylike,” he scolds Lady, using his mother’s words and tone. The puppy plops down in a poor-me pose. Matt scoops up the crap and is attempting to crawl on three limbs when he hears footsteps.

Still under the table, he glances out and up. Leah’s standing in the kitchen doorway. She’s wearing soft-to-touch-looking faded jeans that aren’t tight but hug her every curve. The red sweater she’s wearing does to her top what the jeans do to her bottom.

“Where is he? You told him to wait, didn’t you?” Disappointment slides off her words. Matt almost smiles realizing she wants to see him.

Lady, past the pathetic mode, dashes from under the table, taking down a chair as she goes.

Leah squeals, jumps, then stares at Lady. “What . . .” She slaps a hand over her nose.

“He’s . . . uh, under . . . there,” Mr. McKenzie’s tight voice echoes from above.

Leah squats down. Their gazes meet, hold, then her focus shifts to his hand holding . . .

Damn! Of all the ways a guy didn’t want a hot girl to see him, down on his knees holding a towel of dog shit has to top that list.

Matt frowns. “Lady shi . . .”—he corrects himself—“had an accident.”

Leah’s surprise fades into something softer, sweeter. A sparkle lights up her blue eyes. They crinkle at the corners with humor, and her face transforms into one big, so-damn-beautiful smile. He’s captivated.

She giggles—falls back on her butt. Lady rushes her with puppy excitement.

Leah’s laughter is like a song you want to sing along with. One he hasn’t sung in a long time. He wants that back. He wants to be able to let go of the pain he’s felt since his father died, since his brother died, and laugh like that. Laugh so free—free of grief.

Then Mr. McKenzie’s laughter roars above. Even Lady makes happy puppy sounds. Then it happens. A light feeling swells in his chest and his own laughter spills out. He can’t remember the last time he’s laughed so spontaneously. But for these few seconds, he doesn’t want to think about it.

He just wants to enjoy it. He knows it won’t last long, because in just a minute his heart is going to remember everything he’s lost.

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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. 

RWA Conference

Every year, I like to attend the Romance Writers of America’s (RWA) conference. And this year was no different.  It’s held in various cities throughout the U.S., and this year, it was in the Mile High City of Denver, CO.

RWA’s conference and my experiences have changed a lot over the years. When I first joined RWA, I had a dream of being a published author. I was overwhelmed by my first conference, and it wasn’t half the size it is now.  Today, 2,000+ aspiring writers and authors attend hundreds of workshops held during the week. You can learn how to craft a better scene, how to create better character, how to navigate the business of writing, you can even learn police procedures on investigating murders. Now, I actually teach a workshop at the conference, and it’s always fun. I think inspiring other writers, paying it forward to all those who were there to offer me advice, teaching craft or just offering words of wisdom, is my favorite part of the conference.

When others come up and tell me that I inspired them, or that I’ve given them something that will help them with their work, it gives me a sense of sharing my passion.  I love what I do and I want others who love storytelling as much as I do to live their dream.

Then there’re the fans.  This year I had a fan that came all the way from Louisiana to see me.  (And if you are reading this, I went looking for you to buy you a drink and couldn’t find you.)  Her hug and telling me how much my book got her through some difficult times was like a cocktail of feel good emotions.  Thank you.

And then there’re my writing buddies.  Friends that I’ve known for years but don’t see often since we live in different states.  When we see each other, there are smiles, hugs, chitchat, and we share our writing successes and woes as well as a glass of wine or cup of coffee.  One dear friend even helped me out by doing a short video.  She took time out of her schedule to do this.  Thank you, Peggy!  You’re the greatest.  Then there was the spend-the-night party with my roommate, laughing at each other bed hair and giggling like teens.

Of course there are the industry folks, too.  Editors, publicists and agents. The dinners and cocktail parties. The late night get-togethers, and a few more drinks that I partake of than when I’m home.  Then there’re the aching feet.  (Hey, at home I’m in tennis shoes.)  I don’t think anyone would have appreciated it if I’d removed my bra during the signing.  So, it’s good to be home, but at the same time I’m already missing the friends, the hugs, the laughter, the comradery you feel when you are amongst so many other writers.  I can say that RWA is like a family reunion.  You may not know their names or where they live, but if you spend just a few minutes with them, you feel like they’re family.

I’m already looking forward to New York next year!

Forever Friends?

I read an interesting article recently about friends and why we lose them. It made me curious enough to do a bit more research on the subject. I was surprised to learn that many scientists have studied this and agree that up to the age of 25, you continue to make friends. However, after the age of 25, is when the numbers begin falling rapidly and continue to fall throughout the rest of a person’s life.

Sounds sad doesn’t it?

Actually, it’s a natural progression. Why does this happen? For many reasons. First, your priorities may change.  Perhaps you become a parent and you no longer have the time to hang out with your friends. Often, you get more responsibilities at work, and that cuts into your hang out time. Also, as you mature you may realize that some of your friendships are toxic, and since you have less time to spend with friends, you let go of the toxic relationships. Or you may get a job transfer or your interests change.  And sometimes when you are friends with someone who shares a common interest, and one of you no longer shares it, the relationship becomes hard to maintain.

Whatever the reasons, it’s totally normal to lose friends as we grow older. And while some friendships grow stronger, others become weaker.  I’ve found you have to put the time in.  But sometimes when life gets hectic it gets hard.  Good friends however will be there for you when things go back to normal.

I have a friend, who is also an author. We used to live close to each other and we walked every day together. But I moved further away to a new neighborhood, but we’re still close and we still walk together. Then I have friends, who I also see once or twice a year, but when we see each other it’s as if we saw each other yesterday.

As a writer, I love writing about friendships.  Do you recall the friendship between Della, Kylie and Miranda? In Don’t Close Your Eyes, my Christie Craig romantic suspense out 8/28/18, Annie has her good friend, Isabella and the two of them see each other through some difficult times.

Do you have a special friend that you’ve been friends with for years?