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.

 

Friends

Have you ever felt a bond with someone?  That feeling as if you and this person were meant to cross paths?  As if you connect with this person in a way that you don’t with others? There are several kinds of bonds.  Friends, boyfriends, siblings, family, and mentors. Because my books have so many bonds, I thought today I would talk about the friend kind of bond.

I have friends that I feel as if we were meant to meet.  One of them, life tried to get us together several times.  Years before we became friends, I actually found her missing dog.  I called her, she came and picked it up.  She said thank you, I said no problem and we didn’t see each other for four years.  We met again at a Romance Writers of America meeting.  She looked at me and said, “I think you live in my neighborhood.  I see you walking a lot.”  We chatted and then we didn’t cross paths again for almost a year.  She had entered a contest I was holding to give away a book and she won.  I emailed her to get her address.   She remembered I lived in her neighborhood and offered to just to pick the book up.  We chatted a bit.  Then about a year later, she joined the RWA chapter I belonged to.  This time we decided to start walking together.

We met at a spot between our houses and walked.  We did that for almost a month.  Then one day, we went by her house. She lived on the street behind me.  Because the streets were not in a grid, we thought she lived about seven houses up from me.  I looked over the fence and surprise.  I was looking at my house.  For twenty years we shared the back fence.  That was eight years ago, and today we walk almost every day.  We tell each other our secrets, our life hurts.  We do a lot of laughing.

Do you remember the bond between Kylie, Miranda and Della?  Those Diet Coke round table meetings where they shared laughter and pain.  Well, in This Heart of Mine, Leah has Brandy.  Leah, in need of a new heart, and with the hardest blood type to match, has pretty much has accepted she’s going to die.  She tries to push everyone away, because she knows how much this is going to hurt the people who love her, but Brandy refuses to go.  She’s there for Leah during the surgeries, the pain, and when Leah gets her new heart, she’s there to help her learn to live again.  We all need those kind of friends.

Do you have a good friend that is there for you?  One that would be there for you through thick and thin?  And someone you would support through hard times?

THIS HEART OF MINE New Excerpt

The days are flying by, and This Heart of Mine will be released on February 27th. That’s less than a month away! This book was probably the hardest book for me to write. A lot of it came from my life. You see, this is a story about a seventeen-year-old girl who needs a heart transplant.  It’s about facing death, learning to accept life again, and learning to live with someone else’s heart.  My husband recently went through a transplant and his pain, my pain, his fear, my fear, and the learning to live again all came from personal experience.  Even the paranormal thread of feeling you have a little of the donor inside you all came from this real life experience.

So as you read This Heart of Mine you’ll learn that:

  • Everyone dies eventually. But when you always expected to die sooner rather than later, it’s hard to wrap your head around the fact that you might just live to a ripe old age.
  • Sometimes it’s harder and takes more energy to have faith in a positive outcome, than it is to accept the worst.  But nothing is sweeter than when life proves you wrong.
  • Growing up, discovering who you are is hard to do when you’re dying.
  • You can be dying and still feel the butterflies from a hot guy and the perfect kiss.

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

New Excerpt from This Heart of Mine

“Let’s walk Lady. Then it’s my turn to buy lunch. And it doesn’t have to be Indian food.”

Her smile pulls one out of him. “Sounds good.”

They stand up, and Lady bolts, tearing the leash from Matt’s hands. Leah runs and grabs it.

“Good catch,” he says, a few feet  behind her.

“Wait.” She swings around, running right into his arms. He catches her by the shoulders. “I . . .  I forgot my phone,” she says weakly.

Just like that, he’s back. Back in her house. Back to the second before he got the best kiss of his life.

And like before, she’s against him. Her chest moves to take in air. She’s close.

He likes close. He can smell her hair, her skin, her breath. He can feel her breasts against his chest. Dare he take a chance?

Eric would call him a coward if he didn’t.

“Oh,” he says. “I . . .  I thought you were  going to kiss me.”

***

For a second I think I’m imagining the words.  Because the same ones are fluttering like big butterflies through my mind. But I don’t waste time.

I tilt my chin up. “Do you want me to kiss you?”

He’s wearing that crooked smile. “If  you’re Leah, I’ve been wanting you to kiss me since sixth grade.”

I lift one brow. “I said seventh.”

His hands melt around my waist. “I know,” he says matter- of- factly. “I’ve wanted to kiss you longer than you have me.”

I laugh then fall right back into the part,  because this  isn’t finished. And that’s the best part.

“Is your heart strong enough?” I ask. He tilts his head down. “Are you that good of a kisser?” His eyes are so beautiful, his mouth so close, and my dreams are a breath away from coming true.

The fact that he remembers verbatim what was said on that day eight months ago makes me feel light, airy. I’m happy to be me. And I haven’t been happy to be me in a hell of a long time.

I’m a romance heroine in my own book.

I’m New Leah.

I’m not dying.

I’m so damn alive and I feel it.

I feel everything— his hands against my waist, his muscled chest against my breasts.

It’s still not enough. I need what comes next. He hesitates, as if waiting on me.

Not a problem. I’m going for what I want.

I lift up on my tiptoes and press my lips to his.

His tongue slips between my lips.

He tastes like strawberry jam, and a hint of mint. He feels strong. He feels . . .  I feel . . .

His hold on my waist tightens ever so slightly. The kiss is even better than the one before.  We’re not in my hallway where Mom is going to see.  We’re not in earshot of my dad announcing he’s home.

I feel myself easing closer. And we kiss and kiss until even this closeness doesn’t seem like enough.

Which is the point when I know we need to stop. I pull back.

I’m breathing hard. So is he.

His lips widen in the softest, sweetest, sexiest smile I’ve ever witnessed. And I’m mush. I have to lean against him to keep my knees from buckling.

“Hello,” he says.

“Hello,” I answer.

Lady chimes in with a bark.

His chin dips as if to kiss me again, but my phone rings from the bench. His smile fades. “Should you answer that?”


Leah has good memories of her first kiss with Matt, but she’ll have even better memories of their second kiss. Tell me about your first kiss. Do you remember your second kiss?

A New Book, A New Excerpt

I’m getting more and more excited over the release of This Heart of Mine on Feb. 27th.  I can’t wait to share this book with you. So read on, because I have a new excerpt from This Heart of Mine for you.

In This Heart of Mine, Leah and you will learn:

  • Best friends are always there for you—no matter what.
  • Sometimes you have to follow your heart, even if it wasn’t always yours.
  • Don’t be afraid to take a chance. Win or lose.  That’s what life is, a bunch of chances.
  • Figure out who you are and what you want. Then go do it. Do it large.
  • You need to be whoever you are and not worry about what others might think.

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?

This Heart of Mine is up for preorder at Amazon, Barnes & NobleBooks-A-Million, Powell’s, Indiebound and iBooks. 

Excerpt from This Heart of Mine

From the second Matt touches me, my fear becomes manageable. It’s as if something inside me says, Don’t worry, this is Matt.

I swallow. I can still feel his finger against my lip. Like when he kissed me, I long to memorize the feeling.

I look at him knowing I just need to get this out. But how?

Then I look into his eyes again and just say it. “When I woke up from the transplant, I started having dreams. The doctors say it’s a side effect from my medication, but . . . I think they might have something to do with Eric.”

His eyes widen. His jaw drops. I hear him inhale . . . then exhale.

He releases my hand and scrubs his palm over his face.

My fear comes tumbling back so fast I want to get out of the car. Run away. Be alone.

“I know how it sounds, but I swear, it’s the only thing that makes sense.”

“Leah, I—”

“I’m not lying.”

“I know.” He touches my hand again. “Eric’s running in the woods, isn’t he? He has a gun?”

Now it’s my turn to be shocked. “How do you know?”

“Because I’m getting the same dreams. I woke up that Sunday night he was shot with the dream. My right temple was throbbing. I know how it looks. Everyone thinks he committed suicide and that I’m in denial, but I’m not. Eric didn’t kill himself. Someone did this to him.”

I absorb what he says, but my mental sponge is so dry it takes a minute.

“I believe you. In the dream, I hear a voice. A man’s voice. He seems angry.”

Matt’s eyes widen. “What does he say? Who is it?”

“I don’t know. It’s distant, and I can’t make it out.”

“Will you tell this to Detective Henderson? Maybe he’d believe me.” His eyes light up with hope, and until then I didn’t realize how sad his eyes were.

Then the consequences of doing what he asks flash through my mind. What will my parents say? I haven’t told them. I haven’t even told my best friend.

“I . . . Won’t he just think I’m crazy? Have you told him about your dreams?”

The hope in his eyes fades. I remember I’m alive because Eric’s dead. “I’ll do it.” I blurt out.

“No. You’re right. I haven’t told him about my dreams because . . . He’s not going to believe it.”

He looks out the window as if collecting his thoughts. Then he focuses back on me. “Is it freaking you out?”

It is. “No.” I really pass my lie quota for the day. “What about you? You’re seeing it too.”

“Yeah, but we’re twins. We have a special . . . Had . . . Damn it!” He hits the steering wheel. “Someone murdered my brother. Everyone thinks he killed himself. And I don’t know how to prove he didn’t.”

He keeps mixing up his tenses, some are present as if Eric is alive, some aren’t.

I did that with my grandma.

Matt hasn’t accepted his brother’s death. I want to console him, hug him? Is it even my place?

“Maybe the dreams give us something more.” I’ve been praying the dreams would go away. Not now.

“More?” he asks.

I swallow. “Yeah. Like I didn’t see the gun at first. That came later. Maybe we’ll see other stuff.”

Matt passes a hand over his face as if trying to wipe away the hurt and grief.

“All I see is he’s running and carrying a gun—he’s in different parts of woods.” His voice catches. “He’s so scared. I think he knows he’s going to die.” The pain in Matt’s eyes is so raw that it bleeds onto me. I feel it. The stickiness on my skin. The stain of it on my soul. “I’m sorry.”

Winner!

The winner from last week’s giveaway is Megan S. Congratulations! You’ve won an ARC of This Heart of Mine. Please email your postal address to me at cc@cchunterbooks.com.

It’s Almost Here!

 

In about six weeks, This Heart of Mine will release.  Part of me is dancing on my tip toes I’m so excited.  But on the flip side of that, I’m so nervous I have butterflies playing bumper cars in my stomach.

Yes, it’s true that with every book I’ve sent out to the world to be read, enjoyed, and judged, there’s a bit of angst.  Because I know not everyone is going to love my book, my characters, my writing style. There are tons of books out there that everyone loves, but don’t resonate with me.  And I’m sure as readers you’ve found this to be true.  Authors and all artists, have to accept that one’s work is subjective.  And I’ve accepted it.

Mostly.  But those butterflies keep on fluttering.  What if my base, my core readers, don’t tap into that magical essence of the story I’ve spent months imaging and creating?

Every book I write is part imagination and part heart.  I find a kernel of an idea and while writing it, I tap into and borrow from my personal experiences, my emotions, my fears, my moral compass, to create the story. This is why I tell people that every character has me in them.

The difference between This Heart of Mine and dozens of my previous books is that this book didn’t grow in that creative section of my brain.  It wasn’t a seed of an idea that I planted and spent months whispering to, what’s next?  What now? I didn’t borrow bits and pieces of my life to create the plot.

No.  Chunks of this story were taken right out of my life.  Out of my husband’s life.  When I tapped into that creative place and asked, what’s next?  I didn’t have to put my thinking cap on.  I just had to open up a vein.  I followed the foot prints of emotion, of pain, of the strugglesand ultimately, the triumph of a real life experience.

I cried more writing this book than any book I’ve ever written.

Because like Leah, my husband needed a transplant. Like Leah, it was unlikely to happen.  Like Leah, he and I were forced to accept that his time here, that our time together, was about to end.  Like Leah, he was given that second chance.  Like Leah, when he woke up from that transplant, he started having dreams.  Dreams that had us wondering if they were his own or from the donor.

And while there is so much personal experience that stems from this story, there’s fiction as well. My hubby isn’t Matt, my hot hero.  (Sorry, Babe.) He’s wasn’t dealing with high school and figuring out who he was when the transplant took place.  His donor’s death hadn’t been ruled a suicide, but left others wondering if it hadn’t been murder.  Yes, plenty of creative energy went into this book.

But the emotional essence of this story.  Of learning to cherish time.  Of learning to live every day to the fullest because tomorrow is not a promise.  That came from the lessons we learned during this difficult time.  And the love that Leah and Matt find?  That’s one hundred percent real.  It’s not the teenage love, but it started as young love, and grew stronger like it can after thirty years of marriage.  You don’t know how much you love someone, until you sit at their bedside in ICU while they’re in coma.  You don’t know how precious life is, until you’re certain it’s gone.  You don’t value time until you’ve been given a second chance.

This Heart of Mine is up for preorder at Amazon, Barnes & NobleBooks-A-Million, Powell’s, Indiebound and iBooks.  So, don’t miss out, order your copy today.  If you’re one of my loyal fans who has preordered it, leave a comment, and one of you will win an ARC of This Heart of Mine. So, you’ll have one to keep and one to give away to a friend.

Winner!

Last week’s winner of a $10 Amazon gift card is Kira Moericke. Please email me at cc@cchunterbooks.com to claim your gift card.