My Favorite Holiday Books

When the holiday season arrives, I live to immerse myself in it by also reading and watching holiday themed and setting books and shows.  I usually wait until Thanksgiving before settling in for holiday reads, but when the mood calls for it, I have been known to read one … or two … earlier to start brewing the holiday spirit. Here are some of my favorite reads that I’ve featured on my holiday reviews:

  1. homicidal holidays coverChesapeake Crime Homicidal Holidays. Okay, this one is cheating a little bit as I helped choose the stories for this anthology. It was such a thrill for me to do so as I love holiday books and devote from Thanksgiving to Jan 1 to reading nothing but holiday themed and setting stories. In this anthology, it’s not just the Christmas season that’s written about but Groundhog Day and Talk Like a Pirate Day. I must say all of the stories are wonderful and range from cute to a little on the dark side but no matter the mood of the story, they are all well-written and cleverly crafted.


Heartache Motel

2. Heartache Motel by Terri Austin, Larissa Reinhart, and LynDee Walker. These are three short stories featuring different heroines which are set around Christmas time (but not the same Christmas) at the Heartache Motel in Memphis. This anthology includes the stories Diners Keepers, Losers Weepers by Terri L. Austin, Quick Sketch by Larissa Reinhart, and Dateline Memphis by LynDee Walker. After reading this anthology, I want to go to Memphis during Christmas time though I’d pick a different motel to stay at. Each story in this book had its own voice, even though all three contained humor, mystery, and a strong, sassy heroine. I loved how the setting and time frame was a true part of the stories and not a gimmick. These three mysteries wouldn’t be the same if they were someplace else or at a different time. And, I must admit I’d love to get one of Cherry’s holiday wear creations. I’m one of those people who actually adore and wear Christmas theme sweaters.

  1. call me mrs. miracleCall Me Mrs. Miracle. I’ve read both of the Mrs. Miracle books, and this one is favorite. Call Me Mrs. Miracle, the second book featuring Mrs. Miracle, had more of a Christmas story line as part of the plot centers around a toy store at Christmas time and a little boy’s Christmas wish. Like with Mrs. Miracle, there is also a Hallmark movie based on this book. I will also admit there is one element of the book that I like a lot better in the movie than I do in the book and wish it was the same. I don’t want to give it away so won’t say anymore. It didn’t change the story much, but to me it made the Christmas spirit come through more in the movie than in the book. This book left me a little teary-eyed (which is hard to do) and has moved up the list as one of my favorite holiday reads. It had the right amount of emotion, plot, holiday setting and Christmas magic feeling to make it a perfect holiday read for me.

lakeshore christmas4. Lakeshore Christmas by Susan Wiggs. A couple of my favorite holiday (and general) book elements were in this story; Christmas time setting, a librarian as the heroine, and a love of Christmas by one character and the other who dislikes it. I love holiday stories where the hero and heroine are at opposite ends of the spectrum and land up coming together in the end. I loved the fact that the hero had been a child star made famous by a holiday movie and how that factored into his dislike of the holiday. At times, I kept debating which movie the author had in mind when writing the story. This is a contemporary love story and has a part that is a little steamy (very tastefully done). Lakeshore Christmas was one of those stories that had me totally immersed in the setting and the town. I’d lose track of time and didn’t want to put the book down. I wish I could visit Lakeshore next holiday season. There was one element of the story I found myself a little disappointed in as there was no ‘announcement’ from the characters about something they discovered or suspected, but as I thought about it was the perfect ending. I checked this book out from the library but will probably go buy a copy as I know I’ll want to read this again.

5. bahhumbugBah, Humbug! by Heather Horrocks. This book would make a great Hallmark Christmas movie. I could just picture this story on the television. I loved how the author weaved a serious issue with funny moments. The hero isn’t a Christmas guy and once the reader knows why he and his family just go through the motions, your heart will ache for them. I love how the heroine kindly, and with sass, pulls him into the Christmas spirit. The hero at first comes across rough and tough but his tender side springs up pretty fast. I loved the banter between the hero and heroine, ‘watching’ them together always made me smile. I will admit this book has one of my pet peeves (won’t mention so I don’t give away the story), but the author made me love these characters so much (hero and heroine plus the supporting cast) that I didn’t care.

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Travel Journal

2015-11-09 14.55.40As you’re reading this, my husband and I are relaxing on a deck of a cruise ship (or at a wine tasting depending what time you’re reading the post) to celebrate our 25th anniversary. One of the issues I’ve had when we’ve returned home from a vacation was not remembering all those little details I swore I’d never forget. Between so many new experiences and adventures added to my memory, getting back into the swing of things at home, and catching up on work projects, I don’t have the time when I return home to jot everything down. And, I always seem to lose the pieces of paper that I’ve written down notes and stories about our trip. So many of our scrapbooks have journaling holes.

This time, I decided to bring along a travel journal as it should be a little harder to lose the whole entire book. I didn’t want to bring along a lot of supplies so I decorated a few of the pages and added dates and itinerary. I love the double-sided pen that came with the book. One side is the pen and the other a glue stick. I’ll be able to paste down any memorabilia I collect on the trip. 2015-11-09 14.54.47

Part of my evening during our trip will be devoted to jotting down the story of our day. I want to do it while it’s still relatively fresh in my mind. I made sure to leave plenty of pages blank between days so pictures can be included once we get home. 2015-11-09 14.55.01

I’ve never used a journal before. Usually I take photos and then create a scrapbook. Sometimes I can start an album right after the trip, other times it’s a few months before I can begin the project (or years later and some of the memories are forgotten). It can also take some time to finish all the layouts I want to include in a scrapbook. My last vacation scrapbook took me about 18 months and turned into three albums. We like to take a lot of pictures. For the journal, I’ll use minimal embellishments and have it be a place where I document the stories and include a few pictures, kind of like a picture book.

I’m looking forward to trying something new and being able to do some crafting on the ship. I’m not foregoing doing a traditional scrapbook of our anniversary cruise–I love to scrapbook–but hope doing this now will help make sure I have all the stories I want to tell when I do have time to make an album.

Blue Apron Favorite: Spicy Korean Chicken Wings

2015-11-02 18.32.44Or as my husband wanted me to title this post: Winner Winner is this Chicken Dinner. We’d been looking forward to trying this meal since I received our order on Thursday afternoon, and figured Monday (wings are perfect for game day) was the night. We usually cook together, but my husband had to work a little later so I was on my own in the kitchen. The first thing I loved about this meal was the ease in prepping it myself. While the chicken was in the oven, I had plenty of time to prepare the rice cakes and baby bok choy without feeling like I was rushing around. I’m still a slow chopper, so sometimes the other ingredients aren’t ready to toss into the pan with its their turn.

I’ve never cooked rice cakes or baby bok choy and was excited about giving it a try. It might sound a little strange to get excited about using new ingredients but it’s what I love most about Blue Apron. Every week, there’s at least one meal with an ingredient I’ve never used. Learning how to cook different types of cuisines and foods has really brought back my love of cooking. (I’m actually thinking about taking some culinary classes at the local college.)

The chicken turned out perfect with the right amount of char and heat. I had used all of the gochujang and was afraid it would be a little spicy for me. My husband usually likes things a little spicier, and the last time I used less of a spice it didn’t have enough of a kick for him. For this recipe we both enjoyed the heat level. The rice cakes and baby bok choy complemented the chicken wings perfectly. I especially liked the little bit of texture and crunch the sesame seeds gave the side dish.

The only disappoint is that my pictures didn’t turn out. The meal looked delicious. And my husband complemented me on my plating techniques. (We’ve also been watching a lot more Food Network lately.) I had checked the photo on my screen but not in my gallery. If I had, I’d have noticed it was a little blurry as I had touched the lens when I pulled the phone from my pocket. I need to start putting my cell lens down in my pocket as this isn’t the first time this has happened to me.

The Spicy Korean Chicken Wings with Rice Cakes and Baby Bok Choy has pushed two other dishes from our favorite meal slot. My husband’s favorite had been the spicy meatball dish, and mine was the shrimp and grits meal. We both now have the same meal in the number one spot. We’re really hoping this comes up again in the meal rotation.

Excerpt: Dying for Redemption

In celebration of Halloween, I’ve made my paranormal mystery Dying for Redemption free until November 1. This is a book that had come out with a small press in 2002. I received the right backs, reworked a few elements of the original story, than self-published it a few years ago. Dying for Redemption features Callous Demar, a murdered PI, who helps the other recently murdered solve their cases so they can rest. This is the first book in what I’ve always planned on turning into a series. The second book had been put on hold while I worked on other series. Next year, I hope to find some time to reenter the Working Shadow, Inc world and finish Dying for Perception.


I preferred Limbo to what lay beyond, but that probably rested in the fact that my final greeter would more likely be Satan than Saint Peter. I also ran the risk of destroying my baby sister Jenny if I launched a search into the question that kept my soul rattling in the between. With over a half-century of attendance, Limbo edged out my time spent among the living.

I liked my job, sticking my nose into other people’s problems and business. I liked brushing away the dirt to set the truth free… or at least shaking up the lies to see if a semblance of fact shifted out of the muck. Invited, of course. Messing around in people’s lives—or deaths—without permission bordered on gossip. And dead men didn’t tell tales outside the pages of novels or politics.

Slow. The definition of today. Good for the living, bad for a restless spirit. No-eye-for-an-eye, tooth-for-a-tooth, haunting-for-a-murder philosophy to put into motion.

“Here are some potential clients.” My secretary, Ann, dropped a few sheets of paper onto my desk.

“You know my rules.” I pushed them away as I had every day since she floated into my office twenty-five years ago after answering the job placement ad I had posted with the Successful Dead Employment Agency for an assistant. I had explained that I needed a beautiful, leggy blonde to do filing, answer calls, and look beautiful. I later modified it to female, beautiful, leggy, and blonde, as Hallie, the owner of the agency, had a wicked sense of humor.

Ann filled all of my requirements. A reminder she repeated whenever I complained about her lack of listening and obeying skills. She said those were not listed in her job description.

She had found herself residing in Limbo after her boyfriend accidentally killed her on their first rock-climbing excursion together—something about a cable between him and her coming loose, but the one attaching him to the rock had been snugger than a bug in a rug, an excuse the court, but not Ann, bought. Revenge boiled in Ann’s soul, keeping her tied to the living world.

Fortunately, Ann cared about herself enough not to seek revenge. Dying is sometimes chosen on our behalf, but Hell is entirely up to us.

“We could expand our services into helping the newly dead have a smoother transition into the afterlife.” Ann batted her baby-blues. “You know, advertise our services.”

“We? Our?” I leaned back in the chair and ran my fingers through my still-thick dark hair as I rested my wingtips on the desk. Lack of aging was the greatest benefit of our predicament. I had stopped at thirty-five, and Ann at twenty. “Until they walk in, we don’t know if they have accepted their new phase of existence.”

“We can expand our services into helping them understand.”

I waved off her words. “Then I’d have to hire one of those shrinks.”

“You need to evolve, Calamar.” Ann rested one rounded hip on my desk.

The disadvantage in arguing with the dead was that threats didn’t work. Ann knew that I hated my given name. I swore I’d be dead before any woman ever uttered it. Calamar Louise Demar. My mother and father had fancied themselves poets. For some reason, they were never published.

“Callous, Anastasia.”

She eyed me like a hungry dog would a steak on a counter—one jump and a quick snap of the teeth, prey caught, then devoured whole.

“Ann.” The shortened name oozed from her throat. Hips swaying back and forth, she strutted out the door. The show finished with a toss of her pale locks over her shoulder and the flash of a victorious smile.

I waited a few minutes to make sure she wasn’t going to throw open the door and Ah-ha me. I pulled the sheets of paper toward me to acquaint myself with the new residents. Okay, Ann knew my plan. I refused to chase down clients, but I liked knowing who entered our world. There were a few people who deserved to spend eternity pondering their undeserved afterlife in Limbo.

The third entry caught my eye—Willow Flannery, thirty-two, an independently wealthy businesswoman, married four months, died in a car accident. The dame had left a nice sum of dough in her bank account for the grieving widower. Woman. I really needed to watch my nouns. She had driven her red BMW into a tree, causing her to fly through the windshield. Ouch. Neither status nor wealth saved a person, but a seatbelt could do the job. Common sense seemed to have passed her right by… or else a certain husband knew about cars and dabbled in a little tampering.

“I found her,” Ann crowed, throwing open my day.

Ann made up her own rules to suit the season, the day, the hour, or just her mood. Since the day she arrived, I had been trying to explain the difference between boss and secretary. She looked at me as one does a child; I was here for her to see and not hear. I let it slide. The other choice didn’t suit my fancy—alone for eternity. Most ghosts didn’t want to work. They wanted leisure.

And, Ann was easy on the eyes.

“Found who?” I know darn well who.

“Willow Flannery, the millionaire businesswoman whose husband happened to inherit her business when she died. Not to mention the sizable insurance.”

“How sizable?”

“One hundred million.”

I whistled. That kind of money could make a nun kill. “Besides the moola, any reason to believe it wasn’t her forgetting to look in front of her? Maybe she was…” I wiggled my fingers in the air.


“That. Texting. Seems to be a bad habit with the living.”

“Brakes were cut.”

That raised suspicion. “Police have a hunch?”

“They believe the butler did it.”

I laughed. Ann eyeballed me again. I continued to voice my mirth. Fifty years later and police still fell for blaming the butler. I wondered how much cash exchanged bank accounts for the butler to accept the rap.

Sobering, I rested my crossed arms on my chest. “What does she know about being here?”

“She knows she died, but doesn’t understand why she’s in Limbo.”

“Heard that story before.” I let out a sigh and sat up, removing my cracked, brown leather shoes from the desk. A good detective never looked nonchalant when interviewing the recently killed. “Send her in… since she’s already in the reception area.”

Ann’s pearly whites flashed as she swung her hips, and then exited my private office. Didn’t matter the decade, women always wanted men to look, they just didn’t want men acting like they liked what they saw… unless the woman wanted that acknowledgement.

Willow Flannery glided into the room.

Take a note: Names can be deceiving.

Willow definition: graceful, tall, slender. Glide definition: move smoothly, effortlessly—think swan swimming across a pond. Of course, that was after the ugly duckling phase. Part two had to have part one in order for completion. This new entry into the afterlife proved everything had an exception.

Willow was raven-haired and well-rounded. If she was about four inches taller, she’d fill out nicely. Her hair hung straight down to her chin, the locks circling around her head like a cover for a beekeeper’s bonnet. A portion was cut out to leave her features exposed, an opening in a picture frame. Large gray eyes looked at me with no hint of wonderment, confusion, or even interest. She knew where she was and why. Confidence vibrated with every step. She was at home in her body, mind, and spirit.
And some SOB had sent her away from the living. I had to find out whom. She held her hand out to me. I stood and accepted the offering, allowing her fingers and palm to rest on top of mine.

I drew her hand toward my lips and kissed it. “Willow Flannery, I presume.”

She yanked her hand back quicker than it took a mosquito bite to itch. “You presume too much.”

Her voice was deep and raspy. Enticing, if not for the eyes that said I had treaded where I didn’t belong.

“I didn’t come to be assaulted.” Her eyes held a challenge.


“You grabbed my hand.”

“I was saying hello.”

“By placing your lips uninvited on my hand?” Her eyes turned into tiny slits on her round face. “That is sexual harassment.”

Sexual? Harassment? What was the dame talking about? That was a quick, harmless kiss of greeting. I looked toward the door and saw Ann grinning in amusement.

“Listen, Ms. Flannery, there’s some mistake here. A peck on the hand doesn’t fall under assault.”

She looked around the room. I tried to see it through her eyes. The desk was a massive piece of faux oak, like the fabric chair and marred bookcases pressed against the wall behind it. Mismatched lamps stood in strategic corners. The only type of furniture I could afford when I lived remained my style of decorating… hand-me-down chic. My only upgrade was a nice cherry wood hat rack, polished to a high shine, where my collection of beloved fedoras hung with pride.

She nodded once, sat down in a threadbare chair, and crossed her legs, one rounded knee on top of the other. “I’m either in hell or purgatory.”

“Limbo,” Ann chimed from outside my office.

I walked over to the door. Casually, I stuck out my left foot and pressed it against the wooden door. A good shove and bang—right into the frame. And if luck existed, against the tip of the nose of Ann.

I pulled two notebooks from my jacket pocket, one black and one blue. The black one was for notes on cases; the blue was to write down the special phrases and ways of the new decade coming in. Kissing without asking is considered sexual harassment.

“So, this is the afterlife. For some reason, I expected something…” She paused and scanned the office. “More.”

“It’s a mimic of the world a person lived in, without the worry of dying. Everything is pretty generic here. The buildings, the scenery. The ghosts that stick around start to see their environment take on a sense of who they are.”

Her eyebrows rose and a smirk broke out on her face. “That explains your office.”

I liked the dame. Spunk. Fighting spirit.

“Can they see us?” She leaned forward, eyes displaying fascination with her new existence. “The living?”

“Some can. Some can’t because they don’t have the ability. Some refuse to acknowledge our existence, and there’s nothing we can do to force them to see.”

“Does that work in your favor or against it, Callous?”

I fought back a grin. “You’ve heard of me already.”

She rolled her eyes. “It’s on your door.”

Excerpt from Long Gone

Long Gone was one of the harder books for me to write in this series. In this book, the heroine isn’t running from her past, but from her present so I needed to be in her now as she struggled with her trauma. I tried to ensure to only give the details necessary for the story, I never want my writing to even hint that violence is being glorified.

In this fourth book of the New Beginnings series, Reporter Eve Darling has the story of lifetime, a candidate for governor and his brother connived a baby away from a teenage mom and plan on repeating it. Her boss won’t believe without a source. Eve isn’t willing to give up the first woman–herself. She turns to skip-tracer Alex Stratford to help locate the new intended victim.

Alex is stunned when Eve shows up and requests help. The woman who once accused him of murder now accuses another man of a crime. Having battled Eve’s mudslinging himself, and barely winning, Alex refuses.

Determined to bring the brothers to justice, Eve continues on her mission alone. When she’s attacked, Alex rushes to her aid–and a decision alters lives forever. Can a battered and disgraced Eve and a battle-scarred Alex ever feel worthy of love from another…or themselves?


Eve sat on the twin-sized bed, knees drawn up to her chin. She barely remembered the drive from Clarksburg to Rockville, Maryland where the women’s shelter owned by the Stratfords was located. The large white two-story family style home with a four-car garage looked inviting and charming. Flowers lined the front walkway. Black shutters bracketed each window. The only thing hinting of the dual use of the family home was the large wooden fence surrounding the property and the intricate alarm inside.

A women’s shelter. Sunlight seeped through the window and played along the edge of the bed. Eve tightened her grasp around her legs, holding in a moan as aches and pain shoot through her with the simple movement. She never envisioned herself having to live in such a place. She thought herself stronger and smarter.

She agreed to stay at the Stratford’s place because she hadn’t the energy or ability to leave on her own. Brandon’s accomplice had stolen her purse and with it her car keys and wallet. Until it was found, or she had the health to return to Charleston, she had to rely on others.

The truth settled hard in her chest. Eve hated having to rely on anyone for anything. The last person she trusted with her heart and life broke it — then tried killing her. Maybe she did belong at the shelter, because even after Brandon stole her baby from her, she had thought about falling back into his arms.

Not smarter than everyone, are you? She deserved the reminder. The chiding. Judge herself as she judged others.

Her only possessions right now were the clothes on her back. Clothes Nathaniel bought her. Nausea churned her stomach. Her breath caught in her throat. She wanted them off her body. Now. She gripped the fabric, fingers twisting and turning on their own will.

The harsh sound of her breathing filled the room. She needed them off. Away from her. No wonder she couldn’t sleep last night. Nathaniel and Brandon had surrounded her. Stop. If she ripped the clothing, she had nothing to wear.

A knock sounded on the door. Taking in a steadying breath, she loosened her grip on the sweatshirt. Clothing couldn’t hurt her. Nathaniel couldn’t hurt her.

She was a fighter. Strong. Confident. No one would take anything away from her. She could get through this — would get through this event — all by herself. She’d show the Fallows they hadn’t made a victim out of her.

“Eve?” Angelina Stratford’s voice drifted through the close door.

Eve glanced over at the clock. Nine in the morning. She didn’t want to start the day when the night didn’t feel complete. She knew she dozed on and off a few times but never fell into a deep sleep. The images of Brandon kicking and hitting her had shown behind her closed eyelids.

Well, if she ever wanted to get out of there, she needed to stand on her own two feet and stop wallowing. Eve scooted off the bed and went to the door. Drawing in a deep breath, she stood straight and opened the door.

“How are you feeling this morning?” Angelina stood in the hallway.


“Would you like some breakfast? I can bring something back for you. Usually everyone eats together but you still need your rest.”

Food. Eve hadn’t thought about food. Even now, she didn’t feel hungry though the last time she remembered eating was when the nurse had brought a lunch tray into her room. She didn’t recall what she ate, just taking bites of the food placed in front of her. She knew she had to eat in order to stay healthy. Get healthier.

“I don’t mind going to the dining room. I can walk.” The words sounded slurred because of her swollen mouth. Eve stepped out into the hall. She’d prove she was fine. Brandon might have hit her, but he hadn’t destroyed her. Made her afraid. She wasn’t at the shelter to hide out. She was there because she was a little sore to drive long distances at the moment. Before too long, she’d be out of there and right back at her job.

No one would silence her for long.

“Follow me.” Angelina smiled and started down the hall.

Eve found her feet rooted. What was wrong with her? She fisted her hands into the fabric at her thighs, preparing to walk herself like a puppet if necessary.

Angelina stopped and turned. She frowned. “Is something wrong?”

Eve swallowed the fear rising in her throat. “I don’t have anything else.”

“Of course, you’d like to change.” Angelina shook her head. “I can’t believe I’ve been so thoughtless. I don’t like parading around in the clothes I slept in, and it’s even one of our rules.”


“Yes. I can tell you them over you eat or you can read them. I have a binder and vouchers for you. I planned on giving them to you after breakfast.”

Written rules and vouchers. Her stomach tightened. Eve wrapped an arm around her middle. “I’m sorry. I think I’d rather just eat in my room. I’m…”

Sympathy flashed on Angelina’s face. “Tired. I’m sure you are. Hospitals sometimes aren’t the best places for rest. I’ll bring you an outfit from the lending closet and you can pick out some more items later.”

“Is it all right if I took a shower?”

Angelina squeezed her hand. “No need to ask. While you’re here, consider our home your home. We got in so late, I forgot to tell you I placed towels and toiletries in a bathroom for you. It’s across the hall from your bedroom. No one else will be using it other than you so feel free to keep anything in there you’d like.”

“I don’t have anything.”

“We’ll fix that also.” Angelina patted her hand. “I’ll make you something to eat and put it in your room.”

“Thank you.”

A few minutes later, Angelina returned with a pair of soft grey yoga pants and a pink long-sleeved t-shirt in a soft cotton fabric. Eve carried the outfit to the bathroom, avoiding looking in the mirror. She felt more confident not knowing what her face looked like at the moment.

Quickly, she undressed, shoving the offending outfit into a corner underneath the sink. She’d burn them later. Her muscles ached from the simple task. After she showered and pulled on the comfortable outfit Angelina provided, Eve went back to her room.

Her stomach growled as the scent of bacon, blueberry pancakes and coffee wafted toward her. A good sign. A hot shower and a change of clothes made the world brighter.

“Looks like perfect timing.” Angelina carried a tray down the hall.

Eve opened the bedroom door.

Angelina paused. “Would you like me to put it on the desk?”

“Yes, thank you.”

Angelina settled the tray on the small desk. She pulled a wallet and a prepaid cell phone from a pocket of the sweater she wore. “This is for you. We like to make sure everyone has the ability to call us at any time and from anywhere. In the wallet are your vouchers. You have some for clothing, food and gas. We serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner here but sometimes the residents prefer something else. We have two sedans for resident’s use. There’s a sign up sheet in the office area, along with a schedule of group outings. Some of the ladies prefer shopping together rather than by themselves.”

Eve opened the wallet and flipped through the pieces of paper the size of regular dollar bills, and made out in different denominations with the category listed on them. Heat filled her face. The smell of the food now churned her stomach.

Was this how people on assistance felt?

She choked down the lump building in her throat. “The stores take these?”

“We do own a second-hand clothing boutique where you can use the vouchers and there’s also one independent grocery store who accepts them. If you’d rather shop elsewhere, we’ll exchange the vouchers for the cash before you go shopping. Just let me know and I’ll make sure to have the funds in the house. I don’t like having a lot of cash around.”

“Just you? Not Alex or your husband.”

Angelina shook her head. “No one here will ever have to ask a man for money or for a basic need, not even my husband or son. They are here to help so if there’s something you’d like, let them know otherwise you can come to me. I’m always available.”

“Is there a computer with wireless I can borrow while I’m here?”

Angelina pressed back a frown. “Usually we don’t loan out personal computers. There is a desk top in the family room and a laptop the children can use for schoolwork. Part of being here is so contact can be broken with those intent on harming us, and internet usage interferes in it.”

“The person who wanted to hurt me is dead.” A slip of anger entered her voice. A heavy, pulsating feeling bubbled in her chest, wanting to spew forth.

Angelina looked away. “I’ll see what I can do.”

Eve eased the door closed when Angelina left. Where had the rage come from and why at Angelina? Eve took a few bites then abandoned the delicious breakfast that created a boulder in her stomach.

Now what? She couldn’t live by mealtimes alone. She needed something to do. Her gaze rested on the phone on the nightstand.

Jack. She needed to let her boss know what was going on. He’d be wondering why she hadn’t shown up for work in days.

She snatched up the phone and called her boss’ direct line. He answered on the third ring.

“Jack Lawson, Editor-in-Chief.”

“It’s Eve.” Slurred words pushed out from her swollen lips.

“Have you been drinking?”

The harsh tone had her leaning away from the phone, as if Jack physically stuck her. She touched her mouth. “No. Beaten.”

“Let me guess, this call has something to do with your story.”

A flush flashed across her face while cold prickled her scalp. She had barely said anything and Jack already declared her a liar. “I was to meet Elizabeth Fallow. Instead Brandon showed up–”

“He was shot to death, Eve. Isn’t that enough for you? Do you really have to tarnish the man’s reputation?” Jack let out disgusted bark of a laugh. “The man’s brother is planning on entering politics. Did Brandon jilt you so bad you have to ruin Nathaniel?”

Who had talked to Jack? What had they told him? She shook her head even though Jack couldn’t see her. “I’m not ruining anyone. I’m telling you what happened to me. Brandon beat me. Tried to kill me. If someone hadn’t come to my rescue–”

“Eve, don’t. Please don’t.” Jack’s voice grew softer, weary.

Excerpt from Death Vetoes a Chairman by Teresa Watson

Today, I’m posting an excerpt from Death Vetoes a Chairman. In this book, Lizzie Crenshaw is used to being in the middle of murder in Brookdale. After attending a fundraiser with her friend, Jake Mathias, she embarks on the biggest emotional and physical journey of her life, leaving some of the residents of Brookdale reeling from the effects. And before it is all over, it could cost them someone they love…

death vetoes the chairmanExcerpt:

The front door opened, and a bouquet of flowers preceded Nicole into the newsroom. She stopped in front of me. “You’re getting to be a regular customer, Lizzie,” she said, handing me the clipboard. I handed it over to Jake, who signed it and gave it back to Nicole. “You must have a very wealthy secret admirer. How does T.J. feel about that?”

“He doesn’t have a jealous bone in his body,” I assured her.

“You’re a lucky woman.”

As she left, I pulled the card out and read it. “Better luck next time. Ethan.” I gave the card to Jake. “What does that mean?”

T.J. and Steve came through the front door as I asked that. The looks on their faces told me they did not have good news. “We need to talk in your office.”

Frankly, I didn’t want to go back in there, not after listening to Jake recount the details to Dale. “Let’s go outside,” I replied.

The five of us – myself, T.J., Steve, Dale and Jake – trooped outside and stood on the right side of the building near the parking lot. “I honestly don’t know how to tell you this, Lizzie,” Steve said.

“Tell me what?”

“Winthrop’s lawyer has friends in high and low places. He drove down here, talked to a couple of people, made a few calls, and got the TRO cancelled.”

“What do you mean, he got it cancelled?”

“The clerk called to tell me. It was thrown out because of lack of evidence.”

“Lack of evidence?” I snapped. “How much more evidence do they need? My dead body?”

“Lizzie,” T.J. said, trying to wrap his arm around my waist. I stepped away from him, and he let his arm drop.

“His lawyer called another judge, who listened to the recording. She said that Winthrop clearly requested that you stop recording, and therefore you violated his right to privacy by refusing to stop it.”

“How could I? He had me pinned to the wall,” I retorted as I felt a tear roll down my cheek. I angrily wiped it away. “So what you’re saying is I’m basically screwed.”

“I didn’t say that,” Steve hastily replied. “But we’re going to have to come up with more proof.”

“Forget it,” I said. “Just let it go.”

“You can’t do that, Lizzie,” Jake said.

“Yes, I can, and I am. It’s easy for you to say ‘don’t quit’. You’re not the one who has to deal with telling the story over and over. No wonder so many women don’t report the harassment and the assaults. Who wants to keep living it over and over? I certainly don’t.”

“If you give up, then he wins,” T.J. said. “What about the next woman he goes after?”

“Don’t lay that on me, Thomas Jefferson Roosevelt. Don’t you dare lay that guilt trip on me. I’m responsible for one person, and that’s myself. And even that is too much to handle right now. If he wants to win so bad, let him. If you want to fight him, go right ahead. Leave me out of it. I’m done.” I turned and walked back into the building. The flowers were on the desk when I went into the office. I stared at them for a minute, awkwardly picked them up and threw them at the wall. The sound of shattering glass echoed off the walls. I shoved a bunch of papers into my bag and left.

You are A Survivor, interview and post by Teresa Watson.

hopeA year ago, I started writing my 7th Lizzie Crenshaw book, Death Vetoes the Chairman. I never intended for it to take the serious turn that it did. My stories are usually filled with lighthearted humor, and that is still there in this book. But when I sent the first few chapters to my beta readers, one of them sent me a message: “I’ve been through this.” After she told me what had happened to her, I realized that this was a story that needed to be told. I asked for her advice every step of the way, so all of Lizzie’s reactions, as well as those of her family and friends, are genuine. To be clear, I’ve never been through anything like this myself. My parents had a wonderful, loving marriage for almost forty years, and my husband and I have been happily married for almost thirteen years. So sexual harassment and sexual assault are things that I know very little about.

When the book came out in July, the messages I got were mostly positive. One note came from a friend of mine who is a victim’s advocate in a domestic violence shelter. She told me that the book was very good. When I contacted her last week, she was more than willing to answer some questions for me.

Q: How often do women come to you for help, only to return to their previous situation?

A: It varies for each woman. Some it will only take once, and those are very rare. Most women it takes several times, and even three or more trips to the ER and to shelters before they finally have the courage to leave. Many times it’s due to the fact that the abuser is controlling the money and the transportation.

Q: Are there enough shelters?

A: No, and what shelters there are just aren’t big enough.

Q: And of course, not enough money. If you had a wish list, what would be on it?

A: The shelter my mom worked at (she’s a retired victim’s advocate) was a former nursing home. It gives the women and their children their own room and bathroom. Having a personal place to put your toothbrush and to hang a wet towel is very precious.

Q: How often does the abuser find out which shelter the women are at?

A: Turning Point in Marion, Ohio is a public shelter now. It used to be a private shelter, and if law enforcement brought a victim there, they had to do it in civilian vehicles.

Q: Why is it a public shelter now?

A: Because their security is much better than what it was before they moved. It puts it in the public eye, and it has fewer abuser incidents as well.

Q: Do you think more shelters should become public?

A: Personally, yes, I do. The public actually helps to keep an eye on the shelter as they drive by.

Q: So what is the difference between domestic violence and sexual harassment/assault?

A: Domestic violence is between two people who are in a personal relationship, whether they are dating or married. Sexual harassment can also happen between two people in a relationship, but normally happens when the people are either just acquaintances or strangers, and involves no sex, but mainly words and actions. Sexual assault is the politically correct term for rape.

Q: Can one lead to the other?

A: Yes, and that is normally how domestic violence starts.

Q: So it can start as sexual harassment, escalate to rape, and end with domestic violence?

A: Rape is domestic violence when it happens between a couple in a relationship.

Q:  But isn’t rape harder to prove when the couple is married?

A: It can be, and that is where people like my mom, who works as a victim’s advocate, come in and help. It normally starts with a civil protection order (CPO), and then goes from there.

Q: Tell me what a victim’s advocate does.

A: A victim’s advocate is just that. They help the victim by guiding them through the court system, and helping them find a safe place, both mentally and physically.

Q:  Do victim’s advocates also work with rape victims?

A: Domestic violence advocates do if it was their spouse/boyfriend/significant other.

Q: How often are men victims of domestic violence?

A: About a tenth of what women are, and many of them do not report it.

Me: Well, no guy wants it known that they were beaten up by a woman, any more than a woman wants people to know that they were beaten up by a man. There’s that stigma…not to mention the looks they get. Those sad, sympathetic looks.

Her: Exactly.

Q:  So, if I want to have my main character, Lizzie, open up a women’s shelter, what does she need? Victims’ advocates, counselors, a big house…certainly pastors can also help with counseling.

A: A director, financial officer of some kind, a volunteer coordinator, lots of volunteers, and a big house! And yes, pastors can be helpful, but many shelters have counselors that work specifically with domestic violence.

Q: What about resources for the children?

A: A whole new kettle of fish. Turning Point will help with putting the kids into school, or setting them up with online schooling.

Q: What kind of issues do the children have?

A: Nightmares, severe acting out, defiance syndrome, bed wetting…the list can be huge.

Q: How much time are the women allowed to spend at the shelter? Is there a time limit?

A: The residential time limit is different with each shelter. It can depend on how many cases and how much room is at the shelter.

Q: What else should I know?

A: It is a very stressful situation that takes a lot of guts to get out of.

Q: A lot of women are too scared to make that move, aren’t they?

A: Yes, they are!

Q: For the ones that do leave, what is usually the thing that pushes them over that line? That tells them it’s time to get help?

A: It is when they finally decide that they are worth the effort to get out.

Q: Is there anything that you would want people to know?

A: To be patient if they know someone in a domestic violence situation. Give them support and a safe place, be it mental or physical.

Q: How are is it to get financial support for shelters?

A: Many are part of United Way, or part of another charity. Ours was started by our local churches.

Q: So there aren’t many privately financed shelters?

A:  Not too many that I know of.

Q: How many woman are in a shelter at one time? I guess that would depend on the size, right?

A: The size would dictate that. We actually cover a seven county area. Our county alone has 63,000 in population, so one shelter is enough. But severe cases may be sent to larger cities.

Once I realized the direction my story was taking, I got very nervous. I wasn’t sure how people would react to one of my books tackling a serious social topic. But it is one that needs to be talked about, be it through a fictional character, or by articles like this. Men, women and children find themselves in situations like this every hour of every day. And it’s not going to go away. We can sit and pretend that it’s not there, bury our heads in the sand and say, “There but for the grace of God go I.” Or we can try to help.

Be a volunteer. There are some links at the end of this article. Check them out; find out what you can do to help. I did ask my friend if she had thought about starting a Prayer Shawl Ministry for her shelter, and she told me her church already does this, and provides shawls for the women who come to the shelter. If you can knit and/or crochet, then you can take part in this ministry.

If you know a friend who is in a dangerous situation, provide them a safe place if you can. Don’t push them to leave on your time schedule. Leaving is a difficult decision, and it may take several times of them leaving and going back, before they leave for good. If the abuser has control of the finances, then they will have to find the resources to help them. Mostly, they need love and support, not questions and condemnation.

Above all else, please remember that while you may feel like a victim for a while once you do get out, YOU ARE A SURVIVOR. There is help. When you’re ready, make sure that you are in a safe location before reaching out. Erase all the phone numbers from your call history, and clean your browsing history on your computer, so that your partner won’t know what you are doing.

Just reach out. There will be someone there to grab your hand and help you through the storm.


The National Domestic Violence Hotline –

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) –

Love is Respect –

The National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence –

The Domestic Violence Shelter –

No More –

Excerpt from Lost Then Found

Lost Then Found is the first book in my New Beginnings series. In this story skip-tracer Renee Stratford-Knight’s life plan changed upon her sister’s murder. Instead of using her skills to find people, Renee opened New Beginnings a firm specializing in “vanishing” abused women. Now her ex-husband – and former business partner – Jonas Knight reenters her life asking about her most vulnerable client.

Jonas knows his ex-wife helped embezzler Gina Howard elude the authorities and intends to bring the young woman to justice. When Renee is threatened, Jonas grows suspicious of his client’s reason for finding his niece.

In order to uncover the secret a teenager girl disappeared to keep, and a killer wants silenced, Jonas and Renee must struggle through distrust and the pain of their pasts to work together to save the life of teenage girl – and their own


Renee Stratford-Knight pressed all six of the floor buttons but slipped out at the second floor, using the stairs to continue to the third floor. Even though her mind screamed run, she refused to abandon protocol and skip the arriving home routine. Enter the apartment staged as her home. Collect the mail. Check voice messages. Cook something. Run the water.

Failure to play the game put the women she helped in jeopardy. The world needed to believe office manager Renee Stratford-Knight lived in the building. That appearance allowed Renee Knight, guardian of abused women and children, to continue her calling of vanishing the hopeless to give them a new start in life. Keeping her true self off the grid was important to ensure the whereabouts of the women she relocated remained private.

What did Jonas want? Aged emotions bubbled in her chest, a mixture of sadness and anger. Small pricks of pain wormed in her heart and threatened to bury themselves again. One decision eighteen months ago ended their marriage.

A sharp, heated feeling pushed at her chest as she walked up the last few steps and stopped at the third floor landing. Vanquish it, Lord. She placed her hands on the bar and rested her forehead on the metal door, fighting the hot tears building in her eyes. Bitterness and vengeance were once favored friends, and she no longer wanted those vice-filled emotions.

Renee had wearied of it and turned her life back over to God. She knew the anger in her heart killed her emotionally, as surely as Samuel Thorn had killed her sister Melody. With God’s strength and grace, she claimed victory over the horror dictating her life. When painful events defined a person’s existence, they became nothing more than the pain they carried. Good lost. Evil won.

Melody’s beautiful heart-shaped face and twinkling brown eyes flashed into her mind. A smile stretched her mouth, a gift. Before, remembering her younger sister brought Renee to her knees in grief and guilt.

Renee straightened and dried her tears. She pushed open the door and moved forward as it slammed against the wall. Why had Jonas shown up tonight? His skip tracing business focused on locating people for those seeking self-righteous vengeance. Justice, not mercy, prevailed in Jonas’ world. Was he once again trying to track down Priscilla Thorn for the tabloids?

Running her hands along the wooden door of the apartment, Renee checked for any mars to indicate someone tried to break in. Nothing. She slipped her key into the lock, twisted it, and opened it inch by inch. She listened for any sounds, took in a deep breath and tried to detect any unusual scents. Nothing.

Six months after Melody’s death, a news reporter decided to play paparazzi and dredged up the worst night of Renee’s life to splash it back onto the pages with an added twist. That time they wanted to focus on the woman who raised the murderer and not the woman who witnessed her sister’s murder. A print reporter hired Knight and Knight skip tracing firm to track down the anguished and terrified Priscilla Thorn.

Renee begged Jonas to turn down the job. The way her faith-filled parents had handled their grief encouraged Renee to release the need for retaliation and stop self-destructing her life and marriage. Jonas ignored her concerns and took the case. Renee took matters into her own hands and interfered in the case, helping the woman escape from the media and severing the last thread of trust between her and Jonas.

Renee stepped inside, closed the door, and secured it behind her. Bending down, she picked up a magazine, catalogs, and credit card bills delivered to the apartment. She flipped through them, plucked out the photography magazine, and tossed the bills and catalogs onto the dining room table.

For a few minutes, Renee puttered around the apartment to give it the lived in feel. She fried up a piece of fish and fries, a smell that lingered for days. A good choice in case the situation with Jonas caused her to stay away for a while.

Renee took her dinner into the bedroom and turned on the computer. Time to prove or disprove her ex-husband’s motive. Renee opened up a search engine and typed in Priscilla’s name, steeling herself for the renewed grief looking into the past caused. She scanned the entries. Nothing new. Renee typed in Samuel Thorn and hit enter.

Local Surgeon Kills Wife. Like always, the headline took her breath away. Her gaze settled on the second article, Samuel Thorn Pleads Guilty. The caption not quite stating the whole truth of the plea. Samuel claimed Melody started the argument and struck him first. When the jury’s faces expressed their disgust at the defense tactic, Samuel and his attorney changed up their argument and laid the burden of guilt on Jonas.

The accusation changed him. The confident, even-tempered, resilient man turned vengeful, cynical, and downhearted, turning away from her when she needed the strength and security of her husband.

Renee scanned the last few entries and checked the dates. Over the last few months, Samuel remained quiet instead of issuing another statement on how circumstances beyond his control caused him to kill his wife. With the murderer remaining silent, did the media hire Jonas to track down the mother?

She dumped the history on the computer then powered down the machine. Grabbing the dirty dishes, Renee made her way to the kitchen and washed them. She needed to head home before Alex started worrying and decided to storm the apartment building. Her younger brother had a hair-trigger anxiety complex when it came to her. The last time his actions almost caused a neighbor to call the police.

Renee locked the apartment up tight and took the stairs. Gripping the rail, she plodded down the steps, each step draining energy. The eventual battle with Jonas weighed down her spirit. She didn’t want to relive the painful moments of her life.

She stepped onto the ground floor, tugged open the door leading to the back parking lot and walked outside. A cold breeze played along her skin, drifting against her unprotected neck. The impulsive summer haircut she chose that winter over the hairdresser’s recommendations no longer symbolized independence to her but teenage rebellion.

She tugged up the small collar of her leather coat. “Showed him, didn’t I.”

Hands clapped. Renee halted under the dim lights of the outside doors. Her heart rate accelerated as she looked around the darkening area. Parked in the lot were three cars and a van. She swallowed hard and stared at the windows of the van, trying to make out any figures. Placing her hand into her front pocket, she pressed her thumb onto the keypad of her cell phone. She sent out a heads-up message to her brother.

Jonas stepped into the light, a sarcastic smile stretching across his face. Better to face a known enemy than an unknown one. She typed another message to her brother. False read. Lord, let that work to keep Alex at home rather than charging to the rescue.

“Your skills at deception have gotten better.” Jonas loomed over her.

“I learned from the best.” Regret tugged at her conscience as the words left her mouth. She pushed it away. If she allowed Jonas to get the upper hand, then she offered an opportunity for his words to steal away her confidence.

She tilted her head back and locked onto his storm-cloud gray eyes, standing in place even though her neck muscles ached. She promised herself not to ever allow a man to make her feel powerless. The streetlights allowed her to see her reflection in his eyes. As he studied her face, his gaze softened. He reached out, fingers lingering by her cheek.

The air between them crackled. A shiver raced through Renee and she fought the instinct to lean those few inches toward his touch. They were divorced. They no longer meant anything to each other. She drew back but not before awareness crept into his gaze. He knew. He sensed it.

Time to end the silent duel, and leave. Now. She held in a frustrated sigh as she asked the question Jonas silently demanded. “What do you want?”

“Gina Howard’s location.”

Renee kept her expression neutral even as her pulse hammered away, and sweat trickled down her back. Jonas hunted for her most vulnerable client. Why? She kept the question locked inside and asked another. “Who?”

“Gina Howard. The teenager who stole half-a-million dollars from her uncle. Where did you hide her?”

So, that’s what Eric Howard told people about his niece’s disappearance. “I have no idea where Gina is.”

Not quite a lie but not quite the truth. Renee and her team created a new identity for the abused and terrified young woman. Glory Thorn, not Gina Howard, existed.

“Yes, you do, Renee. You realize that hiding a fugitive is against the law.”

She tilted her head and smiled at him. “I know that. But it’s no concern to me since I’m not hiding a criminal.”

The muscle in his jaw twitched. Nothing irritated Jonas more than someone running a game on him. He’d take the challenge and battle for the win no matter the cost. Like he did with Samuel.

Renee swallowed hard and tried to block out the horrific night from so long … and also so soon ago. She crossed her arms and kept her gaze focused on his forehead. “Do you have a picture of this Gina Howard so I can keep an eye out for her? Since you’re accusing me of a crime, I’d like to see a copy of the police report.”

Jonas stepped closer. “The authorities are going to find out you helped her, Renee. Tell me where she is, and we can avoid the whole police business.”

“I don’t have any information for you.”

Jonas laughed. The deep rumble, once a delight, now caused her jaw to clench. “Still the same. Your choice of words always gave you away.” With each word, his tone dropped down until a smooth whisper rolled over her. “Renee, I came here to help you. Soon the authorities will breathe down that pretty neck of yours.”

Breath clogged her throat. Renee and her team at New Beginnings hid the abused and broken from those bent on destroying them. She didn’t want the authorities — or Jonas — prying into her business. Too many lives were at stake.

Headlights washed over them. Renee punched in the code to the back door and opened it, motioning for Jonas to go inside. “It’s Alex. Go. Please.”

He nodded and stepped into the building. “We’ll finish this discussion later.”

Renee’s heart accelerated. Was that a threat or a promise?

Self-Rescue Princess Interview: Lizzie Crenshaw from Death Vetoes a Chairman

death vetoes the chairman1. Please tell us a little bit about what is currently going on in your life?

I agreed to attend a fancy fundraiser as a favor to Jake Mathias, and it completely turned my life upside down. It sends me on an emotional roller coaster that also affects my family and friends. When there’s a murder, our investigation takes us to Jake’s hometown in Virginia, and some deep, dark secrets are brought to the surface. Before everything is said and done, someone close to all of us dies.

  1. Did you ever imagine yourself being involved in fighting crime?

No, I never expected to become so involved in murder. And this certainly isn’t my first rodeo, as we say here in Texas. But given the circumstances, with the victim being accused of harassment and assault, it’s a little more personal this time.

  1. Who would you say is the least pleased about your additional career choice of amateur sleuthing? Or is detective work your only career?

My boyfriend, T.J.; Jake; my mother; Owen, who’s the sheriff; Gladys, the busybody, but then again, she hates anything I do. And no, detective work is not my normal career. I work for our local newspaper, so I’m naturally going to ask questions about any kind of crime that happens in our town.

  1. What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Being able to take care of myself in tough situations; willing to help out my family, friends and neighbors (even those who don’t deserve help, like Gladys). My major weakness would be not asking for help for myself when I need it.

  1. What was one lesson you learned during this challenging time in your life?

That when I was at my lowest, my friends were there, and when I’m ready to ask for help, they’ll do what they can for me.

  1. If your story or life had a theme song, what would it be?

“Oops, I Did It Again” by Britney Spears. That would cover me sticking my nose into other people’s business (hazard of the job), as well as any new injury I might incur during the course of my investigations.

  1. Do you plan on dabbling in amateur sleuthing in the future, or have you hung up your detective hat?

Things are never quiet for long in Brookdale, so I’m sure I’ll be sticking my nose in where it doesn’t belong soon!

Lizzie had to leave as she got a call about a potential hot story happening in her town. I’m going to finish up the interview by asking a few question to her autobiographer Teresa Watson.

  1. What made you decide to take on such a heart-wrenching topic?

When I started writing this book, it wasn’t my intention for it to become so serious. But one of my beta readers/editors started talking to me about her experiences, and I realized that this was a story that needed to be told. There is such a stigma attached to sexual harassment and sexual assault that no one wants to talk about it, nor do they want to acknowledge that it even happens. But it does happen. The numbers are staggering. What’s even more aggravating is that 98% of the time, the abuser never spends a night in jail or prison. That’s something that needs to change.

  1. Describe what being a self-rescue princess (a strong, confident woman) means to you.

A strong, confident woman knows when she can handle things by herself, and when she needs to ask for help. Just because you ask for help doesn’t make you weak; it just means that you realize the situation is beyond what you can normally handle. We all have those moments in our lives. It’s how we handle them that defines us.

  1. What one advice/wisdom would you like to pass onto young women?

If you have found yourself in a situation like Lizzie went through, it’s not your fault. Do what you can to remove yourself from harm when it is safe for you to do so, and not before. There is help out there, way more than you realize. Yes, you will feel like a victim for a while, but the important thing to remember is YOU ARE A SURVIVOR. And that makes you stronger than anyone else.

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

peace love stopOctober is domestic violence awareness month. I’ve never talked about this issue on my blog, but with everything going on in our world today, I thought it was time. Domestic violence is usually seen as between spouses, but it encompasses—sadly—a lot more. Not only is it between parents and child, but at times between siblings. I grew up where the bullying occurred in my home. I was called names, labeled the nothing in the family, mocked because I had a stuttering problem. It used to hurt that my oldest brother acted like he didn’t know me when we were at school. He was a year older than me so we usually attended the same schools. People were shocked when they found out he had a sister going to the same school because he never told anyone.  When I was in the tenth grade, and he was in the eleventh, we shared the lunch period and yet I ate alone every day. That year, we also had the same first period class and my mother had him moved out of the class the next day for fear I’d embarrass him. In time, I came to realize that they had unwittingly done me a huge favor. School was a time where I could just be without worrying if I was doing or saying something wrong. I liked blending into the background and not being noticed by anyone. It gave me eight hours a day (I hated summer) where I was safe from the bullying of my siblings, and being abused by my parents.

This is a part of my life I’ve always tried to live past, and try hard not to let it control my life. One of my biggest fears now is being defined by the abuse I suffered as a child—what my father did to me—rather than what I do in life. I realized that the lack of a loving family when I was growing up is why I’m drawn to creating them in my fiction, and was the driving force of the New Beginning Series. This romantic suspense series follows a group of skip-tracers who dedicate their lives to relocating abused women who need a new start in life. These women and men face danger as they keep their clients — and their own hearts — safe.!newbegin/c1yzj

I’ve been in the position of having to save myself because those responsible not only refused to do so, but were the very reason I was in danger. They had built and placed me in the tower I was desperate to escape from. But I did. Not an easy task when you’re really still just a kid, but a necessary one. I learned at a young age that I had to fight my own battles or else let the dragon burn me.

For many, there is no prince (the reason for my blog’s name). No knight in shining armor … actually not even a knight in tarnished armor willing or able to go to battle.  Some women will have to defend their own honor.  Slay their own dragons. Find a way out of the tower through their own strength. The self-rescuing princess isn’t doomed to a life of unhappiness if a man doesn’t save her because she’ll save herself. One day, she’ll find her prodigal prince, or help that knight shine up his armor.  But if she doesn’t find her match, she’ll still live a life to be proud of and admired.

This month, I’ll share some excerpts for my novels and those of a fellow writer, Teresa Watson, and will include links to resources. I pray that no one needs them, but the sad reality is someone out there will.