Books · Heroine Interviews

SRP Heroine Interview: Gwenn Hilliard from the Phoenix Files Trilogy

Closest Enemy1. Please tell us a little bit about what is currently going on in your life?

I’m a consultant with the FBI. I joined the FBI to fulfill my husband’s dream. He was killed in a car crash, and never made it to Quantico himself. It was a cathartic goal for me to finally gain my creds for his sake. Of course, after my first assignment in the Phoenix office landed me flat on surveillance duty, I was starting to regret it. We were at Monte Vista Hospital in Phoenix when Sam Montoya finally made it in from his under-cover assignment. I don’t know how it happened, but when he said there were kids in danger, and someone needed to go get them, I was on it. It didn’t seem to matter though, because my next assignment was counterfeiting, and all I had was some fake money, and a new partner I was trying not to fall in love with. I guess the rest is history.

2. What made you decide to take on such a risky endeavor?

I didn’t think about it. I just did it. I was just doing my job. Sam said to get the kids, and nobody else was moving fast enough.

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

Well, not in my younger days, of course. After working as a head nurse in a ped’s hospital though, I did some crime fighting before joining the FBI. Then after I got through my FBI training, I wondered how in the world I would ever be able to take down a perp. I did it though. That was a long time ago, now.

4. Who would you say is the least pleased about your additional career choice of Special Agent in the FBI?

I think that would be me, myself and I. Like I said, I was trying to keep my husband alive by living his dream. When I actually got through it, and realized I now had a job that I had to keep in order to pay bills, well I was feeling the pressure, and kind of missing my nurse’s job. After all that’s happened though, I’m so glad I did it. I never would have met Ranson. I have had such adventures that I never would have dreamed of, so I guess I would have to say that all things work together for good to them that love God.

5.  What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Oh, I second-guess myself all the time. I never know if the decision I make is going to be the right one. Given enough time, I always change my mind. That’s why the best things I have ever done are on the spur of the moment. I guess my only strength is that I’m faithful at whatever I am doing and I finish the job. I try to think about how others feel, you know?

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

If I would define this ‘self-rescue princess’, It would definitely not be me! I don’t feel that I am either strong, or confident. I get the job done, try to do it right, pray that I made the right decision…and most of the time, hope I don’t ever have to do it again. I guess a strong, confident woman would learn from her mistakes though. My aunt once told me I was my own closest enemy. Can’t run from yourself, you know!

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

I guess it would be just that. You can’t run from yourself, so if you don’t like who you are, then take the steps to change. Trusting the Lord to guide you in the right path, is essential!

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

I learned that the Lord really knew who I was, where I was, and how I got there. He had never left me. I left him, but he was waiting on me to call on him. It was so he could help me get rid of my bitterness and pain from the past and move on toward a wonderful future. You see the Lord always has good plans for us, if we just follow his guidance.

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

Love Lifted Me

10. Do you plan on getting back into crime-solving?

 Well,  like I said, I do some consulting, but I don’t think I would ever choose to go back to full time work. Sometimes, I help Ranson with surveillance, but he and I both are just about ready for retirement! We are enjoying our children; watching their lives blossom into adulthood. Time has gone so fast. But who knows? I still have my FBI creds, somewhere, in a box. One of these days, when my grand kids find them, I might have to tell them some stories! If they decide to write about their FBI granny, you might just see me again! 

Books · Excerpt · West Virginia

Release Day: Far and Away, Book 5 New Beginnings Series

FarandAwayCoverArt72dpiIt’s a bittersweet day. Far and Away, the fifth book in the New Beginning Series is now available. Release days are always exciting but this one holds a tad bit of sadness as Far and Away is the last book in the series. I’ve enjoyed writing about these characters, and the town of Mourning, and am a little disheartened to have to say goodbye to the characters and the town. During the course of the series, the town of Mourning took on a greater role and in a way became its own character.

This last book features Priscilla Thorn and Edgar Fritz. Originally, the last book was going to feature a different heroine and an unknown at the time hero. But as it came time to write book five, I knew in my heart the story that needed told was Priscilla’s and Edgar’s. In a way, the series began with Priscilla Thorn and seemed fitting to end with her. I was thrilled that Gail, Editor-in-Chief, of Desert Breeze allowed me to change the story not just from the original heroine but also to feature an older couple. Older couples aren’t usually featured in romance, especially in romantic suspense, but this book had to be about Priscilla (62) and Edgar (70). I hope readers enjoy reading about a non-traditionally aged couple.


The hope of a future for the broken begins in Mourning.

Priscilla Thorn’s heart broke when her son killed his wife and now shatters when her son takes his own life. Priscilla’s grief-stricken soul finds little comfort knowing before he died, Samuel turned his life over to God. Priscilla believes for Samuel to receive forgiveness from the Heavenly Father, she must give it to Samuel’s earthly father…her abusive ex-husband.

Edgar Fritz is stunned when the woman he loves takes her dying ex-husband into her home. While Priscilla sees caring for her ex-husband as showing God’s love, Edgar believes Stephen will use the opportunity for revenge. Edgar risks losing Priscilla’s friendship by insisting the man hasn’t changed his ways and has come back to hurt her one last time.

Is Priscilla risking her life by insisting her ex-husband changed so the world — and God — will know her son had changed?


Behind the coffin, the plain wooden cross stood tall and proud. Reminding Priscilla Thorn of all lost and then found when the Savior sacrificed His life on Earth so all had a chance for eternity in Heaven. All. Priscilla held that word tightly in her heart. All. The Lord promised it for all.

Priscilla clutched the single red rose. A thorn bit into her skin. Her son was gone from the Earth. Tears blurred her vision. She blinked to clear them from her eyes. The door to the sanctuary opened and a gust of wind skittered through the church. Strands of gray hair had escaped from the bun and hung down her back, fluttering toward her face. She tipped her neck back, hoping the wind God sent dried the tears on her face.

“I’m sorry for your loss,” a sweet voice broke into her thoughts.

Priscilla startled. Emma Haywood’s compassionate eyes meet hers. Emma squeezed Priscilla’s hand then slipped into the pew behind her.

“You came.” She didn’t know what else to say.

“Of course we would.” Sheriff Haywood’s voice rumbled from the doorway.

Priscilla pivoted in the seat and stared. Friends, neighbors, and the ones she hoped to see but already forgiven if they couldn’t, walked through the door.

“Sorry for interrupting, Pastor,” Sheriff Haywood said. “A car slid into the valley and delayed a lot of people as it got towed out.”

Hannah Stratford slid into the pew beside Emma. “Connor sends his condolences and regrets. They need his search and rescue skills, along with his dogs, to find the driver of the vehicle.”

Angelina Stratford took the vacant seat beside Priscilla while her husband Todd joined Emma and Hannah. “We decided it was best for Renee and the baby to stay at Connor and Hannah’s. Alex decided he needed to go help in the search so Jonas went with him.”

“I appreciate everyone making the trek to Mourning. This isn’t easy for your family.” Priscilla clutched the Bible to her chest, hoping it helped settle the roiling of her stomach and pounding heart.

“It isn’t for you either.” Angelina rested a comforting hand on top of Priscilla’s. “You were there for us in our grief. You took the anger Alex and Renee lashed out at you.”

“They needed somewhere for it to go.” Priscilla rubbed her fingers over the worn leather. “If I could’ve stopped it…”

“I knew that.” Angelina took hold of her hand. “Regardless of the fact Samuel took Melody’s life, he’s still your child. Your heart broke once when Melody died, and now it breaks again. We couldn’t let you go through that alone.”

Priscilla nodded, fighting back grateful tears. They had come. Her friends hadn’t forgotten her or allowed her son’s actions to keep them away when she needed them most.

One of the heavy weights on her shoulders slipped off, the other remained and skipped into her head as a situation played itself out. A car skidded into the valley. She had notified Stephen of the funeral.

Was her ex-husband the missing driver? Stephen drank during times of stress and this qualified. People changed. She had. Samuel had.

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Books · Heroine Interviews

SRP Heroine Interview: Amy Spears Montoya from Classified (The Phoenix Files Trilogy)

I’d like to welcome Amy to the Self-Rescue Princess and thank her from taking time out of her day to answer a few questions about her job and her recent cases.

Classified1. Please tell us a little bit about what is currently going on in your life?

I was labeled, pretty correctly by a friend and colleague, as having an obsessive-compulsive personality disorder; OCPD. This meant I could not leave my home without making sure all small appliances were unplugged, and all light switches had to be touched; not just turned off, but touched. It took a good ten minutes to go through and make sure I was in control of every situation that could arise, real or imagined. As time went on, behavior modification therapy was working on the surface, but failure was not an option. If I felt out of control, I counted it as a failure, and therefore, I had to go through a routine to solve it. It was pretty amazing that I had made it through the Air Force Academy, and I was a Special Agent in the FBI, but the things that hindered me were the same things that drove me to excellence. That was my mantra, excellence. Then I met Sam Montoya. And then, I met Jesus Christ. I found true love and happiness, forgiveness for my sin, and peace in my heart. I realized that while there is something to be said for hard work and achievement, there are times when we are out of control, and no amount of routine or repetition is going to fix it – like the time I was kidnapped by that agent-gone-bad! Thank God I got out of that alive! I’m not in the FBI full time now, but looking back over my life, I would say that being in the FBI was the best time of my life – until now.

2.What made you want your story to be told? 

I don’t think I started out wanting my story to be told. I wanted to keep things the way they were. I was safe in my routine, and although I was striving for more and more achievements to put under my belt, I just wanted to be left alone to do it. It didn’t even start out as my story. My Psych prof in grad school assigned this thesis on Religious Fanaticism, and I got teamed up with Ranson Hilliard. He is the one  who started labeling me, and trying to analyze me. True, I stepped into the middle of his life when he didn’t ask me to, but it was only because I couldn’t see someone wallow in self pity.

3. What lead you to make the changes you did in your life?

Well, I guess Ranson did to a certain extent. Until he gave a name to my ‘excellence chasing’, as I called it before it was known as OCPD, I just wanted to do something more. He was the one who said I should do something different. Then, when Sam joined our team in Phoenix, I fell in love. No man had ever caught my attention like Sam, not even Ranson, though I know at one point, he wanted to give it a shot. I never let on like I knew that though, because I had too much to do, and I just wanted a friend. But Sam, he was different. He was happy. He was joyful. He had something I didn’t have, and I wanted it. It was salvation through Jesus Christ! And that is where my life changed once and for all.

4. In your life, what has empowered you?

You know, sometimes we can thank our parents for who we become as adults, and sometimes we can blame them. It turns out that the thing that made me OCPD, also made me productive. I can’t say that I didn’t have a little of the tendency to start with, as my step-father so sweetly pointed out to that guy he wanted me to date. Just a word of advice…never tell your daughter’s date about embarrassing things she did as a child! But, the point is, that if Jeff had never pushed me to excellence, I would not have gotten to where I was when I met the Lord.  I would say that since then, Sam is my greatest encourager, and the Bible is my strength.

5. What are strengths and weaknesses?

I guess one of my greatest strengths is the ability to think about things, analyze them, and find out what others are missing. I spent a lot of time in the FBI as a data analyst, and I was good at it. I still do some consultations, and I love it. My weakness is the OCPD. When I get shaken in my emotions, I tend to revert back to my old ways. Well…maybe two weaknesses; OCPD and chocolate.

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

I would never classify myself as a self-rescue princess. There were times I thought I was strong, but then I learned that strength all by yourself is not really strength. Learning to depend on other people and trust them; that is what makes you a much stronger person. That is why I would not say self-rescue would be the words to describe me. It’s give and take. Ranson showed me that one day. He challenged me to open up to friendships and relationships. Confidence is built by experience. When you are inexperienced, you cannot be confident. Over-confidence when you are inexperienced is dangerous.

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

Always do your best, but never be afraid to fail. Through mistakes and failures, you learn how to do it better next time. Life is not about who finishes first, so finish well even though it might take a little longer.

8. Favorite quote or Bible verse.

That is easy. It’s the verse that kept going over in my mind when I was running from the Lord. “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

9.  If your story had a theme song, what would it be?

Amazing Grace

10. Will you be continuing your journey in written form?

As for now, I don’t have another story to tell. I’m too busy! Those twins keep me hopping from sun-up to sun-down! I know enough to say though, that if there is a story with me in it, I’m not afraid to strive for another happy ending!

11. Is there anyone in your life (friend, family member) who will be sharing their life?

Who knows? Most of the people sharing my life during my transformation had their own transformations at the same time. I think about some of the things I went through, and honestly, it’s scary to think that my children will have to take their own journeys one day. If their stories were ever to be told, it would mean they would have to have an adventure worth telling. It is hard to believe that our twins are almost fourteen now, but their main objective is tormenting their brothers and sister. Oh, you haven’t heard about them have you? Hmm, well maybe there is a story in there…somewhere.