Books · Writing

New Covers and Paperbacks Now Available

Well, I finally did it. I was able to create paperback versions for the New Beginnings series. For those new to my blog, the New Beginning Series is an inspirational romantic suspense series i wrote featuring a group of skip tracers who help “vanish” abused and stalked women. The series was originally published by Desert Breeze Publishing who closed their doors June 2018. I had re-released the ebooks myself and have been working on creating paperbacks for them.

And now that project is done! The most difficult part of the project was doing the wrap around book cover. It took me weeks to get all five perfect so they’d be approved by Amazon. When I started making the covers, I didn’t like how the original “new” cover looked for a paperback so I created new covers to use with both ebook and paperbacks.

I’ve been waiting to them off once the books were linked, but weeks later, not all of the editions are linked together so I decided to just show them off now anyway. I’ll include the link for the paperback and ebook edition if needed. The ebooks are currently only available on Kindle and are in the Kindle Unlimited Program.

And now…the new covers!

Lost Then Found colorSkip 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.

In order to uncover the secret a teenage 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 a teenage girl – and their own.

Ebook: https://www.amazon.com/Lost-Then-Found-Inspirational-Beginnings-ebook/dp/B07JBLTNFJ

Paperback: https://www.amazon.com/Lost-Then-Found-Inspirational-Beginnings/dp/1795662743

Led Astray colorWith a battle brewing between the off-the-grid towns of Mourning and Haven, WV, skip tracer Danita Ballinger races to the area before the lives of her “vanished” clients are jeopardized.

Pastor Riley Coole isn’t interested in a mining company’s offer of jobs and a new spiritual home for the community in exchange for the mountaintop where the church resides. To Riley, the church is never up for sale. As word gets out about the promised jobs, his refusal ignites a war between two towns. Adding to Riley’s problem is the brazen woman who charged into town and forced her way into his church’s business–and his thoughts.

The murder of a key player in the tug-of-war over the mountain puts plans of retaliation into place. Danita and Riley must put aside their private battle to protect the people relying on them for safety. Will seeing each other in a new light put them on a path of acceptance and love, or create a further divide ripping apart the town and their own hearts?

Ebook and Paperback: https://www.amazon.com/Led-Astray-Inspirational-Romantic-Beginnings-ebook/dp/B07JNFY2H2

Safe and Sound colorFive years ago, Connor’s new bride Hannah lost her way in a blizzard and the mountain claimed her. When a woman’s body is uncovered during a landslide, Connor learns his beloved was murdered and the man responsible goes on the run. Connor enlists the aid of his cousin, a skip tracer, to track down the killer and discovers the murderer has set his sights on another woman. Determined to save the woman from the same fate as his beloved wife, Connor has her brought to Haven and faces the second biggest shock of his life—the woman claims she’s Hannah.

The murderer who sent Hannah Stratford on the run has tracked her down. For years, she has lived off the identity of her lookalike best friend. Now, the only way to stay alive is for Hannah to prove she didn’t die in a blizzard. Connor offers her safety and protection in his home, but keeps his heart guarded from her. Hannah wants more than to save her life. She wants Connor back. How will her husband react once he learns she not only left on her own, but hid her friend’s death to save herself? Can Hannah ever find true peace in her life or will she always be on the run?

Ebook: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07K4XMV5H

Paperback: https://www.amazon.com/Safe-Sound-Inspirational-Romantic-Beginnings/dp/1795852984

Long Gone colorReporter Eve Darling has the story of a lifetime. Years ago, a man and his brother had connived a baby away from a teenage mom and plan–and that man is now running for Governor. Without the source’s name, her boss refuses to the run the story, and Eve isn’t willing to give up the name of the victim–herself. Fearing the men who ruined her life have set their sights on another young woman, Eve turns to skip tracer Alex Stratford to help locate and protect the new intended victim.

Alex is stunned when Eve requests his help. The woman who once accused him of murder now accuses another man of a crime. Having battled Eve’s mudslinging himself, Alex refuses to work with her. Determined to bring the brothers to justice, Eve continues the mission alone. When she’s attacked, Alex rushes to her aid–and a decision alters lives forever. Can a battered and discredited Eve and a battle-scarred Alex ever feel worthy of love?

Ebook and Paperback: https://www.amazon.com/Long-Gone-Inspirational-Romantic-Beginnings-ebook/dp/B07KSDL3HG

Far and Away colorPriscilla Thorn’s heart broke when her son killed his wife, and now shatters when her son takes his own life. Believing her son would want his father at his funeral, she informs her ex-husband–the abusive man she ran from decades ago. Stephen Thorn drops a bombshell, his life is ebbing away and he has no one to care for him. Priscilla believes for Samuel to receive forgiveness from the Heavenly Father, she must give it to Samuel’s earthly father.

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 has an ulterior motive and will use the opportunity for revenge. Edgar risks losing Priscilla’s friendship by insisting the man hasn’t changed his ways.

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

Ebook and Paperback: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07KWHJN6B

 

 

 

Books · Excerpt

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?

LongGoneCoverArt72dpiExcerpt:

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.

“Sore.”

“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.”

“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.

Books · Excerpt · Self-Rescue Princess

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

LostThenFoundCoverArt72dpiExcerpt:

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?

Books · Craft · Excerpt · Quilting · West Virginia

Crafting Moment from Safe and Sound

With March being National Craft Month, I’m featuring some crafting…and love of handmade items…moments from my novels. In Safe and Sound, Hannah is drawn to venture inside a store that sells handmade goods.

SafeandSoundCoverArt72dpiExcerpt:

Hannah tugged open the door and stepped inside. A sense of calm filled her as she allowed the love used to make the items wrap around her. She smiled. She could live in the store. Reaching out, she trailed her fingers through the fringe of a cashmere scarf knitted in a mix of red and gold shades.

“Can I help you?”

Hannah gasped and spun around, pressing her gloved hand to her chest.

“I didn’t mean to scare you.” The woman looked her up and down then peered out the window. A frown developed on her wide face. “Are you hiding from someone? Do you think you saw the shooter from this morning? I’ll call the sheriff for you.”

Word sure did get around the small town quick. “A little rattled. Walking by your store, I saw all the lovely things and they called out to my heart. I had to come in and look and touch. I’m calmer already.” Hannah shoved her hands into her pocket. “I promise not to ruin anything.”

The woman smiled. “Don’t you worry none. Just noticed a busybody hovering outside and figured she was bugging you. Please take a look around. I’m Beverly, the owner. Are you looking for anything in particular?”

“The quilts and fabric caught my eye. Nothing says love like a beautiful handmade quilt.”

The woman beamed. “I have some made by a local artisan and a few others I picked up at some quilting shows. The quilts are all on the second floor. There’s a latch at the top of the stair gate, pull it up and it’ll open. Don’t forget to close it.”

Beverly started walking her to the staircase when the front bell jingled. A familiar looking young woman with brown hair stepped inside. The owner rolled her eyes. “Let me go see what Miss One-Thousand-Questions wants this time. Just call down to me if you’d like a closer look at any of the pieces hanging.”

“Thank you.”

Grasping the wooden rail, Hannah went up the stairs. When she reached the top, a gasp once again escaped her. Beauty left her awestruck. Slowly, she walked over to the first queen sized quilt hung on a large wooden hanger and drifted her gloved hand over the intricate hand-stitching on the front of the quilt. A precise line of stitches dipped and swirled over the soft pink and bright green shades of material, the fabric a mix of patterns and solid. A cream border surrounded the quilt.

Using her thumb and index finger, Hannah took hold of the edge of the quilt. She moved it forward on the rack. The next one was black and white with a red border in a contemporary style.

Hannah moved on to the next one. She fell in love. Navy blue and soft silvers complimented the winter scene of a cabin at night. The shimmery fabric used for the stars made the picture life-like. The artist used a silver, cotton fabric to create wisps of smoke coming from the chimney. Hannah could almost hear the fire crackling in the hearth. Smell the comfort of smoke wafting up the chimney.

Soft, almost buttery flannel backed the quilt. Yielding to temptation, Hannah raised a corner of the quilt and rubbed it across her cheek. It felt like home. Love. Safety.

The amount written on the price tag made her sigh. Out of her price point though it was worth every penny being asked. She stroked the fabric one more time and went to a rack with lap and crib-sized quilts. Maybe she’d be able to afford a smaller one. A lap quilt with a Christmas tree appliqué caught her eye. She lifted up the quilt and examined the tiny stitches used to puff out the ornaments. Beautiful.

The bell jingled.

Hannah smiled and gently released the quilt. She knew her husband would come after her.

Blurb:

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

Four years ago while deployed, Connor’s new bride lost her way in a blizzard and the mountain claimed her. Grief-stricken and injured, Connor returned home to wrestle with guilt and begin life as a widower. When a woman’s body is uncovered, Connor learns his beloved was murdered…and the murderer has his sights on another woman. Connor’s past and present are pulled apart when the woman claims she’s Hannah.

The murderer who sent Hannah Stratford on the run has tracked her down. Now, the only way to stay alive is for Hannah to prove she didn’t die in a blizzard. Connor offers her safety and protection in his home, but keeps his heart guarded from her. Hannah wants more than to save her life. She wants Connor.

To read more of Hannah and Connor’s story, Safe and Sound can be found at:

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Christianbook

Desert Breeze

This Spring, the New Beginnings series will be available in print.

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.

Blurb:

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?

Excerpt:

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.

Buy Links:

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Desert Breeze Publishing

Books · Writing

Managing Your Writing Business. Part 6. Financial

Today, I’m posting the last part of my talk on managing your writing business. It’s a subject most don’t like talking about, but one we all have to manage and take into consideration.

6. Financial

a. Budget for your Business. It’s important to sit down and figure out the amount you believe is necessary to grow and maintain your business. This is one of the areas, if not the key element for most, that will break a writing business from the start and create stress not just in your business but in your personal life as well. It’s important to take your family’s needs into considerate when creating your budget.

The best advice on budgeting for business was given to me by my husband. Truthfully, it stung a little at first but once I was able to think on it at the business,  and not emotional level, it made perfect sense and took away stress from spending money on my business.

The advice given: Only spend the amount you wouldn’t mind losing/not earning back. Don’t spend more than you are comfortable with not having for other expenses in your life. Make business/writing expense part of your household budget.  Don’t treat what you spend as an investment that will give you a return. There is a chance you won’t make back what you spend (depending on the amount) and spending money needed in other areas with the hope you’ll earn it back will only create a lot of stress and hardship.

 b. Income – If you place your books on consignments with bookstores or other venues, make sure to check in with them. Every quarter, month, or week (this will depend on when you get reports and how often you’d like to check) evaluate how the book(s) are doing. What can you do to increase income?

1. increase marketing

2. other sources of writing income (articles, freelance, etc.)

3. if writing in more than one genre, is it better to concentrate on one over the other

c. Expenses –

Take a look at what’s been spent during the month/week. Are you within budget? Over budget? If over budget, what can be cut from the upcoming months in your writing expenses to bring you back under budget? Or, if no places to cut what will need to  be cut from other budget items in your household? Or how can you make up the shortfall with other income opportunities?

d. Taxes

Keep all business receipts. I have file folders for my income and expenses. If you’re not sure if an expense is deductible, contact a tax professional. I know I’m not giving much advice in this area besides file your taxes and if you have any questions consult a tax professional. I know enough to get mine done (and have a professional I can contact with questions)  and enough to know I shouldn’t be giving detailed advice on this subject.

And this concludes my mini-series on managing your business. I do have one final thing I’d like to say…

CLOSING NOTE: Another important part of the writing business (and possibly every business) is to forgive yourself. There will be choices you’ll cringe at later, or time you wished you spent better. Let it go. If you haven’t accomplished all you wanted (or needed) to do, let it go. Start fresh. Don’t spend time brow-beating yourself about what wasn’t done, that time is better spent beating up on your characters.

What works today won’t work tomorrow as life constantly changes on us. Learn to adapt. Learn to forgive yourself. And remember to take time out to have fun and recharge.

Books · How To · Writing

Managing Your Writing Business. Part 1. The Writing

This June at the West Virginia Writers Conference, I did a workshop about the other areas of the writing/publishing business. It’s easy to forget (and I do at times) that writing isn’t the only part of the writing business. There are many components of it and it’s easy for the “fun” and creative part to overshadow them. But in order to make this business work, one must remember it is a business and there are other important areas needing attention.

For me, I found it was easier for me to juggle these areas (and not forget one…which I’ve done) when I broke the business into six different parts. I’m going to share my workshop over the next couple of weeks on my blog. Please feel free to leave comments, or send me an email if you have any questions.

This will seem a weird way to start off this mini-series, as I just stated a writing business isn’t just about writing, but there are times when a writer can allow the other components to remain front and center. Especially those times when it seems like a particular project is fighting us every step of the way. It’s easy, and makes us still feel productive, to focus exclusively on marketing, promoting, and other areas that don’t seem to be battling you. And one must also consider that without the writing one wouldn’t have a writing business so…

Part 1. The Writing

There will be times when the writing needs to come secondary to other parts of the business, like when a book is first released, if you’re at a conference (don’t spend all your time in the room writing), etc., but make sure the writing portion of your business doesn’t come to a complete standstill. That’s not to say never take a break or a vacation.

After I complete a book, I like to “treat” myself with a goofing off day. And when I go on vacation with my family, or to a scrapbook retreat, I am there in that moment. I know I wouldn’t like for my husband to always bring work with him on vacation, or have my friends working during a time we scheduled to hang out together so I don’t. There are times when I must squeeze in some writing, but I make sure it doesn’t take over the time or become the priority.

I break down my writing into 3 areas and usually have two of them going on at the same time…lately its been writing one book and editing another. I’ve tried doing all 3, but found it was too much and made me anxious and a little twitchy so I will only do two at a time. It’s better for my sanity and creativity.

a. First draft – Just write. That’s my daily motto when writing a new book. I tell myself there will be plot holes. Inconsistencies. Characters pop into and out of the story at random times. I’ll wonder why a character has been sucked into a some kind of vortex and just disappeared from a key scene. I make a note (usually it means they weren’t needed there) and continue on with the characters who have a strong presence in the scene.

I do my best to go with the flow. If I try to control the story too much at this point, it stalls–and that’s even when I have an outline. Allow the first draft to be a way of getting to know the characters and working on the structure of your story. The first draft is never the actual book. Or shouldn’t be.

b. Editing – Before sending out to editors at publishing houses, agents or self-publishing, take time to edit. Be open to getting rid of any part of the manuscript that stalls the plot, doesn’t add to characterization, or sounds more like a lecture to the reader. Even with an outline, a writer usually knows the book better at the end than in the beginning. This is the time I enjoy and dread the most. Since I know the story and the characters drive and motivations much better, I know what needs to be added and taken away. Of course some of those scenes that must go are ones I’ve fallen in love with, and while I’d rather leave them in there so readers can see “my brilliance”, if the brilliance doesn’t contribute to the story beside to show my brilliance, it must go.

c. Next project – I always have a few ideas, or a basic outline for another book I’m interested in working on next. Of course, contracted books with a due date are always next in line so at times the choice is easy. In a few months, I’ll be wrapping up a romantic suspense series and there are two ideas battling for which one I should pick. Part of how I decide is how much research is involved and what other time commitments do I have. Is there a theme begging for me to explore it and which project would it fit? Is there a spin-off potential of books I just finished? I always like to have an idea or two for another project in the works because you never know when an opportunity will present itself.

Next in the mini-series: Time Management