Next week, I’m sending out my newsletter with a behind-the-scenes-peek into the true story that inspired my latest release Always Remember. It involves a 45 year old secret, but thankfully there’s a happy ending to this tale. So if you want the scoop, sign up for my newsletter. In the meantime, here’s a short excerpt from Always Remember.
My heroine, Jessie Adams, has just arrived at the hero’s ranch. This excerpt begins as she walks into the house where she grew up and sees her parents.
There was nowhere left to run and hide, so Jessie forced herself to move into the semi-darkness of the bedroom where a nightlight shone in the corner, casting shadows onto the walls. She looked past her mother to where her dad sat beside the bed, his once handsome face newly lined with worry.
Would he forgive her for staying away for so long? Her heart was bruised enough without adding more guilt to the rest.
In the mournful silence of the room, he lifted his gaze from his wife’s face, the ready laughter she remembered in his eyes gone, replaced by shades of sadness. She held her silence while he focused on her, experienced a moment of fear before recognition crossed his features.
Then the lines of sorrow on his face eased. He placed his wife’s hand on the quilt, gave it a loving pat. With hands braced on his knees, he pushed himself to his feet and came around the bed, the stiffness of old age apparent.
Relief swept through Jessie and she went into his open arms. He clasped her tightly to his chest, squeezing with a strength that belied his feeble appearance. “Oh Dad. I’m sorry I didn’t come earlier.”
“Hush, sweetie. It’s enough you made it now.”
She wanted to stay there forever, her cheek pressed against his shoulder, safe and secure like when she was a child. Jessie inhaled the familiar scent of pipe tobacco that clung to his clothes as if he’d just left the porch swing moments before their arrival. Too soon, he released her and turned her toward the bed.
For the first time since she entered the room, Jessie looked at her mother. Really looked. Her knees turned liquid. Guilt slammed the breath from her lungs.
“Your Ma’s been asking for you day and night. So afraid we might not get hold of you in time.”
Without taking her eyes off her mother’s haggard features, she was aware of him moving around to the opposite side of the bed and of Nate stepping forward to stand at her side.
“She has good days here and there, but mostly now she just wants to sleep. Asks for you whenever she wakes up though.”
The robust, energetic woman Jessie remembered was gone. The woman lying on the bed was a shrunken, fragile replica of her mother, skin stretched tight over the bones in her face. Hands, once strong and beautiful, were lined with prominent veins and covered with translucent flesh.
The woman asleep on the bed wasn’t robust and indestructible. She was frail and small and helpless.
Jessie took her mother’s hand into her own. It was warm, the skin soft as a newborn’s, the flesh sagging with the passing of years. So many of them gone, lost. Wasted.
As the wail of a long lost child echoed through her thoughts, a sob worked up her throat.
Oh God, Mother, what did I do? What did we do?
A tear slipped down her cheek. Choking back a sob, Jessie gently laid the fragile hand back on the bed, turned and collided with the broad expanse of Nate’s chest. He caught her by the shoulders, his touch firm, warm, familiar…missed.
Concern flashed in the shadow-darkened depths of his gaze. How could he still care after all she’d taken away from him? Because he didn’t know. He might never know.
Pulling free of his hold, she raced from the room, out the front door, and into the quiet darkness of the night.
So head on over and sign up for my newsletter, and discover the story behind the story.
No, it’s not what you’re thinking. Get your mind out of the gutter, folks.
You see, I married a DIY guy. He’s good with his hands, looks great in his tool belt, and is willing to tackle any project, large or small. Together we’ve built two houses, doing most of the work ourselves, and tackled numerous home renovations…all without killing each other.
However, I’m always a little bit reluctant, while he’s always gung-ho for the next project and the next challenge.
I once worked with a woman who did all of her own home repairs and maintenance. She had a knack for hammers and skill saws and pipe wrenches and tape measures. If there was a kitchen tap in need of repair or a new shelving unit to be mounted to the wall, she knew how to do the job. Man, was I envious.
I have no building or mechanicals skills at all. Give me a computer and a program or app, and I can do anything. Give me a hammer and a toolbelt and a pipe wrench and…well, let’s just say if I had to hang a bookshelf on my own, it would be crooked. And the moment someone placed an object on it, it would fall off the wall.
So how do my DIY guy and I work together?
He’s the general contractor and I generally follow his orders.
I’m the go-fer gal – go for the hammer, get more nails, go pick up paint – while he’s the one that measures and cuts and makes sure our home projects are sturdy and straight.
I’m also the manual laborer – lift this stone, hold that piece of gyproc against the ceiling, bring another wheelbarrow of sand or dirt – and after the last few days, I’ve got the muscles and the bruises to prove I can do it.
Yet despite nearly 40 years of hanging out with my DIY guy, I’m still unable to hang a picture by myself.
How about you? Are you a Do-It-Yourself person, tackling your own home projects and maintenance projects, or do you call a guy or maybe call a girl? This exhausted girl wants to know.
Last week, I received the final cover for my August 2013 release ALWAYS REMEMBER. Because we went through several designs, I thought I’d give you a behind the scenes peek at the cover process.
Originally, I’d found the image of a couple I wanted to use on the cover (below). Since ALWAYS REMEMBER takes place on a ranch outside of Cochrane, Alberta, I went with a western look. I loved the couple’s pose in this image and the look of the guy screamed babe-magnet. Yeah, he fit the image of Nate Coltrane just perfectly. But I didn’t like the woman’s snarky smile because it didn’t portray my heroine properly, so I asked my designer, Kim Killion of Hot Damn Designs, to cover up her face.
As usual, Kim did a super fab job on the cover and below is the first composition she sent me.
The cover is beautiful, isn’t it? In fact, when I first saw it, I thought it looked like a painting worthy of being hung on my wall. Except there was one problem with it. I felt readers could mistake this book for a historical romance.
So we went back to the drawing board and Kim came up with a more contemporary look.
Again, totally gorgeous. Now you know why Kim designs my covers. 🙂 There was no way readers could mistake ALWAYS REMEMBER for a historical romance now, but the man looked like he belonged on a golf course instead of a ranch. We tried a cowboy hat on him. Uggg. And I really missed my cowboy hero from the first cover.
After some discussion, during which time we played with the first image to see if we could come up with something that I’d be happy with, I decided the original image of the couple — with that gorgeous cowboy guy — wouldn’t suit the contemporary cover I wanted.
We restarted the process and I headed online to gather new information to send to Kim. I looked at existing covers that projected the feel I wanted for my book (very contemporary) and went searching for an image of a couple that would represent Nate Coltrane and Jessie Adams, the hero and heroine from ALWAYS REMEMBER. At last, I resent my request and crossed my fingers.
And WOW! I’m totally in love with Kim’s design. With the purple hues and the romantic couple front and center, this cover is absolutely-perfectly stunning! I now have it as the desktop on my MacBook Air, my iPad, and my iPhone, so I can admire it every day before I get down to work on book two of the Rocky Mountain Romance series.
What are some of your favorite covers? Go ahead and leave links in the comments below. And out of the three covers above, would you have chosen one of the other covers? If so why? Hey, we’re all different and I get that and I’m very interested in how others perceive cover design.
Thanks for sharing this special moment with me and remember to sign up for my newsletter!
This part of my story begins a few days after my original The Ducklings Are Coming post. If you haven’t read that post yet, go do so now. I’ll wait.
♫ ♬ ♪♬ ♫
Oh, you’re back. I was just humming a tune. You probably noticed my musical talents are … shall we say … ear-numbing? 🙂
A few days after I wrote The Ducklings Are Coming post, we heard our son shout for assistance. As we raced outside, he told us that the neighborhood tomcat had disappeared under the front deck dragging Mama Duck by the neck.
The men flew into action. My husband raced for one end of the deck while our son headed for the other end. The pounding of our feet against the floorboards and the sound of our loud voices must have frightened the tomcat into releasing Mama Duck because a few seconds later, the tomcat sprang out from one side of the deck and Mama Duck came flapping out the other end.
My husband raced after the tomcat, while poor Mama Duck took one look at the remaining humans and took flight in the opposite direction.
We took a quick peek through the branches of the juniper at the eggs. There was blood on them, so we knew Mama Duck had been hurt, but the eggs looked intact and unbroken. Provided Mama Duck came back, the ducklits still had a chance.
A while later, DH reappeared. He’d chased the tomcat clear across the yard and halfway across the farmer’s field. But now that the tomcat knew where the nest was, we knew he’d be back.
So we waited, keeping watch for Mama Duck, the return of the tomcat, or for the crows and magpies to discover and destroy the vulnerable eggs. To add to our worries, the temperature dipped to near freezing.
The next day, we saw Mama Duck down by the pond. She was alive but limping. By mid-afternoon, we saw her walk from the pond toward the house to check on her eggs. If you look really close at the picture on the right, you can see her walking across the lawn.
My story has a bittersweet ending. While the duck eggs didn’t make it, we’re happy to say that Mama Duck recovered from her injuries. For the next week, she recuperated down by the pond, the Mallard duck in attendance. She didn’t fly, but instead walked everywhere. From our viewpoint near the house, it looked like she was searching for a new place to nest.
At first we mourned the loss of the duck eggs, but when we saw the tomcat once again sneaking up on the juniper, we knew the loss of the eggs had been a blessing in disguise. At least Mama Duck was safe … or as safe as Mother Nature would allow.
We currently have another family of ducklings visiting our pond. They appear late in the evening, just before sunset, and spend the night on the duck deck which floats in the middle of the pond.
And we’re keeping an eye out for our Mama Duck with hopes that she will appear in a few weeks with a new batch of ducklits. If not this year, then maybe the next.
I’m at the moment in my latest mess-in-progress when everything sucks. The plot is filled with holes. The characters are a crazy mess. I’ve thrown everything into the story pot and it tastes like chicken soup gone bad.
Yes, the first draft of Terms of Surrender is complete. You’ll briefly meet the heroine — Harley Jane Davis — in Always Remember. She’s an emergency room nurse who recently lost her twin sister and who volunteers at the local women’s shelter. When she ends up in the middle of a domestic situation, she’s rescued by the hot-guy-who-got-away.
Enter crisis negotiator Gage Toryn.
Gage may look like he has it all together, but deep down, he’s as messed up as they come. A victim of his violent childhood, he fears the monster inside and refuses to let any woman get too close.
I’m turning their world upside down, one road block at a time. 🙂