Thursday, October 29, 2009

My Guest blogger

Leann, here. I've decided to yield my blogging time to one of my characters in my Oct book. GUARDED SECRETS.

Hey, everyone. My name’s Penny Burkstrom. My story and my mom’s is out this month. Wow, it’s soooo exciting. To have my story out there for the world to read. It’s way too cool. My classmates—I’m 9 now, almost 10, are jealous. But that’s okay.

Let me say, my story started out real sad. My daddy was killed. He was buying a cold drink at the convenience store down the block. He’d dropped me off after having me for the weekend. My folks got divorced. Dad, he was kinda bad, and he didn’t come and see me often when I was little. Well, he started coming to church with me and mom. I gave his heart to Jesus and wow the difference. After that, we had a lot of fun. Mom and Dad started saying nice things to each other. There was a really neat time when he took me to the local water-park here in Albuquerque. He took some neat, neat pictures.

When he got killed at the store, I cried and cried. Mom helped and told me that Dad was in heaven. Still, I missed him.

Well, when mom and I went to clean out his apartment, that’s when things got real weird. And that’s the beginning of our story.

Of course, Detective Jon Littledeer (I now call him Daddy) came to our rescue.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Holiday Themes: Thanksgiving

Hi everyone! My name is Laura Scott and I’m thrilled to be here with all of you today. You may have noticed a distinct holiday theme with the recent blogs and this one is no different. I’m thrilled to announce my debut book for the Love Inspired Suspense line of Steeple Hill with The Thanksgiving Target.
When my editor asked me to make this story a Thanksgiving story, I readily agreed. Thanksgiving has always been a special holiday for me and no, it’s not just because of the abundance of food although I’d be lying if I didn’t say the tasty meal was a part of this. It’s because I feel that this holiday is really all about taking a step back and giving our thanks to our Lord for all the wonderful gifts we have received throughout the year.
One holiday in particular stands out in my mind, when I gave birth to our daughter who was 8 weeks premature about 10 days prior to Thanksgiving. We were so worried about her, even though she was breathing on her own she had lost a lot of weight and was only 3 pounds 12 ounces by this time. It was the lowest weight she’d posted ever. My entire family prayed with us that Nicole would come home soon and God answered our prayers. She came home on December 5th a whopping 4 pounds and 10 ounces.
Then years later, on her eighteenth birthday, again ten days before Thanksgiving, she walked in and announced how lucky and happy she was to be a part of our family. You see, she’d given us a lot of grief (as teenagers are apt to do), but suddenly she realized how fortunate she was to have a loving and supportive family, enough money to have a nice warm home and food on the table. And to have a spiritual relationship with God.
As you can imagine, I was thrilled she finally recognized what we’d been trying to tell her all along. What a wonderful Thanksgiving coming around full circle.
I hope you’ll take a few minutes out of your day to share your favorite Thanksgiving story with me. And I hope all of you enjoy reading The Thanksgiving Target which will be in the stores next week.
Yours in faith,
Laura Scott Secret Agent Father LIS 5/10

Monday, October 26, 2009


By Debby Giusti

Leaves are falling and the temperature's dropping, but my thoughts have turned to Christmas. Author copies of CHRISTMAS PERIL arrived last week, and I'm so excited about having my story, YULE DIE, featured along with Margaret Daley's MERRY MAYHEM. That's right, you'll find two exciting suspense stories packaged together in CHRISTMAS PERIL, a Love Inspired Suspense on sale December 8th.

I'm reading Margaret's story now and enjoy how she weaves a heartwarming love story along with spine-tingling suspense. Margaret's been my mentor over the last few years, answering questions and helping me in whatever way she could. She's a wonderful person, a dear friend and an outstanding writer. Her stories are read by hundreds of thousands of readers across the country who know when they pick up her book, they'll get a fantastic story.


by Margaret Daley

When single mom Annie Coleman unexpectedly arrives in Christmas, Oklahoma, police chief Caleb Jackson suspects she's hiding secrets. He'll be watching her closely. And his protection is just what Annie and her daughter need, as danger has followed them to their new home.


by Debby Giusti

It's hardly a happy holiday for medical researcher Callie Evans...until she discovers her ailing patient is her long-lost brother. And he's being watched by undercover police officer Joe Petrecelli. When the trio is abducted by a cadre of bad guys. Joe and Callie will have to fight to keep her brother--and themselves--alive.

YULE DIE was a story that almost wrote itself. The biggest challenge was how to give the hero and heroine time to develop their love for the other in the midst of a hostage situation. I hope you'll look for CHRISTMAS PERIL and read both stories to add a little spine-chilling suspense to your holiday.

Remember to give all your friends Steeple Hill books this Christmas. The December releases are great stocking stuffers and something Santa can easily slip under everyone's tree.

Congratulations to all the authors who had December books. Each Steeple Hill story out this December received 4 stars or better from Romantic Times Book Reviews! That's got to be a first and indicates the high caliber of writing from Love Inspired authors. I feel so honored to be a member of the group!

Happy reading and happy writing!

Wishing you abundant blessings,
Debby Giusti

Friday, October 23, 2009

A Lesson in the Pumpkin patch

Janet Dean here, sharing a valuable lesson I learned in the pumpkin patch.

A few years ago our family headed out on a crisp, sunny day in October for our annual visit to a pumpkin patch. We’d selected a new patch that we’d heard about from friends who promised it full of great big pumpkins. When we arrived, an attendant directed us where to park in the sea of vehicles in the open field. We bumped along the uneven ground, parked, gathered children, strollers and diaper bags—everything we might need for even a brief outing.

As it turned out, this wasn’t any ordinary pumpkin patch. There were activities galore with a giant jack-o-lantern moonwalk, a maze made of bales of straw, plaster pumpkins to paint, playground equipment to crawl over, face painting and the best of all, kettle caramel corn. We bought a huge bag and stuffed handfuls into our mouths, letting kernels drop to the ground, leaving a path behind us that would compete with Hansel and Gretel's.

Now we were ready to head out to the patch the highlight of our visit—choosing pumpkins to bring home for Halloween carving. We walked out to the dirt lane where families had cued up for the next ride out to the patch. We didn’t have long to wait before we heard the chugging of a bright green tractor, a John Deere, turning up the path and hauling a straw laden cart. Everyone, adults and children alike, perked up, smiling and chattering with excitement, as if we were heading out on a world-class tour.

Soon we were nestled in the bed of straw, bumping along the rutted dirt road that led to the patch. Frightened by the noise of the tractor, our one-year-old granddaughter clung to her mother, wailing. Our grandsons, four, and two, crawled around in the straw as far as their parents’ outstretched legs allowed, oblivious to their cousin's howls and the old John Deere putting along in front of us, triggering memories in my farm-reared husband. We passed an Alyce Chalmer eliciting more tractor stories from my husband, on its way back with another load of pumpkin toting children and parents. We all waved like old friends.

The patch was in sight now. Large pumpkins dotted the field. “That one would make a good jack-o-lantern,” I told my grandsons. “Or that one.” But they were more interested in the tractor than in the grand specimens I’d spotted. When we arrived at our destination, the boys shrieked at the sight of what appeared to be an endless field of orange and gold. We helped the three grandchildren down from the flatbed trailer and watched them scatter across the field in search of the perfect pumpkin. We trailed along behind, watching them dart here and there, enjoying their energy and enthusiasm. Our granddaughter had forgotten her fright and toddled along, holding her mother’s hand.

Four-year-old Tyler darted from pumpkin to pumpkin, checking out a good portion of the huge field in his quest, while his sister plopped down to play in the dirt. Two-year-old Drew, his eyes on his target, not on his feet, stumbled and lurched over the bumpy ground and dying vines until he reached a tall, skinny specimen. Its flesh was more apricot than orange. It had a missing stem and a lopsided base. Anyone could tell at a glance that this pumpkin was not a good candidate for a jack-‘o-lantern.

Anyone, that is, except Drew. He dropped to his knees, wrapped his arms around that pumpkin and claimed it as his. All our efforts to dissuade him with larger, rounder, deeper colored orange pumpkins didn’t sway him one bit. We went so far as to show him that his pumpkin would topple over unless it was propped, but he only smiled and said, “Mine!”

Standing there in the patch on such a perfect fall day proclaiming the artistry of our Maker, I realized Drew’s pumpkin was a lesson from God, one of those insightful times I’ve come to cherish. This was how God sees you and me. As His. How thankful I am God, like Drew, does not love us according to our shape, or the color of our skin--or even if we need bolstering to keep our lives on an even keel. He knows us inside and out, and no matter how flawed or inadequate we might be, He loves us just as we are. And I knew why. Because he formed us; died for us. It was that simple and that complex.

His mommy took Drew’s picture beside his pumpkin and his daddy ruffled his blond curls, then with a smile as wide as the great outdoors, Drew trotted along between his parents as the three of them made their way out to the road, carrying his pumpkin. Soon Tyler and Lauren had made their selections and there were smiles and shouts as we gathered at a bale of straw for family pictures with the children’s pumpkins.

In the distance I heard the tractor returning to pick us up. I knew back at the starting point there was a scale to weigh the pumpkins and determine their cost. No matter the shape, uniformity or color all the pumpkins would be valued the same. Again as our Heavenly Father values us.

“See my pumpkin, Gramma!” Drew shouted.

“Yes, I do.”

And I did. This time through his eyes. With the unconditional love of a child.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

a new hero

Barbara Phinney is writing today. That's me. And yesterday I got the coolest idea for a job for my hero. Or maybe my heroine!


Yup. And I don't write historicals. No, I write suspense, and if you read further, you'll see why.

Yesterday the school where I volunteer did a field trip. He's the son of one of the ladies who helps with the hot lunches. He showed us how horseshoes are made, how the horse is shod and how much scraping that white stuff off the hoof really smells!

But that certainly wasn't why I thought it was a cool profession. It was things like his charming manners, his ease in handling a Clydesdale, his belief that even though many blacksmiths prefer doing only lightweight saddle horses, the big guys need more care.

Yes, up here they still are used to haul logs out of the woods and they need good carbide tips on winter shoes.

A time-honoured profession requiring a strong body and calm manner.

And what cool murder weapons! I do write suspense, after all.

A propane forge, striking tools of many a description, claws and plyers, and even a chain saw! (I didn't ask why that was there!). Even the anvil. And who doesn't think of Bugs Bunny when they see an anvil? Hey, maybe that was why I went into suspense writing? I saw too many anvils dropped on villlians' heads!

Yup, blacksmithing may be hard, and cold and sometimes smelly, but what a great profession for a hero. What a great line up of murder weapons, and think of what a spooked horse could do at the end of a chapter!

Ahh, yes, a children's field trip can do so much for the imagination!

'Tis the Season

That's right. I know it's early. Merrillee here, already thinking about decorating my house with Christmas lights. This is a photo of the front of my house, which shows about a fourth of all the lights I put out at Christmas.

Fall is here. Can Christmas be far behind? I'm sure you've seen Christmas items already lining the shelves of your favorite stores. Christmas stories are popping up in our Love Inspired books. I enjoy the Christmas season, but I hardly ever shop early. In fact, I'm one of those people you might find wandering the mall on Christmas Eve, still looking for one more gift.

But last year our first grandchild was born on December 13. I immediately flew to Chicago, and all chances to shop were lost. The best thing we did last year was give gifts to charity instead of to each other. A new granddaughter was the best gift.

When do you start thinking about Christmas?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

My son's birthday--Lenora Worth

Today is my son's twenty-first birthday. He truly is grown. I decided to bake him an elaborate cake I found on Oprah's website. It's a twelve layer chocolate cake. I love this cake and my sister makes it a lot when I go home to visit. It's so good. So I decided I could make one to celebrate his birthday. Of course, I'd forgotten that I gave up cooking and baking to write more books. It has been a while since I tackled such a task. I went to the SuperStore (you know the one). Big mistake since I'd just gotten over a migraine and I was still grumpy and groggy. An hour later, I had all the stuff I needed--flour, butter, eggs, sugar, chocolate--all the bad stuff that makes such good cakes. I came home, ate a quick sandwich then hauled out the heavy duty mixer and got started. First, I had to cut parchment paper to fit in tweleve different foil pans. I had foil pans all over the kitchen. And who knew parchment paper could slither and slid when you're trying to cut it into a circle. This took quite a while but I had some passable lopsided circles to place in the bottom of the sprayed pans. Then I got the ingredients together. First came butter and sugar. I dumped that in and turned the mixer on high and sent sugar flying all over the kitchen. Then each time I took a step, I felt sugar. Next came the eggs. I was a bit more careful with them. Then the flour. That went everywhere too. Finally I had the batter done, the pans ready, the oven heated and every bowl in my kitchen in use. I poured the batter in the pans but it was too thick. It just sat there in the middle of the pans. I tried spreading it out with a spatula, with some shakes to the pans and with some shouts and a few prayers. Then I put the pans in the oven and started making the icing which required yet more butter, sugar, evaporated milk, chocolate and vanilla. The chocolate went all over the stove each time I stirred it. It finally boiled and then I cooked it until it was suppose to thicken. It never thickened. I checked the cake in the pans. Lopsided and not so good but done. I took them out and wondered how in the world I'd ever get them to look like a cake. I had pans everywhere. The chocolate didn't want to cool or thicken so finally I poured it over the first thin, lopsided layer. Luckily, I had a big round platter to catch the syrupy chocolate. Twelve crooked layers later, I had something that looked like a giant stack of chocolate pancakes. But hey, it was the effort that counted, or that's what my son and my husband said as they tried not to laugh. It's so tall, we're afraid to cut it. I used to be a good cook, honestly. No matter. We will eat the funny looking cake. It has layers of memories, layers of love, and layers of prayers, lopsided and broken at times, but always covered in such a sweet love from a mother to her son. Thank goodness God feels the same about us. He loves us, lumps and messiness and all. So happy birthday to my son. Now I have to go and wash the chocolate icing off my face.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Flying like an angel

Janet Tronstad here. I'm excited because this month I have a new Christmas book out that takes me back to the first book I wrote for Love Inspired. 'A Silent Night in Dry Creek' features the pageant made famous in this little town. The pageant was the highlight of my 1999 book 'An Angel for Dry Creek' and in both books the angels really fly (well, with a rope, of course, swinging across the old barn set aside for community events). Ten years have gone by in this town and people have grown. It's a challenge to me to keep remembering that I have to age my characters -- the twins in 'An Angel for Dry Creek' are now teenagers. Yikes! I still mention them here and there in the Dry Creek books and know I need to make sure the mention is age appropriate. I'm frequently grateful I described the town in the first book as being very small. I don't know if I could keep it all straight otherwise. So much has happened in my life too in the last ten years. Children grow. Parents age. Jobs come and go. Sometimes I'm so busy living, I don't take time to look back and see all that has gone on. Do you every look back at the previous decade and wonder where it all went?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Fun and Writing in Denver

Good morning, it’s Leann. The highlight of my September was going to Denver. The conference was terrific. The workshops were great and seeing my editor and friends was a delight. For writers, if we don’t have an outside job, conferences are the only times we really get to get together. I also got to meet several of the ladies I blog with for the first time. What fun.

Of course, it took days for me to recover. All the information my brain absorbed took a few days to process. If you’ve never been to a writer’s conference, you get to a point where your brain is so saturated with knowledge, your brain just stops.
Reading Margaret’s blog, I’m jealous. I would’ve loved to have stayed longer in Denver and gone up into the mountains. I grew up in Denver and miss the city and mountains. And the Fall.

If you’ve not gone to a writer’s conference, find one close and go. It is worth it.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

My Weekend at the Emerald City Conference

Hi, Terri Reed here.
This past weekend I was at the Emerald City Writers Conference in Bellevue Washington where I attended a variety of workshops, reconnected with old friends, and made new friends. The weekend started off by taking the train to Seattle.
I love riding the train. Stress free, comfortable and I had three and half hours to do as I wanted. I worked on my current project, slept a little and then read for pleasure (such a rare occurrance these days).
I'm reading ICE by Stephanie Rowe
On Saturday morning, I gave a workshop and used examples from my eharlequin online read, Yuletide Peril. Stop on by every Tuesday and Thursday for the month of October. Chapters 1-4 have already posted. Chapter 5 posts on Thursday.
I made this pretend cover for Yuletide Peril using an art software program of my daughter's. Cool, huh?
The workshop went okay. I am so not a public speaker. My husband asked why I would do a workshop then. My answer-- I want to stretch myself, move out of my comfort zone and the more experience I have the better I'll get at speaking in public. Right?

Saturday afternoon was a big book signing. I signed copies of my June release, Her Last Chance.

When I arrived home from conference my covers for my upcoming release were in my mail box. What timing. I could have used those at the conference.
Chasing Shadows hits the shelves in November.

When senior citizens start disappearing from a Boston retirement home, heiress Kristina Worthington is suspicious. Especially when she fears her beloved grandmother is next. Without solid evidence, she’s forced to turn to the one police officer who might listen—her former love, Gabe Burke. Now a seasoned cop, Gabe still sees her as the rich girl whose family thought he wasn’t good enough.
And though he takes the case, Gabe seems convinced he’s chasing shadows. Until they start dodging threats, bullets...and their own rekindled feelings.

Friday, October 9, 2009


Okay, so it's forcing the season a bit to be discussing Christmas before I've bought my first kernel of candy corn, but humor me.

I've been thinking about how stories are born. Near as I can tell, to write a really good story, you need to ask a really good question. The best questions are the ones we all ask--especially the ones we think no one else asks.

The deepest questions are timeless, too. People have been asking “will he love the real me?” for centuries. For as long as there have been secrets--which would be, well, forever--there have been folks who fear what will happen when those secrets come to light. The deceptive thing about those secrets is how big we make them. Notice I didn’t say “how big they are,” but “how big we make them.” Secrets magnify and multiply until we’re sure the world will run out of town once they know the ugly truth. Trouble is, we’ve all got ugly truths, and nine times out of ten we’re too busy oogling at our own to make too much of a fuss over someone else’s.

My latest book, Bluegrass Christmas, is about how crazy the holidays get. But it’s also about the size of secrets. Mary has a secret she thinks is huge, but in reality, it’s not. Mac, on the other hand, has been fooling himself for years that his secret is insignificant. Add some romance, a little holiday drama that refuses to stay little, and things get out of hand. The good news is that no matter how far things get out of hand, our faults never outpace God’s grace. Mac and Mary learn that the true spirit of Christmas can always overcome the ridiculous ways we mess up the holiday.

Drop on by or my knitting blog and say hello! And happy pre-holidays to you!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Joys and Trails of Researching Fiction

Hi from Gail Gaymer Martin ready to talk with you about researching novels. Research is the interesting but difficult part of being a novelist. Obviously historical fiction needs lots of research, but I’ve learned that contemporaries are also demanding.

My latest series, Man’s Best Friend, revolves around three women who are part of a dog shelter named Time for Paws. I hope you read Dad In Training, released in September. In February you will have the opportunity to read Steph Wright’s story in Groom In Training and in July you’ll get to know Emily and her “surprise” hero in Bride in Training.

Bride In Training is set in Rochester, Michigan, and since I want the story to be real, I spend time checking locations of stores and how long it takes to get from one location to another. I’ve researched Independent Living facilities so that I have accurate information, and I’ve read a great deal of material on therapy dogs. Often it takes me an hour or more to research a topic for a scene that will take only a few minutes to read.

My favorite research is studying locations for my stories. While Dad in Training and the following novels are set nearby, I research three novels set in the central coast of California and enjoyed visiting the sites and taking tons of photographs. This was for three novels published by Heartsong Presents and soon to be packaged as an anthology titled Monterey Memories released in November and available wherever good books are sold as well as on-line bookstores.

Envision yourself watching the waves roll in on the Monterey Bay or observing migrant workers in the lettuce fields. Better yet, walking on the white sand in Carmel By the Sea.

While authors spend hours and hours researching, sometimes they enjoy research that is relaxing and fun. Visit my website at to see more photos and learn more about being a novelist.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Book giveaway - Trial By Fire by Cara Putman

Update (10/14/09): The winner is scraphappy71! Congratulations!

Camy Tang here, with another blog book giveaway!

Blog book giveaway:

Please click here to read giveaway rules.

To enter to win today’s book, leave a comment on this blog post, giving your name and US state. Sorry, no international entrants (see post above for why).

Please also leave an email address or website where I can contact you (please use this format--you [at] something like that to prevent spammers from trolling for your email address). It is the winner’s responsibility to check to see if you won and to email me if you haven’t yet heard from me.

I always email the winner and give them a week to reply, but if I don’t receive an answer, I will pull another person to win the book. I am not responsible for a lost opportunity if you are on vacation or leave an email address you don’t check frequently.

Only one entry per person. The winner can expect their free book in 4-6 weeks.

You have a week to comment--I'll pick a name out of a hat on Wednesday, October 14th. (BTW, you can post a comment and NOT enter, too.)

Today I’m giving away:

Trial By Fire
Cara Putman

Her mother's house was first. Then her brother's. County prosecutor Tricia Jamison is sure she's next on the arsonist's list. But who is after her family? And why does every fire throw her in Noah Brust's path?

Noah can't forgive Tricia. Her failure to protect him on the stand the previous year meant his father's reputation was ruined. Yet every time the firefighter is near her, he's drawn to her again. The vulnerability she hides under her confident veneer surprises and moves him.

Torn between Tricia's safety and his own bitterness, Noah belatedly remembers the first rule of firefighting: don't get burned.

Excerpt of chapter one:


Another broken dream sat on her desk.

The phone ringing on her desk pulled Deputy County Attorney Tricia Jamison from her work. She glanced at her watch. The afternoon had evaporated while she flipped through new case files and absorbed the dashed hopes each one represented. She'd taken the job as deputy county attorney because she'd wanted to help people. Every time she got a new file, she had the opportunity to make a difference for a family. She'd seen God heal families when directed to the right resources. But each time another domestic violence case crossed her desk it was hard not to grow discouraged. Too many times the hope of happily-ever-afters had gone horribly wrong. She shook her head and grabbed the phone.

"Tricia Jamison, deputy prosecutor."

"Trish, this is Caleb. There's a fire at Mom's." Her brother's voice had an edge of tension she hadn't heard in a while. As a police investigator, he usually kept his emotions tightly controlled. She hadn't heard him sound so rattled since last year when a stalker had set his sights on Caleb's girlfriend, Dani Richards.

Her breath caught in her chest as she shut the file on her desk. "How bad?"

"Don't know. I heard it on my scanner before Mom called."

"I'll leave now." Her jaw clenched. Images of flames lapping at her mother's home raced through her mind. The home encapsulated so many memories, both good and bad.

Tricia grabbed her purse and keys, and ran toward the elevator. She slid to a stop at her paralegal's desk. "Family emergency. I'll be back tomorrow."

"I'll cover for you." The woman leaned back in her chair, a concerned expression on her face.

"Thanks." Tricia jogged the rest of the way to the elevator. She punched the down button and paced until the doors opened.

Twenty minutes later she'd crossed town and pulled into her mom's neighborhood. Flashing lights drew her toward the small ranch home. She parked several houses down, and rushed to join Caleb and their mom in the neighbor's yard. Caleb had his arm around their mother's shoulders, and she'd sunk against his side, an unusual posture for one who liked to stand firmly on her own two feet. The heavy smell of smoke curled through the air, but no matter how Tricia squinted against the western sun, the house looked intact. In fact, there weren't many firefighters in the front yard.

"Are you okay?"

The petite woman tipped her chin up, brown eyes flashing. "Of course. Some kid decided the garage made a good fire-starter."

"Where's Frank?" Tricia's stepfather usually rushed to his wife's side anytime she whimpered or looked a little cross. Tricia couldn't fault his devotion to her mom.

"At work. He wanted to come home, but I told him not to hurry. It's a small fire." A tremble in Mom's voice belied her strong front.

"From Caleb's call I thought the flames had engulfed the house."

Mom poked him in the ribs. "I told you not to make a big deal."

"A fire is never small." He rubbed his side with a frown. "The wind blows in the wrong direction, and the outcome could change. It almost reached the house."

"But it didn't. Relax."

"Sure." Caleb grimaced over her at Tricia. "We'll never worry about you when panic fills your voice. Fires are everyday occurrences."

"You can't protect everyone." Even as she said the words, Tricia knew he wouldn't accept them.

"You believe that?" He rolled his eyes. "Sure. That's why you're a prosecutor."

"Someone has to do it." Tricia grinned at him. She'd had a lifetime to perfect the art of poking his weak spots. Tell Caleb he couldn't take care of everyone, and he bristled like a porcupine. Good thing she was a pro at sidestepping his quills.

"All right, you two. You can bicker all you want inside. I want to get out of this yard before we trample the Johnsons' grass. You know how fastidious George is." Mom tugged his sleeve until Caleb joined her.

A couple of firefighters turned the corner from the backyard into the front. One pulled off his helmet and ran a hand through smooshed hair, sweat streaking his face. He caught Tricia's glance and grimaced. Her heart stopped, and she took a shuddering breath. Noah Brust. In the flesh, and looking even better in his turnout coat with soot on his face than he had the last time she'd seen him in the courtroom.

"Mrs. Randol?" His voice was low, with a rich timbre to it. It tickled her senses, and her stomach tightened, even though the man ignored her.

"Yes," her mother answered.

"I'm Noah Brust with the Lincoln Fire Department. We've contained the fire. The shed will be a total loss, but we kept it from the house."

Mom put a trembling hand to her mouth, then nodded. "Thank you. We'll replace the things in the shed. Frank will probably enjoy the excuse to buy more tools."

"Investigator Caleb Jamison, LPD." Caleb extended his hand, and the firefighter shook it. "This is my sister, Tricia Jamison."

Noah turned a blank expression her way. "We've met."

Tricia nodded, searching for a hint of emotion on his face. Even anger seemed better than the nothingness he registered when looking at her. Instead, he wore a look of schooled indifference. This from the rugged fireman who'd almost swept her off her feet when she'd prepped him for his testimony during the Lincoln Life fire trial a year before. Despite the attraction that zinged between them, he'd made it clear at the close of his testimony that he wanted nothing to do with her.

She stifled the urge to grab his collar and force him to acknowledge her. Mom threw her a questioning look, and Tricia shook her head. Now was not the time to explain.

"Any clues on how the fire started?" Caleb pulled her attention back to the fire.

Noah focused on Caleb. "The captain will likely call in the fire investigation team. Until they work their magic I can guess at a cause, but that's it. We'll keep an eye on the fire while we clean up. We'll leave only when we're sure the fire's out, but it's safe to go inside your home now."

"Thank you." Mom pulled the collar of her jacket tight around her throat against the October wind as she hurried toward the house.

Heat climbed Tricia's face, and she turned to find Noah watching her. "Thanks for helping Mom."

"You're welcome."

She fought the urge to rub her arms, try to generate some warmth against the chill emanating from him. "You're still angry about the Lincoln Life case? I did everything the law allowed."

His blue eyes, which had so captured her attention before, had frosted over. Noah snorted and shook his head. "Thanks to you, I read a dozen articles accusing my father—one of the best firefighters I've ever known—of negligence in his duties." His voice rose with each word. "He died a hero, but you didn' t raise a finger to stop them from slandering him at the trial."

She looked around for a way to escape the barrage of angry words. "I'm sorry you don't appreciate the rules of court and their limitations. And don't forget, we won." Tricia turned at the sound of more cars pulling into the cul-de-sac. The Channel 13 Jeep jerked into park as Caleb reappeared at her shoulder.

"You okay, sis?" Caleb furrowed his brow until the eyebrows merged.

"Fine. I'll be there in a minute, Caleb." She turned to Firefighter Brust and twisted her lips into what she hoped passed for a smile. "I'm sorry I couldn't do more to protect you and your father. Now, if you don't want to create another scene worthy of the papers, let me pass. The media have arrived." She tipped her chin, pushed past him and marched to Caleb's side. "Let's go inside now, please."

Tricia refused to look back as Caleb hurried her into the house. She tried to ignore the tremble in her limbs when she sat on the couch next to her mother.

"Anything you need to tell me?" Caleb stood in front of her in full big brother mode.

"An unpleasant reminder of a case from last year."

"Looked like more."

"No." Tricia shook her head. "He thinks I didn't do my job. There's nothing I can do to change his mind. If I'm lucky, I won't run into him again."

Today had been a fluke. That's all.

Then why did the pain hiding in his cold eyes cut so?

Noah watched the media park on the cul-de-sac. He stood straight and prepared for the onslaught. "The vultures descend."

Graham Jackson groaned and yanked his helmet off. "Come on, man. Hold it together."

"You're right." Noah frowned and ran a hand over his face. Some days he felt so tired, he wondered how long he'd keep up with the job. Fighting through the lingering impact of the knee he'd injured in the Lincoln Life fire seemed impossible. He tried to hide it on the job, but rarely succeeded. "So I lost my composure."

"Yep." Graham climbed onto the fire truck, tossing his helmet onto the seat next to him. He grabbed two bottles of water and tossed one to Noah. "Fortunately, the press arrived late and didn't see your show. What was that all about, anyway? I've never seen you that worked up around a woman." Noah unscrewed the lid and sat opposite Graham. He forced the image of Tricia's face from his mind. She looked as beautiful as she had when he'd met her the year before. He'd been instantly smitten with the spunky lawyer…but couldn't let himself think about that now. Not after the way she'd let him down. "Hope you're right about the media." He swiped the cool bottle against his forehead, ignoring Graham's stare. "I keep waiting for it to get easier. You'd think it would after a year." "You still haven't answered my question." "She was the attorney on the Lincoln Life case." Graham looked toward the house. "She's cute." "I'd hoped she was more." Much more. "But I was wrong." "Don't push so hard. This was a simple outbuilding fire, and you barked orders like flames were engulfing the Corn-husker Hotel."

"I acted crazy. She brings that out in me." Noah ran his fingers through his hair and grimaced.

"No. A little overzealous, but it's okay. Temper it. That's all I'm saying."

An hour later, the firefighters cleared the scene and headed back to the fire station. The rest of the shift dragged as Noah tried to focus on the paperwork in front of him, rather than Tricia Jamison.

That night, long after he should have been asleep, Noah lay in bed and couldn't stop thinking about the prosecutor and the trial. Before he'd taken the stand, he'd had a dinner invitation planned for Tricia. Test the sparks between them. Then she'd let him down during what she'd said would be an easy cross-examination. He forced the memory from his mind, but thoughts of his father's death marched into its place. His chest tightened at the memory of how close he'd gotten to saving his father, but not close enough. When the ceiling collapsed between them, he'd known he'd failed. Waited too long. Tried too hard to save everybody else. Failed to save his father's life, and, thanks to Tricia Jamison, he hadn't been able to salvage the man's reputation, either. That he couldn't forgive. No matter how beautiful she looked.


The next morning Barry Williams, the company officer, called Noah into his office. "Rumor has it you're interested in learning fire investigation."

Noah stood straighter. "Yes, sir."

"Think you'll have time?" Williams rocked back in his chair as he stroked his mustache. It looked more like a hairy caterpillar than a true mustache, but to each his own.

"Yes. I'd welcome the challenge, sir." With his knee, he might need options. The thought galled him, but investigations might fill the void.

"Thought so. We've decided to start you with Investigator Brian Weary." Noah nodded and turned to leave, trying to hide the excitement inside him. "And, Brust…"


"Remember, you asked for this assignment. Weary isn't the easiest man to deal with."

"I'll keep that in mind." Weary's irascible reputation preceded him, but Noah could handle it.

Noah closed the office door behind him and headed back to the holding area where several firefighters were killing time watching TV.

"Brust." An angry voice yelled from behind him.

Noah turned to identify the speaker.

"Looks like your education is about to start." Graham gestured to the doorway.

Noah stood and joined Weary in the doorway. "Noah Brust, sir."

"I know who you are. So you think you're ready to come off the truck?" The stocky, intense man stared at Noah. "I guess we'll see. We've got a ton of work to do before the scene gets contaminated. I've been through the scene once, but there's more to do. You'll have to keep up."

"I can do that."

Weary snorted. "That's what they all say. We'll see if you can." Noah began to reply, but Weary kept talking. "I understand you worked this fire."

Noah froze. "The Randol fire?"

"That's right." Weary's stare challenged Noah. "Is that a problem?"

"N-no, sir." No, not a problem at all…except he'd land squarely in the path of the woman he'd spent half the night trying to force from his mind. Surely, the Lord wouldn't want him to spend time with her.

He turned to leave the room, and his knee locked in place. He grimaced, grateful that Weary couldn't see his face. What had he gotten himself into?

Tricia's steps dragged as she stepped off the elevator and headed to her office in the City-County Building. After running out the previous day, she knew she'd have piled up phone messages and e-mails, but she couldn't motivate herself to get started. Noah Brust's hurt look invaded her mind.

How could ten minutes of interaction resurrect the pain where he was concerned? After working with him during trial prep, she felt certain he was interested in her. When the mere sight of him sent her pulse racing, she couldn't hide her own attraction. Noah was strong, yet a hint of compassion peeked through as they talked.

He'd appeared so different from most men she knew. Maybe even on caliber with her big brother Caleb.

Then the trial had ended, and he'd squashed any hope of exploring the future together.

No, he'd handed her head to her as he stormed from the courtroom. She hadn't heard from him since. Hadn't even run into the man until the fire yesterday.

Tricia tossed her purse in a desk drawer and her briefcase on the floor. The chair groaned as she sank into it. She looked at her desk for inspiration. Yesterday's newspaper lay open near the top. Tricia pulled it out and scanned the pages. She slowed when she reached the obituaries, praying she wouldn't see a notice for one of her former clients. None of the names looked familiar until she reached the bottom of the page. Timothy Gillmore. He'd been six. No one should die that young.

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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Cheryl Wyatt says Soldier Daddy has landed!

Cheryl Wyatt here.

Just wanted to let you know that Soldier Daddy is in stores now.

This story is so special to me because I didn't expect to get to write it. Commander Petrowski's story wasn't one of the seven books I'd planned but I'm so glad he's getting his own story.

The contract for this book came just days after I'd had a wreck which required several surgeries. The fact that this book deals with a drinking and driving accident was therapeutic for me in that it helped me work through anger I battled towards the impaired driver who caused the accident that totalled our car plus hers plus my foot and ankle.

Have you ever had to forgive someone for something hard?

Have you ever needed forgiveness for something hard?

If so, this story is for you.

I hope you enjoy it.

God knows just when we need a pick-me-up.

This book contract wasn't something I asked for yet it came at a time when I needed a lift. God is so faithful and never ceases to surprise me with His goodness.

I pray you have a strong awareness of God's goodness toward you.

Have a wonderful day!

Cheryl Wyatt

About the book
U.S. Air Force commander Aaron Petrowski leads pararescue teams, yet can't find one nanny for his three-year-old twins? The widowed father is returning to duty, but not without the best care for his beloved boys. So when Sarah Graham applies, the young woman surprises everyone by passing inspection. Until Aaron discovers Sarah has a secret tied to a tragedy in his past. He can't keep her in his employ—or in his heart. Until his brave little soldier boys teach him a thing or two about love.
Soldier Daddy-4 Stars-Romantic Times

Monday, October 5, 2009

In the World of Publishing

Pamela Tracy here. Yes, I'm standing on a San Francisco pier. This was taken a year and a half ago during the Romance Writers of America conference.
My first romance conference was in Anaheim, back when I was single, and I actually had 'time' to write. Back when... For the last week I've been thinking about back whens... See, an editor passed away last week. A well-known editor. One I'd met more than once. No, I didn't 'really' know her, but I knew enough. As I've been reading posts about Kate Duffy, online and one quote - apparently Kate said this years ago - really stood out and reminded me why I read romance. Kate said:
“Romance entertains me; it makes me happy. I like to say Nora Roberts got me
through my divorce; Suzanne Brockmann got me through my father’s illness;
Joanne Ross got me through my father’s death, and Lisa Kleypas got me
through yesterday.”
You know, Kate nailed it. I write romance because romance has always entertained me, too. It makes me happy. Right now, I wish I could be sitting on my back porch reading Bread Alone. Romance has also gotten me through some times. It was a romance book that kept my mind off the ground the last time I was in a plane (very, very afraid of flying). LOL, when I gave birth to my son four years ago, I was helping deliver romance books for a contest. They were in my hospital rooms so when friends dropped by to see Mikey ( they sure weren't there to see me) I couldgive them their books. It's the Rory Gilmore complex thing. The other day the air conditioning guy (you really don't want your air conditioning to go out in Phoenix, Arizona, not even in October) said MISS. He'd been talking to me for a few minutes. I didn't hear a word. That's right. A romance was getting me through waiting for the air conditioner to be fixed. How about you? What does a romance novel get you through.

Friday, October 2, 2009


Happy Friday! Steeple Hill Love Inspired debut author Glynna Kaye ( here for my very first Love Inspired Authors post!

Autumn. Brilliant blue skies. Glowing maples. Coolish days and crisp nights. A faint sent of woodsmoke from fireplaces on chilly weekends. Homecoming football games. Raking leaves. Hot spiced cider. Roasting marshmallows. Caramel apples.

Don’t you just love it??

I don’t know about you, but Autumn is the most nostalgic time of the year for me. It’s a time when, from my home in faraway Arizona, my thoughts are drawn to my growing-up years in small-town Midwest. Memories of trotting off to the big stone elementary school that both my mother and grandfather attended (it even had a bell on top!). Creating leaf-pile mazes with my cousins. Riding ponies with them through quiet country lanes. Okay, I admit it--I get a little homesick this time of year when “dreaming of home” as it once was lingers in my mind. The places and the people I love.

Given my affinity for this colorful, bittersweet season that heralds the coming of winter, I suppose it’s not surprising that my first published book, “Dreaming of Home,” is set during this time of year. It’s the story of Megan McGuire who has come to the mountain community of Canyon Springs to pursue a dream in a place she’s never been before—and widower, single-father Joe Diaz who is returning to the old home town to pursue a dream as well. Unfortunately, they both need the same teaching job to make those dreams a reality!

Do YOU have any special memories of Autumn that tug at your heartstrings? If so, please share!

Not only does my first published book take place in this beautiful season, but it’s also being released in October! So in celebration, here’s a Fall favorite of mine for you to try --a little taste of the season!


8 oz. cream cheese, softened
7 oz. jar of marshmallow creme
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg

Combine the above ingredients & refrigerate until serving time. Serve with Granny Smith apple wedges (or other fresh fruit of your choice).

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Celebrating a Victory

Missy Tippens, here. We were celebrating in our household yesterday. My daughter's cross country team won the county-wide competition! There were four middle schools participating, and her school earned the most points (well, actually, I think it was the lowest points to win). :)

This isn't the best photo since it was taken on my phone, plus it was really bright outside. But it's a photo of the girls' team with their trophy. The boys won also. It was a gorgeous day, perfect for running and cheering on the kids.

I'm also celebrating receiving my author copies for my November Love Inspired, A Forever Christmas! I just love the beautiful cover!! (You can see it in the slide show to the left.) Oh, and I also found out yesterday that it got 4 stars from Romantic Times Magazine!!

What about you? Have you celebrated anything recently that you'd like to share? Let us celebrate with you!