Sneak Peek at The Sweet Madness of Honeysuckle

I'm finally able to give my readers a peek at the cover for the last book in the River Road set of the Haunted Heart Series, The Sweet Madness of Honeysuckle. So here's the cover:

Here's a sneak peek from the book:

It was almost time to open, and R.J. hadn’t shown up yet. Tricia leaned on the bar and shut down the string of curse words she had been about to utter. She straightened and rubbed the back of her aching neck. The bed in the spare bedroom was uncomfortable, and she had woke up with a crick in her neck.
She considered her options. If she didn’t open on time, the only people she’d be pissing off where the regulars who showed up right at four come rain or come shine.
Nope. R.J. wasn’t going to do her like this. She grabbed her cell phone out of her bag, intending to call him, but the call wouldn’t go through. She glared at the phone as if it could feel the mean thoughts she was hurling at an inanimate object. Hadn’t she charged the thing before she’d left the house? Why was the battery already drained again? Was she going to have to get a new phone?
Aggravation. That’s all it was. Just another freaking aggravation to deal with.
The overhead lights blinked. She listened for the rumble of distant thunder. The lights went out every time it stormed. But as she had come into work, it had been a clear day. No sound of thunder. She went into the back office to use the house phone, but strangely enough, the line was dead. What the hell was going on?
As she turned to leave the office, the clank and rattle of metal on metal came from the storage room. She eased along the bar and grabbed the baseball bat from under the counter. With it over her shoulder, she inched toward the open door of the storage room. She flipped the light on.
“Who’s there?”
No one. The room was empty of humans. Plenty of cases of liquor and bottled beer. But no humans.
“Must have been something shifting.” She reasoned with herself, but she wasn’t convinced.
Behind her, something crashed. She twisted on her heel. A stack of glasses had tumbled off the back bar and landed on the floor.
The dead phones. The strange noises. The flickering lights. The crashing glassware. Everything was combining into one massive case of freak out.
She shook off her paranoia. “It’s all just a coincidence. Get a grip.”
Tricia leaned the bat in the corner, pulled the broom and dustpan out of the storage room, and began to sweep up the broken glass. That’s when the house phone and her cell phone started ringing in unison. She froze with the dustpan in her hand. A crash came from the storage room.The broom and the pan fell out of her grip. She rushed through the back room and flung the back door open. R.J. had his key out to let himself in.
“Whoa. What’s wrong?” He glanced over her shoulder. “Is he here?”
She shook her head, but she couldn’t make any words come out of her mouth.
“Tricia, talk to me. What’s going on?”
She stared at the barroom behind her. “The lights... and the phones... and the glasses... Something really strange is going on in there.”
When she turned to face R.J. again, he had a skeptical expression on his face. His eyes reflected a bit of amusement but mostly concern.
“It’s probably just you’re imagination, Tricia. You’ve got to be exhausted. I’m sure you didn’t get much sleep. I didn’t.”
“I’m telling you that the lights flickered and... and...” She grabbed his hand. “Come and see for yourself.”
She dragged him behind the bar. The glassware was still shattered on the floor. Then, she pulled him into the storage room. A shelving unit had toppled over and broken liquor bottles littered the floor. The stench of spilled alcohol filled her nose, and she pulled the tail of her shirt over her face.
R.J pulled her out of the storage room. She stalled outside the door, immobile.
He nudged her upper arm. “Are you okay?”
Of course, she wasn’t okay.
She allowed herself a moment to force a bit of calm. “First, I couldn’t get my cell phone to work. It was like the battery had run down, but I charged it this morning. Then, I tried the landline because I was pissed at you for not showing up on time again—”
“So really this is just you being pissed at me?”
“No. Listen to me. The landline was dead. It was dead, R.J. Just like my cell phone. Then, I heard some strange noises in the storage room, but when I turned on the light in there, nothing was out of place. No one was there. But while I was in there, that stack of glasses on the back bar fell off and broke. I got the broom and the dustpan to clean it up, but the house phone and my cell phone started ringing at the same time. Then I heard a crash in the storage room. It freaked me out.” She grabbed him by the shirt collar. “This is not my imagination.”
He studied her face a long time. “Do you believe in ghosts, Tricia?”
She cackled. Yeah, that’s exactly what her derisive laughter sounded like. “Ghosts? Are you freaking kidding me? No.” She leaned into him. “Someone is playing tricks on me. Is it you?”
“Me?” He croaked a bit. “Why would I do something like that to you? I’m trying to help you.”
She released his collar and backed away from him. “Right? That’s what you say.”
R.J. held her gaze, steady and calm. “Yeah. That’s what I’m trying to do. Actually... I talked to a friend of mine about putting an alarm system in your house.”
“Really?” Why would he do that for her? “I can’t afford an alarm system.”
“I didn’t think so, but Craig said he’d install the system for free. It won’t be monitored, so there won’t be a monthly fee. But maybe an alarm going off would be enough to discourage an intruder from coming inside.”
“Why are you doing this for me?”
Her question seemed to stump him. A puzzled frown formed on his mouth. “I don’t know. Maybe I just don’t want you to be afraid.”
“It’s not your concern whether I’m not afraid or not.” She wasn’t trying to be harsh.
“Maybe there’s enough cop left in me... I don’t know.”
He wasn’t telling her the whole truth. She could see the flickers of guilt in his eyes.
“There’s another reason you’re trying to help me, isn’t there?”
He leaned on the bar and released a long sigh. “I don’t want you to leave.”
As if someone had shoved her in the back, she fell forward against him. Her head popped up to look him in the eyes. She tried to push off him, but his arms wrapped around her.
“I didn’t do that on purpose, R.J.”
“I know. I saw. It was like someone pushed you.” He smiled. “I think I like this ghost.”
She shoved and stepped back from him. “That...” She waved her hand between them. “That ain’t happening.”
The pounding of a pissed off customer at the door to the parking lot interrupted them. She rushed to unlock the door, thankful that she didn’t have to finish the conversation they’d started.
For the rest of the evening, every time she glanced toward R.J., he was staring at her with a strange expression on his face. If she didn’t know better, she would have called the look mushy.
Maybe he didn’t want her to leave, but she wasn’t sure she should stay. Pulling him into her mess wasn’t fair to him. She didn’t want to lead him on just to run away. Running again was inevitable.


Last Day in Wyoming

Colter Marina, Jackson Lake, Grand Teton National Park

It's my last day in Wyoming. No, not the going home day, but the last day I actually do something vacation-y.
It's a bittersweet day because although I enjoyed our trip immensely, I'm ready to go home. It feels like I’ve been gone forever, and it feels like I never want to sleep in a motel bed again. But the thing is, I’ll plan another trip for next summer on the way home, and I’ll plan it with enthusiasm. There will probably be mountains wherever I plan to go. That’s my thing.
The last vacation-y thing I did was taking a boat tour of Lake Jackson. It was a beautifully chilly morning cruise across the lake.
Our family gets one week of vacation a year, and the last day is always the day that the thought that it’s almost over for another year will linger in the back of my mind shadowing everything I do.
I’ve counted down to this day. On day one, I say to myself, “This is great. We are having so much fun, and we have six more days of vacation left.” It goes like that for several days, at least, until the mid-point of the vacation. Then, I begin the end of vacation litany. “This is great. We are having so much fun, but we only have two more days of vacation left.”

In seven days, I’ve seen six states: Louisiana, Texas, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana. (Yes, there was some air travel involved, right between Texas and Utah. Have I mentioned how much I hate DFW Airport? No? Well, that’s another blog post.)
I’ve covered a lot of miles. I’ve taken a buttload of pictures, and I’ve gotten some terrific writing inspiration. Like, the hotel where we stayed the second through fourth nights has its very own ghost story, and the mist over the thermal pools in Yellowstone in the evening has given me some ghostly inspiration.

So now that I’m home, I’m hitting the writing hard again. I have new inspiration.
I'm finishing up a ghost story for a box set with five other authors. Watch for Mystic Passions coming soon.
I'm finishing up the last book of the River Road Haunted Hearts set. I don't have a cover for The Sweet Madness of Honeysuckle yet.
And I'm working on two other paranormal romantic suspense books: Second Sight and Oceans Apart.


Juggling Three Works In Progress

Well, I've never done this before. Right now, I'm working on three books at the same time. My husband asked me how I keep them all straight and if I have a problem with continuity when I'm bouncing back and forth. I shrugged my shoulders and said, "Naw." All three books are paranormal romantic suspense, but they are all different with totally different story lines. This is a challenge, but I'm up for it.

This is what happens when I have multiple ideas coming at me from my sweet muse all at once. I couldn't ignore her. She kept hitting me with inspiration for all three books. So I'm juggling them. One day, I'll write 5,000 words on one book, the next day another 5,000 on another book, and the next day 5,000 on the third book.

You want a teaser from one of them? All right. Here it is:

  Lucy wrapped her arms around herself and turned in a slow circle. The scene came back to her easily; she’d pulled it up from her memory so many times over the last eleven years. Aidan’s arms around her. The music from the playback flowing around them. Him smiling down at her. Her heart thumping wildly in her chest. Spinning and spinning until they were both dizzy and the director had yelled at them because they’d started laughing like a couple of idiots.
  She stopped and closed her eyes tight. “Aidan, are you here?”
  The now familiar tingling began in her fingertips and spread throughout her body. She couldn’t be wrong. Lucy could feel him even though she was sure Aidan was dead. She felt the loss in her soul. Knew the pain by heart.
  The peace she usually gained from calling his name was missing. In its place was a restless uneasiness. Something had changed.
  A whisper brushed across her psyche. I can’t sleep.
  How many times had he said that to her in the middle of the night? She bit her lower lip to keep from crying.
  “Where are you, Aidan?”
   I’m here.
  “You’re here? Are you dead, Aidan? I need to know. I mean it. Don’t play this game with me. I need to know for sure.”
  Find me.
  What did he mean? He’d just told her he was with her in the house.
  “I don’t understand. Where are you if you’re not here? Are you in Thailand?”
  The voice went silent. She’d asked the wrong question before. The voice never answered her if she pushed too hard or asked too much.


Isn't the artwork beautiful? My sister painted this original of the picture. I think it is the perfect compliment to the book's title and its premise.

The inspiration for this book has been bouncing in my head for weeks. I have to give it some attention. I hope to release Oceans Apart sometime in the winter of 2017 or the spring of 2018. I'll keep you posted. If you want updates for new releases, please sign up for my email newsletter. You can find the link at the top left of the main page of this blog right underneath the picture of Mount Rainier.


My Netflix Addiction

Some might call my addiction to Netflix bingeing a problem. I call it... Well, I can't argue with them. I can't watch just one episode of a show. Oh, no. My bingeing got so bad that I had to stay off Netflix for a while or wouldn't get any writing or housework or accounting....or anything done.

I'm ging to list the shows that I've binged to see how bad an addiction I have. So here goes:

Burn Notice
CSI: Miami
CSI: New York
Criminal Minds
Forensic Files
Crossing Lines
The Killing
Midsomer Murders
Blue Bloods
Death In Paradise
The Glades
Hawaii Five-O
Person Of Interest
Jack Taylor
Lie To Me

(I know I'm missing a few.)

There seems to be a pattern here. I'm obviously obsessed with murder and revenge, but that kind of goes along with my writing genre. Let's call it research. That was a good reason to watch all those shows, right? My theory is that even when I'm not adding word count on a manuscript everything I read, hear, and experience contributes to my writing. Yeah, let's go with that.

There's one more show that I've binged, but I don't know how it fits with the others. I've seen every single episode of Gilmore Girls. So how does that fit in with my suspense genre? Wait. Wait. I've got it. I'm researching characterization when I watch dramedies. Yeah, that's it.

So when I'm watching Netflix, I'm really writing. Whew! Now, I feel better.


How My Family Copes With My Writing

This is the family. Left to right: Me, my daughter, my son, my son-in-law, and my husband.

This post is supposed to be about how my family copes with my writing, but I don’t think they cope with it.
Sometimes, I get a distant look in my eyes, and I stare at nothing. For a while, my son thought I was upset with him, and he would ask me if I was all right. I’d say, “Sure. I’m just writing a scene in my head.” Now, he just nudges me and says, “You’re writing again, aren’t you?” I’ll nod and then go back to my inner thoughts. He’ll shrug and leave me alone. We have an understanding.
It’s embarrassing to work out dialogue in my head. Well, it’s supposed to be in my head, but sometimes, it comes out of my mouth. People think I’m talking to myself, but I’m not. I’m putting myself in my characters’ heads. My family knows I’m not talking to people that aren’t real. Not really, because my characters are real to me. My daughter just ignores my odd behavior. She knows what I’m doing. (Thank God, for Bluetooth in my car because I can talk out the dialogue and other drivers think I’m talking on my cellphone. Sweet, huh?)
My husband gets my obsession with my characters. He reads all my books before I publish them, so he gets acquainted with them. We talk about them like they are real. Some of my best ideas happen when we are discussing why one of my characters did that stupid thing that they did. When he says, “Tess would do that, wouldn’t she?” or, “That sounds like something Gray would do,” I know he loves them as much as I do.
When I told my husband I needed to go down to south Louisiana to do research for my book series set along the River Road and in New Orleans, he helped me plan the trip. Once we were there, he made some great suggestions about where to go and what to do. That trip added so much to my knowledge of the setting for the book series.

I think my family isn’t just coping; they are supporting and encouraging my writing. They are right there in it with me.

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