Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The End of the Tunnel

Paula celebrates completing the nth draft of her story!

On Monday evening, I reached the end of my current novel – and it felt like I had reached the end of a long tunnel in which I’d been stuck for ages. Out of interest, I looked back at the various drafts of this story, and the dates when I started each one.

I first started it in November 2011 - 28th November, to be exact. By the middle of March 2012, I had got to Chapter 13, but although I liked my characters and some of the scenes, the story itself wasn’t working. For one thing, I gave the heroine a broken ankle in Chapter 8 which proved to be far too restricting for the rest of the story.

So between March and May 2012, I rewrote from Chapter 8, and got to Chapter 14 this time. However, I still wasn’t happy with it. To me, it read like ‘How they met and fell in love’ with not much more than that, apart from far too much internal agonising.

Back to Square One – or, in this case, Chapter One. Three months later, August 2012, I’d got to Chapter 11, but I was floundering again, even after two and a half re-writes. I put it to one side for a couple of months (can’t remember what I did in the meantime!), came back to it in October and added 4 more chapters. By this time, I was ready to delete the whole thing!

Instead, I did the next best thing, put it on the back burner, and started a new story (Irish Inheritance) which took me from November 2012 until May 2013 to write, and then another 3 months to edit, before I submitted it to my publisher in August 2013.

With a big sigh, I turned my attention back to the story that languished among my other documents, and decided it needed a thorough overhaul. Instead of the heroine going up to the English Lake District for a short break, I decided she was going up there for a location shoot for her new TV drama series. At least that breathed a little more life into it, and by January this year I’d actually got past the dreaded Chapter 13/14 sticky patch which had stopped my earlier drafts. I even had a title for it, ‘Different Worlds’.

Then, once I’d completed the edits for ‘Irish Inheritance’, my publisher suggested there was an opportunity for a spin-off story about Charley (the heroine’s best friend). My first reaction was, “I’ll think about that once I’ve finished this story,” but the next day the ‘what ifs’ started. What if I move this story to Ireland instead of the English Lake District? What if I change the heroine’s name to Charley? Once I started thinking about it, I realised it was possible, and worked out where in Ireland it would take place, and how some of the other characters from ‘Irish Inheritance’ could come into the story.

The upshot was – yes, back to Chapter One again for another stab at this story that somehow would not let me go. A few chapters into the rewrite, I started thinking about a title. Maybe it needed ‘Irish’ in the title again. ‘Irish Intrigue’ sprang to mind. This meant I had to do a lot more work building up the ‘intrigue’ part of the story.

Nine months later (yes, rather like a pregnancy LOL), I’ve finally reached the end of this draft (actually on Monday, November 24th, just 4 days before my deadline of November 28th, 3 years since I first started it). I’ve lost count of which draft it is!

Of course, this isn’t really ‘the end’. I have a lot of work still to do, especially with the sections I’ve highlighted in various places. These highlights mean everything from ‘this sentence sucks, rephrase’ to ‘more info/explanation needed here’ to ‘big gap needs filling here'. But at least I have a story that has a beginning, a convoluted middle, and an end. There were times when I thought I would never ever get to the end of the tunnel.

Major editing will now begin (not least to reduce the huge word count of over 100K!) but getting to the end is a major victory for me. After all, someone (can't remember who) once said, “You can’t edit a blank page.” I now have lots of pages to edit!


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Back to Writing

Jennifer is making progress…

I wrote about 500 words yesterday. It’s the most I’ve written in months and I’m very proud of it.

My writing life has been pushed to the side while working on a fundraising auction for my Temple. I ate, slept and breathed the fundraiser for the last six months, and actually started working on it a year and a half ago. We raised a ton of money, which was great, but I lost all ability to focus on writing in the process, especially toward the end.

There are still ends to wrap up, but I finally have the time and the mental focus to go back to writing. For the first time yesterday, I sat down with my newest manuscript, Book 3 in my Women of Valor series (currently untitled) and wrote! I even wrote while both kids were home and asking for help with homework!

Of course, the scene I’m working on is a fun one—the hero and heroine are participating in a speed dating event—and I’ve done a lot of research on it, including observing one in the restaurant I was at this past weekend (with my daughter, who helped me secretly video some of what was going on), which made the writing easier and more enjoyable. I needed that. Writing is like a muscle and when you don’t use it for a while, it’s gets tight and sore. Starting up again, with something easy, similar to a warm-up exercise, is very helpful.

So author me is back and I’m out of excuses for why I can’t get things done. And I’m really looking forward to the process.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Are commas important?

Punctuation rules seem to be changing. I am fairly certain that this is due, in part, to texting and tweeting, where space or time are limited and "you know what I mean" is approved. I have also read that punctuation affects each line of an ebook and therefore trimming commas is "approved."

Recently I received a sample edit from an editor seeking future work. She deleted hyphens from adjectives where I am pretty sure they are supposed to be used. That's how I learned the rules.

I know language evolves. I have accepted that the comma before "and" in a set of three+ descriptors is optional. Yet there are times when my meaning could be misconstrued if I modernize and do not put in that comma before and.

This is an example from a grammar post by MM Pollard, the queen of English:
"I posted the pictures of the strippers, JFK, and Stalin."
"I posted the pictures of the strippers, JFL and Stalin."

Do you trim punctuation to keep up with "modern" rules?

Friday, November 21, 2014

Author Kristy Tate!

Ana welcomes Kristy Tate, today's Friday Friend!

Sweet Romance

 I had an uncomfortable experience a number of years ago when I attended a workshop where a writer brought in pages and pages of sex scenes to be critiqued. She read one steamy passage and then said, now, skip 70 pages and then she’d read another libido boosting scene. After the workshop, after I stopped blushing, I asked her why she’d saved and clustered her sex scenes just for us. Her answer, my agent said the reason my novels aren’t selling is because they need the sex scenes so I’m adding them. Since then, this writer is self-publishing her novels, sweet romances, sans sex scenes, and she’s sold thousands of her books. I think she’s financially doing much better than she would have had she published within the traditional romance industry AND she’s able to look her grandmother in the eye.

This reaffirms my belief that there’s a giant gaping hole in the publishing industry. I believe in the power of words. I believe in the power of stories and I also believe not every story has to be powerful. Entertainment is as valuable as enlightenment. Sometimes we just need to get away. Go somewhere else--take our mind off of the nitty-gritty of everyday. And even if we can’t afford an African safari or romp in the Amazon, those experiences are available to us, FOR FREE, at the public library. We can have romance, mystery and intrigue if we possess a library card.

I’ll admit I cried when the Border’s Bookstore closed. Whenever I felt sad I’d go to Borders and buy a book and a chocolate. It didn’t happen often, I’m usually upbeat, but when I’d feel trampled upon and world weary, I knew that I could be lifted up just by going to the closest bookstore. Chocolates and books were there, waiting. My son couldn’t understand my loss. You made your choice when you bought your I-pad, he said. I want libraries, bookstores AND books in the clouds, I replied.

I want books with romance, mystery and intrigue, but I don’t want books with titillation,excessive violence or gore. And that’s the genius  of Autumn's Kiss: Ten Contemporary & Historical Sweet Romances. Ten sweet romances by ten authors. Now available for pre-order on Amazon!

Long live sweet romance. The books in the clouds have set us free. Good books are there—we just need to know how to find them.

Kristy is the mom of six incredibly brilliant and beautiful children, and the author of several novels. Although many of her novels have won awards and have ranked on Amazon's top 100 list, Kristy has yet to realize her lifelong dream of owning a Schnauzer farm. Kristy studied English literature at Brigham Young University and at BYU's International Center in London. 

For updates on Kristy's upcoming novels, please visit her blog at

Thursday, November 20, 2014

A Week Early

Debra is wishing everyone an early Thanksgiving.

Next Thursday is Thanksgiving here in the States. Since I'll be away all day eating yummy food and watching the Bears (lose), I thought I'd give my shout out to Thanksgiving this week, since I probably won't post.

I love Thanksgiving. It is probably my favorite holiday, and it never gets it's due. It gets sandwiched between the candy-grabbing madness of Halloween and the present-buying-giving-and-receiving of Christmas. And that's a shame.

To me it's such an unassuming holiday. No one is begging for treats. No one is expecting presents. It's simply a time to be thankful for the things we have and to spend time with family and friends.

And of course we get some of the best food ever on Thanksgiving. Succulent turkey, creamy mashed potatoes, tart cranberries, crumbly corn bread, spicy pumpkin pie...excuse me while I wipe the drool from my keyboard. And then there's always leftovers for turkey club sandwiches the next day. Yum and yummier.

Now don't get me wrong, I love Christmas too, but it has become so commercialized and it just can't wait it's turn. Christmas crafts have been out in the hobby stores since summer. Decorative Christmas items went into the stores before Halloween. Even the Village has already strung and lit all of the trees downtown. The Christmas tree lightning ceremony is the night before Thanksgiving. The other day I was driving home and saw a home with its tree already up and lit in the living room window.

And even the weather isn't cooperating this year. We already have some snow, and we've had wind chills below zero. Ugh.

Poor Thanksgiving just doesn't stand a chance.

So I have a firm rule that I do nothing that has anything to do with Christmas until the Friday after Thanksgiving.

One year when I was promoting my Christmas novella, many of the blog tours kicked in before Thanksgiving. I had a tough time breaking my own rule. That's partially was inspired me to write a Thanksgiving novella. I wanted to focus on the proper holiday at the proper time. And for fun, my heroine Katy shares my feelings about giving Thanksgiving its due before Christmas comes around.

So whether you officially celebrate Thanksgiving or not, take a moment to stop and count your blessings this week or next.

Until next time,

Happy Reading and Happy Thanksgiving!


An Unexpected Blessing - a Thanksgiving novella - from The Wild Rose Press

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Does a successful novel help with the sales of previous novels?

Paula is curious that a successful novel hasn’t bumped up the sales of her previous novels.

“Get a back list,” they said.

“Once you’ve written three (or was that six?) books, and built up a fan base, your earlier books will sell,” they said.

Well, in my experience (so far anyway), they were wrong!

My sixth book ‘Irish Inheritance’ took off last April, after selling slowly in February and March. You may even remember how depressed I was at the end of February because of the low sales. I’d almost decided to give up writing, since only a handful of people were reading my books.

From April, however, ‘Irish Inheritance’ has sold steadily. Okay, not millions of sales but way higher than any of my other books. I won’t go into the whys and wherefores of that, except to say I have not done any more promotion and marketing than I’ve done for any of my other books, and I am at a loss to explain the continuing steady sales, especially on the Amazon USA site. My publisher’s suggestion was: “The word "Irish" in the title might be the draw factor. Then again, it might just be that we have hit the very magic combination of great story, right cover, excellent price, and timely market (which only happens once in a blue moon!)”.

Whatever the reason, it is still selling, and so far has garnered 22 five star reviews and 13 four star reviews on the USA site, plus 20 five and four star reviews on the UK site, and four good reviews on the Canadian site.

However, back to my original point. ‘Irish Inheritance’ has been relatively successful – but has that success had an impact on the sales of my previous novels? The short answer to that is a resounding NO.

This month, ‘Changing the Future’ is featured in my publisher’s November Sale, and is being offered at 99 cents. The result? Maybe a few more downloads than in previous months, but nothing to shout about (i.e less than 5 so far!). My very first novel, ‘His Leading Lady’ was also re-released this month (with a great new cover), but again, only a few sales. As for my other 3 novels, the effect has been nil.

It appears, therefore, that one successful novel does not, despite what the ‘pundits’ say, lead to more sales of one’s other novels.

I’m not complaining, by the way! I’m more than happy that ‘Irish Inheritance’ continues to sell well, but I thought it was worth pointing out that even the reviewers who have enjoyed this book aren’t rushing to buy my other books. Well, apart from one reviewer who said, “I had not encountered this author before but now I can't wait to read more.” I hope he/she does!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Facebook Ads

Jennifer bought a Facebook ad…

Rebel Ink Press just rereleased my first book, A Heart of Little Faith. It was previously published by Whiskey Creek Press, but that press was bought out and I got my rights back to my books. On November 10, A Heart of Little Faith was released with more editing (thank goodness) and a new cover.

Unfortunately, the rerelease occurred at a time when I had no spare moments to do any publicity. I was in the homestretch of organizing a fundraising auction and I hadn’t cooked, seen my kids, or slept in weeks. Publicizing a book? Not happening.

Last month, when I went to the writer’s conference, I attended a workshop about social media, and one of the things discussed was using ads on Facebook. For a minimal fee, you can tailor who sees your ads and how long you want them to run. You pay per click on whatever website you connect it to and you watch your results in real time. So, I decided to try it.

I used my book cover, created two tag lines, linked it to the Amazon page and spent $5 per day for 5 days. I targeted romance readers and decided even if it failed miserably, I was only out $25.

Here’s what happened: According to Facebook, in 5 days, I received 18 clicks on the Amazon page for a total of $24.96 spent. I’m not sure if any of those clicks resulted in sales yet. However, what was unexpected was my associated Facebook author page skyrocketed to reaching more than 2000 people (at one time I think it was at 2400). On a normal week, I reach 200 people max.

My conclusion is that the $25 increased my exposure. Whether that translates into sales, who knows? But I might try it again for a few other announcements I have coming up.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Hire me! I'm a novelist.

Ana muses about the benefits of liking to play with words.

I am past the halfway point of building a new website for my soup business.

Pitch phrases are easy to call up. I repeat them regularly at craft shows and to interested shopkeepers.
Some sound essential: I can't be too creative with "add to 7 cups of water" without sounding like a nutcase. "Stand on a kitchen chair holding a full pot of water and pour the water into a narrow-necked bottle sitting on the floor," isn't good advice.

I can be a bit more creative with the "About" page. I rewrote that completely, giving a thumbnail history of my gardening-preserving-cooking journey.

Customers have commented that I must have a background in marketing- specifically copy writing.
I don't. I've had no training except for novel writing. The descriptive skills of a novelist are useful. That mental thesaurus, which stores ten choices that mean "tastes good."

Other endeavors benefit from a writer's word-smithing. Have you parlayed your skill with words into useful cash? Does your day job require the ability to construct understandable messages?

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Extras

Debra enjoys a book with a few bonus things thrown in.

I read a lot of cozy mysteries. Many of them have little 'extras' thrown in...especially recipes. I've even tried one a time or two.

Even though I don't write mysteries, I thought it would be fun to include recipes in a story. In This Can't Be Love, my hero Zach is a chef. This would be the perfect book in which to add a recipe or two. But, I never did. Who knows? Maybe I thought of the idea after I'd already submitted and edited the book. Or maybe I didn't want something that different in one book of a series, since none of the other books would have recipes. One of these days (Famous last words, right?) I might add a page to my web-site and include some of Zach's recipes.

But I digress.

Because what I really wanted to do was include some in a book. Then another 'perfect' opportunity presented itself when I wrote my Thanksgiving novella An Unexpected Blessing. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays and part of the reason is the bountiful, yummy, and cozy food associated with it. Homemade stuffing, cranberries, corn bread, pumpkin pie....Mnnn, my mouth is watering just thinking about it.

So in the back of the book I included about a half a dozen recipes that were mentioned in the book. There is...
Kyle's Favorite Pumpkin Cookies
Yvette's Pumpkin Pie
Mama's Oven Stew
Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes
...just to name a few. All are recipes my family or I make around this time of year.

I called the added section "Thanksgiving with the Roths". (The Roths being the main family in the story.)

Reviewers and blog commenters seem to be pleased with the inclusion of the recipes. One reviewer called them an 'added bonus' and one commenter said that many would be making their way to her own table.

So I guess I'd have to say...mission accomplished.

Besides recipes I've also seen quotes, real-life history tie-ins for a fictional story, maps, and even more recently, QR codes.

Have you ever included anything extra in a story or seen something in a story you've read that's tickled you?

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


An Unexpected Blessing from The Wild Rose Press.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Just One of the 888,246

Paula reflects on Armistice Day.

Yesterday, at 11 o’clock, Britain came to a standstill. Not just at cenotaphs and war memorials, but in town centres and shopping malls, too. It was the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, and the two minutes’ silence was observed to mark the armistice that ended the First World War in 1918. All the more poignant since this year is the 100th anniversary of the start of that war.

888,246 ceramic poppies surround the Tower of London, each commemorating one of the British and Commonwealth lives that were lost in the four years of war between 1914 and 1918. I confess my eyes filled as I watched the ceremony broadcast live from the Tower at 11 o’clock when a young Army cadet ‘planted’ the last of the poppies, and the Last Post was played.

Here is the story of just one of those soldiers represented by a poppy in the moat of the Tower – Stanley Charles Garnar, who was my grandfather’s younger brother, born in September 1897. The family lived in a small village near Colne, in East Lancashire. This photo shows him with his three sisters and their father, probably around 1906.

Stanley, like his siblings, probably left school aged 12, and went to work in the local weaving mill. Just before his 17th birthday, the First World War broke out, and three months later, in November, 1914, Stanley enlisted. I wonder if this family photo was taken just before he left home to begin his military training? Stanley is the one sitting cross-legged on the ground, and my grandfather is on the far right of the back row.

I’ve done quite a lot of research about Stanley’s army career. He joined the 2/7th Battalion of the Lancashire Fusiliers, but it wasn’t until the beginning of 1917 that he finally went out to the Western Front. His battalion saw successful action against the Germans in northern France in the spring of 1917, spent the summer on coastal defence in Belgium, and took part in the Battle of Passchendaele in October 1917.

They stayed in Belgium during the winter but moved to northern France again at the beginning of March 1918, in readiness for the expected German Spring Offensive. On March 21st, the day when the enemy launched their offensive, Stanley was killed (with many of his comrades) at Templeux-le-Guerard, which is a small village in the Somme department of Picardy.

I imagine that his parents received the dreaded telegram telling them their son was ‘Missing in Action’ but it wasn’t until the beginning of 1919, nine months later, that they received official confirmation of his death from the Red Cross.

He was buried in the small war cemetery just outside the village, and my daughter and I visited his grave about 5 years ago. As far as I know, we were the first members of his family ever to see his grave.

There’s an awesome postscript to Stanley’s story. In 2004 I was invited to make a short digital story about Stanley for the BBC. It was shown on television as part of the very first episode of the family history series: Who Do You Think You Are?

The following day, I had a phone call from my aunt, who was 93 at the time. She remembered seeing her uncle in in army uniform when she was a small child, and so she was thrilled to see the photos of him on TV. Then she said, “And you do know about the German soldier, don’t you?”

Cue puzzled frown from me. “What German soldier?”

She then told me how, several months after the war ended, Stanley’s parents received a letter from a German soldier, together with a photo. It was in German and they had to get it translated. It seemed the soldier had found Stanley dying and had stayed with him. Stanley was clutching a photo of his family, on the back of which he had written his parents’ name and address. Once Stanley died, the soldier kept the photo – and then returned it to his parents.

I don’t know what happened to that letter, but I often wonder if the family photo was the same as the one above. It brought comfort to his parents to know that Stanley hadn’t died alone. The German soldier’s letter represented one small act of humanity in the midst of that horrendous war when so many young men were slaughtered. 888,246 of them.

It was called the ‘war to end all wars’. Sadly it wasn’t. When will we ever learn?

Monday, November 10, 2014


Ana rarely remember her dreams, but this morning she did. Two of them! And she wrote them down.

Two ladies in a rusty S-10 pickup approach an absolutely huge, steep hill. Road is dirt, rutted. They pull off to the side, sit and stare at it while they debate if the truck can climb up it. One has to get to her destination. The other insists there has to be a way around the hill.

A pickup truck appears on the top and lumbers down. After a while, a car crests and descends.
They debate if the other side is as steep, if it’s flatter and this downhill side is a one-way. They study their map. This is the only road for a hundred miles in every direction. They have to go up. 

They start the pickup.

An eighteen year old girl gets pregnant at a music festival. Father a nameless roadie working for one of the bands. She was high, carried away by the love-in atmosphere, and it was her first time. Baby comes out mixed race. 

Do you get story ideas from dreams?

Friday, November 7, 2014

J.C. McKenzie Nov 7 friday friend

The Naughty Words List

Thank you Ana for hosting me on your blog today. I’m going to discuss my editing journey, or more specifically my inadequacies as a writer and how I’ve learned to find my weird writing quirks and fix them to make a tighter, cleaner version of my manuscripts.
A few years ago, powered by a win in a local flash fiction writing contest, I decided to enroll in a community course called “Edit your Manuscript.” I had an 80000 word post-apocalyptic fantasy manuscript I’d recently completed and was very proud of—it was my first.
How the course worked:
It didn’t.
But I’ll get to that in a bit.
Technically, a published author hosted a group of amateur writers as we critiqued our work around the table.
I didn’t like this group for many reasons: One, the hosting author stayed quiet most of the time and kept a lot of her knowledge to herself. She sat back and let the aspiring writers loose; two, the other writers had little or no more experience than me and had little skill in providing constructive criticism. They hacked the manuscripts apart, including mine, with little consideration for each other’s feelings; and three, my manuscript didn’t improve.
One time, during my “turn” the writers spent the entire time bickering about the difference of an n-dash and an m-dash. Another time, it was how to delete the extra space after a period, because now publishers only wanted one instead of two.
One writer sounded like a parrot when it came time to critique my work. She kept saying it needed to be “tightened up” and it was “too passive.” She was right, but no one, including her or the host, could tell me what that meant or give me any examples on how to fix it.
I left that group feeling very dejected and discouraged.
Then I found the RWA. My mother is also a writer and she’d recently discovered Vancouver Island had a local chapter, so I went with her to a meeting to scope it out. Everyone in that group was wonderful! They were supportive and helpful and even the multi-published veterans of the craft, like Lee McKenzie and Bonnie Edwards, were open and approachable.
We both joined the RWA—my mother first and me a bit later. One of the best things I got out of that first meeting, besides discovering what a warm, constructive writing group actually looked and felt like, was Bonnie Edward’s “Naughty Word List.”
She’d made a list for editing. At the end of writing a manuscript, she’d search for all the terms on the list and then, if possible, take them out or change them to make her writing stronger.
I’ve since constructed my own “Naughty Word List” of terms to search for and eliminate based on my own writing ticks. I’ve included it at the end of this post.

In a nutshell, my editing process, in order, includes:

1.   Write first draft. Try to keep characters in character and pace moving along. Usually block out scene ideas first as a pseudo outline.
2.   Return to any to insert details or scenes or information. (If I can’t think of something, or don’t know something, I put in the space to return to later and keep writing).
3.   Go to each opening scene and flesh out details. Ensure scene is set and the use of at least 2-3 of the senses.
4.   Check beginning and end of each scene/chapter. Ensure hooks in place.
5.   Spell check
6.   Naughty word list
7.   Full read through (this involves heavy editing, adding/deleting scenes and paragraphs)
8.   Critique partners
9.   Beta readers
10.       Spell check
11.       Naughty word list
12.       Submission.

My Naughty words list
Passive to Active
Review use
To get
To be
Be able to
To be able to

Towards = toward
Backwards = backward
Further =farther (mo)
Ok =okay
Alright =all right
Reign = rein (unless it refers to ruling)
Reigned =reined (ditto)

Was going to =would
Was going =went (mo)
Would be able to = could
Could verb(present) = verb (past) (e.g. could see = saw)

be --ing (e.g.. be wearing) = wear

was ing =
(e.g. was crying => cried)

Telling verbs (take out)

(can often take the I out)
(and remove if possible)


Mo = most often

 Book Specs:

Title: The Shucker’s Booktique
Series Name: Lobster Cove
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press                 
Editor: Lara Parker
Cover Artist: Debbie Taylor of DCA Graphics
Theme(s): Shapeshifters, supernatural
SubGenre(s): Paranormal/Urban Fantasy
Rating: Spicy (PG13)
Keywords: Shifter, Paranormal, Fae, Urban Fantasy

Page Count: 115
Word Count: 27346
Digital Price: 2.99
Digital ISBN 978-1-62830-659-0

After her fiancé dumps her and her beloved Aunt Jenny goes missing, Willa Eklund travels to Lobster Cove with a broken heart to search for Jenny while running her bookstore. When a mysterious man visits the Shucker's Booktique on a stormy night drenched in rain and covered in mud, Willa's heart melts under his stormy gaze. She wants Lon and the answers he may have, but he also has a secret. Can Willa trust him?

Lon Devlin is a Tempest, a water sprite who can only take a human form during stormy nights. He rides the waves, lives by the tides, and nothing can hold him down, not even a beautiful woman. When he visits his mortal friend, he discovers she's missing and her intriguing niece has taken her place. He wants Willa, but he also wants answers. What happened to Jenny?


Thump! Thump! Thump!
No! She gasped. It couldn’t be. The banging on the front door of the booktique had to be a figment of her imagination. She couldn’t will Lon into existence. Why would he come back? Especially if he was involved. Unless…cold ice prickled up her spine…unless he needed to eliminate her to take care of loose ends.
No. Crazy thoughts, Willa. He could’ve taken care of her the night before. No, her heart hammered against her chest for a different reason. But it didn’t matter. The knocking on the door wouldn’t, couldn’t be him.
Thump! Thump! Thump!
Could it? She clutched her hot mug in both hands and turned toward the doorway leading to the bookstore. From the kitchen in the back room, she had a clear view through the store to the front door, but not who stood on the other side.
“Willa!” Lon growled. “Wake up and let me in!”
Willa gasped and almost dropped her cup. The tea sloshed around and some spilled over her hands. It burned, but she didn’t move. She couldn’t breathe. Somehow the air got trapped inside her throat. Why was he here? What did he want?
Oh God, let it be me!