Release Day for Two Feet Under & a Giveaway!!!!

It’s release day for Two Feet Under. I’m so freaking thrilled. I can’t wait for you to read this new edition of Riley and Hayden. You can order Two Feet Under now at AmazonBarnes & Noble and Kobo. But I have another surprise for you.  Yup.  It’s a big one, too.  In the back of Two Feet Under you’ll get the first three chapters of my March 26th release, In Another Life.  You’ll meet Chloe and Cash.  And I have a feeling you are going to love them.  The chemistry between these two is hot, hot, hot.  The emotions in this book make it a real heart tugger, plus the mystery and suspense will keep you on the very edge of your seat. Now just for you, here’s a sneak peek of In Another Life.

Giveaway!!

If you preorder In Another Life leave a comment here and I’ll enter you to win Two Feet Under playing cards and a memory stick for your computer. (Sorry, but this giveaway is limited to U.S.residents only.)

 

 

 

 

What would you do if your whole life was a lie and learning the truth could cost you your life?

Chloe was three years old when she became Chloe Holden, but her adoption didn’t scar her, and she’s had a great life. Now, fourteen years later, her loving parents’ marriage has fallen apart and her mom has moved them to Joyful, Texas. Starting twelfth grade as the new kid at school, everything Chloe loved about her life is gone. And feelings of déjà vu from her early childhood start haunting her.

When Chloe meets Cash Colton she feels drawn to him, as though they’re kindred spirits. Until Cash tells her the real reason he sought her out: Chloe looks exactly like the daughter his foster parents lost years ago, and he’s determined to figure out the truth.

As Chloe and Cash delve deeper into her adoption, the more things don’t add up, and the more strange things start happening. Why is Chloe’s adoption a secret that people would kill for?

You can preorder In Another Life now at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Indie Books and Powells.

In Another Life Excerpt

Chapter One

“What are you doing?” I ask when Dad pulls over at a convenience store only a mile from where Mom and I are now living. My voice sounds rusty after not talking during the five-hour ride. But I was afraid that if I said anything, it would all spill out: My anger. My hurt. My disappointment in the man who used to be my superhero.

“I need gas and a bathroom,” he says.

“Bathroom? So you can’t even come in to see Mom when you drop me off?” My heart crinkles up like a used piece of aluminum foil.

He meets my eyes, ignores my questions, and says, “You want anything?”

“Yeah. My freaking life back!” I jump out of the car and slam the door so hard, the sound of the metal hitting metal cracks in the hot Texas air. I haul ass across the parking lot, watching my white sandals eat up the pavement, hiding the sheen of tears in my eyes.

“Chloe,” Dad calls out. I move faster.

Eyes still down, I yank open the door, bolt inside the store, and smack right into someone. Like, my boobs smash against someone’s chest.

“Crap,” a deep voice growls.

A Styrofoam cup hits the ground. Frozen red slushie explodes all over my white sandals. The cup lands on its side, bleeding red on the white tile.

I swallow the lump in my throat and jerk back, removing my B cup boobs from some guy’s chest.

“Sorry,” he mutters, even though it’s my fault.

I force myself to look up, seeing first his wide chest, then his eyes and the jet-black hair scattered across his brow. Great! Why couldn’t he be some old fart?

I return to his bright green eyes and watch as they shift from apologetic to shocked, then to angry.

I should say something—like, add my own apology—but the lump in my throat returns with a vengeance.

“Shit.” The word sneaks through his frown.

Yeah, all of this is shit! I hear Dad call my name again from outside.

My throat closes tighter and tears sting my eyes. Embarrassed to cry in front of a stranger, I snatch off my sandals and dart to a cooler.

Opening the glass door, I stick my head in needing a cooldown. I swat a few stray tears off my cheeks. Then I feel someone next to me. Dad’s not letting this go.

“Just admit you screwed up!” I look over and am swallowed by those same angry light green eyes from a minute ago. “I thought you were. . . Sorry,” I say, knowing it’s late for an apology. His look is unsettling.

He continues to glare. An all-in-my-face kind of glare. As if this is more than a spilled slushie to him.

“I’ll pay for it.” When he doesn’t even blink, I add another, “I’m sorry.”

His question seethes out. “Why are you here?”

“What?  Do I know you?” I know I was rude, but—hotness aside—this guy is freaking me out.

His eyes flash anger. “What do you want?” His tone carries an accusation I don’t understand.

“What do you mean?” I counter.

“Whatever you’re trying to pull, don’t do it.”

He’s still staring me down. And I feel like I’m shrinking in his glare.

“I’m not . . . You must have me mixed up with someone else.” I shake my head, unsure if this guy’s as crazy as he is sexy. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. But I said I’m sorry.” I grab a canned drink and barefoot, carrying sticky sandals, hurry to the front of the store.

Dad walks in, scowling.

“Careful,” a cashier says to Dad while mopping up the slushie just inside the door.

“Sorry,” I mutter to the worker, then point to Dad. “He’s paying for my Dr Pepper! And for that slushie.”

I storm off to the car, get in, and hold the cold Diet Dr Pepper can to my forehead. The hair on the back of my neck starts dancing. I look around, and the weird hot guy is standing outside the store, staring at me again.

Whatever you’re trying to pull, don’t do it.

Yup, crazy. I look away to escape his gaze. Dad climbs back in the car. He doesn’t start it, just sits there, eyeballing me. “You know this isn’t easy for me either.”

“Right.” So why did you leave?

He starts the car, but before we drive off, I look around again and see the dark-haired boy standing in the parking lot, writing on the palm of his hand.

Is he writing down Dad’s license plate number? He’s a freak. I almost say something to Dad but remember I’m pissed at him.

Dad pulls away. I focus on the rearview mirror. The hot guy stays there, eyes glued on Dad’s car, and I stay glued on him until he’s nothing but a speck in the mirror.

“I know this is hard,” Dad says. “I think about you every day.”

I nod, but don’t speak.

Minutes later, Dad pulls over in front of our mailbox. Or rather Mom’s and mine. Dad’s home isn’t with us anymore. “I’ll call you tomorrow to see how your first day of school was.”

My gut knots into a pretzel with the reminder that I’ll be starting as a senior at a new school. I stare out at the old house, in the old neighborhood. This house once belonged to my grandmother. Mom’s been renting it to an elderly couple for years. Now we live here. In a house that smells like old people . . . and sadness.

“Is she home?” Dad asks.

In the dusk of sunset, our house is dark. Gold light leaks out of next door, Lindsey’s house—she’s the one and only person I know my own age in town.

“Mom’s probably resting,” I answer.

There’s a pause. “How’s she doing?”

You finally ask? I look at him gripping the wheel and staring at the house. “Fine.” I open the car door, not wanting to draw out the goodbye. It hurts too much.

“Hey.” He smiles. “At least give me a hug?”

I don’t want to, but for some reason—because under all this anger, I still love him—I lean over the console and hug him. He doesn’t even smell like my dad. He’s wearing cologne that Darlene probably bought him. Tears sting my eyes.

“Bye.” I get one slushie-dyed foot out the car.

Before my butt’s off the seat, he says, “Is she going back to work soon?”

I swing around. “Is that why you asked about her? Because of money?”

“No.” But the lie is so clear in his voice, it hangs in the air.

Who is this man? He dyes the silver at his temples. He’s sporting a spiky haircut and wearing a T‑shirt with the name of a band he didn’t even know existed until Darlene.

Before I can stop myself, the words trip off my tongue. “Why? Does your girlfriend need a new pair of Jimmy Choos?”

“Don’t, Chloe,” he says sternly. “You sound like your mom.”

That hurt now knots in my throat. “Pleeease. If I sounded like my mom, I’d say, ‘Does the whore bitch need a new pair of Jimmy Choos!’” I swing back to the door.

He catches my arm. “Look, young lady, I can’t ask you to love her like I do, but I expect you to respect her.”

“Respect her? You have to earn respect, Dad! If I wore the clothes she wears, you’d ground me. In fact, I don’t even respect you anymore! You screwed up my life. You screwed up Mom’s life. And now you’re screwing someone eighteen years younger than yourself.” I bolt out and get halfway to the house when I hear his car door open and slam.

“Chloe. Your stuff.” He sounds angry, but he can just join the crowd, because I’m more than mad—I’m hurt.

If I weren’t afraid he’d follow me into the house all pissed off and start an argument with Mom, I’d just keep going. But I don’t have it in me to hear them fight again. And I’m not sure Mom’s up to it either. I don’t have an option but to do the right thing. It sucks when you’re the only person in the family acting like an adult.

I swing around, swat at my tears, and head back to the curb.

He’s standing beside his car, my backpack in one hand and a huge shopping bag with the new school clothes he bought me in the other. Great. Now I feel like an ungrateful bitch.

When I get to him, I mutter, “Thanks for the clothes.”

He says, “Why are you so mad at me?”

So many reasons. Which one do I pick? “You let Darlene turn my room into a gym.”

He shakes his head. “We moved your stuff into the other bedroom.”

“But that was my room, Dad.”

“Is that really why you’re mad or. . .? He pauses. “It’s not my fault that your mom got—”

“Keep thinking that,” I snap. “One of these days, you might even believe it!”

Hands full, chest heavy, I leave my onetime superhero and my broken heart scattered on the sidewalk. My tears are falling fast and hot by the time I shut the front door behind me.

Buttercup, a medium-sized yellow mutt of a dog, greets me with a wagging tail and a whimper. I ignore him. I drop my backpack, my shopping bag, and dart into the bathroom. Felix, my red tabby cat, darts in with me.

I attempt to shut the door in a normal way instead of an I’m-totally-pissed way. If Mom sees me like this, it’ll upset her. Even worse, it’ll fuel her anger.

“Chloe?” Mom calls. “Is that you?”

“Yeah. I’m in the bathroom.” I hope I don’t sound as emotionally ripped as I feel.

I drop down on the toilet seat, press the backs of my hands against my forehead, and try to breathe.

Mom’s steps creak across the old wood floors. Her voice sounds behind the door. “You okay, hon?”

Felix is purring, rubbing his face on my leg. “Yeah. My stomach’s . . . I think the meat loaf I had at Dad’s was bad.”

“Did Darlene fix it?” Her tone’s rolled and deep-fried in hate.

I grit my teeth. “Yeah.”

“Please tell me your dad ate a second helping.”

I close my eyes, when what I really want to do is scream, Stop it! I get why Mom’s so angry. I get that my dad’s a piece of shit. I get that he refuses to take any blame, and that makes it worse. I get what she’s been through. I get all of it. But does she have a clue how much it hurts me to listen to her take potshots at someone I still sort of love?

“I’m going to sit out on the patio,” she says. “When you’re out, join me.”

“Uh-huh,” I say.

Mom’s steps creak away.

I stay seated and try not to think about what all hurts, and instead I pet Felix. His eyes, so green, take me back to the boy in the store. Whatever you’re trying to pull, don’t do it.

What the heck did he mean?

 

I leave the bathroom, but before I open the back door, I stare out the living room window at Mom reclined on a lawn chair. The sun’s setting and she’s bathed in gold light. Her eyes are closed, her chest moves up and down in slow breaths. She’s so thin. Too thin.

Her faded blue bandanna has slipped off her head. All I see is baldness. And—bam!—I’m mad at Dad again.

Maybe Dad’s right. Maybe I do blame him for Mom’s cancer.

It doesn’t even help to remember that three weeks ago, the doctor ruled her cancer-free. In fact, her breast cancer was found so early that the doctors insisted it was just a bump in the road.

I hate bumps.

My gaze shifts to her head again. The doctor claimed the short rounds of chemo were to make sure there weren’t any cancer cells floating around in her body. But until I see her hair grown back, and stop seeing her ribs, I won’t stop being afraid of losing her.

When she was diagnosed, I thought Dad would come back, that he’d realize he still loved her. What’s sad is that I think Mom thought he would, too. It didn’t happen.

Mom’s eyes open, she adjusts her bandanna, then stands up with open arms. “Come here. I missed you.”

“I was only gone three days,” I say. But it’s the first time I left her overnight since she got cancer. And I missed her, too.

We walk into each other’s arms. Her hugs started lasting longer since she and Dad separated. Mine got tighter when the big C stained our lives.

I pull out of her embrace. Buttercup is at my feet, his wagging tail hitting my leg.

“Has she redecorated the house?” Her tone is casual, but still loaded with animosity.

Just my room. Going for a conversational U‑turn, I ask, “What did you do while I was gone?”

“I read two books.” She grins.

“You didn’t pull up your manuscript and try to write?” Before Mom and Dad’s problems, Mom spent every free moment working on a book. She called it her passion. I suppose Dad killed that, too.

“No. Not feeling it,” she says. “Oh, look.” She pulls her bandanna off. “I got peach fuzz. I hear women pay big bucks to get this look.”

I laugh, not because it’s funny, but because she’s laughing. I don’t remember the last time Mom laughed. Are things getting better?

She moves over to the swing. “Sit down.”

It sinks with her weight. Mom’s shoulder bumps into mine.

She looks at me, really looks at me. Is she seeing my just-cried puffiness? “What’s wrong, baby?”

The concern in her voice, the love in her eyes, they remind me of when I could go to her with my problems. When I didn’t weigh every word to make sure it wouldn’t hurt her. Because she already has way too much hurt.

“Nothing,” I say.

Her mouth thins. “Did your dad upset you?”

“No,” I lie.

Her gaze stays locked on me as if she knows I’m not being honest. I throw something out there: “It’s Alex.”

“Did you see him while you were there?”

Another lump lodges in my throat—I guess this subject is too tender to touch on, too. “He came by and we talked in his car.”

“And?”

“And nothing.” I bundle up that pain for another time. “I told you he’s seeing someone else.”

“I’m sorry, baby. Do you hate me for moving you here?”

Duh, you can’t hate someone who has cancer. But now that the cancer is gone . . . ? Tempting, but I can’t. Just like I can’t hate Dad.

“I don’t hate you, Mom.”

“But you hate it here?” Guilt adds a sad note to her voice. It’s the first time she’s considered my feelings about this. I tried my damnedest to talk her out of moving—I even begged—but she didn’t give. So I gave. I’ve done a lot of giving.

My vision blurs with tears. “It’s just hard.”

My phone dings with a text. I don’t want to check it, thinking it’s Dad texting to say he’s sorry, and Mom might see it, then I’d have to explain. He is sorry, isn’t he? I want to believe he realized giving my room to Darlene was a mistake.

“Who’s that?” Mom asks.

“Don’t know.” My phone remains in my pocket.

It dings again. Shit!

“You can check it,” Mom says.

I pull it out and hold it close. It’s not Dad. And now that stings, too.

“It’s Lindsey.” I read her text. Come over when you can.

“She called earlier to see if you were home. Why don’t you go see her? I’ll fix dinner.”

“I’ll just text her,” I say, knowing Lindsey will ask about my trip, and I don’t know her well enough to dump on her.

“Okay.” Mom pats my arm. “What do you want for dinner?”

“Pizza.” I’m starving. I barely touched my lunch before leaving Dad’s.

“Pizza? On an iffy stomach,” Mom says. “How about tomato soup and grilled cheese?”

I hate tomato soup. It’s sick food. Cancer food. We ate that every night of chemo. Then again, I suppose that’s what I get for lying. “Sure.”

 

Soup, a sandwich, and two sitcoms later, I hug Mom goodnight and head to bed. Both Buttercup and Felix follow me into my room. Or rather, the room I sleep in. My room doesn’t exist anymore.

I grab my phone to see if any of my old friends, or maybe Alex, has texted me. Nothing’s there except a message from Lindsey, reminding me to text her when I’m ready to leave for school.

I flop on my bed. Felix jumps up, snuggles beside me, and starts purring. Buttercup leaps up and lies at my feet. Phone still in hand, I swipe the screen to the selfies I took of me, Cara, and Sandy this weekend. We’re all smiling, but not that big, natural kind of smile. All of us look sort of posed. Like we’re faking something. Fake smiling. Faking friendship.

My finger keeps swiping until I find the older selfies with Cara and Sandy. We aren’t posed, or phony looking. We’re having fun. It shows in our expressions, our real smiles.

I keep going until I get to one of me and Alex. He’s kissing my cheek. His blue eyes are cut to the camera, and I can tell he’s laughing. I remember when it was taken. The first night we slept together. Tears fill my eyes, and my finger swipes faster. Images, snapshots of my life become nothing more than smears of color flying across my phone’s screen.

I wonder if that’s all life really is, just smears of color. A collage of sweeping moments in different shades and hues of emotions. Times when you’re happy, sad, angry, scared, and when you’re just faking it.

I toss my phone to the end of my bed and stare at the ceiling fan going around and round, and my emotions do the same. My eyes grow heavy, then—bam!—I’m not there staring at a fan. I’m trapped in a memory almost as old as I am.

I’m sitting on a brown sofa. My feet, buckled up in black patent leather shoes, dangle above dirty carpet. I’m wearing a pink frilly princess dress, but I’m not a happy princess. Deep heartfelt sobs, my sobs, echo around me. I’m a fish out of water. I can’t breathe.

I sit up so fast, Felix bolts off the bed.

It’s the only memory I have from before I became Chloe Holden. A few months before my third birthday. Before I was adopted.

Lately, the memory has jumped out at me. Haunting me, in a way. I know why, too. It’s the sensation. The one of being plucked out of my world and planted somewhere else.

Not that it didn’t work out. Back then, I lucked out and was adopted into perfection. I had a mom, a dad, got a cat I named Felix, and eventually we got a dog named Buttercup. We lived in a three-bedroom white brick house filled with lots of laughter. And love. I had friends I grew up with. A boyfriend I’d given my virginity to.

I had a life. I was happy. I smiled real smiles in photos.

Then came Dad working late.

Mom and Dad fighting.

Dad’s affair.

Mom’s depression.

The divorce.

The cancer.

And then the move from El Paso to Joyful, Texas. Which, by the way, isn’t joyful.

And here I am. Plucked again. So plucked.

But this time, I’m not feeling so lucky.

 

Chapter Two

 

Telling myself this first day of school won’t suck as bad as I think, I run my fingers through my thick dark hair that I spent half an hour straightening. After giving myself one last check in my dresser mirror, I text Lindsey and dart out.

Mom, swallowed in a too-big pink nubby robe, is sitting at the breakfast table and looks up. “I liked the red blouse.”

“Yeah. But I like this one for today.” I give her a hug. I looked good in the red, but it felt too showy, like, Look at me, I’m the new kid. So I went for beige instead.

“Wish me luck,” she says.

“Why? What are you doing? You going to start writing again?”

“No. I’m job hunting.”

My first thought is that she should wait until her hair grows out. “Do you feel like working?”

“Yeah. I’m tired of doing nothing.”

“Then good luck.” I snatch my backpack, give Felix and Buttercup a quick rub, and leave, trying not to think about Dad asking if Mom is working. Trying not to think that I never got an apology from him.

Lindsey, wearing black jeans, a black blouse, black nail polish, and red lipstick, is waiting beside the driveway. Her hair, sandy blond with highlights, hangs down past her shoulders. She looks like she walked off a magazine cover.

“Aren’t you stylin’?” I say.

She grins. “My plan is to make Jonathon sorry.”

I heard all about Jonathon. Mostly referred to as “the no-good cheating dog.” I saw him once or twice when we first moved here. It wasn’t until they broke up that Lindsey and I started talking. I only recently told her about Alex, but we haven’t come up with the perfect nickname for him yet.

If Mom hadn’t dragged me across Texas, Alex and I’d still be together. I’m not sure I would’ve called it love, but I think I was bumping shoulders with it. When I left, we agreed we were going to do the whole long-distance-relationship thing.

That lasted four weeks.

“How was your visit with your dad and his live-in toy?” she asks as we walk to my car.

“Hell,” I say, then change the subject. “You have a new guy picked out?” We get into my white Chevy Cruze.

“Yeah, David Drake. He asked me out last year right after I started dating Jonathon. He’s funny, cute, and sweet.”

On the ride, Lindsey talks about her class schedule and how she has three classes with Jamie. Jamie is her best friend, and was away over the summer. I worry now that since her BFF is back, Lindsey will drop me in a hot minute.

“I hope we have classes together,” Lindsey says.

Most everyone had their class schedule emailed to them. I’ll get mine after I visit the counselor. But since Lindsey isn’t in honors classes, I doubt we’ll have any together.

I pull into the school parking lot and hang the permit on the mirror. Mom guilted Dad into paying for the parking pass. My stomach starts cramping at the sight of strangers.

I look at Lindsey.

She’s staring at me oddly. “Damn! You’re nervous.”

“A little, why?”

She makes a funny face. “I don’t know. I thought you were fearless.”

“Me? When?”

“Your mom has cancer. You had to move in twelfth grade, and you’re, like, fine with it. I’d be a hot mess.”

I tell her the truth. “I am. I just fake it.” We jump out and grab our backpacks.

Only a few feet from my car, I feel people staring at me and waving to Lindsey. I lift my chin and pretend I don’t care. Lindsey starts talking about where we’ll meet up after school and tells me to text her when I know my schedule.

We’re almost out of the parking lot when shouting erupts. We stop.

There’s a big guy with light brown hair laughing at a younger sophomore-looking guy. The bully is holding a backpack up and making some wisecracks to the kid about being short.

The boy’s face is red, like he’s embarrassed and mad.

My heart goes out to the sophomore, who looks about as comfortable to be here as I am. I consider stepping in when someone else does. Someone with jet-black hair and shoulders a mile wide. I think he’s a teacher; then—crap!—I recognize him. It’s the weird psycho guy I rubbed my boobs on at the convenience store.

“Stop being an ass!” The psycho guy yanks the backpack from the jerk and tosses it to the younger boy. The kid catches the bag and runs for it.

“Look at him run,” the jerk says, laughing. But damn—I hate bullies.

The weird guy mouths out something I can’t hear. I take a step closer. Lindsey moves with me.

The jerk blows up. “Who the hell do you think you are?”

Lindsey leans in. “This is going to get interesting.”

I don’t look at her. My eyes are locked on the scene.

“Paul’s the guy who took the kid’s backpack,” Lindsey continues. “He’s a football player. The other guy is Cash. Cash came here only halfway through the last school year. He used to attend Westwood Academy, a private school where all the rich kids go. But rumor has it, he grew up in foster care and is a real badass.”

“Paul is the one acting like an asshole.” I try to mesh the guy who’s standing up for the underdog with the lunatic I met yesterday.

“Yeah. Paul’s a bit of a bully,” she admits.

Paul edges closer to Cash. In spite of yesterday’s encounter, I’m rooting for Cash. I guess I dislike bullies more than I do psychos.

Cash doesn’t move, but his shoulders widen. Paul doesn’t appear scared, but he should be. Cash is a good two inches taller than Paul. But it’s not his height that makes him so intimidating. It’s his body language. He does look like a badass. Even more of a badass now than he did yesterday.

“I asked you a question!” Paul yells. “Who do you think you are, Foster Boy?”

Cash’s shoulders snap back. “I’m the one who doesn’t have to pick on someone smaller than myself to feel important.”

Paul moves in, puts his face in Cash’s.

Cash speaks up. “Walk away while you can.” His tone is dead serious.

“You walk away!” Paul says.

I think for sure Cash is about to draw his fist back. He surprises me when he says, “You’re not worth the trouble.” He turns to leave.

I don’t know if I’m disappointed he didn’t teach Paul a lesson, or impressed Cash took the high road.

He gets a few steps away when Paul lunges forward and shoves Cash’s shoulder. “Coward,” Paul accuses.

Cash swings around. “You’re the coward for waiting until I turned my back.”

“Well, I’m facing you now.” Paul takes a swing.

Cash swoops to the left. Paul’s fist hits air.

Everyone laughs. That fuels Paul on. He raises his fists to his face and starts dancing from foot to foot, like he’s some professional boxer.

Cash brings his fists up to his chin. Everyone starts shouting. “Beat his ass! Teach him a lesson!”

Somehow, I know they aren’t cheering for Cash. I’m not going to like this school.

I’m thinking we should leave, but like Lindsey, I’m glued to the scene. The two guys move in a circle. Paul swings again; Cash ducks. Paul growls.

I wait for Cash to make some smart-ass comment, but he doesn’t. I get the feeling he doesn’t want to fight.

Suddenly they’re positioned so that Cash is facing me. Those liquid green eyes lift and meet my brown ones. He freezes.

That’s when Paul takes another swing. His fist slams into Cash’s eye. He almost falls, but looking furious, he punches Paul—once in the gut, once on the nose. Paul falls down, gasping, and holds a hand over his nose. Blood oozes between his fingers.

“Stop!” someone yells. A man runs toward the group. This one really is a teacher. People start scattering.

“Let’s go.” Lindsey pulls me away. Right before I turn, Cash’s gaze finds me again. His left eye is already swelling. I turn and follow Lindsey.

“That was weird as shit.” Lindsey hurries toward the front of the school.

“The fight?” I ask.

“No. Him staring at you. Do you know him?”

“No,” I say, and don’t explain any further.

“Well, something about you stopped him in his tracks.”

“I probably look like someone he knows.” I recall telling him that at the store.

“Or he’s got the hots for you. Every girl in school has tried to get his attention and failed. You get here, and he gets punched while he’s checking you out.”

“Maybe he wasn’t staring at me,” I say even though I don’t believe it.

“Right.” Lindsey rolls her eyes.

I glance at the school looming before me, and I want nothing more than to turn around and go home.

Winner!!!

Last week’s winner of a $15 Amazon gift card is Kate C. Congratulations! Email me at christie@christie-craig.com to claim your prize.

Do You Have a Little Ghost Whisperer in You?

I admit it.  I think I have a little clairvoyance in me.  I’ve had dreams of past loved ones that really felt real.  And I’ve felt them at times when I’m alone.  I’ve felt things in cemeteries and funeral homes, too.  I’ve even known things that I shouldn’t know.  It freaks me out sometimes.

I remember when my grandfather died and my grandmother asked me to deliver his eulogy.  I was honored, but it also scared the bejeebies out of me.  The thought of talking in front the family had me very nervous. What if I messed up or if what I said wasn’t good enough?  I loved my grandfather.

A few days before the funeral I was in bookstore and my eyes just went to a poster on the wall that read: The number three top-rated fear in life is death.  The number one is public speaking.  So if you’re giving someone’s eulogy you’re actually worse off than the person in the casket.

Right then I could swear I heard my grandfather laugh.  He had this unique laugh, a belly kind of laugh, the kind you expect from Santa Claus.  It was so clear and so real that I actually looked around for the man who had laughed.

No one was there.  It was just me with my memories or maybe me with the spirit of my grandfather.

Then there was a crazy dream about a neighbor who had passed away about five years earlier.  In the dream she knocked on my door and when I got there, she was walking down the street with a redheaded little boy who looked about three.

She’d had a grandson with red hair named Reagan, but he was seventeen by then. She glanced back at me and said she’d been waiting for the boy so she could leave.  It was a strange dream, so real, so otherworldly.  But dreams are crazy and I pushed it to the back of my mind.  Imagine my surprise when two days later my son told me he’d seen on Facebook that Reagan’s little brother had died.  It quickly went from being a strange dream to a scary one.

Riley in Two Feet Under is a ghost whisperer or as she sometimes calls herself a ghost fixer because they expect her to fix their problems.  And in this book the fix is a hard one.  The spirit she’s dealing with is prisoner.  And he didn’t go to jail for jaywalking either.  We’re talking murder.

And his fix isn’t easy.  She has to face and convince a gang leader that he needs to donate part of his liver to a niece he never knew he had.

It’s dangerous and you can imagine that Hayden, her comatose boyfriend isn’t happy about her putting herself in danger.  Can he protect her?  Will the few tricks up his sleeve as a spirit be enough to save her?

Do you think you have a little ghost whisperer in you?   Have you ever felt as if you weren’t alone, that a spirit was with you?  Have you ever felt as if a loved one who had passed had stop by for a visit?

Preorder Two Feet Under at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Kobo.

Giveaway!

Do you think you have a little ghost whisperer in you?   Have you ever felt as if you weren’t alone, that a spirit was with you?  Have you ever felt a loved one who had passed stop by for visit?

One person who leaves a comment will win a $15 Amazon Gift card.

For My Houston Fans

Have a question for me? Want to get one of your books signed? You’re in luck! December 8, 2018, I’ll be at Murder by the Book, 2342 Bissonet, Houston, TX at 1:00 PM. I’ll be joined by Gerry Bartlett, author of Texas Lightning. Come by and hang out with us! There will be giveaways! For more information go to: https://www.murderbooks.com/hours-and-location.

Winner!!!

The winner of last week’s giveaway is Gina Bennett. Gina, please email me at christie@christie-craig.com and give me your postal address. Congratulations!

 

Sneak Peek & a Giveaway!

Wanna read the first chapter of Two Feet Under, my C.C. Hunter YA out Dec. 11th?  That’s right, I’m giving you a sneak peek.  I’m so excited about this book.  I think I love this series so much because it reminds me of my Shadow Falls series.  Remember Kylie’s experiences with the ghosts? Well, Riley has her own unique problems with them.

Yes, I really believe you guys are going to love Two Feet Under.  Riley’s and Hayden’s story blew me away.  I swear it almost wrote itself.  The spookiness, the romance, the mystery, the danger, the emotion, it pulled me under.  And I can’t wait for it to pull you under, too.

You can preorder Two Feet Under now at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Kobo.  Don’t wait.  Do it now.  You don’t want be disappointed.

Chapter One

They are everywhere.

I turn off my car, white-knuckle the steering wheel, and lean forward to look out the windshield. I’ve never been around more than two at a time. But I haven’t been to a hospital since I discovered my “gift,” either.

Most of them follow my dad, the local mortician, home from work. For a while I thought that was the only way I could connect to them.Now I know better.

Fear slithers up my spine. What if they all come at me at once?

The heater in the floor of my old Mustang hasn’t stopped pushing warmth out, yet I can already feel it: their special kind of cold, a bone kind of cold. And their emotion. Their regrets, their fear, their loneliness, it’s all soaked up into my skin like dry earth soaks up water. It’s probably their ploy to ensure I help them.

Who needs other people’s feelings and problems crowding your chest? Believe me, I have plenty of my own.

Part of me wants to restart the car and drive away. Stay warm.Stay safe. Stay alive.

But I can’t leave.

Hayden’s in there. Or maybe I should call him Carter now. My grip on the steering wheel tightens, emotion makes my breath shaky.

I’m thankful he’s alive, but at the same time, I’m ready to kill him. How could he do this to me? If he takes that leap into the light, I’ll be responsible, and I won’t be able to forgive myself.

But how was I supposed to know that this time the ghost visiting me wasn’t dead? He was just comatose.

I pick up my phone and check my time. I don’t have a lot of it. Jacob’s picking me up in an hour to go to his lake house for a party. Truth? I don’t want to go now. But it’s too late to cancel. It’d be rude, and for me, being rude is like wearing shoes on the wrong feet. It doesn’t feel or fit right.

I reach for the door handle and give the spirits a glance and plan my route to avoid them as much as possible.Then I force myself to step out of the car. In spite of the winter wind tossing the long blond strands of hair in my face, in spite of the deadly cold, I’m sweating.

My gaze falls on one male spirit holding a motorcycle helmet, sitting on a bench in front of the ER where the ambulances unload the patients. Blood streams down his face. He’s having a hard time holding his head up. It keeps freakishly falling to his shoulder.

He appears lost and confused. So many of them are. They don’t realize they are dead. I hate when I have to be the one to spill the news.

Another man, barrel-chested and in his mid-fifties, paces back and forth at the hospital entrance. He’s shirtless and has those heart monitoring pads stuck to him, with the attached cords dangling off his chest. He’s cursing at the top of his lungs.

Dying sometimes brings out the worst in someone. But for this man, maybe it was too much anger that killed him. The dead aren’t always innocent. I’m just now learning that.

My thoughts go to Dad’s newest client at the funeral home, the prisoner’s spirit who’s been hanging around. The one I’m hoping will just figure out things for himself and take a flying leap into the hereafter. I don’t know anything about him, but his bottled-up rage tells me he wasn’t doing time for jaywalking.

Another spirit peers out a window from the third floor. I swear they’re all looking right at me.

I should be used to this. For a year and a half now I’ve been a ghost magnet. A go-to person when the dead need something fixed, or just someone to break the bad news. I handled it pretty well at first. Finding a sweet elderly man’s cat a home so he could pass on, informing family of a life insurance policy so they afford a funeral. Small stuff.

That’s the way it started. But the last fix wasn’t so small.It put me in the direct path of a serial rapist and murderer. Scary shit.

It’d be better if I knew what the heck I was doing, but apparently dealing with the dead doesn’t come with a rule book or guidelines. I’m improvising as I go, and the whole Hayden issue is proof that I may not be the right person for the job. Problem is, I don’t know where to go to resign my position. It’s not like I asked for it. One day I just woke up and dead people were hanging around.

I take a few steps away from my car and I see another one, an elderly woman with painted-on eyebrows that give her a clownish appearance. She’s dressed in a bright Pepto-Bismol pink velvet sweat suit. And she’s power walking through the parking lot, zipping her way toward me. A dead woman with a death wish. And I’m supposed to grant it.

I look away, pretend I don’t see her. Pretend I’m like everyone else. Clueless to the dead who linger among us.

I walk right past her.

“Hey.” She swings around. “My name’s Ethel Burstein. I’m looking for Fred. Can you help me find him?”

I play deaf. I can’t deal with her now. She falls back, but not before I feel the freezer-burn sensation that comes from being too close to them. I tell myself not to feel guilty. I have to get to Hayden.

Ever since the dark-haired, blue-eyed high school senior followed me home, I’ve been pushing him toward the light and away from my heart. Oh, it hurt, but I thought that was what my job was.Getting him to cross over.

Sure, I knew he was different.Just not that different.

He was young. He was hot. Not as cold.Not as faded.

He could kiss like the devil, had a shoulder perfect for leaning on, a charm that melted my willpower, and a grin that made the air I breathed sweeter. All that time, I beat myself up for falling for a dead person when I didn’t have to.

Shouldn’t he have somehow mentioned it in one of our long conversations? “Hey by the way, I’m not dead?”

I push open the hospital doors and rush to the elevators to the ICU. As I push the button, I realize I don’t have a clue what I’m going to say.

As I get off on the fifth floor and start to look around,an elderly man standing there says, “It’s not visiting hours.”

“When is…” Crap!

“You can come back in ten minutes,” the spirit says. Or not a spirit. He’s like Hayden. He’s not completely faded, not cold, not dead.

Not yet.

He must also be unconscious in the ICU.“The family waiting room is right there.”He motions down the hallway.

I move that way. He follows me. “I can’t find Ethel,” he says. “Can’t understand why she’s not here visiting me.”

Ethel? From the parking lot? This must be her Fred. My heart suddenly feels too heavy for my chest. See why I don’t love this gig?

His sadness fills my pores, and I say, “I’m sure if she could be here, she would.”

He smiles.“You’re right. We’ve been married sixty years. Good years. ”He fades away, looking content. It only soothes my ache a little.

I go into the family room. There are about five people in there. I realize a problem. What if someone else here is also waiting to see Hayden?

Three of the people appear to be together and are speaking Spanish. That probably rules them out—Hayden doesn’t speak Spanish. There’s one woman, standing by the door, who looks the right age to possibly be his mom.If that’s her, I might not get to talk to Hayden. To tell him to fight to stay alive.T o tell him how angry I am at him.

Then an older lady, sitting in the corner fidgeting with her purse strap, stands and joins the woman who could be Mrs. Carter.

“You know he did this to himself,” the older women says in a voice ringing part angry, part hurt.“Doctors told him he was killing himself, but no, he loved whiskey more than us.”

“He’s an alcoholic, Mom.”

“Yeah, and a lot of alcoholics get help.”

“And a lot don’t,” the daughter says. “You should’ve gotten angry at him long before this, but not now.”

They’re clearly not connected to Hayden, but their conversation hurts like a paper cut across the heart. Will I be here one day, thinking that same thing about Dad? He swears he’s not an alcoholic. But that’s not what I read in my mom’s old diary. And it’s not what I believe after finding his alcohol bottles in the dirty clothes hamper.

A few minutes later, everyone starts moving into the hall. I go with them.I don’t know for sure, but I’m betting the hospital only allows family members to visit ICU patients. I’m hoping to just sneak in.

I move in behind the two women, close enough that people will think I’m with them. It’s a big room, with a nurses’ station in the middle and smaller rooms lining the walls. Patient names are on placards beside the open doors. I keep walking until I see one that has Carter on it. I remember Kelsey, the one friend I’ve made since I moved to Catwalk, Texas, telling me that everyone at school called Hayden by his last name, Carter. Why had he told me his last name was Parker?

I stiffen my spine and walk into the room.

I come to a quick stop when I see him. The boy who lies in that bed looks deader than the ghost who fooled me into thinking he was. He’s thinner, his dark hair is too long, and a machine making a swishing sound is pushing air into his lungs. I watch his chest rise and fall and recall seeing his stepdad at the funeral home making funeral arrangements, thinking the end was inevitable.

Forcing myself to move closer to the bed, I’m shaking as I touch the back of his hand.“Hayden?”

I don’t know what I expect. For him to open his eyes, or the ghost I know to suddenly appear beside his own body? Neither happens. The only things in this room with me are cold sadness and a shell of what once was Hayden.

A terrible question hits. Is Hayden already gone? A sad sound leaves my lips. I pull in a deep breath and tell myself it isn’t so. Then I look back at his face. Tears fill my eyes.

“I’m really mad at you right now. You know why, too, don’t you? Why didn’t you tell me?”

I stand there, forcing myself to breathe as if my body forgot it’s on autopilot. I hear footsteps. I look at the door, but no one comes in.

I still stand frozen, my hand on his, listening to the eerie sound of the monitor marking his heartbeats.Thu…thump.Thu…thump. The noise bounces off the white walls.

My heart suddenly skips a beat, then I feel my heart fall into rhythm with his. “Look, Hayden, I don’t know if you can hear me. But please try. You need to fight. Fight to live. You can’t give up. Stay away from the light. Run from it. Live, Hayden.  Please.Wake up. Open your eyes. At least show yourself to me. I want to see you.” My words shake. “I want to…dance with you again.”

“Who are you?” The voice comes from the doorway. The tone isn’t pure accusation, but suspicious enough that I want to scoot out the door.

Instead I get the feet-nailed-to-the-floor feeling. I can’t move.Footsteps enter.

Panic makes my mouth instantly dry. I turn and see a woman standing at my side, studying me…hard.

I know immediately that it’s Hayden’s mother. She has the dark chestnut hair and some of the same facial features as her son.

“Where do you know my son from?”

My tongue feels thick.

“Answer me.”

“I…I’m… My name’s Riley. I’m a friend from school.”

“I…I don’t recognize you,” she says.

“I’m…I’m sort of new.”

Mrs. Carter’s gaze falls to where I’m touching Hayden’s hand.

Afraid she thinks I’m crossing a line, I yank my hand away.

She blinks. Then her light green eyes get a teary sheen to them. “They only allow family in here.”

I don’t know what to say, so I don’t. Only when the silence grows louder than the hospital sounds do I force myself to speak. “I should…go.”

“No,” she says.“I didn’t mean…” She pulls in air, and even that sound expresses her pain. “He needs his friends.” There is so much love. Mother’s love in her voice, in her expression that a lump rises in my throat. Maybe because I no longer have a mom, seeing it, hearing it hurts twice as much.

My sinuses sting. I’m about to fall apart.

I run out of the room.

***

I’m crying by the time I reach my car.  Crawling in the driver’s seat, I shiver, start the engine, and turn up the car’s heater.It spurts out cold air. “Damn!” I thump my palm against the steering wheel, feeling angry, feeling helpless, feeling way too much rage. And just like that, I know it’s not just my emotion.

I see ice crystals form on the inside of my windshield.Then from the corner of my eye, I see someone sitting in my passenger seat. He’s wearing orange. Prison garb.

Crap. What’s he doing here? How did he find me at the hospital?

I want to turn to him, scream for him to get lost, but if I do, he’ll know I can see him and then he’ll never leave me alone.

So I pretend I’m not cold. I pretend I’m not afraid. I pretend I’m not dying inside for Hayden.

Blinking, staring out the windshield, I pretend tears aren’t freezing to my cheeks.

Shifting the car in reverse, I pull out of the hospital parking lot. My hands tremble, so I grip the steering wheel tighter.

“I need you to help me!” the ex-con yells.

I manage not to flinch, at least not on the outside. Go away.Go away. Go away.

“Look at me, damn it! Look at me!”

I keep my gaze locked on the road. He slams a fist on my dashboard. If he wasn’t dead that’d hurt like hell.

“It isn’t fair,” he yells. “Listen to me!”

No, it isn’t fair. But I’m remembering what Hayden looked like, so withered, so gaunt. So dead. Then I recall the desperate love in Mrs. Carter’s eyes.

I keep driving. I turn onto the major street heading to my house.

“I said listen!” He leans so close, yells so loud, his voice hurts my ears. His cold burns my skin and turns the air so arctic it stings my throat and lungs.

Just a few more miles. I can do this. I can. How long does it take to get frostbite?

He reaches over and yanks my steering wheel. What the…?

Ghost aren’t supposed to be able to move things, but this one can. As hard as I try to regain control of the wheel, I can’t. He’s yanking it back and forth. Cars dart out of my way. Horns are blaring. Luckily, I don’t think any of the cars actually crash.

I go to slam on the brakes, but dead-prisoner guy jumps the console, sits his cold butt on top of me, kicks my foot off the brakes, and slams his on the gas. I have freezing pain coursing through me, but I manage to look around him just in time to see my car race across the median and veer right into oncoming traffic.

And leading that traffic is an eighteen-wheeler.

I, Riley Smith, at only seventeen, am going to die.

Giveaway!

Let me know you preordered the book by leaving a comment.  One person who leaves a comment will win a C.C. Hunter tote bag filled with SWAG. (Sorry this giveaway is for U.S. residents only. If you’re reading this on Goodreads, you must comment on my actual blog to enter.)

 

 

Wanna Meet Me?

Do you live in the Houston area? December 8, 2018, I’ll be at Murder by the Book, 2342 Bissonet, Houston, TX at 1:00 PM. I’ll be joined by Gerry Bartlett, author of Texas Lightning. Come on by. It’s going to be a blast! For more information go to: https://www.murderbooks.com/hours-and-location.

WINNER!!

The winner of last week’s giveaway of a Mortician’s Daughter memory stick is Abby B. Congratulations!  Email me at christie@christie-craig.com with your postal address.

 

Family Secrets and a Giveaway!

I admit it. I’m a sucker for novels that are about family secrets.  The theme has popped up in both my Christie Craig books and my C.C. Hunter ones.  Remember the secret Kylie uncovered about her father and about her parent’s divorce in my YA Shadow Falls series?  Remember the huge family secret Della uncovered about her father’s sister and brother and even about her dad?  Now, that theme pops up in Two Feet Under, my latest YA C.C. Hunter book releasing Dec. 11th. To me there is just something about secrets that have been buried for a long time that intrigues me and calls for me to explore.  I think it might be because as a teen, I discovered a real family secret.

It enthralled me when I was young and even as an adult.  I was about seventeen when I discovered I had a half-brother I never knew about. One of Dad’s girlfriends got pregnant, but she didn’t tell him for a long time.  In fact, he was married to my mom when he finally learned the truth.  She lived thousands of miles away and other than sending one photograph of the boy, who did look my dad, he never heard from her again.

Recently, I got my DNA and my father’s DNA tested in hopes of finding this half sibling.  But so far, we haven’t connected.

Now, Riley’s secret in Two Feet Under is completely different from mine.  But that quest, the thirst to unearth long hidden truths, is the same.  Riley’s mother passed away when she was four, and she has very few memories of her.  But at seventeen, as Riley grows into a young woman, she starts wondering about her mom.  What was she really like?  How is Riley like her?  How is she different?  Recently, Riley found a diary written by her mom when she was younger, and Riley savors each and every word.  Discovering who her mom really was becomes a serious goal.

This new information unlocks a few memories long hidden in the back of her mind.  Like Riley, her mom loved art.  She even recalls seeing her mom painting and Riley decides to try her hand at oil painting, too.  As she strokes paint on the canvas she feels closer to her mom and even more curious.

But when she starts asking her dad questions about her mother, Riley senses it makes him very uncomfortable.  Why?  What is he hiding?  As she digs deeper into the mystery, she discovers some possibilities that aren’t pretty.  What if her mom turns out not be the woman Riley wants her to be?

You can preorder Two Feet Under now at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Kobo.

Is there a secret looming in your family? Do you like books with the hidden family secret theme?  This week, I’ll give away a One Foot in the Grave flash drive card to one person who posts a comment. (Sorry, but this giveaway is limited to U.S. residents only. If you’re reading this on Goodreads, you must leave a comment on my blog in order to enter this giveaway.)

Winner!

The winner of last week’s giveaway, an Amazon gift card is Deborah ElkinsCongratulations! Deborah, please email me at christie@christie-craig.com to claim your gift card.

Book Signing in Houston!

Want to meet me? I’d love to meet you? December 8, 2018, I’ll be at Murder by the Book, 2342 Bissonet, Houston, TX at 1:00 PM. I’ll be joined by Gerry Bartlett, author of Texas Lightning.  Come join us. There will be cool giveaway! For more information go to: https://www.murderbooks.com/hours-and-location.

One Thing Writing Young Adult Taught Me & a Giveaway!

“You just don’t understand!”

How many times have you heard that line from an unhappy teen?  As the mother of two grown kids, I’ve heard it plenty of times.  And for what’s it worth, many of those times, I heard it, but didn’t really hear it.

What I mean is, our teenagers have a point. We sometimes don’t understand.  Oh, we understood at one time, but as we grew into adults, as we became parents, protective beings out to assure our children avoid the pitfalls of life.  I think we forgot.

We forget what it was like to be a teenager.  And I don’t just mean the surging hormones or peer pressure.  But yes, that is certainly a part of it.  What I mean is we forget that they are adults in the making.  They have their own personalities.  Their own goals.  Their own likes and dislikes.  That they have their own lessons to learn.

And yes, that last one is the hardest for us as parents.  We want to protect them from facing anything close to dire consequences.  And yet so many of the lessons we learned in our early years are the ones that helped shape us as human beings.

We often forget how hard it is be under the control of someone else.   We decide where they’ll live, if they move from state to state, and where they’ll go to school.  We decide if they’ll live with both parents or with only one.

Yes, so much of this is out of our control.  And yet we forget how those decisions can affect their lives.

We try to oversee who they are friends with.  What career path they’ll move into.  We try to dictate who they’ll love.  What clothes they’ll wear.  How they’ll wear their hair.

And yes, as parents this is our job.  We are meant to lead. To guide.  And yet so often our guidance is directed by our own beacons and sometimes even our own prejudices.  We neglect to remember how our own paths led us away from that of our parents.  That an essential part of growing up is discovering who we are and how we differ from those around us.

Sometimes I think we forget a valuable tool we have as parents is the one to step back and not to crowd, to listen and not command, to advise and not rule.  Yet sometimes even though stepping back is exactly what we need to do, we overlook that option.  And yes, knowing the when it’s right and when it’s wrong sometimes feels impossible.

I think as parents we often forget that our children are not immune to our mistakes, our missteps, the consequences of our bad choices, and even the bad luck we encounter.  Even when we have no fault, when life hits us hard, it hits them, too.

In my young adult books I plagiarize from real life and often from my own teen years.  In my novel that releases March 26th, In Another Life, a young adult thriller, I write about how Chloe’s life is turned upside down by her parent’s bitter divorce and her father’s adultery.  Add her mom’s cancer and depression and you have a girl who is more emotionally stable than her own parents.

In Two Feet Under, the second book in my Mortician’s Daughter series that releases in December, Riley lost her mother when she was young and is being raised by her father who an alcoholic.  A man who drinks to hide the pain of his past.  A past that Riley senses holds secrets about her own life and now she’s determined to unearth them.

When I was asked to write young adult, I questioned my ability to do it.  Could I crawl into the skin of teenager and relate?  I believe I accomplished this by taking a long stroll down memory lane.  Amazingly, I discovered that teens today deal with most of the same issues I dealt with as a teen.  Yes, they have social media and it makes it’s harder, but the underlining issues are the same:  parents, peer pressure, drugs, alcohol and sex.

I wish I’d have gotten into writing young adult books sooner, when my children were younger. I think it would have made me a better parent to them as teenagers.

And just as writing these books opened my eyes as to how I could have been a better parent, I believe reading them can offer the same benefit to others.

Do you look back at your own coming-of-age time?  Do you remember one thing in which you wish your parents had given you a little more leeway?  Do you recall something that your parents did that felt so unfair and yet, now you see they were right?  If you are a teen, is there something that you feel your parents just don’t understand?

One person who leaves a comment will win a $15 Amazon card.

Happy Reading!

At the Movies

I love going to the movies. I don’t go as often as I  like because, well, I’m a writer, so I spend a lot of my time writing. So, often I end up watching a movie on Netflix or Amazon. But I still enjoy seeing them. I have some old favorites, ones that I’m always ready to watch, and I have a few newer movies I love. I thought I’d share my favorites with you.

Here are a few older movies I love:

While You Were Sleeping

A hopeless romantic Chicago Transit Authority token collector is mistaken for the fiancé of a coma patient.

This is such a great movie. Some of you younger readers probably haven’t seen it, but if you’re a romantic, you MUST watch this movie. Sandra Bullock is adorable! Get your tissues ready.

Bird on a Wire

An old flame discovers her ex-boyfriend from the past is a relocated FBI informant out to stop the bad guys.

This is another romantic movie, but with a lot of action. I love Goldie Hawn (for you youngster, that’s Kate Hudson’s  mom). She and Mel Gibson are great on screen together.

Lethal Weapon

Two newly paired cops who are complete opposites must put aside their differences in order to catch a gang of drug smugglers.

Another Mel Gibson movie with loads of action, but a lot of laughs, too.

Die Hard

John McClane, officer of the NYPD, tries to save his wife Holly Gennaro and several others that were taken hostage by German terrorist Hans Gruber during a Christmas party at the Nakatomi Plaza in Los Angeles.

This is more of an action movie than a love story, but I enjoy how McClane will stop at nothing to save his estranged wife. An added bonus is seeing the talented Alan Rickman play a bad guy. He’s amazing!

 

 

And yes, I do like some newer movies, too. Here are a few:

Collateral Beauty

Retreating from life after a tragedy, a man questions the universe by writing to Love, Time and Death. Receiving unexpected answers, he begins to see how these things interlock and how even loss can reveal moments of meaning and beauty.

This is a movie with a message. Wil Smith shows another side to his acting in this movie as he struggles with a loss.

I Feel Pretty

A woman struggling with insecurity wakes from a fall believing she is the most beautiful and capable woman on the planet. Her new confidence empowers her to live fearlessly, but what happens when she realizes her appearance never changed?

Another movie with a message, especially for women. I feel really great every time I watch this movie. All women really should take the time to see this one!

Okay, so most of my favorite movies have a romantic theme. What did you expect? I write romance into all my books. My Christie Craig books are all romantic suspense, and my YA novels have a romance and some danger, too.

So, what are some of your favorite movies? And why?

Halloween, Ghosts and Dreams

On Halloween we dress up in costumes of monsters, celebrities and ghosts. But for me, ghosts aren’t just something I think of on Halloween. I tend to think a lot about ghosts all year long, because I often write about them in my books.

In my C.C. Hunter Mortician’s Daughter series, Riley’s life is overrun by the dead. They usually need her help with something. In the first book in the series, One Foot in the Grave, Riley manages to help a young woman get justice and put the man responsible for her death away.  In the second book, Two Feet Under (releasing in 12/18), Riley is faced with an even scarier ghost, one who is a murderer.

In Murder, Mayhem and Mama, I had a meddlesome mom who just happened to be dead. Before Mama can chain-smoke her way to heaven, she’s gotta make sure Cali’s ex deadbeat boyfriend doesn’t get her daughter killed.

So, why my fascination with ghosts? It may date back to a dream I had as a child.

I was thirteen and I woke up that morning with sunshine spilling through my window.  But the memory of a dream I’d just had made breathing difficult. There had been no sunshine in the dream.

It was spooky, but even more strange and sad.  Like an old movie, I could still see it playing in my mind.  But unlike a movie, my memory came with all five senses.  The smell of wet earth and the scent of a storm brewing somewhere close by.  I could feel the wind hit my face, blowing my blonde hair across my eyes.   Tombstones, aged and cracked, littered the ground around me.  All was silent—deadly silent.

A small group of people stood quietly by a gravesite.  All wearing black.  Even the sky held a dismal shade of sadness.  There seemed to be no color in the image—no joy, all drab and gray. I stared at the faces of those grieving people. Did I know them?  Yes, but . . . vaguely.   And from where?

Immediately, my gaze shifted to the casket. The tiny polished box carried the only color in the scene.  A bright pink ribbon rested on top. My gaze shot back to the people again. They weren’t crying.  For some reason that seemed odd.  They needed to cry.  Cry for the child who obviously lay tucked inside that casket.  The child who would never run and play and who would never know life.

I studied the faces of the people again, trying to remember where I’d seen them. How could I know them when they looked so out of place?  Like people from old pictures.  People from another time, another life.

And then came the realization.  The woman dressed in a thick black wool coat, hugging herself against the cold and staring at the casket with empty emotion, was my grandmother, but younger.  A lot younger.  The woman was now in her sixties. But yes, I remembered seeing her younger face in family photo albums.

Then, I recognized the other people.  My mom and dad when they were young.   My grandfather and one of my uncles.  My gaze shifted from one person to the next.  This was one weird dream.

Then my gaze returned to the casket.

Who had died?   Part of the answer came with the next cold whisk of wind:  A baby.  A baby girl.

I wanted to tell someone how sorry I was.  Emotion built in my chest.  A crazy thought hit.  Someone needed to cry for the child.  I stood back from the crowd, not really present, but somehow still there.  I felt the odd sadness.  But why weren’t they crying?

Then my grandmother, my mom, dad and uncle were gone.  As if they’d vanished into the air.  I saw the casket being lowered into the gaping chasm.  Abruptly the dream changed and I saw the gravestone.  It simply read, Our baby girl: Christie.

Christie?  CHRISTIE?  That was my name.  How could the baby have my name?  That’s when I’d woken up.  My heart still thumped against my breastbone at the memory, and I had tears in my eyes.  Not wanting to be alone, I went and found my mom cooking breakfast.

I told her about the dream, about the casket with the pink ribbon and seeing my name on the gravestone.

Shock hit my mom’s face.  “What is it?” I asked, but was almost scared to hear her answer.

“It’s just weird, you’d dream about that.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“Your grandmother got pregnant a few months after your dad and I were married.  It was a girl.  She only lived a few weeks.  You were named after her.”

The spookiness tiptoed up my spine as chills skittered up my neck.  I looked at my mom. “Why didn’t anyone cry?” Suddenly, I wanted to cry.

Mom answered, “Your grandma told everyone no tears.  She said she couldn’t handle the tears.  We weren’t allowed to cry.”

I dropped down into a kitchen chair and asked the question burning inside me.  “How could I have dreamed this?”

“I’m sure you heard the story,” Mom said.

“When?  When could I have heard the story?   I swear I never knew about my aunt before now.”

“I don’t know, but you had to have heard it.  How else would you have known this?”

How else?

To this day I think about that dream.  I think about the little girl, my namesake.  Did I really hear someone tell that story and my mind simply played it back to me as a dream?  Or did the spirit of Christie somehow visit me?  Did she need me to know about her?  Did she need someone to cry for her?

Now do you understand why I often write about ghosts? There’s a part of me that believes in them.  What about you?  Do you believe in ghosts?

 

 

Pets for Vets & Book Sweeps Giveaway!

Pets for Vets was created to improve the lives of both Veterans and animals by bringing them together in a thoughtful, caring way. Our goal is to give back to the brave servicemen and women who have given everything to our country, while finding homes for deserving shelter pets. By matching the right pet with the right Veteran, everyone wins! Shelter animals receive a second chance at life and Veterans receive a second chance at health and happiness.”—Pets for Vets

As most of you know, I love animals. I have had dogs and cats, and my house doesn’t seem like home without a few animals running around. When I heard about Pets for Vets, I thought it was a wonderful idea. They interview vets, find out their needs and lifestyles. Then, they find the right rescue pet for them. For Veterans, the knowledge that their animal companion is always there for them can help reduce hypervigilance, depression, anxiety and nightmares. Not only do Pets for Vets animal companions improve mental well-being, they can actually boost overall health.

My friend and fellow author, Pamela Fagan Hutchins, wanted to spotlight this cause by talking about her rescue dog, Georgia. And I wanted to share the story of my rescued junkyard dog, Lady.

Pamela Fagan Hutchins‘ Georgia

The Pets for Vets cause is near and dear to my heart. My dogs are rescues and my brother’s a Marine. My “personal” dog, Georgia—who I got for protection—is a Belgian Malinois who’s a washout from police/military service 😉 She’s emotionally sensitive, has a soft mouth, and she’s scared of guns. LOL. Well, she has a big heart, and she doesn’t let anyone near me, so I think she’s fabulous. Her heart is happiest in the mountains. Here she is hugging me on Dome Mountain in the Bighorns of Wyoming.

To help support Pets For Vets, Pamela, along with 20 other best-selling authors all got together and wrote Love Under Fire, where every sale helps this cause. Love Under Fire releases on November 13th and it’s only 99 cents!

WHEN LOVE SPARKS DANGER, GET READY FOR AN EXPLOSION

EVERY SALE HELPS A VETERAN GET A PET!!!

Twenty-one Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and other bestselling authors bring you a heart-pounding collection of 21 BRAND NEW, NEVER-BEFORE PUBLISHED stories all in one amazing romantic suspense limited time boxed set.

From Around The Edges of Every Day Existence Lurks Mystery, Betrayal, Greed, and Death

With every turn of the page, feel the heat of adrenaline as fear lights up the night. Fight alongside the tenacious heroes and heroines as they battle for survival. They’ll put everything on the line to thwart the evil coming after them.

They want to trust in the power of love. But is it enough?

EVERY SALE HELPS A VETERAN GET A PET!!!

iTunes: https://apple.co/2NkgkcD

Nook Link: http://bit.ly/2IMhydl

Amazon: http://bookShow.me/B07GCTP7CJ

https://books2read.com/LoveUnderFire

Lady, My Junkyard Dog

A few years ago, my hubby and son went to a junkyard in search of a Falcon Ranchero. Hubby’s health was poor, he needed a transplant and we were waiting for the miracle.  He called me on his way home to tell me he bought the truck. I wasn’t thrilled, but I said I was happy for him (you know how that goes).  He also said he was bringing home a dog—from the junkyard. He said the owner of the junkyard had made a statement, “I’m gonna have to get rid of that pest.” I get why hubby wanted to bring her home, but . . .   he thought it was it was a good idea to bring home an actual junkyard dog.

“She’s not your normal junkyard dog,” he promised.  He was right.  On one hand she moved around like an old dog, but she didn’t look that old.  She was super skittish but not even a little bit aggressive.

After a bath, we took her to the vet. An hour later, we had good news and bad news. She was twenty-four pounds, dubbed part border collie part springer spaniel, was only seven to eight months old and didn’t have heart worms. Yup, that was the only thing she didn’t have.  On the other hand, she was severely anemic, severely malnourished, had all sorts of worms, had scars running up and down her body, had hot spots/blisters, mange and kennel cough.

And oh yeah, she was no lady. I don’t mean she was a boy. I mean, she’d been playing with the boys. Yup, she was pregnant. However, the vet said she was so unhealthy, she’d die if we let her carry the babies. And the puppies would have mange and numerous disabilities because of Lady’s health.  Unfortunately, they couldn’t even operate to take the puppies due to Lady’s health. We had to wait until blood count came up.  As a matter of fact, the vet said she didn’t think Lady would’ve survived another three days. So after another two weeks and several swipes of our American Express, we had ourselves a free, $2000, spayed junkyard dog, who we learned had such severe allergies due to more hot spots and can only eat the really expensive dog food.

Oh, but she ate.  She gained eleven pounds the first week.  She adapted to living in our house, and even learned to tolerate the cats. For the next nine months she hung out at her rescuer’s side, keeping him company as he tinkered on his car, and as he got sicker waiting for a transplant.  She even hung out with him as he recovered from the transplant that by some miracle he finally got.  Lady was and is his best friend.  Thought I have to admit, she loves me, too.  I also have to admit, she’s the best two thousand dollars my hubby has ever spent. She needed us; but in truth, we needed her, too. My hubby really needed those soulful dark puppy eyes looking up at him reminding him that no matter sick you get, you can get better.

Do you have a story of a pet that you rescued?

Book Sweeps Giveaway!!!

Are you a fan of romantic suspense? Have I got a contest for you! Book Sweeps is giving away 40+ romantic suspense novels by best-selling authors (including my book, Don’t Close Your Eyes). Plus, they’re giving away an Ereader and free reads to all. Be sure to enter. This contest ends Oct. 31st. Good luck!

https://booksweeps.com/book-giveaway/romantic-suspense-october-2018/

 

 

 

Girls’ Night Out!

Girls

Do you ever have a girls’ night out?  When you and other girls spend some girl-time together?  It could involve dinners out, chick flicks, margaritas or chocolate martinis.  But almost always, it involves lots of laughter. It can be sisters, girlfriends, family or a mix.  However it plays out, there is just something about surrounding yourself with other girls, talking girl stuff, doing girl stuff, and celebrating our girl power that’s so rewarding.

Well, I recently set up a very special girl’s night out.  My mother and stepfather came visit me in Texas from California.  So I planned a night out.  A whole night.  We left hubby and stepfather at home and my daughter, my granddaughter, my mom  and I took off for an excursion and adventure.

I made reservations at a nice Marriott.  We were going to get pedicures, but mom had just had one, so we skipped that and went the shopping.  We bought pajamas, panties, sweats, and a toy.  After shopping we went to the movie and dined out.  Leaving the movie we spotted one of those camera booths.  And you know we had to do it.

First question.  Could we all fit?  Answer.  No.  Not really.  But that didn’t stop us.  We piled in.  Put in our money and laughed so hard we cried.  When we were finished there were actually people standing outside who said.  “I think you girls are having too much fun.”

Then we went to our hotel and we laughed some more.   We laughed about silly girl stuff.  We ate chips in bed.  And we stayed up watching television.  The next morning we ate breakfast out and did some more shopping.

If there’s such a thing as too much fun we had it.  And our memories included four generation of girls.  If you haven’t had a girls’ night out, plan one.  They are good for soul.

Do you have girls’ night out? What do you like to do?

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Winner!!!

Thanks for everyone’s help with my Take Your T-shirt Off Test. It helped me a lot. The winner of a Born to Read t-shirt is Deborah Elkins. Deborah, please email me at christie@christie-craig.com and tell me your t-shirt size and your postal address.

 

The Take Your Shirt Off Test

I’ve been a very busy girl. Like nose-to-the-grindstone and no-more-nose-left kind of busy.  The type of busy that when you finally catch up, you still feel that antsy gotta-keep-going feeling.  It’s as if you’ve forgotten what it feels like to be still, to not be under the gun.  Yeah, that’s been me.

I finished my second book in my Texas Justice series, Don’t Breathe a Word.  Of course, it was running late, and then I had to go back in and cut the word count before I could send it in. My books are always running long these days.  I blame it on being Southern.  It can take a Southerner fifteen words to say something that a Northerner can say in five. (I envy them a bit.)

51EHGxI9yeLAt the same time, I got my copy edits on my March 26th release for my young adult thriller novel, In Another Life.  For those of you who don’t understand what “copy edits” entail, it’s when someone (a copy editor) reads your book and makes corrections on both grammar stuff, typos, missing words, and they’ll mark anything that needs tweaking.  As in “You said she spoke to her dad, but she really just listened to a voice mail.”  Yeah, it was something I changed in revision and didn’t correct in the following scene.  It’s an oops, and we writers appreciate our copy editors for finding those errors.

So, an author has to go through all the changes a copy editor makes to confirm they agree with those changes.  Then they need to address anything she agrees needs to be changed, like the voice-mail thing.

That said, there was one comment this copy editor wrote that gave me pause.  And here’s where I’m going to explain the title of this blog.  In a scene where the hero and heroine go swimming, I have the hero pull off his T-shirt,  i.e.  He crossed his arms, reached down and caught the hem of his shirt and pulled it over his head.

When I saw that sentence marked, I wondered:  What’s wrong that that? Her comment explained that boys don’t take their shirts off that way. Only girls.  She wrote that girls take their shirts off that way and boys reach over their heads, grab their shirts by the back of their neck, and pull it off.

guy3

I’m like . . . uh . . .  that’s not true.  There isn’t a gender specific way of removing a shirt.   I’m mid-ponder on this when in walks in my hubby.  I look up.  He’s wearing a T-shirt. Perfect. I’m like . . .  uh, “Take off your shirt.”

Of course, he doesn’t have a clue what’s going on.  “Uh, what?”

“Just take off your shirt,” I say.

“Why?” he asks.

“It’s for the book,” I explain.

Now you know he thinks all my heroes are based after him, so he smiles and follows my order.

Much to my dismay, he reaches over his head to the neck of his shirt and pulls his T-shirt off.  I’m shocked.  “Why didn’t you grab it from the hem and pull it over your head?” I ask.

“I don’t know.  It’s just how I take my shirt off.”

First of all, I was disappointed that obviously I haven’t paid enough attention to guys removing their shirts.  LOL.  How could I have missed this?

So I do what I always do when something puzzles me.  I Googled it.  And duh, I found articles on the subject trying to explain this phenomenon.  Basically they listed five reasons.

  • Hair
  • Boobs
  • Guys copying other guys
  • Flexibility
  • How the clothes are made.

5518 (1)But you know you can’t believe everything you read.  So I wanted to test this theory more, so awkwardly, I called my son and requested he take his shirt off, then I called my daughter and asked her to get my son-in-law to take his shirts off.  (Hey, they are used to their mama doing crazy crap.)  Much to my dismay, they all used the tug-the-shirt-over-their-neck method.  Now I want to test this theory more, but I don’t know how walking up to men, other than my hubby, and asking them to take their shirt off will be received. So I’m asking you to do it. Do the test with a boy/man you are comfortable with and ask them to remove their shirt.  One person who leaves me an answer will win a Born To Read T-shirt.  Sizes are limited. (Sorry, but this giveaway is for U.S. residents only.)

And here’s one of the articles I found about this.

https://www.seventeen.com/life/friends-family/news/a41810/have-you-realized-guys-take-their-shirts-off-differently-than-girls/

Hope your October is turning out to be a good month!

Happy Reading!

CC