THIS HEART OF MINE

CCH-CUSTFRAME-1I can’t describe the feeling I get every time a book of mine releases. I’m over the moon, but always apprehensive. After all, I want to put out a book my fans will love. This Heart of Mine releases today, and I know you’re gonna love this one! As I have said before, this book is probably the most personal book I’ve ever written. I always put some of me, my life and the people I know into each book, but with This Heart of Mine, I really plagiarized from my life—BIG TIME!

You see, I know how Leah felt facing death, knowing if she didn’t get a heart transplant (which was unlikely) that she would die. My husband needed a new kidney several years ago. Because of the damage dialysis did to his heart, it wasn’t likely he’d get a transplant either. But then we got “the call,” the one telling us there was a donor, the one that saved his life. My husband got his kidney transplant. That kidney also came with some wild dreams.  For several days after his transplant, my husband had a recurring dream: he’d wake up and an older man would be staring him in the face. When we found out the donor was a sixty-five year old man, it gave us goose bumps!  So when Leah starts having dreams about her heart donor after the transplant, well that’s a page from the book of our life.  But there’s where Leah’s story becomes her own, because her dreams come with a mystery to solve.  With the help of her donor’s cute twin brother, Matt, Leah sets off to solve a murder, and maybe fall in love and learns to live again along the way.

So, I hope you’ll pick up a copy of This Heart of Mine. You can order your copy today at AmazonBarnes & NobleBooks-A-MillionPowell’s, Indiebound and iBooks. 

AUDIO NEWS!!!

This Heart of Mine is also available as an audio book. You can listen to a sample HERE.

A new heart saved her life—but will it help her find out what really happened to its donor? 

Seventeen-year-old Leah MacKenzie is heartless. An artificial heart in a backpack is keeping her alive. However, this route only offers her a few years. And with her rare blood type, a transplant isn’t likely. Living like you are dying isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. But when a heart becomes available, she’s given a second chance at life. Except Leah discovers who the donor was — a boy from her school — and they’re saying he killed himself. Plagued with dreams since the transplant, she realizes she may hold the clues to what really happened.

Matt refuses to believe his twin killed himself. When Leah seeks him out, he learns they are both having similar dreams and he’s certain it means something. While unraveling the secrets of his brother’s final moments, Leah and Matt find each other, and a love they are terrified to lose. But life and even new hearts don’t come with guarantees. Who knew living, took more courage than dying?

Identical Twins

twins-350x259I’m talking about bonds again this week, but this time, I wanted to talk about the bond between siblings. I know a lot of people who are really close to their siblings.  But I’ve always been intrigued about the bond that is shared between Identical twins.  Stories where one is hurt and the other feels the pain.  In This Heart of Mine, Matt and Eric are identical twins. When Matt’s brother Eric dies of an apparent suicide, Matt knows in his heart there’s a lot more to it. He is certain his brother is trying to tell him something, even from the grave.

The bond between twins is unique on many levels. Twins that grow up in the same environment are going to have a strong bond no matter what. Science has shown that babies start learning even inside the womb and start a catalog of smells, sounds, and physical feelings even before birth. Identical twins experience identical pregnancies, and it’s not unusual for identical twins to share a psychic connection. Studies have shown that one in five pairs of identical twin claim to have experienced this connection. There have even been reports of identical twins having moments where one will experience the same feelings (physical and/or mental) as the other, even from separate continents.

ATwins_-14 (002)So, when Matt suddenly finds himself without his brother, his best friend, he feels like he’s missing a part of himself. He begins having dreams about Eric, and he knows Eric wants to tell him what really happened to him. Then when he discovers Leah, the recipient of Eric’s heart, is having the same dreams about Eric, he’s even more certain of this. Together, Leah and Matt set out to find the truth—and maybe heal each other along the way. But both Matt and Leah have to wonder if what they feel for each other is just because of the connection they both have to Eric’s heart.  It’s a story that will break your heart and then heal it.

Do you have a sibling that you are close to?  What kind of bond do you have?

this heart of mineThis Heart of Mine releases on Feb 27th, but you can pre-order it now at AmazonBarnes & NobleBooks-A-MillionPowell’s, Indiebound and iBooks. 

 

 

 

 

 

Where Can You Meet Me?

Feb. 26, 2018, I’ll be signing THIS HEART OF MINE at Blue Willow Bookshop, 14532 Memorial Dr., Houston, TX at 6:30 PM.  I’m giving away a basket with a journal, a bracelet, and a deck of cards.  The first 20 people who buy a book will get a tote. I’ll also have door prizes! For more info go to http://www.bluewillowbookshop.com/.

Feb. 24, 2018, Nikki Lofton and I are teaching writing workshops at Carl & Mary Welhausen Library in Yokum, TX. It’s FREE & OPEN TO THE PUBLIC, Pre-registration Suggested (361) 293-5001.

March 5, 2018, I’ll be celebrating the release of THIS HEART OF MINE and signing at Interabang Book Store in Dallas, Texas, at 7:00 PM.  I’m giving away a basket with a journal, a bracelet, and a deck of cards.  The first 20 people who buy a book will get a tote. For more info go to https://www.interabangbooks.com/event/heart-mine.

March 22, 2018, I’ll be at Katy Budget Books in Katy, TX with fellow YA author Farrah Penn.  I’m giving away a basket with a journal, a bracelet, and a deck of cards.  The first 20 people who buy a book will get a tote. For more info go to  http://www.katybooks.com/.

April 5, 2018, I’ll be in Dallas at the Texas Library Association Conference. If you’re a librarian, I hope I’ll see you there! For more info go to http://www.txla.org/annual-conference.

April 13, 2018, I’ll be speaking at North Central Texas College. (http://www.nctc.edu/visit/index.html)

April 21, 2018, I’ll be teaching at the Georgia RWA, 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Join me for my Build a Character, Build a Book Workshop. You must pre-register by April 14th. For more info go to http://www.georgiaromancewriters.org/meetings/april-meeting/.

June 9, 2018, I’ll be teaching a workshop on how to put more emotion on the page at the West Houston RWA. For more info and to register go to http://www.whrwa.com/.

July 18-21, 2018, I’m looking forward to the RWA National Conference in Denver, Colorado. It’s great conference for writers, and there’s always a huge book signing (500+ authors!) OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. For more info go to https://www.rwa.org/events.

November 3, 2018, I’ll be in Austin, Texas at The Origin Event along with a host of other authors. Tickets for this event are on sale now. Don’t wait to buy your tickets, this sells out! For more info go to http://theoriginevent.com/introducing-the-origin-event-2018/.

 

Bonds and Family

The special bond shared between a mother and daughter is the one place in all the world where hearts can be sure of each other. Like branches on a tree, we may grow in different directions, but our roots remain one.

20090914-mother-daughter-290x218Last week, I talked about the bond between friends.  This week, I want to talk about the bond between a mother and a daughter, or even between a mother and a son.  Now in most of my books, I show that parents aren’t perfect.  And that’s not fiction.  Parents are humans, too.  They make mistakes. They judge too quickly.  They become over protective to try to prevent their kids from making mistakes, forgetting that sometimes the best way to learn is to make a mistake or two.  Or parents push a child in one direction, when it’s not the direction their child wants to go.

Remember Kylie’s mom?  She came off as an Ice Queen until the two of them found their way back to each other.  Kylie’s Dad had a mega flaw. But eventually, Kylie even learned to forgive him.  Della’s parents jumped to conclusions—especially her dad, and that broke Della’s heart.  I swear, I almost killed him in Unspoken.  I was so mad at him.

As teens, you get mad at your parents.  I don’t think you are always right, but neither are the parents.  Right now, I look back at my own parenting style and wish I could have changed a few things.  I can also look back at some of the advice my parents gave me, and I realize I could have saved myself a lot of pain if I’d listened.

this heart of mineThat said, in This Heart of Mine (out 2/27/18), the parental relationships are a little different.  Matt’s mom is drowning in grief over the loss of her husband.  She hurts so badly, she doesn’t realize how badly her children are hurting.  Seeing their mother and son relationship being torn apart by grief broke my heart, but watching them find their way back together was so inspiring.

The real kicker of a bond that brought me to tears many times while writing this book was the bond between Leah and her parents.  You see Leah accepts she’s dying.  Her parents can’t accept it, but it’s killing them knowing it will probably be the outcome.  Believe me, unless you watched someone you love face probable death, watched them get sicker and sicker, that pain probably isn’t completely understandable.  And seeing them get that second chance is so mind blowing.  Because I lived through that with my husband, writing about it was so close to home for me.

But I have to tell you, I think even worse than facing that pain with a spouse would be facing it with a child.  Parents aren’t supposed to see their children die.  That’s just in the BIG RULE book in the sky.  And I count my lucky stars that both my children are healthy.

There is one scene where Leah’s mom is talking to Leah about putting her on birth control because Leah’s relationship with Matt is getting serious.  And you know how hard that subject is with your parents.  Leah doesn’t want to have it, but she knows she needs to.  Her mother doesn’t want to have it because she doesn’t want to think her daughter is ready.  Here’s an excerpt that shows both Leah and her mom dealing with this tender subject.

“I’m not having sex with him,” I blurt out. Don’t leave it there. Don’t leave it there. “But…”

“But what?” my mom asks.

“But I’m almost eighteen and . . .” I can’t say more, and not because it’s about sex but because . . . it’s months away. After thinking I was dying for so long, I’m barely thinking a week at a time.

I take a deep, shaky breath. Don’t be afraid to take a chance. Win or lose. That’s what life is, a bunch of chances.

“Maybe it’s not a bad idea,” I finally finish.

Mom’s pupils dilate. I don’t know if it’s disappointment or shock. Part of me feels she’s about to ground me.

“I’ll . . . make you an appointment. I just don’t want . . . Being on birth control doesn’t mean you should do something before you’re ready.”

“I won’t.” I’m shocked it was this easy.

She nods. I glance at the door. “I should go and start . . .” I don’t want to lie, so I let her assume I mean packing, but I really want to talk to Matt.

And announcing I need to speak to Matt feels like a bad idea. She might think I’m going to tell him about the birth control. I’m so not going to tell him about birth control. But right then I realize I like thinking I’m moving in that direction. I kind of like this elusive thing called a future. I’d really like Matt to be in it.

“Go,” she says.

I stand, but before I even turn she’s up and has me in a big bear hug. “My little girl is growing up and I’m not sure I’m ready.” She pulls back. Tears are in her eyes. “I still want to comb your hair and put it up in pigtails.

I smile. “And dress me in pink.”

She nods and then says, “What’s wrong with pink?”

It’s now or never. “Pink isn’t my best color.”

She looks surprised. “But I thought you . . . What about your room?”

“It’s great.” I say quickly. Too quickly.

She hears my lie. “You wouldn’t have chosen pink?”

“No, but—”

“Well, shit!” she says.

I gasp dramatically. “Just because I curse, doesn’t mean you can.”

We laugh together. “We’ll do something about your room. You can pick it out this time.”

I know she paid a fortune for all the pink. “Maybe next . . .” The word years catches on my tonsils. “Later.”

She brushes my hair off my cheek. Her eyes sparkle with mama emotion. “As much as I hate to see you grow up, less than a year ago my worst fear was that you wouldn’t. Just promise me you’ll make wise choices.”


Choices and chances. I think that’s what having a future is all about. I promise, and I mean it. This is my second or perhaps my third chance at life. I don’t want to screw it up. I know not every choice I make is going to pan out. But I’ll never know unless I try.

So, do you and your parents have a bond?

This Heart of Mine is up for preorder at AmazonBarnes & NobleBooks-A-MillionPowell’s, Indiebound and iBooks. 

Winner!

The winner of my Name That Dog newsletter contest is Christine James. I had of contest to name the dog in my next book. Christine offered several names, and I liked Sweetie the best. So, thanks, Christine! If you haven’t subscribed to my newsletter, do it now. You’ll hear all my latest news, and be able to enter my very special newsletter contests. You can sign up HERE.

Friends

2Have you ever felt a bond with someone?  That feeling as if you and this person were meant to cross paths?  As if you connect with this person in a way that you don’t with others.  There are several kinds of bonds?  Friends, boyfriends, siblings, family, and mentors. Because my books have so many bonds, I thought today I would talk about the friend kind of bond.

I have friends that I feel as if we were meant to meet.  One of them, life tried to get us together several times.  Years before we became friends, I actually found her missing dog.  I called her, she came and picked it up.  She said thank you, I said no problem and we didn’t see each other for four years.  We met again at a Romance Writers of America meeting.  She looked at me and said, “I think you live in my neighborhood.  I see you walking a lot.”  We chatted and then we didn’t cross paths again for almost a year.  She had entered a contest I was holding to give away a book and she won.  I emailed her to get her address.   She remembered I lived in her neighborhood and offered to just to pick the book up.  We chatted a bit.  Then about a year later, she joined the RWA chapter I belonged to.  This time we decided to start walking together.

We met at a spot between our houses and walked.  We did that for almost a month.  Then one day, we went by her house. She lived on the street behind me.  Because the streets were not in a grid, we thought she lived about seven houses up from me.  I looked over the fence and surprise.  I was looking at my house.  For twenty years we shared the back fence.  That was eight years ago, and today we walk almost every day.  We tell each other our secrets, our life hurts.  We do a lot of laughing.

this heart of mineDo you remember the bond between Kylie, Miranda and Della?  Those Diet Coke round table meetings where they shared laughter and pain.  Well, in This Heart of Mine, Leah has Brandy.  Leah, in need of a new heart, and with the hardest blood type to match, has pretty much has accepted she’s going to die.  She tries to push everyone away, because she knows how much this is going to hurt the people who love her, but Brandy refuses to go.  She’s there for Leah during the surgeries, the pain, and when Leah gets her new heart, she’s there to help her learn to live again.  We all need those kind of friends.

Do you have a good friend that is there for you?  One that would be there for you through thick and thin?  And someone you would support through hard times?