Holiday Giveaway!!

I’m going to admit something.  More times than not, I don’t look forward to spending hours getting the house decorated for Christmas.  But after only a few minutes of opening up the storage boxes to pull out the decorations, I find myself in a warm cozy place where I’m swept away by all the memories from all the Christmases past.  It happens when I pull out the Santa pictures we take every year.

My favorite photo is this one where my grandmother, who passed away seven years ago, was with us.  She’s sitting on Santa’s lap. I remember we walked away from the Santa, she smiled at me and said.  “Well, that was a first.  I’ve never sat on Santa’s lap before.”

That happy feeling happens again when I start hanging Christmas ornaments.  Oh, the memories…  There are the ones the kids made when they were young.  Love those.  I laugh extra hard when I see demonic gingerbread men my son painted when he was six.  Or the falling apart ornament my daughter made in Brownies.



We have an ornament of E.T. that we got the first year hubby and I married.  We took my daughter to see the movie and to this day, she loves that ornament.  Every time I see it, I remember how excited my daughter was to get that ornament.

We have one ornament from my husband’s childhood that we don’t even hang on the tree, instead it sits on a special shelf.

I love the beautiful decorations that I buy every year, but it’s the old ones, the ones I’ve had for years that bring me the most holiday joy.  And after only a few minutes, I stop thinking of the decorating as a chore and it turns to a bunch of happy trips down memory lane.

When thinking about Christmas ornaments, did you know the modern day idea of a Christmas tree originated in 16th century Germany and the first ornaments were berries, nuts and apples?  Then, in the 1840’s, a published depiction of Queen Victoria celebrating Christmas with her family around a decorated evergreen tree resulted in Americans adopting the tradition. In short order, local businesses caught on to the ornament’s commercial potential, and by the 1890’s, 25 million dollars worth of ornaments were imported from Germany.



Tell me about your favorite ornament, the one that brings a smile to your face and I’ll give away a $10 Amazon gift card to one person who leaves a comment. (Sorry, but this giveaway is limited to U.S. residents only,)


The winners from last week’s giveaway are Andrea Akers, Ruth S. and Andrea Blanks. Congratulations! You have all won one of my C.C. Hunter YA ebooks. Please contact me at to claim your books.

Happy Holidays from the Craig Clan to you.  May you have lots of family time, good food and laughter.


Young Adult…? Not for you? Are you sure?

When I was asked to write young adult (YA) novels in 2010, I’ll admit it, I wasn’t a YA reader. I mean, that genre was for teenagers, right? But with a career opportunity on the table, I started doing some research.

First, I asked around to my reader friends to see who were reading young adult.  Amazingly, a lot more of them than I expected were reading YA.  Albeit, several admitted it under their breath because they felt they might be judged.  Second, I went to the store and bought like sixteen YA books.  About three books in, I quickly realized how much I’d been missing by not reading this genre.

Granted, not all of the sixteen books had me hooked, some of them did feel as if they were targeting a younger audience than myself and the stories/plots didn’t appeal to me.  But the good ones, oh, the good ones swept me away.

The stories were rich, fresh, and layered.  Most of them had romance—which I love—some were fantasy, mystery, suspense or paranormal.  I quickly realized that the young adult genre held the same kind of appeal to me as a reader that a lot of the women’s fiction novel did.

You see, I generally like the women’s fiction novels that contain a romance meshed into a plot that incorporates other life issues.  In fact, most of my romances novels pushed the envelope when it came to including other elements in a story besides the romance.

So, I dove right into writing Young Adult fiction.  Fast forward eight years and eighteen books/novellas later and I still love it.  Today, I think more adults are reading YA fiction.  I know some are still leery of telling the world.  You see, I often get emails that say…  “I’m not a teenager, but I still love your C.C. Hunter books.”

According to an article I stumbled across that was published in The Atlantic, 55% of YA books are read by adults (read the full article HERE).  So to all my grown up fans, you’re in good company.  The article also talked about why they feel YA books are a hit for adults.  They claimed that it wasn’t the “escape” feeling of reading a light read, because lots of the popular YA books deal with serious and tough subjects.  They surmised it wasn’t just because they took us back to our own youth, but because the books are about a character growing, learning, and in so many words, all of us, no matter what our age, are still growing as human beings.

In fact, the article went so far as to say that a good story is simply a good story—no matter what genre or age of the characters.  And that’s what I like to think I write.  Good stories.And I’d include my Christie Craig books in that as well as my C.C. Hunter books.

I’m not going to tell you that all my Christie Craig readers read C.C. Hunter, but I will tell you the majority do.  Especially since I’m now writing contemporary YA novels as well as paranormal.  So if you are still a reader who shies away from reading YA fiction, let me try to tempt you.

What type of reader are you?

  1. A mystery suspense reader and you don’t care what genre as long as it’s a page turner. You can pick up any of my YA novels.  All of them have suspense and mystery.
  2. A paranormal reader. You love you some vampires, werewolves and such?  But you want a romance, and characters that you can love.  I’d like to recommend the first book in the Shadow Falls series, Born at Midnight.  It’s a huge series.  It has romance, suspense, and mystery all wrapped up in a paranormal camp.  It also had huge elements of friendships and family.
  3. More of a contemporary reader, who shies away from vampires and such, but who likes a little spooky in your story? You might want to try The Mortician’s Daughter series.  It’s a three books series, and books one and two are already out.  (If you enjoyed my Christie Craig novel, Murder Mayhem and Mama, you might give this series a try.
  4. A contemporary reader who longs for heart tugging stories. It can have a little mystery or suspense but no dead bodies thank you very much.  For sure give This Heart of Mine a try.   Also, releasing March 26, is In Another Life, a heart tugging novel about family and friendship, but it has a nice tread of suspense running through it that gives the book the title of a thriller.


Today, I’d like to give away three of my YA titles. Tell me why you haven’t read YA fiction and what you normally read, or tell me why you are a YA reader and what pulled you into the world of YA. I’ll give away three e-copies of one of my C.C. Hunter books to three different people who leave a comment. (Sorry, but this giveaway is limited to U.S. residents only,)


Last week’s winner of a memory card and TWO FEET UNDER deck of playing cards is Carol Brinks. Congratulations! Please email me at with your postal address.

Amazon Glitch

Still trying to get Amazon to fix the problem with the Kindle version of Two Feet Under. I’m so sorry this happened. You can still get the ebook from Barnes & Noble and Kobo–and the print version from all three. Hang in there Kindle users! 😒

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.


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 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.


Last week’s winner of a $15 Amazon gift card is Kate C. Congratulations! Email me at 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.


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:


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