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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

TRUCK STOP ANGEL: Excerpt #13

"That's something to think about," Tony offered. "Ned's a great cook, from what I hear. Maybe we should match him up with Audrey. What?" he said, putting on a mask of longsuffering confusion when Max just shook her head and laughed.

"Men can be so oblivious sometimes." Max winked at Hope.

"Okay, what have I missed now?"

"Steve is interested in Audrey."

"No, Steve is playing Romeo to her Juliet and trying to keep the paparazzi from… oh. Duh." Tony grinned at Hope. "Yeah, I'm oblivious. Pretty sad, considering I write romance."

"Steve?" Hope hated the sudden chill that shot through her that had nothing to do with the evening breezes whipping across the grassy lawn in the center of the campus, where tables and booths lined the crossroads of sidewalks.

"My half-brother," Max said. "The paparazzi and gossip rags were all over him when he got cast as Romeo. They were so desperate to have a romance for another Vincente… not that it got them to ignore me and Tony for more than five minutes."

"I am really out of the loop." Hope tried to laugh.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

TRUCK STOP ANGEL: Excerpt #12

As much fun as it was to spend her days setting up the diner, able to relax and enjoy the feeling of being part of something good -- and freedom from having to deal with the public for a while -- Hope needed a break, a change from the routine her life had already fallen into. She felt guilty over all the help that came from the Randolphs, the abundance of groceries and furniture and the replaced, sturdier doors and locks that surprised her when she came home from the diner last week. Max and Tony assured her repeatedly that the furniture was a loan until she could get better, but that only did a little to ease what she knew was a ridiculous sense of guilt and unworthiness. The apologies heaped on her by the Randolphs and various friends from church for letting her fall through the cracks didn't help. Hope felt just guilty enough over the sudden abundance of attention and help to readily acquiesce when Max and Tony asked her to come with them to the BWU community festival. Joel and Emily insisted on babysitting the children at the theater so she could have a night out. Hope hesitated to accept, until she learned that it would be a children's party with BJ Lewis, Sammy Hunter, and Izzy Evans. As Emily laughingly said, BJ needed Billy and Joey so he wouldn't be outnumbered by the girls.

Hope felt somewhat unbalanced, spending time away from her home, in the evening, without her children. For so long, her life had revolved between work and home, and her children were always with her when they weren't in school or at the Mission. At first, she wasn't sure what to say to Max and Tony. Then she realized they felt just as awkward as her over the long silence between them. Tony asked about the diner and Iris's plans, what progress they had made in the last week, and it wasn't long before they were talking and laughing and reminiscing, and not paying much attention to the various activities on the BWU campus. Hope was interested in the plans to start a dinner theater at Homespun and threatened to have Iris steal Audrey for the diner if she ever wanted to leave Stay-a-While.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

20 Days of Tabor Heights -- It's a Wrap!

Thanks to those who checked out all the featured books in the 20 Days of Tabor Heights scavenger hunt. I hope you found something to catch your interest.

The grand prize winner is Carrie G of North Carolina. Thanks for playing!

Merry and Blessed Christmas to all!!!!!






Wednesday, December 23, 2015

TRUCK STOP ANGEL: Excerpt #11

Who deserved his anger more? Ricky, for leaving Hope to fend for herself and her children, refusing to give her one dime more than the courts ordered? Or himself, and by extension Max and other friends from high school, for letting Hope slide out of their lives and doing nothing about it for nearly nine years now?

"Everything okay?" Tiffany asked, her voice pitched soft. She rested a skinny, wrinkled hand on Seth's arm when he returned to the gate. For just a moment she was a shadow of the robust, loving-but-opinionated old woman who had helped raise him.

"Nobody here, waiting for Hope to get home. Except us."

"Wonder what's keeping her. Well, maybe she ran into some old friends and decided to give herself a night off. Never seen a girl work harder, taking care of her children. And such good little children, too." She patted his arm and stepped back.

"Should have offered her a ride home," he muttered.

"Hmm? What? Oh, you don't think that big, greasy idiot... grabbed her?"

"No." Seth said it to reassure Tiffany and hoped she had outgrown her ability to know when he was lying. He needed to convince her so he could convince himself that Hope was all right. Wherever she was, instead of being safe at home. "There's a good explanation why she's not back yet. Some of us were talking about her today and realized we hadn't seen her in a while. Maybe one of them caught up with her already."

Please, Lord, let Max and Tony have found Hope. Not Ricky. Please, she's over at Randolphs' right now, with the kids bedded down for the night, because Max took her home to hide from him. Please?

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

20 Days of Tabor Heights -- Day 1

Can't believe the countdown is over!

Here is the newest, most recent Tabor Heights release.

TRUCK STOP ANGEL

It's also the last Tabor Heights book.
Well, for now. Who knows? I might get more ideas in the future, and then we can enjoy a new year of visiting old friends in the "friendly little town on Ohio's North Coast, where sweet romance is always in the air."

But check back on Christmas Eve, because we're going to award some prizes as a wrap up, and what could be more appropriate than giving out some gifts to thank all of you who stuck around until the very end?


Hope and Seth's high school argument sent her into Ricky's arms. Nine years later, she is free of her forced marriage, but not the stigma. When Ricky flees the law, Seth returns to her life.

Surrounded by criticism and threats, Hope finds shelter with her foster-family and their new diner. With their help, she puts her life back together, and her children begin to heal.


Seth wants to be there for Hope, but their past mistakes make them both hesitant to love again. What can he do to defeat his rival when Hope doesn't seem to realize how feels, after all he has done to be her knight in shining armor?

Monday, December 21, 2015

TRUCK STOP ANGEL: Excerpt #10

"When's the last time you saw Ricky?" Seth gestured with his chin for Tiffany to step back, and got out of the car when she complied. He reached under his seat for his clutch piece -- just in case a walk around Hope's house revealed Ricky waiting in the shadows to ambush her when she finally got home.

Not that he could imagine Ricky showing that much patience, but he wouldn't put it past his childhood nemesis to have a couple six-packs of beer with him, drink himself into a stupor, and be in a bad, hung over mood, waiting for Hope to come home.

"Oh, maybe about five this afternoon. He came back and banged on the doors until Hank came out to go to work. They had more words, then it was quiet." Tiffany followed him across the street, but she stopped at the little gate when Seth stepped into the handkerchief-sized yard.

She stayed quiet while he walked around the outside of the house. Seth kicked himself for not thinking to take the flashlight from his glove compartment, then a moment later decided that would only make him an easier target. At least, it would make him easier for Ricky to find to attack if there was someone hiding in the shadows. He walked softly, holding his breath whenever a branch or leaf rustled. The sparseness of Hope's yard started a spark of something sharp and throbbing in his chest. The outline of one of those clunky plastic children's slides and a teeter-totter were the only signs that children lived in this house. He found some comfort in feeling grass under his shoes in the backyard, and a few lighter splotches that bobbed in the night breeze made him think Hope ringed her house with flowers. Other than that, this was a dismal little house to live in.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

20 Days of Tabor Heights -- Day 2

The fun part of this story is that I wrote it long before I realized there was a community called Tabor Heights. It actually started as a script I wrote for a USA Network TV show -- but the show folded before I could ask the production company for a release form so I could send it to them. I turned it into a fandom story, and eventually it turned into a novel, and then "migrated" to Tabor Heights.

THE TEDDY BEAR DANCEr

Vic owed Agent McCoy his soul, so when 10-year-old Joey McCoy
arrived in Tabor, needing protection, he gladly paid that debt. Children weren't his forte, so he turned to Rene, his business partner, for help.

Two weeks of instant family life had them chafing at the secrets they both imagined blocked their passage from friendship to love. Minor irritations, like someone sabotaging their gym and husband-hunting twits trying to trap Vic added to the discontent that threatened their safe, comfortable lives.


Then Joey's talent for calculating the odds gained the attention of the wrong people. Protecting her and paying his debt exposed Vic's secrets to the wrong people -- and to Rene. If they could learn to face the past together, they might just be able to build a future together.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

TRUCK STOP ANGEL: Excerpt #9

"That's right -- you and Hope were sweethearts in high school. I forgot about that. Well." Tiffany turned to glance over her shoulder at Hope's yard. "Near as I can tell, she hasn't got home yet. Good thing, too."

"Why do you say that?" Seth felt his heart kick into double-time. "Is something wrong?"

"You heard about that no-good ex of hers, didn't you?" She slapped her forehead, making him wince and then grin. "Well, duh, of course you would, being an officer and all. That great, greasy, lazy lump was here this morning, banging on her doors, yelling for her to come out. Got nasty with Hank Winslow -- of course, Hank was nasty with him, too. But Hank works third shift and he had just got home and got to sleep and that idiot woke him up. Anyway, Hank told him Hope had taken the children to school. Big idiot got lippy with him, wanted to know when Hope would be home. Like a big factory worker like Hank would know that sweet little girl's schedule?"

Tiffany rolled her eyes and shook her head, helping Seth lose about ten degrees of the tension filling him.

"The minute Hank disappeared inside, that big idiot started banging on the doors again. Like I always say, the biggest liars think everybody else is lying. So I stepped up to the fence and told him Hope was at work, wouldn't be home until she picked up the kiddies at school. Oh, he didn't like that, did he? Well, at least he stopped banging on the doors." She glanced at the house again, then leaned down to look Seth in the eyes. "Should have thought -- when it gets quiet, that means the nasty ones are coming up with something to do, and that ain't good for anybody."

Friday, December 18, 2015

20 Days of Tabor Heights -- Day 3

And here's the second story that takes place at Butler-Williams University:

BWU STORIES

Kind of appropriate, huh?

One character is new, and one is someone we've met before in numerous Tabor Heights stories. I figured it was about time for Kat to have some front-and-center time, while she continues to deal with having her real father in her life, at long last, and all the complications that occur when her father turns out to be her favorite teacher, as well as her boss.


PROJECT ANGEL:
Kristen transfers to BWU when her semester abroad is canceled. Settling into a new school is rough enough, but to avoid her interfering sister and brother-in-law, she gets involved with a church service project on campus. Well-intentioned, it quickly disintegrates when someone uses it to play nasty tricks. When Kristen tries to make things right, she discovers her own personal angel has been in front of her all along.

MOUSE KAT TRAP:

Kat is still adjusting to her parents’ reunion and marriage. She can’t be Morgan’s assistant any longer, so she must train her replacement and her boyfriend is being a jerk. As she navigates an experimental summer theater program, a nasty blog seems determined to destroy the theater program with gossip. Discovering the identity of the enemy is the first step in stopping him, but finding the truth could put Kat in danger.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

TRUCK STOP ANGEL: Excerpt #8

Rumors came to Seth, despite every effort not to listen when Ricky Pluch's name was mentioned. According to Ricky, he and Hope were getting back together. Seth had written it off as an attempt to make Hope responsible for his debts. Every time Ricky played the repentant-scoundrel-trying-to-become-a-family-man card, chances were good he had figured out how to turn that pretense to his profit.

A tapping on his side window made him jump. Seth muffled the curses that rose in his throat -- occupational hazard, from unsavory characters he had to deal with. He reached for his service revolver and remembered he was off-duty and had left everything in his locker -- uniform, pepper spray, nightstick, revolver, handcuffs. He had never felt naked before.

"Hey, Seth, how's it going?" Tiffany Hobbs said, after he fumbled for a few seconds to turn the key and get power so he could roll down the window. "What brings you to this side of town?"

"I was hoping to talk to Hope." He winced and hoped the elderly woman didn't think he sounded as stupid as he thought he just did.

Then again, Tiffany had changed his diapers in the church nursery and endured hazardous duty as his babysitter and Sunday school teacher. There wasn't anything he could do to embarrass or surprise or stun her.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

20 Days of Tabor Heights -- Day 4

The next two books deal with students at Butler-Williams University. 

A BOX OF PROMISES

and the second book, BWU STORIES, follow the adventures of girls learning and growing, making changes, and facing challenges. And finding out that the course of love is neither smooth nor easy!

Meg, Andrea, Ray, Bergen and Casey -- dorm sisters with summer plans. Meg: help Mexican orphans. Andrea: publish newspaper articles. Ray: get Michael's attention. Bergen: work with wolves at the zoo. Casey: survive as head camp lifeguard. Those who don't reach their goals pay for a pizza party at the end of the summer.



Sunburn, bubblegum in hair, "mean girls," lunatic customers, temporary blindness, political games and other assorted problems detour the girls from their goals. Life sneaks up and surprises them with opportunities they never expected -- along with five men who find them more than interesting. Will they survive their summer and reach their goals? By the time they return to their dorm, the girls realize that life is what happens when you make other plans.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

TRUCK STOP ANGEL: Excerpt #7

Seth had seen many dismal sights in his years as a police officer, but he couldn't come up with a single memory that matched the cinder block cracker box in which Hope lived. He sat across the street, watching the dark front window, willing some sign of life to appear. A light in the tiny upstairs window. A flicker of children's laughter, filtering through the deepening night quiet. Some movement behind the curtains.

The street lights were too far away, two houses away on one side and three on the other. Seth couldn't make out more than the uneven lumps of bushes, the knee-high picket fence, and what he hoped were flowers along the foundation. The darkness made everything look dingy. The lack of even a light by the front or side door made him shiver as he imagined the house deserted.

Ricky wouldn't take Hope with him when he fled town, would he? He hadn't caught up with her between Seth finding her this afternoon and now, and forced her to run away, had he?

If he thought you still cared about her, he would, a quiet, unhappy voice whispered deep inside him.

Monday, December 14, 2015

20 Days of Tabor Heights -- Day 5

We're three-quarters of the way through the scavenger hunt. Are you having fun?

Today's book

WHEELS

is near and dear to my heart. For many reasons.

First of all, this book started life as a script for "MacGyver." Yep, that's how long this story has been around. In fact, I came "this close" to actually selling the script. The writing team told me that if I cared to rewrite it, they would be glad to look at it again. So I rewrote it ... and wouldn't you know it? By the time they looked at my script, they had already chosen their scripts for the last season of the show. They were kind enough to encourage me to turn "Wheels" into a screenplay, which I did. And eventually it turned into a Tabor Heights story.

More important, I love WHEELS because it's a tribute to my brother, my hero, my favorite wheelchair comedian. Most of the humor in Tommy Donnelly's comedy routines is genuine, original humor that Dean used when he performed at comedy clubs. And yes, before you ask, I did get official permission to use it. I know better than to steal from a comedian -- he might break my legs! (yeah, gimp humor -- so sue me!)

Natalie was the little girl across the street who adored Tommy and planned to marry him when they grew up. In the wake of Tommy's broken back and the disintegration of his family, Natalie's family left town.

She never thought she would see him again, until she was assigned to cover the Mission's handicap awareness campaign -- led by Tommy. He didn't seem to recognize her, and she didn't want to embarrass him by bringing up the past, but she had to warn him before the past found Tommy in the shape of his estranged father.


Just when was the right time, in the middle of the campaign and threats from petty criminals who were blackmailing one of Tommy's friends?

Sunday, December 13, 2015

TRUCK STOP ANGEL: Excerpt #6

Iris held out her hands, palms up, waiting, a challenge in her gaze. Finally Hope gave in and put her hands into her foster-mother's grip. When the older woman closed her eyes and bowed her head, Hope couldn't make herself follow suit. It was all she could do to hold still and stare at the top of Iris's silvery head until her eyes blurred with pending tears, and not yank her hands free and flee, sobbing.

Ricky's uncle always looked angry when he prayed in church, his arms spread and braced on the big, heavy podium. He always sounded like he was giving God orders. He had a talent for inserting criticism into his prayers, reminding God that the people needing help had brought their sorrows and troubles on themselves.

She used to love going to church with Iris and the other foster-children. Hope had come to Iris when she was twelve, but it had been like coming home for the first time. She had never attended church before, therefore didn't know what Sunday school was until that first Sunday when, dressed in her first new dress and shoes in her entire life, she had walked into the youth wing of Tabor Christian. Iris had hailed the Randolphs, and Max, a year her senior, had taken Hope under her wing from that day. They had been a team with Jeannette Marshall, in church and school and adventures in the Metroparks.

Learning to pray had been harder than memorizing all the facts and figures and Bible history for the games and contests played in Youth Group. Looking at her foster-mother's bowed head, Hope wondered if the problem was that she hadn't really prayed a real prayer in her entire life, other than versions of, "Help me, God!"

I really wish I could talk to God like Mama Iris does, and feel like He's real, and He's here.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

20 Days of Tabor Heights -- Day 6

Today's book

THE WRATH OF BUBBLES

is a continuation of a free short read available at Desert Breeze Publishing, SILVER HEARTS. I suggest you run over to DBP and download your PDF for a fun little golden-agers romance.

Rose is happy with her new life in Tabor with her brother's family, and her slowly warming relationship with Andrew, publisher of the Tabor Picayune. The only blight is the next door neighbor of Homespun Theater, Mrs. Pluch.

Andrew has his own troubles with the increasingly annoying Myrna, part-time receptionist, gossip,
and town know-it-all. When newspaper customers who irritate Myrna suffer vandalism, Andrew is unwilling to suspect her -- but who else can it be?


Rose and Andrew joins forces to investigate, and are delighted with how well they work together. Love is in the air as the wedding of Andrew's daughter approaches -- and frustration, as conflicting clues and red herrings lead them to a preposterous conclusion.

Friday, December 11, 2015

TRUCK STOP ANGEL: Excerpt #5

"I'm completely, totally alone."

"Silly child." Her foster-mother slapped one hand lying lax on the table. "You know that's not true at all. You got me, you got my boys, and you got God. That means you got everything."

"Don't talk to me about God. Ricky always used God like a big stick to keep me down. I figure, if God wouldn't straighten him out, God won't help me--"

"Have you asked Him?"

Hope caught her breath, feeling like the question had slapped her in the face. If night after night, muffling her sobs in her pillow and asking God why, asking how she and the children could get along, counted as asking, then yes, she had asked God. Until she decided that He wasn't listening anymore.

"I've got no use for the kind of God they talk about at that church. If He's so all-powerful and knows everything, why do I have to ask Him for anything?"

"That's okay. I can see why you'd feel that way." Iris chuckled when Hope sat back, stunned by her calm reaction. "Although, from all the discussions we've had over the years, it escapes me how you can still think the people at that church know anything about the living God, about the Savior who gave His life for them. Still, I've been in situations where I understand how you feel, and why. But if you don't mind, I'll ask for you."

Thursday, December 10, 2015

20 Days of Tabor Heights -- Day 7

Sometimes writers create secondary characters for one story, who show up later and tape the writer on the shoulder -- or whack them between the eyes, as the case may be -- and demand that their own story be told.

That's the case with today's book

COOKING UP TROUBLE

Steve showed up to cause trouble for Max during BEHIND THE SCENES, while Audrey was a long-time member of the ensemble at Homespun Theater. It's only natural that they get thrown together. Especially when there are paparazzi to foil ....

Audrey lives for cooking and Homespun Theater. It's a dream come true when she is asked to help
develop a dinner theater at Homespun.

Steve likes Tabor, so different from Hollywood. He enjoys partnering with Audrey, first on stage as Romeo and Juliet, then developing the dinner theater, then frustrating the paparazzi who gather like sharks around Max's wedding.

People from Audrey's painful past return to complicate her life, and threaten her growing friendship with Steve. When things don't add up and stories conflict, Steve fears Audrey is a user and schemer, just like in Hollywood. He doesn't want to believe it.


The problem lies in trusting someone who won't trust him enough to share her secret pain.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

TRUCK STOP ANGEL: Excerpt #4

"Didn't get a chance. They got upset when I pointed out that Ricky was fine with me working outside the home until he started working at their church, and to keep his job he had to attend services. His uncle is a great one for declaring how husbands and wives should treat each other, and somehow it's always the wife's fault when things go wrong. She can't argue with her husband when he's sinning, and she gets punished just as much as he does when he gets caught. It's not fair."

"What's not fair is making yourself keep attending that church after Ricky walked out on you and filed for divorce. I suppose that's your fault, too? Did you tell them why he dumped you and the children?"

"Nobody would believe that he demanded I abort." Hope sighed and closed her eyes for a moment, mentally pushing the discussion away. "So, what have you heard? Is it true Ricky has just taken off, vanished, no forwarding address?"

"We can only hope."

"Maybe they'll leave me alone, now. Without Ricky to remind them I'm around. Since I don't go to their church anymore, I mean."

"You don't go to church at all, do you?" Iris's eyebrow raised, higher every heartbeat, until Hope finally shook her head.

Why was it, that little admission made her feel more ashamed than when she had come to her foster-mother with the pregnancy test wand displaying its terrifying little plus sign?

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

20 Days of Tabor Heights -- Day 8

This book starts YEAR 2 of the Tabor Heights books.

INVITATION TO A WEDDING

Through the emails that our hero and heroine exchange over the course of the year, you'll get glimpses and hints of other stories in Tabor Heights. Hope it makes you ... curious!

Stacy buys a wedding present for Dinah, despite the lack of invitation to her wedding reception. Despite the childhood promises to be each other's maid of honor, now seemingly broken.

Drake comes home for his sister's reception and finds Stacy's present on the doorstep, triggering a
cascade of memories. As he investigates why she isn't in the wedding party, he unravels a web of lies and nasty tricks, and decides to intervene.


A night that should be full of heartbreak turns into a Cinderella tale, with Drake whisking Stacy off to the party. Their childhood friendship changes that night, and the teasing, caring, long-distance relationship that follows gives them both reason to hope for something more.

Monday, December 7, 2015

TRUCK STOP ANGEL: Excerpt #3

"The last time you looked like this, Ricky had stormed out of the house and cleaned out your savings because you refused to abort Joey. What's that slimedog done to you now?"

"Not to me. This time, at least." She sighed and crossed her arms on the still-damp table surface, slouching in pure rebellion against the need to keep up appearances. How long could she stand tall, shoulders back, expression serene and voice calm, before she crumbled under the pressure? "I've tried to avoid listening, but everybody was talking at the restaurant today. I don't know if they would have said more if customers knew my last name, or if they would have been kind enough not to talk at all."

"Nobody from that church of his uncle's came in to lecture you on how it's all your fault, did they?" Iris snorted when Hope shook her head. "How'd you get so lucky?"

"They've given up on me. The last time anybody came into the restaurant, it was to order me to quit my job, that no good, submissive, pure-hearted Christian wife would dare work outside the home. Even if her husband did drink up all the money, so she had to work to feed and clothe her children. Even if -- especially if -- her husband left her. They seemed to think if I retreated back home and promised never to leave it except for shopping and church, Ricky would take me back."

"Take you back? Did you tell those self-righteous biddies you wouldn't take him back if he was the last man left on God's green earth?"

Sunday, December 6, 2015

20 Days of Tabor Heights -- Day 9

Just a little note: some of the people who figure strongly in this story have their own stories later on in the series. That's just the way things work in Tabor Heights.

Resident comedian, Tommy Donnelly, happens to be based on my brother, who is also a comedian -- and also looking at life from doorknob height. What does that mean? You'll find out in Tommy's story, WHEELS.

Today's story:

THE MISSION

Claire came to Tabor five years ago to make a new start. Her life is wrapped up in the Mission, which
now has funds for renovations and expansion.

Paul comes to be head custodian, threatening her equilibrium. First, his daughter, Sammy, asks if Claire will be her new mommy, then Claire begins to fear Paul will take over, changing the vision and goals of the Mission.


Paul only wants a fresh start and a safe home for Sammy. The Mission’s vision has caught his imagination, and Claire has caught his heart. Teamwork for the sake of the Mission promises to become so much more, and personal, if they only have the courage to take a chance

Saturday, December 5, 2015

TRUCK STOP ANGEL: Excerpt #2

"Honey, go check with Uncle Ned, see if that chili is ready, would you?" Iris gestured toward the kitchen and Tessa scurried off.

"Don't tell me Ned is cooking already." A shudder worked through her at the thought of her foster-brother cooking amid all that grime she had seen in the kitchen.

"Re-heating, more like. He got the pressure washing hose going, then doused it all with disinfectant and slid the new work tables into place while everything was dripping." Iris rolled her eyes. "Don't call it cooking where he can hear you. He refuses to admit anything done in a microwave is cooking."

"Oh. Good." She sighed. "I mean, okay." Despite her, a sighing giggle escaped her. "How did you talk him into running a diner, instead of that gourmet restaurant he's been dreaming of since that vo-ed culinary arts program?"

"He gets to experiment on our customers. He can see himself developing a line of take-home meals and ending up with a nationwide chain. How he's going to reconcile that with his loathing for frozen food, I don't know." She chuckled and settled down in the gleaming clean booth, gesturing for Hope to take the bench seat opposite her. "You know why I sent Tessa on that errand."

Hope nodded. She was almost relieved to have this long-overdue sit-down straighten-out talk with Iris.

Friday, December 4, 2015

20 Days of Tabor Heights -- Day 10

We're halfway through the game!

Are you having fun?

Today's book

WHITE ROSES

is the "other half" of a story that starts out in COMMON GROUNDS. There's a serial killer running loose in Tabor Heights, and while the search for the White Rose Killer is mentioned in several other books, this is the core of the story.

Toni returns to Tabor Heights to help identify the White Rose Killer. He stalks young women who
look like her sister, murdered twenty years ago. Is he the same boy, grown up, who left white roses on Angel's grave?

Curt found Angel's body, and he doesn't want Toni to be the White Rose's next victim. He reluctantly partners with her at the newspaper, to find the killer before he strikes again. To protect her, they pretend to have a relationship that slowly becomes real.


Their hunt becomes a race against time: find love and the White Rose before the killer targets them.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

TRUCK STOP ANGEL: Excerpt #1

Billy scurried along in Josh's wake as the big black man went around the building, prying nails from the plywood covering the windows and giving them to the boy to hold. Hope paused to watch him, amused at the seriousness of her son's concentration. He took two more nails from Josh, and put the handful in the carpenter's apron wrapped around his waist. Then he wiped his hands off on the seat of his jeans and waited patiently as Josh pulled more nails out. Her oldest foster-brother paused in lowering another sheet of plywood from the windows, met her gaze, nodded to her, then toward her son. He said something to Billy, making the boy look up. He waved and dug into the apron, proudly showing her the handful of nails. Hope smiled and nodded to him.

"That boy of mine needs to be a father in the worst way," Iris said, startling Hope as she came up behind her. She set a stack of sturdy, plain white plates and bowls down on the table. Tessa stepped up next to her and put down double handfuls of cutlery. "You're doing him a favor, letting him practice on Billy."

"Josh would make an incredible father." Hope forced a smile, despite the ache of an impending sob in her throat. "He's doing me a favor." She pressed her lips together, refusing to say anything disparaging about Ricky with Tessa standing there, her eyes wide, and her ears probably twice as wide open and eager to hear.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

20 Days of Tabor Heights -- Day 11

This is another Tabor Heights book that started out very differently from where it ended up. Essentially, this was a mainstream romance, about two people being constantly thrown together by accidents and never getting a chance to go beyond chance meetings.

Accident-prone, in effect. But the best accident of all was discovering that they really belonged in Tabor Heights.

ACCIDENTAL HEARTS

What do Abby Morgan, pilot, and Tyler Sloane, theater director,
have in common? Siblings raising children on their own, a tendency for embarrassing accidents, and a voice deep inside asking, When will it be MY turn?

In a summer insane with activities and crises and demanding jobs, Abby and Tyler see an oasis of hope and love in each other … but crossing that desert of responsibilities and commitments might be more than they can manage. Is it a dream, or just a mirage?


Their every attempt to get to know each other fails, until in frustration Tyler decides he must stage the perfect romantic encounter if he and Abby are to ever fly off into the sunset together.