It’s Time to Move On…Forward…Ahead? Or Is It?

Have any of you ever seen the movie Bruce Almighty

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In it, a frustrated Bruce Nolan (Jim Carrey), a TV reporter dealing with career setbacks–as he sees them–and being passed over for an anchor desk position in favor of a pompous co-worker (Steve Carrel), takes a swipe at God for “smiting” him. In one scene, he asks for a sign from God and gets this:

I read somewhere, a long time ago, that God communicates with us in the manner in which we’re most likely to notice–whether it’s nature, another person, a song, a story–once, years ago, I was talking to a man I didn’t really know while waiting at a bus stop. He told me a story–out of the blue, actually–about a group of climbers trying to reach the summit of Mount Everest. They gave up, later discovering they had done so only a short distance from their destination. He ended the story with a question: “How would you feel if you had traveled that far and turned back just as everything was about to turn around?” That conversation led me to take a chance I’d been resisting for some time–and indeed, everything did turn around.


Recently, I’ve been thinking about taking another risk–a big one, I think. In one week, I got two very similar messages from two completely different sources:

Am I nuts to act on this? Maybe. But if I don’t, I’ll never know if it was meant to be.


For years, I’ve wanted to be a screenwriter. At first, I resisted because it’s an even harder career to break into than novel writing. And even if you sell a script, odds are by the time the film gets made–if it gets made–you won’t likely recognize your own work. But I’ve mellowed in my old age–not as determined to not have my work changed in any way–and the market for screenplays, like novels, has many more options available than writers had twenty years ago. And I have a writing partner. Collin isn’t much of a reader. He never has been. But he does love movies and TV. He’s enthusiastic about a possible course correction.


Collin and I may not read much anymore, but we watch a lot of movies. When I write, I write as if it’s a movie. When I was initially pitching Chasing the Wind to agents and publishers, I was told, “This isn’t a novel, it’s a movie.”


So maybe I am a screenwriter. It’s worth a try. And if it doesn’t pan out, I can always go back to novels, right?


Right?

The Pen is Mightier than the Sword…Or Is It?

Today’s excerpt is once again from Angels at Midnight, which begins a special ebook promotion at Amazon on Sunday–just $.99!

In this excerpt, Collin Deverell is caught between the proverbial rock and hard place, wanting to pursue a last shot at Olympic gold and his father’s determination to have both of his sons join the family business….

 

Angels at Midnight Complete

Boston, February 1976

“En garde!” Two men in traditional white fencing attire moved around on the floor of the gymnasium with lightning speed, the blades of their French foils flashing in the harsh glare cast by the fluorescent lighting high above them. One of the men, his foil raised menacingly, took full advantage of a miscalculation on the part of his opponent, lunging forward in an aggressive move that caught the second fencer completely off guard. He backed off hastily, attempting to regroup his forces while using his own weapon to block the attack. The aggressor moved swiftly, and it seemed to his opponent that he was suddenly everywhere—parrying, lunging, feinting, counterparrying, and thrusting with the skill and assurance of the experienced swordsman he was. He scored one touch and then another and another, until he had made the required five touches on his opponent’s target area to take the match in the allotted six minutes.

Once won, however, the aggressiveness of his manner vanished as quickly as he removed his wire mesh face mask, revealing a lean, angular face flushed with triumph, the vel­vety brown eyes crackling with fire. His thick, wavy dark hair was tousled and damp with perspiration as he faced his defeated opponent and bowed gallantly from the waist, displaying the natural grace of a superbly conditioned ath­lete. As he straightened up again, he grinned. “We really should do this more often, Farnsworth,” he commented with a twinge of amusement in his voice.

The other man laughed wearily. “I don’t think my heart could take it, Deverell,” he responded breathlessly. “You weren’t playing a game out there—you were waging war!”

Collin Deverell laughed heartily as he pulled the leather glove and gauntlet from his right hand and ran his fingers through his hair, pushing it into place. “Didn’t anyone ever tell you that there’s no crime in playing to win?” he asked in a mocking tone.

“Playing to win?” Derek Farnsworth said with a laugh. “Come on, Collin—for a minute there, I was beginning to wonder if you’d forgotten that there was a friend behind this mask! I felt as though we were actually engaging in combat!”

Collin grinned. “You’re slowing down, pal,” he warned. “Not equal to the challenge anymore?”

“I’m hardly a match for a former world champion,” Farnsworth reminded him. “Look, I think I’ll hit the show­ers and get back to my law books, okay?”

Collin nodded. “Tomorrow, then?”

Farnsworth gave an exaggerated groan of despair. ” Please—it’ s going to take me a week to recover from to­day’s match! Give me a break, will you?”

“I keep forgetting I have to go easy on you softies,” Collin teased. “All right—I’ll just have to find someone else to take me on.”

“Keep this up and you’re going to run out of friends,” Derek Farnsworth joked as they walked back to the locker rooms together. “They’ll all be mounted on your wall with your swords and other trophies!”

At that moment, the doors at the far end of the gym opened and a third man entered, a tall, slim blond man Collin recognized immediately from one of his classes at Harvard. “Hey, Deverell! I’ve been looking all over for you!” he called out loudly with an unmistakable New En­gland accent.

Collin waved him off. “Whatever it is, I didn’t do it!” he yelled back.

The other man ignored his response. “Your father’s in town—he’s been looking for you. He called here twice. Your brother also called.”

“My brother,” Collin said ruefully, so low that only Derek Farnsworth, who stood next to him, could hear him. “Baron Stormcloud himself.” He turned back to the other man who stood poised in the doorway. “My father knows where I live,” he said loudly.

“Sure he does, and he also knows that you spend most of your time here,” the blond man responded. “Better give him a call. He said he’ll be staying at the Ritz-Carlton.”

“As if I wouldn’t know where to find him,” Collin said in a casual tone. “I guess I’d better make this fast. When he flies up from New York instead of calling, it’s usually urgent.”

In spite of the bitter cold, the Boston Common was crowded. A group of demonstrators marched in formation, brandish­ing large, crudely lettered signs while a soapbox orator de­livered his impassioned—and very loud—speech from the center of the group. Several children bundled in warm win­ter attire ran off in the direction of the playground while two bag ladies rummaged through a trash can. Three young girls sat on a bench, lacing up their skates as they prepared to go ice skating on Frog Pond. Collin walked through the Common, oblivious of everything around him except the cold. Turning up the collar of his heavy winter coat, he pulled his gray cashmere muffler up over the lower half of his face. His cheeks stung from the icy wind and his eyes felt uncomfortably dry. The wind whipped through his hair, still damp from the shower, as he walked along the pond, headed for the underground parking garage just beyond the Public Garden at the west end of the Common. Breaking into a run, he dashed through the park and into the garage, not slowing down until he reached his silver Ferrari. Pulling off his gray leather gloves, he dug into his coat pocket for his keys and unlocked the door hastily, his breath visible in the bitterly cold air. He slid behind the wheel and closed the door. As he put the key in the ignition and turned the switch, the engine came to life immediately. He listened to the low hum of the Ferrari’s powerful, perfectly tuned mo­tor for a moment, then put the car in reverse and backed out of the parking stall, reaching for the garage ticket he’d left on the dashboard. The garage, he noticed as he headed for the exit, was almost empty now. He glanced at the gold watch on his left wrist. It was later than he’d thought.

As he pulled out of the garage onto Arlington Street, he was still wondering what could have brought his father to town. Business, no doubt. Quentin Deverell lived for Inter­continental Oil, the family business, as Collin referred to the corporation his father had founded and built into a global giant over the past thirty years. He expected the same total devotion from each of his many employees, and from his identical twin sons, Collin and Justin. It had been their father’s idea, sending the twins to Harvard, and then to the Harvard Business School. It was Quentin Deverell’s most fervent dream that one day his sons should rule side by side over the empire he had created. For Justin, it had been easy: Justin, like their father, had the blood of the board­room flowing through his veins. He couldn’t wait to occupy a seat on the board of directors. Collin, on the other hand, had never shared their enthusiasm. He had never quite been able to picture himself locked away in an office all day, pushing papers and making deals. He did not think of him­self as a businessman. He had only accepted the idea of the Harvard Business School because he knew how much it meant to his father, and because he was not yet sure what he wanted to do with his life.

There had been a time he had believed his future was in the world of sports, in fencing. It was a passion he had felt the first time he took a foil in his hand at the age of fourteen, much younger than most professional fencers begin their training. He had taken an interest in it first as a hobby, then later as a possible career. His first coach, a maitre d’armes from Paris, had seen a natural ability in Collin Deverell and filled his head with thoughts and dreams of Olympic gold. As he grew older, Collin’s love of fencing prevented him from giving one hundred percent of himself to his father’s plans for his future. Furious, Quentin Deverell had put an abrupt end to the training, insisting that his son’s future was in the boardroom, not on the tournament circuit. But Collin had persisted, and soon had a new coach, a former gold medalist from Milan who also saw promise in his young protégé and encouraged his ambitions. With his encourage­ment, Collin had gone from local to national tournaments to the international level of competition. He had developed a rather flashy style that combined the best elements of the intellectual, defensive French style learned from his original coach with the aggressive, offensive Italian game taught by his new mentor. By the time he was eighteen, he had won several major tournaments, including a world champion­ship. He had been preparing for the Pan-American Games when his father suffered a heart attack. Knowing how much it meant to his father that he and Justin pull together and concentrate on the family’s business interests, Collin had shelved his plans to go for the gold and concentrated on his studies, not wishing to upset his father or cause him further concern. That had been four years ago, and still Collin won­dered what his life would have been like today had he con­tinued to pursue that dream. Would he have found what he was looking for, or would he still feel the confusion, the uncertainty he was feeling at this moment? If only, he thought now, he could be more like his brother.

Though Collin and Justin were identical twins, and it was virtually impossible to tell them apart physically, one had only to spend a few moments with them to recognize the striking differences in their personalities. Collin was outgo­ing, flamboyant, daring, and enjoyed nothing more than poking fun at his twin brother’s serious, uptight, ultracon­servative ways. Though they were only twenty-three, Collin often complained that his brother behaved like a very old man, while Justin would refer to Collin as “childish.” There had never been any doubt in Justin’s mind that he would one day follow in their father’s footsteps, that he would hold a high rank within the upper echelons of Intercontinental Oil. Collin, on the other hand, had never been so certain about his future. He could not imagine himself an execu­tive, even within his own father’s company. He possessed the heart and the spirit of the true adventurer, and wanted something he had yet to find. Excitement. Challenge. For a while, fencing had been the answer. Nothing else had made him feel so alive, so exhilarated. And while his dreams of capturing the highest award possible in the game had been dashed, he had never been able to turn his back on it com­pletely. He still played, almost every day, whenever he could find someone willing to take him on. Unfortunately, most of the fencing enthusiasts he had met at Harvard were am­ateurs and offered little challenge for a world-class player such as himself.

Crossing the river into Cambridge on the Harvard Bridge, he glanced up at the gray, overcast sky. It looked as if Boston would finally get that snowstorm the forecasters had been predicting for the past three days. He switched on the car radio and fiddled with the dial until he found a station broadcasting the local news. “Damn!” he muttered under his breath as the announcer predicted five to eight inches of snow by morning. A traveler’s advisory had been issued by the National Weather Service, the announcer was saying. And Collin had plans for the weekend. Important plans. A snowstorm would definitely put a damper on them. He promptly switched the radio to an album station and adjusted the volume. Then he reached up and loosened the muffler wound around his neck. It had been a long day, and he was glad it was over, even if the coming storm did manage to ruin his weekend.

He drove into the darkened tunnel leading down into the parking garage under his apartment building and parked the Ferrari in his assigned space. He switched off the radio and the ignition and got out of the car, locking the door before he strode off to the elevators. As he rode up alone in the elevator to his floor, he looked at his watch. He would have to put in a call to his father at the Ritz-Carlton as soon as he got in the door. Quentin Deverell was a man who did not like to be kept waiting, even by his own son. He tugged at the muffler until he pulled it off his neck, then unbuttoned his coat. A small smile played on his lips as he thought about the art history major from Radcliffe who was coming over to cook for him tonight. She was quite a work of art herself, he thought. If she were to spend the night….  Maybe the possibility of a snowstorm wasn’t such a catas­trophe after all.

The elevator doors opened and Collin stepped out of the car, walking briskly down the corridor to his apartment, keys in hand. As he let himself into the apartment, the first thing he noticed was that the light was on in the living room. Concerned at first—he knew he hadn’t left it on him­self—he suddenly remembered: he had given Laura the spare key yesterday so she could let herself in if he were not home when she arrived. Of course—that was it. She’d prob­ably decided to come early and surprise him. Well, he had a few surprises in store for her, too. He turned and opened the closet door, smiling in anticipation of the night ahead.

The Journey to the Bestseller List

It’s Wednesday, and today’s featured author is the wonderful Sahara Foley. I met Sahara shortly after Collin and I signed on with Creativia, and she gave me an audiobook copy of her novel, We Journey No More. I’m not normally into young adult novels, probably because they remind me that it’s been a long time since I’ve been a young adult–but I found myself thoroughly enjoying this one. Apparently I’m not alone, because Sahara is a certified Amazon bestselling author!

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Don’t take my work for it, though–check out Sahara and her wonderful books through Amazon or at Creativia, her publisher’s website!

Paper or Plastic? Digital or Print?

Personally, I prefer audiobooks over all other formats, with digital running a fairly close second. Unlike friends who love the feel and even the smell of a print book, to me, only the words themselves matter. And now that my eyesight’s going down the crapper and I have the attention span of a gnat, being able to listen to a book is a big deal.

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I don’t think I’ve ever actually smelled a book, unless it’s been stored somewhere for a long time and smells like mold. As for holding a book, I don’t miss carrying around heavy hardcover books. Whenever someone mentions it, I always think of my dad, who used to say he’d rather move appliances than my crates of books. I wish he were here so I could ask him to move my books–then hand him my Kindle or smartphone!

No matter which format, I don’t read–or listen–like I used to. There was a time when I spent a great deal of money on books. These days, I spend only a small fraction of what I once spent. And it seems I’m not alone. An article in Publishers Weekly offers statistics showing readership is on the decline while the number of books being published is definitely on the rise, thanks to the ease of self-publishing.

A drop from 79% to 73% doesn’t seem like a large amount, but when you consider the rise in the number of books being published, well, I can see why so many authors are lamenting poor sales. We’re not only competing for sales with other books, but with other forms of entertainment, such as music, movies, TV shows and YouTube. According to the National Endowment for the Arts, only 43% of adults read at least one work of literature for pleasure in the previous year–the lowest since they started tracking reading habits back in the ’80s.

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According to the PW story, among those who do still read books, they only average twelve books per year. I buy more than that, but rarely finish reading a book I start. That’s not to say anything negative about the unfinished books. I just don’t have the enthusiasm I once had for reading. If the same story were a movie or a TV show, I’d finish.

An embarrassing confession, since I’m an author myself.

Think about it. Do you read as much as you did five years ago? If not, what are you now doing for entertainment?

How Far Would You Go to Be Reunited with the Person You Love?

Today’s excerpt is from Angels at Midnight, originally published in 1989. The ebook will be available via Amazon at a special promotional price 9/25/16-10/1/16:

 

Angels at Midnight Complete

 

New York City, July 1987

The penthouse was in darkness. Out on the terrace, a man and a woman, dressed in loose-fitting black overalls, prepared to make an unauthorized entrance. The woman, holding a large canvas rucksack, looked on as her partner ran a gloved hand expertly along the frame of the large glass door until he found what he was looking for: the wire con­nected to the burglar alarm. He reached into the rucksack and took out a pair of pliers and a long section of wire with an alligator clip on each end. Turning his attention to the alarm once again, he traced the wire to its source, moving slowly, deliberately. He stripped the wire and attached one of the alligator clips to the alarm. As he used the pliers to cut the wire, the woman tensed, an involuntary reaction, as if she expected the alarm to go off. When it didn’t, her entire body sagged with relief. Why did it still bother her? she wondered. After all the times they had been through this in the past few months, shouldn’t she be used to it? Shouldn’t she be convinced that he knew what he was do­ing, that nothing would go wrong? She kept thinking of something he had told her when she first entered into this devil’s bargain with him: one wrong move could be their last. He had said it himself. She looked at him, still amazed by how cool he was, how confident. Now he was taking a small glass cutter from the sack. Carefully, he cut a small hole in the glass, just large enough to allow him to reach inside and release the lock.

“Thank God that’s over,” she breathed as he slid the door open and stepped inside.

He turned to look at her, the strong, angular planes of his face shadowed in the moonlight, a lock of his thick, dark brown hair falling across his forehead. “Unfortunately,” he said in a low, deep voice, “this is only the beginning.”

He took two pairs of infrared goggles from the pocket of his overalls and gave her a pair. He slipped his on and gestured for her to do the same. As she pulled them down over her face and adjusted them on the bridge of her nose, she looked around. The room was suddenly bathed in an eerie red glow, but now it was possible for them to see the infrared beams of light crisscrossing throughout the room, deadly beams that would have been invisible without the goggles, beams that would instantly set off the electronic security system the minute they sensed the change in tem­perature that would occur when they passed through the invisible light. She stood in the doorway, looking at her partner questioningly as he appraised the situation.

“It’s impossible, isn’t it,” she muttered.

He shook his head. “Not impossible—just difficult.” He turned to face her. “Shall we?”

“You must be crazy!” she gasped. “There’s no way—”

“You’re wrong,” he said quietly. “There’s always a way. You should know that by now.”

She hesitated for only a moment. “You really think we can pull it off?”

He grinned. “There’s only one way we’re going to find out, isn’t there?”

She took a deep breath, then nodded reluctantly.

They moved cautiously yet swiftly through the room, dodging the beams by crawling under some, jumping over others, finally making their way to the wall safe that was concealed behind a priceless Matisse in an alcove at the opposite end of the room. She watched as he let the beam of bright light from his large flashlight play on the painting for a few moments. Then he passed the flashlight to her and took the painting down from the wall, turned it over, and placed it face down on the floor. He cut it from its frame, rolled up the vellum, and handed it to her. She put it in the rucksack. He looked up at her and nodded toward the safe. “Let’s get to it.”

As she held the flashlight, focusing the light on the safe, they saw that a series of buttons replaced the traditional round combination dial. He went to the rucksack again, producing a small, rectangular device resembling a pocket calculator with a long wire attached to it. He connected the free end of the wire to the safe just beneath the panel of buttons with a soft, pliable substance he jokingly referred to as Silly Putty. He switched it on, and the digital display began to flash wildly as the device methodically sought out the combination. Swiftly, he opened the safe and swept its contents into the sack his accomplice held open for him. Then he closed the safe again, disconnected his equipment, and hastily stuffed it into the large rucksack, slipping his arms through the heavy straps that secured it to his back.

“Let’s get the hell out of here,” he told her as he pulled the goggles down over his eyes again.

Dodging the beams again, they made their way back to the terrace. As they prepared to make their escape, she looked apprehensively at the heavy cable strung from the terrace to the roof of another skyscraper several hundred feet away, the same cable on which they had entered. Though she had done this countless times in the past few months, and knew this particular cable to be safe, she doubted she would ever really get used to doing this sort of thing. She could not imagine ever being comfortable with the idea of her life literally hanging by a thread, five hun­dred feet above the ground. She leaned over the railing and stared down at the glittering lights of midtown Manhattan below. Normally, she would have found the view spectacu­lar, but now all she could think of was the danger. One wrong move could be your last. His words echoed through her mind. One wrong move could be fatal.

“Come on!” he urged, perching himself on the railing. He swung his long legs over the side as casually as if he were getting out of bed, and grasped a heavy metal loop attached to the cable. Using his body weight to propel him, he swung forward forcefully, a motion that sent him sailing through the night, speeding toward the other building.

She studied the cable for a moment, thinking about some­thing he’d told her the first time she used the cable: My life happens to mean a great deal to me . . . when I string a cable, it’s so safe you could sail a baby on it. She took a deep breath and climbed onto the rail, moving with the natural grace of a dancer. The wind whipped her long, dark hair about her face as she gripped the loop and launched herself forward. Now, as she sailed through the darkness like some night bird in flight, those old familiar doubts and questions flashed through her mind: When did it all begin to go wrong? she asked herself. When did the world as she knew it begin to fall apart?

And how had she ended up here—doing this?

The Ghost and…Mrs. Butz?

It’s Wednesday, so once again, I’m plugging the works of a fellow author. This week, it’s my longtime friend Shelly Arkon, who is currently recovering from an arm broken in three places because her new dog wanted an armadillo (don’t ask). Shelly’s done one novel–the first in a series she’s been working on. Secondhand Shoes is available on Amazon.

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What’s it all about? Check out this Amazon review from William Kendall:

Secondhand Shoes opens in an uneasy place, with the main character, Lila, an eighteen year old woman on her wedding day. Her bridal nerves are more than what might be expected; she’s marrying a man she barely knows and doesn’t particularly like, thanks to the pressure of her overbearing mother Babs. Lila has little say in the direction of her life, no respect at all from a mother who thinks that she’s crazy, a father living far away in exile, and a step-father who bows to his wife’s every demand and seems to have lost his spine. The only living person who seems to be on her side is her best friend Cynthia, and we can see this in her advice to run while she can.

Then there are the ghosts. Just like a long out of work former child actor who shall remain unnamed, Lila sees dead people. One of the ghosts in her life happens to be her paternal grandmother, who has little patience for her former daughter-in-law’s overbearing ways, and is at Lila’s side through much of the story. Gram is a force to be reckoned with, a mixture of common sense and great wariness about the threats that exist in the world, particularly where her granddaughter is concerned.

Lila’s ability isn’t appreciated by most people around her, let alone her mother, who won’t abide such nonsense. Instead Babs, who we learn has coerced her daughter into breaking off with a young man she did like, simply because of her own prejudice, has orchestrated a relationship with Max Butz (yes, that’s his name), a dirtbag of the first order who thinks that turning up in a orange polyester suit for his own wedding is perfectly acceptable. Max runs with a similar pack of criminal degenerates, has a father with anger management issues, and a religious zealot for a mother (with a few hidden secrets of her own). It doesn’t take long before the reader confirms that first impression: Max is a vicious bully with no respect at all for Lila, and nothing at all resembling scruples.

The story hinges on a decision Lila makes to take her life into her own hands, and it leads her into danger, both physical and supernatural. She has to confront her own fears and anxieties (fear of germs, insects, and other creepy crawlies plays big for this protagonist). She gets help along the way, from the living, the dead, and those who are, well, in between.

Shelly Arkon has done well with her first novel. She has a strong style, giving characters a voice that are distinctly their own, even minor characters who might only appear for a scene or two. And she pays attention to detail: scenes in a Southern swamp make the reader feel like they’re right there; the same applies to sequences in a truck, a roadside dive, or even in an afterlife of sorts. The style draws the reader right in, and gives the narrative a touch of authenticity. The same applies for when the story is set. This is firmly set in the Eighties, and cultural references of the time abound, small touches that firmly ground the story.

As mentioned, there’s a liberal dose of humour spread throughout the book. Some of it comes from the living characters, such as Lila herself (especially her paranoid germ phobias), Cynthia, or B.J., a trucker who turns up along the way. Much of it comes from the ghosts, particularly Gram, who is a wise sage capable of interacting with the world in a number of different ways; she can wreck havoc with electricity or make use of nature, and does so with regularity.

Characterization itself is the bedrock of the book, and this is the strength of the novel. I felt a particular dislike- and this shows the strength of the writing- for Babs, who comes across as a bully (including at times even physically) and a terrible mother. She’s overbearing, difficult, temperamental, and bigoted. She might be Lila’s mother, but at the same time, there’s a toxic quality to her that was close to home for me. I’ve known a couple of Babs, and these are the unpleasant sort of people you wish you’d never known

Max and his cronies and relatives are memorable, if unlikeable. In different ways, their personalities come across as real, and sleazy. At least in some ways, I expect real people have inspired them.

Cynthia is a strongly written character. She’s absolutely supportive of her friend, fierce and courageous when she needs to be, and willing to prod Lila along when she needs it.

Gram is the scene stealer of the book, a wise woman with heart. For a ghost, she’s more than lively, won’t take nonsense from people she doesn’t care for, and is protective of her granddaughter. She’s aware of the world in a way that those who are living can’t be aware of, including a lingering threat that might well be left for another novel.

The book is really about Lila’s journey. It takes her from being meek and submissive to making choices for herself, to finding her own strength and resolve. It’s understandable, given the way her mother is, that the character starts out as not wanting to rock the boat and refuse her mother’s wishes. Over time she’s gotten used to surviving what basically amounts to emotional abuse by just going along with everything her mother says. During the events of the book, Lila comes to terms with what it means to be an adult, to have to be responsible for her own decisions. It’s character growth, and it helps that we’re sympathetic towards her from the start.

Secondhand Shoes tells a story that is at times tense, at other times wry and mischevious. It wraps up the natural arc of the characters while leaving room for more, and provides its own good spin on the world of the paranormal. The pacing of the story keeps things moving along, and the characterization and attention to detail combine to make the book succeed.

A Sad Remembrance, An Unsettling Memory

Do you remember where you were when news of the planes hitting the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania took over the media? I do. Collin had just left for work that morning–he was still standing at the bus stop when I looked out the window as I was getting ready to go to the library. The Today show was on TV. From the bedroom, I heard Katie Couric saying something about the World Trade Center being hit by a plane. I went back into the living room as the second plane hit the South Tower with the TV cameras already on it, looking at the fire and smoke in the North Tower.

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I went to the library anyway, but took my pocket TV and earphones along so I could follow the news. I called Collin when he got to work. He hadn’t heard yet, but someone at the restaurant put a radio on, I think. By then, a third plane had crashed into the Pentagon. When the fourth plane crashed in Pennsylvania, it was believed that the passengers had overtaken the hijackers and crashed it there to prevent it from reaching its target. That was soon confirmed. It’s still not known whether that target was the White House or the Capitol building, but a group of brave people, knowing they were already doomed, had definitely made the choice to prevent even more deaths.

I was still following the news on the pocket TV in line at the grocery store after I left the library. Everyone was talking about it. People had jumped from the towers to escape the fire. Others were trapped. First responders had entered the towers. Some of them would die there, too. US airspace had been closed, planes grounded. Some flights had been diverted to Canada. We didn’t yet know who had attacked us.

For me, it brought back a memory of the first and only time I’d been in the World Trade Center.

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In the fall of 1985, I was in New York City to meet with my agent, editor, and executives from Berkley Publishing. My first novel, Alexander’s Empire, was under contract and they had big plans for it. I was excited. My agent, her assistant and I were going out for dinner on my first night in New York. I wanted to go to the World Trade Center, since it was one of the more significant settings in the book. We had dinner at Windows on the World at the top of the North Tower. Because I was still doing research, my agent managed to get me a copy of the menu, and I took a couple of matchbooks, even though my characters didn’t smoke.

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Looking forward to the view from the restaurant, I was soon disappointed. There was a heavy fog that night (now I know where the term “pea soup fog” comes from. The windows looked like they were covered in pea soup. I mentioned this to our waiter. “We’ve had a couple of close calls with planes flying into the airports,” he said.

I told Maria and Elizabeth it would make a good plot for a thriller: terrorists crashing planes into the towers.

I still have that menu and the matchbooks. But when I think of that night now, it just feels creepy.

An Empire of Secrets

Since Creativia is currently running a special promotion for my first novel, Alexander’s Empire (originally published by Berkley Books as Dance of the Gods back in 1988), today’s excerpt will be from that novel. It started out to be a psychological drama about a man who discovers he’s not who he believes himself to be, his fate altered by a tragic accident–but having been written and published in the 1980s, it was also heavily influenced by that time: glitz, glamour, greed and ambition. I chose the protagonist’s name, Alexander, because he was a Greek conqueror like Alexander the Great, but a conqueror of a very different world: international business….

7

 

 

PROLOGUE

 

New York City, December 1986.

A light snow was falling. Up and down Fifth Avenue the windows of all the fabulous shops—Cartier, Saks, Tiffany & Co., Van Cleef & Arpels, Harry Winston, Gucci, Bergdorf Goodman, Steuben Glass—glittered with magnificent holiday treasures that beckoned shoppers to come inside. The sounds of honking horns filled the air as a river of pedestrians—shoppers laden with brightly wrapped Christmas packages, office workers gratefully calling it a day, wide-eyed tourists eagerly taking in the sights, and the usual assortment of street vendors—flooded the streets, resembling a scene from the Exodus. Traffic was bumper to bumper as buses, taxis, and chauffeured limousines jockeyed for positions along the thoroughfare.

Huddled in the back of one of those limousines, Meredith drew her Russian lynx coat around herself for warmth, but it did no good. The chill was deep within her bones, and it had nothing to do with the weather. Inside the limousine it was warm . . . but Meredith was numb with a fear she could not put into words. Normally, she would have been glad the day was over, glad to be going home, but tonight nothing gave her comfort. She felt as though her whole world was about to come crashing down around her, and there was nothing she could do to prevent it.

Tonight Meredith was oblivious of the pulsing excitement that was so much a part of life in Manhattan. She glanced absently at the shop windows, having suddenly lost her Christmas spirit. She peered through the window as the limo inched its way toward its destination. On the west side of the avenue, nestled between Forty-eighth and Fiftieth streets, was the sprawling community of skyscrapers, plazas, stores, and cafés known as Rockefeller Center. “As solid as seven million dollars,” Alexander had once told her. Alexander. Meredith was usually eager to get home and spend a quiet evening with her husband, but now she found herself glad he was not going to be there when she arrived. Alexander was in Paris on business, and Meredith was grateful. He knew her too well; he would have recognized her tension immediately. He would have known that something was wrong. Meredith wasn’t sure that this was something she could share with him. Not yet.

The limousine slowed to a stop in front of the Olympic Tower at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Fifty-first Street. The chauffeur opened the door for her, and as Meredith stepped out into the cold night air, the wind whipped her long blond hair around her face. She paused for a moment to gaze up at the building, a magnificent bronze jewel rising into the twilight sky. Fifty-two stories of pure opulence, fit for a king. As she made her way toward it, the liveried doorman, poised at the entrance like a member of the Praetorian Guard, smiled and held the door for her. She nodded absently to him and headed across the red-carpeted lobby toward the elevators. She rang for the elevator impatiently, repeatedly. Hurry, she thought anxiously. Please . . . hurry.

“Is something wrong, Mrs. Kirakis?”

She turned, startled. One of the concierges, easily recognized by his familiar dress uniform—brown slacks, blue-gray jacket, waistcoat, and white satin bow tie—stood behind her, a look of concern on his face. “Are you all right, Mrs. Kirakis?” he asked, trying to be helpful.

She managed a weak smile. “Yes . . . I’m just a bit tired, that’s all,” she assured him. “It’s been a long day. I’m glad to finally be home.”

He smiled. “Your husband arrived about an hour ago,” he told her as he held the elevator for her.

Meredith swung around to face him, unable to hide her surprise. “My husband? Are you sure?”

He nodded. “Yes, ma’am,” he said. “No mistake. I went up in the elevator with him myself.”

“Thank you,” she said as the doors closed slowly and the car began its ascent. She leaned back against the wall, trembling. She wondered why Alexander was back from Paris so soon. What could have happened? What else could possibly go wrong now?

He was waiting for her when she let herself into their apartment. He came to her and embraced her gently. “I hoped you would not be late,” he said as he released her.

“Did everything go all right in Paris?” she asked as she took off her coat.

“Of course. Why do you ask?”

“I don’t know. It’s just that lately we seem to be living in the eye of a hurricane. I can’t help wondering what’s going to happen next,” she admitted wearily. “I thought maybe whatever you went there for fell through or something . . .”

“It could not have turned out better.” He studied her for a moment, his black eyes narrowing suspiciously. “Perhaps you should tell me what is bothering you.”

“Me?” Her laugh was, mirthless. “Overwork, that’s all. Nobody’s told Harv Petersen that slavery’s been abolished.”

“Your work? You are sure that’s all?”

“Scout’s honor,” she said, making her voice light. “I’ve got a splitting headache. I think I might lie down for a while before dinner. Do you mind?”

He shook his head. He didn’t believe her for a minute and she knew it. She was grateful that he was not pressing her to tell him more than she had already. She had not been lying about the headache, however, feeling the familiar throbbing pain in her right temple. She kissed Alexander again and retreated to their bedroom before he decided to question her further.

As she lay in the darkness, she tried not to think about it, but it was impossible. She had thought of nothing else since the special messenger had arrived at her office with it that morning. There had been no letter, nothing to identify its sender—just a photocopy of a legal document that needed no explanation. Its message had been only too clear. Not knowing who sent it bothered Meredith most. It meant that someone knew the truth, someone who could turn it into a dangerous weapon. Meredith sat up and switched on the bedside lamp. She removed the envelope from her oversize shoulder bag as carefully as if she were defusing a bomb. A bomb would not have frightened her as much. She removed the paper from the envelope and stared at it for a long time. How was she going to break this to Alexander? she asked herself for the hundredth time that day. How could she ever make him understand? Would he believe her when she told him that she had no idea who had sent this?

That single piece of paper, in the wrong hands, could destroy them.

 

ONE

 

Los Angeles, July 1979.

Meredith Courtney, a newscaster for television station KXLA, parked her car across the street from the Beverly Wilshire Hotel and glanced at her watch. Nine forty-five. Good. She was early. She peered into her rearview mirror and ran a comb through her thick, ash-blond hair. She checked her makeup automatically, a habit she’d picked up after a fellow newscaster once told her she looked overdone on camera. She twisted around in her seat and noticed that the KXLA mobile production van was pulling up behind her. Her cameraman had arrived. She got out of the car and waved to Brian as he began unloading his equipment. He grinned when he saw her.

“Hi, lady,” he greeted her cheerfully. “They got you workin’ early today. It ain’t even noon yet!”

She smiled. “We can’t all be night owls, now, can we?” she teased. “You’ve been spoiled, doing the nightside spot with Harry Jacobs.”

“Who is this guy, anyway?” Brian asked as they crossed Wilshire Boulevard together. “A foreign diplomat or something?”

“Constantine Kirakis?” Meredith laughed aloud at the thought. “Where have you been, Brian? He’s only one of the richest men in the world. You’ve really never heard of him?”

The cameraman shrugged. “I guess I’ve led a pretty sheltered life up until now.”

“You must have,” Meredith agreed, amused. “For the record, Constantine Kirakis is an honest-to-goodness Greek tycoon—ships, oil, diamond mines, the whole package. His is a classic rags-to-riches story if there ever was one: the poor boy from the wrong side of the tracks who built an empire with nothing but his own ambitions.”

“So he is news.”

“Definitely.” Heads turned as Meredith crossed the lobby of the Beverly Wilshire, but she did not notice. She was accustomed to being recognized on her home turf. After all, she knew she was in a highly visible profession. It had never occurred to her that she would have been noticed regardless of her profession. Meredith was a striking woman, slender, bronzed, with the kind of delicate, perfect features and wide blue eyes that made magazine covers, and a magnificent long mane of tousled blond hair. She was a genuine California golden girl.

Meredith maneuvered her way into the jammed banquet room and found a seat, while Brian looked for a suitable location that would give him a clear, unobstructed view of the podium from which Kirakis would be speaking. While Brian knew nothing of Constantine Kirakis, he knew that this tape was important to Meredith, and that was all he needed to know. Meredith Courtney, he knew from past experience, was a perfectionist who insisted upon total commitment and professionalism from all who worked with her. Brian knew she would be hell to get along with if this latest project turned out to be less than perfect. He made some minor adjustments and waited for her signal.

As Constantine Kirakis was introduced, Meredith dug into her shoulder bag for a thick steno pad and a handful of pencils. She took notes in rapid shorthand, thankful she’d taken the time to learn it. Her notes would help her later, when she prepared the material for broadcast. She had already thought of different things she wanted to mention about her subject on the air, and this assured her that nothing would be forgotten. She motioned to Brian, indicating that she wanted a closeup. Constantine Kirakis was an impressive man, something she wanted to convey to the viewers who would see this tape on the eleven o’clock news. She wanted them to feel the power and authority behind his forceful gestures, in his strong voice speaking heavily accented English. She wanted them to sense everything she experienced as she sat there in the crowded banquet room. He was a giant of a man, she noticed now—tall and powerfully built, an imposing figure in his black suit, which created a sharp contrast to his reddened, windburned face and his shockingly white hair and mustache.

He must have been handsome as a younger man, Meredith thought.

As the conference dragged on, Meredith began to feel as though she had wasted her time in coming. She was annoyed by the way the reporters from Shipping News were dominating the conference, obviously viewing this as the perfect opportunity to question Kirakis about tonnage, cargo rates, sea routes, and the issue of shipping versus air freight. Her viewers would not be interested in those topics; they would want to know about the Kirakis Corporation’s many projects now under way in the United States, projects that would mean hundreds, even thousands of jobs. They were interested in the fabulous diamond and emerald choker, reportedly worth over two million dollars, that Kirakis had given his wife Melina for their fiftieth wedding anniversary. They wanted to know about Kirakis’s son, Alexander, the heir apparent to the Kirakis empire, the Casanova of the jet set, whose romantic adventures made gossip columns all over the world. At the rate things were going now, Meredith thought dismally, she might have to scrap the idea of showing the Kirakis tape at all.

At eleven forty-five, a Kirakis PR aide interrupted the conference, suggesting they all adjourn to La Bella Fontana, the hotel’s restaurant, for lunch. Maybe if she could manage to be seated next to him at lunch . . . that would be perfect! As the group filed out of the banquet room, she stopped to give Brian some last-minute instructions before sending him back to the station. They would not be allowed to tape in La Bella Fontana—she wouldn’t even ask—but if she could just talk to Kirakis, maybe they could return later and tape an interview in his suite.

Much to her disappointment, the reporters from Shipping News beat her to it. They’re like a bunch of hungry vultures, she thought irritably as she headed for an empty table. Distracted by this latest upset, she collided with a man headed in the same direction. “I’m sorry, I didn’t—”

The man she’d bumped into was not one of her fellow reporters. He was tall, at least six feet two, dressed in a suit that probably cost a small fortune. He was dark, with sharp, symmetrical features and the most incredible eyes she had ever seen. They were so dark they appeared to have no pupils. His hair was also dark, neatly styled, falling in a deep wave across his forehead. When he smiled at her, his eyes glowed like polished onyx.

“I’m Alexander Kirakis,” he introduced himself. His voice was deep, resonant, with only a slight accent—not at all like his father’s.

“I’m Meredith Courtney—KXLA News,” she said. She stared at him like an idiot, unable to stop herself.

“A reporter?” he asked, somewhat amused. “I would never have guessed. You are far too lovely to be anything except perhaps a model or an actress.”

She smiled. “Do I detect a bit of chauvinism?” she asked.

“On my part? Never!” He laughed, a deep, husky laugh. “You must forgive me . . . I have been brought up to observe certain old-world traditions—”

She raised a hand. “No need to explain. Apology accepted, Mr. Kirakis.”

“Alexander,” he corrected.

“Alexander,” she repeated slowly.

Alexander Kirakis glanced back at the table where his father sat with four men from Shipping News. “You were hoping to join my father, were you not?”

She nodded. “Unfortunately, the sharks got there ahead of me.”

“This is most unfortunate for my father,” Alexander commented as he turned back to her. “He does not often have the opportunity to dine with a beautiful woman on these trips,” he said with a dazzling smile that made Meredith blush unexpectedly.

“Thank you, but—”

“I, on the other hand, never pass up such a promising opportunity,” he continued. “I would be honored if you would consider joining me, Meredith.”

“I’d like that,” she said without hesitation.

“Excellent.” He took her arm, and she felt an involuntary shudder course through her body. “Come, we’ll take one of the booths.” He guided her across the room to one of the curtained booths that afforded total privacy. “I prefer privacy whenever it can be found. It’s such a rarity for me these days,” he explained as they seated themselves. “I hope you do not object.”

“Not at all,” she said quickly. Meredith looked around. She had not been there in some time, and she’d forgotten just how splendid it was. The red velvet wall covering and the trickling fountain in the center of the room gave it an elegant atmosphere. There were flowers everywhere, literally everywhere. It felt as though they had been transported by magic to some artfully contrived hideaway in Europe, perhaps in Vienna or Budapest.

“It reminds me of a place I once stayed in Austria,” Alexander commented, almost as if he had read her mind. “Tell me—have you eaten here before?”

“Once or twice—it’s been a while,” Meredith admitted.

“The food—how is it?”

“Oh, it’s excellent,” she assured him. “There’s no place close by that can compare.”

“I’ll trust your judgment,” he said promptly.

She smiled. “I hope you’re not disappointed, then.” Maybe she would get that interview after all; surely no one could be closer to Kirakis than his own son. She glanced at the menu absently, aware that he was watching her. “I hope you’re enjoying your stay here in L.A.,” she said. The way he looked at her, she felt like a schoolgirl again.

“Definitely,” he answered with a suggestive smile. “Everything I’ve seen here so far is quite beautiful.”

Meredith blushed once more. “I’d think our smog would be hard to take. Where you come from—”

“Where I come from?” He laughed aloud. “I live in New York City!”

“But didn’t you grow up in Greece?”

“I did.” He paused. “I take it you’ve never been there.” “No. No, I haven’t.”

“Athens is very much like Los Angeles,” he told her. “As a matter of fact, it has often been referred to as Los Angeles with ruins. It has the smog, the same traffic tie-ups, the same throngs of tourists. It was once a lovely old city, but in recent years it has become very commercial.”

“I take it you don’t approve,” she concluded, suppressing a smile.

“No, I don’t,” he answered truthfully. “Athens has always been a city rich with history, with tradition. As it becomes more and more a tourist attraction, it loses its specialness. I find it quite sad.”

“Then life in New York hasn’t caused you to sever your ties with your Greek heritage?”

He looked at her, surprised. “Where would you get an idea like that?” he asked.

“Well, everybody knows you’ve lived in the States for almost thirteen years. And everybody knows your father is against it. Wouldn’t you say you’ve become somewhat Americanized?”

He smiled. “In some ways, perhaps. Though I tend to feel that one never completely escapes the influence of one’s family traditions. I have found that I still observe many of the customs I grew up with, no matter where I happen to be.”

The waiter came and took their order. Over lunch, Alexander talked about his parents and his childhood in Greece. He entertained her with anecdotes about the people and situations he had encountered in his travels as a senior vice-president of the Kirakis Corporation. Meredith found herself wondering if this could be the same man she’d read so much about. She saw none of the arrogant, self-centered playboy in this bright, witty, exceedingly charming man who now sat across from her, going out of his way to be cordial. But then, she reminded herself, that had to be part of his charm, part of the fascination he held for some of the most beautiful women in the world. Just this morning, she’d seen a photograph of him in the Los Angeles Times with his woman of the moment, Italian film star Francesca Correnti.

Alexander was honest with her when she asked about the possibility of getting an interview with his father. “We are leaving immediately after this press conference,” he told her. “Our jet is waiting for us at the airport. We will be flying back to New York this afternoon. I am sorry—I think Father might have enjoyed it tremendously.”

I guess it would be asking too much to pray for a heavy fog at the airport, Meredith thought dismally. “Maybe next time,” she said optimistically.

“If there is a next time,” Alexander said slowly. “Father does not come to the States often—not since I’ve taken over as head of our North American operations. In the past few years he has seldom traveled outside Greece. He’s becoming a bit of a recluse in his twilight years, I think.”

“Then maybe I could interview you the next time we meet,” she suggested.

He flashed her an easy grin. “You have my word on it,” he promised. “If and when we meet again, I’ll give you an interview.”

“I intend to hold you to it,” she warned him. As if I’m ever going to run into him like this again, she thought.

***

Alexander and Constantine Kirakis left the Beverly Wilshire that afternoon, flanked by the security guards the elder Kirakis insisted upon having wherever he went. A limousine waited to take them to the airport where their private jet was standing by. “You are sure you will not come back to Greece with me, Alexander?” Kirakis asked as the limo traveled south on the San Diego Freeway. “Your mother would be so pleased to see you.”

“You know it’s impossible for me to get away just now, Father,” Alexander said. “There’s so much I’m involved in at the moment, so many meetings—”

Kirakis looked at him crossly. “You are sure it is business that prevents you from coming home?” He shoved a copy of the Los Angeles Times at his son, folded back to show a photograph of Alexander with Francesca Correnti. “Or perhaps this lady is your reason?”

“Hardly,” Alexander responded indifferently. He knew that Francesca would be there, waiting for him, whenever he returned, no matter how long he stayed away. She was always there, always ready for him. There were times he found her devotion a bit suffocating, times he felt the need to get away from her for a while. He would have liked nothing better than to return to Greece for a week or two. He had not seen his mother in months, and he missed her terribly. She had not been well lately, and her doctors had advised her against making long trips, even by air. This had prevented her from visiting Alexander in New York as she’d done frequently in the past.

Kirakis scowled at the newspaper photograph. “I think you could have been more discreet, Alexander,” he said finally.

“That photograph was taken—”

“As you and the lady were entering the lobby of the Plaza—where she is presently staying,” Kirakis finished. “You could not be more blatant about this—arrangement —if you had taken out a full-page advertisement in The New York Times.”

“It is most difficult to be discreet, Father, when the paparazzi follow me everywhere,” Alexander said defensively. “I have almost no privacy these days.”

“That is because you have made yourself such a good target for these people,” Kirakis insisted, his displeasure apparent. “They know if they stay with you long enough, sooner or later you will do something worth photographing. Today it is Signorina Correnti. Who will it be next week—or next month? You have become a media celebrity, my son. Unfortunately, the publicity you have been getting is most unfavorable.”

“Am I being reprimanded, Father?” Alexander asked icily.

“Your mother and I do not approve of the way in which you conduct your private affairs, Alexander—we have made no secret of our feelings about that—but we are aware that we cannot live your life for you,” Kirakis said, choosing his words carefully. “We ask only that you try to be discreet about it. Your mother is quite sensitive about airing the family laundry, so to speak, in public.”

Alexander drew in his breath. “Very well. I shall try to honor your wishes,” he promised. “Now—may we discuss something else? I’m weary of the subject.”

“I am sure that you are,” Kirakis agreed. “But tell me one thing, Alexander—do you not ever give serious consideration to the prospect of getting married? Do you not ever contemplate having a family of your own—children?” There was genuine concern in his voice.

Alexander’s laugh was weak. “I’m not ready for marriage, Father—and I am certainly not ready to become a father,” he said. “And even if I were, I have yet to meet a woman I could consider a suitable wife.”

“When I was your age—” Kirakis began, annoyed.

“When you were my age, Father, you and Mother had been married for almost ten years. You had already established the Athena Shipping Company—which later became Athena Maritime—the flagship company of the Kirakis Corporation. Mother had had two miscarriages and was warned that she could die if she attempted a third pregnancy,” Alexander finished, ticking off the facts on the fingers of his left hand. “Yes, Father—I know our illustrious history by heart. I should. I memorized it as a child, much in the same way that other children memorize fairy tales.”

“You make light of it, Alexander, but it is your heritage —your legacy. When I am gone, you will be the sole heir to all that I have fought so hard to achieve,” Kirakis reminded him. “And like all empires, it must have heirs if it is to endure.”

Alexander turned to look at his father. “So this is why people have children, is it?” he asked with a touch of bitterness in his voice. “Tell me, Father—why do poor people have them? They have nothing to leave to them.”

“I am trying to be patient with you, Alexander, but you do not make it easy,” Kirakis said quietly, staring absently into the traffic as they approached the Los Angeles International Airport. “I assumed that you, above all, would understand. The corporation must always be run by a Kirakis. A Kirakis must always be its majority stockholder.”

“And where is this written, Father?” Alexander asked coldly.

“Ah, it is no use trying to talk to you!” Kirakis growled.

Alexander could be so unreasonable sometimes, he thought. Would he ever really be ready to fulfill his destiny as sole heir to the Kirakis empire?

 

Aliens Have Been Among Us Longer Than Most of Us Thought!

It’s Wednesday, so I’m giving a shout-out to another of my favorite authors. This time, it’s the wonderful Mari Collier, who’s riding the wave of publishing success with her very popular Chronicles of the Maca series, a multi-generational saga about a family carrying the genes of  the inhabitants of three planets: Earth, Thalia, and Justine. Mari has written other books as well, but this series is my favorite of her works. You can find all of them by checking out her Amazon author page or at the website of her publisher, Creativia.

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bwl farotm gtc rotm tae

It All Began with a Labor of Love….

As of August 31st, I’ve published my first new book in…how many years? I’ve lost track. That’s how long it’s been. Even I can’t remember!

maxwell

Special delivery!

Jack Spangler was a night owl and, snowstorm or no snowstorm, he didn’t appreciate being interrupted in the middle of his work to take his pregnant-and-alone neighbor Katie Maxwell to the hospital. But off he went, since the alternative was to deliver her baby right in his living room.

Things only got worse from there. Somehow he found himself mistaken for the nonexistent Mr. Maxwell and whisked into the delivery room to help young Jeremy into the world. He even found himself caring about the baby – not to mention Katie herself.

Living next door to a crying newborn was enough to make Jack crazy, but craziest of all, it looked as if making marriage – and instant fatherhood – a priority was the only way to stay sane.

 

MS MAXWELL AND SON cover

Actually, it’s not new. Creativia has now reissued my 1988 Silhouette Romance, Ms. Maxwell and Son, in ebook format, with an updated paperback to follow soon. It has a new cover, which I love. I wrote this novel on a bet. Seriously. The covers–the new one and the original–have an odd backstory. Both covers feature a couple holding a baby, but neither quite fit the descriptions I gave of the characters. The female protagonist, Katie, is a redhead. The male protagonist, Jack, is a rather scruffy-looking fellow inspired by Michael Douglas’ character in Romancing the Stone.

RomancingtheStone

When the book was originally published over twenty-five years ago, Silhouette’s art department sent me a form to complete, giving them all sorts of details about the character and the story. I was asked to describe the baby. Smartass that I am, I wrote, “a Cabbage Patch Kid.” My editor was quick to request (demand?) a correction. “Don’t tell them that,” she warned. “That’s what they’ll give you!”

CBK

Yeah, I guess I can see how that might not have turned out very well….

 

PS The book could use some reviews, so if anybody’s interested, give me a holler and I’ll send along the digital file. Good reviews–four or five stars–are preferred, but I’ve been in this crazy business too long to expect them all to be good, so guys, it’s open season on the author!