Okay, it’s not new news. I posted about SAVING ANDI winning the Write Touch Readers’ Award when I was notified. I even posted a pic of my local Wisconsin Romance Writers of America group giving me a dozen red roses. But the celebration continued at the WisRWA conference May 19-20. Check out the beautiful plaque I got!
It started with Andi Johanson making an appearance in CRAVING A HERO. She’s the character who plows out Kelly’s family camp when Kelly and Dane get snowed in (don’t get me started on the bombshell that forced togetherness exposed) and later for their Valentine Day winter wedding.
Initially, Andi was a guy with a different that was going to make a walk on and never be heard from again. But this young woman living hand to mouth reached out from the back of my brain and I knew SHE was supposed to be driving that beat up old truck with the plow. When Andi let me see into her past–see what a hard childhood she’d had, I knew she had a story that needed to be told.
In my last blog post about SAVING ANDI, I mentioned Andi’s rough childhood. Cruel is a more appropriate adjective what with an alcoholic father who viewed women as little more than chattel to do his bidding and an older brother following in his path. Her mother’s premature death left Andi to take on the household duties and to mother her younger brother. Put them all in an isolated cabin on a wooded lake living hand to mouth because Dad couldn’t hold down a job and you have a recipe for everything from poaching to outright burglary.
This is the environment that shaped Andi, the only saving grace her need to protect her younger brother—to see him free of the harshness of their lives. Her mother had instilled at least that much integrity in her before she died.
But a drug addicted older brother, a protective young brother, and the law all came together to one fateful afternoon, shattering the one hope she had in life; that her baby brother could escape their wretched life. It left her with the burden of guilt and a big distaste for cops.
A year and a half with her baby brother dead and big brother in prison, Andi has given up on life–hope…until she finds Cole McCall, a man with a bullet hole in him and no memory. Prime for a dangerous liaison, she takes him in, nurses him back to health, and hides him from the authorities. Too bad whoever wants Cole dead are still tracking him.
Find SAVING ANDI at most online book sellers, including:
Okay, my vacation was a working one at the Writers’ Police Academy August 11th through the 14th in Green Bay, Wisconsin and it took me a week to recuperate from it. But it was a BLAST…in some cases literally.
photo courtesy of my new author pal Aya Walksfar
I didn’t get to try the bomb squad suit on, but I handled it and a few other pieces of equipment. My favorite was getting familiar with and shooting a Glock 17. Heavier than I expected but with the sweetest trigger action. The gun pictured is red to indicate it has no firing pin and cannot be fired. We learned how to hold and load this gun before we were given the fully operational version. Any of you who’ve watched the TV series Quantico saw the trainees carrying these guns. It’s been years since I last shot a gun, but I still got it! Wish I’d kept my target so I could prove how deadly I can be.
photo thanks to author Lee Golberg
Next year, I’ve got to try these.
photo compliments of Lee Lofland
And yes, I got inside that SWAT vehicle as well as the armored vehicle on the opening day of the confernece. Check out the size of the armored vehicle in the 2nd and 3rd pics. I couldn’t get into the driver’s seat as the first step was waist high on me. But, with the help of a few friendly strangers who are no longer strangers to me if for no other reason than they hoisted my butt up to that first step, I did manage to get into the cargo area in the back. Photos thanks to my writing pal Cindi LeRoy
Friday morning started with a mock crash scene, complete with police cars, ambulances, and fire truck with sirens and lights and a rescue copter. Picture provided by Melinda Leigh
I later learned how to poison a person with bacteria from my own cupboard or the woods out back. TIP: mushrooms are unreliable, even the known poisonous ones.
I finally found a use for geometry in self defense. It’s all about the angles. TIP: when fighting an attacker, fists to flesh, palms to bone. Meaning, don’t punch ’em in the face and risk injuring your knuckles. Use the heel of your palm against the jaw and cheekbones.
Saturday morning’s interactive session: a surprise a mock locked down because someone was going around the campus stabbing people. Below: injured being cared for by audience members with medical training.
Everything was easy to observe. Lee Lofland‘s shot from the top of the lecture hall gives a perspective of how big yet well designed the hall was. I’d point out where I was sitting, but I was out of frame way up in the far corner. Thought I was smart taking that second seat down from the handicap zone and avoiding all those stairs as I’d come in from the upper level doors. Ha! Joke was on me. More on that later.
Then S.W.A.T team burst into the room shouting, “Hands on your head!” It was so real I got an Adrenalin rush. Even though I’d already learned that the Glocks with the red slides like these guys were pointing at us meant the guns couldn’t fire, it’s no fun having a gun waved at you. Amazing how a handful of men could control a room of hundreds. Photo thanks to Mike Riegel
Once they had us all seated with our hands on our heads, they started clearing the room. Here’s “the more on that later part.” They started with my row. I wound up having to walk down all those steps with hands on my head, bad knees and all. I even got frisked. I have no doubt the officer frisking me could attest that I wasn’t wearing an underwire bra. Told you it was interactive.
For more information on this event or attending next year’s repeat in Green Bay, Wisconsin, click on any of the Writers’ Police Academy graphics or this link. See more photos on any of the author links credited to the pictures.
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On November 7th you will find me on a Q&A panel at the University of Wisconsin-Waukesha for the Southeast Wisconsin Festival of Books. Joining me on the panel will be New York Times Best Sellers Stacey Joy Netzel and Donna Marie Rogers, Vice-President of communication for Wisconsin Romance Writers and author PJ Fialla, and former Publisher Weekly Blogger Barbara Vey, known for her yearly author/reader extravaganza luncheons.
If you’re in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area on Saturday November 7th, join me from 12:30 to 1:30 in the university Commons room 101. Or make a weekend of it and check out the entire Festival. For a full list of panels, events and times at go to www.sewibookfest.com and click on program, then 2015 Festival of Books, and Print Program 2015.
Thank you to all of you readers who voted for FINDING HOME, earning my book 2nd place in BTS eMags Red Carpet Readers’ Choice. Following is one of my favorite excerpts and one I think says a lot about hero Sam’s conflict.
Excerpt from No Place Like Home
“We’ll miss you,” Dixie said.
“You already said that.”
“Some things are worth repeating.”
Sam nudged the duffel with his toe, trying to figure why he couldn’t just tell her he’d changed his mind—that he wanted to stay.
She ruffled Ben’s hair. “Say good-bye to Sam.”
Ben stretched his arms up at him…as Sam had so often reached out to his uncle. Sam hoisted the kid up the way his Uncle Stuart had never done him.
Ben folded his arms around Sam’s neck and squeezed. The child was so small, his arms thin and his back narrow. Yet, the power in that hug took Sam’s breath away. Had Stuart finally figured out this was what he’d denied himself when he’d raised Michael? Is this why Stuart wanted his son’s son?
Is this why Sam needed to stay? To protect Ben from Stuart?
“Bye, Tin Man,” the kid said against the side of Sam’s neck.
“Good-bye, Ben,” Sam whispered into Ben’s hair.
When he set the boy down, Dixie took his hands in hers, her fingers warm entwined with his. “You visit us any time you want, Sam.”
Tell me to stay!
She rose onto her toes and pressed her lips to his cheek. Her kiss was like a summer breeze across his skin. Balmy. Gentle. All too fleeting. He wanted to turn his face and test her lips against his. He wanted to explore Dixie Rae mouth to mouth and body to body. He wanted to know her inside and out. That’s why he couldn’t stay—why he had to leave. She was Mickey’s wife.
Okay, I’m a little behind here. But it’s been a tough summer. Lots of family medical issues. We are trudging along, however, and life sends us happy events as well as sad. Focusing on a happy event…
Last May, I published the first in a spin off series from the St. John Sibling Series. The St. John Sibling: FRIENDS series is/will be about secondary characters from the sibling books who insisted their own stories be told. The first, SAVING ANDI, follows Kelly and Dane’s friend from CRAVING A HERO. But Andi wouldn’t settle for a straight contemporary romance. No, she had to go find her hero half dead from a gunshot wound. If that’s not enough for Andi and Cole to contend with, Cole has amnesia as well and neither of them know which side of the law he operates on.
Both digital and print formats are available from Amazon.
Thank you to Rogenna of Covers by Rogenna for creating yet another great cover for my book.
The votes have been counted in the BTS Red Carpet Book Awards and FINDING HOME is one of three finalists!
Thank you to all of you who voted and helped me make the finals in the contemporary category. We’ll have to wait several months to find out who actually won as the awards will be presented at ARC convention in New Orleans at the end of July. I say “wish me luck” but I think everything’s a done deal except for the announcing! But thank you all again!!!!