Tuesday, April 26, 2011

RETURN TO ME Discussion

Welcome to the RETURN TO ME discussion! Grab your favorite beverage, a tasty snack and settle back. We’re going to be talking about Noah McCall and Samara Lyons, two of my favorite LCR characters. Feel free to chime in and share your thoughts of their story, favorite lines and scenes, or ask me questions. And if you have questions for Noah or Samara, here’s your chance. Also, if you have questions or comments regarding RESCUE ME, feel free to ask them too. The books are so closely related, it's hard not to talk about one without the other. You'll see that in my comments below.

Be warned, there are spoilers ahead!

The moment I met Noah, I knew I was going to have to know his story. At first, I thought he and Eden would be a couple. It seemed to make such sense. Noah had rescued and trained her. Why wouldn’t they fall in love? Eden quickly let me know that Jordan still held her heart and she looked upon Noah as her mentor, friend and boss, but nothing more. So that meant I was going to have to find someone for Noah. A woman worthy of the man who felt he had no heart. I found that woman in Samara.

I knew I would be walking a fine line with this relationship. Samara had broken up with Jordan—the man she believed she loved…intended to marry. Their break-up in RESCUE ME was a minor plot point. I never intended to take her character any further than the one phone call near the beginning of the book and then mention that Jordan had ended things with Samara because he was falling for Eden. But then, I began to wonder about Samara. How did she really feel about Jordan? When he’s injured and she comes to the hospital and lies about being his fiancĂ©e to get in to see him, she intrigued me. What kind of woman would be gutsy enough to rush to see a man who’d broken her heart? No matter how injured he was, I would think it would take someone of strong character.

By the end of the first draft of RESCUE ME, I knew that Samara and Noah would be a couple. However, I originally had no more of Samara in the book other than Eden overhearing Samara say she was Jordan’s fiancĂ©. My editor urged me to introduce her. Since the first two LCR books were released three weeks apart, she felt it would be a great teaser. I’m so glad she suggested that, because I learned so much about both Samara and Noah in those scenes. Every time I brought them together, sparks flew. (:

As you know, Noah’s childhood is one of the worst of all the LCR people. Not only was he abused by his father, abandoned by his beloved mother and convicted of a crime he didn’t commit, he was sexually brutalized. I had only a vague idea of what happened to Noah in prison. I got the full story, with everyone else, when he was trying to encourage Samara to tell him what happened to her. Having him admit that to her broke my heart and made me love him even more.

The villain was unexpected as well. In RESCUE ME, I knew that Noah was more personally involved in a case than he usually was—an indication that someone in his past had returned. However, it wasn’t until I was on page 100 of my first draft of RETURN TO ME, that I knew the identity of that person. When Samara raises her head and looks up at her abuser, I was shocked too.

I think I received more emails about RETURN TO ME than any of my other books. I’m not sure if it was because it’s Noah’s story or the book grabbed readers more than any other LCR book. Though the emails were kind, the reviews ranged from fabulous to one and two starred rants. The criticism Noah received for his treatment of Thomas Bennett surprised me, though I’m not sure why. I don’t condone Noah’s behavior, but I do understand it. His determination to protect the innocent by almost any means necessary goes well beyond what most people would be comfortable doing.

Introducing Ethan Bishop wasn't planned. I hadn't yet decided on the characters for the third LCR book. But then, there he was, looking out for Samara, and so sad and hollow, I knew immediately RUN TO ME had to be for him.

Another surprising event was the phone call Noah made to Rebecca near the end. I didn’t know the identity of the person he was calling until he asked to speak with her, but it only made sense that he would try to make amends. Even years later, he still felt responsible for what happened.

I not only loved Noah and Samara together, I adored that she rarely let him get away with things. He could scowl and intimidate most people but not this petite, fragile looking woman. I think Samara ended up surprising both of us with her feistiness and spirit.

This book was a true by the seat of my pants book. Though I knew the destination for my characters, I had no idea what journey they would take to get there. Each chapter became a surprise, delight or a frustration, but I enjoyed writing Noah and Samara’s story probably more than any other LCR book. I truly love these characters and I feel fortunate that each book in the series always has a scene or two with Noah and oftentimes Samara. Being able to keep up with them and watch them love and grow as a family is so much fun.

Here’re are some little known facts and changes I made to RETURN TO ME:

1) After writing the first two LCR books, my editor and I discussed changing the order, allowing Noah’s book to go first since he's the leader of Last Chance Rescue. That would have meant rewriting both books, changing characters and storylines. I’m so thankful that didn’t happen.

2) Noah’s real name was supposed to have been Micah. However, it was determined it was too unusual and might be confusing for the reader, so we changed it to Michael. I was thrilled that when Noah and Samara had their son, they named him Micah.

3) In the first draft, Noah killed the villain in the middle of the book. A dear writer friend of mine asked me why I killed the bad guy off so soon. I’m so grateful she asked that question because she was so right. The book was so much stronger with the prison escape, along with the scene of Noah and Samara working together to bring him down.

4) I cried over the cover. 'Nuff said. (:

Some of my favorite RTM lines:

Turning away from him, she grabbed the nearest weapon, a photograph of her entire family. She swung at him.

He easily grabbed her wrist and held it, grinning. “What are you trying to do, frame me?”


Standing on her toes, she leaned against him and cupped his face in her hands. “Go. Do what you have to do. Be the hero that you are…but come back to me. There’s more to Noah McCall than Last Chance Rescue. I see that man…I love them both.” She pulled his head down to her and pressed a soft kiss to his mouth. “Return to me, Noah. Please.”

And, the wedding scene continues to be one of my favorites from all of my books.

So there, dear friends, are my notes and thoughts on RETURN TO ME. I hope you enjoyed going doing memory lane with me. Now, let me hear from you. Comments, questions or observations?

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I collected lots of books, along with bookmarks and romance trading cards, while I was at the RT convention. Five random commenters will win these prizes. Also, later on in the day, I'll post a RETURN TO ME trivia challenge. Winner wins fabulous prize package!

Looking forward to your comments!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Recommend Monday!

Good Morning All!

Hope you had a good week last week, a good weekend and a Happy Easter! I'm back home after spending almost two weeks away with my mom. The knee surgery went great and she's doing amazingly well. My mom has always been my hero and this surgery once again showed me why--the sheer determination within her to get better. What an inspiration!

While I was away, I did talk to my editor and she told me how much she loved SWEET REVENGE. She wanted only minor revisions--double Yay! As you know, Jamie and Dylan carried me on quite a ride with their story but I'm thrilled that things worked out and we all got our HEA!

This week, I'm concentrating on the minor revisions for SWEET REVENGE and then I'm jumping back to SWEET REWARD. Jared and Mia still haven't met! I told them they'd better get to it and soon. We'll see if they listened. Since they both have problems following orders, we all may be in for a bumpy ride.

Saturday, I'll be attending the Heart of Dixie Readers Luncheon. I love this opportunity to visit with so many wonderful readers and fabulous authors. And I'm doubly excited because three very special readers are coming to Huntsville. Can't wait to see you Jackie, Kara and Mama Gail! Please...everyone coming--drive safely!

You probably heard the sad news that beloved author Beverly Barton died suddenly last week. The news shocked the romance community. I only met Beverly a few times and she was always the epitome of Southern grace. One very special memory was the Southern Magic Writers conference several years ago where Beverly was the keynote speaker at one of the dinners. She was delightfully witty and entertaining. The telling of her first book sale still brings a smile to my face. Beverly will be sorely missed by so many and my heartfelt sympathy and prayers go to her family and friends.

Don't forget that tomorrow begins our LCR book discussion, counting down to the release of SWEET JUSTICE. RETURN TO ME is first up. Hope you've had a chance to read or reread Noah and Samara's story and you have questions and comments. I'll share some tidbits about writing the book, some trivia and little known facts. And there will be prizes, so come prepared to chat and have a good time!

More changes are still coming to my website in the near future, including a countdown clock to SWEET JUSTICE. Can't wait for you to see the new home page. It's a different look for sure!

No recommends from me this week. In between caring for my mom and writing, I didn't get a chance to read anything. However, I'm counting on you to give me some recommendations so I'll be set when I do have that chance.

Hope everyone has a fabulous week! See you back here tomorrow.

Now, tell us what great books we should be reading!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Last Chance Rescue Book Discussion

Hey All!

Hope you're having a fabulous week! My mom is doing remarkably well. She's always been my inspiration and role model and this event is no exception. Thank you all so much for your good wishes and kind words here and on Facebook. They are truly appreciated!

One exciting event happened on Monday. I spoke with my editor about some minor revisions to SWEET REVENGE and she told me she LOVED, LOVED, LOVED the story! Yay for Jamie and Dylan!

I wanted to remind you that we'll begin our countdown to the release of SWEET JUSTICE next week with a discussion of the second book in the LCR series: RETURN TO ME. If you've not had a chance to read or reread Noah and Samara's story lately, hope you'll take the opportunity to revisit them before our discussion. We'll chat about the story and characters. The discussion will include spoilers and little known facts about the book. And there will be prizes!

We had a fairly lengthy discussion about RESCUE ME several months back. However, since the books are closely related, we can talk about both if you like.

Here's the schedule for the book discussions:

RETURN TO ME - April 26

RUN TO ME - May 24

NO CHANCE - June 21


LAST CHANCE - August 23

And then, of course, we'll have a release day party on August 30 for SWEET JUSTICE!

Have a fabulous rest of the week and I'll see you back here on Monday for Recommend Monday!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Recommend Monday (very early) (:

Hi Everyone-

I'm posting way early, as you can see. I have some family issues to handle and will be offline all of next week. However, I wanted you to be able to post your recommendations just like always. So, if you want to post now, you can, or if you like, you can wait until Monday officially arrives and post then. Feel free to chat among yourselves and have a good time without me. I'll check back in with you as soon as I'm able.

Hope you'll forgive this short, SWEET post. If all goes well, we'll return to the regularly scheduled Recommend Monday on April 25.

And heck, if you like, feel free to post a recommend every day!

Until then, stay safe and hope you find many wonderful reads to share with us!

LAST CHANCE is a Fresh Pick!

Hey Everyone-

Just stopping in to tell you that LAST CHANCE is a Fresh Pick over at Fresh Fiction! Woohoo!

Hope you'll check it out!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Recommend Monday!

Good Monday Everyone!

I'm back from RT and wow oh wow, Dorothy was so right! There's no place like home! I had a great time, went to some amazing workshops, and met many wonderful people, but getting back to my family and into my routine feels so good.

In between staying in my room because, unfortunately, I've yet to go to a conference when I didn't get a migraine, there were several events that stood out for me. Of course, accepting the RT award was one of them. I do wish I'd managed not to cry. Sigh, headache plus feeling a wee bit overwhelmed (an introvert in front of 400+ people makes for volatile emotions). I was doing fine until I thanked my hubby who seven years ago gave me my first laptop and told me he wanted my dreams to come true. LOL And then, I lost it! Fortunately I got off the stage without further embarrassment. The award is lovely and I am so appreciative to RT!

Another highlight was a videotaped interview I did with Morgan Doremus, the RT web editor. It will air on the RT site around the time SWEET JUSTICE releases. That was fun talking about the SWEET series and the entire LCR gang!

Another wonderful event was listening to the awesome Dean Koontz. What an incredible storyteller! I'm embarrassed to admit that I've not read his books, but I am going to change that soon. Such a warm, witty, self-deprecating man must write incredible books. I know millions love his work and I'm sure I will too. If you've read him, do you have a recommendation for me?

There were many interesting, informative and shall we say, surprising things that happened at the convention. Lots of different events and unique people! The signing on Saturday was incredible--with over 300 authors and a massive amount of eager readers. I met some lovely people, readers and authors!

I brought home a tremendous amount of books and goodies and in the next few weeks, will be sharing them with you. Got lots and lots of romance trading cards, so if you're into collecting them, stay tuned for an opportunity to win some of your favorites!

This week promises to be mega busy once again. I'm anticipating some follow-up on SWEET JUSTICE copyedits, talking with my editor about SWEET REVENGE--who, btw, LOVED it! Yay! And I'll be frantically writing SWEET REWARD since it's due in June!

What about you, what have you been up to...what recommends do you have for us? I do have a couple of recommends! I mentioned that I read an ARC of Pamela Clare's Breaking Point and wanted to reiterate: It was wonderful! For those who are eagerly awaiting its release, you won't be disappointed. Natalie and Zach (sigh) are fabulous characters! And if you've not read Pamela Clare's I-Team series, I strongly urge you to read her. The series is fantastic!

Also, I'm reading Mary Burton's Merciless. Anyone read her before? I'm in the middle of it and so far, it's fabulous. There's one book before Merciless, called Senseless, and I downloaded it last night. Great romantic suspense!

Okay, that's it for me. I'm feeling a bit jet-lagged, so I'm going to ease into my routine today and then hit it hard tomorrow. Hope everyone has a spectacular week! Can't wait to hear what you're recommending!

Hey guys, I'm adding this late. Check out this fun Border's True Romance blog post by Joan Swan, a new author who has her first book coming out from Brava next April. The post is a romance crossword puzzle with questions about some of your favorite authors and books, including some LCR trivia! Here's the link: http://bordersblog.com/trueromance/tag/blog/

Have fun!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Recommend Monday!

Happy Monday All!

I'm getting ready for the Romantic Times convention in LA and still have oodles to do. So let's make this a short and SWEET post.

List your recommended reads from last week.
Tell us what you're reading now.
Tell us what books you plan to buy within the next month.

Oh, and one splendiferous thing! LAST CHANCE won the 2010 Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award for Best Romantic Suspense! Yay for McKenna and Lucas!!! And on Thursday, I'll be at the ceremony to pick up the award. Not sure if I have to say anything, but if I do, please send good wishes for clear, concise words and no spinach teeth. (:

Hope everyone has a fabulous week. I'll check in with you all later this week and tell you how it's going.