A little more info

Here is the complete cover. I will be posting an update soon which has a little more detail about the book. Shattered is going to be difficult for some people and I really want to explain why I am choosing to move the series in this direction. It might be a bit spoilerish, but with the ending of the last book and the new cover, I think some things are clear.

Check back soon and don’t forget to preorder Shattered.

(click on the image to enlarge it)

21 Shattered print

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More links!

Please click the image to preorder for ITunes, Nook and Kobo.

21 Shattered

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Preorder now available!

Click the image to preorder for your Kindle 🙂

21 Shattered

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Introducing… Book 21

So… What do you think?

21 Shattered

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New Compilations!

Great news! The new compilations are all available for purchase. The better news? Starting tomorrow, the first 2 sets (1-5 and 6-10) are free for three days! They would make a great gift for someone or if you want to read the series from the beginning, this is the way to go. Click on the image below and it will take you to the order page. These compilations are exclusively on Amazon.

Come by tomorrow for book 21 cover and title reveal

FREE   (1-5)                                                 FREE (6-10)

1-5 comp 6-10 comp 11-15comp 16-20 comp

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A few announcements

Hi everyone! I am preparing to release the title and cover of book 21! You may have noticed a few changes to my books if you have checked Amazon lately. I am ready to reveal a new release of the entire Family by Choice series with a reworked “If Only” as book 1. “Nothing Matters” is now listed as the prequel and is not available yet, but it will be soon. There are now 4 different compilations available for purchase exclusively at Amazon. They are all a little cheaper than buying the books on their own. If you have purchased “If Only” as an e-book, you can refresh it in your library to receive the newer version. It is not much different, just a few more scenes with Tommy and Brittany and a few less of Jack and Stephanie. The rest of the series is the same, just numbered differently.

I will be slowly editing the rest of the series down a bit, just cleaning things up a little. I will let you know when there are any more changes. I am really excited for all that is to come with these characters and the series. I am super excited to share book 21 as it is different than the rest. I hope you will like it and I know it is going to bring out some serious issues that are unfortunately prevalent in the world today. I hope my perspective and the way I discuss these issues will be something that ultimately helps to inspire.

Also- please sign up for my mailing list so you can stay informed on all of my news.

Check back soon! Cover reveal on the way.

 

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A contest and a preview

Click here if you would like to go back to the welcome page

Here is a little preview of Cassie and Ian from the next book. If you have a minute after you read, please sign up for my newsletter. Every new signup will be entered into a drawing for a signed book and some awesome swag! Sign up is at the end of the preview. ________________________________________________________________________________________

“I don’t understand how you didn’t know! How could you let me take you out here when you were in labor?” Ian yelled as he paced around the farm while Cassie tried to concentrate on her breathing.

He just purchased the old farm and he was going to transform it into a sanctuary for animals who had been abused. He also wanted to help the soldiers who needed a place to go and feel productive and needed.

“I have been having contractions for a few days and I thought it would stop,” she said as she tried to take deep breaths. “Stop yelling at me.”

“I can’t get any reception out here and it’s dark out and about to storm. Can you just cross your legs?” he asked and she glared at him.

“Yes. I will cross my legs and stop labor. That sounds like a great plan,” she said and yelled as another contraction ripped through her body.

He ran to her and tried to help.

“Ian, it hurts,” she said as her tears came. “What are we going to do?”

“Um, well I can boil some water and make you a bed of hay,” he said and raced around the barn.

“Ian! I’m not a cow!” she said.

“Well no, of course not. A cow would give birth standing up,” he said and chuckled before he saw her look. “I mean, right. I know you’re not a cow.”

She groaned again and he ran his hands through his hair.

“Okay, I can do this. I mean, really, how hard can it be? I can do this,” he said to himself.

“What exactly is it you’re doing?” Cassie asked. “I think I’m the one in trouble here. You’re a doctor, Ian, help me!”

“I’m a vet. They barely need any help when giving birth. I mean I watch and help when needed. I can just watch you. Should I just watch? You’re not going to lick the baby clean, are you?”

Cassie stared at him.

“Right. No time for a joke. Okay, I got this. Don’t move,” he turned and ran out of the room and came back a few minutes later with a blanket, some towels and a medical bag. He took some hay and laid it down before he covered it with a blanket.

“That will make it a little softer,” he smiled and walked to her. “Come on.”

He walked her to the blanket and helped her lie down. She had beads of sweat on her forehead and he sat down next to her.

“Okay, look at me and breathe,” he said and took her hand. “You are doing great.”

“Ian, I’m scared. What if something goes wrong? You’re right. I should have never come to the farm with you, but you were so excited about the potential of this place and I wanted to see it. I want to know what our legacy is going to be for our child. I want to know that everything is going to be okay,” she said as her tears fell.

“Hey, I’m here and we’re together and we’re going to bring our child into the world. Think about the story we’ll be able to tell him or her.”

Thunder crashed outside and the wind howled.

“This isn’t how I wanted this to be. I wanted to be in a hospital and I wanted drugs. I don’t think I can do this,” she cried.

Ian held her face in his hands.

“You are the strongest person I have ever met. You can do anything and I am so proud to be your husband. Now we have a child to meet and it’s time we did that.”

“Okay,” she nodded. “I think I need to push.”

Ian nodded and helped her get undressed.

“Okay, let me see what we have,” he said and was grateful the electricity was working in the barn. “Oh my God! I see a head!”

Cassie moaned and he looked at her with concern.

What if something went wrong? What could he do?

“Ian? What is it? I need to push!”

“I’m here. Go ahead and push,” he said and counted for her.

A little while later, Cassie was exhausted and Ian sweat through his shirt. There had been little progress and the storm was raging outside.

“I changed my mind,” Cassie said weakly. “I don’t want to do this anymore.”

Ian wiped her sweaty face and smiled.

“Look at me. You have served two tours in Iraq. You fought your way through every battle you have ever faced and now we’re here and we’re married and about to welcome our child into the world. My love, the best is yet to come,” he said and pressed his forehead to hers. “You got this.”

She nodded and he moved.

“Give me one really big push,” he said.

“Aaargh!” she screamed and Ian delivered the baby.

“Oh my God,” he said as he looked at her. “It’s a girl. We have a daughter,” he said as he put her on Cassie’s chest.

“Waaaa!” the little girl cried.

He cut the cord and used the sutures to tie it off.

Cassie held the baby and looked at her.

“Hi little beauty,” she said as she took the towel and gently wiped her clean.

Ian looked at them and his tears fell.

“My girls,” he said softly. “How blessed am I?”

“We are going to love you forever,” Cassie said as she looked at her daughter and Ian put his arm around her.

“Thank you for the most amazing gift,” she said as she looked at him.

He kissed her and held his family tightly.

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If Only

Welcome! Tommy is the character I think I’m most protective of when I talk about the series. His story is incredibly unique and one I think isn’t so unheard of. Many teens go through unimaginable loss and take so much of life’s responsibility on their own shoulders. As a high school teacher, I see the strength many of my students have. I know their struggles and I am cognizant of the fact that although I see them 2 hours a day, they spend the other 22 hours in all sorts of situations.

Tommy was the typical high school graduate. Handsome, smart, accepted to a prestigious University and rooming with his best friend. He had loving parents who supported him and a sister who worshipped him. He liked to complain at how annoyed he was at Julie, but deep down, he adored her. When he received the call that his parents were in the accident, his world was shattered, but at that moment, the Tommy we meet in the series was born. Gone was the carefree attitude and what emerged was the man he needed to become; not just for Julie, but for him to survive. He needed a purpose. He needed a reason. Jack was the only one who knew how close Tommy came to giving up. Jack and Tommy made a decision, without acknowledging it, to become family. They already were, but in times of crisis, family isn’t just born, it thrives.

Tommy’s back story was developed much as an afterthought. It isn’t that I came up with it late, but I didn’t intend for Tommy to be developed much at all. I was really naïve. I initially created Tommy as a sounding board for Jack in Nothing Matters. He was the friend who was like a brother, but it never occurred to me to make more of him. The book wasn’t going to be part of a series, it was simply a stand alone, and Tommy was just a character. Then  I had people pre read Nothing Matters. I received a lot of positive feedback, but something I wasn’t expecting, was the outcry for more Tommy. I kept getting messages from readers asking for a romance for Tommy. They loved him and wanted more. I realized that I did, too, and a series was born.

Tommy’s name came from a song by Kenny Rogers called “Coward of the county”. It was something I listened to growing up and it was the most fitting example of who Tommy is. Tommy deserves happiness. He deserves a profound love and he deserves someone who adores him. He deserves his Red.

Brittany Rose Anthony

I get asked so often to describe the heroine of my stories. I know they mean Brittany and I always struggle. I adore Stephanie and Julie and Jade and Elizabeth and every other woman who is a strong fierce presence in this series, but I’ve always struggled with putting Brittany into words. (This is a problem when taking to publishers).

I realize how ridiculous that sounds because she only exists in words, but let me try and explain.

I look at Brittany like I look at my own life. She has lived two distinct realities. One as Barbara and one as Brittany. I feel a kinship with her because I feel, in a way, I have lived two lives. I lived before writing and I’ve lived after.

Before writing, I was a normal kid with loving parents and friends and lots of quirks that I know gave my parents a ton of stress. I was not a good student and I struggled a lot with where I fit in. My mom must have thought she had a tumor with how I attached myself to her and I went through intense separation anxiety. I adored animals and worked in a pet store in high school and tried to bring home every stray I could. I’m sure my mom can tell you all about “Albert” the chicken I kept after the biology experiment in high school. We were supposed to give the chicks back after it was over, but Albert had bonded with me and I him. I couldn’t watch him go to the big bad place, so I kept him- in my bedroom. (Mind you- my favorite food has always been chicken, but I digress). They weren’t getting Albert.

Well, a cute chick is one thing, but a full grown chicken who pecks and poops everywhere is another, especially when you move into an apartment. Eventually, Albert had to go, but I found a family friend who had a farm and assured me Albert would not be made into food. I believed them and I stay with that. I pray I have never eaten Albert…

I also took in 2 chicks from the veterinary hospital where I worked. They needed extra care before they were taken to a farm, so I took them in. I named them “Shake” and “Bake”. What can I say- I have a messed up sense of humor.

I think I owe my mom another thank you for allowing my chicken phase and don’t be surprised when one of the children in the novels brings home their own ‘friend’. My money is on Tessa.

Back to Brittany, and how we are alike.

Once I got into college (which was a miracle in itself) I worked as a nanny for twin boys the first year. I commuted to school, lived at home and joined a sorority. For someone who already struggled in class, this was a challenge, but something pretty amazing began to happen.

I grew up. I finally found something that truly made me happy and I went for it. I had always loved to sing and I was in very minor community theatre engagements. I began to pursue a degree in theatre along with my degree in Literature and I decided to audition for AMDA (American musical and dramatics academy) in New York City.

They didn’t audition in Detroit, so I had to go to Chicago and prepare a song and two monologues to perform. It was the scariest thing I ever did and I will never forget that weekend. My dad drove me to Chicago. It was February and there was a ton of snow and no end in sight to how much we got. It was a white knuckle drive for me in the passenger seat (my dad had no worries as he loved cars and driving). By the time we got there, I was so nervous. I remember checking into the audition and signing up for my time when I heard someone in the room behind us practicing. She sounded like the most amazing opera singer and I was way out of my league. I told my dad I wanted to go home. I cried. I was not 22 years old, but 10 and I wanted to leave. NOW.

My dad took out his newspaper (before ipads or iphones) and sat down with his coffee. He smiled.

“We will leave, as soon as you audition. Have fun.”

There it was. We weren’t leaving. I had no choice.

“But I’m terrible. I can’t do it. I’ll embarrass myself and you.”

My dad took a sip of his coffee.

“Won’t be the first time. Have fun.”

Shit.

So, I auditioned. I sucked. We went home. I didn’t get in.

But I gained something really important.

I did something I never had before and I survived.

The next year, I drove myself to Toronto with friends to audition.

I got in.

I never went to the school, but that’s another story for another time. The point is, I got in and nobody can ever take that from me. If my dad hadn’t made me do it, I never would have gone back and I never would have pushed myself.

That’s where Barb’s father Nate comes in. He would have done anything for Barbara and he did. He was in way over his head and I think he knew that, but it didn’t matter. His daughter was everything to him and he taught her everything he could about life and love.

My dad did that, too. He was surrounded by women. Between my mom and my sister and me, he was outnumbered. I think that was just what he wanted. He adored his girls and I try to write a lot of that in the series. I think that’s why, as the series goes on, there are so many kids who are girls. It’s what I know.

My dad did insist on our pets being male- to balance things out. 🙂

Barbara had a great life with Nate and even after he died, his love of music flowed through her. She sang because she loved it, but also because it kept a special part of her dad alive within her. When her attack happened, she stopped everything, and in a way, lost her dad again.

I find a lot of parallels within my own life at this point. After my audition, I continued with school and graduated. I stayed working at the veterinary hospital and doing community theater and it wasn’t until a few years later that I decided to go back for my teaching degree.

It was during that time I suffered three of the biggest losses of my life to that point. I lost my Grandma Rose, my Aunt Barbara and then My Grandma Julia. I was also diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Then I turned 31.

These losses happened over a period of time, during which I graduated with my teaching degree and began working as a full time English/drama teacher. I moved out of my parent’s place and was beginning a life of my own. The character of Barbara/Brittany was sitting in my notebook, coming along for the ride, but never evolving.

When my dad got sick, it was 8 weeks from the day of diagnosis to the funeral. 8 weeks. Up until the moment he went into the hospital, he was still working and driving. He was my dad. He would be fine. He told me that.  He was diagnosed on September 24 and September 25 is my birthday. He texted me at work and said. “I’ll be fine. Don’t worry.” I still have the text.

I was 36 and I was the baby. I was too young to deal with this and I didn’t know what to do. I had every bit of support a person could ask for and I knew of a million ways to get help if I needed it. My mother was a rock of strength and my sister was and is my hero.

But my daddy was gone.

I changed during that time. I wasn’t so optimistic. I wasn’t so sure the bad guys were being held at bay. I wasn’t sure I would ever feel truly okay again.

I wrote his eulogy. I spoke at his funeral. I smiled and hugged people and did what I was supposed to do. It was the week of Thanksgiving, so people were busy. They went back to their lives. It was quiet. It was lonely. It was different.

Then something occurred to me.

My dad and mom raised me to be strong. They raised me to be able to withstand the sadness that life throws at you. My dad needed us all to live. That would be the greatest tribute to his life. To make him proud and to live. Plain and simple.

I think I was probably the last to figure that out. I was scared to be okay, because I was afraid that meant I was ‘over’ losing him. I realize now that it doesn’t. I don’t think I’ll ever be over losing him. What it did mean was that I needed to do what made me happy. I needed to find that outlet where I could be the person I knew was in there.

I pulled the notebook out and took a look at the beautiful redhead who was waiting for guidance.

Barbara changing into Brittany was a little like me after my dad died. I was different. I changed. I had the qualities from before, but my entire outlook on the world was now different. I began to write, really write, and through the characters, I began to free myself. I found a way to honor my dad and share something with my mom (who reads every chapter before anyone else) and surprise those who never knew I ever wanted to write.

Brittany is such a complex character. I see her as me and you and every person who has been dealt a hand that seemed to go nowhere but down. I also see her as an inspiration, but not because of what she does, but who she is. She gets up every day and makes it the best she can. Some days are great and others aren’t.

This series is a tribute to strength. It’s understandable to run when something so horrific happens. What is truly heartbreaking to Brittany is the way she left every aspect of her life behind. Everything her dad taught her and every part of her that came from him was ignored.

Sometimes we can’t see how to get out of our current hell. Sometimes the only option is to shut down and close ourselves off. Brittany is alone and she feels that’s where she deserves to be.

It isn’t as simple as Tommy finding her. She doesn’t believe she is worth this life. Her current situation is reaffirming that thought.

Sometimes we have simply had enough.

If Only is a story of triumph and love. It is also a story of hope.

Thank you for reading.

Click the image below for a free copy of “If Only”. Enter code:  AU48E at checkout!

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Ian and Cassie

This is an excerpt from book 21 (title to be announced soon).

Introducing Ian and Cassie…

(17 years earlier)

Ian took a deep breath as he went to pick Cassie up from her grandmother’s house.

They had been inseparable since they met and he was so in love with her. She made everything in his life better.

She had returned three months earlier from a seven month tour in Iraq and they picked up where they had left off. She struggled with everything she had been through, but with him, she was able to talk and be vulnerable and heal from the effects of war.

He had gotten the fellowship and had been working on his dream of owning his own practice and working with abused large animals.

He planned for an awesome evening and he hoped it didn’t change everything.

“Hi Ian,” the older woman smiled at him when she opened the door.

“Hi Mrs. Trombly. You’re looking lovely this evening,” he said as he handed her a rose.

“Oh, stop that,” she blushed as she took the rose. “I’ll tell Cassie you’re here. Maybe you can look at Mr. Sniffles? He’s been cranky lately.”

“Grandma, Ian isn’t here to check your grumpy cat,” Cassie said as she came in. “He’s just angry you put him on a diet.”

“Well Dr. Ian said he was a little heavy,” she said. “I want him to feel better.”

Ian had to shake himself out of his stupor when he saw Cassie. She was wearing a short sundress and wedge sandals which were perfect for showing off her toned body. He cleared his throat and smiled at the cat.

“What’s going on Mr. Sniffles?”

“Meow,” the cat said as he rubbed up against Ian.

“He adores you,” Cassie said as she smiled at him.

Ian looked the cat over and smiled.

“I think he’s fine. You can give him some dry tuna for a snack if you want. It might cheer him up.”

“Thank you,” she smiled at him and Cassie laughed.

“Okay, let’s go. Don’t wait up, grandma,” she kissed her cheek.

“Be safe you two,” she said as they left.

Ian drove them to the woods and smiled at Cassie’s surprised look.

“I thought we were going to dinner?”

“We are,” he said and pulled up to a cabin.

“Am I going to have to cook?” she laughed as he rolled his eyes.

“Just go with it,” he said and grabbed a big bag from the trunk.

Cassie felt her nerves as she watched him open the door. He was so handsome, with his rugged looks and tanned skin. His blue eyes were piercing and she had to pinch herself that he was really into her.

She had something to tell him and she worried it would change everything.

She rubbed her arms as she followed him inside and her mouth dropped open when she saw the setup.

“Ian, what is this? When did you do this?” she asked as she looked around.

He was starting a fire in the fireplace and he turned to smile.

“Do you like it?”

She walked around the small room and touched the beautiful blanket that was laying on the ground. There was a little picnic set up in the middle of the room and champagne on ice.

“It’s beautiful and romantic and amazing,” she said.

“But?” Ian asked as he walked over.

“No but. I just don’t think I deserve this.”

He put his hands on her shoulders and she looked up into his eyes.

“How could you say that? You deserve the world.”

Her aqua eyes filled with tears and he was worried.

“Is this too much? Do you want me to take you home?”

“No, God no,” she said as she sat down on the blanket. “I just don’t want you to be disappointed. I think I have a lot of issues I need to deal with.”

He stepped back and nodded.

“Oh, so you’re breaking up with me?”

“What? No, I, no. I just worry about things, I guess. I don’t know what my life will look like in the future.”

“You don’t?”

She looked at him as he sat down with her.

“I know what I want it to look like, but,” she wiped her eyes.

“But what?” he pushed.

She reached to stroke his cheek and shrugged.

“I guess I’m scared. I want to make you happy.”

He smiled and kissed her palm.

“You’ve already done that.”

She pulled him to her and his mouth met hers in a hungry, searching kiss. She sat back and looked at him.

“Ian, I need you to know something,” she said.

“Okay, I’m listening.”

“I love you. I know it’s a lot to love someone who is gone so much and I know in the future there may be times when I won’t be able to talk to you or tell you how much I miss you. I need you to always know that you are in my heart. I have only ever loved one man in my life and that’s you.”

He smiled and took her hands in his.

“We’re only 23.”

“Well a lot of girls fall in love a lot. I was waiting,” she pouted.

“Me too. In fact, I was waiting for tonight because I wanted to ask you something.”

“You did?”

He took a breath and exhaled.

“I was hoping you would agree to love me for as long as we both shall live. Will you marry me?”

He held out a beautiful diamond ring and she was stunned.

“Ian,” she started and he began to sweat.”

“What is it? Is it a no? Okay, so it’s a no,” he stammered.

“I’m pregnant,” she said.

“I mean I know I don’t have a lot to offer,” he stopped and looked at her. “What did you say?”

“I was going to tell you tonight. I just found out. I’m pregnant.”

“We’re going to have a baby?” he whispered.

“I know it isn’t what we planned, at least not yet, and I know I just got home and things have been crazy and if it’s not something you want,” she was silenced by his lips on hers and he stood them up and twirled her around in his arms.

“We’re going to have a baby!” he yelled.

She laughed and then held her mouth.

“Okay, stop.”

“Oh, shit, I’m, sorry,” he said as he put her down.

She sat down and he just stared at her.

“You’re pregnant?”

She smiled.

“It must have happened right after I got back.”

“Or one of the many, many times since,” he said and she grinned.

“True.”

“So I asked you a question before and you never answered me.”

“Are you sure? I want you to be sure,” Cassie said sincerely.

“My life is you. I think a dozen little children would be amazing and if we have them sooner rather than later, then bring it on. I can’t wait to share my life with you and this child is a blessing. I love you. I adore you. I want nothing more than to be your husband and the father of your children.”

“I would be honored to marry you,” she said. ”

He slipped the ring on her finger and she looked at it.

“I’m not having a dozen kids.”

He shrugged.

“Let’s start with one and see what happens.”

“We can practice right now,” she said. “Just to be sure we get it right.”

He needed nothing further. He pulled her to him and they had one of the most memorable nights of their young lives.

__________________________________________________________________________________________

I would love some feedback! What else do you want to read? I’m waiting..

🙂

 

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Happy reading!

I hope you are all having a great summer. I just finished teaching a two week class about writing and now I am ready to do just that. I am also getting ready for the Rust City Book Con which is coming up in a few weeks. If you are anywhere near Michigan and can come by, I would love to meet you. I put the link at the bottom of this post. I will be appearing at a bunch of panels and discussing my series and I will be signing books on Saturday afternoon.

In the meantime, let’s get back to spoilers. What do you want to know? I’m feeling generous…

🙂

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