February 26 2015
Click the image to preorder for Kindle. Nook link coming soon!
One of the questions I get asked a lot about from my students when we talk about my books, is which characters I like the most, or which are my favorites. It’s a question I smile at and usually respond with “Depends on the day.”
It’s true, though, that I write for whoever needs their story told, or whoever I’m ‘feeling’ at the moment. The hardest thing about writing a series that has grown to so many characters is finding enough time to showcase all of them. I worry sometimes I’m writing too much for one and not enough for others. I worry sometimes I have ideas for characters that might not fit with my initial plan.
But mostly, I write when I feel the characters need to talk.
When I feel confident, more of Jack comes out. He is such fun to write because he is unapologetically arrogant, but he is probably one of the most sensitive of all the characters. He deserves praise because he is an incredibly talented surgeon, but he is also an incredibly loyal friend. There is nothing he wouldn’t do for Tommy and Julie and in turn, they have adopted him as their brother. He is giving and sweet and the way he loves his girls is the stuff we dream about. I also love making him crazy with his flirty daughter.
Stephanie brought out a side to Jack that he always wanted but never dared to dream of. He wanted a family, but he never felt comfortable giving anyone his heart. He was completely confident on the outside and fragile on the inside. Stephanie cut right through his fears and instead of showing him pain, she gave him the greatest love he could ever know. Their two little daughters are the light of their lives and the older they get, the more Jack and Stephanie will grow. I would love adding to their family, but it might not be in the cards.
When I’m feeling private, like I just need to keep to myself, I write Brittany. When I think people have misunderstood me or have hurt me in a way I didn’t see coming, I write Tommy. When people get a joke that I didn’t find funny and I get irritated, I write Julie. When people make assumptions about me, I write Bill.
The part of me that stands up for the student who is being bullied and quietly diffuses the situation is Evan. The one who speaks her mind without always weighing the repercussions is Julie. The one people come to and tell their hopes and dreams is Stephanie.
The part of me that encourages my students to go after their dreams is Elizabeth. The one who takes a challenge and shows it who’s boss is Jack. The part of me who comforts a broken heart is Tommy. The part of me that never gets rattled, even when the world seems to be falling apart is Brittany.
But then there’s the personal side.
The friendships I have that have withstood the test of time are what created Mike and Bill. The relationships where my home was open to my friends and my parents were there for others became the basis for Tommy and Jack. The moment I met my best friend in kindergarten and we shared a butterfly cake is the moment Brittany and Stephanie were born. The constant struggle I have had with self image and esteem is the epitome of Jade. The connection I witnessed my whole life between my parents became the catalyst of every relationship I write. With love, anything is possible.
Family, to me, is everything. That doesn’t mean the family you were necessarily born with, but the people who you call when things are bad. They are the ones who you want to share your triumphs with and they will commiserate when life screws you over. They are the people you can sit and watch television with and not say a word. They are the ones who will make you smile when all hope is lost because as long as there is breath in their body, they would give it to you.
I have adored these characters; each and every one of them, and I feel deeply honored to have shared them with you. I look to the future and I see David trying to juggle the lives of his cousins and the humor in being the only boy. I see Naomi becoming someone amazing and showing all of the doctors that their faith in her was warranted. I see Josie following in her father’s footsteps and emulating everything he stood for. I see Tessa being as sensitive and unique as her mother and Sabrina being every bit of the spitfire her father is.
I see so much for these characters and I can’t imagine my life without them. I rarely pass a day where numerous scenarios don’t cross my mind and I talk to them about what I’m thinking.
I love Ron and Jenny and Elaine and the dynamic they have brought to the lives of each character. I miss the babies that have been lost and I feel each and every tragedy that my characters have endured.
I wanted to say thank you. Thank you for reading and sticking with me.
Thank you for allowing Brittany, an HIV positive woman to be so much more than a label.
Thank you for allowing Jack, an arrogant, womanizing Cardiac Surgeon to find his heart.
Thank you for allowing Tommy, a sensitive pediatric surgeon to discover the greatest love of his life.
Thank you for allowing Bill, a man who grew up only knowing pain and hate to discover the strength and power of love and family.
Thank you for allowing Julie, a young girl who lost her parents to grow up with the most amazing sense of hope.
Thank you for allowing Mike, a man who had his heart ripped out to find love again.
Thank you for allowing Jade, a shy and deeply wounded nurse to open her heart to wanting more.
Thank you for allowing Stephanie, a woman to finally hear her own worth over the taunts and scorns of an evil man.
Thank you for trusting these people with your time.
Here is a little preview from “A Father’s Heart”
Mike and Jade walked into their apartment after helping the family. Mike knew she was exhausted, and he was, too. He was also thrilled she suggested they pick up a pizza and it was such a simple request, but one he knew was a big step in her comfort level.
“What do you want to do? Eat or sleep?” he asked with a smile.
“Can we eat in bed?” she smiled.
“That would be the best thing ever,” he went and grabbed some plates and napkins while she got some bottled water. They went into the bedroom and he put everything down on the bed. She pulled her shoes and socks off and they sat down, both digging in.
“Hello! Hello! Love you!” Peeps called out from the other room.
“Someone is feeling left out,” Mike said. “Can I bring her in and let her sit on her perch?”
Jade nodded. “Of course. You don’t have to ask me,” she said and took a drink.
He shrugged and went to say something, but stopped. He went into the other room and came back with a happy little bird who hopped onto her perch.
Mike went and washed his hands and joined her again. He was quiet as he realized just how much he had always wanted moments like this.
“Mike? Are you okay?”
He blushed and smiled.
“Sorry,” he sighed. “I was just thinking about how much I love you.”
She raised her eyebrows and smiled.
“Well, I love you, too.”
He leaned over and kissed her softly and she pressed her forehead to his.
“Your children are having a party,” she said. “Or maybe a soccer match.”
He watched as she sat back and put his hand on her stomach. He had been trying for the past few weeks, but he still couldn’t feel them. She watched his face and her eyes filled.
“You’ll feel them soon, I know it.”
He nodded and kissed her belly.
“I hope they know I’m here and that I love them.”
She nodded. “They do because I do.”
Mike cleaned up the food and put the plates in the kitchen and when he came back, she was sitting in the same position.
“I thought you were going to change,” he said as he began to take his shirt off.
“Can I ask you something?”
He stopped unbuttoning his shirt and sat down, a little concerned.
“How come I can’t call you Michael?”
That wasn’t what he expected.
“I never said you couldn’t do that, did I?”
She stood up and paced a little.
“Well, it was when you were angry with me, or really, when I was being a complete tool. I was in the hospital and I was struggling with my weight and I called you Michael and you told me never to call you that. I didn’t say anything, but it’s been bothering me. You let your mother call you that and I wondered if it was maybe something you only wanted special people to call you. I was writing my vows and it occurred to me that I don’t know if I can say that. I don’t want to do something that will upset you.”
He walked to her and stood so she faced him.
“There is never a time I want you to be afraid to upset me. If we disagree or argue, it’s okay. I know we will work things out because our love is that strong.”
“I mean it,” he reiterated. “I don’t think I could stand it if you were afraid of me.”
“I didn’t mean that, Mike. I’m not afraid. I just wanted to know what you wanted.”
“Come sit,” he said and walked to the bed, reaching for her. She joined him and he looked at his hands.
“I don’t know if you ever noticed, but Rebecca always called me Michael. She used it in a way to let me know when she was angry, which was most of the time. I think I reacted the way I did when you said it, because you were asking me to leave. Your anger got to me and it reminded me of how Rebecca made me feel so small. My mom has always called me Michael and I guess I didn’t equate it the same way. I’m sorry if I upset you.”
She blinked and her tears spilled over her cheeks.
“Don’t cry,” he said and wiped her cheek. “It’s not that big of a deal. You can call me whatever you want. You can make up a name if it makes you happy.”
She chuckled at that and looked at him.
“I’m so sorry I did that. I never want to remind you of the pain you lived through. It was incredibly insensitive of me to do that and I shouldn’t have. I’m really sorry.”
“Jade, it’s nothing to be sorry about. You didn’t do anything wrong and to be honest, I probably needed to hear that to realize just how different my life is now. I adore you and nothing you have ever done reminds me of that life.”
“Okay,” she nodded and wiped her eyes. “Thank you for being honest with me.”
“I mean it, okay? I don’t want you to be upset about this or anything. Our wedding is two days away and I want you to be totally sure about being with me.”
“Like that would change,” she said and smiled. “Mike, I can’t wait to be your wife. I hate that we’ve had to wait so long already. I just want to be Mrs. Stein.”
“That will be an amazing thing,” he said. “You’ll be the first,” he shrugged. “Aside from my mom.”
“She didn’t take your name?”
“No,” he said and shrugged. “And I was glad. She didn’t deserve to be a part of my family legacy.”
Jade moved to his shirt and slipped her hands under the fabric.
“I can’t wait until the wedding night,” she said softly. “It’s been a month since we’ve made love.”
He raised his eyebrows at her. “Why can’t we fix that right now?”
“Because now it will be that much more amazing,” she pushed his shirt off.
“I have some things to show you and I think that deserves to be on our wedding night.”
“Is that right?” he leaned in and nibbled on her neck.
“Oh yes,” she smiled and moved to stand up, taking her clothes off and grabbing a nightshirt.
“You’re a cruel woman,” he said as he watched her.
“You have no idea,” she winked and they both laughed.
“Michael! Michael!” Peeps yelled.
They both looked at the little bird who bobbed her head.
“Now that was a first,” he said and Jade grinned. He walked to her and wrapped his hands around her waist.
“Now I want to hear you say it,” he said.
“I don’t know. It’s really not necessary,” she said and he pressed his mouth to hers, kissing her deeply.
“I want to hear you say my name,” he said in a deep and husky voice. She felt her knees go weak as he nibbled on her neck.
“I love you, Michael,” she said softly.
He felt her words down to his toes and he pressed her body to his.
“That sounds incredible,” he murmured.
“Michael,” she said again. “My husband.”
He held her face in his hands and felt his own emotions building.
“That sounds even better.”
She moved her hands over his chest.
“Soon,” she said as she kissed him again.
Hi everyone! I am working on a post about the next book and will post soon, but in the meantime, I wanted to share a flashback that hasn’t been in any of the books yet. I love writing Jack, Julie and Tommy flashbacks because it helps to shed some light onto their personalities and how they all became a family.
It’s been so amazing, to me, that when I thought about creating this little family unit, it actually worked. I know it’s unrealistic two 18 year old boys taking guardianship of a 12 year old girl, but it just worked. Julie needed them and I think, more so, they needed her. I hope you like this little flashback and I would love to know about any flashbacks you want to see.
“I don’t understand the big deal,” Julie hissed to Tommy and Jack after her team played the first of the double header. “Everyone is going to Adrienne’s for a party. I want to go and now you’re telling me I can’t?
“No. I’m not telling you that you can’t. I’m simply asking that you have dinner with Jack and me.”
Jack wasn’t sure why Tommy was insisting on this, but it seemed important. Truthfully, he had so much studying to do, spending the night at the library was what he really wanted.
“I don’t want to have dinner with you. I am a senior in high school and I just lost the championship game. I want to be with my friends and not my brothers. Why do you always do this to me?” she yelled at him and Jack smiled at the people who stared.
“Just so you know, the entire field can hear your argument,” he said.
Tommy crossed his arms and scowled at her.
“You’re a selfish brat. Not everything is about what you want. Go spend time with your friends and hopefully we’ll have another chance to have dinner. In case you forgot, tomorrow isn’t a guarantee,” Tommy said and turned and stalked off.
Julie looked at Jack and he was as surprised as she was.
“What does he mean? Is he sick? Is there something you’re not telling me? What’s wrong with him?” she began to cry and Jack watched Tommy drive away.
“No. He isn’t sick. We aren’t keeping anything from you. I think he just has his feelings hurt, but don’t worry about it. Go with your friends and I’ll take care of this,” Jack smiled at her.
“I don’t know. I don’t want him to be mad,” she wiped her eyes. “I’ve never seen him like that. He looked like I broke his heart.”
Jack agreed, but didn’t want to make it worse.
“You know your brother. He’s too sensitive about things. Go ahead and enjoy yourself. Just call me and I’ll pick you up later.”
Julie sighed and turned to walk to her friends. Jack decided to get to the bottom of this. He headed to find Tommy.
Jack had been everywhere and he was at a loss. He didn’t know where his friend went and he felt like there was something deeper going on with him.
He picked up his phone and called again.
“Where are you?” he asked when Tommy finally answered.
“The old ballpark,” Tommy said. “I’ll be home later, okay?”
“Okay,” he said as he drove to the park. He saw Tommy sitting on the bleachers, flipping a baseball in his hand. He parked and got out, making his way to his friend.
“So, what’s up?” Jack smiled as he sat down.
“You didn’t have to come here,” Tommy smiled as Jack took the ball from him and jogged to the field.
“Come on. Let me see if I can still throw a strike.”
“I’m not in the mood.”
“Oh, so you’re scared?” Jack taunted.
Tommy got up and shook his head.
“Of you? Hardly.”
They went to their places and Jack threw the ball and soon they were both laughing and acting like they were back in high school on the team. Tommy walked back to the bench and sat down and Jack sat with him, both of them panting.
“I don’t think my knees can handle catching anymore,” Tommy rubbed his thighs and Jack laughed.
“Ask me tomorrow when I can’t lift my arms,” he joked and they both looked up as a car pulled up and dropped someone off. They saw it was Julie and they both smiled as she jogged over.
“Jules? What happened? I told you to call me when you were ready to come home.”
“It was a lame party and I was hungry. I figured eating with you guys would be better,” she said and took the ball from Jack.
“How did you know where we were?” Tommy asked, grateful she was there.
“Well, I figured there was something bothering you about tonight and it probably had to do with baseball. I took a chance and I was right. So tell me what’s bothering you.”
Tommy looked at his hands and shrugged.
“It’s nothing. I overreacted and this has nothing to do with either one of you. How about we just go somewhere and eat dinner?”
“We can do that, but I need you to answer something for me first,” Julie said.
“Why did you say that tomorrow isn’t a guarantee? I mean I know what you mean, but what’s wrong?”
Jack watched them and he suddenly remembered what it was. He couldn’t believe he had forgotten.
“This is about your dad,” he said.
Tommy looked at him and sighed before he turned to Julie.
“Daddy and I used to have this routine after each game. He would take me to dinner and we would go over the game; all of the strikes and balls and what worked and didn’t. It was supposed to be about the game, but it always turned into a great boys night out and it was special and unique. It was a time where he talked to me about what it meant to be a man and how proud he was of me.”
Julie wiped her eyes and smiled.
“I didn’t know that.”
“Yeah. He said you would get upset, so it was our secret,” he said and she rolled her eyes. “Well, come on, you were always trying to butt in.”
Julie pouted and then smiled.
“True. But still, why are you so upset now? Is it because I didn’t want to go to dinner?”
He smiled and shook his head.
“No. Our last game of the season was a really bad loss. The guys on the team were all going to head out to someone’s house and I wanted to go. I lied to daddy and went to the party and things got bad.”
“There were a lot of people there we didn’t know and the crowd wasn’t good. The police were called and we ended up calling your dad to come and get us.”
“He thought we were at my house, packing up some things and getting ready to move, but we weren’t. He got there and was so hurt.”
“He didn’t say anything for a while after we got home, and then he sat me down and explained how he had never really had any bonding experiences with his dad. He wanted me to know how much he loved me and how proud he was of me and that he didn’t want me to grow up and wonder what he felt about me. He simply wanted to make memories and it was almost as if he knew he might not get another chance. I think when you went with your friends, I just felt a little like dad. I get it. I’m not him and you don’t owe me anything, but I don’t want you to feel like you missed out on everything. I want to give you those memories, as much as I can. I don’t want you to feel like you aren’t loved and important to me and Jack.”
Julie sniffed and looked at the two men.
“I don’t know how I could ever thank you both for all you’ve done. I feel loved every day of my life. I don’t look at what I missed, but what a blessing you both are in my life. I know mommy and daddy loved me and they did the best job in raising you and embracing Jack because that enabled me to survive. I love you both so much.”
The three of them sat there for a little while and Tommy got up.
“I think it’s time for some dinner.”
“I’m starving,” Julie smiled and jumped up.
“You coming?” they looked at Jack.
“I think I need a hand. I feel like I’m 80. Why didn’t you tell me I need to work out more?”
Tommy laughed and helped him down and Julie put her arm around his waist.
“Come on Grandpa,” she teased and they laughed as they left.
How is everyone? How is the new year going? Blog post coming tomorrow
The cover reveal of “A Father’s Heart” will be tonight! Can’t wait
Book 16. Wow. I can’t even begin to wrap my head around how much this series has evolved and how much a part of my life it has become.
These past few months, I have been doing a lot of soul-searching, if you will, about what I truly want to get out of this series and where I see it heading. If I’m honest about where I began, I never thought of writing a series. It just sort of evolved as people enjoyed reading and wanted more. I was asked about different characters and in developing the answers, the series was born.
That was at the beginning, but it’s not like I write with no direction. At its core, this began as a romance. It was a story about Tommy and the epic romance he was going to find with his Red.
Jack, Stephanie, Bill and Julie all came from Tommy. I wrote book 2 first, but I felt like I needed the ‘anchor’ couple to help things along so I decided to go back and write Jack and Stephanie’s story. It was also important for me to figure out who Tommy was before Brittany. I knew Brittany pretty well. She has been with me since my early 20’s and I feel like she is the biggest part of me. We’ve been through so much together. Much more than I’d like to admit.
Tommy was a challenge. He has always been a bit of an enigma to me. He is the only character who challenges me when I have an idea about how he would act in a situation. He doesn’t always follow the plan. I have found myself sitting down to write him numerous times and it just doesn’t sound right. He doesn’t always do what I want. Sometimes I listen to him and sometimes I don’t.
In book 16, you will see much of my struggle with him.
Book 16 is going to be the beginning of the final arc in the saga that began in book 1 with Josh. There are points I will be revisiting and issues which have never been addressed. I want you all to know that there is a method and a sincere need for me to do these characters justice. I know where each character needs to be. I know where I hope they will end up. What I don’t know, is if they will all get there.
Book 16 challenges the Soldiers. Both Bill and Mike are facing challenges that threaten their lives, but not in a way they are accustomed. Mike and Jade will be faced with an incredible fight on their hands, and neither one saw it coming.
Julie will have to face the possibility that her life will never again be the same.
Tommy and Jack have to face just how much their personal issues have affected Julie and her family; possibly with dire consequences.
It is a personal journey of family, love, struggle and sometimes the realization that what you thought was working, really wasn’t.
A can’t wait to share “A Father’s Gift” with all of you.
The cover reveal will be shortly.
I will be revealing the title of book 16 tonight along with an explanation of what I foresee happening to the series. I would love to chat with you guys and answer questions about anything you want to know.
See you tonight! 9pm eastern:)
So I am sitting with a cast on my leg and have been writing non stop. Is there anything you would like to see? Another preview? Look into a character? Questions I can answer about a character? Flashback scene?
I hope you are all having a wonderful day