Michael Stein

On the eve of Left Behind being released, I wanted to take a moment and talk about Mike.

I think Mike is one of my most favorite characters to write. Of all the characters, he is perhaps the most mysterious to me. I am still learning things about him and as I explore more of what makes him tick, I’m rediscovering why I adore him.

Which makes Left Behind particularly difficult.

Mike is a Soldier, but he is also a father and husband. His commitment to his family isn’t something he would ever willingly leave behind, but in life, things don’t always work out as you hoped.

Realistically, Mike wouldn’t have been deployed with a wife that was so sick. He also would never have been made to serve under someone who had tormented him like Nick had.

But, this is fiction, and I had to send Mike away. I didn’t know what the outcome would be, as it began as a move to push Bill into some harsh realizations about his own life. Not being able to serve overseas with Mike destroyed something in Bill. Not because he wanted to leave his family, but because Mike was his brother and they had never served without each other.

It also reeked of something nefarious and Bill hated that. He couldn’t lose Mike.

None of them could.

For Jade, being a single mother to twins was never in the picture. She wanted Mike to be by her side through it all. She loved him and he loved her. They had worked so hard to get to this point in their lives and now it was blow apart.

I decided to prepare for the release of book 19 by sitting down one on one with Mike. He deserved some time. He deserves so much more. I can’t wait to share Left Behind with all of you.

Interviewer: What made you join the Army?

My dad and my grandpa were in the Army. My dad was killed during the first gulf war in 1991, when I was 11. After September 11 happened, I knew I wanted to join up. My mom was really supportive, but I knew how scared she was. It had been just her and I for a long time and I worried about her a lot.

Interviewer: Who inspires you? Who do you aspire to be like?

The Sergeant, or Bill, inspires me. I always wanted to be able to balance being a soldier and being a husband and father like he does. My wife also inspires me. She has taken on a lot simply by loving me and I hope she knows how important she is to me.

Interviewer: What was the last book you read without skipping through anything?

I love to read. I think it was Stephen King’s memoir. I also love reading what my kids are reading, although Eden has some strange tastes. Sara is more my reading style. (he laughs).

Interviewer: If you could trade lives with one person for an entire day who would it be and why?

Jack. I wonder what it would be like to be able to have my hands in someone’s chest and fix hearts. It must be quite amazing.

Interviewer: Nothing about his looks? (Smiles)

Well I thought I was pretty okay, but now I feel self conscious. (laughing)

Interviewer: Shark diving, bungee jumping, or sky diving?

Well I’ve been sky diving, sort of, when I had to propel out of a helicopter, so maybe none of those? I think maybe I’ll stay on the ground this time.

Interviewer: Do you have a sweet tooth or a savory tooth?

Savory, definitely. I love a good steak and potatoes.

Interviewer: What accomplishments are you most proud of?

Eden and Sara and Jimmy. I can’t really claim Jimmy, but I will always think of him as a part of me.

Interviewer: Where is your favorite place to go on a weekday afternoon when you have no plans or obligations?

Home and spend time with my girls. I never had that before. I don’t need to go anywhere to find comfort. I just want to be home with my family.

Interviewer: What drives you to do what you do? What motivates you?

Safety. Duty. Country. Being where I have and seeing the ways other people live has made me very appreciative of the freedoms I fight for. I think everyone should have the ability to live the life they want, regardless of where they are born.

Interviewer:  Who was someone you really looked up to when you were little — someone you considered to be a mentor?

My mom. She raised me while my dad was overseas and she held down a full time job and never missed anything I did. She was my best friend and always made sure the presence of my dad was all around us.

Interviewer: Can we bring your wife in for a bit?

Of course! She’s much better to talk to, anyway.

(Jade comes in and sits next to him)

Interviewer: What qualities does your mate possess that are important to you? why?

Mike: She is honest and caring and beautiful both inside and out. She is simply the best person I know.

Jade: He loves me unconditionally. I can’t explain what that means to me.

Interviewer: Has religion played a role in your marriage and raising your children? 

Jade: It has. Mike has allowed me to create traditions I never had growing up and being able to give those traditions to our daughters is so important.

Mike smiling: Allowed?

Jade: You know what I mean. We have made traditions together and I adore them. I want our girls to know their faith and when they are 13, I can’t wait for them to become Bat Mitzvahs.

Interviewer: How do you deal with conflict in your marriage? 

Mike: She is always right.

Jade: He’s correct.

Interviewer: How do you keep your romance alive? 

Jade: He is always romancing me. He tells me how much he loves me and he brings me gifts all the time.

Mike: She stays with me. That’s pretty romantic.

Jade rolls her eyes.

Interviewer: Your daughters are here now, too. Can we talk with them?

Mike and Jade: Sure

(The girls come in and sit between their parents)

 Interviewer: At what age is a person an adult? Why do you think so?

Eden: 25 because that’s a quarter way to 100.

Sara: 21 because then they can buy alcohol.

Mike looks at his daughter.

Mike: Sara, who told you that?

Sara: Sabrina.

Jade smiled and patted Mike’s leg.

Interviewer: What is something that makes your family special?

Sara: We’re twins, so that’s special.

Eden: We have a brother who isn’t our brother. That’s cool, too.

Interviewer: Of all the things you are learning, what do you think will be the most useful when you are an adult?

Sara: How to cook. I need to be able to feed myself when I live alone.

Eden: You won’t live alone. We’ll always live together.

Sara: Really?

Eden: Yep.

Interviewer: If you could give one gift to every single child in the world, what gift would you give?

Sara: To have a mommy and daddy who loves them like we have.

Eden: To have a pet. It’s important.

Thanks girls. I’d like to talk to your parent’s alone again for a few minutes.

The twins left and Mike and Jade smiled.

Interviewer: They are remarkable girls. You must be really proud.

Mike: More than I can ever say.

Jade smiled, wiping her tears.

Mike: You okay?

She took his hand and nodded.

Interviewer:  As you get ready to leave for your deployment, what do you want your wife to know?

Mike: That I will do everything in my power to come home to you. This life and this home we’ve built over the years is everything to me. I simply adore you.

Jade: You are my everything. We will be waiting for you, always.


Filed under Uncategorized

A question for you…

I am putting together a special interview with Mike for tomorrow. Is there anything you want me to ask? Any pressing questions you want to know?

Jade may make an appearance, too, along with the twins.

Any special questions?

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

A new interview

Interviewer: What was the last lie you told?

Julie: That I only ate 1 donut.

Bill: Like anyone believed that.

Julie smacked his arm

Bill grinned

Jack: That I was okay with my daughter wearing makeup. I’m not. I’ll never be okay with it.

Stephanie: Nobody believed that one, either.

Jack: Then why are we allowing it? Bee needs to stay home forever.

Tommy: Good luck with that one.

Interviewer: When have you had to walk away in shame?

Jack: I plead the fifth.

Tommy: Like you’ve ever walked away in shame. The women usually walk away.

Jack: From you maybe, but never me.

Brittany and Stephanie: Did you both forget we are sitting here?

Tommy: Well we mean the past, obviously.

Jack looks at Stephanie: I love you.

Stephanie: Yeah, hope that keeps you warm at night.

They all laugh.

Interviewer: If you could go out on a date with anyone in this room who would it be?

They all look around.

Tommy: Half of us are related, so that’s just weird.

Interviewer: Okay, so not romantically.

Stephanie: Bill. I want to see all of his tattoos.

Jack: Seriously? I thought you said it was okay I didn’t have any.

Bill to Stephanie: I think there are a few you haven’t seen.

Julie: And she won’t.

Jack pouted.

Stephanie: I love your beautiful body, but I have a soft spot for tattoos. I’m sorry.

Tommy: Brittany

Brittany: Tommy

Julie and Bill: Oh, please.

Tommy: A beautiful famous rock star surgeon married me. What kind of moron would I be to look elsewhere?

Brittany grinned: I just love his chest.

Julie covered her mouth. “I’m going to be sick.”

Interviewer: What feature of yours are you self-conscious about?

Jack: Nothing.

Tommy rolled his eyes.

Julie: My flat chest.

Tommy and Jack: That’s awkward.

Bill: More than a handful is wasted.

The men looked repulsed and they all looked up as Mike and Jade joined them.

Mike: Sorry we’re late. What did we miss?

Julie blushed.

Bill: I was just telling my wife that I think her chest is beautiful.

Jade looked at them.

Jade: I would agree. It’s no fun when your chest takes over everything.

Mike: A respectfully disagree.

The men laughed and welcomed them in.

Interviewer: What things are you shallow about?

Everyone looked at Jack.

Jack: You all suck.

Brittany: Chest hair.

Julie: Muscles.

Jade: Hands.

Mike looked at her. “Huh?”

Jade: The way you use your hands makes me incredibly proud to be with you.

Everyone stared at her and then the men moved closer to Mike.

“Teach us what you know.”

Mike laughed.

Stephanie: Dimples.

Interviewer: Who in this room would be the worst to be trapped in an elevator with?

Tommy: Bill.

Bill: What? Why?

Tommy: Because you would make me look like an idiot and have us out in five minutes.

Bill: So you would rather be stuck for hours.

Tommy: Depends on who I’m stuck with.

Brittany: We could have fun all alone.

Tommy: We could totally have fun.

Jack: Next question.

Interviewer: What are you afraid of?

Mike: Leaving my girls.

Jade: My husband’s safety.

Brittany: My health.

Stephanie: Next question.

Interviewer: Who in the room do you think would be a bad date?

Bill/Tommy/Mike: Jack

Jack: That is the pitiful sound of jealousy.

Brittany: Probably me.

Tommy: That’s not true. You’re an awesome date.

Brittany: How hard did I make you work to get to know me?

Tommy: True, but you were well worth it.

Jade: Probably me. I would just keep saying no.

Mike: Because you’re all mine.

Jade kissed him. “That’s right.”

Interviewer: If your significant other said it was ok would you cheat on them?

Everyone: NO.

Interviewer: If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you choose?

Jack: Can’t I have both?

Tommy: Mind.

Bill: Body.

Mike: Mind.

Jade: Mind.

Stephanie: Body.

Julie: Mind.

Brittany: Mind.

Interviewer: If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?

Bill: I think that’s obvious for me.

Mike: I would make sure my dad knew how much I loved him.

Jade: I would have had a family.

They all looked at her.

Jade: Well, it’s true.

Brittany: I would have looked for my brother.

Bill: You didn’t know about me.

Brittany: I should have asked more questions.

Tommy held her hand and they were all quiet.

Interviewer: What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?

Jack and Stephanie: Sabrina and Tessa

Bill and Julie: David and Josie

Brittany and Tommy: Naomi

Mike and Jade: Eden and Sara.

Interviewer: Thank you so much.

Don’t forget to order your copy (click on the picture below) of Left Behind available Monday. I will have a special interview with Mike tomorrow for you to read.

Left Behind13


Filed under Uncategorized

Special sale!

Special weekend sale! Starting tomorrow through Monday, all of my books (except compilations and Left Behind) will be available for $0.99. Great for gifting or gathering the whole collection. I have paperbacks available for $7.00 each or 4 for $20.00. Just respond here if you are interested. All paperbacks will arrive signed to whomever you request.

Also- my never before released romantic comedy Perfectly Imperfect is available in paperback only for $5.oo. Let me know if you are interested in that as well.

Happy shopping!

Click the image below (Tramp) to go to my Amazon page.


Leave a Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The kids (most of them)

Interviewer: What is your happiest memory?

Sabrina: When mom and dad let us camp in the backyard when we were little and we all sat around and talked all night.

David: When my dad taught me how to throw a ball and we just hung out and talked.

Interviewer: One word to describe you would be _______.

Tessa: boring.

Sabrina: That’s not true, Tessie. You’re awesome and fun and smart.

Tessa: You have to say that.

Sabrina: No I don’t. It’s the truth.

David: It is. I wish I had a sister like you.

Josie: Excuse me?

David: Oh, I forgot you were here.

Josie: I’m telling mom you said that.

David: So? Uncle Tommy tried to sell mom when she was little. It runs in the family.

Naomi: He did? I didn’t know that. That’s awesome.

Josie: No it isn’t. My mom is the best.

Tessa laughed and Bee winked at David.

Interviewer: What advice would you give your parents?

Sabrina: Chill out.

David: Relax a little.

Tessa: Let me get a pet.

Naomi: Stop worrying so much.

Josie: You’re doing a good job.

Interviewer: What is your favorite thing to do? Why?

Naomi: Cook and listen to my mom sing.

Josie: Eat donuts with my mom.

David: Play hockey.

Sabrina: Shop.

Tessa: Work with animals.

Interviewer: What do you think about when there is nothing you have to think about?

David: Looks at Bee and blushes.

Sabrina: Dancing.

Interviewer: With anyone in particular?

Bee: Looks at David and blushes.

Tessa: Writing

Josie: I worry about things.

David: “What do you worry about?”

Josie: “Just stuff.”

Naomi: I think about my grandpa Nate. I wish I could have known him.

Interviewer: If you could have a conversation with someone from history who would it be?

Naomi: My daddy’s parents.

David: My mom’s parents.

Bee: My daddy’s mom.

Tessa: My mom’s friend Nikki.

Josie: My daddy’s dad. I don’t know why he doesn’t talk about him.

Interviewer: If you could have lunch with anyone living who would it be?

David: Peyton Manning. He’s awesome.

Bee: Ellen Degeneres. She is so fun and giving and she just makes people smile.

Naomi: Gordon Ramsey. I would love to cook like him.

Josie: The President. I would ask him to make sure my daddy never has to leave again.

Tessa: Uncle Evan. I think he has an amazing story.

Interviewer: What is the first thing you notice about someone when you first meet?

Naomi: If they look me in the eyes.

David: If they shake my hand with strength. I don’t like a weak hand shake.

Bee: If they have clean hands and nails.

David looks at his hands.

Tessa: If they talk to me or just look at Bee.

Bee blushes.

Josie: If they have a nice smell.

David: You smell them?

Josie: Everyone has a smell. I just want it to be nice.

Interviewer: What compliment do people give you the most?

David: I have a lot of patience being around so many girls.

All of the girls rolled their eyes.

Josie: That I’m like my mom.

Naomi: They comment on my hair. Sometimes it’s not nice, but a lot of people say it’s pretty.

Bee: That I’m pretty. I don’t really like that. I’m a lot of other things, too.

Tessa: People don’t really compliment me.

Bee: That’s not true.

Tessa: Yeah it is.

Interviewer:  Which person in your life do you most admire? Why?

David: My dad. He never turns away from anyone and he helps everyone even when he doesn’t know them. He takes care of my mom and me and Jo and he’s always happy to be with me.

Josie: Aunt Brittany. She’s amazing and she grew up without a mommy. I can’t imagine what that was like.

Tessa: Uncle Mike. (She starts to cry.)

Sabrina: Hugging her and rubbing her back.

Naomi: My daddy. He took care of Aunt Julie when his parent’s died and he’s an awesome doctor.

Sabrina: Aunt Jade. She is one of the strongest people I’ve ever met.


Thank you! More coming tomorrow.


Filed under Uncategorized


Another interview coming tonight! Who do you want to see?

Jade and Brittany

Stephanie and her daughters

Tommy and Evan

All of the kids together

Mike :(


Filed under Uncategorized

Interview with Bill and Jack

This is the first of the interviews I’ll be posting this week leading up to the release of “Left Behind” If you have specific questions you want me to ask, let me know.


Interviewer: Other than your wedding day or the birth of any of your children, what one day of your marriage would you most like to experience again?

Bill: The first day I came home and she was there, waiting for me.

Interviewer: Why was that so special?

Bill: I never had that before. Someone waiting for me. Someone happy to see me. A home. Julie did that. She gave me that. Even when she’s angry with me, she is still happy to see me.

Jack: Well how am I supposed to follow that?

Bill: You can’t. Give up now. (smiling)

Jack: Nice.

Interviewer: If you had to change jobs with one of your friends, who would you choose?

Jack: I would change with Julie. I could be a teacher, I think.

Bill: Seriously? The girls would be all over you. You wouldn’t be able to teach one thing.

Jack: You think so? I am that handsome, so you might be right. Still, my intelligence deserves to be shared.

Bill: And your humbleness.

Interviewer: What about you?

Bill: Probably Jade. I could be a nurse. I like helping people and I don’t think I would want the pressure of being a surgeon.

Jack: You could do it. You command military operations.

Bill: I think I’ve had enough of that.

Interviewer: What is the oddest location you’ve ever shared a kiss?

Bill: On her body?

Jack: Watch it.

Interviewer: No, in the world.

Bill: Oh, the cemetery?

Jack: Eww.

Bill: What about you?

Jack: The morgue?

Bill: Gross.

Interviewer: What’s the silliest thing your spouse has ever done?

Jack: Gotten a group of swingers to tell me I was ugly.

Bill: Had a pole put into our bedroom. It wasn’t silly, but awesome.

Jack: I can never unhear that.

Bill: Don’t knock it until you try it.

Interviewer: Which of the following candies best describes your first kiss? Starburst, Good and Plenty, Hot Tamales, Goobers, Milk Duds, Zero.

Jack: Hot Tamales

Bill: Good and Plenty

Interviewer: Complete the following sentence. Our marriage would be perfect if we could just agree on ________________.

Bill: Sports

Jack: My brilliance

Interviewer: If the prize for winning this game were a second honeymoon to any destination, where would you go?

Bill: We never actually took a honeymoon because I had just gotten home from Iraq, but I think London. Julie would love to see the home of the authors she loves and I would love to live through that with her.

Jack: We didn’t really get a honeymoon either because I wasn’t allowed out of the state as I was arrested for murder. I would say Hawaii.


Interviewer: Complete this sentence: Not many people know it but my spouse is really good at ________.

Bill: Giving massages

Jack: Gymnastics

Bill: Really?

Jack: Yeah, and not for anyone but me.

Interviewer: What gift that your spouse gave you came as the biggest surprise?

Bill: The pole. I’m telling you, it was awesome.

Jack: Let’s just say it had to do with peanuts and chocolate…


Filed under Uncategorized

1 week to go!

Okay, since there is only 1 week until the release of “Left Behind” I will be writing more character interviews for you. If you have any specific questions you want me to ask the characters, or specific groupings for interviews, please let me know.

Let’s have some fun and get ready to read the next chapter in our “Family by choice” lives.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

A look ahead

I have been spending a lot of time over the past three months reflecting on this series and how it would continue. My choice to move the family nine years forward was calculated, of course, and required a lot of planning and thinking in terms of who these characters would be, nine years older.

Tommy and Brittany start book 19 relatively healthy, and have lived nine years without major illness or tragedy. (a shocker, I know :) ). Brittany is pregnant, as we found out at the end of book 18, and that will soon become known to the rest of the family. Naomi is now 12 and has become very much her own unique individual with hopes and dreams. I also knew she would not have had an easy time with her health and incorporating her health issues with the 12 year old she has become was something I really worked at. I needed to see her struggles and her triumphs. She is not simply a mini Brittany, but an amazing combination of both her parents and I wanted her to also have some new characteristics. She loves to cook. She loves helping others. She adores Jimmy and she feels a lot of fear about what her future holds. Being in and out of the hospital has taken its toll on her young life and she worries so much about what that means for her moving forward.

A huge issue beginning book 19 is the children learning of the horrors of the past. For Naomi, it is learning of what her mother went through. That will profoundly affect Naomi’s view on the world and in a way, the view she has of her parents. It’s a worry Brittany has always carried and it’s time for Naomi to know it all.

Jack and Stephanie have their hands full with Sabrina and Tessa. I love writing the girls because they drive their parents crazy and that’s always good for a laugh. Sabrina has developed into a beautiful and intelligent 14 year old with a keen awareness of her place in the family. Having been thrown together with David her whole life, the burgeoning teenage feelings and hormones will begin to come into play and the subsequent issues which develop because of it will try everyone’s patience. She is a mini Jack and although he has always worried about her, he comes to appreciate his eldest daughter for the amazing person she is becoming.

Tessa is another story. She is a mini Stephanie and wears her heart on her sleeve. Her Crohns disease has taken a toll on her ability to be herself and she is struggling a lot with her place in the world. She has trouble living in the shadow of Sabrina and she feels a lot like she doesn’t fit in. She has Jack’s height and her mother’s personality and she appears much older than her 11 years. She has anxiety issues and she is a worrier. Stephanie sees so much of herself in Tessa and the loss of Mike just broke something inside of her.

Book 19 hits Tessa hard. She has always been connected to Mike and he understood her when she didn’t feel anyone else did. He took her under his wing and through the years, he helped foster her love of animals and her need to help those who couldn’t help themselves. She loved working with Mike and his loss is something that destroys her.

Stephanie and Jack are in a great place, but their children are also about the learn the truth. They need to hear about Josh and what he did to Stephanie and Jack. They will see their parents as more than the two people who adore them, but also as two people who have lived a lifetime that seems so foreign to them. It will be an eye opening experience for both girls, and it changes things for everyone.

Julie and Bill have the biggest change of probably any couple. Emotionally, Bill is damaged by what happened to Mike. He has always felt responsible for his friend and the fact Mike went overseas without him, and then was captured, just breaks his heart. He needs to do something. He can’t accept a reality where Mike is not here with him and the idea he let Mike down is suffocating to him.

Julie has trouble with this as well. She needs her husband present in their lives and the lives of their children. Bill’s need to blame himself put an undeniable strain on their marriage and pushes Julie to take action she never thought she would.

David and Josie are also deeply effected by everything. David feels responsible for the girls in the family and puts incredible pressure on himself to be strong for them. He feels like he has to take on the role of protector and it gets in the way of him living his life. He also meets someone else and his relationship with Sabrina is fractured. David is a teenage boy who is going through so many different emotions and he has nowhere to put his anger and frustrations.

Josie is struggling for different reasons. She has always been a daddy’s girl and she has always looked to Bill for guidance and reassurance. When she was a baby, she reached for him. When she was a toddler, he was her hero. Now that Mike is gone and Bill is distraught, Josie feels left behind. She doesn’t know why her dad is turning away and it makes her feel like she isn’t enough. She knows Bill loves her, but she thinks he doesn’t like her. She goes through a lot of stress in book 19- she is the first of the girls to get her period and she is the first to be directly effected by the past.

David and Josie learn of the dangers of the past and soon, the truth of Chris and Janet must come to light. David has always wondered by Bill never talks of his father. He could never imagine the real story behind it all.

Jade and Mike are broken. Jade has gone through a heart transplant without her husband and she has now had to face the reality of being a single mother to nine year old twins. The girls are beautiful and smart and funny and everything that Mike deserved to see. He deserved a happy ever after and Jade can’t understand how the world could be so cruel.

Without Mike, she is vulnerable. Rebecca and Nick resurface and Jade and the twins becomes targets. Her girls know nothing of the past or that Mike was married before. All of that must come out when things resurface and old threats come to the forefront.

Sara and Eden are just like their parents. Eden is strong and Sara is sensitive. They both protect Jade and know that their father would want them to be strong. Mike lived for his girls and now they need to live for him.

Evan and Elizabeth will also have a place in this book. Kevin is a young man who has taken a liking to Tessa, much to the chagrin of Jack. He is a protector like Evan and spunky like his mom. Evan and Liz will develop a bit of a side story in Left Behind and that will make for an interesting segue into the future.


I am so excited to share the continuing journey of my Family by Choice with all of you and I can’t wait for you to see what I have in store moving forward :)


Filed under Uncategorized

What would you like?

What would you like to see for the next post? A final preview of “Left Behind”? A look behind the scenes at what’s coming? A character breakdown like I’ve done in the past? Character interviews?

Something fun?

Let me know…



Filed under Uncategorized