Finally…a moment to breathe :)

Happy Friday!

It’s been a crazy few weeks for me- so busy. As many of you know, I am a full time high school English teacher, and getting back into the swing of things has been exhausting. I think I’m finally getting back into my groove, so now I can focus on talking about book 14 and look forward to book 15!

I am so happy to hear how many of you have enjoyed Heartbroken. I can’t tell you how difficult it was for me to receive so many sad emails and messages after The Unthinkable came out. I wanted nothing more than to tell all of you to have faith and all was not as it seemed, but I couldn’t. People who are close to me didn’t even know the truth and they keep telling me how surprised they were and how well I kept this secret.

To be honest, I was going to end the series with book 13. My intent was always to have everyone believe that Stephanie and Tessa were the target and have Julie be the shock nobody expected. Although not always considered the main character, Julie is the reason the series was born and how the family became just that; a family. Her connection to each and every character was something that I always leaned on and cherished and I knew, killing her off might be something the series couldn’t survive.

But then something incredible happened.

I started to introduce Mike and Jade and Evan and Elizabeth into the series and people seemed to really like them. I wasn’t sure how a relationship between Mike and Jade would be accepted, especially after Mike hurt her by going to the bar. One thing I have always stood by in writing these characters, is that I don’t write infidelity. I find enough drama in everyday life without adding a third party. What Rebecca did to Mike was so incredibly vile, that I knew he would never hurt Jade in that way. What happened in the bar was terrible judgment on Mike’s part, and the result was almost catastrophic. I also realized, in writing that scene, that I was still discovering who Mike was and what he had endured. He had his work cut out for him in pursuing Jade, and I fell in love with them when they fell in love with each other.

Their story has been so fun to write and bringing Elaine into the mix has been great. She is a combination of my Grandma and my mother, and she will continue to be a comfort to the family- especially in the coming book.

Book 15 will be a turning point in the series and not just for Mike and Jade. Tommy and Brittany are facing a crisis that they have been trying to put off, but they will no longer be able to ignore. It’s something that will effect everyone, and not in the way you might think. As strong and amazing as Brittany has always been, her health is something she simply can’t run from. Her body is about to betray her.

The most common question I get about this series is when will it end. I used to say that I didn’t know, because there has always been more story to tell. I think that might be coming to a close. I write about a book ahead of what is out there, so I can guarantee book 15, but I do think the end is near.

Maybe I’ll continue the series 15 years in the future and follow the kids around. It’s something I’ve been thinking about.

Anyway, just some thoughts and feedback for you. Book 15 title and cover reveal will be soon, and I will be sharing a preview in October. I will also be sharing some more flashbacks that haven’t been published.

Thoughts? I would love to hear from all of you. As always, ask me anything you want!

:)

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Some Thoughts…

There is a lot I adore about writing the character of Brittany. So much of her strength is a tribute to the many women I admire who have faced a diagnosis that seemed to be insurmountable, but in turn, made it their mission to live their life to the best of their ability. For as many people who tell me they are turned off by reading about a woman who is HIV positive, there are so many more who take inspiration and strength from reading of the triumphs and struggles of a woman who wants it all and is done making apologies. So am I.

Brittany will be facing incredible hardships in the upcoming book. She will come face to face with the reality of her disease and the harsh struggle she will need to face simply because this virus lives inside of her. It’s something many people deal with every single day, and I thank them for their strength and courage.

This scene is one of the few I wrote that dealt with Brittany finding out about her diagnosis. I struggled with writing it because I truly hated that she faced something so profound and crushing while she was all alone. It was important for her to share this story and I hope to write more of these flashbacks soon.

This appeared in “One Final Kiss”

________________________________________________________________________________________

Stephanie was working in Paris and volunteering at the clinic for battered and abused women. They had a special group dedicated to working with people newly diagnosed with autoimmune disorders, and Stephanie’s own battle with Multiple Sclerosis helped her to connect. She and Nikki had arrived a few months before and Stephanie was in her first year of an accelerated pre med program at the University. Nikki was making a name for herself in the fashion industry and Stephanie knew it would only be a matter of time before her friend hit it big.

Nikki had begun dating a guy named Josh who Stephanie had a really bad feeling about. He was possessive and rude and Stephanie could see something in him that just rubbed her the wrong way. She knew it was early, so she decided to reserve judgment.

“Stephanie? There is a woman here who asked to see you. She won’t talk to anyone else,” a nurse broke through her thoughts.

Stephanie smiled.

“Did she give you a name?”

“No. She seems in bad shape.”

Stephanie nodded.

“I’m on my way,” she hoped this wasn’t another domestic violence case. It broke her heart to see so many women who felt stuck in situations that were so horrible. She went to the room and opened the door, stopping in her tracks when she saw who it was.

“Barb?” Stephanie cried as she saw a shell of the friend she had grown up with. “Sweetie is that you?”

The frail teen looked at Stephanie and pulled her hat off, allowing her long red hair to spill out and she nodded.

“I didn’t know where else to go,” she said in a tiny voice and Stephanie rushed to her. She pulled her into her arms and Barbara cried out in pain. Stephanie rushed back.

“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry,” Stephanie said, her eyes filling with tears. She helped her friend to the chair in the room and sat next to her.

“What the hell happened to you? You said it was no big deal. You said you were just bruised after a fan got too rough.” Stephanie saw the bandaged hand and the faded bruises and knew it was worse, but the most horrific part was her friend’s eyes. They were simply hollow.

“I need help,” Barbara said and Stephanie nodded.

“Tell me what happened,” she went to take her hand when Barb pulled it away.

“I got this a few days ago and I don’t understand what it means. Can you help me?” she handed Stephanie an envelope and she took it, recognizing it as test results. She opened it and her heart crumbled. She looked into her friend’s eyes.

“It’s the results of an HIV test.”

“Am I going to die now?”

“No, sweetie, you aren’t. Barbie why didn’t you call me? Why didn’t you tell me the truth? Have you been all alone?”

“Please don’t call me that ever again. Please don’t,” her chin quivered.

Stephanie nodded. “Did anyone come with you? Where are your people?”

“They all left. I came alone. I’ve been alone since I woke up in the hospital.”

Stephanie took a deep breath. “Were you raped?”

No emotion.

“Yes.”

Stephanie felt her tears fall as she smoothed her friend’s hair down. “I’m so sorry. What can I do to help you? Should I call your grandma? Nikki?”

Barb looked at her and shook her head.

“I don’t want anyone to know. I just wondered if you could help me with the meds? I don’t know what I’m supposed to do and I didn’t have anyone to help me. I can’t trust anyone but you.”

“We have a great doctor here who can help you. I’ll get her in a minute,” she took Barb’s hand in hers and held it. “Were you examined?”

“Yes. I was in a coma for three days. They did whatever they needed to do.”

“When you woke up, who helped you?”

“Nobody. I left after and flew back to London. My grandma is in a nursing home and she doesn’t know anything. I need to figure out what to do next.”

“Will you stay with me and Nikki? We can help you.”

“No. I have a flight back this evening. I just wanted to see you and thank you for being my friend.”

Stephanie wiped her eyes and shook her head.

“Barb, you can’t leave. I don’t want you to be alone.”

“I’ll be okay. I’ll stay in touch and let you know what I decide. Can you get the doctor?”

Stephanie sighed and did as she asked.

******

A few hours later, Barbara sat alone in a plush hotel suite in Paris. She didn’t have a flight back for another couple days, but she didn’t want to talk. She didn’t know what to say or do. She locked the door and walked into the bathroom, removing her clothes and looking at her body. The remnants of deep bruising were all over, but she had to look hard to see it. She had long ago stopped crying. She had long ago stopped feeling. Everything about her was cold.

She was cold to Stephanie. She hadn’t meant to be, but it was almost like she didn’t know how to talk to people. She felt badly about it, but even that seemed distant.

Her hands ran over her naked body and she wondered if there was a part he didn’t touch. What he did to her body was nothing compared to what he did to her soul. She died in that cabin. She actually felt her soul leave and what was left now was a shell, a carcass, a used and defiled carcass.

She walked to the counter and took the pair of scissors she had purchased. She took her long red curls and chopped them off. Her eyes were empty and cold as she took the hair and put it in a bag. She took another shower and pulled on baggy clothes before she crawled into the bed and looked at the pamphlets Stephanie had given her.

HIV.

AIDS.

How much time did she have? How much time did she even want? What did this mean for her? She closed her eyes and knew one thing for sure. This meant what happened to her would never truly go away. She was forever damaged.

She lay there for hours, not sleeping, not moving. There needed to be a decision made. Maybe she could look for her mother? She knew nothing of her and even less about where to start. She could overdose on pills. Another teen star taken too soon. She could see the headlines and the outpouring of support. Rolling over, she rested her head on her arms.

She didn’t want to die; she just didn’t know how to live.

Another few hours went by and she got up, knowing she had to eat something. She ordered room service and when it came, she looked at the food and the newspaper delivered with it. Eating without tasting, she looked at the paper. She couldn’t read French, so it was pointless, but she looked at the articles. Flipping through the pages she came upon a picture of herself. There was an article about her disappearance and she tried to figure out what it said, but couldn’t. She could come forward and tell everyone she was okay. She could continue her life as it was.

The problem was it wasn’t okay. The problem was that she was changed. She swallowed her food and brushed her now short hair. She would start over. She would stay in London and figure things out. She had money, so that wasn’t a problem. Her life needed to begin again, and she would make it happen.

Her resolve didn’t last and she soon found herself huddled again in the fetal position on her bed.

She just wanted her daddy.

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Thank you flashback!

As a thank you for the amazing opening week of Heartbroken, here is a never before published flashback. I will be doing a few fun things later this week and let you all in on a surprise coming. Stay tuned!

This flashback takes place a few days after the Tommy and Julie’s parents died.

(The past)

Tommy was overwhelmed by all of the people who were in his house and he felt the sick feeling that seemed to have settled in the pit of his stomach. He was grateful for Jack and how he kept most of the people away from him. He just had nothing left to give.

“Excuse me, Thomas Williams?” a woman walked up to him as he sat in the empty kitchen.

“Yes, were you a friend of my parents?” Tommy stood up and tried to smile.

“Actually, I’m with the State. I’m here to take Julie to the foster home.”

Tommy felt the pit that was in his stomach begin to churn. He worried it was about to make an appearance.

“She isn’t going anywhere with you. She is staying with me. My best friend is in the other room and he is going to help me. We will take care of her,” Tommy said.

“That’s simply not advisable. You and your friend are barely legal yourselves. I need to do what is in the best interest of the child. We will go through the will, but it doesn’t appear your parents have left any specific instructions. In matters such as these, when there is a sudden death of both parents, the State is called to take the minor into custody.”

Tommy crossed his arms and glared at the woman.

“You said we’re barely legal, and you’re right, but we are in fact, legal. You think I am going into this with no knowledge of what it means and you’re wrong. I am of legal age and Julie is my blood relative. It is always advisable to keep a child with a relative and for her, that’s me. I have an appointment with a lawyer for next week and we will begin the paperwork for full guardianship. You are not taking her anywhere. Nobody will take her away from her home and her family. I am respectfully asking you to get out of my house.”

The woman sighed.

“I need to be sure she will be safe.”

“What do you need from me? We have shelter and food and clothes. She will be fine.”

 

“I would like to speak with her,” the woman said.

 

“I don’t think that would be a good idea.”

 

“Why? Do you think she will tell me something you don’t want me to know?”

 

He was disgusted.

 

“No, I think she will be upset and hurt and scared and worried. Our parents are gone and you are going to threaten her with leaving the only home she knows. I am worried about her mental state.”

 

“It’s okay, Tommy,” Julie said as she walked into the kitchen. “I’ll answer anything you want.”

 

The woman smiled at Julie and Tommy sighed.

 

“Please give us some privacy,” the woman said to him.

 

“No. Her safety is my concern and I don’t know you.”

 

Julie looked at the woman and smiled.

 

“I want to stay here with my brother, so you can leave.”

 

“Young lady, have you thought about what it will be like, day to day, to be with your brother?”

 

“Well no, because up until last week, my parents were here. What I do know, is that Tommy loves me and he is my family. He came from college to tell me what happened and he hasn’t left my side since. He is going to be a doctor, and he is caring and nice and very smart. I think those are the things you need to be a home for someone. Besides, I love him and he loves me. No foster home will give me that,” she moved and held Tommy’s hand in hers.

 

The woman smiled and nodded.

 

“I will let the State know your wishes.”

 

Tommy watched her leave and he sat down at the kitchen table, his tears coming.

 

Julie walked over to him and sat down.

 

“Tommy? Are you okay?”

 

He smiled at her and nodded.

 

“I will be. I just want you to be okay. I just want to do right by you.”

 

She leaned her cheek on her hand and smiled.

 

“It’s who you are, Tommy. You’re my hero.”

 

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Well? :)

So, it’s been a week…what do you think of Heartbroken?

 

Heartbrokenll

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Just a little “Bill” fun

channing

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Party time!

Stop by my party! Happening now :)

Celebrate Heartbroken and chat with other fans!

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Release day!

Don’t forget to pick up your copy of Heartbroken tomorrow! It will be for sale in all formats. Also- don’t forget to stop by my facebook release party from 6-10pm EST. Click the picture below:)

I can’t wait to hear what you all think!

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Giveaway!

I’m being featured right now- for the next 30 minutes or so. Stop by!
https://www.facebook.com/events/665262193557595/681269701956844/?comment_id=681274158623065&ref=notif&notif_t=like

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A little Insight

Many people ask me which character is my favorite in the series. It’s always hard to answer that- it’s like asking which child is your favorite- there is no answer. I adore all of them and I am frustrated by all of them. There are parts of each character I identify with and some that I wish I was more like.

The character of Tommy is one that I am probably more connected to than anyone else. I think it’s because I view him as the ideal romantic lead. I don’t mean he’s perfect, because he’s far from that. He may not even be the most attractive- (I get a lot of slack about my love for his hairy chest). He holds way too much responsibility for things he should let go and his need to always make things better for those around him is irritating at the very least.

But he the most amazing man. I wrote Thomas as a friend for Jack and a sounding board for his relationship with Stephanie. I think I created him to embody the characteristics of a true friend- one who would always have your back and always stand beside you and fight- even if you were wrong. Tommy needed to be funny and sweet and handsome and smart, but the more I got to know him, the more vulnerability I found.

I always knew about the car accident that took his parents. That part of his past was determined from the beginning, but the development of his relationship with Julie and Jack came out of necessity. We needed to understand how he survived; how he did what he did and in doing so, Tommy became so much more than just Jack’s wingman. He became my hero.

Writing Tommy got me through some really difficult times in my life. He carries a lot of heavy burdens and some are of his own making. I feel a lot like I do that, too. He is the one who is always there for others- no matter what. He was also always the one watching everyone else from the sidelines. At the end of the day, he was alone.

Bringing Brittany and Tommy together, for me, was the most personal journey of the whole series. All of the couples love and adore each other, that’s important to me, but Tommy and “Red” are different. They both lived resigned to being alone. They never saw themselves as married or as having children. They were the ones people called to be there, but they never felt like they were worthy of such a great love.

That’s why their story is one of my favorite accomplishments. I adore writing them in love and I adore their fights. I ‘feel’ them more than any of the other characters, with the exception maybe of Mike. They are both truly amazing individuals and I see them as my hope for what love should be.

I just love Tommy and I hope you all do, too.

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Happy Saturday

Any questions for me about any of my characters? Some fun things coming this week leading up to release day on Thursday!

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