Many of you know the journey I took to become a writer. We'd driven home from a day in San Francisco. It was a beautiful March day, like we get so often here. No rain. Blue skies and big white clouds. We opted for a simple dinner and so I was munching on a salad when I heard a buzzing sound I'd never heard before. Coming up the steps, there was no smoke, so my husband thought the smoke detector was defective, and bat it down with a broom handle. We went back to our meal. Then we smelled smoke.
It never occurred to us our lives would be so changed that evening. Coming up the stairway, looking into our bedroom, I saw my rose-colored leather recliner was on fire. A perfect circle of fire was on the back, like the hand of God had touched it. Within seconds, it ignited the curtains, then snaked along the ceiling and a thick black smoke rolled toward us like a tidal wave. We knew that toxic cloud wasn't going to be healthy so we went downstairs to get buckets of water, but when we returned, the entire top floor was ablaze.
I was in my nightie, barefoot. We called the Fire Department and they were here within 12 minutes, along with 4 other engines and a crew of men in case our fire traveled up the hill and spread to neighboring properties. I sat on the steps and watched as everything in the upstairs was destroyed, the downstairs was covered with water and carpets to protect some of the furniture. They expected our floor to cave in any minute. My husband drank a beer and smoked one of his Cuban cigars he'd rescued from the refrigerator. I was finishing my salad. It was surreal.
The road to coming back was long and arduous. Our bank was being taken over by the Feds, the County wasn't sure they'd let us rebuild, our insurance company wasn't giving us the money to redesign a new home or start construction. It took us 18 months before we could get cooperation from the parties to even start.
In the meantime, I lived in a little apartment and for the first time in over 35 years, was alone, since my husband stayed up on the property in a trailer to help with our animals, and to stop the steady flow of people who “stopped by” to give us a quote and then helped themselves to our things, I guess thinking we wouldn't mind.
In short, I felt violated on so many levels. All my great grandmother's jewelry, her delicious collection of amber and jade were gone. The box my other great great grandmother brought over with her when she was 14, lovingly made by her father in Scotland, who never saw her again, was gone. Her braid, which was exactly my hair color, was gone. Lizzy, her doll was gone. Pictures the kids had made. Oil paintings we'd bought all over the world were gone. Our computers looked like something from a Dali painting. Here and there something miraculous would be untouched, but 97% of what was upstairs was gone.
Initially, I did the staying up late to watch TV movies, since I didn't have to worry about keeping anyone up but myself. I read Outlander and then read it again. Then I read the Twilight series. I began to have vivid dreams of angels, guardian angels, and I slowly began to believe that instead of being incredibly unlucky, in fact, we were very lucky. We survived. We learned to cope and do things we'd never had to do before.
And I began to write.
I am a bit on the obsessive side of the scale. I sat down on December 15, 2008 and by January 15, 2009 I had written 90,000 words, and my first novel. I learned later that was a phenomenal amount of words. But then I didn't know. My story didn't have a villain, didn't have much of a story arc, except I began to think about what it would be like if a Guardian Angel fell in love with the person they were supposed to watch over. Would they be tempted to let themselves be known? Would they want to connect? Would they be banished from Heaven? I rewrote that story 57 times. No, that one didn't get trashed like you hear writers talk about. This one came from my soul, and I could never stop working on it until it was perfect. It became Heavenly Lover, my first book. My second book, Underworld Lover, came to me before I finished the first one. And just now, I have released the third book in the series, Underworld Queen. I continued on with many of the characters so that the villain in Book 1 is the hero in Book 2. The villainess in Book 2 is the heroine in Book 3. Everyone gets a chance to transform, to fall in love with their true love, to have their happily ever after. Everyone has a shot at redemption.
The basis premise is this: Heaven isn't 100% perfect by design. The Underworld isn't 100% evil by accident. Humans walk the fence between the two. It's not a religious book, but there is a good vs. evil theme, which is actually the same theme throughout all my books, paranormal or SEALs.
As I begin a new year, and look at my schedule and what books I want to finish or write this year, I have to remember that sometimes the greatest things that happen to me are just that: things that happen. Not things I planned at all. Or perhaps the better way of saying it is that I plan, adjust, based on what I'm given. Dealing with life on life's terms. Doesn't do any good to cry over what I've lost. I'm also not blonde, 20 years old and a supermodel with an unlimited income.
But I do possess the miracle of being able to take tragedy and make stories out of them. To feel. To be sad some days for sure, but then to rejoice in the little things, like meeting a blue jay that used to greet me every morning at breakfast outside the kitchen window. Writing all night long if I felt like it. Watching my grandkids play and sing, and yes, to have my granddaughter want me to help her write a book. She's 4. Isn't that also a miracle.
So, in 2015 I profess to obtaining and keeping my miracle glasses on 24/7. I've learned I can survive. If we'd lost it all I would have survived. And the other true miracle is that my stories will last forever.
Claire, an unconventional Guardian angel sent to save a sexy Brazilian-born painter from killing himself, discovers Daniel has been preyed upon by a powerful dark angel posing as his best friend and agent.
Although successful in saving Daniel's life, Claire is in danger of losing her own when attraction to her handsome charge blooms into a forbidden love. The dark angel offers her what she's only dared to dream about – an eternity with Daniel.
Will she sacrifice her soul, or sacrifice a lifetime with a man she knows she was created to love?
Tomorrow will start the infamous A-Z Blog Challenge. This will be my third year in a row. Every day in April will be a new post on the theme I've selected. In past years, I've learned so much, and met some wonderful people.
At the side (upper right) you will see a button where you can go to the list and choose another blog to follow, read, and comment, if you wish. There are no prizes here, for the most part, just an opportunity to meet people from all walks of life, blogging about all sorts of things.
Last year I did 30 days of Gratitude. This year, I'm going to do 30 days of Stories. Some will be family stories, some character stories as I do research, some stories of things that could happen in the future. I like exploring the past while I forge ahead to the future.
Won't you come along with me on this journey?
Until then, may all your travels be joyous and your linkys continue to work.
A close family member had been grieving at the loss of a relationship. He asked me, “How do you find another partner? How do you find someone to love?”
So pleased to announce Underworld Lover is out now. It is the second book in my Guardians series, about a dark angel who falls in love with a human woman whose soul he cannot claim. Jimmy Thomas, the international cover model who has graced some 2000 romance novel covers, is the perfect Joshua Brandon, the hero. My thanks to Kendra Egert for the beautiful cover artwork.
When I was writing Book 1, Heavenly Lover, Josh was the villain. But I must admit, I sort of fell in love with him while writing his character. He was a very bad boy in Book 1, but I knew inside he had a heart of gold, and that's what comes out in Book 2. And though this story is finished, I'm not done with him yet. More about that later.
His character starts out smarting from his first failure to claim a human soul. My premise for the series is this: Heaven isn't 100% perfect by design. The Underworld isn't 100% evil by accident. The Underworld is a place where things happen by chaos, where the Director is elected, and everyone cheats. Nobody really wants the job, and all prior Directors have never followed the rules, set in dusty ledgers no one has opened for centuries.
In this chaotic mix of sensual pleasures and “do your own thing” philosophy, as long as souls are being claimed and the Underworld is growing, dark angels are happy and left free. This goes a long way to convince humans to end their lives and join the Underworld ranks.
But a new Director has been elected, who wants this position and has a dark agenda. He sees the legendary and extremely popular Joshua Brandon as being a threat to his consolidation of power. So, the Underworld has taken on an oppressive atmosphere. Dark angels with black oily wings are being created again, with the gift of fire breathing, and a war with Heaven is brewing.
In the midst of it all, Josh finds he has fallen in love with a human woman. Just happens to be that the new Director wants her too.
I like to write about a character's higher calling. Love heals in the gardens of the heart, is a theme throughout all my books. My premise is that once the character meets the love of their life, their life changes. These changes set in motion battles of lust, passion, redemption and sacrifice. My dark angels have to go to meetings, similar to 12-step programs.
It has been a wonderful journey, first dreaming about these characters and then putting them down on paper. I hope the readers embrace my twisted sense of good and evil, and suspend disbelief just enough to be entertained.
After all, reality is a story too.
Excerpt, Underworld Lover:
I hope you enjoy taking this journey with me. I'd love to hear.
Santa Rosa, California
I'm uploading my new release, the second book in my Guardian Angel series, Underworld Lover. As usual, my friend, Tina Folsom, is helping me with the technical aspects of making sure it is done correctly, and looks great. I've had feedback that my books are the best formatted readers have seen. Makes me happy.
I'll announce when it's up and ready for sale. But just had to share the cover. Jimmy Thomas is perfect (again–I mean when isn't he?).
Here's the blurb:
Joshua Brandon, a legendary and powerful rogue dark angel, meets a human woman whose soul he cannot take, and finds something he has not experienced before: love. At the same time, a new director comes to power in the Underworld, who asks for a test of Josh's loyalty by delivering this very woman to him.
Melanie Worthington is back among the living, after reeling from the suicide of a close friend. She has no idea she is to become the pawn between two powerful dark angels, one who would command her as his personal concubine, and the other who would set her free.
Will their love survive the battle between the two dark angels, or will Joshua risk his own immortal life to protect the woman he loves?
I hired the talented Cindy Pavlinac http://www.CAPavlinac.com to help me design some author shots. Her stunning photographs of sacred places has charmed me into a journey and has inspired some of the scenes in my stories. I also participated in a Labyrinth Walk in San Francisco's Grace Cathedral last November. It was the highlight of the holiday season for me.
I wrote my first book, Angel, which will be out on the e-formats in May, without a villain. I used the barrier of an angel wanting to be human as being the villain in the original story. But after I had finished it, realized I needed an honest-to-goodness actual villain.
I have a thing for dark angels, brooding, sensuous, mostly males but some females, on a collision course with their own nature and against most forms of authority. As in all my stories, the basic theme is: Love heals in the gardens of the heart. I believe in the power of redemption through true love, that in loving another it brings out the very best in ourselves. True strength is measured in strength of character. Believing in something outside ourselves, whether it be spiritual or of this world, is the highest calling. I love to write stories about how people discover miraculous gifts within themselves to overcome impossible odds.