Preview Sarah’s Song

I can’t wait for you to meet Sarah, her best friend Melody, and our hero Michael and his band mates Aidan and Conor.

Too bad Conor from the story wasn’t here to do a drum roll… because I’d like to share the prologue and first chapter!

Prologue

Sarah Austin

Eugene, Oregon, USA

“God, Sarah, I just wish you’d think about someone else for once.”

Ian’s words burned into me. Sliced into me. Filled me with rage – an emotion so sudden and new that I had no idea what to say. I clenched my fists in my lap and glared out the passenger window, not seeing the people milling around downtown Eugene in the mist. Sunshine broke through for a second and I saw myself reflected back in the window, outrage in my dark eyes. The silence inside the car rang loud and long.

Think about someone else? That’s all I’ve done!

I’ve spent the last three years thinking of him, taking care of him, putting my life on hold for him. Could I ever make up for my horrible mistake three years ago and make things right again? No, I knew better than that. But I only wanted to take a girl’s trip with my best friend Melody. Was that so selfish?

He drummed his fingers on the wheel, fast, irritated. He had cracked his window, even though he knew it bothered my ears, and even the tires rolling on wet pavement sounded passive aggressive.

I worked so hard to erase his pain, to make things right in his life, but they never got better. Really, things were getting worse. Maybe I had finally reached my breaking point.

“Time shouldn’t matter,” he added in a low voice, and the cold anger startled me. “Everyone thinks I should get over it, but what do they know? What do you know, Sarah?” He said my name like it was a dirty word.

A tiny whisper somewhere in my head asked, what about me? Do I ever get to move on? Hadn’t I paid enough?

A feeling had been growing inside me, something restless and wild, and it was reaching a critical point. I wanted more—more what, I wasn’t sure. More life? More adventure? More direction? More connection with other people? I wanted to live a life and not just take care of Ian, alone all of the time.

Maybe it was selfish but the desire was growing more each day.

I worked my jaw side to side to loosen the tension. “I never once said you should just move on. You know that. You know I’ve been there for you.”

Like, every… single… day.

I couldn’t remember how to think about myself anymore. I just wanted a few days to breathe, to think. Honestly, I wasn’t sure what I needed to think about, but I just needed to step back from my life to see it. Right now, it all felt like a fog that I couldn’t escape, where I couldn’t really see anything clearly.

In the last few weeks, the trees started budding for spring. The earth was renewing; starting over. Some days, it felt as if everything else on this planet got a fresh start but I wasn’t allowed one.

Some other faint thought followed that one, but I couldn’t grab onto it. A memory? An echo of a dream? Maybe it was a song – I could almost hear a man singing.

If you want to fly, I’ll let you fly away…

I know you were tired of running… I’ll let you fly

 The music was just out of reach. It felt like I was trying to remember something urgently important, something that would change everything. I wanted to pull it out of the mist and convince myself I wasn’t going insane.

“I can’t move on,” Ian said so low it took a few seconds for the words to register.

Half of me wanted to turn toward him and reassure him, but what could I say? ‘It’s alright, you don’t have to move on. We’ll stay in our apartment together, just us, and wallow in the pain.’

No. Maybe I didn’t deserve to move on, but I needed to. Wanted to. I wanted to go back to work and see people and live again. Instead of saying any of that, I continued to glare out my window, feeling my heart beating too hard.

We’d driven through downtown to the other side where the intersections were wider. Soon we’d hit the split and turn to go up Coburg. He stopped at a light for a split second before stomping on the gas. I looked forward and gasped.

“Ian, it’s red.”

He slammed on the breaks. The car screeched to a halt right in the middle of the intersection, nothing in front of us.

“What are you doing? Don’t stop! You have to go.”

He gripped the wheel in both hands, staring forward. Horns blared at us. A car flew by from the right, inches from the front of ours. I looked in that direction. A giant silver truck barreled toward us. Our car still didn’t move.

“Ian! It’s not stopping! You have to move!”

Why wouldn’t he move—

Lauren McAlister

Dublin, Ireland

Lauren pulled a long sip from her drink before reaching over and hitting “record”.

Her reflection stared back at her, with her sky blue eyes and strawberry blond hair looking washed out. An odd feeling overcame her, like she was looking at someone else. She dropped her gaze. It was her, not the video quality that was fading.

It took a second for her shaky fingers to find their place on the guitar strings. Then she strummed, closing her eyes, pulling the intro out like taffy. She wanted to feel the music, really feel it like she used to—in her heart and soul.

Music made her. It saved her. But not anymore.

That could be a line in another song but those songs were for someone else to sing, not her.

Lauren brought her attention back to this song, the one that had been weaving itself inside her for weeks.

As she strummed, she talked.

“I’m not sure what this is titled. I’m calling it ‘Carry me Home’. It’s more about carrying my music for me. I wanted to share it and say… I wanted to say I love you all. And… and rock on.”

She started to sing.

A bird in a tree, singing

Does the world hear?

A bird in a tree, singing,

Does the world care?

It’s my song

Maybe your song

something we all need to hear

A cry from the deep, secrets meant to keep

Except the bird is singing

So much hurt, everything so weighted

All the time I wasted, all the things I hated

Hope had a home but I couldn’t see

Music was my phone, my way home

Now it will find you for me

Sing, keep the music alive

Just sing

Take wings and find a home

Take my words and roam

Don’t waste away like me

Find somebody, find somebody

Let the world see

Let the world hear

A bird in a tree

… is singing for me –

somewhere

Chapter One

Michael Singer

Red Rock Beach by Dublin, Ireland

Who are we now? Is Mystic Mist done?

The spike of anger surprised me. It was new, and I didn’t like it. I didn’t want to be angry at Lauren—that was how her dad reacted to everything. I was her safe place. Or had been.

Lauren was gone. Really gone.

And I was thinking about the band? Honestly?

We trudged up the hill like we had an appointment, a destination besides the cliff. Once there, we stood in silence, Conor and Aidan on either side of me. As lead guitarist, I was often looked at as the leader of the band. I wasn’t leading anyone these days. I tossed the handful of sandy dirt over the cliff, watching the wind scatter it into oblivion, off into the Atlantic Ocean.

I had found her in her room this morning, her face so at peace that I couldn’t make myself understand that she was gone. Where had she gone? How could she be here last night and gone today? My brain didn’t bother with answers that my heart couldn’t comprehend.

After all the emergency people left, we’d been sitting around the band house in shock. Aidan decided we were coming here, to say goodbye I guess. Or maybe to have some quiet to gather ourselves. He chose here because this was a place that brought her peace.

Are ya at peace, Lauren?

Conor shook his head, drawing my attention. “She didn’t have to do it.”

The wind almost hid his hoarse voice but then we realized what he said. Both Aidan and I snapped in his direction.

“Conor,” Aidan started in a warning tone, his jaw tight. I clenched my fists but couldn’t contain everything. I threw my hands up, twisting and rushing away from them. Instantly, Aidan and Conor ran around in front of me. Both put a hand on my shoulder.

When I semi collected myself, I said, “We don’t know.”

We didn’t know. All her medical issues, the drugs, the booze… We just couldn’t say what happened yet.

“Yeah, we don’t know it was on purpose,” Aidan said, directed toward his cousin Conor. To me, it didn’t matter, but I wondered why there wasn’t a note or any kind of goodbye. Unless, maybe there was a note somewhere and I missed it? I would look later.

We turned toward the ocean again but didn’t walk back to the cliff. That would be too dangerous, too close to the edge. We were on the edge emotionally already. The daylight was fading away. I didn’t want this day to end this way, without her. But I couldn’t make the minutes stop. Waves roared far below, their briny scent rising up. Staring straight out into the blue endless sky, I picked out the faint shape of the moon. Maybe it was that faint because it was showing from the other side – where she was. Maybe she could see it too.

“Should we say something?” Aidan asked. But no one did. No one could. Especially after Conor’s comment—it was too fresh to even process yet. We couldn’t talk about how wonderful she’d been or how the world would be darker without her. She’d been like dynamite blowing through everything. Her fire went into our lyrics. Her passion and anger in her voice drew crowds at our gigs. She’d been consuming. But, without doubt, we all loved Lauren.

Thinking her name shot a stab of pain through my heart and I looked heavenward, fighting the tears. It wasn’t fair. She was hardly given a chance in life. I had tried so hard to make it better for her and carry some of her pain. I’d been her best friend, listening ear, sometimes her man. It’d been complicated but I had always been whatever she needed.

We started out as neighbors turned friends over a shared love of music. It didn’t take long for me, even as a boy, to know something was off in her home. We were ten the first time I heard fighting. We were playing a board game on the floor in the living room while music videos blared on the TV. She moved her piece on the board and went back to head banging. It took a minute to register the yelling from another room.

I watched the sparkle disappear from her eyes. The front door slammed, and her dad’s current girlfriend continued yelling from the front yard as she left.

Lauren shrugged and turned the music up. “It’s your turn!” she yelled, jabbing a hand at the game. I thought it was okay for a second, but even as a kid I noticed how stiffly she sat and the way she glanced behind me every few seconds.

We heard her father stomp up the stairs and slam another door.

“He’ll be fine after he drinks,” Lauren said as if that were normal. That was her typical reaction, at least the first few years. Then she started down her own path of drinking, drugs, and self harm. It spiraled out of control when her health took a dive—thanks to sickle cell disease running in her family, along with alcoholism and some schizophrenia. Talk about getting the shitty end of the stick in about every instance.

Some days, she was full of fire. Other days she just wanted to hide from all the pain, both emotionally and physically. And through all the days, we had music. Starting a band in my garage happened so naturally that I couldn’t remember who thought of it. We could escape the violence in her home and the entire outside world to get lost into our own.

I choked on a sob, trying to push the past away. Conor and Aidan both wrapped an arm around me.

Conor had been my friend since we could push toy trucks around. He joined the band to play the drums. We’d been lucky to know someone with natural talent, plus Conor’s parents had paid for private lessons from a young age. Conor took only one thing in life seriously, and that was drumming. In all other aspects, he had a ‘live and let live’ attitude.

Conor brought Aidan in to play bass—they were cousins but opposites in some ways. Conor was a ginger with light reddish blond hair. Aidan had dark hair like me, but with deep brown eyes. Their personalities were like night and day as well.

From a young age, Aidan was obsessed with bass players from all over the music world, Duff McKagan, Flea, Cliff Burton, Getty Lee, despite so many Irish bands not including the bass. He was the guy you could go to when you needed advice. He kept the peace when needed. It made sense that he thought of coming here to remember Lauren.

What did that make me? I wasn’t sure. I actually didn’t know my role in life besides making music, keeping the band on track, and keeping Lauren alive. Except I hadn’t.

“Is this the end?” I asked out loud, not thinking.

“What the hell?” Conor nudged my arm. He leaned forward to share a look with Aidan on the other side of me.

“What do you mean?” Aidan asked, “The end of what?”

“The band. Us,” I said. A long pause followed.

“We’re still here,” Aidan finally said quietly. “She didn’t want us to fall apart.”

But we would. I hated that thought, but wasn’t that how it worked? What if I didn’t want us to go on without her?

Conor shook his head. Cleared his throat. He was gearing up to say something important, which wasn’t his style. After some feet shuffling, he said, “People need us.”

I looked at him for a long moment, wanting to believe that but not sure I could. We weren’t that famous. Did our band mean anything to other people, or just to us?

 It had been something that kept Lauren going, until it didn’t anymore. Why did this have to happen? Everything felt wrong now. Why couldn’t I have just kept her alive?

Sarah

Eugene, Oregon

It was more than a thought or feeling, so much more, yet it stayed at the edge of my perception, ever so quietly and slowly coming my way. I wasn’t afraid. It wasn’t coming for me, just to me. Peace settled into my chest, like morning sunshine and music at the same time. Chords on a guitar played a soft song. Notes came in from another guitar, both acoustic. A man’s voice seemed to rise out of the song followed by a woman’s, singing in perfect harmony.

I’ll let you fly away . . .

Was this the memory that had tickled my mind? It didn’t matter. This felt so sweet, feeling the music flow through me.

This is what it feels like, I realized, to not be full of guilt.

 Then the peaceful feeling evaporated, replaced by darkness and a question: why would I feel guilty? That brought it all back: the argument about the girl’s trip, the intersection, the red light, the truck barreling toward my window as I sat still, helpless. No.

Ian, why didn’t you move?

“Sarah?” The voice was unfamiliar but when I pried my eyelids open, Melody’s face swam in front of me with tears pooling in her greenish-hazel eyes. Her cascading brown ringlets were swept over one shoulder as she leaned toward me.

Why was she so worried?

“Melody?” I tried to reach for her and she took my hand. My mind felt torn between a story it was weaving and reality, but each breath took me farther away from the fragmented thoughts I’d been chasing.

Melody wiped at her eyes, trying for a wobbly smile.

“You really do have crazy long eyelashes,” I said, my voice airy like I hadn’t talked in a long time.

She gave a gurgled laugh. “Sarah, you okay in there?” 

“Hello, there.” The voice came from behind Melody. A young woman doctor waited for me to focus on her. Her brown eyes reached out, caring. “Can you tell me your name?”

“Sarah Austin. Melody didn’t tell you?”

The doctor smiled. “You weren’t so sure last time. This is progress.”

 Melody took a shaky breath. Her hand tightened around mine. “Sarah, welcome back.”

This was a hospital—this was like before, yet, it wasn’t. This was new.

 “Sarah, I’m Dr. Sharma. Are you in any pain?”

After a second’s thought, I said, “No, not that I can tell right now.” I almost shook my head but it felt weird. Maybe something was wrong.

“That’s good to hear.”

“Am I okay?”

“You have a concussion and contusions from the seat belt—that just means bruising. Those will probably get worse over the next few days but I can prescribe a pain killer. You’ve been in and out since arriving here, so I ordered a brain scan. No swelling or bleeding.”

I looked at Melody, confused. Hadn’t I just woken up? How long have I been here? The words didn’t come out.

The doctor had me track a light with my eyes while asking a series of simple questions to check my memory. When she turned to speak to the nurse, a long sheath of straight black hair swept down her back, swishing with her movement. She came back to me and said they were going to monitor me at least until the next day. “I’ll be around in another couple of hours, okay? If you need anything, call for your nurse.”

This all felt routine, but something felt very wrong. Once we were alone, I asked Mel, “What about . . . Ian? He’s gone?”

She nodded and I sucked in a breath.

“He left with his mother.”

My breath rushed out as stars sparkled in my vision from relief. Melody started gushing, “No, no, I’m so sorry! I didn’t mean he died. He just left, and I haven’t seen him.”

“What do you mean, just left? Did he at least check on me first?”

Her gaze dropped as she gave a small shake. It didn’t make any sense that he would take off and leave me alone, like he didn’t care. Maybe my brain was rattled and I was missing something, or maybe his overly controlling mother forced him to leave. Still, he couldn’t stand up to her and stay for me?

“So he didn’t get injured, if he left? Do you know if he’s okay?”

When she didn’t have an answer, I asked for my phone. My things were in a bag and my phone still had a charge, so I called him.

It rang for a long minute, and just when I expected voicemail, he answered.

“Hello.” It was his mother’s chilly voice.

“Oh, hi Lucinda, is Ian alright? Where is he?”

“My son wants nothing to do with you. Leave him alone.” She hung up.

I stared at my phone and then looked at Mel, utterly confused and hurt. Melody must have known something was going on because she was quiet, just sitting beside me and holding my hand.

Just then I caught sight of blue uniforms lingering in my doorway. My heartbeat halted, my chest constricting.

“Sarah Austin?” The taller officer asked as he stepped into the room. “Can we ask you a few questions?”

Melody jumped in. “She’s confused right now—the doctor said she has a concussion. Ian was driving.”

“We talked to the doctor, got an update,” the officer said, catching my attention. He was slim and had a very pretty face, making him look like a catwalk model and not a cop at all. The shorter, stocky officer remained by the door. 

“What happened?” I asked, wondering if it was all wrong in my head.

“We’re here to ask you that. Do you remember what happened?”

At first, music filled my head, but I pushed past that. My mind didn’t want to go back to the accident, but I remembered the panic, the oncoming traffic, the scene playing out silently for some reason. Oddly, I didn’t remember a crunch or the sound of screaming. Just getting flung sideways.

“Ian ran a red light, then slammed on the breaks. I yelled for him to move, but he wouldn’t. He just hung onto the wheel. Then I saw a truck coming at us, at me. It was coming so fast.”

“I heard she was texting,” Melody said quickly, again sticking up for me, but it made me wonder if I looked guilty. Was I in trouble? The tall office started to glance at his partner but simply nodded instead.

“She didn’t look up in time.” He explained the oncoming truck hit the back end of our car, spinning it. Then traffic coming from the other direction hit the driver side, where most of the damage occurred.

For a second, I could visualize the car, crumpled in on all sides. I suddenly felt very lucky that I wasn’t seriously hurt. How did Ian walk away? But he must be okay if he left the hospital. I shivered, thinking of his mother, Lucinda Warrant, who loved to blame me for everything wrong with the world.

“Do you remember what happened before that?” he asked. Did the police want to find out what I did to cause the accident? Did they know about the other accident?

If I lied, they would find out. Lucinda would tell them, and Ian was possibly using me as a scapegoat for this accident. Lying would only make this worse, and I couldn’t think fast enough to lie anyway.

“We were arguing, I guess. Not like yelling, but he was mad. I wanted to go on a trip without him and Ian didn’t like that. He has trouble being alone, ever since

The first officer finished for me: “Since his accident three years ago?”

They knew

“Accidents happen,” the shorter cop said by the door, his tone light, as if those two words could explain it all away. “You don’t remember what happened?”

I didn’t want to remember this accident or the one three years ago. I closed my eyes for  a second. The second stretched out and I heard Melody tell them about my concussion and how I needed to rest.

If accidents just happened, why did they happen to me so often? Why did I cause so many?

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A little preview….

The Billionaire Who Bought Me

Ch. 1. Just a sleazy fake girlfriend for sale over here

Of course I didn’t want to, but did I have any choice?

I glanced at the text from my friend Jenna that read, “Zoe, are you sure you want to do this?”

She knew I needed a LOT of money to save my sister’s life and get my family out of financial trouble. Jenna was even the one who told me about this site in the first place. It was called Pay to Play and it allowed men to buy video time with women.

At first I was shocked she’d do something like that, but we had both struggled the last couple of years, and Jenna had two small kiddos to think about. She video chatted with men at night after her kids went to bed. She had a waitressing job in the mornings, but it wasn’t cutting it.

I had tried not to judge her. Actually, I was more worried than anything else. Then my little sister got sick. My parents put all their earthy assets into getting her the best care, trying to keep her alive until she could get a heart transplant. She was only fourteen. The stress got to my dad, and ironically, he had a heart attack. Then my grandfather died. We were drowning.

 So, yeah, I asked her about the site.

I needed a way to make money while still having time to be with my family and help them. She showed me the ins and outs of the site, how to avoid things I wouldn’t want to do, and then we noticed the ad.

It was listed under “In person, extended projects” so I shouldn’t have been looking there in the first place. The title read, “Fake GF for a few weeks.”

That didn’t sound that bad. The ad read:

“Looking for female companion, someone with little or no online presence or a high profile job. Not what you think but it pays very well. Six figures. Must be willing to travel, sign NDA, and take on assigned persona. Reply with your photo and current job. ”

I just had to go on a trip with this man? Pretty easy for one hundred thousand dollars. Not what you think. It could be a really old guy who wanted a nurse or a pretty lady by his side. I could be changing diapers or living it up like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. Who knew why he was doing this. I didn’t care. And I wouldn’t want to get to know him ‘for reals’—just for the job.

And besides, I could keep Jenna updated on my whereabouts to stay safe, if I actually secured a job like this. Maybe I could also download an app that would track my location and report it to Jenna and my family.

I clicked a link to see more about the man behind the ad. His level said Billionaire, but I wasn’t sure it they had to prove their income level. However, I knew he had enough extra money to pay for this project. That wasn’t a small chunk of change to just hand over.

He hadn’t included a photo or any personal information in the bio section, just a sentence: You won’t need to get to know me, just the character sheets for myself and you.

Hmm. Maybe he liked mystery and the power it gave him. This could be about a power rush, something outrageous that he could do simply because he had the money. Would he be mean?

I sent a text back to Jenna: It’s not always about what we want, is it?

Then I sent another text promising to put safeguards in place. My fingers shook, but I hit ‘reply’ to the ad and wrote:

“My name is Zoe Montgomery and I’m a home health nurse, although I also work a few hours in my family’s bookstore when I can. My last client recently died so I’m awaiting a new assignment. Attached please find my photo. I just joined this site so I’m learning how it all works still. Thank you for your consideration.”

Seriously? It sounded like I was applying for a librarian job, not some fake girlfriend ad.

“It’s just an application, Zoe,” I told myself, questioning if I had the looks and body for a job like this. I was a nurse who liked helping other people, and a bookworm who collected old fairytales. This billionaire would read my response and laugh, unless he wanted a naughty librarian?

But I had to look into every way possible to make money to keep Belina alive.

Every time I doubted if I could do this, a memory flashed in my mind in a series of images. It was almost a year ago now. At first I would see Bel smiling at me, tall oaks behind her with loads of green leaves shading the park.

Belina looks so much like me, just as I look like our mother: the same long dark hair, same long body, same long legs. We all share a wide smile and dark eyes that get shiny with happiness or anger.  

A flash, and the picture changed. Her smile fell. Her face went blank.

Another flash. She looked at me, her expression both blank and full of dread. I could see something was very wrong.

Another flash, her eyes rolled back, showing white.

And then she fell.

I raced to her, checking for breathing and a pulse. I’d been trained in CPR when I worked at the pool as a teenager, and then again in nursing school. Half of me screamed in panic, but that half was inside. On the outside, I went into action with chest compressions and breaths.

An ambulance came with squad cars and the fire truck, a normal response I guess.

Belina’s heart stopped three times that we know of. The doctor at the hospital said I’d saved her life but it wasn’t over. I just helped her fight for another day. We didn’t know that at the time, of course. But now I had a real chance to do something that would matter, that would make a real difference.

I shook myself from the memory, and shook off the acidic fear it always brought. When it happened, I took action. But when the memory comes, it stops me cold.  

My hand hovered over the keyboard. Then, I closed my eyes and tapped a fingernail on the enter key. Message Sent.

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New Year, New Book, and a Treasure Hunting Story!

It’s 2014, and Costa Rica is out! It’s available in Kindle, Smashwords, and Kobo, with print and other ebook retailers coming soon. A funny thing happened the day before I launched it…

We kicked off the new year with a family hiking trip on the 1st. It was clear and fairly warm here for January, especially after the icy weather we’ve had the last two months. Our hike included many steep hills, and a giant tree sat on top of one of them, with wide, spreading branches that made perfect seats. (I must keep the type of tree secret so I don’t give away too many hints.) The boys and I climbed up the tree’s fat branches, and I looked around us and spotted a yellow tackle box in an old, hollowed out tree trunk. So of course I scrambled down my tree to go investigate.

I LOVE finding things. Don’t you? I’ve always kept an eye out for interesting little treasures out in the woods, and I’ve found mushrooms, flowers, berries, an elk shed, unique rocks, and other little things in the forest floor. Many people watch for arrowheads. It just always feels like I’ll find something cool.

So this time I actually found a treasure. Well, a geocache treasure. Normally you get the coordinates from a club or website like geocaching.com and then hike out to look for the cache. We happened to stumble upon it.

fishThis cache had a bag full of things: ping pong balls, sharpie markers, bug repellent, coins, tiny notebooks with pretty pictures, and other little trinkets. One trinket was a little beaded fish on a keyring. How cool is that? I totally fell in love with it, so we traded a pair of batman sunglasses for it.

So does that relate in any way to my new release? Well, in my world, everything is somehow related. Call it writer’s brain or something, but that’s just how it works around here. I found this tropical fish on the 1st and launched my new book, Costa Rica, on the 2nd. I couldn’t wish for a better lucky charm!

So here’s my new book, a romantic family drama set in Coos Bay, Oregon, and the west side of Costa Rica:

Costa Rica by Kristen James     Costa Rica – Kindle Link            Preview the First Chapter on my website

Annalisa and Drew have always dreamed of going to Play Flamingo, Costa Rica, with their best friends, Vincent and Melinda. But now they’re out of time.

Annalisa feels their marriage is just a shell for others to see–there’s nothing left inside. She wonders if they can rekindle their love in paradise, but there’s so little left. They gave up on their marriage along with their dream of having children.

Time is literally slipping away from Vince and Mel. Vincent’s cancer is back–his tumor is inoperable and he won’t do chemo again. This trip is now or never.

 

***

I’m releasing this one across multiple ebook retailers to reach more readers. In fact, I’ll be releasing some of my backlist across various retailers throughout this coming year, and posting the links on my Novels page. (While you’re there, check out the new cover for More Than a Promise!)

I pushed things with this story; it’s literary/women’s fiction/romance/travel and looks at several emotionally charged issues. It’s Annalisa’s story, but also a romance between her and Drew. Their best friends, Melinda and Vince, have a storyline too. Costa Rica is similar to Point Hope (with Trey and Rosette), but I wanted to lighten the mood just a bit. It was also fun contrasting the coasts from Oregon and Costa Rica. I always get giddy excited about sharing a new book, and I hope you enjoy it.   🙂

Happy Friday and weekend!   XXOO ~Kristen

Merry Christmas! Cover Reveal. And Looking Ahead.

There’s a lot stuffed into that title! I wanted to send out a big MERRY CHRISTMAS to everyone – I hope you’re enjoying a bright, wonderful holiday season. Does it feel rushed to you this year? We had a short season between Thanksgiving and Christmas! I just got my tree up yesterday and started my Christmas shopping.

I also hope it’s been a good year for you. For me, a lot happened but then again, things slowed down this year. I published Point Hope and a lot happened with that book, but I didn’t finish another until autumn. (I did publish a novella this summer called A Wedding to Remember.) So Costa Rica will be out early next year, which is actually just weeks away now!

Front CoverHere’s the cover.

You might notice something a little different about this cover, compared to my other books. There’s just one person on this cover. I’ve been writing romance for several years, yet more and more my stories are focusing on family drama and married romance. I love including romance in my stories, but it’s a different kind of romance than you find in, say, a romance novel. The story in Point Hope centered around an entire family. It was actually an in-depth, close up and personal story about the trouble between Trey and Rosette, their own struggles, and the family dynamic. I love that story! I loved writing it and sharing it with readers. It’s the kind of story I look for when choosing books, and the kind of story I wanted to write for so long.

Costa Rica, too, is about family with a twist. It’s about two families, but it’s also about Annalisa’s personal journey. There’s romance, but much more, and I wanted the cover to reflect the feel of the story.

The other big difference is this cover shows Costa Rica and not somewhere in Oregon. It actually begins in Coos Bay (like Point Hope) and then moves to Costa Rica. (I’ll post the description and first chapter soon!)

My next book, In a Field of Oranges, is more of a romance with some heavy personal struggles. It has a feel like Point Hope, but Lance and Sierra are almost strangers when the story opens. I’ll share more about that story in the next few months, and I plan to release it in the first half of 2014. I’m having a great time writing this one, and I have to admit it’s thrilling to write different kinds of stories. Working on In a Field of Oranges feels fresh and new, and I think it’ll improve my stories that much more to have a spectrum of story types.

I’m going to write A LOT next year. I’m itching to share my next story idea, but I’ll wait until I’ve actually started it.   🙂   Stay tuned!

Much Love,

Kristen

 

 

Montlake Romance acquires Point Hope

It’s been a huge pleasure to share with you along the way and hear from readers all over, and I have exciting news to share now.

First I’d like to provide a little context. I’ve been successfully self publishing for almost three years, but “Self” or “Indie” publishing  isn’t a solo operation at all. I’ve utilized a team of freelancers to help with editing, proof reading and cover design, and I feel I’ve continuously improved the quality of my writing and book production. I’m also working with A.K. Waters at Zulu 7 Productions, who has helped with several projects including Point Hope.

I published Point Hope in the middle of June, and I’ve been happily overwhelmed with reader response!  It sold 5,000 copies in less than two months. It’s also been picked up by Montlake Romance, an Amazon Imprint. Montlake will relaunch the book this fall, but it’ll remain for sale on Amazon until we’re ready to switch over.  This feels like a natural next step.  I’m very excited to to work with Montlake because I can reach even more readers.  And of course, I’m looking forward to sharing more of my writing journey with you!

POINT HOPE ON AMAZON                MY NOVELS

Walking in my Character’s shoes – with Trey and Rosette

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One of the most fun aspects of being an author is stepping into the world of my characters. Trey and Rosette from Point Hope live in an old family home overlooking the Oregon coast. This weekend I walked on “their beach,” drove on their road and through their town, thinking about their story, their home and their lives. It surprised me just how powerfully I felt the connection they would experience between their family, traditions and home. Everywhere I looked, I was reminded of different family trips and special moments from my childhood and from trips with my kids. This weekend we were having a great time with our six kids, playing on different beaches and going to our favorite restaurants.

I have to agree with Trey – spring and autumn are awesome seasons on the beach. It’s not as windy as in the summer and there aren’t nearly as many tourists. (Although the local economy probably loves the summer crowd!) We enjoyed two days of great weather, with sun and clouds but not rain, and just a hint of wind on the beach. The kids had to run to keep the kites up in the air!

Here’s a few pictures from the beach as the clouds broke up, making it seem almost like a moonscape in some shots.

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Happy New Year! A look back and forwards.

Wow, I did a lot of writing and publishing in 2012 and I don’t plan to slow down any time soon! This last year, I published:

  • A Spy for Christmas
  • A Special Ops Christmas
  • More Than a Promise
  • Un vaquero para navidad – the Spanish version of A Cowboy for Christmas (Spanish books have lower case titles, in case you’re wondering)
  • The Enemy’s Son – republished actually – it was with a small Canadian publisher before that
  • In The Land of Huckleberries and Wokas – a Native American novella similar to my novel The River People.
  • and a children’s book called Even Animals Get Their Own Room. This was a special project because my sons Isaac and Caleb illustrated it.

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Yes, this is on Amazon if you want copy or want to search inside to see their artwork.

This project spanned two years. We’d pull out the art supplies and work on it a Saturday here or an afternoon there. Isaac and Caleb each took copies to school to show to their friends. They donated a copy to their library and another kid checked it out that same day. So we had a ton of fun working on it, and we were all proud of the final product. The printed book actually looks like you could feel the crayon on the paper; I was just amazed at the quality.

 

Every year I learn more about storytelling, writing and using my strengths as a writer, so I owe a big thanks to all my readers for sharing your thoughts on Facebook, here and in reviews on Amazon. This last year I learned to listen to my own heart on storytelling and not on the usual rules and expectations. I thought about what kind of story I want to experience, write and read, not what big publishers or all the Writer Rules say you should write. I let readers guide me too, through comments and reviews.

2013 – A new year and new opportunities

I’m already working on a new novel for this year. It’s an emotional story of romance, commitment and family, similar in theme to More Than Memories, More Than a Promise and A Special Ops Christmas. I love looking at family relationships, rekindling and rebuilding love, and making a better future. I’ll tell you more about the story soon and share the cover in the next couple of months.

My goals and plans are much the same for this year. I want to keep writing, keep improving and grow my readership. Even my personal goals are the same – I love spending time with my family and experiencing life to the fullest. There are a few things on the agenda, like riding in a hot air balloon and the local trolly that goes on a winery tour. If you saw this big red trolly around your town, you’d understand!

Thanks so much for joining my journey. I hope this is a fantastic year for everyone!

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

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Merry Christmas!

 
From my family to yours, I hope everyone has a warm, happy holiday season!

Can you imagine the dark months of winter without holiday cheer? Without twinkling lights, ringing bells, Christmas trees and holiday treats? I love the music–the old time Christmas music that first came out on records.

Have a holly, jolly Christmas…it’s the best time of the year…

I love it so much that when my kids hear Elvis or any 50s singer, they ask if it’s Christmas music! I’ve been known to pull out the Christmas music and decorations on December first; I can’t wait to get into the spirit.

This time of year, when we count our blessings, I’m extremely grateful for the many awesome readers who make my dream possible. Thanks for being a part of my journey! I appreciate the support on Facebook, the comments and your emails. I always love to hear what people think of my stories.

Winter is my busy writing period. I write year round, but the wet, possibly cold, and short winter days here in the Pacific Northwest seem perfectly suited for writing. It gets dark around 5!

This holiday season I published A Spy for Christmas, with a perfect holiday setting at a snowy mountain cabin, and I’m working on another holiday novella to share with you soon. What can I say? This time of year gets me into the mood to write about Christmas. I’m also working on Promises Fulfilled, Book 3 of the Second Gift Series. I hope to have it ready this month, or maybe January by the latest.

Oh, I also put together a box set with a special price! The info is in the previous post.

Take care and have a wonderful holiday season!   ♥♥♥   ~Kristen