Wednesday, April 1, 2015

PROTECTION Gets Some Recognition

PROTECTION finaled for the 2015 EPIC eBook Award in Romantic Suspense and has also finaled for the 2015 Carolyn Readers Choice Award in Romantic Suspense with the North Texas Romance Writers of America.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

The True Heroines in My Life - National Women's History Month

The month of March is designated at National Women's History Month. The theme this year is Women Weaving the Stories of Women's Lives. I've introduced you to the women of my novels over this month. Now, let me introduce you to some of the remarkable women from my family.

Top left is my maternal grandmother, Anna Kenney Hennessey--Grandma. She bore ten children, raised nine of those children into adulthood. She was the essence of the term 'homemaker.' She always had homemade soup on the stove and homemade bread on the table. She walked miles to church because the church was important to her. Family was her vocation and she lived it well until she passed at the age of 60.

Top right is a photo of my paternal grandfather, me, my sister--Peggy, and my paternal grandmother Georgie Margaret Hurst Rettstatt--Nana. My father was her only child and we were the only grandchildren. She doted on us. I remember shopping with her in Brownsville. It was never just about the shopping, but about going 'downtown' and visiting with women she knew who worked in various shops there. Shopping was a highly social event. She worked at different times, in a dairy store and, later, selling women's clothing in a store in Cleveland, Ohio where she and my grandfather relocated. She was short and round and soft and truly a Nana. She live to the age of 94.

And my sister, Peggy, three years my junior. I grew up with stories in my head about how I'd like to live, the things I'd like to do, the risks I'd like to take. She had the courage to do them. She's still braver than I when it comes to living life instead of imagining it.

Bottom left is my mother, Anna Katherine Hennessey "Kay" Rettstatt. When I look through family documents, I find my mother listed as Catherine, Kathryn A., and Anna Katherine. She used to love to tell stories about herself when she was growing up and then caution my sister and myself to NEVER do the same things she did. She was a risk-taker in her earlier years. From my childhood, I have fond memories of her joining us for a game of baseball in the back yard, playing with a hula hoop (which I still have on 8 mm film somewhere), and the way she sang country songs while she worked around the house. She had a great sense of humor. I always felt a bit of sadness for my mother, believing she wasn't completely happy and that, perhaps, had a dream she'd never pursued. Maybe that's why she had three different configurations to her name. And maybe that's her gift to me--to pursue my dreams.

The next two photos on the bottom are me--expressing my individuality and interest in music at age three and a more recent photo taken during a casual photo shoot for my website. I look at myself now and I reflect that self off those other women. I am who I am largely because of who they were. Nurturing, caring, faithful, hard working, loving and fun-loving. Perhaps with a shadow of mystery, a wee bit of sadness. Not the kind of sadness that makes us want to curl up in a ball. The kind of sadness that reflects a longing for something more, that drives us deeper into the search for our own truths.

There are so many women throughout history who have cleared a path and lighted the way for us. Some of them may still be with us, walking at our sides, covering our backs--bringing a smile from our memories. Take the time to thank them today.

Who are or have been the strong women in your life who have made you who you are today?

Friday, March 27, 2015

Lily and Chelsea Champion - Renting To Own

I bring my celebration of National Women's History Month to a close by introducing Lily Champion and daughter, Chelsea. Lily was going to come alone, but being a single parent, couldn't get a sitter.

I apologize.It's just been Chelsea and me for so long, I'm used to having her with me everywhere. My neighbor, Mrs. Glenn, had a bingo tournament this evening. So it Women's History Month. I'm only twenty-four now, so not much history here. Though some days I feel four times that age.

I don't like to complain because it sounds like I regret my life, and I don't. I especially don't regret having Chelsea. It might have been better to wait a few years, sure. But having her forced me to grow up fast--something I'd already begun after my mom died when I was seven years old. I also have Helen Shaw who was my high school English teacher, my port in the storm and, for all intents and purposes, a mother to me.

I'm finally getting our life together. I have a great job and a house I'm renting to own. At times I feel our life is like that--Renting To Own--paying dues to toward security. Some people look at my life and see struggles and mistakes. Well, hell, who doesn't have those? I look at my life and see love, forgiveness, and strengths I never dreamed I could possess. When I look at my daughter, I see determination and self-confidence in her eyes. If I give her nothing else, I'm proud that I've given her this.

My name is Chelsea Champion and I'm five years old. My teacher told Mommy I'm very sociable. I'm not sure what that means, but I think it's a good thing. Mommy and I moved out of Auntie Helen's house because Mommy got a better job. And then she got a different job again with Rick. I like Rick a lot. I hope Mommy likes him a lot, too. Don't tell them I said this, but sometime I ask God to make Rick my daddy 'cause I don't have one of those. 

Read Lily and Chelsea's full story in RENTING TO OWN (published by Turquoise Morning Press), available in ebook at

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Cee Cee - Ladies In Waiting

Winding down on National Women's History Month with the story of Cee Cee from Ladies In Waiting.

Most people crash wedding receptions or birthday parties. Me? I crashed a retreat for women over the age of fifty. I'm only thirty-two. But I'm so tired and so uninspired with my life. Don't get me wrong. I love my kids more than anything and I think I still love Ben. So much is going on in my life right now and I need him to be supportive. But we just seem to get farther and farther apart. I feel lost. So when my mother was unable to attend the retreat with other women her age, I arranged for my mother-in-law to babysit, packed a bag--which turned out to be filled with all sorts of surprises thanks to my kids--and drove my soccer mom van to a retreat house whose name I couldn't even pronounce.

The other women--Julia, Liv, Markie and Andi--were all there to reinvent themselves. I felt like I was there to invent myself in the first place. I thought about all the things no one told me--that married love changes, that we start to take each other for granted, that sometimes we make sacrifices we regret. That being a grownup is so darned hard.

That these women let me stay with them for the week was miracle enough for me. That they were gracious enough to share their stories with me--the kid of the group--was just amazing. That week was like a crash course in aging well despite making mistakes. They each came to the retreat running from something, the same way I was running. But these women were warriors. They ARE warriors, and I want to finish growing up just like them. I'm glad I started when I did. I'm also glad I found a way to follow my dream and still hold onto the dreams I'd begun to build with Ben and our kids. I know you can't have it all, but I sure do have more than I'd ever imagined.

Get to know Cee Cee better in LADIES IN WAITING, (from Turquoise Morning Press) available in ebook and trade paperback at

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Markie and Julia - Ladies In Waiting

Continuing my month long celebration of heroines from my books, meet Markie and Julia from LADIES IN WAITING. (Talk about two very different women.)

My name is Markie Lyons and I'm an artist. I'm also a left-over hippie, having experienced the great Summer of Love in San Francisco, right after running away from home. I've had an interesting life. It's usually more interesting to others than to myself. I embraced my father's grandmother's Gypsy heritage and I took on her name--Markova. All I ever wanted to do was to create art in several forms, including painting and sculpture. Both require a steady hand and a clear mind. What will I do when I'm no longer assured of having either? I don't see a way I can live without my art. I came to this retreat to sort out thoughts and feelings and fears and to come to some peace with what I need to do next. The small group of women who gathered her are so wonderfully passionate and compassionate. I could easily see myself becoming friends with any and all of them. Even Julia. The poor woman has herself buttoned up so tight and locked in such a small box. I hope she can relax and let go of the tragedy that drove her here. Yes, I know who Julia is and what happened to her. Of course, it's not my place to say anything. I hope she can find the inner forgiveness she needs to get free.

My name is Julia Lane and I'm an Assistant District Attorney in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. But don't spread that around too much. I'm not exactly popular there right now. With good reason. I did my job thoroughly and efficiently on a recent case. The job was all that mattered and the results were tragic. And while I've never been one to admit failure, I failed everyone involved in this case. I'm not here for some New Age crap about reinvention. I'm here because it was affordable, available, and in driving distance, and I needed a place to hide. None of these women know who I am or why I'm here. I intend to keep it that way. I'll have at least seven days of peace and quiet, time to figure things out. I love my work. Or I did until this last case. Hell, I don't blame the people in Philadelphia who are demanding my head on a platter--yes, some of them actually carried signs depicting this. I want my head on a platter, too. Nothing changes by my coming to this place, except that I'm not in that place where people hate me. A week or so and I'll get myself together and be ready to face what awaits me back in Philadelphia. I'll keep to myself and no one will get hurt.

Learn more about Markie and Julia in LADIES IN WAITING (published by Turquoise Morning Press), available in ebook and trade paperback at

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Liv and Andi from Ladies In Waiting

Continuing my celebration of National Women's History Month and the theme of Women Weaving Stories of Women's Lives, I want to introduce the women of LADIES IN WAITING. First up are Liv and Andi.

Hi, this is Liv. When I found the women's retreat in Cape May, New Jersey, I confess I didn't much care about the topic. I saw it as a refuge. I needed an escape, space to just breath, to find out who Liv Zacharias was now. She wasn't the woman hiding under the disguise of hair color and a semi-fictional story. She wasn't the woman the papers made her out to be, either. Of course I fit the profile for the retreat: Embracing the New You: Reinventing Yourself After Fifty. I needed a new you and a reinvention more than anyone I knew. So here I was, sitting in the driveway at Siochain (which I'd learned was a Gaelic word that translated to Peace) and staring at the other women seated on the expansive wrap-around porch of the old Victorian house. I wanted to turn tail and run back to Long Island. What if they recognized me? What if they believed the newspapers? What if my antianxiety meds stopped working? Well, there was only one way to find out.

Andi Ryan here. You know, if you're having a group of menopausal women meet for a retreat on the shore in summer, you should warn them that there's no central air conditioning? When Liv, the newest retreatant to arrive, informed me of that little tidbit, I wanted to get into the car, turn the AC on high, and head straight back to Tom's River. But, damn, I needed this time away. I needed to sort out my feelings about being a young widow (shut up--young is a relative term), being at odds with my almost adult daughter, and finding myself in a very hot relationship with a much younger man. Now this was heat I could tolerate. The Andi I always knew was still in there under all that mess--somewhere. I was sure of that. I just needed to find her again. Sometimes you have to step away from the familiar to see what's right under your nose in the first place. It can be like taking a step back from the mirror and the vision becomes clearer. This was my step back. If the damned hot flashes didn't kill me first. I liked the other women here, at least until I met Julia. You'll see what I mean when you meet her. Now Liv looks so familiar to me, but I just can't place her. Menopause brain, I suppose.

Meet the ladies of LADIES IN WAITING (published by Turquoise Morning Press), available in ebook and trade paperback at

Monday, March 23, 2015

Lainie - Quiet Time

Meet Lainie Graham, the heroine from QUIET TIME, and hear her remarkable story of survival.

Be careful what you wish for--you just might get it. How many times have I heard that? I never thought that getting what we wish for could be a bad thing, though. Right? Wrong. I'm a busy mom and homemaker. James and I decided I would stay at home at least until our daughter, Chelsea, was in pre-school. I love being a mom. I love keeping a home for James. But I do admit there are times when I'd like to run away alone for just a few minutes and have a little private quiet time. That was my wish. In a most unusual and frightening way, I got my wish.

I never knew what hit me. Truthfully. Not until much later when James told me what happened. I just found myself suddenly trapped inside, aware of the world outside, but unable to participate in it. Your mind can really play with you when you're in this state of suspension. I discovered things about myself that I'd ignored or taken for granted--my ability to be jealous, my ability to doubt those I love, my ability to want to give up. I also discovered my capacity for love and forgiveness. I guess you could say I had a grand awakening in many ways.

Travel inside the mind and heart of a coma patient. Let Lainie show you what that life inside is like. QUIET TIME (a short novella) is available in both ebook and trade paperback at