As most of you already know, I love cooking as much as I love writing, so I’ll always have at least one scene in my novels where my characters eat in, and I include the recipe at the end of the book.
The Letter, however, has proven to be a bit of a challenge. This novel has two different scenes, with two different characters, eating in with a special guest, so decisions, decisions. Which recipe do I include? It was a toss up, but here is the one I didn’t include. It’s easy to prepare and the perfect romantic dinner for two. Just saying.
ORANGE GLAZED CORNISH GAME HENS
2 Cornish Game Hens (defrosted)
2 tablespoons orange marmalade
2 tablespoons orange juice
lemon pepper blend
Preheat oven to 350. Wash hens thoroughly, shake off excess water and place in a baking dish. Mix orange marmalade and orange juice in a small mixing bowl. Once the marmalade is blended smooth brush 1/2 of the mixture on each hen with a pastry brush. Sprinkle lightly with lemon pepper blend. Bake for approximately 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Serve with rice, wild rice or potatoes. If desired, garnish with fresh orange slices.
Note: If preparing more than two hens simply increase orange mixture by adding 1 tablespoon of orange juice and marmalade for each hen. If you’re using fresh oranges, be sure to add the zest.
My latest novel, The Letter, has gone to the editor, and it differs from all my others. This time I didn’t kill any of the characters. Not one. And that’s a first for me.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not a sociopathic serial killer. At least not in the real world. But as a novel writer, I have to create conflict and drama in my stories to keep them interesting, and when it comes to creating drama, death is about as good as it gets.
Most of the time, the dearly departed is a notorious villain with whom karma has finally caught up with. Big time. In four of my novels a bad guy, or gal, got what was coming to them. The one exception was The Journey, where I had to kill a supporting character who I truly liked. So much so that I tried writing a few alternate scenes in which the character didn’t die, but they just didn’t work as well. Killing this character off heightened the drama, which made the story more intense and a more interesting read. Nevertheless, writing this character out made me feel genuinely sad.
There is one character in The Letter I thought of killing off. Like most of my other “victims,” it was a despicable antagonist. However, unlike the others, this character also had a young child, and I simply couldn’t bring myself to create an orphan. So, this time, instead of an untimely if not painful death, it’s a terrifying near death experience. Surely you didn’t think I’d let a villain get away scot-free, did you?
As I mentioned in my last post, while I’m waiting for my latest novel, The Letter, to come back from the editor, I decided to do a minor edit on The Deception. The two stories are similar, and in the five years since I wrote The Deception, I’ve improved as a writer, so I wanted to go back and tweak some of the text to make the story flow a little smoother. However, as I was working I kept wondering where one of my scenes went. I recalled writing it, but I wasn’t seeing it in the file. Short story long, it had somehow been overlooked when the book was typeset, and I missed the error. Yikes!
Fortunately, it wasn’t a pivotal scene, which is why I hadn’t noticed it before. In the missing chapter, one of the villains is arrested and carted off to jail. The villain has committed a serious crime, and, in a prior chapter, another character has come forward with enough evidence to guarantee a conviction, so it had already been established that the villain would end up in jail. Then, near the end of the book, the villain is seen appearing in court. The missing chapter, however, is a nice, “you had it coming,” moment for readers, as you get to see the surprised villain put in handcuffs and hauled away.
The new, revised edition of The Deception, which includes the missing chapter, is now available for the Amazon Kindle, and the print edition will soon be available.
While I’m waiting for my editor to get to my latest novel, The Letter, I’m doing a minor re-edit on The Deception. The two stories are similar, and those who have read The Deception will, no doubt, enjoy The Letter, and vice versa. I wrote The Deception in 2012. It was my second novel, and I’ve improved in my craft since then, so I wanted to do some fine tuning.
The story and its contents remain the same, and most readers probably won’t notice the editorial changes. I’ve removed filler words and redundancies, and, when needed, I’ve rephrased some of the dialog to make the characters’ points of view a little more clear.
The most noticeable change is the cover. The original cover, shown above, has created some controversy as some have not understood the reason behind it. Inspired by real-life stories of revenge porn, and the havoc in creates in people’s lives, The Deception is the story of a woman who has been badly exploited in a profoundly ugly way by a trusted friend. The layout also differed with my other novels, and because I want my books to all have a consistent look, the cover has also a minor modification. While still sexy, the new look is less controversial, and it blends well when displayed with my other titles.
The new, updated version of, The Deception, will be available in early February.
Few things are more fun about this job than creating truly evil, nasty, vile antagonists, and when it comes to mean, nasty and downright evil, Craig Walker from The Stalker is an absolute delight.
A writer by profession, Craig met Rachel, the leading lady, while doing a stint as a staff writer for a regional lifestyle magazine. Rachel considered Craig a mentor, and while he found her attention flattering, he had much bigger plans for Rachel, and they went well above and beyond being her mentor. His plans, however, were suddenly foiled when she accepted a promotion he felt she did not deserve. Unaware that she had applied for the position, he reacted with rage, and after a confrontation she ended the friendship. Craig, however, had no intention of letting Rachel go. He began stalking her, and he continued to stalk her long after the magazine went out of business. Craig wants Rachel. He intends to have her at all costs, whether she wants him or not, and he’s finally come up with new plan for getting his way with her, once and for all.
Craig was inspired by someone who once stalked one of my friends and made her life miserable for a number of years.
Once again, Wes Lowe will be doing the cover illustration for The Letter. He’s sent me the pencil roughs, and I’ve selected this one for the final cover
While not as dark of a story as The Stalker, The Letter begins with leading lady Stephanie’s accidental discovery of a love letter to Danny, her significant other, from his old girlfriend. Hurt and confused, Stephanie is unsure of what to do. A close friend advises her to talk to Danny, but she hesitates, and she soon decides that his ex was simply feeling lonely at the time she wrote it, and has since moved on. Unfortunately for Stephanie, things are not as they appear.
Life has been hectic, crazy, strange and over the top, and whenever that happens manuscripts inevitably get pushed to the side, but by golly, I finally got it done. My next novel, The Letter, has gone to the editor, just in time to be stalled in her inbox as she gets ready to move across the country. Sometimes you have to either laugh or cry, but it also gives me a grace period in case I get a middle of the night inspiration for a last-minute change.
Like my previous novels, The Letter has plenty of plot twists as the characters deal with unexpected challenges. However, leading man Danny is more fallible than some of his predecessors, such as Alex Montoya in The Deception and Shane MacLeod in The Stalker. Danny is haunted by issues from his past that he can’t seem to resolve, while leading lady Stephanie is a woman with backbone who calls it as she sees it, but she sometimes does so without considering the long-term consequences.
Look for characters from my other novels to make an appearance. Jesse St. Claire from The Betrayal makes a cameo, while Paul, a supporting character from The Reunion, also has a significant role.
I’ve been busy putting the final touches on the first draft for my upcoming novel, The Letter, and I’m now in what I call, “the cleanup phase.”
Something that has always bothered me with many novels is that we would reach the big climax scene, and then, once it was over, shazam! Everything magically falls back into place right then and there, and then, one or two pages later, everyone rides off into the sunset. The end.
Wouldn’t it be great if real life was as simple?
Since I’ve always strived to make my stories as realistic and believable as possible, I include a “cleanup phase,”after the big climax. This gives my characters a chance to deal with the aftermath of whatever happened during the climax. It can be as short as an epilogue, or as long as several chapters. If a character is injured, you’ll see his or her recovery. If a villain gets arrested, you’ll find out how long the prison sentence is. If someone leaves town, he or she will have the chance to say goodbye. The leading characters will work out whatever unresolved conflicts they may have. In other words, I tie up of all the loose ends. I don’t write sequels, so I want each ending to be as complete, and as satisfying as possible for the reader.
Life happens, and I spent a busy summer producing a new book trailer with my good friend and fellow videographer, Rob Resetar, of Rob Resetar Video. Like all my book trailers, it presented its own challenges, but I still had a lot of fun. Rob and I got to work with some amazing actors, and I even spent a day in the southern Arizona wine country shooting the road footage from my dashboard.
The Deception is the story of Emily St. Claire, a devoted wife who literally catches her husband in the act with another woman. Determined to rebuild her life, Emily returns home with her father to pursue her dream of being a concert pianist, but little does she know that a new, and deadly, betrayal is about to unfold.
Once again I’m bringing a character from an earlier novel into a more recent one. This time it’s Jonathan Fields.
We first meet Jonathan in The Deception as an Internet security and forensics expert who helps identify the person responsible for framing leading lady Carrie for something she did not do. As the story continues, a new and surprising connection between Jonathan and Carrie is revealed.
Jonathan was one of those characters whom I really liked. He’s smart, he’s sexy, and he’s an unlikely hero with plenty of potential for me to work with. So I brought him back in The Stalker. This time around he’s Shane’s boss, and, just like in The Deception, he helps leading lady Rachel identify an enemy out to destroy her.
Like most of my characters, Jonathan is fictitious and not based on anyone I know personally. There are, without a doubt, many real-life Jonathans out there, working quietly behind the scenes to make cyberspace safer for all of us.