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Friday, August 31, 2007

Decatur Book Festival--I'm Soooo Going to Get Lost

Fun day tomorrow of many people roaming around me while I'm totally lost... Anyone in or around Atlanta, come check out the Decatur Book Festival this weekend (I'm on a panel at 3:00 tomorrow and will be lurking about the GRW (Georgia Romance Writer's) table a good bit):


Lots of great writers and artists and fun amazing things to see.

Thanks for the great feedback on the Because of a Boy excerpt--there's more below. I'll post later in next week with a glimpse of Martin Rhodes and Lisa Carter (returning characters from The Perfect Daughter and The Runaway Daughter who finally get to work out their romance in a way you're going to love!). For now, let's get to know Robert a bit better ;o)

I think I've heard from the last post's winners--packages to go out next week. I'll post new blog winners Sunday at the latest. In the mean time, check out the website contest page for a new prize that you can be in the running for starting in October, as well as the Coach purse winner from this summer (Jack, it's totally going to match your shoes ). Of course, I'll get around to the newsletter one of these days soon, but I wanted to give the blog a sneak peak.

I'll also be posting some reviews this week--Agnes and the Hitman, Garden Spells, maybe even one more. Great books piling up around me--must read, must read... I'll let you know what I think of them.

So, keep hanging out. I'm determined to stay in the posting groove. Come see me tomorrow if you can. And enjoy--here's some more Because of a Boy just for you:


"You bet I'm keeping Manny Digarro away from his child!" The pediatric nurse who'd rushed Stephen into the hall was furious. Indignant. "If he does show up here, which I suspect he won't, the staff won't let him anywhere near Dillon."

Stephen didn't have to read her name badge to know she was the Kate Rhodes Manny Digarro had warned him about. The homeless shelter volunteer who'd first befriended the immigrant family, then two days ago had lodged a formal complaint of child abuse with the Atlanta Police Department (APD).

"Mr. Degarro's done nothing to deserve this kind of treatment," Stephen insisted, the soul of reason. "You can't separate him from his son. Dillon fell down those stairs, and his father is beside himself worrying about--"

"From the looks of the old fractures on Dillon's x-rays, someone should have done more than separate your friend from his son years ago."

"Client," Stephen corrected. "Manny Digarro is my client. A good man that I'd be honored to call my friend--regardless of the color of his skin, his ethnic background, or his current inability to afford his own home."

Kate's eyes narrowed. If her spine got any stiffer, she'd break in two.

"This isn't about them being homeless, or from another country, or anything else but protecting an abused boy from further harm--by someone who's supposed to love him."

"My client does love his son, very much. He--"

"--belongs in jail! Dillon has poorly healed breaks on both arms, his left wrist and right calf and ankle. Weeks-old contusions on his chest, to go along with the shiny new ones on his face. And don't get me started on the poor dental hygiene and the vitamin deficiency we suspect is causing his complexion to be at least three shades lighter than a healthy child's should be."

"Do you find oral hygiene and a healthy glow common amongst the homeless people you work, Nurse Rhodes?" Stephen included a casual smile with his question, free of charge.

She crossed her arms. "Once we have the results of the battery of tests Dillon's pediatrician ordered, I'm confident--"

"What tests? Manny's signed no consent forms for treatment, let alone--"

"In the case of suspected abuse, the doctors can sign on the child's behalf. The tests have been run. Once their results are in, not being able to visit Dillon will be the least of your client's concerns. Until then, Manny Digarro should be thankful that restricting his access to the pediatric floor is the only option the other nurses and I have."

The golden-haired, green-eyed beauty's chest rose and fell. Warm eyes that had smiled down at Dillon sparked with fire.

It was inappropriate, under the circumstances, to find Kate Rhodes' temper tantrum arousing.

But that kind of passion was hard to come by in Stephen's world--especially in the defense of another person's wellbeing. Certainly not in someone so meticulously put together, Stephen would bet tomorrow night's poker stake that Kate rarely let a hair slip out of place, let alone her emotions.

Too bad this wasn't the time or place to push her buttons further, just to see what she'd do next.

Work the case, man.

"You only met the Digarros a week ago," he said, as if reason would work any better the second time around. "You didn't see Dillon's accident. Admit it. You don't know for sure what happened, any more than I do."

"Dillon fell, violently, down a flight of stairs. Only his father seems to have witnessed it, just like all the other accidents. What else do I need to know?"

"Manny's no more a threat to his child than I am," Stephen assured her. "He's--"

"An abusive bastard who's never going to hurt his son again! Dillon is terrified. He's barely spoken to anyone since he got here."

Stephen blinked. Focused past the righteous indignation that he'd label racism or blind ignorance on someone else. There was genuine fear in Kate's voice.

Most people took one look at impoverished immigrants like the Digarros, and saw someone they couldn't trust. A threat they didn't want to be any closer to than they had to be. But Kate Rhodes spent several evenings a week up to her elbows in the homeless community. Shielding them from a world often too careless about the wellbeing of the weakest and most deserving of there care.

And now she was on a mission to protect a child she'd convinced herself had no one else on his side.

"Manny Digarro's terrified, too," Stephen countered. "He's watched his son have one accident after another, and tried to protect him the best he could, while working countless dead-end jobs to keep them off public assistance. Now he's being told that's not good enough. That Dillon doesn't belong with him. I'm here to make sure someone in this hospital listens to my client's side of the story, before a terrible mistake is made."

She sized up his Brooks Brother's suit.

"Where did Manny dig you up," she wanted to know, "if he's struggling so badly?".

"At the legal aid center where he'd heard someone would listen to him, instead of taking one look at his ethnic background and worn-out clothes and figure he was a no-account bastard who beats up on his kid to get his jollies."

Her eyes widened. But instead of biting back, she breathed deeply and squared her shoulders.

"Bait me all you want, Mr. Creighton. But my first clue your client was a no-account bastard came while assessing the damage done to Dillon's body, not Manny's fashion sense. And you've gotten all the details about Dillon's condition that you're going to get from me. Leave, Mr. Creighton, or I'll have security make sure you do."

He stood his ground, soaking in the honesty and integrity rolling off of her. Kate Rhodes wasn't on some blind mission to punish an innocent father for socio-economic circumstances he couldn't control. Instincts that had never let Stephen down screamed that this woman could help his client, if he could only get her to listen.

She headed around him. He grabbed her arm, his mistake instantly obvious. She didn't jerk away from his touch. She cringed. The agitated breathing that she'd brought under professional control just moments before, stopped completely.

Frightened eyes snapped to his face, then dilated, before her gaze flinched away.

"Let me go," begged the woman who'd just verbally handed him his ass. "Please, let me--"
Stephen released her, raising his hands to show he meant no harm, the same way he'd sooth a skittish animal.

She flinched.

"Is everything okay, Kate?" A tall man dressed in blue scrubs, a stethoscope draped around his neck, stepped to her side. He glared at Stephen. "What the hell do you think you're doing!"

Making a mess of things.

"Mr. Creighton was just leaving," Kate answered. "Robert, would you call security to help him find the door?"

"No need." Stephen edged away.

He buried his hands in the pockets of his winter-weight trench coat. His fingers wrapped around the stack of business cards he always carried. Drawing one out, he handed it to the doctor. He studied the beautiful nurse until she looked up at him.

"I'm sorry I upset you. But please, if you change your mind about helping the Digarros, call my cell any time of the day or night."

He walked toward the elevator, cursing the fear and confusion still clouding Kate's eyes. Eyes that seemed incapable of hiding whatever she was feeling. The eyes of someone who would fight just as hard for the patients in her care, as he did for his clients.

Someone he'd have found himself wanting to know better, if he wasn't so certain she was wrong, dead wrong, about the cause of Dillon Degarro's injuries.

And that her mistake could very easily ruin his client's chances of starting a new life in this country.

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Sunday, August 26, 2007

Winners--what everyone loves to hear ;o)

Okay, before I do the winners of much blog booty and a little excerpting...

Here's a little something that renews hope that even when I'm losing my mind on deadline, I couldn't possibly be this out of it ;o) It's a video, so turn your sound on...


Just so you'll know--yes, that's what I sound like these days, as I work on the second book in my new series, lol!

Next, the prizes:

To receive a selection of the books from my July 19th post:

Catslady, who posted at 6:30 on 7/19

Cheri J, who posted at 2:03 on the 7/19

To receive one of the RT Conference bags from the 19th post:

Kim W., who posted at 8:21

Everyone, send me your snail mail addresses so I can get the prizes out to you.

I'll pick more winners in the next post ;o). So keep commenting. All comments from the 19th and later are eligible. We'll run out some day, but there's lots to give away for a while...

And let's see, an excerpt... Since Atlanta Heroes is coming in October, beginning with Because of a Boy--tell me what you think of the cover, it's up on the blog and my website...


Because of a Boy

Chapter 1

"What do you think you're doing?" Nurse Kate Rhodes asked the stranger standing beside ten-year-old Dillon's hospital bed.

The well-dressed man's hand stalled in the process of handing over a miniature sports car. Deep blue eyes rose from smiling down at the child, their corners squinting as they locked onto Kate's glare. A disarming grin quickly followed.

One she had no trouble resisting.

Her mission as a child had been not falling for her brother's southern charm. It was either that, or be in constant trouble for the mischief Martin could so easily talk her into. Now that she'd achieved the wise age of thirty-two, sophisticated, stuffed shirts brandishing easy smiles didn't rate a raised eyebrow.

"Visitation for minors is limited to immediate family only," she said as the tall, dark-haired man finished handing over the car.

"But, he knows Papa." What had been a withdrawn little boy flashed a megawatt smile.

The bruises mottling Dillon's right cheek and eye refused to allow Kate to celebrate.

His smile lit up the room when his papa was around. The two of them had been inseparable at the homeless shelter where Kate volunteered most of her free time away from the hospital. Dillon's unquestioning love for his only parent was what made this situation even harder to accept.

"Look what I got!" he exclaimed, his flawless English colored by a heavy South American inflection.

At least he was finally talking.

An electric green cast protected the thin arm holding up the plastic Corvette. A severe ankle sprain had been wrapped to stabilize the joint, and elevated to reduce swelling. Injuries resulting, supposedly, from Dillon's latest accidental fall--this time, down the Midtown Shelter's basement stairs.

An accident Manny Digarro had no better explanation for than that his only child was more clumsy than other kids his age. Accident prone. What's a father to do?

"That car rocks, tough guy." She smiled as she walked to the bed.

"It's the one Papa said we couldn't buy when we saw it in the store Monday night."

The same night the little heartbreaker had been rushed to Atlanta Memorial's Emergency--for the third time in two months, Kate had discovered after reading his chart, though this was the first time he'd been admitted to pediatrics.

"The boy's father asked me to bring the toy by." The man's small-talk didn't distract her from his too-observant gaze. "Seems the nurses at the admissions desk are refusing to discuss Dillon's condition when Mr. Digarro calls. He wasn't sure of his welcome if he came himself."

If the hint of judgement in the man's voice weren't enough, the worry clouding Dillon's smile was all the motivation Kate needed.

"I'll speak with you outside, Mr... Mr.?" Her query was polite, but he was leaving.

The man merely smiled.

Was she supposed to swoon or something? Like she hadn't seen dimples and perfectly-straight teeth before!

Screw polite.

She half-dragged him toward the hallway.

"Play with your car for a minute, Dillon," she said over her shoulder.

She kicked at the magnetic device that secured the bottom of the door against the wall. The door wooshed shut behind them. She released the man's arm, stopping short of wiping her hand on her cartoon-covered scrubs.

Just barely.

"You're so out of here." She headed for the nurses' station to page security, picking up her pace when she heard his footsteps behind her. "I don't know who you are, but--"

He edged around her, putting his body between her and the nearest phone, bringing her to a skidding halt.

"I'm Stephen Creighton," he announced. "And I represent the innocent man you're so determined to keep away from that child in there."

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

The moon then the sun on a fresh new day...

I know, I know...

It's been like, what...a month?

I'd like to say there have been many adventures and many mountains climbed. Well, one mountain is closer than it was a month ago--the second book in my Atlanta Heroes series is two-thirds done. That's been most of the work part of my blog sabbatical. Yay, Remember Me!!!

Yay, you guys...'cause I have more excerpts to share ;o)

But there's also been family stuff and Georgia Romance Writers board work and promotion and travelling and my son starting middle school--MIDDLE SCHOOL!!! Let's take a moment to pay homage to the frazzled nerves that were lost forever in this transition ;o)

I'm writing like a maniac again each day, close to home so I can nurture and do all things motherly when the big yellow taxi spits my son back out at the curb in the afternoon...so, time to pay up with the giveaways I promised everyone (not to mention the Coach purse that I'll be announcing the winner of in an upcoming newsletter), and lots of fun prep for the October launch of my new series, Atlanta Heroes. Keep a look out. I'll be posting regularly--maybe even daily, lol!

In the mean time, I'm enjoying the summer storm outside my window, while I draft Remember Me and my son works on a creative writing assignment--ah, the growling and complaning from the creative youngster who'd much rather be spinning an algebra problem into an "A + B always = C" solution.

The lightening and thunder swirling make me think of moonbeams and water and trees blowing in the wind, and how the night shifts into morning so smoothly you'll miss it if you're not paying close enough attention.

I think that's what I've been doing most over the last month. Paying closer attention. The kind of attention that's needed sometimes, to get through the tough transitions that could suck you under if you rush too fast to be done with them.

So, slow down, a friend suggested. And I did. Hope you can, too.

You wouldn't want to miss the storms...it's actually better to savor them, I think. Otherwise, how are you going to truly appreciate the sun breaking through the clouds when you're finally through all the dark stuff?

Here's a poem that says things better than I seem to be tonight (tomorrow, come back for giveaways and an excerpt--seriously!):

"A Song of Enchantment" by Walter de la Mare

A song of Enchantment I sang me there,
In a green-green wood, by waters fair,
Just as the words came up to me
I sang it under the wild wood tree.

Widdershins turned I, singing it low,
Watching the wild birds come and go;
No cloud in the deep dark blue to be seen
Under the thick-thatched branches green.

Twilight came: silence came:
The planet of Evening's silver flame;
By darkening paths I wandered through
Thickets trembling with drops of dew.

But the music is lost and the words are gone
Of the song I sang as I sat alone,
Ages and ages have fallen on me-
On the wood and the pool and the elder tree.

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