Revisiting an Old Friend

This week, I had the pleasure of speaking at a Women’s Spring Event–meeting new people and catching up with old friends. I had so much fun, I started thinking we should revisit some of my old characters here and find out what they’re up to these days.  

Since my recent visit to an art auction aboard a cruise ship had me reminiscing about the art crime in Perilous Waters, released four years ago this month,

it seems appropriate to start with FBI agent, Sam Steele.

(BTW, Serena Jones fans . . . Sam knows her and has an inside scoop)

He’s the star of this Love Inspired Suspense: 

Cover of Perilous Waters

Not to be confused with the 1948 movie of the same name: 

And as an added bonus, for those who haven’t read the book, it’s only 99cents on both Amazon.com and Amazon.ca  at the moment.

Would you believe that even though I dreamed up every one of my characters and they spent months and months traipsing around my head as I wrote their stories, I often forget more about them than I remember? 

So . . . before we get into the “what are you up to now” questions, we’ll have a few get to know you questions, for those who’ve never met Sam and for the rest of us who have probably long since forgotten him. 

Sandra: Tell us a little about yourself, Sam, and how you came to be in the midst of a thief hunt on an Alaskan cruise.

Sam: I’m an FBI agent, with our art crime team. Art crime is overlooked by a lot of police departments. Yet, it’s a seventy-billion-dollar-a-year crime with criminals using paintings as collateral to finance everything from arms, drugs and money-laundering deals. So when we got a tip that a stolen Native American painting was being sold out of Skagway, Alaska, to the Robbins’ Gallery, I did some digging.

When I learned Jennifer and Cassandra Robbins, who are the heiresses to the gallery, currently being managed by their guardian, booked a cruise to Alaska, I knew I didn’t have time to set up a sting by my usual methods. So I decided to book my parents, widowed brother, my nephew and myself on the same cruise, under the pretense of celebrating our parents’ 40th wedding anniversary.

Sandra: Ooh, sounds as if it could be risky, exposing family to criminal types. What did you hope to actually accomplish? 

Sam: Not to put my family at risk, for sure! In fact, they had no idea of my true motives and I’d hoped to keep it that way. My goal was merely to befriend the women in order to gather the evidence against them that I needed.

Sandra: That doesn’t sound like something a nice guy would do. And I can’t believe I’d make the hero of one of my stories not be a nice guy!

Sam: It’s the job. Sometimes I’ve even had to pose as a criminal to recover stolen art and bring bad guys to justice. More than once I’ve posed as an unscrupulous private collector willing to overlook a masterpiece’s provenance for the opportunity to own it. 

 

Sandra: I guess sometimes the ends justify the means. But there must be some things you’d never do. 

Sam: Yeah, I’d never again lie to the woman I love. 

Sandra: Ooh, I think that’s a bit of a spoiler for those who haven’t read you’re story. Why don’t you tell us about the women you are investigating. What was your first impression? When did you know you had feelings for Jennifer?

Jennifer Robbins and her twin sister Cassandra were raised in a small rural Washington State community, where their mother taught art and her father managed a store. After her mother’s art was “discovered,”  the family moved to Seattle where they opened what quickly became a lucrative art gallery.

Sadly at seventeen, the girls lost their parents and became wards of the gallery’s curator. Cassandra now works at the gallery and seems to love the glamorous parties and publicity that goes along with it, while Jennifer works for a charitable foundation and seems to embrace a quiet and humble lifestyle. Of course, as an agent, I can’t take anything at face value. I’ve been duped before by a beautiful woman that almost cost me a case. But from the first time I met Jennifer, I felt an undeniable attraction to her beauty inside and out. My family adored her, too, especially my nephew who she helped win a game of dominoes against our family aboard ship. Spending time with her and my family felt like the idyllic life I’d once dreamed about having.

Sandra: Is there anything that scares you?

Sure, the thought of making a wrong call, a mistake that could cost someone his or her life.

 

Sandra: What do you hope people will learn from your story?

Sam: Love is worth the risk. 

 

Sandra: So true. Now it’s been four years since your story took place. What have you been up to since? 

Sam: Well, those who’ve read my brother Jake’s story in Identity Withheld and my cousin’s story Emergency Reunion know that I left the FBI to become a sheriff deputy and married Jennifer. And I’m thrilled to say we’re expecting our first child.

Sandra: Congratulations! I imagine your parents are thrilled.

Sam: Over the moon, but you know all about the joy of grand parenting I hear.  😉   

Sandra: Oh, yes, I’m eagerly anticipating the arrival of grandchild #6.  😀 One last question from our Serena Jones fans who are eager to know what she’s up to these days. You both worked on the FBI art crime team. Have you heard from Serena recently? 

Sam: It’s interesting you should ask, because yes, she reached out to me when a situation arose on her honeymoon on one of the Greek Isles. But that’s a whole other story.  😆 

 

Your Turn: Any questions for Sam?

 

P.S. Serena Jones fans please refrain from posting spoilers in your comments here. We can continue the discussion of Sam’s conversation with Serena over on the private Facebook group open to anyone who has finished reading Over Maya Dead Body (and can prove it by answering the admission questions) at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1680399125601702/ 

A Vacation-Inspired Giveaway

Last week, I went on a mother-daughter vacation

MV-mother-daughter

to visit my super-cool writing friend Lisa Belcastro on Martha’s Vineyard.

mv-beach picnic
lobster picnic on beach at sunset

And what a week!

Fans of the movie, Sabrina, with Harrison Ford, will know this building as the one his character buys for a homeless shelter. It's really a bank.
Fans of the movie Sabrina, with Harrison Ford, will know this building as the one his character buys for a homeless shelter. It’s really a bank.

We’re all writers so we had lots of fun talking writing, even joined Lisa’s crit group one evening. Inspiring stuff.

We also soaked in the beauty of God’s creation.

mv-menemshe
We hiked to the island’s highest point–a whopping 300 feet above sea level.
mv-martha's vineyard beach
We walked the beach.
mv-martha's vineyard beach 2
Walked many beaches. Each one was a little different.

Lisa was a wonderful tour guide, offering lots of fun tidbits about the island, as she does in her Vineyard based books. Even showed us the best place to hunt for sea glass. I found a red piece!

mv-harbor
We saw lots of sights.

mv-colorful houses Martha's Vineyard

mv-martha's vineyard lighthouse
We even saw the crew working at moving a lighthouse in from the rapidly eroding cliff’s edge.

And if all that wasn’t enough to refill my creative well and give my writing a much-needed kick start, I also received lots of exciting news last week. holtfinalist

NRCAFinalistSandraOrchard

 

 

 

In addition to finaling in The Word Awards, Blind Trust is a finalist in the Selah Awards for Mystery/Suspense. And Identity Withheld is a finalist in the Holt Medallion for the short inspirational category, and…is a finalist in the National Readers’ Choice Awards for contemporary series suspense/adventure.

Lisa also received news that she’s a double finalist in the Selahs and a finalist in the Booksellers’ Best Award

mv-celebrating

The president, who vacations on Martha’s Vineyard, sent over a bottle of champagne for our impromptu celebration…

Okay, just kidding. I’m a fiction writer, remember? But…the bottle does have the president’s seal on it! Lisa clearly knows people (but you didn’t hear that from me, shh)

To celebrate, I’m giving away books!

Three copies of Identity Withheld to three lucky winners.Identity Withheld

 

And a set (on kindle) of Lisa’s Shenandoah inspirational romances to one more lucky winner.

mv-Lisa Belcastro

Monday Update: I just learned that my July release, Emergency Reunion, was a Top Pick at RT Book Reviews, and my box has arrived, so…I’m adding a copy of it to the giveaway, too.  😀 

Your Turn: Tell me about your most inspiring vacation (in the comments below) for a chance to win. (If you win and already have Identity Withheld, I can gift it to a friend from you.) Names will be drawn randomly from all entries received by midnight May 23rd. EDT

 

P.S. Desperate Measures has been spotted in bookstores! And…is already shipping from some online stores! It’s also still up for a Goodreads Giveaway. And Deadly Devotion is still free in Ebook.

Will the Real Hero Please Stand Up

Back from his whirlwind tour of the international blogging circuit is the self-proclaimed hero of Identity Withheld. Since he received such a warm response at ICFW, I thought I’d invite him for a repeat performance here.

Golden_Doodle_2 Sandra: Rusty, could you start by telling us about yourself?

Rusty: I’m a really, really, really good dog. Don’t pay no attention to what Tommy’s dad, Jake, says. He’s a firefighter and gets hot under the collar just because I chew a shoe or corner of the couch or something. His parents adopted me for their grandson Tommy who is the nicest boy on the face of the earth. I live with them, next door to Tommy and Jake. Tommy’s mom died not long after he was born so Tommy’s at his grandparents a lot when his dad’s working, and we play and play and play.

Sandra: I hear you took a shine to Kara Grant, too, when Jake brought her to his parents after her house burned down and she had nowhere to go.

Rusty: Oh, yes, I loooooove Kara. She understands dogs. I could tell she was sad so I sat right down beside her and let her cry into my fur and she let me sleep on her bed with her. And she taught my person, Tommy, how to train me so his dad wouldn’t get so mad at me. Of course, I didn’t listen when she told me to stay before she went out for a jog, because I sensed she wasn’t coming back and I knew that would make Tommy real sad.

Sandra: So what did you do?

Rusty: I chased after her. And it worked! She came back to the house to stay a while longer. But…she was more scared than ever, because bad guys are after her.

Sandra: Did Jake have a new respect for you after that, too?

Rusty: More like he was jealous that Kara was always hugging me instead of him.<big, tongue-lolling grin> But after that, at least, he figured “I was smarter than I looked.” Although…I think I look adorable. Don’t you?

Sandra: Absolutely. Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?

Rusty: I don’t want to give away the story, but everyone keeps calling Jake the hero, when I should get top billing. Kara fell in love with me the first time she laid eyes on me and… <glances from side to side and lowers his voice> if you read Identity Withheld, I’m sure you’ll agree that it wouldn’t be much of a story without me.

Sandra: I agree! Thank you Rusty for visiting us. Blog Readers, if you’d like to explore more bonus features of Identity Withheld, including interviews with Jake and Kara, deleted scenes and more, please click here for “Sandra Orchard’s Bonus Features Page

You’ll also find a scrumptious pumpkin muffin recipe. Sending out Happy Thanksgiving best wishes for all my American readers, which…happens to be the day Identity Withheld begins. Have a blessed week!

A Fabulous Love Inspired Giveaway!

Check out

Soul Inspirationz New Releases page for

November in category fiction, and…

Enter to win a copy of one of 12 different books, including

Identity Withheld by Sandra Orchard 😉

 

Nov New Releases Giveaway

Contest entries close 
Wednesday October 29 NZDT.

Introducing Kara Grant or… is she?

Identity_WithheldIdentity Withheld is my newest Love Inspired Suspense, and although the novel doesn’t hit bookstores until November, it’s already available directly from Harlequin. So, I thought I’d whet your appetite by interviewing the heroine today. [Just in: Tuesday & Wednesday only, buy 2 books and get 1 free at Harlequin, using coupon code: HNB2OC14]

Identity Withheld is Jake Steele’s story, brother to Sam Steele, the hero of Perilous Waters. But the identity of Jake’s romantic interest is a tad more complicated. Thankfully, I’ve managed to coax her into revealing a little more about herself here today.

Sandra:  Tell us about yourself, Kara, and how you came to be in the midst of such suspense. 

Kara:  My real name is actually Nicole Redman, but after witnessing what looked like a man buying a baby while out for a jog in the park in my hometown of Boston, bad guys tried to kill me with a parcel bomb and the police sent me into witness protection. I was quietly biding my time as the rechristened Kara Grant, nighttime janitor, living across the continent in a small town outside of Seattle, until the bad guys found me and set fire to my new home. That’s how I met firefighter Jake Steele.

Sandra:  Tell us about Jake.  What was your first impression? 

Kara:  My very first impression, was not good, I’m afraid. When he spotted me running from the scene, he thought I’d set the fire and grabbed me none too gently. But once he realized his mistake, he was very gentle and protective and had the sweetest, lopsided smile, even if he was annoyingly insistent that I go to the hospital when it was the last place I wanted to go.

Sandra:  It sounds like the two of you clashed more than once. What would you consider your strengths and weaknesses?          

Kara:  I guess my determination to do the right thing no matter the personal cost would be my best strength. My boyfriend in Boston warned me to not go to the police after I witnessed what I was sure had to be the sale of a kidnapped child, saying it would only lead to trouble, but I couldn’t not speak up. Thankfully, I’ve always been fairly self-reliant as well, which helped me a lot once I was placed in witness protection, although Jake would probably say that is my weakness, since I’m so resistant to letting him help me.

Sandra:  You have a scripture at the beginning of the story.  Tell us why this scripture is significant.       

Kara:  When I learned I would have to move across the country and cut off all contact with my friends and family, I clung to this scripture with all my might: “If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,’ even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.”

Sandra:  Why can you never see yourself ending up with the hero?

Kara: My life isn’t my own. Kara Grant is not who I really am. And I wasn’t supposed to tell anyone who I was. Being with me, puts Jake and his son in danger and I couldn’t live with myself if I brought them to harm or had to uproot them from their family here in Washington State, because the bad guys have found me and I have to be moved again.

Sandra:  What do you hope people will learn from your experience?

Kara:   To do what’s right even when it hurts and trust God to work it all out according to his plan and purpose.

A worthwhile lesson! Thank you for visiting with us today, Kara.

Blog readers, if you’d like to read more of…

Kara’s interview and other bonus features, such as deleted scenes, as well as an excerpt of chapter one, click here.

If you like to bake, you’ll want to check out the recipe for Gran’s Pumpkin Muffins, also in the bonus features. October 13th is Thanksgiving here in Canada, so in preparation we’ve been experimenting with a few new recipes. As these pumpkin muffins baked, they made the house smell wonderful. They tasted great too!

Your Turn: If you had to go into witness protection, what would be the hardest thing for you to walk away from?