Swapping House Stories

Do you love old houses?

They certainly give one lots of stories to talk about when strained for a conversation starter!

We’ve lived in a 100+ year old house for 15 years. And do I have stories!

 Signed WallOur house was the inspiration for the house Becki Graw inherits from her grandparents in Fatal Inheritance. Except I didn’t have enough space to include all the fun little tidbits I could have.

From the first night we moved into our house, we knew we were in for an adventure. My daughter, then nine, discovered a deer mouse in her room after bedtime. She caught it and showed us her new pet in the morning.

 imagine image of mouse here

I didn’t want to make anyone squirm 😉

We were a little freaked, because this was not long after a farmer out east had died from a disease carried by such mice, soooo we explained that deer mice belonged outside.

And then adopted a cat. 🙄

Of course that meant by spring—Easter day to be exact—we had kittens! We even got to see them being born. My children were thrilled.

kittensOther wonderful surprises came with spring. The former owner had been an avid gardener, so the property soon bloomed with crocuses and tulips and hyacinths and daffodils and forsythia and honeysuckle and lilacs and fruit tree blossoms. Every week it seemed we were treated to the beauty of a different flowering tree or shrub.

tulips2Being an avid gardener myself (at that time), I set to work preparing a front flowerbed for annuals and had a not-so-nice surprise!

Our basement walls are constructed of farm stones, which means lots of little holes. As I’m on my hands and knees in my flowerbed, snakes coming out of hibernation began to drop from the wall into the bed. Picture the snake scene in Indiana Jones here.

You don’t need a picture, right?


I’m not fond of snakes so let’s just say I waited a few days before finishing that flowerbed. 😕

Of course, having snakes in the wall meant that occasionally they’d find their way inside, too. One spring I went downstairs to find a three-foot, 1 ½ inch diameter, black snake lying in my path. I’d never seen such a big one outside of a zoo. Luckily hubby was home. So he donned leather gloves and carried the guy out to the woods…after admiring it for awhile. <shiver>

Our wildlife adventures weren’t limited to mice and snakes either. We had the requisite bat in the belfry, but we also had bees—wasps to be precise.

They apparently hibernated in our attic and would invade the rest of the house through light fixtures in the spring. They tormented us for several years, until one year I opened the door to my daughter’s bedroom and found a three-foot long swarm of them covering half her window.

Whoa, talk about freaked out!

If they’d been honeybees, I would probably have called a local honey guy to come smoke them out and save them, but wasps are downright vicious. We’d been stung enough times to know!

Thankfully, I had a can of wasp spray in the house that could shoot ten feet across the room. I shut the door, ran downstairs for the can, then quietly reopened the door, and using it as cover, like a cop facing down a bad guy, I blasted the swarm. It worked. Best of all, it also took care of our wasp problem.

In the years since, we’ve only seen the odd wasp in the house.

I won’t even visit the construction issues we’ve faced over the years. From the first rainstorm, when I found myself literally taping heavy-duty vapor barrier over an entire window and half the wall to keep out rain and wind, we’ve affectionately (and sometimes, not so affectionately) called the place the money pit.

Did I mention it had no insulation?

And that I live in Canada? …you know, land of igloos.

Wow, now that I’ve shared these stories, I wish I’d gotten some of them into my book. The swarming wasps would have been fun to make my heroine face.

Your Turn: How about you? Have you ever lived in an old house? I’d love to hear your favorite old house story! In fact, I won’t post a new blog next Monday, but hope you’ll stop by to read the stories that others share throughout the week.

P.S. Guess what I just learned this past weekend?! RT Book Reviews gave Fatal Inheritance a 4 1/2 star review. Yee!

She said, “The suspense is laced with the right amount of romance to keep readers thoroughly engaged throughout this fantastic novel.” 

Research Holiday

Today’s a holiday here in Canada. Yippee!!!

Man lifting child

But… I’m not taking a total cyber holiday. I’m visiting Camy’s Loft, talking about the research for my newest release: Fatal Inheritance, which, by the way, should be in brick-and-mortar stores this week. 

Fatal Inheritance

And… for those writers amongst my blog readers…

On Friday, I’ll be a guest at Be a Real Writer, talking about goals–your characters’.

Target Goals

If you’re having difficulty garnering an editor’s interest in your manuscripts, this is an area you may need to scrutinize.

Stop by and feel free to ask questions. I’ll be happy to answer them.

In the meantime, have a great day! I’m turning off comments here, this week, but… I see that hand– 😆 — and am waving back at you!


Silhouette Image courtesy of arztsamui at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Target Image courtesy of bplanet at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Mystery Writer Musings

The mind of a mystery writer can be a scary thing. Take, for example, this pit.


This past weekend, we had a very, very, very old in-ground pool pulled out of our backyard. This pool dates back decades before we bought the place. The liner alone was at least 25 years old. So…

imagine where the mind of a mystery writer goes as the little skid steerer yanks out the side walls. For all I know, bones could tumble from the backfill, along with the sand; a dead body could float up from the miry bottom. <shudder>

If that wasn’t bad enough, the latent-mafia side of my mind is thinking, hmm, good place to get rid of some bodies before this gets filled in.

Where do you advertise that kind of service? On Kijiji?

Yup, I warned you it was scary where my mind goes. I’m thinking that I definitely need a vacation. A romantic vacation to nurture the romance side of my novel-plotting mind.

That way I won’t have to know what gets buried under the two or three dump truckloads of dirt. 😕

Your Turn: What did you do this past weekend? 😎

Sneak Peek of Fatal Inheritance

My favorite part of being a writer–receiving messages from readers–has picked up again with the release of Fatal Inheritance to the Love Inspired Suspense book club subscribers. Subscribers receive the book more than a month ahead of release.

Fatal Inheritance

But… if you can’t wait until it appears on store shelves next month or in your favorite online shop, you can order it now directly from Harlequin in regular print, large print, or Epub format.

Of course… if you wait until Friday, they usually have a special, in which if you order 2 books, you get a selected book free. (sometimes it’s an LI book, sometimes it from one of their many other lines)

For the benefit of book club subscribers I have made the bonus features for the book live ahead of the official release. Also hoping to tempt the rest of you. 😉

You’ll find:

Deleted Scenes

On Location in Serenity

Doesn’t that make you wish you could sit on the heroine’s back porch and enjoy the view?

Editor’s Cut with Commentary

Josh’s Tasty BBQ Veggies

Character Interviews:
Joshua Rayne   (picture Mark Wahlberg)
Becki Graw

If you haven’t read Fatal Inheritance yet, and want to whet your appetite:

Click here to read Chapter One

Your Turn: What’s on your reading list this summer? Do you tend to read “extras” from authors if they’re offered?

Sunday Update: Kav is the surprise giveaway winner. I’ll be in touch

My Answer to the question: I’ve been catching up on the Texas K-9 Unit with Love Inspired Suspense. They had me at K-9.  🙄 Aside from character interviews on blogs, I’ve never read extras from other authors, beside prequels or sequels. I’ve never heard of any. 

Deadly Devotion ~ I’ve got a cover!

Over the next couple of weeks my blog posts may be put on hold as my web designer transitions my blog to my website. Hopefully everything will transition smoothly and those who receive the posts by email or RSS feed will continue to do so after the transition without a glitch.

If weeks go by with no new post…you’ll know it didn’t, and I hope you’ll stop by my website and reconnect. In the meantime, I am sooooo excited to share the cover for the first book in my upcoming series with Revell~June 2013.

What do you think? Does it make you want to take a second look?

Here’s the blurb:

Research scientist Kate Adams and her colleague Daisy are on the brink of a breakthrough for treating depression with herbal medicine when Daisy suddenly dies. Kate knows that if it hadn’t been for Daisy’s mentorship, she wouldn’t have the job she loves or the faith she clings to. So when police rule Daisy’s death a suicide, Kate is determined to unearth the truth.

Former FBI agent Tom Parker finds it hard to adjust to life back in his hometown of Port Aster. Though an old buddy gives him a job as a detective on the local police force, not everyone approves. Tom’s just trying to keep a low profile, so when Kate Adams demands he reopen the investigation of her friend’s death, he knows his job is at stake. In fact, despite his attraction to her, Tom thinks Kate looks a bit suspicious herself.

As evidence mounts, a web of intrigue is woven around the sleepy town of Port Aster. Can Kate uncover the truth? Or will Tom stand in her way?

Hooked yet? I hope so. ~smiling~

I’m working on the second book in the series now…

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends!

Fun Friday ~ The Giveaway Winners & More

Thank you to all who made the “suspect interviews” so interesting!

Image courtesy of chainat at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I had such fun seeing the suspects of Critical Condition squirm on Wednesday with your questions that I decided to give away 3 copies of Critical Condition AND an advanced copy (when it becomes available) of Deadly Devotion, my upcoming book with Revell, due out next summer.


 If you haven’t yet had a chance to read the first two books in my Undercover Cops series, check out these giveaways:

For Book 1, Deep Cover, visit Christian Bookshelf Reviews (open to US & Canada) ends Oct 20th

For Book 2, Shades of Truth, visit Inkslinger Blog also ends Oct 20th

And without further ado… 

The winners of Critical Condition are: 

Angela Holland 

Laura AKA Loves to Read Romance and 

Lisa at Two Bears Farm

The winner of an Advanced Copy of Deadly Devotion is: 

Congratulations! Please email me your snail mail address this week. See link at top of sidebar.

If you’d like to read heroine Tara Peterson’s interview, stop by the Craftie Ladies Blog on Sunday (link will work Sun) Then stop by Margaret Daley’s blog next week to read Zach’s. 

Have a great weekend everyone!

Last 3 images courtesy of kongsky,  imagerymajestic, and foto76 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Suspect Interviews for Critical Condition & Giveaway

Visiting with us today are secondary characters from Critical Condition, Dr. Whittaker, intern Dr. McCrae, and nurse Alice Bradshaw. To help you better follow the interview, allow me to first share a brief description of the main characters.

Zach Davis (aka Zach Reynolds) ~ Undercover cop working as an IT specialist at Miller’s Bay Memorial Hospital to figure out if a murderer is behind recent suspicious patient deaths.

Tara Peterson ~ Head nurse of the cancer ward at Miller’s Bay Memorial. She brought the deaths to the police’s attention after a patient and the patient’s husband died. The husband’s dying request was that Tara stop the killer

Between you and me, I haven’t informed our guests that they are suspects, nor are they all the suspects in the book.

Sandra: Alice, I understand that you were pretty upset that Tara Peterson was recently appointed head nurse instead of you.

Alice: Of course, I was upset. I have ten years seniority to her. That should count more than the couple of extra years of schooling she’s had. Experience is the real teacher in our profession.

Sandra: Some would have us believe that you were upset enough to sabotage her work, to make her look incompetent.

Alice: That’s ridiculous. She’s quite capable of digging her own grave without any help from me.

Sandra: Dr. McCrae, I understand you’re pretty passionate about helping cancer patients find cures. Can you tell us a little bit about what drives you?

Dr. McCrae: All doctors are passionate about helping their patients become well, but I have a particular heart for cancer patients, because I lost my brother to cancer.

Sandra: That’s admirable, but as an intern, you must have a heavy debt load from your years of education. Heavy enough perhaps to be tempted to pilfer a few pills here and there to sell on the street.

Dr. McCrae: Absolutely not. I’m the one who requested more security cameras to combat precisely that concern.

Sandra: Does that mean you believe a thief killed the husband of that patient, because the husband caught him stealing the patient’s pills?

Dr. McCrae: As I explained to the police when they questioned me, it is my medical opinion that the patient died due to complications from a seizure, and the husband died of a heart attack. Since Miss Peterson claims someone else had been in the room and rushed out upon her arrival, it seems reasonable to assume that perhaps this person had a confrontation with the patient’s husband before his heart attack.

Sandra: You report to Dr. Whittaker is that correct?

Dr. McCrae: Yes.

Sandra: Has he ever asked you to falsify reports so that patients, who normally wouldn’t qualify, might be allowed to participate in experimental treatment protocols?

Dr. McCrae: Absolutely not. I would never do such a thing and he knows it. Personally, I have serious questions about the efficacy of his current pet project, but clearly, his rapport with the pharmaceutical companies brings much needed funding to the hospital, as evident by the newly built cancer wing.

Sandra: Ah yes, the wing they named after him. Are you suggesting he’s testing drugs that he knows are of no value purely for the profit it brings him?

Dr. McCrae: He’s not interested in the profit for himself. He thrives on prestige. You’ll have to decide for yourself if that hinders his judgment with respect to his patients’ treatments.

Sandra: Some of his patients have started to request to see you rather than him. Can you tell us why?

Dr. McCrae: I care about getting them well, not about satisfying a treatment protocol.

Sandra: But I thought patients called Dr. Whittaker Dr. Wonderful because of his wonderful bedside manner.

Dr. McCrae: (laughs) I believe that’s what the single nurses call him, which probably has more to do with his good looks.

Sandra: Dr. Whittaker is it true that you’ve solicited donations from patients toward the construction of the new cancer wing?

Dr. Whittaker: Absolutely, and I’m proud of the level of donations brought in by such personal requests.

Sandra: I understand one couple donated their entire estate, then died soon after.

Dr. Whittaker: Yes, very sad case that. But at least their money will go on to help others.

Sandra: Tell us a little more about the experimental drug you’re providing patients.

Dr. Whittaker: Only terminal patients are permitted into this program, and yet we have seen some stunning reversals in tumor growth in several participants.

Sandra: Isn’t it true that those shrinkages of tumors occurred after the patients withdrew from your program?

Dr. Whittaker: Yes, several withdrew due to the side effects. But clearly the drug has a remarkable latent effect. There is no other explanation. Unless of course you believe in miracles.

Sandra: And what about those who suddenly died? How would you explain those deaths?

Dr. Whittaker: As I said, all of the participants are terminal. We cannot predict whether they will react favorably or unfavorably without further testing.

Sandra: Are you concerned that Tara’s allegations about murders on the cancer ward will have negative repercussions on the hospital’s reputation?

Dr. Whittaker: Of course I am. They couldn’t help but sour people’s opinion of our work here.

Sandra: Are you concerned enough to put a stop to the allegations?

Dr. Whittaker: Yes. I’ve warned Tara several times to keep her opinions to herself.

Your Turn: If you would like a chance to receive an autographed copy of Critical Condition, please leave a question in the comments for one of today’s guests. (no spoilers please) Winner will be announced on Friday’s blog and asked to email me. You do not need to leave your email address here.


There’s a murderer in the hospital, and nurse Tara Peterson is determined to prove it. With mysterious deaths in the cancer ward, anyone could be next. But no one wants to believe her…except undercover agent Zach Davis. The murderer wants Tara’s suspicions silenced, permanently. To protect Tara, Zach lets her in on his secret, and unwittingly into his heart. Tara and her three-year-old daughter are like the family he lost years before. Zach will risk everything to keep them safe, no matter the cost.

“Alice” Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
“Dr. McCrae” Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
“Dr. Whittaker” Image courtesy of photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

What’s Your Favorite Sore Throat Remedy?

Okay, I know what you’re thinking… what do throat remedies have to do with fiction books or conversations about characters?


Tomorrow, the final book in my Undercover Cops series, Critical Condition, releases from Love Inspired suspense. As you might guess from the title, it’s a medical mystery/suspense.

Alternative medicine plays a role in the suspense plot, so I thought it would be intriguing to explore the realm of alternative medicine and home remedies with you.

With the onset of autumn, at least in the Western Hemisphere, comes the beginning of cold and flu season. Everyone seems to have their own little ritual for what they do when they feel a sore throat or cold coming on.

And commercials abound with commercial remedies promising to lessen your symptoms.

But what works for you?

Image courtesy of photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

For me, when I feel a sore throat coming on, I take a few drops of Amol® in water. It is a traditional herbal medicine originating from Germany that I have never seen in any store. My friend purchased the bottle–which has long since expired–for me in her local pharmacy. Yet, even supposedly past its prime, the stuff still works great.

It contains: oil of clove; oil of cinnamon; oil of peppermint; and oil of lavender. It clears my sinuses and soothes my sore throat like nothing else I’ve ever tried. And if I take it at the first sign of a sore throat coming on, my condition often doesn’t worsen.

Your Turn: What’s your favorite or most effective remedy or ritual for battling a cold or sore throat?

Treatment for Critical Illness – How far would you go?

Each critically ill patient feels differently about what lengths they’re willing to go to treat their disease. Have you ever given any thought to this question for yourself?

Image courtesy of vichie81 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It’s a question raised in my October release, Critical Condition, and one I first gave serious thought to while reading through the questions in a do-it-yourself Power of Attorney document soon after losing my mother to a twelve year battle with cancer.

Toward the end of my mother’s life, when it became clear that no traditional treatments were working, she was asked to participate in an experimental treatment study, much like one of the doctors in the story supervises.

For the first time in all the years she’d battled the disease, my mom succumbed to depression.

What we didn’t realize at first was that it was a side effect of the experimental treatment. After a few months it became obvious that the treatment was prolonging her death, not her life.

She no longer found joy in life…not even when her young grandchildren visited, which was not like her.

She made the decision to go off the medicine. All medicine. And for six glorious weeks, she was Mom again. She even returned to work and started golfing. She looked great. She felt pretty good.

Unfortunately, but mercifully, the end came quickly after that. I share this as an example of one scenario and one choice.

My dear writing friend who passed away while I was writing the final draft of this story, had a very different type of cancer which she had battled for two decades. She’d tried many, many different alternative and complementary treatments.

These varied experiences prompted me to ask:

What if a patient, her doctor and her loved ones disagree on what they’ll risk for the chance to be cured?

And so the idea for Critical Condition was born.

Book Blurb: There’s a murderer in the hospital, and nurse Tara Peterson is determined to prove it. With mysterious deaths in the cancer ward, anyone could be next. But no one wants to believe her…except for undercover agent Zach Davis. The murderer wants Tara’s suspicions silenced, permanently. To protect Tara, Zach lets her in on his secret, and unwittingly into his heart. Tara and her three-year-old daughter are like the family he lost years before. Zach will risk everything to keep them safe, no matter the cost.          

Critical Condition

Your Turn:  Have you ever faced life or death decisions when it comes to yours or a loved one’s health? What factors would you consider most important in making a decision for, or against, a course of treatment?

Fun Friday – Romantic Times Review for Critical Condition

Today’s post is short and sweet, because I’m working like crazy to finish the first draft of my next Love Inspired Suspense. But…

I wanted to celebrate with you the fun news I heard this week about my October release Critical Condition.

For those who have read the Undercover Cops series so far, this book has Zach (introduced in Deep Cover) as the hero.

The news is…

The Romantic Times Magazine gave Critical Condition 4.5 stars!!!

The 4.5 star rating is described as a fabulous read, a keeper–their second to highest rating.

But what was even more thrilling for me was how the reviewer described it:

“Well-developed characters and fast-paced action will keep readers fully engaged in this wonderful tribute to spouses struggling with a loved one’s illness.” 

The hero lost his wife to cancer eight years ago and now has to work undercover in a hospital to stop a killer. The suspects include several medical professionals involved in experimental and alternative treatments.

The reason I soooo appreciate this reviewer’s description is because I wrote the final draft of this story after losing my dear writing friend to cancer and dedicated the story to her husband who is the kind of hero I imagined Zach being.

Your Turn: Would you like to help me spread the word about this upcoming release?

You could…

Share this post on FB or G+ using the icons below the post. 
If you’ve already read the book (through Hqn), please consider posting a review on Goodreads or your favorite online retailer. (Note: some, like Amazon, don’t allow review posts until the book releases October 2nd) 

Visit the book, or others in the series, at your favorite online retailer and click the “like” button. With Amazon this only works if you’re signed in (ie. have an account). With Barnes and Noble and CBD.com, you can “like” using FB or G+ social media buttons.
Clicking the photos in the sidebar, takes you to the books on CBD.com (Christian Book Distributors)
Thank you so much for visiting my blog today and helping me celebrate. It is my dearest prayer that this book will inspire you to cherish the gifts of each day and open your heart to new possibilities. 
Have a fabulous weekend!