Their Rigid Rules
The Chemical Attraction Series, Prequel, Christina Thompson
Holly M. Campbell
New York Dolls
Catherine L. Hensley
The Duchess Quest
Fire of the Sea
From the Embers
The Born in Flames Trilogy Book III Candace Knoebel
The Just Beyond
The Beyond Trilogy Book I Mark Tucker
The Chemical Attraction Series, Book II, Christina Thompson
Embracing the Flames
The Born in Flames Trilogy Book II Candace Knoebel
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Foreshadowed, The Near Deaths Series, Book I, by Holly M. Campbell
Hope Murdoch was born dead. She took a breath two minutes later and now is an almost-normal sixteen-year-old. Normal: a hopeless crush on the boy next door, a negative body image, and a (mis)diagnosis of ADHD. Not-so-normal: an exhausting and distracting ability to read minds… Read More
I mostly write about things that scare me. Ghosts. Murderers. Death in general. I try to lighten the mood with some humor, and with quirky characters who don’t always say or do the right thing, but who have good hearts and good intentions… Read More
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Writing from life
I have a pretty good imagination. And I don’t believe writers should restrict themselves to, “Write what you know.” Obviously, you should have a handle on the subject matter. You should draw from personal experience as well as thorough research. But it’s not like I’ve ever seen a ghost, fought off an attacker, and (using my novel Foreshadowed as an example), I don’t know what it’s like to hear/see other people’s thoughts. I write fiction. I make things up. And that’s okay. More than okay. But I definitely use my personal experiences to add some authenticity to my stories. Here are some examples, from Foreshadowed: 1) Gaming Hope, my main character, likes to play first-person shooting games. I am terrible at those. My husband likes those games and is pretty good at them. I’ve observed him, observed how the games work, and used what I’ve observed in the novel. That scene where Hope and Bryce are teaching Claire how to play, but she can’t figure out how to raise the gun, and her avatar just keeps spinning in circles? Yeah, that was based on the first time I tried to play Call of Duty. Personal experience. 2) Setting Foreshadowed takes place in the Tri-Cities, Washington. This is an actual place. Richland, Kennewick, and Pasco are three cities in eastern Washington near the Columbia River. I grew up in Kennewick, and now I live in Richland. I made up a few places (like the restaurant where Bryce works), but the high school, the Hanford site, and the alphabet houses are real. I know the setting, so it’s a lot easier to describe. 3) Headaches Lance gets headaches and sometimes migraines because of the accident. Hope gets headaches when there are too many thoughts around her and when she tries to read minds from a great distance. I haven’t been in as traumatic an accident as Lance, and again, I don’t read minds, but I am no stranger to headaches. They have been a part of my life since elementary school. I don’t have any proof (yet), but I believe they’re connected to a horse kicking me in the head when I was four years old. I get a lot of headaches, and frequent migraines. So I know how to describe them, I know how debilitating they can be, and I know how they affect moods. 4) Romance You don’t have to be in love to write about love, but it helps. It certainly helps me. There is a moment in the book when Hope says: His smirk turns into a grin, and it transforms his face. I bite down on my bottom lip as a wave of affection suddenly hits me—hits and drowns me. How did I not realize how much I cared about him before? This was sort of based on my real-life romance. On the outside, it looks like my husband and I had a whirlwind romance. We dated for a week before we started talking about marriage. A few weeks later, he officially popped the question. A few months after that, we were married. Yes, it was quick, but I still feel like the relationship sneaked up on me–and that’s what I tried to do with Hope and Lance. I didn’t want them to look at each other and know. I wanted her to slowly realize, little by little, that she truly, deeply cared for this boy. I was always aware of Chris. I was always happier when he was around. But I didn’t think I was interested in him. I was interested in someone else. Slowly, little by little, I started to realize I liked him. Then we started dating. The scene from above? It’s based on the moment I realized I was falling in love. We were sitting in the back of his sister’s car, driving to Sunday dinner at his parents’ house. It was my first time meeting his family. We hadn’t been dating very long. He had his arm around me. His sister had a mixed CD playing, and we were singing along and sort of dancing to the music. Waves of affection kept washing over me. I would look at him and think, “Wow.” And that was the moment I realized I was probably going to marry this man. It was good timing…because that was the night he told me he loved me.
What is your mountain?
Big news today: Random House will publish a newly discovered Dr. Seuss book, What Pet Should I Get. Last night, I read my very favorite Dr. Seuss book to my little ones: Oh, the Places You’ll Go! This book has always been a favorite of mine. I’ve always been a dreamer, and always believed I was destined to do great things. I still believe that (I believe everyone is), but after years of working toward my goals, fame and fortune still elude me, and I’ve come to appreciate some of the (harsher) doses of reality found in Oh, the Places You’ll Go! 1) You have the power to choose Life is not fair. It never has been and it never will be. Some people are born into wealth and some into poverty. Some people are born into loving, healthy families, while others are abandoned as infants. Why? Why is there so much inequality? I don’t know. There is definitely a sense of randomness, and of luck, in life, but there is also choice. Everyone has the power to choose, and those choices affect not only themselves but all of us. One small choice can create a ripple effect through the ages. It isn’t fair, but it is true nonetheless. However, no matter what choices were made before you and how they rippled down to affect your life, YOU still have your OWN choices to make. “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.” You can take the power back. You just have to admit that you are in control of your own destiny. Some will have to work harder than others to get where they want to be–that’s where the unfairness comes in. But everybody still has a choice. Everybody can decide which way to go. 2) There will be setbacks Even with your power to choose, and even with your destiny for greatness, there will be low moments. Maybe even rock bottom moments. “I’m sorry to say so but, sadly, it’s true that Bang-ups and Hang-ups can happen to you.” No matter how clever, talented, or privileged you are, you’re going to hit set-backs. Seuss describes this as a “Slump.” “And when you’re in a Slump, you’re not in for much fun. Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.” No, it isn’t. And some people never manage to “un-slump” themselves, finding a way to be content with mediocrity. Don’t do that. 3) We waste too much time waiting Seuss writes about The Waiting Place. It is a “most useless place.” “Waiting for a train to go or a bus to come, or a plane to go or the mail to come, or the rain to go or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow or waiting around for a Yes or No or waiting for their hair to grow. Everyone is just waiting.” How often do we just wait for life to happen for us? Wait for that big break? Wait for love to find us? Wait for something good to come on TV, or for something important to show up in our Facebook news feed (there must be a reason we keep checking it, right?)? Good things usually don’t just happen. And remember that “slump”? Spending all your time waiting to get out a slump won’t accomplish anything. “NO! That’s not for you!” Stop waiting. 4) Life is full of lonely moments “I’m afraid that some times you’ll play lonely games too. Games you can’t win ’cause you’ll play against you.” Actually, this quote teaches two lessons: 1) we’re all going to have lonely moments in life, where we are left mostly on our own (I don’t believe you are ever totally on your own); 2) sometimes you are your own worst enemy, or at least your biggest obstacle. Laziness, self-doubt, fear, ridiculous expectations, perfectionism–these can all get in the way of success. 5) You can move mountains (but nothing is guaranteed) “And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.) “KID, YOU’LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!” You’ll move mountains…maybe. First you have to overcome yourself. You have to accept that it will take work, time, and maybe even all you have. It must be worth it to you. Worth it to sometimes be alone. Worth it to give up on other, less important endeavors. And even then–after you’ve worked as hard as you possibly can–life may still get in your way. I started taking a self-defense class, and last week the instructor told us (and I’m paraphrasing), “You don’t want to be a victim. You want to turn this into a fight. The odds might still be against you, but they’re better than if you do nothing.” Life lesson. Some things in life are guaranteed, and this is one of them: if you do nothing, you will accomplish nothing. And that is not for you. Move that mountain. (Source: Seuss. Oh, the Places You’ll Go! New York: Random House, 1990. Print.)
Quick thought: the importance of world building
A few months ago, I finished Neil Gaiman’s novel, The Ocean at the End of the Lane. In terms of its language and themes, I thought it was fairly similar to Coraline, another novel with a YA hero.Each story was successful not only for including rich characters, compelling plots, fluid prose, and accessible language, but Gaiman was also able to build immersive worlds. In each work, the protagonists cross over into a different realm. Gaiman maintains the reader’s interest by establishing rules in each world as well as consequences for breaking these rules. I’ve found this to be the most important aspect of world building. How does the world work? What are the boundaries? What happens to a character who goes beyond those boundaries? Are the rules and the consequences established, consistent, organic, and sensible? Even if an author successfully answers these questions prior to writing a novel, ensuring consistency throughout the piece is difficult and can only be ensured through meticulous editing. Once those rules start breaking down, the narrative dream every author so desperately tries to create for his or her readers will crumble, and the story simply becomes unenjoyable. It’s not enough to simply think of an alternate universe a character can occupy. It’s about creating a world a reader can believe in.
The problem with finishing up a book is that I often grow very attached to the characters. I miss them! While I am reading a great book, the characters immerse themselves into my life like good friends. Closing a book always has a touch of sadness because I have to say goodbye. This bittersweet connection is magnified to an even greater extent when I finish writing a book. I am almost finished with the sequel to “The Human Cure,” and I am really going to miss my characters when I am done. I will have to begin reading or writing a new book right away! Character love is strong, but it is also fickle, as I easily find myself falling in love with someone new time and time again.
Going through the editing process, I’m finding that there are more words I want to add. There are also many that I see I need to change. It’s so interesting to look at my words again, now that I know the ending…kind of like reexamining the pieces once I have seen the whole puzzle.
48fourteen Website Launch Giveaway!
Welcome to the new 48fourteen! When we launched 48fourteen during the summer of 2011, one of our many goals, in addition to having an incredible selection of novels, was to have an awesome social community of authors and readers. With the launch of this new website, we are doing just that – we are getting social! Books and reading has never been this much fun! THANK YOU for being such a huge part of 48fourteen! Stick around, sign up for our newsletter, check out our events, author blogs, chat it up with authors and other readers, check out our current giveaways, have fun, and get social! To celebrate the launch of our new website, we are having a massive giveaway! Here are the prizes up for grabs: 1st Prize: 1 48fourteen mug 2nd Prize: 1 48fourteen notebook & pen 3rd Prize: 1 48fourteen print book of your choice & bookmark 4th Prize: 2 48fourteen eBooks of your choice & bookmark 5th Prize: 2 $10.00 Amazon gift cards (one for each winner) To win: 1. Check out our Facebook post with this giveaway announcement and click “LIKE” (www.facebook.com/48fourteen); 2. COMMENT what you think about our new website; AND 3. TAG a friend! Winners will be announced on Saturday, February 28, 2015. Every ten completed entries unlocks the next prize level. For example, ten completed entries unlocks the first prize, twenty completed entries unlocks the second prize… Good luck and have fun! As always, thank you for being a part of #Team48fourteen!
Welcome to 48fourteen!
Welcome to the new 48fourteen! When we launched 48fourteen during the summer of 2011, one of our many goals, in addition to having an incredible selection of novels, was to have an awesome social community of authors and readers. With the launch of this new website, we are doing just that – we are getting social! Books and reading has never been this much fun! THANK YOU for being such a huge part of 48fourteen! Stick around, sign up for our newsletter, check out our events, author blogs, chat it up with authors and other readers, check out our current giveaways, have fun, and get social! This is a quick guide to our social community. Join us! Author Profile: You can access the authors page by clicking “Author” on the menu bar. To view the author’s profile page, click on the author’s name. Community Directory: Click on “Community” in the main menu to view the directory of 48fourteen authors and readers. Here you can select profiles to view, request friendships, etc. Your Profile: Here is where you get to gush about yourself. Tell us a little something about you! On this page you will be able to do several things. Click on the “Get Social” tab to post messages. You can select who you want to view your messages: Authors, All Friends, Select Friends. Click on the “All Activity” tab to see all posts. You can leave a comment, and even like or dislike posts. This is where you get social! Click on “My Friends” to view all of your current friends. The “Friendships” tab allows you to view recently active users. Edit Profile: To edit your profile, on the main menu, click on “Community” –> “Profile” –> “Edit Profile”. Change Avatar: To change your profile image, click on “Community”–> “Profile”–> “Change Avatar”. Alerts: To view alerts of activity: “Community” –> “My Profile”–> “Alerts”. Have fun! If you need help, e-mail support(at)48fourteen(dot)com.
C.K. Brooke Answers YOUR Questions About The Duchess Inheritance!
Hey, readers! With The Duchess Inheritance (Jordinia: Book 2) on the way, I’ve been receiving some great questions, and thought I’d share my spoiler-free answers to whet your appetites for the upcoming sequel. Enjoy the Q&A! 1. How much longer do I have to wait for book two’s release?? I am just as eager as you are! As of now, we don’t have an exact release date yet, but it’ll be soon, possibly within the next 1-2 months. Please follow my Facebook and Twitter accounts for live updates, or you can check my website, www.CKBrooke.com, periodically for changes. I will announce the release date the minute I learn it! 2. Does this book contain the same themes as the first? Yes – amplified!! There will be even MORE romance, adventure, and politics! And pirates, too. Can’t forget pirates. 3. How many new characters can we expect to see in the next adventure? There will be many new characters this time around. I don’t have an exact number, but this story is more populated than the last, as it crosses a broader span of time and distance. As well, most of the characters from book one will return, some with greater prominence than before. 4. Any new romances? Why, yes! 5. Will Bos and Selu join the other three on the quest for the inheritance? Bos and Selu will continue to play major roles in the sequel. 6. Is there going to be one main villain/antagonist or more of a group of people working against Dainy in the sequel? I would say more of a group, although they’re all working under the same person/establishment. 7. Will Dainy ever return to where she grew up? / How are her aunts doing? We will see a return to Heppestoni in this book, and you’ll find out. 8. Where is Asiotica? All we know is that it’s “East” and doesn’t show on the map. Can’t tell you how many times I referred to that page and hope the map is also in Book 2. I’m so glad readers are finding my map (graphic design by the talented Lyndsay Johnson, fellow 48fourteen author) helpful! Asiotica is on the Great Continent, of which there will be a map – as well as the original map of West Halvea, with a few locations added- in the front of book two. 9. Can we expect more adventures on the high seas? YES! As aforementioned, there will be pirates and backstabbing captains and high seas bounty hunters and… well, I’m not gonna spoil it all. 10. Will we get to explore more of Jordinia? Lots more. The capitol, Pierma, is like Sweeney Todd-era/Dickens London mixed with Revolutionary Russia or France. You’ll love it. 11. Is this a “sweet” romance as well? The heat level rises a bit in this installment, but you know me – while it’s sensual, I don’t get too graphic (my parents are going to read it, after all). But where there was only one intimate instance in the first story, you can expect multiple here, only because the main couple’s relationship is established and advancing. At one point, my editor even told me, “We need more here,” with regards to a sexual scene (LOL), so you can call this one “mild” to “moderate.” 12. Will Cosmith eventually have to face his demons and atone for his character flaws? I bring all of my characters to justice, even if they’re my favorites. And that’s all I’m gonna say. 13. Have Mac’s feelings for Dainy changed? I’d say appropriately so. In a way, they are closer now than they could be before. I think you’ll enjoy the evolution of Dainy’s relationships with all three guys. The story ain’t over yet! 14. How many more books will you write on these characters? This is the last one. The Books of Jordinia are a duology, just the two novels. I have a few more manuscripts, however, which take place in the same universe, but not with the same characters. 15. How long did it take you to write? Four months for the initial drafts, plus about six months of editing. The manuscript’s been complete for a year now. We’re currently in the final stages of tweaking and improving. **Some more things you might like to know… What does the cover look like? This! (Thanks to 48fourteen and Amanda Matthews of A.M. Design Studios.) Where will it be available? In all the same places as book one – Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iTunes, etc. – in eBook and paperback formats. I will provide links through social media and on my website when it’s available for pre-order. Did you name any characters after me? If we know each other, and you notice some variation of your name (first, last, maiden, perhaps the nickname you went by in our high school Spanish class… ) in the text, then it’s safe to assume I was thinking of you when I slipped it in. *winks* Thanks to Becca in Washington, D.C., Sandi, Samm F. and Jake in Maryland, MJ in Pennsylvania, Melanie in Virgina, Kathy M. in Cuba, and Kathy T. in Michigan for the awesome questions! If you have a question, please contact me.
Meet Dr. Madeline Pierce from The Chemical Attraction Series
Madeline Pierce visits with me and answers a few questions from the fans of the series. In Chemical Attraction, Madeline, a research scientist in nanotechnology, uncovers a sinister scientific plot with the help of FBI Agent Joe Roberts. She and Joe fall in love during the dangerous case. Then, in Chemical Reaction, they struggle to make their relationship work while apart. Madeline’s a genius; Joe needs to be right. They marry after a month. Let’s find out how she expects their relationship to last a lifetime. CHRISTINA: We don’t know much about your family. Are you close to your parents? MADELINE: No, my mom died when I was young and I don’t talk to my father. I haven’t missed having parents with Aunt Sylvia and Uncle Herbert around. For years, Uncle Herbert and I would debate philosophy. I learned so much from him. Aunt Sylvia is so much like my mom…beautiful with a teasing sense of humor. She’s kept me laughing while Uncle Herbert kept me dancing. I adore them. I miss my uncle. It broke my heart that he wasn’t here to walk me down the aisle. CHRISTINA: You knew Joe was a player before you knew he was the FBI agent assigned to your case. What first attracted you to him? MADELINE: His butt, his biceps, his abs, his sexy green eyes. Oh my, is it getting warm in here? I thought he was handsome in a tuxedo. Then I saw him in jeans and a t-shirt … even sexier. Deep down, Joe’s a romantic guy and cares about people. I love him for the little things he does. For example, he walked my aunt home on a dark evening and worried about her feelings after Earl’s mean comments to her. During the case, Joe joked with me on several occasions to calm my nerves. CHRISTINA: Joe says he’s not intimidated by your genius. He finds it sexy. I’m curious who would win in a Chess match? MADELINE: Well, first of all, I think he can hold his own when it comes to intelligence. Second, I would never play him in a match. Can you imagine how big his head would get if he won? Seriously though, I don’t like to compete with him. We work well together. It’s what I love about us. CHRISTINA: Do you think you’ll ever be a fan of boating and the water? MADELINE: I haven’t gone near the water since I was eight. It brings back bad memories for me. And the last few weeks haven’t changed my mind about it either. I prefer to enjoy the water from solid ground. CHRISTINA: What’s your next adventure with Joe? MADELINE: We’re going up to Tim Orr’s secluded cabin in Canada for our honeymoon. I’m ready to relax and recharge. I can’t think of anything that could possibly disturb us there. Thanks for joining me today and giving the fans insight into your life. To read more about Madeline and Joe’s story, visit my Amazon Author Page at http://amzn.to/16U7Y0S or my Barnes & Noble Series Page at http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/?series_id=930952
The Multitasking Maven (or how to balance life as a writer and mother)
This was a post I worked on last summer, and thought I would share it again. Enjoy! _____________ Ah, summer. The perfect time to write my next novel. The kids are out of school. Swim lessons are in full swing. We’ve got parks, pools, bugs, battles, stings, sunburns, tattling, tantrums, and lego messes that only rival my laundry messes. As a stay-at-home-mom to three, it’s not always easy to find time to write. Since I am an expert, I thought I would share ten tips for a well-balanced life, full of time to write (and in my case also promote my existing novel) among the mayhem of motherhood moments: 1. MOTIVATE Let’s get inspired! I like to make sure I don’t shower or brush my teeth before noon. This is an important first step. It will ensure that you have the proper amount of self-loathing going on to guilt trip yourself into getting a few words out on paper (er, screen). 2. RESEARCH I do a lot of research for my books. They include quite a bit of character development based on mythology and history. I find it’s especially helpful to scroll through 30 minutes of cat memes on Facebook to delve into the inner-workings of my character’s love for animals worshipped in ancient Egypt… 3. PROMOTE If you are a published author, it is really important to start calling around to set up interviews and author appearances. I recommend doing this at the height of your children’s mid-morning boredom-induced hunger fits. There’s nothing like talking to the local youth librarian, while your 5-year-old is screaming for an ice cream sandwich at 10am. It really lets them know that you are a dedicated mom who is also totally in touch with the youth demographic. 4. REFINE Whether you make corrections as you go, or put your work through rigorous rounds of edits once you are done, edits have to be made! I highly suggest editing your final manuscript with a newborn baby. Bonding time, galore. It also helps you grow as a writer, because you will later find all the mistakes you missed in the post-partum haze of hormonal upheaval and lack of sleep. Priceless. This is what it looks like: 5. MULTITASK Let’s face it. If you are a mom working from home, you get really good at doing two (or five) things at once. I like to get a little writing time in while nursing my baby. It works out well because i can tyupe with ine hsnd, andit realkly onluy takes me three times as long to tuyoe\\type a paragrapoh. 6. PRIORITIZE Kids really don’t need lunch, do they? (See ice cream sandwich at 10am.) 7. ESCAPE Carve out a special spot in your home where you can go to write, preferably away from the chaos of daily life. Make it uplifting and inspiring. I personally like to lock myself in the bathroom when I need a little writing escape. I can take my trusty laptop in there, spray a little Glade Hawaiian Breeze, and really feel like I am on the beach. It’s so relaxing! 8. FUEL Make sure you are getting good amounts of proper brain food! I prefer a handful of Junior Mints evenly spaced throughout the day, mingled with whatever fruit my kids left on their plates at breakfast. It’s kind of like a cleanse! 9. TAKE BREAKS It is so important to give yourself some time to breathe when you are spending a whole entire day really digging in and writing. It’s great to push through and get a lot of writing done, especially when you are on a roll. But it will be better for your writing in the long run if you’ll take a quick breather every so often. I take breaks every 3 minutes to tend to non-existent “owies,” aforementioned boredom-induced hunger pains, dirty diapers, manage the local complaint department, check my Amazon ranking 20+ times a day, grab a quick snack (see #8), and contemplate a shower (but only if it’s after 12pm). 10. START AGAIN Tomorrow is another day! Amazingly, I do manage to find the time to write. Sometimes I think it must be happening in my sleep. It’s not easy being a mom and author. But it IS doable, and definitely worth it. Keep pressing on, and before you know it, you too can have a spit-up stained manuscript ready to send off to your publisher!
A few thoughts on creativity.
You may have seen this quote from Twyla Tharp: “Creativity is an act of defiance.” Sorry, Twyla, but I have to disagree. I don’t see creativity as an act of defiance at all! I think people who oppose creativity—who repress and discourage it—those are the ones being defiant. But the actual act of creating something out of the sheer desire and even need to do so? That’s harmony. We are born creative beings. The entire universe IS creativity. Even when things seemingly fall apart, there is energy there. There is change and motion, and that is also creation. To be creative is to be original, inspired, experimental, innovative, and even resourceful. This is the essence of who we are (or at least who we are meant to be). When I put a part of myself out into the world, I am sharing, evoking, revealing, declaring. Sure there is art created to be defiant, to make a point, prove a purpose, fight an injustice. But to me creativity as a whole doesn’t fall under that umbrella. I have to believe that it is something larger. We are drawing out a part of ourselves that is innate and important. Essential. We are joining a bigger movement—the inherent forces all around that propel us forward together. This is not defiance. This is truth. Feel free to disagree with me. Respond, interact, decide for yourself. Be creative.
Greetings, 48Fourteen readers!
I thought I’d take a moment to introduce myself since I’m a relatively new member of the budding 48Fourteen community. My name is Matt Thomas, and over the last ten years or so I’ve written a few short stories, several essays, some music articles, and even a fantasy novel called A Breach in Death that was published a couple of years ago by Boxfire Press. I’m very excited to be working with the great editing team at 48Fourteen on my follow-up, The Compass From the Red Lands, a modern fantasy. What is it about? Well, I’m not sure I’m allowed to say much about it at this point, but I’ll be posting updates as often as possible. I can say that we’re entering the final stages of editing, and I hope to have more information soon. Check back here often! I’ll be posting.
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Meet FBI Agent Joe Roberts from The Chemical Attraction Series
Today, Joe Roberts answers a few questions from the fans of the series. In the prequel Their Rigid Rules, Joe meets his future boss and sets his career with the FBI in motion. In Chemical Attraction, he and Madeline fall in love during that dangerous case. In Chemical Reaction, they struggle to make it work while apart. Madeline’s a genius; Joe needs to be right. They marry after a month. Let’s find out how Joe expects their relationship to last a lifetime. CHRISTINA: How’d you know Madeline was your one? JOE: The moment I saw her jogging down the street next to her aunt’s B & B. Our kiss on the dance floor confirmed it for me. CHRISTINA: There are two theories: 1) You knew before you arrived in Allenton that Madeline was your contact; and 2) You didn’t know until she said the code word at the party. So set the record straight. JOE: Do I seem like the type of agent who would start a case without identifying the anonymous caller before I arrived? No. I found out her name. The rest of her background came later. At the fundraiser, I observed her before I identified myself. I didn’t realize the affect she’d have on me although I knew the assignment would be tough. I mean look at her. She’s gorgeous. No man in his right mind would turn her down. Many have hit on her including a fellow agent, Ray Anderson. I’m lucky she chose me. CHRISTINA: Madeline’s a genius research scientist and you need to be right. Do you find her intimidating? JOE: I grew up where I had to take charge. I was on my own and had to be right to survive. With Madeline, I love the challenge of raising myself up intellectually. I find her intelligence sexy. CHRISTINA: Is there any correlation between Madeline and Taylor’s favorite scent of lilacs? Did that scent attract you to Madeline? JOE: Wait. What? I, um, uh, I never thought about that and I’m not comfortable discussing it. CHRISTINA: Okay, we’ll move on. How’s your relationship with Stuart now? JOE: We’re good. He and Matt treat me like a little brother although they don’t pick on me as much as Eva does. I let her to make her feel superior just don’t tell her I said that. CHRISTINA: You and Sylvia have a flirty relationship. How’d that start? JOE: I met Sylvia and Herbert Folkert years ago when Director Bingaman and I stayed at their B & B. She asked me all sorts of personal questions. Was I married? Did I have a girlfriend? I flirted back then asked her why she was so interested in me when her husband was standing right next to her. Herbert said I could try to tame Sylvia but she’d be too much woman for me. I didn’t understand at the time that she was thinking of setting me up with Madeline. Herbert also gave me an inspiring piece of advice that I still hold on to. I’ll share it with Madeline when we go on our honeymoon. CHRISTINA: When did you get rid of your tank of a car and buy the Ford Taurus? JOE: My ’88 Lincoln Continental sat at the director’s cabin for most of the winter and wouldn’t start so he had to have it towed. Before I answer about my Taurus, what did the director say about it? I didn’t actually buy it, but that’s a story for another time. Yes, I’m being cryptic on purpose. CHRISTINA: How would you characterize your relationship with your boss? JOE: The director took a chance on me years ago. I’m grateful for that. At the office, he’s Director Bingaman. It’s different at family gatherings. Before you ask, I have no other comment about my dress code. Thanks for joining me today and giving the fans insight into your life.
Meet Peter Bingaman from The Chemical Attraction Series
Before I visit with Joe and Madeline, I want to hear what Joe’s boss and coworkers have to say about him. Today, FBI Detroit Division Director Peter Bingaman sits down with me for an interview about his life. This seasoned director took Joe under his wing, caught Stuart Morgan’s stalker in Their Rigid Rules, and had Joe’s back in Chemical Attraction and Chemical Reaction. Thank you, Director, for taking a few minutes to answer questions from the fans of the series. CHRISTINA: You first met Joe when he was still in college. What did you see in him? PETER: Joe pulled a gun on me when we first met. He was a pain in my ass, but he had potential. I eventually taught him everything he knows about law enforcement. He’d probably say it’s the other way around. CHRISTINA: You knew Joe before he became your subordinate. Is your relationship with Joe different than with your other agents? PETER: Joe and I have developed levels to our relationship. We respect each other at the office. I mentored Joe, which wasn’t hard. He’s naturally talented. I demand excellence from my protégé, and he produces the results I need. My other agents think I’m extremely tough on Joe because I dislike him. That’s so far from the truth. With the family, we’ve mocked each other as friends. Publicly, we have never crossed that line between the professional and personal. We value our jobs and our friendship too much to jeopardize either. CHRISTINA: Joe doesn’t conform to the FBI’s dress code instead he wears jeans and t-shirts. What kind of dirt does he have on you? PETER: Ha! That’ll be revealed in another story. Let’s just say he helped me with an issue years ago and earned some leeway with his attire. CHRISTINA: In Chemical Reaction, we’ve met your youngest daughter. When we will we meet your oldest? PETER: You already have. CHRISTINA: In Their Rigid Rules, you had promised to take Joe back to your cabin to get his car. How was that drive? PETER: We drove up there after he finished his training. For some reason, my brother (General Bingaman) thinks Joe’s amusing and keeps inviting him up there. Joe calls the cabin the Fortress of Solitude. Anyway, his beast of a car wouldn’t start so I had to have it towed. CHRISTINA: What’s next for Joe and his team? PETER: Well, while he’s on his month long honeymoon with Madeline, his team will be wrapping up the case. I’m ready to put this whole damn drama behind us. CHRISTINA: Director, thanks for taking some time out of your busy schedule. Next, I sit down with Tim Orr, Ray Anderson, and Mike Garrett. Agents, let’s get right to it. How do you get along with Joe? TIM: Joe’s a hard ass. At work he’s serious. During the BennTech bust a few weeks ago, we got a glimpse of his humorous side when his sister busted his balls. I don’t think Joe’s ever bested her. Eva’s a force to be reckoned with. RAY: Since this will be in print and Joe will read it, I’ll just say over the last month he’s mellowed out. Thanks to Madeline. MIKE: Yeah, Madeline calms his anger. He scares me and he’s really bossy. He’s had me doing boring grunt work since I joined the unit. CHRISTINA: Mike, how good did it feel to call Joe an Ass and Bully over the phone? MIKE: It felt great for about a minute. Then, I realized he’d be returning to Detroit. I’m still waiting for the fallout over that. Maybe he’ll forget about it. RAY: We’ll remind him. MIKE: Great. Thanks. CHRISTINA: Ray, did you really hit on Madeline when you first met her? How’d that go? RAY: In my defense, I didn’t know she was Joe’s woman at the time. She shot me down quickly although she was nice about it. CHRISTINA: Ray, are you dating anyone now? RAY: No, work keeps me busy, and I take care of my sister and niece. It doesn’t leave much time for dating. CHRISTINA: Tim, where do you go to relax? TIM: Joe and Madeline are heading there for their honeymoon. It’s our family’s secluded cabin in Canada. It’s the most peaceful place on the planet. CHRISTINA: Mike, did eight-year-old Lily Morgan really ask you to marry her? MIKE: Yeah, and in front of Joe at his wedding reception. Lily cornered me and Judge Mayfield. Thank God her father stepped in. I didn’t want to hurt her feelings. Thanks guys for taking time out of your day to answer the fans’ questions.
Meet Madeline’s Aunt Sylvia from The Chemical Attraction Series
Sylvia Folkert sits down with me for an in-depth interview about her life. Madeline’s Aunt Sylvia lost her husband, Herbert, a year ago. Recently, she sold her bed and breakfast and became the nanny to Taylor and Stuart Morgan’s children. Today, Sylvia answers a few questions from the fans of the series. CHRISTINA: Whose idea was it to setup Madeline with Joe Roberts? SYLVIA: At the local women’s group, Eva and I thought Joseph and Madeline would have chemistry. Having them meet at the Allenton fundraiser worked out perfectly. I think Joseph saw right through our plan. He was already smitten though. I’m happy everything worked out. I trust in the Lord’s plan for us. My sister, Allison, would have approved the match. My heart breaks that she’s not here to see how happy her daughter is. Family meant everything to Allison, too. CHRISTINA: You met Joe before the start of Chemical Attraction. How’d you first meet? SYLVIA: I met Joseph about the time Eva and Matthew started dating. Joseph and Peter stayed at the B & B. His humorous flirting got him into trouble with Herbert, who jokingly put him in his place. Herbert thought pairing Joseph with Madeline would be beneficial for both of them. Eva and I felt we carried out his wishes. CHRISTINA: Is Joe as good of a dancer as he thinks he is? SYLVIA: Yes, he is. I danced with him before Madeline did. I knew then that the pairing would work. CHRISTINA: Did Earl VanKampen have any chance of courting you? SYLVIA: Good God, no. Herbert was my one and only. My focus is on my new family now. Suddenly, I have sons, daughters, and grandchildren. I’m truly blessed. Stuart and Taylor have welcomed me into their home. I love Lily and little Joseph. They keep my heart young. CHRISTINA: Tell us about your husband, Herbert. SYLVIA: Joseph reminds me of Herbert ─charming with a sense of humor and a kind heart. Herbert retired after working thirty-five years at Haworth Manufacturing then he helped me at the B & B until he passed. I miss dancing with him. We met at the local American Legion’s annual Veteran’s dance. He was my Navy man. Herbert swept me off my feet. CHRISTINA: Everyone loves your chocolate chip cookies. Care to share the recipe? SYLVIA: It’s Herbert’s mother’s recipe. Darlene would say, “Love makes them good, but lard makes them great.” That’s our secret, right? The women in my sewing circle have been after my recipe for years. It’s our secret. Thanks for joining me today and giving the fans insight into your life.
Meet Stuart Morgan from Their Rigid Rules
Professor Stuart Morgan sits down with me for an in-depth interview about his life. Stuart is a handsome history professor and former marine. In Their Rigid Rules, he meets Taylor in his Civil War seminar then throws out his strict rules to pursue her. After the drama involving stalking and kidnapping, they’re now married and have two children. In Chemical Attraction and Chemical Reaction, Stuart and Taylor are supportive of Joe during his case. Today, Stuart answers a few questions from the fans of the series. CHRISTINA: Would you support Taylor if she decided to become a massage therapist again? STUART: I would, but I wouldn’t like it. She’s moved on from that profession so it’s a non-issue. CHRISTINA: Will we ever hear your military story that won you a medal? STUART: Yes, Taylor and I discuss it in a later story. I had a hard time putting that time in my life behind me. Thankfully, I have Taylor, our kids, and the rest of the family for support. CHRISTINA: What do you do to cope with your PTSD? STUART: It’s not something a lot of people know about. Although medication has helped many, I don’t take any because I don’t want that to be an issue with my job. Unfortunately, it would give the university president more ammunition against me. The negative connotation of perceived violence is why many vets with PTSD don’t seek medical help … myself included. However, my symptoms have subsided since I’ve married Taylor. I used to have night sweats, nightmares, and panic attacks. Support from my family helps, and I work out every day at the gym. CHRISTINA: Are you and Matt Connor friendly? We haven’t seen much interaction between the two of you in the stories. STUART: We’re married to sisters so, yeah, Matt and I hang out a lot. Joe’s usually there, too. He’s a smartass. Matt and I keep him grounded and enjoy giving him a hard time. Joe’s like our little brother. CHRISTINA: Have you and Joe worked out your issues over Taylor? STUART: I worked out my issues with Joe a long time ago. It took him a while longer. Joe loved Taylor and protected her for much of her life. After Taylor and I married, Joe focused on his career, which I think helped his transition with the changes. Joe cares about his sisters. You can’t fault him for that. CHRISTINA: On a lighter note, are any of the football players in your history classes? STUART: All of them are. It’s a requirement. Taylor once met me as my class let out. Talk about awestruck. She went gaga. The guys were all about meeting her because of our notoriety. She impressed them with her knowledge of the game. She even lectured the offensive linemen about their stance which gave away their blocking direction. I don’t tell Taylor when that class is. My students don’t need the added distraction, and I don’t need the competition. Thanks for joining me today and giving the fans a look into your life. Next, I’ll visit with Madeline’s Aunt Sylvia. I enjoy Sylvia and Joe’s interactions.
Meet Taylor Valentine from Their Rigid Rules
Taylor Valentine Morgan sits down with me for an in-depth interview about her life and her relationships with Stuart and Joe from Their Rigid Rules. Taylor had her life planned out since kindergarten. While in college she met Stuart and her perfect plan hit a snag changing her life drastically. Taylor may have had a minor part in Chemical Attraction and Chemical Reaction, but she impacted their family with her subtle strength and support. Today, she answers a few questions from the fans of the series. CHRISTINA: As a full-time mom, do you miss not having a career? That was your original plan, right? TAYLOR: I have a career as a domestic coordinator. I organize the family’s schedule, assist at Lily’s school, and keep the house in order. Stuart and I take turns cooking. However, I don’t mow the yard, take out the garbage, or clean the hair from the drain. I gotta draw the line somewhere. I love being a wife and a mom although it took me a while to get used to it. CHRISTINA: Do you think Joe met his match with Madeline? TAYLOR: Oh yes. Eva told me about the chemistry of their first kiss on the dance floor. I’m thankful they found each other. Joey works too hard. He found his equal. Lily’s a bit worried though. She believes since Joe loves Madeline he won’t have enough love left over for her. I think with some time she’ll understand that’s not how love works. He’ll always be Lily’s cool Uncle Joey. CHRISTINA: After all the drama from Their Rigid Rules, has your outlook changed about your life? TAYLOR: Yes. I’ve become more flexible bending with the changes so not to break. Bad things happened back then, but so much good happened as well. All those changes in my original plan led me to Stuart. CHRISTINA: Was that the start of your Happily Ever After? TAYLOR: Not quite. Stuart and I dealt with the aftermath of Their Rigid Rules. We weren’t at fault for any of those crimes yet we forked out serious money for lawyers to sift through it. Stuart tried to protect me from the stress which ended up making everything worse. You’ll give fans a glimpse into that soon. CHRISTINA: Well, let’s talk about a happier moment. Did you get your Vegas wedding? TAYLOR: Yes eventually. We had a double wedding with Eva and Matt. With a weekend pass for Joe, Peter picked him up from Quantico so they could join us. Joe walked us down the aisle. I shared the day with all the people I loved. And David loved playing laser tag with Joe and Peter after our reception dinner at the hotel. Later, Stuart and Matt joined them while Eva and I watched. I still tear up over the joy of that weekend. CHRISTINA: Eva and Joe have mentioned throughout the series that you have a family vibe. Can you elaborate on that? Are you psychic? TAYLOR: No, I’m not psychic. Since my drug-induced coma years ago, I had developed an ability of insight with our family. The snapshots I saw weren’t about the future; they were about the present. I can’t always decipher the meaning just the emotion of the family member. Once I had seen a mental snapshot of Eva, embarrassed, angry, cold, and stranded in a snow bank. What I couldn’t see was that Eva slipped into a snow bank just outside the Allenton Police Station. This vibe hasn’t come in handy at all except making me worry more. Thanks for joining me today and giving the fans an “insight” into your life. Next, I’ll talk with Stuart Morgan.
Meet Police Chief Matthew Connor from The Chemical Attraction Series
Allenton Police Chief Matthew Connor sits down with me for an in-depth interview about his life. As a single dad, Matt raised David until he met Eva O’Sullivan in Their Rigid Rules. Serving the people in his town, he’s stepped up during Joe’s case. He stopped a dangerous nano-drug from infecting his town in Chemical Attraction and saved a woman’s life in Chemical Reaction. Today, he answers a few questions from the fans of the series. CHRISTINA: When you first saw Eva with David, what was your first thought? MATT: “Mesmerizing” came to mind. She definitely spiced up my life. The first time she visited me in Allenton, she took the town by storm turning it upside down. I didn’t think the Allenton gossip circuit could travel faster than the speed of light. Boy, that weekend it had. CHRISTINA: How hard was it to be a single dad for first eight years of David’s life? MATT: Tough. Like I mentioned before, gossip is big in this town and stereotypes are even bigger. I’ve been the chief for ten years, but I’m still known as the boy who knocked up his high school girlfriend. Beth gave up her rights to David right after he was born while I embraced fatherhood. I wouldn’t have changed a thing though. He makes me a better person and I strive to be the man he looks up to. CHRISTINA: Uncovering a criminal network in your town, Joe created tension by not informing you about his case from the beginning. How’s your relationship with him now? MATT: Man, I don’t want him to visit us anymore … too much drama when he’s around. Joking aside, I love Joe like a little brother. Years ago after Their Rigid Rules, Stuart and I helped him out of a sticky situation, which cemented a brothers’ bond among the three of us. Besides, I could do worse than have a federal agent and a college professor as brothers. CHRISTINA: How’d you feel when David played hero and helped Jessica Fillion? MATT: Trouble follows that kid so I wasn’t surprised although I wish he would have come to me first. I hate how that situation turned out. Sometimes life isn’t fair. I worry about the effects this case will have on him. Don’t tell Eva I said that. She worries too much as it is. I have to believe David’s resilient. However, I don’t things will ever be normal again. By the way, I heard that your husband wanted to kill me off in the second book. All I have to say is you could do so much better. Seriously, I’m glad you didn’t. I hope to hold my grandchildren someday. CHRISTINA: Well, I think I’ll keep the hubby around for now. Just a couple more questions before I let you go. Do you want David to pursue a career in law enforcement? MATT: It’s his choice. Eva’s not keen on the idea, but she accepts it. David’s smart and has made responsible choices so far. As a dad, I have to trust he’ll continue to do that. There’s not much else I can do. CHRISTINA: I get the feeling that your responsibilities take over much of your life. What do you do for fun? MATT: Ha. Not having much fun these days. I enjoy spending time with my wife and I crochet to relax. It’s meditative. My mother taught me years ago. I made David’s first baby blanket. I donate the baby blankets I make now to our local hospital. After seeing the basket of yarn next to our sofa, Joe gave me a hard time until Eva told him what I did with the finished ones. Boy, did he feel bad. His niceness lasted for a month. It really creeped Eva out. Thanks for joining me today and giving the fans insight into your life. Next, I’ll chat with Taylor Valentine Morgan about motherhood, her marriage to Stuart, and her relationship with Joe.
Meet Eva Connor from The Chemical Attraction Series
Eva O’Sullivan Connor sits down with me for an in-depth interview about her life from the prequel Their Rigid Rules through the end of Chemical Reaction. Eva grew up in a single parent household and met Joe and Taylor in grade school. They quickly became inseparable. Eva has a fierce love for her family and believes families are bound by love not blood. Throughout the series, Eva’s insights have helped piece together important information in Joe’s case. Today, she answers a few questions from the fans of the series. CHRISTINA: Taylor and Joe have said this about you: “Eva’s Irish spitfire attitude magnifies her petite frame. If Eva has an opinion on a subject, you knows it whether you want to or not.” Does that description bother you? EVA: No, it’s true and it’s not a bad thing. I like that way I am. Joe and Taylor tease me about my bossiness, but it’s never mean. We have our strengths and weaknesses. Family balances them. How boring would it be if we were all the same? CHRISTINA: You impressed David and Matt from your first meeting. How’d you feel about them? EVA: What’s not to love? David was adorable. He’s smart with a good heart just like his father. And, well, my first thought about Matt was “Wow, now this is a man.” Not a guy or a college boy. This handsome rugged man has embraced the responsibilities to his son and his profession. Seriously, Matt was shot in the line of duty. How much more manly can you get? I adore their tender side, too. Years ago when David was eight, the heat went out at the house in the middle of winter. The three of us cuddled in David’s twin bed. The joy and love from them overwhelmed me. They included me in their family. I can’t imagine a better feeling for your soul than that. CHRISTINA: Throughout the series, you’ve fixed the meals when the family gathers. Have you always been a great cook? EVA: I learned to cook from Matt’s mom. We didn’t get off to a great start. In fact, Gail hated me, but food brought us closer. I guess it was our bonding moment. I have a thick homemade cookbook with all her delicious recipes. After everything that’s happened between us, I miss her. CHRISTINA: What happened that made her dislike you so much? EVA: Oh boy, well, I visited Matt at his house for our first weekend together without David, who stayed at a friend’s house. Naked in his bed, I waited for Matt to come home from work. Well, Gail walked in first. His parents lived across the street from him. She called me a harlot. The weekend deteriorated from there. Everything I did caused a stir in the town. It’s a big part in the sequel to Their Rigid Rules. CHRISTINA: Your original plan was to become a doctor yet you’re a physician’s assistant. Are you returning to school any time soon? EVA: Life got in the way of that. I’m considering grad school again. Working in the Occupational Health Department at the hospital isn’t as fun as it used to be. And they’ll need another doctor in that department soon since the other is … uh … no longer with us. CHRISTINA: Let’s move on to something a bit lighter. You love messing with Joe. You’ve calling him out for his player ways and embarrassed him with your over-the-com comments during the BennTech bust in Chemical Attraction, and then you pranked him during your phone call with Madeline in Chemical Reaction. Has he ever gotten you back for those shenanigans? EVA: Not yet. He tries, but I’m always a step ahead of him. Taylor and I tease him with our pranks so his anger doesn’t take over. Madeline’s the perfect balance for him. For a long time Joe didn’t think he was worthy of someone special. I hope Madeline will continue to appreciate how great he is. Oh, uh, don’t tell him I said that. He doesn’t need a bigger head. Thanks for sharing your insights. I love how dedicated you are to your family. Next, I’ll talk with Eva’s husband, Chief Matthew Connor, about his family, his work, and Joe’s case.
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