More Trouble in Twin Rivers

As I wrapped up the final version of A Good Kind of Trouble, I realized that I wasn’t remotely done. There were too many interesting characters hanging around Twin Rivers to leave that world alone. I started planning a series to explore those characters’ lives.

Ben and Lindsey, the main characters of A Good Kind of Trouble, were a lot of fun to get to know, but so were some of the minor characters in the book. Especially Fiona Larkin, Ben’s new co-worker at the Fields Law Group. She’s a lawyer, and a single mother who lost her husband last year.

And there was also an FBI agent who makes an appearance in A Good Kind of Trouble, Matt Pritchard. I didn’t know much about him, but as soon as I started writing the opening scene of their story, everything fell into place. Soon there was a murder at an exclusive resort that was hosting a seminar on international law, missing evidence, and a whole lot of chemistry between Fiona and Matt.

What is their story about? I’m glad you asked:

Fiona Larkin is a criminal defense attorney and a single mom. She doesn’t have time to deal with an inconvenient FBI agent who keeps popping up in her life—even if Special Agent Matt Pritchard is easy on the eyes. She really doesn’t have time for the dead body that she just tripped over, either. Matt Pritchard needs Fiona to cooperate with him, even if they are usually on opposite sides of the courtroom. She may be the key to unraveling how an undercover informant was killed—or she may be the murderer’s next target.

And here’s a snippet from book two of the Trouble in Twin Rivers series, which will be out next summer.


Fiona turned back to the empty glass in her trembling hand. She should have ordered a double.

“Get you another drink?”

She looked up to see Matt Pritchard behind the bar. He was back to his federal agent look—all business and tense. In the five years she’d known him, his expression hadn’t varied. If he would just relax, he’d be really handsome. But every time Fiona saw him it seemed like he was either angry or anxiously waiting for someone to piss him off.

“I think it’s past last call,” she said.

He put two glasses on the counter. “What are you drinking?”

“Well, if you’re buying, I’ll have the Laphroaig.”

Matt smiled, the expression softening his rugged features. She’d been right—he was handsome when he wasn’t scowling at her and her clients. Matt reached for the bottle.

“On the rocks?”

“No, straight up. Make it a double.”

He poured two neat scotches and pushed one toward her. She took a sip and closed her eyes, savoring the liquor’s warmth and smoky goodness. When she opened her eyes, Matt was staring, his glass paused halfway between his mouth and the bar. He quickly took a drink.

“Yep, that’s good scotch,” he said. “Sorry you got dragged into this.”

Fiona shrugged. “It’s not your fault.”

“Yeah, well, I’m sure you and the professor had plans that didn’t include this.”

She looked away and sipped her scotch again. She didn’t want to talk to Matt about her personal life, or her pathetic lack of one. There was enough speculation about that in Twin Rivers’ small legal community. No need to add fuel to that fire.

“Did you get a chance to talk to everyone at the conference?”

Matt nodded. “For the most part. A few had already left, but we sent some local officers to track them down.”

“I’m surprised that they all spoke to you.”

“Why?” He sounded so defensive that it made Fiona laugh.

“Because they’re all criminal law experts. They know how to invoke their rights,” she said.

“Well, a few of them did that. But they’re not all lawyers. Like, her, for instance.”

Matt nodded toward the doorway, where three young male agents were interviewing a woman with long platinum blond hair.

“You mean the woman in the spray-on silver dress with the world’s most preposterous set of fake knockers?” Fiona asked.

Matt grinned at her, cocked an eyebrow and took a sip of his drink.

“Yeah, she’s a professor of criminal law at the University of Johannesburg,” Fiona said.

Matt choked and his smile disappeared. “Really?”

“God, no. She’s a hooker.”

He laughed and Fiona smiled, ridiculously pleased with herself for wringing that laugh from him. He raised his glass toward her and she felt a jolt as their gaze met over the rim of the scotch. His eyes were warm, and rather than the intense stare she was accustomed to, this was a lingering and curious look.


Look for Matt and Fiona’s story in Summer 2016. In the meantime, sign up for my newsletter to be the first to learn about release dates, sales, cover reveals, and more!

(Originally published at Queen of All She Reads)

Your bad date, my inspiration

Have you ever been chatting with a friend and while they’re telling you a story you were completely distracted by how you were going to steal that story and incorporate it into a book?


Then you’re not a writer.

Writers are thieves. I mean, we won’t mug you for your cute purse (probably). But like they say on Law & Order, anything you say can and will be used as fodder for fiction. I actually haven’t watched Law & Order in a couple years, but I’m assuming it’s still using that “ripped from the headlines” theme.

Most of the time, my own theft is fairly innocuous. Ask my cousins who unknowingly lent me their first names (Thanks, Lindsey! Thanks, Katrina!). And my mother, who inspired a throwaway line about tripping over an orange traffic cone (keep providing me with material, Mom, but please watch your step). Don’t even get me started on my single friends’ bad dates.

In A Good Kind of Trouble, I used a couple of real-life incidences as inspiration for workplace scenes. One scene was a newsroom scuffle between Lindsey’s editor Sam and the newspaper’s in-house counsel, Lara Petrie. My critique partner had concerns about that scene.

“I just don’t know if it’s believable that an argument would escalate to a physical altercation,” she said.

This was a bit awkward. I’d worked in newsrooms and seen things that would make an HR professional run screaming, so it hadn’t occurred to me that readers would question something I’d seen happen. More than once. I toned it down a little for the fictionalized version.

The other “ripped from real life” scene was inspired by stories I heard from two different lawyers about life in huge law firms. Gordo’s method of sneaking out of work to have an occasional social life combined two different stealth escape plans. The details were changed, of course, to protect the not-so-innocent.

This is important information to keep in mind if you know any writers. You may need to start each conversation with a disclaimer, like, “This is strictly confidential,” or “Don’t you dare put this in your book,” or “Put down the pen, Ellie. I mean it.” Something like that. Your writer friend will get the hint.

And will wait until you leave to write it down.

(Originally published at Jane Reads, who also did a lovely review! Thank you, Jane!)

The Writing Cycle

The thing about writing, for me, is that I just love it so much. And yet… There are days when it is not easy. Difficult. Teeth-gnashingly, gut-wrenchingly hard. And I can’t imagine not doing it.

I know this makes no sense, so I made a chart to explain what I mean, using the creation of A Good Kind of Trouble as an example.

Stage 1

I was trying to fall asleep when a great idea for a title popped into my head. This was followed by the opening scene of a funny romantic mystery. Then the next scene, a chase scene. Yes! This could be a lot of fun. Then I got out of bed and started writing it down. This eventually became the first chapter of A Good Kind of Trouble, though at the time, it was titled Trust Me, I’m a Lawyer.

Great Escape Blog Tour post1 graphicStage 2

I was proudly a “pantser” when it came to writing. No plotting allowed! Let’s just see where this baby goes. I thought Ben and Lindsey’s story would be a short action-packed romantic mystery. Maybe a novella. That would be fun.

Stage 3

I was passing the 40,000-word mark and realized that I was nowhere near the end of the story. This “novella” was outgrowing its category. I was starting to become concerned, but the mystery Ben and Lindsey was unraveling was complex. The story kept surprising me with its twists. So it would be a short novel. No problem.

Stage 4

Or maybe it would be a long novel. The story had long since abandoned any idea that it could be contained in a novella. Ha! Yet more twists emerged, characters revealed unforeseen depth, and while I was still having fun uncovering all those details, I was starting to panic a little. I was at 80,000 words and I still couldn’t see the end. What if I couldn’t find a way to end this novel? Commence hyperventilating.

Stage 5

The End.

I have never been so happy to write two words in my life. At the time, they were my two favorite words among the 104,000 words that made up the book. This story had consumed me for a year and I was so happy to send it off for the first round of edits. I moved on to a new book in a different series. New characters, new dilemmas, a whole new world. Ben and Lindsey’s story, now called A Good Kind of Trouble, was behind me.

Stage 6

I was trying to fall asleep when I started thinking about Fiona Larkin, a minor character in A Good Kind of Trouble. She was interesting—a widowed single mother, and a lawyer. And what about that FBI agent, Matt Pritchard? Now that could be a minefield of conflict to navigate.

Or what about Ben’s new boss, the handsome and enigmatic Jude Fields? What kind of woman would it take to make him open up or settle down?

Oh, no. I was getting pulled back into the Twin Rivers universe.

But was that a bad thing? I mean, it was fun writing in that world. Maybe this should be a series.

And then I had a great idea for a title…


(Originally published at Bab’s Book Bistro)

Trouble, now available everywhere!

Good morning, readers! A Good Kind of Trouble is now available at all online booksellers and to celebrate its wide distribution, it is now on sale for only 99 cents. But get it quick because it’s only going to be at that price for a short time.

If you haven’t read it yet, here’s the scoop:

A Good Kind of Trouble final for Barnes and Noble copyBeacon news reporter Lindsey Fox is on the verge of breaking a huge story of political corruption that will make her career and make her famous journalist parents proud—or she could be thrown in jail and fired. It really could go either way.

Her recent streak of bad luck continues when Lindsey finds herself facing a bogus contempt charge—and attorney Ben Gillespie is appointed to get her out of the slammer. They once had a bad date of epic proportions—stilted conversation, food poisoning, burglary, towed car. Then there was the incident with the pepper spray. Lindsey never believed she’d see the sexy lawyer again.

Ben can totally believe that Lindsey is behind bars. The woman is trouble. Now he has to get his new client out of jail, keep her out of the grasp of a crazed bike messenger and a shady P.I., help her save her job, and convince her to put down the pepper spray and give him another chance.

Kindle  *  iBook  *  Nook  *  Kobo

Chasing the Dollar now in audio!

Do you like audiobooks? I love audiobooks. So I’m very happy to share that Chasing the Dollar is now available in audio format! ChasingtheDollaraudio

I was fortunate to work with the lovely and talented Teri Schnaubelt, who has produced more than 60 audiobooks and is an accomplished actress, too! I think you’ll love her performance of the book as much as I do. Teri was also generous enough to answer some questions, okay, a lot of questions, about audiobooks and how she does her job.

To celebrate the release of Chasing the Dollar in audio, I’m giving away free download codes from Audible to three commenters! Just comment below and tell me what you like about audiobooks. Or, if you haven’t tried them yet, why you want to listen to Chasing the Dollar. I’ll pick a winner on Saturday, Aug. 8.

And now, let’s talk audiobooks with Teri!

Continue reading Chasing the Dollar now in audio!

Pretty, pretty!

HoltDue to some camera problems, I’m late getting this posted, but here they are! My HOLT Medallions!

I am so honored to have my book recognized by the Virginia Romance Writers. Thank you all so much!


Killer Beach Reads is out in the world!

KillerBeachReads_finalIt’s here! Killer Beach Reads, an anthology of 22 short summer-themed mysteries, is available now! It includes One Red Cent, a Miranda Vaughn Mysteries novella. One Red Cent features Sarah Girard, Miranda’s best friend, and her quest to track down a reluctant witness. I had so much fun writing it and I hope you enjoy reading it just as much.

The collection is priced at 99 cents for a very limited time, so get your copy now!

Kindle * Nook * iBooks * Kobo * Smashwords

Chasing the Dollar is a winner!

Chasing The Dollar was selected as the Winner of the HOLT Medallion Award for outstanding literary fiction in both the Best First Book and Novel with Strong Romantic Elements categories. Thank you, Virginia Romance Writers! I am truly honored. Congratulations to all the winners!

holt-winner-RE holt-winner_BFB

New short story coming your way!

I just wrapped up edits on One Red Cent, a short story that will be released this summer! It’s in the Miranda Vaughn Mysteries series, but is from the point of view of Sarah Girard, Miranda’s kick-ass best friend! I had such a great time writing this and am really excited to get to share it with you soon!

KillerBeachReads_finalIn the meantime, here’s a snippet from another of Sarah’s bad dates:

I smiled at Christian and hoped that I looked semi-interested in whatever he was talking about. I was pretty sure it was about his job at a mortgage brokerage firm, but I had tuned out the last time the door had opened and I’d seen Eddie waving a chef’s knife at an employee. 

“…my new supervisor thought he’d be changing the policy after he got promoted, but well, that was just the way things were done from the gecko.”

My head snapped back to Christian. “Uh, I’m sorry. What did you say? The gecko?”

He nodded. “Yeah, it’s a saying. You know, like, from the gecko.”

I paused, unsure if he was serious. “I think you mean from the get go.”

He laughed. “That doesn’t make sense. Get go? What does that even mean?”

“No, ‘from the gecko’ doesn’t make sense,” I said. Was I really having this discussion?

“It means from a long time ago. You know, when the geckos ruled the earth.”

“Uh…” I had no idea what to do with this.

Christian nodded, his handsome face quite serious. “They’re, like, dinosaurs.”

One Red Cent will be released in July in the KILLER BEACH READS anthology, by Gemma Halliday Publishing. For updates on this collection, sign up for my newsletter: