Get Underwater FREE – for a limited time!

“How did it get so late so soon?”

– Dr. Seuss

It’s time to start your holiday shopping, and if you’re like me, you have some Readers on your List.

But if you’re (also) like me, first, you insist on reading/prefer to read like to read any book that you give as a gift.

However, you don’t want to buy yourself a gift  spend money on yourself ahead of time simultaneously, so…

Voici la solution:

From Monday, November 11 through Friday, November 15, you can download UNDERWATER on your Kindle absolutely FREE!


So, next week, go to Amazon and download UNDERWATER on your Kindle. (You need a good book to read next week anyway, before the holidays kick into full gear.) It’s a page-turner, so you’ll finish it in a couple of days.

Then, order the Paperback and wrap it up – or Gift a Kindle version!

Buy a copy for all the Readers on your List!

Then, voilà! You’ll have a head start on the holidays! And it won’t be as late you think it is, as soon as you think!


Keeping it simple

One of my family’s favorite sayings* is just one word, and it comes from the movie We Are Marshall: 


Unlike the movie It’s Complicated,** simplify is not just a sentence, but a verb (and often, a solution). When we repeat that line, it’s obligatoire to speak slowly and adopt a southern accent. And when I worked on the final edit of my latest novel, UNDERWATER, I tried to simplify: I cut some (unnecessary) backstory, clarified the timeline, and streamlined the plot.


But – très important – I also added some depth.

It wasn’t a simple process. It took a lot of reflection, and some trial and error. It’s part of the work of a work-in-progress that can be difficult, for me. But it’s worth it – ça vaut la peine. 

So, under the surface, there were some currents of struggle. For a few days, I resisted diving into the edit. Just like when I go to the pool, I had to test the water – with my toes. I fixed the easy stuff first, then broke my editor’s feedback down into managable tasks. I stayed in the shallow end of the pool for a few days. Then I started swimming, and soon – happily, and mercifully – I got into a rhythm.

[That rhythm thing must be what football players experience when they drive down the field – when they’re “in the zone.”]

Since publication, I’ve gotten some good reviews (Yay!) and many compliments from readers. I’ve also answered many questions, trying not to reveal too much. Lots of people have told me that the ending took them by surprise, and that the story was not a predictable one. Some have asked how I came to know about some of the specifics and story details, and write about them. Others have been intrigued by the novel’s theme, and how I developed the plot.

Was it a simple process? Mais non. But when I was treading water in the writing, when I was sinking into the mind of the villain, and when I plunged into the final edit, I remembered one thing above all:


* Here are some other family sayings taken from movie lines (guess which):
1. “I’ve made my decision. Pull the plug!”
2. “Who ya gonna call?”
3. “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.”
4. “What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.”
** We also like the “It’s Not Complicated” commercials, with those adorable first graders answering simple questions…

Part Deux: 2 Literally-Asked Questions, and More

Here’s a few more of the questions asked at the Book Launch Party for my novel UNDERWATER, and the answers (and announcements) I wish that I’d should have given (and made):

En premier (first):

The novel is dedicated to my mother, Sally, who was a guest at the party. She knew how nervous I was speaking in front of the large group, and fortunately, she reminded me to announce the book’s dedication to her. I did, but here’s what else I should have said…

I dedicated the book to her because she’s been so supportive of my writing. Years ago, when I mentioned my idea of writing a book, I told her that I was thinking about writing a novel based on my year in France.

“Do it!” she said. “It’s not too late!” When MAKE THAT DEUX was published, no one was more proud of me than she was – and no one’s asked me more about the details of  UNDERWATER, and when it would be released! Thanks, Mom.

En second:

Several people named in the book’s Acknowledgments were in attendance at the party. But who (besides other authors) reads the Acknowledgments page?* So I wished I had recognized them, and explained how much they helped. From pacing and plot to the smallest story details, their input was invaluable!

Enfin (finally), les questions:

Where did you draw your inspiration from for this story?

I drew on some of my own life experiences when writing the story.

My husband and I were “underwater” on our first house in the late 1980s, before being underwater was cool. We moved across the country for a new job in the midst of a declining real estate market, a side effect of the Savings & Loan crisis. We had no choice but to (seriously) downsize and do our best – and to start all over again. No one came to our rescue, and one thing we learned was that it’s much easier to upsize than to downsize. Much easier.

But we did it. We lived not just within our means, but way below them, for several years. In short, we did “Dave Ramsey” before Dave Ramsey was cool.

More than a decade later, after building a new home in the Midwest, we left the area, again for a new job. We sold our house at a loss. Downsizing followed, but we recovered more quickly this time.

When I began writing UNDERWATER, I knew the premise, the protagonist, the villain, the storyline…and I knew the feelings of despair, desperation and stress connected with a house underwater.

I thought that I could write about those feelings through the eyes of fictional characters, and about the havoc that the situation wreaks in all of their lives.

What books have you read recently, and what do you like to read?

I read a range of fiction and some non-fiction, including biographies. I like everything from suspense to coming-of-age stories and romance. I also like historical fiction and classics. And I usually like anything set in France, which includes presque tout – almost everything – by Peter Mayle.

Earlier this year, I read Stephen King’s 11/22/63, and his book written for authors, On Writing (a bonus was an appendix of good books to read). Another great book I read was Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand.

For the answers to some other questions about UNDERWATER, such as how I selected the title and characters’ names, see FAQ – UNDERWATER. 

* Take a look at my Acknowledgments page (it’s short!) to find out more.

Keeping a secret – sort of

At the book launch party for my latest novel, UNDERWATER, I read a short scene, then answered guests’ questions.


I was prepared for a Q & A, though (for some reason) not exactly expecting it. I enjoyed answering questions about my inspiration for the book and talking about my writing life, and, perhaps for that reason, my glossophobia (fear of public speaking) temporarily disappeared. But to one question, I gave a cryptic, sort of secretive response.

That question was, “What are you working on right now?”

I had already told my writers’ group and several other friends, but that night, I hesitated to answer. I wanted to tell them, yet I didn’t. My next book will be quite different from the either of the first two, and I didn’t want to talk about why. I didn’t want to detract from excitement about UNDERWATER and any other questions about it. And to date, I’ve only written about 14,000 words of the draft for “Book 3.”

I wanted to keep the details a (semi-)secret.

So I responded by identifying the genre (creative non-fiction), stating that it’s a true story, and saying, “And that’s all I’m going to say.”

Here’s the cliché that I should have added: “Because truth really is stranger than fiction.”

I hoped that, by not giving a direct answer, I would evoke some curiosity about Book 3 – but no more questions about it, at this early stage in my writing. That may be because I feel so connected to it right now, so involved in it and so hopeful about it. It’s kind of like a new baby that’s on the way. But I’m sure that later, once it’s finished, or at least getting close, you won’t be able to keep me from talking about it.

But I reflected later that some guests at the party – who have known me for some time – might have wondered what kind of a “true story” I would be telling. Something dark, resembling (fictional) events in my Suspense novel UNDERWATER? Something “strange” that I’ve never told anyone about, that I now feel compelled to reveal? Or something that would surprise my friends and even make them doubt its veracity?

So – here are a few hints, for those of you who don’t know:*

It’s not about something dark, strange or surprising. It is about something uncommon – very uncommon. The events themselves are unusual, but because they are also so important and so inspiring, I hope to tell the story in a way that engages you, makes you feel it, and even makes you live it.

And that’s what I’m working on.

(More to come…)

*And if you do know, please keep my secret, for now.

Becoming a GREAT villain


Jill Edmondson, author of the Sasha Jackson Mysteries, invited me to write a guest post again on her BLOG  of today, August 28, 2013! Thanks, Jill! 

“The best villains are the ones who aren’t 100% bad.”

Read this post to find out about how the VILLAIN in my new novel UNDERWATER became GREAT!


Cover Reveal: UNDERWATER

 Look for UNDERWATER in just a few more days!
“…a woman haunted by a wrong turn in her past…believes she’s fulfilled a promise she made decades ago.

..the tension rises to a boiling point…rough seas threaten their young family…and her own demons rise to the surface. 

Dive into a page-turning suspense novel that asks questions about generosity, greed, shame, and sorrow as a family struggles and sinks deep underwater…”



A preview of the cover! Devinez (guess) the rest…

The cover for my new suspense novel has been chosen. Here’s a petit morsel of it:


The composition of this cover is simple in some ways, and complicated in others. The triangle effect, the size of the lettering and the font selection are important. So are the couleurs..

A few hints about the book (and cover):

– There’s a bit of français in this novel, but not near as much as in MAKE THAT DEUX. 

– The title of the book has more than one meaning, and so do several chapter titles…

– The shades of color on the cover were difficult to decide

– One of the chapters in this book is entitled “Revelation” – I will reveal the title and full cover shortly!

Another petit morceau:


French leave, and a nouveau livre

I’m not sure if “French leave” is de rigueur en France, but if so, it would make sense – because the French seem to do so many things better.

Perhaps because I’m an introvert, leaving a party without bidding farewell to the host seems easier, less awkward, and more gracious – and even unselfish, in a way. You don’t have interrupt a conversation to announce your departure and your gratitude for having been invited. Since it’s socially acceptable, at times French leave is la solution parfaite, especially if you’re aren’t fond of goodbyes.

Jenny Miles, the protagonist in my novel MAKE THAT DEUX, is not particularly fond of them, but she’s not opposed to them, either. For Jenny, leaving someone she loves – or some place she loves – without saying goodbye is impossible. So, if her story had been titled FRENCH LEAVE – well, that would have just been wrong.

On the other hand, that title could have fit the story well. Pourquoi? Well, like me, Jenny’s an introvert. She also goes to parties. And she has some experience with being awkward…

My new book will be out shortly, and deciding its title was an easier process this time. I knew it needed to be in English (despite at least one scene in France), and I wanted it to be two words, at most. I wanted to simplify. I ended up with a title that has fewer words than MAKE THAT DEUX, but more syllables.

It was harder to decide on this one’s cover image,*  however. I’ll reveal it in a future post, but first I wanted to show you a few snippets of the ones I reluctantly rejected. They’re displayed below, not in order of preference:

photo copy 11

photo copy 6


photo copy 10

photo copy 12

You may notice some things that these images have in common. Without revealing my new book’s title (yet), all I will say is that the cover image I chose is different from all the above in at least one important way – no, make that deux ways…

And it’s as fitting and apropos as French leave.

* My talented cover artist is Michael Faron; visit him at

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