Book Talk Tuesday: Chasing Fire

Book Cover

I love Nora Roberts when she writes as J.D. Robb. I read one of Roberts’s traditional romance years ago and, while it was a good book, I didn’t put her none Robb stuff on the top of my TBR mountain. A friend read this one and recommended it so I did put it on the stack.

It’s really good.

Rowan Tripp is a fire jumper, like her father before her. She’s still having nightmares about the jumper who died last season.

Gulliver Curry is a hot shot fire fighter, and a rookie in his first season jumping fire.

The whole team is still recovering from Jim’s death last year and it doesn’t help when the woman he was sleeping with shows up with a baby she claims is Jim’s and looking for a job. She blames Rowan for Jim’s death and sets out for revenge. Soon, several other deaths follow and fires are when the bodies are dumped.

Parts of Chasing Fire are predictable. Rowan and Gull end up in bed. (But the sex wasn’t overly graphic.) I thought I knew who the bad guy was but I wasn’t completely sure until he revealed himself. I love when an author can stump me and they’ve played fair with the clues.

For me, this book worked on several levels. It’s a good romance. Even though hero and heroine fall into bed pretty quickly, it was believable. There was none of that instant hatred of each other, then jumping into bed when lust gets the better of them. I like that Roberts respects her readers enough to not use that tired plot. It’s a crackling good mystery. There are clues but they’re not obvious. There are subplots and layers to the story that made a compelling read. I don’t know much about fire jumping but I feel like I do now. The fire fighting scenes were well placed and so hot, my fingers felt singed.

This is a definite winner!

Author Spotlight Thursday: Susan May Warren

Susie answered some questions for her readers. I’ve already reviewed (and loved) her latest, Take a Chance on Me.

Here are a few questions for inquiring minds:

From Susan Gibson Snodgrass: Where do you get your inspiration?

Great question!  I get inspiration everywhere – the news, facebook posts, sermons, radio talk shows, conversations.  It’s always about a question, something that makes me think…what if?

I got the story about Izzy, (My Foolish Heart) the talk show host to the lovelorn from a Brad Paisely song, Online, about a guy who lives in his parent’s basement, but online he’s awesome (because he’s created that persona).  I added to that the idea of falling in love over the airwaves, and voila! Izzy’s story was germinated.

I got the idea for You Don’t Know Me while sitting on a plane to Seattle. The woman next to me was openly agitated, and when I talked to


her (during the food and beverage service!), she told me was flying to Seattle to put her daughter into the witness protection program. Forever. The daughter was 21.  The questions surrounding that situation birthed the story.

I got the idea for Take a Chance on Me from an event that happened in our town – an accident that killed a well-regarded man. In the aftermath the town took sides for or against the person who hit him, and it birthed a slew of ideas about blame and forgiveness.

I always look at the idea and see if I can ask a big spiritual question about it, or touch an emotional issue, or even raise a social question. Then I start exploring the characters interacting with the question, and how they might find answers.

From Stacey Pope Dale: If you were to cast the movie based on your book, who would you choose to play the key roles?

Take a Chance on Me? I have a key list of actors I used as prototypes:

  • John would be played by Tom Selleck
  • Ingrid would be played by Bonnie Hunt
  • Darek would be played by (Thor) Chris Hemsworth
  • Ivy would be played by Emma Stone
  • Jenson would be played by Scott Speedman
  • Claire would be played by (90210) Arielle Kibbel

From Laura Vernet Price Hilton: Why do you think Deep Haven scores a touchdown with your readers?

I love the way you phrased that question!  I think it is the small town where everyone knows your name, the family connections, the beauty of the north shore, and the sense of Mayberry or maybe Mitford set in the north woods.  I think reader like to escape with people they know, and learn more about their lives.

Check back next week for a few more questions and answers from Susan May Warren.

Woe! It’s Wednesday: An idea, an idea, my kingdom for an idea!

That’s a bit of an exaggeration. But not much. Sometimes I’m just not sure what’s going to happen next in a story.

Some writers say they get their best ideas in the shower or driving. I’ve gotten a few behind the wheel. But my best ideas come when I’m walking. Something about the rhythmic fwap-fwap of my heels on asphalt unlocks the right side of my brain where my ideas like to congregate in a small dark compartment. Then I drag them out into the sunlight to see if they still gleam as brightly as they did back in my brain.

Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t.

I once got an idea for a plot twist in a dream. That’s the only time that’s ever happened to me and I loved it. I still think it’s the most brilliant idea I’ve ever had.

Solomon, considered the wisest man who ever lived said it well in Ecclesiastes 1:9: What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. 

Which makes writing stories seem a bit useless. If there’s nothing new under sun, what’s the point?

The point is, there’s always a new perspective to share or a new spin.

After all, aren’t West Side Story and Titantic retreads of Romeo and Juliet?

They’re the same but different.

Like many of my ideas.

I’ve had an idea incubating for over a year now. I’ve written a few chapters of an opening. It’s not ready to be birthed yet so I tucked it back inside. I’m wrapping up two projects and I think it’s time to pull that one out again and see if it’s ready to stretch and unfurl and allow me water and fertilize it and coax it into putting down roots.

Time will tell.

Book Talk Tuesday: The Apple Orchard

I just finished The Apple Orchard by Susan Wiggs. Like Wiggs’s other books it chockfull of great story and characters and heartfelt emotion.

Tess is an adrenaline junkie. She lives, works, drinks, and smokes in San Francisco. She’s a treasure hunter. Not the kind who scavenge shipwrecks, but the kind who sort through papers searching for provenance of antiques and fine art and collectables. She’s about to be offered a dream job when a different kind of dream knocks on her door.

Dominic Rossi changes Tess’s life with his news. She has family. Besides her absentee mother, that is. Tess travels to Sonoma County with Dominic and almost against her will she learns what she’s been missing. When she has to choose between Dominic and love and saving her family, the decision tears her apart.

Without giving too much away, I loved the way Wiggs layered the plots in this story. Tess really changes and grows up during the story arc. The plot is complex without being convoluted. I followed it and was often half a step ahead of Tess, but that didn’t dampen my enjoyment.

I’ve read several of Wiggs’s standalone books as well as some of the Willow Lake series. The Apple Orchard is set in California which only added to my regard. Wiggs captured the northern California apple and wine region perfectly. She promises that The Apple Orchard is the first in a series and I will definitely read the next one. I hope it’s Isabel’s story!

Fiction Friday: The Bandbox Hat

We’re back! After an extended hiatus for holidays, vacations, and lifestyle changes, SarahJane and I picked up her story. Part of the delay was this whole writing on the seat of my pants. I just didn’t know what should happen next. But I took a long walk this morning and got some ideas. We’ll be wrapping up SarahJane’s story in the next month or so. It’s been a fun ride and I’ve gotten some ideas for some other projects too.

Thanks for reading!

The Bandbox Hat

Previously: SarahJane was given the heave-ho from the Date My Son! reality dating show. She spent a couple of days depressed. Her niece April called and asked to come visit SarahJane in Glendale.

Chapter Forty-Seven

With a last glance around my apartment, I hiked my bag up on my shoulder and picked out my car keys. I was meeting Jake and April at the bottom of their side of the grapevine and bringing April home for a few days.

Although my time on Date My Son! seemed to last months, in reality I’d only been gone a few weeks and there was plenty of summer left to relax and visit with my favorite niece.

My fingers grew tired gripping the steering wheel as I drove through the pass over the Tehachapi mountains. The wind whipped my little car from side to side and it took all I had to keep it in my lane. I was exhausted by the time I climbed out at the Starbucks at the bottom of the hill.

“Auntie SJ!”

I turned toward April’s voice and caught her as she launched herself at me. “April! Here you are.”

“We’ve been waiting forever for you to get here. Jesse said you’d be late.”

Jesse? Dread settled in my stomach and snaked around my chest.


I turned toward the voice and managed to answer as casually. “Hey. What’s up?”

Jake pushed through the Starbucks doors and strode to us in the parking lot. He gave a shoulder hug. “We wondered how late you’d be. Ten minutes isn’t bad.”

“What’s going on?” The wind was whipping through the area and I had to hold my hair out of my eyes.

April hopped up and down like a spring time bunny. “Jesse just got here. He’s on his way—”

Jake covered her mouth with a gentle hand. “Let Jesse talk for himself.”

I moved my gaze from April to Jesse. “I’ve been visiting Rosedale and am headed back to Pasadena. Made a pit stop here and ran into Jake and April. End of story.”

The grip of dread around my heart loosened, shaking its fingers loose like a ballplayer flexing his hand. “Oh. How’s your mom?” That seemed like a nice polite thing to say.

“She’s good …”

The silence stretched until I widened my eyes at my brother in a silent plea for him to let April talk. Anything would be better than this awkwardness.

He chuckled and patted April’s back. “Let’s get your stuff out of the car and loaded into Auntie SJ’s.”

She scampered away followed by her treacherous father.


“Well, it’s been—”

Jesse and I spoke at the same time and stalled in unison. Then stared at each other again.

“No, you go—”

“You were saying?”

Snap. We did it again.

Jesse grinned at me and I caught a glimpse of the old Jesse, my first love, and my heart did that silly leaping thing.

“I was going to say, can I call you?” he asked. “I’d like to catch up and maybe explain some things.”

I considered for a moment then slowly nodded. “I’d like that.”