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My trip home wasn’t exactly as I planned.
It started out to be an easy trip. I coasted along the highway making good time and feeling a little, might I say, cocky because I was able to skirt the pending storms that were blanketing the east coast. I was just north of Walterboro, S.C. when I began to feel extremely warm. I glanced at the outside temp on my car, and it read 99 degrees. I waved my hand across the AC vent, and there was nothing but stale air and I still had three hours to go to reach the motel I had already paid for. My AC had died.
It was a long, hot three hours, but alas, there on the horizon was a beacon of hope. It was the motel sign. Soon I would be in an air-conditioned room. I pulled up to the front lobby and staggered in. I slumped over the counter gasping for breath but managed to squeak out, “Diane Jones, I have a reservation.”
The cheery guy behind the counter smiled, “Here we are. How was your trip?” he asked, smiling. I forced my head off the counter, gritted my teeth and gave him my glare of death look with my blood-shot eyes and my face as red as the devil himself. He just handed me the key card. I struggled back outside in the heat and drove to my room in the second building behind the lobby. I parked the car only six feet in front of my door. I slid the key card in and pushed down on the handle, but nothing happened. I tried again, only this time I slung my hip against the door for extra leverage. Still nothing. I started back to my car. Each one of those six feet felt like a mile, and I was crossing the Mojave Desert barefoot with no water. The car seemed to be getting further with each step, and I wondered if the heat would claim me before I got there.
I drove back to the lobby, to the still smiling, cheery-faced man standing in the 72-degree environment.
“The key card doesn’t work,” I said gasping for air.
“Did you pull up on the handle?” he calmly asked.
“You didn’t tell me I had to pull UP!” I responded, wanting to jump the counter and choke that cool air out of him.
I returned to my room and pulled up on the handle and voila, it opened.
I dragged myself to the AC unit and turned it to the lowest temperature and cranked it to high, and then aimed the vent directly at the bed.
I threw my over-heated, drained of any life, barely breathing body across the top of the bed. The cold air from the vent hit my face with the strength of Hurricane Katrina, flapping the loose skin on my face. I didn’t care. After about twenty minutes, I rolled over, sat on the edge of the bed, took a deep, long breath of cool air and muffled, “I think I’m going to live.”
I invited my friend, Brenda Kennedy, with me to revisit the town that was the setting for my book. I couldn't believe it, but she was as excited as I was. She traveled across the state to my house in Winter Park, Florida and then I drove her on a day long adventure. We arrived in the small spiritual community of Cassadaga, Florida.
We follow in the footsteps of Winter Hart, in Storms of Winter as she stepped onto the covered porch at the old Cassadaga Hotel. The hotel sits in the middle of a 119-year-old community of Cassadaga, Florida. My friend, Brenda Kennedy and I had planned to visit the town where the story began and have our lunch at the corner table where Winter first laid eyes on the sexy Cole Stuart.
We entered the lobby where Winter first encountered the local psychic, Anne Gunter, descending the old staircase. I stopped and stared up at the stairs, expecting Anne to being coming down at any moment. I had to remind myself I was the one who created her.
Brenda and I spent a little time roaming the 1940's decorated lobby when I noticed someone sitting in the parlor looking at me. My sister, Renee’ Strickland had surprised us. She knew we were coming and wanted to make sure we would have that same table in the Sinatra Ristorante’, where Winter ate her meals during the restoration of the famous Dupree’ home.
I introduced Renee’ and Brenda and then Renee’ led us to our table. A cheerful, nice looking woman took our order. Renee’ ordered the Bruschetta Burger, an 8oz. Black Angus ground beef, char-grilled, topped with bruschetta, pesto aioli, and mozzarella cheese, and Brenda and I ordered the Bruschetta and Metterainian Escargot.
As I was eating, I saw a striking young man behind the bar that looked like he stepped right out of my book. He was the spitting image of what I imagined, Joseph, the owner, would look like. He was about 5'11 and had thick jet-black wavy hair with green eyes. I had to do a double-take to make sure I wasn't dreaming.
When we finished our meal, Renee’ headed back to her home, but Brenda and I wanted to drive through the picturesque little town. We meandered up and down the narrow streets admiring the small bungalows. Each home had a shingle hanging out front that denoted what spiritual services they offered.
I had a wonderful time sharing this adventure with my friend, Brenda and my sister. It brought back all the feelings I had that propelled me to write this book. I felt transported in time; I was living the book again, feeling every emotion that Winter felt, and seeing the town and it’s people through her eyes. I guess that’s the magic of a book. We can relive the adventure as many times as we want. As a writer, the characters allow me to get into their heads and feel the story through them.
I become the book!
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The young, tenacious Madison Hart had planned to return to her job as a Criminal Investigator and Profiler with the FBI. It wasn’t until the night before she was to leave for DC, did a new opportunity land in her lap.
It would be a bizarre case that would shake the very core of her quiet hometown. Never in her career had she come across such a twisted, complex but intriguing case. But could she leave the FBI?
And once again she would be partnered with the dynamic, sexy Detective Josh Logan. Their tenuous relationship could be threatened by her burning drive to solve this case. But this might be the one mystery that will leave her with more questions than answers, and risk losing the only man that ever understood her.
Author of Mystery/Crime Drama and Romance.