Dr. Mary Chance needs a sabbatical from medicine to grieve the loss of her closest friend. But when she inherits a struggling restaurant in Liberty, Ohio she isn’t prepared for Blossom Perini. Mary can’t resist falling for the amusing preteen—or the girl’s father. The bond they forge will transform all their lives and set in motion an outpouring of love that spreads across America.
The best rule of thumb? Start in the middle of the action. In this opening scene, Mary Chance discovers opening day at the restaurant she has inherited isn't working out as planned.
The scenes surrounding Mary's interactions with Blossom as the girl undergoes chemotherapy are especially close to my heart. As an adoptive parent, I understand that parenting--choosing to take a child under one's wing without reservation and with full devotion--is a special moment in any adult's life.
Is there anything more endearing than a man in love? In this scene, Anthony tries to express his true feelings for Mary while apologizing for a gaffe that left her embarrassed before his entire family.
How do we choose the people we'll love? Blossom's mother took off when she was a toddler, and though her father is a dedicated parent, she secretly yearns for a mother's love. In this scene, the threat of leaping spiders brings her closer to Mary.
Parenting doesn't come with a playbook--although Anthony would like one in this scene with his daughter.
An unspoken crush on Mary, a furious cook--what's a man to do when he's thrust in the middle of an argument between women? Fall in love with one of those women, of course!
Chaos raining down like locusts, melting ice cream everywhere . . . and an unlikely couple begins to fall head over heels in love.
I adore writing madcap scenes like this one in Second Chance Grill. Humor is the perfect set-up for the next scene, when Anthony arrives at the restaurant and sparks fly between Mr. Fix-It and Mary.
Dr. Mary Chance needs a sabbatical from medicine--something she won't receive after inheriting a restaurant in a small Ohio town. The cast of characters at The Second Chance Grill are sure to make the reader smile.
A savage rape on hallowed ground. Secrets buried for decades by the town’s most influential family. Now Rennie Perini will learn the Great Oak’s secrets as construction begins at the Fagan mansion. She can’t afford to turn down a job that promises to stir up the long-buried guilt—and the passion—she shares with powerful Troy Fagan. She’s already juggling the most important job of her career with her new responsibilities as a foster mother for young Walt and Emma Korchek. And there’s a hard, older man on the construction crew with eyes void of emotion—cold and killing. The secrets of his brutal past will pose a grave threat to the children in her care. Will she find the courage to face him?
Unresolved guilt over the murder of his late brother promises to follow Troy throughout The Tree of Everlasting Knowledge. His guilt begins with Rennie, who has kept his emotions in a tangle for many years.
In some novels, the conflict separating two main characters is obvious from the start. This is certainly true of Rennie Perini and Troy Fagan as they begin working a job together that's sure to dredge up the unresolved passion--and the guilt--they've shared for more than a decade.
Meade Williams has a successful company, an ailing father—and a secret desire to find love at last. Dr. Mary Chance isn’t sure the time is right to expand her family. Birdie Kaminsky has married the man of her dreams, but yearns to grow closer to her powerful sister. And young Glade Wilson must confront the daunting truth that she’ll become a mother before finishing high school. Welcome to Book Four of The Liberty Series, where the heartwarming stories of love, friendship and family life unfold in surprising ways. The books of The Liberty Series serve as stand-alone novels you may enjoy in any order. Look for the other books in the series: Treasure Me, Second Chance Grill and The Impossible Wish. Future releases coming soon.
Four Wishes features an ensemble cast, and two of those characters seem destined for anything but romance. In this scene, Hector's instincts encourage him to reach beyond Meade's cool veneer to discover the woman underneath.
Although each book in The Liberty Series is a stand-alone novel with no cliffhangers, Four Wishes (book 4) provided the opportunity to expand on the smaller stories portray in Second Chance Grill (book 1) and Treasure Me (book 2). In this scene, the women first met by readers in those earlier books deepen their relationship with each other.
I love writing about children, especially kids like Blossom who are straddling the divide between early life and the teenage years. Her relationship with her new stepmother, Mary, provides some of the most poignant scenes in The Liberty Series. In fiction stepparents are often depicted in a less than positive light. It's unfair, and many blended families overcome difficulties and despair to forge lifelong relationships. Do you have a heartwarming story about a blended family? Please share it with me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Have you ever tumbled into love without warning? In youth we often give our hearts away for free; not so with mature adults. In this scene Meade shares the more painful aspects of her life with the man who has found himself suddenly and irrevocably in love.
Parenting during the teenage years is difficult for any adult. For a stepparent, the task seems overwhelming. In this scene, Mary tried to get to the bottom of Blossom's anger. She isn't sure why her stepdaughter feels let down.
What if you discovered a half-sister in adulthood? In Four Wishes, Meade and Birdie have known each other for less than a year and their bonds of love are still fragile. As the story progresses, they'll discover more in common than either woman imagined.
It will come as no surprise to readers of earlier Liberty books that Meade Williams and the town's fiery matriarch Theodora Hendricks aren't exactly best friends. They're at it again in Four Wishes--and Hector, caught in the middle, will come to an uncomfortable conclusion about his own feelings toward Meade.
Have you ever dealt with a child who thinks you reneged on a promise? In their opening scene in Four Wishes, Mary Chance and her new stepdaughter Blossom--two of readers' favorite characters from earlier books in the series--are having anything but a heartwarming encounter.
Smart, successful and on the edge of middle age--Meade Williams isn't prepared for the pregnant teen who has landed on her doorstep. The girl comes from an impoverished background Meade can hardly imagine and, through the relationship they forge, both characters will grow in heartwarming ways in Four Wishes. What's it like to be rich? The answer may surprise you.
Readers first met Hector in The Impossible Wish, the third book in the series. In his opening scene in book four, it's clear he has no intention of staying in Liberty--or falling prey to Theodora's attempts at matchmaking.
The opening scene of the fourth book in The Liberty Series finds familiar characters facing new challenges. Meade Williams, a secondary character in earlier Liberty books, takes center stage in Four Wishes.
Welcome to Book Three of The Liberty Series, where the heartwarming stories of love, friendship and family life reveal an uplifting second chance for the town’s newest arrival. Hector Levendakis has failed at every job he’s taken on. Now he’s determined to do something right. The notorious swindler and master of disguise Wish Kaminsky is about to arrive in Liberty and that means trouble. Liberty is the town that open-heartedly welcomed her daughter. Recently engaged, Birdie has turned her life around—and Wish is the last person she wants to see. When Hector learns of the reward posted for the capture of Wish, he leaves Philadelphia to take up the challenge. Haunted for years by an inescapable guilt, he’s seeking redemption by bringing the con woman to justice. The hunt for Wish brings Birdie and Hector together in a story of friendship and trust. As they try to set things right, each will discover that dreams are possible when friends join together and lovers forgive in equal measure. The books of The Liberty Series work as stand-alone novels you may enjoy in any order. Look for the other books in the series: Treasure Me, Second Chance Grill and Four Wishes.
Have you ever tried to run from something only to discover you couldn't avoid the confrontation? In this scene Birdie becomes aware of her doubts about love--and the possibility that bounty hunters may not capture her nefarious mother before Wish Kaminsky arrives in town.
The plot picks up steam as Hector arrives in Liberty, Ohio to interview for the job as bounty hunter. He isn't prepared for the pint-sized general running the operation or a pissing contest with Hugh over the town's most attractive resident--the beautiful and reformed thief, Birdie Kaminsky.
Some characters appear fully formed in the author's mind, and delight readers when they leap onto the page. This scene introduces Hector to The Liberty Series in a hilarious fashion. But don't be fooled by the madcap scene: as you learn about Hector's past, you'll wipe tears from your eyes. After his introduction in The Impossible Wish, Hector takes center stage in the following book, Four Wishes, book #4 of The Liberty Series.
Liberty's fiery town matriarch takes charge in a scene peppered with humor and seasoned with a dash of danger.
Readers hear secondhand about Birdie's mother in Treasure Me; in The Impossible Wish, they experience the cold-hearted criminal firsthand. With a mother like this, who needs enemies?
One of the joys of writing The Liberty Series? The town features characters of all ages. In this scene, young Blossom (featured in Second Chance Grill) and her best friend Snoops are about to team up with the town's fiery matriarch in a plan sure to make readers laugh.
The third book in The Liberty Series begins with Birdie at risk of losing the only man she's ever loved. This story picks up directly after the ending of Treasure Me.
Petty thief Birdie Kaminsky has arrived in Liberty, Ohio to steal a treasure hidden since the Civil War. She’s in possession of a charming clue passed down in her family for generations: Liberty safeguards the cherished heart. The beautiful thief wants to go straight. She secretly admires the clue’s author, freedwoman Justice Postell, who rose above the horrors of slavery to build a new life in Ohio. According to family lore, Justice left South Carolina at the dawn of the Civil War. Heavy with child, she carried untold riches on her journey north. As Birdie searches for the treasure, she begins to believe a questionable part of the story: a tale of love between Justice and Lucas Postell, the French plantation owner who was Birdie’s ancestor. If the stories are true, Justice bore a child with Lucas. Some of those black relatives might still live in town. Birdie can’t help but wonder if she’s found one—Liberty’s feisty matriarch, Theodora Hendricks, who packs a pistol and heartwarming stories about Justice. Birdie doesn’t know that an investigative reporter who has arrived in town will trip her up—as will her conscience when she begins to wonder if it’s possible to start a new life with stolen riches. Yet with each new clue she unearths, Birdie begins to discover a family history more precious than gems, a tradition of love richer than she could imagine.
Sparks fly in the first scene between Birdie and Hugh at The Second Chance Grill. Love at first this isn't, and their battle over who will rent the only apartment in town ensures more sparks will fly in the following chapters.
Fear of change is a central dynamic in many relationships. In this scene, Birdie's ability to recognize her weaknesses may appear as a surrender to failure--but, in fact, she's begun moving toward a marvelous future of which she isn't yet aware.
Were you ever tempted to break the rules? Birdie has now spent several weeks in Liberty, Ohio. The town's eccentric residents, and her growing affection for the people she's met, prove a barrier to the habits she needs to break.
The stakes couldn't be higher for newspaper reporter Hugh Schaeffer in his opening scene. Against his better judgment, he's about to return to Liberty, Ohio to uncover a possible scam. What he'll find instead will change his life forever.
How do you begin an award-winning novel? In the middle of the action. In this scene, our unlikely heroine is about to climb out of a window. But don't be fooled by the first, comedic pages: the scene quickly reveals that Birdie Kaminisky harbors dreams of a nobler sort.
Of all the scenes I've written in the four Liberty Series books, this is one of my favorites. The scene combines humor, adventure, unshared secrets and the first glimpses of everlasting love.
Throughout The Liberty Series, Birdie plays a lead role. Creating a naturally unsympathetic character--a thief most readers may dislike at first meeting--was both a joy and a challenge. But I'm a big believer in redemption, and readers of the series often cite Birdie as their favorite character. In this scene, we're given our first tangible hint that Birdie deserves a chance to turn her life around. Her connection to the story surrounding the life of freedwoman Justice Postell becomes a guiding light sure to illuminate her way to a better life.
In this scene, readers are given the first hint about Meade's relationship to Birdie. Throughout The Liberty Series, their relationship provides some of the sweetest interactions--and the some of the most problematic.
Have you ever fallen in love with someone you're sure is bad for you? Hugh feels he's emotionally against a wall as he tries to understand why Birdie won't change her ways. And Birdie? Although she's loath to admit it, the time she's spent in Liberty has given her a moral compass she wasn't aware she possessed.
Nothing is more exhilarating than falling in love. Imagine pairing that high-flying emotion with the discovery of a treasure left behind by your ancestors. In this scene, Birdie finds yet another piece of the puzzle surrounding her French ancestors, a clue depicting the power of undying love.
In this scene, Hugh discovers Birdie hunting around the storage room of the historic Second Chance Grill. The symbolism is two-fold: Birdie is searching for a treasure hidden with the antique furniture and what-nots. She's also, with Hugh's help, digging through her personal and complicated past.
Birdie's ancestors, the Postells, are drawn from my personal history. My French ancestors first settled in Charleston, South Carolina in 1681. Yes, they owned plantations--and slaves. That personal history inspired many of the plot turns in the novel.
Sexual heat complicates Birdie's search for hidden treasure as Hugh reveals his more caring side. In this scene, he demonstrates a willingness to help Birdie achieve her goals--and his savvy intellect proves important in deciphering the clues.
Distrust and romance mix in a scene with high stakes and painful revelations.
The secrets unveiled in this scene echo far past the novel's last page. In book #3 in the series, The Impossible Wish, readers get an eyeful of Landon's foolishness in the guise of the nefarious Wish Kaminsky. Then, in Four Wishes, the reader's sympathy for Landon's older daughter is raised as her personal story carries through the plot.
One of the joys of writing books in a series? Developing character sketches for future novels. In this scene, the reader gets a hint about Birdie's mother, a grifter wanted by the Feds. Readers finally meet the infamous Wish Kaminsky in book three, The Impossible Wish.
To my mind, there's nothing more delicious than a romance accented by witty banter. In this scene, it's clear Hugh and Birdie don't trust each other--or their sudden attraction. Mr. Reporter doesn't yet know he's bunking with a thief, and Birdie has every reason to want to keep her secrets safe. Will she come clean, and tell Hugh the truth? Or will the investigative journalist uncover the facts on his own?
Every novelist uses secret tools to pack emotion on the page. One of mine? I enjoy delivering a comedic scene that suddenly becomes deeper, more poignant. Is there any emotion more delicious than laughter through tears? A compelling story should spark myriad responses as you read--everything from surprise to the sort of belly laughs we all crave.
What catalyst allows a person to change? Birdie views her past life as a block to any change she's willing to make.
In South Carolina, magic is as plentiful as sweet tea. Thanks to her aunt’s unwanted generosity, policewoman Lei Texeira has embarked on a vacation—of the supernatural sort. She’s staying on the beach in a frothy mansion that resembles a baker’s confection. Pixie, a Southern belle with enough bling to open a shop on Rodeo Drive, manages the place. When Pixie reveals a local woman reputed to have psychic powers wants to meet Lei, the invitation is anything but welcome. What Lei discovers about the sorcery of belief, and the love promised to her future will begin to heal wounds she’s carried for far too long.
If you're familiar with Toby Neal's bestselling Lei Crime series, you know policewoman Lei Texeira possesses a gritty, take-no-prisoners personality. For this Kindle Worlds novella, I strove to stay true to Toby's vision while adding dashes of humor. This is a favorite strategy in many of my stories, providing the reader with light-hearted prose before rendering the deeper, more poignant scenes.
The Shell Keeper is a novella in author Toby Neal's new Lei Crime Kindle World. I've taken the main character, Lei Texeira, out of Toby's police procedurals and planted her in a contemporary story with elements of magical realism. This is the first time I've created a story based on another author's character--an experience I'm looking forward to repeating in July with the release of a sequel to this story.
Each day Annie McDaniel’s dream of a brighter future slips further away. After her nephew’s world is destroyed in a burst of gunfire, Annie receives temporary custody of five-year-old Dillon. Now the greenhouse she managed with her late father isn’t bringing in enough money. If she doesn’t get her financial house in order, a judge will allow a couple in Baltimore to adopt Dillon—and remove him from her life forever. Desperate, she takes on a second job at Rowe Marketing. The instant attraction she shares with Michael Rowe is a circumstance Annie can’t risk. But should she walk away from a love sure to last a lifetime? Fresh, heartwarming and inspiring, The Dream You Make reveals that hope always carries the promise of new beginnings.
What happens when the boss falls in love--without knowing it? At Rowe Marketing, his faithful staff doesn't want him romancing their new tech assistant. But how do you stop the inevitable?
In the U.S., adoption laws usually favor an orphaned child's immediate kin. Not so in Annie's case. Until now, she's had little contact with her sweet nephew. She's already fallen in love with Dillon but another family also wants to adopt him.
In Michael's opening scene, the eccentric characters inhabiting Rowe Marketing are immediately on display. Our hero must deal with a series of problems while on the way to meet a job applicant--Annie.
Creating the character of Dillon was easy, if painful, to do: I'm an adoptive mother. My children were abandoned in the jungles of the Philippines; luckily, they were discovered by missionaries before they starved to death. I became an instant mother of four in 1996.
Zobie Marsh hides the fearsome talent of prophecy. Young, poor and grieving the loss of her beloved Black Gram, she leaves home suddenly to avoid the advances of her mother’s latest boyfriend. Her decision to travel to South Carolina sets in motion Heavenscribe, a spiritual transformation devised by angels to aid a dying world. Bel Petersen seems to have it all: ample means, a loving marriage and a rewarding family life. But she’s suffered through a year of unexpected deaths, and near-constant nightmares that portend the downfall of civilization. Now she’s visiting Health Presbyterian daily as Milly battles a relentless bone cancer sure to end their decades-long friendship in a matter of weeks. One evening as Bel unlocks her car in the hospital’s parking lot, four ambulances stream toward the Emergency entrance. There’s been a horrific traffic accident. She’s shocked to discover one of the victims didn’t make it into an ambulance—and he’s bleeding out in a high school student’s car. Bel sends the student running to the hospital for help, and tends to the grievously injured man. His dying words will lead her to Zobie, and reveal the spiritual awakening they must undertake together. If they fail, The Dimming will consume every human soul on the planet.
Whatever your opinion of God, angels or other celestial beings, most of us would like to think we're protected from life's worst tragedies by forces greater than ourselves. Rarely do we consider the protection we receive from the people ready to offer love.
Would you have the courage to change your life on a dime? What if your decision to strike out on your own was destined to help not only you, but everyone else on the planet? In Chapter Two, hints of the extraordinary enter Zobie's seemingly ordinary life in the form of a vision about a fiery-haired guardian she'll soon meet.
What if you learned your clairvoyance was inexplicably connected to world events--or that a random meeting in a diner was in truth a form of divine intervention? Zobie's meeting late at night with a stranger reveals the first inkling of her pivotal involvement in Heavenscribe.
Have you ever made a sudden decision that altered your life? In the opening scene of Heavenscribe, young Zobie Marsh plans to burn the midnight oil studying--she's three weeks away from high school graduation. But the events unfolding in her home will set in motion a decision both rash and fortunate.
What if you were a teenager having visions destined to alter the course of civilization? In Heavenscribe's opening chapter, we meet Zobie, a girl unaware her 'bouts of knowing' are a form of clairvoyance that will lead her on a startling journey.
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