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COMING SEPTEMBER 5 FROM NOBLE ROMANCE

In celebration of the release of UNFORGIVEN, which happens September 5, I’m sharing this intimate behind-the-scenes look at my newest release originally titled “The Riot of Research.” And yes, the H and I are still married!

I give other authors a lot of credit.  As a reader, I just sort of assume every detail of their manuscript shot straight from the throes of inspiration to the pages of their book – no research required.   In fact, the reader in me thinks other authors are quite brilliant with their knowledge while little ol’ me, well, I’m in the slush pile.  This particular attribute hit with clarity when the plot of my new romantic suspense came to me.
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I can’t give too much away, but what I can say is this:  the whole thing starts with a gunshot, and the particulars matter a great deal to the story.  In fact, the specs on this gun begin a chain reaction that, well, IS the story.  Suffice to say, it’s not a minor issue.
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I can’t blame my environment for my cluelessness.  My husband carries a gun  (Oh, that is SO HOT!) and is a self-professed redneck, so it goes without saying there’s a hunting rifle – or three – on the premises.  The elder half of my kids are all crack shots.  The lot of them throw numbers around which mean absolutely nothing to me but apparently represent some really exciting stuff based on the enthusiasm in the household banter.  (22 …  410 …  38 … hey, anyone do their math homework?)
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By contrast, I’ve fired a weapon once.   Maybe twice.  I don’t remember the second one so I’ll have to take my husband’s word for it, especially since he said I nailed it (which probably means I didn’t shoot him or anything of importance – including the target).  As you can imagine, this poses a bit of a problem for my suspense novel with the gun-wielding plot.
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My ability to research is well-honed, as I earn a decent income writing nonfiction.  The problem in this particular situation is I don’t even know what to Google.  I needed something unusual – something so striking that suspicion would be immediately cast in one direction.  I kind of assumed such knowledge wouldn’t be obtained from searching the same wordage I’ve heard on every cop and crime show to hit the rerun circuit, so I was left with a couple of options:  hours of guesswork, or a conversation with the long-suffering spouse.  Interestingly enough, it began on the heels of complaining about one of the kids.
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ME:  Would you believe [our three year old boy] ate the icing off the cupcakes again?  Hey, I need help finding a gun.
HIM:  Why?  Are you going to shoot him?  (Readers note:  I used what writers often refer to as a poor transition.)
ME:  Um, no.  I need something unusual.  I want everyone to know who did it based on the bullet.
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Let me interrupt myself here to, um, embarrass myself.  I had no idea – or at least never put it together – that it didn’t matter how unusual the gun itself was if it fired a common bullet.  Bottom line, I’m actually looking for a rare caliber or cartridge, but I think I’m looking for a rare gun.  You can just imagine where this is going, can’t you?
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So, fab spouse the H is, he makes a few suggestions, not one of which I can recount.  (You might as well ask me to spout German.)  NOW I have enough info to Google, and I found some really cool guns.  I couldn’t tell you what they were, mind you, but what I CAN tell you is with every gun I mentioned, the little throbby spot on my hubby’s forehead got a little more pronounced.
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ME:  What about Brilliant Idea #1?
HIM:  What kind of bullet does it fire?
ME:  (Insert something common, like a .22 or a .38, and do so with childlike enthusiasm over finding IT.)
HIM:  No, that won’t work.
ME:  Why not?  They haven’t made these in years!  (I’m still giddy.  The H doesn’t do giddy.  At ALL.)
HIM:  It’s not rare.
ME:  Sure it is!  Look!  (I hand over my trusty netbook with proof, indeed, that the GUN is rare.)  They only made 2,000 of these.  In Poland!  (Okay, so I’m exaggerating that last part, but it’s hard to trust a novelist – making things up is in the job description.)
HIM:  It’s a .22 (or .38 or whatever).
ME:  Oh.  (A few moments of blissful-for-H silence, then…) Hey, how about Brilliant Idea #2?
HIM:  Bullet?
ME:  (Something common).
HIM:  No.
ME:  But—
HIM:  No.
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Now, those of you who have been married for a while will appreciate the way our conversation streamlined to mere grunts.  After – I kid you not – two full hours of this, my giddiness was quite small in comparison to that vein on his forehead, and I bet he wished he HAD a gun.  (That’s more rhetoric because, as previously mentioned, he’s got a couple.  But I digress.)
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Fortunately, this story has a happy ending.  Not long after he started to twitch, the light bulb came on and I realized I need a bullet, not a gun.  From there, the Google part was easy and I’m thrilled to report that I did find the perfect weapon – a weapon which, in its heyday, helped to shape the American west.  These days, it’s a relic.  It’s a rare collector’s item – primarily appearing in re-enactments and old weapons competitions – and the ammo hasn’t been commercially produced for a number of decades.  In the small town setting where my story begins, there’s no doubt the caliber of the bullet will give the shooter away.
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Or so they think.
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But the muddled waters of my romantic suspense aside, things worked out great.  I got my gun, the H – even following that conversation – did not get his, and I think we’ll stay married.  Not a bad day by any standards.
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Originally posted on January 14, 2011 at Dawn’s Reading Nook.
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UNFORGIVEN | coming September 5 to Noble Romance

Riley Beckett’s past just came back to haunt her … and this time, he’s got a gun.

When Gage Lawton finds his brother shot dead on his back porch, every shred of evidence points to one person: his former lover, Riley.   They didn’t part ways on good terms, and they’re not going to reconnect there, either—not when he’s got a revolver pointed at her head and a finger on the trigger.

A year after Riley swore she and Gage were over, he returns in a hail of gunfire.  One look into those achingly familiar blue eyes and she knows how wrong she was to let him go, but now far more than their heated past stands in the way.  A twist of fate puts them in the cross hairs of a killer, leaving Riley with two slim options:  trust her greatest betrayer, or face a murderer on her own.