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January 2010

Dear Readers ~

New Year — new books — new series!

It all began when I started to work on a re-write of my second book, A DIFFERENT LIGHT (on sale now!), a book written in 1993 and published in 1995. I wanted to spruce it up a bit before the publisher reissued it — bring it up to date a little (no cell phones! How did we manage?!), add some things here, take out some others there. In the process, I discovered I really enjoyed writing those kinder, gentler stories—especially since while I was working on the book, my ninety year old dad became very ill. For months, we were in and out of the hospital. At the same time, my brother — my only sibling — was gravely ill, too. Those were some pretty tense, dark days for my entire family.

Many of you know that my first seven books were contemporary romances, but from 2000 on, my books began to take increasingly darker turns and twists as I wove more suspense into my stories. But now I was finding that the darker reality became, the more I enjoyed working on A DIFFERENT LIGHT and the respite from the doom and gloom, murder and mayhem.

We’ll make a long story short and cut to the chase right about here.

I spoke to my editor about taking a hiatus from writing romantic suspense. I really needed to focus on something lighter, something more like the books I used to write. I had an idea for a series set on the Chesapeake Bay (because the Eastern Shore is one of my favorite places), a series that would emphasize relationships — families, friends, lovers — and life in a small Bay town. Do it, she said.

Well, I already had created a great little Bay town with some pretty terrific characters - St. Dennis in LAST WORDS. I loved that town! And I could blend the characters from the new series with some characters from the old (if you’ve read my books, you know I do this all the time anyway). The more I thought about this, the more it felt right.

And so The Chesapeake Diaries series was born. COMING HOME, the first book in the series (on sale March 23, 2010!), was such a joy to write! I hope you’ll pick it up and that you’ll love the story and the characters and St. Dennis as much as I do.

Now, I have to confess that I love writing suspense — so I could not help but put a little bit of mystery in this book — and the next as well. And while I know I’ll always be drawn to the dark side to some extent, it was a relief not to do the type of research for these books that I’d been doing for my romantic suspense novels. I love my MERCY STREET and FBI books and I look forward to doing those again someday. Just not right now...

I mentioned that favorite characters from other series — favorites of mine, and hopefully yours, too — would be blended into these books. For example, we won’t be saying goodbye to Trula Comfort from MERCY STREET because her best friend, Grace Sinclair, lives in St. Dennis and is the author of the diary entries sprinkled through the books that are sort of a narrative on the people and goings-on in St. Dennis (did you read the epilogue for ACTS OF MERCY? If not, click here). Trula will be paying a visit to St. Dennis in the second of the Diaries — HOME AGAIN, which will be released on August 24, 2010.

And speaking of HOME AGAIN (and revisiting favorite characters) — while I was working on that update of A DIFFERENT LIGHT, one character from that book stayed in my head. Never on the page, but discussed on several occasions, Dallas MacGregor was a heroine waiting to happen. You can read the cover copy for HOME AGAIN on this site — and you can read the first chapter in the back of COMING HOME.

So that’s my story, folks. After a seriously tough year filled with much sadness — my dad passed away at the end of September, my brother the week before Christmas - it felt really good to return to those warm, family-oriented, small town stories that are long on relationships and atmosphere that I used to write. I hope you think so, too.

Best ~

P.S. I’m way, way behind in answering emails, so please forgive me if you wrote to me in the last six months of 2009 and didn’t get a response. I was just flat-out of time. I’m been trying to catch up...

Click here to read the first chapter of COMING HOME!

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