Wednesday, August 01, 2007
A Fiery Secret by Diane Craver
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Diane Craver is the author of four novels, several nonfiction articles, two nonfiction books, several magazine articles and a published story in a national magazine. No Greater Loss and A Fiery Secret released in print in February. Never the Same releases in print in August. All three are published by Samhain. How To Run A Profitable Preschool Without The Hassle is an e-book on Booklocker.com, Inc. It will soon be released in print. Diane also has a short book, Celebrating and Caring For Your Baby With Special Needs. She gives uplifting tips and advice to help new parents through the early months of this stressful time. The Christmas of 1957 is “creative nonfiction” and is a heartwarming story for the whole family to read.
Diane enjoys her life in southwestern Ohio with her husband and six children. Two daughters, Christina and April, live away from home with successful careers. Another two children, Bartholomew and Emily, are attending college. Life is never boring with two daughters, Sara and Amanda, born with Down syndrome living at home. Diane’s husband of thirty-one years is very supportive of her writing career, as well as her awesome children.
Diane writes emotional reads that touch your heart. To learn more about Diane and her books, please visit www.dianecraver.com and her blog: www.dianecraver.com/blog.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
An old boyfriend wants reporter Catherine Steel’s love but someone else wants her dead when she learns the explosive truth behind a murder.
Catherine Steel is an investigative reporter for a newspaper in Ohio. To supplement her income so that she can buy clothes for herself and gifts for her small godchild, she writes fluff pieces for women's magazines. Two recent articles are: "What To Wear to Get Noticed" and "Catherine's Ten Simple Dating Rules." When Jake Michaels fills a sports editor's spot on the paper, Catherine wonders if he is man enough to fulfill her fantasy. And does she want him to be the one?
After all, he broke her heart ten years ago in high school when he failed to show up for their prom date. And now that he's back in town, he wants to date her. Catherine refuses to go out with him but he keeps asking. Should she give Jake another chance?
When it appears the beloved high school janitor, Max, was murdered, Catherine is determined to learn the truth about his death. Catherine's list of suspects for Max's death include: the school secretary with her intense dislike of Max, the charismatic mayor, the mayor's unbalanced girlfriend, the angry school principal, and a strange math teacher.
Jake Michaels made me throw up on prom night ten years ago. I never really got over it. And now he was back in my life. Obviously, we weren’t the same people. Both of us graduated from college and have real careers. I was an investigative reporter for the local newspaper, The Messenger.
When the paper’s editor-in-chief and owner, Jane Gibbons, recently decided to have a larger sports section to increase circulation, she hired Jake as the new sports editor. We both worked now at The Messenger in Park City, Ohio, where we were born and raised.
My name is Catherine Steel, and I’m five-eight with pale blue eyes. Unfortunately,
last summer being outdoors a lot had made a few freckles pop out on my face. But the sun had done something good by giving my light brown hair some natural blondish highlights. Gone were the days when I pulled my hair back into a ponytail and my work uniform consisted of dress pants with a boring pastel shirt. When Jake Michaels moved back and started working at the newspaper, I knew my wardrobe had to include tight, short skirts and stiletto heels so that picking up dropped pens by his desk would be sure to drive him wild with passion. He broke my heart in high school. What he did to me was deplorable and he ruined my sophomore year. Even so, I didn’t want to ruin him. Seeing him squirm like the snake he was seemed to restore my self-respect and take some of the pain out of our past history.
But at the moment, I wasn’t the one making Jake squirm. He was doing that to me. He stood next to me as I slurped water from the fountain in the hallway. He smelled so good I knew I had to take the longest drink in Messenger history. If I lifted my head and made eye contact, I’d be a goner. What was he wearing? Every man should use that aftershave.
“Well, water kid,” Jake said to me, “maybe I’ve been wrong about you all this time.”
I stopped drinking and licked the excess moisture below my lip. “What do you mean?”
“I thought you’ve been getting all these drinks so you could constantly walk in front of my office and show me what I’ve been missing out on.”
I shook my head, noticing how he still had a summer tan. He wore a white shirt with the sleeves rolled up. Jake had a rugged look but he pulled off appearing preppy at the same time. I saw the challenge in his brown eyes, daring me to deny his observation. “I try to drink lots of water every day. It’s good for you, flushes all the toxins out of your body.”
“I’ve tried to ignore you walking by my office for the past four weeks, but I can’t take it any more.” He pushed me against the wall, but I didn’t object. A tingling raced through me as his hands lingered on my shoulders. “And each time you’ve made your drink run, I’ve seen how you look at me, like you’re all hot and bothered. I have a suggestion. You say you’ll go out with me and then stand me up. We’ll be even. Then we can move on and get together. Like this.” He tilted my chin and lowered his jaw to mine. He covered my lips with a breathtaking kiss, then his mouth lingered sweetly against mine.
I gave him a shove. No way was he getting off that easy. His solution grated on my nerves. I retorted with cold sarcasm, “Oh yeah, even. You’re really something. You never showed up to take me to the prom. I waited for hours in my dress, which, by the way, I spent a fortune on, and I shelled out money to get my hair done.” I decided not to mention the further humiliation when I faced my friends at school. I’d told them I was going to the prom with popular Jake, so they’d wanted to know what happened.
“Catherine, I apologized years ago. And when I asked you to the prom, I told you I’d be late.”
“Being a bit late and never showing up is a little different.”
“The track meet took longer than I thought. And my parents wanted me to wait for my medals. I told you to go ahead if you didn’t want to wait on me.”
“You could’ve called.”
“I did. I thought you were at the prom. Your brother said you left.”
Jake didn’t show, and I got so upset that by the time he called, I was throwing up in the toilet. No way had I wanted him to know that. My brother was supposed to say I’d left with a hot guy, but instead said I wasn’t home.
I glared at Jake. “What about the dinner date we had and then you canceled? You said out-of-town relatives were visiting. Then I heard you went out with a cute girl.”
His brown eyes glinted with anger. “She was my cousin.”
I thought about saying, “And your cousin didn’t wear braces and glasses,” but I kept my mouth shut for once. No need to remind Jake that in my sophomore year I didn’t have my contacts or straight teeth yet. I shrugged. “Whatever. I need to get to work.”
“Go out with me this Friday. I’ll make it up to you.”
“Catherine, give me a break.” He ran his fingers through his black hair. “We’ll have fun.”
I took a step away from Jake, thinking up a quick excuse for Friday night. “I have a date.”
He raised his eyebrows. “Do I know him?”
“I doubt it. You don’t travel in the same social circles.” How could Jake know him? I don’t know him. I shouldn’t lie, but Friday was a few days away. I could get a date by then. Anything was possible.
“Hey, I forgot to invite you to my parents’ Halloween party. It’s a week from this Friday. Bring your boyfriend.”
“I’ll let you know if we can make it. I have to get back to work.”
Walking back to my desk, I was proud of how I’d handled Jake’s kiss. He’d excited me, but I hadn’t given in. I broke it off quickly. He probably wondered how I could be so cool around him. I smiled, thinking how awesome I was with giving a little and pulling back. Even though Jake was a louse to me in high school, I did intend to go out with him sometime. With a definite chemistry between us, I couldn’t help myself. But I wasn’t going to rush it. The chase was too entertaining.
It might be fun to go to his parents’ Halloween party and wear an unbelievably sexy costume. I could kill the boyfriend off or say he had a death in the family. No. That wouldn’t work. Jake might think I was heartless not going with my boyfriend to the funeral. My mother was right. You should never lie.
I had just sat down at my desk in the middle of the newsroom when Jake appeared by my right side.
He held a paperback in his hand. “I believe this romance novel is yours. You left it in the meeting room.” He glanced at it before handing it to me. “So you like romances. I think I might be more interesting than you reading about a character kissing her man in a book.”
I grabbed my paperback, noticing several sets of eyes watching us. Sometimes I like being surrounded by other reporters and other times I’d like to have my own private office. “I’m researching romance novelists. We have several successful Ohio romance writers in our area, and I’m going to ask them how their novels are different now from several years ago.”
He grinned. “You’re just full of surprises. I never would’ve guessed you like investigating romances. If you need any help doing research, you know my number.”
I clenched my jaw as he walked away whistling. Although I made that up about interviewing romance writers, maybe I would. Jake didn’t need to know my reading habits. Truthfully, I loved contemporary and historical romances, especially ones by British authors. I did vary my reading and enjoyed mysteries a lot, but I always had a supply of romances to read. When I was a teenager, Grandma Nelson got me started on reading her favorite British author, Georgette Heyer, and I got her interested in regencies by Scottish author Marion Chesney. I smiled, remembering Jane loved romances. I would suggest having a section on romance novelists.
When I wasn’t writing investigative articles, I wrote fluff pieces—just when I needed extra money. On my investigative reporter’s income, I could pay the bills, but when I wrote articles for the singles crowd in magazines and newspapers, I had money for cool clothes, books, movies, and toys for my godchild, Connor.
“What to Wear to Get Noticed” was a favorite article I wrote. In it I explained how you wanted to stand out from everyone else when you go out at night. I definitely had an awesome outfit that I’d worn a few times to bars. It was a skirt my best friend Angie created as a fashion design student at the University of Cincinnati. It consisted of belts and it was pretty short since she ran out of them. I think she did it on purpose because when I modeled the skirt, she said, “Catherine, you have great legs.” Whenever I wore it, I got smiles and glances. Or maybe dancing on the bar counters helped, too. I tell you, I was a different woman in this skirt—I became a nightlife star after a few drinks. With the skirt, I wore this incredibly soft shirt which looked like different shades of lavender in various lights. Guys loved to touch to see what the shirt felt like. I only allowed pawing at the shoulders—no place else. And, of course, I wore my long hair down.
Although the clothing was important, a pickup line was vital in bars. I happened to have a sure-fire one that landed me dates.
My mom said I had to stop trying to help every single female out there catch a man. I wrote a column recently for a woman’s magazine and gave a lot of tips on how to grab a guy’s attention. She was livid and said, “You just limited your own chances of getting married before you’re thirty.”
I shrugged. “Hey, I just turned twenty-five. I have plenty of time.”
Secretly, I knew she was also correct in saying there are too few available men for all of us women looking for Mr. Right. But what the heck, even though I’ve never written my great pickup line into an article, here it is—I look the guy directly in the eye and say, “You’re hot.”
Short, but definitely got the guy’s attention. And they were shocked because it was unexpected for a girl to go to a guy and say that. A lot of times, he’d give a big grin and start talking to me.
After I met a new guy and started dating him, I wondered what he’d think of my secret fantasy. No one knew it. I hadn’t even told Angie. I could see her telling everyone, and I didn’t want to have every guy ask me if they could participate in part of my fantasy. And I knew some might laugh at me and think it was out of this world. But the adventuresome ones would go for it. It was my sexual fantasy and I didn’t want to share it with anyone—well, obviously I wanted to share it with the right guy someday. But then, I pulled the daydream out when I felt down and visualized it happening. Fortunately, I have an active imagination. Although it seemed unrealistic, I believed it could actually happen to me. I mean you have to believe in your dreams, even the big fantasies. Right?
Why did you become a writer?
I’ve always loved to write and I’m definitely the happiest when I write. Even when a pesky character and parts of the story line give me a rough time, I still enjoy creating a new book. Also a writing career gives me the flexibility I need in meeting my family’s needs.
Was it a dream of yours since you were younger or did the desire to write happen later in your life?
Ever since I was small, I’ve enjoyed writing. When I was in junior high, I wrote a few stories for fun and also wrote poetry. In high school, I was yearbook editor my senior year. Then in college my roommate and I started writing about our adventures, but we never finished the book. After I married and started a family, I no longer taught full-time. I began writing nonfiction when our oldest daughter was a toddler. I had several magazine articles published by the time I wrote a special needs book since we were blessed with two daughters born with Down syndrome. I also wrote a “creative nonfiction” book, The Christmas of 1957, which is about how a little girl’s faith helps her father in overcoming a disability. It’s based on a true event from my childhood. Around 1995, I attended a romance writing conference in Cincinnati and it was sponsored by the Ohio Valley Romance Writers. I met many published authors and their enthusiasm was contagious. I decided to start writing fiction. I loved it but I got off to a slow start with six children at home.
What do you love about being an author? Is there anything you dislike?
I love being published. When I received three contracts close together for my inspirational romance, chick-lit mystery and mainstream, it was an answer to my prayer that someday I’d get published. And of course, I love the freedom writing gives me and that I can work at home instead of having to drive to work daily. Another cool thing about being an author is getting to research the careers of my characters.
I dislike waiting until December to receive my first royalty check from my print sales. I keep wondering how I’m doing as a newly published fiction writer.
How do you balance your personal and writing time?
I’ve tried writing so many words a day as a goal but I’m having more success thinking in terms of pages and chapters.
I don’t feel like I have very much personal time because I’ve had three books releasing so close together. I feel like I’m in front of the computer all the time with editing, doing online chats, writing entries for my blog, and mailing out promo items. Then there’s housework, laundry and so many other things to do. I did start a new book this spring. I don’t have a title yet and it’s about three sisters. While writing this book, I’m taking breaks to do other things. I like to walk, go for a bike ride with my daughter Amanda, swim with my daughters and son, watch movies, or read.
How do you write? Do your characters come to you first or the plot or the world of the story?
I think of the character first with an interesting conflict. For a few days dialogue, scenes, setting and characters parade across my mind before I write anything down. When I start writing, I put the big scenes down before even starting the first few pages. My characters tend to take over so I don’t make a detailed outline.
What genre(s) do you write? Why do you write the stories that you write?
I write inspirational romance, chick-lit mystery and mainstream.
I like to write wholesome books that are emotional reads filled with love and humor. Also my books are written with an inspirational quality. I like to integrate family into my romantic plots.
Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?
I use some real-life situations for my characters but definitely also use imagination to mold them into unique people. An exception is in A Fiery Secret. The main character, Catherine Steel, is a feisty investigative reporter and is based loosely on my daughter Christina. A secondary character, Miranda, was inspired by my daughter Amanda. She is a vivacious seventeen-year-old and brings great joy to our family. By the way, Amanda was born with Down syndrome. I think it’s important to show people with disabilities in a positive light. The character Miranda also has Down syndrome, works in a coffeehouse and has a boyfriend.
Out of all the characters that you've written, who is your favorite and why?
That’s a tough question because I like several of them a lot. But Kimberly Collins is one of my favorite characters I’ve written. She’s a fashion buyer in my mainstream, Never the Same and in the beginning she is such a workaholic and makes detailed daily plans. Her whole life changes when she survives a plane crash. Before the plane crashes and death is a real possibility, Kim realizes what really matters in life.
What would you want readers to take away from your books?
I’d like them to fall in love with my characters and to enjoy living in their world while reading about them. And hopefully, get something personal out of my books that will make their lives richer.
Do you have any advice for beginning writers in regards to writing a book?
Follow your heart and believe in yourself!
You have to be persistent and develop a thick skin when it comes to rejections. Remember this is a subjective business so don’t get discouraged. I’d suggest finishing your book before querying publishers and agents. I had half of a novel done when I queried an agent and expected her to ask for a partial first which would give me plenty of time to finish it. Instead, I heard immediately from her and she requested the whole manuscript. It was very stressful trying to finish it and get it to her as quickly as possible. When you are established as a published author, you will be able to submit a partial manuscript to your agent or editor before completing it.
What are you reading right now?
Mary Jane Clark’s suspense novel, When Day Breaks
If you could be anyone or anything that you wanted, who or what would you be?
I can’t think of anyone I’d really like to be, but I’d definitely like to be thinner. LOL I’m trying to lose weight again so I guess that’s on my mind. I’d like to be better at sports. I’m the person playing volleyball who can’t get the blasted ball over the net. Fortunately, my children don’t take after me and are athletic.
“Author Diane Craver has a way with mystery. This enchanting Chick Lit voiced novel will have you suspecting just about everyone when it comes down to just who killed the janitor? And why? She keeps investigative reporter, Catherine Steel on the chase, not just for her story, but her hot co-worker, Jake Michaels, as well…Without thinking about her own safety, Catherine ferrets out the truth behind the news.”
-- Reviewed by JoEllen Conger, Gottawritenetwork.com
“...it’s not the classic chick-lit book. It has more depth than that...I believe there are a lot of different types if secrets in A Fiery Secret. Some are evil, some are wrong and some are through choice. It is a sweet, modern romance where the normal everyday complications of life meet a mystery head on. But above all, this book has a nice feel good ending that makes you smile.”
-- Reviewed by Janet Davies, Once Upon A Romance
A Fiery Secret by Diane Craver
Length: 264 Pages
Genre: Chick-Lit Mystery
Publication Date: February 20, 2007
$14.00 from Amazon
Purchase A Fiery Secret by Diane Craver HERE!!