Girls Write Out
Saturday, September 30, 2006

So Calm Cool & Adjusted is out early. Not sure why, but Integrity has been sold to another, bigger publisher, so perhaps they were antsy to get their bestsellers out!! (that's a joke, if you all didn't pick up on it). Anyway, this morning my publicist sent me a review, and you know, I don't usually read them and this one was good -- but still, it dawned on me how weird the writing life is. I think it's why American Idol is so cutthroat & fun to watch. You do something and then, BAM the world gets its opinion. As writers, we have our Simon Cowells, our Paulas but in the end, it really means nothing if America likes it. You're really judged by the populace. It's like high school on steroids.

Anyway, Poppy's story (the last in my Spa Girls) gets to tackle the sticky issue of natural healing and the holistic side of life in the Christian community. I really had fun with her because she's just a loose cannon and those characters are more fun to me. Can't imagine why?

Oh while you're out buying my book (be careful of the stampede now!) if you're not of the weaker nature in your reading, I have to recommend, "The Thirteenth Tale". As many of you know, I'm a huge fan of the classics and this one pays homage to the great books with great writing and a plot to keep you turning pages. It has a ghostly element and a family dynamic that's hard to take, but don't miss this book. Diane Setterfield is a genius and I bow at her feet. Kristin
Kristin Billerbeck  
posted at 12:54 PM  
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Thursday, September 28, 2006
Denise seems so quiet, so restrained, so placid. But get her behind the drums, and a different person emerges.

The first time I heard she decided she wanted to learn to play the drums for the worship team at her church, I snickered. Denise, MY Denise? The one who agonizes at the thought of getting in front of people? The girl who used to wear beiges and browns so she could fade into the woodwork (I did her colors and fixed that problem.)Then I remembered Ringo Starr. He was the quiet one too. Still waters run deep and all that kind of thing. She took the lessons and began to drum for her church. I was intrigued but she goes to church in Ft Wayne and I got to New Life Baptist in Wabash so I didn't think I'd ever get to see her.

So when I heard she'd volunteered to be the drummer for the conference, I was ecstatic. Finally a chance to see her in action! Well let me just say Ringo's got nothing on our Denise. The first time I heard her break out into a flurry of cymbals and drumbeats I screamed and shouted "YES!" Yes, that's my buddy up there. That's my quiet peep who has come into her own.

She's GOOD, you guys--really, really good. I'm such slime. I couldn't play an instrument in front of people if you held my children over boiling water. Okay, maybe I'd try to save them but it wouldn't be pretty.

It was worth the price of the conference to hear Denise. You go, girl! You make us proud.

On another note, thanks so much for praying for my mom! She's doing much better after scaring us all to death with a serious heart attack. We didn't even know she had heart trouble. I'll never look at a Good Samaritan helicopter quite the same way again.

And happy birthday to my new daughter, Donna! Love you, sweet girl.
Colleen Coble  
posted at 7:17 AM  
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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

I hate to be a downer here, but there is one thing that sort of, well, ruined the conference for me . . . .

My luggage.

It’s not that I don’t appreciate my husband calling me from the store and telling me about this beautiful red Liz Clairborne suitcase. I figured “red” would match my lady lit genre, and then there’s always the added plus of finding it on the baggage rack. (Of course the bright green tag that says “Don’t make me chase you” also sticks out). I appreciate that he has bothered to get this for me, I really do. But when he brings it home, I’m not prepared for what I see. In fact, I’m surprised he was able to cart it home without a semi.

Yes, it’s that big. Think Titanic.

So, while Colleen, Denise and Kristin all tote around their dainty little bags that appear no bigger than an evening clutch, I come lugging in this monster bag that is sure to promise me a hernia before the trip’s over. In fact, I could have packed away the entire conference sound system and no one would have been the wiser.

The theme song for the Beverly Hillbillies taunts me through the airport as I heave this luggage through gates and passageways (don’t even ask me about bathroom stalls). The good news is I have biceps that could rival Popeye.

I won’t go into our trip with Colleen’s nephew back to the airport and how they could barely stuff my bag in their trunk. We could have plunked it on the car roof, but figured by the time we arrived at the airport, we would have been two feet tall.

All that to say, I will learn how to pack lighter next year if it kills me. Or maybe I’ll just climb into the luggage and have my husband push me around. Hey, throw in a box of chocolates, and I’m good to go.
Diann Hunt  
posted at 7:15 AM  
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Tuesday, September 26, 2006


I was lonely in my early twenties. And my mid twenties. And okay, my late twenties too. I'd moved out of state and lost contact with my high school friends then started my own family. My life was diapers and laundry puncutated with church and midnight feedings.

Kevin has always been Mr. Social, making friends where ever he goes, but opening myself to others has never been easy. Where are friends for me, Lord? I asked regularly.

Then I started writing and, one by one, my writing buddies entered my life. Mother Hen Colleen, always nurturing and protecting--whether we want her to or not. Gentle, spunky Diann whose humor that had me laughing until I cried a few nights ago (Okay, so it was late and I was a little slap-happy, but still.) Lovable, quirky Kristin who says what she thinks, unfiltered, and make us all wish we'd had the nerve to say it.

At first, our friendship was all about writing and critiquing, but before long, we were sharing more than our stories. We were sharing our lives. Now, I can't imagine mine without them. Where are friends for me, Lord? I'd asked. He stretched out his hands, nudged them into my life and said, "Here they are, beloved."

Denise Hunter  
posted at 3:23 AM  
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Sunday, September 24, 2006

Here are the awards from this year's Book of the Year Contest from American Christian Fiction Writers. Pick up your copies while they're hot!

Book of the Year:
Black Sands or Distant Echoes by Colleen Coble
Too excited to remember!

Contemporary Novella
1. Pamela Griffin, Strawberry Angel
2. Jane Orcutt, Baby Girl
3. Reuinited, Kristy Dykes

General Fiction
1. Miles Owens, Daughter of Prophecy
2. Bryan Davis, Circles of Seven
3. Sarah Anne Sumpolec, The Reveal

Historical Novella
1. Pamela Griffin, Legend of Mercy
2. Kathleen Y'Barbo, Marrying Kind
3. DiAnn Mills, Missing Pages

1. With this Ring, I'm Confused, Kristin Billerbeck
2. Hot Flashes & Cold Cream, Diann Hunt
3. Kissing Adrian, Siri Mitchell

Long Historical:
1. Tricia Goyer, Dawn of a Thousand Nights
2. Deeane Gist, A Bride Most Begrudging
3. Tracey Bateman, Color of my Soul

Short Contemporary:
1. Colleen Coble, Shadow Bones
2. Nancy Lavo, Miss Menace
3. Elizabeth White, Under Cover of Darkness

Short Historical:
1. Tracey Bateman Beside Still Waters
2. Vickie McDonough, Sooner or Later
3. DiAnn Mills, Renegade Husband

1. Colleen Coble, Distant Echoes
2. Colleen Coble, Black Sands
3. Creston Mapes, DarkStar

Women's Fiction:
1. Nikki Arana, The Winds of Sonoma
2. Deb Raney, Over the Waters
3. Evea Marie Everson & Linda Evans Shepard, Potluck Club
Kristin Billerbeck  
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Friday, September 22, 2006
American Christian Fiction Writers 2006 Dallas Texas -- coming at you live! We're tired. Bone-weary tired, and it's not that we've done a lot. This morning we spent in a photo shoot with a photographer because "they" say you should update your author photos every two years. But all I can think of when I look at my old photo is what size those jeans are, and I'm not ever going to see that size again -- so I want to see me bigger and older, why? I have no problem with perpetuating the myth I'm younger and thinner. Really, what kind of woman would I be without this?

Anyway, we had a blast doing our photo shoot because it's not intimidating when you can laugh at your friends (like Colleen with a butcher knife, Denise with a romantic red rose and Diann with an industrial sized DeBrand's truffle box). So we survived and you'll all get to see our older mugs soon.

But back to my point (see, I just made you believe there was one!): Writers' Conferences are just overwhelming because there are so many people to meet and you have to condense it in a small amount of time. We have all critiqued manuscripts until we are blue in the fingers and our minds are numb! Tomorrow is the big banquet dinner with the Genesis Award Winners for up and coming writers and book of the year contests. We'll keep you posted! Kristin
Kristin Billerbeck  
posted at 11:51 PM  
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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Muscular, sexy, a touch that thrills me, responsive to my every desire. No it's not my husband (though he's all that too). It's my new MACBOOK! Oh my gosh, you guys, it is fabulous! I've been a Windows girl ever since I picked up my first DOS machine and learned all the code. I was such a nerd I could BUILD those machines. Who would have thought I would fall in love when I first laid my fingers on the keys of this baby?

My poor Sony sits forlorn in the corner. Abandoned and ignored after giving me so many good years. Poor baby, it knows how an abandoned wife feels. I almost feel sorry for it until this little darling draws my attention back. I'm a total convert. The learning curve wasn't bad either. About a day and I was totally comfortable with it and didn't have to think about what to do.

Here are the advantages: it goes to sleep and wakes up INSTANTLY. A big plus for an impatient person like me when it comes to my computer; FAST, a wonderful keyboard to touch. BRILLIANT display, really cool software that works right out of the box, a terrific email program that lets me put in a tiny jpg of people's faces. When I get an email from Deb Raney, her pretty face smiles back at me. Very cool!

so what about you? Are you ready to divorce your lackluster Windows machine? I'm never going back. it's a brave new world!
Colleen Coble  
posted at 9:56 AM  
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Sunday, September 17, 2006

Before I go on, may I just say that I am SOOO sick of this stupid, pink blog and we really need to fix it. (Subtext: Colleen, you know that means you as we are all lame!)

This week the four of us head to Dallas to slurp mochas at the American Christian Fiction Writers' Conference. Colleen is doing the early-bird session and teaching way too many students, along with fellow Saint Deb Raney. God bless them!

Writers' conferences were way more fun before actual contracts. Before actual contracts, we stayed up all night, plotted our next books, planned for which editors to stalk and waited breathlessly for critiques to come back -- only to be disappointed, and clinging desperately to that one happy line the editor would write, so as not to crush us. Yep, those were the days.

I'm not a teacher, though I will be on a few panels and meeting for the advisory board meeting, I do not like to teach. It's not my gift and because I write chick lit, no one takes me seriously, anyway. But I will have great shoes!

Maybe it's not the contracts. . .Maybe we're just getting old and there aren't enough shots at Starbucks to keep us up all night. We'll keep you posted from the conference.

I'm getting ready to finish my deadline and just spent a fortune at Barnes & Noble for my upcoming work sabbatical! When do YOU get a chance to read? I generally keep a book in my car, one at the bathtub and one by my bed and do three at a time, but I haven't read barely anything since I've been in the new house -- well, except for People Magazine -- research you know.
Kristin Billerbeck  
posted at 11:07 PM  
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Thursday, September 14, 2006

I want to set the record straight right here and right now. I’m not pregnant. But I have a craving that won't stop. I'm buying watermelons by the boat load. As in, I've borrowed our neighbors truck every time I've gone to the grocery for the last two months. They own a semi.

I’ve always liked a little watermelon, but usually if I have it a couple of times during the summer season, I’m good.

But not this year.

I’m eating those babies like popcorn. I mean, I’m going through one a week, easily. Is that scary or what? I’m afraid I’m going to sprout seeds.

Maybe it’s a psychological thing. I’m into the all-American summer or something like that. But I think not. I’m thinking I just have this powerful craving that I can’t seem to get over.

However, you will be happy to note that the t-shirt I’m wearing as I write this says “Chocolate Lover” on it. Course, I also have a bowl of diced watermelon beside me too—well, I did have. It’s empty now.

My husband says I have issues. I call it a craving. Please tell me you crave weird things once in while, too. Like brussel sprouts, liver and onions, or maybe even watermelon--before he gets me slated for the Dr. Phil Show.
Diann Hunt  
posted at 9:37 AM  
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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Fatal Distraction

Today I mailed my son's study notes.

There's really no exuse other than that I was distracted. Am I the only one? The only one who took medication and can't remember ten seconds later if they took it or not? The only one whose husband says he told her something just yesterday and she can't remember him saying it?

Okay, my mind is somewhere else half the time. Not that I want it to be, it's just that there's so much stuff to remember. Just to take my kids to school I have to remember who has what today. Gym? We need tennis shoes. Soccer practice? Cleats, shin guards, water, and snack. Field trip forms, lunch money, book bags, homework. On the way to school I have to remember who has what test today. One child needs to review vocabulary, one has to memorize a poem, another reviews for a Science test (yes, we studied the night before, but there's something about sleep that wipes the slate clean, you know.)

I drop them off, and my own list begins. I run errands while listening to a CD to prepare for worship team practice. In between songs, I try to remember what I have to do today and remind myself of my doctor appointment. I pull into my drive and stop to deposit the outgoing mail.

The study guide is actually IN the mail box and I'm flipping up the red flag before I realize my mistake. I open the lid and laugh at myself. I mean, really, what else can you do?

Denise Hunter  
posted at 8:43 AM  
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Tuesday, September 12, 2006
I've always snickered at people who get all caught up in celebrities. (No offense if you're one of them.) But the news of Steve Irwin's death hit me hard. I'm not sure why. Maybe it was his exuberance for life and animals, maybe it was his total love and devotion for his family, or maybe it was that he was Australian. I think most Americans hold a soft spot for Australia. They're more like us, taming a wild land. Whatever it was, I have found myself scouring the internet looking for snippets about how Terri and the kids are doing. I felt like I KNEW them all.

The loss of this one man dovetailed with 9/11. Steve's death was pushed aside a bit to commemorate our own loss, but to me it was kind of one and the same. It wasn't the grand scale of what we lost in 9/11 that was so devastating, it was the individual people. The children who went through that first day and every day after that without their mother or their father. The wives who went to bed alone for the first time that night. The husbands who missed the soft touch of their wife's hand on their hair. Loss is always about one family's struggle to go on. I've found myself praying often for Terri, Bindi, and Bob. And for the families who still struggle here in our own land without the one they love.

Maybe it hit me so hard because it was just a week after the anniversary of my own brother's death. Randy was a bit like Steve, passionate, caring and loving. So I've been thinking about loss a lot lately and how it affects us in so many ways. The changes are deep and fundamental, and we're never the same again, not really. The good side of that is our loved ones are resting against Jesus' heart and we'll see them again someday. I'm going to give my brother a high five, hug my grandpa and pillow against my grandma's huge bosom. LOL What a day that will be! I might even try to find Steve Irwin and tell him, "Crikey, bloke, what were you DOING with that stingray?" LOL
Colleen Coble  
posted at 7:53 AM  
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Sunday, September 10, 2006

Little serious today, sorry gang. David Crowder has a song called "You're Everything". Here's just a few verses:

If I could just feel You're touch Could I be free?
Why do You shine so? Can a blind man see?
Why do You call? Do You beckon me?
Can the dear hear the voice of love?
Would You have me come?Can the cripple run?
Are You the one?...
Heal my limbs
Then joyfully I'll run to You

This morning, writing in my prayer journal, here's what I wrote:
I need a sabbatical.
I need a break.
I cannot finish this book.
I cannot finish out this contract.
I'm too burdened, Lord. It's too much.
Do you notice a recurring theme? Me, me, me, me, me...

In recent years, I have been blind from multiple sclerosis. I have been unable to walk well and had to be driven, had to have nannies help me with the daily activities to be a mother. Here's the thing. God did heal the blind. God did heal my limbs. It's not like this healing happened to someone else! And yet, here I am in a complete lack of faith that He is sufficient. That I'm doing any of this on my own power, anyway!

He doesn't promise me a best-seller. He doesn't expect perfection. Only obedience, that's all we can do. But dang, we're a hard-headed lot. But I can run to him -- joyfully.

"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."
2 Corinthians 12:9
Kristin Billerbeck  
posted at 6:32 PM  
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Friday, September 08, 2006
I forgot to tell you the other thing that happened at the pool party. I've been married 35 years next month. I'm not used to deflecting passes from other guys. Heck, I'm in my fifties! I'm no longer a size 8 either. LOL

Anyway, this couple came to the party. I knew they might have a problem when they brought their own booze. I noticed them making several forays into the kitchen to restock, but didn't think much about it. When I was helping clean up, they were the only ones left. My sweet daughter in law Donna told them I was a writer. She proudly brought out the Real Woman magazine to show my picture on the cover. The guy starts making noises about REAL Woman. The next thing I know, he sidles alongside me, PUTS HIS ARM AROUND MY WAIST and whispers. "You want romance, I'll show you romance."

Okay, are you like me? I'm totally got. I have no idea how to respond. Hit him? No, I don't want to embarrass my kids. I keet my head down and don't look at him for fear of inciting him more. I sidle away and give a nervous laugh. I laugh when I'm nervous, doggone it. HE FOLLOWS ME and does it again. Arm around my waist. "You're laughing but I'm serious," he says.

Now I'm getting majorly annoyed. I'm not sure whether to burst into tears or run to the bathroom. AND HIS WIFE IS RIGHT THERE IN THE ROOM! Are they swingers? What? Sheesh. I pull away, rather forcefully this time, and begin to scrub the stove with vigor. He gets the message. Whew. When it's all over, a million quips come to mind. Why couldn't I think of them at the time? Sheesh, I'm so lame. What would you have done?
Colleen Coble  
posted at 7:45 AM  
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Thursday, September 07, 2006
I was thinking this weekend how truly blessed I am. For years I heard the adage about when your daughter gets married, you gain a son but when your son gets married you lose one. Not this time. I gained a daughter, and my son still loves me. Dave and Donna had their first party at their new home this weekend. The kids have a great pool, and as you can see from the picture, I was about to see it up close and personal. LOL

I was screaming and pleading for my life, and my son took pity on me when he realized I hadn't brought a change of clothes. It was sooo fun though to see him and Donna so happy. He threw her in the pool and kissed her while they went in. Now that's love! And they're now trying for a baby, so everything is wonderful.

Hey, are you in the mood for a movie? Check out my website for a NovelTease video of my new book, FIRE DANCER, which ships to stores next week. It's awesome! I think you'll be impressed.
Colleen Coble  
posted at 9:20 AM  
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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

This weekend we traveled to a nearby state to witness our nephew’s wedding. The ceremony was held in a cabin tucked away in a remote area thick with woods and foliage. Lush greenery sprouted beside a serene pond complete with sprinkling fountain as guests strolled toward the cabin. A short distance from there sat a bench beneath a canopy of dripping vines and that’s where our daughter shot this picture of two of our granddaughters. Okay, I’ll admit our daughter added wings to the photo, but at this moment, they could have donned halos. :-)

We laughed and talked the night away with family while nestled in that cabin beneath a dusky sky and rain droplets (yes, it was raining, but we hardly noticed). We reminisced about days gone by and as I looked around the room at the familiar faces, the kids all grown up, the parents now into midlife, and grandparents into their senior years, I was struck once again with the brevity of life.

Believe it or not, your world will not always be peanut butter/jelly sandwiches and sticky kisses. Leather briefcases will replace brown lunch bags. Moments to sit and watch a frog leap across the sidewalk will vanish. Before you can finish the jar of peanut butter, your children will morph into adults.

Though I was convinced our kids would remain toddlers forever, I assure you, they did grow up. Fast. Do they remember the loads of laundry I did or the hours I labored over the bathroom—okay, maybe not hours, but certainly minutes. Probably not. Do they remember when I stopped to watch them ride a bike, listen to them tell a story, or sat down with them over popsicles? Yeah.

So, just a friendly reminder to take some time with those you love today. It's over all too soon. Go ahead, enjoy the journey!
Diann Hunt  
posted at 8:16 AM  
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Tuesday, September 05, 2006

I did't want to blog today. I don't want to go see my chiropractor this morning, but I desperately need to and probably will just because I hafta. Am I lazy? Am I feeling apathetic? No, the reason I don't want to do these things is because there's something else I'm itching to do.

My edits. I got them back last week from my fab new editor, Amanda at WestBow, and since then, I've had a loaded schedule and a weekend trip. I've been looking forward to digging in to them today.

Is it really me saying this? Me, who has always dreaded the edits and lambasted Colleen for her annoying exuberance? What is wrong with me?

I know, I know, I've officially gone over to the dark side. I'm sorry, K and Di, to alienate you and even up the score on the edit issue. It is now two against two, though I promise to not harass you when you complain about getting yours like a certain friend we know (whose name starts with a C and ends will olleen.) And speaking of that person, I know she knows better than than to utter a single "I told you so" because everybody finds that annoying.

(Edits, here I come!)

Denise Hunter  
posted at 9:45 AM  
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Monday, September 04, 2006

Diann Hunt and I often joke that we are the people things happen to. If there's someone who's going to step in dog doo or have food fall down their shirts, it's us. I think we have big red X's on our backs and provide the comic relief for God sometimes. Now that I'm back in Silicon Valley, here's just this week's encounters and probably why I write humor. Life here is just funnier.

1. Walking my daughter to school, I see a woman, lifting her hands like a good charismatic in worship and praising a redwood tree. My daughter's training wheels interrupted the "energy" vibe, apparently. Dirty look ensues before more praising of the tree takes place.

2. Bumper sticker today: "You looked better on MySpace."

3. Outside Los Gatos Coffee Shop, all these skinny little women in yoga pants are gathered outside a yoga studio. One woman is outside screaming into her cell phone. I go to the coffee shop, wait in line, return around the corner, and Miss Zen Yoga, still screaming into the cell phone. So the question remains, can you have Namaste (the peaceful closing time of Yoga) when you've only screamed your negative energy at someone else? Hmmm. Silicon Valley points to ponder.

4. Coming home from walking my daughter to school again. Two men in the driveway, a toddler SCREAMING bloody murder and his dad saying, "I have to go to work, and so does Daddy Josh." (Gay couples have whiny kids too, FYI).

5. Seen outside the Monterey Bay Aquarium (they have a white shark, so we went again!) a dog fully dressed in jeans and a sweatshirt on his owner's back in a kidpack.

P.S. Make that THREE broken arms. My oldest hairline fractured his arm on a scooter this weekend. Sigh.
Kristin Billerbeck  
posted at 2:22 PM  
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Friday, September 01, 2006

See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil
No blog, just couldn't resist this picture of my boys in the redwoods. Doesn't it remind you of that saying?
Kristin Billerbeck  
posted at 2:47 PM  
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The Authors
Kristin Billerbeck
Kristin Billerbeck is a proud Californian, wife, mother of four, and connoisseur of the irrelevant. She writes Christian Chick Lit; where she finds need for most of the useless facts lulling about in her head.

Colleen Coble

Colleen Coble writes romantic suspense with a strong atmospheric element. A lovable animal of some kind--usually a dog--always populates her novels. She can be bribed with DeBrand mocha truffles.

Denise Hunter

Denise Hunter writes women's fiction and love stories with a strong emotional element. Her husband says he provides her with all her romantic material, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too.

Diann Hunt

Diann Hunt writes romantic comedy and humorous women's fiction. She has been happily married forever, loves her family, chocolate, her friends, chocolate, her dog, and well, chocolate.

Hannah Alexander

Cheryl Hodde writes romantic medical suspense under the pen name of Hannah Alexander, using all the input she can get from her husband, Mel, for the medical expertise. For fun she hikes and reads. Out of guilt, she rescues discarded cats. She and Mel are presently taking orders from four pampered strays.

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