Saturday, October 02, 2010

Wild Card Weekend: Do Overs with Linda Conrad

Please welcome Linda Conrad back to the blog, with a great topic and a fabulous excerpt!

I have a new book on the shelves this week. Release dates are always a grand time in the life of any author. For me, it’s the time when I get show off my baby and reminisce about planning and writing the story.

Writing SECOND-CHANCE SHERIFF was a unique experience for me. The book is a novella and part of a three-author anthology called Covert Christmas. I had done only one other online novella alone, so writing with the fabulous authors, Marilyn Pappano and Loreth Anne White was a great treat.

When the editors asked us to write reunion stories that take place at Christmas, I was all for it. In the first place, I love the Christmas theme. Cozy days by the fire. Smells of pine and spice. Green trees and holly. Red stockings and white snow. And especially the excitement of presents under a tree. Makes me all warm and smiling just thinking of it.

And reunions? How fun is it to think of getting a do-over on a lost love? I think that must be many peoples’ secret fantasy. Getting to go back for a second chance with someone from your past—or maybe for righting something you did wrong long ago. I believe that’s why people love high school reunions. That second chance.

My hero in SECOND-CHANCE SHERIFF is so caught up with guilt from something he did in the past that he almost misses the possibility of recapturing his lost love. And the heroine of the story isn’t particularly ready to let go of her past in order to give him that chance. Sigh. It takes a little girl and a Christmas Angel to get these two to open their eyes.

Here’s an excerpt from SECOND-CHANCE SHERIFF:

“When I get back,” Cam began. “I want to hear all the details on this undercover operation of yours.” Shaking his head as though the idea of her being undercover was absolutely absurd, he disappeared around the corner.

Tara didn’t know whether to be insulted or scared. She’d been so sure that Cam’s whole family would be here for the holidays. It had never occurred to her that the two of them would become isolated together—alone.

Facing a hit-man might be preferable.

Needing to move around so she could think her predicament through, Tara tested her nearly frozen feet by placing one down on the hardwood floor. Man, that hurt like the devil. She was sure glad she’d thought to put on her padded socks under her boots and jeans before she’d left her apartment this morning and headed out for the governor’s vacation home in Aspen.

The idea gave her chills. She could be worrying about losing toes to frostbite instead of fussing about spending time alone with an old boyfriend.

An old married boyfriend.

The stabbing pain in the bottom of her foot became bearable so she put the other one down on the floor next to it. Yipes. She had to bite her lip to keep from screaming. But within minutes she felt stronger and more stable. Maybe she was going to live through the experience after all.

As she straightened and looked around the great-room, the lights came back on. She went to the fireplace, added a few more logs and stirred the fire. Soon it was blazing.

Looking around the room again, Tara finally realized what she was seeing. Or not seeing. She’d been to Cam’s home during the holidays many times growing up. Back then, the whole place had glowed with decorations, lovingly put up by Cam’s grandparents. Festive lights, wrapped packages and yummy smells coming from the kitchen. It was one of the clearest memories from her childhood.

Yet today, a few days before Christmas, this great-room was empty of everything but furniture. Except for the roaring fire, it might as well be August.

Where was the tree? Where were the wreaths and holly?

Wandering from room to room downstairs, she searched for anything that said Christmas. With no luck.

Tara easily climbed the stairs to the second floor bedrooms. Surely up here she would find some sign of holiday spirit.

She checked each room as she went down the hall. The first two were guest rooms, and bland. When she came to the room she’d used as a teenager, her hand hesitated on the door handle. Tara wasn’t sure she wanted to see this room again after all these years. Too many memories. Both good and bad.

But as the door creaked open, Tara was shocked to see a fantasyland in various shades of pink instead of the cool blues and greens of her youth. The bed was covered with stuffed animals. Yes, this room was most definitely being used by a little girl.

Cam must have a daughter. As Tara moved around the room, she lightly touched the toys and the music boxes. This could be her own little girl’s room. If only things had worked out differently.

On top of the dresser, she found several framed photos. A little girl with blonde pigtails, holding Cam’s hand. An older couple with the same girl at a birthday party. Tara looked around again, but couldn’t find any pictures of Cam’s wife.

In fact, Tara couldn’t remember seeing any pictures of a young woman anywhere in the house. She quickly walked out of the girl’s room and headed for the master bedroom. This was going to hurt, but now that she’d thought of it, she needed to see some evidence of the woman who currently owned this house and belonged to Cam.

Tara hesitated once again at the door, but then took a breath and pushed it open. The room that had once belonged to Cam’s grandparents had not changed much.

Still the same beige walls. The same heavy, wood-hewn furniture. Even the same king-sized bed with thick down-filled mattress.

But there were no photos. None at all that she could see. Not even of the pretty little girl.

Something was wrong in this house. Turning, she headed for the walk-in closet and threw open the doors.

Except for Cam’s clothes, the huge closet stood empty. Empty? Was Cam divorced?

“Find what you were looking for?” Cam’s voice spun her around.


* * *

So what would you change if someone waved a magic wand and you could do-over some part of your past? Is there someone out there you would like to connect with again? (Don’t worry, we won’t tell anyone) Or maybe there’s some part of your life right now that you would change if you could. Job? House? Hobbies? Weight? (join the crowd) I’ll pick a winner at random to receive a copy of Covert Christmas to someone who contributes a comment.

Covert Christmas is out to great reviews. A TOP PICK from RT BookReviews! To read more about Linda, her books, or to receive her newsletter and enter her contest, go to :


  1. If I could go back and change anything I would travel and see all the places I wanted to see before I got severe RA. Traveling is not really much in the cards for me now. I wish I had done more while I could walk good. Losing weight wouldn't hurt either.

    seriousreader at live dot com

  2. I wish I knew my biological paternal grandparents better. I didn't know they were my grandparents until 20 years after they died.

    Since I must work, I would keep the job I have. I'm self-employed and love working from home.

    As for our house, we've owned it since 1983 and wouldn't move for the world (even if we won millions of dollars). Mind you, we'd fix it up A LOT if we won money, but we appreciate our neighbours and good-size lot.

    Of COURSE I'd love to be MUCH thinner. (Who wouldn't?) Based on that wish, I guess I should wish I didn't get hooked on Pepsi all those years ago....

    Finally, I wish I had had the nerve to start trying various foods at a younger age. I still haven't tried a good many fruits and vegetables, but I've improved tremendously during the past 8 years or so.

  3. Hi Linda!
    Ah yes, I wish I'd had the nerve to go more places when I was young too. We did see quite a lot around the US but I wish I'd gone to more countries while I had the chance. It gets harder to travel every year.
    And as for wishing to be thinner: I managed to lose 16 pounds last year - and then gained back six. Wish I hadn't done that. :)

  4. How smart of you to be grateful for some of the things you love, Laney4! Yes, there are things we might like to do-over or change, but it's so much better if we can also be thankful for our blessings.
    Tks for reminding us!

  5. Gosh there are so many things I wished I hadn't done....too many to list - some major issues some not...But saying that I'm a great believer that the good and bad things in life shape and mould us into the people we are right now. But that's not to say I wish I was 20 pounds lighter....Caroline xx

  6. LOL on the weight issue, Caroline! But great life philosophy. Maybe it's all those good and bad things we ate that did us in. :))

  7. There might have been a few little things in the past that I might change (probably drinking a little less alcohol would have helped) and I might have talked myself into saving a little more money, apart from that, nothing!

  8. I like to think I wouldn't want to change major things in my life. But I wish I'd appreciated the figure I once had!

  9. LOL, on the money thing, Susan. There's another thing I bet we can all agree about. Wish I'd saved more too. Lots of things I regret buying over the years. :))

  10. Nice to know you're happy with your life, Alison! Me too. I love my work and my dog and my hubby. So...I dislike my weight. Don't sweat the small stuff, right?

  11. If I could change anything, I'd travel more!

  12. Me too, chey. But somehow there's never enough money or time. And the hassel is growing worse every year too.

  13. This has been a fun blog. Tks, everyone!

    My hubby just picked names out of a hat and the winner of this blog is SusanWilson44! Congratulations!
    Please send me your snail mail address to:

    Thanks again, everybody! You rock!