Patricia Davids—Their Pretend Amish Courtship

Fannie Erb isn’t looking for a husband – especially if it means she has to leave behind her beloved horses to go find one. What she needs is a way to assure her parents that she’s not hopeless when it comes to love. And her family friend, Noah Bowman, might just be her solution.

A fake relationship would free them both from unwanted matchmaking plans, but how could Fannie predict that pretending to date the handsome boy next door would awaken genuine emotions? By summer’s end, they’ll be free to go their separate ways, but Fannie’s growing feelings are transforming her neighbor into the only man who might ever reign in her adventurous heart.

Available at fine bookstores and at Harlequin online: https://www.harlequin.com/shop/books/9780373622788_their-pretend-amish-courtship.html



What was your favorite part about writing Their Pretend Amish Courtship?

My favorite part of writing Their Pretend Amish Courtship was coming up with the dialogue between Fannie and Noah when they were sniping at each other. I’d write the scene and then come back to tweak it over and over again until I got just the right amount of tension or humor. I had a lot of fun with them.

How long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

I normally spend about a month researching before I start writing but I continue to research through the entire writing process. I know a lot about the Amish culture but I’m always learning something new.

What are the traits you admire most in Fannie and Noah?

I have to say it was their youth. Oh, to be that young again. They weren’t the most mature characters to start out with and that made them fun to write, but they both underwent an emotional growth process that allowed them to discover real love.

How long does it typically take for you to write a book?

I will normally write a 55,000-word manuscript in three months after a month of research.

What is your favorite thing about writing romance?

I love everything about writing romance except…writing. I love the birth of an idea that morphs into a story and then finding the perfect characters to tell that story. I love making things turn out right for a wonderful couple. I just hate spelling it out word by word as I struggle to take my ideas and turn them into something that makes sense to anyone who reads it. Writing for me is hard, tedious work.

How many books have you written? Is there one that you would consider your favorite?

I have 32 completed manuscripts including the one I’m about to finish this week. Do I have a favorite? Yes. Two of them. The Amish Midwife is the Amish book I like best because my family and friends helped so much with my research for it. My other favorite is a western historical romance I wrote years ago that has never found a home. I happen to think it’s my best work.

What are a few of your favorite books? Do you have any recommendations?

Morning Glory by LaVyrle Spencer is one of my all-time favorite books. Walking After Midnight by Karen Robards is another and if you haven’t read The Life of Pi you should.

What book are you currently reading right now?

I hesitate to say this, but I’m not much of a reader. I know. Shocker! I used to be a voracious reader. I would read two or three books a week. Now, I read mainly for research. Once in a while I’ll read something a friend recommends. The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin was one I recently finished and enjoyed.

Do you have any tips for people suffering from writer’s block?

Until two years ago I didn’t believe in writer’s block. I thought it was a cop-out used by writers without the determination it takes to slog through to the end. I’m a stubborn person who likes to finish what I start. But after losing my mother and becoming the caregiver for my ill father and then suffering my own health crisis, I ran out of things to write about. Somehow, the creative part of my brain that loves to make up stories just stopped working. I couldn’t come up with a plot to save my soul. I had to take a break. I didn’t write for six months. I was fortunate that my publisher understood and supported me until I found my voice again. My advice is to let go of the guilt of not writing and take care of yourself. When you are in a good place, the voices come back.

Do you have any advice for new writers?

I love new writers because they are filled with enthusiasm. They have the desire but they don’t always have the skill. My main advice is to learn the craft. Dissect books you love to see how the author evokes emotions in the characters and in the reader. Study the pacing of the story. Where and how does it rush you along and where and how does it make you dwell in the moment. A new writer must embrace constructive criticism. It’ a hard lesson but it’s a valuable one. Every story can be improved. Finally, never ever give up believing that you will achieve your dream.


USA Today best-selling author Patricia Davids was born and raised in Kansas. After forty years as an NICU nurse, Pat switched careers after forty years to become an inspirational writer in 1996. Today, she enjoys crafting emotionally satisfying romances where love and faith being two people together forever. She enjoys spending time with her daughter and grandchildren, traveling, and playing with her dogs, who think fetch should be a twenty-four hour a day game. When not on the road or throwing a ball, Pat is happily dreaming up new stories.


Vicki Lewis Thompson—In the Cowboy’s Arms

Matt Forrest was born to be an actor, but he grew up at Thunder Mountain Ranch as a cowboy. So when things go haywire after shooting his first Hollywood movie, he retreats to his childhood home where he knows his parents and foster brothers can help him figure out what he really wants out of life.

But PR agent, Geena Lysander, isn’t about to lose one of her best new clients—so she follows him. And things get complicated because she’s attracted to Matt, and not just for his handsome, movie-star good looks. As she gets to know the man behind the cowboy, their professional relationship becomes passionately personal. Could Matt’s next big role be as Geena’s leading man?

Available at all fine bookstore and at Harelquin online: https://www.harlequin.com/shop/books/9780373623525_in-the-cowboys-arms.html


How-to Tips for Aspiring Writers: Tips for those looking to get their work published/break into the industry.

  1. Be an artist and a businesswoman. A myth persists that all you need is a great book and minions will appear to do the rest. A great book is a good start, but it will languish unless it’s shepherded through the process by an educated author who’s studied the market and researched her publishing options.
  2. Turn in clean copy. Pleasing a reader is the goal, whether the reader is your mom, an agent, an editor, or the stranger who plunks down money for your book. No one deserves to be handed a story riddled with typos and grammatical mistakes unless that person has agreed, for love or money, to help you make it presentable.
  3. Study story structure. Commercial fiction is more than a random collection of scenes. Many excellent books have been written about story structure if you’re hazy on the concept. Even if you think you understand it, brush up on the topic to be sure.
  4. Read and analyze bestsellers in your sub-genre. They’ve achieved what you’re aiming for and it’s extremely valuable to figure out how and why they’re reaching a large audience. If the answer seems elusive, keep looking. It’s there.
  5. Find your tribe. Writing is a solitary pursuit, but with all the communication tools we have, you should be able to locate your peeps. If possible, funnel down from the general category of writer to fiction writer, then to romance fiction writer and finally to the specific sub-genre(s) you’re targeting. Building a network of those who write what you do will help with your plots, your sales and your sanity.


Vicki Lewis Thompson is a New York Times bestselling author who worked as a journalist and a high school English teacher before deciding to become a romance novelist. She was the recipient of Romance Writers of America’s Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award, and has published more than 150 books. Her love affair with cowboys started with the Lone Ranger, continued through Maverick, and took a turn south of the border with Zorro. Fortunately for her, she lives in the Arizona desert, where broad-shouldered, lean-hipped cowboys abound.  Visit her website at http://www.vickilewisthompson.com.

Cathy Gillen Thacker—Wanted Texas Daddy

All small towns have their secrets. No one in Laramie, Texas knows about Sage Lockhart’s friends-with-benefits relationship with the handsome cowboy, Nick Monroe. However, Sage wants something more from Nick—something that could change the very nature of their arrangement. She wants to have his baby.

Nick has always wanted to take things with Sage to the next level. Having a child wasn’t exactly what he had in mind, but it’s an adventure he can’t refuse. Of course, neither of them realized just how complicated things could get.

Now, with a baby on the way and all of their careful plans unraveling, Sage and Nick must face the one secret they’ve been hiding from themselves…and from each other.

Available at all fine bookstores and at Harlequin direct: https://www.harlequin.com/shop/books/9781488010774_wanted-texas-daddy.html



Here’s an intimate look at Cathy Gillen Thacker and her new book.

What was your favorite part about writing WANTED: TEXAS DADDY?

I loved having a pregnant heroine, and doting daddy-to-be.

What was challenging about writing this book?

I covered the entire pregnancy, from the first mention of having a child together, to bringing baby home from the hospital. A lot of ground to cover in 55,000 words!

How would you describe the relationship between Sage and Nick?

Committed. They started out as great friends, became lovers and then finally husband and wife.

How did you come up with their names? Do they mean anything specific?

Nick is a guy’s guy, so I wanted him to have a name that was both masculine and accessible. Sage is a popular girl’s name in the southwest—probably because the plant is both hardy and evergreen and beautifully blooming. Sage really blossoms in response to Nick’s love and attention.

When did you first realize that you wanted to be writer?

I started dreaming up stories when I was eleven-adding details to the story was how I put myself to sleep most nights. I got serious about putting words to page when my children were toddlers.

If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?


What else do you love to do besides writing?

Spend time with family. Garden, read, listen to music, watch TV and movies to feed my voracious appetite for ‘story’.

What is the biggest misconception about your genre?

That the books are silly, pointless, or easily created. A great love story stays with the reader long after the last page is read. Creating a memorable story is a lot of work!

What future projects are you working on?

I just started a new six book series about the heroes and heroines of fictional Laramie County.

Do you have any advice for new writers?

Finish the book. Taking the story from beginning all the way to the end teaches a writer more about craft, than anything else. Then, while trying to sell the first book, start another, and finish that, too!

About Cathy Gillen Thacker


CATHY GILLEN THACKER is a full-time wife, mother of three, and author who began writing stories during “nap time” when her children were toddlers. She wrote seven books as she taught herself how to be an author, and her eighth attempt was published in 1982. Since then, she has written and published more than 100 Harlequin novels. She and her husband resided in Texas for eighteen years and now make their home in North Carolina.  Her mysteries, romantic comedies, and family stories have made numerous appearances on bestseller lists, but her best reward is knowing one of her books made someone’s day a little brighter.




by Maia Chance



After her philandering husband died and left her penniless in Prohibition-era New York, Lola Woodby escaped with her Swedish cook to the only place she could―her deceased husband’s secret love nest in the middle of Manhattan. Her only comforts were chocolate cake, dime store detective novels, and the occasional highball (okay, maybe not so occasional). But rent came due and Lola and Berta were forced to accept the first job that came their way, leading them to set up shop as private detectives operating out of Alfie’s cramped love nest.

Now Lola and Berta are in danger of losing the business they’ve barely gotten off the ground―work is sparse and money is running out. So when a society matron offers them a job, they take it―even if it means sneaking into a slimming and exercise facility and consuming only water and health food until they can steal a diary from Grace Whiddle, a resident at the “health farm.” But barely a day in, Grace and her diary escape from the facility―and Grace’s future mother-in-law is found murdered on the premises. Lola and Berta are promptly fired. But before they can climb into Lola’s brown and white Duesenberg Model A and whiz off the health farm property, they find themselves with a new client and a new charge: to solve the murder of Grace’s future mother-in-law.

Teetotaled, Maia Chance’s sparkling new mystery will delight readers with its clever plotting, larger-than-life characters, and rich 1920s atmosphere.

Available at fine booksellers, including amazon.com: https://www.amazon.com/Teetotaled-Mystery-Discreet-Retrieval-Mysteries/dp/1250072212/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1477427681&sr=8-1&keywords=teetotaled+by+maia+chance



Do you have a favorite cocktail?

Oh yes! It’s a Prohibition-era one, too: The Last Word. 
It’s a tangy mix of gin, Chartreuse, maraschino liqueur, and lime juice.

What kind of research did you do for this book?

I did quite a lot for Teetotaled, 
particularly researching health farms. It turns out that the 20’s were rife with weird 
health crazes. I also researched Yankee Stadium, ballroom dancing venues, Swiss 
finishing schools, wedding dress shops, and Coney Island. For researching the fine 
details of the historical environment—for instance cars, clothes, and houses—I use 
images. I love Pinterest for this.

How did you come up with the idea of the “health farm”?

By imagining the absolute 
LAST place Lola and Berta would enjoy being 

Lola Woodby finds comfort in chocolate cake. What’s your favorite treat?

am right there with Lola on that one. Chocolate cake is great, but I prefer the 
unadulterated stuff.

If you could pick any decade to live in which one would you choose?

That’s an 
interesting question. We tend to think of past decades as more innocent than our own, but
I think human beings are always struggling with versions of the same problems. Researching Teetotaled, for example, I was reading about 1920s American politicians, 
and boy did they sound just like our contemporary politicians. But to answer your 
question, despite everything I’d say, if I could be a man, I’d pick the 1960s, but as a 
woman I’d choose the 21st

Do you have any special writing rituals?

I often write standing up, and I take frequent 
breaks to get up and do weird little exercises (maybe I belong in a health farm). Unless 
I’m working at the coffee shop, of course. Don’t want to look like “that crazy lady,” you 

‘What was the most difficult scene to write in Teetotaled?

I’m not sure about a particular 
scene—Teetotaled was a hoot to write—but I do struggle a little with making sure that the
 sidekick Berta doesn’t steal the show.

What do you find most endearing about Lola Woodby?

Lola gets set back and insulted 
quite a bit, and she just rolls with the punches.

What do you find least endearing about Lola Woodby?

Sometimes she doesn’t 
say what’s on her mind when it comes to her personal relationships, which leads to 

What book is on your nightstand right now?

The Big Fat Lie by Nina Teicholz. It’s the 
surprisingly intrigue-filled story of the demonization of dietary fat in the 20th
 century. Food history is one of my keen interests.

What’s in store next for the Discreet Retrieval Agency Mysteries?

I’m just finishing up 
book #3 in the series, Gin and Panic. It’s shaping up to be a doozy.





MAIA CHANCE writes historical mystery novels that are rife with absurd predicaments and romantic adventure. She is the author of the Fairy Tale Fatal series, The Discreet Retrieval Agency series and the Prohibition-era caper, Come Hell or Highball.  Her first mystery, Snow White Red-Handed, was a national bestseller. Maia lives in Seattle, where she shakes a killer martini, grows a mean radish, and bakes mocha bundts to die for. She is a Ph.D. candidate for English at the University of Washington.




by Tiffany Reisz


Trick…or wicked treat!

It was a devastating dirty trick—Joey Silvia just found out her boyfriend of two years is married. What. A. Dick. Joey knows her best chance to get over one guy is to get under another. Of course, heading home to her family’s remote cabin in Oregon poses some challenges in the “available men” department…until she discovers this cabin comes with its own hot handyman!

Holy crap, Chris Steffensen. When did her brother’s best friend turn into a hard-bodied pile of blond-bearded hotness? He’s the perfect Halloween treat—and a surprisingly dirty rebound guy. For a couple of weeks, anyway. Except that Chris has other ideas.


Tiffany’s Super Easy Shortbread Cookies

I have way too many fillings to eat a lot of candy around Halloween but that doesn’t mean I don’t indulge in seasonal sweets. I love making this super easy shortbread cookies and putting orange and black frosting on top to make them Halloweenie. By the way, Halloweenie is the correct adjective form of Halloween. Don’t even start with Halloweenish. That is absolutely incorrect and you will be denied a cookie if you use that silly word.

Tiffany’s Super Easy Shortbread Cookies

2 cups flour

½ cup powdered sugar

½ lb butter (gotta be butter, don’t use butter substitutes)

Vanilla frosting with orange and black food coloring

Step one – cream butter and sugar

Step two – add flour, mix really well

Step three – roll out and cut into shapes (pumpkin shapes are easy for these cookies)

Step four – Bake at 350 until light gold

Step five – Let cool

Step six – Smooth on the frosting and serve!




Tiffany Reisz


Tiffany Reisz is the author of the highly acclaimed series The Original Sinners. Slightly shameless, Tiffany dropped out of a conservative Southern seminary in order to pursue a career as a writer. This move, while possibly putting her eternal salvation in peril, has worked out better than she anticipated. She has five piercings, one tattoo and has been arrested only twice. When not under arrest, Tiffany writes erotica and erotic romance and is diligent in doing all her own research, and lives and writes by the erotica writer’s creed: it’s not erotica until someone gets hurt.
Follow Tiffany on Twitter or email her.


The Blacksheep’s Secret Child

by Cat Schield


A second chance with her son’s secret father!

Widow Savannah Caldwell faces the challenge of her life: begging Trent Caldwell—her former fling and late husband’s brother—to save the family’s ailing music business. That she’s still attracted to Trent makes things hard; that Trent is her son’s secret father makes things impossible!

Trent is fiercely proud of making his own fortune, despite his controlling father. And he’s always believed his brother got the girl who should have been Trent’s. Now he’ll have the family business, and his brother’s widow in the bargain. But will their romantic reunion be waylaid by Savannah’s shocking baby secret?

Available at all fine booksellers and at Harlequin online: http://www.harlequin.com/storeitem.html?iid=67446


A Special Drink Inspired by Her Book’s Club T

I love going out for happy hour with my friends and it seems each place we go has some sort of specialty drink. So naturally a Las Vegas nightclub like Club T’s is going to have a signature cocktail. Introducing the Teasetini. A delicious twist on an old favorite. Vodka, St. Germain, white cranberry and lime juice. Shaken with ice and strained into a martini glass. And enjoy.



Cat Schield lives in Minnesota with her daughter and 2 Burmese cats and a Doberman. Winner of the Romance Writers of America 2010 Golden Heart® for series contemporary romance, when she’s not writing sexy, romantic stories for Harlequin Desire, she can be found sailing with friends on the St. Croix River or more exotic locales like the Caribbean and Europe. Contact her at http://catschield.net


The Return of the Di Sione Wife

by Caitlin Crews


“I’ll have the earrings now. Or are there more hoops to jump through?”

Dario Di Sione should be feeling triumphant—he’s about to fulfill his grandfather’s wish and retrieve the precious earrings, but all he feels is fury. The beautiful lawyer handling the sale is the woman who betrayed him six years ago…his wife!

Discovering Anais has kept their child a secret makes Dario determined to be the father he never had. But Anais’s return to his side casts a new light on past events, and now it’s not just the child he wants to claim!

Book 3 of The Billionaire’s Legacy

Available at all fine bookstores and at Harlequin online: http://www.harlequin.com/storeitem.html?iid=67354



Part of The Return of the Di Sione Wife takes place on the island of Maui in beautiful Hawaii. I’m lucky enough to have been to Hawaii a few times, and one of the (many) things I love about it is the food! I’ve had to-die-for garlic shrimp and rice from food trucks pulled up near the ocean. I’ve had amazing ramen in tucked-away local spots in out-of-the-way places. I’ve eaten manapuas from 7-11s while driving around islands. I love loco moco, a traditional Hawaiian comfort food, and my husband and I have experimented with making our own version many, many times.

But my favorite Hawaiian food is undoubtedly pork. Slow-roasted, so-tender-you-might-cry pork. I can’t exactly roast a pig in my backyard (I wish!) so I’ve spent a long time looking for the right way to reproduce it here at home. And I finally found it!

Nom Nom Paleo’s slow cooker recipe is genius. Three or four ingredients, a slow cooker, and time. It might be the best pork I’ve ever eaten outside of Hawaii! http://nomnompaleo.com/post/10031990774/slow-cooker-kalua-pig

I can’t recommend it highly enough!


How-to Tips for Aspiring Writers: Tips for those looking to get their work published/break into the industry.

  1. Write your book.
  2. Finish it.

That’s actually the best advice I can give anyone. We live in a world of instant gratification. We are often frustrated that the moment we have an idea it doesn’t come to fruition. But books are not fast food. They take thought and time. And the thing about writing books is that there’s only one way to get better at it, and that’s writing more books. You actually don’t know if you can write a book until you do. And you learn things when you finish a book. You learn the difference between your vision and your abilities. You get comfortable with the distance between the two. You see the ways you could have gone further, or deeper, or the things you hit just right when you didn’t think you could. You surprise yourself. You learn and learn, because every book is a different mountain to climb. You can’t predict the climb, but the more mountains you get under your belt, the better you get at climbing, and the more confident you feel that you’ll make it to the top. This is important when you’re neck deep in a new book and are certain you’ll never finish.

Write and write and write. And finish. Then do it again.

What about once you finish?

The great news is that these days, the publishing industry is more wide open and accessible than ever before. If you wanted, you could upload your manuscript right this minute and boom, your book would be out there in the world. So the question aspiring authors should ask themselves is: what kind of publishing career do I want?

Study the alternatives. Look at what books you read and how the authors went about publishing them. Did they self-publish or traditionally publish? Do they have long careers? Do they have an agent? Are they still publishing in the same way as they were when they started? Why or why not? These days, you can not only look at the books, you can usually find the authors online, where many people speak quite freely about their publishing experiences. That can be helpful in making a determination about which path is best for you.

Know this: no one can tell your stories but you. There are no gatekeepers. If you want an instant audience and you don’t want to wait, go indie. If you want an agent and a New York print deal, pursue it and understand it might take some time to find the right combination of people who believe in you and your work and who think they can sell it. Learn as much as you can about the different markets and the kind of things you’ll be expected to do to succeed in each. Do you prefer to spend all your time writing while others take care of the details? Then indie is likely not for you. Do you chafe at the notion that others might make decisions that you might not love? Then traditional publishing is likely not a good fit.

Whatever you choose, remember this: publishing is a business. I know it feels personal because the thing you’re selling once lived in your head, but it’s not. Especially when it feels the most personal, in my experience. Remember that the market doesn’t owe you anything and that readers want one thing: a great read. If you can deliver that, I promise, you’ll find your audience.

Good luck!




Caitlin Crews discovered her first romance novel at the age of twelve and has since conducted a life-long love affair with romance novels, many of which she insists on keeping near her at all times. She currently lives in California, with her animator/comic book artist husband and their menagerie of ridiculous animals.




by Alan Black


Metal Boxes–At the Edge is the fourth book in Alan Black’s sci-fi series.

Ensign Stone’s goals were to make his way in the empire’s navy, make his family proud of him, and make love to his fiancée. No matter which way he turned, someone was conspiring against him. Disgraced and humiliated, he is court-martialed, discharged, and abandoned.

Accepting what he thinks is a lowly busy-work position on a beat up old family business space freighter travelling At the Edge of human space, he hopes to earn back the trust and respect he lost. The Empire’s political powers and his family have different goals. Stone faces humanity’s enemies in a do-or-die operation.

FREE sample chapter one at http://www.alanblackauthor.com

Amazon Author Page http://tinyurl.com/z9zkql3





ALAN BLACK is an independently published author of multiple genres. He is an award winning author with three #1 Amazon best selling SciFi novels. He says he has never met a good story he didn’t want to tell.

Black says of his work, “We want our readers amazed they missed sleep because they could not put down one of our books. We want our readers amazed we made them laugh on one page and cry on the next. We want to give our readers a pleasurable respite from the cares of the world for a few hours.”

“I have been writing novels since 1997 when I started ‘Eye on The Prize’. My writing tastes are as eclectic as my reading preferences. I admit that I love writing much more than editing and the whole publishing process. Marketing of my novels leaves me as baffled as the whole string theory thing.

I was born in central Kansas, but grew up in Gladstone, Missouri, graduating from Oak Park Senior High School and eventually earning a degree from Longview Community College. I spent most of my adult life in the Kansas City area (with the exception of a few years in the U.S. Air Force), but my wife and I now live in sunny Arizona. The dry desert air stimulates my creativity more than the juicy air in Missouri (pronounced here as ‘misery’).

I am pretty sure my desire to write started in the second grade. I was given an assignment to write a short story about Greek mythology. My teacher took the time to call my parents. Although neither Dad or Mom remember the incident, it had an impact on me eventually leading me to finally write (and most importantly finish) my first manuscript. It took two years to complete ‘Eye on The Prize.’ I have gotten faster since then, completing the last manuscript in three weeks.”



by Jacqueline Simon Gunn

Why does love turn to murder? Jacqueline Simon Gunn is not your average thriller writer. Simon Gunn received her Doctorate of Psychology in Clinical Psychology backed by years of working firsthand with the criminally insane at Bellevue hospital.

Simon Gunn explores catathymia, or passionate homicide, one of the most paradoxical crimes, in Circle of Trust, book two in the Close Enough to Kill Series.

Simon Gunn provides an unflinching look into the mind of a murderer, bringing her expertise in the field of psychology to the mix. Simon Gunn’s interest in the intricacies of the mind and how people unravel makes Circle of Trust a torrid and terrifying thriller.

Radio psychologist Jacob Temple is found murdered in a most gruesome manner.  Soon after, the story of Jacob’s life unfolds as told by those closest to him, particularly his ex-girlfriend Jane Light, who has been stalking Jacob since the day he left her, 19 years ago.

Detectives Poole and Gibbs are assigned to Temple’s murder case with Kadee Carlisle, who happens to be mourning the murder of her boyfriend. As Kadee gets deeper into the case, she struggles with conflicted feelings about her past and present and the disturbing parallels to the Temple case begin to surface.

As the hunt for the killer ensues, a tragic love story and a plan for vengeance unfold. As the fine line between facts and deception and passion and obsession blur, an important lesson is made clear: Sometimes the closer you are to the truth, the harder it is to see.

Available from all fine bookstores including Amazon.com.


Q&A with Jacqueline Simon Gunn, author of CIRCLE OF TRUST

Can you explain what the psychology term “catathymia” means and why you chose 
to focus on this in your Close Enough to Kill series?

Catathymia is a psychodynamic process first explained by Frederic Wertham in 1937 to describe 
otherwise unexplainable explosions of violence, where there is a buildup of psychological tension 
prior to the murder. Instead of understanding the distress as internal, the individual blames 
another person. After a period of holding in seething emotions, the individual decides that their 
only resolve is to eliminate this other person. The tension becomes uncontainable, violent 
fantasies and obsessions consume him/her; the violent act becomes the only means of reducing 
the psychic distress. The tension abates following the explosive outburst (murder) and 
perpetrators report feeling relief.

The theory was later expanded upon by other forensic theorists. One of the leaders in forensic 
psychology, J. Reid Meloy, used the cycle of catathymia to explain obsession, stalking and 
murderous acts toward someone the person has an attachment to. From this perspective, 
catathymia is a violent act resulting from some sort of rupture (real or perceived) within the 
relationship, and the victim is someone the perpetrator knows and feels attached to. In many 
cases, it is someone with whom the perpetrator had an intimate relationship with.

Criminality is a nebulous area. When trying to understand criminal acts, such as stalking and 
homicide, we need to look at underlying motivations. Murder is an act, nothing more. That is, the
action itself really explains nothing psychologically speaking. If we want to understand why 
people commit murderers, we need to look at motivations. Catathymia explains motivation for 
intimate kills, murders committed against someone who is Close Enough to Kill, I have 
been researching this for over twenty years, and remain fascinated. I decided to explore this 
through fiction to see what I could learn. And learn I did.

Who are some of your favorite thriller writers?

Gillian Flynn and Alison Gaylin are my two favorite thriller writers. They both focus on 
characterization. Although their plots are taut, the characters are multi-dimensional and drive the 
story. I love that! I also love Stephen King, although he crosses genres. His characterizations are brilliant. I feel like I know each one of them intimately.

You’ve said that you allowed the characters in this series to drive the story. What was 
that experience like? 

Wanting to better understand motivations for intimate murders, I created characters, got into their
respective heads, allowed them to drive the narrative. As I shift character point of view, I hear a 
different voice, my mannerisms change, and my emotions shift to match what’s going on in their 
story. In this way, I am often unsure what’s going to happen. As the characters develop and I go 
deeper into their hearts and minds, their motivations, the story unfolds, surprising me, and 
sometimes, disturbing me, too. It helps me get to the answers I want about motivations: who the 
killer is, and who the next victim will be feels like a decision made by the characters, not me. 
This way, I have an intimate experience with a passion-driven killer and a privy look at 
motivations for murder.

Can you tell us more about your psychology background?

I have master’s degrees in forensic psychology and existential/phenomenological psychology, and 
my doctorate in clinical psychology with a specialization in forensics. I have over twenty years of
 clinical experience. I have worked in correctional facilities and have interviewed some high 
profile criminals, evaluated insanity plea acquittals and worked with inmates in individual therapy 
and group therapy. But I also work outside of the criminal justice system with psychotherapy 
patients. I was at the Karen Horney Clinic for ten years. Now I’m in private practice and spend 
the rest of my time writing, both fiction and non-fiction.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to start writing fiction?

My advice is not that original, but it is the truth: sit down and write every day, even if it’s only a 
page. A book will not write itself, and the practice of sitting down and writing every day is one 
that not only gets the words down, but also helps someone become a better writer. The second 
part of this is to not judge the first draft, just write like no one will ever read it.

Who is the most psychologically misunderstood character in literature?

Willy Loman. He is the epitome of the shattered American Dream. But there is a Willy Loman in 
all of us. The struggle to balance societal expectations of success versus one’s own, similar to 
Willy, is something I hear all the time from people. Willy embodies this dilemma, albeit, an 
extreme example. His inability to reconcile the two, results in a sad deterioration in his sense of 
self. Most people struggle with this to some degree, in my opinion, not because of individual 
psychology, but rather because of impositions of a society that values money and status above 
personal growth and meaning. Willy wasn’t psychologically disturbed, in the traditional sense. 
Instead, his decline is better understood as symptomatic of problems existing within the larger 
societal context.

What is the best writing advice that you’ve ever received?

The best advice would have to be to keep writing even when the draft is crappy, which it will be. 
Changes are made during rewriting once the story is down. This helped me finish my first novel.

Can you tell us about the panel you were on at ThrillerFest this year?

The Thrillerfest panel was called, Caffeine, Chocolate or Wine? Writers’ tricks to keep you motivated. 
 The discussion focused on the various techniques we use to keep ourselves motivated throughout the writing process. Writing book is not easy. Perseverance is vital. As I said before, 
the book isn’t going to write itself. So we all have to find ways that work of us.

All of us shared the importance of preserving our writers’ time and space, keeping to a schedule. 
Alcohol seemed to be the ‘flavor’ of choice when dealing with the inner voice of doubt that all 
writers have. Writing is exposing. Our inner selves are left open for inspection and judgment. 
This can slow down the process if we think about it too much. When in doubt, have a cocktail to 
quell the inner voice of uncertainty, it seems.

I actually use running to help me at all stages of the process. The commitment I learned from 
training for marathons taught me how to sit down every morning and write, no matter what. And 
when I feel discouraged, doubtful – wondering if I have a right to write, or anxious about the 
reviews that are coming, I run. Personally, I found the panel helpful. Hearing other writers, 
particularly those who have been at it longer than me, talk about the same dilemmas I struggle 
with, reassured me.

What is the most unexpected thing that you’ve learned after researching passionate 

The most unexpected is also perhaps the most disturbing: When it comes to murders driven by 
passion, the ability to predict criminality is poor. Meaning, many of these crimes are committed 
by individuals who have no history of abuse, no history of previous criminal activity, no 
substance abuse history. When we look for something, anything to make the motivation to kill 
make sense, it turns out to be complex and internal psychological reasons – things that aren’t 
obvious or quantifiable, rather than concrete environmental predictors. This begs the question 
Kadee, my protagonist, asks her professor in Circle of Trust: “Is anyone capable of murder?” His
 answer is “Yes.”

What are you working on next?

The third book in my Close Enough to Kill series is being edited. When it’s returned to me, I will
 do a final pass. I’m currently writing a series of novellas. Each one focuses on a character from 
the series. The first one is a story about Jacob Temple, the murder victim in Circle of Trust, who I
 fell in love with while writing the second two books in the series. The story takes place before his 
murder. It’s his side of the story, the story he couldn’t tell in the book because he was already 
dead – a tragic love story not for the faint of heart. The draft is done and I’ve sent it off for 
editing. The next one, which I have just started, is about Noah and Belle Donovan. Noah is the 
murder victim in the first book of the series, Circle of Betrayal. He has a complex and somewhat disturbing relationship with his mother, Belle. Readers have asked to hear more. So this novella 
will be a sort of prequel, exploring their relationship. The third one is a spinoff from the third 
book, Circle of Truth, and will be an extension on the murderer’s story. After that, I will return to 
a book I had started and then set aside to finish the series, another psychological thriller with love
 triangles and all kinds of twists. I’m more than halfway through, so the draft shouldn’t take too 
long to finish once I go back to it.




JACQUELINE SIMON GUNN is an esteemed clinical psychologist in Manhattan and a freelance writer. She received her M.A. in Phenomenological Psychology, another M.A. in Forensic Psychology and her Doctorate of Psychology in Clinical Psychology. She is the author of four non-fiction books, including co-authored, Bare: Psychotherapy Stripped, as well as many articles, both scholarly and mainstream. Circle of Trust is Gunn’s second work of fiction, and book two in her Close Enough to Kill trilogy. In addition to her clinical work and writing, she is an avid runner. Gunn is currently working on multiple writing projects, including the third book in her trilogy.






by Jacqueline Simon Gunn

376 pages; $14.95




The Sheikh’s Baby Scandal

by Carol Marinelli



Pregnant…by the playboy sheikh!

Playboy sheikh Kedah of Zazinia has loved every minute he’s spent earning his outrageous reputation! But about to claim the throne, and with a list of prospective brides being prepared, Kedah knows he must soon accept his royal duty…

A scorching night with his poised assistant, Felicia Hamilton, seems the perfect distraction—and her cool beauty masks a desire Kedah is hungering to ignite! But even Kedah isn’t prepared for the biggest scandal of all, when their one night together leaves Felicia pregnant with his baby!


Available at all fine bookstores and from Harlequin online here: http://www.harlequin.com/storeitem.html?iid=66009



Carol Marinelli was born in England to Scottish parents, then emigrated to Australia, where there are loads of Scottish and English people who did exactly the same, so she’s very at home there.
She lives in the outer suburbs of Melbourne—pretty much in her car, driving her three children to their various commitments.
Carol first tried to write for Harlequin Mills & Boon while doing her nursing training in London. It was merrily rejected and she was devastated. Rejection became a regular friend over the next few years and she amassed quite a collection. Still, as the years moved on the rejections became more detailed and instead of weeping over them and scorning them, she finally read them. Properly.
In 2000 her first romance was accepted for the Medical Romance line and she lived happily ever after. Well, that’s what she thought would happen but actually, no, it was then that the hard work really began!
Once published she discovered the Romance Writers of Australia—it would, she now knows, have been far easier on this journey to have discovered them earlier. Attending her first conference she realized that she wasn’t the only person who lived with a constant cinema happening in her head—in fact they were all THE SAME! Different but the same and many wonderful friendships were made.
Carol now writes for both the Medical Romance and Presents lines and loves them both.
One of her goals is to attend the Romance Writers of America conference with a few Romance Writers of Australia, which is a very nice goal to have.