‘Christmas On The Run’ Released Today!

Christmas on the Run released today! Pick up your copy from Amazon and Smashwords today!

Christmas on the Run by Louise BehielWhen Ramon Ramirez is found not guilty of first degree murder, Adelina Ramirez grabs their six year old daughter and leaves Atlanta, determined to keep him from taking Sadie to Brazil and keeping her there.

A bad snow storm on an almost-deserted road in Montana forces Lina to stay in Bandit Creek for Christmas. New friend Todd Black is bound to help the quiet woman and her child. He knows there’s more to her story than she’s saying, but it’s none of his business.

In the midst of Christmas preparations and a record snow storm, Ramon tracks her down. He doesn’t care about Lina but he wants his daughter and he’s going to take her.

With Todd at her side, Lina is forced to confront her worst fears. Together, they will face Ramon and forge a new future – a gift from her Christmas on the Run.

Read the Excerpt

‘Up the Creek Without A Saddle’ Released Today!

Up the Creek Without A Saddle released today! Pick up your copy from Amazon and Smashwords today!

It was a series of misunderstandings that lead Lily to this place of deceit. She thought she was all by herself when she gave in to a temper tantrum in the middle of a field of cattle near Bandit Creek, Montana. By the time she overcame the shock of finding an insanely handsome man was watching her, she found herself lying without ever intending to.

Now this kind man had come to believe she was poor and in desperate need of help, when in reality she could easily purchase the entire town of Bandit Creek with the money readily available in her chequing account. It was her family’s enormous wealth that had prompted Lily to head out west in the first place, to take some time away and decide if she really wanted to take her place in the corporation like everyone expected. Leaving all signs of her wealth behind her, Lily was doing just fine…until she stumbled into Jayce.

Not only were his disarming looks leaving Lily to blush like a schoolgirl, she quickly realized her family’s great fortune came at a cost to farm families just like his. And now she found herself creating an entire fabrication so that he wouldn’t discover she was actually his enemy. But it became more and more pressing to tell Jayce the truth, if Lily wanted the chance to get to know him better. Bracing herself, Lily finally came clean with the truth of her background. But she was unprepared for the long-held secret that Jayce had of his own.

Click here to read an excerpt.

‘Thief of Hearts’ Released Today!

Thief of Hearts released today! Pick up your copy from Amazon today!

Trying desperately to escape an abusive husband, Melissa Stacey drives until she reaches the town of Bandit Creek. She doesn’t know why she has stopped here, but as she sits looking at Lost Lake, she realizes that she too is lost. She has no family, no friends and no hope of ever escaping her cruel husband. Her hopelessness drives her to make a rash decision.

After being warned by Bandit Creek’s town drunk/prophet, depending on who you spoke to, Gabriel Waters rushed to save her. He didn’t know who she was but Old Jack told him he had to hurry or he’d be too late. He arrives at the shores of Lost Lake in time to see a woman disappear below the surface.

What happens next is a story of how two people, brought together by tragedy and fear, can find each other and solace in the discovery of true love. Love that can be found everywhere, even in Bandit Creek. After all everything happens in Bandit Creek.

Click here to read an excerpt.

Carla interviews Vivien Harben, author of ‘Thief of Hearts’

Hello, I’m Carla Roma. All you Bandit Creek fans hold on tight because we are racing towards our next release. Just like all the others that have preceded it, Vivien Harben’s book Thief of Hearts promises all the fun, spice and adventure we have come to love from all the Bandit Creek Books. Recently I had the opportunity to sit down with Vivien to have a quick chat about her book. Here’s what she had to say.

Carla: Hi Vivien, I’m so glad we have this chance to sit down and chat. Can we talk?

Vivien: Hey Carla, you know we can always talk. In fact getting me to talk is never our problem, it’s getting me to stop that is the challenge.

Carla: (laughing) Too right! Before we get into Thief of Hearts I wanted to ask you what made you want to write books?

Vivien: I have always wanted to write ever since my grandmother used to come and read us bedtime stories. I loved the pictures words evoke in your mind as you travel through any story. In fact I recently found one of my first books, written when I was 5…colored construction paper stapled together with lines of squiggles running neatly across the paper.

Carla: Sounds like a great read!! What was the story about?

Vivien: Well a princess of course!!! Then when I finally tried using letters I started writing fables, the one I finished was “Why Hippo was Green”.

Carla: And so why was Hippo Green?

Vivien: He rolled in the grass of course!!

Carla: Now about Thief of Hearts what can you tell me about where the idea came from to write it?

Vivien: I have always heard the saying “write what you know”. So some of this story comes from very personal experience. I myself was in, survived and overcame a very abusive relationship. It is always a challenge to overcome adversary but to come out the other side still open to and willing to risk loving someone again; well that is real life for me. I wanted something sweet to come out of something dark.

Carla: That is quite intense and remarkable that you can still think that way after what you’ve been through.

Vivien: We should never be defined by the dark hard times we may endure. Rather we should grow from them to try to make our outlook more positive than it was before.

Carla: So how come the hero comes from South Africa? Where’s the connection?

Vivien: I have family that lives there and every chance I get I go back to Africa because that continent draws me like no other. I think I’m still trying to find Harry the Green Hippo! When I can, I like to sneak Africa into my writing just because I love it so much, makes things a little more mysterious too.

Carla: Well you wrote and self-published another book as well. Was Africa in that one?

Vivien: No, Border Passions is an English historical romance. Africa didn’t really fit there. But Bandit Creek? That’s a different story, pardon the pun, isn’t it? After all EVERYTHING HAPPENS IN BANDIT CREEK.

Carla: It certainly does. So Vivien, thanks for your time. I know you have to get back to work.

Vivien: You’re welcome, Carla! It was nice chatting with you.

Carla: So readers, there it is. Our next installment in the Bandit Creek series is ready to roll. Hopefully you too can see the good come from amongst the ashes of something bad. Stay tuned for my next interview and I think we really know after all our books: Everything does happen in Bandit Creek!

Carla interviews Lauren Hawkeye, author of ‘Tempt Me Twice’

Hello, I’m Carla Roma and my latest Bandit Creek interview is with Lauren Hawkeye. I asked her if she needed to put down her knitting needles while we spoke, but she insisted that she could talk and knit at the same time. I can’t complain, since she’s making a scarf for me—and I need it, because brr, it’s starting to get a bit chilly out! Without further ado, here is my interview about Lauren’s erotic romance, TEMPT ME TWICE, available October 15, 2012.

Carla: Tell us a little bit about your book, Tempt Me Twice.

Lauren: Tempt Me Twice is a look at the things people do to make their relationships work. Callie and Austin have hit a rut in their marriage, and this story examines the consequences of temptation.

Carla: Have you always known that you would be a writer?

Lauren: I still don’t know what, exactly, made me pick up my pen for the first time. Looking back now, though, I think the only one who was surprised was me! As a child, I was always that weird kid with her nose stuck in a book while everyone else was on the monkey bars. And I always made up stories in my head about the characters in the books that I was reading—The Bobbsey Twins, Anne of Green Gables, Little House on the Prairie, and a little later, Little Women and Pride and Prejudice.

Carla: Some of the love scenes in this book were scorching. Is this typical of your books?

Lauren: It’s very typical. Right now I write erotica in both contemporary and historical settings, and the scenes in those books are comparable to what you’ll find in Tempt Me Twice. My paranormals are slightly less hot, but still steamy!

Carla: What does your mother think about the genre that you write?

Lauren: She’s very proud of me. That said, we have an agreement—never, ever will she read one of my books!

Carla: Some of your stories have a HFN instead of a HEA. Why is this?

Lauren: Sometimes when a story reaches its natural conclusion, I just don’t feel like it’s the time or the place for a proposal or a wedding. That’s not how life works. That said, I do try to give the reader some sense of conclusion.

Carla: I hear you have a busy year coming up in 2013. Can you tell us about it?

Lauren: I sure do—I have been so lucky these last few months. The very first book by my alter ego, Lauren Jameson, comes out New Year’s Eve, from NAL Heat. It’s called Surrender to Temptation and will be released in serial format, one section a week for six weeks. I am very excited about it! There will be at least two more books by LJ in 2013. Seduced by the Gladiator, the follow up to my first Avon Red book, will be out in January, and I also contributed a story to an Avon anthology featuring Sara Fawkes and Cathryn Fox, which will be out in June. Then from Harlequin Nocturne I have two Cravings novellas, and a duo vampire paperback with Rhyannon Byrd. Whew! Now all I have to do is write half of those things!

Carla: Whew, is right! And speaking of writing, what do you need to have when you sit down at your computer?

Lauren: Coffee is first and foremost—thought I’m trying to cut down on the caffeine, which means learning to like herbal tea as well. I like to have a candle burning, I’m not sure why. Then I need my computer glasses, my hand cream, eye drops, my Blistex… boy, I’m needy! But without these things I find it hard to focus.

Carla: So your books must be based off of your real life, right?

Lauren: (Shakes head). I get asked this a lot. Um, no, not so much. I do some research, and I read, but mostly I just have a very vivid imagination.

 Carla: Like most authors, you are an avid reader. Which Bandit Creek book has been your favorite so far?

Lauren: I loved Siren’s Song by D.L. Snow, and Bootleg my Heart by A.M. Westerling. Very different stories, but both quality reads! And of course we can’t forget Hard Candy, the erotic version of Jade Buchanan’s Candy Kisses duo. Talk about scorching!

Carla: Indeed! Thanks for the chat, Lauren!

Tempt Me Twice will be released on October 15 at Amazon and Smashwords.

Carla interviews Michelle Pierce, author of ‘Angel Fire’

Hello, I’m Carla Roma and I’m sitting in the living room of author Michelle Pierce, having had a delicious meal of Vietnamese noodles. I’m so full I might fall asleep, but I have a sexy fireman on the brain. *fans self*

Carla Roma: So Michelle, your book features a sexy fireman. What made you choose such a great alpha role for your hero, Jason?

Michelle Pierce: Mostly I knew that my story would feature lots of fire, and I needed a good, life-threatening but heroic job, something that would require the services of a guardian angel.

CR: I can see where that would be one of those professions! How do people get a guardian angel to begin with?

MP: In my story, they aren’t exactly guardian angels, more like fallen heroes themselves. They weren’t always off to save the day, but they die saving someone else. The way that someone is assigned a guardian angel further on is because you have some great destiny or heroic life that entails saving many hundreds of lives.

CR: So if they’re not guardian angels, what are they called?

MP: They’re called Shields. Keira is Jason’s Shield and she’s been working herself to the bone protecting him. She fell for him a long time ago, back in his army days, and now that he’s a firefighter, she’s determined that he won’t die on her watch.

CR: Does Jason know about Keira?

MP: He’s not supposed to know she exists, but when his destiny–and his death–draw near, he starts to see visions of her at perilous moments, which means their time is coming to an end.

CR: So, how’d he take that?

MP: Well, he thinks he’s going crazy, and his boss thinks he has PTSD from being in the military. He’s even gotten a psychiatrist and is taking medication for it, thanks to his visions.

CR: Something really awful must have happened for her to show herself.

MP: Someone is setting fires in Bandit Creek, and they’re not just little fires; they’re getting bigger and are becoming more dangerous, threatening people and their homes. Keira, realizing that Jason can see her, doesn’t trust that Jason will survive. She decides that she’s going to throw all caution to the wind, and reveal herself to him.

CR: Does this freak him out, or does he take it in stride?

MP: He totally freaks. And when she propositions him, to exchange her services for a good time in the sack, he grudgingly agrees to her help. He feels uncomfortable about taking advantage of her, but she assures him this isn’t the case, and he realizes that he’s been celibate for too long.

CR: Now that sounds hot!

MP: I was trying to make this a little hotter than I normally write, and I think I succeeded, and not just because there’s lots of fire.

CR: I think I could handle having a sexy firefighter come save me from a burning building. Know any?

MP: The one I know is taken. And I don’t think Keira would want to share.

CR: Too bad! But I can’t wait to read ANGEL FIRE! It’s out on October 1st, on Amazon and Smashwords.

MP: And just so all your readers know, up until Christmas, I’m donating a portion of my royalties from the book to the Calgary Firefighters Burn Treatment Society. (cfbts.org).

CR: Fantastic! Readers, you can read hot romance AND help out firefighters! Now that’s my kind of book.

Angel Fire will be released on October 1st at Amazon and Smashwords.

Carla Interviews Marlene Renee about My Heart Burns

Hello, I’m Carla Roma and my latest Bandit Creek interview is with Marlene Renee. I managed to slide bits of this interview into the scheduled walk breaks during our morning run. (Actually I gasped out the questions.) As we cooled down – and I thanked the Almighty the run was over – we completed the interview about Marlene’s Historical Western, MY HEART BURNS, available August 15, 2012.

Marlene: How are your legs?

Carla: <groaning> Firm as jelly. Bring on the comfy chairs and a stack of pancakes.

Marlene: <grins> Might be a good idea to stretch first.

Carla: Might be. <grins> You stretch. I’ll watch and ask questions. What possessed you to write an historical western?

Marlene: I’ve always been intrigued by that time. Devoured Zane Grey books as an adolescent and thoroughly enjoy movies like 3:10 TO YUMA.

Carla: But those are typical westerns. You’ve got the good guys, the bad guys and the protagonist is a male. In MY HEART BURNS you switch things up a bit.

Marlene: True. Mackenzie Delaney, my protagonist, is female. And she tends to follow her heart rather than listen to the dictates of society.

Carla: Like defying her father and striking out on her own. She’s a female doctor in 1887. What prompted you to incorporate that element into the story?

Marlene: I admire strong, independent women – trailblazers. I thought it would be fun to pick an unusual occupation for a woman during that era.

Carla: But in the untamed West? Mackenzie could have blazed her trail in her hometown Chicago instead.

Marlene: True. But leaving what she knows to head West is life-changing for her.

Carla: How life-changing?

Marlene: <cheeky grin> We could run again tomorrow. I’ll let you in on the ending after we’re done.

Carla: <Laughs> Thanks, I’ll pass on the run. But give me some hints about Mackenzie’s life-changing events.

Marlene: Well, everything she owns is stolen, a bandit wants to kill her, the Sheriff wants her to leave town . . .

Carla: <rubs her hands> Hmmm, a robbery, death threats – sounds intriguing. But the Sheriff wants her to leave? Isn’t he the love interest?

Marlene: He is. But they reconcile after she operates on his backside.

Carla: And? <pauses> You’re not going to give the full reveal are you?

Marlene: <looks up at the sky> I’d really enjoy another run tomorrow.

Carla: <laughs> Not going to happen. I’d really enjoy hearing about the Sheriff’s backside.

Marlene: You certainly can – just remember August 15.

Carla: I’m on it!

You can connect with Marlene on Facebook and on Twitter.

Carla Interviews Suzanne Stengl about The Ghost and Christie McFee

Hello everyone. I’m Carla Roma and I’m here with Suzanne Stengl, the author of THE GHOST AND CHRISTIE McFEE. I found Suzanne in the little village of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on the island of San Cristóbal in the Galapagos Islands. Or as they say here, Las Islas Galápagos.

We’re enjoying some ice tea in an open air restaurant beside the ocean and watching the sea lions lazing on the beach.

Carla: I’m glad to finally meet you, Suzanne. Do have time for a few questions about your upcoming release?

Suzanne: (pouring a pitcher of water over her head…) I have all the time in the world.

Carla: It’s really hot here, isn’t it?

Suzanne: It sure is. Forty-five degrees Celsius. In the shade.

Carla: Whoa. (fanning herself) What’s that in Fahrenheit?

Suzanne: You don’t want to know.

Carla: I understand you have some pretty authentic details about scuba diving in your book?

Suzanne: Yes, authentic. I’ve experienced every one of them.

Carla: I’m beginning to understand how hot it would be wearing a 7 mil neoprene wet suit in this heat. Do you really need a wet suit? The water doesn’t look that cold.

Suzanne: The water temperature here ranges from 64 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit at the surface, depending on the season. Of course it gets colder as you go deeper. So you need a wet suit.

Carla: If it’s as low as 64 degrees Fahrenheit, that’s similar to the temperature of Lost Lake, isn’t that right?

Suzanne: Yes, it’s similar. And in both places, in a wet suit, the temperature is perfect – once you’re underwater. It’s beautiful. (She looks out at the ocean.) There’s a wreck right here, in the harbor.

Carla: A wreck?

Suzanne: A sunken ship. It makes an artificial reef. A place for algae to grow and invertebrates like barnacles and corals and oysters. They provide food for the smaller fish, and then the smaller fish in turn provide food for the larger fish.

Carla: (fanning herself) I don’t know how the tourists can stand wearing a wet suit until they get in the water.

Suzanne: Most tourists live aboard boats and dive from them. Their sleeping quarters are air conditioned. (She dumps another pitcher of water over her head.)

Carla: Do the staff care about you doing that?

Suzanne: No, they’re used to me.

(The waitress brings another pitcher of water, and another pitcher of ice tea, and sets them on the table.)

Suzanne: Muchas gracias.

Carla: OK, let’s talk about your book. The opening scene in GHOST has your heroine on a dive boat. And she’s seasick. Have you personally experienced that?

Suzanne: I sure have. We did an 8-day tour aboard the Yolita here, in the inner islands, with a group of 16 passengers and 5 crew. Every one of the passengers got sick on the first day. Including Rolf.

Carla: Rolf is your husband?

Suzanne: Yes he is. He’s a traveler.

Carla: You’re quite the traveler too, I must say.

Suzanne: No, I’m not. I’m a tourist. There’s a difference.

Carla: Then, you’re quite the tourist.

Suzanne: I’m the tourist from hell. (She dumps more water over her head.) I should have known I’d get seasick, since I also get carsick, and bus sick, and avoid roller coasters. And like I said, everyone got sick for a day. But since I’m so good at being seasick, I did it for the full eight days.

Carla: That must have been horrible!

Suzanne: Parts of it. Parts of it were great. The food was excellent. Although it would have been even better if I hadn’t been so nauseous. And the passengers aboard the Yolita were incredible. Mostly young travelers, all interesting people. The sixteen of us would sit around the big table for meals. For the first few days, French was the default language and then we changed out a few passengers and the default language became English. We had Italian, Swiss, British, Swedes, one guy from California, and the French.

Every day we walked different trails on different islands and saw the endemic plants and animals. It was a mixed blessing, being on shore. No seasickness, but the heat was extreme. For me, anyway. Before I left the boat, I’d soak my shirt so I could be cool for a time. At the end of the hike, I’d walk into the ocean. I love my Tilley hat because I can dip it in the water and douse my head, when it isn’t possible to jump in completely.

Carla: When would it not be possible to jump in completely?

Suzanne: If it was a beach that the sea lions had claimed. They can be territorial.

Carla: (glances uneasily at the sea lion occupying the bench in front of her.)

Suzanne: I don’t know why they love those benches, but they do.

Carla: Okaaay . . . So, you slept aboard the boat? Weren’t you seasick while you were trying to sleep?

Suzanne: Yes. Some nights, when we were making a long open water crossing between islands, it was especially rough. Many of us would lie on the sundeck and watch the stars.

Carla: And that helped the seasickness?

Suzanne: Yes. The stars don’t move so they are a reference point. It’s like focusing on the horizon in the daylight. And it was fun, lying there with everyone. Kind of like a pajama party.

Carla: Hmmm. But with being so seasick, weren’t you afraid you’d be sick while you were diving? That couldn’t be good.

Suzanne: It’s a real leap of faith, for someone like me – a non-adventurous tourist – to sit in a zodiac fully loaded with dive tank, 7 mil neoprene and 13 pounds of weights. And feeling nauseous. If you throw up underwater, it’s important to keep the regulator in your mouth.

Carla: ewww.

Suzanne: Otherwise, you’ll drown. But I learned to deep breathe until we tipped over the side. And then all of a sudden, I was underwater and no longer rocking and I was out of the heat. My head was instantly clear and, for about 30 to 40 minutes, life was normal. At least, it was normal for my head and my stomach. The rest of the world was not normal.

Carla: Not normal?

Suzanne: No, it was amazing. Sea turtles, sea lions, penguins, sharks, rainbows of fish. And when we weren’t diving, we were snorkeling. Snorkeling with the little penguins is something I will remember forever.

Carla: Too bad you can’t forget about this heat. Can you pass me that water jug?

Suzanne: Sure. Help yourself.

Carla: (dumping water over her head) I’m glad it’s not this hot in Bandit Creek.

Suzanne: ¡Yo también!

Carla: Does your heroine Christie McFee get over her nausea and learn to love diving?

Suzanne: You’ve just read the first chapter so far, right?

Carla: Yes.

Suzanne: Then you’ll find out in chapter two. More ice tea?

Carla: Please!

THE GHOST AND CHRISTIE McFEE is available from Amazon and Smashwords on August 1, 2012.

You can connect with Suzanne at her Website, Facebook, and on Twitter.

Carla Interviews Sheila Seabrook about Wedding Fever

Hello. I’m Carla Roma and my latest interview is with Sheila Seabook, who I encountered while hiking up Sulphur Mountain in Banff, Alberta. The hike was a rigorous three hour climb, which—when we weren’t gasping for air—gave us lots of time to chat. At the top of the mountain, we ogled the breathtaking view, ate lunch in the mountaintop restaurant, and rode the gondola back to town. Right now, we’re in the Rimrock Resort Hotel main lounge, enjoying the view, the roaring fire, and a few glasses of the hotel’s specialty coffee. And I’m trying to get Sheila to tell me about her upcoming Bandit Creek book, WEDDING FEVER, which will be available July 15, 2012. Confidentially, it’s like I’ve asked her to strip naked in front of twelve million viewers.

Sheila: After our hike, my legs feel like rubber. How about yours, Carla?

Carla: <rubs thighs and calves, waves over waiter> We’re going to need another round or five to help us forget the pain.

Sheila: So tomorrow I’ll be nursing a sore head instead of a sore body?

Carla: <grins> Just go with it, honey. Forget I’m a journalist out to discover what deep, dark secrets you’re harboring.

Sheila: <channels innocence> I’m Miss-Goody-Two-Shoes, Carla. If you want deep dark secrets, check out the 30 Days of Secrets in Bandit Creek. Big secrets, huge secrets, superglue-your-mouth shut secrets.

Carla: Will I find your secrets there?

Sheila: I’m an open book.

Carla: Which brings us to the reason we’re here. WEDDING FEVER. Your upcoming Bandit Creek release. One of the first things I noticed about you is that you love to laugh. And you talk—a lotabout your family.

Sheila: Am I boring you yet?

Carla: Weelllllll…just kidding. <grins> I know you’re dying to tell me more about them, so what does your family have to do with your book?

Sheila: Family creeps into every one of my stories. I don’t plan it that way, but before I know it, these quirky family members show up and demand to be heard.

Carla: Is your family the inspiration for your characters?

Sheila: Sort of. The people in my family make me laugh, even when they’re driving me nuts. So I bring that aspect of family into my work.

Carla: Tell us about WEDDING FEVER.

Sheila: It started with BABY FEVER, my short story from the Bandit Creek Fool’s Gold Anthology. BABY FEVER is about a woman’s desire for a grandbaby and the story gave me the opportunity to introduce the heroine from WEDDING FEVER.

Carla: Finally we’re getting to the good stuff. Tell us about your heroine. Is there a hot hero, too?

Sheila: Liz Templeton is Bandit Creek’s star reporter and for almost sixteen years—ever since she divorced her husband—she’s been keeping a huge secret. In WEDDING FEVER, her ex-husband returns to town and he’s still a hunk. Her mom and ex-mother-in-law are planning a wedding that’s never going to happen, or so Liz swears. And Liz’s daughter…well, gosh, Carla, I guess I should shut up now. It’s kind of a secret.

Carla: Oh no you don’t, girlfriend. You can’t start, then stop like that. I promise, if you tell me the secret, I’ll superglue my own lips together. <yeah, right!>

Sheila: <leans forward, gestures Carla to meet her halfway> Liz’s daughter is a ghost. A teenage ghost with an attitude. Everyone who has read WEDDING FEVER has fallen in love with my little ghost.

Carla: <whispers back> Is this a paranormal story?

Sheila: No, it’s a humorous story about a family reunited. Although seriously, every time I read the ending, I cry. <glances at her watch and gets up> I have a date with my husband, so I really need to run.

Carla: <jumps to her feet> That’s it? You’re going to leave me hanging? Hey, I thought we were friends.

Sheila: We are, and that’s why you’re going to read my book and love it.

Carla: <plops back onto the chair, watches Sheila walk away, and motions the waiter over> I need another drink. This journalist crap isn’t as easy as it looks. Do yourself a favor, buddy. On July 15th, pick up WEDDING FEVER by Sheila Seabrook. You’re going to love it!

You can connect with Sheila at her Website, on Twitter, and on Facebook.

Carla Interviews CJ Carmichael about ‘The Gift’

Hi, I’m Carla Roma and welcome to Bandit Creek, a small town with a mountain of secrets. It’s no secret that I love mountains and when I was last in the Rocky Mountains of Alberta, I was about to hike the beautiful Larch Valley when I came across romance novelist C.J. Carmichael. Before I could whip out my copy of “Perfect Partners” (which I always carry with me) for an autograph, CJ was warning me that a grizzly momma and her cubs were ahead on the trail and I’d better turn back. CJ, I guess you saved my life that day.

CJ: Not at all Carla. Grizzly bears rarely attack hikers. But it’s better to give them a wide berth if possible. Especially when they have young ones to protect. You know how ornery mothers can get if they think their babies are in danger.

Carla: Hm, I think you’ve just maneuvered our conversation to the subject of the short story you wrote for Bandit Creek.

CJ: That wasn’t really my intention, but you’re right. The maternal instinct is a central theme of THE GIFT. My main character, Amy Gold, has loads of it. That’s part of the reason she makes such an excellent kindergarten teacher. Her house is full of art projects and gifts her students have given her over the years.

Carla: She sounds like a real sweetie. But maybe a little dull, too?

CJ: Actually, she’s pretty complicated, which makes her an interesting character. Also, she has a secret she’s been keeping from her boyfriend, Gray Cassidy. He’s a rancher and part-time deputy in Bandit Creek. Amy never expected their relationship to be a serious one, but now that it’s turning out that way, her big secret is causing a serious problem.

Carla: Your tag line for THE GIFT is: “when is the wrong thing, the right thing to do?” This has to be a trick question, right? I mean, it’s never right to do the wrong thing.

CJ:  I have to disagree. Real life is full of challenging dilemmas where no right answer is obvious. I always feel these moral dilemmas make for the most interesting fiction. Take the subject of euthanasia for instance. I sure understand the arguments for not making this legal. The potential for abuse is really scary. On the other hand, if I was suffering terribly, with no hope of recovery, I’d be pretty grateful if someone released me from my pain. Then again, if I were actually in this situation, maybe I’d feel differently. This is what I mean by no right or wrong answers. I could probably argue this topic (with myself!) for a long time without landing on the “right” answer.

Carla:  So THE GIFT is a story about euthanasia?

CJ: No! That was just an example.

Carla: So what is the moral dilemma your characters face in THE GIFT?

CJ: I don’t want to give away too much. Let’s just say that Amanda finds herself in a situation where the law requires her to do one thing, but her heart tells her to do the opposite. If you remember, her boyfriend is a deputy, so the pressure to follow the laws of the land are going to be pretty high.

Carla:  So you would characterize this as a pretty intense dramatic story?

CJ: Yes. But it’s also heartwarming and sweet. I wanted to give my readers the sort of Christmas story that leaves them feeling all warm and happy inside when they’re done. Tis the season, right?

Carla:  That it is. I hope you have a very Merry Christmas, CJ.

CJ: Same to you, Carla! And to all our Bandit Creek readers!

Carla:  Thanks for coming by today, CJ.  You can find out more about CJ Carmichael at www.cjcarmichael.com/. Her short story, THE GIFT will be available from Amazon.com and Smashwords.com on December 15, 2011. If you have questions or comments for me or for CJ, please leave a response and we’d be happy to reply!