Writers have active imaginations, but not everything is completely made-up. A little over two years ago, in early January, while I was working on my mystery novel, Winter Tears, about a French gendarme captain whose wife was expecting a baby, my husband got a phone call from his sister, telling him that their mother’s condition had taken a turn for the worse. He had to quickly pack a bag and drive from Missouri to Chicago. Half an hour later, he was on his way.

Their mother was dying of lung cancer.

I had to stay home. Had clothes in the washer and in the dryer and had no arrangements for our three cats. As he left, I was worried about everything–him driving six hours in winter, his mother suffering, his sister upset.

The day after my husband arrived in Chicago and got to the hospital, his mother passed away. He had to stay in Chicago for a couple weeks and help his sister with things, including the funeral. I wanted to go there to help, but by then a snow storm had hit and my husband said I shouldn’t chance it. So, I stayed home with our three cats and wrote day and night. With all this happening, my book changed directions a bit. Before long, my gendarme’s wife was not only expecting a baby, but was in the hospital in serious condition after an accident.

Shortly after my husband returned, I finished my book.

Five months later, after Winter Tears was published (by the way, it’s free right now on all Amazon websites, http://amzn.to/29plFf8), I was beginning work on another book. An unrelated romantic mystery novel. I knew I wanted that story to take place in a similar French town to the town in my Outsiders series. I decided on three main characters–a 26 year old American man, a 30 year old French woman, and an 84 year old French woman. Now, I had to come up with a plan that would bring these character together.

I was still grieving over my mother-and-law’s passing and I wanted to remember her in a way that would possibly help other people–by creating a character who was going through some of what she went through.

That’s how my character, Paulette, came to be. She’s the 84 year old French woman, but now she has a serious problem. She is dying of lung cancer, has no family and no one to help her. She needs a handyman. Keep in mind, Paulette is not my mother-in-law. Very little about her is like my mother-in-law, except in spirit. The character is more of a representation of our family’s grief.

If you’d like to read it, it’s on sale right now on Amazon U.S. for only 99 cents.


Twenty-six-year-old Joshua Clayton is on a lavish vacation in Paris with his parents, his gorgeous fiancé and her parents. He soon discovers a terrible betrayal, driving him to leave. Putting distance from them while he sorts through his emotions, he accepts a temporary job as handyman for an elderly woman, Paulette Lapierre, in a small French village.

Unfortunately, Paulette doesn’t tell him until he arrives that she’s dying and has hired him because she also needs a strong and reliable caregiver. Though he’s not happy being misled, he’s not ready to go home and deal with his troubles, and reluctantly agrees to do double duty—as caregiver and handyman—and stay with her until the end.

The job isn’t easy, there are age-and-cultural differences, and Paulette lives far outside town in a hilltop troglo cave home. But an unexpected friendship develops with the free-spirited retired dancer, and eventually new romance with a young semi-reclusive baker, Isabelle Bernot.

Only, as Josh gets to know Paulette better, he discovers she has secrets she’d hoped to take to her grave. As those secrets surface the three of them are inexorably drawn into an investigation that changes everything and everyone.