Please help me welcome guest author Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy, as she takes over Labelle Books for the day.
One of the questions I often field both here in the real world and out in cyber space is where do I get my ideas. Although it seems like it would be an easy question to answer it isn't always because all ideas don't begin the same. Some of my story ideas spring into my mind almost full blown begging to be written. Others begin as a small seed that must be planted in my imagination, tended and allowed to grow. Sometimes I can trace the origin of one of my stories to a specific idea or thought and sometimes I really don't recall just what spark ignited the creative fire.
When I sat down to write what became Witness Protection Program, my new novel that debuted on Monday from Rebel Ink Press, I had just written another novel that won't be out until sometime next spring, Miss Good Samaritan. That novel deals with an undercover officer in Tulsa who is wounded but doesn't want to blow his cover and when a young woman who knows him only from church happens to come along, he begs her to help him. So when I began Witness Protection Program my mind remained tuned toward law enforcement officers and covers. So when I began my next work, I could envision a young woman as part of the Federal witness protection program who is caught in gunplay at a discount store. When she attempts to exit to safety, a federal marshal grabs her and she soon learns that her new life just ended. When she's whisked away to a rural safe house, she has no idea what will happen next.
So I wrote back to back novels that are very different but share a few common denomenators. The funny thing is that although I wrote Miss Good Samaritan first, it will appear months after Witness Protection Program that followed in. One of the many things I've learned since making the leap from writer to author is that the book sold first may not be the first published. The first novel I signed a contract with a publisher actually became my sixth novel and when what work comes out is up to the publisher, not me.
A lot of different elements figured into this particular novel. The farm where the safe house is located is based on a farm that once belonged to one of my dad's friends, a place I visited often as a small child. The setting in Southern Arkansas is a place that I love and find very beautiful. Kendra/ Deborah's career in radio is based, in part, upon my own years spent in broadcasting. Like a recipe, however, a novel has many ingredients and sometimes, if one's cooking skills are good enough, you can add a little extra spice even if you don't really know why.
Here's the blurb for my just released Witness Protection Program:
When a routine trip to the local discount store turns into a gunfight, Kendra Driscoll must face the fact that her witness protection cover is blown and she's in federal custody until further arrangements can be made. Tucked away in a safe house in southern Arkansas, Kendra reverts to being Deborah Kincaid, for now.
When Timothy Campbell dodges bullets and throws Kendra Driscoll into his van, he knows better than to mix business with pleasure. Witnesses are off limits. Period. So why is it then that Cam finds himself impossibly drawn to the woman he's charged to protect?
As Kendra gets to know Cam, she realizes he isn't as unyielding as he looks. Underneath his gruff exterior, Deborah finds a kind, sensitive man and soon, she realizes she's falling in love. And when events turn ugly and Cam suffers a life-threatening injury, it's up to Deborah to face her enemies and deal with the danger for the last time.
And an excerpt from their first meeting:
"Don't scream," a male voice whispered in her ear. Whoever he might be, he was behind her and she couldn't see him at all. However, he smelled of Irish Spring soap and peppermints. "Take my hand."
She tried to ask why but with his hand blocking her mouth, she couldn't speak so she shook her head to refuse. He snatched her left hand with his free one and jerked hard enough she had to move with him or be drug behind. He took his hand off her mouth but she didn't dare make a sound or speak. In a crouched position, he maneuvered her past three more open freezer cases and then went wide to the left through a door that led back into the storerooms. Once that door swung closed behind them, he stood upright and faced her.
He loomed tall above her, six feet or better, lean and lithe. His blue jeans fit his chiseled body like an outer skin and his plaid flannel shirt looked cozy. On his hip, a Smith and Wesson .40 caliber pistol fit into a nylon holster attached to his wide leather belt. His black eyes bored into hers, vital and filled with strength. The solemn expression on his face seemed carved from solid granite. He looked capable and very dangerous. In fact, he reminded Kendra of a leopard she watched once at the zoo, graceful and somehow beautiful, yet deadly.
Out in the store somewhere, more gunfire roared and screams followed, but he didn't flinch or react. She cringed with each blast, fighting the desire to drop on the floor. If he hadn't held her in his grasp, she'd dropped, too. His height and lethal manner intimidated her but not enough that she didn't attempt to break free.
"Let me go!" She twisted her hand, struggling to work loose.
He snorted and gripped harder.
"Relax. I'll get you out of here safe and sound. Just stay calm and be quiet."
Her anger kindled, his bossy ways made her old-fashioned mad and without thought, she spoke, her voice louder than it should be.
"I'm not going with you. I won't be a hostage," Kendra told him, her voice high-pitched and nasal. "Leave me alone and go turn yourself into the authorities!"
He laughed aloud as he reached into his front jeans pocket pulling out something he thrust in her direction; a gold badge formed with an outer circle around a five-pointed star. "United States Marshall" was etched around the rim.
"Maybe I should've introduced myself," he said with what might've been a smile on a less serious face. "I'm Timothy Campbell, United States Marshall."
The reality sank in with speed. He wasn't one of the shooters, but a law enforcement officer and Kendra wondered why he wasn't out there, taking down the suspect and saving lives in plural instead of just saving her own. Questions flooded her brain so fast she didn't know where to begin or what to ask. He must've read the curiousity in her eyes because he pulled her forward toward a back exit off the storeroom.
"Ask me whatever you want later," Timothy Campbell said. "Right now, we need to move. Let's go."
He towed her outside with speed and into a waiting black Humvee where he opened the rear passenger door, shoved her inside and followed her onto the seat. Before Kendra could assimilate anything more, the vehicle pulled out and reached the busy highway within seconds. With the discount store fast vanishing behind them, she realized her car remained in the parking lot but at least her purse still dangled from her shoulder. Numerous emergency vehicles raced past them headed for the scene. She counted three ambulances, two fire trucks, multiple squad cars and more.
"Wait!" She said, fumblingfor the seat belts. "Where are we going? I need to cover this breaking story. Shouldn't you be back there, helping people or something?"
He turned to her, his face still impassive.
"We're going somewhere safe and the only place I need to be is here with you."
Anger flared, stronger than fear. Her routine grocery-shopping trip halted with violence forced her to take cover, and now Kendra found herself in a black SUV hurling down the highway at breakneck speed. She'd rather be anywhere else, even still crouched behind the freezer case in fact. Where she should be was outside the store with a press pass and a microphone in her hand.
"I don't want to be here," Kendra snapped. "Take me back to the store, please. I'm the news director for the local radio station. I need to cover this story."
The Marshall shook his head.
"No you don't. Do you know why the shooter was at that location?"
She had no clue.
"Let me guess. Did they overcharge him? Not have what he wanted in stock? Or was it just the first place he found where he could go postal?"
Her sarcastic tone failed to get a rise but his reply struck her like a slap across the face.
"He wanted you Deborah. You're the target."
She caught her breath and held it, fear snaking through her body like live electricity. Her first response to hearing her name, the name her mother picked out for her twenty-seven years earlier, was to run. If she could've leaped from the fast moving vehicle, she'd done it but since she couldn't, she tried to bluff it out instead.
"Who's Deborah? My name is Kendra Lou Driskell."
He focused his full-strength stare on her and made eye contact.
"That might get you brownie points but it won't cut the ice with me. If you say it to the wrong individual, you might end up in the county morgue. You and I both know you're Deborah Kay Kincaid and that you've been in the federal witness protection program for two and a half years."
His harsh tone cut through her feeble bravado like a steak knife through a tender T-bone steak. His voice had a no-nonsense quality that refuted any possible arguement but she heard a kindness beneath the gruff words that steadied her long enough she was able to sit back and exhale.
"How do you know they were after me?"Kendra asked, wondering if she could just be Deborah again sonce her cover was now transparent.
"You're watched, of course. We had a tip that proved to be correct," his voice remained even. "Everyone in the program is monitored. Didn't you realize that?"
"No, I didn't."
A chill crept up her spine as comprehension that someone kept track of her everyday, maybe each hour sank in, and her notion of hard-won privacy was just an illusion. So was any real safety, she mused, if someone tracked her to Bargain Mart and started shooting. She wan't safe. Worse yet, she never had been.
Places to find me:
My Blog: http://leeannsontheimermurphywriterauthor.blogspot.com
My Website: http://leeannwriter.weebly.com
Facebook: Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy
Witness Protection Program is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, All Romance Ebooks, BookStrand.
It was great to have you today Lee Ann, congratulations on your new release. I really enjoyed that excerpt.
~Author Jennifer Labelle~