Happily married for thirteen years to loving (and supportive) husband, Steve, the two live in central Maryland along with Jamie (a chubby black and white tuxedo cat), and Shu-Shu (a willowy tortoiseshell cat). On the weekends, Jan and Steve comb the nearby countryside in search of the perfect ice cream flavor.
A terribly distressing occurrence happened in August of 2009. I turned fifty. The big 50. Somehow, that hit me hard. I had always wanted to write a novel—I had been writing something most of my life—so I figured if I was ever going to start, the time was now.
A year or two before that, I had spent a gloriously inspirational week writing the first chapter of a Christian romance. When November rolled around, I joined millions of other would-be writers in a nearby Na-No-Wri-Mo group (National Novel Writing Month - http://nanowrimo.org/). Figuring I already had a head start (okay, I cheated a little) I committed to doing my best. I didn’t make it anywhere near fifty thousand words, but I did have close to thirty thousand at the end of the month and I was hooked.
Love, Lies, and Fireflies took me two years to write, three years to revise, and two years to find a publisher, but I did it because I kept at it. And in the meantime, while I was waiting, I wrote two more novels which happened to be published before this one. It’s true that if you want to write, if God has called you to write, just keep writing. Go to conferences, join a writers group, help others in whatever way you can to further their careers, and hang on.
I’m up to five novels now with three more coming out in 2017, but LLF is sort of my baby. I modeled the heroine, in part, after a younger me, the hero is quite a bit like my husband, and I even sneaked my dad in there, too. I had a slew of much-needed help with this one, (it truly does take a village to write a book) and I learned as I went.
LLF is special to me too because, although it is chiefly a romance, there are suspenseful elements and a controlling bully romping through the pages. Emotional abuse is no joke and it is my prayer that women in the same boat will find the strength to follow God’s leading. There is healing and hope, and God is holding your hand whether you always know it or not.
Didi was halfway to her destination when she caught the glint of headlights in the rearview mirror. Maybe it was a trick of the light from the street lamps. Maybe she was seeing things. Maybe she was too keyed up and her mind was playing tricks on her. Or maybe…a glossy black sports car followed her, tailing her every move.
And maybe the driver was Kevin.
Dread flooded her senses. Wrenching the steering wheel, she turned right at the next street. So did the car behind her, and now she was sure. She sped up and made another right. The polished black sports car followed suit.
Maybe now was a good time to panic. Despite the hammering rain, she tore through the streets of Airy Ridge, hydroplaning on the watery pavement, trying her best to lose him. She imagined him smirking at her as he kept up with ease, and the thought both angered and frightened her. An Italian sports car beat a compact car every time.
She’d never make it to the police station. Her fevered brain came up with a new plan.
Leaving the side streets, she made a quick left, a hard right, and a headlong dash toward the woods at the edge of town. Now that she’d gone this far, there was no turning back. Didi veered left down Deer Hollow Road. She had no other option.
She hoped with all her heart Kevin wouldn’t risk getting his precious car dinged and defiled on the steep, slick gravel road, but to her dismay, he followed ever closer. A jagged streak of lightning strobed through the sky, and Didi glimpsed his grinning face in the mirror. The man Didi had once thought she loved was enjoying the chase.
She was going way too fast, but she didn’t have a choice. Didi hit the gas and sped on. Sliding down the steep hill, she steered the car as if her life depended on it, slamming into ruts, dips, and potholes. She narrowly missed the ditch on the right side of the road, swerved around the ancient oak on the left, and kept moving.
As she rounded the next curve in the road, she lost control of the car and sideswiped a giant walnut tree, crumpling the driver’s side door. Still, she kept going. For a split second, the Italian job seemed to slow, but it was only an illusion. Instead, at the end of the bend, Kevin was right on her bumper, inching closer, closer, closer. He flashed his lights and honked his horn as if this were all a joke. Keeping up the pressure, Kevin sped up and slowed down, teasing her, thrusting and lunging, fencing with her but never quite hitting her. Frightened out of her mind, Didi punched the gas pedal, the car nearly flying over a rise. On the other side of the hill, the old compact car slipped down the incline, slithering straight toward the swollen stream.
Didi shrieked in terror. The one-lane bridge was out. She had nowhere to go but down.
“Lord Jesus, help me!” She stamped hard on the brake. The little red car spun on its wheels, wet rocks skittering beneath her as she continued her relentless rollercoaster ride toward the creek.
The car slipped sideways on the muddy mess of a road, skating to the left until it came to an abrupt halt. Amazingly, the front bumper caught on the low branches of an old willow tree, the roots like woody fingers holding both car and riverbank in its grip. Thank God for the tree. Torrents of river water lapped at the tires, but the car held tight. With the front of her car facing upstream and one rear wheel resting on the ledge where the bridge used to be, Didi cringed at the sight of the raging creek rushing past. Chest heaving, she held the steering wheel in an iron grip, afraid to move a muscle.
The battered car shuddered and shifted slightly, the weight of the vehicle threatening to collapse the sodden bank of the stream. In the heavy, driving rain, with the passenger-side wheels barely resting on the edge of the bank, Didi unclasped her seatbelt and reached for her door handle.
She had to get out. There was no time to lose.
Didi pounded on the handle, shoving frantically, but the dented door refused to budge. The side of the car was more damaged than she’d thought. The only way out was through the window, but it would only drop a few inches.
Shuddering, she glanced up to see lights shining in her eyes. Headlights.
She strained for a glimpse of his face through the twin high beams. Lifting her head high, she sighted the man who’d killed her dreams. Was he intent on killing her?
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