Friday, November 28, 2014

Weekend Blog: The Inside Scoop on Not Quite Zen

The winners of Hazardous Hideaway are Bobbi Kinion, Linda Romer, and Debby. Congrats!

(Don't miss the giveaway at the end of the post!)

Blurb: Therapy dog trainer and hospice aide Harmony Hastings takes a much needed Zen vacation only to return to sheer chaos at the Silver Sunset Senior Community. Who is the new gorgeous, young doctor and why has old Doc Barlow disappeared? Why are residents being harmed? Can Harmony keep her chakras in balance long enough to figure out the mystery before one of the baby boomers ends up dead? Is the mysterious doctor the guilty party, or is he only guilty of giving Harmony a terminal case of love?

How It Began: Not Quite Zen began with the idea that no matter how hard you try to be healthy, it doesn’t always work out as planned. This lesson came from personal experience.

When I began plotting, there were a number of home evasion stories in the news. Little did I know while writing the story that one of my own family members would actually experience such a terrifying event.

This book is loaded with plot and probably more true to a mystery story than any of my other books. Think witness protection, street gangs, attempted murder, secrets, disguises, accidents, love triangles, therapy dogs, multiple mysteries, car accidents, home invasion, undercover work, escaping dogs, and poisonings. Oh, and I guess there's romance in it too.

Premise: With each of my books, I always have a message in mind.  In Not Quite Zen the message is: Live for the moment!

Thanksgiving—a time of gratitude for family and friends. A time to reflect on personal growth during the changing of the seasons. A time to give thanks for all the many blessings and the ample beauty surrounding us.

Harmony took a deep breath, relishing traditions.

She had the next two days off but had to work the weekend. Every year, the staff swapped which two days they’d work of the four given for the holiday. She didn’t mind. Holidays proved pleasant times at the community. Seniors had a way of forgetting their problems, their pains and their struggles to enjoy the festiveness of the time of year.

“Princess, I’ve been meaning to talk to you,” Gramps said, bustling around the kitchen.

She shoveled up another scoop of dog food and filled Sarge’s dish. “Be right there.”

The savory smells of Gramps’ roasted turkey and chestnut gravy made her appreciate not being a dog. Sarge looked at her with sad, droopy eyes.

“Sorry, big guy. As much as I’d like to give you some, turkey just doesn’t agree with your digestive system.” She headed into the bathroom, washed up and then scurried to the kitchen. She grabbed two fancy gold-rimmed glasses from the cupboard and placed them by each place setting. “Dinner smells as wonderful as ever, Gramps. How come you didn’t invite some of your friends?” she asked.

“I’ve been meaning to talk to you, princess.” Gramps stopped stirring the gravy.

“You know I enjoy your friends, but I don’t think we’ve had a Thanksgiving alone in years. This is nice.” She pulled her pumpkin pie and pecan pie out of the refrigerator and set them on the counter to return to room temperature.

“About that,” Gramps said with a sigh.

Ding-dong. Ding-dong.

Gramps dropped the spoon into the boiling gravy. “Dagnabbit. The spoon. Will you fish it out? They’re here.”

“Who’s here?”

“I’ve been meaning to talk to you about that.” He bustled toward the door, limping on his arthritic knee.

“You’ve said that a million times lately, Gramps, but you never get around to telling me anything.”
Should she set more places at the table?

Harmony fished the spoon from the bottom of the saucepan and placed it in the sink. Turning, she caught sight of Milburn dressed in a celebratory orange and black sweater and dress slacks. A little shiver of excitement danced up her spine. He stepped forward, and Harmony noticed Doris Zillox hovering on his far side.

What on earth? Gramps hadn’t told her he’d invited anyone—especially not someone from Silver Sunset…or a woman. Gramps never did that. She wiped the surprise from her face and plastered on a smile.

“Harmony, come and greet Milburn and Doris,” Gramps said, reaching for Doris’s hand and clasping a little too long for Harmony’s liking.

What had gotten into him? Doris? She’d never known her grandfather to even mention any of the women at Silver Sunset by their given names, much less invite them over to the house. Harmony didn’t even know he knew Doris.

“Hello, Mrs. Zillox. Dr. Warrick. Happy Thanksgiving.”

They cheerfully returned her greeting.

“Princess, dinner is all ready for you,” Gramps said, heading to the front closet and pulling out his coat.

Harmony’s breath strangled in her throat. “But…”

You’re leaving? Where? You’re leaving Doris and Milburn here with me and going to one of your friends for Thanksgiving? Gramps, no.

“The rolls are the only thing left warming in the oven,” he said, slipping on his coat and hat.

“I-I-I don’t understand.” Her vision swam.

“Doris has invited me to spend Thanksgiving with her and her family, princess. Milburn didn’t have anywhere else to go, so I invited him to have dinner with you since we had so much food.”

“Dr. Warrick? Thanksgiving? Food?” She sounded like a raving idiot. She had to pull herself together. But she couldn’t quite wrap her mind around Gramps going out with Doris Zillox and meeting the woman’s family on Thanksgiving. And, how could he leave his only granddaughter with Dr. Warrick—the possible, but highly doubtful, Silver Sunset Killer. And on a treasured family holiday! Air sputtered in her throat again.

She watched the sparkle in her grandfather’s eye as he gazed at Doris.

Gramps kissed Harmony on the cheek. “Enjoy the meal. I’ll be back for turkey sandwiches late tonight.” He guided Doris out the door.

Harmony stared after them, completely shaken by the turn of events. “Well, that was a surprise.”

“You didn’t know about this?” Milburn questioned.

“Well, no, actually. Gramps kept saying there was something he wanted to talk to me about, but we never got the chance.”

“Do you want me to leave? I’m sure I could find a Denny’s in Park City.”

“Uh…no. No Denny’s in Park City.”

He headed for his coat on the back of the couch.

“No. Please don’t go. I’m sorry. I’m just flabbergasted, that’s all. I didn’t know Gramps had even met Mrs. Zillox, let alone had been…” She gulped. “Dating her.”

“So you didn’t know they’ve been going out together for the last three months?”

Her knees wobbled. “Th-th-three months? Gramps and Doris Zillox?” She reached for her stomach. “I had no idea.” Surprise bulged her eyes.

Review: Heart pounding romance and nail biting mystery comes together to make one of the most entertaining and fun books you will ever read!

The romance itself was sweet and who wouldn't love a handsome doctor, but the mystery gives this story the spice that will have readers anxiously turning the pages to find out what happens next.

The characters were the kind you love to learn about and have you thinking about them long after the story is over. Harmony is a sweet woman, but also knows how to take care of herself. She is a strong independent woman that I think many readers such as myself can relate to. The doctor is charmingly mysterious and adds to the mystery and suspense of the story while giving it just the right amount of romance. I highly recommend this fun new read that will bring you hours of enjoyment. 5/5 Stars, Katie Cody

Giveaway:  I will select 2 winners for a PDF copy of Not Quite Zen.
Like my Amazon page and then leave a comment.  If you don’t leave your email, please check back here for the winners by next Friday.

Cindy A. Christiansen
Sweet Romance, Humor, Suspense...and Dogs!
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  1. already liked amazon. this looks like an awesome story. I can't wait to read it. It looks fun and Iove those kind of books.

    1. Hello, Hope you had a wonderful, tasty Thanksgiving and are chillin' for the weekend. Thanks for liking my amazon page and for stopping by.


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