BY BRENDA NOVAK
Paradise in name only?
A religious cult has moved into what was once a ghost town--Paradise, Arizona. And their actions are cause for concern. One woman who escaped from the compound was nearly stoned to death. Another has gone missing altogether.
Private security contractor Nate Ferrentino is given the assignment of infiltrating the group. It’s a challenge he welcomes…until he learns that Rachel Jessop, one of his colleagues at Department 6, has been chosen to accompany him. Nate’s attracted to Rachel but because of their history, he prefers to keep his distance.
Problem is, they have to pretend to be married. Only couples can participate in certain rituals, which Nate and Rachel need to do if they’re going to pierce the veil of secrecy. But when they find proof that cult leader Ethan Wycliff is as twisted as they feared, they know they have to set aside their differences…or Ethan might take more lives. Maybe even theirs….
Most writers say they've had stories running around in their head since they can remember, but that wasn't the case for Brenda. She grew up thinking she didn't have a creative bone in her body. She considered herself "left-brained," with talents in science and mathematics, and even went to school for business.
It wasn't until she was 29 and married with three kids that she discovered writing — and if not for a difficult situation that prompted her to find a way to make money from home, she might not have started even then.
Brenda was a loan officer for a mortgage company when she caught her in-home daycare provider drugging her children with cough medicines and Tylenol to get them to sleep while she was gone. They'd been waking up several times in the night and she couldn't figure out why. Except for the baby, they were too old for that. But once she found the medicine in her baby's bottle, she suspected the baby-sitter had been doing this for several months.
No longer able to trust someone else with her children's well-being, Brenda quit her job to stay home with them — but her husband's business was failing and she needed to find some way to help him financially. That's when she decided to write a book.
It wasn't the "quick fix" the Novaks were hoping for. It took her five years to teach herself the craft and to finish her debut novel, Of Noble Birth, published in November 1999. But it introduced her to something she loves to do more than anything else. Shortly after she sold Of Noble Birth, she sold three books to Harlequin's Superromance line, the first of which, Expectations, came out in February 2000.
Now she has five children; three girls and two boys, and juggles her writing career with softball games and field trips, carpool runs and homework sessions, and trying to keep up with her active husband. Fortunately, her family is as involved in what she does as she is in their activities. Her husband or one of her daughters sometimes go to conferences with her, they put stamps on the postcards she sends to her mailing list when she has a new book come out, and they come to all her book signings.
Her oldest, Ashley, throws her backpack down when she gets home from school and immediately joins Brenda at her computer, wanting to hear the latest installment on her current work in progress. Ashley gives Brenda valuable feedback, and so does her husband, who hears the same pages when he comes home from work. Now, as a family, the Novaks look back on those hard times when Brenda was just starting out and are grateful that something so good came out of it.
Brenda loves to hear from fellow romance enthusiasts. You can contact her at P.O. Box 3781, Citrus Heights, CA, 95611 or via her web site at www.brendanovak.com.
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