Meet Madeline’s Aunt Sylvia

I’ve had the privilege of getting to know the people in The Chemical Attraction Series. Joe Roberts, Eva O’Sullivan, and Taylor Valentine are siblings by choice. They’ve told me their story, and I wrote about their amazing journey. These interviews take place just after their adventure in Chemical Reaction. [trivial spoilers/no plot spoilers]

Madeline’s Aunt Sylvia lost her husband, Herbert, a year ago. In Chemical Attraction, she had a hand in getting Joe and Madeline together. Then, in Chemical Reaction, her support for Joe helped him focus on finding Madeline. Today, Sylvia answers a few questions for the fans of the Series.

CHRISTINA: Whose idea was it to setup Madeline with Joe?

SYLVIA: Herbert and I had the idea years ago, but it wasn’t until recently we got them into the same room. At the local women’s group, Eva and I thought Joseph and Madeline would have chemistry. I think Joseph saw right through our plan. He was already smitten though. I’m happy everything worked out. I trust in the Lord’s plan for us. My sister, Allison, would have approved the match. My heart breaks that she’s not here to see how happy her daughter is. Family meant everything to Allison, too.

CHRISTINA: You met Joe before the start of Chemical Attraction. How’d you first meet?

SYLVIA: In The Kindred Code, I met Joseph about the time Eva and Matthew started dating. Herbert thought pairing Joseph with Madeline would be beneficial for both of them. He never said why; he’d just chuckle. Eva and I felt we carried out his wishes.

CHRISTINA: Is Joe as good of a dancer as he thinks he is?

SYLVIA: Yes, he is. I danced with him before Madeline did. I knew then that our plan would work.

CHRISTINA: Did Earl VanKampen have any chance of courting you?

SYLVIA: Good God, no! Herbert was my one and only. My focus is on my new family. Suddenly, I have sons, daughters, and grandchildren. I’m truly blessed. They keep my heart young.

CHRISTINA: Tell us about your husband, Herbert.

SYLVIA: Joseph reminds me of Herbert ─ charming with a sense of humor and a kind heart. Herbert retired after working thirty-five years at Haworth Manufacturing then he helped me at the B & B until he passed. We met at the local American Legion’s annual veteran’s dance. He was my Navy man. Herbert swept me off my feet. I miss dancing with him.

CHRISTINA: Everyone loves your chocolate chip cookies. Care to share the recipe?

SYLVIA: It’s Herbert’s mother’s recipe. Imogene would say, “Love makes them good, but lard makes them great.” That’s our secret, right? The women in my sewing circle have been after my recipe for years.

CHRISTINA: It’s our secret. Thanks for joining me today and giving the fans insight into your life. Learn more about Sylvia’s life in the standalone romantic thriller Chemical Attraction and its sequel, Chemical Reaction.

Advertisements

Meet Joe Roberts

I’ve had the privilege of getting to know the people in The Chemical Attraction Series. Joe Roberts, Eva O’Sullivan, and Taylor Valentine are siblings by choice. They’ve told me their story, and I wrote about their amazing journey. These interviews take place just after their adventure in Chemical Reaction. [trivial spoilers/no plot spoilers]

His charisma hiding his loneliness, Joe Roberts is searching for an instant chemistry with his soulmate, the one person who will love him for his faults not in spite of them.

In Their Rigid Rules, Joe meets his future boss and then in The Kindred Code, he sets his career with the FBI in motion. In Chemical Attraction, he and Madeline fall in love during that dangerous case. In Chemical Reaction, they struggle to make it work while apart. Today, Joe answers a few questions for the fans of the series.

 

CHRISTINA: How’d you know Madeline was your one?

JOE: When I read her case file, her brilliance intrigued me. Then, I saw her jogging down the street next to her Aunt Sylvia’s B & B and knew. Our kiss on the dance floor confirmed it for me, but getting her on board took a while.

CHRISTINA: Madeline’s a genius research scientist and you need to be right. Do you find her intimidating?

JOE: I grew up where I had to take charge. I was on my own and had to be right to survive. With Madeline, I love the challenge of raising myself up intellectually. Her intelligence is sexy.

CHRISTINA: Is there any correlation between Madeline and Taylor’s favorite scent of lilacs? Did that scent attract you to Madeline?

JOE: Wait. What? I, um, uh, I never thought about that. I’m not comfortable discussing it. Next question, please.

CHRISTINA: Okay, we’ll move on. How’s your relationship with Stuart now?

JOE: We’re good. He and Matt treat me like a little brother although they don’t pick on me as much as Eva does. I let her to make her feel superior. Don’t tell her I said that.

CHRISTINA: You and Sylvia have a flirty relationship. How’d that start?

JOE: Years ago, in The Kindred Code, I met Sylvia and Herbert Folkert when Director Bingaman and I stayed at their B & B. She asked me if I was single.  Apparently, she planned to set me up with Madeline way back then. I flirted back amused by her playful banter. The next day, Herbert gave me an inspiring piece of advice that I still hold on to. I’ll share it with Madeline later.

CHRISTINA: When did you get rid of your tank of a car and buy the Ford Taurus?

JOE: My eighty-eight Lincoln Continental sat at the Director’s cabin for most of the winter and wouldn’t start, so he had to have it towed. Before I answer about my Taurus, what did the Director say about it? I, uh, didn’t actually buy it. It’s revealed in The Kindred Code though.

CHRISTINA: How would you characterize your relationship with your boss?

JOE: Director Bingaman took a chance on me in Their Rigid Rules. I’m grateful for that. At the office, we stay professional. At family gatherings, Peter is my mentor and fills the father role with Eva and Taylor, too.

CHRISTINA: Thanks for joining me today and giving the fans insight into your life. Read more about Joe’s backstory in Their Rigid Rules and The Kindred Code. Then follow up with Joe and Madeline’s romance in Chemical Attraction and Chemical Reaction.

 

Meet David Connor from The Chemical Attraction Series

I’ve had the privilege of getting to know the people in The Chemical Attraction Series. Eva O’Sullivan, Taylor Valentine, and Joe Roberts are siblings by choice. They’ve told me their story, and I wrote about their amazing journey. These interviews take place just after their adventure in Chemical Reaction. [trivial spoilers/no plot spoilers]

David Connor, a high school senior and son of Matt Connor, has an integral part in the series. David brings Eva and his dad together in Their Rigid Rules and The Kindred Code, finds a body in the cornfield in Chemical Attraction, and then saves a young woman’s life in Chemical Reaction. Today, he answers a few questions for the fans of the Series.

CHRISTINA: What was it like growing up with a dad who’s the Chief of Police?

DAVID: Eva and my dad know everyone in our rural town. I still can’t get away with anything without them hearing about it. You wouldn’t believe how many adults are tattlers here. It’s also scary. I was eight the first time Dad was shot on duty and I had nightmares. To help me work through it, he let me stay with him in the hospital.

CHRISTINA: Let’s talk about Eva for a moment. You met her before your dad did. What drew you to her?

DAVID: Well, I met Aunt Taylor first. She introduced me to Eva who helped me with my homework during Dad’s stint in rehab. At the time, I thought third grade math was stupid. Anyway, I adored her from the beginning. She would play with the hair by my ear. It was comforting. I remember Dad and I were supposed to go to a movie after he and Eva first met. Dad quizzed me about her until we visited her again later that night. She once told me about The Kindred Code: Blood means nothing; Love is everything. My mom, Aunt Taylor, and Uncle Joe have a tight bond; I’m glad Dad and I are part of it.

CHRISTINA: Let’s discuss your Uncle Joe. You really didn’t know he worked for the FBI?

DAVID: I had no idea. I remember seeing Peter’s gun in the hospital cafeteria. That’s how I met Taylor. I didn’t put it together that Peter was in law enforcement. I thought Uncle Joe and Peter worked in a boring office…selling insurance or something equally dull. At family gatherings, they never talked about their jobs. Wow, what a bad assumption.

CHRISTINA: What do you want to do after you graduate from high school?

DAVID: Right now, I want to get through this last year. I’m hoping to graduate early then start college next spring. Growing up, I thought I’d go into law enforcement and be a cop like my dad, but now I’m interested in the FBI like my uncle.

CHRISTINA: Thanks for sharing your story, David. Stay safe and good luck in your senior year. To read more about David and his adventures, check out The Chemical Attraction Series.

Walking in Their Shoes: Andrea

Walking in Their Shoes - Andrea

As a writer, I’m constantly asking my fictional characters about their motives, backstories, hopes, dreams, and fears. Over the years, I’ve become more empathetic to the choices we make in our own lives. In the segment, Walking in Their Shoes, I’ll talk with real people in an effort to learn about their personal journeys. I’m sure I’ll find inspiration through their stories.

Today, I visit with Andrea. As a twenty-four-year-old artist, she works with many mediums. Not only is Andrea my daughter, she designed the cover art for my romance novel, The Garden Collection.

Christina: Hi sweetie, I mean, Andrea. Thanks for joining me today. When were you first interested in art?

Andrea: While I was in middle school, my grandma got me interested. She painted ceramic figurines, and I’d help her. Later, she gave me a bunch of acrylic paints and canvases, so I could paint at home.

Christina: Who has been the biggest influence on your love of art?

Andrea: During class, my middle school art teacher, Ms. Patterson, was sketching a landscape of a creek under a bridge. She asked me to help with the shading of the bridge’s bricks. It changed how I viewed art … to appreciate the details.

Christina: What types of artwork have you worked with? Which is your favorite?

Andrea: I’ve worked with acrylic, watercolor, and pencil on paper, canvas, shoes, wooden blocks, and logs. I’ve painted a motorcycle helmet and designed tattoos. I enjoy all types. However, on lazy days, I prefer pencil and paper … less cleanup.

Christina: What kinds of things bring you the most pleasure now?

Andrea: I love naps. In art though, I’ve found pencil drawings easiest and more laid back. My earlier work was primarily landscapes. Now, I like doing portraits.

Christina: Do you feel differently about yourself now from how you felt when you were younger? How?

Andrea: When I was younger, I didn’t like details so my work was impressionistic. Now, I work on finer detailed work with less shading … more positive space; less negative. I think I’ve progressed. My art’s more realistic.

Christina: What’s the best compliment you ever received?

Andrea: In high school at a local art show, a couple wanted to buy my Fred Astaire painting. (I love dancing.) Instead of a paint brush, I had used Q-tips with oil-based paint on a plastic canvas. It was the first time someone loved my art outside my family.

Christina: I have your artwork on our walls; and I cherish every piece. Do you prefer to keep art as a hobby or would you like to pursue it full-time?

Andrea: I like to design my own creations so there’s less pressure as a hobby.

Christina: What are you working on now?

Andrea: I’m going in a quirky direction with an apocalyptic series of settings from around town. I’ve also had offers to design tattoos which are fun.

Christina: As a proud mom, I suggest checking out Andrea’s artwork. She definitely has the artistic talent in the family. (Let’s just say she got it from my side of the family.)

Art with Andrea on Facebook

 

Walking in Their Shoes: Patricia

Will, Maggie, PatrickAs a writer, I’m constantly asking my fictional characters about their motives, backstories, hopes, dreams, and fears. Over the years, I’ve become more empathetic to the choices we make in our own lives.

In the segment, Walking in Their Shoes, I’ll talk with real people in an effort to learn about their personal journeys. I’m sure I’ll find inspiration through their stories.

This week, I talk with Patricia. This working mom of Will (23), Maggie (11), and Patrick (6) is going back to college for a degree in accounting. She, her husband, and their youngest children live on the family farm. She’s one of the most selfless people I know.

Christina: So how do you balance it all?

Patricia: Well, I don’t think about it. I run on autopilot some days and do what I gotta do. My phone calendar is linked with my husband’s, so that helps. I schedule meals, homework, and school with as much detail as possible. Then, we review the schedule weekly adjusting for those issues that come up out of the blue.

Christina: Your youngest son, Patrick, was born with heart and liver problems. You found out soon after that he has Down Syndrome. How has your family adjusted to his needs?

Patricia: At the time, we didn’t know what Down Syndrome meant until we went to genetic counseling. Getting help early for him with physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy was vital. He’s a regular kid with cognitive issues. He doesn’t talk much, but he understands, so communication is important. We’ve learned sign language that he’s become adept at. He also has an iPad with assisted speech technology that talks for him. Our church and school system are supportive as well, and we attend seminars through the Down Syndrome Association of West Michigan.

Christina: What’s the toughest aspect within your family?

Patricia: I’d say balancing a special needs child with the others. Patrick takes up more of our time and attention. We don’t want Will and Maggie to feel left out.

Christina: How have you changed since Patrick was born?

Patricia: I have more patience now. For as much as I plan, I also have to go with the flow. Messes and dirty clothes don’t bother me. They’re a part of life. I embrace those moments of jumping in the mud puddles with the kids. It’s more fun than trying to prevent it.

Christina: What’s a guilty pleasure you do just for you?

Patricia: I just started going to the gym, I enjoy hanging out with my friends, and I drink a glass of wine in the evening.

Christina: What would you like people to know about raising a special needs child?

Patricia: Although I have family support, I’ve gotten a wide range of response from other people. For example, at a child’s party, the kids may ask why Patrick doesn’t talk. After my brief explanation, they nod then continue to play with him. I wish more adults would stop asking, “What’s wrong with him?” Nothing! Nothing is wrong with him! I’d rather they say something more on the line of “I notice he acts differently …” or “I notice he doesn’t talk …” I appreciate when someone is inquisitive and wants to learn.

Christina: Thanks, Patricia, for joining me today. To learn more about Down Syndrome, check out these sources:

Down Syndrome Association of West Michigan

National Down Syndrome Society