My editor thought it might be nice if I included a Reader's Note at the beginning, but I wasn't sure how much that would add. So I'm going to put all of that here, on the blog, and if you think it would help, I can add it to the final version of the book before it goes "live." (Your comments below are welcome.)
First - let me tell you that I changed the working title from "Rekindling" to "Return to Hoffman Grove." The reasons are odd, but it seemed to be the right thing to do.
Second - The book touches on the subject of domestic violence. While I was researching, I went to visit the local crisis center. The story is Cinda and Brody's, but they have a group of friends, and one of those friends is in trouble. I have some personal experience, and you'd be surprised how many people do. I was lucky. It's an experience I wouldn't want to relive. With that being said, I am donating fifty percent of the royalties through July 2015 from sales of Return to Hoffman Grove to the crisis center to help other people who aren't as lucky as I was.
Third - Way back when, I wanted to be a professional tennis player when I grew up. I played hard, I played often. I lived on the tennis court. Every story has a little piece of myself inside it, and in this one, its the tennis. One of my critique partners, along with my editor, made comments about tennis being a "civilized" sport, and Brody, being a hot-head, doesn't fit the mold. I grew up with Ilie Nastase, Jimmy Connors, and John McEnroe, the consummate bad-boys of tennis. In my personal experience, I used to play with someone who I modeled Brody after (in temperament only, the rest of it is fictionalized, folks). The part where Brody throws a tennis racket into the fence? That actually happened. Beyond that, I didn't know the real-life model well enough to tell you any more about his life, so any additional parallels are completely made-up. Cinda is a little wacko, she needed someone equally wacko to complement her. Because I was drawing on my "glory days" (and the tennis is only shown in back story/flashbacks, so it isn't a major theme in this story), I wanted to also pay homage to the "civilized" guy on the tennis team, the guy always battling the hot-head for the top spot. Paul Kelly was a good guy, an outstanding tennis player, who died too young. I'm dedicating Return to Hoffman Grove to Paul Kelly.
Return to Hoffman Grove focuses on Cinda and Brody, succeeding against the odds, recapturing a close friendship and taking it to the next level. Here's the blurb:
After nine years away, a business venture forces Brody Parkhill to return to his home town. Trying to determine whether the building he’s been sent to assess would be a viable project for his boss, he is surprised to discover it houses a women’s crisis center. Further complicating his job, members of his old high school gang are involved in the center’s operations—the same friends he ran out on all those years ago. His boss questions where Brody’s loyalties lie and ultimately fires him. With no more to offer Cinda Cooper, the girl he left behind, than when he was a hot-headed teen, Brody must find a way to regain his job, save the center, and win her back.
The last person Cinda Cooper expected to see after a night out was her best friend from high school, Brody Parkhill, the one who was supposed to help her escape her troubled home life. The one she hasn’t seen or heard from for nine years. But she’s too busy dealing with escalating acts of violence to deal with her feelings for him. Could these crimes have anything to do with Brody’s return to town? Or has her past caught up with her?