Deceptions of the Heart is on SALE for 99¢!


The Best Mini M&M Cookie EVER!

My daughter and I made these cookies for Easter and they might be the best cookies I've ever baked.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Mix together and set aside:

2 C plus + 2 Tbsp All purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda

In another bowl, mix together:

1 and 1/2 sticks of non-salted butter, melted and cooled
1 C dark brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 granulated sugar

Stir into butter/sugar mix:

1 whole egg and 1 egg yolk, at room temperature
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract

Gradually add flour mix until dough forms. Fold in M&Ms.

Roll dough into 2 Tbsp portions and place on ungreased air insulated stainless steel cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. If you want, you can add more M&Ms to the tops of each cookie before baking to make sure each cookie has a colorfully decorated surface. Bake for 8 -12 minutes. Oven temperatures vary, but I found my cookies did best at just about 11 minutes. Don't over bake unless you want very crunchy cookies. Let cool for at least 5 minutes.


The Repetitive Habit of Repeating Things Over and Over Again Makes Me Cringe

Repeating the same word or words over and over and over makes me cringe. I cringe when I see the same word or words again and again and again. Nothing makes me cringe more than repeated words. Okay, you get my point already, right?

There are only so many plot lines available for a writer to choose from. It’s all been done before. What the writer does different with a plot line provides renewed interest to a theme that has already been tackled by someone else. Readers expect writers to provide compelling stories that offer variety and something fresh to an old idea. Tired phrasing and repeated words create hitchy moments in narrative. Don’t give your reader any reason to toss your book aside because she’s already read another book with the same plot.

Just like sentence structure should be varied, so should word choice. I am guilty of having “go to” words and phrases. It seems the phrase an emotion that she couldn’t quite define appears in my writing quite often. Hum… Maybe that’s lazy writing. Maybe I should define that emotion for her.

Don’t get me wrong. Repeating a word or phrase at the beginning of two or three subsequent sentences connects the sentences and gives the chained thoughts emphasis. Like the word maybe in the previous paragraph. That’s not what I’m talking about.

As a writer, I try to follow the unbreakable, unbendable rules of good writing. You know, stick to one point of view per scene, stay in character, stay in person and tense, provide your character with motivation, goal, and conflict, etc. It disturbs me when I find these rules broken in published works, particularly books by New York Times best selling authors with major publishing houses. Really? Makes me believe the two main factors in landing that big contract with a major house are connections and an original twist on an old premise. Still… I believe in polishing my manuscript to a bright shine. Doing anything that gives my baby an advantage over the other ten thousand unsolicited manuscripts in the slush pile.

Here are some examples of cringers…

One NYT best selling author used the word house seven times in the first seven sentences of her book. Sometimes there is no other way to express something but to use the same word twice in the same paragraph. But seven times? I would have thrown the book at the wall, except it was on my Nook and I didn’t want to break my e-reader. Make every word count.

In another manuscript I read, the hero and heroine had sex every time they were together. I mean every single time, from the first encounter that would have been a one-night stand to the wedding night. The cringe worthy phrase was and they came to an amazing climax at the end of every sex scene. If the scene cannot be varied from instance to instance, then it is best to minimize the number of detailed occurrences to increase the impact of the scenes that are included in the plot. This thought not only applies to sex scenes but to any repeated situation in the plot line. If the scene reads just like five other similar scenes before it, the reader is either going to skim the passage or toss the book aside. Make every scene count.

In my own writing, I’ve been guilty of using the word looked repeatedly. So many verbs can be substituted. Glared. Gazed. Peered. Glanced. Glimpsed. Stared. Be careful of filter words such as heard, thought, realized, felt, wondered, smelled, and sensed. Use stronger, more precise verbs or phrases to describe feelings, sensations, or thoughts. Rather than writing I heard footsteps, describe the footsteps. Perhaps something like… The thud of hard boot heels echoed down the hall. Make every verb count.

Okay, I’m through cringing for today.

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The Heinous Habit of Head Hopping #amediting

Can you imagine how excited I was the first time a publisher wanted a full read of one of my manuscripts? I was ecstatic until I got the editor’s critique. The manuscript’s biggest issue? Point of view breaks, commonly called head hopping. I was given the opportunity to correct this deficiency, so I plodded through the story and revised it, thinking I had conquered the head hopping habit. Unfortunately, I still didn’t “get” it. I am happy to say the story was resubmitted to the same publisher and accepted for publication…five years later.

I’ve learned a lot in five years, and I think I finally mastered the concept of point of view. Sure I slip occasionally, but for the most part I keep the scene in one character’s head at a time.

Point of view is all about perspective. What does a character see, hear, feel, smell, taste, or think? A scene begins in one character’s perspective and should stay in that character’s perspective until the end of the scene. The point of view character’s perceptions can be revealed through inner dialogue, internal narrative, spoken dialogue, or action beats.

A point of view break occurs when the author inserts internal narrative that reveals what is in another character’s head, almost as if the author is hopping from head to head. Some breaks are subtle. Some are obvious. All of them are potentially distracting to the reader. Nothing is more distracting than the author bombarding the reader with the thoughts of everyone in the scene.

So what is a scene? A scene is a complete unit of action, narrative, and dialogue in the plotline, a section of the story that has a beginning and an ending. Sometimes a scene is a whole chapter. Sometimes it is only a portion of a chapter. Multiple scenes within a chapter are separated by scene breaks—a formatting mechanism to show the reader there is a break in the story, a shift to a new plot point. The goal of a scene is to reveal information to the reader that moves the plot forward. What signifies the story has moved to a new scene? The action will move to a new location or there will be a time lapse from one scene to another.

Don’t make the mistake I did in the example I used at the beginning of this post. I wanted to shift to another character’s point of view, so I added a blank line indicating a scene break and picked the scene up right where I left off. No. Not good. Bad writer. Make sure the scene is complete before moving on to another point of view.

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Please Don't Break My #Heart Again

Click on image to go to purchase link. Pretty please! :)

Please don’t break my heart again. How many times have you heard that line in a movie or read it in a novel. Cliché? Maybe. But it’s a familiar sentiment, and maybe that’s why clichés become clichés. Because the circumstance exists often enough in real life that it becomes common. No one wants to have his or her heart broken. It’s just not fun.

When it comes to romantic suspense, it’s all about the heart. The heroine and hero put their heart into overcoming the odds, the danger, and the conflict to love each the end of the book. So if the hero or heroine says, “Please don’t break my heart again,” don’t be surprised. One or the other of them, or both, have already had their hearts broken before the action even begins. Damaged people are more fascinating to read about than pristine, never-been-touched-by-the-hard-things-in-life characters. The great thing about good fiction is that it makes you believe those hard things in life can happen to someone...even if sometimes they can’t or won’t or don’t.

That reminds me of one of the best comments I have ever received in a review. From Brenda Youngerman on Amazon reviewing Deceptions Of the Heart, “There is a fuzzy line between good and evil here and Denise does a wonderful job of weaving the tale in such a way that when the book is finished you have to ask yourself... ‘Could that really happen?’ ”

Anson tells Jennifer/Rhonda (sometimes I call her Rhennifer) not to break his heart again. Here’s the scene from the book:

He turned me to him, searched my soul—the same intense scrutiny that tore my heart from my chest the previous night. He didn’t know what I would have done to gain his affection. I would have dug into my chest and yanked my unreliable, deceptive heart out if it pleased him.

“You’re telling the truth, aren’t you?” he asked. I couldn’t make my mouth form a reply. “Don’t break my heart again.” A declaration. A warning. A sweet confession of his feelings.

“There are things in our past that keep coming back to us. The only thing I can promise is I don’t want to hurt you again.”

He wrapped his hands around my wrists and I wondered if I’d said the wrong thing once again. He pulled me to him. “I guess that will have to be enough,” he whispered, his mouth brushing mine. His arms tightened around me and I melted into him. “I can’t stick to our deal.”

His words surprised me. “What do you mean?” I stammered.

“I can’t pretend anymore. I thought I could have this platonic sort of thing, but it’s not working.”

“What do you want from me?” I whispered, my heart thudding with all the desire I’d denied. Now that I was attempting to be someone better than both Rhonda and Jennifer, I knew without a doubt I needed Anson to want me.

“I want you to be my wife.” The hope that washed across his face clutched at my heart.

I offered a tentative smile and placed my hand on his cheek. This time he didn’t brush my simple gesture of affection away. “Then we want the same thing.”

I hope you enjoyed this snippet from Deceptions Of the Heart. It’s on SALE until April 24, 2014 for 99¢ at


How To Build a Better Blurb

I confess writing the blurb has been the bane of my writerly existence. The only thing worse, for me, than writing the blurb is writing the dreaded synopsis.

My very first published work was a short story entitled Snow White and the Seven Dogs for an anthology. After signing the contract, my publisher wanted me to write a blurb and a tagline for my story. I discovered the blurb was just a little bit different from the 250 – 350 word description I inserted into the query that hopefully captured my publisher’s attention. No, the blurb, that wonderful bit of marketing that describes my book to the reading public, is another animal—and this beast has to have sharp teeth to grab a reader’s attention.

My early attempts at writing blurbs...well, those attempts sucked. Writing a well worded, concise, hard to ignore blurb is difficult and frustrating. How does an author condense her baby into a couple of hundred words? I struggled with this authorly skill until I received some wonderful direction from Lisa Dawn, the marketing guru at The Wild Rose Press.

Since then, I’ve noticed there are two predominant workable styles of blurb floating around the purchase links on Amazon and other fine eBook vendors.

The first style is the one Lisa suggested, and I love it because it breaks the blurb down into three manageable sections, and I am all for something that organizes my scattered thoughts. I am going to use the blurb she helped me with as an example.

First paragraph—Heroine’s goal, motivation, and conflict

Five years ago, a tragic accident robbed Chris Smith of a normal life (her goal is to live a normal life). Left with only a jagged scar, a set of wedding rings, and bits of memory—smells, sounds, and fleeting feelings—she copes with the loss of her identity (her motivation is to cope with her loss of identity). Amnesia has made her life a living purgatory (which leads to her conflict)…until she meets Steve West.

Second paragraph—Hero’s motivation, goal, and conflict

Steve’s construction company is remodeling the ski lifts in Purgatory, Colorado. However looking at Chris is seeing the face of his deceased wife (his goal is to get over losing his wife). Now the truths he’d been forced to believe (his conflict is that he believes she was never dead) have him searching for answers (his motivation is to prove she’s still alive).

Third paragraph—an overall conflict, premise wrap up

Murder, deception, and missing ransom money. Can Steve protect Chris…and prove she’s the wife he never believed dead before the killer tries again?

I love the one, two, and three punch in this short paragraph. Those three bites at the beginning wrap the plot premise up neatly. An added bonus? Lisa suggested writing the blurb with the intention of pasting parts of the verbiage into a 140-character Twitter post.

So here are the tweets than I dug out of the blurb...

A jagged scar, a set of wedding rings, and bits of memory #Purgatory #TWRP #romance #suspense #Colorado 

Looking at Chris is seeing the face of his deceased wife. #Purgatory #romance #suspense #TWRP

Murder, deception, and missing ransom money #Purgatory #TWRP #suspense  #romance

Can Steve protect Chris and prove she’s the wife he never believe dead? #Purgatory #TWRP #suspense #romance

Ummm... Feel free to post the above tweets to your Twitter feed. 

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Cover Reveal - Love & Redemption by Chantel Rhondeau

Title: Love & Redemption (Agents in Love - Book 2)
Author: Chantel Rhondeau
Will be released: April 18, 2014
Genre: Romantic Suspense

Swearing off sex is anything but easy for bad girl Shelley Daniels. Especially after she bumps into super sexy Gavin Hart, who’s running for his life.

All Gavin wanted was fast money and a chance to start fresh. Now this jewelry thief is the target of professional assassins, ones he witnessed murder a woman in cold blood.

Gavin drags Shelley into the world she was desperate to escape, full of secret agents, assassin plots, and a frantic plan to stop a terrorist group from perfecting a new weapon. Gavin also attempts to steal what’s left of her jaded heart while they hide from the murderers.

The killers strike again, drawing the pair back to the city. When a child’s life hangs in the balance, Shelley and Gavin have a chance to make up for prior sins, but finding redemption means risking everything—including their chance for true love.

CONTENT WARNING: Language, violence, and sizzling love scenes

Add to your Goodreads TBR pile or sign up for Chantel's newsletter to get an email notifying you when the book is available!

If you missed the first book in the series Love & Deception (Agents in Love - Book 1) now is the time to get caught up with Nick and Carlie's story.

What if everything you believed in was a lie?

In hiding for six years, Carlie Hollis is tired of running. All she wants is to stay in Sayle, Washington and make a success of her struggling delicatessen. Because of her past, she’s suspicious of anyone who takes an interest in her.

Nick Kendall works as a spy in a top-secret government operation, protecting innocent people from danger. Sent to Sayle on a mission to infiltrate a suspected terrorist organization, Nick finds himself attracted to Carlie, an alleged key player of the group.

Despite her misgivings, Carlie develops feelings for the handsome stranger, believing he is there to help her. But when Nick finds evidence of her guilt, he’s given orders to do the unthinkable—eliminate the target, one he's fallen hopelessly in love with. Will he follow orders...or become hunted himself?

CONTENT WARNING: Violence, language, sizzling love scenes.

Buy it now:
Kindle Edition:
Amazon: US | UK 
Apple iBooks: US | UK | AU | CA |
Barnes & Noble:     US UK


Sneak Peek from Laurel Heights -- There's a Ghost in My House

I've been revising an old manuscript and I'm excited about how it's coming together. Ever since I read Karen White's Tradd Street series, I've wanted to write a ghost story. Blending the paranormal with romantic suspense is...challenging.

I haven't written the blurb for this book, I'll treat you to a sneak peek from the first chapter.

She lay still beneath her comforter, listening to the unusual sounds coming from the lower floor. The house made a lot of noises, especially at night. She sucked in a ragged breath when it made a few more. Was someone in her house or was she being paranoid? Every shadow reminded her of Rand. He was in prison and would be incarcerated for a very long time, probably the rest of his life, but he could easily send one of his loyal associates to find her.

She wrapped her fingers around the grip of the baseball bat she kept next to her bed and hoped she wouldn’t have to use it. Confronting an intruder with a hollow piece of aluminum seemed like a lame defense. She had been considering purchasing a gun, but hadn’t done so yet. Maybe it was time.

She threw the comforter off, rose from the bed, slipped across the room with the bat over her shoulder, and opened the door to peer down the hallway toward the front stairs. Nothing moved. The house was quiet. Maybe a little too quiet. Only moments before, a symphony of strange noises had disturbed the night. It was as if opening her bedroom door had turned off the sound.

She stared at the back stairs directly across from her bedroom and considered going down to the first floor to check the door locks, but nixed the idea. Locked doors wouldn’t keep someone out of the house if they really wanted to get in. Better to barricade herself in her bedroom and keep the bat close by.

She slammed the door shut. No moonlight filtered through the flimsy fabric covering the window. The moon hid behind thick cloud cover. She tugged at the curtains, pulling them tighter to keep out the night. Before she stepped away, she caught a glimpse of something not quite right. Peeking between the curtain panels, she stared across the back yard through a grimy window and followed a dim light as it flitted back and forth inside the detached garage.

I anticipate the release of Laurel Heights September 2014. In the meantime, please consider purchasing one of my already published books. Click on the book banner to go to the purchase link.

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