Dear Readers,

I’m so glad to be sending out another newsletter and hope that all is going well with you and yours. In this edition, I’m thrilled to be announcing the publication of my second Harlequin Superromance. From Friend to Father hit the shelves June 8th, after receiving four stars from Romantic Times and strong reviews on several other sites as well.

When I first came up with the idea for this story, all I had was a question. What happens when a woman agrees to be a surrogate mother to her best friend’s baby, only to have her friend die when she is five months pregnant? For a long time, all I had was the question, but as I started playing with characters and ideas, Sarah Martin and Reece Sandler slowly emerged.

As a writer, I believe the best fiction is a blend of reality and make-believe. In From Friend to Father, I’ve done just that. While I’ve never been a surrogate mother, I have lost a very dear friend. And while I don’t have twin boys, I do have three young sons—and much of the trouble the boys get into in this novel stems directly from things my own sons have done through the years.

From flushing my cell phone down the toilet to literally swinging from the chandelier above my dining room table (while I was on the phone with my brand new editor) my boys have tried just about everything there is to try—not to mention inventing a few new things along thw ay. They’ve broken bones, fallen down stairs, jumped into pools wihtout knowing how to swim and generally caused mischief and mayhem in every place imaginable. My youngest even spent two weeks in the NICU as a newborn, and the prayers Sarah utters as she sits with baby Rose echo my own prayers as I watched my child struggle for life.

But like Sarah, I wouldn’t trade one moment of the time I’ve had with my children. Parenting is a journey—one filled with moments of incredible exhilaration and others filled with frightening despair. In From Friend to Father, I’ve tried to communicate the good times as well as the bad, and I hope I’ve succeeded.

If you pick up a copy of From Friend to Father this month, I'd love to hear from you. Pop over to my website and drop me a line! While you're there, I've got a special contest running this month too so do stop by and enter it for another chance to win.

Wishing all of you a wonderful and safe summer,

Tracy Wolff


Excerpt: From Friend To Father

© Tracy Wolff

Shock and grief rocketed through her-- mixing with the anger and disbelief that had taken root four days before-- until it was all Sarah could do to sit still for the long, drawn-out service.

Vanessa was dead.

Her best friend was dead.

Killed last week in a car crash that was nobody’s fault.

Somehow the fact that it really had been just an accident made acceptance that much harder—how could the death of a beautiful thirty-three year old woman be no one’s fault? The other driver had simply lost control of his huge SUV on the rain-slicked roads, despite going a reasonable thirty miles an hour in the fifty mile an hour zone.

He’d spun out, crossed the center dividing line and plowed into the Prius Vanessa had bought six months before in an effort to do her part to help the environment. The little car hadn’t stood a chance against the gas-guzzling behemoth that slammed into it and just that quickly, Van was gone.

But how could she be gone, now, Sarah wondered almost wildly. Why now, when things were finally going so right for her? How could Vanessa be gone when they’d had plans to shop for maternity clothes together later this week?

The baby kicked inside of her—a swift one-two shot to the bladder that had Sarah crossing her legs and praying for the funeral to end. Running a hand down to the belly that had just recently outgrown her regular clothes, Sarah rubbed it soothingly. The baby responded by kicking again—harder—and she pondered, fleetingly, if she was carrying the next Evander Holyfield. God knew, the kid certainly hit like a world champ and it was still four months until his or her birth. She shuddered to think what her last month of pregnancy would be like.

At the front of the church, the priest was murmuring the last few words of his eulogy. Thank God. She couldn’t take much more of this without screaming her fear and confusion at the world.

Yet when it was over, when it was finally time to exit the narrow, wooden pews, Sarah found she had a hard time moving. She’d wanted to leave from the second she’d first gotten to the church, had wanted to be as far away from the pretty lavender casket in front of the altar as she could get.

But now, all she could think of was the fact that this was the absolute last time she and Vanessa would ever share a space. There would be no more cups of coffee at the local coffee house, no more quick trips to the mall. No more pizza and movie nights with the boys when Reece was out of town. Nothing but months and years of empty afternoons stood before her.

But she couldn’t stay here forever. The pall bearers were taking Vanessa’s casket away, preparing to load it into the hearse for the final trip to the cemetery. She should go—was expected to go-- but she didn’t think she could take any more without cracking.

Sarah walked slowly down the center aisle of the church, pain heavy within her. But when she got outside, she caught her first glimpse of Reece since that awful day at the hospital. He looked terrible—tired, worn-out and with the same bruised, shell-shocked look she’d seen that morning when she’d glanced in the mirror as she’d gotten dressed.

But as she looked at him, she realized there was a rage about him that she lacked, a fury that went somehow deeper than the pain and horror she felt now.

When that car had lost control in the rain and plowed head-on into Vanessa’s, Sarah had lost her best friend. But Reece—Reece had lost his wife, his best friend and his soul mate, all wrapped up into one vivacious, wonderful package. Was there any doubt, then, as to why he looked like he wanted to take on what was left of his world?

“Reece.” She stopped in front of him, laid a soft hand on his arm. “I’m so sorry.”

His confused brown eyes met hers, then clung as if he was trying to figure out who she was. “Sarah.” The word was forced out of a throat so tight it was a miracle he hadn’t strangled.

“Call me, if you need anything at all.”

His eyes dropped to her stomach, to the belly that was just beginning to show. “The baby—“ His voice broke and she reached out a hand, covered his with her own.

“Don’t worry about that now. We’ve got plenty of time to figure it all out. The baby’s not due for months yet.”

He nodded jerkily, as if he heard the words she was saying, but couldn’t quite focus on them. She couldn’t blame him—getting through the day was hard enough without facing her suddenly uncertain future.

Reaching up, she wrapped her arms around him and hugged him tightly. “We’ll get through this, Reece.” She felt the need to say the words to him, even though she wasn’t sure she believed them herself.

He patted her back almost absently, then turned away when someone else called his name. She tried not to feel bereft, tried not to blame him for his lack of response. It wasn’t his fault that he and Vanessa were the last two people she had on earth to rely on. Any more than it was his fault that Vanessa’s death had completely shattered her.

It had shattered him as well.

Blinking back tears, Sarah headed to her car with a heavy heart. She was nothing to him, she reminded herself—just his dead wife’s best friend. And the mother of his unborn child.

***

She didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. So Sarah did what she always did when she had the choice—threw back her head and laughed herself silly. Then dived for the water shut-off valve at the base of the toilet that was currently overflowing onto the crimson tile floor she had laid herself just over a year before.

Once the water flow was cut off—and the floor mopped up—she turned to Johnny, the oldest of her five-year-old twins. “Does someone want to explain to me what happened this time?”

“Pirate Jack was a bad, bad pirate, Mommy,” Johnny said in his earnest little boy voice, his blue eyes wide with sincerity. “He had to walk the plank.”

“Yeah,” his identical twin, Justin, piped in. “He’s a criminal, Mommy. He deserves a terrible pun-pun-pu—“

“Punishment.” Johnny rolled his eyes with all the angst of a big brother—as if far more than five minutes separated the two of them.

“Walked the plank?” Sarah shook her head in amazement. “Into the toilet? Again? I thought we talked about this.” Over and over and over again, they had talked—until she felt like a broken record. Or worse, a useless one.

“That’s where Jasper went when he died, Mommy. Remember? We gave him a hero’s funeral.”

Of course she remembered. Her brother—her wonderful, irresponsible, fun-loving brother-- had been babysitting the twins when the fish had died and, for whatever reason, had decided to give the goldfish a “proper” funeral. Complete with a burial at sea, accomplished by flushing him down the guest bathroom toilet.

Too bad Tad hadn’t thought to warn the twins that not everything that went into the toilet actually made it down the pipes and out to sea. It might have saved her budget—not to mention what little sanity she had left.

For the last three months, she—and her trusty plumber—had rescued everything from superheroes and toy soldiers to the baby’s rattle and hair bows from the toilet and the pipes below it. But Pirate Jack, he was a new one. It was definitely his first trip down the flusher.

Turning back to the toilet, she tried desperately to see some part of the toy still sticking into the bowl—an arm, a leg, a head—she wasn’t picky. But alas, Jack had made it all the way into the pipes before getting stuck.

“Which Pirate Jack was it?” she asked, feeling the need to clarify as the boys had about twenty variations on the pirate theme. Please don’t let it be the big one her brother—

“The one Uncle Tad got us.”

Of course it had to be that one—any of the other ones might actually have had a chance of making it down the pipes. But not that one, which was larger than her fist and had hard plastic arms and legs shooting off in all directions. She was shocked the thing had actually made it out of the bowl.

With a sigh, Sarah headed downstairs to get the plunger out of the garage. Not that she had a hope in heck of getting the stupid thing out—as big as it was, she was pretty positive it was well and truly lodged in the pipe. Which meant a plumber. She sighed. Which meant at least two hundred dollars she couldn’t afford to spend this month, not with the two visits Vince the plumber had already paid to their house on top of the unexpected car repairs she’d had to deal with last week. The new transmission had eaten up most of her discretionary income for the month. She really hated to dip into her savings, but it wasn’t like she had a choice. Unless, by some miracle, the plunger actually worked.

Sure enough, after wrestling with the plunger for fifteen minutes—to no avail—Sarah gave up the ghost. It was time to call Vince. She reached for the phone. What did it say about her life that he was number two on her speed dial?

“Boys,” she said softly as she checked on them. Thank God they were playing quietly in their room, building blocks into huge towers and then knocking them down with their trucks. “I’m going to be on the phone for a few minutes. Keep it down, okay? The baby’s sleeping.”

“Okay, Mommy,” Justin said sweetly, even as his brother rolled his eyes.

“She’s always asleep,” complained Johnny.

“That’s what two month old babies do, sweetie. They sleep a—“ She cut off in mid-sentence as Angie, Vince’s full-time receptionist, answered the phone. And how sick was it that she knew the other woman’s name?

“Hi, Angie. It’s Sarah Martin. My toilet’s clogged again.”

“What’d the boys flush down there this time?” Angie asked, laughter evident in her voice.

“Their favorite pirate toy had to walk the plank.” Despite the drain on her finances, she had a hard time keeping the amusement out of her voice as well. Really, who on earth—besides five-year-old boys—would ever think to do such a thing?

“Nice one. Give me a second and I’ll see if Vince can get over there this morning.”

“No problem. I’ll be home all—“

The smoke alarm in the kitchen went off, interrupting her in mid-sentence. “Oh, no! The cookies!”

Sarah went flying down the stairs, her first thought to get the detector turned off before it woke the baby. But as soon as she hit the first floor, she realized that that was easier said then done. The entire downstairs was thick with smoke as she’d left the cookies in—she glanced at the clock—nearly twenty minutes longer than she should have.

Opening the back door and various windows on her way to the kitchen, she waved frantically at the smoke detector in the hallway, trying to clear the smoke from beneath it.

“The cookies are burnded?” asked Justin, lower lip quivering, as she rushed into the kitchen and pulled the blackened treats from the oven.

“Burnded doesn’t quite cover it,” she muttered to herself. They were so blackened she feared they’d burst into flames at any second. With a sigh she dumped them—tray and all—into the sink and ran water over them. It was the second batch she’d massacred that week.

“Not again,” wailed Johnny over the scream of the smoke detector. “Mommy, you promised we’d have cookies today.”

“And we will. I—“

“Sarah?” Angie came back on the line.

“Shh.” She turned a stern look on her boys, who ignored it and continued to whine about the lack of chocolate chip cookies in their life. “Yes, Angie?” she said, straining to hear the receptionist over her sons’ whining and the still shrieking smoke alarm.

“Vince can be there around two o’clock. Is that okay?”

“Sure. Why not?”

“It sounds like you’ve got your hands full there.”

“What?”

“It sounds like—never mind.” Angie gave up with a laugh. “I’ll talk to you later, Sarah.”

“What?”

The phone went dead in her hand—just as Sarah realized that not all of the noise lambasting her ears was coming from the boys and the smoke alarm. Some of the screams were coming from her baby girl—who was now wide awake, despite the fact that she should have slept for at least another hour.

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Contest

To Celebrate the release of her June 2009 novel, Tracy is giving away a copy of A CHRISTMAS WEDDING and the NAUGHTY BITS anthology to 3 lucky winners!

For a chance to win, please email us at staff@authorsoundrelations.com (mark the subject heading as From Friend To Father).  Include your full name and address and your answer to the following question -

What is the title of Tracy's third SuperRomance, scheduled for release this Decemberl?

Visit her website to find the answer and then drop us an email with the answer. Be sure to include your full name and mailing address. Winners will be picked after June 22nd. Good luck!

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