Heather Woodhaven

Turning Coffee Into Stories

Author: Freelance Heather (Page 1 of 2)

Dog’s PSA: How to Live with Musicians

I realized this happened a year ago, but it still rings true. My poor dog. Living in a house of musicians is hard.

What NOT to Do at a Book Signing

Since this is a behind-the-scenes blog, today I wanted to take you behind the scenes of a book signing.

Truth: Many authors agonize over what to sign in the front of those books. I’m one of them. And, when we pick out a Bible verse, we take care thinking about which one.

So…yesterday, when I signed books with what I thought was this:


I realized I actually signed a few books with this:

Which I suppose could be seen as me thanking them for paying for the book so it’s not so bad, and at least it wasn’t a mistake Tim Hawkins made:


So, authors, make sure you’ve had plenty of coffee before your book signing and KNOW your verse number. And readers, if whatever an author signed doesn’t quite make sense, you know the reason.

Have an interesting dedication to share? A embarrassing moment where you shared the wrong verse?

The Case of the Missing Case


My son got a new retainer–a bright blue, glow-in-the-dark retainer with a matching glow-in-the-dark retainer case.

As you no doubt already know, buying a retainer is like buying a brand new iPhone…except it goes in your mouth and hurts and is much smaller and…most importantly, is known for “causing dogs to act uncharacteristically. They will hunt down this retainer because its smell calls out to them.”

At least that’s what the orthodontist said.

So, given this investment we had a HUGE talk about the importance of never ever ever ever losing the retainer.

We went over the rules of where the retainer should and should not go, and that my son should not breathe heavily on the dog, making her nose sniff wildly. (The latter rule came about as he walked in the door and tried it.)

What we never thought of lecturing about was the retainer case. Which was lost on the second day.

Yet one of the rules is that you can’t take off the retainer unless it is to put it in the retainer case… so mass hysteria erupted.

We looked in dirty laundry bins, violin cases, places I’d never seen before in the bathroom… and I even suggested turning out all the lights. After all, it’s glow in the dark.

All hope was lost.

Until my husband wanted ice for his water.

And guess what we found in the freezer.

I’m serious.

No one is admitting anything.

As writers, we want to thrill our readers with the unexpected. The twist that no one saw coming. Except it still needs to make sense. So sometimes we must put on a detective hat and work our way backwards. Which is what I did for Framed Secrets. Before I started writing, I knew that my character was a small-town, hard-working, single woman with a talent and hobby for painting. But someone has hidden something in one of her paintings. And from there, the story was born.

Love On The Run 3D Box Final

It took me even longer to figure out how and why the retainer case ended up in the freezer… a year later….when I finally bought popsicles, and I saw my son eager to eat one.

Realizations like that always have triggers. Like when my character, Kathleen…oops, sorry. You’ll just have to read the book. 😉

What’s the oddest, most unusual place you’ve ever found a missing object?


Romance: Then and Now

When my youngest was three years old she found me, very concerned. “Mom, I think I want to get married.”

I looked up, surprised.

“I’ll have to grab a boy tomorrow,” she mumbled and walked off.

When I was her age, my idea of romance was probably pretty similar.

As a young teenager, romance was all about the accidental bumping of hands in the popcorn bucket. Now, after almost twenty years of marriage, romance can be sharing a look of awareness and pride as we watch our child overcome a struggle. Or a spontaneous trip for coffee where we can talk uninterrupted. Or encouraging my writing…


Today, I’d love to know how your thoughts of romance changed over the years.

What used to be romantic to you as a teenager and would it still be romantic to you now?

Deleted Scene: Calculated Risk


Her legs violently pulled to the right. She whipped her head up and saw the bright red and purple parachute in the air but it looked more like a flat T instead of a puffed up and billowing crescent.

Her body jerked again and her legs hit up against Jeff’s as they violently spun around in a circle. She tried to look up again, but up against the centrifugal force she could only spot the ropes of the parachute twisted around each other. Jeff’s arms were in the air, his hands rapidly working with the loops closest to him. Her neck couldn’t fight the force any longer and her chin hit her chest.

Jeff’s knees knocked against her, instantly bruising her hamstrings. He kicked his legs in a bicycle fashion. Why was he doing that? It was useless to try to keep her legs away from his pounding knees. They were swirling, swirling, like a personal tornado.

She made the mistake of looking at the ground as their revolutions increased in speed. Nausea overcame her and she closed her eyes. Victoria knew this much—they were falling much too fast. Her throat was closing, choked with unshed tears. If the ground didn’t kill her, the whiplash from being thrown around would soon. Lord, please save us!

Jeff’s arm slammed into the back of her head. He was trying to shove her even further away? Was he trying to kill her before they made impact? She didn’t fight him, though, what would be the point? A second later, a violent tug on her ribs sent her head back into his shoulder, her legs dropped back into vertical position, and the spinning abruptly stopped. Victoria tried to scream her thanks and words of praise, but the moment she opened her mouth a strong current of air stole her breath. She pressed her lips together and prayed her thanks to the Lord.

They were so close to the ground now. All around her were trees, trees in every direction. Were they at an orchard or tree farm? Wait. How could they land on top of trees?


Author Note: We ended up deleting this scene (in rough draft stage) because there was already so much action going on and having the bad guy (No spoilers!) cut a cord in one of the parachutes (which messes up the Automatic Activation Device) proved to be too much. Plus, if I had the chance to rewrite it, I would’ve put it in Jeff’s point of view so the reader could understand exactly what was happening.

I loved all the research about how a trained jumper would handle it, though.

I also found that a lot of skydiving instructors insist on packing their own parachutes. Although some companies hire teenagers to do so (for minimum wage). My character, as would I, prefers to do it himself. Much later, there’s a small reaction that was deleted as well:


Victoria looked away in the distance. “Okay, before the evil merry go round ride, it was a pretty amazing experience. I had always wondered what it’d feel like to fly.”

“The tornado spin isn’t normal.”

“I figured that out for myself, thank you.”

Gifts for Readers (or Yourself)


1. The Gift of Massage

Screen Shot 2014-12-06 at 4.50.37 PM I know it sounds off-topic, but hear me out. Readers that find an awesome book are going to hold the same position for a long time, oblivious to the discomfort building. For those readers that love a good suspense, the shiatsu massage pillow by Homedics might be the ticket to relieve the tension between their shoulder blades, but there are tons of massage products on the market for every price range. Even tummy-readers get back tension. Reading should be a treat. Help keep it that way with the gift of massage.


2. The gift of comfort

Screen Shot 2014-12-06 at 4.58.26 PM Screen Shot 2014-12-06 at 5.01.59 PMNothing distracts a reader from a good story like getting cold or uncomfortable. Make sure the reader in your life has slippers, a nice throw like this cashmere plush velvet one. Or go the fun-blanket route like a Snuggie, or a book-themed throw with sleeves, like the Harry Potter one pictured. Gourmet hot cocoa, tea, and coffee are a bonus.


3. The gift of keeping your place.

bookmarksScreen Shot 2014-12-06 at 5.44.24 PMIf your reader still enjoys the feel of bound books in their hands, then these bookmarks will be a big hit. Take bookmarks to a personal level by having loved ones pose like they’re hanging on for dear life–they’re a cinch to make with this tutorial (and a reminder that it’s a “gripping” tale). Or, Peter Pauper Press Inc. has a selection of beaded  bookmarks that are cute, funny and cheap. Some favorites include:  Never Judge A Book By Its Movie, and Eat.Sleep.Read.


4. The gift of accessorizing. 

Screen Shot 2014-12-06 at 5.51.51 PMIf your reader prefers to enjoy their books on technology, consider the LapGear pillow  , a pillow that will hold your e-reader in many of the comfortable positions you want to read. Or checkout many of the different e-reader stands available. For traditional readers on the go, consider a Treadmill Book Rack or a Bathtub Caddy with Reading Rack.


5. The gift of subscriptions.

During the holidays a lot of reading subscription services offer gift cards like Scribd , Kindle Unlimited, and Audible. Many of these also offer thirty-day free trials for you to check out yourself. Books change lives. Don’t believe me? Check out this example (the end is hilarious):

And of course, if you still need ideas, yours truly and the rest of the team members have all written books (shameless plug you knew was coming). Just click on one of our names above and you’ll see our offerings.Or, if you were hoping for a sweet romantic Christmas read, I recommend The Santa Society or Christmas with Book Club (shameless plug.)

Christmas With Book Club Ebook cmas

Happy shopping and happy reading!

Any other ideas you have? Please leave them in the comments!

Life of A Suspense Writer

Since we promised some “behind the scenes” posts, I thought I’d share a little slice of life for this romantic suspense writer.  While I cannot speak for my fellow writers, writing romantic suspense is a full-on family experience. My children do a great job of making sure to keep me in constant suspense.For instance, when I’m brainstorming a new villain, they like to “Cage” me.

hidingdrawerThis, of course, refers to hiding pictures of Nicolas Cage so that when I find them I get a jolt…

IMG_0469A.K.A. Mom screams.

IMG_0632The one behind the peephole of the door… well, after recovering from my heart attack, I thought it was genius. And it really put me in the mood to write suspense.

The family also helps me when I need to choreograph a shooting scene. “Let’s pound out the scene with dart guns, Mom!”


Or when I need to write a high speed chase…


They even help me test out building “homemade” weapons (also known as a DIY waterzookas).

In fact, they help me get into the mood of writing so much, that I was quite excited to get their help when I needed to write a scene on the beach.

“Anyone up for a trip?”

But, alas, after hubby checked the budget, I woke up that morning to find this:

Like I said, writing a novel takes the WHOLE family.

What puts you in the mood for reading/writing/watching suspense?

Opposites Attract




I recently had an ah-ha while writing my latest ms. While my characters may seem “opposite,” at the core I don’t think they are. They’re very like-minded in their values and priorities, but everywhere else they challenge each other–to see things from a different perspective, to strive harder, to follow their dreams, etc. So sparks fly.

It’s not banter for the sake of seeing who is wittiest, or arguing for the sake of debate. It’s moments that will make each other grow for the better…eventually (and for happily ever after). But until then, it makes for an entertaining show.

 Who are your favorite romantic couples from TV and movie? Are they truly opposites or are they the same at the core? Do tell!

Behind the Scenes (Surviving the Storm)

IMG_1130My crew hasn’t been on very many vacations. Over six years ago, we packed up our young family and drove to the Oregon coast in the “off” season. A lodge run by a Christian family gave us an amazing price and treated us like family: cookies at night, hot cocoa in the morning, and feeding the bunnies running wild around their gardens. A block hike through tall grasses brought us to the ocean.IMG_4924


More stories to come, but this location was the inspiration for Surviving the Storm, to be released in August.

So, how do you pick your favorite vacation spot? Consider the following factors:

1. Cost

2. Activities that foster connection among your fellow vacationers (family/friends)

3. PHOTO OPS! (Or vivid memory-making moments)

4. Moments for reflection that perhaps draw you closer to God

5. Good reading spots (I’m contractually obligated to add this one!) Kidding! (Maybe.)

Where is your favorite vacation spot? I’d love to know!

When Your Book Inspires A Song

My favorite musician has written a beautiful instrumental soundtrack to my book Calculated Risk. He’s made it free to download for a limited time. Enjoy!

And now I’m off to try to talk my husband into ballroom dancing to this song.

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