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Welcome to Wednesday Writers! Today’s guest author is Dawn Cahill who will be talking about Hot Topic Fiction. Don’t know what that is? Keep reading and find out and discover why Dawn writes it.  Dawn also has a gripping excerpt from her book Paint the Desert. Welcome, Dawn!

Hello there, I’m an indie author from the great Pacific Northwest, and I write under the pen name of Dawn V. Cahill. I began my self-publishing journey on Kindle Direct, then branched out to Smashwords.

My “brand” is Hot Topic Fiction. As my website describes it, the characters in my stories face situations that would have been unthinkable twenty years ago. We live in a vastly different world than our parents did, and that’s the world I write about. “Hot Topic Fiction” isn’t afraid to explore the question, how does God want us to live out our faith in this not-so-brave new world? Without insulting the reader by offering pat or easy answers–because there aren’t any–HTF tells stories of ordinary Christians following hard after Christ in an upside-down world.

All kinds of readers can appreciate my edgy fiction series, Golden State Trilogy, that takes place in beautiful Marin County, California, where my protagonist, Meg Paulson, and her family live. The trilogy features tough, modern-day scenarios, yet with subplots of romance for you clean romance lovers. Today’s feature, Book II, Paint the Desert, centers around a school shooting, leaving a newly married Christian couple devastated.

An interesting “God moment” happened early on in the writing of Paint the Desert. On October 1, 2015, two weeks after I wrote the opening scene, a 26-year-old armed gunman named Christopher Harper-Mercer walked into Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, and started shooting. I was driving home from work that day when I heard the news on the radio. It was so eerily similar to Chapter 1 of my WIP, it completely threw me. I had a meltdown right then and there in my car, crying out to God, “Why?” I may never get an answer to that question, but I do know it strengthened my conviction that this story needed to be written.

Since that day, school and public shootings have increased to the point where we have almost become jaded to it. Every time it happens, we become a little more desensitized. And I find that the most tragic result of all.

Like Meg, most of us grew up in a safer world, a world in which mass public shootings were unthinkable. I don’t pretend to have solutions. My goal in writing this book was simply to tell the story of a family impacted by this new normal, and the polarization that has ensued. There was no agenda other than to portray a family who trusted in God and the power of prayer. My hope and prayer is that each reader takes something valuable from this story.

If you want to know more about me and my books, come visit my website at www.dawnvcahill.com/mybooks. Thank you for sharing my journey today. Have a God-blessed day!

~Dawn

PAINT THE DESERT

By Dawn Cahill

When violence visits an ordinary college campus one day in San Rafael, California, it threatens to shatter a community, and a family, in its aftermath.

Newlyweds Jon and Meg Paulson are honeymooning in Hawaii when they receive the news that Meg’s son Richard was seriously injured in a seemingly random school shooting. When they return home, they find him in a deep coma, with the doctors uncertain if he will ever recover. Meg struggles to find answers and to understand why God allowed this to happen.

With the investigation into the shooter’s motives ongoing, Meg seeks support from a local grief group, where she finds that helping another grief-stricken mother helps speed her own journey from despair to hope. But her distress is creating strain in her brand-new marriage. She also finds herself at odds with her daughter when Linzee’s gun control activism pits her against her own mother.

Meanwhile, Linzee fears the new man in her life will find out the one thing from her past she never wants him to know. Can she give her fear over to God and open her heart to love?

Opening scene from PAINT THE DESERT:

San Rafael, California

Rich St. John revved the souped-up engine in his kelly-green ‘68 Camaro and relished the satisfying roar. “Yes!” He slapped a high five on the black dashboard. “Attaboy, Richmobile. You’re a lean, mean, green machine, baby.”

He gave a celebratory whoop. What dude his age wouldn’t want a car as hot as his? Killer car, smoking hot girl, and a dream job—yeah, he had it all.

Since good fortune had smiled on him lately, he took it to mean he would ace his Spanish test this evening. He could almost hear his mother telling him not to get too smug when life was going well because life could turn on you in a heartbeat.

Mom would know. She’d for sure had her share of hard times. Most notably when his dad left her for another woman. But today life smiled on Mom, honeymooning in Hawaii with her new husband, Jon.

Remembering his mother’s words, uneasiness snaked over him. What if life did turn on him? Just as quickly, he shoved the thought from his mind and sent a text to Kassidy. Hey Babe. Richmobile running sweet. Whoot!

He roared out of his mother’s driveway and made his way through the neighborhood, double-takes and admiring glances following in his wake. He tossed a grin and a thumbs-up at each smiling face. At the boulevard, he hung a right, then a left onto the 101 which would take him to his six-thirty p.m. class at Ignacio College.

He pulled into the college parking lot with fifteen minutes to spare and straddled two spots, crossing his fingers for luck. Good luck, dude. Buena suerte. Too bad Lady Luck was such a fickle mistress. He shuddered and crossed the fingers of his left hand to be doubly sure. He had to ace this midterm to keep his GPA at three-point-oh. Anything below, his dad would stop paying his tuition.

Mom didn’t believe in luck. Only in her God’s providence. Either way, Luck or God, he sometimes wondered why some people were so blessed, such as himself, and others not so much. Like that unfortunate woman in San Anselmo who got shot last night in her own garage. By an unknown assailant, said the news. For no apparent reason.

What would make a person shoot a stranger for no apparent reason?

Reaching for the door handle, Rich made sure the Club was securely fastened onto his steering wheel and grabbed his backpack. “Voy a hacer bien en el examen.” He worked his lanky frame out of the car. “Si, si, voy, voy.” He wasn’t sure that was correct syntax, but hey, it was only his first time taking Spanish.

First stop, the cafeteria for his weekly beef ‘n’ bean burrito. Heaven in a flour wrap. The line was five people deep when he reached it. His stomach growled and his mouth watered as the line crept forward. But another odor mingled with the taco bar’s meat and cheese. Someone nearby either hadn’t showered or hadn’t brushed his or her teeth in days. Maybe both. He wrinkled his nose and glanced behind him. A pair of eyes as yellowish-green as a cat’s regarded him from under a black hoodie. The guy clutched a guitar case, swinging it jerkily back and forth.

Maybe he was homeless. What was he doing here? And that face … it reminded him of something. Or someone.

Rich held his breath, turned his back on the guy and filled his plate. After paying for his food, he found a table and hurriedly wrapped the thick tortilla around the aromatic filling, then headed to room 242, munching as he went, mumbling Spanish conjugations between each mouthful.

He wolfed down the last bite just as he arrived at the nearly-full classroom. He waved at his teacher and then grabbed the test Mr. Hope handed him.

“Geoffrey Hope?” called a voice from the doorway. Richie sniffed. That odor again. He spun around, and his brain froze.

A black hoodie. A click, sharp explosion, screams.

Something jerked him backward.

Unworldly pain.

Then, nothing.

Want to know more about Dawn and her book?

Connect with her at her Website  Facebook Twitter or Pinterest (so you can visualize the characters as you read the book)