Friday, July 24, 2009

My Call to Action

by Guest Chef, Linda Winfree (author of Sultry Southern Romantic Suspense)

“I love it when a plan comes together.” Back in the eighties, Hannibal Smith (George Peppard’s character from The A-Team) intoned these satisfied words every week as the intrepid band of on-the-run mercenaries wrapped up yet another successful escapade. It’s great when a plan does come together, but when it doesn’t? Oh, boy.

I actually had a plan for this summer. (My children would tell you I always have a plan – they throw this term “control freak” around all the time. Actually, I’m merely a structured, highly motivated individual, but that’s a different blog post . . .) The plan was simple: finish grad school in June, work on the new book during June and July, and have a rough draft by the time I went back to teaching in early August.

Then the letter arrived in the first week of April. The white envelope with its typewritten address seemed so innocuous when I pulled it from the mailbox. I tore it open, removed the grand jury summons contained within and shrugged it off. I’d been called for jury duty before – twice, to be exact – and both times, it had been cancelled because everyone pled out early. Silly me, I’d forgotten what “grand” jury meant: billing or no-billing cases, not regular jury duty.

But, hey, it was two days out of my spring break, right? My summer plan was safe, even though we’d be called back for duty once more in July. Except as we were preparing to leave on the second day, the assistant district attorney came in to talk with us about the duties and responsibilities of a grand jury. When he mentioned looking into county issues, well, the room exploded with questions about recent actions of the local school board and school system.

That’s where my plan didn’t come together. Actually, that’s where my plan began to come totally apart.

As I possess what a dear friend refers to as “natural leadership skills,” I somehow found myself involved with the core group leading the grand jury’s civil investigation into the school system. That meant meeting weekly, studying data, interviewing citizens, reading, reading and more reading. Somehow, turning on my investigative brain turned off my creative brain, and my ability to write went the way of my lovely summer plan.

Basically, that innocuous envelope in April changed everything, for at least a few months. I didn’t ask for it; instead, this call to action simply landed in my lap. I could choose to ignore it or I could accept it and all the changes it brought with it.

How often in really good reads do we see characters faced with such a call? I know in my own work, the rather ordinary people who are my characters often wrestle with unasked-for events that challenge their plans. Here are a few examples:

· A man forced to choose between two women – and his choice may mean death for one. (What Mattered Most)
· A man who may have to betray the only family he has left in the name of justice. (Truth and Consequences)
· A mother whose rebellious teenage son compels her to ask for help from the estranged husband she still loves, but doesn’t want to need. (His Ordinary Life)
· An FBI agent seeking a serial killer . . . and facing the reality of working closely with the former lover from whom she’s keeping a life-altering secret. (Hold On to Me)
· A public defender locked into defending a killer, although it puts her own life at risk. (Anything But Mine)

What are your favorite calls to action from books, movies and real life?


Linda is giving away a print copy of Hearts Awakened OR one of her ebook backlist. Winner's choice. She will draw one lucky winner from those who comment. To learn more about Linda and her books, visit her website at or her blog at


Carol Burnside said...


Thanks for being our guest today! I've told you before, but I just LOVE your covers. Even better is what's inside them. :)

A favorite call to action? I'll give it some thought and come back later in the day to comment again.

Emmanuelle said...

Hi Linda,
What an experience !!!
I've never read any of your books and disovered them only recently ( read the good reviews they got at the Book Binge). My interest was picked so I'm very glad to see you blogging here at PFaHT.
What is my favorite call of action ? I'm more used to contemporary romance so I'd say, chosing between your kids's best interests and your own happiness, or between love and a carear.
I can't wait to read what everone has to say on the subject though b!!

Sandy Elzie said...


Thanks for joining us today. Let's see...I think a man who "must" save the girl even though it jeapordizes his mission.

I haven't read any of your books, but that will change in the near future. (Love Amazon!)


Amanda said...

What a great post. Maybe there's a book in your jury experience.

That brings to mind another recent jury experience in my family. My daughter (who used to live in Florida and now lives in New York) received a summons to serve in Miami. Since she no longer lived there she registered to vote in New York and was immediately called to jury duty in New York. That same week my other daughter who lives in Atlanta was called to serve. Coincidence? Since it seems to be a family thing I'll probably be getting my summons in the mail soon. I've been called for jury duty many times but never to a grand jury. I guess that's a call to action of a kind.

Marilyn Baron

Debbie Kaufman said...

Ah! I can relate. All my summer writing goals are falling short. My call to duty was just family stuff. I just can't wrap my head around my serial killer with Dora in the background. Not even Special Agent Oso helps!

In books, I like it when the choices are just really difficult in either direction for our hero and heroine.

Thanks for being with us today, Linda. And yes, I agree, the covers are great on your books.

Susan May said...

Thanks for being with us today. They are great covers! A call to action is anytime we put aside something we think is important to do something greater for others is a call to action which makes it something that is always inconvenient.

Sally Kilpatrick said...


What an interesting post. I can relate to those unexpected calls to action.

I like adventure movies, like Will's call to rescue Elizabeth in Pirates, or Rick's call to stop the monster and save Evie in The Mummy.


Linda Winfree said...

Hey, y'all! I am popping in for a hit-and-run reply before I have to head out to pick up my son's friends. My call to action today involves four adolescent boys (Lord love me!).

I'll drop back in later this afternoon to reply to each comment individually :-), but I wanted to say how glad I was to be a guest at Petit Fours and Hot Tamales! Thank you for having me!

(Sally -- I adore Rick's arc in The Mummy. He'st he reluctant hero and that's always the best call!)

Carol Burnside said...

Yes, reluctant heroes are great! You reminded me of the Indiana Jones movies, which my hubby and I recently viewed again. Indy always seemed reluctant to be the swashbuckling hero, but proved to be one by the end of the movie. Love that!

I also love the made-to-be hero. By that I mean the type of hero that's found in your books. The law enforcement guy fighting for justice who's life is greatly complicated by the ultimate challenge - giving his heart to a woman. :)

Maxine Davis said...


Thanks for your post. I really enjoyed it.

Love those quiet heroes: Jimmy Stewart, Will Smith (well, not so quiet, but he ends up one whether he wants to or not), Magnum, John McLain in Die Hard, Spider Man (although he is over the edge in being too young for me)and don't we all get giddy over J. Evanovich's Carlos Mankuso (aka Ranger) and Morelli.

Tami Brothers said...

Oh man, those covers are definitely awesome! I had not heard of you before (not saying much since I think I live under a rock...grin...) but your covers definitely grabbed my attention.

Carol, when you said something about the Indiana Jones movies, were you talking about Linda's books??? Just curious...

Linda, thanks a ton for blogging with us today. I am headed over to check out your website right now!


Ana Aragón said...

Hi, Linda,

Great post! I like law enforcement, firemen, and reluctant heroes who have to choose between their love for the job and their love of a woman!

Off to check out your website! Thanks for being with us.


Anonymous said...

Hi Linda,

Great blog today! Just your little snippets about the books made me want to go read them so I am heading to Amazon and your website now :)

Can't wait to read!

Caroline Z.

Anonymous said...

Just checked our your site, it looks great! And I agree with the other ladies, the books covers are wonderful!

Caroline Z.

Anna Steffl said...

What a great post.

Favorite "called" hero? The first that comes to mind is -- Frodo. LOL.

Linsey Lanier said...


Thanks for the reminder to keep our characters challenged. That's a great list. It's going in my Keeper file. :)


Tami Brothers said...

Hey Linda,

I just checked out your website. Great job! You definitely grabbed my attention. Very well done and I've added a couple of those books to my list to buy. I'd better get a second job. You guys keep recommending some really good stories!!!


Mary Marvella said...

Linda, I'm playing catch-up after National and wanted to tell you I need time to digest your post. Interesting!

Carol Burnside said...

And the winner is.....(imagine drumroll here)......


Caroline, if you'll e-mail me at with your choice of Hearts Awakened in print or name one of Linda's e-book backlist as your prize.


Linda Winfree said...


I love Jimmy Stewart's heroes! (Oddly enough, one of my fellow grand jurors is named . . . Jimmy Stewart.)

Will Smith does the reluctant hero so well. I adore him in Independence Day. (And I Am Legend, although I could only watch it one!)

Linda Winfree said...

Oooh, Ana. I love the scenario where a guy has to pick between his job and a woman, too. Inherent conflict!

Linda Winfree said...


I have been blessed with a fantastic cover artist -- most of them were done by Anne Cain. She is FABULOUS.


Linda Winfree said...

Y'all, I want to apologize for not dropping back in sooner -- my lovely, lovely children managed to infect my desktop with a virus that it took my computer-guru brother two days to fix.

Thank you again for having me as a guest flake, er, blogger.

And congrats to Caroline on your win!