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From time to time, we get to visit with a guest author, and today is one of those fun days! I have an interview with Alice Renaud, whose new story “The Sweetest Magic of All” is out now in the anthology Mystic Desire. (Isn’t that cover gorgeous?)

Let’s get right to our interview.

What is your best reading memory?

It’s a bit of a cliché for someone who write fantasy, I know, but I have to answer, discovering Tolkien’s books. First “The Hobbit,” then “The Lord of the Rings.” The Hobbit transported me to another world, full of adventure, poetry, and dragons. Oh, the mysterious door in the mountain, that can only be seen at a special time, by moonlight, when the thrush knocks… I was there, with the dwarves and the hobbit, holding my breath as the light fell on the keyhole!

What is the first book you ever wrote?

“The Salty Kingdom,” an epic fantasy with a wizard called Ariel and a mysterious land that the sea covers entirely once every thousand years. It never got published… but Ariel pops up again in the book I’m writing now, “Mermaids Marry in Green,” the third in my “Sea of Love” series. Ariel is relocated to London, younger, and a lot hotter! He is also mentioned in my story “The Sweetest Magic of All,” he is the hero’s brother.

What is your favorite thing about your current heroine?

Sapphire Seaborne, the heroine of my short story “The Sweetest Magic of All,” is a good girl, who discovers her naughty side at the same time as her magical powers. I like repressed heroines who throw off their shackles and grab life with both hands. It helps if there’s a sexy warlock to grab as well.

What does your travel bucket list look like?

I’d like to visit Jerusalem, watch whales, and go to Glastonbury, England’s biggest music festival. I haven’t given up hope to do all those things one day.

Also: don’t miss our great Halloween “Mystic Desire” book party on 31 October! There will be games, a chance to chat with the BVS authors who contributed to the anthology “Mystic Desire,” and many great prizes to be won!

Buy Links

Amazon

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Blurb

Mystic Desire is a collection of brand new supernatural romance stories by award-winning BVS authors!

The Sweetest Magic of All by Alice Renaud:

When a sexy apprentice witch and a hot warlock go back in time to locate a magical amulet, they find more than they bargained for. It’s May Eve, the most magical night of the year, and normal rules don’t apply…

An Awareness of Evil – Dee S. Knight

Only two things stand between evil and a small girl: the visions of Amanda McMasters and Detective Brendan Gilchrist. Neither can afford to be wrong.

Bewitching the Wolf – Zia Westfield

The Witch, Alice Humphreys has poured her heart and soul into creating a magical B&B where guests experience the fantasy vacation of their dreams!  Brodie MacEwan has been sent to investigate the mysterious death of his uncle. He never expected to discover his soul mate in his dreams. But is the illusion real? Alice knows that there is something all too predatory about the Scotsman and he makes her body tingle in places it shouldn’t!

Calling All Angels – Lora Logan

Elijah Baker, an immortal tasked with fighting against demons that exist on earth, finds peace when he meets his new neighbor, Celeste. But when he realizes that their love comes with a cost, he is faced with choosing between his calling and a chance at true love.

Dream Catcher – Callie Carmen

Long ago, a medicine man had made a matched set of dream catchers as a wedding gift to protect the Chief’s daughter and her warrior husband. He had called upon the benevolent spirits to keep the two soul mates safe and in a loving, healthy marriage. It was foretold that if the two dream catchers were ever divided the new owners would be drawn together as soul mates. Was that possible?

Life Saving – Anne Krist

Saving lives isn’t just for adults. Sometimes the innocent magic of a child can do the job better.

Love from the Mist – Patricia Elliott

When Jace Warden learns that his brother plans to announce his engagement at a family get together, he flees to the other side of the world to escape the joyous celebration.

Or at least attempts to…  His plane never makes it, and he winds up trapped on an island. Little does he realize, he’s not alone; there’s a mischievous little entity milling about, and she wants to play.

Love Knows No Apocalypse – Patricia Elliott

Getting stranded in the middle of a storm was not Samantha Wheeler’s idea of an ideal situation, especially in the middle of a zombie apocalypse. But fighting zombies was the easy part; her heart, though, was a whole other matter. Thanks to a man named Steve Jones.

When they find themselves in danger, she has to decide what’s more important – dying for someone she loves or surviving.

Love that Binds – Carol Schoenig

On the outskirts of a small town where nothing grows, a young girl, Ianthee, is being bullied and accused of being a witch. Young Caleb, inexplicably drawn to Ianthee, comes to her rescue. Before they can explore their feelings, Caleb and his family disappear. What happened to him, and what part does a long-ago legend play in their lives?

Love’s Ghost – R.M. Olivia

“Sorry, babe. I know it hurts to hear.” John frowned.  I’ll make this brief. I spoke to the man in charge and he is giving me one last chance.”

“Come again?”

“I’m allowed to make love to my wife one last time before I have to cross over. So, are you ready for your husband? Are you ready for me, Ingrid?” He lifted my chin up and ran his thumb along my lips.  I felt a chill go down my spine. How could this be real? How could this be happening?

The Anniversary – Richard Savage

A cruel twist of fate wrenched Evelyn and Peter apart on their wedding anniversary. Evelyn’s life descends into darkness.  James enters her life giving her a chance of happiness. Evelyn discovers a piece of jewelry, that has the power to grant her time with Peter on their anniversary. She adores James, but needs Peter.  Can she ever really let Peter go, while there’s still a chance they can be together?

The Mortal Vampire – Suzanne Smith

Remy enjoys life as a vampire, never giving a thought to sucking every last drop of tasty blood out of his unfortunate victims and leaving them door nail dead. But his cold and carefree existence changes the day he crosses paths with the beautiful and mysterious mortal Angela.

Through the Veil – Jan Selbourne

A beautiful March day in 1875 ends in tragedy when the wagon carrying Helen and Marcus plunges down the mountainside. Generations pass before Rachel Finlay finds an old sepia photo of a man and woman. She knows them but she’s never met them and now, for the peace of mind she desperately craves, she goes back to where it began. In time, through the veil, knowing she may never return.

Unconditional Lust – Breanna Hayes

The massive, hideous merrow leader, Muruch, craves the taste of human flesh. Confined to the ocean, he feeds his horde with sailors from ships pulled into the maw of the Bermuda Triangle. When US Army Captain, Nurys Shaye, puts her life on the line to save him after being captured, his hunger for human flesh is shadowed by the desire for her body and her love. Will she be able to see past his appearance and trust him to break down her walls and teach her to feel?

 

Bio

Alice lives in London, UK, with her husband and son. By day she’s a compliance manager for a pharmaceutical company. By night she writes fantasy romance about shape shifting mermen, water monsters and time-travelling witches. Her first book, “A Merman’s Choice,” was published in January 2019 by Black Velvet Seductions. It is the first book in a fantasy romance trilogy inspired by the landscapes and legends of Brittany and Wales. The second book, “Music for a Merman,” is on pre order now. Alice has also written a short story, “The Sweetest Magic of All,” included in the BVS “Mystic Desire” anthology, on pre order now.

Alice loves reading and writing stories, and sharing them with anyone who’s interested!

Social Media Links:

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( Leaves, book & tea – Depositphotos )

Okay, so the picture above isn’t quite accurate for what the weather is like here today, but I can feel this approaching. It’s been absolutely gorgeous here the past few days, with temps only in the 70s during the day and dipping into the 50s overnight. I’m going to pretend there aren’t to very hot days in this week’s forecast before it gets nice again. I’ll probably miss them anyway, since the next week and a half at the day-job will be bonkers.

I should be spending my time outside while it’s nice, I suppose, but I have writing to do. And this weekend was about family things. I got to spend most of yesterday with one of my dad’s cousins, which was lovely. Today will be for finishing up the laundry I didn’t get to yesterday, maybe dinner, and definitely writing. I could even take the laptop outside for that, though I probably won’t, since I’ll have to keep an eye on the laundry. But I can see the pretty fall sky outside my window while I work and enjoy the cool breeze blowing in through that window.

Before I get to the laundry and the writing, I have a little story snippet to share with you, from the second Medusa story.

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Ryder took a drink, though she couldn’t understand how, with that miserable grin still spread over his face. “You, Mena, are afraid to be in a relationship with a man who’s stronger than you are.”

She blinked at him, her heart pounding faster. “What?” How could a man she’d managed to avoid for so long know so much about the way her brain worked?

“I’ve seen your ‘dates’, Mena. Bunch of pansies, without a spine in the whole lot. You pick men who won’t argue when you decide you’re done with them.” He lifted his fork . “It’s a tactic I’m immune to.” He scooped up more eggs.

Her mouth was dry, but she refused to lift her glass and let him know he’d hit the mark with his assessment of her. “How long have you been spying on me?” she asked instead.

He shook his head, swallowing his eggs. “Just trying to make sure you were safe, Mena. Can’t have you bringing danger home to Jason.”

That was low, and she shot him a fierce glare. “I have never dated anyone who was a danger to Jason,” she ground out.

“I know.” His grin remained smug, and she wanted to smack it off his face. “You’ve never dated anyone who was a threat to your remaining single either.”

She shoved away from the table, her chair screeching with the sudden movement. “My dating is none of your business.” She jolted to her feet and spun away.

“You haven’t dated anyone who would present any sort of challenge to you,” he continued from behind her when she walked the few steps to the sink. “Is it because you’re really that afraid, or because you were just waiting for the right man to come along?”

She shook her head, anger and fear clogging her throat, and gripped the edge of the sink so hard her knuckles turned white. There was no ‘right man’ for her. Not for the Medusa.

Behind her, his chair scraped over the floor. “I’m not a spineless wonder like any of those guys,” he said, his booted footsteps drawing nearer. “And I’ve been waiting a very long time, so I’m not going to go away quietly.”

Philomena shut her eyes.

His big hands settled on her shoulders. “But I promise I’ll never hurt you, Mena,” he whispered, too close to her ear.

She jabbed her elbow into his ribs, hard, surprising him into releasing her. She slid away along the counter. “But I might hurt you.” She patted the hilt of her dagger through her skirt as she faced him. “You know I’m armed, right?”

He rubbed his side where she’d elbowed him, still grinning. “Bring it, baby.”

Her jaw dropped, and he laughed. Suddenly, his smile vanished.

“Get down.”

“What?” She frowned.

He pushed her to a crouch, then moved through the doorway of the guest room, grabbing his gun from the open bag on the bed.

Her heart jumped into her throat at the sight of it.

“We have company,” he breathed, peering through the narrow space she’d made when she parted the living room curtains earlier to let some of the morning light in.

She fumbled her skirt out of her way and unsheathed her dagger, wrapping her fingers tightly around the hilt. It felt good against her palm, but her hand shook. Two days in a row was a little much.

“Hang onto that.” He stepped to the alarm panel and shut the system off, then eased out the back door, his posture cautious.

Philomena shut her eyes. Oh Gods, don’t let the Harvester hurt him.

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Now I’m off to start the wash so I can write. What are your plans for this week? Will the weather be nice and autumn-like where you are, or are you still waiting for its arrival?

( laptop view from above – Depositphotos )

 

Welcome September

I know, I know. Just because September is here doesn’t mean fall is. But we’re closer, so that’s enough for me today.

 

 

 

( Autumn trees – Depositphotos )

I’m writing today and tomorrow now that the household chores are out of my way, as are the errands, so today is just a quick fly-by post with a short excerpt from my novella for the Common Elements Romance Project, due out late this year.

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Nate schooled his expression to neutrality before he turned around. Hayden’s chin jutted stubbornly, and his blue eyes were narrowed. “I’m saying Lucie might be busy with something else right now,” Nate said evenly. “Maybe we’ll see her outside tomorrow.”

“I can knock on the door.” He crossed his arms on his chest, covering the spotted blue dog graphic. “She said we’d play later, and it’s later.”

“We can check,” Nate said, “but, buddy, you have to promise not to be upset if she’s busy right now. It’ll be suppertime soon, too, so we’ll be busy here.”

Hayden’s chin jutted out further.

“Just don’t get your hopes up,” he said, trying to keep his even tone from dropping in defeat.

Hayden bolted for the back door.

Nate followed more slowly, picking up his son’s jacket from the chair inside the door. By the time he stepped onto the bottom stair, he heard his son’s voice, then Lucie speak in reply, though he couldn’t hear the words. He expected to see Hayden’s shoulders droop when he cleared the lilac bush.

He was a little surprised to see the two of them walking into the middle of the neighboring yard while Lucie bounced the big yellow ball on one hand. Huh. He would’ve bet on her putting Hayden off. He paused at the open gate between the yards to watch them for a moment. They’d stopped in the middle and she crouched in front of Hayden, who chattered a mile a minute, and then she nodded as she pushed upright again.

Hayden jogged backward a few steps, grinning, then held out both hands.

Lucie gave the ball another little bounce before she tossed it to him.

His son caught it, giggling. “Too easy,” he shouted. He jumped once, then moved a few more steps away from her. “Ready?”

“Ready!” she leaned forward and held out her hands.

Nate wished he could see her expression.

Hayden lobbed the ball at her, and she caught it before it hit her in the face. His son’s laughter made him smile, shaking his head a little when the boy danced backward a couple more paces. “Throw it again!”

“You sure you can catch it so far away?” The tease in her voice made Nate relax. So Lucie Russo might be a nice woman. Obviously, Mindi and Harry trusted her, which meant she was okay.

But she seemed to be enjoying his son, genuinely enjoying him. Maybe she had nieces or nephews–she was comfortable, chatting with Hayden as they played catch.

He leaned on the fence to watch them.

“Daddy, come play with us!”

Lucie straightened and looked over her shoulder, eyes widening a little.

Nate felt a little kick in his gut at the appealing image–pink cheeks, pretty green eyes that tipped up just a little at the outer corners, full lower lip dropping a tiny bit. Lucie Russo was pretty.

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What are all of you doing on this long holiday weekend? Or during this holiday-shortened work-week? Extra reading? Something else fun? Let me know.

 

And here’s hoping we get to see some pretty fall leaf colors soon!

 

Today is family dinner day. I think I mentioned earlier in the year that I had instituted that since the boys are both out of the house now–at least once a month, we have dinner together. In theory, it’s easy, right? They’re less than an hour away from us. In reality, there are four of us with a whole lot of interests, friends and jobs. The one day off we all have in common is Sunday, so for the most part, that is the day we typically schedule our family dinner.

Sunday dinner used to be a regular occurrence when I was growing up. Every single week, Sunday dinner was a thing. Most of the time, it was just immediate family, but sometimes we had extended family there, or we went to my nearest Grandma’s house about an hour away. No matter what, though, there were always a lot of us around the table, since I have five siblings.

I have most of my prep work done for today’s dinner, just a few little things left to do, so I’m going to write for a while. Before I go, I have a little snippet from my Common Elements Romance Project novella to share with you.

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Lucie had been on the island for almost two weeks, but the view from the back door of her temporary home still took her breath away. Right now, she realized she’d been standing there staring, slack-jawed, at the sunlight glinting off the bright blue ocean waves for a good five minutes. Shaking her head, she pulled the door shut and stepped down onto the sidewalk, feeling in her purse for her car keys.

She closed her fingers on the fob as a giggle reached her ears. She turned to the white picket fence that bordered the property next door as a big multi-colored ball sailed over it, toward her. “Oh no!” She caught it before it hit her in the face and started across the grass, balancing the ball on her hand.

Another giggle sounded as she neared the fence, and she adjusted her direction a tiny bit, so she came to a stop and looked directly down onto a blond head with tousled, curly hair.

“I think you lost something,” she said.

The little boy’s face tipped up quickly, his blue eyes wide with surprise–as if he couldn’t believe she’d found him so easily.

Lucie grinned and held the ball higher.

He smiled back and got to his feet, brushing off his jeans-clad butt.

From seeing him playing outside several times already, she’d guessed he was three or four, and now that she was seeing him at closer range, she scaled that back to three.

“Hi, I’m Hayden,” he said, holding out his right hand.

It was her turn to be surprised. She shook his hand, bemused. “Hi, Hayden, I’m Lucie.” Not too many three-year-olds had such good manners. Aside from the ball toss at her face, that is. “Nice to meet you.”

He glanced up at his ball. “Me an’ my dad are your neighbors.”

“I see that.” She noted he hadn’t mentioned his mom. “Who were you playing with?” She gave the ball a little bounce.

“Maybe you wanna play with me.” Big blue eyes locked on her face.

Ah. She squelched the pang in her chest. “I wish I could, but I’m on my way to town. Maybe we could play another time?” she added when his grin vanished.

“Like this afternoon?”

“Hayden!”

The deep voice got her attention, and the little boy’s, just before a tall, sandy-haired man rounded the back corner of the next-door house.

Lucie’s mouth went dry. Wowza!

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Do any of you still do Sunday dinner? Or do you have a family dinner day regularly? Every week, or less frequently?

Have a great week!

Today was a little break from all of the work crazy for me (though one of my teammates went in to the office today, and I was there yesterday). I went with a friend to the gemstone show we enjoy every year.  That was good and bad. Good, because it is a brief respite from work and chores. Bad, at least this year, because one of our favorite vendors wasn’t there, which was disappointing. It meant we had to work a bit harder to find some of what we wanted. But we also discovered a new vendor with very pretty (and not very expensive!) things at her booth. I had a hard time deciding between two rings, one with my birthstone and another with tanzanite. The birthstone won today, but the tanzanite is in my future, because it turns out this designer is only a short drive away from home, so I can go see her when I am ready for the other ring.

Tough choice, yes?

Our day off as a much-needed break, and now I’m trying to gear up for the next two days at the day-job, when things will likely be mostly out of our control and insane. So I have a little writing to do, and maybe a little reading before I call it a day and try to sleep a full night before two really long days. Before I do that, I have a little story snippet to share with you, this week from my first shifter story.

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He didn’t want to spook her, not so soon, but he pulled her as near as he dared when they stepped onto the dance floor, setting his free hand on her hip to guide her steps, and she put her own free hand on his shoulder.

She smelled good. Something vaguely citrusy, and, beneath that, Tessa. He inhaled deeply, rubbing his thumb across the back of her hand.

She shivered.

The song, and therefore the dance, wasn’t nearly long enough, but Harley knew not to push his luck when she stepped back at the end of it. Warm color tinted her cheeks, and she didn’t meet his gaze. “I really do need to get some sleep, Harley.”

“I did promise, didn’t I?” He consoled himself with the notion that this was only his first move in what would be a very long game.

He didn’t even protest when she remained mostly quiet for the drive back to the house in the dusky summer evening. They walked into the house in silence. She shot him a curious glance when he continued at her side up the stairs. “Thank you for feeding me, Harley,” she said when they reached the first landing.

“No problem.” He touched her elbow, and she resumed walking along the hallway to the guest room she always used.

She swallowed as she turned to face him.

He gave in to the urge to brush a strand of hair away from her temple, and watched her eyes widen, surprise darkening them.

Harley bent nearer. Her hand shot up, so his mouth ran into it. He lifted one eyebrow.

“What are you doing?” Her voice quavered just a little.

He smiled against her palm, enjoying the warmth of her skin. “Kissing you good-night. It’s customary at the end of a date.”

Her eyes widened still more. “We’re not dating.”

He kissed her palm. “I believe we just returned from a dinner date. Dancing and drinks.” He inhaled her scent, and his desire kicked up a few more notches.

Her throat worked as she swallowed, color tinting her cheeks. “I think this is a bad idea.”

He stifled another smile at the way her voice shook and instead flicked his tongue out to taste her skin.

Her breath caught.

“I think it’s a fantastic idea.” He nibbled his way across her palm to her thumb. “You taste good. I can’t wait to taste your mouth.”

Her breathing resumed, much faster now. “Harley.”

He caught her hand and eased it to the wall beside her head as he closed the distance between them so only an inch separated their lips. “Yes, Tessa?”

Emotion swirled in her wide green eyes. He scented her burgeoning arousal in the air, and his body tightened in response.

He waited several heartbeats, watching her gaze slide to his mouth, and noted the way her tongue flicked out at the corner of her lips. Then he ducked in to kiss her.

She tasted better than he’d imagined. Warm and sweet. Her lips parted easily under his, but he deliberately kept the kiss light. She was already spooked, wary. If he dove in head-first, she’d run away fast.

Not that he doubted he could catch her. Easily.

When he finally lifted his head, her eyes were shut, and her lips parted and wet. Tempting him to bend back and take them again. Just briefly. Then he released her. It took a few seconds before her lashes fluttered up, and her hand slowly dropped to her side.

Harley banked the urge to press closer. The scant space between them already had his senses reeling. He waited until her eyes cleared slightly. “Sleep well, little Tessa,” he said softly, taking a step back. The cooler air flowing between them did nothing to dampen his arousal.

Or hers, judging by the flush on her face and the wild pulse beating in the hollow of her throat. She swallowed hard and reached behind her for the doorknob. “Good night.” It came out a hoarse whisper.

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Now I’m going to go work on another story, maybe find some supper, take the rest of my lone day off for the weekend. I just have to get through the next two days of insanity, and then a (hopefully!) easier day Wednesday before I have a long weekend to write. Are any of you facing a really crazy work-week, too? Are you doing something fun today to help you get through it? Or just barreling onward?

 

( To Do – Depositphotos )

I think I may have mentioned how busy we are at the day-job this month–our busiest week of the year is coming up in the next ten days or so, plus we have team members on vacation (I started that last month myself when I went to the conference, and I absolutely feel everyone should use their vacation time!), and our team is short-handed on my side by one person, so we’ve been doing a lot of juggling. And I’m about to toss an unplanned day off into the mix for a family funeral. I don’t feel bad about going to the funeral, though I do feel bad that I’m taking off in a week like the one we’re facing at work. But I had already planned on some weekend hours next week, so I’ll make up for it.

The past week has been non-stop busy at work, too, so my brain was pretty fried by the time I came home Friday evening with Chinese take-out to go with my mango daiquiris. I intended to write yesterday. Then life happened. So even though my brain is still fried today, I’m getting ready to go write anyway. Any words I manage to get on pages might be complete crap, but I’m going to do it anyway, because it’s doubtful that I will get many durint the week ahead, between extra time at the day-job and family things.

On a lighter note, the weather here is slightly cooler, almost like Mother Nature is teasing the end of summer (finally!), and I have a billion tomatoes in my garden. Okay, maybe not a billion, but more than I can eat to keep up with them. Time to start freezing tomatoes for soups and sauces over the winter, plus I’ve started taking some into the office to share. Honestly, the fresh vegetables and fruits are my favorite part of summer. Okay, my only favorite part of summer, because I hate the heat and humidity.

Maybe a winter story snippet to cool things down in case it’s hot today where you are, this time from my fourth shifter story.

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Laney flushed, dropping her shirt. It was silly to be self-conscious when he’d already seen her naked more times than she could count. Stupid. Taking quick breath, she unfastened her jeans and gave them a shove past her hips, along with her panties. Not looking at Anton, she stepped out of the pile of her clothing, and Shifted.

She padded down the snowy steps and into the yard, relaxing.

Until she felt a nudge at her hip. She whirled and found a big tiger. Anton. His tiger was beautiful, green-eyed and strong. He nudged her side again, and she realized he wanted her to go that way. She brushed him lightly with her muzzle before turning to go where he wanted her.

She walked for a few moments, then broke into a run. She hadn’t run in such a long time. But it was safe here. Had she been in human form, she would have laughed with the sheer joy that filled her. Instead, she put her head back and howled.

* * *

Anton trotted after Laney, chuffing when she howled. He let her lead the way, pausing sometimes to examine their surroundings, running until she needed to catch her breath, rolling in the snow.

Gods, she was beautiful, whether in human or wolf form. And he sensed this was the first time she’d fully relaxed in a very long time.

A blob of cold, wet snow hit him in the face, and he narrowed his eyes, focusing his full attention on her again.

Laney Shifted, pushing to her bare feet as she scooped up a handful of snow, deftly shaping it before she lobbed it at him, laughing.

For a second, he froze, snow sticking in his fur, and then he Shifted, too, launching himself at her.

Laney laughed and dodged to her left, but he still caught her waist, tumbling her down into the snow again. She shrieked, and he laughed, putting his face into the side of her neck.

“It’s cold, Anton.”

“Should’ve thought of that before you hit me with a snowball,” he muttered, licking her earlobe.

She gasped, then he inhaled sharply when she plopped two handfuls of snow onto his bare back. Laney laughed again, and he lifted his head.

Fuck, she was gorgeous.

His mate.

Her smile faded a little, and she swallowed hard.

Anton shifted so he was fully over her, so her warm belly cradled his erection. A quick burst of her arousal scented the air between them, and, still holding her gaze, he lowered his head to brush his mouth over hers.

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Now I’m going to dredge up some new words from someplace. Who else’s week is going to be insanely busy? What are you planning for a few moments of quiet and sanity? I could use the ideas.

 

 

I would actually say those two bins are about even, and they both look like the work bin in the cartoon above. My problem this week is a serious lack of motivation. It isn’t because I don’t want to get things done. More like there are too many things that have to get done, and there are a whole lot that are equally important, and I can’t choose where to start.

Part of the problem might be that last month was a really good month. It was busy, but good busy. This month has started off on the crazy-busy side at the day-job–it’s vacation season: while I was away, one of my co-workers also started her vacation, then right after I got back, another started her vacation, so there have been two of us for a couple of days doing the work of five (did I mention we’re actually short one person on our team right now, too?). There I don’t have a choice but to keep my head down and keep things moving. It’s the rest of the to-dos in the Life bin that I am having difficulty working on. My brain is pretty well fried right now after the day-job, which makes it harder to find the desire to do more.

One of my two vacationing co-workers will be back this week, and the other late next week. That will be good. In the meantime, I could really use some ideas on how to get it together. What do you do when there is too much to do, and not enough brain-power or motivation to do it all?

Before I go try to get a little something done before I crawl into bed, I have a little story snippet for you, from Hunting Medusa.

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“Get off, Harvester,” she whispered.

“Stop calling me that.” He hated hearing it from her lips for some reason. Yes, it was what his name meant. It was what he was destined to do. But the contempt in her tone… He didn’t like it at all.

As though the Medusa had room to be contemptuous of him.

“It’s your name.” Her voice was stronger now, as if she’d somehow sensed his unexpected inner struggle. “Why shouldn’t I use it?”

“You won’t be alive long enough to worry about it.” He ignored her behind against his groin for the moment and took a slow breath, trying to remember his plan.

Get in, find her, kill her, get the amulet, and get out.

Well, his plan was not going very well at all.

He didn’t want to be the first Harvester in so many generations to finally find the Medusa and then fail at his job.

“Really?” She didn’t sound as worried as she should. “I’d have thought a big, strong man like you would have already done the job.”

So would he.

But something in him resisted destroying her.

“Where is the amulet?”

“The what?”

Kallan frowned in the dark. “Don’t play stupid. It’s hardly befitting one of your stature.”

“I don’t know what amulet you’re looking for.”

She didn’t sound as if she was lying. But how would he know? He didn’t know her, and ten minutes on her front porch yesterday afternoon hardly qualified him to make such judgments. He hesitated. If he killed her now, he’d have to spend time tearing up her house to find the goblet, and who knew where she could have hidden it? Or if she’d secured it somewhere else?

“Seriously, Harvester.” Her tone was even more confident now. “No amulet here.”

“You lie. I know the current Medusa always has possession of the amulet.” He tightened his grip on her wrist, but didn’t wrench it higher.

She sighed. “I’m not lying. I think I’d know if someone had sent me an amulet when Cousin Annis died. Instead all I got was PMS from hell and—” She stopped suddenly.

“And?” His heart beat faster, and he realized blood still pulsed steadily from his wounds.

“And a new tattoo,” she whispered.

“A tattoo?” He kept his grip on her wrist. “Where?”

She hesitated.

He pulled her arm upward again and heard her quick gasp.

“My back.”

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Now, if you all would share your ideas to get motivated when I’m exhausted, that would be fantastic. I would really appreciate a little help so I can knock some things off of this very long to-do list.

 

 

I’m home from the conference, the laundry is done, and I’ve even put away most of the things I carted home with me from New York, and now I have to go back to the day-job tomorrow even though I’d like to stay home and write some more. But we’re not there yet.

The conference was busy, jammed with people as you would expect when a writing conference is in NYC, the traditional home of publishing. Lots of great authors there, presenting workshops and signing books. I didn’t intend to bring a ton of books home, but somehow, my suitcase was packed as full as I could get it, and I still had more stuffed into a tote bag. It was quite a workout heaving my suitcase into the overhead on the train, and then wrestling it back down again when we reached my stop without giving myself (or my seat-mate) a concussion. I didn’t even bring all of the books home that I acquired–I sent a couple home with my roommate for her daughters. And I really was judicious when I went to the booksignings about how many authors I asked to sign books. Maybe they just multiplied once I got them back to our room.

We had a great view of Times Square from our room–if you wanted to be there to watch the ball drop on New Year’s Eve but didn’t want to be jammed into the streets with thousands of other people, you could see it from that room. Two women from my monthly writing group were also at the conference, and we had some really good meals while we were in the city. The first night I was there, I ate at a diner my husband and I stumbled on during our last visit, and while I was having supper, a group of NYC’s finest also came in for dinner. My writing group friends were disappointed that they missed it and wanted to make sure get to see it. One of them went back with me another night, and we were treated to the same nice view of the ‘Hot Cops’ as we called them. Our other friend was disappointed she missed that, but on our last night, we had dinner at an Italian restaurant nearby and she got her own view of some of NYC’s ‘Hot Cops’.

I went to a fair number of workshops on indie publishing, and marketing/branding while I was at the conference, so I actually started playing around with some new headers for my social media pages. I could use some opinions on what I have so far, so I have a poll on my Facebook page, and created a separate poll here. I’d love if you took a look at these and let me know which one you prefer.

Before I have to start really thinking about work in the morning, I have a little story snippet from my first shifter manuscript to share with you while I get in a little more writing time.

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Tessa could not stop smiling after she hung up the phone. Amy had whooped when she shared the news. Her second stop was to see the tiger.

He sat when she came into the room, his golden gaze alert.

“Hi, buddy.” She dropped to the floor in the middle of the room, almost bouncing. “I found you a wonderful new home. They’re going to come and get you next week. You’re going to love it. They’ll build you a huge new enclosure. You’ll have more tiger friends. Maybe even a girlfriend.” Tessa grinned.

The cat tipped his head, watching her.

She stayed there until her boss arrived, and then she shared the news with him, too.

Joe arrived in the middle of it, and she excused herself to gather her things.

“Your place tonight?” he asked as they headed for the door.

“Um, not right now,” she said, feeling heat rush to her face. “I need to get some books from the library.” She had left the books there last night–she’d been a little distracted by another tiger. But she really wanted to share her good news with him.

Joe waited till she’d gone inside before he backed the jeep up and left again.

She went in, a little disappointed not to find him waiting in the library, or in any of the other rooms on the ground floor. Hands sweating, she headed up the steps.

Tessa swallowed hard, screwing up her nerve when she got to the door. After a few more seconds, she let out a shaky breath and knocked. Once.

Nothing.

She shut her eyes and knocked again, harder.

Still nothing.

After a couple seconds, she decided to bolt. As she turned away, a whisper of sound alerted her to someone on the stairs, and she flushed, pulse racing. Great, now someone else would know she’d gone to Harley’s suite.

Except it was Harley who rounded the corner. He paused for half a second when he saw her, then a hint of a smile touched his lips. “Hello, Tessa.”

The sexy rumble in his greeting made her catch her breath, and she struggled to suck in a little air before she cleared her throat. “Hi,” she managed, suddenly aware they were alone up here. Her brain flashed intimate images from last night, last weekend, and heat flashed through her.

“I didn’t expect to see you this evening.” He came to a stop about a foot away. Just near enough that the warm scent of him enveloped her, teasing her senses. “I thought you’d be working late again.”

She found her gaze caught on his mouth, and she forced it back up to his, trying very hard not to think of all the ways he’d used his mouth on her. Failing.

As if he knew what was going on in her head, Harley smiled a little more. “Tessa?”

She gave herself a mental shake, warmth expanding from her middle. “I found a home for the tiger this afternoon. A reserve that specializes in cats.”

“That’s great.” He tipped his head to one side, his golden gaze sliding over her face until she blushed again. “And you came looking for me,” he murmured, his eyes darkening.

She opened her mouth to speak, but had no idea what she’d meant to say. Her system seemed to be on Harley-overload–she was much too aware of him, the quiet sound of his breathing, the remembered feel of his hard fingers on her skin.

Her heartbeat sounded much too loud and fast in her ears.

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Before I forget, I have a guest blog post going live at Delilah Devlin’s blog on Friday, Aug. 2, and there is a giveaway, so maybe you want to pop over there and give it a look.

Now I’m going to write and pretend I get to stay home to do it every day. What are you doing this hot summer week?

 

 

(Cake and ice-cream – Depositphotos)

I am still without internet at my house, so am crashing the Panera up the road from home once again so I can check in on everything that’s happening in my world and beyond. While I get ready to call our provider (again!) when I get home.

I’ve also been cursing Mother Nature for the ridiculously high temperatures this week. As I write this, our high temp at home today was officially 100 degrees. Much, much too hot for me. It looks like a slightly cooler start to next week, before it gets back up around 90. Good thing for me I’ll be inside the conference hotel all week for the annual Romance Writers of America conference.

I finished most of my packing earlier today. Now I just have a few things to tuck into my suitcase the morning I leave, and my tote bag to prep. I hope I didn’t forget to put anything on my ginormous list. I am really excited to get to NYC, not just for the conference, but because it means I also get to meet up with writer friends I haven’t seen in too long (and some I see fairly regularly) to catch up and talk shop.

I do need to finish whittling down my workshop list. I still have a couple of time slots I can’t make up my mind about. I’ll have to think about that tomorrow while I’m staying inside the air conditioning for one last extra-hot day to write. I might even polish my nails while I’m at it. I should also think about what kind of cheesecake I’m going to bring home with me next weekend for my birthday.

While I’m thinking about that, I have a little story snippet to share with you, this week from Hunting Medusa.

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Kallan sank onto the hard chair at the table and buried his face in his hands. Tonight wasn’t working out at all as he’d imagined it might. Andrea had warned him that morning she wouldn’t forget what he’d done last night. A mirthless laugh rumbled up his chest. He should have realized Andrea wouldn’t completely surrender. She was a fighter, his Medusa.

He frowned. She wasn’t his Medusa. She wasn’t his anything. Perhaps a temporary lover. And ultimately, his target. His family’s enemy.

That didn’t mean he’d allow his cousin get to her, however.

With that thought in mind, he booted up the laptop, fingers tapping over the keyboard. Sure enough, Great-Uncle Ari had responded to Kallan’s earlier posting, with a command to Stavros to head in the same direction rather than to follow his own lead. None of the cousins ever disobeyed Aristotle Tassos, even now when they were adults and hunting on their own—not even Stavros, arrogant and brutal as he was.

Breathing a small sigh of relief, Kallan idly pulled up his favorite page of the mythologies, one with plenty of photos of ancient artifacts to go along with the stories. Artifacts which had never been seen publicly, items that had instead passed down through generations of Harvesters. Currently, Cousin Demitrios was the keeper of the private collection, though word among the cousins was he wanted to get back in on the hunt and turn the curatorship over to his brother Vasily. That was up to Great-Uncle Ari, and the old bastard never rushed a decision.

He scrolled through several pages until he got to the photo he was searching for. A large urn decorated in great detail, including a scene depicting the very beautiful Medusa about to be slain by Perseus. The first Medusa was gorgeous, with wide eyes and a generous figure. The spitting, hissing snakes atop her head didn’t detract at all from her beauty.

He looked up at the ceiling. There was only silence from Andrea’s bedroom. He wasn’t sure if that was good or bad.

He glanced again at the urn. Perhaps she should see it.

To what purpose, though? The voice in his head sounded very like Ari.

He frowned and picked up the computer, then headed for the steps and ignored the imaginary voice.

The light was still on in the bedroom, and Andrea sat just where he’d left her, her shoulders slumped.

Something in his chest tightened. He reminded himself she’d set this in motion, but he still felt a pang of guilt.

He cleared his throat. “I have something you should see.”

She didn’t move, didn’t jump, didn’t give any indication she’d heard him.

Kallan’s frown deepened as he crossed the room to her.

She was sleeping. Sitting there exactly where he’d left her, with tear stains on her cheeks.

Goddess, he felt even worse. He put the laptop on her dresser and turned back to the bed so he could ease her down into a more comfortable position. Certainly more comfortable than sleeping sitting up. She didn’t wake, just burrowed into the pillow, making an indistinct sound of protest.

For a moment, he watched her, trying to figure out why his chest ached and failing. He gave himself a shake and returned to the computer, then shut it down before he kicked off his shoes and stretched out behind her on the bed, careful not to disturb her. She’d had a rough enough day.

He smiled to himself at that and shut his eyes. They both needed some sleep to deal with what was coming.

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Now I’m going to venture back out into the heat and head home to my own a/c and do a little reading before I call it a day. What will you be doing this week while I’m filling my brain with new information at the conference and visiting with writing friends?

 

 

Today will be a super-fast post. Our internet has been down at home since Friday evening, and there is no end in sight, so I took a quick drive up the road to Panera to check on things.

I have been writing today–easier to be undistracted (except by the flashing DSL light on the router) when there is no access to anything else. I’ve also started packing for my trip next week. Not clothing yet, but other essentials. I’ve also picked up some snacks to take along, and some local chocolate for my out-of-state roommate.

Hopefully our internet will be fixed soon, and I’ll have a longer post for you, with a story snippet. What do you do when you lose access to something you rely on? A small freak-out? Major meltdown?