Archive for November, 2019


 

( 2020 goals – Depositphotos )

I know, I know, it’s only November, but it’s mid-November, and before you know it, it’s going to be January. Plus this is typically the time I start thinking about what I want to accomplish in the new year, usually because I have a goal-setting workshop in December. No goal-setting workshop this year, but it’s still time for me to look at what I did this year and try to figure out what I can realistically do in the new year. So my plan for this week, once we get through Monday and Tuesday at the day-job in our busiest week of the year, is to start by looking at my 2019 goals to see what I did right and wrong, and to start playing with a wish list of what I want for 2020.

My more immediate goal is to get through the next couple of days without succumbing to the ick that started to rear its head last night, making my sinuses throb and my throat sore. Toward that end, I have a big pot of vegetable soup on the kitchen stove right now, full of garlic and ginger and other good stuff to ward off the ick. It smells really good in my house right now. An added bonus is that I made a giant slow cooker full of mac and cheese yesterday, and half of that is still here, too, so between that and the soup, I don’t have to worry about what we’ll eat this week. (For those of you wondering about the other half of the mac and cheese, well, I sent that home with the boys when they stopped in last night. They love homemade mac, and I mentioned earlier in the week that I’d be making it, because that’s a guarantee I’ll see them. Moms are smart that way.)

Now I’m about to finish my (hopefully!) last pass through my Common Elements Romance Project novella while I have some soup. While I do that, I have a little story snippet for you from that novella.

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Lucie jumped at the knock on the back door, then used her elbow to shut off the faucet, grabbing the dish towel to dry her hands on the way to the door. She turned on the light over the door, and her eyebrows rose at the sight of Nate on the steps, Hayden hanging from his back. She tugged the door open. “Hi, guys.”

“Hi, Lucie.”

She frowned at the grim expression on Nate’s face. “Are you okay?” She tossed the towel toward the counter.

“We’re fine, but my dad isn’t. The paramedic unit just landed the helicopter to take him to the mainland hospital. I hate to ask…to bother you, but I need to get my mom to the ferry to go to the hospital, and I wonder if you’d mind hanging out with Hayden for a while.”

Startled, she blinked at him. “Sure.”

“At our house?” He winced. “It’ll be bedtime soon.”

“Of course, let me grab my sweater. Come on in.” She hurried away to the living room to shut off the TV and pick up her heavy sweater from the arm of the couch. She grabbed her phone and the book she’d left on the coffee table last night. She might need some entertainment after Hayden was in bed. When she turned around, Nate stood inside the closed door, stress framing his mouth and eyes with faint lines. “Let’s go,” she said, summoning a smile.

After making sure she had the key in her pocket, she locked the door and pulled it shut. She hurried after Nate, whose long strides got him to the fence several seconds before her. She followed him across the yard and into his house, pausing in the mud room to kick off her sneakers, before emerging into a kitchen that made her want to drool–gorgeous honey-toned cabinets with pale, gold-flecked stone counters, and a serious stove that actually made her stop mid-step to gawk at the six burners and built-in griddle. Shaking her head, she dragged her gaze away from it to where Nate crouched a few feet away, unzipping Hayden’s jacket.

The little guy was in pajamas already, soft, fuzzy blue covered with cartoon characters in bright colors. He turned away from his dad to grin up at her.

“Hi, Lucie.”

She smiled back. “Hiya.” She met Nate’s eyes, and her smile faded. “We’ll be fine, Nate. What time is bedtime?”

“Eight.” He swallowed, then stuck his hand into his pocket, and she heard the faint clink of his keys. “We usually read a story first, but just one. I don’t know how long I’ll be, Lucie. Are you sure–”

“I’m positive,” she interrupted, stepping toward him to pat his arm. “We’ll be fine. I have some kid experience, I promise.” She stopped herself from hugging him. She didn’t know him well enough for that, even though he looked a little shell-shocked. “You go get your mom. Maybe leave your cell number by the phone.”

He nodded, then bent to kiss his son’s head. “You be good, buddy.”

“’Kay, Daddy.”

After another few seconds’ hesitation, he took a quick breath and squared his shoulders. “I really appreciate it, Lucie.”

“No problem,” she said lightly. “I’ll see you later.” She watched him scribble on a note pad near the kitchen phone, then lock the door behind himself on the way out. She turned to the little boy who stood a few feet away. “So, we have some time before you have to go to bed. What do you usually do before story-time?”

A sly smile curved his mouth. “We could have a snack.”

She laughed and dropped to her knees in front of him. “Let me see your teeth.”

His smile vanished. Busted. “How’d you know I already brushed?”

“I wasn’t kidding when I said I had some kid experience, buddy.” She tweaked his chin, and he smiled again.

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Is anyone else thinking yet about goals for the new year? Just me?

 

I almost set ‘Comfort and Joy’ as the title of this post, but I don’t want to confuse the seasons for anyone. I’m just thinking about the things that comfort and make us happy today. Now that it’s fall, the soup pot is getting a workout, which makes me happy. Right now, there is leftover potato soup from yesterday’s dinner in the fridge. Today, it’s some of my favorite tea and movie soundtracks while I work on rewrites and laundry, and I am seriously considering one of my favorite movies as a treat before starting the work-week, since it will be a long work-week that extends into the following week without much of a break. Who else loves Love Actually? My husband laughed at me the other night when I said I haven’t seen it since July, but that’s kind of a long time between viewings of a movie I love. Honestly, I could probably watch it once a month and still love it. Kind of like The Princess Bride, or Practical Magic. Or maybe the Harry Potter movies. They make me happy. Last night we watched another favorite, To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything Julie Newmar.

There is nothing wrong with a good rewatch of a movie that makes you happy, or rereading a book you love. (I have Linda Howard’s Death Angel on my desk right now, waiting to be reread.  Again.) Sometimes it’s for comfort, sometimes just the pleasure.

For me, along with the chores, today is for catching my breath a little, and that requires some comfort. Before I start my movie, though, I have a snippet of my first shifter story to share with you.

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“We don’t want to make waves bigger than we can deal with right now. Let’s just concentrate on keeping Tessa safe. Then we can kick somebody’s ass later, once we get this contract issue settled again.”

Harley took a sip of his beer, studying his father. “I’d rather just go kick their asses now.”

Boyd smiled. “I know. But you’re patient, and smart.” He took a longer drink of his own beer.

Harley didn’t like that assessment very much at the moment.

“Besides, I think you have more important matters to deal with.” He winked.

Harley’s brow shot up. “Really?”

“I may not be around all the time, but I pay attention.” Boyd tipped his bottle toward his son. “Now I need to go make nice with my wife.”

His father’s words stuck with him the rest of the night, and again the next day. Boyd was right. Dealing with Tessa would take all his attention.

Now if only he could cross paths with her.

He got lucky the next evening. India had left a note in the kitchen that Tessa was stopping by after work to pick up some books, just in case India wasn’t back from New York on time.

He grinned to himself as he made his way to where he knew she’d go when she arrived. India was, indeed, still in New York, so she wouldn’t be there to meet Tessa.

But he would.

He heard the front door, and her laughter reached his ears along with his brother Joe’s voice. Joe’s heavier footsteps continued up the stairs, and Tessa’s slower, lighter ones came along the hallway. To the library. To him.

Harley lounged in his chair, deliberately not letting her know he was there. How long would it take her to notice his presence?

She dallied for a few minutes in front of the shelves that housed the African cat books even though he knew she’d read all of them at least twice. He took the time to admire her toned legs beneath the hem of her khaki skirt. The shape of her hips as she leaned her weight on one leg. Then she meandered past the native plants of New England shelf, her fingers trailing along the spines as she went.

He imagined what her fingers would feel like sliding over his skin that way, and his body came to attention.

She stopped in front of the garden design area, head tilted. After a moment, she pulled a book out, then another, then several more, and lugged the whole stack to the wide worktable several steps away from him.

He held his breath.

She dropped the books loudly, and then froze when her gaze landed on him.

“Hello, little Tessa,” he said softly.

Panic flitted through her eyes, and her pulse beat madly in the hollow of her throat. “Harley.” It came out strangled.

“Planning a garden?” He stayed where he was, hoping she wouldn’t flee.

She lifted a shoulder jerkily. “Someday.”

He stifled his grin. She was still poised for flight. “What kind of garden?”

She blinked at him. “What?”

“What kind of garden?” he repeated evenly. “Formal, cottage? Something in between?”

A tiny frown line appeared between her eyebrows, as if she were trying to decide his intent. “Probably cottage style,” she said at last, dropping her gaze to the stack of books in front of her. “Formal gardens are pretty, but require more work than I have time for.” She glanced at him again, wariness clouding her eyes.

He leaned forward in his seat, watching her tense still more. The first hint of her arousal scented the air. “I haven’t seen you for a couple days, Tessa.” He pushed to his feet.

She swallowed hard, blushing. “I’ve been busy at work.”

Liar. “I thought maybe you were avoiding me.” He moved to the work table, standing opposite her so he could see the way her eyes darkened.

“Of course not,” she murmured, dropping her gaze to the books again.

“I’m glad to hear that, since I was hoping to kiss you again.”

Her gaze jumped to his face. “We agreed that wasn’t a good idea.”

Harley shook his head slowly, holding her gaze. “I never agreed to that.” He took a step toward the corner of the table, then another, until he rounded the table and stood beside her.

Tessa’s prey instincts were good. She was fairly quivering with the need to run. But she held her ground anyway. He touched her arm lightly with his knuckles and watched the goose bumps lift along her soft skin.

“You said it would be a good idea not to kiss again, but I’d never agree to something like that when I know it’s a fat lie.”

Her eyes widened a little more. “I disagree.”

“Liar.” He slid his hand higher, until he could catch her warm nape against his palm.

She set her hands on his chest when he turned her. “Whatever happened to leaving siblings’ friends alone? Or not screwing with the humans?”

He’d been bending toward her and it was his turn to freeze. “That’s Adar’s opinion, Tessa. Not mine.” He pulled her slightly closer. Now it was his turn to lie. “And all I’m talking about is a little kissing.”

Her gaze landed on his lips and her tongue darted out at the corner of her mouth, almost too quickly for him to see.

Almost. He stifled a groan and bent to kiss her, quickly. Lightly. And again. Again. Until she opened her mouth, her fingers curling into his shirtfront.

Gotcha!

One kiss turned into two, into five, until he lost count. The taste of her was addicting.

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I’m going back to my novella revisions for now. What things are your favorites for comfort? Foods? Books? Music? Movies?

 

( reading book by fireplace – Depositphotos )

It’s November, and it finally feels like fall here. We had a couple nights in a row now with temps around freezing. I was happy to set the clocks back last night, not just for regaining the hour we lost in the spring, but because it wasn’t dark when I got up this morning. I love fall, but I absolutely hate getting up in the dark. I know other people hate that it’s dark earlier in the evening, but I don’t care about that. I find it exceedingly hard to get up in the dark. At the end of the work day, I don’t care if the sun’s already set: the day is over. Getting moving in the dark is a much bigger challenge.

November is also National Novel Writing Month. I can’t join in NaNo this year–we have our busiest week of the year coming up in two weeks, and I’ll be lucky to see daylight at all that week–but I know a lot of other people are already hard at work on their new books. Best of luck getting your 50,000 words written in the next twenty-seven days!

My goals for the month are not that grand. I am aiming to get through the busy weeks at the day-job, get this novella formatted, and manage all the normal day-to-day tasks, plus we have Thanksgiving coming up at the end of the month, which means I need to figure out the menu. That alone is a pretty big task. Yes, we have some of the same things every year–the turkey, the stuffing (which means making the bread for the stuffing first), the mashed potatoes and gravy, the corn pudding, the cranberry relish–but dessert is usually something different from year to year, and since I no longer eat any meat besides fish, I have to decide if I want some protein on my own plate, or if I’ll just enjoy all the sides. I’m leaning toward that right now, but I’m not positive yet. It’s too early. The past couple of years, I’ve taken off the day before Thanksgiving, so I can get some prep work done, which is a huge help. I can get cranberry relish and dessert out of the way, plus if we are having another bread or rolls with our meal, I can take care of that, too. My aim this year is to spend a lot less time in the kitchen on Thanksgiving. It’s annoying to spend the entire holiday working in the kitchen, so I have to work out my game plan ahead of time–can I do some more prep on the weekend prior? Probably. I just have to figure out what.

So…Thanksgiving meal planning, manuscript formatting, day-job insanity, and normal every-day. That’s my game plan for this month, with the hope that I can get some other writing and/or rewriting in along the way.

I have a little story snippet for you, from Hunting Medusa.

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Andi couldn’t shake the feeling something was wrong. She’d worked into the night after the vacuum salesman’s appearance, until she couldn’t see straight to continue with her beading. Then she’d sunk into the bubble bath long enough to be nearly asleep. Today, she’d repeated everything but the bubble bath. Plus she’d driven into town to ship the big order she’d finished early.

Now she sat in the dark beside the front window, watching the forest. Waiting. Trying to convince herself nothing was coming. No one.

When the phone rang, she jumped about two feet in the air, barely keeping in a shriek. She shut her eyes and took a deep breath, forcing herself to laugh weakly as she picked up the receiver. “Hello, Aunt Lydia.” She didn’t need caller I.D. to know when one of her cousins or aunts was on the phone.

“I didn’t mean to startle you, my dear,” came the quavering voice. “I just wanted to touch base with you. It’s been ages since I’ve seen you.”

Her slightly psychic great-aunt must have spoken to Andi’s mother. “I know. I’ve been busy working.” She thought of the small stack of boxed beaded bracelets sitting on her desk upstairs for another customer whose order wasn’t even due for a month and a half.

“You’re aware you could do that here, too, right?”

Andi smiled in the darkness. “I know. I’m not feeling much like company right now.”

“You don’t have to visit your parents, you know.”

Her laugh escaped before she could stop it. “That isn’t very nice of you, Aunt Lydia.”

“Maybe I’m getting selfish in my old age.” Her great-aunt chuckled. “But I’d like to see you.”

“Maybe in a few months.”

The older woman sighed. “All right. But I wanted you to know I was thinking of you. I love you.”

Andi felt her eyes sting a little. “I love you too.”

“Your mother knows she wasn’t there for you eight years ago, Andrea. Perhaps it’s time to let her be there for you now.”

Andi’s eyes dried. “I need to go, Aunt Lydia.”

“Of course, dear. I hope you’ll come soon.”

She looked back at the window and murmured, “Maybe. I’ve got to go, Aunt Lydia.”

Something had moved outside.

Something too tall to be one of the does that frequented the clearing each evening, though not tall enough for the bull moose who came occasionally. Just the right size for a sneaky Harvester posing as a vacuum salesman.

She thumbed off the phone and sat up straighter, her other hand coming to rest on the dagger across her knees. For a long moment, she didn’t see anything. Then a dark shape slid between the trees, a few yards nearer to the house.

Her heart hammered against her ribs and she curled her fingers around the dagger hilt. That was no animal. At least not of the wild variety. No, this was a two-legged animal, and she had the terrible feeling this one really was a Harvester, no matter what her mother had said yesterday.

Let him try, she thought, setting the phone back on its base. He’d find this Medusa wasn’t going down quietly. She only wished she were PMSing so she could take him out without too much effort. Or mess. If only he’d waited just a few more days to make his move…

She stifled a hysterical giggle at that last thought, glad she’d listened to her instincts this evening.

The shape disappeared again in the dark trees, and she held her breath. Then he reappeared for a few seconds, much closer to the house this time. Her pulse pounded in her ears. He was determined. And now out of her line of vision.

A loud, sharp beep indicated her alarm system had shut down, and was accompanied by the sound of every appliance in the house also turning off. He’d killed her power at the junction box outside.

Bastard.

Andi got to her feet, then tried to decide which door he’d come in. She heard the soft sound of a footfall on the back porch. She crossed into the kitchen, not needing to feel her way around the furniture, and positioned herself beside the refrigerator. He wouldn’t make it far into the house, and then he was hers.

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Now, I think before I get back to my rewrites, I’m going to spend a few minutes looking at the pretty first quarter moon hanging outside my window. What are your goals this month?