Archive for February, 2020


( celebrating success – Depositphotos )

 

I’ve checked off another couple of steps this week toward getting this Common Elements Romance Project novella into your hands soon, which is a huge relief! Just a few more to go with this one, which makes me happy. Then I can take a closer look at my goals for the year to see how much adjustment I need to make since I am late on this one. I hate that, starting off the year late on the first goal. It makes me think maybe the rest of the list is unachievable. Or that there is something wrong with me.

But I will look at the rest of the things on my writing goals for the year and see if I need to make any adjustments. I know I need to break things down for myself, month by month and week by week–it’s what works for me. But the overall list may need to be tweaked.

It’s a good week for me to have passed a couple big steps, because I have some fun planned this week. Mid-week, we’ll be going to see one of my favorite bands again, and I can’t wait!

( Daryl Hall & John Oates – Depositphotos )

We haven’t seen them in a few years, so I am really looking forward to this, and our unseasonably warm winter has no bad weather in the forecast for our drive up and back, which is a relief. I was a little worried when we got tickets for a show in February that meant a one hour drive each direction. That means we can safely get to and from the show and enjoy the whole evening.

The other fun I have planned for this week is my monthly writing group dinner. I’ve probably mentioned before that some friends and I get together one night a month and we have dinner and write for a few hours. And we talk–last month’s discussion revolved around the big Romance Writers of America mess that’s been happening since the holidays. Occasionally, whatever is happening in our worlds, whether writing worlds or personal or in the wider world, takes all evening to cover, but mostly we do get in writing time, and it’s always a joy to see writing friends. Writers spend our writing time alone, and while it’s always possible to chat via text or online, getting together in person is like going home to family. Some of us in the group have known one another for twenty years, some less, but everyone fits perfectly into the group. I look forward to our writing night every month.

Before I get to work on another one of those steps for the novella, I have a little story snippet for you, from the novella.

================

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 reached the bottom step, he heard his son’s voice, then Lucie spoke in reply, though he couldn’t hear the words. When he cleared the lilac bushes, he expected to see Hayden’s shoulders droop.

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. They’d stopped, and she crouched in front of Hayden, who chattered a mile a minute. She nodded as she rose.

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

Lucie gave the ball another 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. He smiled and shook his head when his laughing son 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. Lucie Russo might be a nice woman. 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.

“Daddy, come play with us!”

Lucie straightened and looked over her shoulder, eyes widening.

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

================

Now I’m going to get some more writing tasks done so I can be ready for the next thing on my goals list for the year as soon as I wrap up this novella release–which involves rewriting the second Medusa story.

How are you doing on your goals for the year so far? Better than I am? Or do you need a little encouragement, too?

 

( Deadline – Depositphotos )

I love deadlines. I love having a finite end date for a project. But I have to confess: if it is a self-imposed deadline, I suck.

I used to be a lot better at reaching those–when I was running my husband’s office and working from home, I had writing goals and deadlines for myself every month of the year, and I always made those, and never at the last minute, always with plenty of time.

If I have a work deadline, or, when I sold Hunting Medusa, those are not my deadlines, so I have to meet them.

The past couple of years, though, my self-assigned deadlines have been pretty terrible failures, and I’m not sure why. I still want to make my goals, but because they’re not line-in-the-sand, absolutely necessary to make because someone else is waiting for what I’m working on, I have a really hard time reaching the finish line, and it’s disappointing. I have adjusted my goal-setting for my writing, knowing that I have to think about other commitments that currently pay the bills, but that hasn’t seemed to help.

I wanted to have this novella for the Common Elements Romance Project finished and out in the world before the holidays. The story is finished, but I can’t stop tweaking and revising–every time I look at it, I want to make something else different and better. I could probably do that for the rest of the year. But I’ll feel worse and worse about it, knowing I should be done and way past that on my goals list. So this week is it. The end. Then I am sending it to be formatted. When I have a release date, I’ll announce it first on my Facebook page, and then shout it from the rooftops everywhere else.

So while I go have dinner with my guys before getting back to my last last round of tweaking on this manuscript, I have a little story snippet for you, from Protecting Medusa, second in my Medusa’s Daughters trilogy (also on my self-imposed goal list for this year).

================

Philomena parked beside her mother’s house. She’d arrived first, and she needed to get dinner on in a hurry. Once Jason got home, she’d be too distracted to focus on cooking.

She went in the back door, balancing a grocery bag while she reset the alarm system, then hit the light switch with her elbow as she continued into the kitchen.

She took her mother’s cast iron skillet from its hook over the counter and put it on the stove, turning the heat to high and dropping in some ground beef before she shed her coat. As the meat began to sizzle, she put away the rest of the groceries.

She rolled up her sleeves and dug a spatula out of the utensil drawer, but stopped when she heard a creak from upstairs. She waited, then shook her head. It was an old farmhouse. It made noise sometimes.

She stirred the beef in the pan, adding chopped onions she’d picked up at the store–not out of laziness but because she’d known she needed to move quickly after three days away and with an excitable six-year-old on his way home.

The sound came again. She set the spatula on the spoon rest and turned the flame under her pan down to low, then tugged up the hem of her long skirt to pull her dagger from its leather sheath on her thigh.

A loud thud reached her ears, and her heart beat a little faster.

Dear Gods, someone was in the house.

She crept up the back steps, keeping to the edges where she knew her weight wouldn’t make the stairs creak, the smooth handle of her long knife comforting in her sweat-damp hand.

More thumping, accompanied by running water.

She frowned when she got to the top of the steps, wincing as something hit the porcelain bathtub, followed by muffled cursing.

She stuck her head around the corner, but the partially-closed bathroom door at the other end of the hall blocked her view. All she could see were shadows.

Two people? In her mother’s bathroom? She wished she’d grabbed the phone on her way up so she could call the police. No, she should’ve called before she came upstairs. Too late now.

More thumping and a crash.

Her jaw clenched, and she stepped into the hallway, her pulse pounding in her ears.

“I’ve called the police,” she lied, moving slowly along the hall. Frigid air drifted toward her. Either the bathroom window was open, or something was seriously wrong with the furnace vents on the second floor. She frowned, holding tighter to her knife.

A dark blur went out the window, and her eyes widened. It was quite a drop to the ground, even with all the snow mounded below from the big storms so far this winter.

When a naked man with a gun went to look out the window, she froze in the middle of the hall, her dagger shoulder high.

Naked.

She swallowed, and then he turned around. Her lungs stopped working.

“Hello, Philomena. Have I ever told you how much I love a woman who can handle a blade?” He caught the edge of the door and pulled it wide open.

She’d know that voice anywhere, and that face, even if she’d only seen him in photos. Ryder Ware, Jason’s father.

And wow, was she seeing him in person.

================

Here’s hoping for a successful, productive week for us all!

 

 

( Silhouette of kissing couple – Depositphotos )

We’ve had a couple of crazy weeks at the day-job, and it occurred to a few of us the other day that we go a long stretch from the end of year holidays (Thanksgiving/Yule/Christmas/New Year) until there is another ‘day off’ holiday. Not that there aren’t holidays–Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day–just that they don’t get work holidays. Our next one is Memorial Day. It’s a long stretch from January 1st until May 25th. I’m kind of glad I have vacation time to fit in all year long, though I’m still going from my long weekend last month until the end of March before my next long weekend. I didn’t plan that well, did I?

This week is Valentine’s Day, the holiday for romance. I have a couple of fun gifts for my husband, things he will appreciate (I hope), because they involve hobbies he enjoys. We won’t be out joining the other people cramming restaurants Friday evening, we don’t necessarily need to do that anymore. Honestly, this is grocery week, so that’s where I will be heading right after work on Friday, before I go home. But we do other things for one another that are more meaningful than a once-a-year holiday. I’m not saying I don’t appreciate a good Valentine’s Day box of chocolate, because I absolutely do–my husband knows where my favorite candy-maker is locally. I’m just saying that after so many years together, there are everyday things that are just as important.

I’m about to go work on some novella things, but I have a snippet of my fifth shifter story for you first.

================

Piper realized she was staring and dragged her gaze away from Joe’s wide chest, back to the book on her lap, flushing hotly. Holy shit.

He cleared his throat. “Sorry, I didn’t realize you were in here.”

“It’s your house,” she mumbled. She heard a soft sound and hoped it was his shirt going on.

“And you’re a guest here.” He cleared his throat again.

She dared a peek and found him watching her, hands in the pockets of his low-slung jeans, a faded blue t-shirt stretched over his chest. “Don’t be silly. You should be able to do as you like in your own house. And we’re only here for a few more days.”

He exhaled roughly. “Really?”

“I spoke to someone this afternoon at a complex in Auburndale, near the office. They have a vacancy.”

“I’ll go with you to look at it.”

She frowned. “That isn’t necessary.”

His mouth flattened. “It is. Is it a shifter complex?”

Piper narrowed her eyes at him. “That doesn’t matter.”

Irritation sparked in his eyes. “It matters, Piper. You can’t take your child somewhere that’s not secure.”

She clamped her jaw shut. Telling him to butt out of her business would be stupid at this point. Without his concern, she’d be scrambling to feed Keely on tips and less than minimum wage hours at a seedy, dive diner. She forced herself to take a slow breath.

Joe sat on the low table in front of her, and she noted the softening of his mouth. “I just want to be sure you two are okay.”

“Why?” She blinked. She hadn’t meant to ask that.

“Because you don’t have anyone else to do it.”

She looked away, stung.

He touched her knee, and she slanted a wary glance at him. “I didn’t mean that the way it sounded. Like I wouldn’t do it otherwise. If I’d realized sooner–”

Piper closed the book and got to her feet. “I’m not your responsibility, Joe. Not the annoying tag-along little sister.” She ignored the burn in her chest and turned away.

He caught her upper arm and swung her back as he stood. “Don’t put words in my mouth, Piper.”

She opened her own mouth to say…something. But she didn’t know what, and it didn’t matter–Joe kissed her. Kissed. Her. Hard, open-mouthed. For a second, she froze, and then realized she was kissing him back.

Stupid, Piper. 

================

What are your plans for this Valentine’s Day? Something romantic? Spontaneous? Casual?

 

 

 

 

( hands in form of heart – Depositphotos )

It’s February, which means for the next two weeks, everything will be about pushing romance and gifts for your Valentine. Don’t get me wrong, I love romance and Valentine’s Day (and who doesn’t love a good gift?), but I feel like we should be doing this all year long? Not necessarily the gift part, but if you love someone, let them know, yes? Not just one day a year.

I’m not even talking about saying it constantly. How about some ‘actions speak louder than words’ behavior? A home-cooked meal, a ‘how was your day?’ and listening to the response, or even ‘be careful’ when the loved one is going somewhere. Yes, a gift wrapped in pretty paper is nice, but it isn’t everything.

My maternal grandparents were married for 46 years before my Grandma died, and my paternal grandparents were together 26 years before my Grandpa died. Longevity in romance is a beautiful thing. I never met my dad’s dad, but have heard stories about how much fun my grandparents had together. I knew my mom’s parents well, and they were inspiring. I never doubted that they loved one another, even if they were bickering. When I cleaned out the attic after my aunt died, I found very sweet notes in cards that my Pop-pop had written to my Grandma, reaffirming the affection we all witnessed as kids. That’s the sort of romance many people aspire to. It’s the sort of thing we love in our romance novels, even if we don’t necessarily believe that a gruff Alpha male is going to write love notes to the heroine of his story.

I’m not sure I’ve actually written a hero yet who would compose love notes to his heroine, but maybe I should put that on my to-do list. But for today, I’ll settle for wrapping up another round of revisions on this novella. Before I get to work on that, though, how about a story snippet from Hunting Medusa?

================

The sun sank faster behind his left shoulder. True to her word, Andrea had led him on a less meandering route away from their lunch stop, though at just as hasty a pace. Now, nearly two hours later, she was beginning to drag. Their travel this afternoon had led them along sheer rock faces, where they’d held on carefully to keep from tumbling down the mountainside, through thickets of close-set trees that blocked the sunlight, across clear, cool water winding its way down the mountain.

Now they were on fairly level ground, with only the faintest of trails to follow, and a stream tumbled over rocks far below them, its splashing faint from where they trekked. Ahead, Andrea’s pack still bobbed up and down with her steps, but he could see she was tiring. No, that wasn’t correct, he thought. She was exhausted, her shoulders drooping, her steps much slower, but she didn’t stop. She didn’t complain.

“Andrea.”

She glanced over her shoulder at him, and he could see the weariness in her eyes.

“We need to stop for the night.”

She shook her head. “He’s coming.”

He couldn’t deny it. “He isn’t going to get you.”

“Not if I keep moving.” She turned forward again.

He caught her backpack and forced her to stop. “Agaph, we need to rest.” He brushed one hand from her shoulder down her arm. “I won’t let him get you.”

Something flashed through her eyes, too fast for him to decipher, and she shook her head. “Not yet. The cave is only a little farther.”

He sighed as she swung away, trudging along. “How far?”

“Another mile or so.”

He frowned. In another mile, she’d be crawling. He walked faster for a moment, until he was on her heels. “Along the trail?”

She shook her head. “Behind the waterfall.”

He touched her swinging arm lightly. “Are you sure you can make it?”

She glared at him over her shoulder and kept going. Sped up for a few seconds before returning to her tired pace. “I can make it,” she said through gritted teeth.

Kallan smiled grimly. She was determined, his Medusa. Then he thought of the other hunter on their trail. He wouldn’t allow Stavros to have her. Andrea was his, and he’d protect her to the death.

As if she’d heard his musings, Andrea glanced back over her shoulder. “He won’t find the cave.”

He raised one eyebrow. If his cousin was really on their heels, he could find a cave.

“You couldn’t find it even with me, if I didn’t want you to. It’s protected.”

He pondered for several minutes as they walked, and then realized he could hear water that was louder than the stream below. The falls. “Can we go faster?” If Stavros had arrived early, he might already be in the forest, and on their trail. Kallan wanted to have her safely away before dark, when it would be harder for his cousin to track them. But he did wonder how the cave was protected exactly. That might prove problematic.

She squared her shoulders. “Of course.” She picked up her pace a little, and he smiled at her back.

Of course she could. She’d never admit weakness. Not to him. Not even to him. Maybe especially not to him.

Agaph.”

She stumbled, then righted herself, her wide, wary eyes turning back toward him.

“I think I’m falling in love with you.”

Shock widened her eyes more. “What?”

He caught her upper arms. “I said I’m falling in love with you.”

================

Now I’m off to revise my (still title-less!) novella for the Common Elements Romance Project so I can get my book cover finished and my formatting set…so I can get you a release date!

What romantic inspirations do you have for this month?