Archive for May, 2020


( motivational poster – Depositphotos )

Here in the U.S, we’re finishing up a three-day weekend today for Memorial Day. For some, even though it’s meant as a remembrance for service people who lost their lives at war, it’s still a working weekend, for others, it’s about kicking off summer, and for some, it’s a combination of all of those.

Where I am, we’re still under a stay-at-home order, which suits me fine, since the number of new cases of this virus are still holding pretty steady in my county. It was also grocery week, and I took advantage of delivery from one of the two places we shop, then headed to the other all masked up. I also spent this afternoon and evening doing some necessary gardening. My tomatoes are in, the weeds are out. I did, however, pick up too many tomatoes (I can’t even believe I’m typing that, there is no such thing as too many tomato plants, right?), so I shared with my neighbor, who doesn’t get out. Now she’ll also have fresh tomatoes in her garden in a couple of months.

Everyone does something different for pleasure–weeding is not one of those things for me, but a necessary evil so I can enjoy my tomatoes and fresh herbs all summer. For me, relaxation means family time, reading or writing, always music, and sometimes a favorite show or movie. Tonight’s show was After Life with Ricky Gervais. I’ve never been a huge fan of his, but we laughed our way through An Idiot Abroad a couple of years ago, so when  friend talked about how much they loved this show, I added it to my Netflix list. There are parts that are depressing, appalling, just plain awful, hilarious, and some so sweet, they’ll break your heart. We finished the last couple episodes from the second season tonight, and I have a terrible headache from sobbing through them, but I can’t wait until the next season.

During the past couple of months, I know people have been doing a lot of different things for enjoyment, sometimes an old hobby, sometimes something new. What are you doing right now when you need a few minutes of you-time? Are you turning to something you already loved before this pandemic, or have you picked up something new to make you feel better?

I’m going to go get something for my headache before I call it a day, but before I go, I have a little snippet of Light the Way Home for you.

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

“I can knock on the door.” His son 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, but, buddy, you have to promise not to be upset if she’s busy. Plus it’ll be suppertime soon, so we’ll be busy here, too.”

Hayden’s chin jutted out further.

“Just don’t get your hopes up,” he said, trying to keep his 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 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.

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In case you’re looking for something new to read, the book title above is also a link to all your favorite booksellers where you can find it.

So what are you doing for enjoyment right now? When you need a few minutes of escape? I’d love to know.

 

In normal times, a lot of people use the weekends to catch up on all the chores they didn’t or couldn’t get to during the workweek. Right now, we’re in far-from-normal times, and for a lot of us, there is no differentiation between weekdays or weekends. For some of us, we still have a regular or semi-regular work schedule. I’m one of those lucky ones. That leaves me weekends to get the bigger chores done, like it or not.

A typical weekend here includes multiple loads of laundry, probably cooking, likely following that up with some dish-washing. I usually also spend a block of time clearing out my inboxes, get my regular blog post together, and hopefully a nice chunk of time for writing tasks like revisions, actual writing, social media and marketing things.

I did a little day-job overtime yesterday, just a few hours. I even got the laundry done. But today? I don’t feel like doing chores today. I ran a couple of necessary errands, and I spent some time earlier with my web designer working out some ideas and issues with a new web design we’ll launch next month. What I’d really like to be doing in lounging in a hammock somewhere with a good book.

 

( lady on hammock with book – Depositphotos )

Since it isn’t warm enough for that here today (plus it’s raining on and off), I’ll settle for curling up on the couch with something to read in just a few minutes. Before I do that, I have a little story snippet for you from the second book in the Medusa’s Daughters trilogy, Protecting Medusa.

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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.

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This is the story I am working through in revision right now, with the hope that later this year, I might have it and the third story in the trilogy ready to go out into the world with a reissue of Hunting Medusa. But in case you need something new to read right now and you haven’t picked up a copy yet, Light the Way Home is already out in the world and ready to read. If you click on the title, it’s a link that will take you to all the major booksellers who have it available.

What are you doing this week? Taking a weekend break from your routine? Buried under a ton of work? Something else? Hop you all have a great week ahead!

 

 

( fresh chamomile with hearts -Depositphotos )

It’s Mother’s Day here in the U.S, meant to celebrate all of the moms in our lives. For some right now, today is harder than usual, when we can’t be with our kids or our families. But we’re together in spirit, and will be together in real time again one of these days, after this wretched virus has been knocked back and it’s less dangerous to everyone for us to gather again.

I hope if you’re a mom that you had a lovely Mother’s Day and got to connect with your family one way or another.

We had a quiet day, which is nice, but I’m gearing up for about a month and a half of crazy-busy at the day-job again, so a little down-time now is a really good thing. A couple weeks into the crazy, I’ll be thrilled to get a few minutes of actual quiet and calm.

Before I go try to get in some reading time, I have a little story snippet for you, this week from Hunting Medusa.

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“I think I have a plan.”

Her heart thudded harder. “A plan?” For the amulet, or her?

“Yes. My cousin will only be delayed a day or so at most before he comes back.”

Her lungs worked a little faster.

“How well do you know your mountain?”

“Like the back of my hand.” Which was why she would have been able to hide from him two days ago without any problem, had her body cooperated.

“Is there somewhere we can go he won’t be able to track us?”

“We?”

“You’re going nowhere without me, Andrea.”

That was a problem. “There are a few places.” Including her cave behind the waterfall. But she didn’t think taking the Harvester there was really in her best interest.

“Somewhere protected?”

“Yes.” The cave definitely qualified.

He sat up, braced himself on one hand beside her shoulder. “How long will it take to get there from here?”

“Hiking?” She considered for a moment. If she took him the roundabout way, she could wear him out and lose him. Maybe. “A day.”

He inhaled deeply, and she imagined him pondering the idea. When he exhaled, he touched her temple, just brushing the edge of the sleep mask. “Are you safe now?”

She nodded, wishing just for a second that it wasn’t true.

His strong fingers eased the mask up and off, and she rubbed her eyes, blinking against the bright morning light. He helped her to an upright position. “We need supplies if this location will take us a day to hike to.”

Andi gave him a long stare, panic making her pulse race. What if she couldn’t lose him in the woods? “I have some things in the basement,” she said at last. “Water and food.” Also true.

He nodded, gaze fixed on hers, and she realized she must be a mess. Self-consciously, she lifted one hand to smooth down her hair. A hint of a smile touched one corner of his mouth, making her blush. “Why don’t you shower, and I’ll start a list. We should head out tomorrow at first light.”

Andi looked away and eased out of bed. She gathered clean clothes from her dresser and headed for the bathroom. Behind her, the Harvester still sat in bed, his bare chest visible over blankets that had fallen to his waist. She wondered if he was naked under her covers.

She shouldn’t care.

The bathroom had been straightened up again, she realized as she stripped off her sweats. Her vibrator was nowhere in sight, clean towels hung on the bar, and her hot water bottle lay empty on the sink.

How very thoughtful.

Her mouth twisted and she climbed into the shower, then slid the door shut harder than she needed to. When the water came on, she made it hotter than it needed to be too, to distract herself from how nice he was being. “Come into my parlor, said the spider to the fly,” she muttered, soaping up her hands before sliding them along her arms, her torso.

The Harvester could be as nice as he wanted, as sexy as he wanted. But she wouldn’t forget why he was here.

She lifted her face into the spray, then turned so her head was soaked next.

Either she would escape him in her woods, or die trying.

Not much as far as plans went, but it was all she had at the moment.

After her shower, she didn’t protest the cuff he put on her to keep her in the bedroom while he got his own shower, which was considerably quicker than hers had been. And he’d left her his list to look at while she waited.

Water. Check.

Food. Check.

Camping supplies. She chewed on her lower lip for a few seconds. In the cave she had more than enough, but she didn’t really intend for him to get there with her. Perhaps he had some of his own in the backpack downstairs. But the pack wasn’t that big. No, he didn’t have those supplies.

“What are you thinking?” He stepped into the room, his inky hair gleaming blue-black and wet as he dragged his fingers through it.

She forced her gaze away from his hair and back to the pad on her knees. “I’m thinking it’s going to be a long trek.”

“You’re up to it, right?” Concern darkened his green eyes.

“I’ll be fine.” She’d get to her cave if she had to crawl there.

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I am hoping to have this book back out in the world later this year, followed by the other two stories in the trilogy. In fact, I have a stack of pages from the second book, Protecting Medusa, on my desk right now, waiting for me to continue working on revisions. I think I may work on that for a while before I pick up my book to do some relaxation reading before I call it a day, early tonight.

And if you’re looking for a quick, light read while you’re safely at home, Light the Way Home is available at all your favorite booksellers.

I hope you all have a great week!

 

 

I know we’re all having moments right now when we just can’t take another minute of being at home, where we have all the chores staring us in the face and no good reason not to do them, or the distress of just missing our family and friends. I’ve had plenty of them in the last month and a half since we started the work-from-home at the day-job, just prior to the stay-at-home order in our state went into effect. I miss our once or twice a month Sunday family dinner with my boys. I miss seeing my co-workers every day at the office. I miss being able to just run out and get some random thing I didn’t know I needed until I needed it.

But I am happy that I can stay safely home and not endanger myself or anyone else. Plus it does give me a few less reasons why something on my never-ending to-do list has to wait another month or six months or till whenever.

One thing on my rotating to-do list is to get all of my photos, including all of the pictures my aunt gave me that belonged to my grandparents, and photos of hers, and pictures that I acquired when one of my other aunts died, and the ones from my mom and my dad scanned or otherwise digitized. It’s a pretty daunting idea. Just with my own photos, there are so many albums, from when I got my first camera around age nine or ten. Then the boxes and storage totes full of pictures from other family. It’s going to take forever, and I really want to sort them into some kind of order first, so we can easily find by time frames. I haven’t started on it yet, though it’s a big project. But I did get an opportunity this week to dig through some of those photos, and it was so much fun.

My wedding anniversary is coming up, and it’s one of those off-years where the ‘suggested’ gift items aren’t all that exciting, but one of the suggestions is pictures. I spent some time searching for a frame I think my husband will like, and then I went downstairs to look for a photo to put in it. I actually got to spend a nice chunk of time browsing old pictures, starting with our wedding and moving through the last twenty-six years. I considered a couple with the boys, or with all four of us, or some from a vacation we loved and want to repeat. It was so much fun looking through pictures of the boys when they were small and smiled for photos, of places we’ve been together. I did finally settle on one from our wedding that will be perfect in the frame, and that was fun, too. We hardly ever dig out old photos, and I can’t imagine why when they’re such wonderful reminders of people and places we love.

That block of time this week is one of the things I am thankful for during this long stretch at home. And it’s made me rethink putting off the photo project too much longer. I know there are pictures in my enormous collection of my grandparents, and their parents, and I can’t wait to dig through them all again. I may research having someone do the actual scanning of pictures for me, just because it is going to be such a huge undertaking, and before the scanning can happen, I first have to organize them all, which will be an even bigger step, I think.

Before I go back to my Sunday chores, I have a little snippet from Light the Way Home to share with you.

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Lucie had been on Mac’s Light Island for almost three 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 grey-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!” She caught it before it hit her in the face, then started across the grass, balancing the ball on her hand.

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

“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 already.

Lucie grinned and held the ball higher.

He smiled as he got to his feet, brushing off his jeans-clad knees.

From seeing him playing outside several times already, she’d guessed he might be four, but now at close 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.” Guileless 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 can play another time?” she added when his grin vanished.

“Like this afternoon?”

“Hayden!”

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

Lucie’s mouth went dry. Wowza!

He frowned when he saw them, but his stride never slowed, just changed direction, toward them at the fence. “Hayden, we have to go to Grandma’s.” He stopped close to the boy. “You were supposed to stay on the porch.” His brown gaze lifted to her face. “I’m Nate Baxter.” He stuck his right hand out. “Sorry if Hayden bothered you.”

She reached across the fence slowly, trying not to gawk at her hot neighbor. “Lucie Russo. And he wasn’t bothering me, we were just making a date to play ball.” She met his palm and gave a firm shake, pretending not to notice how warm his callused fingers were around hers. Or how wide his shoulders were in the dark flannel shirt.

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The chores I’m headed back to now aren’t as much fun as paging through old photos, but I’m still grateful to have them and the time to do them. What are you doing this week that you might not have time to do if the world hadn’t gone berserk? Not that I’m looking for more things to add to my to-do list. It’s plenty big enough to last me a long, long time.