Category: event


It’s the start of Thanksgiving week here in the U.S. Along with my normal weekend chores today, I started the bread bake for this week–I normally bake the bread we use for stuffing the turkey. Today the first loaf is done and cooling in the kitchen, and it smells really good. The other two will have to wait until Wednesday, when I’m off from the day-job so I can do kitchen things.

There are a lot of things I am thankful for, there always are. Just today, I can think of plenty. My family is healthy. We’re all well-fed. We have roofs over our heads, and jobs to keep us that way. My washer and dryer work, so all of the week’s laundry is just about finished at last. My bread machine still works after nearly twenty years (and me finding out, accidentally, today that the lid is removable, though it does now have a couple nicks in it), and makes scrumptious bread for us. I have a roomful of books to read. I still have time off to schedule at the day-job before the end of the year. The great 80s music that is playing from downstairs right now. I had an idea for a new story (or several stories?). So many things.

Before I go back to my Thanksgiving prep list to make sure I don’t miss anything this week, I have a little story snippet to share with you, from the fourth story in my shifter series.

________________

Laney looked like she might cry.

Anton tamped down the urge to smile.

“Oh,” she said after a few seconds, “you really shouldn’t have, Lareina.”

“Nonsense.” His aunt hugged her tight with one arm. “You’re family now. And they’ll look much better on you than sitting in a locked box.”

Laney’s gaze flicked to his, and he grinned at her.

“Put them on, dear.” His aunt winked at him. “Let’s see.”

Reluctantly, Laney took the earrings out of the box and fumbled them on.

“Perfect,” Lareina said firmly.

Laney murmured another thank-you, but he’d bet she was wishing for a way out.

“And they’ll go with Mom’s necklace,” he said helpfully.

Laney shot him a drop-dead look, which he ignored, crossing to sit on the arm of the loveseat beside her. He brushed her hair back to see the platinum and emerald dangling from her ear. “Very pretty.” He leaned down and feathered a kiss at her temple.

Exhaling a long breath, she turned to his aunt. “They’re lovely.”

Anton rubbed his hand in a small circle between her shoulder blades, feeling a little of the tension ease.

His aunt patted her knee. “Why don’t I refill your glass? I need to check the bread anyway.”

He waited until Lareina had bustled away with Laney’s half-empty wineglass, then he claimed the spot beside his mate. “What’s wrong?”

She met his gaze, then dropped hers after a moment. “It’s too much.”

He dragged in a slow breath. “It’s family.”

She swallowed. “But I’m–”

“My mate,” he said firmly, and her gaze snapped back up to his.

She clamped her teeth on her lower lip.

Anton set one hand at the back of her neck and leaned closer. “Merry Christmas, Laney,” he whispered.

She shut her eyes, but not before he caught a glimpse of tears.

Anton kissed her lightly, wondering if she would kiss him back. She did, but only for a moment then leaned away, blushing. He touched her jaw, holding her shiny gaze. “You okay?”

She nodded once, swallowing.

“It’s a lot,” he mused, “all of them.”

Laney shrugged, looking away. “Not so bad. There was always a houseful when I was at home.”

Of course. “How did you spend the last two Christmases?”

She nibbled at her lower lip for a second. “I worked the first one, and last year I spent the day at a homeless shelter, serving dinner. Less lonely, plus I got to remind myself things really weren’t so bad for me.” She shrugged once more.

Anton wished again that he’d done more damage to Shepley the other night. He wrapped one arm around her shoulders and pulled her closer.

________________

Now I’ve got to finish this list so I can get some writing done before I call it a day! What are you thankful for this week?

 

Advertisements

 

( Photo by Fays cakes on Foter.com / CC BY-ND )

The fun we had planned for last week went off without a hitch, including going to the booksigning yesterday. It was so much fun to meet an author whose books I’ve loved for many years, and to see another I haven’t seen in a few years, and, of course, my idol, Nora. Plus we had amazing lunch afterward, and I brought home something inspirational, which is now sitting on the top of my desk, staring at me from above my monitor:

 Sometimes you need a little reminder, right? I’m thinking this should be my motto for the next year, from this birthday to the next one. What do you think?

We still have a few crazy days to get through at the day-job in the coming week, so I’ll be head down, nose to the grindstone for a couple days, and then will be able to breathe for a couple days heading into my birthday next weekend.  And speaking of next weekend, I think I might do a little party over on my Facebook page next weekend, too, to celebrate the big day. A little virtual cake and ice cream (No calories, so that is definitely on my diet plan!), maybe a few gifts to give away.  If you take a peek over there, I’ve got an event page set up, so you can join in the fun with me next Saturday, July 28, 2018.

In the meantime, I have a little story snippet to share with you from one of my shifter stories.  I had intended that Joe’s story would be the third and final in that series, but right now his is the fifth story, and there are a few other characters in the series who really need to have stories, so it looks like Joe might not be the last after all.

________________

Joe listened to Piper and Keely down the hall, the little girl’s tone tinged with a whine. He smiled. She didn’t want to go to bed, but he’d bet she’d be sound asleep in under ten minutes. Probably as soon as her head hit the pillow in her little pink bed–she’d had a long day with his nieces and nephews, playing all over his parents’ house. He wondered if she’d ever had so many playmates all at once before.

His smile faded a little. Keely had enjoyed herself much more than her mother had.

Piper hadn’t wanted to go in the first place, but she’d been polite. The wariness had never eased, though, not all afternoon and evening, no matter what his mother had said or done.

He wondered when she’d trusted anyone last, even just for casual contact. Maybe not in a couple of years. Probably not in a couple of years, he thought, shaking his head. Chris.

Joe listened. No sounds from the hallway now. Probably a good sign.

He paced to the first bookcase and stroked the spine of a history book with one forefinger, then turned at a whisper of sound.

Piper stood at the door, eyes still wary.

“Is she out?” he asked lightly

“Like a light.” She made no move to come into the room. “I think–”

“Sit down, Piper. She’ll be fine.”

She blinked.

“I promise. And you need to relax. Being on guard all the time must be exhausting.”

Something flashed in her eyes, but she looked away before he could identify it. “I was going to say I think I’ll find a book and a quiet corner to read, out of your way.”

He frowned. “You’re not in my way, Piper.”

She gave him a steady look for a few seconds. “I imagine you’re used to having your house to yourself.”

He shrugged. “But I spend most of my time at the office or my parents’, so I’m hardly ever alone.”

“And now you’re not even alone when you get home,” she said softly.

He huffed out a rough breath. “By my choice, pretty Piper.”

She flushed and looked away again, and he realized what he’d called her–he used to call her that when they were kids, usually when she was dirty or injured from some escapade the three off them had survived. Fuck.

“Sorry,” he muttered, shoving his hair away from his face. “I don’t know why I said that. Not that it isn’t true,” he added. Fuck, he needed to shut his mouth. “Find a book, find a comfortable seat. You’re not in my way, Piper. If I didn’t want you here, I wouldn’t have brought you here.”

She swallowed, her expression even more guarded. “Why did you bring us here, Joe?”

He studied her for a moment. “Sit down, Piper,” he said, more gently. “Please.”

She dropped onto the arm of the chair just inside the door, and he noted the stiff set of her shoulders and mouth.

He took a slow breath. “I brought you here because you needed somewhere to go. Somewhere safer than where you were.”

Her lips thinned into a flat line for a second for a second. “I am not a charity case, Joe Wentworth.”

He quelled the urge to smile at her careful tone, just on the verge of snotty. “No, you’re not, but let me help you anyway.”

Her brows dipped a little. Finally, she sniffed. “I’ll go to the office on Monday, to interview, but I don’t want to stay here any longer than absolutely necessary, so I’m going to look for a place and get out of your way as soon as I can.”

He didn’t protest that, just nodded once.

Suspicion clouded her eyes, as if she’d expected an argument.

Joe relaxed a little. “I was thinking about a piece of that cake Mom sent home. How about you?”

Piper’s eyes widened a little, and then she shook her head. “It’s too late for me, thanks.”

He didn’t argue that either, just straightened. “Find a book, Piper. Relax.” He passed her on his way out of the room, and resisted ruffling her hair. It had annoyed her when they were kids and would probably annoy her more now. He wondered absently if her hair was still as soft as it had been then.

The idea made him frown. He had no business wondering things like that.

He shook off the idea as he uncovered the chunk of cake they’d brought home and found a knife in the dishwasher. She should have some cake, too–she was too thin. He cut off a slender piece for her and a bigger piece for himself, then got a couple of forks and carried the cake back to the library, where Piper was kneeling in front of a bookshelf.

She frowned when she looked up, then blinked when he dropped to his knees beside her.

“It’s just a little piece.” He held out the plate.

For a moment, she stared at him, before her gaze dropped to the dessert. “It was good,” she murmured, reaching for the plate.

He stuck his fork into his own cake and lifted a big bite into his mouth.

Piper cut off a much smaller piece, chewing it slowly, her eyes closing briefly, as if she were savoring it.

Joe wondered when anyone had last taken care of her. Her brother wouldn’t have, he wasn’t the type. Keely’s father? He frowned. He didn’t even know who that was. Now didn’t seem the time to ask, though. Maybe another day.

Or he could dig up the info on his own–and kick the guy’s ass for leaving them to fend for themselves this way.

________________

Now I’m going to do a little reading, and some more writing. Oh, and I’ll have a guest blog post up at Delilah Devlin’s blog later this week, Friday, July 27th, so I hope you’ll visit me there, too.

Maybe a little more cake before I go…

( Photo by bochalla on Foter.com / CC BY-SA )

 

( Photo by KatVitulano Photos on Foter.com / CC BY-ND )

Here in the U.S, it’s the last day of Memorial Day weekend, and, for some of us, a three-day weekend. I had a to-do list for the weekend. Some of the things on it have been checked off, but others have not. Then again, there were things that I got accomplished that weren’t on my list, so I guess it evens out.

One of the things on my list was family time, and I got that, twice, which was nice. The boys came for lunch on Saturday, and then came again today, which coincided with a visit from in-laws, so it was more family than I’d anticipated.  It will probably have to hold me through next weekend, because I’ll be heading to Maryland with one or two reading/writing buddies on Saturday to see my idol Nora, as well as Robyn Carr, and some other ladies (maybe a gent or two? I’ve lost track of the authors-signing list), and then for some girl time afterward, which we haven’t done in ages. We try to get to Nora’s signings more regularly than we have in the last year, but it’s been a while.  Our routine is to get there early so we can be in the first group into the signing, and then we head off to a cute little town in West Virginia for lunch and a little shopping before we head home. It’s always a lot of fun, and I’m glad we’re going for this one.

I’ve been sneaking in a little prep work on a novella for a group project this past week.  I haven’t written anything short in a while, so it might be a challenge for me.  I do have some novellas tucked away in my ‘manuscripts to rework’ file, and I believe a few of them are actually pretty good. (One of the things on my writing to-do list for the year is to read through some older manuscripts to see what might be salvageable going forward. So far, some of the things I’ve looked at are probably things I can improve to publishable levels, and some will move into the ‘completed, but never going out into the world’ file. Ha!)

I have also gotten in a little writing time, in spite of the craziness at the day-job last week, which was a nice surprise.  I’m hoping to get some more this week, which would put me in a good place for my revised writing goals for the year.  Right now, though, I’m going to get in some reading time, but I have a little bit of story to share with you first, from one of those novellas I think I can probably fix up.

________________

Boone Thatcher froze in his tracks as he rounded the corner of the house. She was at it again. His heart pounded in his head until he couldn’t hear anything else.

Long, bare legs, braced on the rickety metal ladder.

He let his gaze slide up them, from her bare, paint-spattered toes, to her shapely calves, to slender thighs topped by fringey, cut-off shorts that only covered her ass by a few scant inches.

The blood rushing in his veins all dropped southward, to his groin, at the images his mind summoned up. Had been summoning up for months now. Made him want to loosen his already-undone tie to get some air in his lungs.

“Oh, hi, Boone.” Moira Dawley smiled brightly down at him, dripping paint from her narrow paintbrush onto the shrub beside her ladder. “I didn’t hear you.”

He swallowed, his mouth dry, and forced his gaze up from the curve of her bottom, past the faded white t-shirt with a hole near one hip, to her face, to brown eyes like melted chocolate. Dark and decadent. Eyes he wanted to drown in.

He jerked his wayward mind back from the brink. “Hi, Moira. I got your message.”

Her smile disappeared. “Oh.” Faint color touched her fair, freckled cheeks.

He frowned. Her message hadn’t hinted at anything bad.

She stuck her brush into the tray resting atop the shaky ladder and backed down.

Boone resisted the urge to catch her around the waist and lift her off. Each gentle sway of her hips was torture.

By the time she stepped onto the ground again, he struggled to breathe evenly. Sweat ran down his back under his dark uniform shirt, dampened his nape on the way.

Moira looked at him curiously. “You okay, Boone?”

He nodded. “Just a little warm.”

The curiosity became disbelief, then cleared. “Were you working out after your shift?”

He nodded again. Somehow, he didn’t think that one little lie was a very big deal. Not as big as if he told her the truth: his tongue was about to drag on the ground from the sight of her bare legs.

She smiled a little. “I made lemonade. Come on in.” She waved at him as she moved past, heading for the back door into her little house.

He shook himself mentally and followed her inside, then barely managed to swallow back a groan at the sight of her bent over in front of the refrigerator. Her shorts rode up so he got a fleeting glimpse of white lace panties.

He rested his forehead against the cool wall and shut his eyes. Shit, what did I do to deserve this torture?

“Oh, my. You must’ve really overdone it,” she said, patting his arm as she brushed by him.

Boone opened one eye to squint at her. She poured lemonade into two tall glasses, ice cubes clinking faintly, her movements efficient. When she turned around, holding out one of the glasses, he forced himself upright and took the glass. “Thanks.” The cool liquid soothed his parched throat.

Moira smiled again and returned the pitcher to the fridge. “Sit down.”

He sat, warily. Something in her face now served as a warning.

She sat, too, her fingers sliding along the sides of her own glass, and her gaze shuttered by long lashes.

“What’s wrong? You run out of red paint again?”

One corner of her mouth turned up at his teasing tone, and she shot him a measuring glance. “No, I think I’ve got enough paint for now.”

“So what is it?” He set his glass down and rubbed his sweaty hand on his thigh under the table. Why hadn’t he changed into shorts and a t-shirt before coming over? His uniform wasn’t made for panting over a woman. Hell, it wasn’t even designed for summertime use, really. Dark navy pants and a matching shirt with a tie. Someone out there really hated cops.

Boone frowned. “You make it sound like it’s something terrible.”

“It’s a little embarrassing.” She flashed him another quick look, faint color touching her cheekbones, then pushed to her feet.

His breathing hitched when she leaned on the edge of the counter, bracing herself with her hands on either side of her hips so her t-shirt pulled tighter over the swell of her breasts.

“It’s a relationship thing.”

His gaze swung back to hers. “What?” Much as he wanted it to be otherwise, the only relationship they had thus far was that of friends.

“I need some advice, and I don’t have any other men I can ask.” More color tinted her cheeks, and she dropped her gaze to the table in front of him.

Boone considered that. If she was asking him about another man, he wasn’t sure what he’d say. He knew he’d want to kill the guy, though.

She sighed and moved back to her seat, lacing her fingers to prop her chin on them, lifting her gaze back to his. In hers, he read uncertainty and determination in equal measures.

He waited.

Her throat worked as she swallowed, and she sat up straighter, laying her hands flat on the table on either side of her forgotten lemonade. “I need you to help me be sexier.”

Boone slumped back in his seat, all the air rushing from his lungs. Of all the things she could’ve asked him, he couldn’t think of one more impossible. “What?” he croaked.

________________

Do you have a slightly shorter work-week this week, too? Will that make it better or worse? While I’m dealing with the insanity tomorrow, I’d love to hear that I’m not alone!

 

 

I’ve just got a quick post this week. It’s been a long weekend, though it was wonderful to see family I see too infrequently, but I’m feeling a little blue, so I have a story snippet to share with you.  I’ll be working like crazy at the day-job this coming week, and trying hard to get my mind focused on that and on my writing, rather than our sad get-together over the weekend to say goodbye to my dad.

________________

It was one of those days when having the Medusa’s fabled power to turn people to stone would really come in handy.

Andrea Rosakis did not, however, have that ability, not this week, anyway. Even though she was the reigning Medusa.

She glared at the man on her back porch, wondering if he could ever understand how lucky he was she wasn’t suffering from PMS this week. And why wouldn’t he stop talking? Her fingers itched to slam the door.

“…if you just have five minutes, ma’am,” he concluded.

She narrowed her gaze on the vacuum beside him. “No, thank you.” And how the hell had he found her all the way out here? No one ever bothered to follow her rough, muddy driveway all the way to the top, even if they did ignore the “No Trespassing” signs posted at the foot of it. Not to mention the protective warding she had set at the boundaries of the entire property. Sure, it wasn’t the heavy artillery of protection spells, but no one else had ever gotten past it. This man however, had not only ignored the signs and the subtle “go away” protections, but managed the entire bumpy, muddy track into the woods and halfway up the mountain. Just to hear her say, “No.”

And he didn’t look discouraged. At all.

Andi almost wished she were PMSing this week, though it would be a real pain in the ass to have to get rid of a life-sized stone statue of a vacuum salesman.

Or maybe she could keep it. He was very pretty, even if he annoyed her. He was tall and broad, his inky black hair was a tad too long, and his bright green eyes held her attention. At least as stone, he’d be silent and still pretty. She gave herself a mental shake. “I’m sorry, but I don’t have time for this—”

“When would be a better time?”

“Never.”

He did blink at that, but his smile never disappeared. “I’ll have to check my calendar.”

She snorted, then clapped her free hand over her mouth. Laughing would not discourage the man. “Look, I’m sure it’s a great vacuum, but I don’t need it. I don’t want to see how it works, and I’d like you to get off my property.”

His smile did fade a little bit. “Well, I suppose, if that’s what you really want.”

She quirked an eyebrow, trying not to smile again. He had the faintest hint of an accent, but she couldn’t place it. Not without hearing him talk some more, and she didn’t want to encourage that either, or he’d just keep trying to sell her an expensive vacuum she didn’t need.

“Maybe I could talk you into meeting me for coffee sometime then,” he said.

Her jaw dropped. The cute salesman was hitting on her. For half a second, she indulged the fantasy of a date with the hunk. A real date, maybe ending with a real kiss. Her pulse quickened. Then she remembered one good date led to more, and eventually, it led to guys running away from her, gibbering like idiots when PMS struck. She shut her mouth and ignored the regret burning in her middle. “Sorry, but no.”

“You’re a hard woman,” he said lightly, his bright gaze sliding down to her mouth. “I’ll leave my card in case you change your mind. About the coffee, that is.” He forced a small card into her hand and picked up his vacuum.

Andi stared after him as he strode off her porch. The bulky vacuum looked like it weighed nothing in his hand, swinging at his side on his way to the shiny, new truck parked behind her car.

When he took one hand from the steering wheel to wave at her, she stopped herself from lifting her hand in response. He turned the truck around and vanished down the drive into the trees. Frowning, she went back inside and shut the door, then locked it and re-armed the alarm. He’d tossed the vacuum into the bed of the truck. A very strong salesman.

Who didn’t seem to care the impending rain was going to damage his expensive vacuum.

She turned back to the door and stared out the narrow window beside it, her heart beating faster now with alarm. Maybe he didn’t realize. Or maybe he really hadn’t come here to sell her a vacuum.

She swallowed hard.

Aunt Celosia had always told the cousins stories of the Harvesters, the men who still hunted for the Medusa. Somehow, Andi had always thought they’d be more frightening. More obvious. Ugly men intent on murder.

If this vacuum salesman was a Harvester, he was sneaky. Of course, if he was a Harvester, he would be sneaky, as Perseus had been when he killed the first Medusa.

She was in a lot of trouble.

________________

 

I hope you all have a beautiful week, and if you love someone, tell them!

 

 

Hot Chocolate

How has the first week of your new year gone? As well as you’d hoped? Better? Not as well as you wanted?

I haven’t gotten as much writing-related work done this week as I would have liked, but I have been writing, in spite of the absolute craziness at my day-job–way more insanity than I anticipated, and the next week is probably going to be even busier.  I’ve also been working on getting a new-to-me computer set up in the home office, which is taking some time, since I have to move things onto it from my laptop and the old desktop computer, and some of those things take way too long–finding disks, trying to figure out how to install an older program that might need tweaking on a newer system…   Some of those are frustrating.

I also had to figure out if it made sense to me to participate in the very fun booksigning I’ve done the past couple of years, since I haven’t yet got Hunting Medusa ready for reissue, and settled on dates, etc. for the second and third books in the trilogy. I was disappointed to have to say no, but it doesn’t make sense to me to do it when I don’t have something new, so I’ll be bummed to miss this year, but then should be good for next year, because I am aiming to have at least the first two books in the trilogy out before the end of this year.

I know the weather has been in full-on winter mode in a lot of areas this week, but it has been extra-cold here.  I have had quite a lot of tea this week, and some very yummy hot chocolate to stay warm.  How about you? Lots of warm beverages while you’re reading?

I think I promised a little snippet of story for this week, didn’t I?  So how about a little taste of Hunting Medusa for those of you who haven’t read it yet (and those who haven’t read it in a while!)…

________________

Andrea rested her head on her folded arms on the kitchen table, only half listening to Kallan typing on his keyboard. She didn’t want to die just yet.

She knew for sure she didn’t want to be mutilated before she died.

But she didn’t look forward to killing the Harvester either.

She never should have had sex with him. She knew it. She’d known it beforehand.

And she should definitely not still want him.

When the phone rang, it was a relief. For a few seconds. Until she realized it was Thalia. “My cousin.” She didn’t think she needed to explain her mental caller I.D. to him.

Kallan held her gaze for a long moment. “Don’t try to let her know what’s going on,” he said at last. “I know where a lot of your cousins are located, and I’m not the only one.”

Her heart pounded harder at the implication, but she got to her feet and picked up the receiver. “Hello, Thalia. How are you?”

“I’m fine, Andi, but I think you need to get away for a while.”

She frowned, feeling Kallan’s presence behind her. Close behind her. Close enough to hear her conversation. “What do you mean?” His body heat teased her.

“The Harvesters are out and about. I’m afraid for you.”

Andi shut her eyes for a second, then opened them again when he put his hands on her shoulders. She shot him a glare and moved away, back toward the table. “I’m fine.”

“Please don’t ignore this, Andi. You know I’m hardly ever wrong.”

That was true. But she wondered if her cousin realized she was very often late with her flashes of intuition. Far too late in this case. “Okay. I’ll give it some thought, all right? Mom said something the other day about visiting.” Gods, had it only been two days ago? “And Aunt Lydia just called yesterday too. I could go to see either of them if anything seems odd.”

His hands settled on her shoulders again, massaging the tense muscles there.

She didn’t bother to shrug him off this time. He was persistent. “I could even come visit with you,” she teased, forcing a lightness into her tone.

Her cousin cleared her throat. “I actually have company right now,” she said after a moment, and Andi could almost see her blushing. “You remember I met someone in Athens last summer? Well, he’s come again to stay for a while.” Even over the phone, the emotion in Thalia’s voice was obvious.

One more cousin safe—none of the cousins who’d fallen in love ever had the curse land on their heads. A tiny bit of relief made her relax further under Kallan’s touch. “That’s terrific, Thalia. When do the rest of us get to meet him?”

“We’re talking dates,” the other woman said, a hint of a smile in her tone now. “I’ll be sure to let you know.”

“Good. And thanks for the warning. I miss you.”

“I miss you, too. I’ve got to go, Andi. Talk to you soon. But promise you’ll be careful. Danger is coming from more than one direction.”

She pushed the off button on the phone and shut her eyes, ignoring the slight sting in them. She was not envious of Thalia’s good fortune. She was just in an impossible situation here.

His warm breath brushed the top of her head a second before his lips. “That was good.”

She wanted to tell him to go screw himself. She wanted a weapon to swing at him. She wanted him to wrap his arms around her and carry her down onto the nearest flat surface.

Her eyes popped open. Damned hormones.

________________

Have a great week!

My shiny new cover art! isn’t it pretty?

I’m writing this on New Year’s Eve, and I’m still debating whether I’ll be awake at midnight to greet the new year.  I’m not going to be unhappy to kiss 2017 goodbye (or kick it in the pants on the way out, maybe!), since it was a rough year.  I have made up my mind that 2018 is going to rock…or else!

My plate is pretty full for the new year. Some of the things I didn’t get to do in the past year are on my new goal list–like figuring out how to get Hunting Medusa back out into the world, followed by the second and third books in the trilogy.  My writing goals for the year are a little daunting, to be honest, because I’ve never dipped my toes into the self-publishing pool before, and I think I will probably be doing that this year–it’s hard to persuade a publisher to take on a book that was already released by another publisher (not impossible, but not easy).

Guess it’s a good thing I have my shiny new planner ready to go tomorrow, all full of lists and steps and plenty of room for me to add notes and more steps once I figure out everything else I need to do along the way.  Are you a planner? Or do you wing it? I don’t make resolutions (though I should put ‘get healthier’ on my goals list for the year, it can’t hurt, right?), but always goals for the year.

How are you celebrating the new year? At home, quietly? Out with friends? Some other way? We’ve got a quiet night ahead, and now that I think about it, I’m actually going to see in the new year at midnight, maybe with a glass of something bubbly.  I can use the time between now and then to keep working on my planner, and maybe to sneak in a bit more reading before the year officially ends–I’m less than 100 pages to the end of the book out in the living room right now, and I can easily finish that in a few hours, too.

I hope you are all kicking off the new year with your own kind of fun, and that the new year kicks butt for you, too! I’ll see you in the new year, and I think we’ll sneak in a little story snippet next time, just to start things off on the right foot in 2018.

 

I’ve been thinking about this for a while.  We’re always busy, whether it’s with household chores, or day-jobs, or family things, or any of a thousand other things.  Responsibility trumps all else.  Sometimes, I think we should ditch the responsibilities for a few moments of relaxation and enjoyment.  Maybe more than just a few moments.

( Photo by jmd41280 on Foter.com / CC BY-ND )

This time of year, things get really crazy, and many of us forget to stop and breathe.  In my day-job, I’m always reminding people I work with to stop and breathe.  But I realized I sometimes forget to take my own advice.  This weekend, now that my day-job crazy season is winding down, I decided to get all of my chores done today, so that tomorrow I can spend my day reading or writing. Maybe a little bit of both.

We had a low-key Thanksgiving here, and I spent most of it in the kitchen.  It was a little weird without my aunt here, but I thought of her all day.  And the turkey looked and smelled amazing, but I didn’t miss it on my plate at all.

So today, I’m finishing my chores, and then tomorrow, I have big plans that involve only doing things I enjoy, like the big fat book sitting on my desk, and getting some of my handwritten pages from my breaks at the day-job into my laptop so I can keep going on this shifter story.

Speaking of shifters, I think I might have mentioned a story snippet last time, didn’t I?  And it’s been ages since I shared a little bit of story with you all, so I think I’m going to dig into the fourth shifter to give you a little bit of Laney and Anton today.

_______________

Laney smiled, watching Anton sitting on the floor with Boris’s youngest, in the center of a jumbled mess of blocks and toy cars, gamely making engine sounds and listening to the boy’s chatter. Perfectly at ease.

As if he sensed her gaze on him, he looked over and grinned, winking.

Her breath snagged. Gods, she was falling in love with him. Heat rushed to her face.

Anton’s grin faded, and his eyes darkened.

Shit. She swallowed and made her lips curve again. She could not fall in love with him. Lust was fine, but not anything more.

He pushed to his feet, slowly, holding her gaze, and her mouth went dry at the intent in his eyes.

She was supposed to be doing something, she thought, over the quick thumping of her pulse in her ears. She just couldn’t remember what, with Anton stalking her through the crush of his family, all male predator.

“Hey,” he said softly when he reached her, his warm fingers brushing her hair back from her cheek. He dipped down to feather a kiss on her mouth, still holding her gaze. “You ready to get out of this insane asylum?”

She took a shallow breath, inhaling the scent of him, and her pulse tripped up a notch. “Aren’t you playing with Bryce?”

“I’d rather play with you.” He nudged her nose with his.

Laney set one hand on his shoulder to anchor herself. “Shouldn’t we–” Her breath caught again when he settled his hands on her hips and drew her closer.
“Yes, we should, but we’re going home instead,” he whispered, his breath warm on her lips.

She flushed when someone catcalled from the other end of the room.

Anton’s slow smile made her heart beat faster. “Time to go.” He turned her and steered her out of the room with his hands on her hips.

The hallway was cooler, but she was still too warm, and when he bent to plant a quick kiss on the side of her neck, her temperature rose a few more degrees. “Anton?”

He turned her again and pressed her against the wall. “Say that again,” he growled, one hand sliding down to squeeze her ass.

“An-Anton,” she managed.

“Fuck.” He caught her mouth roughly.

She hung onto his shoulders and let him take what he wanted. What she wanted.

He lifted his head too soon, eyes dark and dangerous. “Let’s go.”

Laney nodded, breathless, and pushed away from the wall. He found their coats in the hall closet and helped her into hers. Laney shivered, watching him shrug into his own.

When they got into the car, he set his hand on her leg and squeezed. She sucked in a shaky breath at the rush of need that shot into her belly.

_______________

Tomorrow, I won’t be working on Anton and Laney, but his cousin Joe’s story.  I hope you all find some time to stop and breathe this week, to find a little enjoyment amid all the busyness of your everyday life.  Let me know how you spend your few moments of down-time this week.

( Photo by scott1346 on Foter.com / CC BY )

 

 

( Photo credit: Foter.com  )

We’re heading into Thanksgiving week here in the U.S, which just happens to be one of our busiest weeks of the year at my day-job, though our crazy-busy is Monday and Tuesday, and then we’ll be a little slower the rest of the week.  Which is why I took an extra day off, so I can do less work in the kitchen on Thursday and enjoy the holiday more than some years when I spent most of the day working in the kitchen.  I think Thanksgiving is probably my favorite holiday all year long, though it is probably the one that is the most work.  Hours and hours in the kitchen cooking, baking, and in under an hour, the meal is over.

I should probably finish planning our meal–I have no idea what is for dessert yet, and I haven’t figured out what I’ll be eating instead of turkey.  This is my first holiday season since I quit eating poultry, so no turkey for me this time.  Maybe I’ll just be satisfied with all the sides and dessert.  I don’t know, but I’ll figure it out in the next couple of days.

But in the meantime, I’m going to work my butt off at the day-job and get in some writing time between bread-baking (gotta have homemade sage and onion bread for the stuffing!).  And I hope that all of you who will be celebrating Thanksgiving this week have a wonderful day, with lots of amazing food and great company, and maybe even some reading time!  Next time, I should remember to share a little snippet of story, because we haven’t done that in a while.

Maybe some pumpkin cheesecake for dessert…

( Photo credit: apasciuto via Foter.com / CC BY )

 

It’s been a while since I got to share space with another author, and I’m excited that the one to break that drought is Alice Orr, who has a new book in her ‘Riverton Road’ series releasing this week!  At my very first writers’ conference a long, long time ago, Alice was one of the speakers, in her former life as a literary agent.  Now I get to host her here with her own romance novel, so I’m excited.   Welcome, Alice!

_______________

A Time of Fear & Loving – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Book 5

Mike & Amanda’s Story

by Alice Orr #Romance #Suspense #MFRWauthor #IndieAuthor

 

I’m not used to readers reacting ambivalently toward my female characters, much less getting upset with them, but this is precisely what might happen with Willow Fowler. She’s an old friend of my heroine, Amanda Miller, whom I suspect most people will like, maybe even a lot. Willow, on the other hand, is a restless soul. That restlessness gets her into serious trouble sometimes, and she is about to drag Amanda into serious trouble as well.

 

I might have my doubts about Willow too if she weren’t, now that I think about it, a little like me. She’s headstrong and sometimes impulsive. She knows what she wants out of life and what she does not want. She goes after what she wants, occasionally without as much forethought as would be wise. I’ve been known to do that myself.

 

But, the problem here is this. What kind of mess can Willow get our Amanda into, and how will she find her way out of the mess while saving Willow also? Or, is any of that even possible?

 

 

Excerpt:

Amanda had survived her unexpected encounter with Mike Schaeffer. She’d been cool and impersonal. She hadn’t allowed herself a blink of an eye when the rasp in his voice made her want to touch the tanned skin of his throat where she might feel the sound. Part of her was still infatuated with him, but she hadn’t let a single sign of that betray her and she never would. She was repeating this resolve to herself and fitting her keycard into the slot in her hotel room door when Willow Fowler was suddenly there also.

“Get inside. Quickly!” she said.

Before Amanda could fully comprehend her surprise, Willow’s delicate fingers with their perfectly shaped nails were flat against the door, shoving it ajar. She slipped through the opening as urgently as she’d spoken into Amanda’s ear a moment ago. She followed inside and watched her old friend hurry to the window, yank the draperies closed, then peek between the folds.

“Please, shut the door,” she said, sounding even more anxious than she’d been in the hallway.

Amanda dropped her luggage and slammed the door’s lock guard shut as if her friend’s anxiety might be contagious. She’d seen Willow’s eyes just now, and something in their lustrous brown depths had leapt across the room. Amanda found herself suddenly apprehensive and not liking the feeling.

“What’s going on here, Willow?”

“I’m in the most desperate trouble, Amanda. You have to believe me.”

“I believe you. I wouldn’t be here otherwise.”

“And I cannot thank you enough for coming.”

Willow darted to Amanda’s side to grasp her hand.

“I was afraid you wouldn’t be able to tear yourself away from your responsibilities,” Willow said. “I know how busy you must be.”

“I needed a break,” Amanda answered. “Besides, I haven’t forgotten how you helped me all those years ago when I needed you.”

“Be that as it may, I do not recall anyone ever doing anything this kind for me. Not ever.”

Amanda smiled. Willow had always used phrases like, “Be that as it may.” Even when they were girls together, she’d sometimes talked like an old spinster lady with tatted doilies pinned to her furniture. At the same time, Willow was anything but spinsterish in most ways. She was irrepressible. Amanda’d had her own high energy in those days too, driven by her determination to get out of the North Country and never return.

Even so, her father’s relentless need to dominate and her mother’s distracted indifference could deflate Amanda’s enthusiasm. Those were the moments when having Willow for a friend was a special blessing. Amanda would plug into Willow’s exuberance and, before long, feel recharged enough to take on Jake or Millicent or anybody. Maybe Amanda could return some of that gift now. The possibility felt good to her, and right too. What didn’t feel either good or right was seeing Willow’s usual liveliness transformed into a state of near panic.

“What exactly has your husband done to you?” Amanda asked.

Buy A Time of Fear & Loving HERE.

_______________

ALICE ORR is the author of 16 novels, 3 novellas, a memoir and No More Rejections: 50 Secrets to Writing a Manuscript that Sells. A former book editor and literary agent, Alice now lives her dream as a full-time writer. She has two grown children and two perfect grandchildren and resides with her husband Jonathan in New York City and New Jersey.

Alice’s Website – www.aliceorrbooks.com

Alice’s Facebook Page – https://www.facebook.com/aliceorrwriter

Alice’s Twitter Page – https://twitter.com/aliceorrbooks

 

 

Resurfacing

 

My summer took an unexpected turn, as you will have noticed when I didn’t get to the rest of my birthday month celebrating in July.  I had mentioned here some time ago that I had two family members who were ill.  One of them is much better this year.  The other, my aunt, continued on a downhill path that ended in July.  Watching someone you love decline that way sucks.  The only good thing about it was that she did it the way she wanted.  There is a fantastic in-patient hospice in our area, and she was well-cared-for, between me and the staff there.

And since then, when I haven’t been at work, I have been working on clearing out her house, which was my grandparents’ house.  It’s been a huge project, and I am still not finished, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.  I think.  It’s also been interesting, digging through old papers that I can’t imagine why anyone left in a box (or in this case, many boxes!) in the attic for over 60 years.  But there have been fun finds, too, like pretty postcards saved from vacations, or adorable little wedding cards, or photos.  I actually spent a lot of weekends there, just to avoid all the driving back and forth.  The sunset picture above is from one evening  a couple of weeks ago after a rainy day had cleared out.

But because the Great Clear-Out is starting to wind down, I need to get back into a more regular routine again.  The one thing I haven’t stopped in the past four months is writing.  Even while sitting in a quiet hospice room, I wrote, which surprised me.  July was exhausting, from start to finish, but my story kept me company, which was a real comfort–I actually got to the end of a shifter manuscript at my monthly writing group, which was a huge boost.

So now I’m back here, too.  My writing goals for the year have all gone to hell, so I guess I should start thinking about what I want to accomplish next year–like what to do with my Medusas since I have the rights to the first one back and haven’t gotten to do anything about that.  I’ve still got some work to do at my aunt’s house, but it isn’t going to be as all-consuming anymore, which is nice.  More time for my brain to focus on writing, rather than how to deal with 8 chests full of blankets, or ripping up carpet that’s been on the floor since I was a little girl.  Nope, I’m coming up for air, and, unlike the humpback whale below, I won’t be diving as deep again into this project.  Now it’s time to breathe and get things back to normal.

Humback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) breaching.