Category: Goals


 

 

My to-do list isn’t quite as bad as the poor woman above, but it feels like it some days. I’m winding down a mini-vacation right now, and I feel like I haven’t accomplished nearly enough for as many days as I’ve been home.

To be fair, my time off was over the Thanksgiving weekend, so I spent the day before and the day of in the kitchen for a large chunk of the day, and washing dishes for days. I did wrap up a small project yesterday that I started a couple weeks ago. Today, I’ve cleared a bunch of things out of my in-boxes, but not much else, though I am heading back to Revision-land shortly. That leaves tomorrow, my last day before I head back to the day-job, to get the laundry done, and try to knock out something else from my to-do list. I’m not sure what yet. I’ll have to give it some thought.

Before I lose myself in revisions again, though, I have a little story snippet to share with you, from Hunting Medusa.

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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.

His hands slid down her sides and wrapped around her, settling her back against his chest as if he’d read her mind. She hoped he didn’t have that ability.

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I think before I call it a day today, I am going to take a little time to make a list of my to-dos, the musts and the would-be-nices. That will make it easier to prioritize the next few weeks before the new year starts.

Who else needs to get a lot done in the next few weeks? Do you have a game plan to do everything? I can always use some new ideas, if you’re willing to share.

 

It’s Thanksgiving week here in the U.S. I’ve spent some of the past two days in the kitchen–my final loaf of sage and onion bread is baking in my bread machine right now for the stuffing we’ll eat on Thursday and the house smells so good right now. I almost hate to wait four days to sample the bread. But I will, and I’ll be grateful for it on Thanksgiving.

We don’t always think about the good things in our lives, the things we have that others envy because they don’t have them. I’ve been trying to be more aware of all of the positive in my life, all of the people and things I have in my life that are worth some gratitude. Family, good friends, a home, a job I like, food to eat. The list is long.

I grumble like many others about household chores, like dish washing, but those dirty dishes mean we ate. Or the laundry, but those dirty clothes mean we have plenty of clothing. Bill paying, but those utility bills mean we have a roof over our heads. It’s all a matter of perspective. Some days, it’s harder to frame those things positively. But I’m working on it.

This week, I am thankful for my family and the dinner we’ll share on Thursday. I will be thankful for Thanksgiving dinners past, spent with extended family I don’t see much anymore, or who are no longer with us–I am thankful we had time together when they were still here.

I am thankful for the season’s first snowfall earlier today, even though the sun came out and melted all of it away–I got to watch it come down, big, fat, wet snowflakes that piled up quickly and made the neighborhood look like winter, just for a little while. I’m thankful I get to write the stories I love, for my friends who also write and get me.

I can keep going, but I’ll stop here. I have a little story snippet to share with you, from my fourth shifter story.

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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 her gaze 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.

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Now I’m going to go find something for dinner that doesn’t involve leftovers to take up space in the refrigerator (the turkey is taking up a lot of space there right now), and then I’m going back to my revisions.

What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving week? I would love to know!

 

 

( 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?

 

( decor with pumpkins – Depositphotos )

I can remember quiet weekends even though we rarely have them. When my boys were in school, I worked retail, so there was no such thing as quiet weekends, because normally, I would be at work. When they were younger, I was home, so weekends were a normal day for me. These days, they’re in their own place, and I have weekends off, though there are errands and chores that don’t get done during the week. So occasionally, I like a weekend when I can stay home, maybe do laundry and cook once. Those weekends are few and far between–I don’t see one in my near future. Next weekend, I have somewhere to be one day, same the following weekend…the weekend after that will be day-job overtime one day and something fun the next, so possibly the following weekend, which is Thanksgiving weekend here in the U.S. I’ll be ready for a break by then, I think.

While I’m daydreaming about a lazy weekend with plenty of time for reading and writing, I’ve got a few more chores to wrap up before I can call it a day. I have a little snippet of story for you, from my Common Elements Romance Project novella.

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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 bright blue ocean waves for a good five minutes. Shaking her head, she pulled the door shut and stepped down onto the sidewalk, feeling in her purse for her car keys.

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

Another giggle sounded as she neared the fence, and she adjusted her direction a tiny bit, so she came to a stop, 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 so easily.

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 was three or four, but now that she was seeing him at closer range, she scaled that back to three.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Like this afternoon?”

“Hayden!”

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

Lucie’s mouth went dry. Wowza!

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.”

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What do you do when you have a weekend with no to-do list? I have plenty of ideas of my own, but am always open to more. Meanwhile, I might want to pretend I’m back at the beach, like last weekend for our writing retreat.

 

 

 

As we speak, my suitcase is half-packed to head out in a couple of hours for an overdue writing retreat at the beach with one of my writing buddies! The red flag is probably flapping in the wind there, too, right now, but by the time we get there, it should have settled down to a milder breeze, and the rest of the weekend looks amazing. Cool, but gorgeous. I cannot wait!

While I finish packing, I have a little story snippet to share with you from Hunting Medusa.

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Kallan Tassos sat at the foot of the mountain, tapping his fingers on the steering wheel of the rented truck. Getting to the Medusa had been a lot easier than he’d been led to believe. He wondered why.

She was also a lot prettier than he’d imagined.

Sure, he knew the original Medusa had been so beautiful and confident she’d angered a Goddess. But this one wasn’t what he’d expected. She had short, dark hair framing very expressive blue eyes. Somehow he’d imagined long, blonde hair for a woman whose hair turned into snakes. And cold eyes like those very reptiles. Maybe not with a mouth that made him wonder how she’d taste.

He frowned, tapping his fingers faster on the wheel. Someone had left out a lot of details in the legends. Or the reality had changed much in the generations since the last Harvester had done his duty in killing the monstrous Medusa.

He shook his head. No, his imagination was simply working overtime. And when he got home to Baltimore—or even when he went to Greece to visit Uncle Ari at the family’s ancestral home—he needed to find a willing woman, as it had clearly been too long if he was finding his quarry so attractive.

When his phone rang, he hesitated for a second at the name on the tiny screen. He finally thumbed the button after the third ring. “Stavros.”

“I hear you may have a promising lead. It is past time one of us killed this monster.” His cousin’s everyday accent thickened when he was excited, and judging by the way Greece flavored his words, he believed they were getting close.

“I’m sure one of us will,” Kallan said mildly, drumming his fingers on his knee.

“I keep imagining taking her head after all this time. Perhaps before I do, I can make her pay a little for her family’s existence.”

Kallan frowned. Stavros didn’t care who knew about his penchant for cruelty.

“Where are you now?”

Again he hesitated. He rarely lied, and never to his family. “Oklahoma. I’ve found some information on a young woman closely related to the last Medusa that perfectly fits our profile.” He didn’t feel bad about the lie, since he knew his cousin would be there within twenty-four hours if he told him where he really was and that he’d found the Medusa.

“Where are you heading?”

“Northeast.” He hoped Stavros would be satisfied with the vague answer for now. But he didn’t want his cousin breathing down his neck. Stavros had a vicious streak miles wide, had ever since they were children and just beginning to explore and use their individual talents in their hunt for the Medusa. Kallan could undo any lock with just a touch. Stavros could sense and undo any magical spell he found in his path. When they were teenagers, Kallan had seen him use his magical skill to kill innocent animals just because they were nearby. On occasion, he’d used any handy weapon or his bare hands, simply because he could. Kallan knew Stravros’s cruelty had intensified in recent years based on things not only Stavros had mentioned, but whispers from his other cousins. While he knew as well as everyone else in his family the sort of monster the Medusa was, he didn’t think it necessary to make her suffer the way Stavros would. Especially now that he’d met her.

“Ah. Well, I wish you luck in your hunt, Cousin. Goddess bless our quest.”

He repeated the mantra, then thumbed off the phone, thinking. Hopefully his cousin would take the lack of a specific answer to mean Kallan was simply searching and not really onto a solid lead. That would keep Stavros on his own hunt and out of Kallan’s way.

He smiled grimly, turning the key in the ignition. Now he had plans to finalize. Supplies to purchase. He put the truck in gear and steered the vehicle back toward Ellsworth.

Now that he’d found her, the Medusa would die by his hand.

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Where would you go today if you could get away from every day life, just for a long weekend?

 

 

It is a pretty Sunday here–except it doesn’t feel like October begins in two days. I spent a good part of yesterday with a cousin at a wine festival, and it was even hotter yesterday than today. I’d love if Mother Nature got her act together. A few cool, crisp days with puffy white clouds and bright blue skies would be perfect. Instead, we’re looking at another day mid-week with the possibility of setting a new record-high temperature.

That’s what I’d like to see out of my window instead, or something similar, since that view is of the ridge behind my dad’s house a few years ago, and since he’s gone, I don’t get to enjoy that particular view anymore. Fall, that’s what I want, not more summer. (Though, to be honest, I am not minding that my tomatoes are still going strong. I have a lot in the freezer for this winter’s soups and sauces.)

Maybe my problem right now is a case of the blahs. I’ve been grocery shopping, but there isn’t anything in the house I want to eat. I have chores to do, but can’t seem to make myself go do them (besides the laundry which is necessary, and a quick run to pick up a birthday gift order that arrived in-store). I’m trying to persuade myself that I can make it a couple more weeks until my 4 day weekend writing retreat at the beach. And in the meantime, I have revisions to finish so I can get this Common Elements Romance Project novella of mine formatted and ready to go out into the world (I’m still working out details, but as soon as I have my release date finalized, you will all be the first to know!).

The beach sounds lovely right now. I’m hoping that when we get there in three weeks, it will be nice and quiet, no hurricanes (do you hear me, Mother Nature?), and not very many other people so we can write undistracted and enjoy an uncrowded beach when the writing is done each day. The place we stay in has a little kitchen, so we usually hit the grocery store on our way into town and pick up necessities for the duration–writing snacks, breakfast foods, lunch and dinner things. We usually bring adult beverages with us, as well as everything we could possibly need for several days of writing, and maybe some evening entertainment (probably no drinking games this year). I should probably make myself a note now to remember my bucket for seashell collecting during early morning and evening walks since I’m not sure which stores will be open in the off-season for forgotten necessities like little plastic buckets.

It’s been a few years since we did our beach-side writing retreat, and I’m actually really looking forward to it, even though the day-job will be crazy-busy leading up to my time off and worse when I get back. The break will be nice. My vacation in July was packed full of workshops and conference things, and I loved it, but it wasn’t very restful. The retreat will be full of writing time, but we are on our own schedule, so it won’t be as hectic as the conference (I am a little sad to miss the New Jersey Romance Writers conference this year, but since I was in NYC in July, NJRW will have to wait until next year. I’ll miss seeing some of my writing buddies, though.)

I have actually already started thinking about next year’s vacation time for the day-job–I hit a milestone anniversary early in 2020, so I’ll have another week of PTO coming, and I have a hard time using the PTO I already get, so I’m going to have to get creative to use more. I definitely want to get to NJRW next fall, but since the RWA conference won’t be in NYC next year, I don’t have that in my plans. That means I should schedule at least one week of vacation in the first half of the year, and another in the second half. Then I can sprinkle in a few long weekends (writing retreat, maybe?), and some days when I leave early for monthly writing group, and still have plenty of time left for necessary appointments or unexpected needs. Something to ponder, I suppose.

I should get back to my revisions while I’m waiting for the next load of laundry to come out of the dryer. Maybe I’ll even find the motivation to do another of the chores on my to-do list. Or maybe I’ll open one of the bottles of wine I brought home yesterday from the wine fest and put on a good movie after dinner and forget about the chores for today.

While I make up my mind about that, I have a little snippet of story to share with you, from my Freeing Medusa manuscript, the third in my Medusa’s Daughters trilogy.

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Katharine had had enough. Her skin was tingling with the need for release again, and her heart beat too fast. And she hadn’t seen any likely candidates. Even a desperate Medusa had standards.

Which meant it was time to go home and break out a couple more vibrators to get through tonight. Dammit.

She took another sip from her glass, smiling at Ramona from her post on the deck. Her friend danced enthusiastically with someone she’d greeted even more enthusiastically just a little while ago. She hated to interrupt, but it really was time to go home.

Katharine sighed and shifted her shoulders, trying to loosen up the tight muscles there, turning her gaze over the crowd one last time. Her breath caught in her chest.

He was gorgeous, in a rugged sort of way. His nose had been broken at least once, but it didn’t matter. A dimple dented his chin, and he had the brightest blue eyes she’d ever seen, black hair dipping over one of them. Even better, his green shirt stretched taut over strong shoulders and a wide chest, then tucked into a pair of jeans that fit nicely on narrow hips.

Her heart beat faster in anticipation.

Then he glanced up from his conversation with a shorter man whose arm was wrapped around an even shorter woman and caught her eye. A slow smile curved his mouth as his gaze slid down the front of her, then back up, making her skin warm in anticipation, lingering on her mouth.

Her lips tingled hopefully.

She took a drink from the cup she still held. Whatever frozen thing Ramona had given her earlier was melting and slushy, but she could still taste the bite of alcohol as it hit her tongue.

He moved away from the couple he was with, toward her, and her temperature went up a couple more degrees. His long-legged stride was confident, though he didn’t rush.

No, damn him, he made her wait, pausing once, briefly, to greet someone along the way.

She tightened her grip on the stem of the plastic cup and took a quick breath.

He finally stopped about two steps away, and she could smell his cologne, something musky that made her pulse race even faster.

She felt her nipples tighten inside her vest.

“Hi.” The low tone of his voice raised goosebumps on her arms despite the warm evening air.

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I’m heading back to Revision-Land until suppertime, and then I can figure out the rest of the evening. What do you do to get out of your own doldrums? I’d love some ideas for next time I find myself there.

 

( wine & pasta dinner – Depositophotos ) 

As I write this, it will be Official Autumn tomorrow, very early in the morning. While I’m excited about that, I am not excited that it will still feel like summer tomorrow and evidently again next weekend. I’m ready for it to feel like fall, for real, not just for a day or two at a time. We had a few nice days last week. I actually broke out my jeans instead of capri pants a couple of days. Unfortunately, this will be a summer-wear sort of week again.

On the other hand, this ‘not-fall-feeling’ week is bookended with family time. My oldest has a birthday tomorrow (he was born on the first day of fall, too), and my husband’s birthday is next week, plus I get to spend some time with a cousin next weekend, which will be fun. Today was birthday dinner–or rather, breakfast-for-dinner. I always ask the boys each year what they want for their birthday dinner, as well as what kind of cake, what sort of gifts. This year, oldest asked for breakfast: French toast, eggs and sausage. Cap that off with birthday cake and ice cream. It’s a good Sunday.

Before I hang out with my guys, I have a little story snippet for you, from my novella for the Common Elements Romance Project, release date TBA.

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Every time he found himself thinking about the kiss, Nate redirected his thoughts to his to-do list for the day. Finish these cabinets. Build the ramp for his parents’ house. Figure out a vehicle for tomorrow to bring Dad home from the hospital. That got him through most of the morning. When he stopped over to check on Lucie and Hayden, they were coloring. Instead of lingering, he grabbed some lumber and plywood from the shop and loaded it into the back of the truck with his saw and tape measure. Time to build the ramp.

By the time he’d constructed a sturdy ramp to the front porch, it was well after lunchtime. He stood inside his parents’ kitchen, looking out at his dad’s shop. He could run back to the house and check on Hayden before heading to the hospital.

Or he could avoid temptation and just get on the ferry now.

He pulled his cell phone out and pulled up Lucie’s number to call.

“Hi.”

“Hi. I wanted to check in and make sure you’re okay before I go to the hospital.”

“Fine. Hayden is sleeping. He played hard this morning, so it only took a couple minutes before he was out.” He heard the smile in her voice. “He kept waving to the lighthouse, waving so hard I was sure his arm would fall off.”

“Waving to Micah.”

“That’s what he said.”

Nate hesitated. “Micah is a ghost.”

For a moment, there was silence in his ear. “What?”

He grinned. “Micah is the ghost of a lightkeeper who lived there about a hundred years ago.”

Lucie remained silent again, longer this time. “But I saw him,” she said finally. “When I was walking last week. I thought it was you up there, and I waved. You…he…waved back…” Her voice trailed off.

“You’ve seen him more than once.” He knew she’d seen him one day when he’d been taking Hayden to his parents’.

“I thought…”

When she didn’t continue, he cleared his throat. Maybe this wasn’t really a phone conversation. “I’m sorry, I should have waited to tell you.”

“It’s fine,” she said faintly.

“I’ll tell you the story later. I just wanted to check in before I get on the ferry, not to freak you out.” He glanced at the clock over the sink. And he needed to move if he wanted to get on the next ferry. “I’ll be back earlier today, I promise. Call me if you need anything.”

“Okay, thanks, Nate.” The call disconnected.

He was an idiot. He stuffed his phone into his pocket and headed out to the truck.

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( Lighthouse – Depositphotos )

Now I’m going to go hang out with my guys. The rest of the week is about revisions here. What are your plans for the week?

 

( Leaves, book & tea – Depositphotos )

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Philomena shut her eyes.

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

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

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

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

“Get down.”

“What?” She frowned.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

( laptop view from above – Depositphotos )