Category: holiday


( 2020 new year – Depositphotos )

Just a few days now until the new year starts. Are you all ready? It isn’t just a new year, but a whole new decade starts this week, so it seems like a bigger deal than just every other New Year’s Day, doesn’t it?

That said, I am still working on my writing goals for the year. I had second thoughts about my list last week, about what I think I can really accomplish in the new year, so I took another look at them and made some adjustments. My plan is to wrap those up today and reprint my bright goal sheets for my planner and my bulletin board. My other project for today is to whittle down my choices for my word of the year. I don’t think I’ll get the list down to one today, but I still have a couple of days to do that. Today I’ll be happy to get it into single digits.

So I can get back to new year plans, I have a little story snippet today from my Common Elements Romance Project novella.

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She’d spent half the night staring up at the darkness and worrying that she’d chosen wrong. What if she’d imagined the interest? What if she’d just made a huge mistake?

Lucie had been at the kitchen table with the teapot for two hours already, and was contemplating heating water for more tea when the knock sounded at the back door at eight-thirty. Her breath caught. Time to face the music. She bundled her sweater tighter as she got to her feet and went to open the door.

“Hi, Lucie!” Hayden bounded into the room, dragging his teddy bear by one leg. “I had cereal for breakfast today. What did you eat?”

She smiled, turning to watch him even though she was aware of his father stepping into the house. “I didn’t have breakfast, just tea.”

The little boy frowned. “Grandma says breakfast is im…imp…important,” he said carefully. “You shoulda had some of my cereal.”

She stifled a chuckle. “Thanks, Hayden. I’ll make up for it later.”

Nate closed the door, and her urge to laugh vanished as she glanced back.

“Good morning.” She blushed.

His somber gaze locked on hers. “Good morning. Are you sure you’re ready for this?”

She nodded. “Of course. We’ll be fine. I think we might bake cookies this morning. Or bread. Maybe both.” She shut her mouth to keep from chattering on stupidly.

The corner of his mouth twitched. “I’ll pop in when I finish staining these cabinets. You might be ready to get rid of him by then.”

She blinked.

“And maybe we could talk about last night,” he added in an undertone that made more heat rush to her face.

“Um…”

He grinned, and the dimple made her breath catch.

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Are you still hashing out your 2020 goals, or are you ready for the new year to start?

 

( Photo on Trends Hype )

( family at feast – Depositphotos )

In the coming week or two, there will be lots of scenes like the one above all over the country and the world. We used to have large family holidays when I was growing up, with grandparents, sometimes aunts and uncles and cousins, too. Holidays are a lot easier for kids than for the adults, aren’t they? All the kids have to do is wait until the big day, though that seems interminable to a six-year-old, whether it’s a birthday or Christmas. Kids don’t see all the work leading up to the holiday, even if they “help” to decorate cookies. I remember cookie-baking days, and I’m sure we made even more work for my mom with our help decorating sand tarts and gingerbread men.

Over the years, our gatherings have grown smaller for holidays and birthdays. Siblings and cousins scatter for school and then jobs. Older family members are no longer with us. These days for holidays and birthdays, it is usually just the four of us. Small, cozy holidays are a lot different than long-ago holidays, but still a nice way to spend a day, with closest family gathered around the table for a good meal.

I have a little holiday snippet from my fourth tiger shifter story for you today.

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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.

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Now I have some eggnog cookies that need to be put into a cookie tin if the glaze has set, and some fudge that needs cut. Here’s hoping that your holidays this week, no matter which ones you celebrate, are wonderful and filled with family and friends you love. And I hope you all find a few moments of quiet to catch your breath, too!

 

( tea with Christmas Cookies – Depositphotos )

(Christmas Cookies – Depositphotos)

 

I should have gotten a lot more done this weekend. Except I’m currently trying to fight off some ick. I’ve been chugging tea all day, in hopes of making my throat feel better. It doesn’t. I had hot and sour soup for lunch. It didn’t help. I finally broke down and took some cold meds for the slight fever I had earlier in the afternoon.

I had big plans to figure out cookies to bake next weekend, and maybe start on the grocery list. Instead, what I’d really like to do is curl up in bed. If it was a different week, I might seriously consider taking off from the day-job, but we have a pretty busy couple of days coming up, so I’ll go to bed early tonight and medicate, and keep my germs to myself while we get through Tuesday. Then we’ll see.

I’m going to attempt to get something done this evening before my early bedtime, but before I do, I have a little story snippet for you, from Hunting Medusa.

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Andi realized before she opened her eyes that the Harvester was sleeping with his arm around her. It was why she was so warm.

She frowned and peered through her eyelashes. Early light shone in the window on the other side of the room. The last thing she remembered was racking her brain trying to figure out if the Harvester had any other special talents he hadn’t told her about besides the lock thing. Now she was beneath the sheet and blanket, and his body heat warmed the back of her even more.

She shifted slightly, and knew when he came fully awake.

“Good morning, Andrea.”

She didn’t answer, setting her jaw.

His fingers slid slowly over her belly as he withdrew his arm, and she ground her teeth against the surge of PMS-fueled desire, certain the caress was a deliberate tease. Not that she’d give in to her hormones again. Not with him.

“We have work to do today.”

She shut her eyes.

“I have something for you.”

Something soft brushed her cheek, and she realized it was the sleep mask. She jerked her head away.

“You did agree.” His tone was patient.

She glared at the dresser and watched a big gouge mark appear on the side.

“Ah, yes, definitely time for this.” He chuckled and slipped it over her head.

Andi kept her mouth shut, hoping she didn’t grind her molars to dust.

“Do you want to hear our plans for the day?”

She curled her fingers into a fist beneath the blankets, trying to tell herself it was best if she didn’t hit him again today. Not three days in a row.

“No? You’re not at all curious?” He adjusted the mask, then touched the short hair at her nape. “I have something I want you to see, but it will have to wait for a day or two now. Today, we’re going to figure out a place to go to avoid my cousin when he gets back from Ohio.”

She jerked her head in his direction before she could stop herself.

“Mm. Yes, it seems Cousin Stavros got orders from our great-uncle to follow my hot lead there instead of heading here to follow up on his own leads. That gives us a few days to decide what to do.”

She turned her head away again on the pillow, considering. She hadn’t actually seen the entire message he’d posted, just the part about being on her trail and that he would complete his assignment in the next few days. She hadn’t seen where he told them he was.

He patted her hip. “Come on. Time to get up.”

She sat up reluctantly, her mind awhirl. It was possible he had actually lied to his cousin. But why? Because he wanted the glory for himself? Because he wanted the amulet even more desperately? She couldn’t begin to guess at his reasoning.

His strong hands settled at her waist to lift her to her feet.

She stumbled, off-balance from her imposed blindness, and he steadied her against him.

She took a step back, bumping into the bed, and he chuckled.

“I don’t think you’ll make it down the stairs this way.”

“I’m fine,” she said stiffly, reaching out to push him away.

He flattened her hand on his chest so she could feel his strong heartbeat. “I meant with the handcuff.”

She clenched her jaw.

He undid the cuff, and she wondered idly if he’d used the key or his handy talent. Then he caught her wrist in his free hand and turned her.

She concentrated on getting out of the room without crashing into anything. Or into him. She made it down the stairs without incident, then sat when he gave her a gentle nudge into a chair at the kitchen table.

“What would you like for breakfast?”

“Your obituary.”

He was silent for a few seconds, and she smiled, childishly pleased with herself.

“For a woman who’s just missed out on what was bound to be a very unpleasant encounter with Stavros, you don’t sound very grateful,” he said at last.

“One Harvester or another.” She shrugged.

His silence this time was more protracted, and tension filled the room.

She realized he may not just be thinking of his task, but of what had occurred between them already. She felt heat in her cheeks, suddenly grateful he was behind her.

Eventually, she heard him moving on the other side of the island, and she relaxed a little. Her belly twinged, and she stifled a sigh. Right on time. She stood up.

“Where are you going?”

“Bathroom.” She felt her way to the end of the table, mentally reviewing the space ahead of her. About fifteen steps to the half bath between the kitchen and living room, and no furniture in her path.

He didn’t argue, but his footsteps came nearer, and then his fingers caught her wrist.

“I can get there on my own.”

“I’m sure you can.” Nonetheless he guided her along the short hallway. “I’d hate for you to bump into anything and bruise yourself.” He released her at the doorway.

Andi didn’t flip him off as her first instinct suggested, but instead went into the smaller room and closed the door firmly—she hoped right in his face. She flipped the sleep mask up and glanced at her reflection in the mirror over the sink. Her spiky hair would have to wait. Right on cue, another cramp made her flatten one hand low on her belly.

A few minutes later—some aspirin washed down with a little water and her hair finger-combed—she hesitated for a few seconds, then tugged the sleep mask back down and fumbled for the doorknob. He might not still be standing outside the door, so if she walked back to the kitchen without the mask, he’d have time to turn away before she could do any damage to him. And he had held up his part of their bargain last night by producing the scissors she wanted.

Kallan met her at the door and guided her back to the table. “Do you need anything else?”

“The couch and a heating pad in about half an hour.” She sat. If he intended to wait on her, then he could really wait on her.

One of his hands brushed over the top of her head as he moved away. “I’ll see what I can do about that.”

She frowned. “And stop touching me.”

He muttered something she couldn’t quite hear, then banged a pan onto the stovetop.

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Our nearly-19-year-old kitty seems to be having some issues, too, today. We could use some good thoughts while we wait for the vet to come take a look at her tomorrow.

Did you get everything done this weekend that you wanted? Or did you have other things get in your way? Have a good week!

 

 

 

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!

 

( 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.

 

 

From time to time, we get to visit with a guest author, and today is one of those fun days! I have an interview with Alice Renaud, whose new story “The Sweetest Magic of All” is out now in the anthology Mystic Desire. (Isn’t that cover gorgeous?)

Let’s get right to our interview.

What is your best reading memory?

It’s a bit of a cliché for someone who write fantasy, I know, but I have to answer, discovering Tolkien’s books. First “The Hobbit,” then “The Lord of the Rings.” The Hobbit transported me to another world, full of adventure, poetry, and dragons. Oh, the mysterious door in the mountain, that can only be seen at a special time, by moonlight, when the thrush knocks… I was there, with the dwarves and the hobbit, holding my breath as the light fell on the keyhole!

What is the first book you ever wrote?

“The Salty Kingdom,” an epic fantasy with a wizard called Ariel and a mysterious land that the sea covers entirely once every thousand years. It never got published… but Ariel pops up again in the book I’m writing now, “Mermaids Marry in Green,” the third in my “Sea of Love” series. Ariel is relocated to London, younger, and a lot hotter! He is also mentioned in my story “The Sweetest Magic of All,” he is the hero’s brother.

What is your favorite thing about your current heroine?

Sapphire Seaborne, the heroine of my short story “The Sweetest Magic of All,” is a good girl, who discovers her naughty side at the same time as her magical powers. I like repressed heroines who throw off their shackles and grab life with both hands. It helps if there’s a sexy warlock to grab as well.

What does your travel bucket list look like?

I’d like to visit Jerusalem, watch whales, and go to Glastonbury, England’s biggest music festival. I haven’t given up hope to do all those things one day.

Also: don’t miss our great Halloween “Mystic Desire” book party on 31 October! There will be games, a chance to chat with the BVS authors who contributed to the anthology “Mystic Desire,” and many great prizes to be won!

Buy Links

Amazon

Books2Read

Blurb

Mystic Desire is a collection of brand new supernatural romance stories by award-winning BVS authors!

The Sweetest Magic of All by Alice Renaud:

When a sexy apprentice witch and a hot warlock go back in time to locate a magical amulet, they find more than they bargained for. It’s May Eve, the most magical night of the year, and normal rules don’t apply…

An Awareness of Evil – Dee S. Knight

Only two things stand between evil and a small girl: the visions of Amanda McMasters and Detective Brendan Gilchrist. Neither can afford to be wrong.

Bewitching the Wolf – Zia Westfield

The Witch, Alice Humphreys has poured her heart and soul into creating a magical B&B where guests experience the fantasy vacation of their dreams!  Brodie MacEwan has been sent to investigate the mysterious death of his uncle. He never expected to discover his soul mate in his dreams. But is the illusion real? Alice knows that there is something all too predatory about the Scotsman and he makes her body tingle in places it shouldn’t!

Calling All Angels – Lora Logan

Elijah Baker, an immortal tasked with fighting against demons that exist on earth, finds peace when he meets his new neighbor, Celeste. But when he realizes that their love comes with a cost, he is faced with choosing between his calling and a chance at true love.

Dream Catcher – Callie Carmen

Long ago, a medicine man had made a matched set of dream catchers as a wedding gift to protect the Chief’s daughter and her warrior husband. He had called upon the benevolent spirits to keep the two soul mates safe and in a loving, healthy marriage. It was foretold that if the two dream catchers were ever divided the new owners would be drawn together as soul mates. Was that possible?

Life Saving – Anne Krist

Saving lives isn’t just for adults. Sometimes the innocent magic of a child can do the job better.

Love from the Mist – Patricia Elliott

When Jace Warden learns that his brother plans to announce his engagement at a family get together, he flees to the other side of the world to escape the joyous celebration.

Or at least attempts to…  His plane never makes it, and he winds up trapped on an island. Little does he realize, he’s not alone; there’s a mischievous little entity milling about, and she wants to play.

Love Knows No Apocalypse – Patricia Elliott

Getting stranded in the middle of a storm was not Samantha Wheeler’s idea of an ideal situation, especially in the middle of a zombie apocalypse. But fighting zombies was the easy part; her heart, though, was a whole other matter. Thanks to a man named Steve Jones.

When they find themselves in danger, she has to decide what’s more important – dying for someone she loves or surviving.

Love that Binds – Carol Schoenig

On the outskirts of a small town where nothing grows, a young girl, Ianthee, is being bullied and accused of being a witch. Young Caleb, inexplicably drawn to Ianthee, comes to her rescue. Before they can explore their feelings, Caleb and his family disappear. What happened to him, and what part does a long-ago legend play in their lives?

Love’s Ghost – R.M. Olivia

“Sorry, babe. I know it hurts to hear.” John frowned.  I’ll make this brief. I spoke to the man in charge and he is giving me one last chance.”

“Come again?”

“I’m allowed to make love to my wife one last time before I have to cross over. So, are you ready for your husband? Are you ready for me, Ingrid?” He lifted my chin up and ran his thumb along my lips.  I felt a chill go down my spine. How could this be real? How could this be happening?

The Anniversary – Richard Savage

A cruel twist of fate wrenched Evelyn and Peter apart on their wedding anniversary. Evelyn’s life descends into darkness.  James enters her life giving her a chance of happiness. Evelyn discovers a piece of jewelry, that has the power to grant her time with Peter on their anniversary. She adores James, but needs Peter.  Can she ever really let Peter go, while there’s still a chance they can be together?

The Mortal Vampire – Suzanne Smith

Remy enjoys life as a vampire, never giving a thought to sucking every last drop of tasty blood out of his unfortunate victims and leaving them door nail dead. But his cold and carefree existence changes the day he crosses paths with the beautiful and mysterious mortal Angela.

Through the Veil – Jan Selbourne

A beautiful March day in 1875 ends in tragedy when the wagon carrying Helen and Marcus plunges down the mountainside. Generations pass before Rachel Finlay finds an old sepia photo of a man and woman. She knows them but she’s never met them and now, for the peace of mind she desperately craves, she goes back to where it began. In time, through the veil, knowing she may never return.

Unconditional Lust – Breanna Hayes

The massive, hideous merrow leader, Muruch, craves the taste of human flesh. Confined to the ocean, he feeds his horde with sailors from ships pulled into the maw of the Bermuda Triangle. When US Army Captain, Nurys Shaye, puts her life on the line to save him after being captured, his hunger for human flesh is shadowed by the desire for her body and her love. Will she be able to see past his appearance and trust him to break down her walls and teach her to feel?

 

Bio

Alice lives in London, UK, with her husband and son. By day she’s a compliance manager for a pharmaceutical company. By night she writes fantasy romance about shape shifting mermen, water monsters and time-travelling witches. Her first book, “A Merman’s Choice,” was published in January 2019 by Black Velvet Seductions. It is the first book in a fantasy romance trilogy inspired by the landscapes and legends of Brittany and Wales. The second book, “Music for a Merman,” is on pre order now. Alice has also written a short story, “The Sweetest Magic of All,” included in the BVS “Mystic Desire” anthology, on pre order now.

Alice loves reading and writing stories, and sharing them with anyone who’s interested!

Social Media Links:

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(field of daisy flowers- Depositphotos) 

The summer weather appears to be settling in here to stay. It’s been hot and sticky all week, with a slight break after last night’s thunderstorms–only upper 80s today, and a little less humid with the wind blowing all day. The next week looks more like last week, hot and humid, so I’ll be staying inside as much as possible, even on the holiday Thursday. I’ll leave the grilling to my husband and stay indoors.

I had my weekend planned out: we had birthday dinner plans for my younger son for yesterday, and I intended to write today. Neither day went according to plan. I had the requested mac and cheese ready to go in the oven for yesterday’s dinner, only to discover the oven had not heated up at all. So we had to pack everything up and take it to the boys’ house and have dinner there instead of here. Today was going to be my writing day, except I wound up hanging out with the boys for a while again and then doing some unplanned chores. Best laid plans…

That’s okay. I just took a little stroll around outside to take a look at the gardens, though, since it’s cooled down. I am going to have tomatoes coming out of my ears in a few weeks. I planted seven different kinds of tomatoes and discovered a few weeks ago that a ‘volunteer’ had also sprouted from last year’s tomatoes. Two of the new plants aren’t doing very well. The other five and the volunteer are going to have a billion tomatoes. I’ve been picking cherry tomatoes for a few weeks now, which is nice, but there are plants on the other five plants as well. I can’t wait! I’m not a summer fan, but the best thing about the season for me is all of the fresh produce, the veggies and fruits. So good! Nothing that comes from the grocery store out of season is even close (I’m looking at you, tomatoes!). I have plans for some of those fresh veggies for our holiday dinner this week, and maybe a little of season 3 of Stranger Things while we’re at it.

But since I am off-schedule for the weekend, I really need to get a little writing done this evening, so I’ve got a short snippet from the first shifter story to share with you.

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India had given her more than one speculative glance during the evening, but thankfully, she hadn’t asked the questions Tessa knew were on her mind. It was late when they returned to the house, so Tessa didn’t argue about spending the night–the house was quiet when they went inside, and she hoped everyone was already sleeping. Or at least, that Harley was. Remembering what she’d let him do earlier kept her awake far later that night.

How could she be so weak?

She wanted to settle into bed after India went into her suite, but her brain wouldn’t stop circling back to what she’d done earlier. She paced the room for a few minutes, trying to force her mind to clear.

When pacing didn’t work, she went to the window. The small solar lights below lit up the shadowy gardens in places the moonlight didn’t reach.

Brighter lights shone in the pool, where a large shape moved through the water.

Harley. Her mouth went dry. Beautiful.

And naked.

Tessa swallowed hard, watching his powerful strokes through the water, strong arms and legs propelling him quickly from one end of the pool to the other.

It was a very pretty sight, she mused, admiring the play of his muscles, his sleek, wet skin. Her cheeks heated.

He stopped suddenly at the near end of the pool, lifting his head to look up at her.

Caught. The warmth in her cheeks spread to the rest of her.

He couldn’t see her. She’d turned off the bedroom light when India had gone to bed.

But she knew he knew she was there, even though he resumed swimming his laps, a little slower now.

And when he climbed the steps at the shallow end of the pool a few minutes later, she covered her mouth with one hand. Whoa!

Harley, naked, was an incredible sight. And wet, naked, aroused Harley made her knees weak.

He picked up a towel from one of the chairs nearby, and rubbed his back briskly, as he turned his face up toward her window. She backed away, heart pounding. He did not know she was there. He couldn’t.

She crawled into bed and curled into a ball in the center of the mattress, but no matter how tight she closed her eyes, she couldn’t stop seeing him emerging from the pool, water sluicing down his body, his erection jutting out in front of him.

That would have mortified her teenage self, and her adult self was more than a little embarrassed to have been gawking.

But wow… That would fuel plenty of fantasies in the future.

And kept her wide awake for hours.

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Now I’m off to write. How are you spending this first, hot week of summer?

 

 

 

Goal Target – Depositphotos

 

It’s Sunday, the laundry’s half done, and the house is quiet (aside from noisy cat, who thinks she needs fed every time I walk from one room to another). That means writing time, so this will be short and sweet.

It’s also Father’s Day. My husband is spending part of the day with the boys, doing guy stuff and having a great time. And i have been thinking about my dad.  I miss him.

Before I get back to my writing, I have a little story snippet for you, from the second of my tiger shifter stories.

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Vivi made conversation with the boys, but Berdine kept her distance. She gave Boris several pouty, teary-eyed glances, but when he beckoned her, she went instead to talk to her cousin.

He sighed, but let her alone for now. He could have a discussion with her later. Bryce clambered into his lap, and Boris gave him a hug. “How’re you doing, buddy?”

“I’m good, Daddy. I’m glad I’m not gonna be the baby no more.”

“You never said anything about being the youngest.”

“There hasta be a mommy for a baby.”

Boris hid his wince at the stab of pain near his heart. “And a daddy,” he pointed out.

Bryce grinned. “But the daddy can’t have the baby, silly.”

Boris hugged his son again. “Of course, how could I forget?” None of his four youngest had talked much lately about their mother’s abandonment.

Bryce squeezed his arms around Boris’s neck, then pushed away. “I like her, but what should I call her?”

Good question. “Maybe you should ask Vivi,” he said, watching her laugh at something Bo had said.

“Good idea.” Bryce scrambled to his feet and raced over to join his brothers and Vivi.

Boyd appeared in the family room doorway before Boris had decided whether to join them or collect Berdine. He pushed to his feet and headed toward his father instead.

Boyd tipped his head toward the hallway, and Boris nodded, following the older man to his office. He closed the door behind him while his father dropped onto the nearest chair.

“You just found out, didn’t you?”

Boris sat beside him. “Yes, yesterday.” He met his father’s gaze.

“A mate?”

Heat climbed the back of his neck. “I didn’t plan it.”

Clearly.

It was written in his father’s expression, though he didn’t say it. Finally, Boyd sighed and looked away. “Make sure she understands the danger.”

“We’ve already had that conversation. I think it’s the only reason I got her here.”

“Losing your touch, son?” Boyd teased gruffly as he got to his feet.

Boris laughed. “I am out of practice, I guess.”

“Brush up then. I like Vivi.” He patted Boris’s shoulder. “I’m going to go visit with her.”

Boris stuck his hands in his pockets as he followed his father back to the noisy family room, pondering the unspoken warning.

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I’m going back to my writing, and maybe try to sneak in some reading time, too before the weekend is over. How are you spending your weekend?