Category: Hunting Medusa


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 ) 

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( 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 )

 

 

I would actually say those two bins are about even, and they both look like the work bin in the cartoon above. My problem this week is a serious lack of motivation. It isn’t because I don’t want to get things done. More like there are too many things that have to get done, and there are a whole lot that are equally important, and I can’t choose where to start.

Part of the problem might be that last month was a really good month. It was busy, but good busy. This month has started off on the crazy-busy side at the day-job–it’s vacation season: while I was away, one of my co-workers also started her vacation, then right after I got back, another started her vacation, so there have been two of us for a couple of days doing the work of five (did I mention we’re actually short one person on our team right now, too?). There I don’t have a choice but to keep my head down and keep things moving. It’s the rest of the to-dos in the Life bin that I am having difficulty working on. My brain is pretty well fried right now after the day-job, which makes it harder to find the desire to do more.

One of my two vacationing co-workers will be back this week, and the other late next week. That will be good. In the meantime, I could really use some ideas on how to get it together. What do you do when there is too much to do, and not enough brain-power or motivation to do it all?

Before I go try to get a little something done before I crawl into bed, I have a little story snippet for you, from Hunting Medusa.

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“Get off, Harvester,” she whispered.

“Stop calling me that.” He hated hearing it from her lips for some reason. Yes, it was what his name meant. It was what he was destined to do. But the contempt in her tone… He didn’t like it at all.

As though the Medusa had room to be contemptuous of him.

“It’s your name.” Her voice was stronger now, as if she’d somehow sensed his unexpected inner struggle. “Why shouldn’t I use it?”

“You won’t be alive long enough to worry about it.” He ignored her behind against his groin for the moment and took a slow breath, trying to remember his plan.

Get in, find her, kill her, get the amulet, and get out.

Well, his plan was not going very well at all.

He didn’t want to be the first Harvester in so many generations to finally find the Medusa and then fail at his job.

“Really?” She didn’t sound as worried as she should. “I’d have thought a big, strong man like you would have already done the job.”

So would he.

But something in him resisted destroying her.

“Where is the amulet?”

“The what?”

Kallan frowned in the dark. “Don’t play stupid. It’s hardly befitting one of your stature.”

“I don’t know what amulet you’re looking for.”

She didn’t sound as if she was lying. But how would he know? He didn’t know her, and ten minutes on her front porch yesterday afternoon hardly qualified him to make such judgments. He hesitated. If he killed her now, he’d have to spend time tearing up her house to find the goblet, and who knew where she could have hidden it? Or if she’d secured it somewhere else?

“Seriously, Harvester.” Her tone was even more confident now. “No amulet here.”

“You lie. I know the current Medusa always has possession of the amulet.” He tightened his grip on her wrist, but didn’t wrench it higher.

She sighed. “I’m not lying. I think I’d know if someone had sent me an amulet when Cousin Annis died. Instead all I got was PMS from hell and—” She stopped suddenly.

“And?” His heart beat faster, and he realized blood still pulsed steadily from his wounds.

“And a new tattoo,” she whispered.

“A tattoo?” He kept his grip on her wrist. “Where?”

She hesitated.

He pulled her arm upward again and heard her quick gasp.

“My back.”

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Now, if you all would share your ideas to get motivated when I’m exhausted, that would be fantastic. I would really appreciate a little help so I can knock some things off of this very long to-do list.

 

 

(Cake and ice-cream – Depositphotos)

I am still without internet at my house, so am crashing the Panera up the road from home once again so I can check in on everything that’s happening in my world and beyond. While I get ready to call our provider (again!) when I get home.

I’ve also been cursing Mother Nature for the ridiculously high temperatures this week. As I write this, our high temp at home today was officially 100 degrees. Much, much too hot for me. It looks like a slightly cooler start to next week, before it gets back up around 90. Good thing for me I’ll be inside the conference hotel all week for the annual Romance Writers of America conference.

I finished most of my packing earlier today. Now I just have a few things to tuck into my suitcase the morning I leave, and my tote bag to prep. I hope I didn’t forget to put anything on my ginormous list. I am really excited to get to NYC, not just for the conference, but because it means I also get to meet up with writer friends I haven’t seen in too long (and some I see fairly regularly) to catch up and talk shop.

I do need to finish whittling down my workshop list. I still have a couple of time slots I can’t make up my mind about. I’ll have to think about that tomorrow while I’m staying inside the air conditioning for one last extra-hot day to write. I might even polish my nails while I’m at it. I should also think about what kind of cheesecake I’m going to bring home with me next weekend for my birthday.

While I’m thinking about that, I have a little story snippet to share with you, this week from Hunting Medusa.

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Kallan sank onto the hard chair at the table and buried his face in his hands. Tonight wasn’t working out at all as he’d imagined it might. Andrea had warned him that morning she wouldn’t forget what he’d done last night. A mirthless laugh rumbled up his chest. He should have realized Andrea wouldn’t completely surrender. She was a fighter, his Medusa.

He frowned. She wasn’t his Medusa. She wasn’t his anything. Perhaps a temporary lover. And ultimately, his target. His family’s enemy.

That didn’t mean he’d allow his cousin get to her, however.

With that thought in mind, he booted up the laptop, fingers tapping over the keyboard. Sure enough, Great-Uncle Ari had responded to Kallan’s earlier posting, with a command to Stavros to head in the same direction rather than to follow his own lead. None of the cousins ever disobeyed Aristotle Tassos, even now when they were adults and hunting on their own—not even Stavros, arrogant and brutal as he was.

Breathing a small sigh of relief, Kallan idly pulled up his favorite page of the mythologies, one with plenty of photos of ancient artifacts to go along with the stories. Artifacts which had never been seen publicly, items that had instead passed down through generations of Harvesters. Currently, Cousin Demitrios was the keeper of the private collection, though word among the cousins was he wanted to get back in on the hunt and turn the curatorship over to his brother Vasily. That was up to Great-Uncle Ari, and the old bastard never rushed a decision.

He scrolled through several pages until he got to the photo he was searching for. A large urn decorated in great detail, including a scene depicting the very beautiful Medusa about to be slain by Perseus. The first Medusa was gorgeous, with wide eyes and a generous figure. The spitting, hissing snakes atop her head didn’t detract at all from her beauty.

He looked up at the ceiling. There was only silence from Andrea’s bedroom. He wasn’t sure if that was good or bad.

He glanced again at the urn. Perhaps she should see it.

To what purpose, though? The voice in his head sounded very like Ari.

He frowned and picked up the computer, then headed for the steps and ignored the imaginary voice.

The light was still on in the bedroom, and Andrea sat just where he’d left her, her shoulders slumped.

Something in his chest tightened. He reminded himself she’d set this in motion, but he still felt a pang of guilt.

He cleared his throat. “I have something you should see.”

She didn’t move, didn’t jump, didn’t give any indication she’d heard him.

Kallan’s frown deepened as he crossed the room to her.

She was sleeping. Sitting there exactly where he’d left her, with tear stains on her cheeks.

Goddess, he felt even worse. He put the laptop on her dresser and turned back to the bed so he could ease her down into a more comfortable position. Certainly more comfortable than sleeping sitting up. She didn’t wake, just burrowed into the pillow, making an indistinct sound of protest.

For a moment, he watched her, trying to figure out why his chest ached and failing. He gave himself a shake and returned to the computer, then shut it down before he kicked off his shoes and stretched out behind her on the bed, careful not to disturb her. She’d had a rough enough day.

He smiled to himself at that and shut his eyes. They both needed some sleep to deal with what was coming.

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Now I’m going to venture back out into the heat and head home to my own a/c and do a little reading before I call it a day. What will you be doing this week while I’m filling my brain with new information at the conference and visiting with writing friends?

 

 

Today will be a super-fast post. Our internet has been down at home since Friday evening, and there is no end in sight, so I took a quick drive up the road to Panera to check on things.

I have been writing today–easier to be undistracted (except by the flashing DSL light on the router) when there is no access to anything else. I’ve also started packing for my trip next week. Not clothing yet, but other essentials. I’ve also picked up some snacks to take along, and some local chocolate for my out-of-state roommate.

Hopefully our internet will be fixed soon, and I’ll have a longer post for you, with a story snippet. What do you do when you lose access to something you rely on? A small freak-out? Major meltdown?

 

 

Yes, I know the Romance Writers of America annual conference is not until the end of July. But there are things that have to be done beforehand. Like travel arrangements. Like figuring out dining options. Like new business cards. Like scheduling meet-ups with writer friends and industry people. Like personal prep, like scheduling a salon appointment, finding comfortable-but-not-ugly shoes, what to wear, if-you-have-time-to-see-anything-outside-the-conference-hotel amusements. Probably way more than that, but that’s all I can think of right this second.

I may have fallen into some of these distractions in the past week or so. I have my train tickets for the trip. I have a list of restaurants for dinner during the week and certificates for several, so I have options (though to be fair, I have actually only added a few places to my existing list in the last week). I have my hair appointment set for the week before the conference.

My pretty new business cards are ordered. Yes, I do still have my old business cards, and plenty of them. But they have the cover for Hunting Medusa on them, and since that is currently not available, I wanted something different. I love those cards, but I don’t think they are the right thing for right now. My husband didn’t understand that logic, but I bet some of my writing friends will.

I have not yet had any success in the shoe-shopping even though I have dedicated a sizable chunk of time to the search, but I’ll persist.

And I have just begun to set up times to meet with writing friends, so that will also be on-going for the next two months.

The other big prep thing on my list (besides packing, and I’m so not there yet either) is figuring out which workshops I want to get to. That doesn’t sound like a big task, but trust me, it really is. I’ve got the workshop schedule printed out, and have been through it at least half a dozen times already. I start with just a read-through. Then I go back with a pen and mark things that sound interesting. The next run-through is with a yellow highlighter, to make the big wish-list. My most recent run-through was with a blue highlighter (after an in-between with orange), to narrow down the list further. I will still have to whittle it down a lot. There are some time-slots when there isn’t anything that sounds good to me, and others where every single workshop is something I want to go to. I find this almost always happens, no matter what the conference is, big or small. It’s okay. If there really isn’t anything in a time slot that will be useful for me, it’s a good time to catch my breath or meet up with a friend for a cup of tea, or maybe even to look at notes I took in a previous workshop. I learned a long time ago that I do need to take a break periodically. Even a three day conference is a lot if you don’t stop and take a break once in a while. Yes, the conference is work, but it should also be fun, and if you’re completely brain-dead and exhausted after the second day, the rest of it will be wasted. So I’ve learned to pace myself. And to order the workshop recordings for later, because even in the workshops you get to, there will be something you missed, or want to go back to.

Funnily enough, though, amid all of these non-writing things I have been doing in the past couple of weeks, I have also gotten a fair number of words written, which makes me super happy. I am wrapping up the novella for the Common Elements Romance Project, and trying desperately to come up with a title so I can order my cover (already found the perfect one!). I also took a mosey through a couple of my shifter stories and made some minor tweaks. I have a trilogy of novellas I wrote a number of years ago, too, that I looked at this week. With a little bit of updating, and some fine-tuning, I feel like I could probably release those in the not-so-distant future, which is exciting.

So, while I have strayed from the straight-ahead writing-only path in the last couple of weeks, I am still making forward progress on several fronts, so I don’t feel badly about the side-tracks. In fact, today, while I have laundry going, I am going back to the Common Elements novella and aiming to get a lot closer to ‘The End’. I may also watch the last episode of a Netflix series I’ve been loving so much I hate for it to end and then have to wait for an eon until the next season.

Before I go, I have a little story snippet for you, from the fifth shifter story.

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Joe set his jaw and nodded once, turning away.

Piper wrapped her arms over her middle, listening to his footsteps heading away from the library. She fought the urge to go after him. The disappointment in his eyes stung–knowing it was there because of her made guilt well up in her chest, burning.

She didn’t think it was unreasonable to want to do something without him looking over her shoulder.

As soon as she thought it, she groaned and covered her eyes. Of course she didn’t mean it that way. She was grateful he was keeping her and Keely safe, but she was so used to being on her own…

She blew out a hard breath and squared her shoulders. She owed him an apology.

She didn’t find him in the living room, or the kitchen, or even the bedroom, so she finally headed downstairs. She came to a stop in the open doorway of the workout room, her mouth going dry. His sweaty torso gleamed under the lights as he punched and kicked a heavy bag hung near the back wall–hard and fast, over and over.

He didn’t notice her for several minutes, so she took the time to marshal her thoughts, to note the anger and frustration in his expression, the way his eyes narrowed on his target, his jaw still tight. The sweat darkening his hair and sheening his skin.

She swallowed hard and collected herself, walking across the room.

Joe caught the bag in both hands and slid a glance at her, but didn’t speak, his breath coming still faster.

“I’m sorry, Joe.”

He blew out a rough breath and released the bag, turning toward her, but not looking at her.

Her chest hurt. “I didn’t mean that.”

He shrugged, examining his knuckles.

“Look at me please,” she whispered.

The disappointment still shadowed his eyes when he met her gaze, but the hurt sent sharper pain jabbing at her heart. “Oh, Joe, I shouldn’t have taken my frustration out on you. I didn’t mean it.”

He looked away again. “You’re allowed to tell me to go away.”

She took another step toward him. “I don’t want you to go away, Joe.” Her throat hurt looking at him, so beautiful and so guarded. “I don’t,” she repeated, taking another step that put her in arm’s reach. Cautiously, she stretched out her hand to brush his wrist. “I’m angry that Alden has been able to wreak havoc on my life even now. But, Joe, I don’t want you to go away. I am so happy to be here. So happy to be with you. I’m so sorry.” She slid her hand up his slick forearm, up to the tense muscles beyond. “If we could stay here for a month, I could prove that.”

He startled her by yanking her close, his hard hands on her upper arms.

But instead of fear, she felt a rush of something else–excitement.

“You don’t have to prove anything to me, Piper,” he ground out.

“Let me.” She leaned in and pressed a kiss in the center of his chest. Salt met her lips, and she brushed them against his skin again.

“Piper.”

She flattened her hand against his arm, feeling the way his muscles bunched under her touch. Smiling a little, she licked the same spot on his chest.

His breathing snagged, and his fingers tightened on her arms.

Piper nibbled across his skin to his nipple, and he growled. She licked it, just to hear him growl again.

“Pretty Piper, you’re playing with fire,” he rasped.

She tipped her head back a little and studied him–the fierce need glittering in his eyes, the muscle bunching at his jaw, the color staining his cheekbones. And still, he had himself reined in, under control–even if he was on the edge of losing that control. “Let me play with fire,” she whispered back.

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Now I’m off to write. I hope you all have a beautiful week!

Vintage pitcher of lemonade – Depositphotos

 

 

 

I know Memorial Day weekend here in the U.S. is the unofficial start to the summer season. Only it actually feels like summer at my house. Here we are, for the second weekend in a row, sweating our butts off because it’s too hot for this time of year, and the a/c is not yet fixed. Turns out the motor we were told to order was not the right size, and the one we actually need is on back-order. Ugh. First I thought, hey, no problem, I’ll just catch up on the magazines that came this week, and the Sunday paper, do a couple of chores and some writing until the thunderstorms in our forecast get here and cool it down.

( thermometer with hot temperature – Depositphotos )

It was a good plan. Except we haven’t gotten any of those storms allegedly headed our way, and it is almost 90. Windows are open, but that just lets more hot air in, and it doesn’t move well through the house because of the layout of the windows–except for the kitchen and the front door, no windows on the back of the house align with any on the front of the house. None. So the fans don’t help either. So I’ve mostly spent my afternoon hot and cranky while weeding out the week’s magazines and the paper, and not written a single word because I can’t get in the right mind-set. And not done my chores either, because they involve hot water. Nope.

So before I go hunt down a couple of sugar-free popsicles, I have a little story snippet for you, this time from Hunting Medusa.

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Andi kept up her steady pace as they trekked farther into the forest. The sounds of the birds and chattering squirrels kept them company, as they had for the past two hours. He didn’t try to carry on a conversation with her while they walked. He was clearly accustomed to physical activity.

Which meant she’d have a harder time than she’d anticipated in ditching him.

Not that she’d imagined it would be easy.

Nothing could possibly be easy about this. Her luck clearly didn’t run in that direction.

She paused to take a sip of water from the bottle she’d tucked into the side of her backpack, and he stopped beside her. Warmth spread up her spine, and she frowned into the bottle she held. Stop it. He was not potential mate material, no matter how happy her hormones were when he was near.

“All right?” He took a quick drink from his own water, his arm brushing hers as he did so.

She shifted her weight onto her other foot, away from him. “Fine.”

He met her gaze.

Her pulse skipped.

“I know you don’t want to trust me, but you can. On this, you can.”

It sounded like a vow, she thought, panic making her heart beat faster. She didn’t want to believe him.

But on this one thing, she realized she did. Of course she did. Even though she hadn’t wanted to, she’d trusted him not to kill her after they’d made their bargain for the scissors. He’d earned it.

She swallowed, her mouth dry, and lifted her water bottle to her lips again, giving herself a distraction from the intensity in his green eyes.

He sighed, then took another drink.

Andi closed her eyes briefly, girding herself, and capped her bottle. The next stretch would be more of a challenge. Maybe this would be where her luck changed.

Or not.

Two hours later, she panted softly, her heart pounding hard as she put one hand on the nearest tree trunk and dropped her head to pour the rest of her lukewarm water over the back of her neck.

Straight up the side of the mountain, and he was still not doing more than breathing hard, the bastard.

She felt her backpack shift, and glanced to the side.

“Getting you another drink.” He tugged a bottle out and then rezipped her pack.

She mumbled her thanks and chugged down half the bottle in one go. Then turned in time to see his throat working as he swallowed the last of his bottle. His skin glistened with sweat, muscles beneath shifting and making her want to touch. With her fingers, her tongue.

She inhaled slowly and looked away again. It seemed she was stuck with him. At least for now.

He touched her arm, and she lifted her gaze. “Do you want a break?”

She shook her head. “Not if we want to get there before dark.”

He frowned. “What if I think you need a break?”

Andi felt a little surge of annoyance. “You’re not my father.”

“Thank Goddess,” he muttered, brushing away a drop of perspiration from her temple.

She blushed.

“Andrea, I’m just trying to point out, and obviously badly, you had a really rough day yesterday, and maybe you should take it a little easier than you have so far today.”

“I’m sorry.” She took a drink from the fresh bottle. “I haven’t had to run for my life before, and I’m not used to requiring help, and apparently, neither is sitting well.”

Kallan smiled a little, and his fingers slid down to the corner of her mouth. “Apology accepted.” He leaned down and kissed the tip of her nose lightly, startling her.

She resisted the urge to shift her head so their mouths would meet. Instead, she put her bottles away and adjusted her pack on her shoulders. “The next leg should be easier.”

He gave her a knowing smile, but kept his mouth shut.

And she found herself smiling back.

Stupid.

But her smile didn’t fade as quickly this time.

As she walked, more slowly now, she let her mind drift to what it would be like to actually have a real relationship again. If she could ignore the fact he’d come to kill her, there were other aspects of the past few days she could get used to. Like having someone to talk to who didn’t think she was a complete nutcase. Like having someone who not only believed in the myths that shaped her life, but had also been influenced by them. Like the smoking-hot sex.

She fanned herself a little.

“You all right?”

Heat climbed her throat. “Still cooling down from that last segment,” she called back over her shoulder. “Jackass,” she added under her breath.

She resolved to think of nothing but getting to safety for now. Getting distracted by wishing for things she knew she could never have wouldn’t keep her safe from Kallan’s cousin.

Andi froze in mid-stride, her heart thundering in her chest suddenly, and it wasn’t from exertion this time. Her gaze stuck on the dark, shiny creature lying across their path, and her pulse pounded in her ears.

His hands landed on her shoulders. “What?”

“S-snake,” she whispered.

“Are you kidding?” He moved to stand beside her, and looked into her face. “You’re serious,” he said after a couple seconds, a grin tugging at his mouth. He glanced to the trail ahead and started to laugh. “It’s only a garter snake.”

Andi ground her teeth together, heat climbing her neck to her face, but not in a good way now. Just because that damned Athena had cursed her to sprout snakes on her head every month didn’t mean she liked them.

He laughed until she wanted to hit him. Or better yet, turn him to stone. Too bad she wasn’t PMSing anymore.

Not looking at Kallan, she folded her arms and waited for the snake to finish slithering across the path.

Still chuckling, he gestured to the trail ahead. “All clear.”

She hated him. Sticking her chin in the air, she marched past him, barely resisting the urge to smack him as she went. She consoled herself with that mental image for a few minutes, of punching him square in the nose. Or mouth. Maybe knocking the smug grin off his face. Drawing blood would be good. She curled her fingers into fists at her sides as she went, only vaguely aware of him close on her heels.

After a while, though, she grew more aware of his nearness, as the forest darkened around them. His heat was within reach, if she stopped and stretched out her arm. Not that she would. Especially not now.

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Now that I’m reading that, I think it would have been better if I grabbed a winter scene from the second in the Medusa trilogy, or maybe from one of the shifter stories, to cool things down. Well, too late now.

How are you staying cool on this long weekend? Or are you where it is too cool and you’d rather it was warmer?

 

 

 

That is my goal for the week, to be writing if I’m not working. I need to make some better progress toward my writing goals for this year, so I’m putting it out there into the world so I have to be more accountable to someone besides myself.

I need to wrap up this novella this week, one way or another. And come up with a title, which I am terrible at. I do think I’ve found the cover art, though, so at least that’s something. And I’m using the pic below as inspiration to get to ‘The End’ this week.

 

( Romantic couple at sunset – Depositphotos )

Before I get back to work, how about a little snippet of story? Maybe from something else I’m behind on, like my third shifter story?

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The drive from the office to Baron’s school took fifteen minutes on a good day, so on a busy Friday afternoon, it took twenty-seven. Not counting the three additional minutes it took to find a place to park.

He climbed out of the car and waited until a shiny mini-van sped by with no regard for the other parents and children in the parking lot before he crossed, weaving around parents leading their children out–parents who had taken into account the Friday traffic and arrived early. He checked in at the security gate, and then entered the school grounds. Pandemonium. Children running around, shouting, laughing, parents calling for their kids, teachers attempting to corral some rowdies.

Knowing his son, he wouldn’t have hurried out in the first rush. Baron dawdled.

A screech to his left had him turning in time to see a little red-haired girl leap onto her father’s back.

Boris turned to search for Baron, and a flutter of green caught his eye–a loose blouse on a curvy brunette.

Then she pivoted, laughing at the small girl holding her hand, and Bori’s heartbeat quickened–Vivi.

The breeze caught a school identification tag hung around her neck and her blouse again, this time, pressing the garment tight to her, and revealing the unmistakable curve of her belly. Her pregnant belly. It was small, but he knew what that curve meant.

And it was just about the right size…

Vivi’s smile faded as her head came up, and she sniffed the air delicately. Her gaze swung over the crowd of children, and locked on his face. All of the color faded from her cheeks, and her eyes widened.

He watched the child beside her tug on her hand, and Vivi bent back to her for a second, then, reluctance lining her face, released the girl, who leaped into another woman’s arms. Vivi straightened slowly, and he strode through the throng of kids toward her.

Alarm darkened her eyes, and she glanced around, as if thinking of fleeing.

Not a chance.

Three more strides put him in front of her. Her shoulders set, and her wary gaze crawled up to his face.

“Vivi, how nice to see you,” he said softly. He leaned closer and sniffed–the same delicious, earthy scent he remembered, along with a fainter undertone of his own familiar scent. His baby.

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So what are you working on this week, that you need some additional motivation or accountability to complete? Let me know, and I can cheer you on, too.

( Dream Plan Work Make it Happen – Depositphotos )

 

 

My three-day-weekend is wrapping up with solo writing time, the same way it started on Thursday evening only with my monthly writing group. Mother Nature didn’t like my Friday plans to move peonies, so my boys dug them up for me while I was having dinner and writing with friends, which gave us a head-start on Saturday’s excavation project. Now there is a pot of peonies on my side porch, with the pussy willows I’ve been rooting since I clipped them last month. Now I’m working on white lilacs from my aunt’s lilac bush. I also picked up a couple more shrubs to add to the back of the yard, a forsythia and a Scotch broom. I used to have one at our old house, and I loved it. I didn’t actually intend to pick up shrubs the other day when I stopped at the nursery, just the potting soil and root solution. But I thought, well, why not look while I’m here and get some ideas? Then I discovered the shrubs were on sale. What could I do? I still have some butterfly bushes to add to the collection, but that can wait for now. Our shrub garden across the back of the yard will have things blooming from early in the season all the way through the summer, which is going to be much nicer to look at than the neighbors.

We did have a productive day at the boys’ yesterday, getting the raised bed behind the garage pulled out and leveled. I think the next project there will be the new patio, and then furniture shopping for a table set for eating out when the weather is nice. And since the boys took care of my peony project Thursday night, that left Friday for errands for me, which meant writing time today. Not a bad end to the weekend, though of course now I want more writing time. I guess I might need to schedule another long weekend, maybe one without two-plus days of projects so there’s more time for writing.

I’m going to go get a little more writing done before I call it a night, so I can be ready to go back to the day-job in the morning, but I have a little story snippet to share with you from the novella that I will be releasing later this year as part of the Common Elements Romance Project.

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Lucie didn’t argue when Nate refused her help with the dishes. Her insides were still shaky from the realization that he was attracted to her.

“I’ll see you in the mornin’, Lucie!” Hayden shouted, hopping on one foot.

She smiled as she put her sweater on. “Yes, you will, buddy.” They’d already decided that Hayden would join her after breakfast so Nate could cram in a few hours of work before he headed to the hospital to see his dad and try to get his mother to come home to sleep in her own bed rather than the less-than-ideal pull-out chair-bed in his dad’s hospital room.

She wasn’t sure that was a battle he would win, but she could absolutely understand his concern.

Hayden gave her a quick hug and then ran back to his book in the living room.

“I really do appreciate this, Lucie,” Nate said from where he stood at the sink.

“It’s nothing, Nate,” she said lightly. “Keeps me from having to spend endless hours on the job search sites and getting more depressed than I already am.” She kept her head down as she buttoned her sweater up to her chin.

“It isn’t nothing to me.”

His firm, quiet tone made her look up, and her mouth went dry. The shadows in his green eyes made her curl her fingers around the edges of her sweater to keep from reaching out.

“I’m not accustomed to asking for help, or needing it, for that matter.” He cleared his throat. “I appreciate it.”

She swallowed. “It’s no problem,” she whispered. Dammit, hot, attracted to her, and vulnerable. Shit, she was in trouble. She took a slow breath. “I’ll see you in the morning then.” She inched toward the door.

A hint of awareness darkened his eyes, but he stayed where he was. “Good night, Lucie.”

She took two more steps and cleared the doorway to the mud room, and a little relief sank into her belly. Until she heard his footsteps behind her.

Within reach of the back door, she whirled around. He stood at the open doorway of the kitchen, and there was no disguising the desire in his eyes this time. Her heart skipped a beat, and she felt a quick rush of excitement that she tried to squash as he stepped into the mud room. She held her breath as he took another step. One more. Until he stood a foot away from her, and her breath rushed out.

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I’m aiming to get back to daily writing this week. Wish me luck! What are you working on this week, a new goal or an ongoing goal? I’d love to cheer you on.

 

 

 

( Light at the end of the tunnel –  Depositphotos )

Just two more days of the crazy-busy at the day-job, and then I can catch my breath. Let my brain be functional again for writing. I can’t wait. Plus I have a writing night to look forward to on Thursday, followed by a 3-day weekend, which will be for garden chores at the boys’ and maybe a few things here. And writing. I would like to spend a little time moving my desk, too, so we can get the rest of the painting out of the way. I’m still trying to decide if I actually need the second monitor set up or not. If I set it up, I need either a new desk, or a small desk I can set beside my current desk, to make my own L desk.

While it would be nice to have the two-screen set-up I have at the day-job, I’m not sure it’s actually necessary here in my home office. Plus if I don’t do that, then I have room to put a bookcase and maybe a chair in here. That is a very tempting option–who doesn’t want a place to sit and read? And I will always need another bookcase (then I could clear up some of the messy stacks in my book room, lol). I’ve actually already scoped out a couple of bookcases that would work, though I haven’t seen a chair yet that I love that doesn’t cost a fortune. We’ll see.

It is an absolutely gorgeous day here today. I should be doing some yard work today, but today is family dinner day, so the boys will be here a little later. At the moment, I have some peppers pickling to go into a salsa for the steak hubs will throw on the grill later for himself and the boys, and I should get started on the salsa itself (and figure out exactly what I’m doing with the salmon I’ll be eating). But before I go back to work in the kitchen, I have a little story snippet for you, from the third book in my Medusa trilogy.

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Hunter had to do more digging to find Katharine than he’d guessed would be necessary. It took him several hours and finally a phone call to a friend at the DOT to get her mailing and street addresses. By then it was too late to call or show up at her door unannounced. But he headed there in the morning after checking in at the office to see what Mary Ann had on tap for him. Luckily, he had a couple hours free before he had to meet with a new client.

He debated getting her a gift certificate for a lingerie store to take along, to replace the underwear he’d destroyed, then decided that might be a little much, considering he was still virtually a stranger.

Instead, he picked up a fistful of daisies and drove across town to the address his buddy had given him last night. A neat little one story white house with an attached garage. Two narrow flowerbeds flanked the two steps to the front door.

And a tall guy in black shoved open a window at the side of the house as Hunter eased his car along the street.

Heart pounding faster, he didn’t stop in front of her house as he’d intended, but down the street several houses, and the way the homes were spaced on her street, it was far enough that the guy wouldn’t hear him and automatically assume he was coming to Katharine’s. He left the daisies on the seat and sprinted back to her house, through her neighbors’ yards. He peered around the corner of her house. The side window was open, and there was no sign of the man. He was inside.

Hunter’s pulse quickened even more. No time to call the cops. He stepped up to the front door, noting the alarm company sticker in the front window. He didn’t want to do damage to her door, though, or alert the intruder to his entry, so he pulled a pick out of his pocket and jiggled it carefully in the lock until the latch gave. Then he stepped inside, holding his breath while hoping the alarm would take a few seconds before it went off.

There was silence through the little house. Maybe she hadn’t set the alarm. He shut the door with no sound. Then he heard a low voice.

Good thing he hadn’t given up carrying. He whipped his gun out as he crept through the living room, past the empty kitchen and an office. He stopped when he got to the open door of the bedroom, leveling his gun on the dark man standing over her bed with a wicked-looking, slightly curved blade in his hand. In the open collar of his shirt, a gold pendant gleamed around his neck, something too small for Hunter to see exactly what it was. A few feet from there, the curtain fluttered in the breeze coming through the open window.

“Drop it,” he said evenly, hoping Katharine stayed right where she was, lumped beneath her blankets.

The guy jumped, startled, clearly so absorbed in his own plans that he hadn’t paid any attention to the rest of the house. Good thing for Hunter, and for Katharine. Bad thing for the intruder.

From the corner of his eyes, Hunter saw movement on the pillow, but he couldn’t take his gaze off the intruder to see what it was. He just hoped she stayed in her spot on the opposite side of the bed long enough for him to deal with this asshole.

“Do you really want to stop me?” the other man said in heavily accented English. “From killing this monster?”

“No monsters here, buddy. Drop the knife. Now.” He jerked his gun a little, indicating the rocking chair in front of the closet where the knife wouldn’t be easily reachable again. More movement on the pillow, and this time, it looked like a couple of snakes in his peripheral vision. Couldn’t be. He kept his gaze on the other man. “Do it.”

The other man’s dark eyes narrowed, mouth tightening, his expression furious. “It is my duty to kill the Medusa.”

Hunter cocked his weapon. “If you don’t drop your weapon now, buddy, I’m going to put a very large hole in you. One you will not recover from.”

The dark guy muttered something Hunter couldn’t understand, something foreign, and, after a few more seconds, tossed the blade away, but not where Hunter had indicated. Instead, he threw it over the bed so it stuck in the plaster wall beside the mirror attached to her dresser. When Hunter glanced away from him to be certain that the dagger hadn’t done any damage to Katharine, the intruder leaped out the open window.

“Dammit,” he muttered, striding to the window in time to see the back of the other guy vanishing around the neighbor’s back porch a few dozen yards away. He pulled his head back in and froze.

Those were snakes on the pillow, several of them.

________________

Now I’m going to get back to work in the kitchen so dinner will be ready when the boys get here. How are you spending this beautiful spring day?