Category: Inspiration


The story I’m working on is for a group project that will be released this fall. (And yes, it is past my self-imposed deadline, thanks for pointing that out.) I am really enjoying the heroine in this story, and the hero…well, he is pretty yummy. I love that they’re falling in love, in spite of all the very good reasons why they shouldn’t. I also love that they have a little matchmaking help from a couple of directions they wouldn’t have expected. I am getting a little anxious about wrapping it up, though, so I’m just going to leave you with a little story snippet for Valentine’s Day week, this time from my third Medusa story, Freeing Medusa, before I get back to the novella.

 

( Kissing – Depositphotos )

 

Katharine released a slow breath, forcing herself to relax her jaw, and reached up to shove the scarf off her eyes after the door clicked shut.

He’d even set her tote bag on the floor inside the door.

Tears stung her eyes at that unexpected kindness.

She was overreacting, she knew. Partly due to her overloaded hormones. Partly because she was so angry that she’d been unable to defend herself against the Harvester since she’d felt safe enough in her house to take the damned painkiller.

She’d been the Medusa for six years now, and with her alarm system in place, she’d felt confident enough there after all this time…

She shut her eyes for a second, her fingers curling into fists at her sides.

None of this was Hunter’s fault. All he’d done was save her life, not sic the Harvester on her when she was vulnerable.

That she was ultimately responsible for her near-death experience made her angrier. At herself. Hunter just happened to be within firing range.

“Katharine? You okay?”

“Fine,” she said shortly. “I’m fine.” She took a long, deep breath, then released it.

When she’d finished washing her hands, she fumbled the blindfold back down over her eyes and reached for the doorknob, groping empty air.

“Coming in,” he said, and she dropped her hand back to her side. “Okay?”

“Yes.” His hard fingers slid over hers. “Thank you, Hunter.”

He pulled her along with him, thirteen paces to the bed.

“For saving my life earlier.”

“Not a problem.” He made her sit, then she felt his fingers on her shoelaces. “Nice blade,” he said mildly, easing her boot from her foot.

She swallowed. “If I hadn’t taken that pill earlier, I could have used it. Or just turned him to stone.”

“Well, you won’t need the dagger here. Not now. I have a state of the art security system, and nobody followed us from your place, so you’re safe here.” He took her other boot off. “You want to get out of the jeans and back into a nightshirt? Something more comfortable for you?”

Katharine hesitated, biting her lip. It wasn’t like he hadn’t seen her naked already. Up close and personal. “Yes,” she whispered.

“Okay. I’ll go grab the rest of your stuff from the garage. Don’t go anywhere.”

“Ha, ha.” Still, she smiled a little, listening to his footsteps on the stairs, the sound fading as he walked away from the entry hall. The room smelled like Hunter, she mused as she sat there on the edge of his bed. That same musky, spicy scent that had set her body humming Friday night.

She almost wished it were Friday night again.

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Are you celebrating Valentine’s Day this week? Do you and your other half do something special to mark the day, or is it just another Thursday?

 

 

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( Hands Heart – Depositphotos )

It’s February, so you know what that means? Valentine’s Day, the official day of sweethearts everywhere. I enjoy Valentine’s Day as much as the next person, but I’m a romantic, so I feel like love shouldn’t only be celebrated one day a year. I’m sure I’m not alone in that belief–look how many romance readers and writers there are out in the world.

Rather than lecture about not celebrating love all year long, I’m going to skip ahead to the part of my weekly post where we have the story excerpt. This week, it comes from the first story in my tiger shifter series.

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Even the next day, Harley’s words stuck with her. She ignored his calls to her cell phone late in the morning and shortly after lunch while she sorted through old files. Finally, when he called a third time, she gathered up her purse and headed out, telling Amy she needed to run some errands.

She needed a distraction from the circling of her thoughts and from work, and it just so happened she was out of food at her house. A trip into the village was just as good a way as any to distract her.

She drove from work into town, making a mental list as she went and deliberately not thinking about Harley or Ezra. Finding a good parking space along one of the main streets, she put her purse strap over her shoulder and set off. She took her time, pausing to look in store windows as she went. She detoured into the tiny flower shop when some bright daisies and gladiolus caught her eye. The arrangement would brighten up her very empty home. She apologized when she bumped into a tall, blondish man in a black t-shirt on her way to the exit. He murmured something unintelligible and went back to looking at the roses in the cooler.

Next, she headed to the grocery store for some soda and a piece of fish to broil for dinner. After that, she continued on her leisurely way, admiring some hanging plant pots outside the hardware store, browsing the magazines at the bookstore, and then heading to the market. She picked up a basket, intent on finding some fresh vegetables to go with her fish for supper. Maybe some squash and tomatoes. She added both to her basket and picked her way along the row of bins, admiring the selection. Someday, she’d have a garden of her own to grow these things in. She smiled to herself, imagining that for a moment.

Tessa glanced up when she caught some small motion from the corner of her eye and realized that the big, rangy man with the dirty blond hair that she’d seen in the flower shop was picking his way along the produce bins in her direction, casually. A little too casually.

Her heart started to beat faster. The flower shop was several blocks away, and she’d left the car parked on that side of the square.

Maybe she was being paranoid.

The man stopped, picking up some oranges and very determinedly not looking in her direction.

She set down the basket she’d filled, and she walked away from the produce bins to the street corner. From the corner of her eye, she saw him look up and take a step toward her.

This was bad.

Without waiting for the stoplight to change, she ran out into the street, glancing back to find him striding after her confidently. Several cars honked their horns at her, but she didn’t stop running and heard the squeal of brakes. A loud thump sounded somewhere behind her, but she didn’t turn to see what had caused it. Her chest ached already, but she kept going, pushing her way through other pedestrians. When she reached the end of the next block, she dared a glance back over her shoulder. She didn’t see him, but she didn’t slow down, panting as she whipped around the corner and started to backtrack toward her car, her flowers flapping and her grocery bag thumping along her hip.

By the time she reached the car, she was lagging, her breath coming much too quickly, and sweat rolled down the back of her neck, soaking her shirt beneath the strap of her purse. She fumbled in the pocket on the outside of her purse for the car keys, glancing back over her shoulder to be sure the big man hadn’t figured out the direction she’d taken. Evidently, he had not. She jammed the key in the lock and yanked the door open. As she slid into the driver’s seat, her breath caught.

He had found her.

She jerked the door shut as he pounded toward the car from the opposite direction she’d just taken. She fumbled to get the key in the ignition, aware that her panting was growing faster again.

He was getting closer.

She hit the button to lock the doors on the car and finally slid the key into the ignition, turning it hard. The engine turned over, and she whimpered in relief.

But he was there now, grabbing for her door handle. And he looked as if he might have had a collision with one of those cars she’d dodged a few blocks away. Blood oozed down the side of his face, and his black shirt was torn across the back.

She yanked the gear shift into drive and stomped on the gas pedal.

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Now I’m going to go have dinner with my husband, but I’d love to hear your thoughts this week about the whole Valentine’s Day phenomenon: do you rely on the holiday or spread the joy all year?

 

 

 

 

It’s been a gloomy afternoon here, though it looks now like the clouds are lightening a little. Just in time for sunset. But my house smells amazing: there is double-chocolate bread in the bread machine, and just about ready, and a hearty vegetable soup in a giant pot on the stove, so it’s not a bad way to end the day. Plus…writing time!

I’m working this month on the novella I committed to for this fall. There is lighthouse in the story, and I’ve been looking for a while for just the right one. I haven’t found it, so am merging a couple different ones in my head to come up with the perfect one for the setting–an island in Maine, where the lighthouse stands about three stories high and overlooks a rocky cliff and narrow, rocky beach beneath. The lighthouse adjoins to a house with a workshop attached, and the hero and his young son live there.  This one is close, though the island is much too small, and the lighthouse not quite tall enough, but it is pretty.

(Depositphotos.com – Nubble Light)

I expected the day-job to be quieter than it was last week, so I’m not sure that bodes well for the next two weeks, when it was scheduled to be busy. That’s my long-winded way of saying I have to get back to my writing so I can finish this novella by the end of the week. Before I go, I have a little story snippet to share with you from the second Medusa story in my trilogy.

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Philomena parked beside her mother’s house. She was the first one home, and she needed to get dinner on in a hurry. Once Jason got in, there’d be no time.

She went in the back door, balancing a grocery bag while she reset the alarm system, then hit the light switch with her elbow as she continued on into the kitchen.

She took her mother’s cast iron skillet from its hook over the counter and put it on the stove, turning the heat up high and dropping in the ground beef before she took her coat off. While the meat began to sizzle, she left out the other things she’d need for supper, then put away the rest of the groceries.

She rolled up her sleeves and dug a spatula out of the utensil drawer, but stopped when she heard something creak upstairs. She waited, then shook her head. It was an old farmhouse. It made noise sometimes.

She stirred the beef in the pan, adding chopped onions she’d picked up at the store–not because she was lazy but because she’d known she needed to get dinner together quickly after three days away and with an excitable six-year-old on his way home.

The sound came again. She set the spatula on the spoon rest and turned the flame under her pan down to low, then tugged up the hem of her long skirt to pull her dagger from its leather sheath on her thigh.

A loud thud reached her ears, and her heart beat a little faster.

Dear Gods, someone was in the house.

She crept up the back steps, keeping to the edges where she knew her weight wouldn’t make the stairs creak, the handle of her knife comforting in her sweat-damp hand.

More thumping, and now she heard water running.

She frowned as she got to the top of the steps, wincing when she heard something hit the porcelain bathtub followed by muffled cursing.

She stuck her head around the corner, but the partially-closed bathroom door at the other end of the hall was in her way. All she could see were shadows.

Two people? In her mother’s bathroom? She wished she’d grabbed the phone on her way up so she could call the police. No, she should’ve called first, then come upstairs. Too late now.

More thumping and a crash.

Her jaw clenched, and she stepped up into the hallway, her pulse pounding loudly in her ears.

“I’ve called the police,” she lied, moving slowly along the hall. Frigid air drifted toward her. Either the bathroom window was open, or something was seriously wrong with the furnace vents on the second floor. She frowned, holding tighter to her knife.

She caught a flash of something dark going out the window, and her eyes widened. That was quite a drop to the ground, even with the snow piled up below from all the big storms they’d already had this winter.

When a naked man with a gun went to the window, looking out to see where the other man had gone, she froze in the middle of the hall, her dagger shoulder high.

Naked.

She swallowed, and then he turned around, and her lungs stopped working.

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What did you do today to make a gloomy January Sunday better at your house?

 

 

( Hot Chocolate – Depositphotos)

Another week, another non-snowstorm. We got off to a good start with the snow in November, but Mother Nature has been slacking since then, at least in my neck of the woods. I shouldn’t complain, I guess, but it’s winter, and you know I like winter to be, well, wintry. I was ready to indulge in some adult hot chocolate tonight and watch the snow, but the forecasters botched the forecast once again. Instead of 5-8 inches of snow (Friday morning’s forecast), we’re currently getting a mix of snow, sleet and rain, which will turn to all rain in a couple of hours, before the temperatures plummet and freeze everything tomorrow. The good news is I don’t have to go anywhere tomorrow, except here into my office to write.

So it is good I’m feeling inspired tonight. I spent a large chunk of the afternoon at a friend’s bookstore with another friend who was doing a booksigning, and a friend who used to be one of my romance regulars when I started working at Waldenbooks, many years ago. We talked books and writing and authors and everything else under the sun for several hours, and it was lovely. We also decided we need to get back to our monthly writing sessions–we use to meet a a friend’s house one night a month for supper and writing. It was a lot of fun, and we were pretty productive, but the friend who hosted has moved away, and we haven’t done it in about a year. But we’re going to start up again, which makes me happy for several reasons. Meeting with like-minded friends is another motivator when it comes to writing. Yes, we’ll do some chatting, and we’ll still have dinner, but we’ll also be productive, which is a really good thing. We used to track our word count when we met, though I don’t know that we’ll do that in our new incarnation. We’ll figure it out. But this is another way for us to be accountable to ourselves for our writing goals and productivity. And hey, more words on the page is a very good thing. I’m looking forward to this.

I’m also excited because we are going to paint my office. When we bought our house almost 18 years ago, we moved our office furniture right in and didn’t paint. (We actually didn’t paint anywhere in the house until after we’d moved in.) But with desks for both me and my husband in the room, there was nowhere for us to shift furniture to do anything in this room, so we didn’t. But my hubby has moved his desk and office for his business into the basement, leaving this room on the main living level to me. Right now, the room is half empty, so the plan is to primer and paint the open half, then move my things over and do the rest. I even settled on a very pretty color this afternoon while with my friends, so I am feeling more inspired for this project. The paint won’t be the only thing different in the room either. I’ve been wanting a double-monitor set-up on my desk (I’ve gotten spoiled at my day-job with two monitors to work on), and my desk right now isn’t meant to accommodate two monitors, so I am looking at desks, or at least another table that I can set up so I have an L-shaped workspace where I can set up my second monitor. And if we wind up doing the latter, I’ll be able to keep the hutch on my current desk, which is good, because it is well-used, filled with reference books, and pretty things for me to look at while I’m at my desk.

So while I’m feeling inspired, I’m hoping for a lot of new words on pages tomorrow. I’m finishing the laundry tonight so I can spend tomorrow writing. I didn’t get any of that done last weekend, because we were moving furniture into the basement.  So the to-do list for Sunday is short: wash dishes, roast vegetables, and write.

Before I go switch more laundry around, I have a quick story snippet to share with you from my third shifter story.

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“Tell me about the dream,” he said when she was completely boneless in his embrace.

She shifted, suddenly not so relaxed. “I’m sure it was just because of that woman being taken earlier,” she said after a few seconds.

Boris tightened his arm around her. “Tell me.”

She shook her head. “It was just a dream.”

“What happened?” He slid his hand down to the little bulge of their baby and covered it.

Vivi went still at the movement.

“Vivi.”

She inhaled slowly. “It’s stupid.”

“Tell me anyway.” He rubbed his hand over her belly. Too early to feel the baby moving, but he imagined the baby still inside, kicking and shifting anyway.

“I was driving somewhere, no place I recognized, and the baby was in the backseat. It was bright and sunny, and then suddenly it wasn’t. It was raining and dark, and another car forced us off the road. We crashed.” He heard her swallow. “And we were surrounded by strangers. Shifters. They dragged me out of the car.” Each word had her muscles tensing more and more.

He waited, but she didn’t continue. “Sweetheart?” He kissed the top of her ear. “What happened next?”

“You were there, too, and got the baby out of the car.”

He frowned.

“You were angry, and you told them to take me.” She whispered it in a rush.

He shut his eyes.

“You said they could have me.”

“Oh, sweetheart.” He tightened his hold on her. “I told you I won’t let anything happen to you or the baby. I meant that.”

She shuddered. “I know. It was just a dream.”

He realized they were no longer bonded, and he rolled her to her back, then to face him. “Nothing is going to happen, and I certainly wouldn’t let anyone take you.” He brushed a kiss on her mouth and tasted tears. “Come here.” He wrapped his arms tight around her, pressing one knee between hers, and she slid her leg over his. “I promise, Vivi.”

She ducked her chin lower and hid her face against his collarbone. “It was just a dream.”

One that bothered her more than she’d admit, he realized. He wondered who had abandoned her. Maybe now wasn’t the time to ask, though. He settled her so close he could have been buried inside her again, smoothing one hand over her hair, down her spine, over and over, until the tension gradually seeped out of her again. Until she settled back into sleep.

Boris stared into the dark for a long time, questions chasing each other in circles. Who had abandoned her? Why had she dreamed he’d tell rogues to take her?

Finally, scowling, he forced his mind to settle, to focus on breathing evenly, to enjoy the feel of the warm woman in his arms.

They had plenty of time for old hurts and secrets.

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So, who else is feeling inspired this week?  What are you going to do about it?