Category: Inspiration


( motivational poster – Depositphotos )

Here in the U.S, we’re finishing up a three-day weekend today for Memorial Day. For some, even though it’s meant as a remembrance for service people who lost their lives at war, it’s still a working weekend, for others, it’s about kicking off summer, and for some, it’s a combination of all of those.

Where I am, we’re still under a stay-at-home order, which suits me fine, since the number of new cases of this virus are still holding pretty steady in my county. It was also grocery week, and I took advantage of delivery from one of the two places we shop, then headed to the other all masked up. I also spent this afternoon and evening doing some necessary gardening. My tomatoes are in, the weeds are out. I did, however, pick up too many tomatoes (I can’t even believe I’m typing that, there is no such thing as too many tomato plants, right?), so I shared with my neighbor, who doesn’t get out. Now she’ll also have fresh tomatoes in her garden in a couple of months.

Everyone does something different for pleasure–weeding is not one of those things for me, but a necessary evil so I can enjoy my tomatoes and fresh herbs all summer. For me, relaxation means family time, reading or writing, always music, and sometimes a favorite show or movie. Tonight’s show was After Life with Ricky Gervais. I’ve never been a huge fan of his, but we laughed our way through An Idiot Abroad a couple of years ago, so when  friend talked about how much they loved this show, I added it to my Netflix list. There are parts that are depressing, appalling, just plain awful, hilarious, and some so sweet, they’ll break your heart. We finished the last couple episodes from the second season tonight, and I have a terrible headache from sobbing through them, but I can’t wait until the next season.

During the past couple of months, I know people have been doing a lot of different things for enjoyment, sometimes an old hobby, sometimes something new. What are you doing right now when you need a few minutes of you-time? Are you turning to something you already loved before this pandemic, or have you picked up something new to make you feel better?

I’m going to go get something for my headache before I call it a day, but before I go, I have a little snippet of Light the Way Home for you.

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Nate schooled his expression to neutrality before turning around. Hayden’s chin jutted stubbornly, and his blue eyes narrowed. “I’m saying Lucie might be busy right now,” Nate said evenly. “Maybe we’ll see her outside tomorrow.”

“I can knock on the door.” His son crossed his arms on his chest, covering the spotted blue dog graphic. “She said we’d play later, and it’s later.”

“We can check, but, buddy, you have to promise not to be upset if she’s busy. Plus it’ll be suppertime soon, so we’ll be busy here, too.”

Hayden’s chin jutted out further.

“Just don’t get your hopes up,” he said, trying to keep his tone from dropping in defeat.

Hayden bolted for the back door.

Nate followed more slowly, picking up his son’s jacket from the chair inside the door. By the time he reached the bottom step, he heard his son’s voice, then Lucie spoke in reply, though he couldn’t hear the words. When he cleared the lilac bushes, he expected to see Hayden’s shoulders droop.

He was a little surprised to see the two of them walking into the middle of the neighboring yard while Lucie bounced the big yellow ball on one hand. Huh. He would’ve bet on her putting Hayden off. He paused at the open gate between the yards to watch them. They’d stopped, and she crouched in front of Hayden, who chattered a mile a minute. She nodded as she rose.

Hayden jogged backward a few steps, grinning, then held out both hands.

Lucie gave the ball another bounce before she tossed it to him.

His son caught it, giggling. “Too easy,” he shouted. He jumped once, then moved a few more steps away from her. “Ready?”

“Ready!” She leaned forward and held out her hands.

Nate wished he could see her expression.

Hayden lobbed the ball at her, and she caught it before it hit her in the face. He smiled and shook his head when his laughing son danced backward a couple more paces. “Throw it again!”

“You sure you can catch it so far away?” The tease in her voice made Nate relax. Lucie Russo might be a nice woman. Mindi and Harry trusted her, which meant she was okay.

But she seemed to be enjoying his son, genuinely enjoying him. Maybe she had nieces or nephews–she was comfortable, chatting with Hayden as they played catch.

He leaned on the fence to watch.

“Daddy, come play with us!”

Lucie straightened and looked over her shoulder, eyes widening.

Nate felt a little kick in his gut at the appealing image–pink cheeks, green eyes that tipped up at the outer corners, full lower lip dropping a tiny bit. Lucie Russo was pretty.

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In case you’re looking for something new to read, the book title above is also a link to all your favorite booksellers where you can find it.

So what are you doing for enjoyment right now? When you need a few minutes of escape? I’d love to know.

 

In normal times, a lot of people use the weekends to catch up on all the chores they didn’t or couldn’t get to during the workweek. Right now, we’re in far-from-normal times, and for a lot of us, there is no differentiation between weekdays or weekends. For some of us, we still have a regular or semi-regular work schedule. I’m one of those lucky ones. That leaves me weekends to get the bigger chores done, like it or not.

A typical weekend here includes multiple loads of laundry, probably cooking, likely following that up with some dish-washing. I usually also spend a block of time clearing out my inboxes, get my regular blog post together, and hopefully a nice chunk of time for writing tasks like revisions, actual writing, social media and marketing things.

I did a little day-job overtime yesterday, just a few hours. I even got the laundry done. But today? I don’t feel like doing chores today. I ran a couple of necessary errands, and I spent some time earlier with my web designer working out some ideas and issues with a new web design we’ll launch next month. What I’d really like to be doing in lounging in a hammock somewhere with a good book.

 

( lady on hammock with book – Depositphotos )

Since it isn’t warm enough for that here today (plus it’s raining on and off), I’ll settle for curling up on the couch with something to read in just a few minutes. Before I do that, I have a little story snippet for you from the second book in the Medusa’s Daughters trilogy, Protecting Medusa.

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Philomena parked beside her mother’s house. She’d arrived first, and she needed to get dinner on in a hurry. Once Jason got home, she’d be too distracted to focus on cooking.

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 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 to high and dropping in some ground beef before she shed her coat. As the meat began to sizzle, she 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 a creak from 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 out of laziness but because she’d known she needed to move 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 smooth handle of her long knife comforting in her sweat-damp hand.

More thumping, accompanied by running water.

She frowned when she got to the top of the steps, wincing as 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 blocked her view. 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 before she came upstairs. Too late now.

More thumping and a crash.

Her jaw clenched, and she stepped into the hallway, her pulse pounding 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.

A dark blur went out the window, and her eyes widened. It was quite a drop to the ground, even with all the snow mounded below from the big storms so far this winter.

When a naked man with a gun went to look out the window, she froze in the middle of the hall, her dagger shoulder high.

Naked.

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

“Hello, Philomena. Have I ever told you how much I love a woman who can handle a blade?” He caught the edge of the door and pulled it wide open.

She’d know that voice anywhere, and that face, even if she’d only seen him in photos. Ryder Ware, Jason’s father.

And wow, was she seeing him in person.

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This is the story I am working through in revision right now, with the hope that later this year, I might have it and the third story in the trilogy ready to go out into the world with a reissue of Hunting Medusa. But in case you need something new to read right now and you haven’t picked up a copy yet, Light the Way Home is already out in the world and ready to read. If you click on the title, it’s a link that will take you to all the major booksellers who have it available.

What are you doing this week? Taking a weekend break from your routine? Buried under a ton of work? Something else? Hop you all have a great week ahead!

 

 

 

I know we’re all having moments right now when we just can’t take another minute of being at home, where we have all the chores staring us in the face and no good reason not to do them, or the distress of just missing our family and friends. I’ve had plenty of them in the last month and a half since we started the work-from-home at the day-job, just prior to the stay-at-home order in our state went into effect. I miss our once or twice a month Sunday family dinner with my boys. I miss seeing my co-workers every day at the office. I miss being able to just run out and get some random thing I didn’t know I needed until I needed it.

But I am happy that I can stay safely home and not endanger myself or anyone else. Plus it does give me a few less reasons why something on my never-ending to-do list has to wait another month or six months or till whenever.

One thing on my rotating to-do list is to get all of my photos, including all of the pictures my aunt gave me that belonged to my grandparents, and photos of hers, and pictures that I acquired when one of my other aunts died, and the ones from my mom and my dad scanned or otherwise digitized. It’s a pretty daunting idea. Just with my own photos, there are so many albums, from when I got my first camera around age nine or ten. Then the boxes and storage totes full of pictures from other family. It’s going to take forever, and I really want to sort them into some kind of order first, so we can easily find by time frames. I haven’t started on it yet, though it’s a big project. But I did get an opportunity this week to dig through some of those photos, and it was so much fun.

My wedding anniversary is coming up, and it’s one of those off-years where the ‘suggested’ gift items aren’t all that exciting, but one of the suggestions is pictures. I spent some time searching for a frame I think my husband will like, and then I went downstairs to look for a photo to put in it. I actually got to spend a nice chunk of time browsing old pictures, starting with our wedding and moving through the last twenty-six years. I considered a couple with the boys, or with all four of us, or some from a vacation we loved and want to repeat. It was so much fun looking through pictures of the boys when they were small and smiled for photos, of places we’ve been together. I did finally settle on one from our wedding that will be perfect in the frame, and that was fun, too. We hardly ever dig out old photos, and I can’t imagine why when they’re such wonderful reminders of people and places we love.

That block of time this week is one of the things I am thankful for during this long stretch at home. And it’s made me rethink putting off the photo project too much longer. I know there are pictures in my enormous collection of my grandparents, and their parents, and I can’t wait to dig through them all again. I may research having someone do the actual scanning of pictures for me, just because it is going to be such a huge undertaking, and before the scanning can happen, I first have to organize them all, which will be an even bigger step, I think.

Before I go back to my Sunday chores, I have a little snippet from Light the Way Home to share with you.

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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 grey-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!” She caught it before it hit her in the face, then started across the grass, balancing the ball on her hand.

Another giggle sounded as she neared the fence, so she adjusted her direction a tiny bit and 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 already.

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 might be four, but now at close 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.” Guileless 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 can play another time?” she added when his grin vanished.

“Like this afternoon?”

“Hayden!”

The deep voice got her attention–and the 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.” He stuck his right hand out. “Sorry if Hayden bothered you.”

She reached across the fence slowly, trying not to gawk at her hot neighbor. “Lucie Russo. And he wasn’t bothering me, we were just making a date to play ball.” She met his palm and gave a firm shake, pretending not to notice how warm his callused fingers were around hers. Or how wide his shoulders were in the dark flannel shirt.

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The chores I’m headed back to now aren’t as much fun as paging through old photos, but I’m still grateful to have them and the time to do them. What are you doing this week that you might not have time to do if the world hadn’t gone berserk? Not that I’m looking for more things to add to my to-do list. It’s plenty big enough to last me a long, long time.

 

( Depositphotos )

That is where I would like to be right now. I’m not, but I would like to be.

Usually one day of the weekend is my do-all-the-chores day, and one is for relaxing a little, maybe cooking dinner, maybe a project, and definitely for writing. Not this weekend. I had an errand to run yesterday, and then I worked some OT for the day-job, and I have to say, my brain is pretty fried this week. Today should now be do-all-the-chores day, but I just can’t. I do have the laundry going, but otherwise? I don’t wanna. I want to crawl into bed, or make a blanket fort and hide away. I can’t even settle long enough to read, which is awful. It’s been a long couple of weeks, but we can see the light at the end of the tunnel, at least as far as the day-job, this week. We just have to get through our busy day Tuesday, and then hopefully we can catch our breath and start working ahead a little again so the next busy round isn’t this crazy.

The whole world’s gone crazy, I know, and other people have it far worse than I do, so I’m not going to complain too loudly. I have work, I have food, a healthy family, and the option to stay home away from fatal germs. But I miss my boys, and I miss seeing my day-job team. Still, if it means we all stay well, I can deal. It’s just that, occasionally, a little pity-party happens.

Before I try to go accomplish something–dinner, maybe?–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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Anyone else having a pity party even though you know you shouldn’t? Are you indulging? Or trying to trudge on through the rough patches with a stiff upper lip? I think we’re probably okay to indulge a little, as long as we acknowledge that things could be worse, and we don’t wallow.

What coping strategies are you using right now? Ignoring? Lots of talking about it? Some of both? Neither?

I wanted to bake this weekend, but there isn’t time for that now, so it’ll have to wait until next week. But I am aiming to get back to my revisions this week. Thursday, since we have an appointment for the cat to see the vet Wednesday after work.

Something to look forward to, like my shiny new Stephen King book. How about you? What are you looking forward to this week?

In case you are looking for a distraction from the real world this week, Light the Way Home is available at all your favorite places.

I hope you all have a wonderful week!

 

 

 

 

 

 

I bet I am not alone in having fantasies about what it might be like to work from home. The last time I worked at home, I was running my husband’s office while our boys were small, so it had its challenges, but I managed it, and still wrote every day. That was a long time ago. Now the boys are grown and in their own place, and I work a full-time day-job in an office, in the normal world.

Probably most people’s expectation is that top left image, being super-productive and happy while they’re safely at home, everything goes smoothly, and they’re thrilled with the whole thing.

The reality is sometimes more like the bottom right picture, when your remote server locks you out, the neighbor’s dog won’t stop barking while you’re on an important call, and you want to curse or cry, or the kids want to play, the cat wants to be on your nice warm laptop, and you just want to crawl in bed and pull the blankets over your head.

Either one is okay. Really. We’re in uncharted territory right now: the last time something like this happened was a little over a hundred years ago, and, while the men would have been going off to work, most of the women probably stayed home already, there was no technology to let any of them do their jobs from home, and there was no 24/7 news feed.

I am thrilled to be home, away from contact for the most part with anyone who might be carrying and sharing germs, even with some technological glitches. I do miss my day-job team, though. Most of the group has been together for over 2.5 years now, so it’s like a family. A normal work day is 16 of us in talking distance, some desks butted up against one another, so people are face to face, which makes working through any issues really simple. It’s a lot different working from home, with only a third of us still working, and having to communicate differently all day.

Add to that the stress of the outside world that isn’t just impacting our work lives, but our whole life, and it makes for challenges. We had a particularly rough day to start the week last week, and it went downhill from there, so by the time we got to Thursday, I was to that point of frustration that usually has me in tears. The good news is I’m safe at home and I still have a job. The bad news is, this is probably going to be our day to day for another month or two, at least at work.

I should be further into these revisions, but it’s hard to concentrate on something creative when I’ve spent nine hours dealing with other things, much more stressful things. I’m trying to be kind to myself, but there are times I need a reminder that this isn’t normal, so it’s okay to step back and catch my breath. Which makes me think that some of you also need that same reminder.

We are all struggling at one point or another right now, and that is normal. Our world’s gone crazy, and for some of us, it’s harder to acknowledge that the things we usually do to cope may not work now. I remind a friend periodically to stop and breathe. I need the reminder myself sometimes, and in case you do, too, well, consider yourself reminded.

Before I go try to figure out something for supper, I have a little snippet from Light the Way Home for you.

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“This is really good, Lucie,” he said when Hayden had a mouthful of potato. “I appreciate this so much. You’re a great cook.”

She smiled, looking at her plate for a second. “I like to cook. For five minutes in high school, I thought I’d have a restaurant when I grew up.” She met his gaze. “But I was a good daughter and headed off to college instead of the culinary institute.”

He heard the note of regret in her tone. “Did you add that to your list of potential jobs for your search?”

Her eyes widened, and her smile faded. “I…no, I didn’t.”

“Why not?”

She looked at him blankly for a moment. “It didn’t occur to me,” she said finally.

“You should do it.” He stabbed a carrot with his fork. “You’re a great cook.”

She frowned as she picked up her water glass. “Maybe.” Her doubtful tone made him smile.

“You should do it, Lucie,” Hayden chimed in. “The restaurant closed an’ now we don’t have anywhere to go out to eat.”

She shifted her gaze from his son to him. “What?”

Nate rested his fork on the edge of his plate. “There was a family restaurant here on the island until about two months ago. The owner had a heart attack, so he can’t manage it anymore, and his wife didn’t want to do it alone, so they closed it. That’s a really good idea, Hayden.”

Lucie looked perplexed, a faint frown line between her eyebrows, her fork held loosely.

When Hayden scrunched up his face, Nate winked at him, prompting a grin. “Can I have more ’tatoes, Daddy?”

“Sure. Let me have your plate, buddy.” He noted Lucie’s little head-shake as he rose from his seat. She smiled at his son again, and he noted the affection in her eyes.

Lucie laughed in all the right places as Hayden chattered around bites of his meal, and Nate realized he was staring.

She was pretty. Her green eyes crinkled at the corners as she smiled across the table, briefly. His gaze slid to her mouth for a moment. Tempting.

He jerked his attention back to his meal. He had no time for tempting. Or for anything, really. There was enough on his plate–his son, his cabinet-making business. And now he’d spend more time running back and forth to his parents’ once his dad got sprung from the hospital, until Max was mobile.

His gaze landed on her again, in spite of his best intentions, and she met it, her smile softening.

Fuck him.

Her eyes widened, darkening, and her smile faded. Awareness shifted her expression, and she dropped her gaze to her plate.

At least one of them had enough sense to know that would be stupid.

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If you haven’t yet, I’d love if you picked up a copy of Light the Way Home. It’s a quick read, just enough to keep your mind off of reality for a few hours.

Besides reading, what else are you doing to distract yourself when the real world gets to be too much for you? Baking? Puzzles? Something else? I could use some ideas when the things I’m already doing don’t work. Hope you all have a great week!

 

 

( Young woman reading book – Depositphotos )

I think right now, there is probably a lot of this going on, sitting somewhere comfy with a good book and a hot drink. Reading is a good way to get away from all the bad news around us right now, an excellent distraction from worry. For some of us, it’s the writing of those books that helps us to think about something else, something positive for a while.

For a lot of people, today would be a day for their religious celebrations and family time. For us, it is just a family day, so I’m missing seeing the boys for dinner. Some of the other people in our neighborhood don’t seem to care that it’s not a time for company or visiting, but for stopping the spread of this virus, and are just doing what they would normally do. It’s frustrating, because that behavior will just have us all stuck at home for even longer.

But my husband and I will still eat well today. I have veggies roasting right now that smell amazing, and we’ll throw some fish and sausage on the grill in a little while. And then I’ll go back to work on revisions for Medusa #2, Protecting Medusa.

Before I go back to dinner prep, I have a little snippet of story for you from Light the Way Home which is available now from all your favorite booksellers.

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Nate set the juice glass down and crossed the floor to where she stood. “I need to know,” he said, bending to catch her soft mouth with his.

She made a startled sound, then set both of her hands flat on his chest, her lips parting.

He’d been right. She tasted sweet. He slid one hand into her loose hair, ignoring the slight dampness to tip her head so he could delve deeper.

She let him. God, she let him.

He pulled back, his heart knocking hard against his ribs. Lucie’s eyes opened slowly, and he noted the way they had darkened. “Tell me I’m being stupid.”

“Maybe we both are,” she said huskily, a faint smile curving her puffy lips. “I haven’t been stupid in a long time, and right now, I have no idea why.”

“Shit.” He dragged in a rough breath. “One of us should be smart, right?”

She shook her head. “I’m tired of being the smart one.” Her fingers slid up to his shoulders, cautiously, warm through his cotton shirt. “Being the smart one got me dumped with no warning, being smart left me jobless.” Her smile widened. “Though that got me here, so that’s something.”

Nate’s fingers tightened on her hip. When had he grabbed her hip? He loosened his grasp. “You’re not staying, so it wouldn’t be smart for us to do this. I’m not looking for a relationship. I have all I can handle with Hayden and my business.”

“Then this might be just exactly what we both need. Something temporary.” Her eyes rounded, and her smile faded. “I’ve never tried temporary until I came here.”

He’d never tried it. Not knowingly, anyway. “Maybe…” He broke off at the sound of running footsteps upstairs. “Slow down, buddy.”

Lucie startled, then stepped away, blushing.

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So, instead of your usual Easter Sunday activities, what are you doing today? And what does the week ahead look like for you? I’ll be continuing my work-from-home for the day-job, and will keep plugging away at these revisions.

And if you are looking for a quick, light read and you haven’t picked up a copy yet, maybe you want to check out Light the Way Home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am going to be floating on cloud nine for the next few days, just because I’m thrilled that Light the Way Home is out in the world now. If you click on the title, that takes you to a page with links to all the major booksellers, in case you need something new to read this week while you’re staying home to avoid germs, or just to take your mind off of the scary news stories everywhere.

Ever since my publisher for Hunting Medusa closed up shop a few years ago, I have been studying up on the long list of steps from start to finish to self-publish a book, because I want to get Hunting Medusa back out, along with the second and third books in the ‘Medusa’s Daughters’ trilogy. There were a lot more points on the list than I would have guessed when I started, and it was pretty daunting to think about, so I didn’t do anything. It’s easier to do nothing when you’re afraid of making a huge mistake, isn’t it?

But then on one of my writing loops, a generous author offered an opportunity that I had to take: the Common Elements Romance Project. Five story elements that needed to be included in everyone’s story, but none of the stories in the project are connected otherwise. A novella seemed like a great way to get my feet wet in the self-publishing world. Still all the same steps, but not technically alone, so somehow not as scary. Weird how our brains work sometimes, isn’t it?

I had a few roadblocks and setbacks, mostly related to real life and the day-job, so I’m later with this story than I had planned initially, but it’s here at last, and I am still thrilled. Plus I feel like I might be able to do this a bit better again with ‘Medusa’s Daughters’, which is a good thing, since I have them on my writing goals list for this year. Yikes.

While I go back to revisions on the second Medusa story, I have a little story snippet for you from a novella I am hoping to set loose in the world down the road, maybe next year.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He nodded. “Just a little warm.”

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

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

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

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

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

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Now I’m going to go revise and maybe think about supper before I have to start thinking about week two of work-from-home. How does your week look? Are you working from home, too? Or are you still going out to the day-job every day? If you are, be safe!

 

This will be short and sweet, but I had to make sure you all know to come on over to my Facebook page today from noon to 5 p.m. EST for some release day fun!

Today is the day Light the Way Home is out in the world, and I’m so excited. I hope you like it!

 

 

If you come around regularly, you know I’ve been talking about this for ages. I’m way overdue for this story to be released, but it is finally time, and I’m excited to share it with you. Nervous, too, since it’s been such a long time since I had a book out. I hope you all like it. In case you like to pre-order so your reading material shows up on release day, I have a link where you can find your favorite online book-seller to pre-order Light the Way Home.

I’ll be hanging out over on my Facebook page on release day, Friday, March 27, 2020, from noon to 5pm EST, and I’d love if you stopped by to see me. I have a few ideas for discussion, and some games to play, so please don’t let me be there all by myself.

I’m working on our Sunday family dinner right now, but before I go, I have a little snippet for you, from Light the Way Home:

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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 grey-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!” She caught it before it hit her in the face, then started across the grass, balancing the ball on her hand.

Another giggle sounded as she neared the fence, so she adjusted her direction a tiny bit and 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 already.

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 might be four, but now at close 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.” Guileless 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 can play another time?” she added when his grin vanished.

“Like this afternoon?”

“Hayden!”

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

Lucie’s mouth went dry. Wowza!

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Now I need to go check on some homemade mac and cheese for my guys, before I prep for my first week of work-from-home for the day-job. I hope you’re all staying safe and healthy, and that you will stop by for release day on Friday if you can! It’ll be a little distraction from being stuck at home for many of us.

 

(peeking out of a window – Depositphotos)

 

With all of the scary news around this week, I hope you are all home safe and well, and that you have plenty of reading material to keep you occupied if you wind up having to stay home for an extended period of time.

I do my normal grocery shopping every other Friday, and guess which Friday was time to go? Of course it was the thirteenth, and it seemed like our entire county had lost its collective mind and decided it was the apocalypse.

I always start at our local warehouse club for the things we typically buy in bulk–paper towels, a frozen fruit mixture I take to work for lunch, water, dry cat food–and then head to a locally owned grocery store chain for things like produce and snacks. One of my coworkers got a warning from her housemate before we left the office that the warehouse club had a line all the way across the store earlier in the afternoon, but we were hoping that had gone away before we went to do our shopping. That was not the case. Not only were they completely out of toilet paper, but also paper towels. The only paper products they had left were tissues and paper plates. None of the waters I buy were left–we always get the store brand waters, still and sparkling (I’m not a fan of the chlorinate-smelling water that comes out of our faucets at home, so I guess I’m a little spoiled), but that wasn’t even everything…no orange juice, none of my frozen fruit, no bread. The only pasta left was lasagna. Weirdly, there was still canned fruit, soup, and other things like that. Half of the things on my list weren’t available, which means another trip.

The only good things were that the store staff was doing a phenomenal job keeping the line moving (and it was even longer by the time I got in it, wrapping back toward the front of the store, and two of my coworkers were even farther back), and people weren’t being jerks. I felt bad, though, that the store staff was going to have to deal with all of the abandoned carts throughout the store from people who didn’t have the patience to wait their turn in line (I hope there weren’t perishables in those carts!).

The grocery store was slightly better by the time I got there, though they also had no toilet paper left (I’m glad I bought that two weeks earlier and didn’t need to buy more), and a lot of the frozen vegetables were cleaned out, but they had staff working on restocking things in different areas while we were shopping. Even at work, contingency plans are being worked on, in case we need to work from home. Hopefully it won’t come to that, but it might.

I’m working on a new shopping list for that next trip, and while I think about that, I have a little story snippet for 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’m going to see what else I can accomplish before I call it a day. Do you think you’re going to be stuck at home soon, too? Are you stocking up on essentials? And books? (I think books are essentials, but the W.H.O. would probably disagree with me.)

I hope if you’ve been waiting for news on my Common Elements Romance Project novella that you’re keeping an eye on my Facebook page. I’ve started to post a couple of hints, and will soon have real news like a cover reveal and release date to share. I hope to see you there!