Category: Writing Goals


This is the last week you’ll hear me talk about my birthday till next summer. I got a gorgeous box of chocolates from someone I work with the other day–these chocolates are so beautiful, it’s a sin to eat them, but I will, eventually.

My cheesecake will be here this week, but because my birthday falls on the busiest day of the week for the day-job, we’ll have birthday dinner and cake on the weekend next week. I’m still pondering dinner, but the cake was already decided on.

Today’s post really is about gratitude, not birthdays, though. I always try to find things to be thankful for, even on the hard days. Today I am grateful for a couple of things:

  1. My next door neighbor. She is an older woman who lives alone, though occasionally her son will stay with her for a few days. I sometimes take her dinner, but usually we visit in the yard. I worry about her right now, with this wretched virus still on the loose, and don’t see her as often–because of this virus, I’m trying to have as little physical contact with the rest of the world as possible, and her adult kids mostly are doing the same to avoid carrying any germs to her. I happened to be hauling trash out this afternoon, though, and she was working in her garden. It was 99 degrees here at that point, so it was hot, and she was in full sun. Just walking out the door into our carport, the heat and humidity just about took my breath away. But we got to chatting anyway, and I was reminded how nice it is to have a good neighbor. She welcomed us when we moved here almost twenty years ago, when her kids still lived at home, and mine were in grade school. We talk gardens, and flowers, and anything else under the sun, and it’s nice to be able to do that, even if we have to keep our distance right now.
  2. My garden. I have eight or nine tomato plants just going to town right now. The yellow cherry tomato plant looks like it’s done, and one of the Roma tomatoes looks like it might be giving up the ghost after just a few tomatoes, but the others are just kicking into high gear. (I swear my grape tomato must have a couple hundred tomatoes on it, and I’ll have to start freezing tomatoes much sooner than usual to keep up.) My herbs are big and sprawling, and some are blooming so the honey bees are all over them right now. And my hibiscus is absolutely loving the hot weather. It’s got a couple dozen flowers blooming and tons of buds all over it. It makes me happy when that starts to bloom every summer. The flowers are big and pretty. What’s not to like?

 

Before I go figure out some supper, I have a little story snippet for you, from Light the Way Home.

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Lucie should’ve known nap-time would be an issue.

Hayden frowned at her from the foot of the steps, hands fisted at his hips. “I’m not tired.”

She tamped down a smile at that bald-faced lie. “I promised your dad we’d do nap-time, and I don’t break promises, buddy.”

The little boy’s expression shifted to something different, more cunning. “You said you take naps.”

She smiled this time. “I do.”

“Then you gotta take one, too. Wif me.”

Gotcha. “Well, first I have to clean up our lunch mess.”

His frown returned. “You hafta nap, too.”

“Are you going to help me clean up in the kitchen?”

“’Kay.” He trotted toward her again, startling her.

He was good. She restrained a sigh and followed him into the kitchen. The clean-up wouldn’t take long really. She might actually have to take a nap, or at least lie down with him. Wouldn’t be the first time–just the first time in a couple of years–she’d been outsmarted by a pre-schooler.

Hayden actually did try to help, putting his plate and cup in the dishwasher, and his napkin in the trash, plus a bunch of crumbs on the floor. Lucie ruffled his hair. “Thanks, buddy. Now it’s time.”

He didn’t argue, just led the way upstairs, but he came to a stop in the doorway to his room. “I don’t think you’ll fit in my bed, Lucie.”

“I don’t either, buddy. But I can sleep on the sofa.”

He narrowed his blue eyes. “But then I can’t see if you’re nappin’. You hafta nap up here. I’ll get you one of Daddy’s pillows.” He ran across the hall before she could stop him, then reappeared, dragging a pillow with him. “Here. You can sleep beside my bed.” He swung the pillow toward her.

Lucie caught it. “Okay.” There was no point arguing. If she lay down next to his bed until he fell asleep, no big deal.

Hayden climbed up onto his bed and wrestled the blankets for a moment until he could slide between them. “Right there,” he said, pointing at the floor beside his bed.

She put the pillow down, then tucked his blankets around him. “Okay. Close your eyes.”

“When you do.”

She smiled. “All right.” She lowered herself to the floor, winking when he leaned over to watch, then stretched out. “All right, I’m going to close my eyes. One, two, three.” She shut her eyes, listening to him flop down and sigh. “Are your eyes closed?”

“Yep. Have a good nap, Lucie.”

“You, too, Hayden.”

For a few minutes, she listened to him fidget. Then it got quiet. She smiled again.

“Lucie?”

She winced. “Yeah, buddy?” She kept her tone low.

“I’m glad you moved here. Micah is too.” He sounded drowsy.

“Who’s Micah?” She should’ve let that go instead of keeping him talking.

“The lightkeeper.”

“Oh.” That explained that. “Okay, sleepy time,” she whispered.

“’Kay,” he whispered back.

This time when it got quiet, it stayed that way. She relaxed, listening to his even breathing. She needed to finish lunch clean-up. And maybe think about supper. She wondered what was in Nate’s fridge and freezer. Maybe after nap-time, she’d take Hayden over to raid her fridge–she probably had something in it that would need to be used up soon. She couldn’t remember right now what she’d picked up at the store.

She jerked awake, then blinked up at the small face hovering above her.

“You really took a nap.”

Lucie took a slow breath. “I told you I take naps.” She just hadn’t meant to do it today.

Hayden smiled, still hanging over the side of the bed. “I din’t believe you took naps.”

She reached up to tweak his nose, making him giggle. “Now you know I don’t lie.” She pushed upright. “Okay, buddy. Time to think about what you’re having for supper.” As she got to her feet, he scrambled out of bed.

“It’s not suppertime yet.” He caught her hand.

“I know, but if I figure it out now, you’ll be able to eat on time.” She bent to scoop up the pillow from the floor. “Can you put this back for me? I want to wash my hands.”

“’Kay.” He took the pillow and hurried across the hall while she went into the bathroom next door.

Her shoulder-length hair was a mess from her unplanned nap, so she did her best to finger-comb it into order again, then headed downstairs with Hayden, who plopped onto the sofa with a book while she continued into the kitchen.

No meat in the fridge, she discovered, so she opened the freezer. Plenty there, but now that she stood in front of Nate’s food, she remembered the chicken in her fridge. No defrosting necessary. Plus veggies in the crisper. She could roast them all together and have dinner in one pan. Less clean-up later.

“Hey, buddy!” She turned away from the fridge and came up short when she found Hayden a foot away, a book in one hand. “Oh, there you are. We need to run over to my place to get some things for supper. Let’s get your jacket.”

“What’re we havin’?” He followed her into the mud room and dropped his book on the bench inside the door.

“I’m going to roast a chicken and some veggies to go with it. Are you a good baker?” She helped him into the jacket, then tugged her sweater on.

“I help Grandma bake cookies.”

She made sure the back door was unlocked before she shut it behind them. “Well, that’s excellent. I was thinking maybe we could bake a cake for dessert.”

“I like cake.”

She laughed. “I bet you do. Come on, let’s do this.”

In under ten minutes, they were back at Nate’s. Hayden pulled up a step stool to the sink, and she let him ‘scrub’ potatoes and carrots with the vegetable brush while she prepped the chicken.

“What can I do next?” he asked when she handed him a towel and took over the veggies.

“Hm, let me think about that. After your fingers are dry, why don’t you get your book from the mud room until I get this into the oven? It’ll only be a couple minutes, and then we can mix up the cake.”

“Okay!” He swiped at his hands with the dish towel, then threw it at the counter before he ran to the next room.

Shaking her head, Lucie quickly finished cleaning the potatoes and carrots, then added them to the roasting pan, sprinkled some salt and pepper over everything and drizzled a little oil before she covered it and put it into the oven. When she turned around, Hayden was seated at the table, but instead of looking at his book, he watched her. She smiled. “Do you like icing on your cake?”

“Oh, yeah!” He nodded solemnly. “Chocolate is the best.”

“You think so?” She congratulated herself for thinking to grab the cocoa powder while they’d been at the other house. “Well, we might be able to do something about that.” She winked at him when his eyes rounded.

He helped with the cake, too, dumping cupfuls of ingredients into the bowl for her, though she had to admit it wasn’t as big a mess as it could have been. Teddy had been a much messier kitchen assistant. Lucie slid the cake pan into the second oven less than fifteen minutes later.

“Okay, now we mix up some icing, and clean up our mess, and we can actually read some of that book before the cake is ready to come out. What do you say?”

Hayden rushed at her and wrapped his arms around her legs. “Thank you, Lucie!”

She bent and gave him a hug. “You’re welcome.” Her chest squeezed a little, too, but she ignored it. “Thanks for being such a good helper. Okay,” she said as she straightened, “let’s make our icing, and then clean the table so we can read.”

She needed more than a nap, she mused. She needed a good night’s sleep to make up for last night. She was being too sentimental. A full night’s sleep, and she’d be as good as new.

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I have a guest blog post scheduled this Thursday, July 30, at Delilah Devlin’s blog, so I hope you will pop over and check that out, too. There might be a prize.

And maybe pop by my Facebook page on my birthday. I’m thinking about virtual cake (no calories!) and cocktails in the evening. Maybe a couple of party games, too. See you there!

 

(Delicious cake with strawberries – Depositphotos)

Since it has been hot, hot, hot here for weeks, I thought maybe a nice light cake this week. That looks delicious, and perfect for our very summer weather. Just a little over two weeks until my birthday now, and my cake will be ordered this week. It will be an extra-special treat, since it will be a bit of NYC here–since we cannot go there any time soon. Or anywhere unnecessary, really.

Though to be honest, right now, we’re not feeling much like going anywhere. It was a hard week in our house. Our nineteen year old kitty had been steadily slowing down, and the past few weeks, we could tell she wasn’t feeling her best. Our vet came to see her a couple of days ago and confirmed what we had already figured on, and helped her on her way. My hubby was ‘her person’, and she spent most evenings sitting on his chest or lap on the sofa, and curled up with him at night in bed, so he’s really going to miss her, but we’ve had her with us a long, long time. When we got her, she was intended as a companion to a year-old cat we had; he needed a playmate, and our older cat then wanted nothing to do with him, so he needed company closer to his own age. Luckily, we had a friend who fostered kittens for one of the local rescues, and she chose this beautiful fluffball for us as a house-warming gift. Nineteen years is old for a cat–our vet said in terms of human years, she was probably 97-100–so rationally, we know we were lucky to have her so long. Still, we will miss her terribly.

Before I get back to my Sunday cooking, I have a snippet of story to share with you from Freeing Medusa, the third book in the 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.

“Katharine,” he said quietly.

“You should go, Hunter.” Her voice was choked, hushed.

He frowned, his gaze still on the snakes. They were in her hair. “Honey, there are snakes–”

“I know. You should go.” She sucked in a harsh breath, and the lump of her under the blankets contracted.

His frown deepened. That couldn’t be. The snakes were not just in her hair, they were her hair.

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I think when I get done with my cooking, I’m going to do some reading for fun this afternoon. It’ll be weird without the cat curled up beside me on the loveseat, but I need a little break. What does your week look like this week? Do you have outdoor plans? Or will hot weather keep you indoors with your books? If you need something for a quick read, maybe you want to try Light the Way Home.

 

( Chocolate cake and sparkler – Depositphotos )

Yes, it’s July, which means my birthday is coming soon, so expect lots of cake pictures the next few weeks. Since it’s still Independence Day weekend, the sparkler cake seems appropriate today.

There are actually a fair number of family birthdays this month, though even in a normal year, we don’t gather for celebrations, because our family is so spread out geographically, cousins, siblings and aunts all over the country. This year will be just immediate family, as is the norm now, but I remember kid-age birthdays when there would be grandparents and occasionally some cousins and aunts and uncles crammed around the table for cake, sometimes sleepover with best friends who shared in the cake. Mom used to bake our birthday cakes, and we got to choose what kind, and whatever we wanted for our birthday dinner. I had a lot of lasagna and manicotti birthday dinners.

I haven’t thought far enough ahead to figure out birthday dinner yet, plus this year my birthday falls on a Tuesday, which is generally our busiest day of the work week at the day-job, so birthday dinner will probably happen the prior weekend, unless I’m doing extra day-job hours. Don’t know that quite this far ahead. I have already decided on my birthday cake, though, which is good, because I’ll have to order it ahead so it can be delivered on time.

I’m still working through revisions this week, but before I get back to them, I have a little snippet from Hunting Medusa to share with you.

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“Does it work?”

Of course he knew why she cut her hair so short. She hadn’t had to spell it out for him earlier. “Yes.” Somehow, his knowing and understanding without her having to explain that when her hair was this short, it couldn’t turn into snakes didn’t make her feel better.

“When did you figure that out as an option?” His tone was conversational, as if they were instead sitting on her front porch, talking about the weather, rather than five feet from where he’d be handcuffing her to the bed for the night, and not for anything really fun.

She debated her response and finally decided it didn’t matter if he knew more about her now. This man wouldn’t be scared off, after all. He only intended to stick around long enough to find a way to steal the amulet and kill her, not long enough to develop a deeper relationship. “When the second man flipped out and ran away.” Which was when she’d stopped dating seriously.

He was silent for a long time, and she thought perhaps he’d given up on the conversation. “Most human men might be a little unnerved by it,” he said finally.

A short laugh escaped her. “Unnerved? No, this was total mental meltdown. Run away screaming like a girl, never come back meltdown.” Which the Harvester wasn’t doing. Instead, he was being nice. It was almost enough to make her want to cry. Almost. She hadn’t lost complete control to her cursed hormones yet.

Kallan’s fingers squeezed her wrist gently. “Had you talked about any of this to him before then?”

“Yes, and I’m sure he thought I was crazy. Not crazy enough to stop dating completely, but a little touched. The snakes, though…” She swallowed. “The snakes convinced him I wasn’t lying. Or maybe he just thought he’d had a hallucination. I never got the chance to ask, really.” The old pain reared its head when she remembered the way Austin had vanished from her house and her life, almost as fresh as eight years ago.

Warm fingers slid further between her own so his palm touched hers. “He was the second, huh?” He squeezed again, just lightly, sending heat up her arm. “I guess that put a real damper on dating.” His thumb stroked over the back of her hand and up the side of her index finger. “And explains the vibrator.”

She shut her eyes, smiling reluctantly, despite the pain.

“And the romance novel.”

She frowned up at him. “Those are good reads, I’ll have you know.”

“With sex in them.”

She sighed. “I guess I have to give you that one. Still good stories.”

“You know there are drawings and sculptures of the original Medusa, with the snakes and her still very beautiful face.”

“I’m aware.” Her jaw clenched, and she glared at the floor. “Not too many men are in the market for a woman so dangerous, however. Not to mention going out in public like that would be like sending out a worldwide bulletin to your family: ‘here I am, come kill me’.”

He nudged her shoulder with his own. “I’m attempting to cheer you up, Andrea.”

“It’s not working, but thanks.” A larger divot had appeared in the floor, and she slid her shoe forward to touch the mark with the toe.

Kallan released her hand and put his arm around her shoulders. “Should I distract you in a different way?”

“I thought we agreed that wasn’t happening.” She didn’t move away, though she knew she needed to. Before her hormones really kicked in. She rubbed the bigger dip in the wood floor with her toe again.

“Stop glaring holes into the floor,” he murmured, nuzzling the top of her ear.

“Better the floor than you, wouldn’t you say?” She tilted her head away from him, but he just bent to the side of her neck.

“You smell good.” He licked her skin, sending a shock through her. “Taste good.”

Andi jumped when his other hand settled on her thigh. “Harvester.”

“That isn’t going to work,” he whispered, nipping her throat.

“Neither is this.” She resisted the need to whimper when his teeth grazed her neck in advance of a slow, open-mouthed kiss over the same spot.

He squeezed her thigh lightly, and heat shot into her middle.

Well, okay, maybe it was working. A little.

When he tilted her back, she let him catch her mouth. Just for a minute. She wouldn’t admit it to him, but this really was a pretty good distraction.

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Who else has a July birthday? How do you celebrate? Big party? Just you and your nearest and dearest? And what kind of cake are you having?

While I go back to work on Medusa #2, maybe you’re looking for something to read right now? Light the Way Home is available wherever books are sold, so if you click the title, you’ll be able to find your favorite bookseller. Hot single dad, a haunted lighthouse, and a woman who is just passing through, it’s a quick, light read to while away a hot summer afternoon.

 

I’m a day early this weekend, but it’s for a good reason. My youngest son’s birthday is today, and we have our birthday dinner planned for my regular posting day tomorrow. And in a few days, my birthday month starts, so expect to see lots of pretty cake pictures. I’ve already decided on my actual birthday cake, too–last year I was in New York City for my birthday and brought home the best cheesecake in the world for my birthday cake, and I think I’m going to splurge this year and have them deliver it since I can’t go there to get it. That’s a good self-gift, yes? Now I have to narrow down my choices, but I have a little time.

I’ve whittled down and fine-tuned my writing goals for the year now, to a list I think is manageable and achievable for the next six months, and moved some things to my list for 2021 (much too soon to work out that list quite yet, though!). Obviously, I’m not thrilled that the original list is off the table, but I feel good about what I kept for the rest of the year, and I’m already working on it.

Before I go back to my Saturday chores, I have a little story snippet for you, from Light the Way Home.

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Nate breathed easier when he drove the truck onto the island from the ferry. Mort gave him a thumbs-up, so he waved, then steered toward home.

He hoped Hayden had behaved. It had been a long time since he’d entrusted his son to anyone besides his parents. He hoped Lucie was really up to the task.

When he got to the house, the porch lights were still on, but he couldn’t see more than faint light around the curtains downstairs. He climbed out of the truck, exhausted. He couldn’t even summon the energy to square his shoulders for whatever he might find inside.

The house was quiet. Completely silent. He shut the door softly behind him, toeing off his sneakers and shrugging out of his jacket before he headed into the kitchen. The supper dishes stood in the drainer. He frowned, then continued to the living room. Where he found Lucie sound asleep on the sofa. The ugly orange and brown afghan he kept draped across the back of the sofa was tucked up around her shoulders, and a lock of her dark hair had slid forward, over her cheek.

He hesitated, hating to disturb her sleep. He glanced at the clock. Almost two. Fuck, it was later than he’d realized. No wonder he was so tired. He rubbed one hand down over his face and took a slow breath. He’d just let her know he was home, and she should stay where she was. He bent over and touched her shoulder.

Lucie jerked awake, sitting up so fast she almost knocked her head against his chin before he straightened.

“Whoa,” he said softly, holding both hands out. “Easy, Lucie. Just me.”

Her wide eyes squeezed shut for a moment, and she let out a quick breath. “Sorry. You startled me.”

“It’s okay. I just wanted you to know I was home. Lie down, go back to sleep, it’s late.”

She met his gaze, her sleepy green eyes searching. “How is your dad?”

Tension squeezed his chest again. “He was in recovery when I left. The doctor pinned the bones in his leg back together.” He sat down on the coffee table.

Lucie surprised him by reaching over to pat his knee. “You must be very worried. I’m sorry.”

He caught her hand. “Lie down, Lucie. Or I can make up the bed in the guest room.”

“I can go back over to Harry and Mindi’s,” she said, covering a yawn with her free hand. “You should get some sleep. I imagine you’re exhausted.”

“You, too. Thanks for staying with Hayden. Did he give you any trouble?”

“Of course not. We played some picture dominoes, then read a couple stories, and he was out.”

“You didn’t have to wash the dishes.”

A faint smile touched her mouth. “I needed something to do. And I love your kitchen. You did that?”

Nate nodded and gave her fingers a gentle squeeze. “Go back to sleep, Lucie. Really.”

She shook her head, yawning again. “I don’t want to be in your way, and I have a bed just a few yards away.” She smiled once more.

He realized he was still holding her hand and released it, standing. “You aren’t in the way. I really appreciate your help.”

She eased to her feet, too. “If you need a hand again, let me know.”

Her smile faded. “No, no kids.”

“But you’re good with him.”

Her mouth turned down a little. “I dated someone for a few years who had a son a bit older than Hayden.”

“I’m sorry, it’s none of my business.”

She shook her head. “Old news. But I do miss Teddy sometimes.” Her smile this time was forced. “Let me get my shoes and sweater on, and I’ll get out of your way so you can sleep, too.”

Nate closed his mouth on a curse. He hadn’t meant to make her feel bad. “Lucie.”

She glanced back over her shoulder.

He didn’t even know what he’d meant to say, and it didn’t matter when a loud rumble of thunder shook the house.

Her eyes widened, and she looked toward the back door as a bolt of lightning flashed over the sky. Right before the rain started, pouring down in a deluge. “Shit,” she whispered, her shoulders slumping.

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What are you up to this weekend? Instead of chores, I’ve been wishing for a beach break, but I’ll have to just imagine I’m getting to read on the beach for now. And maybe I’ll spike my lemonade today, too.

 

( Goal Target – Depositphotos )

This is the time of year that I typically take a look at the goals I set for myself for the year and see where I need to make adjustments. Every year, I think I have made realistic goals, and it feels like the universe takes that as a challenge to see how many curve balls it can lob my way. Needless to say, this year’s goals will need a major overhaul. Who could have predicted when I started my goal list in November what was coming at us? Certainly not me.

So that is my plan this week, to rework my goals list for the remainder of the year so I can still get some things accomplished that I hoped to have happen this year. Before I get back to that, I have a short snippet for you today from Protecting Medusa, a project on my goals list for this year.

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After all these years of successfully avoiding Ryder, it seemed she would finally have to deal with him.

She shivered, and this time, it wasn’t from the cold, but from the mingled fear and adrenaline racing through her veins. Sheathing her dagger, she smoothed her skirt back down and returned to the kitchen, while pushing thoughts of the bossy, sexy father of her nephew out of her head.

The beef was browning, and she dragged the spatula through it to loosen it from the bottom of the pan, before she dropped in chopped peppers and tomato sauce.

She hadn’t seen Jason or her mother in three long days, and she hadn’t imagined their reunion might occur like this.

She rubbed one hand over her forehead, trying to banish the mental image of Ryder, naked and aroused.

By what? she suddenly wondered. The thrill of the fight?

She supposed it was likely. She knew he was something of an adrenaline junkie. After all, his stint in the military had been rounded out by some secret missions he still couldn’t talk about, and she’d heard several stories from Jason about his dad jumping out of airplanes. Ryder had followed that up with some other secret intelligence agency job for a few years.

The only other possibility was that the arousal was because of her.

She laughed. Yeah, right. She knew she was reasonably attractive, though not drop-dead, movie-star gorgeous. Men didn’t fall to their knees at their first sight of her. Not even men who had flirted via email and over the phone as frequently as they were in contact. Actually, never, even when she’d dated with actual hope of finding ‘The One’. Or, um, leap to attention that way. Certainly not men who knew the sort of monster she truly was.

She swallowed hard, but her mind didn’t want to cooperate with her, making her senses all go haywire and sending heat into her belly. And he had kissed her.

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What does your goals list for the year look like right now? Are you still on track to achieve everything you wanted to? Or are you reworking your goals, too? Any ideas for how to make the most of it? I’m open to tips.

 

 

I have an old 80s song stuck in my head this week, “I’m So Excited” by the Pointer Sisters. My shiny new website has launched, and it is so pretty! I love what my web designer did for me, and I hope you all like it, too. Check it out here.

I’m in the middle of the last couple weekend chores right now, so this post is just a fly-by. I have a quick excerpt from Light the Way Home for you today.

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“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 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 snared her attention, and her mouth went dry. The shadows in his brown 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.” He cleared his throat. “I appreciate it.”

She swallowed. “It’s no problem,” she whispered. Dammit–hot, attracted to her, and vulnerable. Shit, that was 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, clearing the doorway to the mud room, and a little relief sank into her belly. Until she heard footsteps behind her.

Within reach of the back door, she whirled. He stood at the open doorway of the kitchen, undisguised 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, and her breath rushed out.

He studied her face for a long moment, and she wondered what he saw, what he was looking for. Impulsively, she moved closer to him, noting the way his eyes rounded, and she stretched up to brush a kiss on his mouth, lingered for a second, then stepped back.

“Good night, Nate,” she whispered, reaching behind her for the doorknob.

His dark gaze followed her out the door, and she turned away, a smile curving her lips.

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It’s an absolutely gorgeous Sunday here, and I am going to enjoy having all the windows open while I get to work on some revisions, once I get the laundry into the dryer. What are you up to this week? Something fun, or drudgery? If the latter, I hope you find time for the first, too! Have a great week!

 

 

 

 

It’s a gorgeous Sunday here, and my lilies have buds all over them. My mom had them planted at our mailbox when I was growing up, and the ones in my garden came from her mom’s garden, so when they bloom every year, they make me happy for multiple reasons. I’m watching them daily to see how close mine are to blooming. Probably not quite yet, a week or so, I think, and then happy orange flowers will brighten our side garden for a couple of weeks.

Each month means something different for each of us, good and bad. June here is my youngest son’s birthday (plus some other extended family birthdays), as well as the beginning of my least favorite season (but it does mean my herbs and veggies will be happy). A few years back, it meant a week-long writing retreat with friends; we haven’t done that in a while, and I doubt we will any time soon in this new normal. When we were kids, June was the beginning of summer vacation, which was full of possibilities and always seemed to long at the beginning, but too short by the end of it. Do you remember? The past few years, June has meant updates to my website, and that is true again this year. I’ll have a shiny new design launching in the next week or so.

Many years, June means a trip to our local Ren Faire for their annual Celtic Fling, especially the Friday night concert to kick off the weekend if they bring in one of my favorite bands, Gaelic Storm, which happens with some regularity. Last year one of my girlfriends and I went to see them there, and I am disappointed we won’t get to do that this year. But better safe than sick. So I’ll play a couple of their CDs instead, and pretend later in the month that I’m seeing them onstage again. I actually realized that they are probably the band I’ve seen the most (I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve seen them, to be honest). Either them or Trans Siberian Orchestra, but I’m pretty sure it’s Gaelic Storm.

Now I feel the need to play some of their music, so I’ll do that, but before I go, I have a little story snippet for you from Light the Way Home.

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Hayden waved up at the tower, and Nate glanced over his shoulder to the hazy shape of Micah silhouetted against the window. “Come on, Hayden, Grandma’s waiting for you.”

“’Kay, Daddy, I’m comin’.” His son ran a few steps to him, and he scooped the boy up into his car seat. “Buckle me in!”

He smiled as he did so. “I heard a rumor there might be a surprise waiting for you today.”

“A s’prise?” His son’s eyes rounded. “What kinda s’prise?”

“If I told you, it wouldn’t be a surprise, would it?” He ruffled his son’s untidy hair. “You’ll have to wait and see. Hands inside the ride.” He shut the door and rounded the truck to his own seat. As he slid in, he caught a movement from the corner of his eye and looked over at Harry and Mindi’s–Lucie stood at the sink, head down. He started the truck, and she lifted her face, looking first at the truck and then away–toward the lighthouse, where Micah still stood.

When she looked at him again, he saw her frown. He waved, smiling grimly and wondering if Lucie believed in ghosts.

“Bye, Lucie,” Hayden shouted, waving wildly.

Even though she couldn’t possibly hear him, she smiled and waved at Hayden as Nate backed the truck out of the driveway.

When he parked at his parents’ a few minutes later, he was still wondering–not everyone could bring themselves to believe in things like ghosts. Harry and Mindi had lived on the island long enough to have gotten over that, but if Lucie didn’t believe… Well, it didn’t matter, because she wouldn’t be here long. Just curious, he supposed, stopping the truck behind his father’s. It was always an interesting conversation with newcomers, about the lighthouse ghost.

Growing up on the island, he’d known about Micah all his life. His ex had thought it was sad and romantic–until she left, just like Micah’s lost wife had done, escaping the island with a new man and leaving Nate and Hayden behind.

He frowned, pushing open his door. It was better that she’d gone when she did–better for Hayden because he was so young.

“Gram!” Hayden shouted as Nate opened the passenger door.

Nate glanced over his shoulder and saw his mother waving from inside the house. “Let me get you unbuckled, buddy, and then you can go see her.” He unclipped the harness and hefted his son out of the truck, giving him a little bounce just to hear him giggle, before setting the boy on his feet. He followed his son to the back door, noted his dad’s silhouette in the open workshop door out back, then shifted his attention to his mother, who’d opened the screen door to let Hayden inside.

“Take your jacket off, Hayden,” she called as he rushed past her. Her gaze landed on Nate. “I hear you met the house-sitter.”

He blinked. “I don’t think she’s exactly house-sitting.”

“Really?” One of his mother’s eyebrows winged up. “What is she then?”

“Friends with Harry and Mindi.” He shrugged.

“Hm.” She glanced over her shoulder at a thump from the next room. “Hayden?”

“I’m good.”

Nate repressed a smile. “I can get him in a few hours, maybe before he destroys the place.”

Ida Baxter laughed. “Too late.” She met his gaze again. “Is she pretty?”

Oh hell. He shrugged. “I guess.”

His mother’s eyes narrowed a tiny bit. “Hayden likes her.”

“She played with him.” He lifted one shoulder a little again. “She’ll be gone soon.”

“Hm.”

He ignored the speculative look in her eyes. “I have a client appointment before I head back to the shop. I’ll pick up the human wrecking ball by four-thirty. Thanks, Mom.”

She sighed as he turned away. “We’ll see you then.”

Nate didn’t look back–he’d learned a long time ago not to encourage his mother when she started wondering about his love life, or lack of one. And no matter how pretty Lucie was, he wasn’t in the market for a relationship, and she wasn’t staying on the island. Problem solved.

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In case you like Celtic music and somehow haven’t heard Gaelic Storm yet, you should check them out. And if you haven’t read Light the Way Home yet, I’d love if you checked that out, too.

What does June mean to you? Something fun? Birthdays or anniversaries? More yard work? I’d love to hear from you.

 

 

( Depositphotos.com )

I’m past my normal blog day this week, and I’m sorry. the last couple of weeks at the day-job have been kind of busy. Theoretically, we get to catch our breath for a few days, but my two teammates are off the rest of the week, so it’ll just be me the next two days. Luckily, it isn’t as insanely busy as last week, so I’ll be fine.

I think I mentioned that I was working with my web designer on a fresh look for my website, and we’re nearly ready to launch the shiny new design. I’m very excited, partly because, well, who doesn’t like a nice remodel? And partly because it gives me a reason to have a little party. I’ll have more details on that maybe in my next post or two, so stay tuned.

I’m keeping this one short and sweet since we’re mid-work-week, but I still have a little story snippet for you, from Hunting Medusa.

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Medusa knew he was coming. She always knew when the next one approached to try to kill her. But she had not been ready to die—until now.

While listening to the soft, sneaky sounds of his footfalls on the rocky path, she studied the golden goblet. It had not rid her of Athena’s curse, but it would help her daughters. As long as one of them had it, the amulet would stop them all from suffering constantly as she had all these years, limiting the effects of the curse to only a few days each month for the keeper of the goblet. Until the Goddess forgave Medusa’s foolish bragging.

Her killer drew nearer, still attempting to be quiet. Something about his deliberate pace—unhurried, careful—made her grateful she had already finished her protective spell for her children. This one would not have died as easily as the rest.

She looked around, from one statue to another—men of all ages and sizes, various weapons in their hands or tucked into their belts, all wearing the same horrified expression. Her eyes burned. She knew she was a monster. She had known not to brag so about her hair. Athena did not suffer braggarts. She had ruined Medusa’s hair, had cursed Medusa to live in exile this way—on this Gods-forsaken island, with no company but her own—as well as all her offspring.

Medusa despised living this way. She was not meant to be alone. She had never enjoyed her own company more than others’. When this hunter came, she would let him kill her.

He did not come into the clearing as the others had, charging forward recklessly. No, he came in with his back to her, watching her reflection in a shield. Clever, this one. She pretended to not have seen him, very aware of each step he took.

Soon. It would be over soon.

And she could not wait for the torment to end.

When he came nearer, she closed her eyes and prayed to Athena for forgiveness.

His blade whistled through the air. Closer, closer…

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If you’re looking for a nice light, quick read for a warm afternoon, Light the Way Home is out now at all your favorite booksellers. Clicking on the title will take you wherever you want to go shopping.

Here’s hoping the rest of your week is smooth sailing!

 

 

( 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!