Tag Archive: Common Elements novella


That’s what I feel like this week. We’re not quite halfway into the new month, and I feel like I’m really far behind already. Ugh. Not the way I wanted to start the new year. I know what I need to do to get caught up, but I haven’t managed to pull it off.

In better news, we finally had our New Year’s dinner with the boys today. All kinds of yummy food, plus a nice visit. The dishes will wait, because I really, really have to finish the revisions I should have finished a week ago. While I go dig into that, I have a short story snippet for you today from Hunting Medusa.

================

It was one of those days when having the Medusa’s fabled power to turn people to stone would really come in handy.

Andrea Rosakis did not, however, have that ability, not this week, anyway. Even though she was the reigning Medusa.

She glared at the man on her back porch, wondering if he could ever understand how lucky he was she wasn’t suffering from PMS this week. And why wouldn’t he stop talking? Her fingers itched to slam the door.

“…if you just have five minutes, ma’am,” he concluded.

She narrowed her gaze on the vacuum beside him. “No, thank you.” And how the hell had he found her all the way out here? No one ever bothered to follow her rough, muddy driveway all the way to the top, even if they did ignore the “No Trespassing” signs posted at the foot of it. Not to mention the protective warding she had set at the boundaries of the entire property. Sure, it wasn’t the heavy artillery of protection spells, but no one else had ever gotten past it. This man however, had not only ignored the signs and the subtle “go away” protections, but managed the entire bumpy, muddy track into the woods and halfway up the mountain. Just to hear her say, “No.”

And he didn’t look discouraged. At all.

Andi almost wished she were PMSing this week, though it would be a real pain in the ass to have to get rid of a life-sized stone statue of a vacuum salesman.

Or maybe she could keep it. He was very pretty, even if he annoyed her. He was tall and broad, his inky black hair was a tad too long, and his bright green eyes held her attention. At least as stone, he’d be silent and still pretty. She gave herself a mental shake. “I’m sorry, but I don’t have time for this—”

“When would be a better time?”

“Never.”

He did blink at that, but his smile never disappeared. “I’ll have to check my calendar.”

She snorted, then clapped her free hand over her mouth. Laughing would not discourage the man. “Look, I’m sure it’s a great vacuum, but I don’t need it. I don’t want to see how it works, and I’d like you to get off my property.”

His smile did fade a little bit. “Well, I suppose, if that’s what you really want.”

She quirked an eyebrow, trying not to smile again. He had the faintest hint of an accent, but she couldn’t place it. Not without hearing him talk some more, and she didn’t want to encourage that either, or he’d just keep trying to sell her an expensive vacuum she didn’t need.

“Maybe I could talk you into meeting me for coffee sometime then,” he said.

Her jaw dropped. The cute salesman was hitting on her. For half a second, she indulged the fantasy of a date with the hunk. A real date, maybe ending with a real kiss. Her pulse quickened. Then she remembered one good date led to more, and eventually, it led to guys running away from her, gibbering like idiots when PMS struck. She shut her mouth and ignored the regret burning in her middle. “Sorry, but no.”

“You’re a hard woman,” he said lightly, his bright gaze sliding down to her mouth. “I’ll leave my card in case you change your mind. About the coffee, that is.” He forced a small card into her hand and picked up his vacuum.

Andi stared after him as he strode off her porch. The bulky vacuum looked like it weighed nothing in his hand, swinging at his side on his way to the shiny, new truck parked behind her car.

When he took one hand from the steering wheel to wave at her, she stopped herself from lifting her hand in response. He turned the truck around and vanished down the drive into the trees. Frowning, she went back inside and shut the door, then locked it and re-armed the alarm. He’d tossed the vacuum into the bed of the truck. A very strong salesman.

Who didn’t seem to care the impending rain was going to damage his expensive vacuum.

She turned back to the door and stared out the narrow window beside it, her heart beating faster now with alarm. Maybe he didn’t realize. Or maybe he really hadn’t come here to sell her a vacuum.

She swallowed hard.

Aunt Celosia had always told the cousins stories of the Harvesters, the men who still hunted for the Medusa. Somehow, Andi had always thought they’d be more frightening. More obvious. Ugly men intent on murder.

If this vacuum salesman was a Harvester, he was sneaky. Of course, if he was a Harvester, he would be sneaky, as Perseus had been when he killed the first Medusa.

She was in a lot of trouble.

================

This is my goal for this week:

( Make things happen – Depositphotos )

What are your aims for this week? Just get through the week? Or something more ambitious? Do you have a plan for how to make it happen? I always love new ideas, so please share!

 

( 2020 new year – Depositphotos )

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

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

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

================

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Good morning.” She blushed.

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

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

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

She blinked.

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

“Um…”

He grinned, and the dimple made her breath catch.

================

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

 

( Photo on Trends Hype )

In Need of Motivation

( sticky notes with the word everything – Depositphotos )

Right now I’m looking at my to-do list, which looks about two miles long, and I can’t seem to motivate myself to do anything about it today. What I’d like to do is crawl into bed early tonight. To be fair, I spent most of last night sick, so I’m more tired than usual, but that isn’t everything.

We’re about to go into a busy stretch at work, with a weird schedule, and part of me is stressing about that. Plus I’ve looked over my goals list from the beginning of the year, and that has left me more than a little disappointed with my lack of progress on some things. I’m also behind on my Common Elements Romance Project novella. I kind of wish I could take a vacation. Not necessarily to go anywhere, just to stay home and do some of the things on my to-do list.

So how do you motivate yourself when you don’t feel motivated? I need a jump-start.

While I’m searching for some motivation, I have a little story snippet to share with you from my Common Elements Romance Project novella.

================

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“It isn’t nothing to me.”

His firm, quiet tone made her look up, and her mouth went dry. The shadows in his 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 his footsteps behind her.

Within reach of the back door, she whirled around. 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, 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, feeling a smile curve her lips.

Well, that was nice. She could deal with the repercussions another day, and, for now, be reminded she was still alive.

================

Okay, I’m off to figure out supper and work on some cards that have to go in the mail tomorrow. Hit me with your best ways to self-motivate when you’re not feeling any.

 

 

( 2020 goals – Depositphotos )

I know, I know, it’s only November, but it’s mid-November, and before you know it, it’s going to be January. Plus this is typically the time I start thinking about what I want to accomplish in the new year, usually because I have a goal-setting workshop in December. No goal-setting workshop this year, but it’s still time for me to look at what I did this year and try to figure out what I can realistically do in the new year. So my plan for this week, once we get through Monday and Tuesday at the day-job in our busiest week of the year, is to start by looking at my 2019 goals to see what I did right and wrong, and to start playing with a wish list of what I want for 2020.

My more immediate goal is to get through the next couple of days without succumbing to the ick that started to rear its head last night, making my sinuses throb and my throat sore. Toward that end, I have a big pot of vegetable soup on the kitchen stove right now, full of garlic and ginger and other good stuff to ward off the ick. It smells really good in my house right now. An added bonus is that I made a giant slow cooker full of mac and cheese yesterday, and half of that is still here, too, so between that and the soup, I don’t have to worry about what we’ll eat this week. (For those of you wondering about the other half of the mac and cheese, well, I sent that home with the boys when they stopped in last night. They love homemade mac, and I mentioned earlier in the week that I’d be making it, because that’s a guarantee I’ll see them. Moms are smart that way.)

Now I’m about to finish my (hopefully!) last pass through my Common Elements Romance Project novella while I have some soup. While I do that, I have a little story snippet for you from that novella.

=================

Lucie jumped at the knock on the back door, then used her elbow to shut off the faucet, grabbing the dish towel to dry her hands on the way to the door. She turned on the light over the door, and her eyebrows rose at the sight of Nate on the steps, Hayden hanging from his back. She tugged the door open. “Hi, guys.”

“Hi, Lucie.”

She frowned at the grim expression on Nate’s face. “Are you okay?” She tossed the towel toward the counter.

“We’re fine, but my dad isn’t. The paramedic unit just landed the helicopter to take him to the mainland hospital. I hate to ask…to bother you, but I need to get my mom to the ferry to go to the hospital, and I wonder if you’d mind hanging out with Hayden for a while.”

Startled, she blinked at him. “Sure.”

“At our house?” He winced. “It’ll be bedtime soon.”

“Of course, let me grab my sweater. Come on in.” She hurried away to the living room to shut off the TV and pick up her heavy sweater from the arm of the couch. She grabbed her phone and the book she’d left on the coffee table last night. She might need some entertainment after Hayden was in bed. When she turned around, Nate stood inside the closed door, stress framing his mouth and eyes with faint lines. “Let’s go,” she said, summoning a smile.

After making sure she had the key in her pocket, she locked the door and pulled it shut. She hurried after Nate, whose long strides got him to the fence several seconds before her. She followed him across the yard and into his house, pausing in the mud room to kick off her sneakers, before emerging into a kitchen that made her want to drool–gorgeous honey-toned cabinets with pale, gold-flecked stone counters, and a serious stove that actually made her stop mid-step to gawk at the six burners and built-in griddle. Shaking her head, she dragged her gaze away from it to where Nate crouched a few feet away, unzipping Hayden’s jacket.

The little guy was in pajamas already, soft, fuzzy blue covered with cartoon characters in bright colors. He turned away from his dad to grin up at her.

“Hi, Lucie.”

She smiled back. “Hiya.” She met Nate’s eyes, and her smile faded. “We’ll be fine, Nate. What time is bedtime?”

“Eight.” He swallowed, then stuck his hand into his pocket, and she heard the faint clink of his keys. “We usually read a story first, but just one. I don’t know how long I’ll be, Lucie. Are you sure–”

“I’m positive,” she interrupted, stepping toward him to pat his arm. “We’ll be fine. I have some kid experience, I promise.” She stopped herself from hugging him. She didn’t know him well enough for that, even though he looked a little shell-shocked. “You go get your mom. Maybe leave your cell number by the phone.”

He nodded, then bent to kiss his son’s head. “You be good, buddy.”

“’Kay, Daddy.”

After another few seconds’ hesitation, he took a quick breath and squared his shoulders. “I really appreciate it, Lucie.”

“No problem,” she said lightly. “I’ll see you later.” She watched him scribble on a note pad near the kitchen phone, then lock the door behind himself on the way out. She turned to the little boy who stood a few feet away. “So, we have some time before you have to go to bed. What do you usually do before story-time?”

A sly smile curved his mouth. “We could have a snack.”

She laughed and dropped to her knees in front of him. “Let me see your teeth.”

His smile vanished. Busted. “How’d you know I already brushed?”

“I wasn’t kidding when I said I had some kid experience, buddy.” She tweaked his chin, and he smiled again.

=================

Is anyone else thinking yet about goals for the new year? Just me?

 

I almost set ‘Comfort and Joy’ as the title of this post, but I don’t want to confuse the seasons for anyone. I’m just thinking about the things that comfort and make us happy today. Now that it’s fall, the soup pot is getting a workout, which makes me happy. Right now, there is leftover potato soup from yesterday’s dinner in the fridge. Today, it’s some of my favorite tea and movie soundtracks while I work on rewrites and laundry, and I am seriously considering one of my favorite movies as a treat before starting the work-week, since it will be a long work-week that extends into the following week without much of a break. Who else loves Love Actually? My husband laughed at me the other night when I said I haven’t seen it since July, but that’s kind of a long time between viewings of a movie I love. Honestly, I could probably watch it once a month and still love it. Kind of like The Princess Bride, or Practical Magic. Or maybe the Harry Potter movies. They make me happy. Last night we watched another favorite, To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything Julie Newmar.

There is nothing wrong with a good rewatch of a movie that makes you happy, or rereading a book you love. (I have Linda Howard’s Death Angel on my desk right now, waiting to be reread.  Again.) Sometimes it’s for comfort, sometimes just the pleasure.

For me, along with the chores, today is for catching my breath a little, and that requires some comfort. Before I start my movie, though, I have a snippet of my first shifter story to share with you.

================

“We don’t want to make waves bigger than we can deal with right now. Let’s just concentrate on keeping Tessa safe. Then we can kick somebody’s ass later, once we get this contract issue settled again.”

Harley took a sip of his beer, studying his father. “I’d rather just go kick their asses now.”

Boyd smiled. “I know. But you’re patient, and smart.” He took a longer drink of his own beer.

Harley didn’t like that assessment very much at the moment.

“Besides, I think you have more important matters to deal with.” He winked.

Harley’s brow shot up. “Really?”

“I may not be around all the time, but I pay attention.” Boyd tipped his bottle toward his son. “Now I need to go make nice with my wife.”

His father’s words stuck with him the rest of the night, and again the next day. Boyd was right. Dealing with Tessa would take all his attention.

Now if only he could cross paths with her.

He got lucky the next evening. India had left a note in the kitchen that Tessa was stopping by after work to pick up some books, just in case India wasn’t back from New York on time.

He grinned to himself as he made his way to where he knew she’d go when she arrived. India was, indeed, still in New York, so she wouldn’t be there to meet Tessa.

But he would.

He heard the front door, and her laughter reached his ears along with his brother Joe’s voice. Joe’s heavier footsteps continued up the stairs, and Tessa’s slower, lighter ones came along the hallway. To the library. To him.

Harley lounged in his chair, deliberately not letting her know he was there. How long would it take her to notice his presence?

She dallied for a few minutes in front of the shelves that housed the African cat books even though he knew she’d read all of them at least twice. He took the time to admire her toned legs beneath the hem of her khaki skirt. The shape of her hips as she leaned her weight on one leg. Then she meandered past the native plants of New England shelf, her fingers trailing along the spines as she went.

He imagined what her fingers would feel like sliding over his skin that way, and his body came to attention.

She stopped in front of the garden design area, head tilted. After a moment, she pulled a book out, then another, then several more, and lugged the whole stack to the wide worktable several steps away from him.

He held his breath.

She dropped the books loudly, and then froze when her gaze landed on him.

“Hello, little Tessa,” he said softly.

Panic flitted through her eyes, and her pulse beat madly in the hollow of her throat. “Harley.” It came out strangled.

“Planning a garden?” He stayed where he was, hoping she wouldn’t flee.

She lifted a shoulder jerkily. “Someday.”

He stifled his grin. She was still poised for flight. “What kind of garden?”

She blinked at him. “What?”

“What kind of garden?” he repeated evenly. “Formal, cottage? Something in between?”

A tiny frown line appeared between her eyebrows, as if she were trying to decide his intent. “Probably cottage style,” she said at last, dropping her gaze to the stack of books in front of her. “Formal gardens are pretty, but require more work than I have time for.” She glanced at him again, wariness clouding her eyes.

He leaned forward in his seat, watching her tense still more. The first hint of her arousal scented the air. “I haven’t seen you for a couple days, Tessa.” He pushed to his feet.

She swallowed hard, blushing. “I’ve been busy at work.”

Liar. “I thought maybe you were avoiding me.” He moved to the work table, standing opposite her so he could see the way her eyes darkened.

“Of course not,” she murmured, dropping her gaze to the books again.

“I’m glad to hear that, since I was hoping to kiss you again.”

Her gaze jumped to his face. “We agreed that wasn’t a good idea.”

Harley shook his head slowly, holding her gaze. “I never agreed to that.” He took a step toward the corner of the table, then another, until he rounded the table and stood beside her.

Tessa’s prey instincts were good. She was fairly quivering with the need to run. But she held her ground anyway. He touched her arm lightly with his knuckles and watched the goose bumps lift along her soft skin.

“You said it would be a good idea not to kiss again, but I’d never agree to something like that when I know it’s a fat lie.”

Her eyes widened a little more. “I disagree.”

“Liar.” He slid his hand higher, until he could catch her warm nape against his palm.

She set her hands on his chest when he turned her. “Whatever happened to leaving siblings’ friends alone? Or not screwing with the humans?”

He’d been bending toward her and it was his turn to freeze. “That’s Adar’s opinion, Tessa. Not mine.” He pulled her slightly closer. Now it was his turn to lie. “And all I’m talking about is a little kissing.”

Her gaze landed on his lips and her tongue darted out at the corner of her mouth, almost too quickly for him to see.

Almost. He stifled a groan and bent to kiss her, quickly. Lightly. And again. Again. Until she opened her mouth, her fingers curling into his shirtfront.

Gotcha!

One kiss turned into two, into five, until he lost count. The taste of her was addicting.

================

I’m going back to my novella revisions for now. What things are your favorites for comfort? Foods? Books? Music? Movies?

 

( reading book by fireplace – Depositphotos )

It’s November, and it finally feels like fall here. We had a couple nights in a row now with temps around freezing. I was happy to set the clocks back last night, not just for regaining the hour we lost in the spring, but because it wasn’t dark when I got up this morning. I love fall, but I absolutely hate getting up in the dark. I know other people hate that it’s dark earlier in the evening, but I don’t care about that. I find it exceedingly hard to get up in the dark. At the end of the work day, I don’t care if the sun’s already set: the day is over. Getting moving in the dark is a much bigger challenge.

November is also National Novel Writing Month. I can’t join in NaNo this year–we have our busiest week of the year coming up in two weeks, and I’ll be lucky to see daylight at all that week–but I know a lot of other people are already hard at work on their new books. Best of luck getting your 50,000 words written in the next twenty-seven days!

My goals for the month are not that grand. I am aiming to get through the busy weeks at the day-job, get this novella formatted, and manage all the normal day-to-day tasks, plus we have Thanksgiving coming up at the end of the month, which means I need to figure out the menu. That alone is a pretty big task. Yes, we have some of the same things every year–the turkey, the stuffing (which means making the bread for the stuffing first), the mashed potatoes and gravy, the corn pudding, the cranberry relish–but dessert is usually something different from year to year, and since I no longer eat any meat besides fish, I have to decide if I want some protein on my own plate, or if I’ll just enjoy all the sides. I’m leaning toward that right now, but I’m not positive yet. It’s too early. The past couple of years, I’ve taken off the day before Thanksgiving, so I can get some prep work done, which is a huge help. I can get cranberry relish and dessert out of the way, plus if we are having another bread or rolls with our meal, I can take care of that, too. My aim this year is to spend a lot less time in the kitchen on Thanksgiving. It’s annoying to spend the entire holiday working in the kitchen, so I have to work out my game plan ahead of time–can I do some more prep on the weekend prior? Probably. I just have to figure out what.

So…Thanksgiving meal planning, manuscript formatting, day-job insanity, and normal every-day. That’s my game plan for this month, with the hope that I can get some other writing and/or rewriting in along the way.

I have a little story snippet for you, from Hunting Medusa.

================

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.

================

Now, I think before I get back to my rewrites, I’m going to spend a few minutes looking at the pretty first quarter moon hanging outside my window. What are your goals this month?

 

( decor with pumpkins – Depositphotos )

I can remember quiet weekends even though we rarely have them. When my boys were in school, I worked retail, so there was no such thing as quiet weekends, because normally, I would be at work. When they were younger, I was home, so weekends were a normal day for me. These days, they’re in their own place, and I have weekends off, though there are errands and chores that don’t get done during the week. So occasionally, I like a weekend when I can stay home, maybe do laundry and cook once. Those weekends are few and far between–I don’t see one in my near future. Next weekend, I have somewhere to be one day, same the following weekend…the weekend after that will be day-job overtime one day and something fun the next, so possibly the following weekend, which is Thanksgiving weekend here in the U.S. I’ll be ready for a break by then, I think.

While I’m daydreaming about a lazy weekend with plenty of time for reading and writing, I’ve got a few more chores to wrap up before I can call it a day. I have a little snippet of story for you, from my Common Elements Romance Project novella.

===============

Lucie had been on Mac’s Light Island for almost three weeks, but the view from the back door of her temporary home still took her breath away. Right now, she realized she’d been standing there staring, slack-jawed, at the sunlight glinting off the bright blue ocean waves for a good five minutes. Shaking her head, she pulled the door shut and stepped down onto the sidewalk, feeling in her purse for her car keys.

She closed her fingers on the fob as a giggle reached her ears. She turned to the white picket fence that bordered the property next door as a big multi-colored ball sailed over it, toward her. “Oh no!” She caught it before it hit her in the face and started across the grass, balancing the ball on her hand.

Another giggle sounded as she neared the fence, and she adjusted her direction a tiny bit, so she came to a stop, looking directly down onto a tousled blond head.

“I think you lost something,” she said.

The little boy’s face tipped up quickly, his blue eyes wide with surprise–as if he couldn’t believe she’d found him so easily.

Lucie grinned and held the ball higher.

He smiled as he got to his feet, brushing off his jeans-clad knees.

From seeing him playing outside several times already, she’d guessed he was three or four, but now that she was seeing him at closer range, she scaled that back to three.

“Hi, I’m Hayden,” he said, holding out his right hand.

It was her turn to be surprised. She shook his hand, bemused. “Hi, Hayden, I’m Lucie.” Not too many three-year-olds had such good manners. Aside from the ball toss at her face, that is. “Nice to meet you.”

He glanced up at his ball. “Me an’ my dad are your neighbors.”

“I see that.” She noted he hadn’t mentioned his mom. “Who were you playing with?” She gave the ball a little bounce.

“Maybe you wanna play with me.” Big blue eyes locked on her face.

Ah. She squelched the pang in her chest. “I wish I could, but I’m on my way to town. Maybe we could play another time?” she added when his grin vanished.

“Like this afternoon?”

“Hayden!”

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

Lucie’s mouth went dry. Wowza!

He frowned when he saw them, but his stride never slowed, just changed direction, toward them at the fence. “Hayden, we have to go to Grandma’s.” He stopped close to the boy. “You were supposed to stay on the porch.” His brown gaze lifted to her face. “I’m Nate Baxter.”

================

What do you do when you have a weekend with no to-do list? I have plenty of ideas of my own, but am always open to more. Meanwhile, I might want to pretend I’m back at the beach, like last weekend for our writing retreat.

 

 

It is a pretty Sunday here–except it doesn’t feel like October begins in two days. I spent a good part of yesterday with a cousin at a wine festival, and it was even hotter yesterday than today. I’d love if Mother Nature got her act together. A few cool, crisp days with puffy white clouds and bright blue skies would be perfect. Instead, we’re looking at another day mid-week with the possibility of setting a new record-high temperature.

That’s what I’d like to see out of my window instead, or something similar, since that view is of the ridge behind my dad’s house a few years ago, and since he’s gone, I don’t get to enjoy that particular view anymore. Fall, that’s what I want, not more summer. (Though, to be honest, I am not minding that my tomatoes are still going strong. I have a lot in the freezer for this winter’s soups and sauces.)

Maybe my problem right now is a case of the blahs. I’ve been grocery shopping, but there isn’t anything in the house I want to eat. I have chores to do, but can’t seem to make myself go do them (besides the laundry which is necessary, and a quick run to pick up a birthday gift order that arrived in-store). I’m trying to persuade myself that I can make it a couple more weeks until my 4 day weekend writing retreat at the beach. And in the meantime, I have revisions to finish so I can get this Common Elements Romance Project novella of mine formatted and ready to go out into the world (I’m still working out details, but as soon as I have my release date finalized, you will all be the first to know!).

The beach sounds lovely right now. I’m hoping that when we get there in three weeks, it will be nice and quiet, no hurricanes (do you hear me, Mother Nature?), and not very many other people so we can write undistracted and enjoy an uncrowded beach when the writing is done each day. The place we stay in has a little kitchen, so we usually hit the grocery store on our way into town and pick up necessities for the duration–writing snacks, breakfast foods, lunch and dinner things. We usually bring adult beverages with us, as well as everything we could possibly need for several days of writing, and maybe some evening entertainment (probably no drinking games this year). I should probably make myself a note now to remember my bucket for seashell collecting during early morning and evening walks since I’m not sure which stores will be open in the off-season for forgotten necessities like little plastic buckets.

It’s been a few years since we did our beach-side writing retreat, and I’m actually really looking forward to it, even though the day-job will be crazy-busy leading up to my time off and worse when I get back. The break will be nice. My vacation in July was packed full of workshops and conference things, and I loved it, but it wasn’t very restful. The retreat will be full of writing time, but we are on our own schedule, so it won’t be as hectic as the conference (I am a little sad to miss the New Jersey Romance Writers conference this year, but since I was in NYC in July, NJRW will have to wait until next year. I’ll miss seeing some of my writing buddies, though.)

I have actually already started thinking about next year’s vacation time for the day-job–I hit a milestone anniversary early in 2020, so I’ll have another week of PTO coming, and I have a hard time using the PTO I already get, so I’m going to have to get creative to use more. I definitely want to get to NJRW next fall, but since the RWA conference won’t be in NYC next year, I don’t have that in my plans. That means I should schedule at least one week of vacation in the first half of the year, and another in the second half. Then I can sprinkle in a few long weekends (writing retreat, maybe?), and some days when I leave early for monthly writing group, and still have plenty of time left for necessary appointments or unexpected needs. Something to ponder, I suppose.

I should get back to my revisions while I’m waiting for the next load of laundry to come out of the dryer. Maybe I’ll even find the motivation to do another of the chores on my to-do list. Or maybe I’ll open one of the bottles of wine I brought home yesterday from the wine fest and put on a good movie after dinner and forget about the chores for today.

While I make up my mind about that, I have a little snippet of story to share with you, from my Freeing Medusa manuscript, the third in my Medusa’s Daughters trilogy.

================

Katharine had had enough. Her skin was tingling with the need for release again, and her heart beat too fast. And she hadn’t seen any likely candidates. Even a desperate Medusa had standards.

Which meant it was time to go home and break out a couple more vibrators to get through tonight. Dammit.

She took another sip from her glass, smiling at Ramona from her post on the deck. Her friend danced enthusiastically with someone she’d greeted even more enthusiastically just a little while ago. She hated to interrupt, but it really was time to go home.

Katharine sighed and shifted her shoulders, trying to loosen up the tight muscles there, turning her gaze over the crowd one last time. Her breath caught in her chest.

He was gorgeous, in a rugged sort of way. His nose had been broken at least once, but it didn’t matter. A dimple dented his chin, and he had the brightest blue eyes she’d ever seen, black hair dipping over one of them. Even better, his green shirt stretched taut over strong shoulders and a wide chest, then tucked into a pair of jeans that fit nicely on narrow hips.

Her heart beat faster in anticipation.

Then he glanced up from his conversation with a shorter man whose arm was wrapped around an even shorter woman and caught her eye. A slow smile curved his mouth as his gaze slid down the front of her, then back up, making her skin warm in anticipation, lingering on her mouth.

Her lips tingled hopefully.

She took a drink from the cup she still held. Whatever frozen thing Ramona had given her earlier was melting and slushy, but she could still taste the bite of alcohol as it hit her tongue.

He moved away from the couple he was with, toward her, and her temperature went up a couple more degrees. His long-legged stride was confident, though he didn’t rush.

No, damn him, he made her wait, pausing once, briefly, to greet someone along the way.

She tightened her grip on the stem of the plastic cup and took a quick breath.

He finally stopped about two steps away, and she could smell his cologne, something musky that made her pulse race even faster.

She felt her nipples tighten inside her vest.

“Hi.” The low tone of his voice raised goosebumps on her arms despite the warm evening air.

================

I’m heading back to Revision-Land until suppertime, and then I can figure out the rest of the evening. What do you do to get out of your own doldrums? I’d love some ideas for next time I find myself there.

 

( wine & pasta dinner – Depositophotos ) 

As I write this, it will be Official Autumn tomorrow, very early in the morning. While I’m excited about that, I am not excited that it will still feel like summer tomorrow and evidently again next weekend. I’m ready for it to feel like fall, for real, not just for a day or two at a time. We had a few nice days last week. I actually broke out my jeans instead of capri pants a couple of days. Unfortunately, this will be a summer-wear sort of week again.

On the other hand, this ‘not-fall-feeling’ week is bookended with family time. My oldest has a birthday tomorrow (he was born on the first day of fall, too), and my husband’s birthday is next week, plus I get to spend some time with a cousin next weekend, which will be fun. Today was birthday dinner–or rather, breakfast-for-dinner. I always ask the boys each year what they want for their birthday dinner, as well as what kind of cake, what sort of gifts. This year, oldest asked for breakfast: French toast, eggs and sausage. Cap that off with birthday cake and ice cream. It’s a good Sunday.

Before I hang out with my guys, I have a little story snippet for you, from my novella for the Common Elements Romance Project, release date TBA.

================

Every time he found himself thinking about the kiss, Nate redirected his thoughts to his to-do list for the day. Finish these cabinets. Build the ramp for his parents’ house. Figure out a vehicle for tomorrow to bring Dad home from the hospital. That got him through most of the morning. When he stopped over to check on Lucie and Hayden, they were coloring. Instead of lingering, he grabbed some lumber and plywood from the shop and loaded it into the back of the truck with his saw and tape measure. Time to build the ramp.

By the time he’d constructed a sturdy ramp to the front porch, it was well after lunchtime. He stood inside his parents’ kitchen, looking out at his dad’s shop. He could run back to the house and check on Hayden before heading to the hospital.

Or he could avoid temptation and just get on the ferry now.

He pulled his cell phone out and pulled up Lucie’s number to call.

“Hi.”

“Hi. I wanted to check in and make sure you’re okay before I go to the hospital.”

“Fine. Hayden is sleeping. He played hard this morning, so it only took a couple minutes before he was out.” He heard the smile in her voice. “He kept waving to the lighthouse, waving so hard I was sure his arm would fall off.”

“Waving to Micah.”

“That’s what he said.”

Nate hesitated. “Micah is a ghost.”

For a moment, there was silence in his ear. “What?”

He grinned. “Micah is the ghost of a lightkeeper who lived there about a hundred years ago.”

Lucie remained silent again, longer this time. “But I saw him,” she said finally. “When I was walking last week. I thought it was you up there, and I waved. You…he…waved back…” Her voice trailed off.

“You’ve seen him more than once.” He knew she’d seen him one day when he’d been taking Hayden to his parents’.

“I thought…”

When she didn’t continue, he cleared his throat. Maybe this wasn’t really a phone conversation. “I’m sorry, I should have waited to tell you.”

“It’s fine,” she said faintly.

“I’ll tell you the story later. I just wanted to check in before I get on the ferry, not to freak you out.” He glanced at the clock over the sink. And he needed to move if he wanted to get on the next ferry. “I’ll be back earlier today, I promise. Call me if you need anything.”

“Okay, thanks, Nate.” The call disconnected.

He was an idiot. He stuffed his phone into his pocket and headed out to the truck.

=================

( Lighthouse – Depositphotos )

Now I’m going to go hang out with my guys. The rest of the week is about revisions here. What are your plans for the week?

 

Welcome September

I know, I know. Just because September is here doesn’t mean fall is. But we’re closer, so that’s enough for me today.

 

 

 

( Autumn trees – Depositphotos )

I’m writing today and tomorrow now that the household chores are out of my way, as are the errands, so today is just a quick fly-by post with a short excerpt from my novella for the Common Elements Romance Project, due out late this year.

================

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

“I can knock on the door.” He 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,” Nate said, “but, buddy, you have to promise not to be upset if she’s busy right now. It’ll be suppertime soon, too, so we’ll be busy here.”

Hayden’s chin jutted out further.

“Just don’t get your hopes up,” he said, trying to keep his even 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 stepped onto the bottom stair, he heard his son’s voice, then Lucie speak in reply, though he couldn’t hear the words. He expected to see Hayden’s shoulders droop when he cleared the lilac bush.

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 for a moment. They’d stopped in the middle and she crouched in front of Hayden, who chattered a mile a minute, and then she nodded as she pushed upright again.

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

Lucie gave the ball another little 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. His son’s laughter made him smile, shaking his head a little when the boy 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. So Lucie Russo might be a nice woman. Obviously, 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 them.

“Daddy, come play with us!”

Lucie straightened and looked over her shoulder, eyes widening a little.

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

================

What are all of you doing on this long holiday weekend? Or during this holiday-shortened work-week? Extra reading? Something else fun? Let me know.

 

And here’s hoping we get to see some pretty fall leaf colors soon!