Tag Archive: Common Elements Romance Project


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Her heart beat faster in anticipation.

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

Her lips tingled hopefully.

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

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

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

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

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

She felt her nipples tighten inside her vest.

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

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

 

( wine & pasta dinner – Depositophotos ) 

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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.

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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.

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( 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.

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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.

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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!

 

Today is family dinner day. I think I mentioned earlier in the year that I had instituted that since the boys are both out of the house now–at least once a month, we have dinner together. In theory, it’s easy, right? They’re less than an hour away from us. In reality, there are four of us with a whole lot of interests, friends and jobs. The one day off we all have in common is Sunday, so for the most part, that is the day we typically schedule our family dinner.

Sunday dinner used to be a regular occurrence when I was growing up. Every single week, Sunday dinner was a thing. Most of the time, it was just immediate family, but sometimes we had extended family there, or we went to my nearest Grandma’s house about an hour away. No matter what, though, there were always a lot of us around the table, since I have five siblings.

I have most of my prep work done for today’s dinner, just a few little things left to do, so I’m going to write for a while. Before I go, I have a little snippet from my Common Elements Romance Project novella to share with you.

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Lucie had been on the island for almost two 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 and looked directly down onto a blond head with tousled, curly hair.

“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 back and got to his feet, brushing off his jeans-clad butt.

From seeing him playing outside several times already, she’d guessed he was three or four, and 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!

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Do any of you still do Sunday dinner? Or do you have a family dinner day regularly? Every week, or less frequently?

Have a great week!

Today was a little break from all of the work crazy for me (though one of my teammates went in to the office today, and I was there yesterday). I went with a friend to the gemstone show we enjoy every year.  That was good and bad. Good, because it is a brief respite from work and chores. Bad, at least this year, because one of our favorite vendors wasn’t there, which was disappointing. It meant we had to work a bit harder to find some of what we wanted. But we also discovered a new vendor with very pretty (and not very expensive!) things at her booth. I had a hard time deciding between two rings, one with my birthstone and another with tanzanite. The birthstone won today, but the tanzanite is in my future, because it turns out this designer is only a short drive away from home, so I can go see her when I am ready for the other ring.

Tough choice, yes?

Our day off as a much-needed break, and now I’m trying to gear up for the next two days at the day-job, when things will likely be mostly out of our control and insane. So I have a little writing to do, and maybe a little reading before I call it a day and try to sleep a full night before two really long days. Before I do that, I have a little story snippet to share with you, this week from my first shifter story.

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He didn’t want to spook her, not so soon, but he pulled her as near as he dared when they stepped onto the dance floor, setting his free hand on her hip to guide her steps, and she put her own free hand on his shoulder.

She smelled good. Something vaguely citrusy, and, beneath that, Tessa. He inhaled deeply, rubbing his thumb across the back of her hand.

She shivered.

The song, and therefore the dance, wasn’t nearly long enough, but Harley knew not to push his luck when she stepped back at the end of it. Warm color tinted her cheeks, and she didn’t meet his gaze. “I really do need to get some sleep, Harley.”

“I did promise, didn’t I?” He consoled himself with the notion that this was only his first move in what would be a very long game.

He didn’t even protest when she remained mostly quiet for the drive back to the house in the dusky summer evening. They walked into the house in silence. She shot him a curious glance when he continued at her side up the stairs. “Thank you for feeding me, Harley,” she said when they reached the first landing.

“No problem.” He touched her elbow, and she resumed walking along the hallway to the guest room she always used.

She swallowed as she turned to face him.

He gave in to the urge to brush a strand of hair away from her temple, and watched her eyes widen, surprise darkening them.

Harley bent nearer. Her hand shot up, so his mouth ran into it. He lifted one eyebrow.

“What are you doing?” Her voice quavered just a little.

He smiled against her palm, enjoying the warmth of her skin. “Kissing you good-night. It’s customary at the end of a date.”

Her eyes widened still more. “We’re not dating.”

He kissed her palm. “I believe we just returned from a dinner date. Dancing and drinks.” He inhaled her scent, and his desire kicked up a few more notches.

Her throat worked as she swallowed, color tinting her cheeks. “I think this is a bad idea.”

He stifled another smile at the way her voice shook and instead flicked his tongue out to taste her skin.

Her breath caught.

“I think it’s a fantastic idea.” He nibbled his way across her palm to her thumb. “You taste good. I can’t wait to taste your mouth.”

Her breathing resumed, much faster now. “Harley.”

He caught her hand and eased it to the wall beside her head as he closed the distance between them so only an inch separated their lips. “Yes, Tessa?”

Emotion swirled in her wide green eyes. He scented her burgeoning arousal in the air, and his body tightened in response.

He waited several heartbeats, watching her gaze slide to his mouth, and noted the way her tongue flicked out at the corner of her lips. Then he ducked in to kiss her.

She tasted better than he’d imagined. Warm and sweet. Her lips parted easily under his, but he deliberately kept the kiss light. She was already spooked, wary. If he dove in head-first, she’d run away fast.

Not that he doubted he could catch her. Easily.

When he finally lifted his head, her eyes were shut, and her lips parted and wet. Tempting him to bend back and take them again. Just briefly. Then he released her. It took a few seconds before her lashes fluttered up, and her hand slowly dropped to her side.

Harley banked the urge to press closer. The scant space between them already had his senses reeling. He waited until her eyes cleared slightly. “Sleep well, little Tessa,” he said softly, taking a step back. The cooler air flowing between them did nothing to dampen his arousal.

Or hers, judging by the flush on her face and the wild pulse beating in the hollow of her throat. She swallowed hard and reached behind her for the doorknob. “Good night.” It came out a hoarse whisper.

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Now I’m going to go work on another story, maybe find some supper, take the rest of my lone day off for the weekend. I just have to get through the next two days of insanity, and then a (hopefully!) easier day Wednesday before I have a long weekend to write. Are any of you facing a really crazy work-week, too? Are you doing something fun today to help you get through it? Or just barreling onward?

 

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

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

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

 

 

Raspberry tart – Depositphotos

Yes, it’s July, which means party month, right? Cake for everyone, I think, though we’ll start small. Doesn’t that look yummy? I’ve actually been dreaming of Junior’s Cheesecake for my birthday, and as it happens, since the national Romance Writers of America conference is in New York this year, I will be there on my birthday, so that wish is coming true. I’ll actually be traveling home that day, but will be able to pop across the street from the conference hotel before I head to the train station and get my cake. I can’t wait!

And speaking of the conference, I spent some time last night trying to narrow down my workshop choices and printing out handouts that go with some of them. Which led to the demise of my black ink cartridge, so I have to run out and pick up ink this morning instead of spending all day writing as I had hoped. So this is going to be a short post. I have a little story snippet to share with you from my Common Elements Romance Project novella.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“It isn’t nothing to me.”

His firm, quiet tone made her look up, and her mouth went dry. The shadows in his 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, or needing it, for that matter.” He cleared his throat. “I appreciate it.”

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

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

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

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

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 widened just a little, 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.

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Now I’m off to get some ink, and then I can spend at least the afternoon writing. While I think some more about birthday cakes. What kind of cake do you like for your birthday?

Biscuit cake with strawberries – Depositphotos

 

 

 

 

(Writing – Depositphotos)

I’ve had a rather productive writing week, and am hoping for another one. I did take a break on Friday for good music, food and wine with a friend, but am back at it now. One thing is troubling me, and that is a title for this novella I will have out later this year for the Common Elements Romance Project. Sometimes titles come easy. Other times, they don’t come at all. This one is harder, but I need to figure it out, because I have my cover picked out and need to get that wrapped up. How awful is it that I’m having a harder time with the title than the story blurb?

I took a little break from this yesterday to read through one of the shifter stories that’s been nagging at me this week. One of my brain’s ways of either a) telling me I need to stop looking so hard at what I’m working on, or b) procrastinating. Could be either in this case. In any case, I have a little snippet from that to share with you today.

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India shifted in place, wishing that for once she’d picked the slightly more reasonable heels instead of the killer, fuck-me shoes. Maid of honor duties included dancing at the reception, and her toes had begun protesting several hours ago.

“You should dance some more, India,” Tessa said, sliding her arm around India’s waist. “For both of us.”

India glanced down at her best friend. “You’re not too pregnant to dance your wedding night away, you know, Mrs. Wentworth.” She put her own arm around her friend’s shoulders.

“But too tired.” Tessa’s smile was still radiant. “You didn’t bring a date.”

India thought she hid her wince pretty well. “Too much work to find dates right now.”

“Uh-huh.” Her friend slanted a doubtful glance up at her. “What about Jon?”

She shook her head. “I haven’t seen him since before you moved down here.” Hadn’t thought of him either.

Tessa bit her lower lip, and India sighed.

“What?”

“I was just thinking…” The other woman hesitated. “There was an Irish shifter you used to see a few years ago.”

India’s chest squeezed painfully, stealing her breath. Trust Tessa to remember him. “That was a long time ago,” she managed after a moment.

Tessa caught her gaze and held it.

India forced a smile. “Why don’t you enjoy your own wedding day before you start planning mine?” she teased.

Her friend laughed, and India relaxed a tiny bit.

“Excuse me.” Harley pushed between them. “I want to dance with my wife.” He didn’t wait for a response, just guided Tessa away.

India smiled and took her champagne glass to the nearest empty chair. The table’s occupants had abandoned their seats for the dance floor. Or maybe the bar. She kicked off her shoes with a sigh of relief and propped her feet on the chair beside her, watching her brother and her best friend swaying together, completely absorbed in one another.

She was not jealous of her best friend and her brother.

It had been a beautiful wedding, and India had cried happy tears for them–and a few regretful tears for herself, if she were honest.

She sighed and reached up to rub at the ache that started at the base of her skull and spread upward to squeeze around the rest of her head. She considered undoing the sleek twist of her hair to alleviate a tiny bit of the pressure, but decided to wait a little longer.

Her mother sat down a minute later with a sigh. “You’re not dancing.”

India tipped her head to look over at her mother. “My feet hurt. Stupid new shoes.”

Lareina laughed. “And you’re alone.”

“Please let’s not go there. Tessa already did.”

Her mom’s smile faded slightly. “I’m sorry, baby.” She reached over to touch India’s cheek. “Are you all right?”

India caught her mom’s hand. “Of course. Just busy with work.”

Lareina studied her for a few moments, seeing too much as she always did. “Come and see me this week.”

“I’ll be in New York a couple days this week, Mom. I’m sorry.” She was sorry–and she wasn’t, because it meant she avoided a grilling on her lack of love life for a few more days. “When I get back, I’ll stop over.”

Her mother didn’t look satisfied with that, but she didn’t protest, just tightened her hold on India’s hand.

“Ah, Lareina.” Boyd Wentworth cleared his throat from behind India. “Would you like to dance with me?”

India’s eyes rounded. Her father asking her mother to dance?

Her mother gave India’s hand a squeeze. “Certainly, Boyd.” She stood again and released India to head for the dance floor.

Boyd stared after her for a few seconds, then trailed along behind her.

India stared after both of them, wondering if she’d fallen into another dimension. Her parents had been divorced for a long time, and acrimoniously. What the hell?

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Now that I’ve taken a short break, I’m back to work. For my writing friends, how often do you have trouble with titles? For my reading friends, how much do titles draw you in?

Have a great week!

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Joe set his jaw and nodded once, turning away.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I’m sorry, Joe.”

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

Her chest hurt. “I didn’t mean that.”

He shrugged, examining his knuckles.

“Look at me please,” she whispered.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Piper.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vintage pitcher of lemonade – Depositphotos

 

 

 

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

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

 

( Romantic couple at sunset – Depositphotos )

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And it was just about the right size…

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

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

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

Not a chance.

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

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

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

( Dream Plan Work Make it Happen – Depositphotos )