Tag Archive: cover art


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?

 

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(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

 

 

 

It felt much more like spring the past two days, but we have some of that April rain coming this week that means we will hopefully have more flowers on the way, too. My lilac has a lot of buds on it, and my wild lilies are poking their heads up through the mulch, too.

And I’ve been busy at the day-job again. I got a little bit of writing in today, which makes me happy, though it will probably be the last I get in until next weekend. Unless there is overtime necessary again, which might mean no new words on pages for a few more days after that. But I’m going to hope that isn’t the case.

In the meantime, I have a quick story snippet to share with you from my first tiger shifter story.

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He hadn’t imagined the evening would end in a fight. Harley stared at the door that had nearly taken off his nose ten seconds ago as she slammed it in his face–and then locked it for good measure.

It was probably a good thing the other bedrooms along the hallway were empty tonight, or he’d never hear the end of this.

He tapped lightly on the door. “Tessa?”

Complete silence.

He strained to hear any movement, but the same soundproofing that allowed him to make her scream in pleasure prevented him from hearing her moving around, so she’d evidently moved away from the door already.

“Honey, I’m sorry I acted like an ass.” He leaned against the wall beside the door.

Still nothing.

“You know I’m not going anywhere, right? I could kick the door open, but then everyone else will be able to hear and see everything until I fix it, so I won’t do that. But I’m going to stay right here until you let me apologize to your face. And won’t that be fun when everyone else gets home.”

The silence was making his chest hurt.

He put his back against the door and sank to the floor. “You looked gorgeous in that dress. I shouldn’t have gone all caveman.”

The lock snicked behind his head, and he barely sat up in time to avoid falling backward when Tessa yanked the door open. He twisted to look up at her over his shoulder.

She was pale but dry-eyed. “Go to bed, Harley. I can’t sleep with you out here talking.”

She was still in the pretty dress, though she’d taken off her sandals, so clearly, she hadn’t been attempting to sleep yet. “I don’t want to go to bed.” Not alone. “I want to apologize to you.”

She glared at him. “You want sex.”

Ouch. “With you? Always. But that’s not what I’m talking about.” He shoved to his feet and turned to fully face her.”

She took two steps backward, and he froze. “I shouldn’t have acted like that earlier. You’re not my possession. But I didn’t like Alec flirting with you. It was all I could do not to cut in when you were dancing with Dad, and I know nothing’s going on there.”

Her expression turned wary.

“I want you, Tessa. I won’t lie about that. I’ve never been jealous over a woman before, and I’m not sure of the rules here. This is new territory for me.”

She glanced away, blinking, her eyes glittering.

“Honey, I’m not trying to make you cry.” He hesitated, then lifted one hand to brush her arm.

She stepped into him, sliding her hands around his waist, and hid her face against his throat.

Harley gathered her close, his pulse erratic. “I’m sorry, honey. Don’t cry.”

“I’m not.”

Of course she was. His shirt grew damp under her face. He felt even worse. He’d never realized just how complicated a serious relationship would be, how tricky the steps.

But he wasn’t letting her go.

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Has spring gotten to where you are yet? If it has, are you getting a little free time to enjoy it?

 

 

(  Daffodil – Depositphotos )

It’s starting to feel more like spring here, so it looks like my hopes for at least one good snowstorm this season will be dashed. Again. But as busy as things are at the day-job right now, it wouldn’t matter, because I don’t have time to enjoy either snow or spring right now. At the moment, my last load of laundry is in the dryer, and I haven’t had time to sit long enough to even think about writing today. So I’m going to try to sneak in a few minutes at least before I call it a day.

I have a little snippet from Hunting Medusa for you this week.

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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.

 

Kallan wiped his sweaty hand down his jeans, hoping the shriek of the Medusa’s alarm shutting off hadn’t wakened her. He didn’t want her prepared for an attack. He’d prefer to kill her quickly and get the hell out. He could be back in Baltimore by supper tomorrow with the amulet in hand for Uncle Ari to destroy, ending the protective spell for the rest of the Medusa’s descendants.

He touched the doorknob, felt the locks disengage beneath his hand, then turned the handle and swung the door wide.

Silence greeted him, and he took that as a good sign. No creaking came from upstairs, as there would be if she’d wakened. Good. Nevertheless, he stepped inside cautiously, listening hard. He took another step after a few heartbeats, trying to remember just where the kitchen table and chairs stood from his limited view the day before.

He made it past the furniture and paused to listen again. Still nothing. He frowned. With the power off, the house was too quiet. Surely the sudden and complete silence would wake her, even if she hadn’t heard the brief noise of the alarm shutting down. He slid one foot forward on the smooth wooden floor, and suddenly she was there. Fiery pain shot up his left arm. He grunted, realized she’d stabbed him deeply. He swung his other hand up, managing to hit her on the side of the head.

She cried out but didn’t go down, swinging her blade again. He caught her wrist, but she managed to get another slice to his already-injured forearm before he yanked her arm behind her.

Her booted foot connected with his knee—hard—and he bit back a string of curses at the pain, but didn’t let her go. Why wasn’t she barefoot? If she’d been sleeping, she should be barefoot. His left arm was nearly useless, blood pumping steadily from his wounds, so he crowded her up against the nearest surface. The refrigerator. He shoved hard, hearing her moan when he twisted her arm a little more.

Her blade hit the floor between them. She kicked backward again, and her foot hit his knee from the other side this time.

“Dammit,” he muttered, flattening her between his body and the appliance’s cool metal surface. His arm burned, warm blood dripping from his fingers.

“Get off me, you murdering bastard,” she said, her words slurred slightly from her face being mashed into the refrigerator.

“Well now, that’s not very nice. Especially since I’ve never murdered anyone. Yet,” he added darkly, tightening his grip on her wrist. The bones in her arm were fragile and he was fully aware he could crush them, render her arm as useless as she had his. But he didn’t. He wasn’t Stavros.

“You’re not going to start with me, either, Harvester.”

Mouthy. He grinned at the back of her head. Even trapped and defenseless as she was now, she didn’t stop fighting, even verbally. He had to work to keep from laughing as she continued to threaten him. No one had warned him the Medusa would be talkative. Or soft, he realized when her bottom shifted back into his groin. He concentrated on breathing evenly when his nerve endings all came to life. He’d never imagined he might be aroused by the Medusa.

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Here’s hoping for a quick week for you all, and some writing time for me!

 

( Depositphotos )

It’s Sunday, and this week, that means family dinner. When the boys were little, we had family dinners daily. Then they got older and schedules changed, so dinner all together wasn’t something that could happen every day. Now they live on their own, so I decided this year that I wanted to make sure we had family dinner again, at least semi-regularly. Right now, I have a roast in the crock pot, and a giant pan of vegetables roasting in the oven, and both smell delicious. The boys will be here in a little while to eat and visit. And half the left-overs will go home with them, which makes me happy, since I know they don’t do a lot of cooking–the leftovers mean they’ll have something good for a couple of days. Yes, they’re young adults and on their own, but my job as Mom doesn’t stop just because they don’t live with me anymore. So I still worry, and if I can feed them once in a while, I will.

We used to have Sunday dinners every week when I was a kid. There were occasions when my dad wasn’t there, depending on his work shift that week. Some weeks, we had company…grandparents or aunts or cousins. Some weeks, we went to my closest grandma’s house an hour away for Sunday dinner. I miss regular family dinners. Some weeks I only get to cook once, depending on my schedule. This is one of those weeks, so I’m really looking forward to dinner, and to the left-overs we’ll all have for a couple of days.

As I’m writing this, I realize I have a strong family theme through a lot of my manuscripts. In my Medusa trilogy, the heroines are all part of the same family, my shifters are family, and in the novella I have due out this fall, there is a little family aspect as well. Interesting. I wouldn’t have considered family to be a recurring theme in my stories, especially considering how hot some of them are. Hm…

Before I go set the table for my Sunday dinner, I have a little snippet for you from my first shifter story.

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Harley caught a glimpse of his younger sister in the far corner of the room, at the center of a small crowd. Their cousins and her friends surrounded her, and his gaze caught on one sleek, dark head. Tessa Gardiner. He hadn’t seen her in a very long time. She looked tense despite her little smile at whatever India had just said. He grinned and raised his hand to greet her.

Her bright green eyes went blank, and then she turned, angling herself so she was still within the group but completely facing away from him.

He blinked. What the hell was that about? He frowned. Tessa had always liked him. She’d even had a crush on him for most of the time he’d known her, though he’d ignored it in favor of keeping the peace with his sister, and then, later, with the elders in his family even when his younger self might have considered at least dating her.

But this?

Turning her back on him was unacceptable. Though it was a damned fine back, he admitted, with the creamy skin of her shoulders and arms bared by the fitted blue dress that hugged her torso. He set his jaw and made his way through the crowd in her direction. Whatever he’d done to piss her off, surely he could make it up to her.

Or not. An hour later he continued to try to maneuver into her line of sight. Every time he thought he’d managed, she shifted yet again, further away from him. There were inevitable interruptions to his stalking with family greeting him and friends he hadn’t seen in a long time who kept stopping him along the way. By the time he’d made it to where she’d been originally, she and India were on the other side of the room in the middle of a different crowd. His sister seemed oblivious to Tessa’s blatant rudeness, her arm linked with her best friend’s.

He’d had enough of subtle, he decided, squaring his shoulders inside the hot blazer he wore. Tigers only did subtle or stalking for so long, and then they pounced. He strode across the room, now ignoring hailing family members along the way, until he reached their little group, nudging his way in until he stood behind Tessa. He could tell when she realized he was there, as her bare spine straightened and her shoulders squared. Tensed still more.

“Hello, little Tessa,” he murmured, leaning nearer. She smelled delicious, some spicy scent rubbed on her skin, and she looked very grown-up, despite the faint sprinkling of freckles dotting the bare skin he could see. Though, he mused, he had to admit, she and India were adults now and had been for a long time. But he still thought of her the same way he had when they’d first met. ‘Little Tessa’. He’d called her that for more than twenty years now.

She didn’t respond to his greeting.

He lifted an eyebrow. What the hell had he done to piss her off so badly? He set one hand on her shoulder, feeling, briefly, the warmth of her soft skin, before she jerked away, muttering something to India as she fled.

He stared after her, jaw sagging.

“Way to go, dumb ass,” India snapped.

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What are some themes you like to read about when you’re diving into a new romance novel? Reunion romances? Family ties? Revenge gone awry?

 

 

 

Today’s post will be short and sweet. I’m torn right now between watching the snow falling outside my window, and the writing I need to do, as well as cover shopping–I saw a great one last weekend, but it’s gone, so I have to keep looking. Sadly, we are only getting a few inches of snow through tonight, and the new snow we got Friday night was already gone by the end of the day yesterday, as was the snow from Thursday night. It isn’t looking good for me getting my one required big snowstorm for this winter, since we only have a few weeks of winter left. I might have to find a good winter movie to watch. Who has suggestions?

Before I get back to work, I have a little story snippet to share with you from Hunting Medusa.

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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.

________________

Now I’m back to work on this manuscript and then some more cover art shopping. Wish me luck!

( Young couple in love – Depositphotos )

 

 

 

( Sticky notes too much To-do – Depositphotos )

My to-do list is a little bigger than that.  Probably more like this…

And that’s just the writing-related list. Today is actually the second day of my three-day-weekend, the first in a couple of months, and I haven’t finished nearly as much as I wanted. On the other hand, I have been working, it’s just taken longer to whittle away some of the things on the list. Who knew there were so many book cover designers I needed to look at? I didn’t. Holy cow. On the other hand, I have seen some beautiful covers. At this point, I guess I have to start narrowing down the designers still on my list.  Then I get to do the same thing with editors and formatters. While I’m still writing.

I knew diving into the self-publishing pool would be time-consuming. I did. I guess I just hadn’t quite admitted how time-consuming. The good news (for me) is this novella will be good practice for the Medusa trilogy. The better news is I have a lot of friends who’ve already done these things who can stop me from making any terrible mistakes along the way.

And hey! I’ve seen some very pretty cover images in the past two days, with very yummy heroes on them. There are worse ways to spend work time, you know.

Before I get back to it, I have a little snippet of story to share with you, from my second shifter story.

________________

“I was hoping to share dessert with you,” he teased, leaning closer so his warm breath brushed the top of her ear.

Heat burst in her middle at that. They’d shared many desserts, a long, long time ago. Damn him. “I can’t eat anything else.”

“Then maybe a walk.” He tipped his head to look at her, and she couldn’t look away.

“I need to go home.”

Instead of looking disappointed, Rory smiled, his bright eyes knowing. “Then I’ll walk you to your car, a rúnsearc.”

That was too easy. She frowned up at him, trying to figure out what was going on in his head.

He gave her nape a stroke, fingers and thumb coming together at her spine, that made her suck in a shaky breath. “Let’s go.” He reached into his pocket and took out some money, then pushed his chair back without releasing her. He held out his free hand.

If she took it… She tipped her head back to meet his gaze, unsurprised to see the heat flare in his eyes. Gathering her courage, she put her hand in his.

Rory pulled her to her feet, and into his arms.

She knew this was a mistake.

His hand slid down from her nape to the small of her back and settled, while his eyes darkened. “Come, a rúnsearc,” he said softly after a moment, his hand slipping away from her spine, though he kept his other hand wrapped tight around hers.

And she let him. Just for a minute.

Or until they got outside.

Or maybe, she thought when they stepped out into the warm evening, until they got to her car.

His hard fingers were relaxed around hers, but she knew if she tried to withdraw, they’d tighten quickly, like a trap on a rabbit.

She had no intention of withdrawing her hand from his. She wanted just this little while. This moment would have to hold her for a very long time again.

He let her lead the way, swinging their joined hands between them as they walked up the sidewalk toward where she had parked her car. She tried not to think beyond this moment. She couldn’t help trying to remember the last time they’d had a moment like this–awareness shimmering between them, mostly relaxed.

A long time ago.

Another lifetime, she thought.

Her steps slowed as they neared her car, and his fingers tightened just a tiny bit. She stopped walking at the side of the car.

Rory released her hand and set his hands on her waist, turning her to face him.

India let him, her pulse skipping. Just the end of a date, she told herself. Not her first date. No big deal.

Except this was Rory.

His bright gaze locked on hers, and one of his big hands lifted to cup her face as he took a step toward her, determination evident in the set of his jaw, hunger darkening his eyes.

Her heart shot into overdrive. “We shouldn’t.”

He didn’t pretend to misunderstand. “Oh, a rúnsearc, we should,” he said instead. “We’re quite overdue.” He bent and nudged her nose with his.

Even knowing what a terrible idea it was, she tipped her head back. If she kissed him, she’d only want more. She already wanted more, and he’d barely touched her.

His thumb slid beneath her lower lip, and her mouth tingled in anticipation. “Soon, my pretty mate,” he breathed, as if reading her mind.

The tingling spread, down her throat, to her chest, tightening her nipples still more. She pressed her thighs together against the arousal, and he groaned, catching her mouth with his.

India set her hands on his lapels to keep from falling down at the onslaught of sensation–it had been so long since she’d tasted him, yet the flavor of him hadn’t changed at all.

His lips teased hers with light kisses, feathered from one side of her mouth to the other and back again.

She slid one hand to his nape, through the silky curls there, and felt him shudder, half a second before his kiss deepened.

Open-mouthed, hot, his tongue gliding along her lower lip.

India heard her own whimper only vaguely.

Rory tasted so damn good–like a shot of good Irish whiskey that went straight to your head, fiery and potent.

When he lifted his head, only his hand at her back and her grip on his lapel kept her on her feet.

She realized they still stood on the sidewalk beside her car, traffic rushing past on the street, people strolling by–while she was on the verge of climaxing just from his kiss. She opened her eyes, inordinately pleased to realize he was equally aroused and distracted.

His erection burned against her belly, and his breath came too fast–maybe even faster than hers.

“Fuck,” he muttered, and hauled her close against him, his panting warming her scalp while his arms slid around her.

She shut her eyes again and smiled, allowing herself this indulgence. Who knew when it would happen again? Her smile faded.

Probably not for several more years.

His hand stroked up her spine again, beneath her hair, before coming to rest at her nape. “Come with me, India.”

Dammit. She swallowed hard, her eyes opening. “Why did you go there?”

“We should be together.”

She tipped her head back to look up at him–at five-ten, she wasn’t tiny, but he had at least seven inches on her height. He might look lanky, but she knew the expensive suit hid well-developed muscles. “It can’t happen.” She tried to lean away, but she didn’t get far.

“Are you going to make me pay for the rest of our lives?” Some of the heat in his eyes chilled. “For one stupid moment?”

India’s stomach dipped, as an old ache opened up in her chest and spread through her entire body. “Let go.”

He didn’t budge, even when she wedged her hands between them.

“Rory.”

“You’re my mate, India. How long can we live apart this way?”

The pain burned all the way to the backs of her eyes. “Your family needs you.”

“I need you.”

The stark declaration made her knees wobble. “I don’t think this is the place for–”

“It never is, and I’m tired.” His fingers tightened on her for a second. “I’m tired of pretending I don’t have a mate I want. I’m tired of waking up and rolling over and you’re not there beside me.”

India’s eyes burned. “Stop, Rory.”

“No, a rúnsearc, I won’t.”

She pushed at him, her breathing hitching. If he didn’t let go soon, the pain that kept expanding from her chest was going to start leaking from her eyes. “This isn’t fair,” she hissed.

He stepped forward again, so she was sandwiched between him and the car. “Stop, a rúnsearc. Breathe.” He tightened his hold on her again, until she felt his lapel against her cheek.

“I want you to let me go,” she got out around the hot lump in her throat.

“I can’t. Not anymore.”

________________

Now I’m going back to making the cover designer list shorter before I call it a day. What are you working on this week?

( Goals List – Depositphotos )

 

 

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

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

(Depositphotos.com – Nubble Light)

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

________________

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dear Gods, someone was in the house.

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

More thumping, and now she heard water running.

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

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

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

More thumping and a crash.

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

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

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

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

Naked.

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

________________

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

 

 

 

( Speedometer – Depositphotos.com )

One week down in the new year, fifty-one more to go.

This year, one of the things I am hoping for is keeping myself accountable with some writer friends. I reach my goals better when I have to be accountable to someone–whether it’s a real deadline, like a date a manuscript is due, or if it’s a deadline I’ve set for myself, if someone knows when I have said I need to be finished with something. A few of my friends like the accountability as well, so we’ve started off the year together.

The other aspect of this group is cheering each other on, which is always a nice bonus, especially on a day when you feel like you haven’t accomplished much, or enough, or what you have done is crap. Some days it might be crap, or maybe you did only dredge up a few hundred words instead of the larger number you wanted or needed, but at least it’s something, and something is better than nothing. You can fix something. Nothing, well, you can’t do anything with that. As my role model Nora Roberts says, you can fix a bad page, but you can’t fix a blank page.

So how are you doing with your New Year’s goals or resolutions so far? Pretty good? Not so good? Maybe you need to round up a couple of friends to help each other out with your goals, too. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy or formal. Maybe just text messages or emails. My writing friends’ group is a little bigger, so we actually have a group set up for ourselves, so we can chat comfortably. Find what will work best for you.

Before I get back to my writing, I have a little story snippet to share with you from Hunting Medusa.

________________

“Give me your mouth, Andrea.”

She bent back to him blindly, sliding one hand into his hair to catch him, and the kiss this time was savage, all heat and reckless passion. When their hips shifted together now, the motion was instinctual, primitive, wild and fast. There was no Medusa, no Harvester. Simply man and woman. Mated. Fated.

And the pleasure was ten times more powerful than what she’d felt that morning. The explosion sent her into the abyss, tumbling freely, breathless.

Andi couldn’t stop shaking. Even minutes later, the trembling in her limbs wouldn’t stop. Aftershocks made her body tighten on his and his hips shifted against hers. He murmured into her hair, and she heard his wild heartbeat beneath her ear.

She wanted to stay right where she was.

It was the stupidest thing she’d ever wanted. Especially since freedom was not too far away. Just as far as her dresser, clean clothes, the door downstairs.

“Easy.” His lips grazed her forehead this time.

Her eyes burned, and she cursed her stupid hormones. She blinked hard and steeled herself. Lifted her hips away from his. Her breath hissed in as he groaned a protest. She felt cold suddenly.

Ignoring that, she clambered off the bed, searching for some piece of clothing to put on. She’d never felt so naked.

“Andrea.”

She ignored him too, moving to her dresser and taking out some clean clothes. She didn’t even notice what. With her stinging eyes, she couldn’t quite see the things she’d grabbed.

“Andrea.” His tone this time was harder, more insistent.

She glanced toward the bed.

“Don’t do this.”

“I have to.”

“It’s not safe.”

She forced a laugh. “Yeah, you’re so concerned for my safety. Does it really matter which one of you kills me? As long as it gets done?” She jerked on panties, then jeans before wrestling with a bra.

Kallan sat up, gripping the headboard with his cuffed hand. “Stavros won’t be as concerned with how he kills you, or how he gets the amulet.”

Andi swallowed as she yanked on her shirt, then froze when he put his free hand over the cuff on his wrist. She heard the unmistakable sound of it releasing before it jangled to the pillow.

Impossible.

He got to his feet, his green eyes dangerous now.

She dashed toward the door. She only made it halfway before he caught her, ripping one of the belt loops on her jeans in the process. She fought, striking whatever she could reach and wishing she’d at least gotten shoes on so she could do some real damage since he was still naked.

But the Harvester was stronger than she was, and he simply held on until she wore herself out.

Andi finally stopped struggling, her head drooping, breath coming hard again, but with far less satisfaction this time.

He carried her back to the bed and snapped her wrist into the handcuff, his mouth set in a hard line. “I have another set, if I need both of your hands out of commission,” he ground out.

She didn’t bother to answer, struggling still to catch her breath. And against more of the unexpected tears. Damned hormones.

He sat down beside her, hands braced on his hair-spattered knees. “I thought we were going to each do a little trusting,” he said finally.

She looked at the wall to her left, rather than at him. “I saw the handcuffs and I had to try.”

“Was it worth it?”

A scalding tear rushed down her cheek, making her glad she’d turned her face away.

“I know you weren’t faking,” he whispered, leaning nearer. “You can’t fake that.”

She bit her lip, swallowing around the giant lump in her throat.

“And neither was I.”

She barely kept herself from turning to look at him, but the shock still made her body jerk.

He rose and drifted a kiss on the top of her head. “Try to get some sleep.”

Behind her, she heard him gathering his clothing before he padded into the bathroom next door. The water ran briefly, and a few minutes later, she heard him slowly go downstairs.

She lifted her free hand at last to swipe at the tears on her face, closing her eyes.

She should have known this would turn out badly. Who knew the Harvester could undo locks without keys?

Her eyes flew open. What other abilities did he have that she didn’t know about yet?

Gods help her.

________________

Let me know how you’re doing with your goals for the new year!