Tag Archive: cover art


What Does August Hold?

(Heart in sand on Atlantic coast -Depositphotos)

I’m capping off my birthday week celebration today with family dinner with my guys, but we have a little while until our early dinner. It’s been a good week, and I’ve spent some of it looking at the new month ahead. I have my writing goals, of course, but I admit to being really distracted the last few days. I have a store of photos for hero inspiration, current and future, and periodically, I stumble across a photo I’ve loved previously and wish I had a story for the face. Well, this week, a cover designer I liked was finishing out her going-out-of-business sale, which is sad. The exciting part, though, is that she had a cover design with this same man, and it’s just gorgeous. I still don’t have a story to go with his face, but I bought the cover anyway, and now my brain is busy trying to figure one out. That wasn’t on the goal list for this month. Or even this year. But I couldn’t let him go, so I’ll let my brain work on it, but I need to keep going on the goal list.

While I get in a little work on that list, I have a little story snippet to leave you with for the week, from Hunting Medusa.

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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.

“Wh-what are you doing?” she asked suddenly.

Kallan realized he wasn’t moving—or most of him wasn’t. He shut his eyes for a second, clenching his jaw. Her ass now cushioned his throbbing erection.

“Hey!” She shrank closer to the fridge, making a soft sound when the move forced her arm higher behind her.

He shifted, easing her wrist a little lower. This wasn’t going at all as he’d imagined it. “Stop moving.” He forced himself to unclench his jaw.

“If you think I’m going to make it easy for you to kill me, Harvester, you have another thing coming.” She didn’t stop wriggling.

Growling, he flattened her completely between his body and the refrigerator again.

She froze, and he could feel her pulse beating crazily in the wrist he still held. Fear? He imagined that was one cause. Anger too, probably.

He doubted she was having the same unexpected reaction to him that he was to her.

Not that it was a bad thing that she wasn’t suddenly aroused, too.

He just needed to stop thinking about it.

Concentrate on the task at hand.

Kill the Medusa.

Feel how soft her ass was against him. If he shifted his hips just a little—

No. He growled again, and she shifted, just as he’d imagined so her softness cradled him even more.

“Get off, Harvester,” she whispered.

“Stop calling me that.” He hated hearing it from her lips for some reason. Yes, it was what his name meant. It was what he was destined to do. But the contempt in her tone… He didn’t like it at all.

As though the Medusa had room to be contemptuous of him.

“It’s your name.” Her voice was stronger now, as if she’d somehow sensed his unexpected inner struggle. “Why shouldn’t I use it?”

“You won’t be alive long enough to worry about it.” He ignored her behind against his groin for the moment and took a slow breath, trying to remember his plan.

Get in, find her, kill her, get the amulet, and get out.

Well, his plan was not going very well at all.

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What are your plans for this hot week? Are you on track with your goals, or have you been sidetracked by shiny new things, too? Are you looking for another shiny new read? Maybe Light the Way Home will fit the bill.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You didn’t have to wash the dishes.”

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

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

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

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

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

Her smile faded. “No, no kids.”

“But you’re good with him.”

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

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

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

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

She glanced back over her shoulder.

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Friends with Harry and Mindi.” He shrugged.

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

“I’m good.”

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

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

Oh hell. He shrugged. “I guess.”

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

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

“Hm.”

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

( motivational poster – Depositphotos )

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hayden’s chin jutted out further.

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

Hayden bolted for the back door.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nate wished he could see her expression.

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

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

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

He leaned on the fence to watch.

“Daddy, come play with us!”

Lucie straightened and looked over her shoulder, eyes widening.

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

( lady on hammock with book – Depositphotos )

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

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

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

She took her mother’s cast iron skillet from its hook over the counter and put it on the stove, turning the heat to high and dropping in some ground beef before she shed her coat. As the meat began to sizzle, she put away the rest of the groceries.

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

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

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

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

Dear Gods, someone was in the house.

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

More thumping, accompanied by running water.

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

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

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

More thumping and a crash.

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

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

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

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

Naked.

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

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

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

And wow, was she seeing him in person.

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

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

 

 

( fresh chamomile with hearts -Depositphotos )

It’s Mother’s Day here in the U.S, meant to celebrate all of the moms in our lives. For some right now, today is harder than usual, when we can’t be with our kids or our families. But we’re together in spirit, and will be together in real time again one of these days, after this wretched virus has been knocked back and it’s less dangerous to everyone for us to gather again.

I hope if you’re a mom that you had a lovely Mother’s Day and got to connect with your family one way or another.

We had a quiet day, which is nice, but I’m gearing up for about a month and a half of crazy-busy at the day-job again, so a little down-time now is a really good thing. A couple weeks into the crazy, I’ll be thrilled to get a few minutes of actual quiet and calm.

Before I go try to get in some reading time, I have a little story snippet for you, this week from Hunting Medusa.

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“I think I have a plan.”

Her heart thudded harder. “A plan?” For the amulet, or her?

“Yes. My cousin will only be delayed a day or so at most before he comes back.”

Her lungs worked a little faster.

“How well do you know your mountain?”

“Like the back of my hand.” Which was why she would have been able to hide from him two days ago without any problem, had her body cooperated.

“Is there somewhere we can go he won’t be able to track us?”

“We?”

“You’re going nowhere without me, Andrea.”

That was a problem. “There are a few places.” Including her cave behind the waterfall. But she didn’t think taking the Harvester there was really in her best interest.

“Somewhere protected?”

“Yes.” The cave definitely qualified.

He sat up, braced himself on one hand beside her shoulder. “How long will it take to get there from here?”

“Hiking?” She considered for a moment. If she took him the roundabout way, she could wear him out and lose him. Maybe. “A day.”

He inhaled deeply, and she imagined him pondering the idea. When he exhaled, he touched her temple, just brushing the edge of the sleep mask. “Are you safe now?”

She nodded, wishing just for a second that it wasn’t true.

His strong fingers eased the mask up and off, and she rubbed her eyes, blinking against the bright morning light. He helped her to an upright position. “We need supplies if this location will take us a day to hike to.”

Andi gave him a long stare, panic making her pulse race. What if she couldn’t lose him in the woods? “I have some things in the basement,” she said at last. “Water and food.” Also true.

He nodded, gaze fixed on hers, and she realized she must be a mess. Self-consciously, she lifted one hand to smooth down her hair. A hint of a smile touched one corner of his mouth, making her blush. “Why don’t you shower, and I’ll start a list. We should head out tomorrow at first light.”

Andi looked away and eased out of bed. She gathered clean clothes from her dresser and headed for the bathroom. Behind her, the Harvester still sat in bed, his bare chest visible over blankets that had fallen to his waist. She wondered if he was naked under her covers.

She shouldn’t care.

The bathroom had been straightened up again, she realized as she stripped off her sweats. Her vibrator was nowhere in sight, clean towels hung on the bar, and her hot water bottle lay empty on the sink.

How very thoughtful.

Her mouth twisted and she climbed into the shower, then slid the door shut harder than she needed to. When the water came on, she made it hotter than it needed to be too, to distract herself from how nice he was being. “Come into my parlor, said the spider to the fly,” she muttered, soaping up her hands before sliding them along her arms, her torso.

The Harvester could be as nice as he wanted, as sexy as he wanted. But she wouldn’t forget why he was here.

She lifted her face into the spray, then turned so her head was soaked next.

Either she would escape him in her woods, or die trying.

Not much as far as plans went, but it was all she had at the moment.

After her shower, she didn’t protest the cuff he put on her to keep her in the bedroom while he got his own shower, which was considerably quicker than hers had been. And he’d left her his list to look at while she waited.

Water. Check.

Food. Check.

Camping supplies. She chewed on her lower lip for a few seconds. In the cave she had more than enough, but she didn’t really intend for him to get there with her. Perhaps he had some of his own in the backpack downstairs. But the pack wasn’t that big. No, he didn’t have those supplies.

“What are you thinking?” He stepped into the room, his inky hair gleaming blue-black and wet as he dragged his fingers through it.

She forced her gaze away from his hair and back to the pad on her knees. “I’m thinking it’s going to be a long trek.”

“You’re up to it, right?” Concern darkened his green eyes.

“I’ll be fine.” She’d get to her cave if she had to crawl there.

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I am hoping to have this book back out in the world later this year, followed by the other two stories in the trilogy. In fact, I have a stack of pages from the second book, Protecting Medusa, on my desk right now, waiting for me to continue working on revisions. I think I may work on that for a while before I pick up my book to do some relaxation reading before I call it a day, early tonight.

And if you’re looking for a quick, light read while you’re safely at home, Light the Way Home is available at all your favorite booksellers.

I hope you all have a great week!

 

( Depositphotos )

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

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

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

Before I try to go accomplish something–dinner, maybe?–I have a little story snippet for you from Hunting Medusa.

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Andi couldn’t shake the feeling something was wrong. She’d worked into the night after the vacuum salesman’s appearance, until she couldn’t see straight to continue with her beading. Then she’d sunk into the bubble bath long enough to be nearly asleep. Today, she’d repeated everything but the bubble bath. Plus she’d driven into town to ship the big order she’d finished early.

Now she sat in the dark beside the front window, watching the forest. Waiting. Trying to convince herself nothing was coming. No one.

When the phone rang, she jumped about two feet in the air, barely keeping in a shriek. She shut her eyes and took a deep breath, forcing herself to laugh weakly as she picked up the receiver. “Hello, Aunt Lydia.” She didn’t need caller I.D. to know when one of her cousins or aunts was on the phone.

“I didn’t mean to startle you, my dear,” came the quavering voice. “I just wanted to touch base with you. It’s been ages since I’ve seen you.”

Her slightly psychic great-aunt must have spoken to Andi’s mother. “I know. I’ve been busy working.” She thought of the small stack of boxed beaded bracelets sitting on her desk upstairs for another customer whose order wasn’t even due for a month and a half.

“You’re aware you could do that here, too, right?”

Andi smiled in the darkness. “I know. I’m not feeling much like company right now.”

“You don’t have to visit your parents, you know.”

Her laugh escaped before she could stop it. “That isn’t very nice of you, Aunt Lydia.”

“Maybe I’m getting selfish in my old age.” Her great-aunt chuckled. “But I’d like to see you.”

“Maybe in a few months.”

The older woman sighed. “All right. But I wanted you to know I was thinking of you. I love you.”

Andi felt her eyes sting a little. “I love you too.”

“Your mother knows she wasn’t there for you eight years ago, Andrea. Perhaps it’s time to let her be there for you now.”

Andi’s eyes dried. “I need to go, Aunt Lydia.”

“Of course, dear. I hope you’ll come soon.”

She looked back at the window and murmured, “Maybe. I’ve got to go, Aunt Lydia.”

Something had moved outside.

Something too tall to be one of the does that frequented the clearing each evening, though not tall enough for the bull moose who came occasionally. Just the right size for a sneaky Harvester posing as a vacuum salesman.

She thumbed off the phone and sat up straighter, her other hand coming to rest on the dagger across her knees. For a long moment, she didn’t see anything. Then a dark shape slid between the trees, a few yards nearer to the house.

Her heart hammered against her ribs and she curled her fingers around the dagger hilt. That was no animal. At least not of the wild variety. No, this was a two-legged animal, and she had the terrible feeling this one really was a Harvester, no matter what her mother had said yesterday.

Let him try, she thought, setting the phone back on its base. He’d find this Medusa wasn’t going down quietly. She only wished she were PMSing so she could take him out without too much effort. Or mess. If only he’d waited just a few more days to make his move…

She stifled a hysterical giggle at that last thought, glad she’d listened to her instincts this evening.

The shape disappeared again in the dark trees, and she held her breath. Then he reappeared for a few seconds, much closer to the house this time.

Her pulse pounded in her ears. He was determined. And now out of her line of vision.

A loud, sharp beep indicated her alarm system had shut down, and was accompanied by the sound of every appliance in the house also turning off. He’d killed her power at the junction box outside.

Bastard.

Andi got to her feet, then tried to decide which door he’d come in. She heard the soft sound of a footfall on the back porch. She crossed into the kitchen, not needing to feel her way around the furniture, and positioned herself beside the refrigerator. He wouldn’t make it far into the house, and then he was hers.

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

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

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

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

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

I hope you all have a wonderful week!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Why not?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fuck him.

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

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

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

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

 

 

( Young woman reading book – Depositphotos )

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She let him. God, she let him.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lucie startled, then stepped away, blushing.

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Really, spring has been here for way longer than it should be this time of year. I shouldn’t complain, because I love spring. All the daffodils and other spring flowers bringing color before the trees start to get green…it’s lovely. But we didn’t get any real winter here, which means that there are going to be an abnormally large amount of bugs here pretty soon, and I am not looking forward to that. I suppose it just means my indoor time will stay greater than my outdoor time. But I have shrubs waiting to be planted, and I need to get some garden clean-up done so I can put in this year’s annual herbs and tomato plants when it’s consistently warm enough. Though I also need this wretched virus to start to be contained for the local garden center to allowed to open again so I can buy those plants.

Our state is one of many under a stay-at-home order, so only essential businesses are allowed to operate right now, and we are only supposed to go out for necessary trips. I’m lucky because my day-job is able to operate with us working from home right now, and I know how lucky I am. I have friends and family who are not that lucky right now, so I am hoping more people will follow the stay-at-home requests to help slow the spread of this virus so we can get back to some semblance of normal in our daily lives. I say ‘some semblance of normal’, because I’m not sure how close to our old normal things will be when this is finally over. Right now it’s hard to imagine that.

But I’m going to hope for it, and in the meantime, I’ll keep working on my stories and reading stories by some of my favorite authors to maintain some semblance of normal in my world. I’m also working with my web designer on some updates for my website, so we’ll have a little unveiling for that in a couple of months.

I have a little snippet of story for you right now from Light the Way Home:

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

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

“It isn’t nothing to me.”

His firm, quiet tone snared her attention, and her mouth went dry. The shadows in his brown eyes made her curl her fingers around the edges of her sweater to keep from reaching out.

“I’m not accustomed to asking for help.” He cleared his throat. “I appreciate it.”

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

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

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

Within reach of the back door, she whirled. He stood at the open doorway of the kitchen, undisguised desire in his eyes this time. Her heart skipped a beat, and she felt a quick rush of excitement that she tried to squash as he stepped into the mud room. She held her breath as he took another step. One more. Until he stood a foot away, and her breath rushed out.

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

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

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What are you doing this week to keep some sort of normal in your daily life? Baking? Reading? Something else?