Tag Archive: cover art


(peeking out of a window – Depositphotos)

 

With all of the scary news around this week, I hope you are all home safe and well, and that you have plenty of reading material to keep you occupied if you wind up having to stay home for an extended period of time.

I do my normal grocery shopping every other Friday, and guess which Friday was time to go? Of course it was the thirteenth, and it seemed like our entire county had lost its collective mind and decided it was the apocalypse.

I always start at our local warehouse club for the things we typically buy in bulk–paper towels, a frozen fruit mixture I take to work for lunch, water, dry cat food–and then head to a locally owned grocery store chain for things like produce and snacks. One of my coworkers got a warning from her housemate before we left the office that the warehouse club had a line all the way across the store earlier in the afternoon, but we were hoping that had gone away before we went to do our shopping. That was not the case. Not only were they completely out of toilet paper, but also paper towels. The only paper products they had left were tissues and paper plates. None of the waters I buy were left–we always get the store brand waters, still and sparkling (I’m not a fan of the chlorinate-smelling water that comes out of our faucets at home, so I guess I’m a little spoiled), but that wasn’t even everything…no orange juice, none of my frozen fruit, no bread. The only pasta left was lasagna. Weirdly, there was still canned fruit, soup, and other things like that. Half of the things on my list weren’t available, which means another trip.

The only good things were that the store staff was doing a phenomenal job keeping the line moving (and it was even longer by the time I got in it, wrapping back toward the front of the store, and two of my coworkers were even farther back), and people weren’t being jerks. I felt bad, though, that the store staff was going to have to deal with all of the abandoned carts throughout the store from people who didn’t have the patience to wait their turn in line (I hope there weren’t perishables in those carts!).

The grocery store was slightly better by the time I got there, though they also had no toilet paper left (I’m glad I bought that two weeks earlier and didn’t need to buy more), and a lot of the frozen vegetables were cleaned out, but they had staff working on restocking things in different areas while we were shopping. Even at work, contingency plans are being worked on, in case we need to work from home. Hopefully it won’t come to that, but it might.

I’m working on a new shopping list for that next trip, and while I think about that, I have a little story snippet for you, from Hunting Medusa.

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Andrea rested her head on her folded arms on the kitchen table, only half listening to Kallan typing on his keyboard. She didn’t want to die just yet. She knew for sure she didn’t want to be mutilated before she died.

But she didn’t look forward to killing the Harvester either.

She never should have had sex with him. She knew it. She’d known it beforehand.

And she should definitely not still want him.

When the phone rang, it was a relief. For a few seconds. Until she realized it was Thalia. “My cousin.” She didn’t think she needed to explain her mental caller I.D. to him.

Kallan held her gaze for a long moment. “Don’t try to let her know what’s going on,” he said at last. “I know where a lot of your cousins are located, and I’m not the only one.”

Her heart pounded harder at the implication, but she got to her feet and picked up the receiver. “Hello, Thalia. How are you?”

“I’m fine, Andi, but I think you need to get away for a while.”

She frowned, feeling Kallan’s presence behind her. Close behind her. Close enough to hear her conversation. “What do you mean?” His body heat teased her.

“The Harvesters are out and about. I’m afraid for you.”

Andi shut her eyes for a second, then opened them again when he put his hands on her shoulders. She shot him a glare and moved away, back toward the table. “I’m fine.”

“Please don’t ignore this, Andi. You know I’m hardly ever wrong.”

That was true. But she wondered if her cousin realized she was very often late with her flashes of intuition. Far too late in this case. “Okay. I’ll give it some thought, all right? Mom said something the other day about visiting.” Gods, had it only been two days ago? “And Aunt Lydia just called yesterday too. I could go to see either of them if anything seems odd.”

His hands settled on her shoulders again, massaging the tense muscles there.

She didn’t bother to shrug him off this time. He was persistent. “I could even come visit with you,” she teased, forcing a lightness into her tone.

Her cousin cleared her throat. “I actually have company right now,” she said after a moment, and Andi could almost see her blushing. “You remember I met someone in Athens last summer? Well, he’s come again to stay for a while.” Even over the phone, the emotion in Thalia’s voice was obvious.

One more cousin safe—none of the cousins who’d fallen in love ever had the curse land on their heads. A tiny bit of relief made her relax further under Kallan’s touch. “That’s terrific, Thalia. When do the rest of us get to meet him?”

“We’re talking dates,” the other woman said, a hint of a smile in her tone now. “I’ll be sure to let you know.”

“Good. And thanks for the warning. I miss you.”

“I miss you, too. I’ve got to go, Andi. Talk to you soon. But promise you’ll be careful. Danger is coming from more than one direction.”

She pushed the off button on the phone and shut her eyes, ignoring the slight sting in them. She was not envious of Thalia’s good fortune. She was just in an impossible situation here.

His warm breath brushed the top of her head a second before his lips. “That was good.”

She wanted to tell him to go screw himself. She wanted a weapon to swing at him. She wanted him to wrap his arms around her and carry her down onto the nearest flat surface.

Her eyes popped open. Damned hormones.

His hands slid down her sides and wrapped around her, settling her back against his chest as if he’d read her mind. She hoped he didn’t have that ability.

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I’m going to see what else I can accomplish before I call it a day. Do you think you’re going to be stuck at home soon, too? Are you stocking up on essentials? And books? (I think books are essentials, but the W.H.O. would probably disagree with me.)

I hope if you’ve been waiting for news on my Common Elements Romance Project novella that you’re keeping an eye on my Facebook page. I’ve started to post a couple of hints, and will soon have real news like a cover reveal and release date to share. I hope to see you there!

 

 

As we speak, my suitcase is half-packed to head out in a couple of hours for an overdue writing retreat at the beach with one of my writing buddies! The red flag is probably flapping in the wind there, too, right now, but by the time we get there, it should have settled down to a milder breeze, and the rest of the weekend looks amazing. Cool, but gorgeous. I cannot wait!

While I finish packing, I have a little story snippet to share with you from Hunting Medusa.

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Kallan Tassos sat at the foot of the mountain, tapping his fingers on the steering wheel of the rented truck. Getting to the Medusa had been a lot easier than he’d been led to believe. He wondered why.

She was also a lot prettier than he’d imagined.

Sure, he knew the original Medusa had been so beautiful and confident she’d angered a Goddess. But this one wasn’t what he’d expected. She had short, dark hair framing very expressive blue eyes. Somehow he’d imagined long, blonde hair for a woman whose hair turned into snakes. And cold eyes like those very reptiles. Maybe not with a mouth that made him wonder how she’d taste.

He frowned, tapping his fingers faster on the wheel. Someone had left out a lot of details in the legends. Or the reality had changed much in the generations since the last Harvester had done his duty in killing the monstrous Medusa.

He shook his head. No, his imagination was simply working overtime. And when he got home to Baltimore—or even when he went to Greece to visit Uncle Ari at the family’s ancestral home—he needed to find a willing woman, as it had clearly been too long if he was finding his quarry so attractive.

When his phone rang, he hesitated for a second at the name on the tiny screen. He finally thumbed the button after the third ring. “Stavros.”

“I hear you may have a promising lead. It is past time one of us killed this monster.” His cousin’s everyday accent thickened when he was excited, and judging by the way Greece flavored his words, he believed they were getting close.

“I’m sure one of us will,” Kallan said mildly, drumming his fingers on his knee.

“I keep imagining taking her head after all this time. Perhaps before I do, I can make her pay a little for her family’s existence.”

Kallan frowned. Stavros didn’t care who knew about his penchant for cruelty.

“Where are you now?”

Again he hesitated. He rarely lied, and never to his family. “Oklahoma. I’ve found some information on a young woman closely related to the last Medusa that perfectly fits our profile.” He didn’t feel bad about the lie, since he knew his cousin would be there within twenty-four hours if he told him where he really was and that he’d found the Medusa.

“Where are you heading?”

“Northeast.” He hoped Stavros would be satisfied with the vague answer for now. But he didn’t want his cousin breathing down his neck. Stavros had a vicious streak miles wide, had ever since they were children and just beginning to explore and use their individual talents in their hunt for the Medusa. Kallan could undo any lock with just a touch. Stavros could sense and undo any magical spell he found in his path. When they were teenagers, Kallan had seen him use his magical skill to kill innocent animals just because they were nearby. On occasion, he’d used any handy weapon or his bare hands, simply because he could. Kallan knew Stravros’s cruelty had intensified in recent years based on things not only Stavros had mentioned, but whispers from his other cousins. While he knew as well as everyone else in his family the sort of monster the Medusa was, he didn’t think it necessary to make her suffer the way Stavros would. Especially now that he’d met her.

“Ah. Well, I wish you luck in your hunt, Cousin. Goddess bless our quest.”

He repeated the mantra, then thumbed off the phone, thinking. Hopefully his cousin would take the lack of a specific answer to mean Kallan was simply searching and not really onto a solid lead. That would keep Stavros on his own hunt and out of Kallan’s way.

He smiled grimly, turning the key in the ignition. Now he had plans to finalize. Supplies to purchase. He put the truck in gear and steered the vehicle back toward Ellsworth.

Now that he’d found her, the Medusa would die by his hand.

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Where would you go today if you could get away from every day life, just for a long weekend?

 

 

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?

 

(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.

________________

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.

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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.

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“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.”

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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 )