Tag Archive: new release


( 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!

 

 

I know we’re all having moments right now when we just can’t take another minute of being at home, where we have all the chores staring us in the face and no good reason not to do them, or the distress of just missing our family and friends. I’ve had plenty of them in the last month and a half since we started the work-from-home at the day-job, just prior to the stay-at-home order in our state went into effect. I miss our once or twice a month Sunday family dinner with my boys. I miss seeing my co-workers every day at the office. I miss being able to just run out and get some random thing I didn’t know I needed until I needed it.

But I am happy that I can stay safely home and not endanger myself or anyone else. Plus it does give me a few less reasons why something on my never-ending to-do list has to wait another month or six months or till whenever.

One thing on my rotating to-do list is to get all of my photos, including all of the pictures my aunt gave me that belonged to my grandparents, and photos of hers, and pictures that I acquired when one of my other aunts died, and the ones from my mom and my dad scanned or otherwise digitized. It’s a pretty daunting idea. Just with my own photos, there are so many albums, from when I got my first camera around age nine or ten. Then the boxes and storage totes full of pictures from other family. It’s going to take forever, and I really want to sort them into some kind of order first, so we can easily find by time frames. I haven’t started on it yet, though it’s a big project. But I did get an opportunity this week to dig through some of those photos, and it was so much fun.

My wedding anniversary is coming up, and it’s one of those off-years where the ‘suggested’ gift items aren’t all that exciting, but one of the suggestions is pictures. I spent some time searching for a frame I think my husband will like, and then I went downstairs to look for a photo to put in it. I actually got to spend a nice chunk of time browsing old pictures, starting with our wedding and moving through the last twenty-six years. I considered a couple with the boys, or with all four of us, or some from a vacation we loved and want to repeat. It was so much fun looking through pictures of the boys when they were small and smiled for photos, of places we’ve been together. I did finally settle on one from our wedding that will be perfect in the frame, and that was fun, too. We hardly ever dig out old photos, and I can’t imagine why when they’re such wonderful reminders of people and places we love.

That block of time this week is one of the things I am thankful for during this long stretch at home. And it’s made me rethink putting off the photo project too much longer. I know there are pictures in my enormous collection of my grandparents, and their parents, and I can’t wait to dig through them all again. I may research having someone do the actual scanning of pictures for me, just because it is going to be such a huge undertaking, and before the scanning can happen, I first have to organize them all, which will be an even bigger step, I think.

Before I go back to my Sunday chores, I have a little snippet from Light the Way Home to share with you.

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

She closed her fingers on the fob as a giggle reached her ears. She turned to the white picket fence that bordered the property next door as a big multi-colored ball sailed over it, toward her. “Oh!” She caught it before it hit her in the face, then started across the grass, balancing the ball on her hand.

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

“I think you lost something,” she said.

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

Lucie grinned and held the ball higher.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Like this afternoon?”

“Hayden!”

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

Lucie’s mouth went dry. Wowza!

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

She reached across the fence slowly, trying not to gawk at her hot neighbor. “Lucie Russo. And he wasn’t bothering me, we were just making a date to play ball.” She met his palm and gave a firm shake, pretending not to notice how warm his callused fingers were around hers. Or how wide his shoulders were in the dark flannel shirt.

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The chores I’m headed back to now aren’t as much fun as paging through old photos, but I’m still grateful to have them and the time to do them. What are you doing this week that you might not have time to do if the world hadn’t gone berserk? Not that I’m looking for more things to add to my to-do list. It’s plenty big enough to last me a long, long time.

 

( 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!

 

 

 

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?

 

Raspberry tart – Depositphotos

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“It isn’t nothing to me.”

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

“I’m not accustomed to asking for help, or needing it, for that matter.” He cleared his throat. “I appreciate it.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

His dark gaze followed her out the door, and she turned away, feeling a smile curve her lips.

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

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

Biscuit cake with strawberries – Depositphotos

 

 

 

 

It’s been a while since I got to share space with another author, and I’m excited that the one to break that drought is Alice Orr, who has a new book in her ‘Riverton Road’ series releasing this week!  At my very first writers’ conference a long, long time ago, Alice was one of the speakers, in her former life as a literary agent.  Now I get to host her here with her own romance novel, so I’m excited.   Welcome, Alice!

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A Time of Fear & Loving – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Book 5

Mike & Amanda’s Story

by Alice Orr #Romance #Suspense #MFRWauthor #IndieAuthor

 

I’m not used to readers reacting ambivalently toward my female characters, much less getting upset with them, but this is precisely what might happen with Willow Fowler. She’s an old friend of my heroine, Amanda Miller, whom I suspect most people will like, maybe even a lot. Willow, on the other hand, is a restless soul. That restlessness gets her into serious trouble sometimes, and she is about to drag Amanda into serious trouble as well.

 

I might have my doubts about Willow too if she weren’t, now that I think about it, a little like me. She’s headstrong and sometimes impulsive. She knows what she wants out of life and what she does not want. She goes after what she wants, occasionally without as much forethought as would be wise. I’ve been known to do that myself.

 

But, the problem here is this. What kind of mess can Willow get our Amanda into, and how will she find her way out of the mess while saving Willow also? Or, is any of that even possible?

 

 

Excerpt:

Amanda had survived her unexpected encounter with Mike Schaeffer. She’d been cool and impersonal. She hadn’t allowed herself a blink of an eye when the rasp in his voice made her want to touch the tanned skin of his throat where she might feel the sound. Part of her was still infatuated with him, but she hadn’t let a single sign of that betray her and she never would. She was repeating this resolve to herself and fitting her keycard into the slot in her hotel room door when Willow Fowler was suddenly there also.

“Get inside. Quickly!” she said.

Before Amanda could fully comprehend her surprise, Willow’s delicate fingers with their perfectly shaped nails were flat against the door, shoving it ajar. She slipped through the opening as urgently as she’d spoken into Amanda’s ear a moment ago. She followed inside and watched her old friend hurry to the window, yank the draperies closed, then peek between the folds.

“Please, shut the door,” she said, sounding even more anxious than she’d been in the hallway.

Amanda dropped her luggage and slammed the door’s lock guard shut as if her friend’s anxiety might be contagious. She’d seen Willow’s eyes just now, and something in their lustrous brown depths had leapt across the room. Amanda found herself suddenly apprehensive and not liking the feeling.

“What’s going on here, Willow?”

“I’m in the most desperate trouble, Amanda. You have to believe me.”

“I believe you. I wouldn’t be here otherwise.”

“And I cannot thank you enough for coming.”

Willow darted to Amanda’s side to grasp her hand.

“I was afraid you wouldn’t be able to tear yourself away from your responsibilities,” Willow said. “I know how busy you must be.”

“I needed a break,” Amanda answered. “Besides, I haven’t forgotten how you helped me all those years ago when I needed you.”

“Be that as it may, I do not recall anyone ever doing anything this kind for me. Not ever.”

Amanda smiled. Willow had always used phrases like, “Be that as it may.” Even when they were girls together, she’d sometimes talked like an old spinster lady with tatted doilies pinned to her furniture. At the same time, Willow was anything but spinsterish in most ways. She was irrepressible. Amanda’d had her own high energy in those days too, driven by her determination to get out of the North Country and never return.

Even so, her father’s relentless need to dominate and her mother’s distracted indifference could deflate Amanda’s enthusiasm. Those were the moments when having Willow for a friend was a special blessing. Amanda would plug into Willow’s exuberance and, before long, feel recharged enough to take on Jake or Millicent or anybody. Maybe Amanda could return some of that gift now. The possibility felt good to her, and right too. What didn’t feel either good or right was seeing Willow’s usual liveliness transformed into a state of near panic.

“What exactly has your husband done to you?” Amanda asked.

Buy A Time of Fear & Loving HERE.

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ALICE ORR is the author of 16 novels, 3 novellas, a memoir and No More Rejections: 50 Secrets to Writing a Manuscript that Sells. A former book editor and literary agent, Alice now lives her dream as a full-time writer. She has two grown children and two perfect grandchildren and resides with her husband Jonathan in New York City and New Jersey.

Alice’s Website – www.aliceorrbooks.com

Alice’s Facebook Page – https://www.facebook.com/aliceorrwriter

Alice’s Twitter Page – https://twitter.com/aliceorrbooks

 

 

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( Photo credit: Denim Dave via Foter.com / CC BY )

We’re still eating Thanksgiving dinner leftovers here (and enjoying them so much!), and I have a long weekend ahead of me.  Today, I spent it doing little things like looking at cookie recipes and a little gift-shopping, plus watched my first holiday movie of the season, Love Actually.  I have two quick stops to make tomorrow, including one for a couple of gifts.  I’m planning to get my chores out of the way afterward and write in between, and then my extra day off is nothing but writing.

Since we’re getting to the end of the year, I’ve been thinking about goals and accomplishments.  I am about to go into a goal-setting workshop to get my goals set for next year, writing and otherwise.  And I need to whittle down my writing list for next year so I set manageable, realistic goals for myself.  How many of you set goals for yourself each year?  I don’t mean resolutions, but goals, where you map out step-by-step plans to achieve them?

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(Photo credit: Simply Vicki via Foter.com / CC BY )

I used to be better at the smaller steps in my goal planning, but somehow, I got out of practice with the littler steps.  So for this year, I’m starting with the small steps, and then moving on to the intermediate stages, and then the big picture goals.  Maybe working from the other end this time will give me the nudge my brain needs.

The manuscript I’m working on right now has taken a turn for the hot much sooner than I anticipated.  I should back up a little.  I knew there would be hot at the beginning, but I thought that would probably back off a little, at least for a while.  These two characters are both really messed up, and I guessed that despite their steamy start, it would take them a while to develop enough trust to let that continue.  Only they’ve surprised me and kept it scorching.  which means when they do back off, there will be  major hurt involved on both sides.  And then, of course, more steamy hot when they make up later.  I do love when characters surprise me, and I’m looking forward to seeing where these two take me on the way to their happy-ever-after.

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( Photo credit: you mee via Foter.com / CC BY )

Now I’m going to take a little break before I wrap things up for the night so I can get a fresh start in the morning for my next two days of productivity!