Tag Archive: Valentine’s Day


( Silhouette of kissing couple – Depositphotos )

We’ve had a couple of crazy weeks at the day-job, and it occurred to a few of us the other day that we go a long stretch from the end of year holidays (Thanksgiving/Yule/Christmas/New Year) until there is another ‘day off’ holiday. Not that there aren’t holidays–Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day–just that they don’t get work holidays. Our next one is Memorial Day. It’s a long stretch from January 1st until May 25th. I’m kind of glad I have vacation time to fit in all year long, though I’m still going from my long weekend last month until the end of March before my next long weekend. I didn’t plan that well, did I?

This week is Valentine’s Day, the holiday for romance. I have a couple of fun gifts for my husband, things he will appreciate (I hope), because they involve hobbies he enjoys. We won’t be out joining the other people cramming restaurants Friday evening, we don’t necessarily need to do that anymore. Honestly, this is grocery week, so that’s where I will be heading right after work on Friday, before I go home. But we do other things for one another that are more meaningful than a once-a-year holiday. I’m not saying I don’t appreciate a good Valentine’s Day box of chocolate, because I absolutely do–my husband knows where my favorite candy-maker is locally. I’m just saying that after so many years together, there are everyday things that are just as important.

I’m about to go work on some novella things, but I have a snippet of my fifth shifter story for you first.

================

Piper realized she was staring and dragged her gaze away from Joe’s wide chest, back to the book on her lap, flushing hotly. Holy shit.

He cleared his throat. “Sorry, I didn’t realize you were in here.”

“It’s your house,” she mumbled. She heard a soft sound and hoped it was his shirt going on.

“And you’re a guest here.” He cleared his throat again.

She dared a peek and found him watching her, hands in the pockets of his low-slung jeans, a faded blue t-shirt stretched over his chest. “Don’t be silly. You should be able to do as you like in your own house. And we’re only here for a few more days.”

He exhaled roughly. “Really?”

“I spoke to someone this afternoon at a complex in Auburndale, near the office. They have a vacancy.”

“I’ll go with you to look at it.”

She frowned. “That isn’t necessary.”

His mouth flattened. “It is. Is it a shifter complex?”

Piper narrowed her eyes at him. “That doesn’t matter.”

Irritation sparked in his eyes. “It matters, Piper. You can’t take your child somewhere that’s not secure.”

She clamped her jaw shut. Telling him to butt out of her business would be stupid at this point. Without his concern, she’d be scrambling to feed Keely on tips and less than minimum wage hours at a seedy, dive diner. She forced herself to take a slow breath.

Joe sat on the low table in front of her, and she noted the softening of his mouth. “I just want to be sure you two are okay.”

“Why?” She blinked. She hadn’t meant to ask that.

“Because you don’t have anyone else to do it.”

She looked away, stung.

He touched her knee, and she slanted a wary glance at him. “I didn’t mean that the way it sounded. Like I wouldn’t do it otherwise. If I’d realized sooner–”

Piper closed the book and got to her feet. “I’m not your responsibility, Joe. Not the annoying tag-along little sister.” She ignored the burn in her chest and turned away.

He caught her upper arm and swung her back as he stood. “Don’t put words in my mouth, Piper.”

She opened her own mouth to say…something. But she didn’t know what, and it didn’t matter–Joe kissed her. Kissed. Her. Hard, open-mouthed. For a second, she froze, and then realized she was kissing him back.

Stupid, Piper. 

================

What are your plans for this Valentine’s Day? Something romantic? Spontaneous? Casual?

 

 

 

 

( hands in form of heart – Depositphotos )

It’s February, which means for the next two weeks, everything will be about pushing romance and gifts for your Valentine. Don’t get me wrong, I love romance and Valentine’s Day (and who doesn’t love a good gift?), but I feel like we should be doing this all year long? Not necessarily the gift part, but if you love someone, let them know, yes? Not just one day a year.

I’m not even talking about saying it constantly. How about some ‘actions speak louder than words’ behavior? A home-cooked meal, a ‘how was your day?’ and listening to the response, or even ‘be careful’ when the loved one is going somewhere. Yes, a gift wrapped in pretty paper is nice, but it isn’t everything.

My maternal grandparents were married for 46 years before my Grandma died, and my paternal grandparents were together 26 years before my Grandpa died. Longevity in romance is a beautiful thing. I never met my dad’s dad, but have heard stories about how much fun my grandparents had together. I knew my mom’s parents well, and they were inspiring. I never doubted that they loved one another, even if they were bickering. When I cleaned out the attic after my aunt died, I found very sweet notes in cards that my Pop-pop had written to my Grandma, reaffirming the affection we all witnessed as kids. That’s the sort of romance many people aspire to. It’s the sort of thing we love in our romance novels, even if we don’t necessarily believe that a gruff Alpha male is going to write love notes to the heroine of his story.

I’m not sure I’ve actually written a hero yet who would compose love notes to his heroine, but maybe I should put that on my to-do list. But for today, I’ll settle for wrapping up another round of revisions on this novella. Before I get to work on that, though, how about a story snippet from Hunting Medusa?

================

The sun sank faster behind his left shoulder. True to her word, Andrea had led him on a less meandering route away from their lunch stop, though at just as hasty a pace. Now, nearly two hours later, she was beginning to drag. Their travel this afternoon had led them along sheer rock faces, where they’d held on carefully to keep from tumbling down the mountainside, through thickets of close-set trees that blocked the sunlight, across clear, cool water winding its way down the mountain.

Now they were on fairly level ground, with only the faintest of trails to follow, and a stream tumbled over rocks far below them, its splashing faint from where they trekked. Ahead, Andrea’s pack still bobbed up and down with her steps, but he could see she was tiring. No, that wasn’t correct, he thought. She was exhausted, her shoulders drooping, her steps much slower, but she didn’t stop. She didn’t complain.

“Andrea.”

She glanced over her shoulder at him, and he could see the weariness in her eyes.

“We need to stop for the night.”

She shook her head. “He’s coming.”

He couldn’t deny it. “He isn’t going to get you.”

“Not if I keep moving.” She turned forward again.

He caught her backpack and forced her to stop. “Agaph, we need to rest.” He brushed one hand from her shoulder down her arm. “I won’t let him get you.”

Something flashed through her eyes, too fast for him to decipher, and she shook her head. “Not yet. The cave is only a little farther.”

He sighed as she swung away, trudging along. “How far?”

“Another mile or so.”

He frowned. In another mile, she’d be crawling. He walked faster for a moment, until he was on her heels. “Along the trail?”

She shook her head. “Behind the waterfall.”

He touched her swinging arm lightly. “Are you sure you can make it?”

She glared at him over her shoulder and kept going. Sped up for a few seconds before returning to her tired pace. “I can make it,” she said through gritted teeth.

Kallan smiled grimly. She was determined, his Medusa. Then he thought of the other hunter on their trail. He wouldn’t allow Stavros to have her. Andrea was his, and he’d protect her to the death.

As if she’d heard his musings, Andrea glanced back over her shoulder. “He won’t find the cave.”

He raised one eyebrow. If his cousin was really on their heels, he could find a cave.

“You couldn’t find it even with me, if I didn’t want you to. It’s protected.”

He pondered for several minutes as they walked, and then realized he could hear water that was louder than the stream below. The falls. “Can we go faster?” If Stavros had arrived early, he might already be in the forest, and on their trail. Kallan wanted to have her safely away before dark, when it would be harder for his cousin to track them. But he did wonder how the cave was protected exactly. That might prove problematic.

She squared her shoulders. “Of course.” She picked up her pace a little, and he smiled at her back.

Of course she could. She’d never admit weakness. Not to him. Not even to him. Maybe especially not to him.

Agaph.”

She stumbled, then righted herself, her wide, wary eyes turning back toward him.

“I think I’m falling in love with you.”

Shock widened her eyes more. “What?”

He caught her upper arms. “I said I’m falling in love with you.”

================

Now I’m off to revise my (still title-less!) novella for the Common Elements Romance Project so I can get my book cover finished and my formatting set…so I can get you a release date!

What romantic inspirations do you have for this month?

 

 

The story I’m working on is for a group project that will be released this fall. (And yes, it is past my self-imposed deadline, thanks for pointing that out.) I am really enjoying the heroine in this story, and the hero…well, he is pretty yummy. I love that they’re falling in love, in spite of all the very good reasons why they shouldn’t. I also love that they have a little matchmaking help from a couple of directions they wouldn’t have expected. I am getting a little anxious about wrapping it up, though, so I’m just going to leave you with a little story snippet for Valentine’s Day week, this time from my third Medusa story, Freeing Medusa, before I get back to the novella.

 

( Kissing – Depositphotos )

 

Katharine released a slow breath, forcing herself to relax her jaw, and reached up to shove the scarf off her eyes after the door clicked shut.

He’d even set her tote bag on the floor inside the door.

Tears stung her eyes at that unexpected kindness.

She was overreacting, she knew. Partly due to her overloaded hormones. Partly because she was so angry that she’d been unable to defend herself against the Harvester since she’d felt safe enough in her house to take the damned painkiller.

She’d been the Medusa for six years now, and with her alarm system in place, she’d felt confident enough there after all this time…

She shut her eyes for a second, her fingers curling into fists at her sides.

None of this was Hunter’s fault. All he’d done was save her life, not sic the Harvester on her when she was vulnerable.

That she was ultimately responsible for her near-death experience made her angrier. At herself. Hunter just happened to be within firing range.

“Katharine? You okay?”

“Fine,” she said shortly. “I’m fine.” She took a long, deep breath, then released it.

When she’d finished washing her hands, she fumbled the blindfold back down over her eyes and reached for the doorknob, groping empty air.

“Coming in,” he said, and she dropped her hand back to her side. “Okay?”

“Yes.” His hard fingers slid over hers. “Thank you, Hunter.”

He pulled her along with him, thirteen paces to the bed.

“For saving my life earlier.”

“Not a problem.” He made her sit, then she felt his fingers on her shoelaces. “Nice blade,” he said mildly, easing her boot from her foot.

She swallowed. “If I hadn’t taken that pill earlier, I could have used it. Or just turned him to stone.”

“Well, you won’t need the dagger here. Not now. I have a state of the art security system, and nobody followed us from your place, so you’re safe here.” He took her other boot off. “You want to get out of the jeans and back into a nightshirt? Something more comfortable for you?”

Katharine hesitated, biting her lip. It wasn’t like he hadn’t seen her naked already. Up close and personal. “Yes,” she whispered.

“Okay. I’ll go grab the rest of your stuff from the garage. Don’t go anywhere.”

“Ha, ha.” Still, she smiled a little, listening to his footsteps on the stairs, the sound fading as he walked away from the entry hall. The room smelled like Hunter, she mused as she sat there on the edge of his bed. That same musky, spicy scent that had set her body humming Friday night.

She almost wished it were Friday night again.

________________

Are you celebrating Valentine’s Day this week? Do you and your other half do something special to mark the day, or is it just another Thursday?

 

 

( Hands Heart – Depositphotos )

It’s February, so you know what that means? Valentine’s Day, the official day of sweethearts everywhere. I enjoy Valentine’s Day as much as the next person, but I’m a romantic, so I feel like love shouldn’t only be celebrated one day a year. I’m sure I’m not alone in that belief–look how many romance readers and writers there are out in the world.

Rather than lecture about not celebrating love all year long, I’m going to skip ahead to the part of my weekly post where we have the story excerpt. This week, it comes from the first story in my tiger shifter series.

_________________

Even the next day, Harley’s words stuck with her. She ignored his calls to her cell phone late in the morning and shortly after lunch while she sorted through old files. Finally, when he called a third time, she gathered up her purse and headed out, telling Amy she needed to run some errands.

She needed a distraction from the circling of her thoughts and from work, and it just so happened she was out of food at her house. A trip into the village was just as good a way as any to distract her.

She drove from work into town, making a mental list as she went and deliberately not thinking about Harley or Ezra. Finding a good parking space along one of the main streets, she put her purse strap over her shoulder and set off. She took her time, pausing to look in store windows as she went. She detoured into the tiny flower shop when some bright daisies and gladiolus caught her eye. The arrangement would brighten up her very empty home. She apologized when she bumped into a tall, blondish man in a black t-shirt on her way to the exit. He murmured something unintelligible and went back to looking at the roses in the cooler.

Next, she headed to the grocery store for some soda and a piece of fish to broil for dinner. After that, she continued on her leisurely way, admiring some hanging plant pots outside the hardware store, browsing the magazines at the bookstore, and then heading to the market. She picked up a basket, intent on finding some fresh vegetables to go with her fish for supper. Maybe some squash and tomatoes. She added both to her basket and picked her way along the row of bins, admiring the selection. Someday, she’d have a garden of her own to grow these things in. She smiled to herself, imagining that for a moment.

Tessa glanced up when she caught some small motion from the corner of her eye and realized that the big, rangy man with the dirty blond hair that she’d seen in the flower shop was picking his way along the produce bins in her direction, casually. A little too casually.

Her heart started to beat faster. The flower shop was several blocks away, and she’d left the car parked on that side of the square.

Maybe she was being paranoid.

The man stopped, picking up some oranges and very determinedly not looking in her direction.

She set down the basket she’d filled, and she walked away from the produce bins to the street corner. From the corner of her eye, she saw him look up and take a step toward her.

This was bad.

Without waiting for the stoplight to change, she ran out into the street, glancing back to find him striding after her confidently. Several cars honked their horns at her, but she didn’t stop running and heard the squeal of brakes. A loud thump sounded somewhere behind her, but she didn’t turn to see what had caused it. Her chest ached already, but she kept going, pushing her way through other pedestrians. When she reached the end of the next block, she dared a glance back over her shoulder. She didn’t see him, but she didn’t slow down, panting as she whipped around the corner and started to backtrack toward her car, her flowers flapping and her grocery bag thumping along her hip.

By the time she reached the car, she was lagging, her breath coming much too quickly, and sweat rolled down the back of her neck, soaking her shirt beneath the strap of her purse. She fumbled in the pocket on the outside of her purse for the car keys, glancing back over her shoulder to be sure the big man hadn’t figured out the direction she’d taken. Evidently, he had not. She jammed the key in the lock and yanked the door open. As she slid into the driver’s seat, her breath caught.

He had found her.

She jerked the door shut as he pounded toward the car from the opposite direction she’d just taken. She fumbled to get the key in the ignition, aware that her panting was growing faster again.

He was getting closer.

She hit the button to lock the doors on the car and finally slid the key into the ignition, turning it hard. The engine turned over, and she whimpered in relief.

But he was there now, grabbing for her door handle. And he looked as if he might have had a collision with one of those cars she’d dodged a few blocks away. Blood oozed down the side of his face, and his black shirt was torn across the back.

She yanked the gear shift into drive and stomped on the gas pedal.

_________________

Now I’m going to go have dinner with my husband, but I’d love to hear your thoughts this week about the whole Valentine’s Day phenomenon: do you rely on the holiday or spread the joy all year?

 

 

 

 

( Photo on Foter.com )

We’re heading into Valentine’s Day this week, so it seems like a perfect week to talk about romance, in our books and in real life. I regularly see posts on social media asking about the book that hooked someone on romance novels, and I always feel a little guilty because I don’t remember the first romance I ever read.  Other people can name their first, so why can’t I?  Probably because I was such a voracious reader when I was in school.

When I was much younger, it just about killed me to only be allowed to borrow two books at a time from the public library.  I would wind up reading them over and over during the week.  When I got to the high school (ours included grades seven through twelve), one of my favorite things was joining the library club and working in the library each week during one of my study halls for six years. Not only did I get to play in the books, but eventually, I got first dibs on anything new coming in, before it went out for anyone else to borrow.  I would go home on Friday afternoons with as many books as I could carry, and have read through most of them by the time I went back to school on Monday (at least until I was old enough for a job).  I remember the first time I read Gone With the Wind–that was one of those Friday books I borrowed, and by the time I went back to school Monday morning, I had read it twice, though I wasn’t happy with the ending.  I worked my way through most of the school library by the time I graduated, non-fiction and fiction, and every kind of fiction…classics, mysteries, romances, science fiction. You name it, I read it. I didn’t discriminate.

But we were talking about romances.  I have no idea what the first one was that I read.  My mom read them, along with lots of other books–that’s where I got my reading bug, from her and her parents–and I read a lot of her books that I wasn’t supposed to be reading at age thirteen.  Lots of steamy stories, romance and otherwise, but the romances were my favorite. I was always hooked on a happy ending.  If it didn’t end well, I wasn’t satisfied.  We had an assignment in English class around eighth or ninth grade to rewrite the ending of a classic story–mine was to rework the end of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow so Ichabod and Katrina lived happily ever after.

Did I read Kathleen Woodiwiss? Of course.  But was she first? I have no idea. Judith McNaught? Maybe.  Johanna Lindsey? Who knows? And you know what? I’m okay with that. I’ve read a lot of great romances in my life, and I know I couldn’t list them all. There are simply too many, and I enjoyed them all, no matter which one came first.

I was trying to decide if I’ve read any Valentine’s Day romances lately and having a hard time thinking of one I read recently. Which led me to wonder if I have written any yet. The answer to that is definitely not, though I do have some stories that take place over the winter.  And you know what? For today, that’s close enough for me, so I have a steamy little snippet from Medusa #2 for you.

________________

The heavy weight of Ryder’s arm settled on her shoulder. “They’ll be fine for tonight,” he murmured near her ear.

Philomena nodded, biting her lower lip. They had to be. If anything happened to them, it was on her head.

“And I have to go.” He stepped away and picked up his own coat from the hook behind the door.

She grabbed the nearest jacket, which was too light for the brisk winter night, but she pulled it on anyway, then walked outside with him. “You’re going to be careful, aren’t you?”

“I’m always careful.” He shot her a bad boy grin that had her heart racing as they made their way along the sidewalk to the front of the house, where she saw his pick-up truck parked out front beside the mailbox now.

“Nothing can happen to you, Ryder. You have Jason to worry about.”

He kept walking.

“Are you listening to me?” She glared up at him when he came to a stop beside the truck.

He put his arm around her shoulders again. “Are you more worried about Jason? Or me?”

She blinked. “I’m worried about what will happen to Jason if something happens to you.” He smelled really good. Her pounding heart sped up even more. He was too close. She needed to distract herself again. “You know Desi is a lousy parent. Might as well not even be a parent.”

“What if something did happen to me? Would you miss me?” He bent nearer, his mouth almost grazing her temple.

She tried to concentrate on his words, but the awareness rushing through her made that difficult. And dammit, she couldn’t even blame it on pre-PMS hormones.

“Would you be upset if I were hurt?” His open mouth slid down her cheek, hot, damp. Tempting.

Desire raced along her veins. Under her sweater, her nipples tightened in anticipation.

“Mena?” He licked the corner of her mouth.

She gasped, and he swooped in, covering her open mouth with his, pressing her back against the side of the truck, his warmth more than making up for the cold metal at her back.

He was aroused again. Or still. When his hips rocked into hers, the heavy erection against her belly made her panties even wetter.

Shocked by her reaction, she still couldn’t resist, lifting into his kiss.

“Wrap your legs around me, Mena,” he whispered against her lips.

She forced her eyes open, trying hard to distract herself from the temptation of Ryder.

________________

Now I am going back to work. I have rewrites waiting for me.

At the risk of making someone else crazy, do you remember the first romance novel you ever read?

(  Photo on Foter.com )

( Photo on Foter.com )

It’s February, and a lot of people automatically think ‘Valentine’s Day’. Now I may be a bit biased, being a romance novel writer and reader–okay, I’m a lot biased–but I think romance shouldn’t be limited to just one month of the year.  I’m guessing lots of you feel the same way.  I’m not complaining about flowers, or sparkly jewelry, or chocolates (especially from my favorite local candy maker!) on Valentine’s Day, but it makes me a little sad that there seem to be so many people who do only think about making romantic gestures on occasions like this.  As if the rest of the year doesn’t count. As if they only feel it necessary to make sure their significant other realizes they’re loved at Valentine’s Day.

I’m not suggesting everyone feels this way. I know a lot of people who make romantic gestures all year round.  I just feel like maybe sometimes we forget, and we should make more effort to remind ourselves and our S.O.s that we care.

( Photo on Foter.com ) A little breakfast in bed once in a while, maybe? Help folding the fifty gazillion loads of laundry? I know there are a lot of ways we can do that, but maybe it wouldn’t hurt for us to have more ideas, so I’d love to hear some of yours, or maybe some way your S.O. surprised you and reminded you they love you.

And in the meantime, I have a little snippet of one of my tiger shifters. Anton is shopping with his new mate for a formal event, and he’s about to do something sweet for her.

________________

Laney paused inside for a second, looking around to get her bearings, then headed directly for the back half of the store.

Anton frowned at the displays around him at the front of the shop–some very pretty things there, from what he could see. He ambled after her, noting the way she skipped right past the sparkling and shiny gowns on mannequins and wall displays before she started to dig through a tall round rack. He turned around, still frowning at all of the things they’d passed by.

Including a dark green gown the same color as her eyes had been in bed last night. He stepped closer. Shoulder straps an inch or so wide, with a neckline that didn’t dip down too far to be decent, and a skirt closer to the slim end of the range than some of the full-on Cinderella gowns nearby. He flipped through the hangers until he thought he’d chosen the right size, then moseyed back to join her.

She had pulled a slim black gown from the rack and was studying it, a frown furrowing her brow. After a moment, she put it back on the rack.

“What’s wrong with it?” he asked.

She glanced up. “Cut too low.” Her gaze flicked to the gown he held. “Too much.” She went back to the rack beside him, flipping through hangers.

One of his eyebrows rose. “What?”

She sighed, then glanced toward the front of the store where the saleswoman was still occupied at the cash desk. “I don’t shop the front of the store, because they always put the most expensive gowns there.”

“I like this one. It matches your eyes.” He held it forward.

She met his gaze again, not looking at the dress. “My eyes are hazel.”

“Sometimes,” he agreed, “but they’re this color when we’re in bed.”

Her cheeks went red, and she cast a horrified glance around to be sure no one was close enough to hear him. “Anton,” she whispered.

He smiled. “You have to at least try it on.”

Laney shut her eyes for a moment. “Fine, but I’m not getting it.” She tugged another black gown from the rack to study while avoiding his gaze.

If the green fit her, he was buying it, he decided as she rummaged through the gowns on the next rack.

The saleswoman finished up with her other customer as Laney added a purple dress to the black and red gowns he held with his own choice.
“I can take these to the fitting room for you,” the older woman said, reaching for the dresses.

“I’m actually ready to head back,” Laney said with a polite smile.

Anton trailed after them, then dropped onto the overstuffed armchair in the waiting area. Laney shut her fitting room door, and he listened to the soft rustling of her clothing behind it–first her coat, then the sweater and tank, her wool pants. In his head, he imagined each piece coming off. He wondered which gown she’d try first.

He found out a minute later when she emerged in the purple. He kept his mouth shut as she crossed to the big mirrors, but her wrinkled nose told him exactly what she thought.

The color was pretty on her, but the dress had an odd, angled neckline, and the ‘sleeves’ barely covered her shoulders.

Before the saleswoman had made it back to them, Laney was already on her way back into the smaller room. The older woman’s mouth pursed a little.

Anton shrugged when she looked at him, and she smiled.

When Laney came back out, it was in the green gown he’d chosen. He had picked the right size–it hugged her torso perfectly before the skirt belled out a tiny bit and swept to the floor.

“Oh, you look beautiful in that,” the older woman said. “And it doesn’t even need alteration.”

Laney met his gaze in the mirror, and she didn’t look happy that she looked so good in the dress. Anton wondered just how expensive it was. He let his gaze wander lower, to the pretty hint of cleavage the dress framed, then he met her gaze again with a little smile.

She blushed and murmured something to the saleswoman, then hurried back into the smaller room.

The other black gown fit well, too, though she looked appalled at the cleavage exposed in this one. The red was okay, he thought, but it covered everything, with sleeves that went almost to her elbows, a swingy skirt, and a squared off neckline sitting just an inch or two beneath her collarbones.

He didn’t eavesdrop on her short conversation with the saleswoman, but got up and stretched. This might be the shortest gown-shopping trip in the history of womankind.

The saleswoman took the black, green and purple gowns from Laney, who retreated into the smaller room. Anton frowned when she put the green gown on a small rack with the purple. He shook his head, and she caught him, her mouth opening.

He pressed one finger to his lips, and she shut her mouth, understanding him perfectly. She retrieved the green dress and nodded to the front of the shop, smiling.

The woman hung both the black and the green gowns on a hook at the cash desk. “That’s a nice gift. She looked beautiful in the green.”

“Yes, she did.” He withdrew his wallet from his pocket while she punched some numbers into the small computer on the counter. He didn’t even wince when she gave him the total, just handed over his card.

By the time Laney arrived at the front of the shop, he had the garment bag holding both gowns slung over his shoulder. She frowned, but glanced at the older woman and kept her protest to herself. “Thank you,” she murmured, nodding to the older woman, who winked at Anton when he turned Laney toward the door.

“Shoes next?” he asked when they got outside.

“You didn’t have to buy my dress,” she said, looking up at him. “I have money.”

“Call it a gift.” He unlocked the car and hung the gowns from the hook in the backseat. She hadn’t noticed there were two hangers.

Yet.

________________

Don’t forget to tell me the romantic little things you and your S.O. do when it isn’t Valentine’s Day, while I go back to work on Medusa #2!

 

Hot Chocolate

How has the first week of your new year gone? As well as you’d hoped? Better? Not as well as you wanted?

I haven’t gotten as much writing-related work done this week as I would have liked, but I have been writing, in spite of the absolute craziness at my day-job–way more insanity than I anticipated, and the next week is probably going to be even busier.  I’ve also been working on getting a new-to-me computer set up in the home office, which is taking some time, since I have to move things onto it from my laptop and the old desktop computer, and some of those things take way too long–finding disks, trying to figure out how to install an older program that might need tweaking on a newer system…   Some of those are frustrating.

I also had to figure out if it made sense to me to participate in the very fun booksigning I’ve done the past couple of years, since I haven’t yet got Hunting Medusa ready for reissue, and settled on dates, etc. for the second and third books in the trilogy. I was disappointed to have to say no, but it doesn’t make sense to me to do it when I don’t have something new, so I’ll be bummed to miss this year, but then should be good for next year, because I am aiming to have at least the first two books in the trilogy out before the end of this year.

I know the weather has been in full-on winter mode in a lot of areas this week, but it has been extra-cold here.  I have had quite a lot of tea this week, and some very yummy hot chocolate to stay warm.  How about you? Lots of warm beverages while you’re reading?

I think I promised a little snippet of story for this week, didn’t I?  So how about a little taste of Hunting Medusa for those of you who haven’t read it yet (and those who haven’t read it in a while!)…

________________

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.

________________

Have a great week!

My shiny new cover art! isn’t it pretty?

We are missing out on the snow, again.  Our weather here this week has been extra-messed-up–mid-week it was 60, before the temps plummeted and we got a couple inches of heavy, wet snow that melted already, because the temperatures went back up into the 50s.  I want a real winter! Right now, it’s raining and looks like an early spring day more than a mid-winter day.  Of course, if we were a few states north, we would be getting buried in snow, and I would be thrilled about it.

So, what is a rainy Sunday good for?  Plenty, I suppose, like household chores and reading. Or visiting with family.  My day will probably combine some of the latter and a few of that first item.  And hopefully later some writing time before the second half of The Walking Dead season begins and our whole family settles in to watch.

I’m going to miss seeing some reader and writer friends today, but I got to see a whole lot of them yesterday, at the annual Valentine’s Day booksigning.  This was my third year of participating, and they’re always a lot of fun.  Talking books with readers and other authors is one of the best ways to spend a few hours, right?  This one was a little sad for me, though, because earlier in the week, we got the official news that my publisher is going to close up shop at the end of the month.  So I have to figure out what to do with Hunting Medusa (and the other two books in the trilogy, finally!) when I get my rights back.

Most publishers don’t want to publish a book that’s already been available from someone else, though it happens.  A better option, I suppose, is self-publishing the trilogy.  Scary thought!  I have to give this more time, to figure out the best thing to do, and then devising a plan to get it done.   Guess I’ll be reworking my writing goals for the year, once I figure this out.

Now, though, I need to go do some of those things on my rainy-Sunday list.  The pics below are some of what you missed if you weren’t at the booksigning yesterday.

dsc00239 dsc00244

And, before I go, maybe a little bit of Hunting Medusa for you…

_______________

“Aristotle Tassos.”
The elderly man started, jumping from his chair so the papers he held fluttered to the floor beside his desk.
Athena remained standing in the doorway to his office, watching his olive skin pale before he dropped to his knees, bowing his head.
“My Lady.” His voice shook.
“Your nephew has taken the Medusa away, Aristotle. How could a Tassos do that?” She glared, noting his silver hair was thinning far more than the last time She’d deigned to visit him.
“My Lady?” He straightened slightly, though not far enough to actually look directly at Her. “My nephews burn to kill the Medusa.”
“Not Kallan.” She watched his mouth drop open. “He has helped her escape.” She narrowed Her gaze on his stunned face. “How could you not know this about him?”
Her Harvester shook his head slowly. “I am so sorry, My Lady. I assure You I will find him. And her.”
“I am sure you will. I expect you will.” She set Her hands on Her hips. “Do not fail Me, Aristotle. It has been many years since your family has fulfilled its duty. It may be very bad for you and yours if you fail again.”
Aristotle nodded, bowing, his face flushed a ruddy color. Embarrassed, She was sure, by the reminder of the failures of recent years. Good. He and his should be humiliated to have been outwitted by the Medusas of the past several generations.
“I would hate to have to return to see you on this matter again, Aristotle,” She said, gentling Her tone just a little. “I understand you are loyal to Me, even if one of your number is no longer.”

His mouth tightened. “I will make sure we get her this time, My Lady.”
Athena nodded. “I will be monitoring your progress.”
She was gone before Aristotle looked up.

_______________

Oh, one last thing!  If you’ve been meaning to pick up a copy of Hunting Medusa (or any other Samhain title) you’re running out of time now.  Plus I just realized this morning (2/12/17) that it is on sale in the Samhain store for half price, so it’s probably a really good time to grab it in its original form.

Valentine’s Day is this week, so here’s hoping for a much better week this week, full of love and chocolate!

 

7024607531_cc3a6b87cc_z( Photo credit: RDECOM via Foter.com / CC BY )

It’s been a long month here.  Aside from the crazy first few weeks of the year at the day-job, things otherwise have been both busy and awful, and I have taken a real butt-kicking.  Until I got the ick and cough last week, though, I was still doing really well with my daily writing.  Last week kind of messed that up, and the best I could manage toward the end of the week once the fever finally went away, was working on revisions, and I’m sure I’ll need to look over those again before I actually finalize them, just to be on the safe side.

So this week, I have got to get back into my routine.  I am still coughing, but I feel like it’s slowly going away.  (Which is good, since I have the booksigning on Feb. 11; it would be terrible to still be hacking all over the place then.)  So I will ignore the coughing.  Harder to ignore will be the other distractions in my life, the family members who are ill, as those are ongoing and not going away like my cough.  If I thought they would help, I’d find myself a set of blinders, to keep my attention on the pages in front of me, but that doesn’t do anything for the constant flow of thoughts in my brain.

4498314013_baa67ebf5a_z

( Photo credit: ** RCB ** via Foter.com / CC BY )

Hard to concentrate on one thing with that going on in your head.

So I’m looking for ideas on regaining my focus.  The things that are going on aren’t going to stop any time soon, which means they’re going to remain on my mind, but I still need to get back to being a productive writer.  So when you have a lot going on and still need to get things done, how do you manage to make your brain cooperate?  Meditation?  (I’ve tried it and am terrible.)  Something completely different?  Give me your suggestions.  I’m game to try some new things, as long as I end up back where I need to be.

And before I go, just wanted to remind those of you in the south-central Pennsylvania area, come see me and a whole lot of other romance authors the weekend before Valentine’s Day!

loveisintheair2017

 

 

 

Writing Hot

8406519948_9ece12a238_z

( Photo credit: Frank Lindecke via Foter.com / CC BY-ND )

Yes, I’m sick this week.  Coughing from an annoying tickle in my throat.  I don’t do sick days.  The last time I had a day off for a medical issue of my own was when I had my gallbladder out a number of years ago.  I took a day off last month for someone else’s medical issue.  Today, I actually left work early because I felt so terrible, just so I could come home and rest.  So that blog title isn’t just about the sort of stories I write, but about the fever I’ve had on and off all week.  I would love it if went away now.  My brain doesn’t have room for creativity right now, when it’s full of hot and headache.  So, instead of thinking so hard I make the headache worse, I’m going to tell you about the Valentine’s Day booksigning I’ll be taking part in this year.

Saturday, February 11, 2017 from noon to 3 pm at Ashcombe Farm & Greenhouse, I’ll be hanging out with around 18 other romance authors, talking books and signing them, too.  This is the third year I’ll be participating, and they are always so much fun.  Plus for the readers attending, there are always giveaway goodies.

And now, so my feverish brain can rest, I think just a little snippet of Hunting Medusa for you.

______________

Perhaps he was a sick bastard, he mused, slowing his pace as they went deeper into the woods and the trail narrowed. Realizing the woman he wanted most was his enemy had just turned his world upside-down. His family’s enemy, a monster created by the Goddess.
He frowned up at the dark canopy of leaves above them. He wondered if any other Harvester had ever been tempted by his quarry. Or had surrendered to the temptation. If so, he was certain he’d never find that in the lore.
“Wait.”
He stopped walking at her quiet command, his gaze shifting in the same direction she looked. A doe and her fawn looked poised for flight several yards away, the mother watching them closely. Kallan held his breath as the fawn bent back to the small patch of grass. From the corner of his eye, he saw Andrea’s smile. He caught her hand in his without thinking about it first.
Her fingers were stiff in his for a long moment, then relaxed a little.
He turned to look down at her, studying her. The top of her head reached his chin, her dark hair curling in the slight humidity. Her bright gaze stayed fixed on the deer, but he knew she was aware of him by the way her pulse skittered in the hollow of her throat.

“Did I hurt you?” He kept his tone low, trying not to frighten the nearby animals.
She didn’t move anything but her eyes, shifting her questioning gaze up to his face.
“Earlier. Was I too rough?”
Color washed up her cheeks, and she swallowed, turning her attention back to the doe and her fawn. “No.” It was barely a whisper, her reply.
His heart pounded a little harder as he thought about taking her here, right here in her forest. It was foolish. He couldn’t. She would never agree to it anyway.
But he couldn’t stop the images behind his eyes, not now that he knew what she looked like, what she felt like around him, the way she sounded.

When she turned to look up at him again, he realized he’d tightened his grip on her fingers. Her expression was quizzical, then awareness surfaced, turning her eyes darker, like midnight velvet.
Kallan lifted their joined hands slowly, giving her time to stop him. When she didn’t, he dragged his open mouth along her knuckles.
Her lips parted slightly.
He bit one of her knuckles lightly and felt her shiver. “Maybe I am sick,” he breathed. “But I still want you.”
She shut her eyes, her throat working as she swallowed. “Bad idea, Harvester.”
His jaw tightened. For some reason, hearing her use the name his family had claimed many generations ago made him angry. He wanted to hear her use his name instead. Preferably while they were naked in her bed, bodies joined intimately as they had been earlier.
Instead of protesting, though, he nibbled his way down her finger until he could capture the tip in his teeth, then sucked it into his mouth.

_______________

 

My shiny new cover art! isn't it pretty?

 

I hope you all stay healthy! And if the ick strikes your house, I hope you have a sufficient stash of reading material!