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On New Audio, Maple Trees & Blind Dogs…

For those of you who like/prefer audiobooks, I’m happy to announce that MacKenzie Saves the World is now available in audio! You could grab a copy on Audible at the regular price, or…you could comment on this post (here, FB, twitter, wherever), and I’ll gift you a copy for free. It’s a comic-shop themed contemporary romance (hence the title and cover), and I found it both incredibly difficult and personally satisfying to write.

In other news, my husband and I spent a good chunk of our weekend planting new trees, and doing yardwork/cleaning up our patio. Last November, we had some crazy freeze-thaw cycles that knocked half the trees/shrubs in the whole city out or back several years, and two of the three baby trees we planted didn’t survive. The lone survivor was a maple tree I didn’t even order, but just got for free with the other two.

So when I found some nice, bigger maple saplings while shopping at one of the local hardware stores, hubby and I decided maples were the way to go. We both love them, and they’re pretty hardy/fast growing, so we planted both an Amur maple and a Crimson King (Norway) maple. Hopefully within a couple of years they’ll provide good shade for our west-facing backyard and patio so they’ll be usable in the summer again. Our shade grass might pop back again too – the sun is just too, too hot back there right now!

As for the rest, we have a few landscaping projects on the go for this year, just to make the yard and patio nicer, but we also had to start getting the patio cleaned up and rearranging some things due to the Lucy-dog suddenly going blind last week.

She was fine Sunday/Monday, and by Tuesday, she could barely see. By this past Saturday, she was running into things, missing stairs and getting lost in the yard. I’m taking her to the vet Tuesday morning to see if there’s an underlying cause, or if there’s anything we can do for her, but I think we have to realistically expect that this is a permanent condition. So we’ve been trying to make things safer for her, one thing at a time (because every little change is very disorienting for her now), and working with her to learn where things are as well as new commands to help her navigate things like stairs and new obstacles.

She has some other symptoms that possibly indicate either Cushings disease or diabetes. Personally, if it’s one or the other, I’d rather deal with Cushings. Lucy already has Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI), which means her body doesn’t make the enzymes needed to digest food. So I pre-treat/pre-mix her food, feed her three times a day, and supplement her with B12 and a few other things that help her get nutrients from her food. I’m constantly watching how she looks & acts to see if adjustments are necessary. It took me a good 6 -8 months just to figure out how to feed her when she was first diagnosed, because these dogs all respond differently to the different nutrient profiles of foods (for instance, Lucy does better on higher animal fats, and doesn’t do well on lean meats, so beef is important, and at least some raw is vital for her). Of course she can’t digest anything that hasn’t been treated with enzymes, so we have to be careful with between-meal treats (and she’s luckier than other EPI dogs in that she can handle some treats okay).

Lucy’s 8 years old, which is considered a senior dog, but she’s still very active and incredibly smart – she doesn’t act old at all (German Shepherd/Lab mix). I’m sure she’ll adjust to the blindness eventually (and so will we), and we’ll just have to see what the vet says about the rest. I’m doing my best not to worry too much about the diagnosis (and hoping it’s neither of the two most likely), but it’s easier said than done. And then there’s the whole issue of getting a newly-blind 95lb dog into a car, out of a car, into a “strange” building, and back home again after fasting for 12 hours (which is incredibly hard both physically and mentally on a dog who quite literally starves without the correct food at routine intervals).

It’s going to be an interesting week…


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Excerpt Day: MacKenzie Saves the World

This week’s excerpt is from one of the most emotionally draining books I’ve ever written (yet). I love these two – even though I tortured them quite mercilessly…


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Excerpt: MacKenzie Saves the World

Step away from the car, please,” she said in a loud, confident tone that carried across the lot. “I have pepper spray, and I’ll use it if I have to.”

A deep, familiar chuckle wafted toward her on the breeze as the figure straightened, holding both hands up in submission as he took a few steps away from the car and into the pool of light from a nearby streetlamp.

Easy there, tiger,” Josh said, his amused expression becoming clear as she drew closer. Letting her arms drop, she shook her head, stowing the pepper spray again.

Why are you here?” she asked, not entirely sure she wanted to know the answer. He dropped his hands and came closer.

Too close.

She started to step back, but he reached out, gently grasping her upper arms to hold her in place.

I tried to stay away,” he said, his tone serious. “And if you’re smart, you’ll tell me to leave you alone, though I’ll be perfectly honest – I’m not sure I can. There’s just something about you…” he raised one hand to caress the side of her face, his fingers trailing lightly down over the side of her neck.

She looked down at his chest, trying not to tremble at his touch. This was it. She had to choose whether to let him in and probably get hurt, or keep him out and do her best to forget that she had feelings for him.

Walking away was the smart thing to do. And she was nothing if not smart.

He coaxed her to look up with his hand, and she saw the same angst that must be in her eyes reflected in his.

This is a really bad idea,” she murmured. He gave her a slight nod.

I think we’ve established that pretty well at this point.” He waited another heartbeat, and then took a step back. “So we’re going to be smart then, right?” His hand slipped away from her skin, leaving her bereft of his warmth.

She could do this. She could get in her car, buy herself dinner and go home. Maybe she’d cry herself to sleep, but maybe not. They hadn’t even kissed, for crying out loud.

He nodded again at her silence and turned to walk away.

No,” she whispered, willing him to stop. But he didn’t, and an overwhelming sense of panic shot through her, made her take a step forward, and then another until she was running after him.

He turned at the sound of her footsteps and opened his arms, gathering her close as she reached him.

When his lips touched hers, it was quite possibly the most right thing she’d felt in a long, long time.


Want to read more? MacKenzie Saves the World is available now at all major online retailers, in ebook format:

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On Work, 99 Cent Pre-Orders & NaNoWriMo…

I think I might be the only person I know who’s not complaining about the time change – specifically about how it’s getting dark earlier now. I love the dark, and I love night, so this actually doesn’t bother me at all. It’s actually far easier for me to get stuff done in the evenings when it gets dark earlier.

It’s back to the day job and my regular schedule this week, and…well…I’m sort of glad. I didn’t get nearly as much done as I’d have liked last week, but it’s only because I wanted to do way more than I really had time or energy for. This is not a new thing with me, and really, you’d think I’d learn, but apparently my “superwoman complex” is stronger than my sense of time/organization. Which is saying a lot, really. Maybe someday I’ll take a vacation where I don’t try to accomplish an insanely long list of things. But normally I call those sick days…

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In any case, I did actually get several important things done, including releasing a new horror/suspense novel for one of my alter-egos, and getting MacKenzie Saves the World formatted for ebook and up for pre-orders on Amazon and Kobo. Here’s the cool thing – if you pre-order the ebook, it’s 99 cents and it will auto-download to your Kindle, Kindle app, Kobo reader or Kobo app on November 14th. After the release date, the price goes up to $2.99. So…you know. If contemporary romance is your thing, go pre-order! 😉

I am working on the print formatting for both of these books, but since it’s November – National Novel Writing Month – and I didn’t get the two drafts I was hoping to finish done, no promises on the time frame. Hopefully soon.

I also spent some time the first day of November creating a loose outline and basic character profiles for The Time Stone, this year’s NaNo draft. Yes, I know, I was supposed to start writing then, but I’m trying to do some different things with this one, and experimenting with some very basic and broad advanced planning to see if that will help. By the time you read this, I’ll have started the draft – better late than never.

For those of you reading the weekly serial story here on Fridays, never fear. It will continue normally throughout the month. And if you want to follow my progress with the NaNo draft, I’m going to try to post daily updates over at The Drafting Desk, so you can click over to that blog and see what I’ve been working on for the day if you’re interested.

This Tuesday and next are both holidays at the day job for me, which is not so good because I’m really not fond of 4-day work weeks…they always seem more chaotic than a normal week, but good for things like catching up on delinquent word counts.

And now, while you’re reading this Monday, I’m writing it Sunday night and it’s time for me to finish up some chores and get some writing done. Here’s to much productivity in the midst of what’s sure to be a busy and chaotic week!


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Halloween Treats

If you’re looking for this week’s serial installment, fear not! It’s scheduled to post around 10am Mountain time, so it’ll pop up in a few hours. In the meantime…

Happy Halloween!

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Halloween is our Christmas, more or less, and today I’ll be out in the yard, putting the finishing touches on our Creepy Campout and graveyard before the kiddies show up for trick-or-treating. Even though we have the “bones” down (so to speak), there’s a lot of stuff we can’t put out early due to spoilsports who like to steal things, so most of the “meat” will go out tomorrow, and come back in tomorrow night as well. The magic only happens on the 31st…

In that same vein, I have treats for you! Unfortunately, the paranormal romantic suspense I’m working on isn’t quite done yet, so I don’t have anything too suspenseful to give you as myself. What’s an author to do?

Luckily for you, MacKenzie Saves the World is done, so for today, and today *only*, you can download the PDF version right here for free. This offer is only good until midnight my time (so 2am Eastern, 11pm Pacific). It’s tricky that way. 😉

You’re probably aware that Alex Westhaven, one of my alter-egos, writes horror/suspense, so if that’s you’re thing and you’re looking for something a little freaky this season, check out this page on her blog with links to free copies of the entire Death by Veggies series as well as Angel Eyes, and a free download for When She Cries, her latest book (normally $2.99) as well.

So there you have it – lots of reading material for before you head out to collect candy, or after the kids finally crash from their sugar-and-scare high and you’re ready to sneak a few pieces yourself.

Enjoy the holiday & happy reading!


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Serial Story: MacKenzie Saves the World, Part 30 (Final)

This serial story is presented in draft (unedited) format. Each new installment will replace
the one before. If you get behind, email me and I’ll hook you up with the missing chapters!


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MacKenzie Saves the World
Part 30

The next morning MacKenzie stretched, trying to remember why her muscles were so sore, and how her bed had gotten so soft. Her hands and feet both hit barriers before she opened her eyes and recognized Josh’s living room.

And the man himself, fast asleep in his chair across from where she lay on his couch.

She smiled at how peaceful he looked. The past month had been so busy, but they’d made time for each other and she’d gotten to know him – not just what he liked and how he thought though they’d certainly spent plenty of time talking about…everything, but she knew his expressions, his habits, every line and crease on his face. And everything she knew about him just made him that much more dear to her. She couldn’t imagine life without this amazing, resilient man.

Careful to be quiet, she moved the blanket aside and stood, unable to resist just one more stretch up high overhead. When her heels finally touched down and she looked over at Josh, he was looking at her, something in his eyes that she couldn’t quite decipher.

“You’re beautiful,” he said, setting his own blanket aside. She rolled her eyes at him as he rose and came toward her.

“My hair’s a mess, this dress is trashed, and I’m sure my makeup’s all over my face. But thank you.”

He leaned down for a kiss and she met him half-way, surprised when he released her quickly.

“Everything okay?”

He nodded, reaching into his pocket. “Better than okay.” He pointed to the ottoman. “Can you sit down for a minute?”

Kenzie sat, her stomach flipping in anticipation. And when he knelt in front of her, she could barely focus for the pounding in her chest. He held out a small black box, still closed on the palm of one hand, and grasped her hand with the other.

“You know I love you, MacKenzie. And I can’t imagine my life without you. Will you marry me? Please?”

She couldn’t have held back a wide smile if she’d tried.

“Of course I’ll marry you. I love you so much.” She threw her arms around his neck and kissed him, throwing them both off balance. When they were both laughing on the floor, he rolled to his side and held up the box, a teasing glint in his eye.

“Do you want to see your ring now?” The way he said it, the look on his face made her curious.

“Absolutely.” She reached for the box, but he pulled it back out of reach. Laughing, he opened it where she couldn’t see it, and then slowly lowered it down to eye level.

Kenzie looked at the dark, almost black titanium band inlaid with two lighter bands top and bottom. A pink oval diamond was set deep in the center, the top flush with the band so it wouldn’t get caught on things. She stared for a long moment, not sure whether to laugh or cry as Josh took it out of the box and slid it on the ring finger of her left hand. she wiggled her finger, watching the light flash through the stone.

“I can’t believe it,” she breathed, unable to take her eyes off it. “You had Charade’s ring made. How did you do it?”

Josh reached for her hand, bringing it to his lips for a kiss.

“I had Kevin get me your sketches, and took them to a jeweler I know. One of his designers made it happen. You like it?”

MacKenzie shook her head. “No, I love it. You are amazing.” She pulled him down for a kiss, needing him close.

“Superhero amazing?” he murmured against her lips, rubbing his nose against hers. She giggled.

“My own personal superhero, without a doubt.”

The End

Thanks for reading – I hope you enjoyed MacKenzie’s story! The edited, final version will be out in print and ebook on November 14th.


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On MSTW, Ambition & Business…

First off, I need to show off the new cover for MacKenzie Saves The World (because I think it’s totally cool):

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I have the edits back and I’ll be working on those just as soon as I finish up one more draft that’s *this close* to being done. I’ve pushed back the release date for MSTW to November 14th, which I know is a long time to wait, but I’ll be setting up pre-orders soon on Amazon and any other online retailer that will allow it, so I’ll let you know when that option is available for those who’d like to “set and forget” it for your ereader.

I’ll also have the print copy ready by then, and I’ll be setting up a Goodreads giveaway within the next week or so for advanced copies – I’ll let you know when that goes live.

I’ll also be starting up my monthly newsletter again in November, and it will contain something special for subscribers that won’t be announced or offered anywhere else, so watch your inboxes the first week of November for that (if you’re not signed up and want to be, there’s a sign up box on the right side of the blog…).

I know, I haven’t sent a newsletter in a long time. And I haven’t published a book in quite awhile either. It’s been a busy writing year.

A couple years ago, I decided to back off pretty much all promotional activities and focus on writing and publishing several books per year. The writing thing worked fine, but for the last two years in a row I’ve sabotaged myself by taking on too many projects at once and not focusing on what I already have going, which results in longer times to finish drafts and less books published in a year (exactly the opposite of what I’d been going for). So many fun ideas, so little time…

In any case, with very (very) little promotion and long wait times between books, sales have plummeted, which is good in a round-about way because the need for my book business to pay its own way (and the fact that it currently isn’t, but has in the past) has given me a nice little shot of ambition to stay on track and make/meet writing & publishing goals going forward.

I’m glad I took the time to just write for these past years, because not only do I have a clearer plan of what I’m capable of in terms of projects and deadlines, but I’m also in a far better position now to leverage promotional opportunities *and still get my writing done* than I was before. So even though I delayed things a bit, in the grand scheme, it was still a good decision.

Now, it’s time to get back to work on the business side of things, and ironically, that means slowing down for the next few months while I finish up current projects and organize the next few releases for maximum exposure.

It also means sticking to my scheduled bedtime to get enough sleep so I can tackle both the day job and the “night job” without getting too burnt out.

Here’s to new books, cool covers, and being indie, which means I can figure this business out at my own pace. 😉


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Serial Story: MacKenzie Saves the World, Episode 3L

This serial story is presented in draft (unedited) format. Each new installment will replace
the one before. If you get behind, email me and I’ll hook you up with the missing chapters!


“Fight Water with Fire” – Part 12

MacKenzie opened her eyes to an unfamiliar room and bright sunshine filtering through semi-transparent curtains. The mattress was soft – too soft to be hers, and she was underneath a thick, cozy bedspread that wrapped around her like a hug.

Breathing in deeply, she smiled. Josh’s unique, masculine scent enveloped her, reminding her of where she was, and why.

Not the way she’d planned to get into his bed, but now that she was here…

She raised her head at a sound near the foot of the bed. Josh came in the door, carrying two cups of something that smelled like coffee. She sat up, scooting back to lean against the wooden headboard.

“You’re awake,” he said, setting one cup down on the nightstand, and carefully handing her the other. “Careful, it’s hot.”

“Thank you.” She took a small sip, breathing in the life-giving aroma. “What time is it?”

Josh perched on the edge of the bed, facing her. “It’s nearly ten. Sleep well?”

She nodded, taking another, bigger sip. “My head doesn’t hurt so bad, so I must have. I’m sorry I feel asleep on you last night.”

He chuckled. “I’m not. It was a long day, and we were both worn out. I was happy enough to rest up too.”

Vaguely remembering a warm body in bed with her the night before, she cocked her head to the side. “Where did you sleep, exactly?”

He shrugged, reaching for his coffee and avoiding eye contact. “I didn’t want to leave you alone.”

She nodded, studying the machine embroidery on the duvet, all too aware of his heavy stare. “Um…thanks.”

He reached out and took her cup, putting it next to his back on the nightstand. Scooting up farther on the bed, until his right leg was pressed against hers, he leaned over her legs, propping himself there with one arm as he looked into her eyes.

“What were you going to tell me yesterday, Kenzie? Kevin said that’s why you hurt yourself – you were looking for me.”

She looked away. “I just…well, Kevin said I was over-thinking things, and he’s right.” She forced herself to look at Josh, needing him to know she was sincere. “I’m tired of fighting this too, Josh. I…want you. Us. Even if–”

Josh’s hand curled around her neck and pulled her forward to meet his lips, cutting off her next sentence. He tasted like fresh coffee with just a hint of mint in the background. As quickly as she’d melted into his touch, she pulled back, aghast.

“Oh God. Morning breath. I–” She saw a split second of a grin on his lips before he claimed hers again, leaning in farther as he shifted on the bed, moving to lay beside her, urging her down to the pillows. His hands were everywhere they could reach, but there was the frustrating matter of the duvet and sheets and clothing…

MacKenzie broke free, holding him off with a firm hand to his chest and a smile when he would have pulled her back.

“Your breath is fine. Don’t go.”

She laughed, slipping off the other side of the bed and holding one finger up.

“I’m not going anywhere,” she said, reaching down to grasp the hem of her shirt. “But there’s way too much material between us, and it’s driving me crazy. So strip.”


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Serial Story: MacKenzie Saves the World, Episode 3J

This serial story is presented in draft (unedited) format. Each new installment will replace
the one before. If you get behind, email me and I’ll hook you up with the missing chapters!


“Fight Water with Fire” – Part 10

“I’m not leaving yet,” MacKenzie told the nurse handling her release fifteen minutes later. She was dressed and sitting on the edge of the bed, willing a wave of dizziness to subside and waiting for Kevin to take her to Josh. “There’s someone I need to see first. His dad’s in surgery.”

The nurse sighed, leaning on the handles of the empty wheelchair she’d brought with her.

“It’s hospital policy, Ms. Jones. We have to escort you to the car in a wheelchair once you’ve been released.”

MacKenzie shook her head, immediately regretting the decision. “Can’t you just escort me to that waiting room and then leave? I don’t see why this is so hard. I just want to go to another part of the hospital.”

“I’m sorry, but the doctor wants you to go home, so we have to see you to your car. There’s no other option.”

“Ready to go?” Kevin stood in the doorway, one shoulder propped against the frame as he dangled his keys in the other hand. MacKenzie started to protest, but he gave his head a small shake and winked, so after a moment’s hesitation, she slowly gave a small nod.

“Sure, I guess.”

She got into the wheelchair and allowed the nurse to push her behind Kevin, all the way to the front doors of the hospital. Josh’s SUV was parked in one of the pick-up spots, and Kevin opened the door and helped her in, then slid behind the driver’s seat as the nurse finally left them.

“This isn’t your car,” she said, reaching for the door handle. “What’s going on? Where’s Josh?”

Kevin put a hand on her wrist. “I talked to Josh before I came out to get the car. Give him a few minutes. He’ll meet us here.”

She let go of the handle. “But his dad…”

“Is going to be fine. He’ll tell you the rest when he gets here. Just be patient, okay?”

He smiled and squeezed her shoulder. The small gesture made her want to cry as she relaxed back into the seat. They’d been friends for longer than she could remember, but she knew that sometimes she took him for granted.
“I really appreciate everything you’ve done for me today, Kev. Taking care of me, talking to the doctors, talking to Josh…it’s just so much, and I–”

“Hey,” he interrupted, taking her hand in his. “That’s what friends are for, right?” He chuckled as she swiped at a tear. “Besides, you could blame this all on me, you know. I’m the one who practically ordered you to go find Josh and tell him how you feel.”

She laughed. “That’s true…but I’m glad you did, even with everything that happened. And I’m going to tell him, just as soon as I can.”

A hand touched her shoulder through the open window, and that personal scent she found so irresistible wafted around her.

Josh.

“Tell me what?”