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Serial Story: Don’t Look Away, Ch. 34 (Final)

This serial story is posted one chapter per week on Fridays, in unedited (draft) form. It may contain adult situations that might not be suitable for children. Missed a few chapters? Email me to catch up. Thanks for reading, and enjoy!


Don’t Look Away
Rattlesnake Falls, Book 1
Chapter 34 (Final)

The next morning Shelley woke to someone pounding on her front door. She groaned and just barely refrained from telling whoever it was to go away in rather colorful terms. She’d been up long past midnight shuttling her things in from the car and digging out necessities like blankets and the tea kettle, counting on the fact that she could set her own schedule now.

Or so she’d thought.

She sat up and shoved her feet into slippers, thankful she’d collapsed in her sweats and t-shirt so she didn’t have to try to find her robe. Whoever it was knocked again, and she stood up, yawned, and made her way to the front door, only stubbing her toe once on a box.

Pulling it open a crack, she peered out, squinting at the bright daylight. It took a few seconds to register the face peering back at her.

“Dillon?”

He smiled and held up both hands – a keyring with two keys on it in one, and a brown paper bag in the other. “I have gifts. Can I come in?”

Stepping back, she opened the door wide and wished like hell she’d taken a peek in the mirror. Or at least pulled her hair back. It was probably everywhere, and the thought of how she must look made her blush.

“Of course…please. I don’t have much furniture yet, but there’s a bench in the kitchen.”

She closed the door and followed as he zig-zagged through the boxes and piles until he found both the kitchen and the built-in breakfast nook. Sliding in on one side of the bench, he put the bag and keys on the table, then unzipped his jacket and pulled out two bottles of plain iced tea and set them out as well.

“Wow.” Shelley sat down on the bench opposite him. “Those are some big pockets to hold iced tea bottles. Thank you. I found the kettle last night, but haven’t unpacked the tea just yet.”

“I figured.” He opened the bag and pulled out two napkins, placing one in front of each of them, and then brought out two of the most delicious looking Danishes Shelley had ever seen. “Mom told me you stopped by yesterday, and said you’d bought this place. Said your car was full, but that you were alone. I thought I’d drop by and see if you needed help. And also give you these.” He pushed the keys toward her. “She told me what she said to you. I’m sorry. She shouldn’t have treated you like that, and I told her so. Those are for your new PO box. You can just leave the rent in the box, next time you go into town.”

“It’s okay – I understand.” Shelley took a bite of her Danish – possibly the best she’d ever tasted. “Dillon, I’m sorry–”

He shook his head, held up one hand while he finished his own bite. “No apologies necessary. Like I told Mom, you had a lot happen to you, and so did I, and you needed space to deal with that. It’s okay. I was angry at first, but I get it. I needed some space to work things out myself.”

“So you’re not mad?” Shelley didn’t know whether to believe him or not. He seemed fine, but it wasn’t a small thing she’d done. “I want to make things right between us. I…” She wasn’t sure how to say what she felt. “I mean, if you’re still–”

He reached across the table and took her hand. “I am. And I’m glad you are. But you didn’t have to move all the way out here – we could have figured something out if you wanted to stay in the city.” There was a teasing note in his voice, and she smiled, relieved on so many levels that she suddenly felt lighter than she had in weeks.

“I needed a change – a big one. I really didn’t like my old job, and I’m excited about freelancing and setting my own schedule. I was tired of all the people and bustle, and I’ve been wanting something quieter for awhile now. Tabitha moved back in with her mother for the time being, so she can finish her therapy, so she wasn’t coming back, and I figured this place would be as good as any to start a new life, so to speak.”

Dillon nodded, still holding her hand. “How is Tabitha? I take it she’s talking to you again?”

Shelley shrugged. “Sort of. She texts. Every week it gets a little longer, but she’s still cool. Maybe eventually we’ll be able to be friends again. She’s got a lot to deal with right now, and Jane still in her ear. But that seems to have less influence than it did at first, so there’s hope.”

“Good.” Dillon released her hand to pick up his danish, and Shelley missed his touch immediately. “Hope is good. You don’t deserve what Jane did to you. I hope Tabitha comes around eventually.” He finished off his danish and looked around, his gaze settling on a stack of boxes nearby. “So, what can I do to help?”

Shelley stood up and held a hand out to him, her heart pounding in her chest. “I can think of a few things,” she said as he took her hand and stood too. “But one thing first, if you don’t mind.”

He grinned as she moved closer and slid her hands up to circle his neck. Pulling her close, he wrapped his arms around her and kissed her forehead, her nose, her lips.

“I don’t mind at all,” he murmured before he claimed her lips again.

The End


Thanks for reading along with the first draft of this story! I’ve got quite a few revisions I want to make, so it’ll be different by the time it comes out, but I’ve enjoyed the journey of discovering this story, and I’m glad you came along for the ride. 

Stay tuned…starting next week, I’ll be serializing one of my earlier novels. Anyone want to revisit the campy fun and romance of Fantasy Ranch? I hope you’ll join me! 

Serial Story: Don’t Look Away, Ch. 33

This serial story is posted one chapter per week on Fridays, in unedited (draft) form. It may contain adult situations that might not be suitable for children. Missed a few chapters? Email me to catch up. Thanks for reading, and enjoy!


Don’t Look Away
Rattlesnake Falls, Book 1
Chapter 33

One month later…

The town looked different, Shelley thought as she turned off the backroad into Rattlesnake Falls. Creeping down the main street, she passed the gas station – which looked open this time – and the general store, several houses with children playing in the yards and finally pulled up in front of the tiny post office. Turning off the engine she sat back in her seat for a minute and took it all in.

So much had happened since she’d last sat in this very building, having dinner with Dillon’s mom and anticipating a fun week away in the wilderness. It felt like something that happened in another lifetime…and she guessed in many ways, that was true.

Grabbing her purse off the passenger seat of her new, packed-to-the-gills car, she got out and put her keys in her pocket, not bothering to lock the door. Ignoring the nerves dancing in her stomach, she pulled the post office door open and went inside, ringing the bell on the counter.

“I’ll be right there!” Diane Riley’s familiar voice made Shelley smile, and she was still smiling when the older woman came into view, leaning heavily on her walker.

The expression on Mrs. Riley’s face wasn’t so welcoming.

“Well, well,” she said, stopping before she reached the counter. “If it isn’t the woman who broke my son’s heart right after he lost his best friend. You should be ashamed to show your face around here, missy. You can just turn around and walk back out that door.”

Shelley’s smile faded. “I’m sorry Mrs. Riley. I didn’t mean to hurt your son, or anyone else for that matter. After everything that happened, I just needed some time to sort things out and get my head on straight.”

“And you couldn’t even pick up the phone to tell him that? Selfish girl. You’re not the only one who got hurt that week. But he tried to reach out to you. You couldn’t even give him the courtesy of a quick call. So why are you here then? What do you want? Trying to ease your conscience?”

Shelley sighed. Somehow she hadn’t thought it would be this hard, but in hindsight, she should have known. She did want to talk to Dillon, to try to explain why she’d needed so much space, but she felt like she should talk directly to him about that, not his mother.

“I actually need a post office box. I bought a house just outside of town, and the main post office web site says there’s no delivery out that way, but that there are plenty of boxes available here. I’d like to rent one, please.”

Dianne shook her head. “Nope. Nothing available, sorry. You’ll have to get one over at Meadowlark. It’s about an hour’s drive south, depending on how far out your new place is.” She looked at the clock. “Don’t think you’re gonna make it today – they close in twenty minutes.”

“So every single one of these boxes is rented.” Shelley looked pointedly at what must have been a hundred boxes lining the hall of the old lobby. “The web site says there are twenty available.”

Dianne shrugged. “Not for the likes of you. Now if you don’t mind, I’m closin’ up myself pretty soon, so you can see yourself out.”

Shelley nodded slowly. “Okay.” She pulled one of her new business cards out of her purse and slid it across the counter. “Here’s my new address, in case you or Dillon would like to stop by sometime. Obviously I didn’t handle things as well as I could have, but I can’t change that now. I am sorry for hurting both of you though, whether you believe it or not. I’d like to be friends someday, if that’s possible. If not, then cordial neighbors will have to do.”

Determined not to cry in front of Mrs. Riley, Shelley turned and quickly made her exit, managing to hold off the tears until she was seated in her car. Even then, she swiped angrily at her cheeks and pulled away from the building, knowing the propensity of small town people to snoop and gossip. It was time to check out her new home, and start getting settled in. Now that she was freelancing, time was money, and she needed a place to work.

And maybe someday she could convince Mrs. Riley to rent her a PO box. Baby steps.


Thanks for reading! Check back next week for Chapter 34 – the final chapter!

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Serial Story: Don’t Look Away, Ch. 32

This serial story is posted one chapter per week on Fridays, in unedited (draft) form. It may contain adult situations that might not be suitable for children. Missed a few chapters? Email me to catch up. Thanks for reading, and enjoy!


Don’t Look Away
Rattlesnake Falls, Book 1
Chapter 32

Dillon held her there on the sidewalk until she started to pull away. He reached up and gently wiped the tears from her cheeks.
“Ready to go upstairs?” At her nod, they went into the building and up to her apartment. She held out her keys, and he unlocked the door, ushering her inside.

“I’m sorry,” she said, kicking off her shoes and hanging up the scarf that she’d wrapped around her neck. “It’s just…everything feels like it’s changed, and I don’t know what to do about that. I’ve tried calling Tabby a million times, and she won’t pick up. Do I keep the apartment? Move? What do I do with her stuff? I just don’t know.”

He nodded, not really sure what to say, but wanting to ease her mind. “You might want to just give it some time. It’s only been a few days, and she’s been through a lot. We all have. It’s okay to just rest now. See how things look next week, or even the week after.”

“I know. It’s all just so overwhelming. And then the world just goes on like nothing happened. I was at work this afternoon, and no one knew what happened to me this past week, and I didn’t want to tell anyone because why would they care? But it was surreal, being there, and doing stuff and trying to talk to people like everything still makes sense. Because it doesn’t.” She hesitated for a moment, then walked past Dillon to the kitchen area. Filled the electric kettle and turned it on to boil. Got a mug out of the cupboard.
“Would you like some tea? Or you can have some of Tabby’s coffee, but I don’t have any idea how to work the coffee maker, so you’ll have to make it.”

Dillon smiled. “Tea is fine, as long as it’s strong and black.” He leaned against the counter, watching her get another mug and two teabags. “Can you take a few more days off? So you have a chance to ease back into things?”

Shelley shrugged. “Maybe. I have the time, but they said they need me. I don’t know though…it might help to just jump back in. Get back to some sort of normal routine. Do something besides sit here and think about everything.” She gave him a sidelong glance as she poured water over the teabags. “When are you going back to the ranch?”

He shrugged. “I should probably head up there tomorrow. We have a big group coming in from out of state, and with Mike gone…” he swallowed hard at the thought of his buddy not being there. Blinked several times.

“I’m sorry.” Shelley left the mugs and came to him, putting her arms around him. “I’m so sorry. I can’t imagine, I mean…”

He hugged her tight, appreciating the sympathy but not wanting to add to her pain. “It’s okay. I’ll be okay, it’s just going to take some time.” He pulled back. Kissed her softly, and then took a full step back.

“I think I’m going to drive back and spend the night at Mom’s tonight, and then I’ll head out for the ranch tomorrow morning. Are you…will you be okay here, by yourself, I mean? I can come back in a few days, see how you’re doing…”

Shelley nodded, then shook her head, and then gave a half-hearted laugh. “I’ll be okay, Dillon – thanks. You don’t need to make a special trip, really. We can just get together the next time you’re in town, and talk then.”

There was something in her voice that worried Dillon – a non-committal tone he didn’t like. The evening was wearing on though, they were both tired, both heartbroken, both trying to figure out how to move on. Maybe this wasn’t the best time for the kind of talk they needed to have about their future together.

So he nodded. Smiled. Kissed her on the cheek, and then on the lips.

Felt like he was making a huge mistake as he walked out the door into the night.


Thanks for reading! Check back next week for Chapter 33!

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Poem-A-Day Challenge: Week 2 Poems

Our National Poetry Month challenge continues…don’t forget to check out Carol’s poems too!

This week, I tried to be more descriptive. Description is my personal writing “unicorn”, if you will. I’m not good at it for several reasons I’ll discuss once I figure out how to do so, but in the meantime, I’m working on it. These are definitely more descriptive, but some of them are still pretty rough around the edges. Not too bad though, methinks…


Saturday, 4/8: Spring Fever (also featured on the BSB blog – a prompt story)

Thick strappy leaves wave merrily
propelled by warm fuzzy bodies
under bright spring sunshine.

Happy tails move this way and that
sending the occasional loose petal
flying free of its cup-like structure.

Red and yellow dominate the field.
A pleasant breeze ruffles ear-fur and
delights busy noses that sniff and seek.

Is there anything happier than soft
wigglebutts and bright fresh blossoms
on a warm spring day?

Sunday, 4/9: Bookkeeping (because…taxes)

What have I done?
Slacked off here, left off there,
shirked responsibility.

Need to fix this,
but there’s so much to do.
Just want to chuck it all.

Promises, every year,
to do better than the last.
Never happens.

Maybe next year.

Monday, 4/10: Morning Noise

It’s so loud —
the six am meeting of the
finely feathered & famished.

Like old friends,
they greet each other with
soulful salutations & song.

The sun rises
and the joyous treetop choir
summons the sleeping to stir.

But…it’s so loud!

Tuesday, 4/11: Lost It

It’s gone.
I don’t know where or how or when,
but it was here, and now it’s not.
I can’t believe I lost it.

I seek.
At home, at work, the car, the bed,
it simply vanished, so it seems.
I don’t know what to do.

I pine.
It was so lovely, useful, perfect.
Not sure what I’ll do without it.
But I must move on.

I buy.
It will be shiny, new, and updated.
This one as perfect as the last.
Maybe even better.

Wednesday 4/12: The Dentist (because…fillings)

It starts with a “pinch”
to numb out the pain.
A brief, quiet wait
until no feeling remains.

The man in white comes
blue mask and gloves donned.
I try to relax,
put my best game-face on.

The drill starts to whine,
burnt enamel fills my nose,
my fingers clench tight,
water & suction whoosh through a hose.

Above me four eyes,
quarters are tight,
gloved fingers, small tools
and that big too-bright light.

My tongue tries to hide
from the chemical tastes,
and the bite of a tool
weilded in haste.

All eventually ends
and my head spins to adjust
when they tip the chair upright
and wipe off the dust.

A necessary evil
this nightmare routine
but it happens less often
with good dental hygiene!

Thursday, 4/13: Daydreams

A wisp of wind swirls through newly born leaves,
green grass swishes softly in a warm summer breeze.

Air fresh and sweet caresses her skin,
she closes her eyes as the daydreams begin.

The hammock sways gently ‘tween two big birch trees,
the afternoon’s quiet save the low hum of bees.

Restless, she shifts, dreams of her paramour.
Does he dream of her too, the one she longs for?

Her heartbeat is loud, her adrenaline flows,
the mere thought of his touch makes her tingle and glow.

It’s all in her head, a fairy-tale ode,
another time, another life, another untaken road.

She opens her eyes, watches shadows diffuse,
waits for the stars to wish for her muse.

Friday, 4/14: A Bad Day

The alarm was off and so was I,
that long and fateful day.
It’s been awhile, so I can scoff,
but things were really gray.

Late to wake and late to work,
nary a sunshiny ray.
A server was down, tempers were up,
and many a nerve set to fray.

Car broke down and dog got sick,
the money drained away.
Dinner was burnt, rain came down,
and left no chance to play.

TV was awful and so was the news,
all touting political sway.
Too fried to write, to tired to read,
but sleep was respite from the grey.


Thanks for reading…feel free to share your own poems below. And stop back next Saturday for another week’s worth of poetry!

Talkin’ Books, July 1, 2015

The print TBR pile - The Blue Labyrinth is on top only because we just bought it. The hubby will read it first.

The print TBR pile –  or part of it, anyways (I have plenty of books sitting in my office waiting to be read as well).The Blue Labyrinth is on top only because we just bought it. The hubby will read it first.

 

Books Finished:
Still The One by Jill Shalvis
Ruby by Anna Skye
Her Imaginary Husband by Lia London
White Fire by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child
Instant Temptation by Jill Shalvis
Instant Gratification by Jill Shalvis

Kindle Books In Progress:
Enter Ruinland by CJ Anderson
The Indie Author Power Pack  (Write, Publish, Repeat)

Print Books in Progress:
The Kill Switch by James Rollins & Grant Blackwood

Comic Books:
Silk #1
Harley Quinn #15
Harley Quinn Valentine’s Day Special
A few other issues of different series that I didn’t keep track of before archiving them

I know, it’s been awhile, but time’s been in short supply for the past few months. Or I’ve been lazy about blogging. Probably both.

I have been reading though, as you can see. Lots of romantic comedy (ala Jill Shalvis, my favorite), catching up with my comic books and working away on my print TBR pile which is growing by the week.

There are even a couple romances up there I’d classify as “new adult” – romances for the late teen/early 20’s set. I’m not normally into those, and I can’t say I am now either, but Ruby was surprising in that it’s written in first person (which I really don’t like) yet it held my interest to the very end. And then I was just annoyed at where it ended – not a cliffhanger, exactly, but the story isn’t finished, it’s just in a sort of “lull” with no real resolution. Not my cup of tea – it makes me feel manipulated into buying the next book (which I haven’t, and probably won’t). Plenty of people *do* like that sort of serialized novella format, so if you do, and you like new adult romances, I’d certainly recommend it – the writing is great and the story engaging.

Her Imaginary Husband is another young/new adult romance, though light on the romance, and more of a “coming of age” sort of story. It’s well-written, but the reasons for the central plot (a non-existent husband) seemed a bit overly dramatic/angsty for me, though true to the age/maturity of the character. Mostly it just seemed “young” in every way, which makes me feel old. LOL

There’s a reason I’m really not into the new adult romance trend – mostly that a lot of the plots and decisions seem silly and overly dramatic and could all be solved with a healthy dose of honesty and confidence/backbone – but they did when I was that age too. I’ve always been an “old soul” (and a very direct one at that), so the genre as a whole really just doesn’t do it for me.

Then we swing about 180 degrees in the other direction, and you have White Fire, by Preston and Child, my favorite adventure/thriller duo. It’s not as much of a page-turner as some of their others, I’m sad to report, but it’s still a good read, with a rather engaging mystery at the core.

And in yet another direction entirely, I’ve just started Enter Ruinland, by CJ Anderson. It’s a post-apocalyptic tale with a central theme of sociopaths being genetic “mistakes”. The writing style is quite different than the normal “mass market” fare, and it took me a bit to get into it, but the story itself is very intriguing so far, and I’m interested to see where it goes.

Next up from the print pile is the latest Tucker & Kane novel by James Rollins & Grant Blackwood – The Kill Switch, which I just started, but I’m sure I’ll enjoy because…Tucker & Kane. Tucker is the rugged and oh-so-manly guy Army Ranger who finds/extracts people and “stuff”, and Kane is his dog. Who also finds things, and protects Tucker, and is incredibly intelligent, handsome and pettable. My kind of guy. 😉

And of course Jill Shalvis and Tawna Fenske both have new books out this week (more romantic comedy – yay!), but I’m trying to convince myself to wait and see if they go on sale later. Yes, I know, I should support my fellow authors, but…well…I’m still kind of cheap when it comes to books (because I buy and read quite a few, probably).

That’s what’s going on in my reading world…if you’re so inclined, feel free to share what you’re reading as well…

On Life, Writing, & Pressure Valves…

Before I forget, I need to announce the winners of the Flame & Stone Newsletter Prize Packages (this month’s newsletter should be in your inbox by now):

Congratulations to
Lorraine Richmond & Dolly Garland!

You’ll both be hearing from me by email this evening, ladies. Thanks for being subscribers! 🙂

There’s a BeauTEAful Summer Tea-Themed prize package up for grab next month, and it’s only for newsletter subscribers. If you’re not signed up, what are you waiting for?

Now to answer the question I’m sure is on everyone’s mind…

Yes, yes we did get the new dishwasher. And installed it over the course of two nights. And about 20 minutes of my Saturday too, finishing up the hose & electrical box hangings. Which sounds far more interesting than it actually was.

Life sort of took a not-so-unexpected-yet-still-unwelcome turn last week, leaving me very little energy (mental or physical) at the end of each day. It’s a temporary situation as they generally are – things always tend to find a way to come back to some sort of balance eventually. The annoying thing about being worn down that far is that there’s no room for anything else until the mind’s had a chance to rest. Including writing.

I get crabby when I don’t write, and not just because between that cold I had and these “things” going on, I’m extremely behind on several deadlines at this point. I know it all sounds like excuses because they do to me too, but that doesn’t solve the issue of just having no brain power left to do one more thing. Doesn’t make it any less frustrating either.

But the main reason I get crabby when I don’t write is that writing is an outlet for me. It’s like a pressure-valve, and when the pressure builds up too high, it gets rather uncomfortable. Even worse, when it’s been a few days since the valve has been open, it gets cold and hard to open at all.

And last week, I barely got a chance to even look at the valve, much less open it. (Okay, that got a little weird. Sorry.)

Anyways, my main goal for this week is to make a point to “release the pressure” at least once a day, regardless of the chaos that the next five days are very likely to bring. Of course surprises will happen, and there’s nothing I can do about that except to just deal with them one-by-one and hope there aren’t too many left to be sprung. But the more organized I am, and the clearer picture I have of what needs to be done when, the better I can deal with curve-balls, and that’s what determines how much mental energy I have left at the end of the day.

As you might imagine, I’ve been prioritizing and scheduling all weekend long in the hopes of getting out in front of things this week. My control-freak nature freaking right out. Don’t mind her. She does that occasionally…

Actually, she’s been screaming at me for the last 15 minutes that I really need to go to bed and get some sleep so I can roll with whatever happens.

She’s always a pain in the butt, but sometimes she’s right…

I wish you a non-chaotic, boring week. Or if you happen to run into chaos, by all means, feel free to keep her/him/it/whatever…I certainly don’t need her back.


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On Contests, Sight, & Almond Milk…

Before I forget (because I have a tendency to do so), I have a few sale & contest announcements for this month (it won’t take long, I promise):

FandS_400

– The digital version of Flame & Stone is just .99 for the month of March (woohoo!)
– There’s a contest to win free copies running now on LibraryThing
– There’s another contest to win free copies running now on BookLikes
– The print version should be done by the end of the week, and then there will be a contest for signed print copies on Goodreads, as well as LibraryThing & BookLikes.
– Giveaways for the audio version should be up on LibraryThing & BookLikes before the end of the month.

So…lots of chances to win free copies, or you can buy a copy cheap for this month only.

Fun Fact: As of this blog post, the audiobook has outsold the ebook by a wide margin. Odd, but hey, I’m all about variety here, and I’m just as happy with people listening as reading. Thank you! And I’m sure our excellent narrator, Kevin Clay, would extend his thanks as well.

 

Now, on to other things…

I finally went to the eye doc last week, and found out why my eyes have been watering pretty much non-stop all winter, making it difficult both to write and work, as I stare at a screen all day & most nights. Apparently I have a “genetic corneal degeneration” – an inherited disease of the cornea that causes not only the excessive watering, but also the extreme sensitivity to light that I have off and on and other uncomfortable symptoms. Unfortunately, my doc didn’t say which kind I have, and a quick internet search reveals that there are quite a few (though many are very rare, or only appear in children, so I can pretty much rule those out, I think).  In any case, while it will probably cycle through good/bad times, unless it’s one specific type, it’s pretty much assured to just keep getting worse as I age. There’s a good chance I’ll need corneal transplants when I’m older. Joke’s on me for being so blase (I have no idea how to put the accent over the “e” there) about turning 40, eh?

I have another appt. next week to see if the steroid/antibiotic eyedrops the doc prescribed are working (feels like they are – no more watering, and no more soreness/pressure – yay!), and probably to get a new lens prescription because eyes that aren’t inflamed see differently, of course.

You know how life tends to force you to confront your worst fears at some point in time, whether you want to or not? Well, aside from general anesthesia, the thing that scares me most in life is losing my eyesight. I love to read. I enjoy my coding/web job. I love watching squirrels chase each other around our roof, and flowers in the garden, and big trees and beautiful houses. I love art – paintings and sculptures. I love a sunny spring day, fall leaves, and blankets of snow. Love those first roses of summer…

Technology these days is such that a blind or very low-vision person can get along far better than they used to, and I’m quite sure I could adapt, if necessary. But I don’t want to. Hopefully, I won’t have to, but of course my mind always jumps to the worse possible outcome. Luckily, rather than getting too mopey or depressed, I start planning for what might happen, in hopes that it won’t. Thwarting the universe, so to speak. Unfortunately, that’s distracted me a lot for the past week, but it’ll calm down, especially when I have more information on what the exact disease I have is, and can gather more information about what happens next.

And just like that, another book idea is born…

Last but not least…almond milk. Clearly I’ve been watching far too many vegan cooking shows on our local PBS Create channel, because while doing my grocery shopping for the week, I picked up a half-gallon of Almond Milk to try. Unsweetened.

It sucks.

Sugar, anyone?


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On Leather, SNL, & Innocent Attraction…

Happy Monday/President’s Day! Happy because due to the fact it’s a federal holiday, I’m off work and at home. A very good thing, considering how far behind I am on my writing schedule. I’m hoping to get a lot of words written today…

This past Saturday (Valentine’s Day, though I’m not big on celebrating Hallmark holidays), hubby and I took advantage of a special dinner deal one of our local wine shops was having. A four course dinner with four wines/drinks to match by a local chef. Hubby and I both agreed that the salad and main courses were the best (and neither of us cared much for the cold potato soup – though it was a rather pretty purple color), and interestingly enough, the first and third drinks were also the best (though I think I liked the third wine better than he did). The first was a Spicy Beet Cider to go with a beet and walnut salad. That cider was absolutely stunning, and reminded me of the stock art photo I found for a book my horror alter-ego will be writing later this year. I think I might actually incorporate the flavors and textures into that book, somehow. It really was stellar.

The wine that was served with the main course (beef & mushroom pasta) was Cascina Ca’Rossa Langhe Nebbiolo 2010, and I was utterly fascinated and intrigued by it. It tasted and smelled of leather and smoke, which sounds weird, I know, but from the very first sip it reminded me of an old study or library, with a fire roaring in a big stone fireplace, the walls lined with built-in bookshelves filled with old leather-bound tomes, and big wing-back chairs where one might sit and read and smoke a cigar, if that’s your thing (not mine, but that’s the general environment). The color was even reminiscent of leather, clear dark burgundy-brown that flashed lighter as it swirled in the glass.

It wasn’t just another wine, it was a sensory experience, and I really must find a bottle of that to have for my very own. Or two, perhaps – one to drink, and one to just admire and remember…

Interestingly, my husband bought new leather shoes earlier that day as well. When I came home from grocery shopping on Sunday morning, I smelled the new leather, and immediately thought of that wine. Fascinating, isn’t it?

Sunday night, I watched the Saturday Night Live 40th anniversary special. That show is as old as I am, and I’ve seen a lot of it. When I really was old enough to start watching it in the late 80’s/early 90’s, I remember so many people complaining about how bad it had gotten. And I watched old episodes, and I watched new episodes, and some I liked, and some I didn’t, and there were years when I didn’t watch at all and then I’d pick it back up again…but it’s always been there, part of the soundtrack of my life, as it were. Isn’t it odd how one TV show can be so ever-present, and watching the clips last night made me realize just how big of an impact it’s had on society as well as my own perspective on things. So many catch-phrases and things that have become all pervasive, and some I didn’t even realize had come from SNL in the beginning…

You’d think watching something like that would make me feel old, especially seeing some of the older actors now, but it really didn’t. It was just a really pleasant trip down memory lane, both personally, and in a cultural sense too.

Which brings us to today, and the draft I’m working on at the moment. I’ve mentioned before that I’m working on a kid’s novel for a brand new small press, and I’m pretty sure I mentioned my misgivings about it too. It really gave me some serious cognitive dissonance at the start, because it’s so far out of the realm I normally like to work in that I felt very…constrained in what I could and couldn’t do with it. But I kept forging ahead, largely because I’d committed to finishing it, and as I’ve pressed on, a few things have really started to make this a much more enjoyable endeavor.

The first was the happy coincidence that one of the TV stations decided to play the Harry Potter movies over the last few weeks. I’ve watched a couple now (re-watched, I guess), and while my plot and characters aren’t even remotely similar to the Potter series, I’ve really gained a lot of insight into character development as it pertains to children through those stories. I don’t have kids, and haven’t worked around them in nearly 20 years, so that helped a lot just to see how someone else did it, and to realize where I was going wrong in terms of “kid culture” (because even as a child, I never really was one, if that makes sense – I’ve never identified with my own age group, and also never been part of the “crowd”, so to speak). Once I figured that out, my storyline started working a lot better.

And the second happy coincidence was the Charlie Brown Valentine’s Day Special on TV. We only watched a little bit of it, but it reminded me that there’s a very innocent side of romance that kids experience even when they’re young (not *that* young…my heroine is 11), and while I’d thought about that, I was afraid to really “go there” with my young cast of characters. But Charlie Brown and the Little Red-Haired Girl and Peppermint Patty and Lucy and Linus and the whole gang reminded me of that sweeter, innocent side of attraction, and just how completely adorable it is, and I went ahead and took my young characters there. Not only does it work, it’s going to really set up the next few stories in the series, as my characters grow together. And since romance is a predominant part of what I write in my other genres (it even has a place in my horror…attraction is all pervasive in human society, and I find it fascinating no matter what light you put it in), I suddenly felt more comfortable with my “kid lit”, and the story just started to take off after that.

This is part of why I write…to explore new perspectives on life, to see how others view the world, and to explore the various decisions that might be made, and how they affect us as we see them through.

With that said, I’m going to post this, grab another cup of tea and a snack, and see where my characters will take me today…


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New Release & Excerpt: Flame & Stone

Today I’m excited to (finally) announce the release of my first paranormal romantic suspense, Flame & Stone, Book 1 in the new Dunning Manor series.

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Flame & Stone
Dunning Manor, Book 1

It takes a lot of heat to melt a heart of stone…

Flames once put the heartbroken Thomas Grady under the ancient curse of an old manor house. Two hundred years later, fire fueled by an unholy passion drives Katie Watson to the same manor for protection. Assigned as her guardian under duress, Thomas just wants to do his job and go back to his perch at the top of the manor.

Katie falls hard for her new protector, even as they’re planning an intervention for her nemesis. Now that she’s found him, she refuses to give him up – even if that means she has to travel through both time and space to make it happen…

Flame & Stone is available now in ebook format for $2.99 at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, All Romance, and Smashwords, and will be available at other online retailers within the week. The print copy will be out within the next month!


Excerpt:

For a long moment, the hall was deathly quiet. Katie glanced at her friends, still apparently stuck in some trance, and then back to the monks, those glassy black eyes staring right through her, or so it seemed. They didn’t move a muscle, and she frowned, wondering if they were even still alive.

Finally, they stood in unison, the action forcing her to take a step back. They began to walk in a circle around her, kicking up a slight breeze that gradually grew in substance, though apparently only within the circle they’d created.

“Katherine Watson. Your enemy has been vanquished, and the warrior returned to the manor, but for bringing your enemy here rather than taking your warrior’s council, you will not be allowed to break the curse. As per the requirements for aide from the manor, you are hereby banished, and are never to return again.”

“Wait! No!” The wind swirled around her like a miniature cyclone now, and she tried to push through it, tried to get to Thomas, but it flung her back every time.

“You can’t do this! You can’t keep us apart! It’s not fair!”

The wind turned to a cloud, the cloud dark and angry around her, and tears slid down her cheeks as she felt herself lifted off the ground.

“No!” she screamed into her swirling cocoon. “I’ll find you, Thomas – I swear! I won’t give up!”

The cloud disappeared in a puff and she dropped to the ground, hitting hard and collapsing from the impact. Stunned, she rolled to her back and saw stars – real stars in the vast, navy blue night sky above. Crickets and frogs chirped in tandem as her fingers curled around dirt and grass. She sat up, looking this way and that, but though she was sure this was the right clearing, there was no sign of the manor anywhere.

“No,” she murmured, swiping at the tears on her face. “They can’t do this. I won’t let them.” She didn’t want to leave, but there wasn’t anything else she could do here, and she was pretty sure those damn druids wouldn’t be coming back.

After one last long look, she ran back to the car and slid behind the wheel. Locking the doors, she just sat there, stunned and shaking. She went over everything that happened, image after unbelievable image flashing through her mind. The manor was gone. Thomas was gone. Peter was dead, and Sarah was…a gargoyle now? It all felt like a dream, something her mind had made up while she was sleeping, and just like that, it was gone. Had it all just been a strange fantasy? Was she going crazy?

No. Even if everything else was fake, Thomas was real. She knew it as surely as she knew her own name, and when she closed her eyes, she could feel him next to her, holding her, hear his deep, gentle voice in her ear.

She had to find him. She would not give him up.

She started the car and peeled off the gravel shoulder and onto the pavement, only slowing when a local cop flashed his lights at her on his way to somewhere else.

She needed help. Someone who had seen the manor, who knew the legend, and someone who knew about druid magic, whatever that was. She had no idea where to find such a person, but the internet seemed like a good place to start, and there was no time to waste.

Frantic to find him by the time she reached her house, she ran inside and grabbed a pen, a notepad, and a couple sodas from the refrigerator before heading to her computer desk. Her fingers flew across the keyboard as she entered the first search terms and started scrolling through results.


Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoy the final version! Up next in the Dunning Manor series – Sarah’s story, coming later this year…

 

 

Talkin’ Books: January 28, 2015

Books Finished:
Best Man For Hire by Tawna Fenske
Invasive Species by Joseph Wallace

Kindle Books In Progress:
The Indie Author Power Pack 

Print Books in Progress:
White Fire by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child

Comic Books:
None

Another quick update as I’m knee-deep in revisions and formatting to get the latest book out by Friday and still get some new words written for drafts in progress as well…

Look at that – I finished two books this week! Good stuff, I tell you what.

Invasive Species is one of those books where you just keep thinking that the situation *has* to get better, and it just keeps getting worse instead. It’s both fascinating and horrifying, but ends on a hopeful note as well, though a different one than you might think. If you like suspense, it’s definitely worth the time & money, in my opinion.

Best Man For Hire was good, but as I mentioned last week, I just really haven’t been in much of a romance-reading mood lately. I go through cycles, and apparently I need something else for awhile. This book definitely has it’s moments, and it’s hilarious in spots (all Tawna’s books are), so I’d certainly recommend it to anyone looking for a rollicking good time.

I also made some progress with Write, Publish, Repeat from the Indie Author Power Pack. I found a few more nuggets of wisdom regarding blurbs that I think might help quite a bit, and a couple interesting tidbits on titles as well. I’m skimming a lot of the pricing/distribution parts, because I’m content with the way I handle those already, so we’ll see what comes up next…

And I also started White Fire by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child in paperback this week. I haven’t gotten too far into it, but I already know it’s going to be good…partly because they always are, and partly because my husband loved it. Good enough for me!

That’s it for this week…hopefully next week I can get back into my comic book stack. Harley’s getting lonely!


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