Bittersweet Gets Recommended Read!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Love Will Bring You Home

Welcome to Mountain Meadow, Virginia -- home of some hot guys, some nosy church ladies, and the newest residents, Holly Morgan and her little brother. Oh yeah, and Holly's soon-to-be-born baby.

Special Delivery kicks off my new series: Mountain Meadow Homecomings with Kensington's Lyrical Press imprint.

I can't wait for you to meet Holly and the hunky cop who helps her out, Jake Allred.

Special Delivery will release May 12, 2015. It's available for pre-order now from Amazon, Kobo, and Nook. I hope you will love all the folks of Mountain Meadow as much as I do!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

What Do You Want to be When You Grow Up?

One of my writer friends had posted a question on Facebook: “What did you really want to be when you were growing up?” I flippantly replied: archaeologist, veterinarian, horse trainer, and artist. None of my careers have taken me down those paths. I have been a television journalist – in front of and behind the camera. I write for money—more or less. I am also a teacher—not a career that I would have told you would EVER be on my radar.

However, my response to the question of what I really wanted to be got me thinking. I have done all of these careers. They are part of the everyday fabric of my life.

First of all, let’s look at archaeologist. One look around my house would be enough to show you that I am indeed an archaeologist. Just this morning, I excavated a heating pad from the hinterlands of my office bookshelf. Every time I open the refrigerator…well that’s an archaeological expedition in and of itself. Entering my teenager’s bedroom—need I say more?

Veterinarian, medic…Yup, that’s me. When you have as many animals as we have had over the years, particularly horses which seem especially accident prone, you have to a) be made of money, b) marry a veterinarian, or c) learn to do that stuff yourself. So, here’s a probably incomplete list of my animal medical skills:
·         Expert foot bandager – horse and dog
·         Expert “bits” cleaner – trust me, you don’t want to know
·         Can treat eye wounds
·         Worm horses and dogs
·         Dock tails
·         Remove dew claws
·         Give shots – IM and subcutaneously on cats, dogs, and horses
Then of course, there are the human medical needs:
·         Tick removal from places you simply don’t want to know
·         Road rash cleaner outer
·         Butterfly bandages for the “hell no, it doesn’t need stitches” people in my world.
·         Applier of splints, ace bandages, and masseuse
·         Bandage changer for the “hell no, I don’t need to go to the doctor” people in my world
·         2nd and 3rd degree burn care…see above.
So, yes, I have gained extensive veterinary and human medical experience over the years. My husband, bless him, has spared me experience in the one area I’m not sure I could handle—putting down my favorite horse and my first JRT.

Next, horse trainer. I’ve had horses for going on 30 years now. That doesn’t count when I was a kid. I have fox hunted, evented, and played polocrosse. I have remediated three horses who were petrified of getting on horse trailers. One horse had been in a trailer accident in which the trailer came loose form the tow vehicle (before I owned him). No, nobody paid me, but I ended up with lovely horses over the years who always managed to get the job done for me.

Finally, artist. I don’t paint, unless it’s a wall or a table. I doodle. However, there are other media – I have photographs, sculpture, and of course, my writing because it is also art. Over the years, with my son, there have been homemade Halloween costumes, grease-painted faces, clay and craft projects, and carved and painted pumpkins. This year, I might add watermelon jack-o-lanterns to the mix if our melon patch doesn’t hurry up. 

So, no, I might not have studied archaeology or veterinary medicine. I might not be training the next Olympic wonder horse or giving Rembrandt a run for his money. I have, however, enjoyed a very rich, adventuresome life that was never limited by believing I could only do ONE thing when I grow up. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Broken Heat Pumps, High-Stakes Testing, and Biting Dogs

Sometimes, life gets in the way of the best of plans. When my newest book released at the beginning of this month I thought, great! I’ll get a plan together to promote it, do some book giveaways, some guest blogging and all those other fun things.

Screech…. That would be the sound of the train derailing.

Somehow, my publisher didn’t get the word that the release date for my books was right in the final week of two simultaneous graduate level courses in which I had papers due…in each class…at the same time. Hey, that was okay. I got the papers turned in…just in time to have to push hot and heavy into prepping my high school students for their End of Course Writing exams. I’ve analyzed more reasons, evidence and counterarguments in the last month than I really want to see—at least until next semester when we’ll do it all over again.

So, while I was deep in the middle of reviewing parallelism and using specific vocabulary, I woke up one morning and thought, “Gee, it’s cold in here.” However, with a terrier curled against my back, I didn’t think too much about it, until I finally stumbled into the bathroom where I could hear the outdoor portion of the heat pump running madly, but couldn’t feel any air blowing out of the vent.
Not good.

The final distraction to promoting Broken Heart came from this cute guy whose picture you see here. Sweet face, soulful eyes. In fact, this is the little cutie who likes to curl up to my back at night. He is also the dog that my son takes great pleasure in teasing. This is not a good thing. Said cute, cuddly, worshipful Jack Russell Terrier is also a former abuse case. His previous owners saw fit to toss him out a car window, which is how we ended up with him. We quickly discovered he has real fear issues with men. It took him two years to warm up to my husband. He blows hot and cold with the teenager.
Which is why I usually find myself saying: “Get out of his face. He’s going to bite you.”  I don’t even stick my face in this dog’s face, and he thinks I walk on water, dance on the moon, and need to have him lying near my feet or sitting on my lap whenever I remain motionless for any length of time.

However, teenagers being the way they are. I don’t know what I’m talking about when I say: “Get out of his face. He’s going to bite  you.”

Which is why I spent Saturday evening wiping up blood, soaking a prized T-shirt in cold water, and examining my son’s upper lip to decide if it needed stitches or not. I refrained from being the first one to say: “I told you so.” My spouse took care of that.

My teenager’s gone to school with an ice pack this week.

All I finally said was: “I’m sorry this turned into such a painful lesson son, but I hope you’ve learned it this time.”

And he said: “I have. I don’t want to repeat it.”

Which just goes to show you, teenagers can learn something.

So, where does that leave me with promoting Broken Heart, which—if I do say so myself—is a darn good story? Leave a comment and I’ll enter you in a drawing to win a copy of it. To be fair, I'll give away two copies. So I'm going to hold off and hold the drawing on November 9th.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

How far would you go to help Family?

Broken Heart, book 4 in my series about the Barlow-Barrett family brings at least part of the family together. Stacey gets help from all of her brothers when she finally decides to stand up for what she wants. How families function, or don't, is a theme that runs through this series. Here they are, a family that could buy and sell most of us several times over, but few of them seem to have happy lives.

In book 2, Balancing Act, the hero and heroine are both people devoted to family. Seth has stepped up to run the family business, and Tessa will do whatever she has to in order to protect her younger brother, even if the price is her shot at love and happiness.

How far would you go to help family? Leave me a response and I'll enter you into next week's drawing for an e-book copy of Balancing Act. Remember, I'll be drawing each book in the series...10/20 will be Remember Me, and on 10/27, I'll draw two winners of the newest release, Broken Heart.

This week's winner of Bittersweet is Dawn. Congratulations!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Do You Need Money for Happiness?

When I was a kid, there were plenty of times that I thought,"Everything would be great if only we were rich." It was usually those moments when I wanted something I couldn't have, or I would have to save my money to get what I did want. As an adult, I can appreciate those lessons my parents taught me about learning to work hard for what I want in life. So thanks, Mom and Dad for making me save for six years to get that pony.
Over the years, I have met enough people with money to realize that having wealth isn't a free ticket to a life of infinite happiness. Just look at the news that hits the Internet every day, and anyone can see that. Sure, that person pulling in millions might not be wondering if there will be enough money to put gas in the car until the next paycheck, or if they have enough food in the freezer to cover what they can't buy fresh in groceries, but there are some problems that transcend a family's net worth.
The four books (so far) in the Barlow Barretts' series touch on some of those issues. Anna, in Bittersweet, struggled with the issue of never feeling as though she fit in. Seth, in Balancing Act, struggles with living up to his role as the eldest son--when  his heart's in a different place. In Remember Me, Brandon discovers how life in the limelight can turn ugly, and in this latest book, Stacey faces some of the biggest challenges of all. She's done her best to be the perfect Barlow-Barrett, but it's not enough. Even worse, she faces domestic violence in a marriage that's unraveling.

Broken Heart was a tough book to write, but as I started exploring exactly what kind of story Stacey might have to tell, it occurred to me that the way she'd led her life was simply too good to be true. Nobody had a life as perfect as hers seemed to be, unless they were a Barbie and Ken doll in one of my childhood games.Since I pretty much write by the seat of my pants, it surprised me what issues began to emerge in Stacey's life.
I have to thank my editor, Dianne, for making me go back and rewrite Jace, Stacey's husband. He's not a likable character, and there are people who will feel he doesn't get all that he deserves, but he has a story not unlike Stacey's. Like her, Jace's life has been all about keeping up appearances. It's his reaction when he can no longer do that that becomes the problem.
You know, I'd like everyone to have a chance to get in on this series from the beginning, so this week I'm offering readers a chance to get a copy of Bittersweet, book 1 in the series. All you have to do is leave a comment on whether you think having money makes life hard or easier. I'll draw a winner and announce it next Sunday when I'll do the same with book two, and so on. Pass the word.

Monday, July 22, 2013

A Fresh Look at the Bard

In my "real" life, when I'm not writing, I teach high school English. That includes trying to help students unravel reading Shakespeare. I think I do a pretty decent job at helping them understand it. After going to see A Midsummer Night's Dream, I now see how much richer that experience could be if my students could actually see a play staged.

While I was at the Romance Writers of America Conference in Atlanta last week, I joined some friends at the Shakespeare Tavern just down the street from the conference hotel. What a great experience! We laughed our butts off. Anyone who knows me, also knows I have never been a fan of Shakespeare's comedies. I now understand that's because all I was doing was reading them.

While I thought everyone did a great job, I have to give kudos to the actors who played Bottom and Puck. When I've read this play in the past, I simply found these characters annoying, but seeing how the actors interpreted them on stage was fantastic.

If you're heading to Atlanta, the Shakespeare Tavern is definitely worth a visit! Oh yeah... the food's good too.