It’s not about the presents; It’s about the presence…


I could have chosen a happy family with Christmas decorations saturating a warm festive room, but we all know that’s not exactly how all Christmases go. But hey, it’s family and it’s ours, so we love them. And being with them is what matters for Christmas.

crazy-family

A lot of times, I get too carried away with how much money I have to spend on gifts and who I may have forgotten, when this time of years barrels through. Because let’s admit, it doesn’t just roll around. It slams you like a hurricane with gale force winds.

At least it does me.

I always promise I’m going to start shopping sooner, but I never get around to it. I swear, I did all my shopping the night before Christmas Eve, Christmas Eve, Eve. When I started in with my buggy, I wanted to blow up the store and anything I saw that had to do with Christmas Cheer. When my buggy was full of a lot of good deals, I started getting a little happier. I was able to invest a little of my emotions into the holiday. By the time I got to check out, I wanted to spend my whole bank on Christmas and every one I knew.

But I was frugal and still had money to spend on groceries for about half the week. I don’t know what we’ll do for the rest of the week after that, but we’ll sure have presents. And I won’t feel bad that my kids won’t have something to open up.

Part of my buggy had all the makings for a scrumptious family dinner. That’s what I’m looking forward to the most. I can’t wait to look across the table at all my family, share what we’ve done this year and talk about how we plan to start our Christmas shopping in January.

Like that’s going to happen. 🙂

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Ever After Giveaway!


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This week I am giving away a signed copy of Ever After to two lucky winners. All you have to do to enjoy the first novel in the Cursed Series is:

  1. Like my Facebook Author Page.
  2. Share my Facebook Author Page on your wall.
  3. Answer this question in the comment section of my blog: What is your favorite book or movie, and why?
  4. Post your email at the bottom of this blog with your answer or, if you prefer, private message it to me on my Facebook Author Page.

The drawing will take place on Ever Tempted’s RELEASE DAY: September 27, 2016.

Good luck and happy reading!

Below is an excerpt from Ever After:

Two oval-shaped, emerald eyes emerged from the overgrown thickets beyond the gate. Three feet away, a waist high cat crept closer. Its head was twice the size of mine. Its lip curled up. One razor-sharp tooth could have sliced straight through me. Its black, shiny coat shimmered in the moonlight. It stopped, all four muscular legs locked, twitching.
I took one step back, but the cat’s triangular head lowered as it put its weight on its back haunches. A low, guttural growl rolled over in its chest. Moonlight glinted off its eyes as it narrowed them to slits. The monstrous cat sauntered to my left. It halted. Holding lifelessly still, my breath burned in my lungs.

In a long black fluid movement, the cat turned toward me. It took one step and halted, lowering its head to assess me. Tilting its head as it took me in, it growled again.

I tried to inch back, but stopped when something dark and shadowy slinked across the ground between us.

The cat lunged.

I tried to dart to the left, but stumbled back. The cat’s long body stretched and soared over me as I tumbled backward down the embankment. I stopped rolling and slid on my stomach, but the momentum I’d built drug me downward. Rocks and exposed fingers of roots scratched my stomach and tore my nails as I grasped for something, anything to hold to.Rocks and dirt broke free from the embankment landing on my shoulders. Every tree root I grabbed for snapped causing me to slide more.

I scrambled and dug at anything I could to slow my ascension, when an arm scooped from nowhere and brought me to a stop. My nails dug into flesh as I scrambled for sturdy hold.

Hot, irregular breath washed over my face as my slight frame slammed into the long body of a human, a male.

He leaned in with me toward the embankment, grasping me firmly to his chest. His strong arms eased me down to a firmer footing. When the moonlight gave me partial view of his face, the air was sucked from my body. The smooth planes of his face weren’t possible. High cheekbones, a clenched jaw line, and a pair of perfectly set apart eyes were haloed by wavy brown hair that brushed his cheeks. And he held me so close, our noses could have touched.

I clenched taut forearms that were perfectly capable of tossing me fifty yards with no effort.

“You’re okay. I’ve got you, now. The screaming is really unnecessary,” the red lips said in an accent I couldn’t place, though I’d heard it before. A serious, aggravated, expression creased the stranger’s forehead.

Breathe. I had to breathe or I’d pass out.

He loosened his grip on me and turned me to face the embankment.

Out of his embrace, air was colder and breathing was more difficult. I didn’t like it.

The young man wiped his eyes and surveyed the roots beside and below us. He grimaced and placed my hand on a sturdy tree root. When he turned back to me, he locked me into a gaze that could have melted titanium. For a moment, the space between me and this mysterious stranger thickened with electric, sizzling air. My lungs stopped burning, and my heart stammered.

“Can I have my hand back?” he asked his body stiff under my touch.

No.

Reluctantly, I flexed my fingers, releasing him from my grip.

The stranger gently placed my other hand on another root. He left his hand over mine for a second and turned that unsettling gaze back to me. He shuddered slightly and tensed away from me. His words sparked a flame of embarrassment in my cheeks. “Now would you try not to get yourself killed if I jump to the pond edge and guide you down?”

I nodded.

“There, put your foot on that rock.” He nodded to a white stone that jutted like a bony elbow out of a wall of red mud. “You should be able to find a rock for each step almost to the bottom.”

I took a deep breath and noted where he’d jumped and landed with perfect ease. I was still four full body lengths above his head. Pressing my body closer to the embankment I used the dirt wall to support my forehead. I inhaled and exhaled trying to slow my heart.

“It’s not that far now. Just ease your right foot about two feet down. You should find the loop of a root to stand on,” the guy said. In a few seconds, he’d guided me as far down the wall as I could go without having to jump. I couldn’t use anything else for footing. “When you jump, push back from the wall. Don’t worry. I’ve got you. I promise.”

That voice. It reverberated inside me. My head swam. I gripped an unstable root. A stone under my foot loosened, and I began to slip. I pushed back from the wall.

Expecting to meet with the ground, my grateful arms shot around the guy’s neck when he caught me under my back and legs. Hot tears burned my cheeks. I buried my face in his shirt.

He put me down but kept me in the loop of his arms. His grip didn’t loosen immediately. “Can you stand?”

That accent. Where had I heard it?

The air thickened and the night sounds silenced.

His arms were vice grips, heart slamming against my chest. “You’re going to have to walk.”

My cheeks burned, and the tears dried. I stepped out of his arms as a searing pain spread through my hand.

He started to say something, but stopped. A jagged rock had slashed my palm open. He took a deep breath and held it as blood splattered the ground. It covered the front of his t-shirt. Stumbling back, he stuttered. “We should get that,” he turned away from me, “cleaned up and bandaged.” His voice was monotone. But his face said it all. He didn’t like blood. He stepped farther away.

“It’s just a little blood,” I said and started to the pond. Just as my fingers grazed the water, he grabbed me by the waist and jerked us both back where we toppled onto the ground.

* * * *

I hoped you enjoyed this tidbit. Read Ever After to see what happens next….

 

Writing: For whom are you creating the story…


When you lose sight of who you started writing for, it’s not hard to lose your focus and find yourself chained up with a bad case of writer’s block.

There are many days I find myself staring at a blinking cursor. If I wallow in self-pity long enough eventually I ask myself who I’m writing for? If I try to write for me, I tend to get stuck.

When I remember that I wanted to share a story with as many people as possible, that I’m not just writing to entertain myself, the juices start flowing again. I start getting excited and words start to flow.

I also remember not to edit while I’m writing and just let loose. Editing comes later. Write the bones of the story, and add the meat later.

Cold Turkey


Cold Turkey

Unfortunately, I’m not referring to making a sandwich (or a samwich as my husband calls it. We’re from the South, I swear he has his own dictionary. If you don’t know him well, you almost can’t understand a word he’s saying).

So, anyway, I’m considering quitting smoking cold turkey.

It’s my daughter’s fault.

She offered me the most insane idea I’ve ever heard. “Mommy, instead of spending all that money on patches that just sweat off”–the guarantee that they won’t sweat off is a total and complete lie–“Vapes that might blow up in your face, and nicotine pills that you said taste like a bad word I can’t say, why don’t you just do it the easy way. Just stop without anything.”

Rational as it may sound, especially coming from a 12-year-old child, it’s not as easy as it seems. You see the sites that offer advice on quitting don’t take into consideration the real world.

1. They say take all cigarettes around your house and dispose of them.

First of all, my husband would strangle me. (We’ve never had anything but a happy marriage, but that might very well change if I threw away his cigarettes.)

2. Stay away from everyone who smokes.

Where I’m from. Ha. Everyone smokes. I don’t feel like being a recluse.

3. Ask everyone around you not to smoke.

Again. Ha. They’d look at me as if I were dressed like Elvira. People in these parts don’t take lightly to people messing with their nicotine habits.

4. Throw away all ashtrays and butt buckets.

I’d end up cleaning up cigarette butts in the yard. Some people, I’m leaving unnamed to keep my marriage intact, wouldn’t be able to find the trash can, or would catch the trash can on fire with a butt that wasn’t completely distinguished. Then there would be the issue of a huge fire truck in my front yard hosing my house down with all my blackened belongings in it. Not a desirable outcome.

5. Call a hotline.

By the time I find my phone, I learn that it’s dead due to the teens in the house stealing my charger. Then I’m frustrated. Then I want to smoke more. Then I’m frustrated about wanting to smoke more.

Not to mention that on the hotline, I’d probably be put on hold. And who has enough will power not to pick up a cigarette during that kind of frustration.

6. Take a shower and brush your teeth and think about how wonderful it is not to smell like smoke or taste smoke.

It’s not wonderful, because I don’t have cilia in my nose to smell how good I smell and my taste buds are probably too coated in nicotine to know the difference.

So, to sum it all up, I have to hide in a hole on a remote island somewhere.

All joking aside, I want to quit, but with all these factors stacked against me, it makes it hard. I’m going to have to grow nerves of steel, and man up. Smoking kills. It’s a fact. Maybe if I can win the battle some of people in my circle might learn from some of the hardships I have to go through to quit.

I’m preparing myself now, though I know it’s going to be frustrating. I’m doing it for my health, for my kids health, and so I can see my grandchildren one day.

So, cold turkey it is.

Day One….

(to be continued–if I’m not in jail for hurting someone. 🙂

 

 

Sleep. What is this odd ritual you speak of?


Most days I wake at 7AM to get kids off to school, start coffee making, and set my laptop up at the bar in the kitchen (after wiping away the leftover particles of whatever popular challenge the kids tried to video the night before ie. Cinnamon, nutmeg, oregano…) After dropping the kids at school, I come back, start a load of never ending laundry, make a cup of Italian sweet cream coffee, and begin edits on the novel of the week.

When the dryer stops, I have to restart it at least twice to dry a load of clothes. (And yes, I’ve purchased and used a lint lizard, replaced thermostats, and taken the back off the dryer. I’m sure the times my teens used it didn’t help matters, for I found a half a pencil, a popsicle stick, and some sort of car part back there. Yeah, I’m asking the same question. How the heck did those big things make it past a lint trap?)

Anyway, after a long day of back and forth between laundry and my wonderful characters, I’m exhausted. And it’s only 3PM.

Help with homework–translated: do the homework for them because kids go braindead by 4PM.

I start dinner–wash all the accumulated dishes from dinner until 5PM because teens have this uncanny talent to become invisible when dishwashing time approaches.

I do get to catch up on social media while the macaroni is boiling.

I restart the dryer for the third time because that was an effing heavy-a$$ blanket. I drink the fourth cup of coffee.

Of course, I make my own plate and holler for everyone else.

Begging someone to wash dinner dishes does no good because they forgot to do homework or wash the cat or something really, extremely important.

Bring on the dishpan hands.

From there, I yell forty-two-million times for people to get showers and find their own beds–around here they huddle in the same room to listen to music and catch up on the days’ drama until the wee hours if tomorrow morning, if I don’t become the bedtime police.

I stub my toe on a clarinet, a plate and fork someone didn’t have energy to take to the kitchen, and limp toward my bed.

When I get there, I’m too keyed up to sleep, so hours of television or reading wind me down.

Nanny 911. Feel free to stop by anytime and tell me what I’m doing wrong.

I take cell phones. I yell. I talk sweetly. If they remain in the floor after I’ve given fair warning, I throw valuables away. At wits end in Suburbia.

Writing the Perfect Novel


There are many things you could write about, but one thing I’ve learned is that there are areas in which I am not good at writing. I like to write about what I know and what would be fairly easy to research. Not to say that I recommend taking the easy road out, but when you write about what you know and have to do minor research, you take less chance of writing something an expert will pick through and find flaws. And there are experts everywhere.

Cover Art

When I take on writing a novel, I try to keep within my comfort zones, most times. Sometimes I venture out, but I make sure I research a few different accredited sites so that I don’t sound like a moron. Science fiction is where one could easily take a nose dive.

Modern technology advances like light speed, so make sure the site you research when taking on this genre of writing is up-to-date. If it was published in 1997, then, for the most part, the information you’ll find there is obsolete.

Historical romance has been the most interesting and easy to research that I’ve found yet. There are so many articles that will tell you what one would find in a barn, or inside a house, or outhouse that you can easily find what you need and base a really neat story around it.

I once read a romance novel set inside the Biltmore House in Asheville, NC, Maid to Match by Deanne Gist. Deeanne Gist’s knowledge of the house was such that I thought she either had lived there for years or had to have visited the Biltmore at least 30 times. Her execution and description was flawless. I read the book in a day and never felt so close to a character as I did her heroine. This was the result of awesome researching.

So if you decide to write outside of your knowledge base, be sure you’ve done the homework. There’s nothing like a poorly-researched novel to make a reader put the book down and never touch it again.

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