Hello, it’s me.

Wow, I can’t believe I’ve let so much time pass. So much time and so many important milestones in my life and I haven’t talked about a single one of them. Well, okay, I have sporadically. On Facebook and Instagram and occasionally on Twitter. But I’ll be honest, I’ve taken a huge break from social media in general the last year. For personal reasons, really. There’s just too much going on in the world. Too much arguing and hate and not enough happiness and peace for me. I’m not downing one side or the other. Everyone has a right to their opinion. I’m just saying for my own piece of mind and sanity, I have to close my eyes and ears and block it out and the only way I know how to do that is to quit looking at Facebook (I completely signed out for six months and didn’t miss it a bit), quit trolling Twitter and turn off the TV. I guess I could also throw in that I quit updating my blog, but then it’s been more than a year for that.

I know there’s a lot of important things going on right now and just about everyone of them are more important than anything that’s happen to me, but just in case anyone is curious, I thought I might catch you up real quick.

Almost a year ago, I made the decision to leave my employer of 19 years for a change. I’d been burnt out for a while, a long while actually, and I hadn’t kept it a secret from my boss. Luckily, he’s a pretty cool guy and I was comfortable enough to let him know those kinds of things. Then an opportunity to advance in my field came up and after much agonizing thought and going back and forth, I made the hard decision to take the position. It was pretty emotional for both of us. I’d been with this employer for almost as long as I’ve been married to my husband (we celebrated 20 years this month) and he and his family had become like family to me and my family. In the end, he wished me well, he teared up, I cried, we hugged and well, we still talk pretty much weekly, have taken a few vacations together and, yeah, we’re still like family. It was a good move for me. I love my job. I mean, I really, really love my job. I’ve learned more than I imagined and truly feel like I’m making a difference and contributing to the program. I’m challenged daily and was blessed to be taken in and surrounding by not only a darn good staff, but others who I never would have gotten to know and befriend if I hadn’t taken the chance.

Speaking of those vacations I mentioned a moment ago, well, I’ve done a lot of travelling. Travel is my passion. I would probably starve if it meant I could sneak away somewhere and yes I’m well aware of how immature and irresponsible that viewpoint is, but I’m being honest here and if it came down to saving a dollar or taking a trip, I’m packing my bags.

Unfortunately the worlds current circumstances have stalled my travel plans and as much as I hate to admit it, it’s probably for the best. Last July after travelling to Alabama to vacation with my cousin and her family, I developed a DVT (Blood Clot) in my right leg. Luckily, my cousin is a nurse and recognized the signs. After a healthy dose of blood thinners, I thought I would be on the mend, but for whatever reason, I just didn’t seem to bounce back very quickly. Maybe it was coincidence, but it seemed every time I turned around I was sick or ill and not feeling well and then in mid February I got more bad news. I woke up one morning with extreme pain in my left side, shortness of breath and coughing up small amounts of blood. I won’t go into all the dramatic details (although, the story of how I made my rounds to three different hospitals that day is pretty good), but it turned out that I got myself a week long hospital stay for bilateral pulmonary embolisms. In plain words, that means I had blood clots in both lungs. It was pretty scary, especially when one of the doctors said that if I hadn’t gotten to the hospital when I did that my day probably would have ended a lot differently. It turned out that not only did I have the blood clots, but I also had some right ventricle heart strain and permanent damage to the right lung. But, hey, the good news? You can live with one lung! All joking aside, it’s really opened my eyes. About my health, about life and about many other things. I’m no where near back to where I was. I still can’t seem to get over what I call a “hump.” I tire easy and get frequent short of breath. Of course, it doesn’t help that I’m still doing testing with my heart. So what caused the last blood clots? We have no clue. I’ve had more blood drawn and more test done in the last four months than I’ve ever had. It’s just one of those things I guess I’ll never know.

As if major health issues wasn’t enough to deal with, my oldest son turned eighteen and graduated high school during quarantine. I guess the powers that be just couldn’t see fit to have a little mercy on me. First let me say, my kid was perfectly fine with skipping prom and not having a normal graduation ceremony. His momma, though, yep, I cried. I mean, his girlfriend finally talked him into going to prom and wearing a tux and it get’s cancelled. How fair is that? I’ll probably never see that kid all dressed up, but I guess it is what it is. Which brings me to my next topic.

COVID19. I know most people have an opinion, but I don’t even know what to say anymore, so I’ll just say aside from the inconveniences and limitations that everyone is dealing with, my husband and I have been absolutely, one hundred percent, truly blessed that it hasn’t affected our family so far. I have been working from home since mid-march with no date of return in site and while my husband hasn’t been quite as lucky, neither of us have lost wages or a job. If I’m being real honest here, when I took my new job last year, I also took on a two and a half hour round trip commute each day, so working from home is ideal for me.

I made that two and a half hour commute today for the first time since mid-march. I woke up at 4:45 and was there by 7:00 am. Why? Well, I have one staff member in the office (by choice) and they needed to be out today, so I went in to cover things like retrieving mail and printing and faxing for those working remotely. Plus, I needed to pick up a few things I had left behind. I enjoyed my day. It was nice being back in my “space.” The office was quiet, but it was also nice to see the (very) few that remain in the building. I’d forgotten how fast the internet is compared to what I have at home and how much more exercise I get walking up and down the stairs and back and forth to the copier room. It was also nice to actually dress up and put makeup on, fix my hair and wear shoes that weren’t a flip flop or tennis shoe. I got to swing by The UPS store on my way home and I ordered groceries from Kroger last night to be picked up today because I don’t have those conveniences in my small town. It made me realize how much I miss my staff, though. We talk regularly and have weekly calls, but it’s not the same. Does this mean I’m ready to go back to the office? I can’t say that I am. I really like working from home. It has it’s perks and hey, that two hour commute is saving gas, wear and tear on my car and time. But do I wish I could work from home under different circumstances? More than anything.

Being home more has given me the opportunity to do more writing. I’ve kept pretty quiet about it, but I have three different storylines I’ve been working on. A series I’ve been planning and working through in my head for a long time and I finally decided to get serious about it again. I have about seventy-five thousand words between the three and I’m happy with that for now. I thought about the stories during my commute today. It’s something I do when I’m driving. Actually, I thought about writing in general and how much peace it brings me. That lead me to thinking about my blog and well, here I am now. I’m certain I may have a touch of adult ADHD. Regardless, it has prompted my first update in … I don’t even want to guess how long.

I know this has been random and not at all filled with anything promising or exciting, but that’s okay. I’m writing and I’m at peace even after a very long day. For your enjoyment, check out the surprise I found at the office today. My lone staff member has a sense of humor.

I hope you all stay safe, healthy and strong. Don’t forget to do the things that make you happy. ^ Dena

I had a dream

So I had a dream. Not a vague what did that mean dream, but a vivid, in the moment dream that felt so real, I woke up and was like “holy cow.” I’ve had this book idea playing through my head for a while now. Years if I’m being honest and while I’ve sat down a few times and put some words out, it’s had holes that I just couldn’t fill. And then, I had this dream and it played out all the things that were bugging me.

So now it’s time to sit down and get some long over due writing done. Maybe soon I’ll fill you in on all the change in my life over the last few years, as well as, catch up with what’s been happening in the writing world.

Until then, happy writing!

WORKSPACE OR NOT … THAT IS THE QUESTION!

It’s a sad day …  A sad day indeed, when one must make up their “workspace” for a blog post to showcase where they do their best work.  Rachel Carrera tagged me in this blog hop and since I’ve got nothing better to talk about these days, I thought I’d take the opportunity to gripe about my lack of space.  I’m also hoping the hubby, who I know reads these from time to time, takes the hint and gets on the ball of creating a space for me 🙂

writing-alcove2Something like this would suit my personality perfectly.  Small and simple, I can imagine all kinds of creativity happening here.

All joking aside, we know not having a desk for me is a problem, but there is a bigger problem than the lack of a desk.  It’s called space!  Space:  a continuous area or expanse that is free, available, or unoccupied.  Continuous area- the woods behind my house might fit this definition, but I’m fairly certain I’d freeze my arse off if I attempted writing outdoors right now.  Free- there isn’t even a free wall in my house.  Unoccupied- I have two boys in the house and I can promise you, there is nothing that they don’t get into or that isn’t occupied by them at some point.  Okay, so you get it, my house is small.  I look at it as less to clean!  But I do need a desk and yes me and the hubby have discuss remedies to this situation, but they all require another thing that isn’t just lying around MONEY!

At some point we plan to add on and an office for me will be included in that project, but for now, I roam from place to place, wherever my laptop takes me. Mostly this would be sitting in bed as I’m doing right now.  Sometimes I’ll venture to the couch in the living room, but between the boys fighting, the TV, game systems, and everything else going on, it’s hard to concentrate there.  occasionally, I’ll find a happy medium and sit at the kitchen table where I can oversee the commotion and yet still be distanced from it, but that usually doesn’t work out all that well either.

2-Chiang-Mai-JungleUnfortunately, my tabletop view is nothing like this, but I’m dreaming here right? Okay, so if I’m dreaming, right now I’d like to be some place warm- like the beach!

01-Koh-Phi-Phi-Long-Beach

No matter where I am, I usually have a few things by my side. Yes, two Kindles and my little green notebook complete with coffee stain on the outside.  If you’re brave, click on the picture to enlarge it, look over the mess, but check out the name of the candle!  I found that little gem at a truck stop and believe it or not, it smells really good 🙂

IMG_9983[1]As for any other must haves: a bottle of water or cup of coffee nearby. IMG_0010[1]I love the sayings under the SoBe Lifewater lids!

IMG_0011[1]

Again, I’m dreaming!  No Starbucks anywhere near me!

As you can see my workspace or err um, workspaces aren’t exactly ideal.  But I’m a big believer in not letting what you don’t have stop you from doing what you want.   When I get that lovely addition added on, I’ll be sure to update this post 🙂  And thanks Rachel.  If you are not following her blog, you should.  I’m amazed by her strength and the many talented things she does.

Now for the big announcement of who I’m tagging!  These are no-brainers. They are the only people I ever tag, because I hate putting anyone on the spot and they know there won’t be any hard feelings if they don’t participate.  We are all busy people.  I get that!  So, W.C. Cunningham, E.L. Wicker and Aetherhouse– feel free to share your creative spaces with us or NOT!

***NEW RELEASE*** WINTER DREAMS BUNDLE

7 Heartfelt Holiday Romances for only $0.84

(at Amazon for a limited time, prices vary at other e-retailers).

Winter’s crisp cold is the perfect backdrop for holiday lights, snowball fights, and starry nights by the fire, curled up with hunky heroes. Let these seven couples show you how to find the warmth of red-hot romance.

WinterDreams_Cover

  • Christmas Dinner: Amanda dreads returning home single for Christmas, but the only available man is her rival for the TV anchor spot. Can the holiday spirit turn animosity into love?
  • The Winter Fairy: Recuperating ballerina Penelope Glazier can enchant the young girls in her class, but will her magic work on Carson Langley, the sexy but straight-laced single father of her most talented student?
  • Holiday Hoopla: Halle is about to lose her gift shop, until banker Blake walks into her life, dangling an offer that could save it all, or cost her everything.
  • Wynter’s Journey: Twelve years after tragedy tore Wynter and Sam apart, can another predicament bring them back together?
  • The Winter Promise: War throws Lady Emma and Lord Robert together, where they must decide if they can listen to their hearts – or if they would be wiser never to trust each other.
  • Winter Storms: Daniel’s sailing accident cost Carly her shot at Olympic dreams, while his own athletic success was unhindered. Now he’s returned and they’re stuck in the Cornish village where storms lash them from outside – and within.
  • Old Christmas: Casey needs help from the magic that walks on Old Christmas Eve to find her way back home, and to the love she left behind.

Sensuality Level: Sensual

Amazon   Barnes and Noble   iTunes  Kobo


READ EXCEPTS & MEET THE AUTHORS

Christmas Dinner by Robyn Neeley

“Arrive at destination on left.” The familiar voice of Tate’s GPS echoed throughout his

Jeep, interrupting the soft sounds of Christmas music.

This couldn’t be right. Could it? He pulled onto the side of the road. His navigation

system had taken him down a dark and twisty path for the last fifteen minutes. There

were few homes on either side. He shook Amanda’s shoulder gently. His eyes focused on

the spectacle in front of him.

“What time is it?” She yawned and sat up. “Are we here already?”

“That’s what I would like to know. Amanda, is this your parents’ house?” He leaned over his steering wheel and peered out the window. In front of him, thousands of decorative red and green lights flickered on rows of Christmas trees at the bottom of a hill, showcasing what he could only describe as a cross between Santa’s Village and the middle of Times Square. A blanket of snow stretched at least a quarter of a mile up the hill. At the top was a beautiful two-story mountain log cabin. Glistening white Christmas lights outlined the house.

Amanda sighed. “Yep. We’re here.”

“This is amazing. Amanda, is your dad Santa Claus?” he asked, half joking.

“Not quite.”

“They could land 747 jets on your front yard. That tree in the middle has to be over

thirty feet tall.” He pointed to the west side of the lawn. “Is that a horse and sleigh over

there?”

“The horse is fake. I’d rather not talk about the sleigh.”

“Then we won’t.” He suspected she might have some unpleasant memories of it

involving the infamous ex. Perhaps it was the scene of the aborted proposal.

Amanda sighed. “Good. Did your parents decorate their lawn for the holidays?” She

reached behind her for her bags.

“No. Well, yeah, I guess. But this, well, this . . . wow . . . It’s just really something.”

About Robyn

Robyn Neeley is an East Coaster who loves to explore new places, watches way more reality TV than she cares to admit, can’t live without Recess Peanut Butter Cups and has never met a Christmas cookie she didn’t like. (Her favorite cookie made it into Holiday Wedding!) She writes romantic comedy, sometimes with a hint of magic, but always with a happy ending. Visit her at www.robynneeley.com.

 Winter Fairy by Lola Karns

 The sight of Penelope sitting on his sofa with her long legs tucked up beside her drew his attention as soon as he stepped inside. Her blue eyes blinked at him, giving her an expression that managed to be both innocent and alluring at the same time. He set down the cups he held in his hand, and after a long minute remembered to take off his coat and boots.

“Hi.”

“Hi, yourself.” She smiled. “How did your shopping go?” She skeptically eyed the one bag and the cups resting on the entry table.

He approached the couch, carrying the bag and coffees with him, the same time as she stood. “Very good. I’ll have to empty the trunk later. I brought you something.” He waved the coffee cups. “I didn’t know what you like. I got a peppermint mocha and a gingerbread latte. Which would you prefer?” She bit her lip and furled her brow. “Stay for a bit. I can’t drink all this coffee by myself.”

Her gaze slid to the cups, the left side of her mouth raised slightly as she glanced back to him. “I’m such a typical girl. I can’t say no to chocolate.”

He offered her the mocha before sitting beside her. He couldn’t agree with her – she was no typical girl in his book. She unsettled him. “Then I know which piece of cheesecake you’ll want.” He reached into the bag and handed her a box and a fork. “I could get plates if you want.”

She opened the box, revealing chocolate cheesecake decorated with chocolate ganache and white chocolate drizzle. “This is great. Thank you.”

Her fluttering eyelashes distracted him, but the moan she let out when she took her first bite went straight to his groin. Now he was second-guessing his decision to bring dessert. He’d wanted his grown up company to stay longer – he hadn’t anticipated being reminded of the more carnal pleasures he missed with his self-imposed solitude. Or had he? As he tried to resolve his true motive, she interrupted his thoughts.

“If it’s not too rude, what prompted this delicious treat?”

“I was by the shop and cheesecake sounded good. It’s been a long time since I’ve indulged in dessert after Eloise has gone to bed. Dessert always tastes better when…”

He hesitated. Calling her a friend didn’t seem quite right. She seemed more than that, even though he barely knew her.

She looked up, “When it’s shared.”

 About Lola

Having worked as a wide variety of jobs as she moved through Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, New Jersey, Georgia, and Virginia, Lola decided she needed a more portable career. Writing fit the bill.

Lola currently resides in Minnesota with her husband, two children, two hairless cats, and a fluffy ex-stray cat. When not writing, she enjoys baking, reading and drinking coffee.

She is the author of Bad Traveler and Winter Fairy. Visit Lola at lolakarns.com

 Holiday Hoopla by Dana Volney

Blake Ellison continued to watch the woman. Can’t I have a moment of peace? I can’t even Christmas shop without . . . This gal has the right idea, drinking in the afternoon. That’s my kind of day. He wished it was just because of the holidays, but lately his life was complicated with unfair obligations that made him want to drink—a lot . . . a whole lot.

Blake assessed the friendly sales gal. Her blonde hair was tied back in a messy pony tail that was weirdly sensual. Her fresh face was a welcome relief from the overly made up women he usually encountered.

“I’m Blake by the way.” He offered his hand.

“Halle, nice to meet you.” She slipped her hand in his firmly. Strong. Good. Limp fish handshakes were the worst.

“You don’t happen to have another glass or bottle of beer hiding back there, do ya?” He raised an eyebrow again.

Halle laughed and her green eyes danced. He grinned, getting swept up in the moment.

“Tsk, tsk.” She crinkled her nose. “Isn’t it a little early?”

“Well, you made it look so fun.” He cocked his head toward the counter where she’d spilled what smelled like a Zinfandel.

“You, my new friend, are in luck. I happen to have a glass and, better yet, a new bottle.”

She knelt down to fish under the counter and Blake leaned over to check out the view his higher perch now afforded him. Sexy. Halle popped back up and his startled eyes found hers. She fetched a decorated glass off the shelf and waggled it in her hand.

“Convenient.” He nodded toward the spot she’d just made vacant.

“Perk of being the owner.” She winked and headed to the back of her store.

Blake wasn’t sure what do to, but he followed because she had wine. She owns this place? Huh. He couldn’t keep his eyes from roaming. Nice ass.

Halle motioned to a couple of high backed, brightly patterned green and pink chairs. A sitting area had been set up in the middle of the store, complete with an end table between the chairs and a rug. They sat and she poured.

“Cheers.”

They clinked glasses.

“So, Blake, what drives you to drink in the middle of the day?”

About Dana

Dana Volney lets her imagination roam free in Wyoming where she writes romances and helps local businesses succeed with her marketing consulting company. Surrounding herself with good friends, family, and boating on the lake whenever she can, she thrives on moments and memories created with loved ones, especially on sun filled days. That’s when Wyoming’s charm really sinks in. Dana is bold, adventurous and–by her own admission–good with plants, having kept a coral cactus alive for more than one year. Visit Dana at www.DanaVolney.com.

 Wynter’s Journey by Jennifer DeCuir

Okay, it was go time. What was the first thing they were supposed to do? Sam looked wildly around the room. He kept his voice calm, and hid the tremors that threatened to rattle his teeth loose. Wynter was counting on him.

He got her into bed and rushed to his desk in the corner. Jerking at the mouse to wake up the screen, Sam brought up the website he’d been studying just a few short hours ago. He thought he’d had more time.

Yeah, he’d been anticipating this. It was Vermont–in the dead of winter. Chances were pretty damned good that a snowstorm would make a routine hospital delivery less and less likely. And he’d been right to assume that Wynter wouldn’t take the contractions seriously until it was too late. She was too stubborn for her own good.

So they were doing this. Another scream from the bed had him yanking the power cord from the laptop and carrying it with him back to the other side of the room. The website hadn’t bothered to explain that hearing his best friend’s gut-wrenching cries of pain would push his own stress levels beyond human endurance.

“Amazing what you can learn from the internet.” That ridiculous statement earned him a glare. Yeah, probably best to keep the chatter to a minimum.

“Sam. Call 9-1-1,” she panted.

He was going to do that. It was next on his list. Really. He reached for the cell phone that he kept on the nightstand charger next to his bed. It wasn’t there. He stared frantically at the empty charger.

Wynter watched him closely, her eyes pleading with him.

“Sam, please!” She clutched at the sheets with a white-knuckled grip, her entire body going rigid. Crap.

“I’ll be right back. Don’t go anywhere.” Sam spun on his heel and raced for the stairs, taking them two at a time, falling on his butt and sliding down the last few. Not letting it stop his momentum, he ran to his office.

 About Jennifer

Jennifer DeCuir grew up in a small town in Maine, which provides the basis for Scallop Shores, the fictional town in Drawn to Jonah. She’s busy raising two kids and a husband. She loves including children and babies in her stories, as her own provide endless story ideas. Currently residing in rain-soaked Washington, she can usually be found working on her latest book in a local Starbucks. Visit Jennifer at jenniferdecuir.com.

The Winter Promise by Jenny Jacobs

The painful stirrings of a headache began to throb behind Robert’s temples. He knew he was about to hear a story. He hoped it would at least be entertaining. He very much doubted it would be true.

The foreigner stared at his face with wide violet eyes. He narrowed his own gray eyes at her. He knew he was not the most attractive man to women, but she needn’t gawp at him in such a rude way.

He acknowledged her with a curt nod and seated himself on his chair, rough-hewn from one of the alders that flourished on Athelney, as sturdy and as solid – and as undecorative – as he.

Nettled by her stare, he responded in kind with a thorough and thoroughly offensive inventory of his own. She looked young but must have reached her majority or she would have a guardian to look after her and would not require his generosity. For he had no doubt that was what she was here to obtain. She must be a widow, or at least unmarried, or there would be a husband. Unless – he hoped she didn’t expect him to intervene in a marital dispute. He would never let a wife like this run away, not one with such delicate features and soft unmarred skin, masses of dark hair demurely covered with fine linen, the spark in her eye hinting that her spirits had not been entirely quelled by whatever misfortune had befallen her. Her wide violet eyes were compelling, and he found himself looking into them for a long timeless moment.

He made himself shift his gaze, cataloging all of her failings: the borrowed dress she wore, which could only mean she had arrived at Athelney without personal possessions of any kind; the lack of companions to accompany her, where any lady of quality would have at least one or two trailing after her, annoying his servants; the awkwardness of the curtsy she’d given him, which meant she didn’t care about her manner, and he already had enough of those in his household; the boots on her feet, which meant she would not be the quiet, retiring type who stayed indoors and consoled him with gentle murmurs and warm compresses; the outline of a dagger in her sleeve. He sighed again.

About Jenny

Jenny Jacobs, a writer living in the Midwest, is still kissing frogs, but likes to write about people finding their happily ever after—even if they have to go through some difficulties to get there. She is the author of Sadie’s Story and The Winter Promise. Visit her at www.jennyjacobsbooks.com

Winter Storms by Lucy Oliver

Slinging a rucksack over his shoulder, he stepped across the floating jetty to the sea wall. A rank odour of dead fish, salt water, and rust hit him; scents he remembered from his childhood. Boats creaked at their moorings and faint music drifted over from a pub.

Brick steps led up the harbour wall, slippery with rubbery, rotting seaweed and when he reached the top, he froze, waiting for the bright flash of a camera. It never came and he smiled. Of course in winter, the harbour lay deserted. It was during the summer months that scores of flip-flops struck across the warm cobbled streets, sticky with dropped Cornish ice cream. But he always preferred winter when the pavements were empty and waves hit the harbour walls in powerful green swells.

He strode across the cobbles. A new shop had been set up in his absence, a neat, modern place with a window display lit up by bright fairy lights and filled with sugar mice. Tomorrow he’d come back to buy Christmas presents, since he brought none with him, but now it was time to go home, time to surprise his family, to explain about Imogen and the cancelled wedding. He stepped back into the full force of the wind, striding along the harbour to the main town. Here the buildings caught the worst of the gusts and he moved faster.

A few shops were still open, filling the air with the scent of fresh bread and spicy minced pies, making his stomach rumble. A large fir tree dotted with white lights stood in the central town square surrounded by a band who clutched brass instruments and rattled collection buckets, sleet beading on their blue uniforms. Two younger members grinned at him and he smiled back, dropping a few coins into their pot.

“I know you,” the teenager said. “Your photo’s on the hall of the sailing club, you’re Daniel Edwards.”

About Lucy

Lucy Oliver grew up by the sea and particularly loved walking along the harbor in winter, when the streets were deserted and waves crashed against the seawalls. Now living inshore, she likes to return to those memories by writing passionate romances set against the backdrop of the English countryside. Lucy enjoys writing about characters that like all of us, have flaws, mixed in with her trademark touch of spice. She also writes under the name Lucy Hartbury for higher heat level works, including an exciting and saucy version of Dracula. Join her on Twitter @Writingoliver or check out her blog at lucyoliverwrites.blogspot.co.uk/

 Old Christmas by Kathryn Brocato

Casey blinked and shook her head. “Now I know what’s wrong here. This is a dream. All of you except Granny are dead. I knew there was something weird about this.”

Cynthia tilted one hip forward in imitation of a model’s stance. “You’re the one who believes in all Mom’s nonsense about Old Christmas. And they do say spirits walk on Old Christmas Eve.”

“I’m getting out of here.” Casey felt her hair attempting to lift off her scalp. “Come on, Granny.”

Alice chuckled. “No one here means you any harm, Casey. We all want the same thing–your happiness.

Casey reached out tentatively to touch Alice. Alice’s skin was warm and solid, not cool and fragile as it had been in the hospital.

Casey swallowed and regarded her grandmother in shock.

Alice smiled. “Don’t try to hold me, Casey. I’m more than ready to go. It’s Old Christmas Eve, you know. I only came to apologize for teaching you to be ashamed of your mother’s actions. I simply didn’t realize how it would affect you.

Casey squeezed her eyes shut, then opened them again, and forked her hair back to stare wildly around the barn. She couldn’t see two inches in front of her face.

She was alone.

About Kathryn

Kathryn Brocato writes contemporary romance with a small-town touch. She is a scientist and business owner who lives in Southeast Texas with her husband, dogs, and chickens. Her first published romance was a Kismet Romance, Storm Warning. She also wrote The Cartwright Heritage, writing as Katy King for White Rose Press. Currently, she writes contemporary romance for the Crimson Romance line. Visit Kathryn at kathrynbrocato.com.

 

 

I’M THANKFUL FOR CEREAL

thanksgivingI know it’s Wednesday, not Thursday.  But I’m I hosting Thanksgiving this year, so I have a full day of cooking ahead of me and after all that’s done and I’m stuffed from all the  goodies, the last thing I’m going to want to do is write a blog post.  Plus, I’m still NaNo’ing (less than 10,000 words to go), so I will have to fit that in at some point.  And besides, everyone’s blogs, twitter and Facebook feeds will be overrun with I am thankful for post tomorrow.  Mine wouldn’t be much different.  We all know I’m thankful for my husband, boys, family, health, job, etc.  I mention them from time to time, so it’s a safe bet that I’m happy that they are all a part of my life.  But there are other things I’m thankful for.  Things I don’t think of each and every day because they don’t seem all that important, but in the grand scheme of things, they make my life better or easier.  So here it goes, a few of the odd or not, things that I’m thank for:

1) Cereal  I’m not a big breakfast kind of woman.  Bacon, eggs, sausage, they are okay. If I’m going to eat all of that, I prefer to do so for dinner.  And I don’t like to cook it either, because who has time?  Not me!  I do good to get both boys to school and make it to work. I can’t be standing over the stove for an hour before I send them off for the day.  It’s not happening on the weekends, either.  I’m usually up hours before anyone else and I’ve already eaten a granola or cereal bar, so if my little boogers want breakfast, that’s what the box of cereal is for.  Or they can wake Dad, who is usually more than willing to cook.

2)  Perms-   I totally brought back the eighties when I grew out my hair and permed it several months ago.  I can’t say that it’s my favorite look, but man does it make getting ready in the mornings a whole lot easier.  Wash, throw some mouse or gel in, and I’m off.  No drying, no straightening, honestly I can’t remember the last time I actually combed through it.  Can’t complain about that.

3)  SoBe Lifewater- Just because I like it.

4) ! and 🙂 – Because I tend to use them a lot! 🙂

5)  The notes app on my phone- Without it I’d forget all kinds of things. It also comes in handy when I’m on the go and get struck with an idea.

6) Candy Crush– It gives my husband something to do when I’m deep into writing and ignoring him.  He’s on level six hundred and something and very proud of it.

7)  My dryer– I do not iron ANYTHING!  I know … terrible me.  There’s more important things in life than ironing clothes, brushing your hair regularly, and cooking grand meals (I actually do cook and quite well, just not breakfast).

8) Bleach– I’m odd, I like the smell.

9) Internet Shopping– Have I mentioned how much I dislike shopping?  I loathe it.  I don’t like crowds, I don’t like dwaddling around, trolling through stores, looking at things that I really don’t need or want.  If I have to go out, I will, but I much prefer to find what I need online and have it shipped to me.  Much easier … so if you’re wondering about black Friday shopping, that would be a big NEGATIVE.   I did it once and it wasn’t a bad experience, I just didn’t save enough money to validate getting up (or in my case not going to sleep), waltzing around in the cold, and standing in line, all to save a couple bucks.  Yeah, not happening.  So, when everyone else is out sifting through bins, I’ll be here, probably typing away.  Have fun, though!

10) Whoever thought of flavored coffee creamer– We don’t have a Starbucks in my town.  McDonald’s McCafe is about as close as it comes and while I’m not particularly a picky person (I actually do like their White Chocolate Caramel Mocha), I don’t honestly have time, or budget, to run through McDonald’s every single morning.  So flavored coffee creamer is the next best thing.

But on a serious note,  I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving, that you’re surrounded by the one’s you love, and that you’re bellies are stuffed full of all sorts of goodies. Thank you for following along and listening to my rambles.  I appreciate each and every one of you.

 

REVIEW- Christmas on 4th Street By Susan Mallery

Christmas on 4th Street (Fool's Gold, #12.5)Christmas on 4th Street by Susan Mallery

BLURB:

There’s nowhere better to spend the holidays than with New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery in the town of Fool’s Gold, where love is always waiting to be unwrapped… Noelle Perkins just got a second chance at life, and she intends to make the most of every minute. That’s why she ditched a frustrating legal career to open her own store in Fool’s Gold, California. The Christmas Attic celebrates everything that’s magical about her favorite season. Business is booming, and as a bonus, gorgeous army doctor Gabriel Boylan has offered to help out during the holiday rush.

Gabriel’s memories of Christmas past contain more sour grapes than sugar plums, thanks to a drill sergeant father who ran his home like a boot camp. Spending the holidays with his family while he recuperates from injury sounds as appetizing as last year’s eggnog. Still, there are some enjoyable distractions in town, including sunny, sexy Noelle…and the red-hot mistletoe kisses they can’t stop sharing.

Gabriel didn’t think he was made for happily-ever-afters. But when fate hands you a love as sweet and surprising as this, only a fool could refuse….

 

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Susan Mallery isn’t a new author to me. I’ve read several of her books and immediately fell in love with her style of writing. Christmas on 4th Street is only my second Fools Gold novel and is a wonderful addition to the Fools Gold series. With fun and entertaining characters, it’s not your average hot desirable man meets shy succumbing female.

I loved this story. Both characters were well developed and likable. It was light and funny at times, but then also heartfelt and emotional. Relatable and true to every day life, I can easily see Noelle and Gabriel living in small-town USA dealing with life as it is handed to them.

I would have given the story 4- 4.5 stars except the ending just sort of crept up and tadaa – ended. Not that it was a terrible ending, because you get the HEA, but it was built up and you think your going to start going down hill and the story will fall into place, but then you hit a plateau and it wraps up and came together very quickly. It’s still a very good read and a beautiful story. I definitely recommend it.

I received a copy of Christmas on 4th Street from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

You can find Christmas on 4th Street on Amazon here

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MY WRITING PROCESS: A BLOG TOUR

I was invited to participate in ‘My Writing Process: A Blog Tour,’ by a writer friend and mutual Whataburger lover, W.C. Cunningham. Bill lives in in the wooded hills of Western New York and is currently working on his first mystery/thriller.  You can find out more about him on his blog, W.C. Cunningham, Writes.

Each person who is tagged or asked to participate in this blog tour answers four questions about their work and writing process, then introduce three other writers. This gives readers and writers a chance to meet and get to know writers they might not have otherwise known about.

What am I working on?

I always seem to have more than one story going on in my head, therefore, I’m typically working on more than one project at a time.  Eventually one storyline takes over, demanding more of my attention and I’ll submerge myself into it until it’s finished.  With the recent release of Drive Me Sane and the demands that come along with launching a new book, I am just now picking back up on my writing and currently have two WIP.  One is a modest love story of a couple on the verge of divorce, who feel they’ve exhausted all possibilities of reconciliation.  The other is a bit more spicy and follows along with the music theme of Drive Me Sane, but is not a continuation of a series.

How does my book differ from others in its genre?

There are very few stories that haven’t been told in one way or another, which makes this question an important one for  authors. Putting a new spin on an old idea is the object of the game and it isn’t always easy.  I like to write about female characters that don’t conform to your usual heroine.  Drive Me Sane, had a female soldier suffering from PTSD.  I figured there were enough books about the hot, male soldiers coming back from war and not any that I’d read about a woman.  My current WIP about the divorcing couple has a woman who can drive a race car just as well as her husband can.  And the more spicier story revolves around a high profile musician, but doesn’t actually show his celebrity side much.  I wanted to show that he is normal and ordinary even though he’s well known.  Overall, I think I write average love stories.  I don’t push the limits much or go outside of the box, but I do try to make them unique in my own way.

Why do I write what I write?

Easy.  I love reading romance, but I love writing about it even more.

How does my writing process work?

I’m not ashamed to admit that I have some obsessive compulsions.  Organization has definitely always been one of them.  I’m a bit of a freak about it at home and work.  My writing…not so much.  I dive in and go with it.  I’ve never made an outline or written out a plot to follow. I don’t own a character “book” or “bible” as some refer to it.  I am trying to be better about jotting down a list of each character and their physical and personality traits, but it’s not something I do without having to remind myself.  I get an idea in my head and I put it down.  This process probably isn’t ideal for most, but it works for me.   My characters tend to take over my stories and lead me places I never intended to go, so plotting it out before I get there seems like a waste of time.  I feel if you have a story to tell, it will come out and how you go about arriving at the end result isn’t all that important.

I’m a wife, with two active boys that participate in an array of activities and I work full time, so setting aside time to write can be difficult. I get most done late at night and early mornings on weekends.  However sometimes when I have  an idea wanting to come out, my compulsive behaviors take over and I’ll slave away every free moment I have.  Lucky for my family that doesn’t happen that often, but they seem to understand and support me when it does.

Writing and publishing a book has been a wonderful experience and I can’t wait to see what the future might hold.

Now to tag three others…coming soon.

Review- Protective Instincts

Protective Instincts (Mission: Rescue #1)Protective Instincts by Shirlee McCoy

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is my first read by Shirlee McCoy and the Love Inspired Imprint from Harlequin. The imprint itself has always intrigued me. The cover’s are beautiful and the blurbs sound nice, however I’ve always worried that they may come across as a little preachy. Although I don’t mind a modest love story, I’ve am not a fan of religion being the primary focus in my fictional romance stories.

Raina Lowery has been through a lot. Attempting to mourn the loss of her husband and son from a car accident, she goes on a mission to Africa and is captured by rebels. Rescued and back home, she throws herself into securing a visa for the little boy, who helped her while she was held captive, and awaits his arrival to the United States.

Jackson Miller understands loss. After his sister goes missing in Cambodia, he and his brother start a company that helps families bring their loved ones home. He loves his job, but lately he realizes he’s allowed it to consume his life.

From the beginning, the trope of this book is easily recognizable-boy rescues girl and they fall in love. However one should not let that distract them from trying this out. The developing relationship between the hero and heroine unfolds nicely with just enough tension to make you keep wanting more and an element of suspense that keeps you guessing until the very end. My worries of religion taking away from the storyline were quickly dispensed. Although the story as a whole is reserved in the sexual aspect, it was fully satisfying as a romantic read. I immensely enjoyed my first Love Inspired book written by Shirlee McCoy and will definitely continue reading them.

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Available on Amazon

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DRIVE ME SANE

DriveMeSane CoverUnable to perform her duties in the army after a twelve-month deployment to Afghanistan that leaves her with scars no one can see, Sera Cavins returns to her hometown hoping that some time alone will help her find her way back to being the girl everyone once knew. That is, until she finds herself sharing a house with the man who left her heartbroken merely weeks before her deployment.

Tyler Creech made it to Nashville and even earned a number one hit, but being a rising country music artist isn’t as easy as he thought. He’s back in Cobb City, Kentucky, looking for something to ease the stress of his next release. He discovers it standing on his mom’s and stepdad’s lawn when Sera, the girl he once planned to marry, shows up. They’d been perfect for each other, until the strain of Sera’s deployment and pressure of Tyler’s career drove them apart. Now with neither of their lives going the way they anticipated, both are fighting different yet similar demons. But change is good, and sometimes going a little crazy is too. Sometimes it’s what keeps you sane.

Drive Me Sane

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Review-Matched To A Billionaire

Matched to a Billionaire (Happily Ever After, Inc #1)Matched to a Billionaire by Kat Cantrell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Leo Reynolds is determined not to lead the life of poverty that his parents did and has no time in his hectic chase to the top for love or relationships. In fact a commitment of that sorts is of no importance to him until he realizes that he needs his personal life to run as smoothly as his business life does and a wife seems to be the answer to his problem.

Daniella White always dreamed of a fairy tale wedding with the man of her dreams. That is until her mother is diagnosed with cancer and needs treatments that neither she nor Dannie can afford. After several lost jobs due to her constant need to take off to shuttle her mother to the doctor, she’s at her wits end and answers an ad for a matchmaker.

Problem solved when they both go into an arranged marriage as a way of attaining security.

First of all, I’d like to say up front that I don’t normally veer towards stories with Billionaires in the title. I tend to like your every day average Joe that works for a living, however, I found this story engrossing. I literally couldn’t put it down. From the very beginning I loved it. Both characters were well developed and easily likable with both having flaws of their own. Well written page turner that you didn’t want to put down.

Find it on Amazon

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