Monday Mayhem – The Best Laid Plans

Plans

I’ve got ’em! I love ’em. Plans, goals, aspirations, hopes and dreams…Over the years I have purchased an assortment of lovely paper planners to write them in, too.

And so sad that I never use them.

It’s that time of year again…

December means my social media feeds are full of photos my planner friends have taken of their new toys. And they are beautiful. Spiral, ring, or perfect bound. Covers made of leather or emblazoned with inspirational messages. Washi tape. Stickers…

My covetous little heart hammers each time I see one. I run to the planner website and gaze at the photo insets of interior pages, drooling over:

  • Bullet Journals
  • Goal setting
  • Daily routines
  • To Do lists
  • Morning and evening reflections

See what I did there with the bullets and all? *le sigh*

But I don’t click. Why?

Because when it comes to paper planners, I am Meat Loaf.

I want them.

I need them.

But there ain’t no way I’m ever going to use them.

 

Still, I can admire them from afar.

Are you a planner person? I have a friend who will only use Erin Condren planners. Another was showing off her 2019 #PowerSheets, which, I admit, tempted me greatly. Last year, I bought not one, but two of the Blue Sky planners a co-worker swore by. In different sizes, you know – one for desk, one for bag. I never made it past January.

I’m not anti-scheduling. I use electronic calendars faithfully. Lord knows, I love a good deadline. It’s just the thought of messing up my beautiful planner with mistakes stops me in my tracks. And yes, I have erasable friction pens in every color.

Perfectionism is a disease, my friends.

How about you? Do you keep a planner or journal?

Monday Mayhem ~ Holiday Reads

The Holidays are Here

Well, gang, the holidays are officially underway. In our house, we don’t start anything Christmasy until after both Fodder and I have celebrated our birthdays and Thanksgiving. This year, his birthday fell on Thanksgiving Day, so we leapt that hurdle in one.

Now, we fall headlong into Christmas and I don’t feel the least bit prepared. Then again, I rarely do. And when that happens, I fall back on holiday-themed entertainment to get me in the mood.

My favorites are the old Bing Crosby movies – Going My Way and Holiday Inn in particular. I love Barry Fitzgerald in the first, and the music on the second. And it isn’t Christmas without a visit from The Grinch – Boris Karloff version, thankyouverymuch.

Soon, my girlfriends and I will schedule our annual Love Actually simulwatch. I know, I know, the movie is problematic – blah, blah, blah. I’m in it for the Firth, okay?

And Billy Mack.

Confession: I am not  Hallmark Christmas movie fan

Friends keep track of the whole schedule, but if I am going to get sentimental over a holiday story, I prefer to do it between the pages. I also like stories where the holidays don’t always go to plan.

In the past, those types of holiday romances weren’t easy to come by, so I wrote some myself.

So, here is my holiday novel pimp:

Looking for love in all the wrong places? Go to the airport!

LONG DISTANCE LOVE starts out with Concourse Christmas  – a story where two people find themselves snowed it at St. Louis’ Lambert Field on Christmas Eve.

Readers can follow the highs and lows of Jack and Ellie’s long distance romance as it unfolds over a year’s worth of holidays and other milestones.

Or, if you are in the mood for something slightly more cynical….

New Year’s Eve doesn’t always go to plan.

First date number forty-eight comes to a screeching halt for Detective Langley Sheppard when his date lifts a pack of gum from the local convenience store. But things start looking up when he encounters spunky damsel-in-distress Jessica Vickers, who’s stranded in the store parking lot. Now Lang is about to discover that on a night when everything goes wrong, falling for Jessica feels spectacularly right.

Or, if you’re already looking ahead to 2019, I have a steaming hot calendar for you.

When the St. Blaise Regional Medical Center Board of Directors decided to jump-start their fundraising and public relations, they never imagined she’d be stripping their most prominent doctors, nurses, and support staff down to their birthday suits in order to beef up the hospital’s bank account.

The HOT NIGHTS IN ST. BLAISE collection of twelve sizzling novellas is now on sale for only $1.99!

If that isn’t enough to get you in the mood to tackle the holidays, I don’t know what will. Now go forth and be festive!

Monday Mayhem – Nifty

I turned fifty last week.

I know, right? How did that happen?

It’s true. The big 5-OH! A full half century. I’m now officially eligible for AARP, not just some hanger-on who piggybacks on her husband’s DOB for 10 % off.

Sometimes, I wonder where the time went, but mostly, I think fifty is going to be nifty. I can feel it.

My forties were a big time of transition for me – personally, professionally, and creatively.

Looking back, I can’t say I didn’t accomplish anything. Ten years ago, I had not yet written my first book. Now, I have 40 novels and novellas under my belt and #41 halfway there.

At forty, I spent my days trying to climb a corporate ladder that was made out of rope and dental floss. I still thought money and accolades were important. I’m so glad I grew out of all that nonsense.

In my fifties, I plan to stand in my truth:

badass

I have a better handle on who I am and what’s important to me. I also have a more limited quantity of fu@ks left to give about everything else.  Other than the pocket issue, I can admit that I prefer elastic-waist leggings better than jeans these days. There are fleeting moments when I fret over the wrinkles that seem to be popping up all over, but then I laugh and remember where I got them. I look at old pictures of me and my friends and marvel at how young and fresh we were. I look at more recent pictures of me with those same friends and realize how incredibly blessed I have been.

So, yeah. Overall, I’m finding these middle years liberating.

I think fifty is going to be nifty.

Speaking of people in their fifties…

I was cruising the ‘Zon the other day and noticed that all of my Worth the Wait Romances are on sale for $1.99. If you like smoking hot stories about people in their *gasp* fifties, doing thing sure to make their grown children blush, snatch ’em up! https://amzn.to/2qOkAXY

  

Monday Mayhem – A Veteran’s Day short story

Veteran’s Day

Today, many offices are closed in observance of Veteran’s Day, so I thought I’d provide those lucky folks who get the day off a little reading material. Here’s a short story called SNAPSHOT that was published in the first episode of Fictionvale magazine.

Snapshot

I never told anyone I was the girl in the picture. There wasn’t any point. The kiss didn’t mean anything at all. He was just a fella cast adrift in the big city at a time when everyone wanted to hold their loved ones close. I was just the girl who was close at hand.

And I happened to be married at the time.

At least, I believed I was.

Sixteen months had passed since Joe ejected from his plane somewhere over France, and I had no idea if I’d ever get to kiss the man I loved again. The end of the war meant there was still a chance he’d come home to me. I hadn’t given up hope, but I had given up kissing for the duration.

Until that day.

I never forgot that stranger’s kiss. How could I? It was near perfection. The only thing that could have made it better was if the guy had turned out to be Joe. Either way, the man had some chops. I can still feel the scrape of five o’clock shadow against my chin and cheek and taste the whiskey on his lips. But it wasn’t sexual or even romantic. That brief, hard press of his mouth to mine was nothing more than a punctuation mark on a war that had seemed like it might turn into a life sentence. A potent cocktail of relief, jubilation, and frustration served up by a pair of warm, soft lips.

It was just what I needed to remind me that I was still alive.

That brave, crazy, possibly drunk man gave me a taste of light in the days when the darkness felt so thick and heavy I thought it might smother me. I was grateful for it at the time. I didn’t know that kiss had the power to change my life forever if I let it.

To be truthful, I didn’t appreciate the notoriety. Unlike these kids today with their computer videos and their need to expose themselves and their dirty laundry on television shows, I had no desire to have fifteen minutes of fame. I only wanted my husband back. The photograph caused a hubbub when it was first published, but most of us didn’t give it another thought. We had bigger worries. I saw it and knew right away it was me, but I didn’t say anything. I couldn’t. I remember one of my fellow nurses going on and on about how romantic it was, and how she wanted to be kissed like that. I also remember feeling a little smug that I could say I’d been kissed like that, but I didn’t say it out loud. It seemed silly to gloat over a kiss. And there were more important things to do than moon over a foolish picture.

It wasn’t until years later that people started calling it “iconic.” I’ve always thought it was embarrassing. After all, I was a married woman, and there I was kissing some strange man in the middle of the street. As good as that smooch was, my mother would have said it was unseemly, and she’d have been right. I’d only kissed one other man before that day, and God willing, I’d kiss the same one again.

Like most people at that time, I lived in fear of the Western Union delivery boy. Thank goodness my neighbor, Jackie, was nearby the day the telegram telling me Joe was missing arrived. I’ll never forget her hugging me tight and telling me the only thing missingand killedhad in common was a single I. I clung to that shoestring of hope long after the Western Union boy pedaled away.

Later, I told Joe that semantics kept me sane. Semantics and pure, blind pigheadedness. I was not about to accept anything less than the life I’d planned to have, and I’d vowed to spend my life with him. Until someone told me that wasn’t possible, I was sticking by my word. Joe used to tease me about my stubborn streak, but I liked to tell him it was my stubborn streak that brought him home.

And it did.

Sort of.

I sent a six-foot-two-inch Colgate football player off to war, but the man who returned to me was barely more than a shadow turned sideways. I told myself it didn’t matter. Joe was home. He was safe. He’d gain the weight back. The toes he’d lost to frostbite were a small price to pay. He would heal. Eventually. But being on American soil wasn’t anything like coming home.

The world had changed. I was very different from the naive young bride he’d left shivering on the railway platform. I’d swapped apartments with another nurse because her husband came home and she needed more room, while I, on the other hand, had far too much space for my own good. I’d lost weight while he was gone, though it wasn’t nearly as extreme as Joe’s loss of bulk. Still, by the time he made it home, the letterman’s sweater he’d left behind had patches where my elbows wore holes through the wool. But those things were easy to fix. The hard part was healing the wounds no amount of home cooking could soothe. Joe had seen and done things that left scars that ran far deeper than the marks on his skin, and I hadn’t the faintest idea how to piece our lives back together.

I fed him and coddled him, using every bit of my famous stubbornness to hold on tight until he began to rebound in both body and mind. Like many women of my generation, I set aside my own ambitions and willingly handed the reins of our life back over to him. Day in and day out, I plumped his battered ego and massaged away his fears and worries. And I can honestly tell you I never gave that picture or the man in it a second thought.

Little by little, bit by bit, my Joe came back to me, complete with the slow, shy smile that made my heart turn somersaults. There’s no way to describe the pride and joy I felt when I watched him emerge from the shadow of death and stride right back into life like the conquering hero he was. There was also no way I’d risk shattering his fragile confidence. Not when we’d both worked so hard to rebuild it.

How could I tell my proud, quiet man that the woman he loved had made a fool of him on a national stage?

We were at a cocktail party the first time someone said I looked like the woman in the magazine. I remember feeling blindsided. My life was so different from the way things had been that day in Times Square it was hard for me to put two and two together. I remember I wore my hair up for the party even though Joe liked it down. I was nervous and anxious about making a good impression on his colleagues. My dress happened to be white. The man who’d made the observation let his eyes linger a too long on my hemline. I felt my husband stiffen beside me.

I laughed it off, telling the small knot of Joe’s curious coworkers that the guy I liked to kiss was a soldier and not a sailor. To my relief, Joe laughed too. Pride and admiration shone bright in his dark eyes as he slipped his arm around my waist and gave me a gentle squeeze.

He could never know. I’d make sure of it.

If you haven’t figured me out yet, I’ll clue you in on a secret—I’m a woman who always gets what she wants. I never said a word about the picture. In all honesty, I rarely ever thought about it. I didn’t have time. A year after his return, I was pregnant with our first child and feeling miserable twenty-three hours out of the day. Joe had landed a job with a life insurance company and was working his way up the ladder. We’d moved out to the suburbs.

Despite the rocky start, we had a very good life. Our three boys ran wild on a street where it was safe for them to ride their bicycles and play catch. I’m happy to say they grew into men as honorable and true as their father, even if my youngest did turn out to be a bit of a hippie. Joe mowed the lawn on Saturday mornings and took the trash to the curb on Tuesday evenings. I finally learned to cook something other than pot roast, and I volunteered two days a week at the Veterans’ Administration hospital. It was a perfectly ordinary, terribly predictable existence, which was just fine by us.

Every few years, some yahoos with a little grant money and too much time on their hands start waving that silly picture around and spouting cockamamy theories as to the identities of the kisser and the kissee. They make the talk show circuit, and a  passel of old guys and gals crawl out of the woodwork claiming they might be the ones the photographer captured in that clinch. I have no idea if one of the fellas might actually be the one who kissed me. I never wasted much time thinking about it. In truth, I couldn’t care less.

Joe and I shared thirty-seven more years before cancer took him from me far too soon. Day after day, I held his hand in mine as that horrid disease waged war on his body, but each time he opened his eyes, he somehow found the strength to give me a smile.

The night he died, I sat in that darkened hospital room with his gnarled fingers snug between mine. The whir and beep of machines measured our last moments together. His breaths grew impossibly shallow while my heart beat strong and relentless. His foot moved beneath the thin sheet. He turned his head and spoke his last request of me, tender and sweet.

“Kiss me.”

So I did. Desperate to mingle his last breaths with mine, I kissed the man I loved. Fat, hot tears streaked down my cheeks. They wet our lips and blessed his departure. The second I drew back, he slipped away from me, taking my heart with him.

That was the kiss that told the story of how the war was won. A simple brush of his lips against mine. A caress packed with the kind of innate goodness that can be never be thwarted by power-hungry madmen or even cancer.

If you ask me, that was the kiss that counted.

I just wish there’d been a photographer around to capture it.

Monday Mayhem – Back in the Saddle

I’m back in the saddle again!

Okay, maybe not actually IN the saddle. I’ve never ridden a horse. In truth, I’m a little afraid to get up close and personal with them, though I love them from afar. We have a number of miniature horses in the area and I check on them constantly…from my car. I love them and worry about them on days I don’t catch a glimpse.

Anyhoo, I digress. But that’s okay, because it’s November and in November digression is not only allowed, but encouraged. That’s right folks, it’s time for NaNoWriMo.

  • This is my 10th go at the 50,000 words in 30 days challenge.
  • I’ve managed to win bragging rights 9 times.
  • 8 of those manuscripts started during NaNoWriMo have been published.
  • 1 was shelved* even though I made it 67k words in. I couldn’t go on with that one because I just couldn’t get it to be what I wanted it to be. Maybe one day….

My NaNo projects have been:

  • Contentment – 2009
  • Commitment – 2010
  • Inamorata – 2011
  • Hot Nights in St. Blaise – 2012
  • Containment – 2013*
  • A Will and a Way – 2014
  • Love and Rockets – 2015
  • Easy Bake Lovin’ – 2016
  • Double Play – 2017

So you see why I need to round it out, right? 10 years, 10 wins.

Plus, I need the challenge. It’s been an okay writing year in terms of production, but not a great one. I’d like to finish strong.

I’m on track so far and will keep plugging away at it. Wish me luck!

Thank you to all who helped make the launch of DOUBLE PLAY such a success.

I appreciate your support and hope you are enjoying Avery and Dom’s story!

If you haven’t grabbed your copy, here are some handy-dandy links!

Amazon ~ Apple ~ Google PlayB&N ~ Kobo~ Audible

 

Monday Mayhem – Last but not least…

At last!

Double Play is live at last! That’s right, it’s my turn to brag on myself. I know authors (like mothers) aren’t supposed to have favorites, but I really fell in love with Avery and Dom’s story.

It’s different.

It won’t be for everyone, and I am okay with that.

But I think it’s unique and sincere.

These are two people who were convinced they had everything just the way they liked it…until they discovered what they were missing. The problem is, as we get older, we’re all a little more resistant to change. These two are no exception.

I listened to the audio this weekend, and I have to say, Samantha Cook did a great job with the narration.

Here’s the scoop:

She knows what she wants, and how to get it
Avery Preston knows her mind. The Women’s Studies and Literature professor is the latest in a long line of feminist firebrands determined to break the mold at Wolcott University. When her biological clock tells her it’s time to bust a move, Avery does what she does best—she takes care of business all by herself. Or, so she thinks….

Dominic Mann is happy with his life just as it is
The widowed baseball coach is content and sees no point in changing his lineup this late in the game. Still, a man would have to be dead not to notice a live wire like Avery Preston. But a one night stand was all either of them wanted.

There’s only one complication

The clinic where Avery was inseminated has been hacked. Now, she not only knows who the father is, but she knowsthe father. In the biblical sense. Avery shows up on Dom’s doorstep with a bun in the oven, a bellyful of ethical righteousness, and the absolute conviction that she doesn’t need him, and soon, the two of them are caught in a rundown between their hearts and their heads.

DOUBLE PLAY is available now! Here are some handy-dandy links:

Amazon ~ Apple ~ Google PlayB&N ~ Kobo~ Audible

Thanks to all my pals who let me pimp them during this release month. Be sure to look for these fabulous October reads when you’re grabbing your copy of DOUBLE PLAY!

  

 

Monday Mayhem – Giveaway!

Today we have a very special giveaway!

Stay tuned, we have a giveaway coming up! Maybe even…a double bonus giveaway!

As many of you know, a couple years ago Karen Booth and I started a group on Facebook for people who read and write romance featuring heroes and heroines who might have aged out of traditional romance publishing. We call the group Seasoned Romance, and we are over 1,600 member strong.

Natasha Moore was one of our earliest members and is now our co-moderator.  Her upcoming novel,  THE JULY GUY, has been selected as one of the debut titles for Entangled Publishing’ s new August line, featuring more mature characters! Yay!

Check this out:

The July Guy – The Men of Lakeside book 1 – Natasha Moore

They have an agreement, but he wants to renegotiate…

Art professor Anita Delgado spends eleven months of the year working. July is her month to cut loose, paint, and pick a guy to make the summer memorable. But this year she isn’t in a tropical location with an exotic man like she’d planned. She’s stuck in small-town USA dealing with a lake house she doesn’t want, inherited from a grandmother she never knew. A summer fling might be the only thing to get her through the next few weeks.

Salvage specialist Noah Colburn is running for mayor. If he doesn’t, an absolute idiot is going to ruin his beloved town. So he’s stepping up. It’s what he does—with his teenage daughters, with the family business, and now with Lakeside. But when the newest resident of the town asks him to renovate her grandmother’s house—and have a four-week fling —he’s tempted. Tempted to step out of the mold and take just one thing for himself. But the gossip mill in the town is notorious.

Anita’s learning it’s hard to have a fling when the town follows your every move, and it’s even harder when the July guy makes it clear one month is never going to be enough…

Whew! I can’t wait!

The July Guy releases on November 12th, and is part of the launch for Entangled’s new August imprint – romances with characters 35-50!) You can add it to your Goodreads shelf right now!  https://bit.ly/2R1viWa

WE HAVE ADVANCED READ COPIES!

Would you like a  early copy of THE JULY GUY? Comment below with your email address and we will pick two winners on Wednesday, October 24th!

And, as a special added bonus – I’ll throw in an ARC of DOUBLE PLAY!

And don’t forget that our other fabulous October releases are NOW AVAILABLE:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ready? Set? Go!

 

Monday Mayhem – Sunny day!

Regardless of the slightly soggy weather around here, it’s going to be Sunny days for me this week because Karen Booth’s SECRETS OF A (SOMEWHAT) SUNNY GIRL is out tomorrow!

Check this out:

As sisters, they tell each other all their secrets…except one.

With divorce and infidelity hanging from nearly every branch of her family tree, Katherine Fuller sees no point in marriage. Boyfriends? Sure. Sex? Of course. Wedding vows? No, thanks. Still, when her younger sister Amy gets engaged, Katherine gathers all the enthusiasm she can. She won’t let Amy down. She’s done enough of that for a lifetime.

As the sisters embark on wedding plans, Katherine’s college love resurfaces. It nearly killed Katherine to part from sexy Irish musician Eamon more than a decade ago, but falling under his spell a second time forces her to confront everything she hid from him. The secrets surrounding her mother’s death are still fresh and raw in her mind, but one has haunted her more than the others. She can’t bear to tell anyone, especially not Amy. It could ruin far more than a wedding. It could destroy a sister’s love forever.

Amazon ~ Apple ~ B&N ~ Kobo

Now, it’s no secret that I love Karen Booth and all she does, but I’m super happy to be able to share this book with you. I got a sneak peek, and there’s so much to love about Katherine and Eamon’s story.

So many good books in October!

I hope you’ve all got your copy of STEEPED IN LOVE by Julie Evelyn Joyce.

LONG DISTANCE LOVE is FREE on Amazon today and tomorrow. Grab a copy today!

Next week, we’ll be talking with Natasha Moore, whose upcoming release will launch of the August line from Entangled Press featuring seasoned characters.

And we are only 10 days away from the release of DOUBLE PLAY – can you believe it?

Amazon ~ Apple ~ Google PlayB&N ~ Kobo ~ Audible

Oh! And I’m signing LOVE GAME at the Barnes & Noble in North Little Rock, Arkansas on Saturday, October 27, 2018 from 12-3PM!

Monday Mayhem – Ready to click that mouse?

Click! Click! Click!

October is a busy month in the book world. Therefore, I have exciting new releases to talk about EACH WEEK – including one from me at the very end! Is your finger limbered up and ready click?

First up:

STEEPED IN LOVE by Julie Evelyn Joyce

Yes! Jewels’ first full-length novel is about to be unleashed upon the reading world. I had the pleasure of browbeating encouraging her every step of the way.

Trust me, you’re going to love Addie and Ethan’s story. It’s quirky, funny, and heartfelt – the perfect antidote for these turbulent times!

Read more here:

Addie Mitchell is a pie-on-the-fly entrepreneur who’s finally ready to settle down in the big, empty house her late great-aunt Edna left to her. Frustrated with her lack of success in romance, Addie turns to another gift her great-aunt passed on to her—the art of reading tea leaves—to aid her in her search for the ideal mate. 

Novelist Ethan Holtz is having a hard time sinking his teeth into his next project, but he finds Addie fascinating. Mainly for her ability to make her dates disappear in fifteen minutes or less. He can’t help but eavesdrop on her dates in the local coffee shop, his writing haven, and soon finds himself taking pointers on what not to do from her failed suitors.

Though her methods seem nothing short of mad, he falls fast and hard for the pixie-haired pie-pusher. She thinks they’re all wrong for each other, but Ethan teams up with the tea leaves to prove they’re so right.

Click a link to pre-order now and have it delivered to you first thing Wednesday morning!