Monday Mayhem – Vacation…all I ever wanted

We got away this weekend! My company took a long holiday weekend, so Fodder and I ran away to the river. We found an adorable AirBNB on the edge of the Buffalo National Forest just big enough for Fodder, me, and our master, Sally.

Relaxing front porch

We’d never taken Sally with us on a trip, so it was an experience for all of us. But look at this happy face:

We had a lovey, relaxing weekend. Our little cabin in the woods was perfection. Sally swam with us, we ate BBQ, built a little fire in the fire pit, and generally kicked back. We even had a bit time to just Netflix and chill.

All in all, it was just what we needed. July is quickly booking up with activities and events, so the timing was excellent. More happy faces:

top pics taken at scenic overlook, Marshall, AR. Our favorite selfie spot.
bottom from left: Fodder and Sally testing the waters at Wollum access, and a selfie snapped in a spooky spot in the woods…wooooooo!

How about you? Do you have any travel plans this summer?

Share

Monday Mayhem – No Vortex to See Here

Hi gang! It’s me again. I’ve missed you! I’m back from a quick trip to Chicago for my niece’s wedding, and I’m happy to report we flew in and out just before the vortex descended upon the city.

Whew!

As a matter of fact, it was a balmy 61° when we landed in Little Rock. I’ve never been so happy to be in Arkansas rather than Illinois. Still, we had a fantastic time with the family, and I’m so glad we made the trip.

And now, it’s February. Can you believe that? Our foretasted high for today is 70°. Can you believe that? We’ll be seeing buds on the trees soon. (Here’s hoping!)

So, yeah, winter can just move right along.

Fodder and I are celebrating Valentine’s Day by going to see Book of Mormon because we are super romantic that way. *snickers* I’m generally not the flowers and candy type, I do enjoy any excuse to tell people I love them.

How about you? Are you planning anything special with your guys, gals, or pals?

Oh! And have you been getting my newsletters? You know, I do a giveaway in each one, so be sure to open it as soon as it lands in your inbox. All recipients are eligible to win! Not on my list? Sign up in the sidebar of this page!

Share

Monday Mayhem – Are you an innie or an outie?

girl reading

Are you an innie or an outie?

I don’t mind telling you, I am an innie. Total introvert. An INTJ, to be exact. So, this weekend was challenging for me. 

I had two holiday parties to attend on Saturday. If you know me well, you know I am not an overly social person. Oh, I can turn it on and have a good time, but I have to be revved up for it.

It’s not that I don’t want to do these things. I always have a wonderful time once I’m there. It’s the ramping up and coming down that takes it out of me. If I had my way, this is how I’d celebrate the season:

girl reading

However, like the Architect I am, I have a plan for how to tackle the season’s greetings. I plan my naps. Block out chunks of time spent in yoga pants. Map tub time into my days. Then, I sprinkle it all with a liberal dose of seasoned salt.

Chex Mix

How about you? Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Have you been partying the month away?

Share

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!

Share

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.

Share

Monday Mayhem – Slowing My Scroll

We have rolled into September. How did that happen? With the change of the calendar page, I decided to make a change of my own. I am slowing my scroll.

What does that mean? It means I have removed all my social media apps from my phone.

Gasp!

social media icons

Like many people, I’ve been thinking about breaking the social media habit for a while now. Facebook is great for keeping up with family and old friends, but the recent political climate has tainted the fun as far as I am concerned.

And Twitter… Oh, I have such a love/hate relationship with Twitter. I used to love it. There are some things I love still.

Every Sunday night, a bunch of romance writers have a weekly chat on a variety of topics. It’s been an excellent place to get to know other authors, and for us to share a little of the angst that comes with being a writer. And trust me, there’s a lot of angst.

But along with all that good stuff comes a sort of gang mentality. Twitter is very us against them. And the pile-on… It can get ugly.

True, social media has given each of us a platform. We can share our every thought, opinion, or memorable meal. But should we?

I agree, some of it is good and fun. However, I find much of it draining.  For that reason, I’ve been finding ways to limit my time using it.

Ironically, I learned about Scroll Free September from an article my niece shared. Still, I X’ing out of all those apps.

I’m mostly over my fear of missing out. Probably because I’m pretty sure I won’t be missing much that would do me any good. At least, nothing I need to know about while standing in line at Walgreen’s.

I can always take a look when I’m on the computer.

It’s a holiday!

So, happy Labor Day, my friends.

I hope this day of rest is the perfect reward for all of your hard work.

Put your phone down.

Go out and play.

If you need me, you can reach me the old fashioned way…maggiewells1@gmail.com

Share

Monday Mayhem – A Grateful Nation

A grateful nation

Today, a grateful nation remembers all those who made the ultimate sacrifice in order to defend and protect our country. I think we can all agree that there are many, many things wrong with they way things are in our country, but there are also many, many things that are right about being an American.

Today, I will honor those men and women by focusing on the things I love about America. We can all go back to arguing about what’s wrong tomorrow.

America – Hell yeah! or 10 Things Maggie is grateful for:

1) Hot dogs. I love them. I particularly love them charred on the grill with charred buns. If I had to request one last meal, I would ask for two all-beef hot dogs burnt to a crisp and served on over-toasted buns, Lays BBQ potato chips, a Diet Coke, and some Toll House cookies. Proving that I am the most American of American girls.

2) Opinions. I’ve got ’em, you’ve got ’em, and we’ve got the right to air them. The good, the bad, and the Potter-inspired.

Protest

3) S’mores. Need I say s’more?

s'more

4) Ice. We have it, we love it, we have opinions on the subject (see #2). This is a picture of pellet ice, aka ‘the good ice’. We have all the good ice anyone could want, and we aren’t afraid to use it.

the good ice

5) We smile a lot. I’m told other cultures find Americans a tad too friendly. I find this is a flaw I can live with.

6) The Chicago Cubs. Okay, maybe not all Americans love the Cubs, but the really friendly ones with the good ice and charred hot dogs do. Just my opinion.

Cubs Win - Fans holding W signs

7) Optimism. Say what you want about all that’s wrong, but we still believe everything can be fixed. One day, we may even agree on how. That’s how optimistic I am.

8) The freedom to be/do anything you want to be or do. Even if it makes no damn sense. People forget this is not an option in many parts of the world. Go. Be. Do. It’s never too late. Hey, look at this – I’m an author! And I didn’t write my first book until after the age of 40.

maggie wells author

9) The pursuit of happiness. Americans excel at this one. Sometimes, it may be viewed as self-indulgent, but I think chasing happiness is a good thing. It leads us to doing things that can be good for us, like yoga, meditation, journaling, or petting plastic flamingos whilst drinking ice-cold American beer.

high life

10) Americans. Those everyday people who show their teeth and believe they hold the winning lottery ticket. The ones toasting marshmallows with their grandkids, or sassing the color commentators when the game isn’t going their team’s way.  Those hot dog loving, ice chomping, obnoxiously opinionated, optimists who believe the American dream is not dead.

A grateful nation thanks you.

For making it possible for us to enjoy these simple things. We promise to keep tackling the tough ones. Rest in peace.

 

Share

Monday Mayhem – The High Life

Happy Labo(u)r Day, you working stiffs (I added the U for the Canadians)! I have spent most of my long weekend not laboring, and I have to tell you, I’m pretty good at it.

Fodder and I ran away to Hot Springs for a night. This is the closest you will ever see me come to touching an actual bird. As always, the can Miller High Life is a homage to my grandmother, for whom I am named.

I’ve been thinking about my grandma a lot this weekend. She’s been gone since I was in college, but occasionally, flashes of memory pop up. This weekend, I found myself thinking about her hands.

My grandparents were already in their seventies when I was born, so in my mind, Grandma’s hands were already a map of blue veins under paper-thin skin. Her knuckles were swollen with arthritis, and she always wore a dark blue star sapphire ring that spun on her pinkie finger.

When you walked into their living room, there was a good chance you’d find Lawrence Welk on the TV, a can of Miller High Life (the champagne of beers) on the side table, and an embroidery hoop on her lap.

This was Margaret Carbery, in her natural habitat.

My grandmother had both cataracts and glaucoma. The bit in Sixteen Candles where Molly Ringwald’s character complains about being felt up by her grandmother?

Yeah…All the time. Our conversations usually started like this:

“Margaret Mary? Is that you?” *grope-grope-grope* “Well, it’s not Jimmy, Grandma.”

By the end of her life, she had little vision left, but more often then not, you would still find her sitting in her chair under the light with the tiffany-esque shade, embroidering pillowcases. She gave them to people as gifts. In our house, they weren’t kept as heirlooms. We used them every day. I don’t think I rested my head on a pillow that wasn’t enrobed in a case hand-stiched by my grandmother until I was in my twenties. I have a couple of sets stashed away:

 

I don’t have many pictures of my grandmother. Even fewer have been scanned into the computer, but she is still fresh in my mind. If you need a visual, here’s a photo of her (the lady in white with the big old star sapphire on her pinkie) dancing a hula with Don Ho at the Polynesian Palace:

That’s what we Margarets do. We live the high life.

Rest well today, my friends, for tomorrow we are back to laboring!

Share

Monday Mayhem – First Christmas

I confess, I am writing this post way early. You see, this past weekend was my first Christmas of the season. As I type this, I’m plotting and planning for the 9 hour ride to see my family. Chaos will ensue on Saturday, then we drive back Sunday. I figure I probably won’t have the energy to post when I get home, so here I am, writing like it’s Monday on a Thursday night.

How’s your December going?

Mine has been incredibly busy. Major changes at the day job this month and next month will keep me hopping. I’m also doing the behind the scenes stuff for the Play Dates series starting next fall, and one day hope to actually finish the book I started writing in November.

Oh! And I re-released Long Distance Love! Look at this gorgeous cover. If you haven’t read Jack and Ellie’s story, you need to. Grab your copy today!

Amazon ~ Apple~ B&N ~ Smashwords

Other bright spots this week included some quality time with a dog and her chicken:

And my friend, Kendra, gave me a Tribble!

Okay, it’s just one of those puffy keychains, but I like to think it’s a Tribble. What’s bright and shiny in your world this week?

 

Share