Monday Mayhem – Reform Movement

I know. I know. I’ve been a pretty bad blogger lately, but I promise to reform. The problem is, most the time I don’t know what to write about. My life isn’t all that exciting. But I like talking to you each week. It’s true. I’ve missed you. And I’m going to do five things to make it up to you.

That’s right. Five things. Not bad, huh?

Each week that I don’t have something special to share, I promise to share at least five things with you. They could be five lines from one of my stories or five whats. What’s a what, you ask? They’re pretty simple:

What I’ve been working on:

What’s running around in the back of my mind:

What I’ve accomplished this week

What I accomplished this week:

What new goal I’ve set:

What I saw:

Since I’ve been a bad blogger, this week I will give you both.

Here are five lines from Long Distance Love:

“I’m being transferred to Louisville,” she said in a rush. Her statement landed like a punch to the gut. “Yeah. I just…I don’t see how….”

Ellie’s small, sad smile tugged at him, spurring him into action. “We’ll make it work.”

Not enough for you? Buy the book!

Long Distance Love – releasing THIS WEEK from Turquoise Morning Press:

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Love may be a many splendored thing, but it’s rarely convenient.

A Christmas Eve snowstorm leaves newly-single Ellie Nichols trapped in an airport terminal with only hunky FBI Agent Jack Rudolph for company.

Lucky Ellie.

For Jack, the passing of a long winter’s night turns into a New Year filled with possibility. State lines and hundreds of miles separate them, but the spark that flares each time they meet cannot be denied.

Can two ambitious, career-driven people find a way to make a long distance relationship work when matters of the heart bring them up-close and personal?

And here are my 5 whats:

What I’ve been working on: I’m working on love story for people who saw movies from The Breakfast Club era when they were first released. It’s a racy one, so you might be more apt to find updates on it at Maggie Wells’ website. 😉

What’s running around in the back of my mind: WWII – I have a WWII-era story flirting around the edges. Nothing concrete yet, just a bunch of plot bunnies hopping around in my head.

What I’ve accomplished: Did I tell you I’ve sold a story to Fictionvale Magazine? It’s the short story that sparked this WWII jones, and it will appear in the online magazine’s premier issue in November!

What new goal I’m chasing: At the moment I’m just trying to keep writing. The demands of the day job and the distractions at home have wreaked havoc on my productivity this year. I’ve recently tried to settle into a pattern where I’m writing a minimum of 500-1000 words per day and not beating myself up if I can’t do anything more. So far, it seems to be working. I hope to gradually build on that over the next couple of months so I’ll be back in fighting form for NaNoWriMo. So yeah…my new goal is balance.

What I saw: True love

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Don’t forget to click the envelope on the top right sidebar or go here to join my mailing list. Oh! And if you like my Facebook page, you can enter a contest to win a $10 gift card!

Your turn! What are your whats for the week?

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Monday Mayhem – The 4%

Been doing a lot of writerly soul searching lately. I haven’t discovered much other than the fact that my thoughts are about as shallow as a mud puddle in July. You see, a couple of years ago I made a plan for my writing career…. If you know anything at all about life, you know that it likes to scoff at plans. This time it was no different. Oh, I did all the things a person is supposed to do: targeted goals, set deadlines, mapped my expectations. I rolled through some major changes to my day job and navigated the shifting sands of the home life as best I could. In the end, I made 96% of those goals (actual percentage for the stats nerds like me) a reality.

Not bad, huh?

Yeah…That 4% is driving me crazy.

You see, that tiny percentage represents a major portion of what I thought I would accomplish. But try as I might, it’s not happening. I’ve been beating myself up over that 4% for the past 6 months. You see, that 4% represents Containment.

I’ve circled, poked, and prodded this novel, but I can’t make it take shape. The story is all in my head, but my usual panster ways weren’t working, so I turned to plotting device after plotting device in hopes of finding the key to unlock the story. I’ve tried The Hero(in)es Journey method. I tried to Snowflake and Beat Sheet the darn thing but let’s face it, my stories aren’t that hip. I’ve even attempted to go all Dom/sub on it, but it just laughed when I pulled out the flogger. I’ve even written a synopsis for it. If you know me at all, you know I despise writing synopses. But I did this one voluntarily. Desperation does funny things to people.

A few people have asked when it can be expected. The answer is simply, I don’t know. All I know is that for the sake of my sanity, I’m going to have to set it aside for a while. I’ve hardly written anything this year, and I’m afraid that if I don’t find a horse that’ll run, I’ll forget how to ride.

Those who know me personally know it kills me to say this. I hate not being able to follow through. There’s nothing worse than feeling like I’ve let people down. But I’m not abandoning it. I still intend to write Shel and Josh’s story. I just can’t seem to do it right now.

Bear with me, okay?

So, how about a little good news?

Long Distance Love is done and coming soon! The week of August 26th soon. Yay! I just did the final galley read-through and I have to say, I still love Jack and Ellie. I hope you will too!

That’s all I have for now. I’ll be back next week. Oh! And keep your fingers crossed for Commitment – the GDRWA Booksellers Best Award recipients will be announced later this week. 🙂

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Monday Mayhem – From this day forward….

Hi! I’m back from my excursion to the annual Reader & Author Get Together in Ohio. It was a great time, as always. The team of volunteers Lori Foster and Duffy Brown have assembled is top notch, and the staff at the Marriott spoiled us as usual.

The best part of the RAGT weekend is the casual atmosphere. I met so many awesome readers and fellow authors this weekend and also had a chance to catch up with some friends. I thought I’d share a few pics before I got down to today’s post.

Look! It’s Evelyn Jules! Squeeeee!

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My fabulous editrix Lola del Sol!

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I photo bombed Julie Anne Lindsey during the signing

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And pillaged my favorite Viking princess, Renee Vincent

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I also got to show off the beautiful cover art for this week’s TMP release: The Wedding Day Collection!

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Love, love, love it!

Want a taste?

“You’re the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen, Maggie. I don’t care about the dress or if your hair isn’t perfect.” He smiled when she automatically reached up to tame her wild mane with her palms. The owner of a successful salon and day spa, beauty was no joking matter to Maggie. “You can’t tell me you don’t have make-up in your purse or the diaper bag. I’ve never once seen you leave the house with less than three shades of lipstick.”

“Not true,” she whispered. “I went into labor with only a Chapstick on me.”

“And you never looked more stunning.” The statement of fact came equipped with a charming smile. “You said you’d marry me, Maggie. I let you put me off and put me off—”

“Put you off? It’s been two weeks!”

Actually, it was three. Three weeks since another stick turned pink and his inner Ward Cleaver roared to life. He couldn’t help it. She was going to have his baby. Again. And damn it, this time he wanted to do things right. As right as he could make them at this point. Seemed the not-so-good Catholic boy in him joined forces with Ward to bring him to his knees. Literally.

That’s all I’m going to give you. I mean, it’s a short story. If you want to know what happens next, you’re going to have to buy the cow story.

Or catch a one of the copies my co-authors and I might be toss out there like a bouquets.

Last week, Louise won the drawing for an advanced read copy, and you can do the same!

All you have to do is comment below,share your favorite part of a wedding celebration, and I’ll draw another winner. Seriously, it can be nothing more than:

I’m in it for the cake!

See? Easier doing the Hokey Pokey!

Don’t be a Chicken dancer! All comment posted before 11:59 Wednesday, June 12th have a chance to win. Speak now or forever hold your peace….

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Monday Mayhem – Turnabout, fair play, and breakfast cereal

I do a lot of talking about me on this blog, but let’s face it, I’m not that interesting. This fact was hammered home over the weekend as I tried desperately to come up with topics for blog posts that weren’t complete snoozefests.

Then I realized something. I may be boring (wake, work, eat, write, sleep – lather, rinse, repeat), but I find YOU infinitely fascinating. Therefore, I thought it would be fun to turn things around.

I want to interview you.

Comment below with your answers and I will draw the name of one lucky commenter on Wednesday, June 5th and send them an Advanced Read Copy of The Wedding Day Collection.

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This anthology includes Always a Groomsman – the story of Tom Sullivan and Maggie McCann’s (Commitment) wedding day!

You game? Let’s do this thing!

What’s the title of the last book you read?

What is the worst job you can imagine having?

What is your favorite breakfast cereal?

Name one thing you own that you wish you didn’t.

If you were famous, what would you be famous for?

 

Happy Monday, my darlings!

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Monday Mayhem – Memorabling

The Gilmore Girls fans in the crowd will know that the title is no typo. The rest of you should go watch season 1. At least, I think it was season 1….

It seems my memory is shot these days. As a matter of fact, I’m feeling pretty proud of the fact that I remembered to do this post, since I’ll be car-bound most of the day. So before I forget, here are a few things I want to share with you:

Coming in June from TMP – The Wedding Collection. Includes my story, ‘Always the Groomsman’
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Want a taste?
Things weren’t going the way he planned, but Tom Sullivan was getting used to the phenomenon. Life as he once knew it went kerblewie the first time he kissed Maggie McCann. This latest spin in the cosmic Cuisinart should have been a cakewalk. Still, he stood there at the end of the counter befuddled, betrothed, and—if the woman currently kneeling on a grimy Dunkin Donuts bathroom floor had anything to say about it—possibly soon-to-be-beheaded.
Just finishing edits on Long Distance Love – the collection of Jack and Ellie stories. I think you’ll like the way their story comes full circle. Look for it in August 2013.
Working on Containment. That’s the best I can say at this point. It’s been a difficult story to write. I’ve hit a couple of walls, but I think I might have found a way to smash through. Stay tuned.
And last, but certainly not least, I want to take a moment to honor the memory of all the brave men and women who have given their lives to protect our way of life.
One day seems a humble thank you, but your legacy beats in the hearts of a grateful nation.
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Monday Mayhem – Sharon B freaks out

When I talked to Sharon Buchbinder about doing a little guest stint on my blog I offered her the chance to play two truths and a lie with y’all. Apparently that wasn’t very kind of me….

Play along, will ya? I think she’s on the edge.

Truth-Truth-Confabulation

When Margaret shared that her blog was now featuring author guest posts with two truths and a lie, I had writer’s block for the first time in years. Normally, I have what I call writer’s logorrhea, which Miriam Webster’s online dictionary defines as “excessive and often incoherent talkativeness or wordiness.” Yes, even my academic pals have marked up my work with the dreaded words, “over writing.” I paced the room, wrung my hands, and moaned, “Why me? Of all the writers in all the blogs in all of the world, why did Margaret do this to me.” See. I over write. And then I have to KILL MY DARLINGS.

So, on that note, I now present two truths and a confabulation involving my book babies and killing my darlings. I leave it up to you to guess which one is the lie. From those readers who correctly identify the confabulation, I will award the winner’s choice of a book from my backlist.

1.  The only problem I had with Desire and Deception was getting an agent, editor or publisher to give it a read was because it had “too much sex.”  When I submitted it to an erotic publisher, the editor liked it, but complained it had too little sex.

2.  Some Other Child is based, in part, on growing up the child of a sociopath.  My mother taught me not to pay parking fees and to use American Sign Language to pretend I was deaf when confronted by angry attendants. I deleted the scene where she kept a shovel and newspaper in the trunk of her car so she could steal plants when I saw ones she liked.

3.  Obsession originally came in at 100,000 words. After three rounds of revisions, and a virtual blood bath of killing darlings, the book is now 70,000 words long. Many of the words were related to hot monkey sex in Mexican jungles and expletives in English, Spanish, and Russian.

~~~~~~~~~~~ 

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Now Available from The Wild Rose Press: OBSESSION

A year after a barbaric childbirth, complete with a near-death experience and an encounter with her guardian angel, Angie Edmonds is just happy she and her son, Jake, are alive. She’s finally in a good place: clean, sober, and employed as a defense attorney. But at the end of a long work day, she finds herself in a parent’s worst nightmare: Jake has been kidnapped and taken across the Mexican border by a cult leader who believes the child is the “Chosen One.”

Stymied by the US and Mexican legal systems, Angie is forced to ask the head of a Mexican crime syndicate for help. Much to her chagrin, she must work with Alejandro Torres, a dangerously attractive criminal and the drug lord’s right-hand man. Little does she know Alejandro is an undercover federal agent, equally terrified of blowing his cover—and falling in love with her.

~~~~~~~~~~

Author Bio and Links

After working in health care delivery for years, Sharon Buchbinder became an association executive, a health care researcher, and an academic in higher education. She had it all–a terrific, supportive husband, an amazing son and a wonderful job. But that itch to write (some call it an obsession) kept beckoning her to “come on back” to writing fiction. When not attempting to make students, colleagues, and babies laugh, she can be found herding cats, waiting on a large gray dog, fishing, dining with good friends, or writing. You can find her at www.sharonbuchbinder.com

~~~~~~~~~~~

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Where Sharon Buchbinder can be found on the Internet

Website/Blog http://sharonbuchbinder.com/blog/

Amazon http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B001IODIE2

Goodreads http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4417344.Sharon_Buchbinder

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/sharon.buchbinder.romanceauthor

Twitter @sbuchbinder https://twitter.com/sbuchbinder

The Wild Rose Press http://www.wildrosepublishing.com/maincatalog_v151/

Book Trailer for OBSESSION http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f1kujUWoGbk

Book Trailer for DESIRE AND DECEPTION http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=drjvWmZEHrU&feature=player_embedded

Book Trailer for SOME OTHER CHILD

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8EMvzxE-iBY

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Monday Mayhem – Recovery

Hello! I’m home from Kansas City and recovering from my very first Romantic Times Booklovers Convention. Here are a few of the highlights:

First, check out this room key!

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Whew! Thank you, Jaci Burton!

I got a chance to catch up with some old friends like author Beth Kery (Because You Are Mine)

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And my TMP pals Grace Greene (Beach Rental) and Ruth Hartman (rescued by a Duke)

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I also got to spend time with some new friends from the Contemporary Romance Cafe.

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Leah Brammel, me, Lynda Aicher, Samantha Ann King

And spend time with my partner in crime, Emily Cale (Power Play & Love Letters anthologies)

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I took part in the EXPO signing on Thursday afternoon

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Where I was lucky enough to be sandwiched between Alyssa Everett (Lord of Secrets) and Jennifer Estep (Elemental Assassins series).

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Pulling a selfie with Alyssa Everett

I met tons of fabulous authors and readers, got to put faces in the places where only Twitter icons existed before, talked myself hoarse, and managed to slip out for a little lunch with my pal Angel.

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And that is how I spent my spring vacation. I’m home today, petting the bunny, flirting with the hubby, and processing load after load of laundry. So… how about you? Do anything fun while I was gone?

 

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RT 2013 – Day 5

I’m at the Romantic Time Booklovers Convention in Kansas City this week. To Celebrate, I thought I’d post a bit from one of my books each day that I’m away. Looking for one of my books? You can find them all on my page at All Romance eBooks!

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Today I’m featuring Spring Chickens

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You don’t have to be a spring chicken to fall in love.

 

The residents of Heartsfield, Arkansas think Lynne Prescott has it all. The wealthy suburban divorcee captures everyone’s attention when she blows into town to dispose of the family farm. But her nosy new neighbors don’t know she ran away from home.

 

Bram Hatchett’s interest in buying the land adjoining his farm is yesterday’s news, but the handsome widower’s inability to contain his attraction to the land’s beautiful owner quickly becomes fodder for the local gossip mill.

 

A rickety old porch and a disturbing decrease in the poultry population bring them together—but with wagging tongues and grown children against them, Lynne’s inclination toward flight comes smack against Bram’s aversion to fight. Can they whittle away the secrets of the past in order to scratch out a future together?

And here’s an excerpt!

The photograph of her aunt with his uncle served as an easy out. Lynne laughed and shook her head. “I found something I wanted to show you.”  She offered it to him with a sheepish smile.

Bram took the snapshot, shooting her a wary glance before lowering his eyes. The glimmer of a smile twitched his lips then blossomed. “This is them,” he said in a soft, reverent tone.

“I know. Look at how happy they were.” He squinted and stretched his arm, leaning back until he could focus. “Wanna borrow my glasses?” she asked, waving the drugstore readers in his direction. His glare might have leveled a lesser woman, but she figured she’d already shown him her worst. She flashed her biggest grin. “Need longer arms? Want me to hold it over here?”

He snatched the glasses from her hand and slipped them onto the end of his nose. “Hell to get old,” he grumbled, moving the photo closer until he found the right spot.

She leaned against the doorframe. “Tell me about it.”

Bram whipped the glasses from his face and handed them back to her with the photograph. “I usually don’t need them. I didn’t get much sleep last night.”

“Chirping keep you awake?” she asked with a wry smile.

He chuckled and shook his head. “I don’t keep my chickens in the kitchen.”

“Smart man.”

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RT 2013 – Day 4

I’m at the Romantic Time Booklovers Convention in Kansas City this week. To Celebrate, I thought I’d post a bit from one of my books each day that I’m away. Looking for one of my books? You can find them all on my page at All Romance eBooks!

qrcode.Margaret ARe

Today I’m featuring Commitment – an All Romance eBooks best seller!

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Tom Sullivan wants a woman who is willing to accept him as he is. The successful divorce attorney has seen enough of the flip side of love to know better than to promise forever. Women have tried to pin him down, but none have managed to make it stick.

Until Maggie McCann.

Maggie is only interested in one thing. Her fortieth birthday is looming and the tick-tock-tick-tock in her head means her biological clock is about to strike midnight on her dreams of finding Prince Charming. Armed with a new plan for her happily ever, she foregoes the Fairy Godmother routine and makes an appointment with a fertility clinic for a rendezvous with a sperm donor.

The last thing Maggie needs is to get mixed up with a player like Tom Sullivan.

A chance encounter and the opportunity to scratch a decade-long itch prove irresistible, and what starts as a one-night stand turns into a game of cat and mouse when Tom learns of Maggie’s plan to start a family on her own.

To Maggie, messing with a guy like Tom Sullivan is the single-girl equivalent of playing with fire, but she convinces herself to take what she can get for as long as she can and expect nothing more. But Tom falls hard and fast for Maggie, and now that they’re planning to have a baby together he starts banking on his own a happily ever after.

And here’s an excerpt!

The kitchen gadget aisle of Bed Bath & Beyond isn’t the place to make major life decisions, but there she was—there it was—staring her right in the face.

“No.”

The word popped out of her mouth before it registered with her brain. Maggie McCann glared at the plastic tube then turned away, feigning interest in a set of matched measuring cups until she could gather her wits. The answer wasn’t unreasonable. The thought was ridiculous, the location…highly inappropriate.

Inappropriate, but not unusual. A born nester, Maggie liked taking a spin through the house wares super-store. She found it relaxing. There was nothing in the world she wanted more than to have a real nest to feather. Not that the apartment above her shop wasn’t real. The entire brick and mortar building was very real. She had the gigantic mortgage to prove it. But she wanted a house, no, a home.

Maggie didn’t consider her forays into this Valhalla of domestic bliss a stop gap. These excursions were not a desperate attempt to fill an empty life with candleholders, no matter what Oprah implied. She just had an itch for Egyptian cotton, and the best way to scratch that itch was by indulging her yen for plush, thirsty bath sheets. Hell, the terry cloth tantalizers practically leapt from the shelves and into her arms, desperate to be the towel she wrapped around her bubble bath-scented body. Maggie clutched the latest volunteers to her bosom. How could she deny them their destiny?

Under normal circumstances, she didn’t bother with the kitchen section of the store. Maggie shopped to satisfy her bed and bath jones. She considered anything that required her to spend time slaving over a hot stove definitely ‘Beyond’, but her ancient can opener was grinding to a slow and painful death.

Sadly, Fred was the only one around to witness her heroics when she called ‘Clear!’ and jolted the appliance back to life with a stout slap. Not that he cared about her histrionics. The only thing that ever concerned Fred was his next meal. The longer she took to serve him, the louder his complaints. Just that morning, in the midst of her appliance saving routine, the overstuffed tabby took his dissatisfaction out on her by stepping on her toes, butting her with his head, and nudging her with his bulky body before he resorted to violence.

The pebbled scratch on her ankle itched. She wanted to blame cat scratch fever for the heat coursing through her body, but she knew Ted Nugent didn’t hold the answer. Panic clawed at her throat. Maggie focused on every piece but the one that called to her. She scanned the rows, desperately searching for the fancy hand-held can opener she’d seen advertised on TV—the one that guaranteed a soft silicone grip and safely rounded edges.

She spotted her quarry and stretched to yank the package from the wire hook. It clung for dear life, almost as if the damn thing sensed it was doomed to an existence filled with tomato soup and economy-sized cans of Gourmet de Gato.

“Join the club,” she muttered.

Maggie gave the opener another yank and it surrendered, sending her stumbling into a display of mixing bowls. She gasped and flailed. The turquoise towels she’d taken hostage in the bath department fell to the floor in a heap. She caught the edge of a shelf and the can opener landed on the heap of terrycloth with a muffled plop.

Above her head, the rattle of plastic and cardboard warned of imminent disaster. Maggie groaned in surrender as bubble-packed kitchen gadgets began to rain down from over-stocked hooks. A torrent of teaspoons and tablespoons clattered against the flour sifters, colanders, and measuring cups lining the bottom shelf. Her jaw dropped, and her eyes popped. A melon baller teetered on the edge of its hook, telegraphing its intent.

“No, don’t jump!”

It didn’t heed her plea. On its descent, the thick silicon handle caught the top of the package on the rung below. Maggie winced as she made eye contact with the dastardly implement again. The cardboard backing swung wildly, rocking to the tip of the prong.

“Oh no….”

Maggie stared in horror as it let go. The bulbous rubber ball caught the edge of a mortar and pestle set and sent the plastic tube bouncing in her direction. Her grip on the shelf tightened as her knees buckled. She blinked in dismay when the taunting tool defied all laws of physics by landing face-up, its tapered tip pointing directly at her.

She stared down at the turkey baster, blinking back the hot rush of tears prickling her eyes. “No.” Her whispered refusal lacked conviction, and she knew it.

“That’s okay. It happens all the time.” A woman in a blue polo shirt hurried over. “I’m so sorry. Are you okay?”

“No.” Maggie shook her head to clear it. “I mean, yes. Yeah, I’m fine. Sorry about the mess.”

“Sometimes the stockers get a little overzealous,” the woman said, offering an apologetic smile. “I hope you weren’t hurt.”

“No, not at all.”

Pulling a card from her pocket, the woman stepped over the forgotten towels. “I’m Jackie Dunforth, Store Manager. Take that up front and tell them I said to give you twenty percent off your purchase.”

“Oh, that’s not necessary—”

“You almost got sliced by a grater. It’s the least I can do.”

Maggie bent to scoop her selections from the floor, carefully avoiding the turkey baster as she groped for the can opener. “Thank you.” She juggled her purse, towels, can opener, and business card.

She didn’t bother shaking her hair back from her face when she straightened, hoping a curtain of hair might camouflage her flaming cheeks. “Sorry,” she whispered again and slinked away.

“Oh! Ma’am?” The manager’s voice rang out, echoing through the aisles. A grimace twisted Maggie’s lips. She turned, eying the store associate warily. The woman held up the turkey baster, waving the damn thing in the air like a flag for all to see. “Did you forget this?”

Maggie shook her head a tad too vehemently. “No!” The woman took a quick step back, a puzzled frown creasing her brow. Dragging in a deep breath, she straightened her shoulders and tossed her hair. “I don’t need it, and it’s not my fault if the damn thing is suicidal.”

With that, Maggie McCann, towel tramp and candle craver with an itch for Egyptian cotton, turned on her heel and fled from the beyond and the terrifying thoughts a taunting turkey baster implanted in her mind.

 

 

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RT 2013 – Day 3

I’m at the Romantic Time Booklovers Convention in Kansas City this week. To Celebrate, I thought I’d post a bit from one of my books each day that I’m away. Looking for one of my books? You can find them all on my page at All Romance eBooks!

qrcode.Margaret ARe

Today I’m featuring Contentment

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Tracy Sullivan seems to have it all, a handsome, devoted husband, three beautiful children, a steady career, and the perfect suburban home; but she isn’t happy.

The petty resentments that have built over fifteen years of marriage surface when Tracy tells her husband, Sean, that she is no longer interested in sex, and their marriage threatens to implode.

For the sake of their children, Tracy and Sean agree to lead separate lives under the same roof. With the help of a healthy dose of adult-rated fiction and some gentle prodding from a good friend, Tracy begins to rediscover who she is, what she wants, and the reasons she fell for Sean once upon a time.

After two years of soul-searching, Tracy is finally ready to embrace her happily ever after having learned that while happiness may be fleeting, contentment can last a lifetime.

And here’s an excerpt!

June 2008

   The cursor blinked, the little bastard. The flashing line taunted her, all but double-dog daring her to click the link. But there was someone on the other end. Someone who had seemingly nothing and absolutely everything to do with what may or may not be about to happen. Somewhere out there, caught in the World Wide Web, was a living, breathing person she had never met, never seen, and never heard of Tracy Sullivan.

   She glared at the cursor. Shouldn’t someone know they had this much of an impact on another human being? Doesn’t she deserve to know what she does matters to someone? Tracy assumed the author was a woman. Only a woman would understand.

   She pressed the button, and a strange sense of calm flooded her veins as the contact form appeared. After entering her email address, she typed, ‘Your stories’ in the subject line. Then she chickened out.

   Tracy wasn’t surprised. She’d been clucking like a crazed hen all day. I wonder if I’m sprouting feathers yet?

   Out of the corner of her eye, she spotted the telltale pink shopping bag peeking out from under the briefcase she’d had dumped on the chair. Tracy stared at the tiny pink bag, gnawing her bottom lip and remembering the agonizing forty-five minutes she had spent surrounded by a sea of lace and satin.

   She stuck out like a sore thumb in the Pepto-Bismol pink store. Her navy blue skirt and peep-toe pumps seemed like such good choices that morning. The skirt may have been navy, but it fit lean and snug. The hem fell below her knee making her feel like a sexy secretary. She’d paired the skirt with a deceptively simple, white cotton blouse that nipped in at the right spots, and finished the ensemble with the sinfully red high-heeled pumps and a slash of scarlet lipstick. The whole combination had almost given Sean whiplash as she rushed to the car to run the morning carpool shift.

   The clucking began. Whatever confidence Tracy had when she dashed out the door fled the moment the whipcord thin, I’m-barely-old-enough-to-order-a-drink salesclerk starting pulling baby dolls, teddies and negligees from the racks. 

   Tracy gawked at the displays, trying to envision prying her body into one of the scraps of fabric without benefit of a crowbar. She caught a glimpse of herself in one of the store’s many mirrors, and her heart sank. She looked exactly like what she was: an almost forty-year-old woman buying lingerie in a desperate attempt to salvage her failing marriage.

   She could almost hear the overgrown teenager thinking she’d have to exert some serious effort if she thought she wanted to lure her man back into the nest. These girls probably dealt with a lot of this. Every day, women her age must rush through their door in a blind panic hoping to recapture their youth. They rifle through the inventory of flame red lingerie and wonder if they can tolerate wearing a piece string splitting their ass on the off chance the butt floss might rekindle a spark.

   When this same eager, young saleswoman dared to hold a teeny-tiny bustier set in front of her own non-existent bosom, a woman browsing a rack of full-support brassieres muttered, “Nurse a coupla kids, sweetie,” under her breath.

Tracy chuckled, but the clucking began in earnest. The idea of teddies, baby dolls and bustiers had to be jettisoned. The last thing she wanted was to come off looking like a wannabe pin-up girl in a froth of scratchy lace and high-heeled, marabou-trimmed slippers.

   She didn’t even have a pair of marabou-trimmed slippers.

   Tracy snatched the bag from the chair and padded into the laundry room. She extracted her oldest, softest jeans and a long-sleeved t-shirt from the pile waiting to be sorted and put away and stepped into the tiny powder room, refusing to meet her own gaze in the mirror above the sink.

   Being a chicken, she refused Sean’s offer of dinner, pleading a large lunch. She pretended she didn’t notice the bewildered confusion in his eyes when she brushed past him and rushed down the steps. She didn’t want him to spot the stupid pink bag. A few minutes later she dashed upstairs again. As silently as a ninja, she checked on the kids, steered clear of the kitchen where he prepared lunches for the next day, and sought refuge in the basement room that was her lair.

   She glanced up, tentatively scanning her reflection for one little scrap of bravado. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to see him. For the first time in forever, she was dying to see him. But she wasn’t ready. She had to think, and lately she hadn’t been able to think clearly with Sean nearby.

   She needed a plan. She was nothing without a good plan, but once a plan was in place, boy watch out!

   Tracy slowly unbuttoned her blouse, but by the time she stripped out of the day’s work clothes she still had nothing. She reached into the pink bag and pulled out a matching bra and panty set in a demure, pale peach with cream lace. The choice bewildered her. For a moment, she wondered if she’d been in some kind of fugue-state when she made the purchase. Tracy hated the color orange and all of its derivatives. She hated fake, antique-looking lace. The last thing any woman staring down the barrel of forty needed was to put her body into something with the word ‘antique’ attached.

   She shook the seventy-five dollars worth of polyester at the mirror. “I should make you wear this as a punishment, chicken,” she muttered to her reflection.

She froze for a second, then cocked her head, giving the set another glance. The peach would warm her complexion, the teeny-bopper titty measurer said. The color would go nicely with her eyes. The lace might not be so old lady-ish on a pair of boobs which hadn’t gone completely south yet. She peeked at her bosom. Not bad, only halfway down.

   Tracy stripped off the serviceable bra and panties she wore. Biting off the tags, she caught sight of her body in the mirror and wished she hadn’t. Once she put the pretty new bra and panties on, though, a flicker of her fickle confidence returned.

   Turning from side to side, she inspected what little she could in the oval mirror above the sink. Not awful. She shook her boobs into the cups, pressing on the sides of the bra to be sure the girls were being displayed to their best advantage before slipping into her t-shirt and jeans.

   She caught sight of her bare feet as she left the bathroom and smiled.

   Brazen hussy red.

   That’s what Sean used to call the bright red polish she used on her toes. The glossy enamel gave her the boost she needed. Her poor toes had gone unpolished for too long. She wasn’t the girl she used to be, but she was okay with that. Now. At least she was no longer the foolish woman who had almost thrown everything away.

   This has gone on for too long.

   Tracy drew on the power of the crimson polish. After all, she needed to be brazen. She desperately wanted to be the hussy she had never been. She hurried to the computer before she could chicken out again. The cursor still winked at her. She glanced at the ceiling. Pots and pans clamored as they were piled in the kitchen sink. The cursor urged her on, flashing its silent, ‘Do it. Do It. You want to do it.’

   She wrung her hands. The water shut off, and the lilt of the familiar tune Sean always whistled while he wiped the counters carried down the steps. He was almost done. His kitchen would be sparkling clean and ready for another day’s battle.

   Another day’s battle. She straightened her spine. I can’t wait another day.

   Tracy glared at the nagging cursor and bent, ignoring the bite of the snug denim at her waist. She tabbed down to the tiny message window and paused, her fingers hovering above the keys. Biting her lip, she battled back the panic humming low and insistent in her brain and tried to think of the right words to say.

     From: Tsull1968@gmail.com

     Subject: Your stories

     Hi! You don’t know me. Well, you kind of do, because you have responded to some of my reviews, but you don’t really know me. I just wanted to tell you how much I love your stories. They have helped me more than I can ever explain. I read in your author’s notes and the messages you post on the boards that you think these are just silly stories you write and post to make people happy – and they do, I am incredibly happy whenever I get an email saying you have updated. But they are so much more. I just wanted to take a minute to thank you. I know you have no idea what I am truly thanking you for, and that’s okay. I needed to say thank you. So, thank you. Wish me luck.

    Tracy

   With a click of her mouse, the message flew off into cyber-space. Tracy stared at the monitor for a moment, wondering if she should wait for a reply.

   Maybe if I get one it would be a sign.

   But the sign came from above. The dishwasher hummed to life, and she realized she had to do something now. No more waiting. No more watching. No more sitting at the computer escaping into another couple’s world, another couple’s bed. This was it. Now or never.

   Tracy cringed at the words as they flitted through her head, but she knew they were the truth. She turned her back on the flashing cursor and headed for the stairs. The time had come. Tonight, Tracy Sullivan planned to seduce her husband of seventeen years, and he’d better damn well co-operate.

 

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