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

 Contentment_Ethridge_MD

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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Monday Mayhem – Hanging out

Hey! How was your weekend? Do anything fun?

Mine was busy but good. Same old, same old. Laundry, grocery shopping, hanging out with my DSRA pals and a internationally best selling author. You know, the usual.

Ha! I’m toally not that cool.

The Arkansas Literary Festival was held in Little Rock this weekend, and the ladies of the Diamond State Romance Authors were in the thick of it. What a fun, infomative, and inspirational weekend!

Friday night I dragged the hubby to the main library for a discussion on the evolution of erotic romance featuring editor/publisher Lori Perkins and the author of the best selling Crossfire series, Sylvia Day. Not only did the poor man survive, he actually learned some interesting things about publishing, romance, and the evolution of erotica and erotic romance in the publishing marketplace.

Then, Sylvia Day, who is also the current President of the Romance Writers of America, joined the Arkansas Diamonds for a luncheon to celebrate the chapter’s anniversary.

cake

Sylvia answered questions and shared her insights into the industry throughout the lunch. She put up with our clowning around quite nicely too.

Pals and partners in crime Megan Mitcham & Amy Fendley
Pals and partners in crime Megan Mitcham & Amy Fendley
Tina Medlock, Mandy Harbin, Parker Kincade, Brinda Berry, Voirey Linger
Tina Medlock, Mandy Harbin, Parker Kincade, Brinda Berry, Voirey Linger
I swear there was only Diet Coke in that glass.
I swear there was only Diet Coke in that glass.

And in the end, she graciously posed for pictures with us all.

group

SylDay

Yeah.. so how cool is that? Any Sylvia Day fans out there? Have you read the Crossfire series? Who did you hang out with this weekend?

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Monday Mayhem – Dead giveaway

You always know when I’m home when there’s no 6AM post scheduled on my blog. Why is it I’m so much more organized when I’m away? Oh yeah. I get lazy when I’m at home.

Did you enjoy getting to know Linda and Holly? Aren’t they great? I love getting to know my fellow authors a little better. 🙂

I’ve spent the past two weeks in the Rio Grande valley. Like the west Texas plains, the southern tip of the state is fertile ground for a romance writer, but instead of cowboys and oilmen, I’m now hung up on vacqueros and hot Homeland Security agents. And El Patos’ chicken guisada in corn tortillas. *sigh*

Two weeks was a long time to be away from home, but I was lucky enough to be able to fly my hero down for a weekend visit. We spent 2 days on the beach at South Padre Island, and it was heavenly. He built this love nest in the sand for us:

heart

And we enjoyed the bayside sunsets:

Sunset

But it was way too short. This was the first time Mr. Mags and I have been to the beach together. We discovered that we’re astoundingly good at it, so we will be planning another trip to the sand and surf soon!

The people I worked with in McAllen were great, but by the time Friday rolled around, I was more than ready to head home to my bed and my bunny. I also made it home in time to help this little guy celebrate his one month birthday:

Raylon11

But I don’t recall telling him he could get so big while I was gone…. Raylon10

Silly monkey.

So that’s what I’ve been up to lately. What about you? What did I miss while I was away?

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Monday Mayhem – Picture post

Had a busy weekend! It started with visitors:

Joey and Raylon
Mommy and grandbaby

Which led to much cooing and cuddling:

I think he likes Moogie best
I think he likes Moogie best

Then we took off to Southaven, MS for the M.R. Davis Library Mix & Mingle

I brought my lovely assistant along to flirt with the ladies.
I brought my lovely assistant along to flirt with the ladies.

Got to meet my fellow TMP author, Linda Rettstat

Linda
Linda

And met historical romance author, Mary McCall

What can I say? I gravitate to the chicks who like men in kilts.
What can I say? I gravitate to the chicks who like men in kilts.

Then we came home to this:

And just where have you been, Moogie?
And just where have you been, Moogie?

So we had to cuddle until we got back in his good graces

Granddad and Moogie are funny!
Granddad and Moogie are funny!

All in all, it was a pretty darn good weekend. I have a busy week ahead. Getting ready to head off to Texas for the day job. I’ll be gone for a couple of weeks, but I invited some friends over to keep you company. No keggers. I mean it.

So how was your weekend? Got a busy week ahead?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Monday Mayhem – The Margaret Shuffle

I updated my iPod this weekend. I know, I know…alert the media. But, it’s an anomaly in my life, trust me.

I acquired some new-to-me music thanks to my friend Julie and the good folks at iTunes. As a matter of fact, it seems every song I’ve added lately is thanks to Julie. Of course, I take her advice. She’s young and hot, and I don’t really think she’s trying to brainwash me or anything. Much. I’m sure she just thought I might really enjoy ‘Hey Julie’ by Fountains of Wayne. And she was right. I do.

[youtube=http://youtu.be/wZxJNZMyn-4]

This weekend’s discovery was Caro Emerald and her fabulous song ‘Back It Up’.

[youtube=http://youtu.be/jo1cyl0QbWo]

I love it, but I have to admit I’m a little afraid Julie’s getting into my head. I just tried to spell color with a U. Those Canadians are sneaky. First they seduce you with Clodhoppers then they take over your iPod. Soon it will be all Rush all the time!

My iPod is a weird and wonderful place, but I need to shake it up before Julie takes over entirely. I thought I’d share the next ten songs to pop up on my iPod’s shuffle then you can tell me what you’re listening to, and maybe we can move forward without calling in a deprogrammer.

The Point of No Return ~ Phantom of the Opera Original Soundtrack
A Million Miles Away ~ The Plimsouls
Blow Me (One Last Kiss) ~ Pink
How to Dream ~ Sam Phillips
Everyday I Write the Book ~ Elvis Costello
The Air That I Breathe ~ The Hollies
Where or When ~ Harry Connick, Jr.
So in Love ~ k.d. lang
Blue Bayou ~ Roy Orbison
Something Stupid ~ Glee Cast

What about you? Are you listening to anything new and interesting? How about old and awesome?

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Monday Mayhem – Bunnies!

Home. Exhausted. Had a wonderful time. Here are a few of the highlights:

Upon arrival, I found this fabulous pair of bunny ears in the Target dollar bins and I just had to have them:

Bunny

 

Then the madness spread:

 Bunny ears

The next thing you know, they were multiplying like rabbits!

M&G2013

It was a great weekend but it all passed way too fast. Now we start planning for next year.

Do you have an annual get-together or event you look forward to all year? How soon is too soon to start a countdown calendar?

 

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Monday Mayhem – Yay!

Days! I see my girls in just a few days!

M&G

Yes, I know I crowed about this the last time, but it’s been a year. Yes, an entire year has passed since I’ve seen some of these ladies. I don’t know how I survived it. I’m so excited I may bust right out of my yoga pants. Okay, that may be because of the chip kick I’ve been on lately, but you get the point. I am sad that not everyone will be able to make it this year, but I was born and raised a Cubs fan. I always believe next year will be our year.

I’ve made some progress on the book. It’s definitely not flowing as easily as some of the others, but I am trying to let go of the nit-pickiness and just write. A couple characters introduced themselves to me yesterday afternoon. I’m hoping they can light a little fire under me.

In other news, we’re in the final countdown to grandparentdom. Yay! Thanks to my fabulous friends, I have a swanky new Vera Bradley diaper bag, cementing my standing as the cool grandma.

 bag

Being the step-grandma, I got to choose my moniker. Therefore, I chose to retain the name that’s been pinned on me since I was a baby and declared myself the little man’s ‘Moogie’. Fodder will take the traditional route and be called ‘Granddad’.

Let’s see…what else?

I joined Weight Watchers again. (See bit above concerning chip binges) It’s amazing how fast I gain weight these days. I’m not going to get all het up about it, but I do want to keep it in check as much as I can. I’ve also gone back to the gym. I haven’t been running regularly since the flu took me out of the race last fall. It feels like I’m back to square one, even though I know I’m not. I’m scoping out 5k runs in the area, but I haven’t registered for one yet. The travel schedule for the day job isn’t set in stone, so I’ll have to wait to see where I may be in the coming months.

What are your plans for the week? Now that we’re past that first rush of resolutions, have you changed or added new goals for 2013? Yoga pants – scourge of fashion or God’s gift to middle-aged women? I could totally get away with carrying that diaper bag as a purse, couldn’t I?

These are the burning questions. Answer one or more of them and I may hook you or a friend up with digital copies of the first two books in Maggie Wells’ sizzling new Hot Nights in St. Blaise series.

Ready? Go!

JumpingMr.JanuaryFEB_MWells_MD

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Monday Mayhem – Nervous Nellie Edition

I’m home! I’m home, I’m home, I’m home! Well, I’m home for another 10 days. 🙂 The good news is that my next trip will be pleasure and not business. The bad news? Well, I seem to have misplaced my motivation. I have a novel to write and I’m having a hard time getting into it.

If you’re my editor, please stop reading here.

I’ll make the deadline.

I swear.

You see, this story is going to be very different from anything I’ve written before. This story will deal with a very difficult subject matter – marital infidelity.

I will state here and now that I have no personal experience in this area. At least, not that I know of. If any of you know something I don’t know, please keep it to yourself. I’m a huge fan of oblivion. Unfortunately, my character, Shel, doesn’t have that luxury. The poor woman is going to have to deal with her husband’s indiscretion head-on.

As an author, this is a very exciting and intimidating prospect. You see, the main character is ‘speaking’ to me in 1st person. I’ve never written in 1st, only 3rd. It’s going to be a big jump to master a new style. Dealing with touchy subject matter is another worry, but one I’m queasy (not quasi)-excited to tackle. So yeah…while I’m looking forward to facing this life challenge with my character, I’m praying it’s the only time I ever have to deal with it.

I know that, like Shel, I’m just going to have to jump and start wading through it. Here’s hoping we both come out stronger on the other side.

What do you have going on in your world?

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Monday Mayhem – Where’s Margaret?

It’s Monday, so I must be in Texas…. At least, that’s the way it seems lately.

So far I have visited El Paso and Odessa. Today, I’m in San Angelo.

For the geographically challenged. And the Canadians.
For the geographically challenged.
And the Canadians.

Let me tell you, the cowboy/oil tycoon/rodeo star plot bunnies are running rampant, my friends!

So, yeah. Margaret’s not home right now, but if you’re really missing me a lot, you can check out the post I did about procrastination on the Diamond State Romance Authors blog last week. And, if you just can’t wait to hear from me again, it’s my turn to host the blog at Everybody Needs A Little Romance this Thursday.

I’ve been a bit out of my comfort zone (which means I’ve been anywhere but my chair), so I messed up a bit on my posts last week. You see, I shared a post from my good friend, Evelyn Jules, on Thursday, but it was supposed to be this week’s Monday Mayhem post. I guess I got excited that it was her birthday, and posted it on her special day. So yeah…I blew my post lineup and I’ve got nothing. But if you missed it, please click here to check it out!

In the meantime, I’ll give you a special travel-themed round of two truths and a lie and give away winner’s choice from any book on my digital backlist. Got ’em all? Play anyway and I’ll give you a copy for a friend!

You ready? Go!

1) I prefer a aisle seat over a window.

2) I love talking to people on planes.

3) I take antihistamines before flying to keep my ears from clogging.

Have a great week, my darlings! I’ll be home soon!

P.S. Thanks to all who commented on Karen Booth’s Monday Mayhem post. You guys rock!

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Monday Mayhem – Let’s catch up

Are you there readers? It’s me, Margaret.

Did you enjoy meeting Valerie Haight? She’s a doll. How about that round of two truths and a lie? It was hard to figure out which one was the fib, but Laurie and Carol got it right. Val is not a Courtney Cox wannabe.

I’m just back from a fabulous weekend in St. Louis with my girlfriends. Here’s a picture of us taken at the observation deck atop the Gateway Arch.

Arch

Laughter. Tears. Laughter through tears. Most of it induced by Cards Against Humanity. Had an incredible dinner at Trattoria Marcella on The Hill. A little winter weather and some other interstate complications made getting home a challenge, but I’m happy to report that no limbs were lost and no one was arrested.

Getting ready for an intense round of business travel. I’ll be leading three day classes in three West Texas towns over the course of three weeks. Oy.

What does this mean for you, dear readers? It means you get to meet more of my friends.

Next Monday, Renee Vincent will be here to talk about her latest release, The Temperate Warrior. On the 28th, by pal Karen Booth will visit. I’m very excited for her upcoming novel, Bring Me Back. I was lucky enough to get a sneak preview of this rockin’ novel!

What does all this travel mean for me? It means buckling down and cranking out some words in strange rooms. You’d think it was a simple matter of ‘have laptop, will travel’, but it’s not. Margaret is a creature of habit. Being out of my comfort zone throws me off my game. But, I did it during NaNo, and I can do it again. I have to. I have deadlines to meet. 🙂

What will I be working on whilst I’m away? Containment!

This will be the third in what I call (in my head) the Chicago Girls series. Containment will be Shel’s story. Shel was Tracy (Contentment) and Maggie’s (Commitment) roommate when they lived in the city. It will be an After Happily Ever story focusing on issues of expectations, trust and fidelity. It willl release Fall 2013.

In other news, I have roughed out six new Jack and Ellie stories to complete the Long Distance Love series. I’ll be working with TMP to release a compilation all of the stories used in anthologies, the free reads, and these new stories to bring their love story full circle. Look for it this fall too!

So, yeah…. Busy times. But I also have tons of good stuff to look forward to in the coming months. A few of the highlights:

  • I’m hooking up with my Super Cool Party People in February! Yay! I only get to see most of these crazy ladies once a year, and that’s not nearly enough. I plan to laugh until we all lay on the floor, panting and spent.
  • I’ll be attending the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention in Kansas City this May. Not only will I get to meet and chat with new readers, but I will have the added bonus of quality time with some of my author buddies. RT is open to the public. If you’re in the KC area and would like to attend, you can find more information here.
  • Miss Maggie is keeping me crazy busy with all these releases. What was she thinking? She was thinking the world needed more sexy, steamy romance. The Hot Nights in St. Blaise series has now been launched. Jumping Mr. January is available now, and February’s Fling will release the week of January 27th. There are 12 novellas in this series, so plan your 2013 reading now! Be sure to like Maggie’s page on Facebook or follow her on Twitter to keep up with the latest.
  • Downton Abbey and Castle are back. Thank goodness.
  • Tim Bunny is still cute. And bad. Cute and bad. No wonder I can’t resist him.

I think that’s the gist of what’s happening in my world. What’s happening in yours? Read anything good lately? Can you believe what happened on Downton? Could Castle and Beckett get any cuter? Any travel on your calendar?

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