Monday Mayhem – Guilt Offering

The dog ate my homework!

Okay, maybe not really, but the result is the same: I don’t have a post prepared. What can I say? I’ve, uh, been…busy. I am prpared to offer appeasment, though. No, I don’t have a Central-Eurpopean country to hand over, but I do have one more novel releasing this year. How about a sneak peek from Inamorata? Will that get me off the hook?

Warning: Frank DeLuca was never PG-13 and probably never will be. The potty-mouth…

Anyhoo…Here’s your bribe. Let me know what you think, and have a happy Monday!

Inamorata – Coming June 2012 from Turquoise Morning Press

After twenty-five years of cooling his jets in a wall sconce, Frank DeLuca figured the afterlife owed him a break. Hadn’t he been a model ghost? He didn’t possess little kids, screw up the television reception, or throw random objects across the room just to get attention. Hell, he never even made creepy noises in the dead of night.

All he asked was a peaceful existence where someone would turn him on every once in a while. The light, that is. He needed just a little bit of light in his afterlife.

Instead, he got a sullen, silent little boy who cried for his mommy every night. The kid came with a set of hyper-tense grandparents whose marriage was crumbling under the weight of old insecurities and words left unspoken. As if that weren’t enough to drive a guy to hide out in his light fixture, providence tossed in a little a spitfire of a girl who flipped his switch in every way. Gina Ferro turned out to be the kid’s mother. She also happened to be a ghost.

Thrown together by Fate and bound by history, Frank and Gina must learn to trust each other with the keys to their pasts in order to unlock their eternity.

Excerpt:

He let go, allowing the soul-crushing pain to swamp him, plummeting to earth once more. He couldn’t crash and burn any worse than he had before. Twice before. Once when he was living, and once long after he’d been dead. Frank blinked the glare from his eyes and focused on the blank wall in front of him. The rosebud wallpaper was gone. The sheetrock had been stripped, sanded, and painted blue. A blue that was just a half-shade lighter than the blue that coated the walls in nineteen-eighty-seven.

He shook his head to clear it. Finally, his gaze tracked to the right where he spotted a bookshelf loaded with books, games, and stuffed animals. At the very top, a collection of trophies like the one he once kept in this very room was proudly displayed. Tiny gold men holding bats glistened in the soft amber glow of evening. He gaped at them perched atop their faux marble and fake brass pedestals.

He could see it so perfectly in his mind’s eye. A spotless trophy, gleaming bright gold in the light cast from the cheesy 70s directional sconce mounted on the wall. His mother running her fingertip over the engraved plate bearing his name.

“Francis DeLuca.”

The name rolled off his lips even though he hadn’t spoken it aloud in nearly two decades. Not since the night he introduced himself to the little girl who moved into his room. Not since he fell in love with Cam.

His eyes locked on the gilt batter glued to the top of the tallest trophy. He couldn’t look away. Obviously they didn’t belong to the little guy snuggled into the race-car shaped bed. But something told him they belonged here, just like him.

He stared hard at that trophy, seeing his mother’s wind-up, flinching just as he flinched when she hurled it across the room, smashing the bulb in the brass-colored wall sconce to bits, stealing the last wisps of breath from his lungs, and sentencing him to an eternity as the middleman.

On August nineteenth, nineteen-eighty-seven, he died. That was the day he broke his mother’s heart. That was the day his fate was sealed.

Shaking his head, Frank glared at the woman perched on the side of the bed. She was tall and slim, her hair so blonde it was almost white, her skin as pale as milk. Long, graceful fingers fussed with the edge of a Thomas the Tank Engine quilt, but the backs of her hands were veined and dotted with sunspots. It was her face that called to him. Stoic. Silent. Stone-faced.

“Fuck. Here we go again.”

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Monday Mayhem – Randomosity

I have nothing prepared for today’s post, so I’m just going to throw a handful of randomosity at you and hope that something sticks. You ready? Here we go!

1) My husband and I just had a ten minute discussion about geometric theorems which concluded with heartfelt declarations of our utter relief that we don’t have to take Geometry class ever again.

2) I participated in a 5k race on Saturday. I managed to run about 2 1/2 of the 3.1 miles and finished in 37:45. I was happy. 🙂

3) As I type, I am wearing a rather fetching pair of University of Arkansas at Monticello Boll Weevil socks. Fear the weevil!

4) I ate birthday cake today. And chocolate ice cream. Je ne regrette rien.

5) Spring Chickens is now available…everywhere! Tell your friends and be sure to check out this fabulous GoodReads giveaway that starts tomorrow!

The winner of the $20 gift card from last week’s post was Carol. Thanks for your comments and continued support! My readers are the best!

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Monday Mayhem – Simple Pleasures

This weekend, I experienced a number of life’s simple pleasures. Even better, I took the time to appreciate each and every one of them. Here are the top five:
1) The crispy, seared edges of a perfectly grilled Steakburger.
2) The sweet smell of a baby’s soft, downy head.
3) Helpless laughter. The kind that spawns tears. (Thank you, Mom.)
4) Friendships as comfortable as the perfect pair of slippers.
5) Welcome home hugs and kisses from the hottie waiting at the airport.
How about you? What simple pleasures have you experienced lately?

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Monday Mayhem – A Hail of Bullets

This week’s stream of consciousness babble:

  1. Ran two miles – a few times. Also attended my second yoga class on Saturday. I’ve decided I like having an hour of quiet movement here and there.
  2. A new great-nephew due to arrive any moment. Will be smooching the sugar off babies this weekend.
  3. My awesome friend and invaluable critique partner, Julie Doner, signed her first publishing contract with Turquoise Morning Press!
  4. Less than 3 weeks until Spring Chickens is released! Bookmark this page!
  5. I’m addicted to almonds. I buy a pound of natural then roast them in a pan with a tablespoon of olive oil. I only allow myself 15 at a time for fear I’ll end up eating the whole bag.
  6. Speaking of food—72 hours until I get my Steak ‘n Shake. Not that I’m counting…
  7. The girl who works at the Khiel’s counter (*cough* my daughter *cough*) told me Kim Kardashian uses the stuff she sold me. I’ve been using it for two weeks and I’m still not a rich reality TV star. My skin is really soft, though.
  8. Tim Bunny has finally succumbed to my charms. It’s only taken six years, but I can now hold and cuddle my recalcitrant rabbit at will.  
  9. I’ve been dreaming about Chicago a lot lately. I blame all the Twitter chatter about the Romantic Times Convention, the untamed plot bunnies in my head, and Susan Elizabeth Phillips. In that order.
  10. And last but certainly not least…I have cover art for Inamorata (June 2012)! Check this out:

 

You like? Here’s the blurb:

After twenty-five years of cooling his jets in a wall sconce, Frank DeLuca figured the afterlife owed him a break. Hadn’t he been a model ghost? He didn’t possess little kids, screw up the television reception, or throw random objects across the room just to get attention. Hell, he never even made creepy noises in the dead of night.

All he asked was a peaceful existence where someone would turn him on every once in a while. The light, that is. He needed just a little bit of light in his afterlife.

Instead, he got a sullen, silent little boy who cried for his mommy every night. The kid came with a set of hyper-tense grandparents whose marriage was crumbling under the weight of old insecurities and words left unspoken. As if that weren’t enough to drive a guy to hide out in his light fixture, providence tossed in a little a spitfire of a girl who flipped his switch in every way.

Gina Ferro turned out to be the kid’s mother. She also happened to be a ghost.

Thrown together by Fate and bound by history, Frank and Gina must learn to trust each other with the keys to their pasts in order to unlock their eternity.

Heh. Never gets old.

That’s all I have for this week. Now hit me with your best shot!

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Monday Mayhem – Challenges

One year ago today, I smoked my last cigarette. At least, it was my last until I turn 70—after that, all bets are off. Once I hit 70, I’m going to live fast and hard, do whatever the hell I want, and go out in a blaze of glory.

That’s my plan.

I know this isn’t politically correct or even smart, but I really loved smoking. I’m not going to lie and say I don’t miss it. I do. I loved the ritual of it. I am a creature of habit, so breaking that particular habit was a big step for me.

Still, I’m not going to say it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, because I’m not entirely certain that’s true. I’ve had to face some obstacles I thought I’d never get over, past, or around. They were shorter in duration, maybe, but that didn’t make them any easier.

Vigilance is the key.

As of tomorrow, I will be 365 days smoke free, and a few things have changed. I don’t have to tell myself that my heart will go ‘splodey if I attempt to smoke while wearing a patch, like I did that first week. I don’t have to physically restrain myself from lunging at my old friends hanging out in the smoke shack at work and wrestling a smoke from my victim. My pants may fit a little tighter, but I can run a mile fairly easily (on most days). Couldn’t do that when I was sucking on the Marlboros. So yeah…tradeoffs.  

Quitting smoking was a challenge, but it was not so tough in the long run. Most days, I don’t even think about it. It’s nothing compared to the challenges many people face every day. It’s good to remember that.

Smoking was just something I did, and every once in a while I have to remind myself every once in a while that I don’t do that anymore.

At least, not for another 27 years.

Who’s coming to my 70th birthday party? I’m telling you, it’s going to be legendary…

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Monday Mayhem: Springing Eternal

Today is the day the Romance Writers of America announce the RITA/Golden Heart contest finalists. For those of you who don’t know, the RITAs are for published authors, and Golden Heart entries are unpublished. There are many prestigious and esteemed awards in the romance community, but these two would be the equivalent of the Oscar/Emmy/Tony awards.

Last fall, the staff at Turquoise Morning Press voted to put two of their 2011 titles up for consideration for RITA awards and they chose Grace Greene’s Beach Rental (Best Inspirational Romance & Best First Book categories) and my Contentment (Novel with Strong Romantic Elements category) as TMP’s official submissions.

I couldn’t believe they picked one of my books from all of the titles they published in 2011. I might have had a total Sally Field moment. Maybe. There’s no video, so there’s no proof. As you can imagine, RITA and GH submissions are huge. The chances of being chosen as a finalist are super-slim – particularly for a small press author. But even as I filled out the entry form, I will admit that I was picturing myself as that camel passing through the eye of a needle. Without the hump. And the overbite. And the spitting thing…

I’m realistic enough to know my phone will probably not ring this morning. I’m not just saying that to be self-deprecating. Those of me who know me well know I have a ginormous ego. Huge. At times, monstrous. But I will say it’s also pretty well grounded in reality.

I love my baby, but I’m not so blind that I can’t see its flaws. But still…Maybe….

And there it goes again – springing eternal and all that jazz. I can’t help myself. I came equipped with this tiny little flame, flickering and sputtering deep inside of me. Standard equipment on this model, I guess. It won’t ever be extinguished, not even after the name of the last of the 2012 RITA finalists is posted on the RWA website.

Being an author is all about having hope.

We hope the story idea rattling around in our head is as good as we think it might be.

We hope we’ve chosen the right words to paint a picture, tell the tale, and spin a web so sticky you’ll never want to put the book down.

We hope it touches someone somehow.

Hope is the key ingredient that makes each and every romance (real or fictional) a possibility. It spurs us to press ‘send’ on that agent or editor pitch. Hope keeps us clicking the refresh button multiple times a day. Each time I open a new document, I’m filled with hope, expectation, and the tiny trickle of trepidation that accompanies any risk worth taking.

And if that phone call never comes, that’s okay. There’s always next year, right?

Spoken like a true Cubs fan.

Happy Monday, my friends. What are your hopes for the day, week, month, or year?

ETA: Just wanted to thank you all for your support. Contentment wasn’t chosen as a finalist, but I will have three (!) 2012 releases to choose from when it comes time to submit again. Thanks so much. You all are the best!

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Monday Mayhem – It’s me again, Margaret

I’m back! Did you miss me last week? Aren’t The Karens a hoot? Love those girls!

So… Hi! I didn’t really have a topic picked out for today, so I thought I’d play catch up with some bullet points.

1)         Just a little over one month until Spring Chickens is released! I love Lynne. I love Bram. I really love Bram. Ahem. Sorry… Anyway, I can’t wait for you to meet him, uh, them. Need a refresher? Here’s the blurb:

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?

Mark your calendars for the week of April 23rd!

2)         Been getting some really awesome reviews on Commitment! Yay! If you do not review the books you read on a site like Amazon, GoodReads, or Barnes & Noble, I’m asking that you please consider doing so. Not just my books, but any book. Your thoughts and opinions matter a great deal to authors and readers alike. More and more, I’m seeing more and more places that require a minimum number of public reviews before an author can even pay to advertise on the site. You don’t have to write an essay. Just simply say what you liked or didn’t like about the book. That’s right; you can say you didn’t like it. Honest reviews are always appreciated. Please just remember to be gentle. Authors are like small woodland creatures…

3)         Hey, are you following my photo a day challenge on my Facebook page? It’s been a lot of fun. Stop by, click the ‘like’ button, and check them out! 

4)        Been writing lately, but it’s been more for my close, personal friend, Maggie Wells than for myself. Seems she got a little ambitious with the series planning. Silly Maggie.

4)         Silly Margaret: I decided it was time to shake off the cobwebs and start working out a little harder, so I signed up for a 5K that’s being held at the end of April.  I ran almost two miles yesterday. It was the first time we’ve run the riverfront since last fall. I’d forgotten how different road running can be from the treadmill. I’m hoping I can build enough endurance in the next six weeks to run the whole course.

5)         For anyone in the greater Cincinnati area: I’ll be signing books at the 8th Annual Reader and Author Get Together June 1-2! Details here!

I have a big anniversary coming up in a couple of weeks, but I’ll save that for another post. Yes, I know. I’m such a tease…

So, what about you? What’s fun and exciting in your world? Read anything good lately? Seen any good movies? I require constant entertainment, so please share!

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Monday Mayhem – Vacation – all I ever wanted…

Vacation – I need to get away…

Later this week, I will be on vacation for a few days. That means I’m scrambling to tie up loose ends at both the day job and on the author gig. I’m not taking any work with me. This time I mean it.

Okay, so I’ll have my laptop. And my thumb drive. I do have a galley to proof…I could convert it and put it on my Kindle…There will probably be some airport time…I could use to write a few paragraphs just to make the wait go faster…I’d really like to finish this bit up by the end of the month and the flight is two hours long…I could get a few hundred words in before beverage service begins…

Yeah. Have I mentioned that I’m a bit of a control freak?

How about you? Have you got this relaxation thing covered, or does downtime make you nervous?

See you next week! (If I don’t spontaneously combust…)

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Monday Mayhem – Kissy-Kissy Edition

Last week you got my tragic blind date story. Didja like that? Yeah…good story.

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, and I have a little love story for you. It’s much nicer than the blind-dates-are-hazardous-to-your-health story, I swear. It even comes equipped with a happily ever whatever.

Ready?

In the spring of 1999, Margaret, a spinster from Illinois, went on a business trip to California. Not much of a hook, I know, but get this… She wasn’t supposed to go to that meeting that year. One of her co-workers was scheduled for the trip, but had to bow out. That’s when fate stepped in.

Dun-dun-dun!

Margaret’s business card was pulled from a hat, and she was awarded a trip to yet another conference. Oh, yippee skippee. In the fall of 1999, our heroine boarded a plane bound for Washington, D.C. Over six hundred miles away, a dark eyed man from Little Rock, Arkansas took off in the same direction, and…

Their gazes met across a stuffy conference room in rural Virginia…

They flirted….

There may have been adult beverages consumed…

And a game of Pictionary… (Uh, yeah, that’s what the kids call it these days.)

Some attendees claimed they spotted a couple kissing on the roof…

(Wait. What? You thought Pictionary was code for kissing? No, it’s charades with paper. Kissing is kissing. Sheesh. Have I taught you nothing? Read more smutty books!)

And our heroine said, “Oh, shit.”

True story.

By the end of the week, Margaret knew she had met THE ONE, but she wasn’t exactly ecstatic about it.  

Falling hard and fast for a stranger seven hundred miles away from home was not part of her plan. It was supposed to be a harmless flirtation. Some laughs, a few stolen kisses, a little excitement to break up the monotony of eight hours of seminars each day over the course of five long days.

But, he was so sweet. How could any spinster resist those big, bittersweet chocolate eyes? And the drawl! Not the twangy, annoying kind, but the soft, slow slurring of syllables that was just enough to make a northern girl melt into a puddle of goo….

Margaret knew right away she was in trouble. She also knew that resistance was futile.

On their wedding day, her hairdresser stood her up, but her groom didn’t.

And they lived happily ever after – so long as he continues to provide Route 44 Diet Cokes, crack her up daily, and say sweet things in that slow, southern drawl.

The End

Now it’s your turn to tell me a love story. It can be your love for Nutella or the nut job you married. Either works. Ready? Go!

Oh! And Happy Valentine’s Day! I hope it’s a sweet one!

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Monday Mayhem – Frog kissing

Everyone knows you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find your prince. Lord knows I puckered up a few times, but I’m proud to say I never got warts. And I never gave up hope. As Valentine’s Day is still a bit over a week away, I thought I’d share an anti-love story with you this week, and then next week I’ll share my real-life love story.

Sound like a plan? Just a heads up: I’ll be asking about yours too, so start mining the memories…

Because I don’t mind being the subject of your amusement/derision, I am going to give you the sad tale of my one and only blind date.

Let me preface this by reminding you, that I spent many, many years firmly ensconced in my spinsterhood. There were some, uh, dating dry spells. Many, many dating dry spells. This story takes place in the spring just after my first annual 29th birthday, a time so arid I could hear the air around me crackle….

A friend wanted to set me up on a blind date with the really cute new guy in her office. After some none to gentle prodding, I relented, and the numbers were exchanged.

I am sad to tell you that I can’t even remember my date’s name now (it has been more than a dozen years), but the events of that evening are indelibly etched in my mind.

First of all, he lived up to the hype. Hel-lo hottie man!  

After a surreptitious Snoopy dance, we went to dinner at the local Mexican restaurant. The plan was to go to a comedy club for the 9PM show, but we were early, so went to the bar next door to pass the time.

I would love to blame the booze for what happened next, but even I am not that much of a lightweight. Stone cold sober, we were walking the approximately 100 yards from the bar to the comedy club when I tripped.

Over nothing.

Nothing at all.

Did I stumble a little? Did I flail and catch myself? Did my knight in a black leather jacket catch me and press me to his manly chest?

Alas, no.

I took a flying header on the sidewalk just outside of the club, landing on my arm and bouncing my forehead off concrete. The fall itself was so spectacular, that people waiting in line for the club left the line and hurried over to help me up while my date stood staring at the clumsy lump on the ground.
Of course, I was mortified. I brushed myself off, insisting that I was fine and trying to laugh about it. Did I mention it had been a couple of years since I dated?  Yeah…So…The date must go on!

Fighting back tears of pain and humiliation, I excused myself to the ladies room to clean up where I promptly fell apart. The other women in the room, some of whom had witnessed my Chevy Chase pratfall, were sympathetic and consoling. Luckily, many of them worked at the day spa that occupied space in the same strip mall. Cool paper towels were pressed to the growing knot on my head. They whipped out massive cosmetic bags and fixed my face. My hair was combed to cover the lump. Finally, I was handed a cup of ice water and given a gentle shove back out into the lion’s den.

There were three comedians scheduled that night. We laughed along with the crowd, but I noticed that my head wasn’t what was bothering me as much as my growing inability to lift my left arm to applaud. By the time the last guy was finished, I’d also lost my ability to keep up any pretense.

When my date asked if I wanted to go somewhere else, I told him that I really didn’t feel well, and that I thought I should call it a night. Oddly enough, he seemed slightly peeved. Not so strange was the fact that I didn’t care.

My roommate was staying at her boyfriend’s that night, so I called her and sobbed the entire story—leading with the headline, “I think I broke my arm!”

She assured me that it was probably just a sprain and told me I should ice it, elevate it, and if it wasn’t better by morning, she would take me to the emergency room. Since it was already after 1am, I thought that it seemed reasonable. I propped my arm on the extra pillow, plopped an ice pack on it and tried to sleep.

By 6am, I was calling her back and saying, “I’m sorry, but I think I need you to take me to get an x-ray.” We spent a lovely morning hanging out in the waiting room, my arm supported by a makeshift sling created by a chiffon scarf patterned with sailboats which I paddled up the river Denial.

When the x-ray tech told me to turn my arm over for another angle and I almost peed down my leg. Finally convinced that it was indeed broken, I was plastered up, given a prescription for Vicodin, and sent on my merry way. The girlfriend who instigated the set up and my faithful roomie were at my side for the rest of the weekend.

Mr. Blinddateman? Never heard from him again.

When my friend saw him at work the following Monday, she mentioned something about my arm being broken.

His response? “Wow, really? Well, she did fall really hard.” 

My thought? “Luckily, it wasn’t for you.”

The moral of the story?

Blind dates can be hazardous to your health.

Just a reminder.

Okay, your turn! Tell me your worst date scenario. Ready? Go!

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