Nan Reinhardt, Author

Grown-up love stories, because we're never too old for a little sexy romance…
Browsing The Women of Willow Book

Cover Reveal!

July19

My brilliant and wonderful cover designer, Lani Diane Rich over at Chipperish Media, has been hard at work coming up with a cover for Saving Sarah, Book 4 in the Women of Willow Bay series. I had a hard time figuring out which direction to go the on cover for Sarah’s book because it’s kind of an angsty book, and I couldn’t decide whether I wanted the angst portrayed in the cover art or not. But, I also wanted the cover to complement the other covers in the series–consistency is important to marketing.

When I found this couple–several different shots of them on the stock photo website–I knew I’d found Sarah and Tony. All their shots were happy and peaceful–which of course is the ultimate goal of any romance novel. Their faces made the decision for me, and Lani’s tag line says it all. Son and I wrangled in a cheerful manner over whether or not the tag line created any kind of tension about the story, but the image is perfect, and the fact is Saving Sarah is a romance novel. Readers expect an HEA, so telling them on the cover that Sarah ends up happy is just fine. Readers are here for the journey; we know the story will end up happy–we just want to go along on the ride. So, here’s the cover. Tell me what you think.  Saving Sarah releases on September 26, which happens to be my birthday, so the book will have the same birthday as me–fun! Check out the blurb for Saving Sarah below.

Blurb for Saving Sarah:

When Sarah Reynolds’ abusive ex hunts her down in Chicago, her friends spirit her away to Willow Bay, where she hopes to begin again with a different identity. But terror keeps her holed up, unable to start her new life.

Deputy sheriff Tony Reynard never expected to be staring down the barrel of a gun when he enters Sarah’s apartment to finish up some handyman work, but that’s how the fiery little redhead greets him, and he’s beyond intrigued.

After an intervention by her loving friends, Sarah becomes involved in a project to turn an old mansion into a battered women’s shelter. The women work together to renovate the house, along with the help of the townspeople and the delectably handsome Tony, who is a true renaissance man. Tony vows to bring Sarah back to life and love, but knows he needs to move slowly to win her heart.

When her ex tracks her down once more, Sarah must find the courage to protect her friends and her new love from his wrath.

Life Is . . . Settling Down . . .

July13

. . . a little bit. Summer is nearly half over. Can you believe it? I really thought that after Dee’s memorial service, life would settle back into normal, but you know, I think that I’ve lost “normal.” Or maybe I never had it in the first place. I’m not sure anymore. Is there normal?

If anyone figures that one out, let me know.

In the meantime, here’s a scene from Saving Sarah–Book 4 in the Women of Willow Bay series. It’s currently with my editor and hopefully, very soon, we’ll have a cover to show you and a release date. This scene takes place about a week and half after she’s moved to Willow Bay. Her friends Carrie and Julie have come to her apartment because they haven’t been able to get a hold of her and they’re worried. Rightfully so. Sarah’s been holed up, but her friends have come to rescue her. Hold tight and let me know what you think, okay?

“Okay, let me look at you.” Julie closed the gap between them with three long strides. “Jesus, Sarah Jane, you look like hell. When’s the last time you ate a decent meal? Or had a shower?”

“I showered a couple of days ago, I think,” Sarah muttered, heat rising in her cheeks. Dammit, what did it matter to Julie how often she showered? Resentment flashed through her. She sure as hell didn’t need Julie and Carrie poking in, dragging strangers into her house. How often she showered was none of their affair. Neither was how much she’d been eating for that matter. “And I’ve been eating. I finished that casserole and ate the pie and salad you left me.” She gave them a nod, shoving down the anger her reasonable mind told her was silly. “Thanks, all of you, by the way.”

Julie put a finger under Sarah’s chin, gently insisting she meet her gaze. “Baby, you’ve been holed up for over a week. You’ve answered our texts, but put us off and put us off, claiming you were exhausted or had a headache or some other nonsense. I’m fairly sure you haven’t opened the door once because Noah and Margie said the place has been shut up tight since you arrived.” She didn’t even have the grace to look sheepish for having checked up on her with the Dixons. “The shutters were all closed when we got here, all the blinds are drawn—”

“And what’s the deal with the chair wedged under the back door?” Carrie called from the mudroom. She appeared in the doorway, a new bottle of laundry detergent still dangling from her fingers.

“So what’s going on? Did something else happen?” Julie led Sarah to a bar stool and practically shoved her onto it. “It’s obvious you’re frightened out of your wits, and now, you’re scaring us, too. Jesus, Sarah! Tony said you pulled a gun on him last week when he came to finish up the closet.” She peered into Sarah’s face and enunciated firmly, “Paul’s not here. He doesn’t know where you are. You’re safe.”

Sarah folded her hands on the bar, opened her mouth to speak, and shut it again. She was a mess, Julie was absolutely right, but the terror was real and she had no idea how to express it without sounding like she’d completely slipped a cog. Perhaps she had. Maybe Paul had finally sent her ’round the bend. Wouldn’t that be the ultimate in irony? She finally fought back, but lost her mind in the aftermath. She glanced around at the four women, who were all staring at her with various levels of sympathy and curiosity. “I-I . . .” The words clogged up in her throat.

How could she confess she’d spent the past few days curled up in the armchair in the bedroom because it was in the corner that faced the door so she would see anyone coming up the stairs? How did she admit that hourly she’d made the rounds of the windows and doors, assuring herself each one was securely locked? That she’d finally turned off the ringer on her cell phone because every time it rang, she nearly jumped out of her skin? That the sound of gravel crunching under car tires in the parking lot at the top of the hill sent her flying to the window to peer out between the slats of the shutters to make certain it wasn’t a black Town Car with dark-tinted windows?

Libby held up a bottle she’d pulled from a six-bottle cloth carrier. “I think we need wine. I mean it’s almost two. The sun is definitely over the yardarm somewhere.” She yanked open a drawer and took out a corkscrew. “Soph, grab some glasses.” She stopped for a moment to give Sarah a concerned smile. “Unless . . . I mean, unless you need Sophie and me to leave . . .”

Sarah gazed around for a moment before closing her eyes and pressing her fist to her mouth—the only way she could hold back a wail of anguish. These women had no idea. Just looking at them, she knew. They were clueless. They’d never known the cold brick of fear that she’d carried in her belly for so many years. Not a single one of them had ever hidden in a closet from a ranting maniac or been kicked in the ribs as she cleaned up an entire pot of hot spaghetti sauce that had been swept from the stove because it didn’t have enough basil in it; or re-ironed a shirt nine times while a monster stood behind her tightening an extension cord he’d wrapped around her neck.

So–a little peek into Sarah’s head . . .

Gratitude list:

  1. Husband, Son, Grandboy, DIL, Sister–my family. How grateful I am for them!
  2. My denomination just elected the first black woman General Minister–man I love being a part of the Disciples of Christ.
  3. The lake–always a place of peace and comfort.
  4. Richie came through his cancer surgery well and is home safe and sound.
  5. Made the decision to go indie with Saving Sarah. Big load off my mind, so now I can focus on new stories.

 

 

Done . . . Begin Again

June3

Saving Sarah is with my editor, which means it’s out of my hands for a few weeks, which also means it needs to be out of my mind for the next few weeks. Honestly, that’s a really hard thing to do–release a book. I keep going back through it . . . but it’s time to stop because until I get the edits back from Lani, it’s pointless to make changes. I’m fairly certain that she’ll have plenty for me to do on the manuscript when she returns it. My challenge is to let go and start something new.

To that end, I’m working on a new story that I started last summer when Liz and I went to Michigan for a week. I really like these characters–Hallie and Tim and Aunt Bette. They’re all talking like crazy in my head. I just need to sort them out and get their story down. The big news is they’re not a part of the Women of Willow Bay series–this story takes place in Indiana, and that means Husband and I will be taking a day trip north to Indiana Dunes State Park (you knew I couldn’t resist using Lake Michigan as a setting, right?) and scope out the area. The town is fictional and sits right at the edge of park, so Hallie and Tim get long walks on the beach.

There is another WOWB story brewing–Libby, the vintner from Saving Sarah, has a story and there may even be a holiday novella for Carrie and Liam’s son, Jack, but I need a break from Willow Bay. I’ve been there for five years and even though I love those stories, it’s time to let some of the rest of the people in my head have a chance.

So here’s just a tiny taste of Hallie’s story–as yet untitled. Let me know if you’re in, okay?

It was all Millie’s fault. The roadside sign—Millie’s Pie Emporium—had enticed Hallie Nelson off the interstate and onto the little road where she was now stranded. In spite of the flat tire and the pouring rain, Hallie smiled, remembering the delicious slice of pecan pie she’d had at Millie’s, along with amazing chicken and dumplings, fresh peas, and biscuits that were pure poetry. Even though her stomach was past full, her mouth watered at the thought of the take-out biscuits, butter and honey, and the Dutch apple pie stowed in her cooler in the backseat. Comfort food to share with Aunt Bette when she finally got to Primrose.

Her father would scoff at taking a detour for something as mundane as food, but then he’d never been a foodie like Hallie. Dad ate for fuel, nothing more, while she ate purely for pleasure. Her best friend Suz hated the fact that Hallie could eat like a trucker and remain slim, warning her since eighth grade that one day her hummingbird metabolism would give out.

Just last week at their farewell lunch, she shook her head as Hallie scarfed down a double-fudge chocolate shake while Suz primly spooned up a single scoop of low-fat vanilla. “Just you wait until menopause. It’s gonna getcha, girl, and all that sugar and fat will land right on your tiny behind.”

Hallie wasn’t worried. She came from a long line of hardy Nelson women, who ate whatever they wanted and lived to be lean, wiry senior citizens. Just look at Aunt Bette. Besides, menopause was still years away. She gave a quick glance in the rearview mirror. Worried dark brown eyes under a thick fringe of auburn hair looked back at her. Thirty-two didn’t look bad at all; her skin was still smooth and soft. High cheekbones emphasized the fact that somewhere in the distant past one of her Irish ancestors had taken a Shawnee bride.

However, none of that changed the fact that she was still stuck on the side of a two-lane highway. Rain pounded on the roof and drizzled down the windshield while the swipe, swish, swipe, swish of the wipers gave her brief views of the spring landscape. Trees budded out with soft green leaves and wildflowers were starting to bloom in the grass along the shoulder. The air smelled fresh and newly washed, although a chill still lingered. She glanced behind her, but there was nothing to see except the U-Haul trailer looming over her little sedan. Flicking on her hazard lights, she rested her forehead on the steering wheel and moaned out loud.

The sun had been shining across the Ohio River when she’d left Evansville that morning. Karl, her mechanic, had promised the car would be fine. Hadn’t he spent an entire day going over every inch of the darn thing? Hadn’t he changed the oil, replaced the spark plugs, and every filter and belt under the hood? And the tires were less than a year old. He’d assured her it was in tip-top shape for a road trip. Well, as much as a ten-year-old Toyota with two hundred and thirty—Hallie squinted at the odometer—two hundred and thirty-seven thousand miles could be in tip-top shape.

It had been her first brand-new car—a gift from her parents when she graduated from college. For nearly ten years, she’d treated it as lovingly as a mother treats a child. And how did the silly thing repay all her years of careful maintenance? By getting a flat in the middle of some dismal road, two towns away from Aunt Bette’s.

And in the rain.

A semi sped by, splashing water all over the side of the car and drawing Hallie’s attention back to her situation. Time to focus and figure out what she was going to do. The rain pelting down showed no sign of letting up any time soon and even though it was still early afternoon, she longed to be warm and snug in Aunt Bette’s cozy house—there would be tea and pie. She found her umbrella in the console and got out, sending up a little prayer that the tire might be drivable.

Apparently, the angels were busy elsewhere because the right front tire wasn’t just flat, it was shredded. With a sigh, Hallie climbed back in, took up her cell phone, and gazed at the screen. At least she had a couple of bars of service and the 4G seemed to be working. Great news if she had even a clue who to call. A touch of the screen brought the GPS to life and showed her exactly where she was, only twenty miles from Primrose, so she asked the phone to find her a garage or gas station nearby.

Gus’s Service Station was in Cedar Hill, the next town north. She dialed the number and was greeted with a gruff, “Garage.”

When Hallie explained her dilemma, the man on the other end of the line guffawed. “Lady, I got six calls ahead of you and only two tow trucks. I can get there in mebbe two, three hours. You’re gonna have to sit tight.”

“Is there anyone else I can call?” Hallie chewed her lower lip. She could feel the temperature dropping.

“Nope. Even if you got Triple A, I’m the one they call around here.”

“But I’ve got to get to Primrose and—”

“Lady, we all gotta get somewhere. Now, my tale of woe is that my nephew took off last night with the mayor’s daughter and my sister’s brand new Land Rover. The only other guys I got to drive tow trucks for me are a sixteen-year-old who doesn’t know one end of a wrench from the other and my worthless brother-in-law, who ain’t no mechanic either, but he can probably change a tire.” He gave a disgusted snort of laughter. “He’s out on a call west o’ town and the kid’s down to McHenryville pulling a tractor outta the mud.”

“I’m really sorry, but I’m all alone out here and I’ve got everything I own in the world in a trailer behind the car.” Hallie tried to sound as defenseless as she could, hoping to elicit some sympathy from Gus. A cheap tactic, but one she wasn’t above using at this point.

“You’re hauling a trailer? Sheesh.” Gus’s disgust came through loud and clear, even with only two bars. It was looking very likely she was going to be changing her own tire in the rain.

“Yes, I’m moving to Primrose. You see I’m going to live with my aunt and—”

“Look, I don’t need your life history, just tell me again where you are and I’ll get someone out there soon as I can.”

Hallie went ahead gave him the information from her GPS, managing to be halfway polite when once again he ordered her to “sit tight.” It was a wretched day weather-wise and that wasn’t his fault. Neither was her flat tire. Gus sounded as overwhelmed as she felt. She clicked off and dialed Aunt Bette to let her know she was going to be late, but got no answer, so she left a message. She debated for about three minutes before reaching into the backseat for her raincoat. She may as well get out and fix the darn tire. She’d been changing tires since she’d gotten her license at sixteen, so she had no excuse except her own unwillingness to get wet.

Okay . . . so there it is . . .

Gratitude list for today:

  1. The lake–the only place I seem to be able to take a deep breath right now.
  2. Time with Dee on Tuesday, although she slept through most of the hours I was there, she squeezed my hand and opened her eyes at one point and knew me.
  3. Dee’s cousin Darhius and Dee’s sons are such good caretakers–exactly what she needs.
  4. Gorgeous, sunny summer days here at the lake–it’s been lovely.
  5. A boat ride yesterday–the lake was quiet with no traffic.

The Last 4,000 Words

May26

I’m in the home stretch with Saving Sarah, book 4 of the Women of Willow Bay series. I can’t wait to finish it, but there is a little bit of bittersweet involved, too. I’m not positive, but I think this will be the last WOWB book. I have another woman in the village who could have a story, but I’m pretty sure it’s time to close this one out. I have a new book already started and I like the characters and the setting, which is Indiana, not Michigan. Of course, we’re up in northern Indiana near the dunes and Lake Michigan because I can’t imagine a story without a lake. But that’s the only thing that is the same.

So, I’m counting on writing the last few thousand words over the holiday weekend and then it goes to my editor, the incredible Lani Diane Rich, who will edit, while I work on a tag line and back cover blurb. Tag lines are so hard for me because I think I’m a naturally wordy person and tag lines are, by their very nature, not at all wordy. Lani is great tag line writer and so is my crit partner, Cheryl Brooks, so I may have to turn to them for ideas. I’m thinking it needs to have something to do with running away from bad and running to good, but I’m dammed if I have the first idea how to start.

It’s a sad time right now–my oldest and dearest friend Dee is dying–her cancer has become aggressive and is simply eating her alive. (See this post.) It’s probably only a matter of days now and she has so many people who love and care about her, both here and in heaven, so I know her passing will be eased by that. I spent some time with her yesterday–sweet time where we simply sat and held hands, cried a little together, and I watched while she slept.  But oh, my heart aches with a sadness so deep, I hurt in my bones.

When sister Kate died, it was different–no less sad and my heart aches still for her, but it was so fast, we barely had time to take a breath before she was gone. This has been five years of awful and I hate that Dee has had to suffer with not only cancer, but also with the deaths of her husband and mother in the midst of the cancer. But you know, I’m heartbroken for me, too–Dee and I always teased that when we got to be old ladies, we’d sit in our rocking chairs on the front porch, sip wine, and shout “F@*# you!” at the cars driving by. I hate that we won’t get to do that . . . we’d have been fun old biddies together.

Okay, so time for gratitude, although I don’t feel very grateful today. But I am so blessed, I have to remember that even though my heart is breaking.

  1. Husband, Son, Grandboy, DIL, Sister PJ–my close family and how they always support me.
  2. My BFFs–how blessed I am to have an awesome group of women friends I can depend on: Liz, Di, Moe, Harlene, Patt, Connie, Cheryl, Mary, to name a few . . . the list is way longer than this, but I hope they all know how much I cherish them.
  3. Pastor Diane at ACC–thanks for prayers and always being there.
  4. The lake–if there’s peace to be found anywhere, it’s there.
  5. Work and writing–I can lose the real world in the pretend ones (mine and other writers’) and sometimes, that’s a very good thing.

Saturday Is Sunny

March11

It’s sunny today–cold, but sunny. We’ve been spoiled by spring weather in winter this year, so this sudden switch to normal temperatures is making us all a little whiny. But you know, I don’t mind the cold so much. The air is crisp and clean–with the sun shining, the chill isn’t quite so biting.

I’m deep into the second week of being off social media and I’m still alive. Actually, being away from Facebook and Twitter is much lonelier than I ever imagined it would be. I’m not sure why, but in my head, the hiatus would mean that people would email and text me and check in here. But they’re not. I’m rather silly to expect that. Facebook is an easy check-in–just click Like and friends know you’re there and that you’re okay with whatever they’ve posted. Comments are even nicer unless someone is trashing you, but even so, it’s acknowledgement, right? Apparently, I’m more of an attention junkie than I believed myself to be. Who knew?

Writing goes along–I’m working with my crit partners on Sarah’s story and I think I may be figuring out where to go next. I toyed with the idea of not having any sex in this book and I confess the reason was I’m not crazy about writing those scenes. I thought I could maybe get away with it because of Sarah’s aversion to all things physical–she was abused in every way by her ex-husband. But the amazing Cheryl Brooks, who is one of my critique partners, pointed out that I would disappoint my readers if I didn’t have Tony and Sarah make love. Fans of the Women of Willow Bay books have come to expect some level of sensuality, so I’m going to put in a love scene . . . She’s right of course–my WOWB happily-ever-afters depend on sensual loves scenes. But I need to be very aware of Sarah’s issues when I write it.

In the meantime, here’s a taste of Tony and Sarah’s budding romance. Their first date is dinner, a walk along the jetty, and then a trip to the shooting range so Sarah can learn to use her new pistol–what Julie later refers to as a “cop date.” 😉 Sarah revealed some of what happened to her when she was married, and Tony can’t hide his fury at her ex-husband. She interprets his anger as judgement of her and tells him to go screw himself, but he chases after her to explain that he’s not judging her–that he never would.

Tony dug his toes into the sand, his heart heavy as he imagined a defeated, grieving Sarah fleeing the home that had turned into her worst nightmare.

Dear God in heaven.

Now he’d blown it. He’d be lucky if she ever spoke to him again. She’d probably leave Willow Bay and he’d never see her after tonight. “I didn’t mean to hurt you or frighten you . . .” He hung his head. “Jesus. Those are the very words I never ever wanted to have to say to you, and here I am saying them on our first date. I like you. I like you so much and . . . God, I’m a jerk.” He put one hand out. “Here, let me take you home.”

Silence stretched between them, widening the gulf he was sure was getting bigger with every word he uttered. At last she sighed. “I believe you’re not judging me, Tony. I-I’m not used to normal men, to normal male reactions.” She stepped closer to him, reaching out to touch his arm before snapping her hand back. “And I’m prickly, especially when I talk about . . . then. I struggle everyday with the fact that I’m a victim. I hate it.”

Were a victim,” he corrected, longing to tug her into his arms or at the very least, take her hand. “You are a strong woman, Sarah Reynolds.”

“Not so much.” She gave him the faintest of smiles. “I’m mostly a basket case—hopped up on mood-enhancing drugs and just trying to make it through each day without screaming like a banshee.”

Encouraged by the smile, however faint, Tony extended his arms toward the sky. Time to bring in some levity. If he was emotionally exhausted, poor Sarah had to be drained. “You feeling the need to scream right now? I’ve been told I can sometimes incite that urge. Hey, we can stand here and howl at that puny-ass moon if you want.” He threw his head back and let out a low coyote yowl, side-eyeing Sarah the entire time and praying he hadn’t ruined their tentative friendship.

* * * *

Sarah stared in disbelief as Tony took a deep breath and let out another howl that echoed over the bay. The silver threads in his salt-and-pepper hair shone in the lights the lined the sidewalk to the beach and she clenched her fists to keep from stroking the strands that curled over his shirt collar. Inanely, the thought occurred to her that he could use a haircut. Dimples bracketed his grin when he glanced over at her and nodded.

Dammit, he was handsome. Not suave, sophisticated handsome, but good-looking in a rugged, plaid-flannel-and-denim kind of way. He exuded gentleness, and even at his angriest, he would never hurt a living soul. She realized that now as she studied him standing there at the edge of the water yipping at the moon. Tony Reynard was the kind of man you instinctively trusted even if you were a woman who’d never consider trusting any man again . . . ever.

“Come on, join in,” he said. “It’s very cathartic . . . and kinda fun.”

“Um, I’m not all that much of a howler,” she said, even though the idea was intriguing. How many times in her life had she wished she could let go and wail? She’d never done it—not once in all the years of her marriage . . . or after.

Maintaining an iron clamp on her emotions was what kept her sane. If she let herself howl, she might not ever be able to stop, and then they’d surely lock her up in a rubber room forever. “Besides, there are people down there.” With a little jerk of her head, she indicated a group gathered around a beach fire in the distance.

“Nobody cares. Hell, I’m surprised they haven’t already joined in.” The words were barely out of his mouth when a yowl that sounded like a wounded hyena, followed by laughter came from the direction of the bonfire.

He chuckled. “See?” He howled again, grinning as several of the beach partiers responded in kind.

“I seriously wonder about this town.” Ambling closer to Tony, she put her head back and let out quiet yelp. She sounded pretty pitiful, so she took a deep breath, opened her arms, and gave it another try. This one came out more like an owl’s hoot, however her effort got an answering cheer from the group in the distance, most of whom were on their feet, dancing, yowling, and whooping. When she glanced at Tony, he was beaming at her like a proud father whose kid had just hit a home run in the little league championship game. She faced him, turning her palms up in a self-conscious shrug. “I imagine I’ll learn to howl better.”

“You howl just fine, Sarah Reynolds.” Tony extended his hand. “Come on, wanna go shoot some bad guys?”

Let me know what you think . . .

Still Here, Still Grateful

November17

Nancy's MI trip 077 whiteriver07These are pictures of the lighthouse at Point Betsie in Frankfort, MI–the town Willow Bay is based on. Remember this lighthouse–it will show up in Sarah’s story and in Libby’s, too–the Women of Willow Bay books currently in progress.

I’m behind, as usual, but with good reasons . . . well, okay, decent excuses. I confess gratitude comes hard after this election because I’m sad and scared. But, sad and scared is no way to live. Neither is angry, so I’m working very hard to remember that I live in a great country. America is already great and we’ve survived this long because of our diversity and creativity and our mutual respect for one another. We can do this. We can. Son and I were talking about how folks have compared this situation with Germany in the late thirties and although, I get why the comparison is being made, I’m not convinced it’s a valid one. First of all, nothing gets hidden in this country thanks to social media, 24-hour news cycles, and cell phones with cameras. Second, our president-elect is not a stupid man–he knows he can’t turn this country on its ear without getting a lot of push-back from the citizens. I pray he finds wise counsel.

Also, Son and I were talking the other day–okay, moaning, but nonetheless, I said that I hope 9/11 showed us that we don’t have to be run over by hatred and craziness. Seriously? Do you think anyone could hijack a plane and fly it into a building in the United States today? I don’t think so. We have locks on cockpit doors now, as well as other safeguards, but also, I don’t think a single passenger would ever let that happen again, even at the risk of their own lives. I wouldn’t. Would you? That’s why I don’t think comparing us to 1930s Germany is fair. The world is different now–in some more dangerous, but in others, better, smarter, more caring.

So, here are seven days worth of gratitude . . .

  1. I’m healthy and strong.
  2. In the same vein (no pun intended), the CT scan showed that my carotid arteries are only 0 to 10% blocked, which is fabulous for a woman my age. Fabulous for anyone really.
  3. My darling daughter-in-law is having a birthday on Saturday–we’re blessed to have her in our lives and we’re thankful for how much she loves Son and what a great mom she is to Grandboy. We love you, baby!
  4. Gertie, the immobilizer boot on my foot, and I are tolerating each other pretty well.
  5. I’m learning to sit still.
  6. The blanket I’m knitting is coming along wonderfully–a picture next time I post, I promise.
  7. Fall has been lovely–warm days and crisp, cool nights.
  8. Husband–just because I’m so lucky to be loved by the most amazing man on the planet.
  9. IRWA Retreat was a fun time of fellowship with other writers.
  10. IRWA Retreat was also a great time with one of my dearest besties–hugs to you, Lizzie! You are the most delightful of traveling companions–I look forward to many more trips together.
  11. I got to know a new writer friend at Retreat–always a pleasure.
  12. The new book is continuing at a merry clip–this weekend, I’ll do a little bit of timeline work and plotting, although I know where I’m going. The trick is not to rush it, but also not get bogged down–it’s a tightrope sometimes!
  13. Son, DIL, and Grandboy are doing well–busy, busy lives, but they’re all good and when they’re good, I’m good.
  14. Dee is out of the hospital and yesterday we celebrated her 61st birthday–something neither of us thought would happen. Right now, I’m holding onto this fact–she’s still here. What a miracle!

Just a bonus: I’m so very thankful for all the dear friends who care about me and my well-being. I saw it clearly yesterday when I had to make several phone calls to let folks know the results of the CT scan. I am a blessed woman.

posted under Gratitude, Liz Flaherty, Musings, The Women of Willow Book, This Life..., Writer's moments | Comments Off on Still Here, Still Grateful

I Did It . . . And I’m Still Doing It

October27

me-writingMan, I’m amazed. I did it. Twenty-one days, I hauled my happy butt out of that nice warm bed, trotted right to my office, and sat down and wrote. I didn’t stop to make coffee or get dressed or check email or social media. I wrote. Final word tally for three weeks is just over 22,000 words.

So, what’s the takeaway? First of all, I can do it—I can write. That’s a biggie because I’d pretty much convinced myself I was no longer much of a writer. Life got in the way and I let it. I think that happens to all of us, don’t you? Illness, death of a loved one, finances, jobs, family responsibilities, housekeeping—it all distracts us. And of course the first thing we allow to drop off our plate is the one thing we love doing the most. Is that a woman thing or a human being thing? I’m not sure, I should probably get Husband’s take on that one, although now that I think of it, I see Son doing the same thing. He’s overwhelmed with work, family, caring for a home, being a husband, parenting a young child, trying to finish up his PhD. Music, which he loves, gets done in spurts instead of every day. It’s not a priority. Pleasure’s the only reason to play guitar, so it can wait. It must be an adult thing . . .

Second, I’ve wondered frequently in the last couple of years whether writing is worth the effort when I’m so frustrated with ads and promotions and trying to figure out ways to get my books in front of a larger audience without spending a small fortune. In May, at Spring Fling, I pitched the Women of Willow Bay to some traditional publishers and every single one requested to see a full of the first book, synopses of the other two, and a proposal for the rest. So far, I can’t say the results have been very spectacular. One editor turned the series down, although she repeatedly told me how “wonderful” my writing is; another is mildly interested in the last two books that I haven’t put out as an indie yet; and publisher #3 has pretty much ignored me. But you, know, after twenty-one days of writing every day, I can say that yes, it’s worth the effort. So, I’ll probably try some other publishers while I’m writing Sarah and Libby’s stories. I’m even considering a Christmas novella for next year so I can tell Jack Reilly’s story as he graduates from Julliard and goes out into the world. Who knows?

And third . . . yeah, there is a third, but it has nothing at all to do with writing. It has to do with proving to myself that I’m not losing my ability to focus and commit, which is something that I’ve worried about since Dee got sick and David died and CL was diagnosed with breast cancer, and Kate died and my body has started to sometimes feel like it’s ninety-three years old. For the past couple of years, sticking to anything except work has been hard. I’ve promised myself so many different times that I was going to maintain a diet, an exercise regimen, a housecleaning schedule; that I’d go to the gym regularly, that I’d swim in the lake or walk the shore every day, that I’d get on my bike or get the damn gardens weeded every week or . . . well, you get the picture. But it wasn’t happening and I was feeling more and more like somehow, I’d lost control of the disciplined person I once was. Well, she’s still in there—go figure, and I’m doing a little internal squee that she hasn’t abandoned me completely.

Can I keep it up from now on? Maybe. Dunno—I guess we’ll just take it day-by-day. That seems to be working out so far . . . at least it has for the last three weeks. Thanks for sharing this journey with me.

15 Days and Counting . . .

October19

print-booksA quick report on the 21-Day Writing Challenge that I’m doing in between editing gigs, blogs that need to be written, last-minute IRWA Retreat duties, physicals, flu shots, laundry, getting the lake cottage ready for winter , cleaning the city house . . . aw, hell, there’s no cleaning going on. At this point in time, I’m lucky to be getting laundry done and meals made. Good news is that I’ve written for at least an hour every single morning for the last sixteen days, averaging about 800 to 900 words a day. It feels so good to be writing. I don’t know if what I’m writing is complete crap, but I’m not stopping to edit, I’m just pushing through. The story is there and it’s coming. We’ll worry about revisions when it’s done.

irwa-logoI’m crazy excited about the IRWA Retreat coming up in less than a month! Liz and I are in charge this year and we’re doing something different. We’ve gotten a great response from members with about 24 registered for the event–sure hope they like what we’ve decided to do!

Well, I’m off to edit and then edit and then edit some more! Glad for the work though, it pays the bills. Plus, I’m very grateful to be editing fiction almost exclusively now. The books are fun!

posted under An Editor's Life, Musings, The Women of Willow Book, This Life..., Writer's moments | Comments Off on 15 Days and Counting . . .

Checking In . . .

October13

21-days. . . with my 21-Day Writing Challenge. It’s Day 10 and I have gotten up every day between 6 and 6:30 a.m. and written for at least one hour. Sometimes I get so involved that I’ve written for an hour and a half without realizing it. I’m surprised I’ve made it halfway through without missing a day–that may not sound like much of accomplishment, but given the chaos of the last couple of years of my life, it’s big stuff. Altogether, I’ve managed to get down 9,625 new words on Sarah’s story–an average of about 800 words each day–which brings the story to a little under 14K words. Given that a month ago, I was telling Lizzy that I was sick to death of the Women of Willow Bay and wanted to write something brand new, I don’t think that’s too shabby.

At first, getting up was hard–as I said before Husband is warm and cuddly and it’s still dark at 6:30 in the morning, but today was a milestone because I wanted to get up. I woke up thinking about the story and where I was headed next and making a mental list of some things I want to research when I take a break from work later on this afternoon. Could this be the beginning of a new habit? Who knows? But I remain hopeful. 😉

bob-dylanIn other news, congratulations to Bob Dylan for winning a Nobel Prize in Literature for his body of songwriting. That’s pretty cool. He’s only the second American to win a Nobel Prize for Literature–Toni Morrison was the other in 1993.

I got to Skype with my boys last night, which always brings me no end of joy–they both seemed happy and healthy and we giggled while Grandboy pulled out the contents of a goodie bag he’d gotten a birthday party at school. I love how four-year-olds are delighted over the smallest things. I think I need to work at being more easily delighted. Maybe we all should.

lawsThing that are delighting me today: New plantation blinds throughout the entire lake cottage–they look amazing! Dinner last night with Rich and Moe–good food and great fellowship. The sky is October blue this morning after yesterday’s rain and the air is crisp and very cool so I’ll get to wear a sweatshirt all day–nice! We’ve had fresh pears the last three mornings and they’re perfect and delicious. Right now, pears are my favorite treat.

posted under Gratitude, Liz Flaherty, The Women of Willow Book, This Life..., Writer's moments | Comments Off on Checking In . . .

Just Musing . . .

July2

Okay, I’m wondering if there is an alarm app I can get for my PC to remind me to blog–I’d have to put it on my laptop, too . . . hmmmm . . . I need to Google this because clearly, I suck at making time to do this. I want to blog. I like blogging. It’s fun and good writing practice, but yeesh, I just don’t seem to make it priority in my schedule.

eloisa jamesUpdates: my copy editing work is good–three projects on my table right now and they’re all coming right along. My Avon book is Eloisa James’s newest and she is so amazing! Love, love her writing! The Kensington project is a new author to me and I haven’t really gotten it started well yet because its deadline is the latest, and project three is Ava Cuvay’s newest novel and it’s just plain fun. I love her voice and her imagination! So all is well.

I did a Twitter pitch for the Women of Willow Bay with the Deirdre Knight Literary Agency this past week. They are celebrating 20 years in the biz and this was their way to share that celebration on Twitter. I’ve never done one before and it was fun and successful to the extent that Deirdre Knight herself liked my pitch, which meant I got to send her the first 30 pages of Once More From the Top. I sent it, so we’ll see how that goes. Still waiting to hear from Harlequin and Entangled, so hold a good thought and send good energy, okay? I so want romance publishers to think about seasoned romance and acknowledge that the largest demographic in the country is still falling in love, rediscovering love and still having sex.  We would love to read sexy romantic stories about people who meet on a level playing field of self-knowledge and life experience.

Here’s a fasfrench diet foodcinating article about the French and how they eat–I think there’s something to be learned here. Two big things that Husband and I try to practice are portion control and eating simply. Because his dietary restrictions keep him from eating processed foods, we pretty much keep to all-natural foods with lots of fruits and veggies and whole grains and fish and chicken. Since he retired, our mealtimes are also no longer rushed affairs. We linger over coffee and conversation and devotions in the morning and generally take at least an hour to eat supper at night, two if it includes wine.

Every time we say goodbyeFive things I’m grateful for this week: We got to spend 10 days at the lake and I swam a lot and we got the boat in the water–summer is officially under way; I have work; I’m getting off the prescription anti-inflammatory and heading for a more natural way to handle my arthritis; Got to see my BFF Liz Flaherty speak at the library in our little lake town and then have supper at the Sportsman afterward with a couple of my lake buddies, Patt and Moe. Great fun, food, and fellowship; The perennial garden out front is blooming like crazy and the lavender in front of the cottage has bloomed already! Flowers everywhere! I got to spend the afternoon with Dee yesterday. We did girly stuff–mani/pedis and shopping. Loved spending time with her!

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