Thursday, December 19, 2013

Sweet Romance Christmas Giveaway--Final Hours!

The last story excerpt is from Summer Again, included in An Uncommon Prince and Other Short Stories, part of the e-book giveaway that ends tomorrow. You can still sign up here:

A carnival rolled into town for the weekend. Nicholas walked over to Shannon’s cottage and asked if they’d like to go to it with him.

“Do they have a merry-go-round?” Mindy asked. Nicholas nodded.

“Oh please, Mama, can we go?”

Shannon hesitated. She needed to shop for groceries. The cottage needed a thorough cleaning. She needed to work on her resume to submit to the community college. There were a million and one reasons why they shouldn’t spend the day with Nicholas, but one very good reason why they should. It would make Mindy happy.

“All right. Get your shoes on and grab the puppy’s leash. We might as well take him along.”

The carnival filled the town square and spilled out into the street. Shannon kept a tight hold of Mindy’s hand as they walked along. The smell of popcorn and cotton candy enticed them, but after at least a half dozen rides on the carousel, Shannon insisted they eat lunch first.

“I’m glad you joined me,” Nicholas said while they ate hot dogs. A breeze blew in off the lake, and he reached out to tuck Shannon’s hair away from her face. His hand lingered along her cheek.

Shannon felt a rush of warmth that had nothing to do with the noonday sun.

“One thing I never expected was to see you here. I didn’t know your dad still had the cottage.” His voice lowered, as if uncertain. “It’s been a lot of years. So why did you come back?”

Shannon crumpled the hot dog wrappers and finished her cola.

“Dad thought it would be good for Mindy and I to spend some time at the beach, before I enroll her in school and get a job.” She almost told him about Elliot; she probably should. But she couldn’t bring herself to talk about the man she’d married instead of Nicholas.

“You’ve moving back here?”

She nodded and wiped Mindy’s face with a paper napkin.

“Will your husband be joining you?”

Shannon could only murmur, “No, he won’t.”

As much as he ached to ask why, Nicholas knew it wouldn’t be fair in front of Mindy. It didn’t take much to sense that something was wrong, but he would find out later why Shannon and her daughter had come to the cottage alone.

Mindy yawned and dragged her feet on the way home. Nicholas carried her while Shannon toted the puppy and the giant stuffed bunny they’d won. At the cottage, they laid the child and the bunny both in her small bed while the puppy curled at Mindy’s feet. Nicholas touched the little girl’s tousled hair and felt a flash of resentment that Shannon’s child wasn’t his.

“I’ll make some coffee,” Shannon offered. “We can sit on the porch for a while.”

They sat in the old wooden Adirondack chairs. Nicholas drank his coffee and when the daylight was no more than a pink and blue glow on the lake’s horizon, he asked Shannon the question that had burned for years in his mind.

“Why didn’t you come to see me before I went to sea that last summer? I asked you, begged you. Why did you let your father come between us?”

Shannon looked away, unable to meet the old hurt that still shadowed his eyes.

“You went into the navy. I was leaving for the university. We both had our plans, and they didn’t seem to include each other.”

“But you knew I wanted you to wait for me. I told you and I emailed you and I wrote to you. Or did your father have you so brainwashed that I wasn’t good enough?”

A sudden anger flared up in her, anger at men and their often stupid need to prove themselves, despite the cost.

“Of course I wasn’t brainwashed! But I was young and so were you. I’m sorry you couldn’t understand. I guess maybe you still can’t.”

“And this Elliot Grayson you married. Did James approve of him?”

Shannon lifted her chin. “As a matter of fact, he did.” Her parents had both loved Elliot but that was before they’d known marrying Elliot would take her far away from them.

Shannon didn’t watch Nicholas leave but gathered up the cups and went inside.
Three days later the puppy disappeared.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Sweet Romance Christmas Giveaway--Last Two Days!

Tonight's excerpt is from the title story, "An Uncommon Prince."

They spent the morning clearing away the fallen branches that weren’t touching the downed lines. Chris was strong and not a bit afraid of manual labor. He worked on the greenhouse while Emily went in to fix lunch. It was hot, and with no fan running, the house  stifling. It would be better to sit on the porch and eat. Emily brought out sandwiches, a bag of potato chips, and two lukewarm sodas. Then she called her new handyman to eat.

 When they sat at the little round table on the porch, they both noticed the shadowy figure poised at the edge of the woods.

 “He’s been hanging around for the last hour or so,” Chris said. “I take it he’s not yours?”

 “No, he’s just a stray.” Emily watched the gaunt husky slip back into the cover of the trees. She was glad he’d made it through the storm, but the poor thing was probably starved again.

 It had been a while since anyone sat at the table with Emily. Usually, she propped a book up in front of her, but that would be unforgivably rude. She would just have to bury the tiny flutter of disquiet that threatened to balloon up inside of her. So she was sitting across the table from a nice-looking man. So he was going to sleep in her barn tonight. So she didn’t know him from Adam. She was used to dealing with older people so set in their ways they were practically concrete. Certainly she could manage to deal with a man nearly her own age.

Chris had washed in water from the creek and run wet fingers through his hair. When he sat across from her, Emily noticed the tiny drops of water sparkling against the rich cinnamon brown.
He ate with gusto, talking in between about the trip he was making across the country. “I’m just taking my time, wandering about. Going along the back roads.”

“Guess that’s how you happened by here.” Emily offered him another sandwich.

"Best way to see America and meet her people. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I decided not to wait till I’m too old.” He grinned and his eyes held Emily’s gaze for a moment. So blue, so very blue. She thought she could drown in them, but something was being held back, was hidden in their depths. She couldn’t tell what, but his carefree smile seemed almost forced.

Emily finished her sandwich and took the leftovers out to the barn. The husky was nowhere in sight.

 “He’ll be back,” she told Chris. “Sooner or later, he’ll trust me enough. I just have to give him some time.”

She noticed Chris watching her in a peculiar way, as if he wondered why the dog mattered to her at all. She really didn’t know herself, except she felt sorry for him. She knew all about being alone.

 “I have to go to work now.” She turned back to the house. “You can just go ahead with the windows on the greenhouse. I’ll be home around six.”

 Chris watched as she went into the house and came out with a black bag.

 “In case you’re wondering, I’m a public-health nurse,” Emily said. “Home care visits are part of my job. I have some people to check up on after the storm. A lot of them…don’t have anybody else. If you get thirsty, help yourself to whatever you can find. I’ll try to pick up something cold on the way home.”

 It seemed strange to have someone watching as she drove away and even stranger to have him waiting when she came home at half-past eight.

 “I was getting worried,” Chris said when she slid down from the truck seat. He’d been sitting on the porch steps, but he came to meet her and took the bag of groceries and the six-pack of beer from her hand. “You look tired. I fixed some supper. Hope you don’t mind.”

She didn’t. In fact, it felt good to have someone taking care of her for a change, even if he was just a stranger who would be gone in a few weeks.

 After they ate the meal cooked over Chris’s one-burner camp stove, they sat on the porch and drank the beer and watched purple evening shadows steal across the fields. Emily was tired, but it was nice to have someone to talk to instead of just the old dog.

 “My parents lived on this farm all their married lives. I didn’t come along until they were both in their forties. I guess they’d just about given up on ever having a family. As it was, all they got was me.”

 “Not such a bad deal.” Chris’s voice was nearly as soft as the country twilight. “I bet they were immensely proud.”

 Emily shrugged, uncomfortable when the talk centered on her.

 Chris let a space of silence lapse, as if he understood, then he asked, “Didn’t you ever feel trapped, living way out here with no one your own age around?”

 Emily wanted to shout no, but if the truth were told, at 18 she had felt more than ready to get away from home. Her parents had sensed it and they hadn’t held her back. “They made sure I went to college. I lived away for five years, but then the farm got to be too much for Dad. Who else did they have to depend on but me?”

 She smiled sleepily at Chris and tried to hold back a yawn, but her eyes simply wouldn’t stay focused. “Must be…the beer.”

 Chris stood up and ‘rousted the bedroll he’d stashed in the corner of the porch. “Good night, Emily,” he said softly and ambled off to the barn.

 It was surprising how quickly Emily got used to Chris being around. After so long living alone, she looked forward to pouring two cups of coffee in the morning. When she wasn’t making her nursing rounds, they worked outside together, and the farm began to take on a new spruced-up appearance. After five days the power came back on, and by the time one week turned into two, it was almost as if Chris had always been there. But when he tried to kiss her, she shied away like a wary doe.

 They were in the orchard and had stopped to drink lemonade from a thermos. The next thing Emily knew, Chris brushed a stray wisp of hair back from her face and carelessly leaned toward her, but his lips only had a chance to graze her cheek before she turned away, her heart thudding in her ears.

 She’d been wondering for days what it would be like to have Chris kiss her, but now that he almost had, fear and uncertainty plucked at her. For a man like Chris, it was no doubt just a moment’s pleasure, but for Emily…for Emily it could be the way to heartbreak.

 You’re acting like a fool, for heaven’s sake. The man only tried to kiss you.

 But it was hard to cope with feelings she had thought were left far behind, and she wasn’t prepared. Everything had been nice and predictable before that storm two weeks ago, nice and quiet with no surprises.

 Why did Chris Carter, a most uncommon prince, have to come along? She had nothing to offer him. She was a plain woman. He must be at least five years younger. She was too old for him, too old for romantic love, but telling herself took all night and far into the early morning.
Stop back tomorrow for the final excerpt from An Uncommon Prince and Other Short Stories, part of the Sweet Romance Christmas Giveaway. If you haven't yet signed up for a chance to win free e-books and gift certificates, click here:

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Sweet Romance Christmas Giveaway--3 Days to Go!

Tonight's excerpt is from "Unicorns and Dreams Come True."
Tyler Morgan had only a moment to glance at the slim feminine figure perched on the ladder. She looked like a kid, and as he loped toward her, he wondered why in the world her parents had allowed her up there. He reached out to catch the ladder and before he knew it he wasn’t clutching rickety wood—he grabbed a softly curved waist. She hit his rangy body with a gasp. And then they were both sprawling backwards on the ground.

Tyler’s first sensation was that of soft dark hair tickling his nose and then the smell of lilacs. It took him about three seconds to realize the body flattened against his was definitely not that of a child.

“My goodness,” she sputtered and pushed herself away. “I’m so sorry.”

“No problem.” Tyler grinned up at the flushed face poised above him. She was embarrassed. Two red spots stained her cheeks. It made her all the more attractive, that and the fact that her eyes were violet like the lilacs he’d smelled. His breath stuck in his throat, but maybe it was just from the fall.

Maggie knelt in the grass beside him and tried to regain some composure. All chance of that was shattered when the beast who’d caused the whole incident insisted on licking Maggie’s face.

“Get lost.” Tyler sat up and shoved the Great Dane away. Ignoring him, MacArthur promptly dropped next to Maggie and leaned his massive head on her shoulder.

“He thinks he’s a lap dog.” Tyler apologized. “He’s really quite harmless, unless you’re up on a ladder, I guess. I’m really sorry for all this. I don’t usually let him run loose, but no one has lived over here in so long, I forgot to call him back.” He noticed her hands were trembling. “Are you okay?”

She wasn’t sure. Nothing seemed to be broken, but she could still feel herself falling through space, and she shuddered. “I’ll be fine.”

“Can’t you hire somebody to do this?” He looked up at the big old house. What was his new neighbor going to do with so much space?

“To be honest, I can’t afford it.”

“Why would you even want such a big place? If it’s just you—“

“It’s not,” Maggie said brusquely and got to her feet. Before she could say another word, a soft voice called, “Mommy?” She turned just in time to see Heather coming down the porch steps, carrying Smoky, her kitten, and MacArthur bounding toward her. When the girl saw the huge dog heading straight for her, she froze.

“Oh, no,” Maggie moaned and set off on a dead run.

“He won’t hurt them,” Tyler insisted. Nevertheless he was running right behind Maggie. “MacArthur, down!”

Responding to his master’s command, MacArthur plopped down not three feet away from Heather. As if he sensed the child’s fear, he made no attempt to touch her. Heather’s terrified gaze was glued to the giant dog’s big jowly face. Maggie moved slowly to her daughter’s side.

“It’s okay, honey. His name’s MacArthur, and he’s not mean. You don’t have to be afraid.” Maggie put her hands on Heather’s shoulders and gave them a reassuring squeeze. “Say hello.”

Heather shook her head vigorously and shrank back, clinging to the squirming kitten for dear life.

Tyler slipped his hand through MacArthur’s collar and dragged the gentle giant away. Once the dog was secure inside his fence, Tyler came back and crouched down next to the little girl.

“I’m sorry he scared you.” He noticed the child was the picture of her mother, except her long dark hair was a sharp contrast to her fair cheeks. Tentatively, he touched the gray kitten’s furry head. “MacArthur would never hurt you on purpose. He wouldn’t even hurt your little friend here, but I know he’s a big dog, and I’ll try to remember to keep him on the leash or in the fence.”

Heather looked up at her mother. “Will he?”

Maggie brushed her hand protectively over her daughter’s hair. Her eyes met Tyler’s. He looked like a man of his word, a man who could be trusted, but Maggie had vowed never to trust a man again. Still, for Heather’s sake, she would make an effort. “I think so.” Maggie’s voice held a quiet warning to Tyler not to go back on his word. “And just so you know, I plan on opening a day-care center here in a few weeks.”

After her neighbor left, Maggie decided to call it quits for the day. She just didn’t have the heart to go back up on that ladder again. The painting could wait till tomorrow.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Sweet Romance Christmas Giveaway; Only Four More Days!

This excerpt is from "Goodbye to Summer."

The following Saturday we bumped into him coming out of the grocery store.  I would have walked right on by but of course Amy  had to stop and say hello.

 “Hi there,” she waved and called out merrily.

 “Hi yourself.” He playfully tugged one of her twin ponytails.

 “Where's your dog?”

 “Afraid I had to leave him home today. I didn't think folks would appreciate him lumbering down the sidewalk or running through the store.”

 Amy hung back when I tried to usher her out the door. “Are you going on a picnic?”

 He let us go ahead of him. I noticed the bucket of takeout chicken under one arm and a six pack of pop under the other.

 “Sort of. Well, I was really just going down to watch the boats on Lake Charleston and have my lunch.”

 “Mmmm. I like chicken.” Amy's nose twitched at the enticing smell wafting from the cardboard bucket.

 Amy.” I gave her a prod.

 “You and your mom are welcome to join me. I have plenty.”

 Amy looked up at me eagerly. “Can we? Please?”

 The man stopped walking and for some crazy reason so did I. We stood there in front of the Good Value market, the afternoon sun shining down on us.

 He was a good head taller than I and perhaps three or four years older. His arms were nicely tanned below rolled-up shirtsleeves and he wore faded jeans. Under the blue gaze of his eyes, I flushed warmly and hugged my bag of groceries more tightly.

 “If it's that we haven't been properly introduced, I'm Mike O'Brien.” He shifted the pop so he could stick out his hand.

 I just looked at it a moment, then accepted the gesture. His hand was big and rough and warm.

 “Katherine,” I said as his fingers closed briefly over mine. “Katherine Mitchell.”

 “May I call you Kate? You look more like a Kate to me.”

 Did I? With my plain brown hair pulled back I wasn't sure I looked like anyone. But I nodded.

 “I take it you live in Charlevoix year-round?” He started walking again. Amy skipped alongside.

 “How can you tell?” I gave him a sidelong glance.

“Oh, you just look as if you belong here, rather fresh and outdoorsy, like someone bred in the north country. There's something special about the north country, gives a person that healthy glow.”

 I had to laugh. “That's funny. I just moved here six years ago. Where are you from?” In a small town, I was certain I would have seen him before.

 “Actually, I just started working in this area a few weeks ago. I'm from Mackinaw City. Lived there most of my life, except for the years at Michigan State.

 Most of my growing up years had been spent on a farm in southern Illinois. I suppose that was one reason why winter here stretched on interminably for me.

 We reached the parking lot and stopped by my car. “So would you like to join me?” He nodded to the bucket of chicken.

 Amy tugged on my arm. “Please, Mama? You said we might take a walk to the park today. I want to see the boats.”

 “Come on, Kate Mitchell,” Mike O'Brien said. “It's a nice day. The boats are lovely on the lake. In the middle of winter you'll wish you had.”

 “Okay,” I finally gave in. Amy whooped with glee.

An hour later, the chicken consumed, we sat by the lake while Amy played on the nearby swings. Before us lay Lake Charlevoix, shimmering crystal blue in the September sunlight. A few sailing diehards skimmed across the rippled surface in their bright catamarans.

 “That was good.” I wiped my fingers on a paper napkin and stuffed the leftovers in the empty bucket. “Thank you for sharing with us.”

 “You really did me a favor.” Mike leaned casually against a nearby oak tree. “I've gotten a little tired of eating meals alone lately.”

It was difficult to imagine him being alone. He was much too good-looking and friendly.

 “You said you've only been working here a few weeks?” I curled my legs beneath me in the grass.

 He continued to stare out at the water. He had a strong profile with a determined chin that jutted forward. I thought the he was a man who would never be dissuaded once he wanted something.

 “That's right, since the day after Labor Day.”

 It seemed an unusual time of year to be starting a job around here. “What sort of work do you do?” I asked.

 “I'm with the state forestry service. I'll be heading up to the Upper Peninsula next month to winter at the Porcupine Mountains.”

 “You're a ranger then?

I wasn't surprised to see him nod. With his tanned and rugged face, he certainly looked like a man who spent a great deal of time outdoors.

 “I'll  bet you love your work. Getting to be out in the woods all the time. I love the woods almost as much as the beach.”

 In spite of my not liking the winters up here, I had truly enjoyed the camping Pete and I had done the first years of our marriage.

 “There's a lot more to my work than just being in the forest.” Mike rubbed his hand over his chin. “Some of it can be pretty trying at times, like teaching folks to respect our natural resources, not to run rampant over them. They don't all value forests the way we do, but you're right, Kate.” He rested his blue gaze on me. “I do enjoy my work.”

 “Pete did, too. He was a biology teacher.”

 “How long has he been gone?”

It wasn't an intrusive question, because somehow I think he'd known all along there was no man in my life, in spite of the wedding band I still wore.

 I felt no hesitation in answering. “A little over a year.” 

 “You still miss him.”

 I shrugged. “I suppose it gets easier as time goes on, and I do have Amy.”

 We sat quietly for some moments and I found myself wondering how he had known. “What made you ask us to share your lunch? I mean, how did you happen to...”

 “Just a hunch, but my hunches are usually right.” He smiled in a slow, persuasive way. “I have a hunch now that if I ask you to have dinner with me tomorrow night you'll accept.

 Coming from another person, the remark might have been conceited, even arrogant. Coming from Mike O'Brien, it wasn't, and I had to admit it---I liked him.

            I liked the way his hair, a light burnished brown, curled carelessly back from his wide forehead, touching his collar in back. I liked the way he smiled so effortlessly, as if he smiled a great deal.    I liked the deep blue color of his eyes.

I had a hunch I was going to prove his hunch right. “I don't know if I can find a baby sitter,” I hedged.

 “Bring Amy along. If we go early enough, we can take a ride. I'll show you some places where the trees are already starting to change.”

 After a moment of thought, I agreed to go, and Mike smiled again.

 When Amy and I walked back to our car, I felt a curious warmth inside that had nothing at all to do with the bright sunshine streaming down that afternoon.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Sweet Romance Christmas Giveaway--Final Five Days!

Here is an excerpt from An Uncommon Prince and Other Short Stories, from the story, A Test of Fire.

Back in the farmhouse, Tessa busied herself feeding Shadow and Pandora. She'd adopted the black and white shepherd from the shelter when Phillip left on his first tour of duty, the calico cat at his second. They were her family now. The cat rubbed at her ankles before crouching at her dish. Too nervous to eat, Shadow watched from her den beneath the table, offering an occasional whine of concern about their precarious situation.

“Aren't we a sight?” Tessa's hand shook a little as she picked up the coffee pot. “A houseful of nervous females. What would Phillip have said?” He'd often teased Tessa about her penchant for adopting only female animals, grumbling good-naturedly that except for the rooster, he was outnumbered. If only things had been different, his dream of building a small herd of cattle and farming full-time might have come true, but war in some godforsaken land had taken him away....and left Tessa with the unfulfilled dream.

She dumped the untouched coffee in the sink and went upstairs to make her bed. From her window she could see the side of the mountain was shrouded in dense smoke. The fire must be moving across the plain to the west. Soon it would reach White Cloud, and after that where would it go? She had just smoothed the ivory crocheted coverlet over the bed when she heard Shadow's sharp staccato bark, followed by a pounding on the kitchen door. For a minute, fear like an icy finger trickled down Tessa's spine. She was alone except for her menagerie. Anyone could come in here and...

Before he'd left the first time, Phillip had taught her to shoot his shotgun. Unloaded, it sat in her closet, because she hated guns. She glanced toward that closet door now but didn't go there before heading downstairs.

At the door she gripped her rolling pin in one hand. Holding firmly to the doorknob she called out, “Who are you?” A tall figure moved on the porch. “Forest service, ma'am. We're advising everyone to evacuate. The fire's gotten out of control and is heading this way.” The man's voice sounded raspy and tired. Tessa's fear drained away. Pushing Shadow aside with her knee, she opened the door.

The man on her porch posed no threat, although he looked terrible. Streaks of soot ran down his face from beneath a battered yellow hard hat. Beard stubbled his square jaw and his eyes were rimmed in red. No doubt he'd been fighting the fire all night. His heavy jeans and denim shirt were stained with sweat and caked with black grime. She hoped he wouldn't just keel over.

  Tessa stared up at him, not wanting to believe what he said was true. “Who sent you?” she demanded. He closed his bloodshot eyes and sighed deeply. When he opened them again, Tessa could see their normal color was a light teal blue.

 “The sheriff, if it makes any difference. A new crew of firefighters came on this morning. I'm on break for a while but I told the sheriff I'd check out this area and make sure everyone had left.”

“And have they?” Tessa peered past him toward the now empty highway, praying that at any moment someone would waken her from this bad dream. But the weary man on her porch was all too real.

 He nodded his head. “Yours is the only place where I found anyone at home. And I'm not fooling about leaving, ma'am. I've been on the fire line since yesterday. I know what I'm talking about. The fire is coming this way and you'd best get out now.”

Tessa stepped back from the door and looked around her kitchen, at the perky green and white gingham curtains she'd made, the solid oak table Phillip had refinished. How could she just leave it all? It seemed an act of cowardice to her. Her hand went to her throat and pressed the wildly beating pulse there. “I...can't. I can't leave it. My husband...”

“Your husband?” An angry frown cracked the grime on the man's face. “Where is he? Away?” She nodded. “Well, it's for damn sure he wouldn't expect you to risk your life by staying. It's not worth it.”

That's what everyone had said when she and Phillip bought the dilapidated homestead five years ago. No one understood their dreams. Maybe the place didn't look like much to this man, but it was all she had. And she wasn't about to leave it to the fire's hungry whim.

Please stop by tomorrow for another story excerpt, and don't forget to enter the Sweet Romance Christmas Giveaway by clicking the "Giveaway" button at the top of my facebook page at

Sunday, November 24, 2013



How much do words impact our lives? How are we changed by new words that suddenly have a meaning where none existed before? Recently, we commemorated the 50th anniversary of the death of President John F. Kennedy, and it led me to think about the words that are forever connected to that tragic event. For those of us alive on November 22, 1963, words like motorcade, book depository, and assassination suddenly became part of our vocabulary and took on new meaning. In fact, if you were young, you may have never even heard those words before, and yet for many of us, we will never hear them again without thinking about a day in Dallas that forever changed our lives. Just as the simple words in the turn of phrase, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country” are forever etched in our minds, so, too, are eternal flame.

As writers, words are so important. We work with words, live by words, and are always trying to find just the right word. Even in this digital age, many of us still have our well-worn dictionary and thesaurus near our desk in case we need to go in search of the perfect word to use in our writing. There are words that have special significance to writers: manuscript, submission, rejection, advance, royalty, review.

For students, words like assignments and pop quiz can strike terror to the heart. Bullying has become a commonly heard word in schools and in the media, as well as twerking (who knew what that even meant a few short months ago?) and guns. When I was a student (too many years ago to mention), the word gun was never even mentioned in the same breath as school, and yet today they are all too often associated.

Ask anyone who is dealing with a health issue and they will probably tell you how words like tests, appointments, doctors, and hospital have taken on new meaning for them. There are some words that stop you in your tracks, words that we dread hearing and hesitate to even mention, cancer certainly being one of them. Think then about what the word cure means.

Thankfully, there are words that make us smile: babies, puppies, kittens, birthdays, sunshine, and summer. The word vacation can make someone sit up and pay attention, especially someone for whom the words hours, overtime, and stress have become too familiar.

There are some words we’d all like to hear more: happy, content, dessert, and chocolate. And some less: crime, tornado, unemployment, and earthquake.

Then there are words that are new and some that have taken on new meaning: laptop, tablet, smartphone, and e-reader. 

This time of year, turkey, trimmings, holiday, cookies, shopping and gifts are heard more frequently, and after the New Year, it will be diet, exercise, and resolutions, quickly followed by the ominous taxes.

Words can make us happy or sad; show our weaknesses and our strengths; our stupidity or our knowledge. They can show how much we’ve learned…and how much we still have to learn.  They can tell someone how much we love them or how much we hate, and they can change the world. The numbers 9-11 have become a word in themselves, ones that gave whole new meaning to a simple date.

Where would we be without words? Words are power, words are who we are, and they make the world go round. What new words will be born in the year 2014? What words will take on new meanings? What words, because of some incident or new knowledge, will forever become part of our language, our repertoire and part of our civilization?  What words 50 years from now will still echo with the impact of those said on that fateful November day in Dallas?




Sunday, October 27, 2013

Sky of Magic!

I'm happy to announce that my second collection of short stories, Sky of Magic, is now available in the Amazon Kindle Store. The four stories in this e-book are:

Kiss Yesterday Goodbye, A Love That Blossoms, For Love of Joshua, and Sky of Magic.

The first two stories are about married couples discovering that the love they once knew is still alive and well. For Love of Joshua is about a teacher whose dedication to a small boy with learning disabilities leads to romance with his single dad. Sky of Magic, one of my favorite stories, tells of a man returning to the big sky country of Montana and the woman he once loved.

These stories were all previously published in Woman's World magazine but have been rewritten and updated for today's reader. It's been a real pleasure to revisit these stories and the characters that I created so many years ago, almost like getting reacquainted with old friends. I love the cover that reflects the cover story and the theme of the magic of love renewed.

Once again, I have to thank my daughter Emily and son-in-law Dan for their help with all the technical aspects of getting these stories published again. What a blessing it is to have family who can do this stuff!

To learn more about this book and others I've written, please visit the Amazon Kindle Store.


Saturday, September 14, 2013


The winners of the two Amazon gift certificates for my 30th anniversary are Patricia Kiyono and Diane Burton. Thanks so much for commenting here. I will send your certificates shortly. Enjoy!

Friday, September 13, 2013

A Lucky Day

Today, September 13, 2013, marks a special anniversary for me. Thirty years ago today, I became a published author when my first short story appeared in Woman’s World magazine. While that may not sound like such a big deal to most people, for anyone who writes and dreams of being published, well, you know it is a huge deal. I still remember what it felt like to go into the store and pick up that September 13, 1983 issue of the magazine and know my story was in it and it would be read by countless people all across the country. Talk about a rush!

I had been writing with the goal of getting published for several years then and had spent hours upon hours at a manual typewriter, spinning tales I feared only I would ever read. I’d submitted a few chapters of full length novels to a few publishers and been quickly rejected. Then I happened to read a list of the best 100 markets for fiction in Writer’s Digest magazine. Woman’s World was number 5 on the list. Since I wasn’t having much luck with the novels I’d written, it made me think that perhaps I should give short stories a try. I’d always loved reading them in magazines, and at that time there was still a pretty decent market for short fiction. I studied the guidelines for what Woman’s World wanted and started writing.

I honestly don’t remember how long it took, nor how many drafts I wrote before I was satisfied with the final one. I do know that when I finished it, I decided to write a second story, a shortened version of one of the novels I’d written. When I finished typing up the completed manuscripts on the old Smith-Corona, I sent them both off to the fiction editor at Woman’s World. I truly did not expect to hear from them for a long time, let alone get back anything but a rejection.

Imagine my surprise (really more like shock) when a short time later, a letter came in the mail accepting the first story for publication. Imagine my even greater shock when I received a phone call from an editor, telling me they also wanted to publish the second story! I am pretty sure I spent at least a week pinching myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. The stories were published in successive issues, and so for two weeks that September of 1983, I was on cloud nine.

The title for my first story, which I had called For Love of Joshua, was Love Takes a Lesson. The second, Good-bye to Summer Love, was closer to my own title of simply, Goodbye to Summer.
            Besides the price of the magazine--only .59 back then!-- much has changed in the world of publishing in the 30 years since my story of a little boy with a reading disability, his single dad, and the teacher who helps them hit the stands. I could write a whole other blog on just that and how it's affected writers. Some of the changes have been good ones. One of the benefits is that stories that have long been out of print can now find a second life as e-books.

My first e-book, An Uncommon Prince and Other Short Stories, a collection of five of my Woman’s World stories, was released from Amazon in July. One of the stories in that book is Goodbye to Summer. My second e-book of short stories will be released soon and will include that very first story, For Love of Joshua. Please watch for it soon in the Amazon Kindle store.

To celebrate this 30th anniversary date, I am giving away two $5.00 gift certificates to Amazon. Anyone who comments here will have a chance to win, and I’ll leave it open until midnight. I'll announce the winners here on my blog and also on my author page on Facebook
Happy Friday the 13th and good luck in the drawing!











Monday, July 22, 2013

Everything Old is New Again

Thirty years ago this September I became a published author when my first story appeared in Woman's World magazine. I remember not being able to believe that it had really happened. I went into a local bookstore I frequented and bought several copies of that issue and couldn't wait to tell the clerk that the story that week was mine. She hesitated, as if unsure of the truth of that, and then asked if it was true. I thought she was asking if it was true I was the author. I almost took out my driver's license to prove my identity! She was really only asking if it was a true story. I replied no, it was fiction, something I had made up. I went on making up stories after that, selling a number of them to that particular magazine.

I had always thought it would be nice to put the stories together in an anthology, but no print publisher seemed interested in that sort of thing. Now, with the advent of e-readers and digital publishing, it's possible to make that happen. Luckily, I kept all the copies of the magazine that featured my stories, because they were mostly written on a typewriter; a few of them on a computer but saved on floppy disks that have long since gone the way of the dinosaurs. So this publishing venture included sorting through the stories, deciding which ones had similar themes, updating, and ultimately retyping them all into Word documents that could be formatted for the digital world. Wow, what a project! But totally worth the effort.

Thanks to my son-in-law's help with the formatting (he wanted to learn the process as he's presenting a program on e-publishing at his library), and the magic of the digital age, the stories will now be available on Amazon and I'm hoping they will find a new audience.

So today I'm announcing the release of the first of my short story collections, An Uncommon Prince and Other Short Stories. It's been a fun and interesting venture and I can't wait to start on the next volume. How lucky we are to have the choices we do today for writers and readers, and I'm excited to be able to make the stories available once again.


To view An Uncommon Prince and Other Short Stories

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Authors at the Benton Harbor Library

     Once a year one of our area libraries, the Benton Harbor Public Library, holds a reception for local authors. On a Saturday in June, we are invited to come to the library for a few hours of visiting and sharing news with one another, and to view the many books and articles we have all published. Oh yes, and nibble on cookies, too! The librarians who sponsor the reception are all ardent supporters of local authors, and it's always nice to see old friends as well as meet new authors. Our published works are all on display, and Jeanne, who heads up the gathering, is always hoping there will be new books/articles to add to the collection. Whenever I see Jeanne during the year, she asks what's new on the writing front, am I writing, have I published anything recently? You see, Jeanne and the Benton Harbor Public Library and I are old friends. This was the library I grew up going to. When I first started, it was a very old building with huge steps (at least that's how I remember them) leading up to the front doors and a world of wonder. I used to beg my mom to take me to the library, promising I would quickly find something to read. I think she probably took more than a few naps waiting for me to emerge with a stack of 6 (the limit) books. My mom was a widowed, working mom at the time and probably didn't have much time to read (although she loved to read), but she knew how important reading was to me. I have to think that maybe the desire to write my own stories began to take seed while I perused those shelves of books at the Benton Harbor Library.

     Eventually, the old building was demolished to be replaced by a new modern one. That meant more room for more books! I loved it. Years later, I took my children to that library for story hours and so they could borrow their own books. In the summers especially we were frequent visitors. My daughter grew up to work there as a page while in high school and is now a librarian at the much larger Macomb Clinton Township Public Library system. The Benton Harbor Library gave her a good start, as it did me when I was an aspiring writer.

     I have to admit, I don't visit libraries as often as I used to. I love to own books and have a huge collection, and now I also use an e-reader. But I still know the importance of libraries, and sometimes I go there to remind myself that there is a whole world waiting for you within their doors. I hope we as communities will always value and support libraries, because that is where many writers are born.

Friday, May 17, 2013

A First-Timer at Romantic Times Book Lovers Convention-May 1-5, 2013.

Recently I attended the Romantic Times Book Lover’s Convention held this year in Kansas City. While I’ve been to a number of Romance Writers of America conferences, this was the first time at RT for me. What a great time I had! Rosanne and I arrived early on Wednesday morning and were greeted by 75 degree temperatures and a bustling convention hotel. The convention was held at the Sheraton Hotel Crown Center, but we were in the overflow hotel, the Westin Crown Plaza. It was a lovely hotel and our room overlooked Union Station. We also had a very good view of the quickly changing sky as the weather turned back to winter but more about that later. Workshops started that day, and I was able to attend two in the afternoon after getting settled in our room and getting some lunch. One was on Victorian Women’s Clothing from the Inside Out. Author Deeanne Gist showed us how a lady of Victorian times dressed from her bloomers and chemise to her corset, petticoats, hoops, skirt and jacket. I have to say that after seeing her laced into the corset, it’s no wonder ladies of that era often fainted. The second workshop was about merchandising in the Apple Ibookstore by Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords. He passed on some good information for anyone publishing digitally and how Apple works with authors to promote their work. I have to say I wish I’d been a little more alert for that workshop but after getting up at 3:00 a.m., riding the shuttle to O’Hare Airport for two hours and then flying down to Kansas City, I was a little bushed by 7 p.m.

The second day I went to three workshops that concentrated on self-publishing: Subsidiary Rights, Indie vs. Traditional, and Options in Self-Publishing. I did get some good information, and it was interesting to gain different perspectives on self-publishing. All the panelists had varying experiences and advice to share. That night the RT 30th Anniversary Ball was held and what a delight to see so many authors who are truly “Legends of Romance.” I met Kathryn Falk, founder of Romantic Times and a long-time supporter of the genre. Also authors Janelle Taylor, Shirl Henke, and Bobbi Smith as well as Rosanne, who were among those honored as legends. It was a beautiful setting, with ballroom dancers for our entertainment (Heather Graham was one of them!) before the dinner and introduction of the authors. One of the more hilarious highlights of the evening was having Larry Kirshbaum, vice-president of Amazon publishing, speak and then strip down to the reveal the romance t-shirt he was wearing (designed by our own chapter member, Jackie Braun!). While the evening was a wonderful look back, the future of romance was also celebrated with more than 50 authors from Entangled Publishing taking the stage.

Friday brought more workshops on Jumping Self-Publishing Hurdles, The Inspie Novel—More Than You Think, and From Self-Published to Montlake and Beyond. As always, romance authors are so willing to share their knowledge and experience. My only disappointment was that none of the workshops were taped, so it was very difficult to choose and I ended up missing some that I would love to have heard. But there was a huge selection and really something for everybody. RT is also geared toward romance readers and many workshops were just for them. It was encouraging to see so many readers, especially younger adults and teens, eager to learn more about their favorite authors. Don’t let anyone tell you that the younger generation doesn’t like to read. Anyone who thinks that should have been at RT.

Friday night we went to dinner at a restaurant in Union Station and a good time was had by all. Did you know Shirl Henke likes to drink Pink Squirrels? Eileen Dryer told a few of her famous tales and we invited her to come back to retreat soon. By this time we were glad to get to both hotels through covered skywalks, because winter had come back to KC with temperatures dipping into the 30s and snow making an appearance. Of course we hadn’t brought much in the way of warm clothes because the forecast had been for SUMMER temps. Fortunately, the gift shop sold some nice sweater shawls.

Saturday I was pretty much workshopped out and most of that day’s activities were for readers to meet authors. I did attend the Book Fair, and it was amazing how fans had driven many miles and lined up by 7:30 a.m., bringing their rolling suitcases with them to take home books signed by their favorite authors. Of course I bought my share and then had to figure out how to pack them for the trip home. I found several new authors (new to me anyway) and look forward to reading their books.

For a first time at RT, it was a fabulous time and the workshops well-worth attending. Next year it will be held in New Orleans, which I’m sure will provide a unique setting. It’s a great conference because the focus is so different from RWA, and I’m glad I decided to go.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Playlist for May 6 Concert: "50 Years on the Carefree Highway Tour"

May 6 concert at Devos Performance Center in Grand Rapids, MI.

 It was a great time Monday night at the 50 Years on the Carefree Highway concert, and as always it's exciting to be at a Gordon Lightfoot performance. He and the band sounded great, and the hall was packed with loyal fans who were lucky to hear a good mix of both older and newer songs, many of which I mentioned in my 50 Days blogs. We hummed and sang along, and at one point a group finished a song for him. Probably happens often. I couldn't even begin to say which ones were my favorites but the highlights of any GL concert are always The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald and If You Could Read My Mind. We heard both. I also especially enjoyed Don Quixote, I'd Rather Press On, Beautiful and The Watchman's Gone.

Thank you Gordon Lightfoot for your music, your songs, and the 50 years you've been writing and singing for us on the Carefree Highway.


The Watchman’s Gone

Don Quixote

I’d Rather Press On

Wild Strawberries

Waiting for You

Christian Island

Rainy Day People



Let It Ride

Carefree Highway

Cotton Jenny

Ribbon of Darkness

Ring Neck Loon


Drink Your Glasses Empty

Sweet Guinevere

The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

Never Too Close

All the Lovely Ladies

Make Way for the Ladies

In My Fashion

Painter Passing Through

If You Could Read my Mind

Baby Step Back

Early Mornin’ Rain

Song for a Winter’s Night

Encore: Ring them Bells


Sunday, May 5, 2013

50 Days, 50 Songs to the "Gordon Lightfoot: 50 Years on the Carefree Highway" Concert.

Day 1.

I made it and didn’t miss a day, in spite of just getting back from a four day trip to a writers’ convention in Kansas City, MO. It’s been fun taking a 50 day trip through Gordon Lightfoot land and revisiting many of his songs that are longtime favorites but that I hadn’t listened to in awhile. I’m looking forward to seeing what songs he’ll sing at the concert tomorrow night at Devos Center in Grand Rapids, MI. I hope some of the old favorites I’ve mentioned here. I’m sure one of them will be this cut from the Sundown album, 1973.

Picking up the pieces of my sweet shattered dream

I wonder how the old folks are tonight

Her name was Ann and I’ll be damned if I recall her face

She left me not knowing what to do

Carefree Highway, let me slip away on you

Carefree Highway, Gordon Lightfoot

Saturday, May 4, 2013

50 Days, 50 Songs to the "Gordon Lightfoot: 50 Years on the Carefree Highway" Concert.

Day 2

Almost there!! A song that is just what Gordon Lightfoot is all about. From If You Could Read My Mind album, 1969.

The minstrel of the dawn is here

To make you laugh and bend your ear

Up the steps you'll hear him climb

All full of thought, all full of rhymes

Listen to the pictures flow

Across the room into your mind they go

Listen to the strings

They jangle and dangle while the old guitar rings

Minstrel of the Dawn, Gordon Lightfoot

Friday, May 3, 2013

50 Days, 50 Songs to the "Gordon Lightfoot: 50 Years on the Carefree Highway" Concert.

Day 3

A little sadder song but another favorite from the Sundown album, 1974.

Is there anyone home in this house made of stone

Anyone inside know my name

I’ve been around for a half a hundred days

Never saw a door shut so tight

Turn around, don’t look down

There’s a man behind you with a gun

Is There Anyone Home, Gordon Lightfoot

Thursday, May 2, 2013

50 Days, 50 Songs to the "Gordon Lightfoot: 50 Years on the Carefree Highway" Concert.

Day 4

A more upbeat song from the 1982 Shadows album.

There’s a south wind risin’ and the moon shines on my window sill

I’ve a got a feelin’ I might walk on over the hill

I’m bent but not broken, all I need is some rest

And a bottle of your very best

Blackberry wine

Blackberry Wine, Gordon Lightfoot

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

50 Days, 50 Songs to the "Gordon Lightfoot: 50 Years on the Carefree Highway" Concert

Day 5

From Endless Wire, 1978.

There’s a love I hold dear

And it shines through each year

And it makes things seem different somehow

It’s for better or worse

It’s for people who thirst

For a love that burns brighter right now

And it shines on and on till all sadness is gone

And if children had wings I would sing them their song

With a smile on my face and a tear in my eye

Everything will be fine by and by

If Children Had Wings, Gordon Lightfoot

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

50 Days, 50 Songs to the "Gordon Lightfoot: 50 Years on the Carefree Highway" Concert.

Day 6

From the 1975 album, Cold on the Shoulder.

Rain Day people always seem to know when it’s time to call

Rainy day people don’t talk

They just listen till they’ve heard it all

Rainy day lovers don’t lie when they tell you

They’ve been down like you

Rainy day people don’t mind if you’re crying a tear or two

Rainy Day People, Gordon Lightfoot

Monday, April 29, 2013

50 Days, 50 Songs to the "Gordon Lightfoot: 50 Years on the Carefree Highway" Concert.

Day 7

Only one week to go! This song is a more recent one (1998) and makes me think of where the singer is at this time in his life. I’m hoping it will be part of the concert line-up next week.

Once upon a time, I was on my own

Once upon a time, like you’ve never known

Once upon a time, I would be impressed

Once upon a time, my life would be obsessed

Once upon a time, once upon a day when

I was in my prime, once along the way

If you want to know my secret

Don’t come running after me

For I am just a painter

Passing through in history

A Painter Passing Through, Gordon Lightfoot

Sunday, April 28, 2013

50 Days, 50 Songs to the "Gordon Lightfoot: 50 Years on the Carefree Highway" Concert.

Day 8

From the Shadows album, 1982. Love the lyrics.

All I’m after is to be the flame in your tattoo

Be the one girl who can thrill me through and through

This is just a guess but I must confess

It feels better being certain

Please excuse my truthfulness

What I see is worth believing

When you thrill me like you do

So you wonder why my feelings never change

I think I’ve got it made

All I’m After, Gordon Lightfoot

Saturday, April 27, 2013

50 Days, 50 Songs to the "Gordon Lightfoot: 50 Years on the Carefree Highway" Concert.

Day 9

This is another of my favorites from the Sundown album, 1973.

Seven islands to the high side of the bay, ‘cross the bay

To the sunset through the blue light of a fiery autumn haze

We went walking on the high side of the bay on a chilly morn

And we saw how leaves had fallen on the beds where trees are born

Any man in his right mind could not fail to be made aware

Any woman with a gift of wisdom could not seek her answers there

Seven Island Suite, Gordon Lightfoot

Friday, April 26, 2013

50 Days, 50 Songs to the "Gordon Lightfoot: 50 Years on the Carefree Highway" Concert.

Day 10

From 1967. This is such a sad song, I cry every time I listen to it.  This is the first and last verse, but you really have to hear the entire song to know its story of an old man, a long-ago love and the life they once lived.

Oh the neon lights were flashin’ and the icy wind did blow

The water seeped into his shoes and the drizzle turned to snow

His eyes were red, his hopes were dead, and the wine was runnin’ low

And the old man came home

From the forest  

With a mighty roar the big jet soars above the canyon streets

And the con men con and life goes on for the city never sleeps

And to an old forgotten soldier the dawn will come no more

For the old man has come home

From the forest.

Home from the Forest, Gordon Lightfoot