Wednesday, August 27 2014
Time for Launch . . .
Getting ready for a book launch is an exciting time. I was excited to see the galleys and I was excited when the new cover art arrived in my inbox. And now I’m doing my best to generate excitement for the release of LOVING MEG. So, here’s another teaser - don't hesitate to hop on over to Amazon.com and order it. Today the paper copy is up, in a day or two, the ebook will also be available.
Ben had his hands in a sink full of soapy dishwater when Meg stepped silently into the kitchen on bare feet. She leaned against the doorjamb and watched him as he scrubbed his sister’s chili pot. Beneath the faded blue fabric of his favorite chambray shirt his muscles flexed smoothly as he scraped a few hours of baked-on sauce from its stainless sides. He hadn’t heard her come in so Meg savored the moment to study him. He was a big man, but moved with such grace that she loved watching him work.
Abruptly Ben turned. “Hey,” he said softly. A wicked smile spread slowly across his handsome features as he took in her transformation from squared away Marine to a provocatively dressed wife in red silk.
“Hey, yourself,” Meg replied, husky and suddenly breathless. She pushed away from the doorjamb and crossed the kitchen. “We’re alone - at last.”
The roguish smile disappeared and was replaced by a look of tender longing.
He reached for her, his hands still warm and damp from the soapy water. The heat of them flooded through the thin silk of her nightshirt. Her breath quickened as the blue of his eyes darkened and his fingers worked their way under the shirttails until they discovered her bare behind.
Ben’s eyes widened. She hadn’t found the matching briefs and had decided she didn’t need them anyway. The result was better than she’d imagined. Ben was a hard man to surprise.
“Are you just going to stand there and stare?” she asked trying to control the impatience that been building ever since she’d stepped out of the shower.
“It’s been too long.” Ben sounded as breathless as she felt. He bent his head and kissed her with lingering tenderness. His lips were soft. Urgent, yet without the punishing forcefulness that had left her mouth tingling and sore a few hours earlier. Her heart raced.
As Ben lifted her off the floor, she laced her fingers through the silky length of his overgrown hair and wrapped her legs about his waist. He turned and set her on the kitchen counter.
“You have no idea how many times I’ve imagined this,” he murmured as he began undoing the small flat buttons that ran down the front of her nightshirt. He bent to kiss the hollow just above her collarbone. Then he trailed a string of kisses down the slope of her breast as the shirt pooled about her waist.
“Imagined what? Doing me in the kitchen?” Meg tried for humor, but neediness made the humor come out ragged.
“Oh yeah! Here in the kitchen.” Ben rested his forehead against hers as his voice dropped to a low sexy growl. “In our bedroom. In the living room. Out in my office. I imagined doing you pretty much everywhere.”
Available at Amazon.com in soft cover print and Kindle from BellBridgeBooks.com
Tuesday, August 19 2014
Life is full of days that mark new beginnings. The very first new beginning no one ever sees and only a few actually suspect, when a tiny swimmer finds it’s way to a newly released egg and a new soul begins the journey toward life. The day of our birth is far more celebrated, a day of shocking new reality for the infant just thrust into the world, a day of tears and celebration for the family welcoming it into their midst. And that’s just the start. There will be so many firsts to follow. First step, first word, the first time a child realizes he can say no – the beginning of independence.
Some new beginnings, like that moment of conception, are quiet and hardly noticed. Sometimes it’s a choice we make that at the time seems almost inconsequential, yet on later reflection we realize took us in an entirely new direction. Perhaps instead of going to your regular coffee shop you went to the one around the corner and met the person who would turn out to be your soul mate. Maybe you stopped to help someone out and ended up five minutes late for an interview and didn’t get the job you thought you wanted, but the following week, you landed the job you were meant to have.
Other beginnings are flashier – accompanied by serious fanfare. New Year’s Day, preceded by New Years Eve and often marked by resolutions that you might or might not keep and a big family dinner mark the beginning of each new calendar year. Birthday cakes loaded with flaming candles presented while family and friends sing the birthday song in appalling harmony mark another year of life. White dresses, churches decked with flowers and elaborate receptions to follow mark the beginning of two lives twined into one.
But there’s another new beginning we all experience every year as summer draws to an end and another school year begins. Summer has always been my favorite season, one I never wanted to end. As a child it meant freedom from school and what felt like an endless landscape of days I could fill any way I pleased. But it also brought warm weather and glorious sunshine and warmth with swimming and sailing.
Then, far more abruptly than I was ever prepared for came the night I had to dig out a blanket. Even in the midst of summer’s most bountiful lushness, red leaves would begin to appear on the trees. Just a few at first, then more. And I knew the end of summer was on its way and fall was just around the corner.
Here in the northern hemisphere, fall is also the beginning of a new school year. Even before we pack away the summer toys, close up the camps, and tie tarpaulins over the boats we’re looking forward to school. Lists of supplies arrive for grade school kids, moms dig out school uniforms only to find their kids have grown over the last two months and will need new ones. Everyone is shopping for school.
For some students, it’s off to college – another life-changing first for both student and parent. Another huge new beginning – the start of life as an adult for the student, the end of an era for the parents who are letting go of the child they’ve nurtured so carefully for eighteen years. It’s an inevitable change in the relationship that everyone knew was coming and some aren’t really ready to accept.
My children are all grown with families of their own, I’m retired, and it’s now my grandchildren who are going off to college, but even so the first red leaves on the trees and the first time I see the big yellow bus lumbering its way along the street, there’s a feeling of nostalgia for the summer that is ending. I just had a fantastic week at the lake filled with family and fun, but now it’s back to work on a book that has a deadline later this fall. In a few days, I’ll start getting texts from my children with pictures of my grandchildren going off to school with big smiles and new backpacks. It will be a time for picking apples and the start of football season.
Summer is ending -- Another new beginning.
Tuesday, August 12 2014
Mutt’s Nuts is in full swing. It’s a family tradition. A little crazier tradition than some families have. Okay, maybe a lot crazier – but we do have a grand time and create a lot of great memories. You might be wondering about the name for this event – it’s a modification of a British expression that means something very special. But since most of us are a little nuts and there are always dogs in the mix, perhaps it’s appropriate for other reasons as well. This year’s crew includes my sister and my sister-in-law and me, all our kids and their kids for a total of 24 adults, 10 kids and 4 dogs. There are 14 tents erected for sleeping quarters, and it looks like a Boy Scout camporee.
We own a very small island in a relatively small lake in New Hampshire. When I talk about “our island” it may sound grand, but don’t start envisioning the Kennedy Compound on Martha’s Vineyard or other fancy family summer homes of the rich and famous. More than fifty years ago, my dad built a platform for the tent that housed five of us, and that eventually became the floor for a cabin – 14 feet on a side. It was meant to be temporary until Dad got the real place built on the bluff overlooking the lake, but then he got his first New Hampshire real estate tax bill and decided 196 square feet was plenty big enough. Over the years he added a tiny kitchen and a screen porch along the front side. Also over the years, the building codes changed and now there is no place on this small island far enough from the water to get a permit to build on, so we are grandfathered in for a grand total, including porch, of 423 square feet of space. Obviously we can’t all sleep in our grand little cabin so everyone has their own tent and the cabin has become the clubhouse. Electricity is our only modern improvement. There’s no running water, no heat or AC, no phone, no TV and no internet. We do have a shower stall, but that includes remembering to fill the solar bag and setting it in the sun well in advance of when you want to take your warm shower.
Some of the Mutt’s Nuts activities are what you might guess: swimming, sailing, kayaking, campfires, cookouts and dining al fresco. But some things defy explanation – like adults dressing up as fairies to douse themselves with ice water in a charity challenge. The kids love the freedom to traipse around the island pursuing whatever activity interests them at the moment. Card games are always being pulled together, but more often we just enjoy the peace and beauty of this place and the chance to chat with relatives we like a lot but don’t see nearly often enough. Another ongoing tradition is the building of fairy houses. Sometimes just simple creations built of sticks, moss, pine needles and stones. Other times elaborate, sometimes floating, often whimsical.
Every year there is something special to celebrate: birthdays, wedding showers, baby showers etc. And then there are the holidays that usually fall during the year when we can’t be together. One year it was Halloween – all the kids dressed up and went trick-or-treating from one tent to another. This year it’s Easter –with eggs hidden all over the island and next year we’ve already planned to celebrate Valentine’s day. The kids will get to decorate their own mailbox and erect it outside their tent. Cards and letters can be delivered all week.
Every family gets to fix one main meal, which means the rest of the week all you have to do is come when dinner is served. This morning I fixed made-from-scratch Belgian waffles with homemade blueberry sauce (I picked the berries too.) Tomorrow my daughter will be making crepes for breakfast served up with a variety of fruits, cream, Nutella and other fixin’s. Someone always seems to be in the kitchen baking cookies. Eating well (too well, to be more accurate) is a given.
At the end of each day a campfire gets started and the s’mores kit comes out. Laughter and good times around the campfire – stories of years gone by and sometimes spooky stories get told. We’ve even had musical instruments and sing-alongs. Not rushing about to take in as many sights as possible has its advantages. By the time our week is over, everyone feels rested up and ready to go back to work, but no one really wants to leave at all. Next year seems so very far away.
Tuesday, August 05 2014
You know all those quizzes that get passed around on Facebook? I keep waiting to see if one shows up asking what kind of a carnival ride is your life like? I can envision some of the choices. Disney’s Space Mountain would be the kind of life where you just never know what’s coming next. A carousel where you can always see where you are going and can be a princess or a warrior on a fine steed riding royally through life. Or how about Ring the Bell at the County Fair where however hard you try, it’s all up hill, and most folk never get there. Climbing a greased pole would be similar. A lot of hard work for little gain. Or what about a Ferris wheel with wonderful views from the top and only momentary lulls at the bottom? Some folks might boast a life like Disney’s Small World, with opportunities to travel all over the world and experience cultures and lifestyles much different than those they were born to. And some folks prefer life like a lazy river in a water park. Gentle, comfortable, and reliable.
My life, however, has been more like a roller coaster. Roller coasters can be fun, frightening, exhilarating, screaming, alarming and so much more. I’ve loved roller coasters for as long as I can remember which is probably a good thing, because in my life the uphills have been steep and the downhills truly amazing. The views from the top have been spectacular, but then there are times when it’s totally upside down. There has been a little of the Small World thrown in – I have visited 15 countries and lived two years in a totally different culture in the South Pacific while working in the Peace Corps. There have been times it felt like I was climbing the greased pole, and short spans where it was more like the carousel, enjoying life as each moment passed at a pace that allowed for quiet thought and reflection. But on the whole, it’s been a roller coaster.
Falling in love and making love is like cresting the very top of the hill, then that momentary hesitation of knowing what’s coming next before the total rush that carries you away in sheer sensation. But betrayal and the unexpected loss of a husband only in his forties and two grandsons still babies felt more like that unending downward spiral into some dark place where you wonder if you’re ever coming back to the light. I’m a survivor. I take what life gives me and though my heart might be breaking, I cope. I look forward. I move on. I believe in the light at the end of the tunnel. But I’m not in control. That’s life on a roller coaster.
Yesterday was a mini-roller coaster in my life. My book, Falling for Zoe, was featured on the Amazon Daily Deal. I did everything I could to make the most of the opportunity, and a lot of friends and fellow writers helped as well, but mostly, it was out of my control and I was hanging on for the ride. But what a ride! My book ended up the day well into the top 100 of all books on Amazon at #59. It was #4 in romance. #5 on the movers and shakers list. Even today, back at its regular price, it has remained in the top 100 overall, in the top 10 in romance and on the movers and shakers list. I know the ride will end. Eventually all roller coasters slow their precipitous pace and level off. But for now the ride was breathtaking and I can call myself and my book best-selling!
Has anyone else out there ridden the roller coaster of life? What ride best matches your experience? Are you an adrenalin junkie like me, enjoying life on the edge, or do you prefer the lazy river or a proud carousel horse?