That Steamy Kiss

… The desire in Stuart’s eyes made her swoon.  She forgot her name; she forgot to breathe.  With a tender kiss, he wrapped her up in his arms.  Her hands craved the heat through his shirt …    from Their Rigid Rules

Happy 2020!

New Year’s Eve Romance

To celebrate my December 31st birthday, my New Year’s Eve romance, The Garden Collection, is on SALE for $0.99 until 12/31/19.  In this story, Robert Donovan learns that home is where his heart is.

THE GARDEN COLLECTION on AMAZON

I took a single defining moment from my childhood to create a story with the theme about the energy of words and how they affect us. You can read that embarrassing story here.

A few words of encouragement can stay with you for a lifetime.

Robert and Brianna’s childhood friendship grew into respect for each other and their ideas.  Robert gave her the confidence to stand up for herself.  Brianna helped him see his artistic potential and encouraged him to travel for his inspiration.  He found it in the letters she wrote.

BRIANNA CARLSON, an optimistic realist, appreciates the little things in life.  Working at the local diner in their wintry rural town in West Michigan, she pushes the stress of caring for her half-sister, CHLOE, aside focusing instead on the unconditional love she gives and receives.

Her best friend’s brother, ROBERT DONOVAN, regally proper and polished, balances his business acumen with his artwork for his family’s jewelry store.

In THE GARDEN COLLECTION, a Cinderella-esque romance, Brianna receives news that her abusive step-father will be released from prison.  She’s terrified he’ll come back to hurt Chloe this time.  She decides to leave town.

After traveling the world, Robert returns home and discovers Brianna had lied in every letter she sent.  She never received any of his. Before he can demand answers, she disappears without Chloe.  As Robert learns about Brianna’s life during his absence, he sets out to find her and convince her to trust him again.

Grab a copy of The Garden Collection, write a review, and/or share this post.  I appreciate your support. Thank you. HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

Back into the Fray

Although we returned home refreshed, the first week back from our vacation was hectic—catching up on laundry, meal prep, our playful puppy, my Freebie Friday promo, work…  You get the idea.  I think it’s like that for most of us after having time off, right?

While I made headway on my first draft at the cabin, I had a tough time focusing on my writing at home.  Missing the sounds along the river, I tried playing my videos on a loop in the background.  It’s not the same, but it is close enough until our next trip to Manistee.  Listen below and let me know what you think.

 

 

My view of the Little Manistee River near Manistee, Michigan.  Read more about our stay on a previous post: Zane’s Landing: a writer’s paradise

Zane’s Landing: a writer’s paradise

For our 30th Anniversary, our children gifted us with a vacation in a cabin near Manistee, Michigan. Andrea found it on Airbnb and sent me the link way back in March. Well, I scrutinized every detail of the pictures and read all the reviews. Could it be that wonderful?

Spoiler: Yes. Yes, it was. It exceeded our expectations.

About five miles before we reached the cabin, we had no cell service. I knew this going in and prepared a map ahead of time. Frankly, after the first day of cell phone detox, I embraced not using it except to take pictures.

We arrived and were thrilled with the cozy place. Lilac and woodsy scents greeted us. A gift basket filled with nuts, crackers, chocolate, and two cans of Birdwalker Blonde from local StormCloud Brewing Company welcomed us.

The two-bedroom cabin had an attached screen porch, a deck, and a fire pit nearby.

Beyond the rustic wooden gate, steps and boardwalk lead us to a screened shelter next to the Little Manistee River known for its Brown Trout and Steelhead. Farther along the bank, we found another fire pit, chairs, and pile of wood.

With all the amazing places on the grounds, I didn’t know where to sit and write first. My husband, Kraig, loves to fish so he was in heaven planning his attack. I had shade, no bugs around me, and a comfy chair. I was near enough to Kraig to throw out a “ooh” and “aah” once in a while at his fishing prowess.

With my notebook and pen on my lap, my mind focused more on the chirping birds, rustling underbrush, and flowing river. I gave myself permission to meditate the first day and soak it all in. Just listening and breathing.

I counted twenty-one chairs throughout the cabin and property each with an inspiring view. (I only sat in five spots during the week.) For the next few days, my notebook filled up fast. At night, Kraig read Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files while I continued to write. The TV remained off.

Many birds visited us and we identified them from the Birds of Michigan Field Guide found on my nightstand: a Baltimore Oriole, a Goldfinch, a huge Pileated Woodpecker, and a Bald Eagle.

Although Kraig and I did our own thing near each other, (I think it’s called Parallel Play) we still talked about our past, our future, and our dream to retire to a place like this someday.

As you can tell, I highly recommend Zane’s Landing. (By the way, the first draft of my next novel is almost complete.) Michael and Lindsay, thank you for hosting us.

SIX STARS OUT OF FIVE

Andrea and David, thank you for this thoughtful gift. We love you so much and would love to have you join us next time. Believe me when I say, there will be a next time.

 

Book your vacation at Zane’s Landing.

You will not be disappointed!

 

New Year’s Home

Born on December 31st, I was considered “Daddy’s Little Deduction”.  (I’m glad as a baby I could help the family out. Ha.)  To celebrate my birthday this year, my New Year’s Eve romance, The Garden Collection, is on SALE for $0.99 until 1/3/19.  In this story, Robert Donovan learns that home is where his heart is.

Please grab your copy, write a review, and/or share this post.  I appreciate your help getting the word out. Thank you.

THE GARDEN COLLECTION on AMAZON

A few words of encouragement can stay with you for a lifetime.

Robert and Brianna’s childhood friendship grew into respect for each other and their ideas.  Robert gave her the confidence to stand up for herself.  Brianna helped him see his artistic potential and encouraged him to travel for his inspiration.  He found it in the letters she wrote.

BRIANNA CARLSON, an optimistic realist, appreciates the little things in life.  Working at the local diner in their wintry rural town in West Michigan, she pushes the stress of caring for her half-sister, CHLOE, aside focusing instead on the unconditional love she gives and receives.

Her best friend’s brother, ROBERT DONOVAN, regally proper and polished, balances his business acumen with his artwork for his family’s jewelry store.

In THE GARDEN COLLECTION, a Cinderella-esque romance, Brianna receives news that her abusive step-father will be released from prison.  She’s terrified he’ll come back to hurt Chloe this time.  She decides to leave town.

After traveling the world, Robert returns home and discovers Brianna had lied in every letter she sent.  She never received any of his. Before he can demand answers, she disappears without Chloe.  As Robert learns about Brianna’s life during his absence, he sets out to find her and convince her to trust him again.

MICHIGAN AUTHORS at the Lakeshore

I’ll be joining these amazing Michigan authors August 4th in Holland.  Although excited, I’m a bit anxious.  I seem to have a knack for awkward small talk.

You can help me by mentioning this post and asking about any of my characters.  I love talking about them.  As a THANK YOU, you’ll receive $5 off any one of my books.

Want a preview of my novels?

I hope to see you there.

The Birds of Winter

cardinal-2

Today, I’m featuring a short story written by my brother, James. I’d like to think my passion for writing is rubbing off on him…

 

The Birds of Winter

By James Bennett

I knew returning to Michigan was going to be hard. Under these circumstances perhaps even harder. It had just started to snow as I arrived at my mother’s house. A gust of cold wind blew across my neck as I made my way to the door. She was ready with a glass of wine and a deck of cards hoping to make up some lost time. It’s been tough for her since her father died two months ago. Especially on Sunday when we used to gather for the traditional family dinner.

We sat down at the kitchen table and had time for a few games before my brother and sisters arrived. “Gin again,” my mother said as she slapped down her cards. I had never quite got the hang of the game she taught us when we were kids. She left me there to shuffle the cards as she journeyed to refill her drink.

Just then a cloud passed overhead and cast a shadow on the room. When I glanced outside I noticed a bright red Cardinal staring at me from the feeder. I was mesmerized by his flickering motion and instantly transported on a memory to my grandfather’s house. I was six years old standing perfectly still in a foot of snow with my arms outstretched. Wrapped in a faded purple snowsuit that was handed down from my sister, I waited patiently.

I remember my grandfather telling me that if I was perfectly still, they would come. And as the minutes passed, standing there trying not to shiver from the cold, they came. I was hypnotized by the movement, watching them dart back and forth. I could see them jump around on the different feeders hanging from the small maple tree. They would jump from a branch to the feeder and back again waiting for their turn. Sometimes they would light in the huge black walnut tree just down the hill and sometimes they would seem to appear out of nowhere. I knew each type of bird. My mother and grandfather both taught me the difference between Sparrows, Wrens, Finches and a dozen others.

Finally, it happened. First a Chickadee, then another, then a Wren and two sparrows. They took turns hopping in and out of my hands taking a bit of seed each time. Their tiny feet felt like snowflakes dancing in my hand. I’ve never felt closer to nature.

“What are you staring at?” my mother said as she returned with her drink.

“I was just remembering when grandpa taught us how the birds could eat out of our hands.”

“I haven’t thought about that for years. What made you think of that?”

“I just noticed the birds outside on your feeder. Do they stick around all winter?”

“Of course,” she said.

“But, don’t most birds migrate for the winter? What makes these stay though the harsh bitter cold months?”

“Well, because, this is their home and this is where their families are.” After a moment, we both smiled at each other.

“Now deal the cards,” she said.

xxx

Thanks again for stopping by. Did you enjoy the story?

Let James know in the comments.

Happy 2017—a Year of Kindness & Encouragement!