mice. men. whatever.

Sometimes plans go awry. Mice and men and all that. Earlier this year I published a short story, Abbot, to introduce my new romantic adventure series, Avenging VIII. Then I wrote the first book, Elder. Then I sent Elder to my developmental editor. Then I got the bad news. There were parts that did not work. Enough parts that I needed to step away and rethink the story.

This story, remember, was written DURING A PANDEMIC. Yes, we’re all writing during a pandemic. But I’m also still writing with grief as my constant. It’s not easy but things are getting better and as of today, I’m honing in on the end of a different book that will be coming to you in early September… as long as my editors say it’s okay. I have high hopes. Higher than last time.

Here are two brief teasers. First of all, PLEASE enjoy the size of this man’s hands. (You’ll get to see the rest of him on the full cover.) Then enjoy the brief excerpt.


Inside the entrance to Keller’s, on either side of the restaurant’s front door, sat two antique-white oval side tables that had once belonged to May Wise.

One held the original cigar box long ago retired from Two Owls Café. On the other sat the fat ceramic owl Kaylie Keller had found in a flea market before her return to Hope Springs.

May had been her foster mother, the cigar box the lunch spot’s original cash register, the owl symbolic of the wisdom instilled in her while living in the Wise home.

Two Owls was now a bed-and-breakfast, the spot perfect for those in need of a Texas Hill Country retreat. Rustic pergolas strung with tiny white lights invited visitors to relax and enjoy the property’s wildflower meadow. The shaded areas, accessed by winding pebbled walks, offered gliders, swings, and ornamental fire pits circled by clusters of chairs.

Kaylie co-owned both operations: the bed-and-breakfast with her father, and the restaurant—a roomy log cabin with a covered front porch and a fireplace crafted of river stone—with her sister-in-law-to-be, Thea Clark. The wedding was fast approaching.

Thea split her time between the family restaurant and her original business, Bread and Bean. She was also involved with Butters Bakery, as were all the women who lived with her. Because Thea was still the driving force behind the house on Dragon Fire Hill.

The past year had seen new developments there too. Especially for Frannie Charles.

After twelve months spent living inside Thea’s safety net, Frannie and her boys had finally moved out of the shelter. They’d only been in their new place for two weeks and were still adjusting to the change. It was a good change, the adjustments a day-to-day challenge, but that was fine with Frannie. Because for the first time in her entire life, she felt as if she belonged.

Hope Springs had become home.

Here is what I have learned about writing with grief, knowing everyone’s healing process is different. 1) Walt hated it when I wasn’t writing. HATED it. He told me more than once that he fell in love with my words. We met online and I sent him a copy of Call Me. He read it and told me I could not put a treehouse in the type of tree I’d put it in; I changed that when I re-released the book, heh. He would be thrilled at the book’s second life, but not having that personal fire under my heels is a serious impediment to my forward motion. Serious.

The other is 2) Bird by Bird. Just do it. Five words at a time. Ten words. A whole paragraph. A whole page. This is how a book gets written, through grief or not. It doesn’t get written by arguing on Next Door or getting embroiled in nonsense on social media. Sure it’s fun to visit with friends but scrolling through a feed for an hour? That’s an hour of no words being written. Some authors easily make that time and balance and can split their focus. I have a really hard time doing so. Until I’ve got a better handle on writing in a new world where I don’t have my sounding board in the next room, I really have to limit distractions. I haven’t been very good at putting that into practice.

I’m going to do better because after Frannie’s story, I HAVE PLANS!!!