christmas romance novels. five.

With December arriving this week, you might be in the mood for a holiday romance and I’ve got five! All but one are available in KU.

KISS AND TELL and THE GRINCH MAKES GOOD were both originally published by Harlequin. KAT was a Harlequin Blaze in 2008 and TGMG was a Harlequin Temptation in 1997. KAT is definitely hotter!

WRAP ME UP was originally published as A Blue Christmas in the 2003 Kensington Brava anthology Jingle Bell Rock. (You can download that one for free at several retailers. Amazon hasn’t yet price matched.)

LOVE YOU MADLY was first published as Luv U Madly in the 2007 Harlequin Temptation anthology Red Letter Nights. Both are pretty hot!

THIS TIME NEXT YEAR can be purchased from all retailers as a novella, or in the HOLIDAY KISSES anthology.

oldies but goodies. reissues.

As I type this, I’ve just hit publish on the reissue of Kiss and Tell so it should be available at Amazon and in Kindle Unlimited in a day or two. Funny, I had totally forgotten this was a Christmas story as it was originally proposed for Valentine’s Day.

Candy Cane was Candy Hart. Mistletoe, Colorado was Valentine, Colorado. Under the Mistletoe was Valentine’s Flowers. But the changes worked, and I’m so glad I read through.

I read through everything before I reissue. I don’t do a lot of updating; sometimes none at all. For example, I left my Smithson Group books set in their original time because updating would require a big change in technology and ruin the suspense plots!

Most of what I update are pop culture references and overwriting. I’ve had readers e-mail about this one, wanting more about something that happened off-stage, and I’ve added a question about that to my reader letter. It might be worth expanding at some point!

Anyhow, it’s fun to revisit old books. Sometimes I cringe or roll my eyes. Other times I’m really moved by story elements I’ve completely forgotten about. There were a couple of scenes I could’ve sworn were in this one, but were not! The writing memory is a strange thing!


seven lines excerpt. three.

I almost forgot to post today, so here’s another quick excerpt!

Jeremiah Gale reached for a pair of wire strippers and told himself he was out of his mind. First, for even listening to the gossip in Color Me Crazy. Secondly, for thinking what he was.

The salon’s owner, Beattie Whittle, had hired him to refit one of the stylist stations that had been sitting unused for months—a job that meant spending a couple of days in the company of Touchstone, Texas’s most prolific busybodies while they speculated about the folks in town.

Folks like Allie Ellis.

He knew from the grapevine who she was, of course. Not many people moved to Touchstone on purpose. Fewer moved back having left years before. All of that was common knowledge: That she’d been gone a while. That she’d returned. Small nowhere dots on a map weren’t places where privacy thrived though he’d managed to do a pretty good job of keeping his past close.

What Beattie and the others were saying about Allie’s life during her time away, however… Nope. He hadn’t been aware of any of it and he was sorry to hear about it all. Still, he wasn’t particularly surprised by the revelation. His family could’ve written the textbook on cheating spouses and marriages falling apart—the very reason the institution had never tempted him.

So to hear that Allie had come to feel the same, that after ten years she’d sworn off further romantic involvement to live on her own, had a strange sort of buzz vibrating down his spine.

He did know the part about her house burning to the ground two nights ago.

seven lines excerpt. two. thanksgiving edition.

Here’s a project I’m working on (in all my spare time, ha!), a new romantic suspense series in the vein of my Smithson Group.

The last-call crowd in the Pitch and Roll was grating on Nate Elder’s last nerve. The dozen drunks were all one party and had been at it four hours at least. Someone’s birthday or some shit. He didn’t care. He poured the shots, mixed the drinks, filled the pitchers, took the money.

But he was ready for them to get out.

It was the noise. The voices. The girls screaming when laughing would do. The guys trying to one-up each other with loudly told tales and bullshit machismo. He didn’t know who they were trying to impress except each other. Not a one of them had the right-sized balls—Nate could tell—to survive a night on these streets. His streets. The grit. The grime. The gunshots.

Add to the human noise, the screech and boom of their music choices had clawed its way under his skin, burrowing deep, setting up an itch he couldn’t reach to scratch. His ears burned and echoed as if he’d had bullhorns suctioned to either side of his head. Usually, the tunes weren’t a bother. He enjoyed the bass slamming into him, the guitar stroking, the drums pounding.

Why the hell they had to drink here…

The Pitch and Roll had a rep for a lot of things, most of them not so good. But the burger baskets were almost better than a blowjob, even though they arrived with grease to harden more arteries than Viagra did dicks. The fries had gotten the place rated on Yelp. The reviews brought these uptown assholes to the hood for the food to go with their cold beer, loud music, and pool.

This bunch, however… They weren’t here to eat. A good thing since Junior had the night off and Nate wasn’t allowed near his grill. No, these assholes were slumming.

If they only knew…

seven lines excerpt. one.

There’s a hashtag making the rounds on Facebook where authors post the first seven lines or seven paragraphs of their work in progress.

I’m going to post several #sevenlines to carry me through the long holiday weekend. Ask any questions you have, and enjoy!

Cary Browning walked out of Bread and Bean, a loaf of warm sourdough tucked in a brown paper sleeve held to his nose, and nearly ran into Priscilla Reddy.

A very pregnant Priscilla Reddy.

“Excuse me,” she said, sidestepping before their feet tangled and one of them, or both of them, tumbled to the sidewalk fronting the Fourth Street foodie boutiques.

Bread and Bean, Bliss, and Butters Bakery occupied the same block—a block that stayed busy not only during the holiday season but year-round. Not a surprise considering the offerings: coffee, fresh-baked bread, artisanal chocolates, cookies, cakes…

It was a wonder there weren’t more foot-traffic accidents what with additional shops opening, others relocating to the growing business district, some, like Butters Bakery, being sold, the previous owners retiring, the new owners expanding into pastries and pies.

Cary didn’t mind the change but then he was part of it.

a way to find books. reviews.

(Don’t forget! You might win a book if you comment on this post:

Just a quick post today as I’ve got a to-do list five yellow legal pad pages long. Yeah. Not all of it has to be done today, obviously. In fact, it’s a to-do list that takes in the whole year of 2018, so it’s pretty broad and it’s all about writing.

In the age of self-publishing, everything runs on data and algorithms, which means one of the absolutely most helpful things readers can do for authors in order to continue seeing books in their favorite series is to leave reviews.

Don’t let that scare you!

A review doesn’t have to be a deep intensive analysis. Something as simple as “great book,” or “loved it,” will drive those numbers that put the books in front of more readers. And the higher the honest star-rating the better, of course!

So I’m curious. Do you leave reviews? Did you know that the more reviews a book has plays into the aggregated data that drives a book’s discoverability?

meeting story people. visually.

We’re having a new a/c unit installed today which means workmen in the attic over my head. So I’ve been outside with pen and paper and it’s been a gorgeous autumn day with lightly clouded blue skies and temps only hitting the mid-sixties.

I’ve been writing on Hope for the Holidays and though I’ve done all the pre-work of learning about these two people, I’m struggling a bit. Part of that is because my writing gears are rusty. And part of it is because I couldn’t settle on their names.

I absolutely must have my names fixed within the first ten pages. Most of the time before I begin. Sometimes, however, I’ll go ahead with what I think works, only to find myself chafing because this person or that person needs a better fitting name.

But these two… I got the names right yet they were still giving me problems. They both have heavy backstories so what I was writing felt real, but it also felt… whiny. Pathetic. Like they’re feeling sorry for themselves when they don’t at all.

And then I realized that even though I’d colored their hair, I had no idea what they looked like. I even changed my heroine’s hair color three times! I used to page through magazines, or even do a Google image search, but not for several years.

My favorite way to see my characters is to find them on modeling sites. And my go-to site is Seattle Models Guild. Of course, they’re beautiful people, ha, but there is always someone of the right age and ethnicity to fit my vision of my peeps.

So this is a link to my hero, and here’s one to my heroine. (I’m linking rather than posting the photos as they are copyrighted images.) I don’t necessarily need readers to see them as I do, but I have to see them to get them on the page!

we live in a zoo. still.

Living in a semi-deserted neighborhood near a creek and a (literally named) Hundred Acre Woods means… animals. We’ve trapped and released two oppossums recently and are working on a tricky racoon.

We’ve also had cats show up. Casper followed one of our cats home.

We almost never see strays. Loose dogs on the streets belong to residents. We’ve returned a couple to their owners.

But having few witnesses around means some people feel free to dump. We’re assuming that’s what happened in this case since this girl had a… female injury when we found her running around the subdivision entrance.

Meet Tootsie.

My older daughter went out to get her and an elderly woman in a pink Monte Carlo *g* stopped to help and gave her a leash. My younger daughter, who works with one of Houston’s largest dog rescue organizations, arranged for her surgery.

Husband and I drove her across town to the animal hospital Thursday afternoon and he picked her up yesterday. At the moment, we’re fostering her as she recovers and awaits her forever home.

She’s a kitty chaser which is obviously an issue, though our headmistress cat is quickly schooling her. Plus, the cone helps.

Thing is, she’s the size of our Snickers, the color of our Duke, and she has the same breed temperament and that dang curly tail as our Takumi who we lost in January.

She’s kind of a fate dog. And she woke me up this morning with a kiss.

a post-harvey. post.

A comment made to one of my recent Facebook posts had me realizing that unless you lived through Hurricane Harvey and are STILL dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, you might have no idea what’s going on down here post-Hurricane Harvey.

For example: In our ten-house circle, we are still the ONLY people in residence. Next-door neighbors are renting a condo. Neighbors to their right are staying in Lake Charles, Louisiana with family.

Neighbors to their right… we talk to them off and on but don’t know where they’re staying. Neighbors to their right are renting a house in a neighboring subdivision so their teens can stay in the same school.

Husband has talked to the dude to our left (on the other side of the main street) and he’s close. But that’s all we know. Then there is us.

Us is now four adults: self, husband, daughter, son-in-law. They were also displaced by the flooding but it kinda worked out since the hubs and the son-in-law are tackling the rebuilding.

The four of us live on the second floor of our home along with our two dogs and their two dogs, our five cats and their four cats. Oh, and now we’re fostering  a dumped stray who just had surgery.

We turned the hubs office into our bedroom. My office is now OUR office AND the living / TV / public room with the sofa that was already up here. We lost our good living room furniture downstairs.

My daughter and son-in-law occupy one of the spare bedrooms, and the final spare bedroom serves as our kitchen and pantry. We have two folding tables and three patio chairs downstairs. Those are usually covered in tools and construction detritus, so we eat in the office.

And, yes. We cook. Enchiladas. Sausage or salmon on the grill. We do buy a lot of rotiesserie chickens but now that we’re settled into what will be a routine lasting several months, we’re doing our best not to eat fast food… though we do order pizza every couple of weeks!

We have a mini fridge and a dorm fridge, a crock pot, a toaster, a can opener, and coffeemaker upstairs. I managed to save my Kitchenaid stand mixer but those are our only small appliances. Downstairs in the construction zone is our wall-mounted microwave and toaster oven.

Since we lost most of our clothes, hubs and I are sharing his office closet. Only a half dozen garments are hanging. The rest are folded and stacked on shelves since we lost our dressers. Somewhere in the garage is a bag of clothes to go to the dry cleaner, but none of those items are daily wear so can wait.

We’re sleeping on a donated mattress and box springs set that is heaven. My wonderful daughter-in-law obtained the bed for us. My daughter and son-in-law have a mattress on the floor. Their clothes are on a bookshelf.

We have three big shelving units in the kitchen-pantry bedroom for the food and the dishes. We use a lot of disposables but wash some upstairs and some down. My knees complain a lot but the hot tub is working once again!

But you know what? We’re doing fine. It’s just a new life that we never expected to be living. I’m so very happy to be in our home with what we have left of our things. And only once in a while do we miss something we’ve lost, but we move on.

We’re sawing and hammering and painting and writing words. We’re building something new. I like it!