Thank God for grown children – Carolyn

My daughter and son-in-law came to dinner last night as they do about once a week. We had, as usual, a great time. Megan is researching the historical basis of the Arthurian legends at the moment. She writes fantasy sci-fi, and is an auto-didact who should be some professor’s research assistant.

They are also researching the man who invented and promulgated behavior modification for children. I can’t remember the man’s name, but he did a tremendous amount of harm in the twenties and thirties making experiments on babies without their parents’ knowledge or agreement. A couple of generations of parents were taught that to touch their children and to create a bond with them was anathema and the direct road to sexual abuse.

I can remember my mother telling me that she used to sit beside me and cry while I wailed in hunger, because it wasn’t the designated time for me to have a bottle. She knew less than Scarlett O’Hara’s maid about birthing babies, and even less about taking care of them. An unlooked for after-thought, she was raised by her big sister who was fifteen years older than she. Her mother died in the flu epidemic before I was born, and she was divorced and penniless while she was pregnant. She listened to the so-called experts, because after all, women didn’t have valid instincts, now did they?

I firmly believe that most parents are trying to do a good job. Parenthood, unfortunately, at least for apes and human beings, is far from instinctual. We have to be taught how to be a good parent. We often listen to supposed experts who are largely spouting hogwash. And whatever we do, we feel guilty about it.

I started trying to toilet train Megan on her second birthday, because that’s when Dr. Spock said to do it. It’s a miracle we didn’t both wind up blithering idiots. We were living in St. Paul at the time, so I had no support system of village crones to help me. Eventually I went up to Detroit Lakes for a weekend to take her to my teacher friend, Eleanor, who knew more about children than a dozen generations of wise women. She took care of ninety-per cent of the problem that weekend, mostly by getting me to relax. I remember her telling me, “Don’t worry. She won’t go to college wearing diapers.”

The best advice I ever received was from a cousin. Megan was in the throes of the terrible two’s, and I was picking at her constantly. My dear cousin Elizabeth leaned over and whispered, “Don’t see so much, dear.”

I firmly believe that we all leave land mines for our children to stumble over when they hit forty. I also firmly believe that it’s up to them to fix themselves. We did the best we could, most of us. We can only hope that the next generation will be better than this one. At the moment I wouldn’t bet on it.

New Book Started (Pat)

Book finished!

New book started.

Such is the lot of a writer.

I’m not complaining, mind you.   I’m very happy someone wants my books but, still, the last few weeks have been, well, exhausting.

I’m busy plotting the new book in the Covenant Falls series, this time with a woman military vet, an Army surgical nurse, as the protagonist,. I already know her counterpart, one of my favorite characters in the town.

But I do hate writing a synopsis for the editor, because my synopsis never, ever, even comes close to the final product. Something always pops up that sends me in a totally different direction than originally intended. I would be very worried if it did not, and it certainly keeps me interested to see where my characters take me.

The exciting thing about the new book is weaving in the past, the origins of my town of Covenant Falls and its founder. I started my writing career with westerns, and now I can take a journey back to that rich era. But in the midst of putting together the new story, I’m also trying to catch up on everything I haven’t done in the frenetic rush of finishing the last book (the deadlines were all moved up). Income taxes, for instance. Putting my office in order for another. You could barely walk into it during the last two weeks. My desk was so littered with line edited versions of my book, copy edited version of said book, notes to myself, and piles of mail I hadn’t had time to look at.

It didn’t help that in the last two weeks, I developed a severe allergic reaction to, of all things, a vitamin. Something to do with an additive, according to the doctor, but whatever it was, I was covered head to toe with a most uncomfortable rash and was operating under heavy doses of Prednisone. Combine that with fourteen -hour editing/reviewing days and you get a zombie.

I was so engrossed in the final process that I forgot appointments, neglected friends and didn’t answer mail or phone calls. Despite the fact that it is my very favorite season and Memphis is enjoying fantastic weather, I’ve barely poked my head outside except to walk my dogs early in the morning when, hopefully, no one could see vivid red welts all over my body.

I am slowly emerging from Zombie mode. In addition to income taxes, preparing for a speaking engagement and belatedly answering hundreds of emails, I am enmeshed with happy family events; the birth of one great niece and the upcoming wedding of another on October llth.

And, of course, that new book.

Warm fuzzies

I’m so darn excited.

I’m doing a book signing tomorrow at Epic Alpaca Ranch’s two-day National Alpaca Days celebration.

Alpaca flier

I was fortunate to spend one morning at the ranch a few months back when I was researching my book, Nobody’s Cowboy. The heroine of my book raises alpacas, and while you can learn a lot from watching videos and researching information on the Internet, nothing quite matches the hands-on, up-close and personal interaction with your subject matter–especially when you’re trying to describe something as warm and fuzzy as alpaca fleece.

The morning of my interview, Casey and Steve Aitchison gave me the hands-on tour of their amazing breeding facility and home. I learned sooo much, but my biggest take-away was the passion alpaca ranchers bring to their business/hobby/profession. They LOVE their animals–something I hope I conveyed in Nobody’s Cowboy.

And, believe me, one hug from one of the warm fuzzies and it’s easy to fall in love.

photo 2-1

My first try. Obviously, I’m not a natural alpaca nanny.

photo courtesy of Epic Alpacas.

Alpaca love is two-sided. (Photo courtesy of Epic Alpacas.)

There's a llama named Dolly in my book, too.

There’s a llama named Dolly in my book, too.

Here’s a scene from Nobody’s Cowboy that quite a few readers have mentioned in their reviews. As you’ll see, I had a little fun with this at Austen Zabrinski’s expense. But if you met him in Cowgirl Come Home, you know he deserved this. ;-)

He’s too pretty for this kind of job. Pretty boys don’t like to get dirty.

Serena ignored the voice in her head. She had no choice. She needed help and he was the best–the only–option on her plate at the moment. She could almost hear her educator father saying, “When choosing between bad and worse, take bad. But don’t complain later. It was your choice and it could have been… worse.”

“She’s in the middle stall.”

His size made the large barn feel smaller. She was still getting to know her space and make it her own. Having someone as dynamic as Austen Zabrinski on site made her edgy. Luckily, the procedure would only take a few minutes. Then, she could run him home and get back to work.

So. Much. Work.

Her parents kept a herd twice this size running like clockwork for years. Serena hadn’t questioned her own ability to manage a breeding operation until she figured out what was missing from the equation–a partner.

Fat chance of finding one of those . She sized up Austen again. He’d make a good one, if he weren’t so darn pretty.

“Generally, alpacas are very sweet-tempered and friendly, but when annoyed or stressed they do spit. And kick,” she added.

“Good to know.”

She opened the wooden stall door.

He followed her in after a slight hesitation. “Whoa. Two. Is the bigger one her mother? Or a male?”

“Betty is the black. Jezebel’s a rose gray. Alpacas are herd animals. They get very distressed alone. And we keep the males separate. My boys are clear on the other side of the barn. I take the breeding part of this job very seriously. Bloodlines are important, and keeping good records is imperative. No accidental pregnancies allowed.”

He made a garbled sound, as if he’d swallowed a fly. But when he failed to comment, she walked straight to the pair. Arms at her side, she leaned forward, nose first. Jezebel gave her a friendly sniff and nibbled on her hair. Betty took a step closer but didn’t touch her. “Betty Lou’s a little shy. She’s just three. Jezebel is an old hand at this sort of thing.”

Austen closed the gate but didn’t advance. “They’re really cute, aren’t they? It almost looks like they’re smiling.”

A common comment.

“The under bite. Gets you every time. My parents bought a pair–one for me and one for my brother–when I was fifteen. It was love at first sight for me. My brother… not so much. But one of the first computer programs he wrote was for cataloguing each animal by its genealogy. Every alpaca sold has to have a DNA test to prove its bloodline,” she added, acknowledging not for the first time the irony in her choice of hobbies-slash-professions.

Serena considered raising and breeding alpaca to be of equal importance if not more intrinsic to her soul with her day job. She would quit being an auditory specialist in a heartbeat if she could make a living from breeding, selling cria–alpaca offspring– and fiber sales.

One reason she’d moved to Montana was to lower her feed costs. With proper grassland management, she hoped to show a profit in the next couple of years.

“I didn’t know that,” her new helper said stepping closer.

The girls huddled together, nervously glancing at the newcomer. Serena stepped between the two creatures to grab Betty around the neck. Every animal in her herd was used to be touched. Some played hard to get, but most were tolerant and accepting of human hands. “It’s okay, beautiful. This won’t take long and you’ll feel better soon. I promise.”

She motioned Austen to join her. “Hang your hat on that peg. It’ll just be in the way.”

He followed her directions then walked closer, eying the two animals with a mix of curiosity and caution. “Aren’t you going to use a halter?”

“Alpacas are mouth breathers. If the halter slips and obstructs their breathing, they’ll panic. Then I’ll really have a problem on my hands.”

Once Austen stood directly across from her–only a skinny alpaca neck separated them–she realized the magnitude of her mistake. He was far too big, sexy, and his blue-green eyes were so unusual and intriguing. She wanted to map them in her memory.

He reached out to touch Betty. His long manicured–manicured? Really? Maybe just impeccably clean–fingers gently stroked Betty’s shorn back and shoulders. “You clip them? Like sheep?”

“Once a year. Money in the bank.” She didn’t have time to explain that alpaca fleece was one of the softest, warmest, most desirable fibers on the market.

She ducked under Betty’s neck and moved beside Austen to demonstrate what she needed him to do. “You want to secure her neck, gently but firmly. This will keep her still and you’ll avoid getting whacked. Their necks are very powerful.” The atmosphere felt too warm, too intimate, but she couldn’t turn back now.

Jezebel adroitly hopped sideways and abandoned her friend the moment Austen got close. Her nervous reaction was to pee. She straddled the communal potty spot and let go.

Serena saw Austen’s nose crinkle in disdain. Pee and poop were part of her daily routine. He probably had people who cleaned up his stalls for him. She intended to hire regular help once school started but even getting a day-helper had proven a challenge.

“Like this?” He put his arms around Betty’s neck, overlapping Serena’s arms momentarily. Betty let out a little hum of concern.

“Less tentatively. You want her to think you know what you’re doing.”

“Instead of being the virgin I am?”

His humor surprised her.

She liked it. “First times can be awkward. But don’t worry. This shouldn’t be painful.”

“I’ve heard that before.”

The rawness in his tone hinted at some pain or disappointment she never would have guessed from his Photoshop perfect smile.

“A little closer to her shoulder. She’s stronger than she looks.” She put her hands on his wonderfully muscled upper arms and turned him slightly. His warmth permeated her skin; his scent–something piney and deliciously masculine–filled her senses.

She blinked quickly, trying to maintain her focus. “Cozy up nice and tight. Let her snuggle against you and get a feel for you. I’ll tell you when to tighten your grip.”

Jezebel’s curiosity got the better of her and she stepped close enough to sniff Austen’s ear.

“No nibbles,” Serena told the elder alpaca.

Jezzie blinked her long curly lashes like an innocent coquette. Serena’s heart expanded with love. Her last boyfriend had called the alpacas Serena’s obsession.

“So?” she’d countered, like a five-year-old. “They’re my family. They’re part of the package. You either take them or leave me.”

He left.

Serena shook off the thought and got to business. She took off her gloves and grabbed the bottle of pink liquid and an injector. She depressed the drench syringe mechanism and pulled back, filling the hollow tube to the exact dosage.

“They make alpaca Pepto-Bismol? Who knew?”

“It’s not breed-specific.” She held up the bottle for him to see.

His grin said the question had been in jest. Her cheeks went hot. She thought she had a good sense of humor, but her college roommate had been quick to point out that many jokes went over Serena’s head. Certain social nuances were beyond her ken, simply because she had been today.

She walked around the animal’s hindquarters–keeping outside of the kick-zone. “Okay, now, secure her head. Firmly. Don’t forget, she’s more powerful than she looks. Alpacas and llamas use their heads as battering rams when it suits them.”

“What if I choke her?”

She appreciated the way his brow wrinkled and his jaw set firmly as he turned his focus on his job. He might look like a city boy, but he took orders well–a virtue that spoke to his upbringing, in her father’s opinion.

“You won’t. A nice, firm headlock and tilt her chin up.”

She used her free hand to pull down Betty’s lip so she could wedge the small, spoon-shaped metal end into her mouth. She pressed the plunger sending the pink liquid down her throat. “Keep her head up so she swallows. That’s good. Great job, but don’t let go. She needs some electrolytes, too.”

“Good girl, Betty Lou. Take it easy, sweetheart. We’re almost done.”

Betty gave a squeak and kicked, her small, sharp hooves poking the air behind her. “Easy, girl. This is going to make your tummy feel so much better. Relax.”

The last, a reminder for her. She’d done this a thousand times with her father, but this was her first time on her own. Did that make her a virgin?

She looked at Austen, whose entire focus was on Betty Lou. He murmured in her ear and soothed her with his beautiful hands.

Serena swallowed against the sudden tightness in her throat and grabbed the second bottle she’d brought from the house. It was a human sports drink she’d diluted. She opened the lid and filled the drench syringe a second time. “Almost done, girl. You’re doing great.”

Did her voice really sound that breathless?

“Better hurry. I’m running out of sweet nothings,” Austen said, dancing a bit with the nervous alpaca. He appeared to be sweating. She’d never seen anything sexier. “Can we change places?”

She hurried to his side. “No way. If you don’t get this down the right tube, she’ll aspirate. The last thing I want is a vet bill from an alpaca with pneumonia.”

“Okay. One more dance, Betty Lou?”

That he addressed her alpaca by name was nearly Serena’s undoing. She’d never dated a man who regarded her animals as anything but things, not living breathing beings with individual personalities. Her hand shook a tiny bit as she gave Betty her liquid.

“Good. One more and we’re done.”

She swore both Austen and Betty groaned. This time, Serena did the procedure quickly without hesitation. “Done. Let her go.”

Betty gave a little buck as she leaped to safety to hide behind her friend. Serena disposed of the apparatus and the bottles in a paper bag. She set everything just outside the stall.

This particular stall had an outside exit. “You might want to get out of the way.”

She unlocked the latch then pushed with her right arm. Jezebel, old pro that she was, trotted to freedom without the least bit of drama. Betty, who had been nibbling on a piece of last night’s dinner, glanced around to discover she was alone… with two humans.

She bolted, losing traction on the concrete under the straw. She wheeled to the left and tried to pass Austin on the opposite side he expected. Austen staggered back to avoid being stepped on.

A dainty hop and rock-solid poke of her head against his chest and Austen went down–butt-first into a pile of alpaca poo–the runny, icky reason they’d been treating her.

“Crap,” he muttered.

“You got that right,” Serena said.

She tried not to laugh. Really. She did.

 

Are you smiling? I hope so. And I hope you have a fabulous weekend with all sorts of great activities. If there’s an alpaca ranch/farm in your area, I suggest you check it out. Hug a fuzzy.

Deb

PS: Here’s the cover and the buy link to Amazon in case you want to read the rest of the story.

NobodysCowboy-MEDIUM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Should You Accept this Mission…

challenge

Recently on Facebook, someone challenged me. Over five days, I was to list three things per day for which I am grateful. I had great fun with that challenge. And was reminded just how powerful gratitude is. No matter how dark life seems, there is always something to be grateful for–even if it’s as small as a smile from a stranger.

For a while, I kept a gratitude journal, filling it daily with whatever I happened to be thankful for that day. Stuff like finishing my page count, finding out that a car problem wasn’t half as expensive as I’d feared, enjoying a great cup of coffee, a blister that healed quickly. And bigger stuff or course, like a good health checkup and when one of our daughters got the job she wanted.

I really enjoyed keeping this journal, so much so, that when life seemed to kick me in the teeth, I grabbed for it and stretched until I found something to be grateful for right then. If I couldn’t think of anything (because sometimes I couldn’t), I read through old entries to remind myself of things to be grateful for.  It’s amazing how this exercise helped me to expand my perspective of my own life and realize just how much there is to be thankful for–if only I look.

My challenge to you is for you to do what I did on Facebook, only do yours privately. Every day for five days, write down three things for which you are grateful.

If you would like to share, please do!

Until next Thursday, and wishing you gratitude and perspective in your life,

Ann
Visit me at my Facebook Author page https://www.facebook.com/AnnRothAuthorPage
Follow me on Twitter @Ann_Roth
Stop by my website: www.annroth.net

This is Life (Tara Taylor Quinn)

Husband on the Rack (REMINDER:  Don’t forget the Kindle Fire giveaway!  Every comment left on this site until the end of October is entered to win!)

Husband by Choice is out this month.  A friend sent me this photo.  She was at her local pharmacy and saw this by the checkout stand.  If you’d like to have a print copy Harlequin is having a sale this week – $1.40 off their already discounted price.  Click on the book cover above and scroll down on the sale page to Husband By Choice.

I’ve been getting a lot of mail on this book.  One person who loves my books hated this one.  She was furious.  I wrote back and offered her a free copy of any of the other Lemonade Stand Books.  I didn’t hear back from her, though.

She hated the book because she said it is absolutely not a romance.  She thought Harlequin had purchased the book, published it, just because of my name.  Maybe, in part, they did.  But I have ideas rejected, too.  They knew they were taking a risk with Husband.  They thought I could pull it off.

I thought I did.  Judging by the good mail I’ve received, I still think I did.  I love this book.  It’s not a typical romance.  The hero and heroine are not on the page together throughout the book, falling in love, or re-discovering love.  But their love for each other is there.  I think this is the best love story I’ve ever written.  The love is the star of the show.  It’s what gives us our greatest strengths.  And our greatest joys.

Husband By Choice was hitting Amazon Mystery/Thriller bestseller lists when it was still in the pre-order stage.  Yesterday it was #2 on that list.  I was shocked to see it there.  I don’t see this book as a mystery/thriller!

I do see it as a book that I want to read again.  It’s my book.  It’s a story of confronting fears instead of giving into them.  Of daring to not settle for less than happiness.  It’s a story of a love that is truly unconditional.  And one that is not.  It’s a story that is refusing to be defined in any one way.  It’s a different story for different readers.

But one thing is for certain, it’s touching people.  Reaching them.  It’s taken on a life of it’s own and now I have to step back and let it live it’s own life.  While I live mine.

So…living my life…I signed a contract this week to write for Harlequin Heartwarming!  I’m still going to be a Super author!!  And a MIRA author.  I’m just growing my family!  I’ll be moving into my new home tomorrow and would love if you’d all come visit me!  I’ll be at the Heartwarming Authors blog tomorrow with a giveaway.  And in the meantime, I’ve got three more Lemonade Stand, Where Secrets Are Safe, books on the table.

I’m also looking for a new groomer.  Some new towels for the guest bathroom.  And will be having Salmon for dinner on Friday night.  Because this is life.  We all live it together.  And I am thankful for each and every one of you.

Don’t forget the Kindle Fire giveaway!  Every comment left on this site until the end of October is entered to win!

 

 

 

 

 

So many good shows, so little DVR space (Suzanne Forster)

They really need to expand the storage space on DVRs, along with the ability to tape more than two shows at a time.  It’s not that I want to tape more shows on a nightly basis.  All the shows I want to tape seem to be on the same night!  For me, Sunday night is an embarrassment of riches on the small screen, especially with the new fall schedule starting.  For my husband, it’s Thursday night when his favorite sci-fi shows tend to bunch up.

I’m pretty excited about the new fall schedule.  I caught the season premiere of The Good Wife this Sunday.  It was great, as always.  I also caught the first episode of a new series, Madame Secretary with Tea Leoni, which was terrific.  I help create the logjam when I also tape those two shows, just in case I want to watch them again or for some reason I miss them.  For me, they’re “appointment television,” but invariably there are two or three other shows on different channels that I want to watch as well.  So, every Sunday I’m forced to decide which show(s) to sacrifice.  Such a dilemma.

Monday nights are getting tricky for me too, DVR-wise.  There are three shows in the same time slot, one an old favorite and the other two promising newcomers.   Dancing with the Stars is the oldie.  Gotham and Sleepy Hollow are the newcomers.  And then there’s Forever.  Thank goodness, it’s running unopposed.

For the movie buffs, have you noticed that scripted television is generally superior to movie fare these days?   The big money productions seem to require a comic book hero, or several.  Maybe the quality writers and directors emigrate to television when they outgrow the comic book scenarios.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  I like Marvel comics and think a couple of the franchises are excellent.  Iron Man and Spiderman come to mind.  I’d not anti-superheroes and supernatural powers, I’d just like more summer movies about people I can relate to.

What TV shows are you looking forward to?  I’d love to know.  I’m just hoping they’re not on Sunday night!

Suzanne

 

Crazy Times (Anne Stuart)

51E8ceqH+JL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_ Tomorrow’s launch day! NEVER MARRY A VISCOUNT is finally coming out, and I’ve received some really lovely reviews from PW and RT. It’s definitely the funniest of the bunch, steamy, of course, and a real treat. I’ll be sorry to say goodbye to the Russell sisters and the heroes (a rake, a pirate and a brooding viscount) but I’ve already finished the first book in the American Ice series, and I had the best time writing it! Even though my summer was madness, torn between writing and being the evil Mrs. Mullin in “Carousel” I still enjoyed myself immensely, and lost 15 pounds while doing it.
It’s the first day of Autumn, and I live in Vermont, so you know I’m in for astonishing beauty. It’s even remotely possible this might be my last Autumn here — we want to move to the Pacific Northwest where the climate is milder (albeit rainier). Hmmm. Is that the same way you spell the mountain? That should have given people a clue when they started settling.
But for this year I’m going to enjoy the leaves, go apple picking at Burtt’s Orchard, drink cider and avoid the donuts. I’m going to finish my taxes and clear out my house and enjoy spending time with my husband, plus treasure every moment I have with my grandchildren before they move to DC (Nov. 1st). Life is full of adventure, full of loss, full of joys — you just have to be ready to go along for the ride.

Now I’ve been told that historicals are dead.  That happens quite often — it’s never terminal.  Even gothics aren’t dead — you should read Susan Elizabeth Phillips fabulous new book – HEROES ARE MY WEAKNESS.  Delicious.

But clearly historical sales must be going down.  Are you guys sick of them?  I can’t imagine it — I need a variety of sub genres to keep me happy.  Right now I have Nalini Singh’s Psy-Changeling latest, Sherry Thomas’s historical, Laura Kinsale historicals that I’m doling out sparingly because I don’t know when she’ll write again.  I’ve got the new Jeaniene Frost and a couple of Mollie Harpers and new Georgette Heyer audios.  And so many others.

But I need more.  Give me some suggestions of writers you really like.  Sub-genre doesn’t matter, as long as I have sex and a happy ending, and obviously since I love Heyer, sex isn’t a necessity (though it’s always nice).

Who do you love nowadays?

Paperless office? Hah! Carolyn

Didn’t some idiot say fifty years ago that we would work in completely paperless offices by 2000? Wrong! We have more paper than we ever had, largely because it is so simple to send any document to a printer to have a hard copy to send with the email of whatever documents are required—and, of course, a second copy for our own files, and a third copy for the client to keep in his files.

I have been using my big dining room table as the staging area for all the paperwork entailed in settling George’s estate, in doing the taxes, in paying the bills—etc., et., etc., ad infinitum. When I worked for the university full time, I had a secretary who tried desperately and against great odds to keep me organized and the filing up to date. We still lost things.

I have come to the conclusion that George’s filing system is the way to go. Whenever someone would send him a request for a new report, he would file it away in his bottom drawer. If they never asked for it again (usually they didn’t), then it would molder away to dust. If someone said after six months, “Oh, did you ever get around to filling out that report I sent you?” George would reply with an innocent expression, “What report?” In most cases, the requester had forgotten what report, why he needed it in the first place, and when he actually needed the information (usually never).

The only file clerk I want is like the detective in Unforgettable who remembers absolutely everything from her birth to the present and never forgets where she put anything. I, on the other hand, try to file papers somewhere I cannot possibly forget them, because I use logic. Never works.

At this point, I have delivered the tax stuff to my accountant and am waiting for him to put a curse on me. I told him my files were one step up from a shoebox, but he wasn’t concerned. Last year a lady came into his office with three laundry baskets full of receipts and forms, and told him she hadn’t filed her taxes for three years.

In finding the stuff I took him, I rummaged around in four big file boxes of amorphous stuff. Now, I have to clean it up and organize it the way I should have in the first place.

And it’s not only paperwork. My critique partner found one of my unsold manuscripts when she cleaned up her office. It’s pretty good, certainly worth taking another look at. Except that I can’t find my computer file anywhere. I’m also missing a short story that I need to send to somebody.

I guess what I need is Hercule Poirot’s Miss Lemon.

George always had a straw boss. When he finished using a tool, he laid it down, and some minion came along behind him and put it away. At the office or in the plant. At home, not so much. I finally bought my own Skil saw and socket set and HID them. For some reason I can keep up with tools. Now, if I could handle papers…

Ah, At Last, Done (Pat)

First I must apologize for my absence last week, but I plead an emergency.

The emergency was the acceleration of the writing /editing process.   My next book was moved up in the schedule from April to February, and the editing process became very tight.   First there were revisions, then approving the line editing, then two days later approving the copy editing, then reviewing what is called the final pass.  It’s the last chance to make sure all the changes were made and, hopefully, to get everything right.

It meant twelve to fourteen hour a day for one week.   I’m just now recuperating.

Usually, I hate a book at this point, but strangely enough this time I liked it more and more, and the final paragraphs came to me in the very last minute on the final pass.   It was one in the morning, and it had to be finished that  morning, and suddenly lightning struck.   An okay ending became the perfect ending for these two people.   Sometimes, magic happens.

“Tempted By A Soldier” is the second in my Covenant Falls series, and the hero is as different as day and night from my hero in “The Soldier’s Promise.”    The heroine is a veterinarian who tried to take over the first book.   The hero, a military veteran,  is a charmer with a quirky sense of humor.   I usually like loners and deeply wounded heroes, but Clint inserted his way into my heart and wouldn’t let go.   He did the same with Stephanie, but not easily.

I’ve written linked books before but never a series with many of the same characters, and I find it an intriguing process.   I can watch them, and the town, grow.   I can visit see them after the marriage.   They  become as real to me as my next door neighbors.    I must admit I have fallen in love with the residents of Covenant Falls and can’t wait to begin the third in the series, finally bringing love to one of my favorite characters and a damaged military nurse.   And, of course, there will be more dogs.

But for now, I’m going to sleep for two days.

 

This Old House

In January of this year, my daughter embarked on an exciting and arduous adventure: homebuying.

She found a fixer-upper in her extremely moderate price range in our “neighborhood” (we live in a tiny foothills community made up of acreages and spread out over several miles) that was HUD-owned (Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development), which meant first-time owner/occupant buyers were given a chance to buy this at a lower interest rate and without competing with established buyers and speculators.

Thus, began the arduous task of jumping through the crazy, at times, insurmountable and redundant hoops that is modern home-buying. Long story short…she got the house in late May.

The five-month ordeal was complicated when a HUD inspector with a cool, expensive gismo found…brace yourself…several small spots of Lead-Based Paint on a couple of door casings and pieces of window trim. Not surprising since this is a forty-year-old house that had several additions over the years.

Unfortunately, LBP threw a huge monkey wrench into the loan process because it necessitated a fix-it loan tacked onto the original asking price. HUD dropped the project so fast you’d have thought LBP was Ebola. Kelly’s loan broker found another bank willing to take this on…until they weren’t. With just days before her accepted offer expired, in rode Wells Fargo to the rescue. (I always think in story terms and I’d like to make WF the hero of this story, but it’s a giant institution made up of brain-numbing rules and regulations that pretty much turn its white hat an anemic gray.)

Still, she got the house–lead-based paint and all. (By all I mean: an archaic, non-functioning septic system, no appliances, foundation issues, holes in the walls where the last renters set up grow lights for the illegal marijuana operation, and a million or so other fixes.)

Lucky for my daughter, her father is a remodeling contractor with 40 years of experience. Unluckily, Wells Fargo wouldn’t allow him to be the general contractor on the job because we share the same last name.

The reasoning? One loan officer actually said, “What’s to keep him from taking the money and not doing the work?” Huh? As opposed to a stranger? My answer: “He’s her father, you idiot. Plus, he’s licensed, bonded, insured AND incorporated.”

They wouldn’t let him take on the job.

Luckily, a good friend agreed to be the “general of record” even though my hubby would do all the work. All 450 hours of work. (NOTE: if you really want a shock, try filling out a daily time card for a week and see where your time goes.)

Here are a few before, during and after pictures.

And the work begins.

And the work begins.

 

IMG_2578

New septic dug and lines to leach field.

IMG_2561

Bathroom floor was rotten. Easier to just gut it.

Replace windows and doors once the new tub enclose is in.

Replace windows and doors once the new tub enclosure is in.

IMG_2530

No insulation in the walls and all of the windows needed replacing, which meant, what the heck, let’s redo all the siding.

IMG_2586

Paint–inside and out!

Luckily, we had lots of help. And they worked cheap.

Luckily, we had lots of help. And they worked cheap.

A contractors nightmare--old termite damage. The header was toast.

A contractors nightmare–old termite damage. The header was toast.

Interior repaired and painted. Such a fresh feeling!

Interior repaired and painted. Such a fresh feeling!

Sweet details are part of making a space your own.

Sweet details are part of making a space your own.

New deck to give easy access to laundry room. Rotten old steps are history! Almost ready to create some new memories.

New deck to give easy access to laundry room. Rotten old steps are history! Almost ready to create some new memories.

More work than I can possibly describe, but a great feeling of accomplishment when you see the smile of gratitude on your daughter's face.

More work than I can possibly describe, but a great feeling of accomplishment when you see the smile of gratitude on your daughter’s face.

The house is move-in ready. Now, the fun begins. ;-)

Have you ever bought/flipped a house? Are you a fan of the home remodeling shows on TV: Love It or List It?, Flip This House, The Property Brothers, to name a few? My granddaughters can’t get enough of these shows. One even told Kelly, “Ooh, you have a galley kitchen, but you should think about blowing out that wall and making it more of an open concept.” Some day…maybe…first, she has to get moved in. ;-)

Have a great weekend, everyone!

DEB

PS: Have you voted on Tara’s covers? I did.