Do The Right Thing

This week, I spent some time with a friend of mine who needed help packing up her house before it sold. This dear woman is going through what I’d call a Bad Time, and I was happy to be able to do anything I could.

Now, we all go through Bad Times now and again. It’s part of the human experience. Some of those come to us because of our own actions, and others are merely circumstantial. But for my friend, she’s going through this Bad Time simply because of another person’s selfishness.

There were a group of us there, and someone asked about taking nails down from the walls, where pictures had been hung. My friend asked what we should do: leave them for the new owners or take them down? Our other friend said, “We should take them down and spackle the holes and then touch up with paint. It’s the right thing to do.”

And my friend going through the Bad Time nodded and agreed, “It’s the right thing to do.”

I was struck by the fact that this person, who’d had serious Wrong done to her, in the midst of her pain, still did The Right Thing.

We see people doing The Right Thing all around us, if you keep your eyes open. When the Pope stops to bless a child on the side of the road, he’s doing The Right Thing. When a woman sitting on the airplane senses the anxiety of the young mom next to her whose baby is screaming and reaches out to help, she’s doing The Right Thing. When you’re standing in line in the grocery story, with a large order, and the man behind you has two items, you do The Right Thing and let him go first.

It’s easy to see the wrong things. It’s easy to do the wrong things. In the last weeks, I’ve seen some of this, when authors treat other publishing professionals and/or fellow authors poorly. I don’t like it. It makes me cranky.

Let’s make a point of seeing The Right Things. And please, DO The Right Thing. Not because you’ll get rewards or applause or recognition, but simply because it IS The Right Thing.

And there’s my Thursday sermon. Go forth and be awesome.

Writers: A Higher Standard?

{This post originally appeared here three years ago. It’s a rerun because this week, this author is on vacation! That’s right, folks, I actually have a life. So enjoy a little blast from the recent past. It holds true even for today. See you next week!}

These days, I spend a good deal of time with other writers on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook.  It’s wonderful to interact with these creative minds, and most of the time, I really enjoy it.

tumblr_lvhuqruxUd1r1vzzeo5_r1_500But every now and then, I see a tweet or post pop up. . something along these lines:  “This is how my book got it’s title!”  Or “My characters love there story.”

Cringe worthy grammar issues make me. . well, cringe.

Am I too picky?  Maybe.  After all, these are just a few lines tossed out into cyberspace; it’s not the Great American Novel.

True. . .but shouldn’t authors, people who have chosen to embrace the written word as their vocation or avocation, be held to a higher standard? At the very least, shouldn’t we use the basics correctly?

My own personal biases are the least of the reasons to watch our grammar. As indie writers, we are already fighting preconceived notions that we just weren’t good enough to make it in the world of traditional publishing. I’ve encountered some traditionally-published writers who sniff (in their tweets of 140 characters or less!) that indie books are poorly written, poorly edited, amteurish imitations of ‘real’ books.  Why should we give them reinforcement for that argument?

You can be a writer even if you don’t know all the basic grammar rules, but you’ll be a better writer if you make the effort to understand them. Learn how to use there, their and they’re as well as its and it’s.  Study sentence structure.  And then pay attention to every tweet and post.  Yes, we’re all going to make mistakes here and there. That just means we need to proofread all the more vigilantly.

Writing well truly is its own reward. . .and the best revenge!

Summer of Lovin’ Starts Now!

HotBeachBoxSet_FBCover

 

 

The smooth heat of the sand. The cool saltiness of the ocean. The intense warmth of the blazing sun.

It’s summer at the beach. The enticing scent of sunscreen lingers in the air, bringing to mind silky skin waiting to be caressed.

And of course, we can’t forget the sizzling men and fiery women who live out the romances we all love to read.

In this one box set, fifteen best-selling and award-winning authors offer you stories of love, passion and sigh-inducing happily-ever-afters.

No summer will be complete without this beach read!

Preorder now–release day is June 28th.

Amazon/iBooks/Nook/Kobo

***

 

15 contemporary romance stories by best-selling and award-winning authors. Each book has a beach setting, an irresistible love story and high sizzle factor.

ECSTASY BY THE SEA-Chris Almeida & Cecilia Aubrey – When it’s pointed out that a key point for a new marriage has been overlooked, Trevor Bauer plans the perfect honeymoon getaway down to the daintiest swatch of lace. His detail-obsessed bride won’t know what hit her when he sweeps her away for a weekend filled with pure ecstasy by the sea. . .

BURN ME-Éirinn Brennan-Emma Clark has made a decision that will impact the rest of her life. But a chance encounter with the handsome windsurfer Kevin Nash can change a woman’s mind about a lot of things. In the end, it’ll be up to you to determine her fate.

FINDING JOY-EmKay Connor-When Landon Wells is left standing at the altar with no bride and no explanation, there’s only one logical place to find her: Hideaway Bay. Can this desperate groom convince his runaway bride to reveal her secrets and give them another chance to say I do?

KISSING DRAKE-Jenna Dales – Paige Owens’ bookshop is ready for another summer tourist season on quaint, quiet Butterfly Island. But sometimes her naughty beach books leave Paige feeling a little…lonely. When a late storm blows in a sexy, by-the-numbers, venture capitalist Drake Dorsey, she figures a one-night mini vacation is all she needs, but Drake is counting on so much more…

MADRONA SUNSET-Jami Davenport-Welcome to Madrona Island, where the main entertainment on Friday nights is a high school football game, the pace is slow, and the residents wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. Meet a wounded warrior suffering from paralyzing guilt and a woman pining for her dead husband–both damaged souls craving comfort for a moment or a lifetime.

THE GOOD ENOUGH HUSBAND-Sylvie Fox-Hannah Morrison Keesling hops into her SUV and drives away from the man she’d thought was good enough. When her dog gets sick on the way, she turns to local veterinarian Ben Cooper. Stranded with a sick dog on the black sands of California’s Lost Coast things quickly heat up.

TWO ARE BETTER THAN ONE-Suzanne Rock – Is the shy, straight-laced Hannah open to a three-way relationship? Two handsome Irish exchange students will have to do everything they can to convince her that two men are better than one.

THE POSSE-Tawdra Kandle-Being a young widow was never in Jude Hawthorne’s plans. After her husband’s death, the last thing she’s looking for is another chance at love. But if her husband’s best friends, the Posse, have anything to say about it, love is just what she’s going to get.

HOW TO SAY GOODBYE-Amber Lin-Dane lives for the salty breeze and a sweet wave, because that’s all he has. He lives on the streets. Then he meets Amy—smart and accomplished, she’s everything he’s not. He wants to be the sort of man who deserves her, except that means facing down his past.

LAST CALL-Alannah Lynne-For the first time in years, Sunny Black puts herself first and takes a trip on the wild side with a customer whose raw sexuality is too strong to deny. The next morning, however, she learns that in addition to rocking her world, the stranger might destroy everything and everyone she’s worked so hard to protect.

MIAMI DREAMS-Layla Wilcox-Recent widow Deena Montgomery answers a model call for a new lingerie line, thinking she is leaving a life built on lies behind her. Photographer Ben “Hottie” Hoddi wants to help her get the job, but doing so might reveal a secret in his past, and Deena has made it very clear that her new life demands transparency.

MIDNIGHT SHADOWS-Lisa Marie Rice-Gifted harpist Allegra Kowalski has had risky surgery to restore her sight. Her husband, former SEAL Douglas Kowalski, has been loving and protective, but he treats her like a fragile piece of glass. On vacation in a luxury resort on a gorgeous Greek isle, Allegra vows to bring their marriage back to what it was before. When danger strikes, Allegra learns just how much her husband loves her and how strong she can be when the shadows that haunted her are banished forever.

SUN KISSED- Nancy Warren-Cameron Crane’s a bad boy billionaire, a guy who quit school to surf and ended up founding a surfing empire in his native Australia. Cam’s got big plans for Crane Enterprises. To break into the California surfing market he hires marketing genius Jennifer Talbot from San Francisco, a cool blonde who’s brilliant at what she does. But, from the second they meet sparks fly — and not only in the boardroom.

SUNNY and 75-Scarlett Metal

The BILLIONAIRE’S ASSASSIN-Margaret Taylor

Using the Pain

I’m veering away from bookly goodness this week to talk a little about my life beyond the page.

This weekend, I’m leaving the Sunshine State to drive north–a little further than normal. Next week I’ll be at the United States Military Academy at West Point as a guest at my father’s 50th class reunion.

1965CrestcolorWhen the planners of the reunion contacted me a few years ago, inviting my sister and me to attend in place of our father, I was glad to say I’d be there. After all, 2015 seemed a very long time away.  But as the time has crept up on us, and the reunion is more reality than it was, I have to admit to a little emotional panic.

I was close to my dad, and our bonds were built around books, a love for history and nostalgia, a passion for popular music and a shared enjoyment of football and baseball. Army football was the pinnacle for us; I can’t remember a time when I didn’t fully understand and fervently believe the phrase “Go Army, Beat Navy!” My father was a ’65 grad (Strength and Drive!), and for me, West Point, the old gray home in the mountains of New York, was always a touchpoint, no matter where we lived.

My mother and father dated all through his years at the Academy, so she always claimed to be part of the class, too. And she was.

We watched the Army-Navy game every year, mostly together, but sometimes only together in spirit, depending on travels and Thompson25688where we lived. I remember the last game we watched together; I’d stopped to drop something off at my parents’ house, and the game was just beginning. We sat in the dwindling light of a December afternoon, glum witnesses to the Army loss.

The following June, my father left this life on the 41st anniversary of his USMA commencement. That was not a coincidental date. It was a different sort of graduation.

The next year, my mother was fighting leukemia and about to go into the hospital for a stem cell transplant. My father’s class invited both my mother and me to be their guests at the game. My mother was thrilled, even though it was a bittersweet day for us both.

The following June, her funeral was held on the first anniversary of my father’s death, 42 years after his West Point graduation.

Next week will be the first time I’ll be at West Point since losing my parents. I’m looking forward to being there, to seeing places that are memorable to my husband (class of ’87 grad) and to meeting my parents’ friends. But I’m also dreading it. In a very real, I’ll be saying goodbye again.

We use our pain as writers. We use the grief, and we channel it into our stories. Even now, as I’m growing anxious about next week, what am I doing? I’m writing about it.

I had more than one person tell me that they thought I’d modeled Michael from The King Series after my dad. I didn’t do it consciously, but perhaps. There have been goodbye scenes that have come from painful days. And the dialogue between Ava and her mother, before her brother’s wedding, was directly from my own experience.

With everyone pitching in, clean up didn’t take long. My mother and I were leaving the restaurant, heading home, before I knew it.

            “I thought Daddy was coming with us.” I climbed in as my mother turned the ignition.

            “He’s riding home with your brothers. I wanted to have this time with just us.”

            My heart flipped over. “Oh.” I struggled for something to say, anything to keep her from talking about Liam and me. “I’m sorry the rehearsal was such a disaster.”

            “Not me! Bad rehearsal, good wedding. Trust me, it never fails.”

            She backed out of the parking lot and turned onto the road. “I’m happy for your brother. I love Angela like she’s one of my own. She practically is, as long as she and Carl have been a couple. This is a happy day. Tomorrow will be even better. But you know. . .” Her voice trailed off, and a sob caught in her throat. “Every happy day from now until forever will always have some sadness, because our Antonia should be here with us.”

            Tears blinded me, and I put my fist to my mouth. My sister had been on my mind all day: she should have been cutting onions with me at the table, making faces at the rehearsal, fussing over her daughter’s dress for tomorrow. But she wasn’t. All the places she should have been were empty.

            “I miss her every day.” My mother dashed at the tears running down her face. “Every day, I talk to her while I’m getting up, getting ready. When I go over to open the restaurant. When I drop Frankie at pre-school. But it’s worse on days like this, when everyone’s together.”

            “I miss her too, Ma.” I sniffed. “So much.”

            “I know you do. That’s why I wanted this time with you. My sisters, my mother, of course your father and the boys, they miss her. But not like us. And I needed to just be with you, and cry a little. Remember.”

            I reached across the seat and gripped my mother’s hand. “Wouldn’t she have loved all the family together today?”

            “She would have. But I’ll tell you something, she would have hated those pink dresses Angela picked out for all of you. Can you just hear her now?”

            And so we drove home, laughing through our tears, remembering, and somehow it brought Antonia closer to us again. I could almost hear her giggle and smell her perfume.

            When I climbed out of the car, still wiping away tears, my mother gripped me and pulled me to her for a hug.

            “I’m proud of you, Ava. Proud of your hard work and what you’re doing.” She stood back and patted my cheek. “Don’t think I don’t know things are hot and heavy with you and Liam. I don’t like it. . .but I like him. And I understand. I remember what it was like to be young. It makes me lighter to know you have someone who loves you like that.”

            “Ma, it’s not like that. Not yet. It’s new.” I glanced up to the light in my bedroom, where Liam was probably getting ready for bed.

            “Don’t tell me what I don’t know. He looks at you with love. When you know, you know.” She took my hand. “All right now, let’s go in, and watch your father and the boys pretend they don’t see our wet faces. Because don’t think they weren’t doing the same thing all the way home.”

Next week, while I’m getting through this time of remembering, part of me will be tucking away the sadness and feelings. They’ll show up in one book or another. They always do.

 

The One Trilogy Tease

THE LTKTO3FINALAST ONE

“Hi.” Her voice was low, and one side of her mouth lifted in a smile.

“I see you girls got home. Finally.” I didn’t mean to say them, but the words came blasting out before I thought about it. Because she was Meghan, and she never did what I expect-

ed, she only lifted one eyebrow.
“I brought your sister home as promised, safe and sound.

I had one beer, hours ago, and my car didn’t break down.” She slid her foot between both of mine, her eyes still steady. “This is where you say, ‘Thank you, Meghan.’”

I let out a breath. “Yeah. Thanks. How drunk is she? Did she get groped?”

“Not by me.” Her smile grew, and she pivoted sideways and dropped onto my lap. Out of instinct, I caught her by the hips.

“What are you doing?”

“You brought up groping. It seemed like a good idea.” She leaned onto my chest and twined her arms around my neck. “You kissed me this morning. I know you said it was a mistake, and maybe you meant that. But right now, I don’t care. I want to kiss you.” She brought her lips to my jaw, nipping along the line until she reached my ear. “What do you think, Sam?”

iBooks/Amazon

THE FIRST ONE

“How did I ever get lucky enough to deserve you?” Ali laid her head on the back of the seat. “What do you see in me? I’m not special.”

“You’re the most special. Ali, you’re beautiful, and not just on the outside. You’re nice to people, you’re funny, and . . .” I TKTO8finalshrugged. “I don’t know. I can’t describe it. I just know it.”

“I love you, Flynn.” She said it as though she couldn’t help it, as though the words surprised her as much as they did me. “I—I know that sounds weird, or maybe you’re not ready—”

“I love you, Ali.” I spoke before she could backtrack any- more. “I’ve loved you for a long time. It’s not weird. It just is.”

“When did you know?”

I hesitated. I wasn’t sure she’d want to hear this, to know the truth. But I’d promised to be honest and open with her always. “It was after your parents. After the accident.”

There was a brief flare of pain on her face, but she didn’t look away, so I went on. “You were hurting so much, and you were so sad. Crushed. I knew then that I never wanted to leave you. I wanted to do anything to make sure you never had to feel that way again, for the rest of your life. I never want to be away from you.” I sucked in a breath and for the first time, I spoke the words that would both define us and doom us. “I want you to come with me, Ali, when I leave Burton. This town, it’s just . . . too small. I’m getting out of here as soon as we graduate. I’m going to see the world. I’m going to travel as far as I can, for as long as I can. And I want you to come with me.”

iBooks/Amazon

 

TKTO5FINAL

THE ONLY ONE

I opened the kitchen door, sniffing in appreciation. Meat- loaf. But although dinner was clearly underway, Rilla and Piper were nowhere to be seen. I was about to call their names when I heard music coming from down the hall.

Following the sound, I headed for my mother’s room, where the unmistakable lyrics and tune of Come on, Eileen were blasting. I glanced into the room and then did a double take.

Rilla was dancing. She had the music turned up loud, and she was swinging her hips in time with it. Those jeans that had been making me hot and bothered for quite a while clung to her ass as she shook it. And she was singing along.

I was a musician, and even more, I had the gift of recognizing musical talent. It had been my job in Nashville, and I was damned good at it. I’d heard the magic in Lu’s voice the first time we met. It had been a big part of falling in love with her.

Rilla didn’t have talent. She didn’t sing badly, but she was barely on key. She wasn’t going to win any talent contests, and she’d never be signing a recording contract. But all the same, the sound of her belting out those words, some of which she got horribly wrong, was one of the most beautiful sounds I’d ever heard.

She was singing with such joy and abandon. And she was dancing with the same freedom. My pretty girl had never looked more beautiful to me.

iBooks/Amazon