And Then the Doorbell Rang

I knew it was going to happen soon. Somehow, in my imagination, it happened differently.

The UPS guy was extra hot in the brown shorts uniform. I was in a cute little outfit, hair and makeup ON FLEEK. The doorbell would ring. I would jump up and down and clap and laugh. UPS guy would valiantly rip the box open for me, light would pour from the box, clouds would part, sunlight and rainbows would appear and trumpets would sound.


12189018_1498442030452620_5079921265439391329_nWell, the boxes arrived. The doorbell rang.

What I didn’t foresee is that this would happen as I wallowed in my bed, day sleeping after a night shift, not wanting to get up but knowing I should because I didn’t have work that night and if I slept all day, I’d be up all night.

My fantasy didn’t include me stumbling down the hall, pulling on yoga pants and a paint splattered tank top. Nor the fumes and dust as the UPS truck sped away. Nor my shrieking at Molly to GET BACK IN THE HOUSE!

12004063_1486629824967174_9069274620410041890_n“I was just trying to help.”

This was not the book delivery I dreamed of! Where was my hot UPS guy? Why did I have morning breath and need coffee??

I texted The Fella: You need to come home right now.

I attached a picture of the boxes.

He texted me back: Are those your books?

No, they’re Maisey Yates’ books. I stole them from her porch.

And he refused to come home RIGHT THEN.

And now, I had two hours. Two hours to sit there and look at the boxes. Should I open one? Just to see? Just to have a quiet, private moment. Me and my book?

Somewhere around the second cup of coffee, common sense returned. I needed a shower. Some attention paid to my hair and clothing choices. So when The Fella got home to record this momentous moment, I didn’t look like…well….*me* me, but *AUTHOR* me.

12219508_1498442057119284_42090984345599177_n (1)Molly still trying to help.

Everyone asked me how it felt to hold my book for the first time. I felt a lot of things. Joy, relief, excitement, fear.

But the number one feeling was: validated.

I am a writer. I can do this.



So, It Happened Like This

I was writing a series set in the North Carolina mountains and it had gone practically no where. People liked it. It did well in a few contests. Got a few nibbles from publishers and agents.

But pretty much nothing.

This all coincided with a complete overhaul at my pay-the-bills job that left me frustrated and unhappy and feeling like nothing I did was for what I *loved* anymore.

Alternate job opportunities became a frequent topic in our home. As in, “I’m going to quit and become a nutrition counselor.” “I’m going to quit and be a vet tech!”

Then something happened. I was fooling around on Twitter. I can’t remember who all was involved, but someone was tweeting about the maid her agency sent over. It was a guy. And he was cute. And we were, of course, egging her on to sneak a picture to show us.

I looked over at my Fella and said, “THAT’S what I should do! Quit and start a cleaning company with all gorgeous hot man maids.”

And, bless him, the Fella got up, kissed me on the forehead and said, “You don’t know anything about running a cleaning company. But you know how to write.”

And there was the little bit of sand that would irritate me until it became the pearl.

Sadie from Spying on the Boss was made up from that point. Wyatt, not so much.

Wyatt and his poor deceased sister, Maddie, were actually from a short story I’d written years ago based on the time my family was stationed in Japan.

Wyatt was devoted to Maddie and as a very young boy, promised her he’d always look out for her. Now this devotion was transferred to Maddie’s daughter, Juliette. Or Jules as Wyatt likes to call her.

Here’s a snippet of how Juliette came to live with Wyatt:

He didn’t miss Victoria, not really. His love for her had been squelched in a single moment.

She had gone with him to Asheville after Maddie’s death. He’d found Jules stunned and scared in the care of Maddie’s best friend, Kate. She’d put her little arms around his neck and told him her mommy was dead. He remembered sinking to the floor, Jules in his lap as they cried together. After her tears tapered away, she had whispered a question to him. “Who’s going to take care of me now?” He’d told her he was. A movement in the doorway caught his eye and he saw Victoria standing there. The words ‘Victoria and I will’ died on his lips at the expression on her face. Horrified. Furious.

That night, they’d argued. She told him to let Kate keep Jules. She told him she had no intentions of starting their marriage with a half grown kid. She told him he had no business even trying to take on a young girl. She told him to leave Jules here and return to his – their – life. He’d listened to her with a dizzying sense of stunned relief. It was as if a mask had slipped and he was seeing into her soul. And it was ugly. When she said if he was going to take custody she might as well leave him, he told her to go home and pack her things. To be out of the house before he and Jules came back.


So when Wyatt, to whom family means everything, meets up with Sadie, to whom family means pain and abandonment, things are going to get really messy.



Snippet Sunday

I’ve shared the cover art for Spying on the Boss at my Author Facebook page and you can see it on the “Buy the Book” page. But I wanted to share a bit of the story of that scene with you.

My author friends will be aware of the Art Fact Sheets, or AFS, as I’ve learned they are called. For Harlequin, this is a long…very long…very detailed form in which you describe up to four main characters.

You also pick out three scenes and describe them down to the time of day, mood, clothing characters are wearing. These sheets are what the art department uses to design

This dish washing scene that made it to the cover was actually my favorite of the three and the one I hoped Harlequin would use.

Here’s the rest of that bit of the story. Some set up: Sadie has a family style dinner for her crew of hot man maids once a month. This scene takes place after all the guys bug out to go to whatever hot guys do on a Friday night. Molly, the company’s older office manager, knows Sadie has some feelings for Wyatt….


Molly picked up a bag from the counter. “Okay, then. Sadie, the pots are in the dishwasher. You need to finish up the plates and silverware. Everything else is done so I’ll see you Monday, y’all have a great weekend. Bye.”

Sadie put her hands on her hips as Molly scooted out the door. “Well, bye.” She turned to Wyatt as he walked in to the kitchen. “She could have said she didn’t want to wash the dishes. Sheesh!”

She went to the sink and began to fill it with hot water and poured a generous dollop of dish soap over the plates stacked there. “Julietta is reading Jack a book.”

“Guess I’m on dish duty with you.”

“You don’t have to.”

“I want to. Owe you for the dinner.” He stepped to the double sink. There were two dish drainers on the counter. “Wash or rinse?”

“I’ll wash. I hate rinsing. It’s boring.”

They stood side by side, washing and rinsing. He could hear Julietta’s voice lilting in a sing song as she read to Jack. He was overly aware of Sadie’s body next to his. The brush of her shoulder against his arm and the accidental bump of her hip sent ripples of heat through him. She handed him a plate and their fingers touched so he held on for a moment. She looked at him, her eyes wide and blue, her lips parted. God, she felt it too.

Her head swiveled back to the sink. “I hope it was okay I painted her nails.”

“It’s fine. But I may have to hire you for girl stuff lessons.”

She smiled and shook her head, making a tendril at the side of her neck sway. The urge to push it aside and press his lips to the tender spot at the base of her skull went through him. And then work around the column of her neck to that spot where her pulse was fluttering. And then… He tore his gaze away from her neck and shifted against the growing pressure in his groin. You gotta stop this.

“I’m probably not your best bet for that kind of stuff.”

“No?” He tugged a plate from her fingers and playfully bumped his shoulder against hers. He couldn’t help it. He wanted to see her blush. “What are you my best bet for?”

She drew in a sharp breath and peeked up at him. He got his blush and resisted a smile. He turned towards her and leaned in. One kiss. Just one. So he could go on with his life with the knowledge of how those lips would feel against his. As his mouth approached hers, she turned to him and tilted her face up to his. He let his hand touch her waist, ready to pull her closer.

“We can’t do this,” she whispered.

He stopped and let his hand fall away. “I know. I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be sorry. But we can’t.”

She couldn’t do it because she believed he was an employee. She wouldn’t break her own rules. He shouldn’t do it because when the truth came out, it would hurt her even more. Jack’s nails clacking down the stairs gave them a moment to step apart before Julietta burst into the kitchen.

“Uncle Wyatt? Can we get a dog? I’ll walk it and play with it and everything!”

Back in Business

After some technical difficulties (I am not tech savvy in the LEAST), I think I have this site working again.

Current post flood situation: Both Jason and I had our cars totaled by the insurance companies. I’ve already replaced Old Blue. I haven’t decided on a name yet. Old Blue was a reference to what Ralphie in “A Christmas Story” called the rifle he wanted. I’m thinking Stevie for Stevie Nicks, the White Witch. Or just the White Witch. What do y’all think?


All my flood claims have been approved. I’m just waiting on the checks. Then I can get the AC and duct work replaced. And of course, the 80 degree weather is lingering.

But for the most part, we are back to “normal”. I’m working away on the second Cleaning Crew book. Working title Josh’s Story. (Original, I know). I am planning a Facebook book release party for January 3. The book release is January 1, but I’m thinking that won’t be a popular day for a party. Hahaha. At least one other Harlequin Superromance writer is going to join me, hopefully more, and we’ll have some fun prizes to give out.

Also starting to look at the live and in person book party. This will be later in January to give those who want to purchase a paperback copy of the book for signing time to order and receive it. Very early in planning stages, but contacting some businesses in the Avondale area where the book is set and several scenes take place.

I’ll be updating plans here and on my Facebook pages. Hope to “see” you at one or both of the parties!

Phase Two

I lived through Hurricane Hugo. And now, the 1000 year flooding of 2015. I know this: there are three phases to disaster recovery.

Phase one is the pull-together phase. Immediately after, neighbors, friends, the nation pull together to help each other.

Phase two is the OMG, I’m so sick and tired of all this differentness and want life to return to normal.

Phase three is the return to new normal. New because nothing is every really the same.

I’m at phase two. I’m tired of dealing with insurance people. I’m grateful I have all the insurance I need to cover the damage done.


There’s always a ‘but’.  I have no AC and it’s the South and it’s still very warm. The humidity level is approximately 100% due to the flood water under my house. My car is dead.

My nice, neat, financially sound plans of two weeks ago are in shreds. Having a home on a tidal creek is no longer a bonus that will raise the value of my home, it’s a liability. Do I buy a new car and get into a payment or find a beater for what the insurance company gives me for my poor old Blue?

It will all work out in the end, but for now, I’m tired. I’m frustrated. I’m mourning the things lost. I’m beating myself up for mourning because others have lost more. I’m tired of being a grown up and having to talk to people. I’m an introvert. I want to crawl into my own brain and write. I don’t want to call people. I don’t want to smile and talk to insurance people.

I want my old life back.

But I know it’s gone and I have to adjust from here.

Annoying, but doable. I just have to keep moving forward.


Oh, The Tide is High

But we’re holding on. I was going to do a wonderful cover reveal post today. But Mother Nature decided to drop 20 or so inches of rain upon Charleston, SC. And since I live on a tidal creek, we have about oh, about three feet of water surrounding our house.

untitled (4)This was my backyard Saturday morning when I got home from working the night shift. No big deal. Creek has gotten up in the yard a couple of times since I’ve lived here.

untitled (5)This was my backyard Saturday afternoon when I woke up from my nap.

untitled (6)Yikes!!!

But then, the tide came in.

untitledSunday morning, the creek was playing with the second porch step. Our AC unit was underwater. But the water was still a few inches below the crawlspace vents.

Then the tide came back.

untitled (5)Now the water is all up in my grill and under the house. So far, no water is in house. We still have electricity. Low tide is coming. Next high tide is expected to crest a foot lower than this morning’s.

So. That’s where we are. Tomorrow if the water is down enough to drive the truck out, I will go to the hospital for my next three night shifts and just stay there until road is passable. Or I’ll wade out to the highway and have someone pick me up.

Stay dry my friends! Stay dry.


When Air Feels like Molasses

Last year at RWA, I attended a session on writing through depression. I was with one of the panelists before the session began and she was worried not many people would show up.

I laughed and told her it would be a packed room. “We’re writers,” I said, “We’re all fucked up somehow.”

I was right. It was a packed room. It was a great discussion. It was nice just to be able to say, “yeah, me too”. Because all too often the admission of depression (which is hard enough) is met with “Why?” or “What do you have to be depressed about?”

That question is what brought me to the edge of suicide several years ago. Because I had nothing to be depressed about. I had a good job, making good money. I had (and still have) an awesome man with whom I think I’ve had three arguments in the 10 + years we been together. I had no financial problems. No health problems. At that time, my mother and brother’s health problems were nothing more than a minor blip.

So, why was I faking my way through every day? Why did I stay in bed, doing nothing but staring at the ceiling until the alarm I set for three p.m. went off. I set that alarm so I would get up, get showered and make the fella think I’d been doing stuff all day. My life narrowed down to preserving and funneling all my energy into just being able to function at my job.

I was so ashamed of how I felt. (I mean, look at so&so, her life is WAY worse than mine). When I finally made the appointment to see my doctor, I lied. Told the receptionist my elbow was hurting again. Then when my doctor came in, I just broke down. I told her I didn’t know why I was feeling like this.

“Other than the fact that  you just came off birth control, you’re in the beginning stages of menopause and your hormones are completely out of control, you mean?”

Yeah, other than that.

I was lucky, the first medication we tried worked very well at a low dose with few side effects.

But it never really goes away, this disease. It slinks around in the dark corners of our minds, waiting. Waiting for illness or a stressor to trip us up. Waiting for the opportunity to start whispering in our ears again.

And anyone one who has struggled with this knows the feeling. You know what you need to do to get through those moments, those days, those weeks. But you are walking through molasses. The very air around you holds you back, holds you down while you struggle to just take one more step forward. Knowing you can’t stop. No, stopping is exactly what the monster wants you to do.

I’ll get there. I’m just walking slow this week.

Release Date

We have a release date. January 1, 2016. And as I found out completely by accident, you can pre-order a Kindle version on Amazon.

I was being silly a few months ago and did an Amazon search for Spying on the Boss, knowing nothing was there.

Then, Friday evening, I was checking on an Amazon order and the search history popped up. So I clicked it. And, uh, there it was.

I scared Jason a little because I yelled at him to come here RIGHT NOW! But, you see, I’d worked the night before and not slept well that day, so it was entirely possible that I was hallucinating the entire thing.

But no. It’s there. I guess it’s really, really real now. Harlequin isn’t going to change their mind.

Next up, I’ll get the cover art. And we’ll have to think of something fun for that milestone.

Wandering in Strange Places

I am fortunate to be able to travel. Not grand adventures to far away, exotic locations, but I manage to get around the U.S. of A. I highly recommend it. Even if it’s just exploring your own town or a nearby city.

Recently, The Fella attended a convention in Washington, DC. DC is one of my favorite places, but the two other times I’d been there were very short, overnight stays. This time, I had three entire days to wander.

Walking the streets, riding public transportation is dialogue heaven for a writer. Like this little bit of perfection The Fella overhead. A homeless man was trying to return something in a store and the clerk was having trouble explaining to the man why he couldn’t. The homeless man was arguing with her.

“I tell you something. You need to get some kind of life. Pretty girl like you? Miss Cutie on Duty?” Pure gold. The rhythm of the words. The turn of a phrase. Writers need to be constant eavesdroppers.

First, I wandered to the museums, because FREE. There I remembered our past. Learned of the struggles of others. Was amazed. And amused.

12004705_1486143251682498_7381373901114162241_n 12002956_1485495658413924_8299208028324236982_n 12002092_1485530785077078_9175010945287381721_n untitled

I was also humbled. Moved to tears. Reminded of our responsibilities.

untitled 11249479_1486094495020707_3733988205167645636_n untitled (3)

But it wasn’t all learning and remembrance. There was fun. Spent a sunny, cool morning at the National Zoo. FREE!

untitled (4) untitled (2) untitled (15)

Went by the people’s House. *note: don’t joke with the Secret Service, they have their senses of humor surgically removed as part of their training*


And, well, I *am* a romance writer, so…hot DC cops.

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Where is your favorite place to wander?

I’m So Conflicted!

Conflict! We all hate it, but our characters need it. Some writers are really good at torturing their characters. Me, not so much.

I relied on a few source books for Spying on the Boss and I recently had a fourth recommended to me that I’m finding very helpful as I write the second Cleaning Crew novel.

The first three are all by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi:

The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression

The Positive Trait Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Attributes

The Negative Trait Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Flaws

The Emotion Thesaurus is great for giving you tips on how to “show” not “tell” what your character is feeling.

The Negative and Positive Trait Thesauruses are invaluable in building your character’s personality. Plus, it guides you through exactly what will trigger conflict and why for specific traits.

The recently recommended book is by Tami D. Cowden, Caro LaFever and Sue Viders:

The Complete Writer’s Guide to Heroes and Heroines.

It covers 16 master archetypes and also pairs each of them up to show the conflict inherent to each of the couples.

What books do you use to help build your story and/or characters?