November Gratitude


Happy November, everyone! I can’t believe we’re here already! Halloween FLEW by in a whirlwind of costumes and candy and parties. The air has turned crisp (we even had our first snowfall here in Maine last night!) and as Thanksgiving nears, I’m filled with more and more with gratitude.

November is always a solid reminder to be thankful for all we have. And as hard as I try to extend that gratitude the whole year around, somehow, it always manages to slip away–ebbs and flows throughout the twelve months. I’ve always loved Thanksgiving. I loved that there were no gifts; it wasn’t filled with hours upon hours of wrapping presents or stressing about who you forgot to get something for this year (side note: two years in a row, I forgot to get my brother’s girlfriend a Christmas gift! OOPS.) Thanksgiving is about togetherness. It’s about sharing a meal and sharing love.

This year, I’ve been doing a lot more yoga. And for the month of November (and perhaps beyond), as I sit still on my mat, breathing deeply, I tell myself one thing I’m grateful for that day. But more importantly, I ask myself, how will I show that gratitude in my actions?

Today, I wanted to say THANK YOU to you! Because you, my readers, were in my thoughts today as I practiced yoga. Thank you for being here. Thank you for reading. Thank you for your support, encouragement, and feedback. Without you all, I’m simply a writer. But with you and because of you? I’m an author.

And for that, I will be eternally grateful.

Capturing You is Coming down from Kindle Unlimited~1/28/18!

Hello Bookworms!

Just a quick note to let everyone know that Capturing You is going to be leaving the Kindle Unlimited world in a couple of months! So… what does that mean for you?

Well, if you are a KU {Kindle Unlimited} subscriber, it means you have until January 28th, 2018 to read it for FREE. That’s plenty of time for this steamy, small town read!

If you are a Kindle reader, but NOT KU subscriber, then it doesn’t affect you at all! The book will still be available through Amazon–now and after January 2nd.

If you are a Nook, Kobo, iBooks, Smashwords, or other type of ereader, then this is great news for you! It means that on January 28th, Capturing You will once again be available to all readers! =)

Let me know if you have any questions and as always… HAPPY READING!

Get it HERE on Amazon!

After discovering she can’t have children, Lydia Ryder has all but convinced herself that she doesn’t need a family to be happy. But when her job as a magazine photographer lands her in the small town of Maple Grove, NH, a precocious ten year old and her single father barge into Lydia’s life, turning what she thinks she wants onto its head. In this town full of happily ever afters, Lydia finds herself wishing for things she had sworn off long ago…

 

When Cameron Tripp’s wife passed away from heart disease, he thought he’d never find love again. He certainly never would have expected a woman like Lydia Ryder to waltz into his life and awaken his dormant heart and libido. But despite his better judgment, Cam finds himself drawn to the vivacious and argumentative outsider. He quickly learns that, like him, she knows all about misplaced trust, heartbreak, and how quickly a family can fall apart if you let it.

National Dog Day

As my fellow dog lovers know, this past weekend was National Dog Day! And to celebrate, I wasn’t on social media at all… I was out with my dogs. We got up early and took the beasts for a small hike. Granted, Bebop, our chihuahua usually tires out around the 3 mile mark and Sean had to carry her in his backpack the rest of the way (true story!). She’s getting older, but if I let myself focus on that, I’ll get entirely too sad. For now, she’s still playful and active and we will continue hiking/carrying her until the day she doesn’t show excitement to hop in the car!

What did you all do with your dogs this weekend?

And finally, I just wanted to post a few photos of our dogs when they were just babies… look at their little faces!

Happy National Wine Day!… (and a Giveaway!)

Happy National Wine Day!
Or as I like to call it… Thursday! 😉

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To celebrate, I’m hosting a giveaway of Helen McGinn’s book, A Very Nice Glass of Wine: A Guided Journal and a box of wine wipes!

I found Helen’s book when I was shopping at TJMax and I knew it was the perfect giveaway for my wine-loving readers out there! I mean… seriously, raise your hand if you read with a glass of wine at night… *raises hand*
Anyway, I ALSO found this box of wine wipes! After you’re done with your wine, you can slip into the bathroom and wipe your teeth to prevent stains! I’m in love with these! Of course, if I’m home, I can just brush my teeth, but out and about? They’re perfect for just tossing into my purse on the go!

For details on how to win a copy of A Very Nice Glass of Wine and a box of Wine Wipes, pop on over to my Facebook page! You’ll have to be a fan of my page and while there, LIKE & COMMENT on the post on my Facebook page and tell me what your favorite wine is and what you’re currently reading!
Bonus Entries: SHARE this post and TAG a wine loving friend on Facebook!

Open internationally until May 29, 2017.

 

Sweet Pea Hummus

Hey bookworms!!

I just turned in my latest Harrison Street Crew book to my editor and PHEW. Has it been a crazy couple of weeks! With moving to the new house (we’re STILL unpacking, y’all) and my deadline (did you see Simcoe’s note? hehe) along with our sad little trip to London that was canceled AND Sean signing at Free Comic Book Day… it’s just been a whirlwind. And I am exhausted. Amidst all this craziness, I always have a hard time eating healthy and finding the time to cook.

While on deadline, I made this sweet pea hummus which I swear I lived off of for a good couple of days! I ate it with fresh cut veggies–carrots and peppers for lunch. I used it as a side dish on my chicken for dinner. And I even spread some on my sandwiches for lunch.

It’s healthy, simple, and EASY to make! So, naturally, dear readers, I thought I’d share it with you. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 cups shelled peas, fresh or frozen
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 Tbsp tahini
  • 3 Tbsp chopped fresh mint (spearmint)
  • 2 Tbsp sour cream (optional; I left this out because I was trying to limit my dairy)
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • Red Pepper Flakes (for spice, to taste)

    1) Sauté onions and garlic: (Do I really need to describe this? If you don’t know how to saute onions and garlic, I recommend you go check out Youtube real quick 😉  Anyway, add the chopped onion and sauté until soft and translucent, but not browned, about 4-5 minutes.

    2) Add peas and water, boil: (Again, pretty sure y’all know how to boil peas, but just in case!…) Add the peas and the water, cover and bring to a boil. Let this cook 5 minutes.

    3) Drain the Peas, Garlic, and Onions: I’m really not explaining this one.

    4) Purée in food processor: Put the peas and onions into the bowl of a food processor and add all the remaining ingredients. Pulse until you have a rough purée. Serve chilled.

Organize Your Office: 5 Easy DIY Projects

As most of you know… I work from home. And as some of you may know… my husband and I are also renovating a new home and about to move (May 1st, EEK!). Renovating is fun but sooooo stressful and there’s a lot out of my control. For example… I can’t hang dry wall or fix cracked plaster ceilings! But, I CAN be planning my office here from the comfort of my clean kitchen and begin some small DIY projects that I know will be a HUGE payoff once we move in!

I found these various ideas on Pinterest and so I highly suggest you pop on over to the original sites (Which I will link here) and see the full how to DIYs!

These first two ideas all come from one place: The genius people at Life Hack. I highly recommend checking out their whole article.

1. Binder Clips to Organize cords
This. Is. Genius. And frankly… it doesn’t even freaking count as DIY because you’re LITERALLY JUST CLIPPING THEM TO YOUR DESK. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Mason Jar Organizers.
I LOVE mason jars. I’m not kidding when I say, I usually have a pack of 12 at any given time in my home just WAITING for an awesome DIY. I also love that this is SUPER simple. I would maybe paint them as well, just for fun, but that’s just me. Basically, the directions just say to hot glue them together. That’s all!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Old Book Mail Organizer

I found this project on Pinterest from Beyond the Picket Fence and I’m literally (NO JOKE) going to a flea market tomorrow to try to find old hard cover books for this! You can find the full tutorial at the link above.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Oversized Message Board
This might be my favorite project here. It comes from Better Homes and Gardens blog. Basically, all it is is a large piece of glass (so you can use dry erase markers on it) with the back painted. The tricky part is it looks like they custom built a frame around it. That’s a bit much for MY DIY heart. However, I BET I could find a large picture frame from Michael’s when sale time comes and paint the back of the glass… Hmmmm. But overall, this board? It would be PERFECT for plotting my novels!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. DIY Chalkboard Calendar
Okay, I lied. THIS is my favorite piece. This chalkboard calendar is so cute and                            would be so helpful in keeping me on top of my deadlines! It comes from
Sincerely Sara’d. I will say that of all the DIY listed here, it seems like the most                            complicated. While not impossible, it would take a bit of time and precise painting                    necessary for that beautiful script she has in the picture. BUT MAN would it be                            worth it!

Meeting You – A Maple Grove Prequel

You guys!!!!!! I’m so excited! The prequel to my newest series (Maple Grove) is officially OUT! I really wanted this to be a free read for y’all and I’m still working on making that happen over at Amazon. It’s currently free at Smashwords…and will soon be available for free on B&N, iBooks, Kobo, etc.

If you want to see this price drop to FREE on Amazon as well, you can go here and under “Product Details” you can fill out a form to let them know of a lower price.

But in the meantime, you can download it on Smashwords! Also, be sure to like and add it to your To Be Read piles on Goodreads along with the first book in the series, Capturing You (coming December 16th!).

And just for fun, here’s a sample from Meeting You: A Day with the Tripps

MeetingYou2Final-FJM_Low_Res_500x750

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PART ONE: Cameron

“Madelynn, could you please just sit still long enough for me to brush your hair?” Cameron Tripp tugged the hairbrush through his daughter’s snarled dark strands. The bristles snagged on God only knew what, and he pulled again as Maddie’s shrill scream echoed in the bathroom of their lakeside cottage.

“Ow!” she cried. “Stop! Stop it, you’re hurting me!” Tears streamed down her cheeks, and Cam stole a quick look in the mirror. Were they real tears or crocodile tears? He could never tell the damn difference, but Hannah always knew. She’d known without even looking.

“Mommy never yanked!”

Her small shoulders trembled while her ruddy cheeks flushed red, hot with tears, frustration, and anger. An anger that at only nine years old, she probably had no understanding of.

Cam stilled his hands, gently freeing the brush out of her tangled hair and setting it down on the sink. “Sorry, Mouse. I forgot the detangler.”

Giant brown eyes brimmed with tears, eyelashes spiked with moisture. Those eyes—they were all Hannah, a little piece of his late wife reflected there. Cam swallowed, and it went down hard. A heaviness landed in his chest, that too familiar knot twisting into his throat. He pulled his daughter in tight for a hug.

“You always forget.” A staggered inhalation caused Maddie’s lips to tremble, and she clumsily swiped her hands across her cheeks.

“I don’t always forget.” A loaded breath pushed from his lungs as he lowered to search the cupboard under the sink. Cam inwardly cursed. “We’re already late for Grandma’s dinner. Can you cut your old man some slack?”

Damn there were a lot of bottles in the back of the cabinet. Hannah’s? He leaned closer and inhaled, seeking her scent, but after a year and a half, the lingering smell of almonds was gone.

Hannah’s voice in his head was merely a wispy memory.

“You can do this.” It held a gravely rasp that only surfaced when her heart was working too hard.

Cam wiped at his leaky eyes and pressed the cool cloth to her forehead once more. Hair that was a fiery red mere days earlier was now a dull rust color plastered to her clammy skin.

“Don’t say that,” he said, firm but gentle. “You’ll pull through this. You always do.” An eerie silence was all the response he needed to know that neither of them really believed that. Machines beeped beside him, and he brushed his hand down her arm, stopping just short of her IV and the oxygen monitor pinched to her index finger.

Hannah’s smile tilted on full lips, and Cam took the quiet moment to study every curve and dip of her face. Beautiful. Even while ill. But where her cheeks used to be plump, they were now gaunt. Where her blush would normally match the rosy hue of her mouth, it was now a grayish mauve. Even her freckles looked pale. The whites of her deep brown eyes were now a buttery yellow—courtesy of the experimental drug her doctor had recommended.

A cough sputtered out of her lips, and Cam rushed for the bucket, helping her lean over it. Blood and phlegm spurted with more force than he could bear to see, and her bony chest heaved with the movement.

She gasped for breaths between coughs, and Cam scooped her hair out of the way, holding it in a knot at the back of her head. The fit slowed until her breathing returned to normal—or as normal as it could be at the moment. He gently lowered her back to the pillow and wiped her lips and chin.

“Thank you,” she whispered, tracing figure eights across the back of his hand. “When we said our vows nine years ago, I bet you didn’t expect the ‘in sickness’ to come so quickly.”

They both gave a morbid chuckle and Cam shook his head, running a hand down his face. “I’m just glad we had a lot more ‘for betters’ than ‘for worses’ in our life.”

“’Til death do us part,” she recited quietly.

A burning sensation prickled behind Cam’s nose and eyes. “Not even then, Hannah.”

Her smile trembled and her eyes fluttered closed and Cam held her hand, letting the moment pass. She broke the silence after another minute. “Cam—”

“No,” his voice cracked as he shook his head, fisting the shitty hospital blanket with his free hand. “No—Hannah, don’t say it. Please.”

With what little strength she had, she lifted her palm to Cam’s cheek, scraping her nail across his stubble and directing his gaze back to her. Salty tears fell down his nose, over his lips, landing on her hand. “It’s time. You can do this. You’re an amazing dad—with or without me.”

He shook his head, unable to form any additional words. To call what was lodged in his throat a knot would be the understatement of the year. It was like five knots all twisted together. “Don’t give up, Hannah. Keep fighting.”

With their faces this close, he couldn’t tell if it was her tears or his running down her cheeks, or a combination of both. She pulled a wheezy breath through cracked lips. “I’ll fight until the last second. But my heart can’t keep up with my spirit anymore.”

“Then we just have to get you a new heart, huh?” Cam squeezed her hand, inwardly cringing at how bony it was. She was first on the list for a donor match—if she could just fight a bit longer.

“Even being at the top of the list can take months. Years, even.”

“I know—”

“Cameron, look at me. Do you think I have months left?”

He knew the answer to that, but he couldn’t respond. Not without admitting the one thing he couldn’t stomach at the moment. “It could take months. Or we could get a call tomorrow.”

She sighed, and though it was quiet, it was loaded with innuendo. “I need you to admit that this is a possibility. I need you to admit it for you, for Maddie… and for me.” The long sentence took a lot out of her, and she paused, catching her breath. Cam lifted the glass of tepid water to her lips, and she sipped. After another moment, she continued. “I know you’re going to be fine without me… but I need you to know it too.”

Cam closed his eyes, and the sterile smell of the hospital flooded his senses. God, he hated that smell. Bending, he felt the familiar tickle of Hannah’s hair against his nose and inhaled deeply, the faint scent of almonds still there. “Maddie and I will be fine,” he said. Only, he sounded nothing like himself. “We will be fine without you. Eventually. But fuck, will it hurt like hell.”

Her sigh was one of relief this time. “At first, yes.”

Pulling back, Cam brushed her hair, running his fingers through the silky strands.

“I know this is the point that I’m supposed to tell you to move on and find love again…” A smile flickered on her lips and grew the widest he’d seen since she entered the hospital. “But she better not be a redhead, too.”

He chuckled quietly. Oh, God, he loved her. “Never. You’re my only ginger, baby.”

Hannah scooted over in the tiny hospital bed, rolling over to her side. “Lay with me,” she whispered, making room for him. He settled in behind her, careful not to take up too much room or put unneeded weight on her frail body. Spooning her, he nestled his nose into her neck. Each breath grew heavier and more peaceful until she fell asleep in his arms. And never woke up.

Grabbing the purple bottle of spray detangler, he mentally cursed when he realized it was empty. He spotted a second purple bottle with a jumping kangaroo on it. “Styling spray,” he read aloud. “Does that work like detangler?”

Maddie shrugged. “I don’t know.”

Shit. Well, here goes nothing. Cam generously sprayed the gunk into her hair. Pulling the brush through, the wide bristles slid through easily enough. But within two minutes, her head turned crunchy… glossy, like a shiny plastic hair-helmet. “What the—Maddie, what is this stuff?”

She scrunched her nose, trying to run her fingers through her hair. “It feels weird. Gross.”

“Well, it looks a little weird.” And gross. Though he didn’t say that out loud. Who knew what kind of complexes he could give his pre-pubescent daughter with a statement like that. “I dunno what to tell you, kiddo. Dumb Dad messed up again. Maybe a bow will help?”

“I think it’s too hard.” Poking at her hair, Maddie giggled. The ends frayed out in a Jetson’s sort of swoop, with her bangs flipped all to one side. As she peered into the mirror, her giggle morphed into full on laughter.

“Sorry, Mouse.”

Her laughter slowed, and despite the moment of happiness, her eyes and mouth tilted down so slightly Cam barely would have noticed. Maddie didn’t say anything else but wrapped her arms around his waist and squeezed. “Happy Father’s Day, Daddy.”

The lump in his throat swelled once more, and Cam closed his eyes. God, this was hard. Harder than he ever imagined it would be. Leaning down, he pressed a kiss to the crest of her head, getting a mouthful of gel-like chemicals.

He leaned over, spitting into the sink. “Blech,” he said, rubbing his mouth with the back of his hand. A smirk tugged on his lips.

The phone rang from the other room and Maddie ran off to answer it. Cam looked to the right of the mirror where a small shelf that held a framed wedding photo of he and Hannah and one of those diffuser things that had long since run out of perfume.

Maddie footsteps pounded down the hall as she ran up to him, holding the cordless phone out. “It’s some magazine asking about Uncle Noah.”

Cam swallowed a frustrated groan. What the hell had Noah done now? Taking the phone from Maddie, he shooed her out of the room shutting the door behind her. “Hello.”

“Mr. Tripp, this is Dan from the Daily Vi—”

“No comment,” he said and quickly hung up, tossing the phone onto the sink. Looking into the mirror, he barely recognized the man looking back at him. Dark circles framed his eyes. Glancing again at the framed picture of Hannah and himself, he couldn’t believe how much he’d changed.

The candid wedding moment was one of his favorites. Sitting at their table, they were just about to eat dinner—it was the first food either of them had eaten since breakfast and they were starving. And even though Cam could remember the rumbling feeling of his growling stomach crying out in protest, he had been even more hungry for Hannah’s kiss than the meal.

Precious Memories and Adventures of Being an Auntie

While home last week, I went through my old bedroom to clear out the stuff I no longer want or need. Unfortunately for me and the cleansing process, my old bedroom is now my niece and nephew’s bedroom when they come visit my parents.
I’m completely clueless as to how parents manage to get ANYTHING at all done around the house, or you know, at ALL in life with two little ankle biters running around. The entire time, I had to keep one eye on them in case they fell out a window or something and then try to go through the massive piles of junk in my old bedroom. Not to mention, any old toy I found, they IMMEDIATELY had to have and so ::shrug:: there went any hope of trying to toss it in the garbage.

At one point, I came across a shoebox full of old pictures. I went through every image, showing Addy and Harrison along the way the pictures of their mommy and daddy when they first started dating. But mostly within that box were images that really meant very little to me. Images of people blinking or a random shot of all of us sitting around the family room watching tv (I mean seriously, why even take that picture???). Or it was a crappy disposable camera that always had the look of a foggy room. You know the ones I’m talking about. So, I kept a small handful of the pictures and threw the rest away.

Oh, boy was that a mistake.

Addy threw herself onto the trash bag, reaching in for the images. She looked up at me, big blue eyes filling with tears and asked, “You’re throwing these away?”

I told her yes and explained that I kept the ones that meant a lot to me, but the rest weren’t needed any longer.

Well, by her next reaction, you would have thought that I told her I just threw away her kitten after peeing all over its head. She face planted onto the floor, bursting into a fit of tears, crying out, “YOU’RE THROWING AWAY MEMORIES, AUNT COLLEEN! PRECIOUS MEMORIES!”

Holy. Shit. Ever want to feel like a terrible aunt and an awful human being? Yeah, try throwing out pictures in front of a five year old.

So, at this point, I just wanted her to stop crying–I was pretty sure that any minute now my sister would burst through the door and accuse me of abusing her children or something, so I attempted to take the photos back from her and I was all, “Yeah, yeah, okay, I’ll keep them. Calm down.”

She wrenched the pictures from me with her sticky, candy covered fingers and said, “No! You don’t deserve them anymore!”

….

The moral of the story here? I’m so not ready to be a parent.

Newsletters

This past weekend, I spoke about newsletters for authors. I’m currently gathering emails to begin my author newsletter–and let me tell you, it’s quite a process!

I’ve done newsletters for my photography business, but never as an author. The small group I talked with on Saturday also had some great ideas and suggestions–such as gathering with more than one author to create a dynamic well-rounded newsletter.

So my question to you, readers…what is it you like to read within newsletters? Do you like to know about author appearances? Q&A with other authors? Seasonal stories? Excerpts? Giveaways? Recipes? All of the above?
Let me know–either in the comments or shoot me a message!

Guest Blogging

I get really stressed out when I have to guest blog somewhere. Like…REALLY stressed out. The kind of stressed out where you eat a bag of Hershey kisses, dunk your head in cold water then proceed to curl up on the couch in fetal position.

Okay, that might have been a lie. I eat two bags of kisses.

Anyway, this is the reason I don’t guest blog on many sites. First of all–what the heck do people write about? Second, there’s usually some sort of contest that goes along with the post…do I have to choose the winners? Send the prizes? I know there’s random comment picker/generator things so that it’s fair, but WHAT IF I DO IT WRONG!?!?! I’m kind of a perfectionist. And lastly, some of these sites have specific themes they want you to write around. Like, for example, spring. SPRING.

Seems easy, right? I assure you it is NOT. At least not for this girl. And this one is supposed to be easy–all I have to do is find a passage in my book that is related to spring. Only–I don’t know that that passage actually exists in my book nor do I have time to go through and read the dang thing for the fifteen billionth time in its existence on this silly planet called Earth.

Oh, the woes of a writer, huh? Happy Wednesday to all my lovelies reading out there! I’m off to scour for spring…