Thursday, May 6, 2021

Book Review--Timeless Moments

 


I zipped through this book. A page turner I couldn't read fast enough. A beautiful, thought provoking story for anyone who believes in timeless love. Unabashedly Christian with plenty of scriptures thrown in, I loved it. The villain was a shade too evil--not because I don't believe such evil exists--but because I found him hard to believe. But bad-guy aside, I thoroughly enjoyed this book.


The Three Book Contest

 I just hit the publish button on this book yesterday. It used to be called Menagerie. There are three books in the Isolation series and you have a chance to win all three books in the series. All participants will receive a free copy of Isolation. The game ends on Monday, May 10th.

Here are the rules of the game. Below, you'll find an excerpt from Isolation's first chapter. Pick your favorite sentence from the excerpt, copy and paste it on social media along with the Amazon buy link, and tag me @katietateauthor. So, for example, your social media post will look like this:

"Wordsworth parked his butt against the door like a giant hairy roadblock."  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0948NQGTS @katietateauthor 

(You can even copy this one, if you like, but I think it'll be more fun to see different lines.) I'll choose and notify a winner on Monday. Good luck and thanks for playing! Here's the excerpt

ISOLATION

CHAPTER ONE

The birds heralded the storm, as they always did. They liked to be the bearers of scuttlebutt. Although, as Lizbet had learned long ago, not all birds were created equal, and some species were much more reliable than others. Not that they lied, very few creatures had the ability or cunning, but rather in their haste to be the first in the know, some blurted out misconceptions and half-truths.

Not that Lizbet had much familiarity with liars—or people, in general—but she’d read of several, as Rose, her mother, had accumulated an impressive library over the years. Not that Lizbet was in any position to know what was and was not impressive library-wise, or any otherwise, since Lizbet herself had never been off the island she and Rose called home.

The howling wind drowned out the calls of birds, and the chatter of squirrels and chipmunks. Opossum, skunks, and fox sought shelter in the forest’s thickets. Rats and mice scurried to find hidey-holes. Lizbet fetched an armful of wood from the shed to stoke the fire while her mother gathered candles.

Wind rustled the tarp protecting the woodpile. The pine trees, used to standing straight and tall, moaned as the wind whipped through their canopy, and bent them in directions they didn’t wish to go.

A man approaches,” Wordsworth whined, terror tainting his words.

Lizbet looked over the German Shepherd’s furry head to the storm-tossed sea. The Sound, normally a tranquil gray-blue slate, roiled as if shaken by an invisible hand. Lizbet couldn’t see anyone, but her heart quickened. “Are you sure?” She saw nothing but a curtain of rain, an angry sky, and churning tide. The gulls, who generally swooped above the bay, had wisely found shelter. The otters, too, had disappeared, and for once the noisy, boisterous sea lions, were silent.

The dog nodded. “He’s lost, but hopeful.”

“Hopeful? Of what?”

Wordsworth shook his head. When another flash of lightening lit the sky, his ears flattened and his tail drooped and he cowered as the thunder boomed.

“Come,” Lizbet said, “let’s go inside. Only an idiot would be out on the water today.”

“He’s no longer on the water,” Wordsworth whined. “His boat has landed.”

Lizbet peered into the storm, saw nothing more than before, and added another log to her collection. Their cottage was made of stone, but the adjacent shed which housed the woodpile, gardening tools, and bird seed, was constructed of recycled wood. Wind blew through the slats and rattled the shake roof. The cottage would be warm and dry in a way the shed never could.

Wordsworth whimpered again. Lizbet knew he longed for the comforts of the house as much as she did, but she also understood he had an important job to do, and he would never back away from protecting her and her mother from strangers.

“There’s no one there,” Lizbet said, stomping toward the cottage. She climbed the steps and pulled open the Dutch door. The warm comforting scent of the crackling fire mingled with the aroma of ginger cookies welcomed her in.

Rose stood at a large pine table, stacking the cookies onto a plate. Lizbet stared at the number of cookies, knowing that she and her mother would never be able to eat so many. Her mother was waif-thin with flyaway blond hair as insubstantial as her slender frame.

“There’s a man in the cove,” Lizbet said, wondering if her mother already knew, and if so, why she hadn’t warned her.

Rose kept her gaze focused on the cookies and blushed the color of her namesake. She was as fair as Lizbet was dark. We are as night and day, her mother would say, Together, we are all we need.

“Are you expecting someone?” Lizbet demanded.

“No, not really, but I…” Rose’s voice trailed away.

Lizbet clomped through the kitchen to the living room, weaving through the stacks of books to the fireplace. She dropped her logs onto the hearth, placed her hands on her hips, and marched back into the kitchen. She hated surprises, but she was also curious.

“Who is this man?” Not Leonard, the postman—her mother would never blush for the potato-shaped letter carrier. Besides, Leonard would never venture to the island in a storm. He only came every other Tuesday. Today was Saturday.

“You don’t need to worry about him,” Rose said without meeting Lizbet’s eye.

“Why is he coming? Will he bring books?”

Rose laughed, but it sounded strange—strained and nervous. Lizbet decided that she already disliked this man. She plucked a cookie off the plate.

Rose looked up sharply, an expectant look on her face.

Lizbet contemplated her cookie, suddenly suspicious. Her mother studied and experimented with herbs and she’d taught Lizbet a variety of recipes. Dandelions to lighten the mood, lavender to soothe worries, chamomile to bring sleep, basil to stimulate energy, and gingerroot to make one forget. Lizbet sniffed the cookie and touched it with her tongue.

Her mother watched.

Lizbet smiled, took a big bite and left the kitchen. In the privacy of her own room, she went to the window and pulled it open. A cold breeze flew in, ruffling the drapes, and blowing about the papers on her desk. Ignoring the wind, Lizbet stuck her head outside and spat the cookie out into the storm. She slammed the window closed.

“What are you doing?” Rose asked.

Lizbet started. She hadn’t heard her mother come in. Wrapping her arms around herself, Lizbet said, “I was looking for the man.”

Rose’s lips lifted into a smile. “Please don’t worry about him. Here, I’ve brought you some tea.” She set down a steaming mug on Lizbet’s bedside table. “Gingerroot, your favorite.”

“Thanks.”

“Want to come and read by the fire?” Rose asked.

Lizbet glanced back at the storm on the other side of the window. An idea tickled in the back of her mind. “In a second,” she said. After plopping down on her bed, Lizbet sipped from the mug, but she didn’t swallow. Instead, she let the tea warm her tongue.

Rose lifted her own mug to her lips and watched Lizbet.

Lizbet set the mug back down and met her mother’s gaze. After an awkward moment, Rose lifted her shoulder in a halfhearted shrug and headed down the hall.

Lizbet bounced from the bed, closed the door, and spat the tea back into the mug. She poured the entire cup out the window and climbed back onto her bed. She lay perfectly still, waiting for her mom to re-enter the room. She didn’t have to wait long.

A few moments later, her bedroom door creaked open. With her eyes firmly closed, Lizbet practiced her corpse pose and didn’t even flinch as she heard her mother steal into the room. Rose tucked a quilt around Lizbet’s shoulders before creeping back out and closing the door with a whisper click.

Lizbet peeked open an eye and met Wordsworth’s steady, brown-eyed gaze. “Who is he?”

“I don’t know,” the dog whimpered, “but he isn’t scared.”

“How can you tell?” Lizbet asked.

“The smell. All emotions have a smell.”

“My mom—what’s her smell?”

Wordsworth jumped up on the bed beside Lizbet and nestled against her. “She loves you.”

“I know. But I don’t know what that has to do with anything.”

Wordsworth whimpered again and snuggled closer. “You have to let me out so I can meet this man.”

“I can’t. If I do, she’ll know I’m awake. You’re on your own.”

Wordsworth blew out a breath, stood, shook himself, and jumped down. He went to the door to bark and whine. It didn’t do any good. Her mother ignored him, which told Lizbet two things. One: the potion Rose had given Lizbet must have been so strong that Rose didn’t worry about Wordsworth waking her. Two: Rose didn’t want to be interrupted.

Lizbet sat up as a thought assaulted her.

Wordsworth, as if reading her mind, jumped back up beside her and gazed into her eyes.

“This man is my father!” Lizbet blurted out.

“You cannot know this,” Wordsworth whimpered.

“She loves him enough to drug me just to spend time with him! Of course he’s my father!”

Wordsworth moaned a disagreement.

Lizbet had a lot of questions—mostly because she lived a solitary life with her mother on an uninhabited island in the Puget Sound. She had faith that all of her questions would eventually be answered, but the biggest questions in her heart and mind all centered around her father.

Lizbet kicked off the quilt and crawled off the bed.

Wordsworth placed his nose against her thigh, stopping her. “There must be a good reason your mother doesn’t want you to meet this man.”

“She never said she didn’t want me to meet him.”

Wordsworth snorted. “If she had wanted you to meet him, she wouldn’t have given you the ginger root tea.”

Suddenly Lizbet hated her mother. “She can’t keep me from my own father.”

Wordsworth parked his butt against the door like a giant hairy roadblock. “You do not know he is your father.”

“Of course he is. Who else could he be? Now move.” She grabbed Wordsworth’s collar to pull him away. His fur bunched up around his collar, but he wouldn’t budge.

Lizbet tried the doorknob, but since Wordsworth outweighed her by nearly fifty pounds the door wouldn’t open. Lizbet flounced to the window.

“Where are you going?” Wordsworth asked, his ears poking toward the ceiling.

“To meet my dad.” Lizbet threw open the window. The wind spat rain in her face and carried a breath of bone-chilling cold into the room.

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Wednesday's Words--An Excerpt from The Highwayman Incident

 
This is from the first chapter of my time travel romance, The Highwayman Incident.



Her body hummed with energy. She found the quiet dark relaxing and rhythmic motion hypnotic and soothing. Crickets chirped and a breeze stirred the trees. Somewhere, an owl called out. The clip-clop of the horses…

Wait.

Horses?

Celia’s eyes popped open. She sat in a carriage. An obese woman draped in satin and furs sat directly in front of her, snoring, her mouth ajar.

Celia’s own mouth dropped open. She sat up and took note. Same putrid pink dress. Same pinchy shoes. But the wedding, Mia, her mom and grandmother? All gone. Replaced by a grotesque snoring woman wearing a satin tent.

Celia ran her hands first over the velvet seat cushion, then the burnished wood walls, and finally, the black, smooth drapes. It all felt real.

She must be drunk. Or hallucinating. Had she had too much champagne? No. That drink! That Jason person! He must have put something in her water! But it had looked and tasted like water. Celia ran her tongue over her teeth, trying to find an aftertaste, or a hint of something dangerous.

She drew back the curtain and peered into the night. A brilliant, star-studded sky gazed down on her. No street lights. No lights at all, except for the one bobbing on the front of the carriage. Leaning forward, she craned to see the driver, and saw nothing but a horse’s butt and its swishing tail. As if the animal knew she was watching and he didn’t appreciate her stare, he lifted his tail.

Celia sat back, closed her eyes, and let the cadence sway of the carriage lull her back to sleep. When she woke, she’d be at home in her bed, and she’d never have to wear this dress again.

Crack!

Celia’s eyes flew open. She sat up straight and glanced at the woman across from her. The woman snorted and nestled her double chin into her fur collar. What was that sound? Was the carriage breaking beneath the woman’s weight?

Crack!

Was it gun fire? The carriage lurched, stopping so quickly that the portly lady slid off the seat.

“What the devil?” the woman moaned, righting herself. She gave Celia a narrow-eyed look as if Celia had knocked her off the bench.

Crack!

“Gunshots!” the woman hissed. She pursed her full lips, yanked off an enormous emerald necklace and shoved it at Celia. “Hide this.”

Celia stared stupidly at the jewels. If they were real, she could use them to buy the shop! Wishing she had a pocket, her mind sought options. In her bra? No. The stones were too big and the bodice too tight. Not knowing what else to do, she lifted her skirts and tucked the necklace into the lace garter Mia had insisted all the bridesmaids wear. She patted her skirts back into place just before the door flew open.

“Stand and deliver!” A deep and somewhat familiar voice demanded.

Deliver what? And how could she stand inside of a carriage? Celia crouched in her seat. Slowly, she lifted her head and saw nothing but the silvery end of a gun pointing at her forehead. None of this is real, Celia told herself. It’s the champagne asking me to stand and deliver something. I’ve read one too many Jane Austen novels.

“Come, come, ladies.” The familiar voice sent a tingle down her back.

The man stepped out of the shadows and his gaze met hers, but not an ounce of recognition glistened in his eyes. She thought she knew him, but since a black mask hid half his face, she couldn’t be sure.

“My lady.” He swept his arms in a low bow.

Celia gave the gun another glance. It looked real enough.

He lifted one eyebrow and the corner of his lips in a slow and lazy smile, but continued to point the gun at her forehead.

She tried not to think about the emeralds pinching her leg. She couldn’t look at them. She couldn’t adjust them. She couldn’t call his attention to them in any way.

His gaze traveled over her horrid dress and stopped at her mid-thigh as if he could see through the layers of sateen and frilly slip to the garter smashing the emeralds against her.

“Are you in need of assistance?” He held out his hand—the one not holding a gun—to help her out of the carriage. Again, that trill of recognition poured over Celia. She knew him. Somehow.

She shook her head, knowing she couldn’t touch him. If she touched him and he was real, tangible, then she would…well, she didn’t know what she would do. Nothing like this had ever happened to her before.

“Are you mute?” he asked, cocking his head. His grin deepened. “Or is my charm rendering you speechless?”

“Have you considered that maybe I’m put off by the gun you’re holding to my head?”

“Ah, so you can speak after all. Pity that. I do love a quiet woman.” He placed his hand on his heart. “Please, my dears, join me.”

But Celia refused to budge, and since her companion cowered behind her, they both stayed in the coach. She stared at his mouth—the only part of his face she could see—other than his eyes. She found both his eyes and lips hypnotizing. Her gaze traveled from one feature to the next, wondering which one she liked the most.

He’s a highwayman! Her inner voice of reason told her. And a figment of your imagination! Those are the best kind of men, she told her reasonable voice.

“I’m sure you understand this is not a social call.” His gaze flicked over Celia and rested on her va-va-voom bodice. “At least, not entirely, although I do enjoy mixing business and pleasure.”

“Where’s Eddie?” the woman barked over Celia’s shoulder. “What have you done with Eddie?”

As she leaned over Celia, Celia’s foot caught on the door’s lip. She would have tumbled and fell if the highwayman hadn’t shot out his arm to steady her. His hand tightened around her, and in one fluid movement, he lifted her out of the carriage and placed her on the ground.

She felt breathless and warm from his sudden, brief contact. Her breath came in ragged huffs. Not knowing whether she was grateful or disappointed when he stepped away, she hugged herself to keep warm.

A snapping twig drew her attention to three men in the shadows. They stood as silent and watchful as the trees. All three had weapons drawn.

“Where’s Eddie?” the woman barked out again.

“Have you hurt the driver?” Celia asked, with a hiccup catching in her throat.

The highwayman flicked his head toward a cluster of trees. “He’s unharmed, except for, perhaps, his sense of self-worth.”

“What is your name?” the woman whispered.

“My name?” Celia asked, her voice coming out in a surprised squeak.

“Not your name, you goat head! I know your name.”

Funny, because Celia had no idea who this woman was.

Or who Celia was to her. Celia wondered what her name might be, or her role, or position. Was she a maid? A paid companion? A relation? She shivered, and told herself that she needed to wake. This dream had gone on way too long already. She should have come-to as soon as she saw the gun. That’s what normally would have happened. Nightmares typically ended with a major scare.

She tried pinching herself. It hurt, but not enough to wake her.

The woman fixed her attention on the highwayman. “Who are you?”

“Why would he tell you that?” Celia asked, more than a little stung at being called a goat head.

The man chuckled. “You do not need my name, but I do need your valuables.”

Quiet descended, and Celia took note of the clamor of crickets, the hooting owl, and a nearby tumbling river. Country night sounds—so foreign in Connecticut and usually masked by the roar of constant traffic on the nearby parkway.

“Do you really need them, or do you just want them?” Celia asked.

“What difference should that make?” he asked.

“It makes a very big difference—it’s the difference between greed and—”

He waved his gun in her face, effectively silencing her. “That ring, if you please,” he said to the woman.

Celia watched, wondering what her companion would do.

Slowly, the woman batted her eyes, looking unsure.

The horses stamped their feet impatiently and shook their reins. For a second, Celia thought about jumping on one and riding away. But then she remembered she knew nothing about horses, their massive size terrified her, and getting one loose from the carriage might be tricky. Besides, even if it wasn’t real, the gun looked like it might be, which meant that the bullet might possibly feel real, and she didn’t like pain—real or imaginary.

The woman drew the ring off her finger. “I have a reticule in the carriage,” she told the man. “If you’d like, I’ll give it to you.”

The man barked a laugh. “Not likely.” He motioned to one of the henchmen, his gaze never leaving the two women. “Search the carriage. Tell me if you find any hidden pistols.”

Celia slid a quick glance at the woman, wondering if she was cunning or just stupid.

The second man passed by. He smelled unwashed and earthy. The woman reached out and shoved Celia into him. “Take her!”

The man stumbled under Celia’s sudden weight, but the highwayman reached out and caught her in his arms. He drew her to him and held her close. She felt safe there, although she knew she shouldn’t.

“Hold her hostage! Kill her if you must!” The woman clambered into the coach and slammed the door.

Celia fought to breathe. She knew she had to leave, she knew that staying pressed up against the highwayman was stupid. He had his hand on her belly, his fingers splayed across her. He smelled of cloves, and when he spoke, his breath warmed her.

“That was most unkind.” He sounded surprised and disapproving.

The second man scrambled after the woman and flung open the door. Amid the screams, the carriage rocked back and forth.

“I won’t harm you,” the highwayman whispered, his lips brushing against her hair.

Celia glanced at the gun. In the moonlight, it looked very real and very lethal. Almost as devastating as the man holding her in his arms.

He shifted, bringing her in front of him. In one quick moment, he captured her lips.

Celia’s knees buckled. Her thoughts raced back to all those Regency romance novels of her grandmother’s that she had read as a girl. Georgette someone. Hideous, Horrendous, no, Heyer. Yes, that was it. Georgette Heyer. What would Georgette call this? A seduction? A ravishing? Oh my gosh! That was it! She was being ravished by a rake!

Wake up! her mind screamed. No more kissing!

Oh, but it felt so good. So very, very good.

Panic gripped her. Breaking loose, she ripped off his mask.

Jason West stood in a pool of moonlight, gun dangling at his side. Surprise filled his eyes. He touched his lips, clearly dazed. Taking two steps back, his gaze shifted to the dark, shadowy woods. “Forgive me,” he muttered. “I have erred.”

And with those parting words, he turned and disappeared into the forest.

#

Celia lifted her head off the table, dazed. She must have fallen asleep. How embarrassing. She checked the tablecloth to make sure she hadn’t been drooling. It felt dry. What if she had snored? She cast a nervous glance around.

The party continued as if she had never left/slept. She wasn’t sure, but it seemed as if the band was even playing the same song. That wasn’t possible. The dream seemed longer than a few seconds, more than a few minutes even. But no one was looking or staring at her.

Becca was chatting up some guy over by the bar. Lacey had her arms wrapped around someone wearing a purple bow-tie and they moved to the music. Celia twisted and caught the gaze of Jason West.

Flushing, she looked away. Touching her cheeks, she tried to quell the heat flaming her face. So grateful no one, and by no one she meant Jason West, could read her thoughts, Celia slipped off her pinchy shoes and fled.

Later, she would have to try to explain her sudden departure to her mom and sister. But there were some things she would never be able to explain. Or understand.

Like the garter pressing something sharp into her upper thigh.


The Highwayman Incident is free in Kindle Unlimited

Read now

 

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

5 Healthy Habits


 I've struggled with body issues most of my life. Between pregnancies (eight of them) and menopause, my adult years have been a rollercoaster. Fortunately, after seven grueling years of hot flashes, I'm beginning to feel (somewhat) stable physically as well as emotionally. Here are the habits that have really helped me. (Maybe they'll help others, as well, although, I really think everyone should choose and embrace the habits that will work for them.) These are in no particular order because I think they're all critically important.



1. Sleep at least seven, if not eight hours, every night.

2. Drink 4 24 ounces of water every day. I try to drink one 24 ounce water bottle before 10 am, 1 pm, 4 pm, and 7 pm.


3. I can eat whatever I want, but I have to plug it into a calorie counter program. I try to eat at 7, 10, 1, 4, and 6:30. Ideally, each meal consists of 200 calories or fewer and has about 10 grams of protein. Dinner has a slightly higher calorie count of 400-500 calories. (I use My Fitness Pal, but there are lots out there. I like it because it has a pie chart showing my nutritional values.)

4. I spend at least 20 minutes outside every day. Typically, I walk 4-7 miles a day, which, of course, takes much longer than 20 minutes. But even if I can't, for some reason, exercise, I need time outside, even if I'm just sitting in a chair and staring at a tree. To be honest, this is more for my mental health than physical health.

5. Occasionally, I'll set a health goal and reward myself when I meet the goal. At the moment, I'm working toward a pair of gray alligator heels. A year ago, I went on the Optivia program. I absolutely loved it. I miss it, not the food, although some of that, and not the structure--because I can do that on my own, but I mostly miss the tremendous sense of accomplishment that came with the rapid weight loss. Thanks to Optivia, I lost the 25 pounds that came with menopause. And thanks to these habits, I'm healthier and happier than ever.






Monday, May 3, 2021

How to Clean

 



Turn on music

2.      Light a scented candle
3.      Strip beds
4.      Gather all linens and laundry and put in washing machine
5.      Spray toilet, tub, shower enclosure and sink with cleanser.
6.      Clean inside and outside of fridge—throw away all food.
7.      Clean inside and outside of oven and microwave.
8.      Wipe down all counter top appliances.
9.      Clean counters.
10.  Wipe down cupboards.
11.  Move laundry from washers to dryers
12.  Dust all furniture and framed art.
13.  Wipe down patio furniture
14.  Sweep patio
15.  Wash windows, glass doors and mirrors
ReReturn to bathroom where the cleanser has been working its magic
16.  Clean toilet, sink, tub and shower enclosure
17.  Retrieve linens from dryer, fold, put away and make beds
18.  Vacuum every crevice
19.  Leave a gift basket and a personal welcoming note on the kitchen table. Take a chocolate for yourself
20.  Turn off music and blow out candle
21.  Mop yourself out the door, turning off lights on your way out.

Why am I sharing this laundry list? Because it had to be written and some things seem so obvious—of course you have to wash the linens before can dry them, and no one would vacuum before dusting, and allowing the cleanser to sit on the tile a good thirty minutes takes the scrubbing out of cleaning. Who wouldn’t reward themselves with a tiny piece of chocolate?

When I forget to turn on the music, or light the candle, or take the chocolate—everything turns to drudgery. When I don’t wash the windows, the place looks gray. Life is just so much better when everything goes according to plan, when I don’t try to hurry the cleanser or skip the vacuuming and go straight to mopping (yuck.) The gift basket, the personal welcoming note…it’s the small things that make all the difference.

But why am I sharing this? Because everyone has a mess to clean.

Other posts you may like:


Are all done cleaning and looking for something to read? I have a suggestion:



Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Introducing Wednesday's Words

  

Trying something new...

Using today's date as a guide, go to page four of one of your books (or a book you're reading) and find the 28th line. (It's okay if it's a couple of sentences.) Share it with us.



A giant stuffed swordfish hung above the dining room sideboard and a moose head sat over the fireplace mantel. All these dead trophies spoke of violence.

Because just a sentence or two seemed too boring for a blog post, I decided to throw in a couple of pictures of my dogs.



Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Take it down Tuesday: Why I Walk

 I like long walks outside.

I'm lucky because I live in Southern California where the weather is almost always gorgeous. To avoid the heat of the day during the summer months, I may have to go in the evenings or mornings, but since that is my preferred walking-time, I don't find that a problem.

Last year, I quit my gym. I feel for gym-owners everywhere (especially my brother who owns Stilliguamish Athletic Club) along with restaurant owners, and so many other small business owners who were hit hard and laid low by COVID-19. But I can say since my gym attendance is down, my walking hours are way up, and for that, I'm grateful.

There's something healing about being outside. Today during my scripture study, I came across this verse:

Genesis 24:40

The LORD, before whom I walk, will send his angel with thee, and prosper thy way.

Long walks, I believe, can do this for me (and you.)




Today's featured sale:
The Little White Christmas Lie is FREE today.