Monday, September 14, 2020

Enter to Win a $25 Dollar Gift Card

 



What Are You Reading?

 Tell me your favorites on this FACEBOOK POST and you'll automatically be entered to win a $25 Amazon gift card.

It seems as if all my travels are being foiled. The virus nixed our European plans and squashed our Hawaiian vacation. Now, the wildfires devouring the western United States are blowing smoke on our trip to Lassen National Park. It's a good thing I love my home and the people here. 

Until the air clears, we're hunkering down and I'm looking for book recommendations. Currently, I'm reading and loving my friend Susan R. Hughes' story for the upcoming Authors of Main Street boxset. (I'd drop a link, but it's not published, yet. She does have other books, though, you'd probably enjoy.)

I look forward to seeing your recommendations! I'll post the winner here Thursday at 9 AM California time.

Monday, August 31, 2020

New Blog Idea?

 My husband retired in March, two weeks before the quarantine began. Like the rest of the world, our plans were grounded. Instead of globetrotting, we wandered around the house. But life didn't stop, it wasn't put on hold, it just shifted. We started working on our house, spending more time with our family, focusing on our own development.

Wanderlust is still biting. As soon as the dust settles and our landscape guy Sergio completes the overhaul in our backyard, we're going on a trip. Destination still in negotiation.

Here's where I'd love some input:

I already have a blog. Should I make the retirement focus part of the feature? Or should I create a whole new blog? And if I create a whole new blog, which of these names are the most interesting?

A Better Late Life: a boomer dishing up the dirt on a messy after fifty life

The Write Retirement: one writer's foray into life after-work

Do you have any suggestions? Any thoughts? See the graphics below and let me know which ones you like best.





Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Travel Series, book one outline and character bible

 

ACT ONE

 

 

 

 

Paige arguing with Rosie/ gets called into CEO’s office

8/19

 

 

Liam is running from drug dealers and gets call from dad

 

 

 

Christmas party at CEO’s house. She leaves something behind (or he intentionally keeps something he knows she’ll have to come back for.) Introduce ex

 

 

 

CEO sends pictures of Paige to Liam?

 

 

 

Goes to CEO’s house, it’s been trashed, and he’s been hurt. Tells her where the map is and wants her to take it to his son.

 

 

 

Liam searching for City of Ceasars? Flying plane?

 

 

 

Rosie’s new boyfriend?

 

 

 

 

ACT TWO

 

 

 

 

Plane to Osorno, Kirk meets up with the girl he used to tutor and gets lost.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ACT THREE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ACT FOUR

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Character bible:

Paige Montgomery: thirty-two, never married, blonde, green eyed, writes a syndicated humor column but got her start at Traverse magazine. Looks like Kathleen Turner. Dated Liam Turner for years. She’s slightly OCD, rule follower, likes things just so.


Liam Turner: thirty-three, never married, looks like a young Indiana Jones, wanted to be an archeologist, but it was so boring and tedious he became a pilot. Searching for the lost city of Caesar. He’s an adrenaline junky. He fell out with his dad years ago. His mom lives in Chile. His dad had a thing for Latin women.




Paxman Turner: CEO of Turner Enterprises, a publishing mogul. Liam’s father. 65.

 

Rosie Montgomery: 70. White blonde hair, thin, flirtatious, a merry widow.


Brittany West: Paige’s best friend. Small, dark, brown eyes. A cooking expert for the magazine. Star of book three. Twenty-eight. Engaged to a dentist who is reluctant to get married.




Jeremy Loyd: Star of book two. Photographer. Slim, brown hair, brown eyes, artsy. Secretly in love with Brittany.



Rosalinda Perez: Pax’s ex-wife who’s also searching for the City of Ceasars.




Richter Klein: Rosalinda’s henchman in Chile. Tall, blonde, German,



Kirk Markham: Liam’s archeologist friend







Thursday, August 13, 2020

That Song in Patagonia is Free Today

 


When Adrienne discovers her husband, Seb, has been unfaithful, the illusion of her perfect life is indelibly shattered and she flees.
Nick, a shop owner who suddenly finds himself the center of media attention, follows.
They both escape to Latin America for different reasons. Adrienne is tired turning a blind eye to her husband’s affairs. Nick trails after her, not only because he’s become an overnight YouTube sensation and he doesn’t know how to handle it, but also because he’s secretly been in love with Adrienne, his cousin’s wife, for years.
Two people with hurting hearts and unrealized dreams explore the streets of Buenos Aires and the South American countryside, and it changes them both forever. And what they find in each other is something that might just heal them both.
Armchair-travelers who love the gentle stories of Inglath Cooper and Debbie Macomber will enjoy this exploration of Latin American coupled with a sweet second-chance romance.


Monday, August 10, 2020

A Trip to Fashion Island and an Excerpt from The Billionaire's Problem Poodle

Because I was writing a scene set at one of my favorite malls, I went on a shopping trip to Fashion Island in Newport Beach and snapped some pictures. As you can see, face-masking is in vogue, but I don't mention the virus or the quarantine in my books. I'd rather live in the fantasy world of last year where hugging and kissing or parties weren't considered life-threateningly dangerous.









By the way, I don't love the title of my book and I'd love to hear some suggestions.



An Excerpt from The Billionaire's Problem Poodle

 “Hey,” Lauren greeted Ron with a baffled smile. He couldn’t find fault with the quizzical wrinkle between her brow. For one thing, it was adorable. For another, he was also not quite sure why he was standing on her doorstep on a Saturday morning holding a bouquet of flowers. Except, he had to see her.

“Good morning,” he returned, scrounging through his thoughts to find an acceptable excuse for presenting himself so early.

“Do you want to come in?” Lauren held the door open.

“If I’m not interrupting.”

She waved him inside. “Maybe you can help me. My publisher wants to send me on a book tour.” Her voice hitched with excitement. “But I don’t have anything to wear.”

“Why can’t you wear what you wear to school?”

“It’s so boring.”

Ron stepped inside Lauren’s apartment and took it all in. The framed pictures on the mantle of a young woman and man. Her children, he deduced, noticing that there were photos of the two in varying stages of their lives. Chubby children, stringing teenagers wearing hostile and bored expressions, young adults in graduation robes. His heart skipped a beat. Having children was one of the things he was supposed to do in his thirties, but between his research and work, he’d never found the right partner.

Had Lauren found the right man? If she had, she hadn’t kept any of his pictures. His gaze swept the room, searching for signs of the father of Lauren’s children. I’m being unreasonable, he told himself, trying to fight down his mounting jealousy.

Lauren stared at him as if she didn’t know what to do with him. Clearing his throat, he dragged his thoughts back to their conversation. Clothes. Boring. But, he realized, most women didn’t think so. Especially not beautiful women like Lauren who would want to use their beauty to their advantage.

“Clothes should be boring,” Ron told her, harking back to something he’d learned in college. “I never want what I’m wearing to speak louder than my ideas.”

Lauren’s jaw dropped a fraction. “I’ve never thought of clothes like that before.”

“You want to fit in.” Ron tucked his hands in his pockets. “That’s why scientists wear white coats and businessmen all wear dark suits and ties. If someone is put off by your flashy shoes or exposed chest, they might not want to listen to what you have to say.”

Lauren dropped onto a chair. “I’m going to be speaking at a school.”

“Which is why the clothes you wear to school should be completely appropriate.” He read the disappointment in her eyes. “Still, as my sister Margo tells me, you should always have at least one suit—or in your case—dress or outfit that you know will serve you well.”

“Serve me well?” She scrunched her nose. Darling.

He nodded. “It needs to fit you perfectly, so you’re not worried about your shirt coming untucked. The buttons and zipper need to not gap or come undone easily. It needs to be something that when you put it on, you know you look your best.”

Staring at her fuzzy pink socks, she said, “I don’t have anything like that.”

“Then let’s go find it.”

She beamed and he loved that he’d been responsible for transforming her expression.

“You can help me, too,” he said. “I need some new ties.” This was not true, but he didn’t want her to feel that he was like a puppy following her around the mall without a purpose of his own.

“I don’t have a lot of extra money,” she said.

“But you did just get an advance.”

“How did you know that?”

“A guess.”

She bounced out of the chair. “I’ll be right back.”

Watching her go, he stood in the center of the room, grateful for the opportunity to soak in his surroundings. How a person lived said so much about their personality. He could fit into this lovely, comfortable room. Buttery yellow leather sofa, two pale red chairs flanking the fireplace, floral pillows and coordinating drapes. Very different from Mom’s sleek silver and chrome décor. Homey. He liked it. He could envision himself settling in before the fire with a good book.

A smell of vanilla and honey wafted from the kitchen and, like a dog after a bone, he followed the scent. Two freshly baked loaves of bread stood on the counter. The room was tiny but cheerful. The stainless-steel appliances gleamed. A hummingbird fluttered near a feeder just outside the window above the sink.

“You ready to go?”

Ron started at the sound of Lauren’s voice, embarrassed to have been caught snooping.

“You make your own bread?” he asked.

“Sometimes. Would you like a slice?”

Ron hadn’t eaten refined flour in years, but he wasn’t about to admit this to Lauren. “Maybe when we get back. Where would you like to go?”

“I usually shop at the Bargain Barn, but maybe today I’ll splurge.”

For Mom, splurging meant Rodeo Drive, but for Lauren, a splurge could be the Nordstrom outlet. He quirked an eyebrow. “Fashion Island?”

“Yes.”

“Good. You deserve it.” He reached for her hand.

#

Lauren had been to Fashion Island a number of times, but only to admire the Christmas decorations and window shop. The prestigious department store and specialty boutiques, not to mention the restaurants, had always been out of her price range.  But taking in the ocean view and admiring the towering palm trees was free for anyone. Even struggling music teachers…with a book deal. Still, she shied away from Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdale’s.

“Anthropologies?” Ron suggested.

She tucked her hand through his arm. “I’m surprised you even know Anthropologies exists.”

“I have nieces,” he said proudly. “They keep me hip. Or at least, they try. I’m rather a lost cause.”

She wrinkled her nose again. Did she know how attractive he found that?

“Let’s go to Nordstrom,” she said. “Anthropologies is geared to the younger set. Besides, they won’t have your tie.”

“Just because you’re in your fifties that doesn’t mean you have to dress like a grandma.”

“I want to be a grandma,” Lauren said.

“Your children aren’t married?” Ron hadn’t seen any wedding photos on the mantle, but that didn’t necessarily mean there hadn’t been any marriages.

“Sadly, no.”

“Tell me about them.”

Lauren’s face softened. “Like their father, both of my children are brainiacs serving in the military as translators. James is in Germany for now while Annie is in Florida.”

Ron thought about what she’d told him of her ex-husband and had to fight a wave of jealousy, telling himself he had no reason to feel threatened by this invisible man from Lauren’s past. He guided her through Anthropologies’ wide glass doors.

“Hopefully, they won’t follow in their father’s footsteps.”

“I should hope not,” Ron murmured. “Are they very like him.”

“In some ways yes and in others no. I like to think they took the best of both of us. Braver than me, but more cautious than Dane. Neither his death nor disappearance should have been a great surprise. He was an adrenaline junky. Walking on the wild-side was what he loved best.”

Lauren paused in front of a blue dress made of soft blue fabric and embroidered with small yellow flowers.

“You should try that on,” Ron urged.

“This is not at all the sort of thing I’m looking for.” The wrinkle he liked between her brows reappeared.

“What are you looking for?”

“Something businessy.” With a frown, her gaze swept the showroom, taking in the racks of clothes his nieces would call “boho.”

“I shouldn’t even be in here,” Lauren said with a touch of bitterness.

Ron strode to the rack and plucked the dress he thought would fit Lauren. “Just try it on.” On a whim, he picked out a variety of dresses and handed them to her. “Try them all on. You don’t need to be businessy.” Was that even a word? He hated it when people made up words, but Lauren was beginning to be his exception to everything. “You’re an author, not a banker.”

Lauren glanced at the price tag, and Ron flicked it away from her. “You’re celebrating, remember?”

“Old habits die hard,” she said.

He pressed the hangers into her hands. An eager sales girl who had been watching the exchange, hustled over to lead Lauren into a dressing room. Now, alone in this female-centric place, Ron didn’t know what to do with himself. Outside, he noticed a child standing near the fountain looking even more lost than he felt. He went to see if he could help.


 

 

CHAPTER SIX

 

Inside the dressing room, Lauren fought her own inner battle. Of course, she loved the way the dress flitted around her thighs, but it was terribly impractical and not really age-appropriate. Wanting another opinion, she peeked outside the door, searching for Ron but not seeing him.

Of course, what did she expect? That he would be waiting for her like a puppy? Dane, of course, would never have been caught dead in a shop like this. She wasn’t sure if he’d even venture to Fashion Island, unless, of course, someone had given him a no-strings-attached gift card to Fleming’s Steak House. Even then, he’d have curled his lip at the opulent shops and their wealthy patrons. Why was she thinking of Dane?

“That dress is perfect on you,” the salesgirl said.

Lauren smiled because she had thought so, too.

“The blue really makes your eyes sparkle,” the salesgirl said.

Flattery. The wiles of consumerism. A chill passed over Lauren. “I bet you say that to all your customers.” She had tried to sound flirtatious, but she heard the hard edge in her voice.

Slipping back into the dressing room, she convinced herself that, no matter what the salesgirl had said, none of these dresses suited her. She couldn’t see herself teaching piano lessons in any of these. But because Ron would ask, she tried them all on anyway. She didn’t even look at the price tags, because there was no way she would buy any of them. But she enjoyed looking at herself in the mirror and modeling the clothes, even if it was for only herself.

When she finished with her own private fashion show, she returned all the dresses to their respective hangers and handed them to the salesgirl.

“Do you want me to ring these up for you?” the girl.

“No. I’m not getting any of them.”

What had happened to Ron? Her footfalls echoed on the wooden floor has she crossed the showroom.

Still holding the dresses, the salesgirl trailed after Lauren. “I saw your friend go out the door.”

Lauren’s frustration mounted. What was she doing here? Why had Ron brought her here to just abandon her? Feeling foolish, old, and out of her league, Lauren followed the shop girl’s pointing finger out the door.:


“Hey,” Lauren greeted Ron with a baffled smile. He couldn’t find fault with the quizzical wrinkle between her brow. For one thing, it was adorable. For another, he was also not quite sure why he was standing on her doorstep on a Saturday morning holding a bouquet of flowers. Except, he had to see her.

“Good morning,” he returned, scrounging through his thoughts to find an acceptable excuse for presenting himself so early.

“Do you want to come in?” Lauren held the door open.

“If I’m not interrupting.”

She waved him inside. “Maybe you can help me. My publisher wants to send me on a book tour.” Her voice hitched with excitement. “But I don’t have anything to wear.”

“Why can’t you wear what you wear to school?”

“It’s so boring.”

Ron stepped inside Lauren’s apartment and took it all in. The framed pictures on the mantle of a young woman and man. Her children, he deduced, noticing that there were photos of the two in varying stages of their lives. Chubby children, stringing teenagers wearing hostile and bored expressions, young adults in graduation robes. His heart skipped a beat. Having children was one of the things he was supposed to do in his thirties, but between his research and work, he’d never found the right partner.

Had Lauren found the right man? If she had, she hadn’t kept any of his pictures. His gaze swept the room, searching for signs of the father of Lauren’s children. I’m being unreasonable, he told himself, trying to fight down his mounting jealousy.

Lauren stared at him as if she didn’t know what to do with him. Clearing his throat, he dragged his thoughts back to their conversation. Clothes. Boring. But, he realized, most women didn’t think so. Especially not beautiful women like Lauren who would want to use their beauty to their advantage.

“Clothes should be boring,” Ron told her, harking back to something he’d learned in college. “I never want what I’m wearing to speak louder than my ideas.”

Lauren’s jaw dropped a fraction. “I’ve never thought of clothes like that before.”

“You want to fit in.” Ron tucked his hands in his pockets. “That’s why scientists wear white coats and businessmen all wear dark suits and ties. If someone is put off by your flashy shoes or exposed chest, they might not want to listen to what you have to say.”

Lauren dropped onto a chair. “I’m going to be speaking at a school.”

“Which is why the clothes you wear to school should be completely appropriate.” He read the disappointment in her eyes. “Still, as my sister Margo tells me, you should always have at least one suit—or in your case—dress or outfit that you know will serve you well.”

“Serve me well?” She scrunched her nose. Darling.

He nodded. “It needs to fit you perfectly, so you’re not worried about your shirt coming untucked. The buttons and zipper need to not gap or come undone easily. It needs to be something that when you put it on, you know you look your best.”

Staring at her fuzzy pink socks, she said, “I don’t have anything like that.”

“Then let’s go find it.”

She beamed and he loved that he’d been responsible for transforming her expression.

“You can help me, too,” he said. “I need some new ties.” This was not true, but he didn’t want her to feel that he was like a puppy following her around the mall without a purpose of his own.

“I don’t have a lot of extra money,” she said.

“But you did just get an advance.”

“How did you know that?”

“A guess.”

She bounced out of the chair. “I’ll be right back.”

Watching her go, he stood in the center of the room, grateful for the opportunity to soak in his surroundings. How a person lived said so much about their personality. He could fit into this lovely, comfortable room. Buttery yellow leather sofa, two pale red chairs flanking the fireplace, floral pillows and coordinating drapes. Very different from Mom’s sleek silver and chrome décor. Homey. He liked it. He could envision himself settling in before the fire with a good book.

A smell of vanilla and honey wafted from the kitchen and, like a dog after a bone, he followed the scent. Two freshly baked loaves of bread stood on the counter. The room was tiny but cheerful. The stainless-steel appliances gleamed. A hummingbird fluttered near a feeder just outside the window above the sink.

“You ready to go?”

Ron started at the sound of Lauren’s voice, embarrassed to have been caught snooping.

“You make your own bread?” he asked.

“Sometimes. Would you like a slice?”

Ron hadn’t eaten refined flour in years, but he wasn’t about to admit this to Lauren. “Maybe when we get back. Where would you like to go?”

“I usually shop at the Bargain Barn, but maybe today I’ll splurge.”

For Mom, splurging meant Rodeo Drive, but for Lauren, a splurge could be the Nordstrom outlet. He quirked an eyebrow. “Fashion Island?”

“Yes.”

“Good. You deserve it.” He reached for her hand.

#

Lauren had been to Fashion Island a number of times, but only to admire the Christmas decorations and window shop. The prestigious department store and specialty boutiques, not to mention the restaurants, had always been out of her price range.  But taking in the ocean view and admiring the towering palm trees was free for anyone. Even struggling music teachers…with a book deal. Still, she shied away from Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdale’s.

“Anthropologies?” Ron suggested.

She tucked her hand through his arm. “I’m surprised you even know Anthropologies exists.”

“I have nieces,” he said proudly. “They keep me hip. Or at least, they try. I’m rather a lost cause.”

She wrinkled her nose again. Did she know how attractive he found that?

“Let’s go to Nordstrom,” she said. “Anthropologies is geared to the younger set. Besides, they won’t have your tie.”

“Just because you’re in your fifties that doesn’t mean you have to dress like a grandma.”

“I want to be a grandma,” Lauren said.

“Your children aren’t married?” Ron hadn’t seen any wedding photos on the mantle, but that didn’t necessarily mean there hadn’t been any marriages.

“Sadly, no.”

“Tell me about them.”

Lauren’s face softened. “Like their father, both of my children are brainiacs serving in the military as translators. James is in Germany for now while Annie is in Florida.”

Ron thought about what she’d told him of her ex-husband and had to fight a wave of jealousy, telling himself he had no reason to feel threatened by this invisible man from Lauren’s past. He guided her through Anthropologies’ wide glass doors.

“Hopefully, they won’t follow in their father’s footsteps.”

“I should hope not,” Ron murmured. “Are they very like him.”

“In some ways yes and in others no. I like to think they took the best of both of us. Braver than me, but more cautious than Dane. Neither his death nor disappearance should have been a great surprise. He was an adrenaline junky. Walking on the wild-side was what he loved best.”

Lauren paused in front of a blue dress made of soft blue fabric and embroidered with small yellow flowers.

“You should try that on,” Ron urged.

“This is not at all the sort of thing I’m looking for.” The wrinkle he liked between her brows reappeared.

“What are you looking for?”

“Something businessy.” With a frown, her gaze swept the showroom, taking in the racks of clothes his nieces would call “boho.”

“I shouldn’t even be in here,” Lauren said with a touch of bitterness.

Ron strode to the rack and plucked the dress he thought would fit Lauren. “Just try it on.” On a whim, he picked out a variety of dresses and handed them to her. “Try them all on. You don’t need to be businessy.” Was that even a word? He hated it when people made up words, but Lauren was beginning to be his exception to everything. “You’re an author, not a banker.”

Lauren glanced at the price tag, and Ron flicked it away from her. “You’re celebrating, remember?”

“Old habits die hard,” she said.

He pressed the hangers into her hands. An eager sales girl who had been watching the exchange, hustled over to lead Lauren into a dressing room. Now, alone in this female-centric place, Ron didn’t know what to do with himself. Outside, he noticed a child standing near the fountain looking even more lost than he felt. He went to see if he could help.


 

 

CHAPTER SIX

 

Inside the dressing room, Lauren fought her own inner battle. Of course, she loved the way the dress flitted around her thighs, but it was terribly impractical and not really age-appropriate. Wanting another opinion, she peeked outside the door, searching for Ron but not seeing him.

Of course, what did she expect? That he would be waiting for her like a puppy? Dane, of course, would never have been caught dead in a shop like this. She wasn’t sure if he’d even venture to Fashion Island, unless, of course, someone had given him a no-strings-attached gift card to Fleming’s Steak House. Even then, he’d have curled his lip at the opulent shops and their wealthy patrons. Why was she thinking of Dane?

“That dress is perfect on you,” the salesgirl said.

Lauren smiled because she had thought so, too.

“The blue really makes your eyes sparkle,” the salesgirl said.

Flattery. The wiles of consumerism. A chill passed over Lauren. “I bet you say that to all your customers.” She had tried to sound flirtatious, but she heard the hard edge in her voice.

Slipping back into the dressing room, she convinced herself that, no matter what the salesgirl had said, none of these dresses suited her. She couldn’t see herself teaching piano lessons in any of these. But because Ron would ask, she tried them all on anyway. She didn’t even look at the price tags, because there was no way she would buy any of them. But she enjoyed looking at herself in the mirror and modeling the clothes, even if it was for only herself.

When she finished with her own private fashion show, she returned all the dresses to their respective hangers and handed them to the salesgirl.

“Do you want me to ring these up for you?” the girl.

“No. I’m not getting any of them.”

What had happened to Ron? Her footfalls echoed on the wooden floor has she crossed the showroom.

Still holding the dresses, the salesgirl trailed after Lauren. “I saw your friend go out the door.”

Lauren’s frustration mounted. What was she doing here? Why had Ron brought her here to just abandon her? Feeling foolish, old, and out of her league, Lauren followed the shop girl’s pointing finger out the door.