My novella The Little White Christmas Lie has been doing really well. It's been in the top 100 of its genre pretty much since its release. I guess people just love Christmas stories. This morning, I got an this email. Your book has all ready kept me up way past bedtime!You are a terrific writer!Thanks for sharing your world with your readers. Which is really sweet, but also has me scratching my head. Really? You couldn't see where this is story was going? It's a romance...all romances have to have a happy ending. It's in the rules. If it doesn't have a happy ending, it's not a romance. Period.
So, what is Melange--other than the sequel to Menagerie (which, by the way, is FREE through the weekend.) It's definitely a love story. But the ending is not the ending. Eventually, the series will have a happily ever after, but I'm no longer sure how many books it will take me to get there.
Because I really loved writing The Little White Christmas Lie, I'm going to begin a series of contemporary romances, but not until after the New Year. And maybe not even then. I'm debating on whether or not to finish the Menagerie series before starting something new. OR, should I just let the Menagerie series be several books long...and write other books when I want to...I have a few weeks to decide on what I want to start on next.
But in the mean time, here's an excerpt from Melange. It's currently up for pre-order with a tentative release date at the end of February. I think I'll release it in January since I'll be sending it out to beta readers in a few days. (Which means it's pretty much done.)
Melange, Chapter 4
She had to do something. Lying in bed was no longer an option. Somehow, someway, she had to prevent Declan and his mom from ever getting on that boat. The floor beneath her feet felt like ice, but she didn’t care. She pulled a pair of overalls and a flannel shirt from her dresser, shoved her feet into a pair of boots, and tugged a black hoodie over her head.
“Where are you going?” Tennyson peeked one sleepy eye open.
“To the docks.”
“What are you going to do?” Tennyson now had both eyes open.
“I’m not sure.” But maybe a salmon would help.
While the moon hung as high as it could go, Lizbet led Trotter out of the barn. She adjusted his saddle and stuffed the frozen salmon into the saddlebag. Of course, it didn’t fit all the way so its head poked up, its mouth gaped open, and its beady black eye glared at her as if it knew her plans.
“You stink,” the horse said.
“Here.” Lizbet drew an apple out of her hoodie’s pocket. “I have something for you.”
Somewhat appeased and not quite as cranky about being woken for a midnight ride, Trotter munched on the apple while Lizbet put one foot in the stirrup and threw the other over Trotter’s back. According to the GPS, they would be able to take trails most of the way to Eleanor Bay. They could bypass most city streets, but a few times they’d have to cross bridges and navigate neighborhoods. Hopefully, they’d do it all in the dark.
They hadn’t gone far before Trotter lifted his muzzle. His nostrils flared and his trot slowed. Lizbet urged him forward, but he balked.
“What is it?”
“I’m not sure.” Trotter sidestepped.
Lizbet patted his neck reassuringly. “Come on, the sooner we deliver the salmon, the sooner we can get home.”
Trotter blew out a noisy breath, bucked up his courage, and pressed forward into the dark night.
Lizbet tried not to worry about wolves, but dark shadows flitting through the trees kept her tingly awake despite the hour.
The moon cast long beams of light across Back Bay. Boats of all shapes and sizes were moored along the docks. Most would be empty, but she couldn’t count on all of them being unoccupied. She led Trotter to a lamppost and tied his reins around it.
“This shouldn’t take long,” she told the horse as she patted his neck. “We’ll be safe in the barn soon.”
The horse looked skeptical, but he didn’t say anything.
Lizbet drew the salmon from the saddlebag. It had thawed slightly on the long trip and now felt slimy and cold. She held it in front of her like a platter. Other than her footsteps echoing on the boardwalk and water slapping the pilings, everything was quiet and still.
Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea. Where were the sea lions?
The chain-link fence surrounding the marina was seven feet high. Lizbet tossed the fish over to the other side before scaling the fence. She landed beside the fish, scooped it up, and went in search of the Gloria Hallelujah.
Like all the other boats in the marina, it was covered by an enormous nylon netting. Leaving the fish on the boardwalk, she got to work.
“Whatcha doing?” A seal popped his black head out of the water.
Lizbet smiled as her apprehension slowly drained away. “Unwrapping this boat.”
“What for?” the seal barked.
“Well, I thought maybe you and your friends would like someplace comfortable to hang.” Lizbet untied the ropes securing the net before rolling it up.
“Maybe I don’t want to share.”
Lizbet finished pulling back the net and rolling it into ball. She straightened, and met the seal's stare. "You don't have to share, but that is a really big fish for you to eat all by yourself.” She picked up the salmon and waved it in the air. As she had expected, several seals and sea lions poked their heads out of the dark water. Lizbet grinned and tossed the fish onto the deck of the Gloria Hallelujah.
The animals, of course, would trash the boat, but she needed to not think of it like that. If the birds were right, she was actually saving the boat. The animals would be much kinder than a bomb. Maybe.
The seals and sea lions grunted, slapped their fins, and squealed as they attacked the salmon.
"So...um...do you think you guys could hang out here?"
No one looked at her.
"I can bring more fish... All I ask is that you stay on this boat. Deal?”
It wasn't a long-term solution, or even a reliable one. After all, Lizbet knew seals and sea lions were notoriously slippery. But she also knew that the animals would hang around at least until tomorrow. But just to be sure, she stripped down to her bra and panties and slipped into the water. The cold enveloped her. She rose sputtering. Then she grabbed the tow rope and started the long swim out of the marina.
Pulling a boat laden with sea animals was not easy. Not that she had thought it would be. "Don't let me drown, okay?"
One seal rose and clapped his fins, applauding her. That was all the encouragement she needed. The bay rippled as she moved through it. She didn't meet resistance until they left the cove. There, the tide roiled and the boat bucked against the waves. Lizbet tugged at the rope and fought the waves for as long as she could.
She heaved onto the deck. The cold air raised goose pimples on her skin. Her arms and legs felt like wet noodles. She scooched the animals with her foot so she could reach the captain's chair. She plopped behind the wheel and pointed it at the rocks jutting out of the water. Inhaling several long breaths, she tried to regain her strength. She would need it for what was coming next. Leaning back, she studied the star-studded sky. Then, when she thought she could, she ran and jumped off the stern of the boat. Mustering her depleted strength, she gave the boat a push. As she’d hoped, the Gloria Hallelujah hit the rocks with a sickening splintering of wood.
Exhausted, Lizbet headed for shore. She slept on Trotter's back all the way home.