Pucker up – it’s Kiss Day!

lips_PNG6198Apparently today, July 6, is International Kiss Day!

http://www.dw.com/en/pucker-up-its-international-kissing-day/a-19381093

So, it seems appropriate to talk kisses! First kiss . . . Fall in love kiss . . . Favorite book or movie kiss . . .

Here’s a kiss scene from my work in progress, Barefoot Days, book three in my Women of Whitfield small-town friendship series:

“Do you remember the first time I kissed you?”

Smiling, Sara looked away as a crazy flush heated her face. She gave a little laugh, remembering the scene exactly. Her first kiss. Ever. So long ago, and tucked so far back in her memory she hadn’t thought of it in years.

Finally, she met his eyes. “Yeah. I remember.” She covered her mouth with her hand as tears welled in her eyes again. “Oh, my gosh, Evan. You gave me my first kiss.”

The boyish smile on his face tugged at her heart.

“Valentine’s Day.”

She nodded. “Yeah. Fifth grade. Sitting on the porch at our old house.” The memory came alive front and center. He’d hidden a pink carnation and a valentine card in his lunch bag. As soon as her mother went inside the house, Evan held the items out to her. When she took them, he grabbed her arm, pressed a kiss to her lips, then turned and ran away. They’d never spoken of it.

She shook her head. “That was so sweet.”

Evan’s brows shot up. “Sweet?” He put a fist to his heart. “Angel, please. Have a little consideration for my man pride.” He took a step closer. “Let me see if I can do better than that.” With a hand caressing the back of her neck, he bent his head again, his warm lips slanting over hers, and was a long time coming up for air.

Do you have a favorite kiss scene? Please share! Authors, feel free to share a SHORT (general audience) kiss from one of your novels!

Whether you get a sweet kid kiss or a hot and steamy tingle-your-toes kiss, have a great day!

 

 

 

For a full body frost . . .

P1060751Several years ago a coworker told me that if I wasn’t heating my bath towels in my microwave, I wasn’t using the appliance to its full potential. Well, I suppose I wasn’t, but there’s no microwave near my bathroom, so it remains under utilized.

However, it happens that I’ve discovered a secondary use for a different home appliance – my side by side refrigerator/freezer.

I haven’t been all that impressed with this appliance. The narrow freezer side doesn’t seem to hold much. It’s chopped up into small compartments. But I like it much better now. Here’s the thing – it goes from floor to well higher than me. Or, from my feet to my face. Yep. Head to toe coverage. That equals full body frost.

I’m guessing that a lot of women around my age have already figured out where this is going. Or maybe you’ve already discovered this feature for yourself. In the throes of hot flash overheating, I can fling open the freezer door and practically step inside. Ahhhhh! One hand goes inside the door, the other on one of the interior shelves. My face is just about even with the blower when the door is open after a minute or so.

So far, it’s about the quickest route to relief I’ve found. But I’d be happy to entertain other suggestions! Go!

In search of the perfect perch

pool horizontalSo Memorial Day is generally viewed as the unofficial start of summer – that time when we all start dreaming of long, tranquil days and free time on our hands, right?

Ahhh, I attempted to ring in my favorite season lounging in the sun on my patio, book in hand. Twice, I took my cushion, book, and iced tea outside. And twice, pop-up showers disrupted my delightful plan and drove me inside again.

I’m still a bit miffed about it. The day started out so promising. Plenty of sunshine and only a few clouds. The guys were gone. The flowers smiled cheerily, finally planted and in their places. The patio beckoned.

Sigh. I’m left hoping, waiting, for the next opportunity. With mosquito season upon us as well, the opportunities on the patio diminish. It will end up being a view I enjoy from behind glass. So where will I perch for summer reading? I don’t see a beach read in my immediate future, but perhaps, a book by the pool. For sure, a book up in the quiet Colorado mountains later in the season. That’s one of my favorite reading spots.

Where are you hoping to hide away with a book this summer?

Mothers of Character

blog orchidIt’s Mother’s Day! The day to honor all of the loving, hard-working moms in our lives. As a daughter, of course, I reflect on the relationship with my mom, so fortunate that she’s still with me and in good health. As a mom, I’m grateful for the joy that my two awesome kids bring to my life. And as a writer, I can’t help thinking about all the mothers in my novels.

Here’s just a quick introduction to a few of them:

There’s Dana, the single mother in Second Wind, who works diligently to provide for her kids, give them a stable home environment, and send them to college. She’s a steadfast encourager who does all she can to give support and direction to her children.

“Chase, like I’ve said a million times, you have so much potential. You can do whatever you want. You need to believe in yourself.”

“Yeah? What good does that do if no one else will?”

“Chase.” She waited until his eyes met hers. “I believe in you.”

 

In Unexpected Legacy, Grace, the hero’s mother, unconditionally accepts the 16-year-old grandson she didn’t know she had.

She got up from her chair and in three quick steps threw her arms around Matt. “Of course we’ll help,” she said as she hugged him tightly. “I want to meet this boy.”

His mother was a slight woman, a good foot shorter than him, but those were the most comforting arms he’d ever been wrapped in.

 

In Something Good, Mandi’s mother plays a supporting role – a steady presence primarily in the background. While Mandi’s relationship with her father is a little rocky, her mother is rock-solid.

Mandi punched in her mother’s number.

“Mom?”

“Mandi? Is something wrong?”

The worry in her mother’s voice tugged at Mandi. She didn’t always see eye-to-eye with her parents, but she could always count on them. They were her safety net, and tonight she wanted to feel safe.

“Yeah, there is. I don’t want to go home tonight. Can I come there?”

“Of course. Are you all right? Where are you? Do you need us to come get you?”

“No. I’ve got my car. I’m leaving the diner now. I’ll tell you about it when I get there.”

“I’ll wait up.”

Light spilled onto the porch, and the front door opened before Mandi stepped out of her car. She hurried up the stairs to the welcoming entryway of her parents’ house, and stumbled into her mother’s arms.

 

The mother/daughter relationship in The Storm Within is complicated. Claire struggles to accept the death of her son and forge a closer relationship with her daughter who’s always played second fiddle. While they haven’t been close, Elise refuses to give up on her mother.

Claire’s fingers grazed the small trinkets.

“You’re not upset that I took Ben’s things and put them in here, are you?”

“Of course not. I love it. And I love that I can still take them out and touch them. It’s very thoughtful, Elise.”

She swallowed hard, and took Elise’s hand. “This has been a tough year for both of us. I know I put you through some bad times. I’m sorry for that.”

When tears spilled down Elise’s cheeks, Claire wiped them away, Ben’s words echoing in her ears again. It’s gonna be okay. “No more tears,” she whispered. She gathered her daughter into her arms. “I love you, honey.”

“Love you, too, Mom.”

Though Elise’s words were muffled, Claire understood each one.

 

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms who love and support unconditionally!

 

 

Authors in Bloom Blog Hop

Dianne Venetta_AIB Logo_2015

Hello, everyone! Thanks for visiting the Authors in Bloom Blog Hop! Spring has sprung, and we’re celebrating! Visit all the authors on the tour for great gardening tips, recipes and a chance to win some fantastic books and prizes!

Here’s my tip:

Location, Location, Location!

My tip is more about how to enjoy your garden than growing or protecting it. If you’re considering a water feature, here’s something you might want to think about:

yellow birds

Birds love water features. Now, you may love birds, but do you want them on your patio? Trust me. You don’t.

My husband and I installed a water feature a few years ago. We thought we had the perfect place for it –– a small cut-out in our patio, at the edge, near the house. We’d be able to see the feature and birds from inside the house. And, of course, we’d hear the water bubbling pleasantly when we were outside on the patio. We like the birds, and I love the sound of the water.

The problem? It’s not a good location. A couple of times a year there must be something the birds eat that makes them very thirsty. They converge on the water — and patio — in great multitudes. And they leave a little something behind. Yep. Bird poop. Everywhere. On the patio, the chairs, the pillows, the cushions . . . ugh.

I was prepared for the annual winterizing and refilling. But I wasn’t prepared for the constant clean-up detail. Consider placing your feature a little farther out where birds can perch on trees or shrubs rather than patio furniture. Choose wisely, friends! And enjoy your outdoor space!

 

PRIZES!

Leave a comment (and your email contact info in case you are a winner!) to enter the giveaway drawing. To be eligible for the Grand Prize, you MUST visit and comment on each participating author’s site!

GRAND PRIZE: We are giving away a Kindle Fire or Nook (winner’s choice) along with a 2nd prize of $25 gift card. Woo-hoo!!

DARLENE’S PRIZE: I’m offering two prizes:

  1. a signed paperback copy of one of my novels plus author swag. Please note, will be mailed to U.S. resident only.
  2. a digital copy of one of my novels — international eligibility

For “extra” entries in my giveaway, follow my blog or my Facebook page!

Darlene’s Facebook

The Tour ends April 16th at 11:59pm EST. Tell your friends!

 

Visit all the participating authors, and leave your comment!

Good Luck, and Happy Spring to all!

Click on the link below to see all authors

AUTHORS

 

 

You’re Gonna Need a Bigger Bag

bagIn honor of spring’s arrival, I have changed from my black winter goes-with-everything purse to a bright, fun bag. I love the bag – it’s a great color, and it has perfect pockets for keys, phone and little stuff. It’s a little bigger than what I normally carry, but going into spring and summer, that’s OK, because I tend to add things like a trial-size tube of sunscreen or DEET wipes. I like to be prepared. Anyone remember the game show Let’s Make a Deal? I could have been a serious contender. 🙂

And then I see women out and about with these cute little designer bags. Darling wristlets that hold no more than a credit card and driver’s license, and I can’t help but think where is all your stuff?! Where do these women keep their sunglasses, reading glasses, checkbook, lipstick, tissues, coupons and member cards, pens, mints, nail file, keys, Advil, phone, etc., etc.? It’s not a rhetorical question. Where?!

In my purse, I carry necessities such as hand wipes, safety pins, a mirror, a tape measure. No, really. Aren’t these necessary in your day-to-day life? And now I have reading glasses. And swag. Yes, I carry bookmarks and Darlene Deluca pens and lip balm where ever I go. You never know when I’ll have the opportunity to strike up a conversation with a reader!

I do own a few small bags that I use for special occasions or when I know that a large bag will simply be in the way – or I’ll have other things to carry. But if I routinely carried only a tiny tote, who would be the keeper of the stuff? My husband doesn’t like big purses, but I can’t tell you how many times he’s asked me to keep his wallet, or a brochure in my purse. Or the number of times he’s asked me for a pen or a wipe or sunscreen or some other item, fully expecting that I have said item in my purse! When a kid needs a Band-aid, or a tissue, or a cough drop . . . guess who they come to? Pretty darned handy, huh?

Over the weekend I happened across a conversation on one of my Facebook groups about this very topic. And guess what? The general consensus was that every woman needs to carry a bag at least large enough to carry their Kindle or a book! Yes! I found my group. I love these people! They get it. Some things are necessary, and they are bigger than a credit card! And I heartily agree – carry a book with you at all times. I can’t think of a better reason for a big bag!

What’s the largest item in your purse?

 

Fun-for-all instead of Free-for-all

egghuntBy now you’ve probably heard of the Easter egg hunt gone bad in Orange, Conn. that was sponsored by the Pez Candy Co. Can you relate? Have you ever attempted a public Easter egg hunt? I have. And they generally aren’t much fun. Too many kids, too few prizes, too much frustration.

In my limited experience with such events, some kids always got loads of eggs while others got none. They were mostly a frenzy of confusion for the younger kids – parents screaming or dragging them along. Or no parental supervision of bully-types with no self restraint. There were always kids at different ages, some bigger, some faster, some pushing other kids out of their way. Sadly, such hunts expose an ugly side of humanity in what is supposed to be a fun event in celebration of a Christian holiday.

After attending a few of these events when my daughter was young, I swore off of them. And started my own. My goal was to create a nicer, gentler, more civilized affair. I did it by taking out the competitive component, and eliminating the free-for-all battleground, which, in turn, added the fun!

For about ten years, I hosted an Easter Egg hunt/party for friends and neighborhood kids. I had rules – rules designed to make the event FUN and FAIR for the KIDS! Simple: Younger kids got a head start, and every kid got the same number of eggs.

Of course, on a much smaller scale, it was much easier to orchestrate. And with friends. By invitation only. (I believe there was only one kid who got booted off the invitation list for obnoxious behavior such as greedily grabbing too many eggs or opening an egg then tossing it back if he didn’t like what was inside. Seriously.)

My husband and I would fill and hide 700 to 1,000 plastic eggs. We have a large yard, and a vacant lot behind our property, which is owned by a neighbor gracious enough to allow us to use it.

When everyone gathered, I counted the number of children and divided the number of eggs by that number (maybe minus one or two just in case someone showed up late or all the eggs couldn’t be found). Most years this gave each child 20-25 eggs. The kids were told that once they got to that number of eggs they were done. They could have a cookie and something to drink, then pick a spot and sit down and open their eggs.

The eggs were filled with candy and small prizes such as bouncy balls, coins, nail polish, etc. I went to great lengths to find fun, age-appropriate prizes. And gender-specific ones, too. Blue eggs had boy prizes, and pink eggs had girl prizes. All the others were gender neutral.

It was great fun. For kids and parents. It became a tradition that friends looked forward to. And I’m pretty sure everyone went home happy.  🙂

What holiday traditions have you started? Or ended?!

It’s really not the U.S. of A.

waterfallSo, Puerto Rico.

It’s a United States Territory. You don’t have to have a passport to go there. And they’ll take your American dollars just fine. But don’t let anyone tell you it’s the same as being in the U.S. It’s not.

I was there with the fam for spring break last week. Overall, I’d say we had a good time . . . but not everything went as expected. Just in case you ever decide to visit this tropical island, here are a couple of key things you might want to know: 1. Not everyone speaks English. Or, not well. 2. Yes, they drive on the right side of the streets there, but the highway signs are in SPANISH. There’s no selecting “1” to get the information in English. So if you plan to rent a car to do some sightseeing, you might want to brush up on your Espanol. It’s particularly helpful to know that East is Este, West is Oeste, etc. Fortunately, on the day we drove to the El Yunque rain forest, we had our son, who has just finished his second college-level Spanish class, with us. But then for a few days . . . we didn’t.

Oh, one other thing – Puerto Rico has crazy, bumper to bumper traffic! No one I talked to, no websites I perused or travel brochures I looked at ever mentioned the bad traffic. Getting from San Juan to Palmas Del Mar at 4 p.m. was truly as bad as driving in L.A., which is where we usually find ourselves on spring break. The taxi driver at the San Juan airport was not pleased about drawing our number that afternoon! Didn’t need fluency in Spanish to read his body language and figure that out.

Also, unless you have AT&T cell service, you’re going to rack up some significant charges if you want to use your phone’s GPS to help you get around. And don’t expect things to run on time. Well, according to a schedule, that is. Everything there is on “island time.” So when the hotel staff says the concierge will be there at 9 a.m., he might show up within the hour. Just because the guy at the golf cart/car rental place answers the phone and says you can pick up said vehicle, it does NOT mean he’s actually at the rental office. But don’t worry, he’ll get there eventually! An 8:30 snorkeling expedition? You could leave the marina around 9:30-ish. Maybe. If you’re a go-with-the-flow, “whatever” kind of person, this will be no problem for you. But if you’re used to running on time and scheduling activities, you might find the hurry-up-and-wait routine a little frustrating. I suggest you take a deep breath – and avoid wearing a watch.

In the first couple of days we were there, I found myself thinking I’d never go back, but as the week progressed, things improved. Once we got to the resort area and figured out the lay of the land (I mean found the pool and beach), we did OK. We had good food, found places to watch the NCAA basketball games, and enjoyed the sunshine and warm temperatures. Most people were friendly and helpful, and it was great to see both of my kids!

I’d go back – I’d just have different expectations! 🙂

So many sights to see!

Fallslibertyorca

With Spring Break upon us, and the promise of summer in the not-too-distant future (yay!) I’m thinking vacation!

I enjoy road trips and sightseeing. I think my favorite vacations combine a little nature and relaxation with exploring famous places. Most, well, all of my travel (except that brief cross into Canada to see Niagara Falls) has been in the United States. Though I’d love to cross the pond one of these days, there’s a lot to see in the good ol’ U.S. of A.

Here are the Top 10 American landmarks or national parks I’ve been to so far:

  1. Mt. Rushmore
  2. Grand Canyon
  3. Badlands
  4. Yellowstone Park/Old Faithful
  5. Top of Pike’s Peak
  6. Olympic National Park
  7. Niagara Falls
  8. The Statue of Liberty
  9. The National Mall (monuments) including Capitol, White House, Library of Congress and several Smithsonian museums.
  10. Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado

Some other cool places or sights I’ve seen include Joshua Tree National Park, the Golden Gate Bridge and Sonoma/Napa wine areas, orcas in the San Juan Islands, Chincoteague/Assateague islands and the outerbanks of North Carolina, Sunrise at Haleakala National Park (volcano) in Maui, the bluebonnets blooming in Texas, Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Forest, and Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. Of course all of these places represent an adventure with stories all their own — I’ll get to those some other time. 🙂

Places I’d still like to explore some day: the Everglades, Bryce Canyon, Yosemite National Park, and Alaska/glaciers/Denali.

Which American landmark is your favorite, and what’s still on your list?