Fall . . . season of love or loss?

Well, it’s that time of year. So far this week, I’ve: 1. Worn socks. 2. Turned on my electric blanket. 3. Turned the heat on in my house. Sigh.

Yes, it’s pretty out. Sort of. We’re seeing yellow, orange and red in some of the trees. But it’s messy, too. The patio is littered with leaves, as is the yard. Leaves are caught in the bushes, ground cover and patio furniture. We have a lot of trees, and I can’t keep up. (Not to mention the oak mites.)

A few flowers are valiantly trying to hang in there, but you can tell the jig is up. It’s that time of year. The mornings are chilly. The days are shorter. Those pretty falling leaves are just a prelude of what’s to come.

And that’s my whole issue with fall.

For many, fall is a favorite season. You like the milder temps. You’re ready to wrap up in scarves and sweaters. For me, fall is a loss. A warning. It’s the mourning of long, warm summer days. Yep, end of October, and I’m still mourning summer. It’s my season. Flip flops! No coats, jackets, scarves, gloves and other baggage to haul around and keep track of. No warming up the car. No raking or scraping or shoveling!IMG_2451

So, facing the inevitable, I pulled a few waning plants out of sad-looking pots and put some pumpkins on the porch. Ah, pumpkins! Now there’s a bright spot in fall. I have to say, I’m happy to be done with the days of finding the perfect pumpkin patch and making costumes and trick-or-treating. But I do like the pumpkins even if they’re just bought at the neighborhood grocery store. This weekend, we’ll hollow them out and roast the seeds. And for a day or two, I’ll enjoy the fruits of fall. 🙂

What do you enjoy about fall?

A weekend of bookish fun awaits!

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OK, who’s looking for some fun? If you’re in the Dallas area, you won’t want to miss this! Bring a friend, your book club, or just yourself and join us for Readers and ’ritas Nov. 10 -13. Parties, books, authors, scavenger hunt, swag, prizes . . . and did I mention fun?!

I’m so looking forward to this event. I love visiting with readers and chatting about books. Add in food and drink, and what’s not to like, right? And for me, another exciting plus is that the weather is Dallas is currently projected to be in the low- to mid-70s for that weekend. Woo-hoo. In other words, perfect!

Click here for the full agenda and list of authors and guest speakers.

Hope to see you there!

 

Last Gasp of Summer

I know some of you are fawning over the onset of fall. You delight in cooler temperatures, sweaters and pumpkin spice. I get it. Fall is generally pretty nice. But I lament for summer. I love the warm, sunny days. I enjoy sipping iced tea by the pool or in the shade and being WARM. Yes, fall can be warmish, but it’s the prelude to cold – the calm before the storm. Ugh. Winter. I truly hate winter.

So, with that in mind, I’m enjoying the last gasp of summer! I’m trying to ignore the subtle color in my dogwood trees and focus on the final rose buds and blooms. Only a few days ago I was in Colorado and came across this gorgeous field of wild flowers. Even as a few aspen were beginning to turn yellow, these cheery flowers were standing tall, keeping up the appearance of a bright summer season. It makes me smile just to look at the photos. Hope they cheer you, too! 🙂

What season brings you the most joy?

 

Chasing the Sun

Eclipse day dawned gray and rainy. En route to our viewing destination in rural Missouri, my sister and I drove through thick, overcast skies and rain – our spirits dampening with each mile and minute that passed without a glimpse of the sun.

Over the next few hours, the rain came and went and came again. Clouds dispersed and then reformed. And we waited. We worried and we wondered. What were the odds of getting clear skies at the right moment?

P1080033Our watch party was at a vineyard that offered wine tasting and a barbecue lunch – nice ambiance and additions to the eclipse event itself. The wine and the barbecue were excellent. The view, not so much.

With less than an hour to go before totality, the clouds were thinning, but we faced a decision. Take our chances and stay or hit the road again and chase the sun? From our deck-top table, the umbrella soaked with rain, we pondered our options. In the distance we could see a spot of clear blue sky. But exactly how far was it? And would it stay clear? Would the clouds get there before we could?

We decided we couldn’t sit and wait. So we chugged the remainder of our wine, and set out to chase the sun! A good choice!! We made it to clear skies, and stopped along the road beside a corn field. Had the place all to ourselves.

It was awesome! We saw the entire movement from start to finish. Totality was very cool. It didn’t go night-time dark, but it cooled a little, and was something like dusk. To me, it actually felt like the calm before a tornado.

Didn’t get many good pictures with my basic camera, but I made sure to look at totality without the camera so that I have a good mental image of it. So glad I did this. Already looking forward to the next one! Planning to be in Dallas on April 8, 2024! 🙂

Did you get a chance to see the eclipse?

Ice cream makes everything better!

It’s National Ice Cream Day. Yes, I guess it’s a thing. But does anyone really need a national day to enjoy a cup, cone or bowl of their favorite ice cream? Not me!

But, hey, I’ll play along. I’ve recently taken quite a liking to a pistachio gelato at Spin Pizza. But my all-time go-to fave is Haagen Dazs Vanilla Swiss Almond.IMG_1789

So in honor of this day, I’m sharing a scene from my first novel, Unexpected Legacy, which takes place around . . . you guessed it. Ice cream, of course!

Unexpected_Legacy_CoverUnexpected Legacy:

“It’s very nice to meet you,” Pattie continued. “My kids are dying to meet you, too, but we’ll save that for another day. Just remember, though, the longer you put it off, the more excited they’re going to be. That means the more wild and obnoxious they’ll get. And I won’t thank you when they start driving me crazy.”
Matt couldn’t help but grin as Brady stared at his aunt. She must’ve seemed crazy already to him.
“Well, I can see you’re a talker,” Pattie told Brady. “But since you shouldn’t talk and eat at the same time, we’re just going to leave this for you. We’ll collect the utensils later. Unless you decide to come out for dessert. Ice cream with caramel and whipped cream.”
With that, she winked at Brady and breezed out the door. Matt nodded at his son. “Need anything else?”
Brady shook his head.
**
While the others dug into the ice cream, Matt gathered up the empty pizza boxes and shoved them into the large plastic trash bin in his garage, grateful for the few moments of silence the task afforded him. He didn’t want to be rude, but he hoped Pattie and the kids would leave soon. He was ready to crash, or at least settle into the couch in front of some mind-numbing television.
He started back to the kitchen then heard Tess shriek, “There he is!”
Matt bounded up the stairs in time to see Brady standing in the hallway. All heads swiveled toward him.
Matt’s mother was the first to greet Brady.
“Brady, would you like some ice cream?”
He shrugged. “Sure.”
Pattie restrained Tess, who’d jumped from her chair, about to charge Brady.
“How ’bout caramel and whipped cream?” Nonie asked.
“Uh, sure,” Brady said.
“Well, come on in and sit down,” Matt’s dad said, pulling out a chair for him.
Brady took a few more steps, then plopped into the chair. Matt’s dad took the crutches from him and leaned them against a corner.
Matt held his breath as Brady looked around the table, making eye contact with the other kids.
“Brady,” Pattie spoke up and nudged Tess, who’d suddenly gone shy and was holding on to her mother. “This is your cousin, Tess.”
“Hi, Tess,” Brady said.
She turned away and hid behind Pattie.
Matt shook his head, not sure he’d ever understand children, no matter how many books he read.
Pattie went around the table. “And this is Alex. And Jeremy.”
They both mumbled a hello, and Brady nodded.
Nonie set a heaping bowl of ice cream in front of Brady.
“Now let him eat his ice cream,” she told the kids, as if they were clamoring to talk to him, rather than staring, tongue-tied. “And you eat yours, too. Jeremy, you’re making a mess. Here, use this napkin.”
Scott stood up and reached a hand toward Brady. “Hello, Brady, I’m Scott. These hooligans belong to me.”
Brady offered Scott about half a smile, and shook his hand. “Hi.”
“How’d you like to babysit some time?” Scott asked, a grin spreading across his face.
The room erupted in laughter, and the awkwardness seemed to subside.
Matt nodded at Brady, secretly proud of him for venturing out of the bedroom and facing the situation. It showed courage, and that was something they’d both need a healthy dose of in the coming months.

Click here to read more

And happy scooping! Feel free to share your fave with us!

 

Fireworks of a Different Kind

Don’t you love feisty characters who create fireworks on the page or the screen? Those women and underdogs who stand up for their rights or fight against the establishment are often the ones we connect with. The ones who make us clap and cheer.

In honor of July 4th – fireworks day, and the day that a bunch of people said “enough,” I thought I’d take some time to think about the fictional folks who make us say, “You go, girl!”

20170513Norma-Rae1The first one that comes to mind, and I’m probably showing my age here, is Norma Rae – the classic story of a young woman (played by Sally Fields) taking on big business to get union representation. Who didn’t cheer when she shut down her machine and climbed up on that table with her sign? It’s so iconic, that I refer to these kinds of scenes as Norma Rae Moments.

Remember when Jewell Ivy in “Country” told that banker he’d better come with more than a piece of paper to take her family’s land?

Or how about when single mom Erin Brockovich took on big business over chromium contamination and won? You go, girl!

Do you like these kinds of feisty characters? One of my all-time favorite romance books also features a great Norma Rae Moment. In Paradise, by Judith McNaught, Meredith Bancroft has finally had it. After years of being pushed around by her father and later the board of directors of his company, she finds the courage to fight back, and gives a stunned group of men a piece of her mind. In standing up for her principles, she stands up for herself and the love of her life. It’s a fun read.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000026_00031]In one of my Women of Whitfield novels, Second Wind, single mom Dana Gerard has a similar “I’ve had enough” moment. She’s tired of keeping her nose to the grindstone. Of not making any waves to protect her job. She’s good at what she does. She’s responsible and then some. So when her integrity is challenged, she refuses to take it sitting down.

Sneak peek without spoilers:

It was hard to keep her cool when fire flared inside. This guy was going to get his answer. Gathering her courage, Dana gripped the arms of the chair, and pulled herself erect. “Thank you. I’d be happy to address that, Mr. Newman.”

She glanced around the room, making eye contact with the other people, who shifted uncomfortably and looked as though they’d like to be anywhere else.

I know there are many, many more examples in both books and movies. Share your favorite Norma Rae Moment and let’s enjoy the fireworks!

Happy Fourth to all!

Happy Father’s Day to a fave fictional dad

Matt Dalton hasn’t celebrated Father’s Day in 16 years. That’s because for 16 years he didn’t know he was a father. Imagine his surprise when he’s suddenly called in as reinforcement in a traumatic situation.

Parenting is hard enough under normal circumstances, right? And teens? Whoa, pour me a drink. How about a hostile teen who doesn’t even know you?

Well, Matt Dalton steps up to the plate. And does a pretty fine job of it. It’s not easy, but with patience and baby steps, he manages to earn his son’s trust.

In a heartwarming tale that’s part coming-of-age and a little romance, father and son maneuver through tough times to forge a bond that strengthens them both.

Unexpected_Legacy_CoverUnexpected Legacy, a compelling story of bravery, compromise and resilience:

Matt Dalton’s world is spinning off its axis. Without warning, he’s thrown into the world of parenting a teenager. Matt meets his son for the first time when the sixteen-year-old is dealing with the consequences of a tragic car accident. Not only has Brady lost his best friend, he faces disability and scars both physical and emotional.

Determined to do whatever it takes to give his son a second chance, Matt looks to his alma mater to step up and help Brady regain his athletic abilities and sense of self. But sparks fly when he meets the high school principal, the captivating Kate Austen. Kate is ready to take Brady under her wing, but to her that means helping him refocus and find a new passion – using his brains rather than his brawn. Kate fully expects the younger Dalton to come with issues and challenges . . . his father may prove to be the biggest one of all.

Though the chemistry is hard to ignore, Kate fights to keep her personal feelings and professional life separate. At the same time, Matt struggles to gain his son’s trust, and Brady must face the road to recovery and find a way to accept the changes in his life.

Click here to learn more

Do you have a favorite fictional dad?