It’s a Good One!

CoverOnly.SG.lowresI’ve been waiting for several weeks for this review, keeping my fingers crossed, of course, that it would be positive. It just came in yesterday, and I have to share! Something Good passes the test of Kirkus Reviews!

TITLE INFORMATION
SOMETHING GOOD
Darlene Deluca
CreateSpace (322 pp.)
$13.99 paperback, $3.99 e-book
ISBN: 978-1-4959-1795-0; March 13, 2014
BOOK REVIEW
An unlikely romance begins in a greasy spoon outside a soulless chain hotel.
When Lane Whitmore first meets Miranda “Mandi” Evans, she is working as a waitress in the depressed part of Texas he’s researching for his next project as an urban planner. Lane invites Mandi to his hotel room after her shift, but when she’s reluctant to tell him any details about her life, he worries that the beautiful woman with the haunted eyes might have more baggage than he’s willing to unpack. Back in her trailer park, Mandi harbors a shameful secret that she’s desperate to atone for, and she thinks she’s found a way to do it without ruining her ambitions to move to California and finish school. But her good intentions aren’t enough to keep her past trauma from threatening her future happiness. Mandi’s secret plan for redemption is commendable but complicated—maybe too complicated for Lane. Though Mandi’s dingy surroundings initially cast her in an unflattering fluorescent light, they also illuminate the camaraderie and determination of poor working women, whose managers walk them to their cars at night to make sure they’re safe, yet pay them so little that they can only afford to live in flimsy trailers in bad parts of town. There is something undeniably alluring about the flicker of the neon vacancy sign in Deluca’s (Her Greatest Risk, 2015, etc.) novel. It’s the nitty-gritty details that make this improbable romance unfold in such an unusual and affecting way. While Lane wonders how a girl from a wealthy family could end up living this way, Mandi ponders how an urban planner could be so blind to her plight. They’re not entirely sure they can even trust each other, let alone start a relationship, but their mutual
attraction should keep readers coming back for more.
This tale’s seedy premise featuring a Texas waitress evolves into an absorbing story of redemption that’s hard to put down. – Kirkus Reviews

Get Something Good on Amazon

A Scary Bump in the Night

strokeIt’s almost Halloween, but the bump I’m referring to had nothing to do with Halloween. There were no ghosts or creepy costumed characters or ax-wielding zombies.

The thing that went bump in the night was . . . my dad.

It happened a few nights ago when he got out of bed for a visit to the bathroom, and found that his legs wouldn’t carry him. They cramped, and he fell. He was aware enough to know something was wrong, but he didn’t make the connection. He was suffering a stroke.

Like those men who refuse to ask for directions, my dad is reluctant to ask for help. Rather than banging on the wall or yelling for my mother, he spent the entire night – nine hours – on the floor. This, it turns out, is one of the more dire consequences of snoring. My mother, unable to sleep through the noise, had gone to another room upstairs, and had no idea anything had happened until the next morning when she finally realized he was sleeping later than usual.

His stroke was the bleeding kind, and not the clot kind, so getting the clot-busting medicine in a hurry was not a factor. Still, damage was done. Who knows whether getting to the hospital nine hours earlier would have made a difference. I can’t help but think it might’ve. Of course, we’re all still scratching our heads over the fact that he didn’t call for help. Really, if you fall and can’t get up – it’s okay to yell and wake someone up!

The brain is a funny thing. Dad was able to relate the story of what had happened, and even what time. He’s alert and able to communicate. He has strength in his arms and legs, but there is a disconnect. Though he can feel his toes, and move them, he can’t tell whether they are on the floor, so he can’t stand up. He has no sense of balance. He’ll be transferred to a rehab facility in a day or two, where he will, hopefully, regain his balance and learn to walk again. Doctors are optimistic that he’ll get there and have full mobility again. That’s certainly our hope. No wheelchairs. No permanent disabilities. And, please, no more bumps in the night.

Remember the acronym FAST to help you spot the signs of a stroke.

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!

 

 

 

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!

 

 

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! 🙂

Giddy Gratitude for my Garage

snow saabToday, both of my kids are likely to experience snow and/or freezing rain. Both have cars. Neither one has a garage. So I’m appreciating the little luxuries . . . like a garage.

When my husband and I first got married, we lived in an apartment complex. No garage or carport. When we moved to our first house, the one-car garage came with a heavy wooden door that I couldn’t lift — and no remote. My husband’s car was only a year old. Mine was probably 10. Guess who got the garage?

Living in the Midwest, that means I have had many years of experience in the miserable task of de-icing, scraping and clearing snow from one’s vehicle. I, unfortunately, am experienced in the qualities and pros and cons of a variety of scraping techniques and tools. For example, a long-handled scraper with brush on one side is, of course, essential for a small person who cannot reach the middle of the windshield without leaning into the snow and ice covering the hood of the car. For solid ice, I’ve found that a metal scraper is more effective than a hard plastic scraper. I know that the trash bag or cardboard windshield covering will only work if there is no wind. There were those years when I must’ve had four or five different scraping tools of various materials and quality rattling around in my car during the winter months. At the time there was no such thing as a heated scraper. The most newfangled, techie tool I ever had was a scraper sewn into a glove-like bag that was designed to help keep the working hand a little warmer.

I know the frustration of leaving work to find my car covered in ice or snow, adding many minutes to an already tedious commute. I know the agony of standing in the bitter cold attempting to open a car door so that I could start the car, hoping to pump a little warm air onto the windshield, only to find said door frozen shut. Oh, the misery that winter can bring!

So today while I’m feeling sorry for my kids, I’m feeling a giddy kind of gratitude for my garage. (A little adversity builds, character, right?!) It’s now been almost 25 years since I’ve had to park my car outside on a regular basis! Ah, the glee of waking on a snowy morning and not being faced with task of digging out. The blessing of driving down the street with a perfectly clear windshield and brake lights that can be seen, in a car that’s not spewing snow at others drivers!

In our current home, we have a two-car garage. And two cars. We also have a bunch of other junk in the garage – garden clippers, gas cans, rakes, shovels, bicycles, etc. It’s a tight squeeze. I have to warn guests getting into my car on the passenger side to be careful that they don’t end up with a hatchet in their head. But until I move to Palm Springs, any or all of these implements will be kicked to the curb before I give up my space in the garage. There’s no going back!!

Sending good wishes to everyone dealing with snow and ice this week. Stay safe!

Is your car sheltered? Any tips or tricks for clearing snow and ice?