Sale! 99 cents for A BRIDGE TO LOVE!

I have a smashing new cover for A BRIDGE TO LOVE, so I’m celebrating with a 99-cent sale on Kindle and Nook!

Click to buy on: Kindle  or Nook.

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Kate Chilton, recently widowed, struggles to raise two young sons alone, drawing on memories of her happy marriage to help her through the toughest times.  When she discovers that her marriage was not what it seemed, the foundation of her world is shattered.  Angry and betrayed, she turns to a man whom she knows she can walk away from.

Randall Johnson has clawed his way up the ladder of success from a dirt-poor childhood in rural Texas.  He has no time for love and prefers women who understand his rules.  Kate Chilton is definitely not his type, no matter how the electricity crackles between them.  However, when she kisses him, his self-control goes up in flames.  And when she tells him he’s just a one-night stand, he refuses to take “no” for an answer.

Kate must build a bridge from her shattered past into her future.

 Randall must bridge the gulf of distrust between himself and the woman who has reached his heart.

 

Goodreads giveaway: two autographed ARCS of The CEO Buys In

A quick heads-up for my loyal blog readers–love you guys! I’m giving away two autographed Advance Reader’s Copies of my upcoming release THE CEO BUYS IN on Goodreads. Click here to enter! It’s free. Good luck in the drawing!

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Memorial Day: The comfort of tradition

Memorial Day is about remembering. Tradition is cultural memory. That brings me to my annual Memorial Day parade blog post. You’ll find the photos that I took this year almost indistinguishable from the photos I took last year and the year before. And I like it that way. Because it’s tradition and tradition is comforting.

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Our town parade always begins with classic cars. That’s about memory, right? The cars are from the eras when the men and women we are honoring today lived and died. Their distinctive lines take us back to the old days when things seemed simpler.

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The marching band is the highlight of the parade with its upbeat rendition of “Stars and Stripes Forever”.  I love a band in general but this marching band brings back personal memories of my daughter’s wonderful four years as part of a supportive, tight-knit group. I was a roadie for the band so I worked side-by-side with the kids and got to know what interesting human beings they were. While I no longer know any of the faces in the band, it comforts me to know that the tradition continues. Yes, I get a little weepy as they march by so proudly.

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At the end of the parade, all the spectators and participants congregate to salute the flag, hear the mayor’s speech, and say a few prayers. But the most moving part of the ceremony is that each year the grand marshal reads the names of every serviceman from our town who lost his life in service to his country. They are the same names year after year. I can even recite some of them. But it’s so important to pay tribute to their memories. Such sacrifice should never be forgotten.

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Why does an occasion that’s essentially sad comfort me? Because it demonstrates that despite the sadness, life goes on. Although my daughter is grown and no longer plays her trumpet, the band continues to provide a home for other musical kids. The men whose memory we honor made their sacrifice so that my town and other towns across the world could hold parades, host cookouts, and raise our children in safety.

It’s as though the parade continues to march onward through the decades in a continuous stream. As we grow and change, we step in and out of the flow, but it is always there, waiting for us.

A surprising high school reunion

I have a confession to make: I went to an all-girls boarding school. People think that’s weird— that my parents didn’t love me or something—but it was one of the best things my parents did for me. Boarding school was where I began to flourish as a person and a writer. In fact, I didn’t know I could write until my teachers there told me I had some talent and gave me ways to nurture it.

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So I was happy to return to the Shipley School in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, for my mumblety-mumble (not telling how many years have passed since graduation) high school reunion. Sadly, the boarding department is now shuttered; some rooms are used for classrooms or offices, while most are simply falling into disrepair until the wing gets torn down to make way for a new building.

Shipley is now only a day school which makes me a bit sad. I believe the mix of day students who were rooted in the surrounding community and boarders who brought in a whiff of farther-away places was brilliant.

Here’s a photo of one of the corridors of the now empty boarding department:

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When I see those bright orange-and-yellow walls, I remember the intense late-night conversations about the meaning of Life or the existence of God. Yes, we wrestled with those questions. We were flexing our young, inquisitive minds. Of course, we also debated the merits of various young men from various boys’ schools in the vicinity…and that was fun too. We were drunk on learning and thinking and experiencing. It was an explosive period of growth.

I felt great curiosity as I re-encountered my classmates after mumblety-mumble years. Some I have kept in touch with, but many I glimpse only on Facebook or not at all. We’ve lost four class members to death. Other classmates do not wish to be found because their experience at Shipley was not as positive as mine. But nearly half of our small class, both day students and boarders, returned.

We talked to each other for about forty-eight hours, sharing our life histories. Some classmates have suffered terrible tragedies: chronic, debilitating disease, the loss of a spouse, the loss of a child. Yet they’ve soldiered on. In fact, my overwhelming impression was of an extraordinarily rich tapestry of accomplishment, commitment, and passion. We have grown into artists, teachers, financial experts, nurses, consultants, marketers, physical therapists, writers, environmentalists, small business owners, and so much more. Many of us have had more than one career, re-evaluating and reinventing ourselves.

We’ve done all this while marrying, divorcing, remarrying–or not, raising children, caring for elderly parents, battling health issues of our own and our loved ones, and giving back to our communities.

And here we are:

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I tried to decide if I could have predicted each woman’s life course from what I remembered of her as a Shipley student. Not a chance. Each story was so much larger and more vibrant than anything I could have conjured up from my imagination.

Shipley’s school motto is “Courage for the deed; grace for the doing.” It seems that those words sank into our young souls. In truth, my classmates have lived up to that mantra in spades. Shipley should be proud of the women it has launched into the world, and I am so honored to be one of them.

Jazzercise: What’s in it for me?

Anne Lamott, a wise woman and amazing writer, recently wrote down “every single thing” she knows “as of today.” (You should read the entire essay; it’s brilliant!) Item #13 on her list is Exercise, about which she says, “If you want to have a good life after you have grown a little less young, you must walk almost every day. There is no way around this.”

I love to walk but I have discovered it’s not enough to keep my middle-aged body revving. I need more. Lucky for me, there’s Jazzercise. I know, I know: You’re tired of me telling you how wonderful it is. However, I got to thinking about WHY I love Jazzercise so much. Here are my reasons:

  1. It’s a community of women. Sure, every now and then on a weekend a man wanders in but during the week, it’s all us girls.jazzercise
  2. I walk in wearing Spandex—which is not my best look—and no makeup and no one judges me. Because everyone else is wearing the same thing.
  3. We support each other. When my fellow Jazzercisers found out I was an author, many of them went out and bought my books. (Thank you, ladies! Your enthusiasm means so much to me!)
  4. The music is fun. It’s pop which is meant to appeal to all of us, after all. You can sing along. It’s often about love which is a topic I spend a lot of time with, being a romance writer and all. The best part: I can freak my children out by knowing the words to the music they listen to.
  5. Dancing has been proven to reduce the risk of dementia. Enough said.
  6. As a writer, I spend a lot of time in my head, so it’s a wonderful contrast to spend an hour really, truly inhabiting my body and enjoying how it moves.
  7. Jazzercise is something I do just for me. I’m not trying to excel at it. I’m not trying to impress anyone (see #2). I’m not doing it to sell books (although it has had that surprise benefit-see #3). It’s all about letting loose and being a different, freer version of moi.jazzercise leap
  8. It’s a break from all my responsibilities. For one hour, I put myself in the hands of the fabulous, energetic, smiling instructors and let them guide me. No thought required on my part.

So that’s my love poem to exercise the Jazzercise way. We are all growing “less young” but we don’t have to let our bodies slide into disuse because of that. Dance as though no one is watching! I do.

D.C. in spring: Flowers everywhere!

Spring came late to the mid-Atlantic this year which means I got lucky: my long-planned trip to Washington, DC, landed me squarely amidst the glorious display of DC’s famous cherry blossoms. But there were other flowers to enjoy as well…

My first stop was at the National Gallery of Art where their entrance hall was awash in spring.

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I had to visit my favorite artist, Van Gogh, and even he had jumped on the floral bandwagon. I love the Girl in White, surrounded by poppies:

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I know that a Persian poet says you should buy hyacinths to feed your soul, but I needed real food, so there was a stop at the new and delicious DBGB Kitchen and Bar (the DB stands for Daniel Boulud; that man can cook!). The mini Madeleines, warm from the oven, were to die for!

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Then it was time for the main event: the cherry blossoms. I will simply post the photos I took using nothing more sophisticated than my cell phone. The beauty speaks for itself.

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And finally, just to give you an idea of how many other folks were enjoying the cherry blossoms, this image:

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But everyone was in a great mood, smiling even if you walked through the photo they were trying to take (which was unavoidable in the crowd). Beauty has that effect on people.

You win some; you lose some

Last month I participated in two challenges: one for my mind and one for my body. The mental challenge was Jersey Romance Writing Month (JeRoWriMo) where the goal is to write 30,000 words in 28 days. The physical challenge was to attend 30 Jazzercise classes in 35 days.

The winner:

I wrote 31,139 words in February! Woohoo!

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But there are far more benefits to that accomplishment than just a badge to display (oh, and we get chocolate at the celebration in March).

  1.  I am almost halfway through my current work-in-progress, THE QUARTERBACK ANTES UP, the second book in my new Wager of Hearts series. (The first book, THE CEO BUYS IN releases on July 21.) That’s a nice chunk of a book to be finished with in the second month of the new year since my deadline is September 30th.
  2.  I was reminded of how much easier it is to write when you do it every day so your head is always in the story. Otherwise it takes a lot of extra time and effort to remind yourself of who your characters are and where they’re going. Daily writing means that I am ready to go the minute I sit down at the computer.
  3.  When you’re writing at high speed, you can’t second guess yourself or go back and revise, so you turn off your inner editor. (The last chapter I wrote during JeRoWriMo was 57 pages long. Who needs chapter breaks when you’re having fun?) You just let the words rip! It’s a powerful reminder of why you started writing in the first place: to take pleasure in creating because you love your characters and you want to see what happens to them.
  4.  The participants in the 30K challenge form a wonderfully supportive group with real bonds of comradeship. We cheer each other on, commiserate with each other’s woes, and get to know each other better. What a positive, inspiring experience to be in close touch with a whole group of writers, all working toward the same goal, for a whole month!

The loser:

I was going strong for the Jazzercise challenge and had attended 15 classes in 16 days, when the flu struck me down. That was the end of my chance to win the T-shirt.

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However, I still learned a very valuable lesson from the challenge (and I got the cool bracelet): It is easier to exercise six days a week than to work out four days a week. Why?

Monday through Friday and Sunday mornings, I got up, I put on my workout clothes, I fed the critters and I went to Jazzercise. There was no debate, no negotiation with myself about whether I would go Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday or Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Sunday or whatever.

I got up; I went to Jazzercise. I didn’t schedule anything in the mornings; I went to Jazzercise. I didn’t decide I needed to sleep in one day; I went to Jazzercise. Studies show that we have a finite amount of willpower; this challenge removed the need for it because exercise became part of my daily routine, no thought required.

Not to mention the fact that I felt fantastic and energized. I could even see a difference in the way my clothes fit me. Now that I’m almost recovered from the flu, I can’t wait to get back to Jazzercise class.

So, while I didn’t get the T-shirt, I discovered something new about how to make staying healthy easier. You know what? That’s a win!