Love Unflinching: The Story of Angus

Is it just me or is February a busy month? With Superbowl over, and the Year of the Monkey (Chinese New Year) officially upon us, there’s barely a moment to make plans for Valentine’s Day. Which why we are dedicating this month’s theme to the best love of all, PUPPY LOVE.IMG_5779

It could also be an excuse to share MORE of our favorite dog photos.

A little less than one year ago a five month old puppy named Angus came home with me. A re-home. A Christmas present gone wrong, he was an ad on Craigslist.IMG_5760

Last winter, I really didn’t want another Bloodhound. Really, really wasn’t ready. Still grieving the loss of Frankie, my first Bloodhound, I’d already booked a vacation back east. I didn’t want to deal with the complications of boarding a puppy. To top it all off, I wasn’t certain about my future income.

Yet my heart was breaking. There was a Bloodhound puppy that needed a home. When the timing is right, I told myself. When my job situation settled.

I’ll just look, make an appointment with the owner and help her make sure she adopts him out to the right type of owner – Bloodhounds are not a breed for everyone. They’re working dogs, and quite destructive when bored.

And there he was in all his soft-eyed, slobbery glory.IMG_0419.JPG

After visiting him twice a day for three days, and having him sleep in his crate with my husband’s old stinky t-shirt, we were ready to bring him home. On the fourth day, he hopped into our car without hesitation and began his new life with us.

The heart wants what the heart wants. Or in the words of Rudyard Kipling, “Buy a pup and your money will buy Love unflinching that cannot lie.” IMG_0309

Puppy Love (and you’re invited!)

February is the month of love. Or so I’m told, and I’m a romance writer so I’m oath-bound to keep the love alive.

This cold winter month can be a tough time for passion (omg when was the last time I shaved my legs?!?) but there are lots of opportunities for cuddling. And I suppose that’s love too, right?

Maybe instead of the romance month we’ll just call it the month of romance novels, since reading is a great excuse to curl up and never leave the bed.

(Speaking of creature who won’t get out of bed on rainy February mornings… She finally moved when I told her if she did not get up, she was going in the washer with the sheets.)

t bed

But maybe you’re getting a little restless in your stuffy bedroom and are longing for a bit of adventure. Well, have I got a weekend for you…

wRomance is a weekend of writing and love featuring two days of activities for writers, readers, and those interested in learning more about the romance publishing industry. Saturday is a workshop for writers then a cocktail party for writers, authors, and readers. Sunday is a screening of Love Between the Covers, a documentary on the world of romance novels. You can register for any or all of the events at RoseCityRomanceWriters.com

wRomance Workshop PR-3 copy

* To see the flyer in more detail, click here: wRomance Workshop PR-3

We’d LOVE to see you there!

A Bonus to being a Writer: Moving your “Office” to a New Location

It’s the end of January and I’m already struggling to keep up with my ambitious 2016 writing goals. I have a slight case of writer’s block and other self-defeating behaviors that plague many writers. There is a saying that if you are stuck in a rut, try a new environment. Since writers just need their imagination to spill onto a laptop (or with a paper and pen), their location to conduct their work can be subject to change at any moment.

That is what happened this past weekend. My friend and fellow writer, Linda Mercury, decided that we were going to step away from our “offices” and try a new place to write for the day. We ended up treating ourselves to a posh lunch and then writing in the hotel lobby at the infamous Heathman Hotel, which was used as a setting in the Fifty Shades of Grey. This hotel has a prestige reputation but they have embraced their connection to this erotic novel (and I’m sure there is a significant financial incentive in doing so). In the bar, there is a 50 Shades inspired cocktail that comes with a complimentary set of decorative handcuffs. But the most impressive part of this hotel is their library, where guests can find autographed books of authors who have stayed at their hotel. It’s alluring to be writing your work-in-progress surrounded by bookcases and daydreaming that your book could one day be on their shelves.

Heathman3Heathman2Jessie_Heathman

It was an afternoon treat to write in a new location, do some interesting people watching, and break out of my writing rut. A question to my fellow writers, where is the most interesting place you have held an “office”?

Try a New Book by a New Author in the New Year!

I am a voracious reader with a To Read pile that covers all genres and extends well into literary fiction and non-fiction territories, but somehow I always return to romance when I want to read for pure pleasure. My two favorite sub genres are paranormal and suspense and I have a long list of favorite authors who receive most of my book buying allowance. However, the new year is supposed to be about new things. Over the holiday break, I decided to try new authors in sub genres I haven’t explored as much.

Here are three December debut authors whose books I completely fell in love with.

altered2ALTERED by Marnee Blake

This New Adult novel blends dystopian elements in contemporary times. I loved the characters and how they dealt with the challenge of not only being survivors of a horrible event, but also coped with their new abilities and the cost of using those super powers. This first book in the series ends on a little bit of a cliff hanger and I can’t wait for the next one to arrive. Here’s the official blurb:

The sickness came on suddenly and violently. When it was done, waitress Blue Michaels was different in a really strange way. And the entire town of Glory was dead…except for her.

Only that’s not exactly true. A handful of people made it, including U.S. Army Specialist Seth Campbell, who was caught in the wrong town at the worst time. He’s fierce and protective, and way too good-looking. As much as they need a leader-as much as Blue wants to trust him-there are too many questions and not enough time for answers. Now they are hunted. But what their pursuers don’t know is each of them has strange new powers. And they’ll use their “gifts” to survive…no matter who stands in their way.

 

WelcomeToForeverWELCOME TO FOREVER by Annie Rains

Single dad who’s a Marine, grieving school teacher afraid to fall in love with another military man, adorable kid who wins your hear as soon as he appears on the page–those are just a few of the things that will make you read this sweet contemporary in one sitting. Add great story telling and fabulous secondary characters and you can see why I’m on pins and needles, waiting for the second book in the series to release.

In Seaside, North Carolina, there are two kinds of people: Marines, and kids of Marines. Then there’s Kat Chandler. Recently hired as the principal of Seaside Elementary, Kat makes it her mission to turn the school into a place of peace and calm. That’s not going to be easy with hard-liner parents like Micah Peterson storming in, telling her how to do her job—and then kissing her with those gorgeous lips of his and turning her brain into mush.

As a Marine Sergeant and a single dad, Micah Peterson has just two priorities: doing his job better than anyone else, and getting the absolute best for his son, Ben. But when he meets Ben’s beautiful new principal, a different yearning shifts into focus. He wants her, sure, but he’s also moved by the connection Kat forges with her students. So after learning that she refuses to date Marines, Micah sets two more objectives: convincing Kat to give him a chance . . . and then holding on to her forever.

 

UnbottoningUNBUTTONING THE CEO by Mia Sosa

I loved the setup in this sexy contemporary. Super rich CEO has to do community service after too many speeding tickets, tries to hide his identity, and ends up falling in love with the supervisor at the non-profit where he ends up serving out his time. Another plus for me was a diverse set of characters and how culture was used in the story.

As the CEO of a large tech company and a semi-reformed bad boy, Ethan Hill is used to calling the shots. But when he’s sentenced to work two hundred hours of community service—for reckless driving, of all things—this chief executive needs to keep his real identity under wraps. Which gets increasingly difficult when he can’t stop thinking about his sexy new (temporary) boss.

The moment Graciela Ramirez meets Ethan, she’s tempted to throw all professionalism out the window. She can’t afford to get emotionally involved, but after a steamy session behind office doors, a no-strings-attached fling might be exactly what they need. He’ll protect his secret. She’ll protect her heart. What could possibly go wrong?

 

So what are some new or new-to-you authors you have discovered in the new year?

FedEx and Semi-Enlightenment

bootsEvery morning, hours before the dawn, I lace up my steel-toe boots and head into a cavernous warehouse filled with millions of pounds of freight. For the last 30 days I’ve been hiding out in a FedEx hub, avoiding all things Christmas and discovering muscles I never knew I had.

My original plan was to lose 10 pounds, make a few bucks, and emerge fit and confident in the New Year, ready to job hunt for something in my field. What I found during the hours spent methodically loading row after row of holiday boxes was a new level of meditation. I climbed a mountain of packages, summitted the peak of chaos, and found my own Zen retreat. All in the back of a semi-trailer.

Despite the blare of buzzers, the roar of engines, the grind of conveyor belts, and, from the deep recesses of the operation, profane howls of managers in distress, there is a great stillness. A stillness in me. A stillness the Dalai Lama might even approve of.

To be clear, I’m not physically “still” at any point. The job requires scanning and stacking 400-plus packages per hour. No, this was my brain coming to a total and complete stop, floating in a sea of 100% present-ness. And in that state of present-ness, epiphanal moments were as abundant as Smart TVs after Cyber Monday.

Here are my top four:

  1. Enjoy having a job that brings joy. I know I’m not Santa, but I am a small part in the chain that delivered presents around the world.
  2. ICs (InCompatibles) happen. These are overweight or irregularly shaped packages. Into every load some ICs must fall – or sometimes they comprise the entire load. They’re like a karmic reminder inflicted upon all package handlers. Still, I learned how to push, drag, and nudge everything from 84-pound truck rims to my personal best, a granite-topped martini bar that I slid and gently tipped into place using my own body weight as a counterbalance.
  3. Every thing has a place. Heavy stuff on the bottom. Light on top. And maximize every square inch of trailer. Package handlers never ask philosophical questions like: Is the semi-trailer is half full or half empty? It’s always full. Every thing has a place.
  4. Treat all beings, and packages, with respect. Do not cause suffering for others. It doesn’t hurt that FedEx has a rule that throwing packages equals instant termination. However… I also empathize with my co-workers when I hear the f-bombs from neighboring trailers. Avoid package avalanches!

Now that the holiday rush is over, I’m still employed and wondering what comes next. Did I lose weight like I hoped? Nope. Not a pound, though I’ve definitely lost inches, my arms are toned, and I dare say, even muscular. My clothes fit better and I’m feeling good about whatever comes next in 2016.

But am I ready to move on, say goodbye to morning sunrises and taut biceps, and return to the nine-to-five haul of sales?

Tuesday morning I’ll put my steel-toe boots on one at a time and see if the answer is waiting for me in the next semi-trailer.

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