A Book By A New Cover

It’s been a crazy month, punctuated by nor’easters that closed school and threw our family routine into a tailspin, but that’s meant more time to work on the writing. Always a silver lining!

And to give an old story a facelift. Buck’s Landing is almost six, can you believe it? To celebrate, I have a new cover, and a snappier blurb.

Sofia Buck fled Hampton Beach a decade ago, never looking back until her father’s untimely death forces her to return for the summer to deal with the family business. Her one goal: sell Buck’s Landing, so she can move on with her life.

Silas Wilde believes in serendipity, especially when it brings an irresistible woman into his life. He’s certain they belong together, and sets out to convince Sofia to give him—and Hampton—a chance at forever.

Rediscovering the magic of her hometown with Silas tempts Sofia with a future she never imagined, if only she can let go of the past that waits around every corner.

If you haven’t read it, you should. It’s pretty good.

In other news, you can now follow me on Bookbub, and I’ve got a little Facebook group thing going. I’d love to see you around.

Spicy Red Lentil Soup: A Recipe from the Damselfly Inn

Something a little hot just for you!

A few fictional years  have passed since Nan Grady was feeding her friends at the Damselfly Inn, but she’s still very much a voice in my head. Married now, and going by Nan Fuller, and still feeding her friends. I imagine them gathered around the big farm table in her kitchen, guests out enjoying the art museum or a play at the college, or warming up by the fire in the parlor. It’s cold and snowy outside. The pastures are white; the Fuller herd is in the barns. The sun goes down early, so the sky outside is dark, but the lights are burning bright in the yellow Victorian on County Road, and soup is on the menu.

Nan likes easy comfort food, but with a little something spicy and unexpected, so this recipe is one I can easily see her making. Pull up a seat at her table, and enjoy!

  • 2 T. coconut oil (olive is fine, too)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • fresh grated ginger to taste (I used a couple of tablespoons)*
  • 1 T. Thai red curry paste*
  • 2 T. Vietnamese chili garlic sauce (Tuong Ot Toi)*
  • 1 t. salt
  • 2 T.  finely chopped garlic*
  • 1/2 t. crushed red pepper flakes*
  • 2 tsp whole cumin seeds*
  • 3/4 tsp ground coriander*
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric*
  • 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes, do not drain
  • 4 c. vegetable or chicken stock/broth
  • 1 c. red lentils
  • good pinch of saffron threads*
  • chopped fresh cilantro (if you’re into that)
  • plain greek yogurt, sour cream, or crème fraîche

Heat the coconut oil over medium heat, then sauté the onions until they are softened and translucent, but not browned. Add everything from the ginger to the turmeric and sauté for a minute. Dump in the tomatoes, broth, and lentils. Give it a stir, then add the saffron threads. Simmer for about 15 minutes. If you like, you can immersion blend it at the end for smoothness, but it’s not necessary.

Serve topped with cilantro and yogurt (or other dairy). Yum!

*Basically, adjust all the flavors to suit what you like.

In honor of Valentine’s Day, Damselfly Inn is FREE for a limited time at Amazon, and you can pick up Buck’s Landing for just 99¢!

Cinnamon Girl: A Thornton Vermont Christmas Story, Finale

Continued from part 13, or you can start from the beginning.

“Wait,” Molly said. “This is the thing I’ve dreamt about for a year and a half, and when I realized it was coming true, I cried.”

He started to speak, but she hushed him.

“My first thought was, ‘It’s too soon.’” She shifted to be closer to him. “I cried because I didn’t want… I don’t want to fly off and leave you. Not now when you’re still hurting, not now while we’re figuring this out. And there you were on my doorstep, and I had this crazy thought that I would cash it all in and stay here.”

He shook his head. “No—“

“I know,” she rushed on. “All those talks we had, all the time we’ve spent together this last month, and I’ve never even mentioned it… Have you ever had a dream so big you can’t tell the one person you feel like you really should? Like, if you give it words, it’ll fall apart?”

Oh, Molly… “Yeah.”

“I know we only met a month ago, and I know it’s selfish to ask you to wait until spring for me, but will you? Will you still be here in March when I get back?”

The blood was singing in his veins. Relief washed through him. “I’m not going anywhere.”

She launched herself into his arms, kissing him hard. She leaned back breathlessly. “Come on, let’s go introduce you to my folks. And Eddie.” She grimaced. “I’m sorry in advance about Eddie.”

He followed her back across the lawn, through the hedges, and across her yard. Introductions were a blur, and he found himself with a cup of coffee and a slice of pie, sitting in the Sanders’ living room while Molly’s family scattered to their own corners of the house.

She handed him a box from under the Christmas tree, wrapped and ribboned. “It’s not as nice as your present.”

Walt opened the box to find a pair of boiled wool slippers in a size far too small for his feet. When he looked up questioningly at Molly, she was grinning.

“House shoes for me to keep at the farm. Those floors get cold in the winters.”

He set the box next to him, and got up to cross the room to her. “That’s the most romantic thing anyone’s ever given me.”

Molly stood, wrapping her arms around him, close enough that she had to tilt her face up to look at him. “I’m going to have to work on that between now and when I go.”

“Merry Christmas, Molly.”

She touched her lips to his. “Merry Christmas, Walt.”

Cinnamon Girl: A Thornton Vermont Christmas Story, Part 13

Continued from part 12, or you can start from the beginning.

Walt could see, through the Sanders’ front door, Molly’s family gathered around the Christmas tree, staring at them. Molly’s face was in her hands, her shoulders shook. He grabbed a coat from the coat tree just inside the front door, wrapped it around her shoulders and pulled the door closed, leaving them alone on the cold front stoop.

“What happened?” He pulled her close, not knowing what else to offer her.

She buried her face in his chest and clung to his waist for a moment, but the shaking stopped. When she looked up at him, her eyes and nose were blotchy with crying.

“I got my Christmas present.” She sniffled and wiped her eyes.

“That bad?” He couldn’t help but smile.

She gave him a wobbly smile. “Amazing, actually. Just… unexpected.”

His own gifts still weighed heavily in his free hand while the other held her. “I guess these aren’t exactly amazing, but maybe unexpected?”

He brought the two packages between them, offering them to her.

“Yours is inside,” she said, taking up the record, and slicing the paper. “Neil Young. You surprise me.”

“I wore this one out at the end of high school.” He reached up to touch the curling locks of auburn hair around her face. “The day you and Jane rescued me, that’s what popped into my head: Cinnamon Girl.”

Molly set down the album on the empty planter that stood guard at the front door and took his face in her hands. “That is the most romantic thing anyone has ever said to me.”

Her lips were cold, but Walt didn’t care.

“Now…” She took the smaller box and unwrapped it, handing him the paper. When she lifted the lid off, she looked up at him. “Walt, it’s beautiful.”

“Not as beautiful as you, Molly.”

A pair of fresh tears welled up and rolled over her cheeks.

“Hey, there. Don’t cry.” He thumbed away one falling tear.

She took the necklace out and held it up between them. “Will you help me?”

Walt took the chain, and clumsily at best, fastened it around her neck.

Molly took his hand. “Come take a walk with me.”

She shrugged into the coat, fished in one of its voluminous pockets to find a striped ski hat in Thornton High colors and a pair of leather driving gloves that dwarfed her hands. She tugged the hat around her ears. “You grabbed my dad’s coat.”

She led him around the corner of the yard, through a hedgerow and into the large lawn that surrounded the Riverbend Hotel. The Revolutionary War-era tavern was dark, its windows lit with electric candles. Molly skirted the empty fountain and formal garden, seeking out a gazebo that looked out over the lawn towards the Catmint River.

“Three semesters ago I had my gall bladder removed.”

Walt blinked. That wasn’t what he’d expected.

“It pushed back my graduation, and while I was recovering from the surgery, I started reading old travel guides my Grampa Simon brought for me.”

The travel guides in her father’s car came to mind.

“Ever since then, I’ve wanted to go to Europe, stay in hostels, eat street food, see all the art and palaces and cafés…” She took a deep breath. “I just knew that the world was out there waiting for me to find it.”

The gold band around the opal egg at her throat winked, and Walt’s heart sank like a stone to his gut.

“My whole family got together to give me the plane tickets and some spending money.” She squeezed his hands. I leave in three weeks. I’ll be gone ’til late March.”

Her eyes were shining. She couldn’t know how lovely she was, sitting there telling him she was leaving. The stone in his belly cracked open. Once she’d seen the wide world, she wouldn’t want a hardscrabble dairy farm in her hometown. Once she’d tasted French wine, walked museums and parks with other explorers, kissed men who’d seen the world, she wouldn’t want a man anchored to the eighty acres his family had farmed for generations.

“It’s going to be amazing, Cinnamon Girl.” He swallowed the hitch in his voice. “You’re going to be amazing.”

To continued...

Cinnamon Girl: A Thornton Vermont Christmas Story, Part 12

Continued from part 11, or you can start from the beginning.

Molly’s brother Eddie slept later than anyone that Christmas. By the time his sleep-tousled sixteen year old self came downstairs, the rest of the Sanders family was deep into their coffee and Christmas Kringle. They unpacked their stockings and opened a their gifts while the morning stretched out, stopping for bacon and eggs halfway through.

“When’s your boyyyyyyyfriend coming over, Moll?” Eddie sing-songed, wearing his new ski jacket and a pair of mustard-yellow and brown striped hand knit socks with his sweats and Thornton High football jersey.

“Shut up, Eddie.” Molly tossed a ball of wrapping paper at her brother.

“Language,” Mrs. Sanders said idly, flipping through the cookbook Eddie had given her. Eddie and Molly rolled their eyes.

Her dad got up and rustled under the tree, producing a wrapped package the size of a department store shirt box and handing it to Molly. “Since your brother unwrapped his ski jacket and knows what he’s getting for his big gift, it’s your turn.”

The box was light and a gentle shake revealed nothing. Molly unwrapped it carefully. Everything about this Christmas felt strange and magical. Inside, she peeled back folded tissue to reveal a plane ticket and a sheaf of museum pamphlets from European cities.

“Daddy? Mom?” She looked back and forth between her parents in disbelief. She’d never dreamed they’d give her the means to travel.

Her mom looked up. “You’ve worked so hard, honey, and we knew this was what you wanted most. Granny and Grampa Simon chipped in, too, and we got a good deal on the tickets from Simon’s son who’s a travel agent in Boston.”

Molly barely heard her mother. She was looking at the round trip tickets to Paris, nine weeks apart. She was leaving on January 14th. “I’m leaving in three weeks?”

“We knew you were torn about working for one more summer at the camp.” Her dad beamed. “Now you can do both.”

Her mother leaned forward.  “There’s a check in there, too. Belated graduation gift from all your aunts and uncles on both sides.”

Her gratitude clogged her throat. It was too much. It was too soon. Tears welled up in her eyes, and her parents faces crumpled.

“What is it, Moll?” Her father’s voice was thick with concern.

Eddie lobbed the ball of wrapping paper at the kitchen wastebasket, sinking it. “She’s just worried her new boyfriend’s going to find someone prettier while she’s gone.”

“Shut up, Eddie!” Her voice cracked on a sob, but the whole scene was cut short by the doorbell.

Molly salvaged as much of her dignity as possible and headed for the front door, where Walt stood, holding what looked like a record. and a small box wrapped in shiny red paper.

“Merry Christmas, Molly,” he said.

Molly promptly burst into tears.

To be continued…