I Cleaned My Microwave

I guess it’s arguably better than carrying a large fruit to a hot, staff-only after hours party at a Catskills resort.

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Sweet Pease came out today. I know you’re all imagining me jumping in my private jet and flying off with my girls to drink champagne and eat macarons on my private island, but no… that #GlamorousAuthorLife looked more like tossing a coconut curry in the crockpot, going to office, and then coming home to clean the house, because we’re having our house appraised tomorrow morning and I figure if the place is clean, the appraiser won’t notice all the stuff we haven’t upgraded…

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(Buy more copies of my books, y’all. I’ll drink sparkling wine from a shoe. Promise.)

The image above will take you to Amazon, but I have it on good authority the print edition is also live on Barnes & Noble as well.

 

If you’re interested in a signed paperback from me,  please feel free to use the form below.

A Maverick Year, or my book comes out tomorrow, but I’m writing about something else entirely.

I’m pretty sure that on the day before your book comes out you’re not supposed to be blogging about a work-in-progress, but I’m having what I like to call a maverick year over here, so I’ll just do what I want.

(A maverick year, for the record, means I have blogged once in a year’s time. That’s my story and I’m sticking with it.)

I was in Portland, Maine, this weekend, for about 24 hours. Unremarkable, really, since I live about two hours from Portland, and have dear friends there who feed me and let me sleep in their house. These same friends own Rising Tide Brewing Company, which is the relevant (and remarkable–because how awesome is that?) part.

I’ve probably mentioned this before, but some years ago on a similar visit to Portland, it was suggested to me by someone that brewing wasn’t sexy in the romance novel kind of way. I like gauntlets, so I pick up the shiny ones and take them home to mull over. Sometimes, shiny gauntlets get turned over so often, they end up resembling drafts of novels about a brewer and an actress, and they are set in Portland.

Now I find myself, on the eve of SWEET PEASE’s publication, pondering a delicious Pilsner I tasted over the weekend, one I completely coincidentally named my story after. Or one they completely coincidentally named after my yet-to-be published book. Either way.

I can’t wait to hear what everyone thinks of my return to Thornton and Kate Pease, but know that I’ve been hard at work on book three there, and this new thing, too.

I hope y’all are ready for more words, because I’m ready to give them to you.

And if you haven’t already: Click the image below to get your copy (print or Kindle!) of Sweet Pease, available Tuesday, November 14, 2017.

 

An Introduction

It’s been a chilly, gray spring in New England, but not this cold, at least.

Ewan Lovatt woke to the kind of rural quiet he knew would be perfect for his next project.

He stretched and swung his legs over the edge of the bed. He’d long ago perfected the art of sleeping diagonally in a queen-sized bed to accommodate his six-foot-three frame. His feet struck the cold hardwood and he shivered. Pulling on cotton flannel drawstring pants and an NYU tee-shirt before he padded over to the window seemed a wise choice.

Ewan was an urban creature, but the stark allure of the Vermont countryside in January wasn’t lost on him. The nearby hillsides rolled smooth, painted in slashes of snow, granite, and coniferous green. The skeletons of cornstalks marched in the neighboring fields. At the far western point of his view, the Adirondacks were just beginning their craggy swell over the horizon.

By the time he left Thornton, Vermont, he hoped early summer would show a version closer to the one he planned to write.

He grabbed his advance copy of Reed Sharpe’s newest novel and headed for the bathroom. He had promised the man — or their shared publicist, anyway — a jacket review, and he couldn’t think of a better place to read the damn thing.

After a shower, his appetite called to him more clearly. The small reproduction mantle clock in the room told him he had twenty minutes before the innkeeper closed the kitchen, so he put his feet into his boots, hauled the laces tight, tossed the book and some papers into his laptop case, and started downstairs to meet his hostess.

***

Back to Thornton. The manuscript is officially with my favorite editrix, with a planned release date in the fall. I can’t wait for you all to come back to Thornton and get to know Ewan Lovatt. In the meantime, I’m working on a third Thornton novel, as well as a few other things.  I’ll be sending out updates via newsletter (if you’re not already subscribed, you can do that here), and if you’re a central Massachusetts reader, I have a new event coming up this month!

 I hope the four lovely humans still reading forgive me my long absence. I’ve thought about this space a lot, but every word I’ve had to spare has gone into novel writing. I look forward to being here more often as I get ready to share Sweet Pease with you.

The Soloist: Finale

Continued from Part Eleven, or you can start from the beginning:

After the service, Eli melted into the crowd to seek out the youth group cohort. Talia loitered near the vestibule, watching folks catching up and wishing one another merry Christmas.

Hank and his wife Gayle stopped to say hello, and another of the diner regulars tipped his hat before joining some friends.

She was so absorbed in her people watching, she didn’t notice Jojo until she was sidling up next to her.

“Talia!” Jojo hugged her fiercely. Talia froze for a moment before the reality of Jojo’s easy affection hit her. “Merry Christmas! Please, please, please sing with us?” She gestured to two other choristers standing nearby who smiled and nodded, then whispered, “I won’t even tell them who you are.”

Reilly was making his way along the center aisle, shaking hands and embracing his people. She could see it in his entire body, how much he loved them.

Jojo caught the direction of her gaze. “I hope it’s okay that he told me what happened. It shook him up.”

The warmth flickered, and an icicle formed in the pit of her stomach. There was only so much of her circus anyone could take. Even her son would tire of it, of her, someday. She sought out Eli among the teens huddled in one corner of the hall, and forced the corners of her lips back up. “Of course. Don’t worry about it.”

Jojo’s brow wrinkled. “I’ll worry if I like. You’re ours, now, you know. We don’t take lightly to that kind of nonsense.” She waved at Reilly over the tops of nearby heads, then gave Talia a significant look. “He doesn’t, either.”

Reilly approached her, hands in his pockets. There was a sparkle in his eyes that was just for her, and the icicle melted away. “Merry Christmas, Talia. I’m glad to see you here.”

His closeness was intoxicating. “Merry Christmas, Reverend.”

She wanted to fold herself into the curve of his shoulder, to rest her cheek in the hollow there.

Jojo leaned over and hugged him. “Merry Christmas, Doc.”

A petite woman with long hair in a frazzled bun took Talia by the arm. “Talia? I’m Helena Jay, Haley’s mom. I just wanted to say, Eli is great. Haley’s taken him under her wing. I’m not sure whether to congratulate you or warn you. Honestly, she’s a force. Anyway, merry Christmas.”

Helena turned to Jojo and Reilly, but Talia sought out her son with his new friends. He was part of this place already. Whether she was ready or not.

“… I’m going to get her to sing with us, Laney. Next Christmas she and Nancy are going to bring the house down.”

Jojo was talking about her. Talia dropped back into the conversation before Reilly’s Girl Friday could get her in trouble. Jojo and Helena had their heads together, but Reilly’s expression was the one that stilled her. His smile was easy, but hope blazed in those kind eyes.

She was part of this place already. Just maybe, she was ready.

Talia cleared her throat. “Is there music for Easter?”

Jojo whooped a hallelujah, and Reilly took her hand in his as the church bells rang in Christmas Day.

~~~~~

Thanks for reading along, and like Reilly, I wish you light in the dark season, however you celebrate it.

The Soloist: Part Eleven

Continued from Part Ten, or you can start from the beginning.

Christmas Eve dawned sunny and frosty. Talia woke to the smell of coffee and the jingle of Butter’s collar. Hank’s was closed for three days, and for a week, there had been no noise from Blaine. She wasn’t foolish enough to think he’d forgotten, but his family would go to great lengths to avoid revealing just how unstable their son was, including keeping him on a short leash. The whiff of scandal that followed her disappearance had been enough to allow her time and leverage to get away the first time.

She pulled her hoodie over the camisole and leggings she’d slept in and followed the wafting cloud toward the kitchen.

Eli was buttering toast. “Morning, Mom. Merry Christmas.”

The little tree Reilly had brought them sparkled from the living room. She sat in the same chair he’d sat in when he kissed her a few nights before, this time Butter watched his boy hoping for a bread-shaped Christmas miracle. “You made coffee?”

Eli pushed the hair from his face. “Mrs. Jay showed me how. I didn’t get you a present, but I made you breakfast.” He set slightly limp toast and watery coffee on the table in front of her.

It was the best breakfast she’d ever had.

She wrapped an arm around his skinny waist and pulled her son close. “I love you, kiddo. Thanks for this.”

“Mom?”

“Yeah?”

“I know it’s not your thing, but can we go to one of the services at the church? Haley says…”

Talia raised an eyebrow. “Haley says?”

Eli blushed. “She sings in the choir, and she says it’s not like regular church on Christmas Eve. Mostly music and stuff.”

“We can go. If you watch Christmas movies with me all day, and we get Chinese for dinner.”

The awkward eye-roll she got was worth it when he grinned.

The Grove Street Church was packed. The front doors were wreathed with balsam and bittersweet, rainbow flags welcomed congregants. Candles burned on the altar, and the choir was singing low in welcome, the Coventry Carol. Eli nudged her for humming along.

They took their places in a pew near the back of the hall. Talia’s breath caught when Reilly stepped up to address his congregation; she glanced around, half-wondering if lightning might actually strike. He preached no differently than he lived: patiently and without fuss. He’d forgone celebratory robes; the only mark of his leadership was a clerical collar instead of a tie, and a crimson stole over a conservative dark gray suit.

After a few brief words of welcome, the choir began The First Noel. She hadn’t meant to sing at all, but her resolve vanished before the first line finished. At the chorus, when her voice soared over the gathering, there was a moment of astonished quiet from the congregation as people’s voices faded to search for the source of hers, but just a moment. Reilly only smiled, Jojo turned with a wink from the choir, and every voice was lifted along with hers.

It was, as Haley told Eli, mostly music and stuff. Reilly told the Christmas story with humor and grace. He thanked the community for the toys and clothes gifted to the needy and called the younger members of the congregation up to sing with his guitar as accompaniment. Eli made no move to join them, until another boy from the youth group cuffed his shoulder on his way by. Talia couldn’t help noticing Haley Jay smiling from the choir when Eli trailed the others to the steps.

When Reilly wished them all peace and joy for the new year and hoped they would find light in the dark season, she felt his gaze fall on her, and the heat that kindled along her skin had little to do with the candlelight or the closeness of bodies.

To be continued in the Finale