Sneaky Peeks

You know that feeling that you’ve run out of things to share?

No? Just me, then?

I’ve got some irons in the writerly fire, but they’re still pretty far from Kindles and bookshelves. I want to share, to invite you all in for a peek at the process, but it gets trickier the longer I’m in this to figure out if I should share early draft work, or just keep it all close until it’s ready go. Performance anxiety, I suppose.

Anyway, my friend Renee at Elsetime & Otherwhen has done that thing where she tagged people to share a specific bit of random draft-in-progress, and because she is Renee, I shall comply. And as penance, because I won’t be tagging anyone else (lazy, lazy, me)…

Bonus! Below are seven lines (give or take – my Scrivener files aren’t set up in pages or lines) from the seventh pages of both my current drafts.

…from Sweet Pease:

[Anneliese] blinked. “Is that a new Reed Sharpe novel? I don’t read him, but my h— my ex-husband did. Your books are more my type. I read The Orchard Gate when I was in the hospital after Chloe was born, and the nurses recommended a therapist because I was always crying. I finally gave them my copy to convince them.”

Ewan poured milk into his coffee, his eyes flicking nervously from the billows of dairy to Anneliese’s blue eyes as she spoke.

“And I’m babbling. I’m so sorry,” she finished with a small laugh.

The little girl — Chloe — clutched a strip of toast and peered into his face from across the table. “Did you bring the blue ox baby?”

He smiled in spite of himself. She was a beautiful child, and funny, especially since she didn’t know it yet. “No, Chloe. Babe stayed in New York for the semester.”

…and from Back Cove:

[Jessica’s] bungalow at the Fairmont Miramar was draining her savings at an alarming rate, but Jessica had needed a place to land after New Mexico and she was certain Cort wouldn’t be inviting her back after the Beverly Hills party and the incident with the Maserati in his swimming pool.

She stopped at the concierge’s desk on her way through the lobby. Peering out from under a pair of huge sunglasses and a faded Portland Seadogs cap, she pitched her voice deliberately high. “Any messages?”

The concierge caught her eye knowingly and produced two envelopes. “This arrived today, Miss Granger.”

I can make no hard promises about release dates, but I am eternally optimistic for early 2016 for at least one of them. While you’re waiting, though, don’t forget to pick up your free copy of Damselfly Inn!

“My Mom Writes Inappropriate Books.”

It’s late April in New England, the kind of Saturday afternoon that makes you glad to be alive. Felix has a friend over, and they are out in the backyard pummeling one another with Nerf foam swords and sending the kickball over the fence into the neighbors’ yard. As first grade boys are wont to do.

Damselfly Inn has been out for ten days or so, and I’m working on emails and other book promoting things at my computer when the boys crash inside looking for snacks. I set them up at the kitchen table with Goldfish crackers and apple cider, and keep working. My writing desk is right there, so I can supervise and occasionally join in the conversation.

“Mama,” says Felix, “can you get the ball from the neighbors’ yard?”

“In a minute. I need to finish up this email, then I can walk around and get it. Is it in the side one or the back one?” (We are surrounded on three sides by other homes, and to get to them, you have to go around by the busy street because of fences.)

“The back one.”

“What are you doing?” asks Felix’s friend.

“Writing emails about my new book,” I say. “Just some business stuff.”

“My mom writes inappropriate books,” says my son. His friend’s eyes go wide.

“Well, Felix, that’s not exactly true.” I can just imagine how this turns into playground telephone, and suddenly I am the porn writing parent at PTO events.

“Yes, it is.” He is gearing up to make a case. I can see it in his posture. “I tried to read it one time when you were working and you told me it wasn’t for kids. It’s inappropriate.”

His friend is still bug-eyed.

“Okay, yes. Most of my books are not for kids to read. But they are perfectly appropriate for grown-ups, which is who they are intended for.”

He shakes his head at me in resignation, pushes his chair out and says to his friend, “Inappropriate. Are you done? Let’s go back outside.”

What else, besides going around the fence to retrieve the lost kickball, is a romance-writing mom to do?

Damselfly Inn Launches Today!

damselfly-inn-paperback-coverDamselfly Inn, releases today. It’s official. It’s all for you now. I hope you fall in love with the town and its people like I have.

The book is available right now both in paperback for Kindle/Kindle app on Amazon. Readers abroad, the book is being released in all of Amazon’s foreign markets, too! You can also order a signed copy directly from me

Want to hear me work on my public speaking? Upcoming Author Events Are a Thing.

Publishing a novel, even with Bannerwing Books behind me, still takes a village, and this is where I ask for your help. There are four main ways you can support my writing:

  • Buy the book. For yourself, of course. Or not. Not your genre? Buy it for someone who’ll enjoy it. For a friend. For your mom. Your neighbor. A stranger. Books make great gifts, and Amazon even has a Kindle book gift option if dead trees and ink aren’t your pleasure. Neat, huh?
  • Review the book. It can be daunting, but it’s so very helpful. Reviews and ratings are a kind of currency for authors, especially on Amazon. is another great place for reviews. Reviews open doors for promotion and marketing opportunities. Reviews tell other readers what they can expect from my books. A review doesn’t have to be complicated: just be honest about your experience with the book. Not feeling eloquent? Star ratings are awesome, too.
  • Talk up the book. Tell people. Your book club, the cashier at the grocery store, the local librarians, booksellers. Word of mouth from readers and shoppers goes a long way towards getting my books into brick and mortar establishments.
  • Promote the book. Do you blog? Are you on Facebook? Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram? Share book links, images, and reviews. Tag me so I can interact with readers – and thank you! Your influence matters, and I will be eternally grateful.

And now… a little treat for those of you who’ve stuck with me to the end of the post. Thank you, my friends:

Nan Grady was tracing glossy lettering across a misdirected postcard when her house split open.

Greetings from Myrtle Beach S.C.! The card was a vintage-styled one, with each drop-shadowed block letter featuring a scene from the beach. She turned it over to read the note, to mull over the intended recipient. The handwriting was young – full and looping.

Danny, it’s not this pretty where we live, but the beach is awesome. I miss you. Maybe you can come down here some time. It’s warmer than Vermont anyway. Love, Ellie

The postcard was addressed to Danny B. (heart, flower, star), 203 County Road, Thornton, VT. It had arrived that afternoon, nearly lost in the myriad catalogs, flyers, and bills in the mail. Something about the sender’s bittersweet tone gave Nan pause. She carried it upstairs to her apartment, meaning to drop it in her purse for her next run into town. She suspected Gary at the Thornton Post Office would know exactly who Danny B. was.

Myrtle Beach sounded like a perfect alternative to the late summer collision of weather fronts currently heaving itself down from the Adirondacks. Outside, the early evening sky had gone gunmetal gray, roiling with clouds. The rain was static, punctuated by sharp cracks of thunder, and Nan could hear the wind buffeting the walls of the old house.

The storm continued its tantrum as it drove eastward, rushing up to and over the Green Mountains like water over a spillway. Rain pelted down, blown nearly horizontal, and the huge maple tree behind the inn groaned in protest.

There would be a mess to clean up in the yard in the morning.

She’d come upstairs to wait out the thunderstorm in the snug comfort of her apartment over the garage.

It was a disorienting feeling still, the newness of owning this grand old house, but living in two rooms that were only attached to it by the stairs off the kitchen, stairs whose walls framed the breezeway between the house and the garage. It was a heady feeling, though, owning the gracious yellow Victorian, opening it to travelers, hosting treasured memories, making a home for herself in this town she was quickly coming to love.

Nan turned the card over one last time, imagining thick South Carolina heat and the light tease of sea-breeze. White heat lit up her living room, throwing everything into Hitchcock-esque relief for a heartbeat; when the thunder shattered the air no more than a half-second later, the lights blinked and the house shook with the impact.

She was on her feet and running for the stairs, pausing only to grab her Maglite from the coffee table drawer, and the card fluttered, forgotten, to rest on the braided rug.

A cold wind tumbled down from the third floor to meet her in the foyer.

With a hard knot of dread already forming in her stomach, she raced up to the third floor landing. She yanked open the door to the Adirondack Suite with her heart pounding.

The scene inside the room struck her like a fist. Rain was pouring in through the remains of the gabled roof, lumber and insulation hanging down like broken bones and torn flesh. The hot smell of ozone was fresh in the air. Shingles and debris littered the floor. The silk drapes whipped and snapped at the sills. A limb from the ancient maple tree that grew next to the house lay across the sleigh bed, its raw end sizzling.

“Oh, god. No,” she said aloud to the empty room, her voice swallowed by the noise of the storm. “No.”



Fall in Love with Thornton: Creative Geography and Catmint Gap

Though Joss Fuller is a child of the valley west of Thornton College, for the duration of Damselfly Inn, he makes his home in a cabin in nearby Catmint Gap.

During some recent research on the Middlebury College Bread Loaf School of English in Ripton, I discovered this lovely video of the drive from Middlebury to the Bread Loaf campus in Ripton, the counterpart to a drive Joss makes more than a few times in the pages of Damselfly Inn.

It was the longest twenty-minute ride of his life; he knew he’d risked his own skin taking the switchbacks on the mountain road at those speeds, but fear and grim determination steadied his hands on the wheel.

It took a lot to truly rattle his mother, and she’d been well and truly rattled. A thousand awful scenarios filled his imagination, all improbable, none with a good ending.

He blew through downtown Thornton praying the police force was either sleeping or already on their way out to the farm. When he cleared the last stand of trees where County Road curved and dropped into the heart of the valley, he could see the farm from a mile away, emergency lights like a flashing beacon drawing him home.

Catmint Gap is a fictional village some 25 minutes from Thornton. It nestles in the Green Mountains, and draws inspiration from the towns of Ripton and Hancock. Joss’s cabin is off the beaten path a bit, on imagined land that presses against the Green Mountain National Forest. I’ve taken a number of creative liberties with the geography, but the mountains remain, as well as the river.

The Middlebury River becomes my Catmint River, tumbling down the west side of the mountains in a deep, switchback ravine, with the road perched precariously above, switchbacks and all. It eventually joins the north-flowing Thorn River, whose falls are a Thornton landmark. The Thorn is known in real-life as Otter Creek, whose falls are a Middlebury landmark, and those falls are forever in my heart (and in From the Earth to the Moon).

"Otter creek falls" by Original uploader was Jd4508 at en.wikipedia - Transferred from en.wikipedia; transferred to Commons by User:Pauk using CommonsHelper.. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons -
“Otter creek falls” by Original uploader was Jd4508 at en.wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia; transferred to Commons by User:Pauk using CommonsHelper. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons