Sunday, August 31, 2014

Ready for Autumn?

I am! I have to admit that autumn is my favorite season. The vivid colors, the crisp air, the comfort foods... What's not to like? 

Yeah, I know, Pumpkin-Everything. For those of us who love pumpkin (me!), it's the most wonderful time of the year. But for anyone who has an aversion to this particular flavor, you have my sincere apologies. I get it. Really. You feel about pumpkin lovers the way I feel about summer's beach-loving sun worshipers. You probably stare at us and stifle a shiver while thinking to yourself, "When will the insanity end?" The answer is, of course, shortly after Thanksgiving when the new insanity becomes all things Christmas.

But back to my love of autumn.

Yesterday was a lot less humid than a normal August day and I took advantage of that weather phenomenon to make a big pot of lentil soup. My husband thought I was crazy. "It's still August," he reminded me. "I know, but it's a cool day and I miss my soups." 

Today, the humidity's back and expected to stay for the rest of the week. It won't last forever. And when it's gone, I'll be ready. So, for those like me, looking forward to their first cup of soup, here's what I made yesterday:

Slow Cooker Lentil Soup

1 cup lentils
32 oz chicken broth
1 cup vegetable juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 chicken sausages, browned and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 cup diced cooked ham
chopped carrots, celery, onion
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a 3.5 quart (or larger) slow cooker. Cook on low for 8-10 hours.


This recipe makes about 2.5 quarts of soup so be prepared to freeze some for later in the month, when the weather turns cooler. 

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Not So Happy Endings

Going serious here, folks, so if you're looking for my usual entertaining nonsense, you might want to bypass this post. As a romance writer, I'm always looking for the happy ending. But real life doesn't always give you that happy ending. Sometimes, you have to accept closure, knowing that issues are unresolved. You close the door and move on, focused on the future, brushing the past behind you. 

A while back, a wise friend (someone we lost last year) shared some information with me that made me understand the issues I'd struggled with for many years. Some relationships, no matter how hard we try, stay toxic. Too much hurt, too much anger, too many bad feelings have poisoned the well. And when that happens, it's okay to say goodbye and walk away. To protect yourself, to protect your family, and to protect your heart, you have to let go of the bitterness, but also prevent it from returning. 

I've already said my goodbye in this particular case and done my best to prevent all that bitterness from coming back into my life. I wish there could have been a happy ending to this tale, but alas. Real life isn't as predictable as romance novels. And while I'm sure some people will have some choice words about my decision, and perhaps create stories about what a monster I am for turning my back, I know how necessary it was for me to remove a part of my life that made me anxious, insecure, and miserable. 

I made my peace. At this time, I hope they find theirs. 

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Saturday, August 23, 2014

Ah, Progress...

I've officially turned the corner on Week 2 of no caffeine. There'll be no looking back. I couldn't if I want to. Most of the days have passed in a gray fugue-like state. Like one of those "artsy" music videos from the eighties when the camera lens filmed through some kind of gauzy veil.

Health-wise, I'm still a mess, but I have hope. The more I read up on my condition and the symptoms, the more amazed I am that no one put it all together for me years ago. More on that when I actually start to reap the benefits and become the person I used to be.

This past week, I celebrated my birthday with my family. It was a warm and happy time for me, and I'm so grateful to those of my friends who sent me cards and gifts and wishes galore.

To celebrate--and to give back--I'll be setting several of my backlist titles up for FREE download on Amazon. One at a time. Keep in touch. For the next two days, it's my latest release, REUNION IN OCTOBER, Book II of the Calendar Girls series.

Here's a Sneak Peek:

Don’t trust him, my brain scolded. He’ll hurt you again if you let him.
“Oregon doesn’t have you, Francesca. I made a mistake, leaving you behind. You’re more important to me than any job. I realize that now.” His fingers dug into my tense neck muscles, which would normally have weakened my resolve.
Josh’s kiss, still warm on my lips, strengthened me. “It took you five years to figure that out?”
“No, it took me five years to find a way back home.”
“Puh-leez.” Still staring out the window, I blew out an exasperated breath. “You should have called before coming back here. I’ve been busy, living my life without you.”
He dropped his hands from my shoulders and neck, thank God. “Okay. You’re mad. I get that.”
I whirled. “Mad? No, I’m not mad, Michael. Dogs go mad.”
His arms wrapped my waist, and he nuzzled my earlobe. “God, you’re still adorable when you’re angry. My plane landed this afternoon, and all I could think about was getting here to you. To tell you I’m sorry. I screwed up. I never should have left you. But now, I’m back, and we can pick up where we left off.”
I pushed out of his embrace and raced behind the couch, using my furniture as a dam between us. “‘Where we left off?’ We left off twenty days before a huge wedding that I’m still paying for.”
Technically, I’d only paid for my gown and the flowers. The catering hall had offered to hold my deposit for a future date, which my brother, Ronnie, wound up using for his wedding eighteen months ago. Ronnie and his wife paid me back for that deposit after their marriage. So all in all, I’d walked away a few thousand dollars poorer, but wiser in experience. Michael, who’d flown off without a thought about the financial aspect, didn’t deserve to know the truth.
“Really, Michael,” I scoffed. “What makes you think you can just reappear after five years as if I were Sleeping Beauty, lying around, waiting for you to come wake me up?”
“Don’t be silly. I didn’t expect you to wait around for me.” He took a step toward me and braced a bent knee on the leather couch. “I didn’t rearrange my entire life without checking on you first. I spoke to your mom.”
“My mom.” Naturally. The one person in this whole town who would forgive him unconditionally—my mother.
“Of course. I’ve been in touch with her for months now.”
Months. A chill surged through me.
He reached for my hand, rubbed his thumb across my knuckles. “I knew before the plane left JFK that night I’d made a huge mistake in letting you go. And I’ve spent the last five years trying to make it work in Oregon, but I was miserable. Once I admitted to myself I could never be whole without you, I started making plans to come back to Long Island. I’ve taken a job with a firm in Riverhead. I can commute from here so you don’t have to leave that hospital of yours. We can make it work this time.”
“What makes you think I want to make it work this time?” I yanked my hand from his grasp. “What makes you think I’m so gullible?”
His jaw went slack. “But your mother said—”

“If you’re so obsessed with my mother, marry her. Leave me out of it.”

Be sure to grab your copy before it's too late! Starting on August 25, another book will be available.

Enjoy and happy reading!
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Thursday, August 14, 2014

What the Writer Thinks About When She's Not Allowed to Drink Coffee

For health reasons, my doctor insisted I have to give up caffeine (temporarily, thankyousweetbabyjesus). When she first gave me this order, I nearly spilled my coffee, laughing. Why is this funny? Because I'm the girl that has a Keurig on her desk at work. I'm the girl who has more flavors and "recipes" for coffee than Starbucks. I'm the girl who downs an espresso and can fall asleep ten minutes later. I collect coffee mugs. People post cute memes about coffee on my Facebook wall. I *am* Mrs. Coffee. 

Now I had to give it up? Impossible. Ridiculous. Unheard of. Terrifying. 

It's been a week now. I wish I could say it gets better, but I'm guessing my body's still going through withdrawal. Here's what goes through my mind at random times in my caffeine-less state.

Day 1: Okay, I can do this. It's just coffee. I can make do with green tea and water. Oh, who am I kidding? This is gonna kill me. Is it bedtime yet? I'm exhausted...

Day 2: I got through yesterday. Sure, I did it by going to bed at 5 pm, but I did it. I can do it again. But I'm gonna push myself. I won't go to bed til 6 tonight. I'll use the extra hour to get some writing done. Dang, this sucks. I can't seem to put together a coherent sentence. Forget it. I'm just gonna go to bed. Tomorrow's another day, right?

Day 3: This getting out of bed stuff is really taking its toll on me. If a genie popped up right now and told me he'd grant me one wish, I'd wish for eight hours more sleep. I'll go to work because I have to, but I'm not bothering to style my hair or do my makeup. That'll buy me an extra thirty minutes of sleep time. And in just nine hours from now, I can be back in bed. That'll be good.

Day 4: What if all my brilliant ideas for my stories are due to my intake of caffeine? What if I never write a decent sentence again? Maybe I should go to bed and give up for today.

Day 5: My gym partner cancelled tonight's class. Thank God. I don't have the energy. I'm just gonna go home and crawl into bed.

Day 6: Ooh, one of my coworkers has coffee. It smells soooo good! Jeez, my head is pounding. And I can't even take Excedrin because it has caffeine in it. No way I can write with this jackhammer behind my eyes. The minute I get home, I should just go to bed.

Day 7: Hey! I made it through the first week. I can do this. It's just coffee. I can make do with green tea and water. And bed.   

Tell me this gets easier. Please.

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Friday, August 1, 2014

It's Release Day for Reunion in October!

Book II of the Calendar Girls Series is available today, and I hope you'll join me for the celebration. 

Francesca lost her first love. Emily’s teetering on her last nerve. Will they risk their hearts to gain everything they both desire? 

Five years after her fiancé, Michael, left her for a job on the other side of the country, Dr. Francesca Florentino is focused on her work as an emergency room physician and has no time for a love life. That is, until Josh Candolero charms his way into her heart on the same night Michael returns, vowing to win her back.

Meanwhile, Emily Handler, a 911 dispatcher married to her high school sweetheart for the last seventeen years, can’t seem to figure out what happened to that spark she and hubby, Roy, used to share in their marriage. A life-altering heart attack was not exactly the shake-up she had in mind.

Now, both women will seize control of their lives and discover their hearts’ true happiness for always.

Welcome back to Snug Harbor, where the ocean breeze is a lover’s kiss, and the salt air always carries a hint of love.

Here's a snippet between Josh and Francesca: 

"I quit my job. I think I can make a lot more money as a professional dancer. What do you think?”
For a minute, the joke escaped me as a familiar fantasy filled my imagination. A buff and gleaming Josh in a skin-tight black tank top and jeans, hard hat perched on his thick dark hair, and tool belt swirling as he gyrated just for me while Barry White’s smoky voice sang in the background. As soon as Josh whipped the tear-away jeans from his hips, I shook myself alert. “I’ve seen you dance,” I managed to say with aplomb. “The fantasy is better than the reality.”
His sharp intake of breath sounded like a hiss in my ear. “Ouch. That’s harsh, Frannie.”
I actually laughed at his exaggeration of pain. “Toughen up, cowboy. And while you’re finding your man-spine, tell me why you’re calling me this early in the morning.”
“It’s raining.”
I looked out the window again. Really? He called to give me a weather report? Okay, I'd play. "Yes, that's what happens when the clouds accumulate too much moisture. It's perfectly natural and won't hurt you."

If you're around tonight, stop by the Launch Party at Platinum Book Reviews on Facebook. There'll be lots of laughs, some fun prizes, and special guests dropping by. 


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