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Category: News

Long Time No Me!

Well, hello, stranger!

And by stranger, I don’t mean you, dear readers! I mean this blog, that has been woefully neglected by moi for a while, and I have no one to blame but myself.

I often have good intentions to maintain this blog more regularly, but life seems to get in the way. And my last post certainly attests to that – it was before Christmas! Argh!

In my  defense, two days after I’d posted that, on my birthday, just about an hour after I finished a book and turned it into my editor and was all psyched for a stretch of relaxation and enjoying having the kids home for Christmas, we learned that sadly my father had passed away unexpectedly. He’d spent his winters in Hawaii and thus far from family, and no one had heard from him in about a week. It was so very sad for us all but we were all very grateful that he died in his happy place, a place he hadn’t expected to be able to return to after having fallen gravely ill last summer with Lyme disease of all things.

My father’s passing meant much word needed to be done ASAP —  my brothers and I had to close up his life, settle all affairs, clear out his house in Pittsburgh and his condo in Hawaii — both of which were overflowing to the brim with junk (uh, we filled three 6-ton dumpsters to the brim in Pittsburgh alone!). Dad was a hoarder and boy, did we have to purge and purge massively. Between the time spent emptying out his belongings and then organizing two memorial services, and the myriad emails and texts going back and forth amongst family during this time, all of a sudden my other have-to’s took a backseat for a while. And to be honest, having lost both of my parents suddenly and unexpectedly in the past couple of years, it kind of threw me back on my heels for a while as I processed this all. Which meant my productivity just evaporated, and I had to postpone a book that I had due to my editor repeatedly, only finally just this week turning it in months late. In the midst of this all, my middle daughter was getting married, so it was a lovely chance to redirect from sadness to great joy — we kind of ran the gamut of emotions in a very condensed time frame.

Without a book releasing for a while, I decided to bundle the first three books in two of my series  — The Royal Romeos and Falling for Mr. Wrong for the first time to make available to readers at a great price—I’ll post info below if you’d like to check them out. If you’ve not read any of them, this is a great time to give them a try for a real bargain! And don’t forget books 1-3 of the It’s Reigning Men series are also available in a bundle! And I’ll post below a picture from the wedding and the breathtaking view from my dad’s condo in Hawaii, where I’d never been until we had to go there to clear it out—you can see why it was indeed his happy place.

  

For those of you anxiously awaiting my next book, thanks for your patience as I let life get in the way a bit. Bird Dog, book 4 in the Confessions of a Chick Magnet series, is with my ever-so-patient editor and will finally be released July 16th!

I’m writing this, by the way, Memorial Day weekend, kind of lamenting that we’re not somewhere fun, like a beach or a pool, relaxing with friends and family, but also enjoying the chance to do absolutely (well, mostly!) nothing for a day or two without feeling terribly guilty. It’s the first chance I’ve had to start working my way through the many things that got waylaid over the past several months, so it’s nice to feel like I’m making progress, interspersed with watching episodes of my latest guilty reality TV pleasure, 90-Day Fiance (it hardly gets better than watching 90-Day Fiance Pillow Talk!). 

quite a view from my dad’s condo in Oahu — of which I am now a temporary 1/4 owner of! Sadly we can’t afford to keep it–anyone interested?!

 

And lastly, a lovely family picture ❤️❤️❤️ from our daughter Kendall’s wedding!

Happy reading, everyone!

Happy Ho-Ho-Holidays!

Hey there! Just wanted to send warmest of wishes for a happy and safe holiday surrounded by those you love and cherish most!

    I’m a sucker for the Christmas season. Always have been. Don’t know if it’s the deluded optimism the holiday thrusts upon us, or just a strange affinity for otherwise maudlin songs dressed up as cheerful seasonal chestnuts. I mean, let’s be honest, at any other time of year, who would actually listen wistfully to a yawner like “The Little Drummer Boy”?

    Whatever it is, I have always ensured that my family gets into the holiday spirit, starting with finding the perfect Christmas tree.

    When I was a kid, the search for the ultimate yuletide tree took us to the nearest gas station: hardly a romantic venue from which to choose the centerpiece of our holiday decor. We’d pile into the station wagon for the three-block drive to Buck’s Esso station, spill out onto the oil-slicked parking lot, mull over three or four already-netted spruce trees, and then dad would haggle down the price. End of story.

    Ah, so I was determined to rewrite that tradition with my own family. Early in my marriage, we decided the most festive tree-acquisition could only be achieved by cutting down our own (plus you get the added benefit of the needles actually staying onthe tree all month rather than littering the floor). Because we lived in citified Northern Virginia, the cachet of escaping to the “country”–i.e. the closest remaining patch of farmland untainted by greedy developers–only added to the allure.

    But one year, I found myself almost wishing for the chance to just pop down to the local gas station to buy a tree…

    That year, my husband and our three children, all under the age of four, trekked to the Clifton Christmas Tree Farm, where awaiting us were candy canes, hot chocolate, homemade wreaths and the typical abundance of forced holiday cheer that we craved.

    I had whipped my kids into a tree-chopping frenzy, and so they took their task quite seriously. For forty minutes, we foraged throughout the whopping half-acre “farm” until we found the perfect tree: seven feet of holiday splendor, as wide as it was tall, perfect to fill our cathedral-ceiling’ed living room and flood us with the Christmas spirit.

    The kids took turns on the ground with the saw while my husband supervised the chopping honors. Their excitement was palpable. We dragged the tree back to the cashier stand where the farmer’s son coiled the netting around our white pine. The kids stood by, sucking on candy canes, sipping hot cider and petting the farmer’s dog, who’d recently wandered over. I was just about to retrieve the car to load on the tree, when Fido lifted his leg.

    “Noooooooo!” I shouted in what seemed like a frame-by-frame slow motion, as a steady stream was released onto our perfect tree.

    For a moment we stood stupefied, not knowing what to do. But we weren’t about to keep a tree covered in dog wee, so we grabbed the kids’ hands to head back into the wilds to hunt for a replacement one.

    Until our kids let us know in no uncertain terms, that this tree was the one, the only. They threw themselves on the ground, flailing and crying, thrashing and moaning, like something from a Greek tragedy. They wanted their special tree, and nothing else would suffice.

    Their wails did not subside until we relented, and agreed to load up the tainted tree.

    The farmer found a makeshift bucket, filled it from a nearby stream and doused the offending urine from the tree. We loaded it onto the roof of the car, and went home.

    I have to admit, I sort of detached emotionally from the tree that year. Couldn’t quite get over the psychological hurdle of having a tree the dog peed on in my living room. Somehow it clashed with the whole festive notion.

    But for my kids, the tree was just about perfect, despite its incumbent flaws. And maybe that’s exactly why I like the holidays so much: because at this time of year, we’re all a little more likely to forgive the small things in order to see the bigger picture.

 

 

All We Need is Love

 

I’m writing this in my lovely little city of Charlottesville, Virginia, with this weekend bearing the ugly distinction of being the horrid one-year anniversary of what happened here last August when our city was taken over by monstrous neo Nazis and White Supremacists. I’ll be honest: I’m in good company here in Charlottesville in feeling sad and anxious and disillusioned that little has changed in the past year, but rather things seem to have only gotten worse in our country since that weekend.

It’s a lovely day in the shade on the tree-lined Downtown Mall, normally a time when people would be anticipating a relaxing weekend, maybe grabbing a drink, then dinner at one of the many outdoor dining establishments all along the pedestrian mall. On Fridays there’s always live music in the outdoor amphitheater, with food trucks and local craft beers, it’s always a fun time. Most weekends the mall is peppered with street musicians and entertainers as well. It’s a place where people gather and enjoy one another’s company, decompressing after the work week. Tonight, the mall will be mostly silent. In the infinite wisdom of the NRA-owned Virginia legislature, if you are armed to the teeth, you’ll be allowed to open-carry your weaponry, feel as manly as possible. Yet you won’t be allowed to bring your puppy out to the mall tonight. Go figure. The mall will be mostly silent, in stark contrast to our “normal”.

 Usually Saturday morning means an early trip to the farmer’s market, always a lovely time chatting it up with farmers and friends and neighbors who make this a regular part of their weekend. Afterwards, my husband and I usually relax, drink coffee and read the paper outside a coffee shop on the mall. This week some kind local souls offered to relocate the cancelled market to a different location, in the hopes that the farmers will be able to salvage some of their vital income. Hard to say if we’ll be safe to drink coffee at our usual place, or if the monsters will have taken over yet again.

We’re meeting friends for dinner tomorrow night and normally would likely go to a restaurant downtown, but one in the group is worried that tomorrow will be as horrific as last year at this time, so I guess we’ll have to play that by ear. I very much want to come down here and support local businesses who are still smarting from the financial losses they incurred as a result of the Nazi invasion, though I certainly respect those legitimate apprehensions.

Last year, the Sunday of that nightmarish weekend was spent in mourning, gathering with friends and strangers on the mall, coming together with heavy hearts as we all tried to process the despicable events that happened in this wonderful little town.

Right now, as I work outside a coffee shop on the mall, I’m watching a procession of hundreds of state troopers as they’re led to various points of presumed interest by their guide. Today they’re all laughing and smiling. Last year at this time, both during the Hitler-esque torch march on UVA Grounds on the night of August 11, and everywhere downtown on August 12, they stood stock-still and stone-faced as innocent people were brutally beaten. My friend’s daughter was cold-cocked in the face by a 40-something vermin of a man who’d come prepared, wearing brass knuckles. When video of that assault surfaced, I was quite stunned that her neck hadn’t snapped, the thrust of his punch was so powerful. Of course we’re all left to wonder what sort of odious demon of a man would do that to a 25-year old woman. It defies my ability to imagine.

We’re all just hoping desperately that these haters, these instruments of evil, don’t return to Charlottesville for a command performance. Made worse still because many here have little faith that those in charge can or will stop it if they do return. So to be honest we are all on tenterhooks.

It’s hard to get the barbarism out of my mind’s eye, the images of those hundreds upon hundreds—if not more—hate-filled, armed-to-the-teeth monsters relishing so intently their animalistic, sub-human impulses. Although I’m afraid they merely taught us how all-too-human their anger, their rage, their hatred is. Even worse is how it’s being exploited by those in power simply in order to cling to power. Throughout history many wicked leaders have known how effective it was to harness the power of fear and anger, and that’s where we are today in this country, and it feels so hopeless. I take solace in realizing that following the brutality of the Middle Ages, came the far more civilized period of the Renaissance. So maybe there is hope for us all. Maybe soon everyone who has taken up the cause of hatred and anger and rage will realize how exhausting it is to live like that, to live ruled by unfounded fear of those you don’t know.

For now, I ask you all to take a moment to remember Heather Heyer, the young woman who was brutally murdered here last August by a maniacal neo Nazi who used his souped-up muscle car as a weapon to plow down innocent victims. Heather’s mother has been without her beloved only child for a full year now, and has to live with the silence of never hearing or seeing or hugging or kissing her daughter again. I hope you can take the time to hug your loved ones, and remember how good it feels to love, not hate.

Peace.