Monday, January 30, 2012

Puppy Turns Two!

Over the weekend, my big ol' Puppy finally and officially turned two years old. So I guess, finally and officially, she's no longer a "Puppy."

Except that she still acts like a big baby, but that's something completely different.
 We made a batch of plain cupcakes for her, to mark the occasion. My daughter put the hat on her and promised her treats if she wore it without complaint. Puppy is a trusting soul, and put up with the elastic band on the hat, as long as there was a plate of warm yummy cupcakes there, under her nose.
 She didn't flinch from the candles as she made her wish... but the kids did help her blow them out.
Puppy enjoyed her birthday treats, as she ate them one by one. Out of the dozen cupcakes, she let each kid have one, and let the Big Dog have two. She ate all the rest....
 ...and not very neatly, I might add. After the first one, she kind of scarfed the others down, snuffling at the plate to scoop another one up in her jowls. Then another. Then another....
...until there were none left.

Happy Birthday, Puppy!

So, what did You do this weekend?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Snowman Day

 We finally got our first snowstorm on Cape Cod this weekend. My daughter has been waiting all year to make a snowman, since somehow she never made one at all last year. I've been hearing about her plans for months.

She spent hours outside during the storm yesterday, rolling up the balls, but couldn't lift them by herself. I told her we'd help her when it stopped snowing. Which was this morning.

This snowman reminds me of a time back in the 19070s, when we had a huge storm, and all the kids in the neighborhood worked together to build an eight foot tall snowman. We measured. Eight feet and five inches tall. We had to use a ladder to put the face on, too. My oldest son, hugging the snowman on the right, is 6'1", so my daughter's snowman rivals the one in my memory...

What's your favorite snowman memory?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

WInter Warmer: Read an Excerpt from CRASHING HEARTS!

I'm thrilled to welcome debut author Emma Leigh Reed back to my blog again this week, with an excerpt from her new novel, CRASHING HEARTS. If you missed my introduction and interview with Emma last week, you can scroll back through the blog a few days... or simply click here to go read it.

Okay, if you're not going back to read the whole interview, here's the back cover blurb again:
Kira Nichols is raising her autistic son alone while dealing with the guilt she has lived with for years surrounding her husband’s death.  Grant Rutledge returns to his hometown to help take over the family business and to repair the spiked heel to his broken heart. When he runs into a beautiful, overprotective mother and her nonverbal son, sparks fly and his chance to be part of a loving family seems possible again.  When Kira discovers a secret from Grant’s past, she second-guesses her heart. She must overcome her suspicions and haunting ghosts from the past in order to get what she wants – if it’s not too late. To build the family Grant has always wanted, he has to learn to follow his heart.

For more info, to find Emma on the web, or to order her book, here are the details:
Twitter and Facebook: @emmaleighreed, and facebook.

Without further ado, the promised excerpt...


Chapter 1

Kira Nichols pushed back her hair as the crisp salt air blew it across her face. She walked up the path—her sneakers leaving small impressions in the soft sand—to the cul-de-sac. At the empty lot across from her house, the foundation had been capped over and abandoned for about a year now.

She sprang into a run at the rumble of a sports car arriving at a fast clip. She arrived at the cul-de-sac at the same time the vehicle skidded to a stop. She caught her breath as the lean, ruggedly handsome man exited his vehicle. The smile he flashed her was one she imagined had many women melting at his feet.

Kira squared her shoulders and approached him. Her five foot two inch frame seemed minute compared to his at least six foot stature. She willed herself to appear calm and not give away that her senses had completely left her at the sight of him.

“Grant Rutledge.” He extended his hand to her. His deep voice, like a shot of brandy, was warm and soothing. She swallowed hard, her anger forgotten for a brief second. Then it flared back and she ignored his hand. “Do you have any idea that there are children in this area?” she demanded, planting her hands on her hips.

“My apologies if you felt I was going too fast.” He gave an exaggerated glance around. “There aren’t any children about now.” He smiled that smile again and in spite of her anger, her heart melted. She started with the realization he still had his hand extended in introduction. She tentatively shook his calloused fingers. Tingles shot up her arm and she struggled with not yanking her hand away. Heat flooded her face. She prayed he couldn’t tell.

“Again, I apologize. I hope you wouldn’t think I have no regard for children.”

Kira turned to go. “I just know the type.” She gestured absently at the car. She forced herself to walk slowly towards her house, feeling his eyes on her back. Her mind whirled. She had practically melted at the sound of his voice. Her cheeks reddened at the thought of him watching her walk away—thankful she had stayed in shape.

The solitude of the cul-de-sac was the reason she originally loved this spot. Her house had been the only one in this two-lot area for six years. She hoped the new construction company would be considerate and not disrupt the serenity, and keep working hours to normal business hours, hours when Jared was in preschool.

She thought back to the long hours they kept when they put in the foundation. Jared had been unable to sleep due to the noise and disruption of his routine. Hopefully this time around the noise wouldn’t disturb him. He was just beginning to sleep through the night.

If only she could.

* * * *

Jared ran up the walkway to meet Kira, signing furiously: “Who is that man?”

“That is Grant Rutledge,” she signed back. “He is going to be building the new house, so you will need to stay away from the construction site.”

Jared’s hands and fingers flew in his excitement to know about the new house, and the fast car he saw. “Jared, use your words.” Kira ushered him into the house.

“Car, red.”

“Yes, the car was red, and it’s very fast, so you must stay away from there.” Kira found Barbara’s eyes over Jared’s head, and gave her the “I have so much to tell you” look.

“Time to get ready for the day, Jared,” Barbara interjected.

Jared skipped off to the bedroom happily, and Barbara handed Kira a cup of coffee. “Spill. I saw him. It wasn’t the fast car that made you come into this house so quick.”

Kira, glaring at Barbara over the coffee, walked slowly to the sliding doors overlooking the ocean. “What happened to the quietness of our lives? Why do I feel like it is gone?”

“Is it gone?” Barbara asked. “Or just stirred up a little? I think maybe you’ve been holding onto grief and bitterness for so long that you don’t have any idea how to look objectively at life. Before you say it, I’m heading for the kitchen and not saying another word. Nevertheless, before I go, let me just say out of love for you, Kira, darling, Patrick’s been gone for four years now. You’ve built your life around Jared, and that’s great because Jared needs you. However, there comes a time when you need someone also, someone besides Jared and an old lady like myself.”

“Barb, it’s not like that.”

“Honey, you’ve been holding on for so long, and don’t tell me you’re not angry with Patrick for the way he left the night of the accident. Kira, I’m angry with him. He never should’ve left that way. You had it just as tough as him, if not more, with the crying. He was the father. He should have been here right beside you.”

“Stop! We are not going to rehash that night and we certainly aren’t going to blame Patrick. He’s gone and nothing is going to change that.” Kira looked toward the ocean and for- got about her coffee and Barbara. For a moment she lost track of the here and now and drifted off into the peace of the ocean.

Something caught Kira’s eye, and she turned to see Grant taking measurements, preparing for the construction. Feelings she hadn’t felt in so long flooded her as she watched his dark, wavy hair blow in the breeze. Half sighing, half growling to herself, she turned from the window. Distractions were not what she needed now. There was a routine to follow. For Jared’s sake.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Pawprints on my Soul...

Sixteen and a half years ago, this puppy came into my life, six months before the baby did. We learned that we should always keep pregnant women - me, at least - away from boxes of puppies. Who knew the post office could be such a dangerous place? Go in to mail a letter, come out with an armload of squirmy black puppy.

Luckily, she turned out to be a wonderful dog for our family.

When my oldest was little (umm, like in the photo above... now he's 16 and 6'1") he couldn't say Montana. Not even close. He called the dog "Bana." So we nicknamed her "Montana Banana" so that his pronunciation made a little bit of sense. The other two kids just figured that was her name all along.

She's had her ups and downs with her health. In 2000, we finally (finally!) figured out that her unexplicable weight loss was due to the fact that she'd swallowed a tennis ball... and needed surgery to remove it... She's had more neural episodes than I can count, although the vet insists dogs don't have strokes, but there it is. And tumors? Oh yeah. In the last few years she's been lumpier than any dog has a right to be. But the last few weeks have been different, each day a little harder. This morning she just couldn't stand up anymore.

It was time.

We're going to miss you, Montana. Hope you're up in dog heaven chasing rabbits and squirrels and playing with your old friends, all of whom you somehow outlived. I hope they were all there waiting for you and there was a big dog party in your honor.

Montana Banana
May 27, 1995 - January 17, 2012

Friday, January 13, 2012

Happy Friday the 13th!!

Friday the 13th is here once again...
Oh, stop rolling your eyes...

Don't think of it as a bad-luck day. My kids think of it as our family's good luck day, actually. My husband was born on a 13th. Colgate University's lucky number is 13, the school where my husband and I both attended college. My husband even belonged to a singing group called the Colgate 13. They still call themselves Thirteeners... We have a lot of 13s all around us.

We need to embrace the number 13, just as we've embraced vampires, evil faeries, wizards and werewolves. Maybe there's a book in there somewhere...

Enjoy the day!

(This post originally appeared on a Friday the 13th back in November 2009... but it's all still true...)

Monday, January 9, 2012

Welcome debut author: Emma Leigh Reed!

Kicking off the New Year, I'd like to welcome 2012 debut author Emma Leigh Reed to my blog. Her novel, Crashing Hearts is being released this month from Whiskey Creek Press, and sounds like a great read... and how can you not like that cover?! Love it!!!

Before we get to the Q&A, here's the scoop on Emma...

Emma Leigh Reed has lived in New Hampshire all her life. She has fond memories of the Maine coastline and incorporates the ocean into all her books. She lives in a small town with her husband and three children. Her life has been touched and changed by her son's autism - she views life through a very different lens than before he was born. Growing up as an avid reader, it was only natural for Emma Leigh to turn to creating the stories for others to enjoy.

Now for a little interview with the author....

Emma, tell us what kind of books you like to read and write.

My first book is a contemporary romance, but I am also finishing up a romantic suspense.  I love to read just about anything, with the exception of paranormal.

What's your favorite part of your job as a writer? 

I love creating characters that show emotion.

What's your least favorite part of writing?
Editing, and of course query/synopsis writing.

Did you ever imagine yourself doing this when you were growing up?
I didn’t imagine myself writing when I was younger, not until about college.  Then I just thought about it, but never really had the courage to do it.

If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?
That’s tough.  I have run the gamut of what I thought I might want to do from being a labor and delivery nurse, a social worker to advocate for special needs children to working in a battered women’s shelter.

Tell us about your new release, CRASHING HEARTS!  

I am so excited about CRASHING HEARTS.  This was a book that came straight from my heart and was very therapeutic to write. Not only did I allow myself to really pour out emotion in this book regarding the autism, but also around learning to trust your heart again.  Nothing like being able to cry while writing an emotional filled scene to start the healing process.  Here’s the back cover blurb:

Kira Nichols is raising her autistic son alone while dealing with the guilt she has lived with for years surrounding her husband’s death.  Grant Rutledge returns to his hometown to help take over the family business and to repair the spiked heel to his broken heart. When he runs into a beautiful, overprotective mother and her nonverbal son, sparks fly and his chance to be part of a loving family seems possible again.  When Kira discovers a secret from Grant’s past, she second-guesses her heart. She must overcome her suspicions and haunting ghosts from the past in order to get what she wants – if it’s not too late. To build the family Grant has always wanted, he has to learn to follow his heart.
Ooh, what a great blurb!! Emma, where can readers find your books and where can we find you on the web?  

CRASHING HEARTS is published by Whiskey Creek Press and can be found

I am also accepting preorder until January 15 at a discounted price through my personal blog found here: 

Emma, thanks so much for joining me today! Readers, tune in next week for a sneak peek at CRASHING HEARTS, when Emma shares an excerpt from her new novel! In the meantime, does anyone have any questions for the author?

I know I can't wait - I'm headed over to Emma's blog right now to pre-order my own copy of her novel. The Amazon link to buy her book is here:

Friday, January 6, 2012

Puppy Celebrates the New Year

 We have a New Year's Day tradition of heading out to a beach in the morning - my husband always chooses a beach we don't normally visit - and we take the dogs for their first romp of the New Year.

This year, we visited Cold Storage Beach in Dennis, and hit it while the tide was still coming in, but while there was still plenty of beach to walk and explore. And Puppy had her New Years Romp.

The weather was gorgeous, unseasonably warm for a second New Year's Day in a row but not quite the t-shirt weather we had on January 1st of 2011. Puppy likes it colder anyway, and was exhausted by the end of the walk. She's turning 2 years old at the end of this month, so as far as she knows, this is the beach we visit EVERY New Year's Day. And maybe we will from now on. It's a great beach, and a great tradition.

Later that day, we went to a party with friends, where we ate barbeque and black-eyed peas .... apparently, it's a Southern tradition to eat black-eyed peas on New Year's Day to bring good luck in the coming year.

(I liked the beach walk better. So did Puppy.)

What are some of your New Year's Day traditions?