May 2021

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Sunday, May 30, 2021

#WeWriWa: Truth or Consequences . . . An Untarnished Hero

Consequences . . . the pesky result of taking a hard stance. But in the case of our hero in my WIP, the risk is worth the result . . . or so he believes in this scene where he’s trying to find a place to fit into the life his estranged wife has returned to . . . without him.

“Matteo can find plenty for you to do.”

His side glance, a teasing bright break-of-day blue, suggested all sorts of mischief. “Nothing you personally need me to see to?”

“Can’t think of a single thing. Been seeing to them myself for a long while now.” With that clipped declaration, she pushed off the fence and marched back up the house, spine stiffening at the sound of his rumbling chuckle.

Watching her walk away, always a particular delight, couldn’t ease the knot of tension growing in Jimmy’s gut. Maybe Matteo was right. Perhaps he should come clean with his reason for being there. But part of his plan was for everything to look normal at TheCut Above, encouraging that trouble he was here to prevent to sneak up close enough for him to put a very final end to it.

(and the rest of the scene . . .)

But dangling the woman he loved as bait came a far second to keeping her safe from the threat sure to come . . . fast and hard from any unexpected direction. Him not being up to par was worrisome. But being a minute too late and a second too slow was not going to happen again. He knew what was out there, waiting to threaten his future at the cost of those here on this ranch. He had to be ready, without distraction, without mercy or hesitation. The next soul planted in the lovingly tended family cemetery, if he had any say, would be from old age, not his poor judgment or failure to act to the full limit of the law. And perhaps, this time, beyond it.

To hell with the consequences.

I wonder how that’s going to work out for him? While he’s trying to figure it out, I’ve been enjoying my final edit through AUH, smoothing out the bumps and raising the stakes. And I’ve even come up with a way to spin this book into a series by introducing a new character at the end!

Little by little, I’ve been taking baby steps outside my pandemic bubble, this time with a trip to the mall and dinner afterwards to celebrate my birthday. First stop – bookstore!! Then my favorite clothing store to actually try things on. Pleased to report no COVID damage to my regular size – in fact, things are a bit looser! But after taking no prisoners in my first forage into the real world of shopping in a year and a half (!), it’s still a case of I can get all dressed up and have no place to go other than a series of friend gatherings in the upcoming months. Still I’m planning to hit the gym to tone up this old sedentary bod starting tomorrow and am busy making playlists to put on my phone – if I can figure out how to do that.

After returning home like a band of pillaging pirates with all our mall bounty and leftovers, I find this lovely surprise waiting for me from my wonderful D-i-L:

I’ve decided that getting a year older is okay with me!

But I haven’t forgotten to appreciate the past and those who gave all so we could have so much.

Have a wonderful Memorial Day, hopefully with your families this year, but if not in person, then at least in your heart and in your memories!

Weekend Writing Warriors is a weekly hop for everyone who loves to write! Share an 8 to 10 sentence snippet of your writing on Sunday. Visit other participants on the list and read, critique, and comment on their #8sunday posts.

Spread the word, share the love, warriors - Hashtag #8sunday.

Sunday, May 23, 2021

#WeWriWa: A Dream Come True? . . . SWEET TEXAS DREAMS

If only life mirrored the fantasy found in books . . . Young Becca Bass, the sheltered youngest daughter of West Texas tracker Harmon Bass, has grown up surrounded by the daring do of others, but the idea of heroics simply terrifies her . . . until a handsome stranger shows up at the front steps needing to hire her father.

Her mother had always told her patience would bring her heart’s desire, but never had Becca Bass expected it to be delivered up to her front door.

“I’m looking for Harmon Bass and was told I could find him here.”

It took Becca a moment to remember how to speak, so lost was she in the staring. They didn’t get many visitors out in the emptiness of West Texas where their house nestled in against the foothills of the Chisos, but that alone wasn’t the reason for the fluttery tempo bumping within the cage of her ribs. It wasn’t any one thing that held her mesmerized; it was all of them together. The way the stranger’s shoes refused to let the thick dust conquer their determined shine; the way his beautifully tailored suit held to its arrogant creases; the supple driving gloves that most likely protected smooth hands untouched by hard labor; the fair unlined skin molded to the long angles of his face that spoke of the North as clearly as his crisp diction; the meticulously groomed brown hair trained by a professional barber’s comb instead of a pair of shears on a kitchen stool, and a mouth full of sensual curves that should have smiled more than it probably did and now was pressed with the look of serious business.

As Becca gazed down from the top step of her family’s porch into the sterling gray of his eyes, her every quivering instinct told her that this was the one; the man who lived in the fairytale world her mother described when she spoke of her years in the East, the one who would step from the pages of the love stories she treasured to become everything she desired and couldn’t find here in the sear of West Texas. Here was her dream come true. And all she could do was stare in entranced wonder.

(and a bit more . . .)

“Am I in the right place?” he prompted when she gave no response.

“Oh, yes.” That sighed from her dreamily.

“Is he here? May I speak with him?” There was a slight edge of impatience to his tone, the sign of a man who’d come a long way for a mighty important reason and didn’t fancy wasting any more of his time in the hot sun talking to a calf-struck girl. “Harmon Bass,” he repeated slowly as if to someone who didn’t have a good grasp of the language. “You do know him?”

That made Becca smile. “Everyone around here knows him. He’s my father.”

Unfortunately, the legend he’s looking for has been injured and is unavailable. But instead of sending her dream man away, Becca does the first bold thing she can think of . . . something that just might get the both of them killed! Pretending she can fill her half-Apache father’s moccasins, Becca dons buckskins and convinces New York investment banker Morgan Daniels to follow her into the searing landscape along with his prissy manservant, who thankfully knows how to make a fire. So far. So good, until they catch up with the trouble they’re looking for!

I had a great time writing this final chapter in the published Bass family series (and am thoroughly enjoying rereading it now!). The research it took to bring Becca and her family to take on the New York high society her mother escaped was loads of fun. And dropping the always dangerous and unpredictable Harmon Bass into the middle of it made for some of the series’ best scenes. I didn’t want the adventure to end . . . so I’m picking up the chapters I’d started years ago that follow young Randy Bass and his cousin as they seek trouble and destiny with a convent runaway going home to war-torn Cuba. I’ll share a tease next week.

Hope you’ve found someplace cool to escape the awful humidity that we have here in Michigan. Just rain, already, and get it over with! At least the cats have been entertained by all the whirligigs the trees are shedding that now cover the patio and all my plants.

I’m having a happy birthday week. Enjoy a piece of cake on me! I won’t tell anyone.

Weekend Writing Warriors is a weekly hop for everyone who loves to write! Share an 8 to 10 sentence snippet of your writing on Sunday. Visit other participants on the list and read, critique, and comment on their #8sunday posts.

Spread the word, share the love, warriors - Hashtag #8sunday.

Sunday, May 16, 2021

#WeWriWa: A Father’s Nightmare . . . TEXAS RENEGADE

Nothing could be worse than losing a child, even if that child isn’t yours by blood. Half white, half Apache, Kenitay became Jack Bass’s son when the Texas Ranger married his mother, a former captive of his Apache father’s band. With the era of the Apache fading, Jack takes him to Arizona’s Fort Apache for a chance to see his father one last time before he’s relocated to Florida with others of his tribe. Told to stay put on the porch while Jack tries to make arrangements for the visit, the boy’s curiosity gets the best of him at the sight of his father’s ragged people being herded toward the train. When he takes that first step off the porch for a better look, he leaves behind a family broken by indisputable evidence . . . that he’s been accidentally killed. Until a wary, bitter adult appears on their doorstep thirteen years later.

As Jack walked forward until the two men were eye-to-eye, Kenitay experienced a strange chill looking at him from an equal height as they stared at each other for a few heartbeats. Then, in a tone so gruff it rumbled, Jack said, “Next time I tell you to stay put, goddammit, you stay put!”

Jack’s big hand caught the back of his head to pull Kenitay into an embrace so tight he could barely draw a breath—not that he could manage one through the emotion squeezing his chest. This wasn’t at all the welcome he’d expected . . . but it was the one he’d dreamed of on those lonely nights when the emptiness got so big it seemed to swallow his soul. His stepfather’s grasp, his mother’s tears—he’d pictured it a million times and each time, painful reality cut like a fresh blade. If he was holding onto a lie, if felt so good he couldn’t make himself release it. He soaked up the warmth of his mother’s hug and let his head rest briefly against the familiar comfort of Jack’s shoulder as his spirit wept with the joy of their reunion even as his mind struggled to explain it.

Why the tears thirteen years too late?

(and the rest . . .)

That’s when Jack’s fingers meshed in his hair, pulling his head up and holding him firm so there was no way to avoid his piercing stare.

“You’d better have one powerful good reason for staying away and letting your mama nurse a broken heart.”

That soft accusation was what Kenitay needed to bring scattered emotions in check. He levered back, his features taking on an impassive mask. He couldn’t look at his mother, that would have been too hard. Finally, he asked with a tint of disbelief, “You want a reason from me?”

“Right now,” Jack demanded in a terse voice.

“I don’t owe you anything.”

“After you tore this family in two, I think you do!”

Reconnecting with the father whom he’d believed hadn’t cared enough to look for him, Kenitay grew up amongst a bitter people, a relocated prisoner in Florida. Now, hunted by the law for murder, he’s on the hunt for a fortune in silver and the men responsible for the price on his head. Enter Leisha Bass, daughter of famous tracker Harmon Bass who is Jack’s uncle and perhaps the only man who can help him. But desperate to prove herself in the shadow of her father’s legend, Leisha has her own reasons for taking on that task and sticking close to the enigmatic man who holds a secret that could destroy her.

I fell in love with these characters all over again while rereading this book from 1996 (!). I can’t wait to get it back into document form to tweak and polish, and to find a cover worthy of the original which is one of my favorites from all my books. Now, on to the final (so far!) book of the series . . .

After long days struggling to find the perfect mix of colors, looks, and heights (in a greenhouse, silly, not on a dating app!) I’ve been digging in the dirt to the horror of my fingernails and my abused back to create this year’s patio garden oasis for mornings with coffee and my cats. It’s my favorite chore of the year and when I’m finished . . . ahhhh, perfect! But first, putting the pieces together.

I’m so excited to be going out to lunch with one of my critique partners tomorrow – maskless! It’s like being naked in public (though probably not as horrific). We’ll still be social distancing and be suited up inside until we get to the table, but it’ll be great to see someone’s lips moving when you speak to them! And to know they aren’t making faces at you.

Happy Spring, fellow Warriors! Bloom where you’re planted!

Weekend Writing Warriors is a weekly hop for everyone who loves to write! Share an 8 to 10 sentence snippet of your writing on Sunday. Visit other participants on the list and read, critique, and comment on their #8sunday posts.

Spread the word, share the love, warriors - Hashtag #8sunday.

Sunday, May 09, 2021

#WeWriWa: Hat in Hand . . . WILD TEXAS BRIDE

Continuing through my Texas historical series, reading WILD TEXAS BRIDE reminded me of how impulsive and often painful young love can be. Exciting new emotions can often get confused when expectations and reality don’t go hand in hand. Such is the case when young Sarah Bass, daughter of a famed Texas Ranger and niece of a dime novel legend, sees her first and only crush through new eyes.

One of the bandits strode by her toward the others at the front of the car, his long canvas duster tucked behind an impressive brace of pistols. He was tall, with a swaggering walk . . . a familiar walk, but she wasn’t sure until he turned slightly, and the coat swung away from long, long legs. She didn’t have to see his face because as long as she lived, Sarah would never forget that expansive stretch of denim-hugged limb.

What in heaven’s name was Billy Cooper doing robbing a train?

Surprise subdued her more efficiently than threat. How could she mistake the man who’d given her the spectacular taste of her first kiss, that young Texas Ranger who’d captured a thirteen-year-old’s heart?

What would turn a man from an honorable life’s mission to passing a hat to relieve folks of their valuables? Sarah wondered, frowning as Billy moved from seat to seat with the same charismatic cheerfulness as a tent evangelist, coaxing her fellow passengers to dig deep into their pockets. By the time he reached her seat, she was seething with a confused outrage. Then his dark eyes touched upon hers and she held her breath, waiting for a shock of recognition, but he looked away without pause.

He didn’t remember her!

(and the rest of the scene)

“Your contributions, please,” he drawled amiably, giving his hat a shake to rattle the coins and jewelry he’d already collected.

“And if I don’t please?”

The dark eyes gazing down at her crinkled up at the corners until she could see the creases of his devilish dimples over the edge of the bandana. “Why, I’m sure a little lady as pretty as you would want to be obliging.”

“Not when it comes to sniveling, underhanded, sneak thieves like you, sir.” Grabbing the sleeve of Billy’s coat, she hissed, “Why are you doing this?”

“Man’s gotta eat, ma’am.”

“That’s not what I meant, and you know it.”

Then his fingertips touched to her mouth, effectively stilling any further argument she thought to give, as they moved gently, rough and warm, along the line of her lips as if to seal them shut. His dark eyes delved straight to her soul.

“You don’t know anything,” he argued quietly, and before she could think of a retort, he was moving down the row of seats with his hat full of stolen treasures.

Will she accept what she sees or believe what she feels? Hopefully the second or it will be an awfully short book. Rereading TEXAS RENEGADE in search of next week’s excerpt then on to the final published book, SWEET TEXAS DREAMS.

Just found the first few chapters I’d written years ago for what was meant to be the final book in the series and am raring to get back into it, especially since all the hard work of research and plotting are already done! Hopefully, I’ll have some progress to report by the time I finish profiling the next two books in the series.

But for now, I’m off to visit your pages before heading to the patio to enjoy the sun and the smell of steaks on the grill.

Happy Trails!

Weekend Writing Warriors is a weekly hop for everyone who loves to write! Share an 8 to 10 sentence snippet of your writing on Sunday. Visit other participants on the list and read, critique, and comment on their #8sunday posts.

Spread the word, share the love, warriors - Hashtag #8sunday.

Wednesday, May 05, 2021

IWSG: The Best Surprises are Unexpected!

It’s May, a time of flowers blooming, getting a year older (for me), and writing another Insecure Writers Support Group post. This month’s question is a pleasure to answer in recognition of some wonderful people.

Our IWSG May 5th question is “Have any of your readers ever responded to your writing a way that you didn’t expect? If so, did it surprise you?”

My writing career has been full of reader surprises that began with fan letters. Does anyone get those stamped envelopes anymore? Something about those handwritten notes of excitement and praise kept a mom of two young boys at the word processor from the time they napped, which eventually became the time they went to school, until the dog told me that lunch had long since passed. That these people I didn’t know took the time to write a letter or send a card blew me away (and I still have my favorites tucked away with my other valuables). This was before Facebook and Twitter and online writers forums . . . or actually, online anything! Just strangers writing to a stranger because they were somehow touched by a turn of a phrase. Just . . . wow!

When I released the first trio of books in my “By Moonlight” shapeshifter series ten years ago, another huge surprise – a fan made me a book trailer (this was waaaay back before they became a thing or had all the cool graphic programs we have now) and set it to music. Come to find out, she was working as an assistant for bigtime bestseller Darynda Jones, who happened to be a fan of my vampire romance series. I’ve enjoyed meeting Darynda several times since then at book events. Small world! Here’s the trailer:

My most cherished reader fan turned writer friend is Sandra Hoover . . . a former IWSG pal! She unashamedly called Max, my hero, her book boyfriend and formed an entire Goodreads Group to share her enthusiasm for him and my shapeshifter books! My “Nancy Gideon By Moonlight” group now boasts close to 500 members who read, support, and help me promote my new releases through a monthly newsletter and a variety of fun and informational forum discussions as well as some great book chat topics. And the wonderful Sandra just surprised me with this gift any bedtime reader would adore – a gorgeous book sleeve with a quote from my “By Moonlight” hero.

And by far my greatest surprises came from two different groups of Michigan writers, one in Mid-Michigan and one in Greater Detroit. When the Detroit chapter invited me as a guest speaker, I was able to sign copies of my latest Dana Ransom historical. One of the attendees surged up to get her copy signed – because her name was Dana. That enthusiastic fan became multi-published author Dana Corbit Nussio. Later, a group of Mid-Michigan writers who carpooled to meetings in other cities when I first joined that RWA group invited me to ride with them. Those brainstorming drives were the highlight of my month because I never talked about my writing, let alone allowed anyone to read my WIPs. When I found out they also meet for critiquing, I self-consciously asked if I could join them. To my surprise, they’d been too afraid to ask me! Hey, even published authors need support, right? The six of us, Detroit Dana and my other five Mid-Michigan pals have now been meeting for critiques for over twenty years!

The best surprises come when you least expect them and, if you’re lucky, make a lasting mark on your work and your life.

Now, I need to uncover your surprises!

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer - aim for a dozen new people each time.The awesome co-hosts for the May 5th posting of the IWSG will be Erika Beebe, PJ Colando, Tonja Drecker, Sadira Stone, and Cathrina Constantine!

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

Twitter hashtag is #IWSG

Sunday, May 02, 2021

WeWriWa: Heaven and Hell . . . TEXAS DESTINY

April showers have brought fragrant May flowers and I’m loving the scent of apple blossoms on my desk, freshly clipped from the tree out back. Breathe in and Ahhhhh! I’ve been doing lots of spring cleaning, reading through my Texas-set historical series, first pubbed back in the ‘90s, in anticipation of finishing the final book I started years ago and never completed.

Today’s WeWriWa clip is from Book 2, TEXAS DESTINY. My honorable Texas Ranger hero, Jack Bass, leads the daring rescue of a female captive living amongst the Apache. Emily Marcus is everything he’s ever desired . . . everything but free to share his future. Here’s a tease.

It was heaven and hell.

The woman in his arms was everything Jack desired – strong, brave, sweet-spirited, and beautiful. Her touch made everything inside him all hot and fluid, like the spring waters at Boquillas. She was the kind of woman a man looked for all his life, and if he was lucky enough to find her, he was smart enough to never let her go. Most of his fellow rangers were happy with the solitary life, content to roll themselves in a blanket under the stars, eat their meals out of a tin, and wash when they started scaring away game. They had no dreams beyond the moment, and most didn’t care if the future lasted fifty years or fifty minutes, but Jack wasn’t like them. He’d come from a solid family background, had seen the love between his mother and Will, between his uncle and Amanda, had held his baby brothers and sister in his arms and had known right then that he wanted children of his own. He wanted the vision Harmon had given him years ago, of looking out over land of his own, a wife and kids beside him, a table to sit at, and the satisfaction of belonging. Heaven was finding the woman to make that dream come true.

Hell was having her belong to someone else.

Now that I have the rights back to the series, I plan to self-pub them AND tie the Bass family into my just finished contemporary romantic suspense through one of the Texas Rangers assisting my hero. What a fun way to expand both those Texas-based series. I love it when a plan comes together. Especially when most of the research is already done!

May is also my birthday month, and I got one heck of a fabulous surprise from the organizer of my Nancy Gideon “By Moonlight” Goodreads Group. If you’re like me, you do a lot of your reading in bed before lights out. Now, my Read-in-Progress can await me in style in this AWESOME bedside book sleeve. See! Perfect, right?! Sandra, you are da bomb!

I’m off to visit your posts and then, weather willing, out to do some grilling. We’re celebrating my household being fully vaccinated!

Happy May, fellow Warriors!!

Weekend Writing Warriors is a weekly hop for everyone who loves to write! Share an 8 to 10 sentence snippet of your writing on Sunday. Visit other participants on the list and read, critique, and comment on their #8sunday posts.

Spread the word, share the love, warriors - Hashtag #8sunday.