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#TeaseMeThursday 4.1.2021

Last Christmas season, I was part of a 10 author holiday anthology titled CHRISTMAS COMES TO DICKENS. The series received such amazing success and reviews, Christmas is coming back to Dickens in 2021 with another series of stories set in the fictional New England town. This year, each story will be longer and published individually.

As such, many of the authors are doing prequels to their upcoming stories, myself included. SANTA BABY ( Dorrit’s Diner) will be released in july. It’s a novella/prequel to the full-length story, FIXING CHRISTMAS, that will be published on November 9th of this year. Here’s a little tease from SANTA BABY:

38 years ago, on a cold Christmas Eve morning in the tiny town of Dickens….

Amy Dorrit considered it one of life’s simple gifts that she didn’t have to commute to work each morning. She could jump out of bed five minutes before she needed to be ready, and, courtesy of the shower she religiously took each night to rid her of the day’s clinging aromas of grease and coffee, could simply run a quick washcloth over her eyes to rid them of the sleep nestled there. A dab of deodorant, a speedy dance with her toothbrush, a tug of her shiny, waist-length, honey-colored hair into a ponytail, and then she threw on her work uniform of old and much-loved jeans, t-shirt, and sneakers, before skipping down the thirteen steps from her apartment to the diner.

As the owner and operator of one of Dickens’s favorite eateries, and the only one opened 364 days a year, Amy turned the closed sign to open each day and then reversed the act every night. A dedicated work ethic had been drilled into her from the time her parents brought her home from the orphanage at the age of three.

As a child, she’d completed her homework sitting at the lunch counter every afternoon while her mom poured her a glass of milk and her dad cut her a slice of the day’s pie. As a teen, she’d filled out her college applications sitting in one of the booths with her mother and her mother’s best friends, Corrine and Matilda, looking on, giving sage advice and opinions. She’d bussed tables and learned how to brew a delicious cup of coffee before she learned to ride a bike. She’d washed dishes, and when she could be trusted not to burn herself, learned to sling hash and grill a mouthwatering Dickens Burger the locals still asked for by name.

In the two winters since her parents’ deaths within days of one another from the flu, running the diner and serving the citizens of Dickens consumed the bulk of Amy’s life. To honor the parents who’d loved her unconditionally, and to keep their memories alive, Amy kept the diner flourishing.

On this cold Christmas Eve morning, Amy bounded down the stairs, her lips lifting at the knowledge Santa would visit the children of Dickens tonight. The smile broadened when she considered how long she could linger in bed the following morning since the diner would be closed.

And who she’d be lingering there with.

As she moved through the breezeway connecting the diner to her apartment, Amy heard a mewling sound at the back alley door. Her cook, Willie, often left scraps out for strays, especially in winter, and sometimes when she took the trash out at the end of the day, Amy would find a mamma cat searching for something to feed her kittens.

When she opened the door, expecting to see a hungry animal looking for a handout, Amy got the shock of the century when she found a baby carrier, complete with a bawling infant nestled in it.

And so begins the tale…hope this intrigues you! hee hee

 

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Lucky in Love is this month’s theme on The Romance Gems…

It’s my turn to blog over on the Romance Gems blog today and out topic is LUCKY IN LOVE. Stop by and read about some of the ways my Irish roots have shaped my writing.

Here’s the link: ROMANCE GEMS

Happy reading! ~ peg

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#TeaseMeThursday 3.25.2021

Something new for me today – TEASE ME THURSDAY where I share books I’m currently working on.

Today’s little tidbit is from BALANCE, the next edition of the Uptown Girls series I hope to release in September. The heroine, Phillipa Doubletree, has survived an abusive marriage and is trying to forge a life on her own for the first time in her 38 years.  This is the opening -so far – unedited as of yet. Hope you like it.

The other day while waiting for a manicure, I took one of those rate your life tests you find in old editions of Cosmo and Elle. You know the ones. Your overall score gives an empirical value of how your life’s going at the moment.

Not exactly the healthiest way to take stock of your present situation, I know. But I had a few minutes to kill before my manicurist finished up with her previous client and I figured, what the hell?

I scored a whopping 41 percent on the test.

The only question garnering a complete 10 was the one that asked if your finances are in order.

Mine are.

When you’re the only child of a father with a seat on the Stock Exchange and a mother who was lucky enough to be born into one of the oldest families in the country, you can’t help but be fiscally sound.

Legend has it in my family that trust fund baby were my first coherent, spoken words.

Unfortunately, the rest of the questionnaire’s results were anything but stellar.

~Do you feel fulfilled in your work situation?

I don’t work.

~ Are you happy with your current love life?

What love life?

~Does getting up each day fill you with a sense of purpose?

Okay, that one I’m seriously working on, but I still only rated it a 5. I gave myself that much for the effort I’d been making of late to become a better person.

~Do you have any mental health issues you are grappling with?

I should have given myself a 10 for this one since I was still in therapy twice a week, but since I wasn’t so much grappling with as learning how to deal with my issues, I scored it low.

By the time my name was called, a deep, dark, funk had invaded my soul.

Here I was, staring 38 in the face and had nothing tangible to show for a life of spoiled riches except a few grey hairs and a frown line my mother suggested—strongly and often—I get botoxed away.

I’d married young – way too young – for the wrong reason, and then stayed in the emotionally abusive relationship out of fear. I’d abandoned my best friend when she needed me the most and I’d never taken advantage of all the, well, advantages, my parents’ social standing and financial security offered me.

In essence, from the age of twenty-one, I’d stopped participating in being an adult and went through the next fifteen years in a zombie state. The reason is something I was still coming to grips with, hence the twice-weekly therapy sessions.

And I sound like I’m whining. I’m not.

Well…maybe a little.

But in truth, I was trying, hard, to fashion something for my future aside from therapy, society lunches, and shopping.

Which explained why I was in the back seat of a cab at two in the morning, holding an hysterical, bleeding woman twice my age, while commanding the driver go faster so we could get her to the nearest emergency room. I offered him twice the amount on the meter and told him I’d pay any speeding tickets he got along the way.

In order to give some purpose to my life, I’d been volunteering at a women’s center for the past three months. My best friend Aurora – who’d I’d reconnected with after a fifteen-year separation – got me the position after I told her I needed to do something constructive with my life. Aurora had been a volunteer at the center for a few years and felt my participation would help both the marginalized women there who were in need, and myself. Since I’d been in a relationship that had taken over my mind, body, and spirit, and I’d managed to come out on the other side of it emotionally and physically intact (mostly), she figured I’d be a good role model to women in similar, and even worse, circumstances.

Because I could walk the walk and talk the talk of a woman who’d been subjugated and made to feel less than by the person who was supposed to love me unconditionally, Aurora figured I could relate to the women’s fears and worries. I’d actually been through the fire they were currently navigating through.

She wasn’t wrong. Despite our economic and social differences, the women I’d dealt with found in me a sister in arms. Since joining the team, I’d woken on volunteer days with a sense that I was doing actual good in the world (which explained the score of 5 on the questionnaire.)

Here’s the tentative cover – which I may change. Not sure yet:

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#MugshotMonday 3.15.2021

 

 

I am sososo in love with today’s mug. I recently purchased it online, and yes, it’s more a cup than a mug, but I love how it works into my writing life.

The text says STORYTELLER and has a picture of an old-fashioned typewriter with paper. I love the title STORYTELLER so much!

Love that!! Do you have a work-themed cup/mug? Say, if you’re a doctor, do you have a doctor mug? Nurse one? Walmart worker one?
Show me your work-themed mug!!

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365 days I shall not remember with undiluted pleasure…

Many of my writer friends posted blogs this past week of their thoughts as the pandemic came to the end of its first year. This, of course, had me evaluating my own thoughts and actions during this unprecedented time in our lives. I can say this with absolute clarity and truth: I am not the same person I was 365 days ago.

Not even close.

Prior to March 2020, I would have defined myself as a happy hermit. Since I write/work from home and the majority of my friends and my husband still work full time out of the home, I spent every day alone for up to 13 -15 hours.

Let me be clear – I didn’t mind this. It made me extremely productive as a writer, proven by 25 books in 5 years. I had a daily routine that included going to the gym or hopping on the treadmill for some exercise, a little light housekeeping, and then I’d settled down for 8-10 hours of writing until I needed to decide what to make for dinner. Every now and then hubby and I would go out to eat on the weekends for a treat, and we’d see our friends when everyone’s schedule aligned. I visited my daughter in another state often, and she came home here when her work schedule permitted.

I was happy with this life. Really happy.

Once a week I took my 80+ year old parents food shopping because they don’t drive and live two bus routes from the nearest grocery store.

Then, I heard about what was happening with nursing homes in Washington State and about this deathly “flu” like condition, novel coronavirus 19.

I can in no way predict the future, but as an old nurse who’s studied and loved public health history, I knew something big was going to happen if this situation wasn’t capped immediately.

I don’t need to reiterate that didn’t happen. I’m still trying to come to grips with the incompetency of the previous person in charge of this country.

What I will say is, that seeing the handwriting on the wall and knowing how fast people can get sick, I immediately told my parents I would start shopping for them so that they could stay home and out of harm’s way until this situation was over.

A year later they still have not gone out to a grocery store, the doctor’s office, or anywhere else public. I am the only person they’ve seen and interacted with in over 12 months.

Put yourself in their position. You’ve seen no other human being to interact with, say hello to, or simply smile at, for an entire year. The only way they know what is going on in the world is through their television news. They don’t have cell phones. They don’t have a computer. I have noticed a decided decline in their mental status this year, that I have tried valiantly to allay. I’ve brought them books to read, magazines, encouraged them to write letters to people, anything and everything I could do to help their cognition stay active. But I’ve seen them grow more anxious, forgetful, and even begin bickering with one another over the stupidest of things. This is all a direct result of human interaction deprivation.

When the official word came down and we shut down ( as much as we could) as a country, I thought, no big deal for me. I’m used to being in the house.

There’s a real difference between electing to be a hermit and being forced to be one. Prior to quarantine, I could run to Target for a few minutes if I needed something. I could grocery shop at any time of the day and find everything I needed on my list. I went to the gym. I went to the post office. I lived my life in segments of hermit-dom. When I needed fresh air and human contact I sought it out. And I found it.

Once I was commanded/forced/encouraged not to leave the house, I realized what truly being a hermit was.

Isolation. Complete and total isolation.

Suddenly my hermit-like life wasn’t as fun as it had been. My writing suffered, that is for certain. There were days when trying to type a coherent sentence was a monumental task. In 2020 I had 4 new works published either traditionally or independently. While that isn’t horrible – many writers had nothing new come out – every word I wrote was a struggle, something I’d never experienced before and which I can lay directly at my mounting anxiety’s door. With uncertainty surrounding me/the world due to the raging numbers of infections and deaths, my anxiety and nerves skyrocketed and I know, internally, my brain was wondering “why are you even doing this (writing?). You don’t even know if you’ll be alive if you get infected.”

Heady thoughts and the stuff of nightmares – awake and sleeping.

Schools went into quarantine, parents were forced to work from home, and kids were forced to learn remotely, not see their friends. Not learn how to socialize, how to sit still, how to ask for help. I can’t imagine the mental health issues that will be coming to the surface once we got back to a semblance of school-normal for these kids. And think of the children who were going to school for the first time when this pandemic hit. They have never known a schoolroom that isn’t virtual. They don’t know how to raise their hands to ask a question, wait their turn to speak, how to sit still in their seats for a lesson.

Women have had to leave their jobs because they need to stay home with their school-less kids. The social inequity of that alone has rolled female empowerment back decades. Imagine the mental health issues these folks will have/are having. I know one shouldn’t derive their self-worth from their occupation but from the person they are, but let’s be honest: most people categorize their worth by their job title. When your title is taken from you, or worse, you have to abandon it in order to be able to care for your family, that has to weigh heavy on the psyche. In fact, I’m certain it does.

When this pandemic is over and done with, which it will be eventually, and the world turns right side up again, I’m truly worried about the mental health toll all the isolation, quarantining, social dis-interaction will have taken on people. Adults, children, seniors. No one has been left out of this equation. The world will be a completely different place once the virus is contained. People have changed.

I’ve changed.

As I said at the beginning of this post, I am not the same person I was 365 days ago. I’m more anxious about the future, something I’ve never been before. I’m worried about the health ( mental and physical ) of my aging parents. I’m worried about my daughter’s future and the future of the children she will have. I’m concerned I can go back to the care-free hermit-like ways I used to have without worrying that I am doing myself mental harm by not being around people. I worry if our children will ever be able to live in innocence again, and not be bombarded with mask mandates, hand washing instructions ad nauseum, and fear that they will die.

So yes, these 365 days are not ones I will remember with undiluted pleasure ( to quote Queen Elizabeth).

A few bright spots I can share, though, are that my husband is fully vaccinated since he is an essential worker, and my parents have received their first injections, with appointments to get the second dose later this month. Since I have no comorbidities and am 60, I will have to wait a while to get my vaccine. But I will be getting it, make no mistake about that. In a year where I had no control over anything that happened to me, around me, or with my loved ones, getting vaccinated is the one, singular, empowering thing I can do to ensure the next 365 days are better than the past ones have been.

Stay healthy, my friends. And when you can, hug the living daylights out of the people you love; tell them you love them – often. Get out – take a walk, say hello to people you see on the street that you don’t even know. You have no idea if they are hurting for interaction and human contact as much as you are. I would bet cash-money they are.

Smile. Take a breath of fresh air. Enjoy being outside again. Be cautious but try not to be fearful.

I’ll see you all on the other side of this pandemic.

~ Peg

 

 

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#MugshotMonday 3.8.2021

Hard to believe it’s March already! The weather here in my neck of the woods is still cold, blustery, and snowy. Spring can’t come soon enough for me. I need to plant some flowers and just be outside without forty layers of clothing.

Today’s mug is an old, old, old, one for me. I think I got it when I was in college, so a millennia ago. Hee hee

Back in the 80’s, Angels were a big thing. Why? No idea. But this mug was given to me by one of my college friends on my birthday after I expressed an interest in angels and what they could do for us.

The picture on the mug is pretty famous. I’ve seen it on paintings, note cards, note books, advertising copy, all over the place really.

So, do you have a mug with any kind of celestial being on it? Either drawn, cartoon, or pciture? I showed you mine, now you show me yours…

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Love makes the world go around…with a little help from Cupid

It’s my turn over on the ROMANCE GEMS blog today, and since it’s February, we’re talking about love, Valentine’s day, and Cupid.

Stop by and see my take on the little cherub, here: RGB.

Then click around the blog site and visit our bookstore, and maybe find yourself a new author’s work to try.

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Talk to me about love….

It’s my turn over on the ROMANCING THE GENRES blog today and this month we’re talking about love.

To see the full post, just click here: RTG

Here’s a little hint about what the post is about:

Until next time.

Looking for me: check here ~

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#goodthingsTuesday 2.23.2021

Another week, another good thing to throw into the jar!! This week my puppy graduated from puppy training at Petco!!! She’s come a long way from the very first time we brought her to training and I can’t begin to tell you how happy I am at that. Now, when I walk her, my arm doesn’t come out of its socket from her pulling me hither and yon. She listens a whole lot more to verbal commands and she’s much calmer in social situations. Believe me, training a puppy in a pandemic was no easy feat.

So, what good thing happened to you this week? Let me know so we can share in the positivity!

Until next week, peeps. Here’s hoping good things come your way!

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#goodthingsTuesday 2.16.2021

Today’s good thing that happened to me is a fabulous thing: I signed yet another contract with WILD ROSE PRESS for my next romantic suspense book A PRIDE OF BROTHERS: AIDEN.

Yippie!!! Doing the happy dance here!.

So, spill…what’s your good thing for this week.

Until next time, peeps, keep up the positivity!

Looking for me? Here I am:

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