Tag Archives: family dynamics

#SundaySnippet 11.18.18

So since this book released on 11.12.18 I figured I’d put up another little sumthin’ sumthin’ from it to whet your book reading appetite and get you to buy the book if you haven’t yet. Yeah, I know: I’m not above a little subtle (or in your face!) bribery at this point in my life! Hee hee.

This is a long passage because I wanted  you to get a feel for the dynamics of the O’Dowd sisters, Maureen and Colleen, here.

The drive to my sister’s inn took a few minutes longer than usual due to a high volume of tourist traffic along the main road, the extra early leaf peepers already present and…peeping.

Maureen’s wide driveway was filled with out-of- state licenses.

I loved walking through the front door of the inn. A large, fall-themed floral wreath sat on each of the side- by-side doors, their vibrant autumnal colors standing out against the pale cream-colored wood. The moment I went through the doors, the warm, spicy aroma of apples and cinnamon welcomed me like an old friend.

My sister was truly a genius at innkeeping. Her guests never felt like guests, but like treasured family members. She allowed anyone who had a mind to, to sit and chat with her in the kitchen while she cooked, offered up a cup of coffee or tea, or at times, a glass of wine. She’d made the bedrooms a personal project when she and Eileen had first purchased the place, turning each separate room and bath into a little bit of a homey paradise. The soaps were all organic, purchased from a local manufacturer who used only local ingredients. The sheets and towels were washed daily, the detergent aromas changing with the seasons. Apple scented for the fall, evergreen for winter, lemon for spring, and rose for summer. The carpets were plush, the rooms airy and light.

When I’d come home to roost from New York, Maureen offered me the use of one of the extra bedrooms in her little manager’s apartment. At the time, I’d refused, thinking we both needed the personal space, me in our childhood home, Maureen at the inn. Cathleen had tried to convince me to stay with Mo, stating that with her twin’s death, this was the first time in her life Maureen had ever been truly alone. For this very reason, I decided to stay at my parents’ house. After thirty years of being the “other, quieter twin,” Mo deserved the freedom to find out who she was on her own.

I was glad I’d stuck to my guns on that decision, too, because my little sister had, as I’d always known she could, broken out of her shell. She’d blossomed and grown in her adult role. Every time I walked into the inn, I was proud of her. Her individual stamp was everywhere, in every room, in every personal touch she’d given the place. Instead of falling apart after our sister’s death, as most in my family thought she would, she’d actually done the exact opposite. She was still quiet, often to the point I worried something was weighing on her, but she led a productive, busy life and seemed fulfilled.

I made my way through the downstairs, past the ballroom—set for the prewedding dinner being held there that night—and toward the kitchen. Just as I knew she’d be, Maureen was standing at a counter, a piping bag in her hand, adding the finishing touches on a bridal cake. The apron covering her trim body from shoulders to knees was red in color and had black lettering that read I bake. What’s your superpower?

Green flip-flops covered her feet. I knew if there were no such thing as health code violations and spot state inspections from the food police, she would have been barefoot. My littlest sister was born in the wrong era for sure. She would have thrived in the earth-mother centuries, or as a hippie.

An educated, high-functioning, business-savvy, and non-pot-smoking hippie, but one regardless.

“You just missed the tasting,” she said without looking up from piping white buttercream around the perimeter of the five-tiered confection. “I saved you a piece of each.” She lifted her head to look directly at me, then settled her attention back on her handiwork. “You’re welcome.”

I planted my butt in one of the raised metal chairs circling the kitchen table and lifted the plate filled with samples of her newest cake offerings.

At her kitchen door alone I could lay the reason I’d gained these dreaded eight pounds. If she kept tempting me with these delicious sweets and flavor profiles, I was going to need a new wardrobe sooner than later. Of course, I could always skip the tastings and save myself a few thousand extra calories.

Yeah, like that was ever gonna happen.

“What are these?” I reached over and grabbed a fork from the utensil drawer and stabbed at each small piece of cake.

“The white one is french vanilla buttercream on the outside, orange vanilla sponge on the inside, and orange coulis in between.”

I tried a taste. “Oh, this is yummy. Tart and sweet at the same time.”

A corner of my sister’s mouth lifted. “Exactly.” She switched piping tips and began twining a scallop shell around the outer perimeter of the bottom tier. “The dark one is chocolate ganache on top, covering a milk chocolate sponge with coffee liqueur, and hazelnut cream in the middle.”

Since I’d already finished the first, I dove into the second. “Good God, woman. This is a sin.”

The other side of her mouth quirked up to follow suit. “Only a venial one. No need to go to Confession.”

I licked the plate with my fingers so I wouldn’t miss a smidge. “And this last one? It looks a little like coconut.”

Maureen nodded. While she ran a critical eye over the creation she’d decorated from every angle, she swiped her hands on her apron. “That’s Isabella Harrington’s inspiration. I’m thinking of naming it after her.”

“Why?”

“Because she was the inspiration for the flavors,” she said, coming to take a chair next to mine. “Deep dark chocolate ganache on the outside, covering a coconut pound cake base, and then coconut, rum, and cream as the filling. I had to experiment with a few different cakes before I settled on the pound. A sponge was too soft for the heavy coconut. So was a standard genoise. The pound held up the best. Tell me what you think.”

I took a forkful and rolled my eyes around a little, tipping my head back and forth a few times. Then I took another bite.

“Well?”

“I’m thinking.”

“Since when can’t you think and eat at the same time?”

“Since I’ve never tasted anything quite as amazing as this before.”

“You think she’ll like it?”

“If she’s as big a coconut and chocolate bar fan as I’ve been led to believe, she’s going to love it.”

“She is,” a voice said from behind me.

The fork stopped on its ascent to my mouth.

No. It couldn’t be. He’d left the night before. I saw him get in his car and drive away, heading for the highway entrance. Maybe I’d hallucinated his voice because I was so exhausted. Yeah. That was probably it.

“Need another cup?” Maureen asked, rising and crossing to the coffeemaker.

Before turning around, I took a mental breath.

Nope. Hadn’t hallucinated it. Right there in the doorway looking way too sexy and hot, stood Slade Harrington.

Intrigued? Here’s where you can get your copy, which is now available in print and ecopy:

Amazon E-copy // Amazon Print copy // Wild Rose Press // B&N // Kobo // Google Play// Books a Million 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Dearly Beloved, Family Saga, New Hampshire, Romance, Romance Books, Strong Women, The Wild Rose Press, WIld Rose Press AUthor

#preorder available for DEARLY BELOVED, bk 1 in A Match Made in Heaven

I’m over the moon because preorders are now available for DEARLY BELOVED, book 1 in a MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN.

Colleen O’Dowd manages a thriving bridal business with her sisters in Heaven, New Hampshire. After fleeing Manhattan and her cheating ex-fiancé, Colleen still believes in happily ever afters. But with a demanding business to run, her sisters to look after, and their 93-year-old grandmother to keep out of trouble, she’s worried she’ll never find Mr. Right.

Playboy Slade Harrington doesn’t believe in marriage. His father’s six weddings have taught him life is better as an unencumbered single guy. But Slade loves his little sister. He’ll do anything for her, including footing the bill for her dream wedding. He doesn’t plan on losing his heart to a smart-mouthed, gorgeous wedding planner, though.

When her ex-fiancé comes back into the picture, Colleen must choose between Mr. Right and Mr. Right Now.

Here are the links: – these are for ebooks only right now. As soon as I have the print order form I’ll post it!

Amazon // The WIld Rose Press // Barnes and Nobel

And because I’m such a nerd when it comes to things that are my book related, here are my Pinterest Board links for the O’Dowds so you can get a feel for how I picture the characters and the town of Heaven, NH

Maureen’s Aprons

Izzy’s Shower

Nanny Fee

O’dowd family and town

Sunday Snippets 

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Filed under A Match Made in Heaven, Alpha Male, Author, Contemporary Romance, Dearly Beloved, Family Saga, love, New Hampshire, Romance, Romance Books, Strong Women, WIld Rose Press AUthor

#SundaySnippet 9.16.18

Here, for the first time, is the cover to my upcoming Holiday release CHRISTMAS AND CANOLLIS, a San Valentino Christmas Love Story. Don’tcha love the cover!!! Hee hee. Here’s a little sumthin’ sumthin to whet your holiday reading appetite:

“You seeing anybody these days? Like, dating?”

Trixie was the oldest of all my brother’s wives and the one who routinely asked after my love life. Or lack of it.

“No free time,” I said. “The bakery takes up all my hours. When I’m not working, I’m planning, paying bills, ordering supplies. Throw in a few much-needed hours of sleep each night, and months can change before I realize it.”

Trixie shook her head, her over-Aqua-netted hair staying perfectly in place while she moved. “You’re too young, Reg, to be sitting alone at night in that apartment. You’re gonna shrivel and rot before your time. A girl’s gotta”—she lowered her voice and moved a little closer to me—“get some sometime, you know?” Her raised eyebrows underscored her meaning as her intent glare lit on me. “Don’t use it, you’re gonna lose it.”

“Lose what?” my mother asked in her usual thunderous voice at just the moment the entire table’s conversations screamed to a halt.

“Nothin’ Ma. Trixie and me were just talking about the bakery.” I hoped against hope she’d let it go, but it wasn’t my mother I needed to worry about. It was Trixie.

She leaned forward and cocked her head so she could see my mother across my chest, the few glasses of pre-dinner vino showing their effects. “I was just saying to Reggie that she should be going out, dating. Trying to find a guy worthy of her. Not one like her loser ex.”

Remember when I said there were times I’d wished I’d been a foundling? Yeah. This was a prime example of one of those times.

“She’s still young and beautiful,” Trixie continued. “She’s got needs like any young and healthy woman does.”

Forget about being a foundling. Maybe it would have been better if I’d never been born.

“Hush with that kinda talk, Beatrice Guilia,” my mother said, sharply. She made the sign of the cross over her chest. “We don’t talk about things like needs and such at the dinner table. There’s kids present. Madonna mia.”

Once Trixie starts on a subject, though, it’s hard to stop her. Not even ’Carlo pulling at her arm can sway her when she wants to make a point. “All I’m sayin’ is Reggie shouldn’t let the tragedy of her past prevent her from finding lasting happiness. She deserves to be happy. In every way,” she added, nodding. “Penny, you get me, right?”

I shot my gaze to my other sister-in-law across the table and sent her a silent, wide-eyed plea to keep her mouth shut.

Penny wasn’t tuned into my telepathic appeal, though. I assumed the vino had something to do with her inability to read my mind and eye signals.

“It’s true, Reg. You got no life outside-a work,” she said. “You need to get out. Meet people. Find a boyfriend. I know a couple-a single guys at work. I could set you up with one of them.”

“Nobody’s setting Regina up with nobody.” My father’s booming voice shot through the dining room. “She wants t’ meet a guy, I’ll introduce her to one. Last time, she went looking on her own, and we all know what happened.”

He looked pointedly at me, and I said a silent prayer for the dining room floor to open up and swallow me. The only guys my father was every going to introduce me to were the ones he associated with. None of whom had modern notions of a wife as a life partner, but more the old-fashioned and archaic ones of thinking of a bride as an unpaid domestic, a carrier of the next generation of sons, and a cook. In essence, a woman who was perpetually pregnant, barefoot in the kitchen, and subservient.

Yeah, I know. This is the twenty-first century, and we live in one of the most progressive cities on the planet. But we’re talking about a lifetime of shared social mores and cultural dictates that were infused into my family since birth. Maybe even before they were born.

Change was not gonna happen.

Coming 12.12.18 from The Wild Rose Press. Pre-order links coming soon!

Look for me here:Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triber// BookMe

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Filed under Food lover, Foodie, love, Romance, Romance Books, WIld Rose Press AUthor

4 more days…

Christmas is this week and, as usual, I am in a moody funk. Growing up, most of my Christmas days were spent being shuffled from one parent to another and then on to my Irish grandmother’s house for what came to be known to me as the twelfth circle of hell.  My mother was the middle of three girls, the oldest had died when I was a baby and the youngest was grandma’s absolute favorite. As was her daughter, my cousin. My mother and I were barely tolerated. We were only invited to her home simply because Irish Catholic guilt won over my grandmother each year and she didn’t want to be seen by the neighbors and those who knew her as “neglectful” of her family.

crazyfamily

So dumb.

The yearly torture would start on Christmas Eve when we would trek to my stepfather’s large Italian family for La Vigil. As the baby in his family, my stepfather was warmly welcomed and much loved. Not so much my mother and I. We were the ultimate interlopers, despised by his mother who never spoke in English when we were around so we wouldn’t know what she was saying about us. After taking 7 years of Italian in middle school and high, she stopped doing that when I translated then repeated  everything she’d just said about my mother’s outfit to the dinner table.

Score one for the fat Irish kid.

We’d sit through the seven courses of various fish prepared by my stepfather’s sister and mother and then we’d open gifts. My mother and I were routinely forgotten even though we’d brought presents for all of them – the dozens of children included. As a child I’d watch kid after kid open a  cool toy or get a great outfit to wear while I just sat there  ignored, jealous,  sad, presentless.

They were not the nicest people on the planet.  Not even close.

crazy3

On Christmas day I’d wake up and after a morning shipped off to my father and stepmother,( who by the way was a lovely person – my father so did not deserve her) I was brought back to my mother and stepfather and then – because neither one of them drove a car, we’d run to the bus stop so we wouldn’t miss it ( buses only ran every hour on the holiday), get to the ferry and  wait to take that ( ferries also only ran every hour and somehow they were never timed with buses.) Off the ferry and then two long subway rides and a half mile walk to grandma’s fourth-floor walkup apartment. And when I say walk up, I mean it. No elevator.

By now it would be about three-thirty and the drinking would be in full swing, having started at the noon hour. Something would always cause an argument between my mother and hers, which many times ensued in the three of us leaving before dinner was served, or in the police being summoned by a neighbor who’d heard the shouting. Sometimes, we’d actually make it to dinner and presents before a blow-up would start.

I’m telling you this because I’m trying to explain why the holiday season has never been fun for me and why, when I write about families  now, I always depict them as being loving, accepting, and actually liking one another.

It was the opposite way I grew up, you see. Every year I asked Santa  for siblings to share with, parents who loved me, grandparents who spoiled me and a socio-economic situation that did not include the cops knowing our phone number  by sight when it was dialed into the police station. When these things didn’t materialize under the tree – or in my life – I imagined them. The families in my imagination were warm, funny, sweet and sober. Tables didn’t get flipped in anger, food didn’t get tossed at a crying child and the police dealt with real criminals.

These families lingered in my mind until I started committing them to paper and into my novels, where they bring me joy.

So.

carzyfamily2

My grandmothers – Irish and Step-Italian – are long dead, and I have no contact with their families any longer. It was a mutual divorce on both our counts. I have my own wonderful family to spend the holiday with now, and am finally able to spend Christmas the way I’ve always wanted: with a happy, warm, loving and accepting group of people.

I hope your holidays are spent this way as well.

Peace. Love. Joy, and A Very Merry Christmas from me to you.

And here’s a little sumthin’ sumthin’ coming on the next major holiday : VALENTINE’S DAY: The CandyHearts Series. Click and see all the covers starting on January 4, 2016. And here’s a little hint – mine is releasing on 2/8/16. Enjoy.

 

 

 

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Filed under Author, Contemporary Romance, Family Saga, Life challenges, Strong Women

Why I write about families…

If you could come up with one sentence about what I write that defines my “brand” it would be Writing about families and everlasting love. The love part is easy to understand: I write romantic fiction. The family part needs a little explaining.

I was, and still am, an only child. Both my parents remarried after they divorced each other, but neither had more children. I’m it. Some people might think this is like winning the presents and attention lotto. I’m the only one who gets birthday, Christmas, Easter and every other gift-giving holiday, presents. I’m also the one who gets all the individual attention from the parental units. I don’t need to share my parents with anyone else.

In a perfect world this would be great. But we don’t live in a perfect world.

My biological parents despised one another and their anger and disgust filtered down to me. I don’t have any memories in childhood where one of them actually said something nice about the other. It was always a negative comment. In fact, I was told I was so much like the other parent (from both of them ) that this increased the animosity they had for one another and the anxiety I had being around them. When I would dream at night I frequently dreamed of either being an orphan or being in a humongous clannish family.

All 4 of my parents (step and biologic) are still alive, so no orphan state. But I did – luckily – marry into a huge family that I feel is clannish, but in the best sense of the word.

So, when I started writing romance I knew what I wanted to write about were families. The good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful – of which there are equal parts in every family structure.

Since I am an only child, I know firsthand how to write about that. And I have. Many of my stories are about an only child struggling to find the perfect life. Throwing an only into a large family pond is a great way to increase conflict, bring about change both internally and externally, and to encourage growth to happen on every character’s part.

Large families have their own individual ethics, rules and codes for everything from acceptable behavior, to kitchen duties. Throwing an independent only child as an adult, into this dynamic where everything from work to feelings are shared as a whole, and not singularly, is a sure-fire way to ramp up the conflict and tension between the main characters, especially if the only is stuck in his or her ways.

Large families are fun. They can also be soul sucking, heartbreaking, and destructive. But when they are accepting, open and loving, the plot almost writes itself. No one knows you better than the members of your family, and no one will go into battle for you in a heartbeat other than those closest to you.

Friends and acquaintances move in and out of you life – that’s natural. But family is forever. No matter what the circumstance, the emotional outbursts, the jealousies or the failures, your family is ALWAYS your family.

And in my book, the bigger the family, the better!

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Filed under Characters, Dialogue