Monday, June 30, 2008

Chinese Cabbage

Sitting here beside the window as the sky lightens and the air warms, sorting through and discarding most topics for this morning's chat, my mind returns time and again to one thought. A single idea. One non-discardable item. It just won't be ignored as easily as the others. Believe me, I've tried.

Chinese Cabbage.

That's right. Chinese Cabbage. So...

Happy Monday and Chinese Cabbage from the nutty New York writer!

Hey, that's got a nice ring to it, doesn't it? Happy Monday...Happy Chinese Cabbage...

Why Chinese Cabbage? Let me explain.

Hubby and I have been married for--well, let's just say we've been married for a long time. Really long. I mean, so long I can hardly recall--oh, right. I'll save that thought. Now, Chinese Cabbage. Another time, how long we've been married and the effect it's had on my memory. Gotcha.

For years Hubby's told me, "You've got to try new things." New things? But I like the old things. "Once in a while, try something new." Why? I don't want new. And, maybe one of my favorite things he says, "You just might find something you like." Hey, that's how I found you, wasn't it? But that's a story for another time, too...

So. Chinese Cabbage. When I planted in the greenhouse in early spring I tried new things. Things I've never eaten. Things I don't have a clue how to cook. Things I'm not sure I'm even going to like.

Chinese Cabbage is one of them. Along with...well, along with a bunch of other stuff but let's tackle one new thing at a time. Now the gardens are in full swing and all these weird--ahem, new things are flourishing. Including, you guessed it, the Chinese Cabbage.

I'm jazzed the gardens are full-out gorgeous. Vines and runners, flowers and even small fruits and veggies abound. I love seeing violet eggplant flowers again; it hammers home the whole summertime feeling to see a wave of green and purple in the eggplant garden. I'm even thrilled by some of the unusual varieties of old favorites I've planted. But seeing that greener-than-grass, foot-high Chinese Cabbage growing in the greenhouse garden? It gives me the willies.

Why? Because sometime this week I'm going to have to step outside my comfort zone and try something new. And if you haven't already figured it out, I'll let you in on a secret: I stink at trying new things. Really. Well, mostly. All right, some new things, like dark chocolate instead of milk or yellow petunias rather than the usual pink or even weekends in the mountains instead of on the beach are all things I can adapt to. Enjoy, even. But by and large, I stick to the things I know I like and while I see there may be other things, still untried, that might please me I prefer to stay with the tried-and-true, time tested stuff.

Chinese Cabbage isn't one of those things. What have I gotten myself into? Imagine how nuts I'd be if I couldn't see a way out of this Cabbage quandry. But I do--see a way out, that is.

This morning we have an early appointment. Then we're meeting my mom and stepdad for breakfast. Now, my mom knows about Chinese Cabbage. I figure I'll go out to the greenhouse garden, cut a couple of heads of the green villan and bring it to breakfast. I'll pump Mom for info about the dreaded vegetable, figure it all out and voila! my Chinese Cabbage woes will be, in some measure, settled.

That's the plan, anyway.

Chinese Cabbage probably wouldn't weigh so heavily on my mind if this week wasn't already filled with new stuff. A lot of it's exciting but still, it's not the usual hum-drum country living we're so accustomed to. A book release, family visits, July 4th holiday, camels and Chinese Cabbage--all in one week?

"Try new things." All I can say is, he'd better keep that piece of sage advice to himself for a while. All this trying new things has me wondering if the Pancake House serves mimosas.

How do you fare with new things? Do you jump in, embrace exotic, untested waters? Or do your palms sweat? want any Chinese Cabbage? I know where you can get some. For free.

Hope you have a great Monday!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

A cheery start...

to my Saturday. I just got up and found a fun email in my box.

This week Vineyard Mambo was reviewed by The Long and the Short of It. It was a really nice review which said in part "...combines the best of the cozy mystery genre with romance..."

Yeah, I smiled. Who wouldn't? :)

Anyhow, they're letting visitors choose which title reviewed in the prior week they'd most like to read. Vineyard Mambo is on the list since it was reviewed just a couple of days ago.

If you'd like to take a peek at their poll, the link is Book of the Week.

Me? I've already read Mambo but there are a couple of others that look pretty good...

Hope you're all gearing up for a relaxing weekend. Around here we're going to lay low. Hubby is a little under the weather so we're going to hang out in the gazebo, read and carve and probably take a nap. Or two. Like I said, really quiet...

Have a great weekend!

Friday, June 27, 2008


Happy Friday, everyone!

Oh, don't you just love Fridays? I don't why I love 'em so much. I just do. It's probably a holdover from being a kid and knowing the weekend is almost here. Whatever. Every Friday moring I wake up with a grin on my face. I hope you do, too.

It's been a while since I asked you all what you're reading. I love to hear what everyone's got facedown on their bedside table, stashed in their purse or dog-eared on their coffee table. I guess I'm just a bit nosey about what people are reading. Always have been. Probably always will be.

Oh! Me? Well, I'm completely pulled into Wild Hunt by Lori Devoti. It is a Silhouette Nocturne and just other-worldy enough to make me feel like I'm on some kind of journey with the characters. I love it when that happens.

This is the third book in a series and I've got to admit I wish I had read the first two books. I was a little lost in the beginning but now that I've figured out who's who and what's what I am hooked. Yeah, I'll be reading the books that follow this one. There's a wonderful element of suspense in her writing. I'm right on the edge of my seat with this one and loving every minute of it.

Now, your turn. What are you reading? Hmm?

See? I told you I was nosey about books. :)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Let's not forget to Mambo!

This morning I had a wonderful email from a reader (Thanks Karen!) who finished Vineyard Mambo last night. Karen enjoyed the book, and I am thrilled she took the time to write and tell me so. It really made my day!
Vineyard Mambo has gotten some wonderful reviews...

Vineyard Mambo by Sarita Leone is a tongue- in- cheek murder mystery. Leone has a talent for mixing humor and murder. I found myself laughing at the way gossip spread throughout the community. I live in a small town, and everyone always knows everyone else’s business. The supporting characters added realism to the plot. Anna’s character is entertaining.
Fans of suspense will not want to miss Vineyard Mambo.”
4 Stars! Reviewed by Debra Gaynor for

"Vineyard Mambo was a great "palate cleanser". Ms. Leone tells the heartwarming story of family, community, and the love between a man, woman, and a cat. Anna was well known and loved in her community. She made sure her friends were safe and knew that they were important in her life. Tony was an alpha male and protector of his family. I loved the fact that he made sure that Anna was always protected and he did it in such a way that she never felt smothered. Their love for each other was genuine and the way Ms. Leone portrayed it made you feel like you were part of their community and a dear friend. The cast of secondary characters also wrapped you in and made you feel at home. I recommend this book for those days when you feel a little down and out because it will definitely surround you in a warm blanket of love and friendship."
Rating: B+ - Reviewed by Shira, Simply Romance Reviews

"Well described settings serve as the stage for interesting, lifelike characters whose interaction with each other moves the story along quite nicely. Talented author Sarita Leone has crafted a fun read that will please any mystery fan.

Recommended as a worthwhile read that will satisfy the mystery fan looking for a story that offers something a little different. Definitely not a clone of other tales. Enjoy. I did."
- Anne K. Edwards,

5 Angels and a Recommended Read from Fallen Angel Reviews!
"Vineyard Mambo is a must read. Talk about a fun book. The first thing I noticed was the title of each chapter, for example Hot Waffle Kisses or how about Grilled Pizza and Cold Leads. Nonno has a secret romance going on with someone in town.
The ending was a happy as well as a good one.
As I was reading I could just about picture myself living in Milton Falls.

Sarita Leone is such a wonderful prolific writer.
I can’t wait to read more books by this author."
- Reviewed by: Cheryl, Fallen Angel Reviews

"Full of likable characters, Vineyard Mambo is like a glass of good wine. Its pace is slow and leisurely, letting the reader settle into Tony and Anna's life. Reminiscent of The Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew, pieces of the mystery are revealed throughout with Anna piecing it all together."
- Night Owl Romance Reviews
Have you picked up a copy yet? Hmm? ;-)
Buy your copy here or by using the email link at the top of this page.
And have a Happy Thursday!!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


A line of sweat ran down her neck, beneath the edge of the white tank top that was stuck to her back like the skin on a baked potato. She dashed the wetness away and scowled, narrowly avoiding a collision with an apple tree.

Hot. It's too blasted hot to be cutting the lawn.

If it was up to her, her butt wouldn't be glued to the seat of the tractor but it wasn't up to her. Over breakfast she'd asked what he wanted to do with the day. First dumb move.

"Cut the lawn."

How could she refuse? After all, she'd asked.

Next time she'd know better. Note to self: No more asking about day's activities over breakfast.

She'd had to accomodate him, even if it was hotter than Hades out here. Not that she'd ever seen Hades, but was hot.

Besides, he'd been patient while she proofread the galley of her upcoming release. Yeah, he'd been very understanding. Quiet, too. And he'd brought her meals to her desk so she didn't get distracted. Yes, the darling man was supportive and considerate. Cutting the lawn? It was the least she could do to repay his kindness.

But did he have to choose the hottest day of the week for this little adventure?

Their paths crossed near the barn. His straw hat perched at a rakish angle on his curly black mop.

"Having fun?" he called.

She nodded, smiled.

Yeah, a whole pantload of laughs. Don't you ever sweat?

But hours on a lawn tractor does have its benefits and eventually she saw the lighter side of the cloud. The hum of the engine and mindless turns and passes over the thick grass gave her a chance to consider the chapter she had been working on late last night. The new book was a mystery. A murder mystery. It was coming along nicely except...

She didn't have a murder. Yet. And what kind of murder mystery doesn't have a murder? No, someone had to die.

But who? And, more importantly, how?

Paying less attention to the lawn and more to the plot slowly forming in her head, she took the turn by the corn patch tighter than she'd intended. A few knee-high stalks flattened but she didn't notice. The plot was beginning to come together in her mind...

"Looking good." His voice pulled her from a hot, humid summer night. A young woman. Her jilted lover. "Looking real good, isn't it?"

"Uh huh." Smiling automatically, she turned her machine to the far side of the lawn. Maybe she'd get some peace over there. "Real good."

He's got a gun. No, a knife. No, a gun.

"Ugh," she muttered. A yellowing clump of daffodils thwumped under the blades, a sweet scent filling the air. "No knife. No gun. Everyone uses those." No, it has to be something better. Something more unusual...

"Great job, honey! It looks like a park!" He'd found her.

She looked up into his smiling face. He'd removed his hat and was wiping his brow with his hand. He looked hot, but happy. In that moment all sweaty annoyances disappeared. Her heart fluttered.

Note to self: Always ask about day's plans over breakfast.

Thoughts of the new book were all but forgotten as she remembered the mint iced tea she'd made earlier.

She nodded toward the gazebo. Thought of the strawberry shortcake fixings in the fridge beside the tea pitcher. He got her drift, and they turned and headed for the house.

Who cared about the new book, anyway. After all, she'd just finished the last one. The new one could wait. Why fret over murder on such a lovely day? And murder weapons? No need to struggle with that yet. She had plenty of time to consider it, lots of time to--


An explosion! Bits of pink filled the air, raining down on her. They caught in her hair, stuck to the sweaty curls. Magenta tendrils, like smoke, fell past her face. She sniffed. A spicy scent, one she almost recognized.

Glancing over her shoulder, her heart thudding in her chest, she steeled herself for the worst. Surely she'd hit an animal, killed some small, defenseless creature. And all because she'd been preoccupied, more concerned with her own silly murder than concentrating on the task at hand.
Why had she been so selfish? Why had she been so--

The spot looked naked. Bare save for the brown stalks sticking out of the ground at unnatural angles in the center of a pool of crimson. They were gone, really and truly gone before their time, but they gave her an idea. Just a small flickering, wisp of an idea, but was something.

Hmm...death by peonies?

Monday, June 23, 2008

Just a few more days...

until Sniffing Sand is released!
Happy Monday! I hope you all had a wonderful weekend. Did you find time to relax? Or was yours a weekend filled with all the catching-up stuff you let slide during the week? Isn't it amazing how things pile up when you're...well, busy? I try and get everything done during the week so weekends are clear but every once in a while life gets ahead of me.

Not so this weekend. We spent time with family, just visiting and laughing, and it was oh-so relaxing. Just lovely. Family. It really is where your story starts.

And good news on the farm! We're picking strawberries! I know that may not sound like a big deal to some but I promise you there's nothing like tasting sun-warmed strawberries right off the plant. They're as sweet as candy and so juicy. Last night I made strawberry shortcake and it was to die for. Yum!

Today I'll read through the Sniffing Sand galley. It feels so good to see a manuscript all polished and ready to go. Hopefully I won't find many errors that need to be corrected. By tomorrow I'll have the errata completed and on its way. Then all I've got to do is sit back and wait for July 1st! Ooh, I'm so excited! Can you tell?

To celebrate the release of Sniffing Sand I'm holding a little giveaway. The details are in the sidebar. Please join in the fun, help me celebrate the release of my third novel. I loved writing this book and I really am super excited to share it with everyone. I love Chincoteague Island...the place, the people, the ponies...there's just nowhere else like it. It will always hold a piece of my heart. I hope that after readers get a taste of it all in Sniffing Sand it will steal a sliver of their hearts, too.

So what have you got planned for this gorgeous Monday morning? Hmm?

Hope you have a great day! :)

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Catching Up

Happy Sunday morning. I know my warm weather schedule only has me blogging Monday, Wednesday and Friday but it's stormy here, much too wet to go outdoors, so I figured I'd drop in and see how you're all doing.

Everybody enjoying their weekend so far? I hope you are. We are. We've gotten to spend some time with family, so that's a welcome pleasure. There never seems to be enough time to spend with family and friends, does there? So many things to say, so many hugs to share and so much news to catch up on...

Speaking of news, I've got some updates to share.

Sniffing Sand, the first book in my Chincoteague Island series, is set to release July 1st. Pre-orders are already coming in through the link at the top right-hand corner of this page. If you'd like a signed copy, just shoot me an email and we'll get your name on the list. (And thank you for your interest and support!)

Sniffing Sand is already getting great early reader response! It is a romantic suspense set on one of the most gorgeous spots on earth, Chincoteague Island. Oh, but I love that place!

Sniffing Sand cover blurb:

Building the perfect house on idyllic Chincoteague Island is a dream come true—or so Nina thinks. But when her marriage ends just as the finishing touches are put on her beachfront home, Nina’s pleasure turns to pain. To further complicate things, a body washes up just outside her back door. Not just any body, either. Facedown and seaweed-covered, the corpse is her ex’s new lover. Now that presents its own share of problems!

Maxx Tallman, Chincoteague’s Chief of Police, is smart, handsome and fast on the trail of the murderer. He just might be the man to help Nina free herself from the web of intrigue that ensnares her. Who knows? He might be the one to help fill her lonely nights, too.

But first they’ve got to catch a killer. Fast—before the tide pushes any more bodies onto the sand.

At present I'm working on edits for my September release, Legal Tender. It is a paranormal romance mystery about a feisty ghost and the granddaughter whose life is turned upside down by her untimely demise. The cover blurb:

Lindy thinks she has it all. An exciting life in New York City. Career prospects. Men. And she does, too. That is, until Granny Walker is killed. Then, all bets are off.

To satisfy the terms of Granny’s will Lindy must step into her grandmother’s orthopedic shoes and assume her place on the family farm. She’ll have to uncover the mystery between a raging bull and a mustang, all while finding a husband and fighting off a nasty cousin.

Life on the farm makes a white sale at Bloomie’s look like child’s play!

Can a woman who’s more comfortable in stilettos than boots move from the city to the country and still have everything she’s always dreamed of? Maybe she can—with some luck and a lot of help from Granny Walker herself.

You see, the wise-cracking, advice-giving ghost isn’t quite ready to give up the old homestead. Not yet, anyway.

Edits on Legal Tender are moving along well so I'm very satisfied with its progress. The book was fun to write, mainly because Granny Walker is such a saucy, wise-cracking old ghost, and it's proving to be an enjoyable edit as well.

Lest you think all I'm doing is releasing and editing, I'll share the news about Sandswept, the second Chincoteague Island book. I've been working on putting the finishing touches on the manuscript. I had it nearly complete but it didn't feel "just right" to me so I pulled it apart and reworked it. Now, it feels right, and I am happy.

Whew! Life has been busy, but it's all good. No complaints here. But if you're one of the folks who's waiting for an email, letter or phone call from me I'll bet you've got a complaint or two. Or maybe three. Please know I'll get back to you as soon as things settle down a bit here. I haven't forgotten you; I've just not been spending any time at the computer that hasn't been work-related.

And what's been going on besides writing news? When I haven't been working I've been enjoying life on the farm. I know you know that, don't you? I saw that Miss Piglet stole my blog on Friday and took you all on a little tour. That sneaky little feline is something else, I tell you!

Hope you're all having a wonderful weekend! :)

Friday, June 20, 2008

Piglet In Charge

Hey there, everybody! Happy Friday! It's me--Piglet! Meow!

I'm taking over Sarita's blog this morning because...well, just because I always wanted to and today looks like a good day to do it. I think I can get away with it and she might not even notice. She's still pretty wiped from the whole editing thing. I'm not sure I completely understand why she's got to do that (the edit thing) but I guess it keeps me in kibbles so I'm not going to make too much of a fuss. But she's got achey fingers and tired wrists and she says something about her bottom feeling glued to her chair. Again, I don't get that--sounds meowy painful to me--but hey, I'm just a cat so what do I know?

Ha! I know more than anyone suspects but let's keep that on the down low, alright?

Anyhow, it's my day to blog. Me, Piglet. HA! I knew this day would come...

Yesterday I took Sarita on a walk around the farm. She's been cooped up with that computer thingy so I figured she could use a look at what's been going on around here. C'mon, I'll show you what we saw...

Follow me.

We've got bunches of these things growing everywhere. Sarita calls them day-sees but they tickle my whiskers so I give 'em lots of room. Whisker ticklers. Ugh.

Ah, a little birdie peeking out of its house.
Come out, little birdie...I want to play with you...

We stopped to count the clovers.
All threes.
She seems sure there are fours...
keeps muttering about Lynda finding fours without any problem.
I like Aunt Lynda.
Eye-rises, Sarita says.
Me? I don't care what they're called.
I tasted one.
They taste like my feet.
No, wait.
My feet taste better than these things.
These are pretty.
There's loads of 'em--in all shades of pink and white!--
growing around the farm.
They smell good, too.
Taste kind of funky, though.
Now these? Lee-lees? I like 'em. A lot.
They don't tickle my whiskers, smell like sunshine and
they don't taste too bad, either.
What more could any cat want?
Besides a nap, that is?
This blogging stuff isn't as easy as Sarita makes it look.
I need some shut-eye.
Hope you've had as much fun as I have taking over the blog.
I'll try and do it again real soon.
But shh!
Don't tell Sarita I've got plans to take over her chair.
We don't want her to worry, do we?
Have a nice weekend!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Dancing in the Dark

A slow, lazy firefly fluttered near the computer screen but she absently brushed it away. Crickets chirped, frogs haruumphed and the leaves in the apple trees rustled with every little breeze but her attention was on the words before her.

"It's almost dark."

She found his hand and twined her fingers through his. "Just one more page, that's all."


"" With a sigh she snapped the laptop closed. Then she reached over and placed the computer on an empty chair. Turning her full attention to him, she smiled. "See? Just one more page."

"What were you reading?"

"Enduring Hope. I told you about it. Kara sent the story yesterday, remember?"

He snapped the fingers on his free hand. In the darkness the sound was like a shot. For an instant the bullfrogs stopped haruumphing. Then, they started again.

"Right, I remember now. Was it good?"

"Mmm hmm. I like her stories. This Orchard Hill series is interesting." Leaning back in her chair, she stared up at the sky. Stars, thousands of them. Her limbs felt liquid, tired and sun-warmed. "It's been a good week. I got the final edits for the book done. Read a great story. Even found time to row after dinner."

"And it's only Tuesday," he said, chuckling.

"Not so good for you, though." She turned and stared at his profile. The glittering stars cast pinpricks of dancing light on the water's surface, just enough so she could catch the outline of his face. Her gut tightened; she hated seeing him like this. "Oh, honey..."

"It's nothing." He waved a hand through the night air. "Really, nothing."

"But your nose..."

"Ah, it's just a nose. They get broken all the time." He gave her hand a reassuring squeeze. "It'll be good as new before you know it. Hey, where are your sneakers?" He leaned forward, looking around on the wooden decking beneath them.

She nodded to the rowboat tied to the edge of the floating dock. "In the boat. Why?"

He shrugged. "I just wondered if you'd need them."

"For?" A smile tugged her lips upward. She knew what he was hinting at but wanted to hear him ask. The almost-nightly ritual.

"Dancing. Ah, but maybe you're too tired to dance," he teased.

"Never too tired to dance with you. But..."

"Hmm?" His brows furrowed, pulling the skin above his nose into a tight vee. "But what?"

She grinned. "I just thought..."

"Thought what?"

"That maybe you can't dance tonight." She stood. Her body instantly found its balance on the floating platform. "With that wounded nose, and all. I mean, you're kind of broken. Aren't you?"

He pulled her into his arms. She melted into him naturally, her soft lines meeting his hard, muscular form. They began to gently sway. Then, they took a few small steps, mindful of the cold pond water just beyond the edges of their dance floor.

"I could never be too broken to dance with you, darling." He kissed her temple, then pulled her closer. He gave her a quick twirl. "Never."

Monday, June 16, 2008

Dashing through the...uh, sunshine

It just doesn't sound the same, does it? I'm sitting here humming the song but without the snow it's just not right. Oh well.

Still, I'm sorry to say I'm in Dash Mode. Even without the snow and sleigh, I've got to post and dash. Sorry!

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend. Ours was great. Let's see...what did we do?

Lots of wonderful, warm moments spent outside. We finally finished planting every little old thing here (except the perennial sweet peas. They go in this week--I promise!) and that feels good. We've already got little peppers on some of the plants and flowers on the tomatoes so it won't be long before we're busy harvesting.

We rowed on the pond. One of my favorite things to do, hands down. :)

I got an impromptu lesson in making Chinese dumplings. It was incredibly interesting, something I won't ever forget. I have never eaten a dumpling but learning how to make them was an amazing experience. I've never seen dough made using chopsticks. What a treat! And I got a lesson in chives...Chinese chives are different from the ones I've got growing, the plain, old ordinary chives. Who knew?

The best part of the Chinese cooking lesson? We made new friends.

The highlight of our weekend was dancing in the dark last night. Yes, the night was starry and warm, and on the way back to the house from the barn the man took me in his arms and we danced a little dance. It doesn't get any better than that, believe me.

So the reason for my dashing this morning? This week I've got to give the final edits to a manuscript. Then I've got to (finally!) put the last words to a new book. After all of that I'll be pretty much home free for a while. But today, I'm on the run.

Hope you all had a lovely weekend! Was there a high point to your Saturday and Sunday you'd like to share? I'm all ears!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Sneak Peek, Sniffing Sand

A quick, teeny-tiny excerpt from my upcoming novel, Sniffing Sand...

Nina pushed herself between the papers Kevin held in front of him like a shield and his body. His heart thudded against her chest as she placed her chin on his shoulder. He was stiff and unresponsive, but she kissed the angle of his jaw anyway. Once. Twice. With the third kiss, Nina felt his body relax.

She took a step to the side, and turned their bodies so they faced the back of the building lot. The aquamarine water of Chincoteague Bay sparkled, changing with each shift of the current. It looked alive. Their land sloped gradually down to the sandy beach where water lapped at the shoreline. A sandpiper scurried the shore, intent on finding its dinner. Nina saw a whelk at the high tide line. The salt air filled her lungs as she inhaled deeply, willing her own heart to stop galloping. Every scuffle with Kevin—and lately there were a lot of them—upset her. How could it not? Just when she thought her deepest desires were becoming a reality, she had to fight repeatedly with the man meant to share those dreams.

“It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” Nina whispered.

At first she thought he might not answer, but after a long, silent minute Kevin nodded. “Yeah. Beautiful. And expensive.”

The house fight was over—for now, at least—and that was all that mattered to Nina. If she had to, she’d keep the peace one tiny piece at a time.

Nina turned from the living area and walked to the kitchen area. She swept a hand over the rich green marble countertop. It had been costly, but it was beautiful. So were the warm custom cherry cabinets and modern, stainless steel appliances. A wrought iron pot rack hung above an island, expensive Calphalon pots in a wealth of sizes dangling from hooks.

Sighing, she faced the back, all-glass wall, and stared out at the water. It sparkled now in much the same way it had when she and Kevin had argued over the countertop. The water was a constant, one of the few things in Nina’s dream that hadn’t been swept away like the tide.

She stood alone in the house.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Feeling Cottage-y

A few weeks ago I posted a couple of photos of baby quilts. Do you remember those? I'd hung one from a clothesline and draped the others over a chair. Just wanted to share what I'd been doing during rainy spring afternoons that week. No big deal. Or so I thought.

It seems those photos have spawned (don't you just love that word?) a Cottage Business. You know, a home-based business. This one, I suspect, a product of less thought and intention and more serendipity than most. To make a long story short, I got inquiries about selling the quilts. So I did. After all, I hadn't made them with any specific use in mind; I'd just made them because I enjoy making them. When I was approached by buyers, I said yes. Hey, my mamma didn't raise a fool! ;-)

Still more amusing, at least in my mind, is the fact that I've got orders for more.

Go figure.

So here I have this little, completely unexpected cottage business...without a name. I mean, what should I call it? Nothing? Something? As an author I'm accustomed to having titles for things, right from the get-go. The instant I open a manuscript file and begin to write I title the thing--even if it's only WIP #so-and-so. Or Current WIP, that's a popular early stage book title around here. Sometimes it's Blasted Book! or--well, you get the idea. A title, always a title.

Cottage quilt business? Title-less. I've got to admit I'm unsettled by that. Really bugged. I've been mulling over business titles since I sold the last quilt and have come up with a couple, but none are, I don't think, The One. You know, the one that will make me smile, nod and say, "Yeah. That's the one."

I've got--and remember these are only ideas, not set in stone--these...Cottage Quilts...Quilt Du Jour...and Crazy Writer Quilts. I'm kind of leaning to the last one because really, I must be nuts to even consider this. What do you think? Any ideas? Suggestions? A large club with which to knock myself upside the head?

Hope you have a great weekend. Me? I'll be gardening, quilting, writing and, hopefully, dancing beneath the stars with my hero. Yeah, we had a clear, star-filled sky last night...summer dancing has begun around here. Let the calendar catch up to us for a change! Have a good one, friends!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

From the Gazebo

Dusk deepens, turning the sky deep violet. Fireflies appear, flecks of brilliance dotting the air outside the gazebo. Silence, broken only by birdsong, is companionable.

Raising the chilled glass to his lips, he drinks. Swallows. Smiles.

"So, are we done planting?" His voice holds amusement.

"Pretty much."

"Pretty much? You've got to be kidding, right?"

"Why would I kid you?" She sips a daquiri, catching a dribble of condensation from the glass's edge with a finger. She passes her fingertip across the leg of her denim shorts, noting the heat in her thigh. Sunburn? Maybe. They've spent the afternoon in the gardens. As usual, she's forgotten to sunscreen her legs. "We're done--almost."

His sigh is exaggerated. For a moment the crickets' chirping is the only conversation. Then, "So you're saying we've still got stuff to plant?"

"Mmm hmm..."


"Oh, this and that." She grins, knowing full well the effect her answers have. Teasing, after so many years, comes easily between them.

"Well, as long as we don't have to plant any more zucchini," he says, pausing to take a swallow of his drink. "There's enough zucchini in this yard don't know. There's enough, that's all." He turns to her, raises an eyebrow and stares down into her face. "We don't have to plant any more zucchini, do we?"

The glint in his dark brown eyes makes her heart flutter, something she suspects he realizes. How could he not? She smiles, all innocence and sweetness. The alcohol in the drink is beginning to make her head feel fuzzy. "Well..."

"Well? Zucchini? Oh no, not zucchini! We've got zucchini in the big garden. Zucchini in the greenhouse garden. Zucchini in the cucumber patch. And the last row of the corn patch? What's that?"


"Beside the old barn?"


"And next to my workshop? In the little garden? You think I didn't know you'd planted anything there, did you? But I saw them today, those little hills on the end. What is that, anyway?"

"Zucchini." She tilts her head, listening for the peepers. It is almost full dark; they should begin their nightly song any minute now.

"And you want to plant more zucchini? What are we going to do with all of them? Tell me that, won't you? What in the Sam Hill are we going to do with a gazillion zucchini?"

"We'll make zucchini and pasta. Fried zucchini. Zucchini cookies--"

"Zucchini cookies?"

"Mmm hmm. You had them yesterday." Nodding, she continues, ticking items off her list with her fingers. "Zucchini bread. Zucchini pancakes. Zucchini cake. Zucchini fritters. Zucchini and rice. Zucchini parmesan. Zucchini rollitini. Zucchini--"

"Stop! Enough with the zucchini!" He drains his glass. It hits the table with a thud just as the peepers begin singing. "The next thing I know you'll be telling me it's in my morning coffee."

"Well..." Holding up her empty glass, she smiles. "Want another daquiri, darling?"

Monday, June 09, 2008

Don't Count the Chickens...

Is it Monday already? How did that happen?!

I feel like I'm entering the vortex this week, trying to push a gazillion things into a few days. Anyone have any tips on stretching the hours? Hmm? I'm definitely up for pushing the edge on at least a couple of days this week.

I've got edits to do, interview questions to answer and a bunch of other work-related stuff to deal with. Lest it slip my mind, I've got a book to finish writing. The book? It's only half done so I've got heaps of work to do.

At least we got the gardens planted this weekend. The greenhouse is empty save for the second wave of veggies and perennials that will go in in a month or so. But all the stuff that had to get planted? Done! Yay!

Between us, I thought we'd never get the last eggplants and tomatoes planted. They just wouldn't stop coming out of the greenhouse...sort of like one of those clown cars where the clowns keep stepping out...and stepping out...and...well, you get the idea.

I can't not mention the Belmont Stakes. What on earth happened there? It just goes to show you really can't count on anything until it's a done deal, can you? I'm just relieved Big Brown is all right. And congratulations to Da' Tara on a race run well! Way to go!

Friday, June 06, 2008

This and That

Happy Friday! I hope you've had a great week. What have you been up to? Anything you'd care to share? Come on, 'fess up! I'm wildly curious!

Truthfully I'm probably so curious because my week has been good, but not especially noteworthy. We've been busy here on the farm planting the veggie gardens. I'm happy to say that most of the vegetables, and a good amount of the flowers, too, are now in the ground. Yay! We've been hot, tired and dirty but it's been fun. Yeah, I know...I must be nuts.

I've gotten a good amount of reading done. It feels so wonderfully decadent to laze about in the gazebo in the evening and lose myself in a good book for a few hours. I could get used to doing that--oh, wait! I am used to do it! It's pretty much become the routine here. After dinner we head to the gazebo. Hubby carves. I read. Very peaceful.

What have I been reading? Well, I'm really lucky because my mom is wonderful about sharing her favorite authors with me. We both like Janet Evanovich and in the past few months Mom's brought over quite a few of her titles. Some of them, like Thanksgiving, are older stories but there's the latest Plum (I think it's the latest, I'm not sure now...) in the stack so I've been loving reading them. Perfect summertime reading, I think. Thanks Mom! :)

Before I forget, I wanted to tell you that I've decided to share some of our favorite summer recipes with you. I usually post once or twice a month at the From the Kitchen page but with the warm weather and all I thought I'd post daily. Everyone's grilling and looking for fast, easy and delish things to serve and believe me, I've got a lot of recipes! Cooking is big at this house, as is fast and easy, so it seems like a grand idea to send some of our kitchen treats from our house to yours. I've already begun, so if you haven't checked lately there are a bunch of new recipes already on the page. And, as I said, there'll be a new recipe posted every day, all summer long. I hope you enjoy them! And please feel free to share some of your own summer favorites!

Hope you have a great weekend! Us? We're planning on hanging out, rowing on the pond and playing in the yard. Probably mowing the lawn. Making ice cream. You know, summer-y stuff.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Butterfly Whisperer

"There's another Swallowtail in the potting shed." She peered through the glass and wondered if the camera in her pocket would do the scene justice.

The palm-sized yellow-and-black butterfly gently fluttered its wings. It perched on a heavy wooden beam, the contrast between its delicate beauty and the sturdy post obvious.

"But I just liberated five of them." Shaking a mop of black curls, he headed into the small building. "How do they get themselves stuck in here, anyway?"

"Who knows if they're stuck? They might just be visiting, you know."

Emerging with the butterfly cupped in his hands, he stood in the doorway for a long moment. He turned to her and smiled. Their gazes locked and she felt warm beneath his stare. Once more he shook his head. "Always an optimist, aren't you? You look for the best in everything, don't you?"

He opened his hands, holding them high. The Swallowtail seemed in no rush to leave his palm. Its wings spread wide, tickling his fingertips. Time stood still as they stared. Waited.

Their breath caught as they watched it lift off. The butterfly circled, inches above their heads. Then the Swallowtail sailed off into the treetops, a patch of brightness in the otherwise clear sky.
"And you're not? An optimist, that is?"

She heard him sigh. He pulled her close, held her tight against his side. He chuckled. "Maybe I am at that. I guess we're a matched pair, aren't we?"

"Seems that way. Yeah, it sure seems that way." She looked up at him and grinned. "And there's one more visitor waiting for you in the potting shed."

"A visitor, huh?"

"Yup. A visitor."

Monday, June 02, 2008

Seven Dozen Tomatoes

That's right. Seven dozen tomatoes. So far we've planted five dozen and I'm estimating there is at least two dozen left in the greenhouse.

Good God.

What does one do with seven dozen tomato plants, you ask?

A lot. A real lot.

We don't buy any tomatoes. At all. Not fresh. Not canned. The only tomatoes we consume (and we eat a lot of tomatoes!) come from our garden. At harvest time we can and freeze them. And by the end of the season I'll have a couple of plants growing in pots to bring in the house. That way we'll get fresh tomatoes through most of the winter months, too. I'm pretty sure the plants will be fine for most of the winter in the greenhouse, actually.

This year I plan to try and make ketchup. Has anyone tried that? How does it work? Any tips would be appreciated!

We usually grow about four dozen tomatoes. This year, with the new greenhouse egging me on, we've got oodles of plants. What else could we do but plant them?

So, you see, we've spent most of the weekend planting. Thankfully we both love being outdoors, playing in the dirt and planting so it's been fun. We'll be back out there again today, planting some more. By evening we'll be hot, tired and dirty...but happy. And hopefully we'll have most of the greenhouse stuff in the ground by tonight. Or maybe tomorrow. Or...

What else have we planted besides tomatoes? Let's see...peppers, basil, cabbage, lettuce, pumpkins, winter squash, summer squash, beans, peas, broccoli, walking stick kale, gourds, watermelons, cantaloupes, corn, cukes, fennel, onions, parsnips, artichokes, oregano, parsley, thyme, sage, turnips, asparagus and my personal favorite, eggplant. I have a feeling I may be leaving something out but you get the idea...

We're big on vegetables and much prefer growing our own and filling the pantry to buying produce that comes from who-knows-where and is fertilized with who-knows-what and handled by...well, by who knows?

So that's our weekend. What about you? Did you have a good one?

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Sniffing Sand - first peek!

Jinger Heaston designed this cover and it's as if she's read the book because this is just what I've always seen in my heart as a cover for this story. She's perfectly captured the mood and details of the novel. The body on the beach? Oh, I've seen this body before -- but only in my mind's eye. What a delight to see everything I've imagined come together on one perfect cover!

Sniffing Sand releases from Whiskey Creek Press in July. It's the first in a series of stories set on Chincoteague Island so I'm pretty jazzed about the whole project. Sandswept, the second book, is set to release in December.

For now, the cover and blurb...and a multitude of thanks to the talented lady whose vision so closely matches mine. Thank you Jinger! :)

Building the perfect house on idyllic Chincoteague Island is a dream come true—or so Nina thinks. But when her marriage ends just as the finishing touches are put on her beachfront home, Nina’s pleasure turns to pain. To further complicate things, a body washes up just outside her back door. Not just any body, either. Facedown and seaweed-covered, the corpse is her ex’s new lover. Now that presents its own share of problems!

Maxx Tallman, Chincoteague’s Chief of Police, is smart, handsome and fast on the trail of the murderer. He just might be the man to help Nina free herself from the web of intrigue that ensnares her. Who knows? He might be the one to help fill her lonely nights, too.

But first they’ve got to catch a killer. Fast—before the tide pushes any more bodies onto the sand.