Sunday, October 16, 2016

Confessions of a Halloween Hater

Image result for google image of a witch

I hate Halloween.

There I said it. I haven’t always felt this way, only since I became an adult. So, it’s been long enough. My kids are no longer little—or currently care what I think—so I’m ready to end the charade.

I never understood why my mom hated Halloween until I had kids of my own. As soon as my oldest was two it all became clear to me and only got worse when her sisters were born.

What exactly do I hate about Halloween you may ask?

Easy answer: EVERYTHING

1)      The season – yes it has its own season. Beginning with the initial discussion of costumes in July and ramping up when the stores start replacing back-to-school supplies with jumbo bags of candy and plastic packages of costumes for kids and pets. This occurs in August around here. Yes, you can buy candy corn to enjoy at the pool in the 90 degree heat.  Personally, the H word is not allowed to be spoken in my presence until October.

2)      The costumes – from July to October the kids will have changed their minds on their ‘idea’ six to seven times. Each kid. Every year they will tell me they’ve decided on ‘the one’ and assure me it will be easy, that I won’t have to do a thing. I will then make a dozen trips to the pop-up store (see 3 below), 3-4 confusing visits to the craft store and countless excursions to Target, often multiple times on the Saturday before Halloween. Compromises will be made as well as the inevitable last minute Amazon Prime order. (By the way, my love for Amazon Prime is as strong as my hate for Halloween). In the end, the costume will look amazing, but the costume-wearer will know and let me know, something isn’t quite the way it was planned.

2a) The back-up costume – a necessary evil and expense. I discovered when my older two girls were in pre-school that they are expected to wear their Halloween costume approximately 6 times before the actual ‘holiday.’ They would have to dress up for the school party, the park district party, gymnastics, at least one Halloween themed birthday party, and a Halloween walk through our downtown that I managed to keep my girls from knowing about until their friends in Brownies ratted me out. With all these events including chocolate, caramel apples, and colorful drinks I should consider myself lucky we got way with only two costumes per season.

3)      The pop-up stores - I don’t know when this phenomenon began, but I became aware of them 15 years ago when I moved to our current town. Seemingly overnight, abandoned stores transform to havens of costumes, decorations and everything my kids, ‘NEED!’  These stores lure kids like the flashing lights on slot machines at a casino and suck your money out at about the same speed. My husband and father-in-law think these places are ingenious and have no qualms about buying plastic rats and flashing skulls to ‘decorate’ my yard.

4)      The candy - I soo want to be the house that hands out an alternative to candy, but I think my house looks better without cracked eggs adorning my front door and windows. The only thing worse than handing out all that sugar is my kids coming home with their loot. After I’ve handed out 5 large bags of candy, it returns in triplicate and in various forms. We struggle over rationing, hiding and donating. In the end, they eat too much and we keep it too long, always.

5)      The parties – the little kid versions I had to attend were bad enough, but then the ‘big kid’ stuff hit. The school my kids attend/ed ranges from pre-school through 8th grade. There is a Halloween party at the school, a drop-off party, for 4th through 6th graders. Sound like fun, right? As long as I avoid the volunteer email I get to drop them off for two and half hours.  The kids have a haunted house, a DJ and food. What’s not to love? The prize for best group costume. Suddenly in 4th grade, kids will form cliques as they decide who should and should not be included in their group costume. One kid and mom will take control and drama will ensue. Someone will drop out of the group, someone will feel left out. By the time my third daughter entered 4th grade I figured out to encourage a stand-alone costume that could part of a group, or not. Best costume to date = a rubber ducky. No one knows there was originally an Ernie who was supposed to be her partner. She/I won ‘most original.’

6)      The decorations – tacky, messy, and oftentimes just gross. Have you ever tried to remove fake cobwebs from bushes? After it snows – because it snows on Halloween here at least half the time. I used to enjoy carving a jack-o-lantern until I become responsible for the guts and later disposing of the squirrel-molested pumpkin carcass.

We’re two weeks out now and I’m waiting for the drama to drop. The older two are in high school now and assure me they don’t need anything and will just figure things out later. This sounds like a disaster waiting to happen. The youngest is in sixth grade, so her last school party is fast approaching.

 I could go on and on, but she just yelled up from the basement asking where I keep the hot glue gun.

Happy H Word

Monday, July 25, 2016

Y (A) I Need a Break from Young Adult Books

One of my favorite genres has always been young adult, even before the now-immensely popular category earned its own bookshelves and could only be vetted out among the children’s section and adult fiction.

As an actual young adult, I felt the need to be seen reading literary novels as I rode the commuter train, but the book on my night table would tell a different story – one of high school romances and carefree summers.

I was the mother of three when The Twilight Series hit, and I truly tried to resist, but ultimately gave in and lost. For weeks my kids survived on Nick Jr. and cereal as I read the entire series and sought out other bleary-eyed mothers in the drop off line at school to discuss Bella and Edward.

As an early e-reader owner I found solace in covertly reading Pretty Little Liars on my device while simultaneously toting around a hard copy of my book club’s latest historical fiction pick.

But, lately the thrill is gone due to the young adults in my life. In a couple of weeks my oldest daughter will be a high school junior, the middle daughter a freshman and the youngest in sixth grade. Aside from the drama my girls already provide and not having a need for any more in my life, YA books now present a dilemma I had not anticipated. They are planting seeds of worry.

Now, I’m not naïve. I know they have lives separate from me and do plenty of things I don’t know about and I’m sure they are feeding me the lies they think I want to hear on a daily basis. I’ve also made them well aware that they may think they are coming up with new and creative ways to get away with stuff, but I am no stranger to pushing the parental limits.

Back in the day I made sneaking out an art form. My friends tried to outdo my spectacular fibs and maneuvers, but I could not be beat. My claim to fame remains to this day: shortly after my sixteenth birthday my family moved to a big house. I told my parents (probably with crocodile tears) I was scared being so far away from them and feared not being able to get out if there was a fire. I suggested purchasing a rope ladder that can be kept under the bed and thrown out the window in case of a fire or another emergency; the commercials were currently running on TV. See where this is going? Well, they didn’t and I snuck out the same night we bought it at the hardware store. Oddly enough, I used it more to sneak friends in than I did to escape. I’m happy to report I never had to use it in a real emergency.

Maybe the identification with the deviance was why I liked YA books so much – until it became real. Now when I read a YA book I find myself wondering if my girls are doing the outlandish things the characters in the book are doing. Will S run away with her best friend’s brother tomorrow when she told me they’re going to a movie, ‘in a group’? Is K secretly going to cult meetings when I drop her off at guitar lessons? (I never actually see her go in the door, hmm). Is E’s sudden interest in coding not just a nice nerdy hobby but an attempt to hack into the school’s computer and change her grades?

If I don’t take a break our dinner conversations are going to get weird. Instead of asking about their school day or tennis practice I’ll be asking if they have gambling problems or participating in satanic rituals.

“Sweetie, are you making fake IDs in the basement when you say you’re watching Netflix?”
“Honey, pass the salt and have you been buying crack from your science teacher?”
“I’m glad you did well on your test and by the way are you and your friends facetiming with Russian drug lords?”

All mothers’ minds worry and go right to worst-case scenario mode, I know this is normal. Reading about teens drinking, having sex, skipping school and running away just doesn’t help me keep the worry in the normal range. So for now I’ll leave the YAs and catch up on other genres.

Of course the new Harry Potter book is an obvious exception. I’m sure I’ll see some of you at midnight this weekend.

Monday, June 6, 2016

I Need a Hero

Not the kind Bonnie Tyler sang of in Footloose – though that is an epic song. No, I’m not holding out for a guy fresh from the fight, just a main character I can root for.

Until about two years ago, I'd say 99% of the books I read featured a main character I liked. Whether I identified with him or her, fell for them right away or developed appreciation for their plight along the way – I wanted their happily ever after.

Then something changed. I read the book everyone was reading and was sucked in instantly. About 30% in, I realized I actually hated the main character, but it was acceptable because the story was so compelling I didn’t care. I think I actually wanted him not to get the happily ever after. It was unsettling, but I didn’t think much of it. Now, two years and about 8 books with main characters I didn’t care for I’m wondering what’s up with that?

I’m not going to name titles or authors, it’s not the point I’m trying to make or discussion I’d like to open. For the most part, I loved the books despite not liking the character (narrator in most instances) so the author did a great job. One particular story had me downright hating the shallow narrator of the story, but I could not put the book down. It’s a different experience than the familiar meet the main character, love them, and hope for everything turns out okay in the end. Different, not terrible, sometimes unsettling, but not exactly bad.

Having now read quite of few of these though, I have to say I’m ready to return to my heroes. Just in time for summer vacation, beach and pool reading I will be reading reviews with a little more scrutiny and using the ‘sneak a peek’ option so readily available now before investing my time in character. I need someone to root for, emulate and maybe fall for.

Hmm – romance maybe?

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Prologue to White Lies and Promises

I'm in a sharing mood today. I'm still editing this full length novel, and continue to tweak the original story I drafted almost five years ago. I'm excited to move forward with it, so why not share a peek?    

                                                 Prologue – Matt and Jackie

            They had their mothers to thank. Or blame.
            Matt Foster and Jackie Hamilton were introduced in a hand-me-down wooden playpen. Matt’s mother, Ann and Jackie’s mother, Patty sat nearby at Ann’s kitchen table drinking instant coffee and awkwardly attempting a conversation. Upon being deposited in the toddler prison, Matt screamed at the intruder forced upon him. He soon realized he could make Jackie giggle when he poked her, and the tactic quieted him down. Jackie learned that if she took Matt’s truck or bear he would initially become mad, but turn nice in order to retrieve his possessions. From their mothers’ vantage point all seemed well.
            “They are playing so nicely together!” Ann said to Patty while she wondered how she ever talked to this dull woman. Patty still looked the same as she had in her office days, with her ramrod back and sensible mid-length hairstyle, or lack thereof thought Ann. Unconsciously though she sat up straighter and touched her own unruly dark curls.
            “Yes, isn’t that great?” Patty turned and wagged her fingers at the toddlers. “Be a good girl Jacqueline, and share with Matthew.” Patty turned her attention back to Ann, trying to recall if she’d always been such a nutcase. Patty looked around at the clutter filled house - dishes on the counter, toys spilled over the floor. She tried to ignore the fact that her coffee mug stuck to the surface of the table with each return. Ann didn’t seem to notice the sound it made as Patty lifted it tentatively to her lips. Life will never get this out of control, Patty silently promised herself.
            “This is so fun, catching up,” Ann said through a forced smile. “We’ll have to do this again.” She hoped Patty would quickly come up with something juicy to share or offer to leave. She had better things to do than try to rekindle a friendship that they had clearly both outgrown.
            “Yes, I agree. I’m sorry we’ll have to cut it short today though, Jacqueline really has to go down for a nap.”  Patty looked at her watch for effect and then over to the kids. It was obvious Jackie was having fun and not tired. In truth, she had given up her morning nap months ago and would not be ready for any sort of rest until at least two in the afternoon.
            “Oh, that’s okay, the twins will be home from nursery school soon and then all hell will break loose anyway.” Ann was relieved. She got up from her chair and tugged down her sweater which now seemed too tight upon being with Patty whose slender build and height had always made her feel frumpy.

            They claimed they would keep in touch and said their goodbyes easily. The babies dutifully waved “bye-bye” from their mothers’ arms upon request. After the door closed, Matt began to throw a fit, kicking at his toys until he found his thumb and blanket. Jackie’s screams began as her mom backed out of the Foster’s driveway. Her wails continued for the duration of the drive home. These would not be the last tears shed over each other.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Home Base

Travelling today, so here's one of my first blog posts, slightly edited, but still relevant. Enjoy!

Home Base

As I cheered on my Blackhawks last night, a thought occurred to me – when did they become ‘my Blackhawks’?  I’m from Boston, grew up cheering on Ray Bourque and the Bruins, rooted for the Red Sox (my T-ball card lists my favorite player as Jim Rice) and sat through cold days watching the Patriots in Foxborough. When did I switch allegiances? Did I truly?

I’ve lived in Chicago for over 18 years now, but I spent the first 25 of my life in Massachusetts. I keep thinking when I get to the halfway mark - when I’ve lived here 25 years - I’ll legitimately be able to say, “I’m from Chicago.” But will I be?  Will I always be from Boston?  When I’m here in Chicago, I refer to Boston as ‘back home,’ but of course when I’m visiting my family in Massachusetts I reverse it. Also, I don’t currently live in the City of Chicago, nor did I live in the City of Boston, but the suburbs of both and always give the city name rather than my town.  C’mon we all do it.  Only when speaking with someone who actually lives in either city do I get outted, and they always make sure to point out the distinction.

A couple of years I was put to the test. The Bruins faced the Blackhawks in the quest for the Stanley Cup.  While I really wanted the Blackhawks to win, because it’s exciting to be in a place with a winning team., and the parade is insanely fun, I joked with everyone, telling them it was a win and t-shirt for me either way.  My brother I had fun at each other’s expense on social media and in the end, well you know.

As for baseball, I flub that one too.  I say I’m a Sox fan and leave it at that.  My husband’s family are all White Sox fans, the other Chicago baseball team is like Voldemort, we don’t use the “C” word.  Again though, when Neil Diamond sang and everyone at Fenway came out Boston Strong, I proudly wore my Red Sox shirts and hats around the suburbs of Chicago.  However, when I took my kids to visit family last summer, we made sure each of us wore a Blackhawks shirt each day. 

Confused as to where home is?  Maybe.  Lucky to have two wonderful cities to cheer for? Absolutely.  Even from the suburbs.  Go Hawks and Sox!

Monday, February 29, 2016

Explaining Leap Day

I have the distinct pleasure of leading an adorable group of ten third graders in Junior Great Books on Fridays this winter. Last week's story was a long, heavy, Russian folk tale that I knew was going to present a challenging discussion. In anticipation of this, I engaged them in some light banter while they opened their lunch boxes and books to the opening page.

"Who knows what next Monday is?" I asked.

They asked if it was a day off from school, if it was spring break yet, the beginning of March Madness or even my birthday.

"It's Leap Day!" I exclaimed and waited for their responses.


They had heard of leap year, but weren't exactly sure how it worked. Most were surprised to hear that this is a leap year and wanted to know what it really means.

I explained as simply as I could and in doing so realized how bizarre the concept sounded out loud. Their faces and raised hands confirmed I had either done a terrible job of describing the Leap Day phenomenon or it truly is just a strange concept to comprehend.

"So, we do go to school?"

"What if someone is born on Leap Day?"

"Is it a holiday?"

I answered the questions as best I could and blew their little eight year-old minds when I addressed the Leap Day Birthday, but I'm sure I left them more confused than amazed - as I had hoped.

I realized our forty-five minute lunch/recess discussion time was ticking by and attempted to end the 'light banter', "okay everyone, let's start discussing this week's story."

One of the boys raised his hand was jumping up and down in his seat, so I agreed to take one more question on  the matter.

He put down his hand, stood up and announced, "Mrs. Hayes, no offense and I think you're really smart and all, but this doesn't sound right. I'm going to have to ask my dad about this leap day thing. I understood The Little Humpback Horse way better than what you just told us."

"I understand, Charlie."

And yes, they understood the three hundred year-old Russian folk tale way better.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Say hi to Veronica and Meet Keenan Rossi

Today I am pleased to have fellow Candy Hearts author, Veronica Lynch, visiting. She's brought Keenan Rossi, from For Keeps, with her. 

Hi, Keenan. Tell us a bit about For Keeps.  It is the story of me and Meghan Muldoon, how we met and how, through events beyond my control, she decided to 'keep me'.

What did you think the first time you saw Meg? It was at the beginning of the monthly Crime Stats meeting, where reps from all local law enforcement agencies meet to discuss crime trends and share information on like crimes. This tall and leggy redhead walked in and my tongue hit the floor—along with every other guy's in the room. Then I dribbled hot coffee down the front of my shirt. Not a pretty picture.

What was your second thought? Once I peeled my eyes off her legs, I recognized she was the woman my mother always warned me about. The problem after that was making her accept the facts.

What do you like most about her? She's not intimidated by men who wield their  power with a club—or other body parts located below their belt buckles. I don't mean that she's a ball buster, but she knows what she wants, how to get it and isn't afraid to go for it.

Why do you think that is? She spent a lot of time with the US Air Force's Office of Special Investigations. Not an easy road for a woman but she held her own among some pretty nasty situations.

How would you describe her? Smart, savvy and compassionate with legs that go clear to her ear lobes.

How would Meghan describe you? Career-focused, intense, and if things don't go my way I tend to pout. Truth be told, I haven't pouted in at least five days.  

What made you choose law enforcement for a career? Like Meggie, I spent a few years with the military though I was a lowly MP. After I mustered out of the service, police work seemed like the natural course. I've never regretted the choice.

Who is your favorite fictional character and why? My current terrific three are Lucas Davenport and Virgil Flowers, both written by John Sandford, and Mitch Rapp, created by the late Vince Flynn. I like Davenport's humor and wouldn't mind having some of his money [he's the richest cop in Minnesota]. I envy Virgil's easy manner with women. And I like Mitch because he's not afraid to speak his mind to a superior, even if it's the director of the CIA or the President [of the United States]. If I'd mouthed off to a superior like Mitch does on a regular basis, I'd probably have been shot—or sent to the brig for the rest of my life.  

Last question, Keenan: when you want to romance Meg, what do you do? That's an easy one: I turn on “Heavenly”, her favorite Johnny Mathis CD, pour her a big glass of Merlot and drop a couple dozen yellow roses in her lap. Watch out.

What a softy. Now, we have a few questions for Veronica. What movies or books have had an impact on your career as a writer? As a teenager I read Mila 18 by Leon Uris and was so touched, I checked Exodus out of the school library. In my adult years, he continued to affect me with QB VII, Trinity and Redemption. They knocked my socks off.
As for movies, I have an eclectic list: Miracle; Steel Magnolias; The Official Story [this is about the consequences of Argentina's Dirty War]; Defiance; The Stoning of Soraya M; Major League and Veronica Guerin.

What event in your private life were you able to bring to this story and how do you feel it impacted the story? For more years than I can count I was closely involved with our local rape advocacy program. Forming effective, positive working relationships with police officers was often like patrolling the DMZ, watching my back and keeping an eye out for land mines. It was. . . the best of times—but for many reasons, not the most healthy for me personally. The phone call between Keenan and Meg early on in the story really happened, minus the sexual innuendos. I still get a smile on my face when I think about the cop who scared himself.    

Tell us a bit about your publisher. I have been associated with The Wild Rose Press almost since its inception. I was previously published by Wings Press. After I saw the way editors at TWRP operate, I obtained the rights to the books I had with Wings and brought them over to TWRP. I've never regretted the move. I have a great editor, Nicole D'Arienzo, who knows the ins and outs of good editing. I appreciate her insight and ideas for making my writing stronger.

What project[s] are you working on now? I hope to self-publish a reunion trilogy soon. 
What's up next for you? I'm working on a marriage of convenience story, another Vintage Rose, titled At Last. It's set in one of my favorite places on earth: Saranac Lake in the Adirondack Mountains of Northern New York State.

For Keeps? Blurb:

Meghan Muldoon is at a crossroads: struggling to balance the demands of a high stress vocation as an advocate for victims of violence and her feelings for Keenan Rossi, a man who wants to make their relationship permanent. 

On Valentine's Day, a series of routine crises force Meg to question staying in a profession which fulfills her both professionally and spiritually--or devoting the rest of her life to the one person who completes her. 

Which one is For Keeps?

To purchase For Keeps, go to:

To learn more about Veronica Lynch and the stories she creates, go to:

Author Info:
To learn more about Veronica Lynch and the stories she creates, go to:

Sunday, February 14, 2016

A Valentine's Day Gift To My Readers - Bree's Story

          Bree’s Story – a companion novella to Secret Admirer by Ally Hayes

            Yes, I was disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, the bracelet and purse are gorgeous and I’m grateful to have a boyfriend with such great taste. Still, when you’re expecting the ring for Christmas, how can anything else measure up?
            We’d been talking about getting engaged for almost a year and Alec led me to believe he was ready to propose last summer with little teasers and hints of our future. I kept a standing appointment at Super Nails every Thursday after work so I’d be prepared to show off the emerald cut, platinum set diamond I’d pointed out to him in the window of Hartford Jewelers.
            Summer came and went. My nails looked great, but my left ring finger remained empty. Everything was wonderful between us though and Alec and I began the habit of staying at each other’s apartments on weekends. We usually went out as a group with friends on Friday nights and saved Saturdays for date night. On Sundays we either went out for brunch or stayed in to cook our own version. Weekends were bliss. Weekdays were hard. We spoke on the phone every day but rarely saw each other. He worked late most nights as a young lawyer must and I kept a routine of yoga and pilates to fill my time. My job as junior accountant at Pearse and Associates was fulfilling, but not so demanding that it followed me home. I liked it that way and knew if I ever wanted to take it to the next level I could, but I was content. Except for that damn elusive ring!
            New Year’s was fun. We started off with a romantic dinner at an upscale restaurant so of course I got my hopes up. Nervous all through dinner, I tried to eat neat bites of my sea bass so he couldn’t catch me with a mouthful.  We discussed his cases, our plans for our upcoming ski trip, but nothing that spoke of nuptials. After dessert, Alec announced we were meeting up with our friends at a bar and I knew the chance of a proposal were over. At least, I hoped it was. I wanted it to be romantic, memorable, not a spectacle at a bar. I didn’t have to worry though as Alec is not a showy kind of guy and wasn’t likely to propose in public. Once at the bar, I was able to let go and have fun. I reminded myself I was lucky to have Alec to kiss at midnight. I felt bad for Clare, whose so-called boyfriend never showed up.  Abbie kissed some random guy. Maggie and Ethan had each other of course, they’ve been engaged for over a year. Poor Josh waited all night for Sam, who later made some lame excuse about being stuck at another party.
            Basically, it’s been hard to complain, but challenging not to. Our friends were getting sick of me talking about it, but it’s all I could think about. So when I heard a new girl was starting at our office after the New Year, yes I was excited. I was eager to make a new friend.

            Bob Fitzgerald sent a memo on Friday via email with the announcement: Andressa (call her Andi, please) Maroun will step in as the new Special Accounts Manager beginning Monday. She’s been with Pearse and Associates for three years in the Providence office. I hope you will all welcome her here to Hartford.
            I took it upon myself to greet Andi and was instantly glad I did. She seemed to be around my age and had a stylish, if a bit hipster, look.  At lunch her first day I learned a little about her and decided she was normal, so I included her in the plans to get together with the gang on Friday.
            My hope was to have a fun, stress-free weekend in Hartford because the following would be another proposal opportunity when Alec and I took a skiing trip.  I had Monday off for MLK, but Alec took a vacation day which was rare for him, so I was taking it as a good sign that it would be the big weekend.
            I did have fun at the bar that night and I think Andi did too. It was too bad Garrett couldn’t make it. He was our only single, straight friend at the moment. It was okay though because she had her eye on a guy she saw at the coffee shop each morning. Once I knew all this I was relieved and figured it would be okay to talk to her about the Alec/ring situation with her. I waited until Monday to get her up to speed on the current state of proposal-gate.


            The next Friday I was even more hopeful when Alec called at five-fifty in the morning to suggest we both call in sick. He told me to look out the window.
            I pulled back the curtain to take in the beautiful scene that was fresh January snow.
            “We can head right to the slopes and check into the Inn after a day on the mountain.”
            It didn’t take any arm twisting on my part. I texted Clare and Andi so they’d could support my fib by not slipping up at the office. I raced through my morning prep routine and threw a few more things in my already overstuffed designer duffle and waited by the door for my prince charming to arrive.
            Not only was I in full ski gear when Alex’s luxury 4x4 pulled up to my condo, but in full make up too. No doubt I would be snapping selfies as soon as he popped the question.
            Maybe on the chairlift
            On the top of the mountain, or halfway down a trail?
            By the fire at apre-ski?
            After a romantic dinner at the Inn?
            I let my mind wander as we made our way onto the highway, I must have been unconsciously smiling.
            “Wow, you’re perky for it still being dark outside.”
            “I’m just excited to get our weekend started early.”
            “Well, hang tight, it looks like traffic might be bad with the storm just ending.”
            And it was. At noon we found the furthest parking spot available at the mountain and had to wait another thirty minutes for a shuttle to arrive to take us to the lodge as they were running on off-peak times. By the time we purchased half day tickets, strapped, zipped, and clipped everything on, it was one in the afternoon. I was still holding my smile though and was determined not to let anything ruin the day.
            At the top of the mountain, just before setting off on our first run, Alec turned to me with a sad puppy dog look on his face and my heart skipped a beat.
            “I know this isn’t great timing, but I’m starving. Are you?”
            Of course I was, I only had a granola bar in the car because I didn’t anticipate the delay. I thought we would’ve made six runs my now and be heading back out for more after a monster lunch. My heart sank with his disappointing question, but my stomach growled.
            “Let’s stop at the mini-lodge halfway down,” I conceded.
            Lunch was great, the snow was great and dinner later was wonderful – just uneventful. Not that our night time activities were normally boring, but I made sure to kick things up a notch that night and Alec seemed to notice. I figured it couldn’t hurt my chances at that point.
            Saturday started off looking promising.  After giant waffles we hit the slopes on the now well-groomed snow and had a fun and flirty day. We dared each other on hard trails, raced and tackled the moguls. I was certain it would be that night.
            “Someday we’ll be peeking in on the kids at ski-school,” Alec said casually as we took off our skis to head into the lodge for lunch.
            “I love to hear you talk like that,” I admitted.
            Alec, now free of his skis, hobbled over to me in his unbuckled boots and pulled me in close, “I love you, Bree,” and kissed me in front of everyone stowing their gear outside.
            “I love you too.” I took his hand in mine and we walked, or rather stomped, into the crowded cafeteria-style restaurant at the base lodge.
            We made an amazing eight more runs before calling it quits and deciding on a drink by the fire in the lively lodge before going back to the quaint Inn.
            “Just one,” I assured him. I didn’t want to be rushed getting ready for our dinner that night and hopefully the proposal.
            “I promise, just one.”
            Famous last words.
            Halfway through his dark beer and my Moscow-Mule we heard a familiar, blast from the past voice.
            “Alec! Bree!”
            A massive figure appeared from behind us and before I knew it I was locked with Alec in a double bear hug by one of his roommates from college.
            “How the hell have you been?
            “Great, Greg. What’s new?”
            Greg was a big guy, but in a baby Huey kind of way. He blushed deeply as he answered our question. “Well, let me introduce you to my fiancé, Courtney.” He pulled a skinny blond to his side and she held up her hand, ring side out.
            “A Christmas surprise. Thanks, Santa.” She kissed his cheek quickly and shook our hands and sweetly told us it was nice to meet us.
            I was instantly jealous, though I knew it was petty, and was prepared to not like this girl. We stood by the fire for a bit and asked all the usual questions: where and how long they were staying, if they skied that day and where they live now. After fifteen minutes I nudged Alec, hoping he would get the hint to announce we had to leave to make our dinner reservation. I still had to shower and get ready back at the Inn. Instead, he and Greg ordered another round of drinks and swooped in on four seats as two couples left.
            I made the best of it by asking Courtney all about the proposal and her plans. Without even knowing, I drank two more mules and at eight when they announced Karaoke would be starting soon, well, I was a goner. Alec must have called the restaurant and cancelled our reservation as soon as the microphone was in my hands. I remember singing a solo of Dancing Queen, a group version of Sweet Caroline and I think possibly a duet with Courtney that might have been Islands in the Stream.
            Needless to say I woke up sans ring and in no shape to ski. Sunday wasn’t originally planned as a for sure ski day anyway so I didn’t feel like I blew our plans. I slept in, Alec did work and we met Greg and Courtney for dinner. It was nice, period.
            Monday’s drive home was quiet. I blamed it on exhaustion from all the fun, but I felt like he knew. Frankly, I wanted him to know and hoped my silence spoke volumes.


            Andi was very understanding whenever I spoke about Alec, so I felt like I could confide in her that Tuesday back at the office.  She was supportive all week as I dealt with the disappointment.
            Knowing that I was dumping on her, I tried to help her in her own guy situation. The week before, she learned Cute Coffee Shop Guy’s name was Conner and I dared her to ask him to Alec’s upcoming Superbowl party. I thought about setting her up with our friend, Garrett, but she seemed smitten with Connor so I just tried to be as supportive as she had been to me. It was too bad actually; Garrett was pretty cute and really nice and intelligent, too. At least he could be back up if things didn’t work out with Connor.
            When Friday arrived, I went straight to Alec’s after work to prepare for Sunday’s party.  We ordered dinner in and created our shopping list for the next day.  Everyone said they were coming, but then I got a crazy text on Saturday from Garrett. Apparently it was his thirtieth birthday and his college buddies talked him into going to New Orleans for the actual game. I was kind of disappointed, I like a full house at our parties, but I guess we’d blown his birthday and had no grounds for grumbling.
            I made a seven layer dip and my famous killer brownies for the party. Everyone usually brought something, either an appetizer or drinks and we always ended up with a ton of great stuff. Everyone arrived around four in a fun mood. I got almost all to participate in my betting pool. I created a poster board chart and Josh taught us a new drinking game to play during the commercials. It sounded pretty easy and a sure way to get everyone drunk.
            “The guys will be animals,” Josh started to explain.
            “Obviously,” Maggie interrupted.
            “Right. And the girls will be babies. Each time a baby appears, you ladies drink. Whenever there’s an animal, it’s the guys’ turn.”
            Josh was in advertising and knew animals and babies were a sure thing in Superbowl ads. As expected, we were loud and feeling no pain by halftime.
            The party was a success. Everyone had fun, even Andi, even though she seemed a little disappointed at the beginning. I think she was hoping to have made more progress with Connor by that point and comfortable with inviting him to join us. Or maybe it was just nerves. She wasn’t used to all of us yet, but she relaxed and seemed to lighten up eventually.
            When everyone left and Alec and I were cleaning up, there was a moment.
            “Babe, can you grab that box over there for me?”
            A box, possibly the box? A box with a blue velvet cushion cradling a two carat stone?
            “Sure,” I skipped over to the counter where he had pointed and searched for a little box, which I didn’t see. “What does it look like?”
            “Oh, never mind. I left it in the bedroom.”
            He disappeared. My blood pressure soared. He returned holding a flat, rectangle box.
            “What do you think of this tie? Too loud?”
            My face fell. Something wasn’t loud enough for him I thought to myself.

            I knew I was overreacting, I really did, but couldn’t seem help it. Clearly I wasn’t good at hiding my feelings in front of my friends.
            “You’re sucking all the fun out of it. Don’t you want to be surprised?”
            “I don’t know, Abbie. Maybe I don’t. I just want it to happen, now.”
            “That’s obvious. I think you need to just let it happen though.”
            I shut up after that, for a little while at least. I could tell my friends were getting annoyed with me. How could they not be? I was getting annoyed with me.
            Still, Valentine’s Day was coming and a girl could hope. Couldn’t she?  The holiday became my new focus.
            Andi and Clare told me in no uncertain terms not to get my hopes up for a Valentine’s Day proposal. I thought they were just being sour grapes and basically told them to stick it and make their own plans.
            Then a strange thing happened. They listened to me. They both made their own plans for the Friday night holiday. After some soul searching, I got an idea to follow suit.
            Why did it have to Alec who had to do the proposing? It’s not like I’d be pulling a fast one on him if I were to do it. If I asked him, then I’d seal the deal and get to pick out my own ring. I was a genius. I just had to make my plan.
            That weekend while we sat on his comfy sectional, Alec reading through documents for work, me flipping the pages of a fashion magazine -I would’ve opted for a Bridal one but didn’t want to be too obvious – I set my plan in motion. At least I tried to.
            I tried to sound and look casual as I asked, “Honey, want me to make reservations for dinner on Valentine’s Day?”
            “Already taken care of,” Alec answered, surprising me.
            “Great, where?”
            “Not telling,” he smirked without looking up from his stack of papers on his lap.
            This wouldn’t work with my plan, I had to know the place.
            “Oh come on, I hate surprises.”
            He chuckled, “I know.”
            “Well, how fancy? What do I wear? You have to give me something to go on.”
            He looked up finally, “Um, I don’t know. Not jeans but not a formal gown. Does that help?”
            “Hardly. Is it quiet, loud, private or bar style?”
            “Enough questions. The witness may step down now.”
            Friday arrived with all the usual fanfare. There was excitement all day in the office to further fuel my anxiety. Flowers, balloons and tacky teddy bears were delivered throughout the day and chocolate kisses seemed to be everywhere. I wasn’t sad Alec had not sent anything to the office, I felt like we were beyond this point and on to bigger and better – or rather, smaller and shinier.
            I indulged in a few chocolates and skipped going out for lunch, opting for a yogurt at my desk so I could leave early. Andi, as a Director, didn’t have this leave-early option and was out to lunch when I stopped by her office to ask about her date that night with Connor.  Though I was disappointed she wasn’t there to chat with, I was glad she wasn’t there to witness my candy heart thievery.  She was always offering them, so I assumed it would be okay to take a few from the large bag on her desk. The first was a pink Cutie Pie, the next an orange Miss You and the rest I brought back to my cubicle. Once at my desk I discovered a green Purr-fect, a purple Hey Baby and finally the one I wouldn’t melt on my tongue but save in my blazer pocket – a blue 2-nite. It was exactly what I needed.
            That’s where the productivity for a Valentine’s Day Friday ended at the office. I had a lot more work to do at home to get everything Purr-fect for 2-nite.
            Even though I couldn’t picture the restaurant, and believe me I tried desperately to find out the name, I still knew how I was going to propose.  I was all ready to go except for the finishing touches on my hair and make-up when Andi called, freaking out.
            She was rethinking her date and I couldn’t let her do that or cause me to have any doubt at that point either. I tried to remain calm myself as I told her to do the same. I told her she could text me to rescue her if she really needed me, then prayed she wouldn’t need me as I undid my hot rollers.
            The restaurant was perfect, Alec did good. Trendy, but not tacky. Dark, but not depressing, and just loud enough.
            A bottle of Champagne was already cooling in a table-side stand when we were shown to our table. A waiter magically appeared, but Alec asked if he could do the honors. Suddenly I was nervous, and warm, wishing I hadn’t worn the burgundy velvet dress I had been saving for a special occasion.
            Alec handed me a glass of the cool bubbly and clinked his glass to mine across the table.
            “To our future,” He said with a little crack in his voice.
            “Forever,” I added.
            We both drained our glasses at once and said, “I have something to ask you,” at the same time. We laughed and Alec said, “Ladies, first.”
            “No, you go.”
            A smile spread across his face. “Same time?”  That’s when it hit me we were about to ask the same question.
            “On three,” I said and began the countdown.
            “One, two, three – will you marry me?” We burst out laughing, sprang from our chairs and hugged and kissed while clapping from the diners around us filled the air. We pulled apart and thanked those congratulating us and sat back down.
            The waiter appeared again and held the napkin wrapped champagne bottle at the ready to refill our glasses asking, “Well, did you both say yes?”
            “I forgot!”
            “So did I!”
            The waiter nodded at the affirmation and filled our glasses to the top and disappeared again.
            “I thought you wouldn’t expect it today, too cliché,” Alec explained.
            “And I thought you’d never expect me to ask you.”
            “You got me there.”
            “You got me too,” I said.

            Alec reached into his suit coat pocket and pulled out a box. A little box this time, not tie-sized. “I also got you this.”  He opened it to present me the perfect ring. It was perfect not because it was a princess cut set in platinum, but because the timing was right, for both of us.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Meet Author, Peggy Jaeger

Today I have Peggy Jaeger, author of 3 Wishes (A Candy Hearts Romance) here to let you in behind the scenes.
I loved this fun Valentine’s Day story and know you will as well.

Let’s meet Peggy-the-Writer:

1. What drives you to write?
 An inner voice constantly telling me I have something to say that someone wants to hear.
2. What genre(s) of Romance do your write, and why?
I write Contemporary romance exclusively because my menopausal brain can only remember the here and now!!

3. What genre(s) of Romance do you read, and why?
Regency. Reading about a time when people not only had manners, but used them, is heartwarming to me. Plus, there’s something so inherently sexy about a man with a title.

4. What’s your writing schedule? Do you write everyday?
Everyday. Everyday. 6-10 hrs from Monday-Friday and I try to squeeze in 3-6 on Saturday and Sunday. That’s not all at once, mind you. Life intervenes so I need to do other things during the day, but those are the totals I shoot for everyday.

5. Give us a glimpse of the surroundings where you write. Separate room? In the kitchen? At the dining room table?
I write in my finished attic loft, my desk overlooking the wooded property I own from a large window. I watch the seasons change and the birds come and go from that desk. Being so close to natural beauty is like manna for me.

6. Are you the kind of writer who needs total quiet to compose, or are you able to filter out the typical sounds of the day and use your tunnelvision?
Total and complete quiet. There’s a door to the attic that, when closed, everyone knows to steer clear from unless the apocalypse is descending upon us or arterial blood is spilling.

7. Do you listen to music while you write, and if so, what kind? If not, why not?
No music. If I did I’d listen to it, sing along, and then search for more. No work would ever get done.

8. How did you come up with the plotline/idea for your current WIP?
When the Wild Rose Press out a call for the Candy Hearts series, Chloe San Valentino and her family  popped fully formed into my head within  seconds. It took me only 2 weeks to write 3 WISHES and nothing was changed in the editing process, storyline-wise.

9. Which comes first for you – character or plot? And why?
Character always comes first  because once I see the person I want to write about I am able to construct a story for them. I have a little difficulty just pulling a storyline out of my a--, uh, imagination, without first getting a good mental picture of my hero/heroine.

10. What 3 words describes you, the writer?
 Quick, determined, focused.

How about Peggy-the-person?

  1. Tell us one unusual thing about yourself – not related to writing!
My left eye is significantly smaller than my right due to numerous ocular surgeries.

  1. Who was your first love and what age were you?
Roddy McDowell and I was 11

  1. If you could relive one day, which one would it be? Think GROUNDHOG DAY, the movie for this one – you’ll have to live it over and over and….
The day my daughter won the N H state spelling bee and we knew we were heading to nationals in Washington, D..C

  1. Do you like a guy in boxers, briefs, or commando?
 Boxers, everytime.

  1. If you had to give up one necessary-can’t-live-without-it beauty item, what would it be?
Lip stick.

  1. What three words describes you, the person?
Tortured, anxious, shy
  1. If you could sing a song with Jimmy Fallon, what would it be?
All About the Bass by Megan Trainor.

  1. If you could hang out with any literary character from any book penned at any time line, who would it by, why, and what would you do together?
Lizzy Bennett from Pride and Prejudice.  I’d want to know if she really married Darcy for love, or if she married him because she loved Pemberely.

Now, kudos to Peggy for this bonus round - her version of The Actor’s Studio  questions:

  1. Favorite sound: the spring rain against the skylights in my attic when I am writing.
  2. Least favorite sound : Poverty
  3. Best song every written : Secret Agent Man by Jonny Rivers.
  4. Worst song ever written : Don’t Worry, Be happy ( it’s soooooooooo annoying!)
  5. Favorite actor and actress: Kevin Spacey/ Dianne Lane
  6. Who would you want to be for 1 day and why? ( It can be anyone living or dead) Nora Roberts. I’d like to feel what it’s like to be such a loved  and respected author!
  7. What turns you on? :Wit
  8. What turns you off?: Condescension
  9. Give me the worst 5 words ever heard on a first date : “Is that your real hair?”
  10. What’s your version of a perfect day? Any day I can spend with my daughter and husband, without pagers going off or obligations that need to be fulfilled.

I assure you 3 Wishes is a fun and sweet a read as Peggy. Be sure to check it out!

Valentine’s Day is chocolatier Chloe San Valentino’s favorite day of the year. Not only is it the busiest day in her candy shop, Caramelle de Chloe, but it’s also her birthday. Chloe’s got a birthday wish list for the perfect man she pulls out every year: he’d fall in love with her in a heartbeat, he’d be someone who cares about people, and he’d have one blue eye and one green eye, just like her. So far, Chloe’s fantasy man hasn’t materialized, despite the matchmaking efforts of her big, close-knit Italian family. But this year for her big 3-0 birthday, she just might get her three wishes.


            At about five minutes of ten I was almost ready to turn the Closed sign on the door when it opened. I heard Janie’s breath hitch and turned from where I was sweeping up. Staying open late is always a risk, with the thought thieves will invade at the end of the day.
            If the guy standing at the door glancing around the shop was a thief, then Dio mio, I wanted to be robbed.
            About six foot, his hair was the color of a deer’s pelt, with autumnal golds and browns shot together in a glorious patchwork that grazed the collar of his jacket and curled a little at the ends. He wore a faded brown bomber jacket over a shirt I couldn’t see, but he had shoulders almost as wide as my doorway. A pair of well-worn jeans covered his mile long legs, and the fabric on the stress points at his knees was practically white.
            “We’re about to close,” I heard myself say. “Can I help you?”
            It was at that moment he looked over at me.
            His face could have been sculpted by Da Vinci or Michelangelo. A broad, smooth, forehead housed naturally arched eyebrows I knew some of my gay guy friends would have paid a fortune to have on their own faces. His cheeks were carved from marble, high, smooth and deep. And his mouth, mother-of-God, his mouth. Full, thick beautiful lips sat perfectly over a chin with a dent you could shove a button into and have it stay put.
            “Sorry,” he said, those fabulous lips pulling up a little shyly at the corners. “I got stuck at work and couldn’t get here until now. I’ll be quick. Promise.”
            So here’s the thing: the guy was gorgeous. But even if he’d looked like a frog with raw antipasto smothering his face, I would have dropped to my knees when he opened his mouth. Warm honey, a shot of raw whiskey, and a little hot puff of smoke wafted from his mouth like a fine and rare brandy being decanted.
Buy Links:  Amazon   Wild Rose Press

Author Bio:

Peggy Jaeger is a contemporary romance author who writes about strong women, the families who support them, and the men who can't live without them. 

Her current titles, available now, include SKATER'S WALTZ and THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME, and FIRST IMPRESSIONS books 1 through 3 in her 6-book The MacQuire Women Series, published by The Wild Rose Press.

Peggy holds a master's degree in Nursing Administration and first found publication with several articles she authored on Alzheimer's Disease during her time running an Alzheimer's in-patient care unit during the 1990s. 

A lifelong and avid romance reader and writer, she is a member of RWA and her local New Hampshire RWA Chapter.

You can find Peggy here: