Romance Writer’s Weekly #lovechatwrite

This week on the Romance Writer’s Weekly Blog Hop here’s our topic-What is the one thing that immediately sends you back to childhood? Is it a food, a scent, a swingset?

I had to think about this one. I have many varied, great memories of my childhood. Vacations with my family, Christmas mornings, participating in many outdoor activities with my brother and parents. When I saw “a scent” I immediately thought of the smell of burning leaves in the fall. My dad built a homemade fireplace at the rear of our back yard. In the summer he placed a grill in it and used it to cook hamburgers and hot dogs. We loved to roast marshmallows over the open flames. But the best of all was in the fall when we’d rake up all the leaves from our yard’s big trees, then we’d stuff the in the fireplace and light them. We’d stand around to keep warm in the cool, autumn evening air. The scent was heavenly 🙂 This was 60 years ago. Of course, today most cities have bans against outside burning of leaves. Here in Colorado where I reside, there is always a danger of wildfires, and no one is allowed to burn their leaves in their backyard. Still, that scent brings back memories of a happy, simpler time and of bonding with my family. Here’s a photo of Dad building the fireplace in 1954 with the help of my kitten, Pumpkin:

How about you? What brings you back to your childhood? After you’ve commented, hop over to Jenna Da Sie’s blog at https://jennadasie.com to hear her memories?

Romance Writer’s Weekly #lovechatwrite

This week on the Romance Writer’s Weekly Blog Hop here’s our topic-

What is your favorite game? Is it because you usually win or because it challenges you every time?

My family is big on playing games. As a kid I remember playing monopoly, scrabble, clue and many other board games. When my children were growing up, on top of the individual presents each Christmas, I also always bought a “family present” which was labeled under the tree to everyone. It was always a new game. We would spend much of Christmas afternoon trying it out. Some were great, and others not so much, but it was always entertaining. We continued this tradition well into their twenties. To answer the question, I think my favorite is Trivial Pursuit, and yes, it’s because I’m good at it and can almost always win. I’ll admit it-I like to win! A lot. My usual calm demeanor goes away when a game comes out, and I get very competitive. For some reason my brain has an infinite capacity to remember silly trivial facts. I have no idea why I can remember small insignificant things when half the time I cant remember why I walked into the kitchen or where I put my phone!

Anyway, I do enjoy a good game, especially with people who like to have fun and aren’t sore losers. There’s nothing worse than someone who gets mad when they lose. As competitive as I am, I always remember it’s just a game and am the first to congratulate someone else if they win. Let’s just hope it doesn’t happen often.

How about you? Do you like games and why? After you’ve commented, hop over to PG Forte at https://rhymeswithforeplay.blogspot.com/2022/04/romance-writers-weekly-whats-your.html to see what games she likes?

Want to check out one of her books?

Atlas Beach is experiencing a retail renaissance and CarlyMeyer is determined to be part of it. But she and her sandwich shop, The Lunch Box, are struggling to stay afloat. Luckily, help is on the way thanks to the Chamber of Commerce’s innovative mentoring program—partnering successful Atlas Beach business owners with some of the newer start-ups. Too bad the mentor assigned to her is the delectable—and highly annoying—Tino DiLuca.

The “wonder” of technology

So, my smartphone was starting to die a painful death as they all seem to do after a year or two theses days. We keep paying more and more for phones that last less and less time. I bit the bullet and ordered a new, latest model, which amazingly was delivered right to my front door less than 24 hours later. I was ecstatic, and paused my writing to activate my new phone. The postage stamp sized instructions that came with it said it would take around 15 minutes to activate the new one. It was lunchtime and I had 15 minutes to spare. I carefully turned on both phones, set them next to each other, followed the prompts and waited for the magic to happen. Little wheels turned, it looked like it was proceeding–then it stopped. I waited the 15 minutes, then 30 minutes, then an hour–nothing.

Meanwhile, the battery on my old phone died (the reason I needed a new phone) and the process came to a screeching halt. After plugging it back in, I tried again, same result. Okay, I must be doing something wrong, I needed help. Usually when my old, tecnologically challenged brain needs help, I reach out to some nice service representative to walk me through the process, but it was then I discovered that my old phone had been de-activated, but the new one had not been activated yet. Great. I felt like I was stranded on a desert island. In desperation, I turned to my computer and tried the “chat” option. I knew I would be talking to a bot somewhere, but I was hopeful. No such luck. Before they would address my problem, they said they needed to verify my identity. I typed in my user name and password and was then told I needed a verification number which they would text to me at my phone no. When I tired to explain that I didn’t currently have a working phone so they couldn’t text me, I got in an endless loop of standard responses like “would you like to buy a new phone?” and “Did you forgot your password?” I did what any rational person would do and resorted to tying my questions in ALL CAPS for effect. Of course, the bot didn’t care.

I wasted another hour, and finally decided, I’d have to get in my car and do this the old fashion way of driving somewhere to get help. I got in my car, pulled out of my garage, and grabbed my old phone to use goggle maps to find the nearest phone store. Of course, my phone didn’t work. Ran back in the house to my computer to search for a store and then tried to memorize the directions. How did we ever find our way before GPS? As I drove the 3 miles, through town to get to the store I have to admit I was a little nervous. I didn’t have a working phone with me. What if I had an accident or my car broke down? Those days when I was in college and I drove across the country with no phone, and many times in the middle of the night, were long forgotten.

Anyway, I made it to the store, only to be told that their activation system had been down all day. (It would have been nice to know that) At this point, I had no idea where my phone was in the process. No problem, said the girl (younger that my granddaughter) We can get your phone set up, so that when our system comes back up at approximately 6 pm tonight, you can activate your new phone. Two and a half hours later, after staring at the wheels turn round and round on the tiny screen, they told me to turn it off and then turn it on after 6 and it should activate. I drove home saying a tiny prayer that it worked. I’m happy to report that at 6:20, I had a new working phone 🙂 It had only taken 7 hours of my time to do so.

My point is, technology is great when it works. Not so great when it doesn’t. I wasted a day of time, but maybe gained a lesson in patience. It’s scary how much an old person like me is dependent on technology today. Maybe I should leave my phone at home more often, I used to be able to live without one. Who am I kidding? That’s not going to happen. but it was a nice thought. Hope your day was better than mine.

September is here!

I don’t know about you, but I am ready for cooler weather. When September arrives, my mind starts to think about autumn–cool crisp nights, sweaters, pumpkin spice lattes, and colorful leaves. If you live somewhere like me, and chances are you do, September doesn’t always signal a cool down. It’s still in the 90’s here, but we know that fall is coming. Fall is my favorite time of year. I love football and the beginning of the holiday seasons. I’m ready to decorate and have some hot chocolate.

To celebrate the fall season, I have a couple of book coming out next week on the 7th. First is the third book in my Peaktop Dude Ranch Series, Peaktop Dude Ranch Aflame. You wont’ want to miss this one and see what happens when a wildfire descends on Peakview County. Of course, there may be a romance with a handsome firefighter thrown in 🙂 You can pre-order it now at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09D46R31N

Also coming on September 7th is the latest Chicken Soup for the Soul book, My Hilarious, Heroic, Human Dog. You will find my dog, Merlin’s own story on page 164. https://bit.ly/37mBaTX

Enjoy the beginning of Autumn wherever you are and sit back with a good book!

FREE E-BOOK

I wanted to let all of you know that book three in my Aspen Ridge Series, Come Home to Love, is free for your kindle today through Sunday.

Do you like secret baby stories? If so, this book is for you. When a one night stand results in Riley becoming a single parent, she soon realizes that the handsome stranger has given her the best gift of her life. She’s spent the last six years being the best parent she can be to her daughter, Ava. When cowboy and drifter, Justin Thorne, ends up back in Aspen Ridge, Colorado, memories of that one night with a special girl come racing back. He hadn’t thought about her in years. But when his attempts to rekindle their sparks are met with resistance, he soon discovers the reason why in the person of a beautiful six year old with his eyes. Will he try to take away the only thing that matters to Riley, or will the three of them find a way to make a home and family together? Rediscover Romance in Aspen Ridge, Colorado, a small town with an open heart. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07T6B6M67

New Release-New Series

The first book in my Peaktop Dude Ranch Series, Peaktop Dude Ranch Homecoming, is now available. To purchase your copy just click on the book cover (above).

I am so excited to write this series which takes place on a Colorado Dude Ranch. One of my earliest memories is of the summer when I was five years old. My parents loaded my brother and I into our car for our first cross-country roadtrip. There were no Interstates back then, so it took us several days to drive from our home in Indiana to the Colorado Mountains. When we arrived at Tarryall Dude Ranch, I loved everything about the place–the mountains, the cute little cabin we stayed in, and the horses–especially the horses. It was the first time I’d ever ridden except for a couple pony rides at fairs. This was a real, full size horse on a mountain trail with no one but me holding the reins. I still remember that horse. He was a black and white pinto named Little Joe. See picture below-yep, that’s me!

My whole family was sold on dude ranch vacations. We continued to vacation on a dude ranch every summer until I graduated from high school. We stayed on six different ranches in Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana. Each unique in their own way, but all with the family atmosphere and brand of western hospitality. When I was old enough, I spent three summers working on two different dude ranches in Colorado, Lost Valley Ranch and Tumbling River Ranch. They were experiences I’ll never forget. Later, my mom became a realtor and specialized in selling Dude Ranches. I was able to visit ranches with her all over the west. If you ever find yourself in Cody, Wyoming, you can stop by the Dude Rancher’s Museum where my mom’s saddle is displayed along with a portrait of her painted by a Native American artist.

As an adult, I continue to take my kids and now my grandkids to Lost Valley Ranch for weekends in the spring and fall. I call it my happy place. A place to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and enjoy the horseback riding and gorgeous mountain scenery. I hope Peaktop Dude Ranch can do that for you. It was born as a combination of all the various ranches I’ve experienced in my lifetime. For those of you who’ve read my Peakview or Aspen Ridge Series, Peaktop Ranch is nestled in the Peak National Forest between my two towns. You will see some of your favorite characters pop in from time to time. If you haven’t read any of my books yet, this is an excellent place to start.

COME HOME TO PEAKVEIW COUNTY, COLORADO, WHERE EVERYONE HAS A CHANCE AT LOVE!

2021 Word of the Year-Patience

Each year for the past few years. I’ve come up with a word for the year. Something to motivate me to move forward. This year my word is patience. If you’ve been anywhere on social media the past couple weeks, you’ve seen lots of posts celebrating the end of 2020. Of course, we all want 2020 to be over. It’s now hard to imagine that just a year ago living through a pandemic was something we read about in some science fiction novel. Now it’s become reality—a seemingly endless reality.

It’s been a hard year for me, a true optimist, glass is always half full, kind of gal. There hasn’t been much of that this year. So I am optimistic about the vaccine and getting back to “normal” sometime this coming year, but I know I still have to be patient. Even in the group I’m in, it’s likely to be another three to six months before I’ll be able to get the vaccine, then there’s the 3-4 weeks wait between two doses, and then another wait until the vaccine is effective. And then, although I’ll feel safer venturing out of my home, the general population won’t be vaccinated, so masks will still likely be a requirement. And when will big events start again? Right now, I’d consider selling my first-born child to go to a concert, football game, or just to church on Sundays.

I live alone and I miss people. I miss book signings and meeting my readers, and I’m so tired of zoom meetings. Oh, and I’m a hugger. I MISS HUGS!

So anyway, my word this year is patience. The optimist in me believes we will overcome this and return to normal life, hopefully with a little more appreciation for the little things than we had before the pandemic, but I know it’s still going to take a while and in the meantime we will all need to be patient. 2021 isn’t magically going to change anything, but we’ll get there.

Happy New Year. What’s your word for this year?

Wow! Where did the last six months go?

Today I came to this site to update my header to a fall scene (something I do about this time every year. What did I see? My last post was entitled “Spring?” and dated February 21st. I had no idea it had been that long since I posted! That was before most of us had even heard of coronavirus or Covid-19. If we had heard of it, it was something far, far away in China. It wouldn’t ever affect our lives here in the United States. If you read my last post, the heaviest thing on my mind was if the danger of frost was over so I could plant spring flowers. My, how our world had changed in the last six months! No matter where you fall on the political spectrum of all of this, I think we will all agree our lives have been changed in ways we never imagined. Quarantine, social distancing, mask mandates, schools closed, events cancelled–all concepts that were completely foreign to me six months ago, concepts that were completely foreign to me for the over sixty years I’ve been alive. And yet, here we are. Living day to day and trying to make the best decisions possible for ourselves, our loved ones, and all of society.

To say it’s been a wake-up call would be too simple. We’ve all had to examine our lives and what’s most important to us. Some things have fallen by the wayside, while others have become more important. Apparently, writing on this blog fell by the wayside for me. I’m not happy about that. I like to interact with all of you who read this, but it happened. Anyway, I’m back, still writing, and getting ready to make a long distance move back home. For the most part, my life has been thankfully untouched by all that is going on around me. My loved ones are all safe and healthy and learning to deal with our new normal. I try to make smart decisions each and every day. I hope all of you are doing the same.

I’d love to hear from you, if you want to leave a comment. Let me know how you’re doing. We’re all in this together. Much love to all.

SPRING?

Is it Spring yet? No matter where you reside, when we reach the end of February, you’re bond to hear this sentiment. If you live in the southern United States like I currently do, the answer is almost. In a couple more weeks it will be safe to plant without fear of frost. On my morning walk today, I saw yards filled with blooming daffodils, pansies, forsythia, and flowering trees. The azaleas are starting get their first blooms.

If, however, you live farther north, like my former home in Colorado, consistent warmer temperatures are still several months away. Although you may experience beautiful, warm March days, the next day you may get several feet of snow. The danger of frost stays until after Mother’s Day, regardless of the fact that the first day of spring is on the calendar in March.

Why do we look so forward to spring? Probably for many reasons. The days get longer, and the gloom of winter fades. Spring signals a new beginning, a time that reflects hope. A sign that no matter how dark our lives get, there will be a brighter tomorrow. There’s something so reassuring about watching tiny plants emerge from the recently frozen ground. Seeds that never gave up, but merely waited for their season. I love that!

It’s similar to the reason I write romances. I love the happy endings. Readers can pick up a romance novel and be assured that no matter how bad a situation may appear, that it will get better, the characters will fall in love, and they will have a happy ending. After all, isn’t that we all want for our lives?

So find hope in the anticipation of spring, whether it’s next week or next month or a ways down the road.

My latest novel, Climb up to Love,  was released last week. If you love stories of hope and new beginnings, get your copy now, and see how Sierra and Storm find a new beginning and overcome the darkness of their pasts. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B084BP9GW6

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