Revenge is Sometimes Fishy – A Relic Hunter Short Story

This story takes place after Destructive Magic (Relic Hunter Book 2)

We popped out of my living room and into the French Quarter in New Orleans.

“You’re bringing me back here?  Didn’t I embarrass myself enough in this town?”  I laughed.  

Coyote slid his eyes down the cream colored dress he’d bought for me after he dragged me from the swamp.  I felt myself flush.  The dress was silky, cut to skim over my curves without being overly provocative.  With the flat gold toned sandals it could go from strolling along Bourbon Street to an elegant restaurant easily.  My whole ensemble was a huge improvement over my last magical arrival in The Big Easy. That time had been an ungraceful, undignified, and panicked entrance consisting of choking on swamp water, while trying to haul myself from the filthy bayou, spewing profanity and prayers to every god I knew of.  Coyote had been the one to haul me out of the swamp, and he found the whole thing hilarious.

His dark amber eyes lit with amusement.  “Since you were nearly eaten by alligators when you last arrived in town, I thought you might want your revenge.”  He said, holding out his arm.  

“I am not eating alligator.”  I said, looping my own arm through his and listening to the music that rolled out of the bars.  Other people strolled by, the humid air swirled around us carrying the scents of cheap and expensive perfumes, beignets, and alcohol.  

Coyote wore a blue dress shirt with the sleeves rolled up.  The light color of the shirt brought out the bronze tones of his Native American skin.  My own skin looked pink and pale next to his.  He steered me through the crowds and I realized that I hadn’t had a night out among people in a very long time.

“I suspected as much.”  He said, leaning down and speaking just loudly enough to be heard over the conversations that rolled around us.  

“Don’t do that.” I said out loud, objecting to his reading my thoughts.

“So then stop me.”  He said, laughter in his dark amber eyes.

I rolled my eyes and smoothed down a strand of my copper colored hair.  “I keep forgetting you like to eavesdrop on my private thoughts.”  

“Oh, my little witch.  There’s so much for you to learn.”  He laughed again and steered me into an old building with dim lighting and crowded tables. “Especially when I consider all of the interesting details I pick up from your mind when you don’t think I’m listening.”  

I had to laugh.  He was right, I’d given him far too much information already so I contemplated other things to distract him.  I thought of him riding in the beat up rental car with his head hanging out the window and that blissful look on his face.  I thought of him standing on the back porch of the broken down trailer in the bayou leaning against the railing with that indolent sexy smile while I electrocuted myself on a rusted chain link fence.

“In my defence, I did not expect you to charge up the fence like that.  You really should be more careful but I believe I warned you once before about terrible consequences.”  

“You spelled that dog to be vicious.”  I complained.

“I did no such thing.  That dog had territorial issues.”  He said, sliding his hand across my lower back as the hostess came over.  Even her professional demeanor couldn’t cover the appraising glance she gave him.  He was really quite beautiful, if one could get past the arrogant swagger and his tendency to amuse himself at my expense.

“Now that is NOT fair.”  He said, aghast.

Now she thinks you’re crazy because you’re talking to yourself, I thought and grinned.  He looked from me to the hostess and realized her expression had indeed changed from a little dazzled by his beauty to completely perplexed by his outburst.  He smiled at her in that roguish way that he’d perfected and she quickly returned to dazzled, as most women would.  I sighed with disappointment because I’d hoped for better from her.  The hostess snapped her eyes to me as if surprised she hadn’t noticed me earlier.

“It appears you are trying to undermine my natural charm.  Perhaps I should not take you out in public.”  He whispered as she showed us to a corner table.  

“Did you expect me to wear this dress to have dinner with someone else?” I asked, innocently.  I  kept a neutral expression on my face.

Coyote appeared to contemplate the question for a few seconds longer than I found comfortable before he dropped his eyes to the table and shook his head.  “This will no doubt get me into trouble, but no, I did not.”

“How come everytime you’re with me you talk about getting into trouble.  Like I am the one leading you astray.  From this side of the table, it seems you have always been the one to throw me into the deep end of the pool because watching me flail around amuses you.”  

A waiter in a white shirt and bow-tie approached our table and held out a wine list.  

“I was thinking tequila.”  Coyote said, propping his elbow on the table and resting his chin in his palm.  “It seems much more celebratory than just wine.”  

“I hear it leads to trouble.”  I warned.

“Let’s find out.”  He held up two fingers and the waiter hurried off.  

“So did you save the world, my little witch?”  Coyote asked, leaning back in his chair and playing idly with the salt shaker.  

“I suppose.”  I replied.

“And was it dangerous?”

“I was up against a crazy Bokor who knew some serious Voudoun.  And your friend, Madame Couvalier isn’t exactly a den mother…so yeah, it was dangerous.  Like you knew it would be.”  

“And yet here we are.”  He grinned.  “Do you suppose that means you are more dangerous.”  

I barked out a laugh.  “Oh, let’s not get carried away.”  

The waiter put two shots of tequila on the table with a little tray of lime wedges.  Coyote picked my hand up by the wrist and rotated it in his so my thumb was on top.  His other hand grasped the salt shaker and he shook salt onto the soft fleshy part of my hand between my knuckle and thumb.  I pulled my hand toward me but he held onto it firmly.  He replaced the shaker and picked up the shot glass.  He lifted my hand up, licked the salt off, downed the shot, replaced the glass, and bit the lime wedge in one smooth motion without ever breaking eye contact with me.

I swallowed loudly and closed my eyes as the intended heat slid through me.  Then, I dropped my head forward and burst out laughing.  “Only you would do that.”

“Was it inappropriate?”  He asked, feigning contrition.

I grabbed the salt shaker and repeated the production, licking my own hand.  As I tossed the lime wedge down on the plate I fixed him in a solid glare.  “There will be no licking my hand, my cheek, or anything else.  You said dinner.”  I almost added ‘and this is not a date’, but upon considering it, decided I didn’t want to add that qualifier at all.

“I am somewhat disappointed.”  He said, grinning at me.  

If we were being honest, so was I, but I’d examine that later.  

“I can wait until desert if it means that much to you.  Beyond that, I can’t promise to contain myself.”  Coyote said, lifting his shoulder in a casual manner.

I gave him my best aggravated look.  “You always play these games with me.”  I said, rolling my eyes at him.  “Can’t we just have a nice civilized evening?”  

The waiter returned with two more shot glasses and a long white plate with crispy fried nuggets of some sort.  “It’s so much more fun to be uncivilized.  For instance…watch that man at the bar in the gray t-shirt.  The one that he outgrew five years ago.”  

I followed Coyote’s glance and saw the man he meant.  “Don’t do anything to him.” I pleaded.

“Arienne, I’m shocked you think I’d do something bad.  That man is lonely.  He’s here with his friends, but there is a deep, soul-killing loneliness that is slowly driving him crazy.  Now look at that pretty blond at the other end of the bar.  She is bubbly and so filled with life that every man here has noticed her.”  Coyote looked at me, “Every man except me of course.”

“Mainly because you’re not merely a man, right?”  

“The nice part is that you meant that as a slur, but it is true.  I am so much more than that.”  

I nodded.  “I know.  I can hardly believe my good fortune to be honored with your greatness.”  I drawled.

He laughed.  “As I was saying.  What if that bubbly tid-bit of joy were to walk over to our lonely friend and strike up a conversation?  What if they fell in love and lived happily ever after?”  

“What if?”  I said, trying to puzzle out where he was going with his little scenario.  

“Let’s find out.”  Coyote moved his chair around so we were facing the bar and I watched the blond catch sight of the man in the gray shirt.  Her eyes seemed to linger on his face for a moment and she gave a shy smile.  The man looked behind him to see who she was smiling at and that one simple action had her picking up her drink and heading through the crowd to join him.  Coyote moved the plate of fried nuggets between us, took one and popped it into his mouth, chewing thoughtfully.  I did the same, finding the meat inside to be a little firm and a little fishy.  “That’s alligator, isn’t it?”  I said swallowing.

“Revenge is sometimes fishy.”  Coyote said, eating another one.  The flickering lights of the wall sconces caused the gold flecks in his eyes to dance as he gave me a challenging look.  He pushed the salt shaker closer to me and I took another one of the alligator nuggets instead.  

“Do you really think they’ll fall in love?”  I asked, watching the couple talk and laugh.

“I hope not.  His wife would kill him.”  He said.

I nearly choked on the alligator bite.  When I’d managed to swallow it without needing the Heimlich Maneuver, I laughed and looked at him with wide eyes.  “That was not nice.”

Coyote laughed and took the other shot of tequila, this time licking his own hand.  Again, I was a little disappointed, but I took the other shot myself, watching as the romance fizzled at the bar.  The blond took her drink back to her original seat and the man turned his attention to his friends.  “Looks like it didn’t work out.”  I said.

“That was the point.”  Coyote said, bumping his shoulder against mine.  “Sometimes I nudge things and nothing extraordinary happens.  Sometimes it does.”  

I thought about that and knew what he was getting at.  He did goad me into things, but I always charged ahead rather than doing the smart thing and walking away.  It really wasn’t his fault that I landed myself in so many messy situations.  

“I’m sorry.”  I said.  “You’re right, it isn’t because of you that I do the stupid things I do.”  

“No, but I’m sorry that sometimes you keep doing them because of me.”  He replied.  

I thought about that as the waiter came back.  Coyote waved him away.  “Let’s move on. We’ll see what else this city has to offer.”  He stood and dropped a crisp hundred on the table and steered me back into the humid and noisy street.  

We walked down the center of the road, surrounded by people.  I don’t normally like drunken crowds, but two shots of tequila had me feeling a little more relaxed than usual.  Coyote draped his arm around my shoulders and I sighed.  He was going to make this as challenging as possible.  Like always.  

I felt the tingle of Coyote’s magic against my skin and people moved out of our way so we weren’t crushed or jostled in the bacchanalian crowd.  Red plastic cups were the accessory of the evening and half-dressed young men and women danced to the music that filled the streets from the open doors of countless bars and restaurants.  Most people sported multiple strands of metallic colored beads that clicked and sparkled in the colorful lights as the wearer moved.  The city was vibrant and the pulse of energy was intoxicating, intensifying the effect of the two shots of tequila.  There was a sesuality to the steamy air that clung to me like a warm and provocative mist.  Coyote’s hand dropped to my hip and he gracefully moved behind me, placing me on his other side as we approached a cross street.  

We exited the large crowd and found ourselves surrounded by a somewhat more refined group of revelers.  His hand remained on my hip and I slid my eyes to him, noticing how carefully he kept his gaze straight ahead.  A faint smile lifted the corners of his mouth.   

“What are you up to?”  I asked.

“Just trying to enjoy our celebration of your latest success.”  He said.

Somehow I doubted the veracity of that innocent answer.  With Coyote, rushing wasn’t possible; he parceled out information as it was needed and wouldn’t be cajoled into disclosing his intentions before he was good and ready.  He steered me into an elegant restaurant with crystal chandeliers and cream colored carved crown mouldings that accented the high ceilings.  The walls were painted in an elegant sage green.  The hostess greeted Coyote like she was expecting him and we followed her to a corner booth.  I slid onto the dark red velvet seat and Coyote slid in beside me, bumping his leg against mine.

“Enough already.”  I groaned, shaking my head.  

He looked around the room.  “Nice, isn’t it?”  He asked, draping his arm around the back of the booth and settling in to look around.  

My eyes swept the room, taking in the people who were all well dressed, the white table cloths, and the murals of moss draped trees that adorned the four corners of the room.  The whole room was rendered in shades of deep red, sage green, and cream.  I stumbled on that thought, shaking my head at the possibility and returned to taking in the surroundings.  

There was sparkle and a murmuring hum that was soothing.  I looked again at the murals and the soft color palette realizing that I matched the room perfectly.  From my dark copper hair, to my sage green eyes that were the same color as the walls, and my cream dress, I looked like I had been put together to match the decor.

I felt the gentle shimmer of his magic and I narrowed my eyes as I looked at him.  “What are you up to?”  I asked.

Coyote sighed.  “I am not up to anything.  Can you please suspend your suspicion of me for a few hours and just enjoy the night?”

He was so incredibly handsome and his tone so sincere that I opened the menu and smiled.  “I can enjoy the night.”  I said, relaxing into the evening again.  I whispered, “I’m still waiting for something to blow up and mayhem to ensure…but I can enjoy it.”  

I heard his exasperation and it made me grin.  He drummed his long, elegant fingers on the table for a moment before he spoke again.  

“So tell me how you managed to solve the little problem of the Dominion.”  He said, sipping the wine that the waiter had brought to our table unbidden.  

I lifted my shoulder and considered the question.  “Luck.”  I laughed and told him the whole story of what happened after I’d returned to Boston.  He was attentive and laughed as I described some of the highlights that honestly, I found embarrassing.  

His laughter was pure joy;  there was never any venom and it never made me feel diminished.  In fact, I told him some of my more inept moments just to make him laugh because his delight brought out my own ability to see the humorous side of my plans going awry.  And Coyote when he is amused is magnificent.  In all the time I’d known him, he’d never made me feel inadequate or foolish, even though I was pretty sure the slap-stick nature of my exploits could be conceived as such.  He asked questions, pointed out other possible avenues I could have taken, and seemed genuinely interested in what I said.  

We spent a long time eating delicious and elegant food, swapping stories of magical mishaps and mayhem.  We talked about my former career as an archeologist and for once it didn’t feel painful to remember that my Ph.D. was now useless.  

Coyote confessed some of his own antics and I questioned him about some of the Native American legends about him, making sure to stick to the g-rated stories of the mythical trickster spirit rather than the more lurid legends.  He asked about my own first forays into using magic and about how I’d met Basir, my three pound owl companion who was my best friend.  

We laughed and talked like the good friends we’d become.  After a delicious dinner that had me wishing the light, crispy lobster puffs could be found in Boston, we exited the restaurant through the back door and walked through a lush courtyard.  My hand brushed against his accidentally and he caught it, running his thumb over the back of my hand affectionately. I was glad the light had faded to darkness because I was certain I blushed. 

Really good jazz music flowed out of a small club on the other side of the courtyard and Coyote dragged me inside the dimly lit establishment with a joyful smile on his face.  The band played with a cool sensuality while the singer’s bluesy voice glided over the notes.  The piano began the first strains of Misty Blue, one of my favorite songs.

Coyote pulled me to him on the dancefloor and slid his arm around my back.  I draped my hand on his shoulder and let him lead me through a slow, swaying dance that felt so natural until I remembered that I wasn’t much of a dancer.  I stumbled and he whispered a soft laugh.

“What happened?”  He asked, his golden brown eyes lit with amusement.

“I remembered I can’t dance.”  I admitted.

“Odd how you were doing fine until you ‘remembered’ that.”  He said, spinning me gracefully and catching me again, closer to him this time.  “How about you try to forget it again and we’ll see how you do?”  My body relaxed against him and we glided across the floor.  I felt free and uninhibited in his arms and I smiled at the way the other people seemed to watch us.  He leaned his cheek against my hair and I could feel his smile.  If he were anyone other than the mythical Coyote, I would have turned my face and kissed him.

The music changed to an Etta James song I couldn’t name and he swirled me around dramatically, guiding me through the steps with such grace that I wondered how much of my own lissome movement was actually being controlled by his magic.   We danced and drank good bourbon and breathed in the energy of NOLA until the early morning hours in that French Quarter jazz club.  When the club started to empty, we headed back to the raucous crowds on Bourbon Street, holding hands and talking about my new gardening business.  

I told him my plans for my little magically-enhanced venture, and about a few of the new charms I was experimenting with.  It was low-level earth magic, and it solidified me as an amateur witch.  One who’d just spent an amazing night in New Orleans with the dashing demi-god trickster Coyote spirit.  I laughed at myself thinking that the most romantic night I’d had in ages was clearly going nowhere.  I wrapped my arm around his arm and slid back into my normal awkward academic persona, forgetting the carefree and dangerous woman I’d been for the past few hours.  The minute I did that, the streets of the city vanished and we were standing on the porch of my barn in the Berkshires.

I sighed, sorry to see the night end.  I lifted my gaze to him and smiled brightly.  “That was so much fun.  Thank you.”  I was a little tipsy; enough so that I’d hoped he’d kiss me, but not enough that I took any initiative of my own.  

“It was.”  He said, smiling at me with that enticing grin that made my heart beat a little faster.  

I opened my mouth to say something, but without another word, he vanished.

I blinked and looked around before I burst out laughing.  “Damned dog!”  I called out, knowing he was listening.  I shook my head in self reproach.  I knew better than to have any sort of romantic designs on Coyote…he was fun and flirtatious and that was all he’d ever be for me.  That night, it had been enough.

I let myself back into my house and Basir flew from the rafters and landed on the kitchen island.  I ran my hands through his soft feathers and kissed his head.  He turned his beak toward me and pecked my cheek.  

“Thanks.  I needed that.”  I said, straightening up and sighing.  My goodnight kiss had come from an unexpected source, but at least I’d gotten one.  I let out a wistful groan.  Basir raised his wing and smacked me upside the head.  

I laughed.  I needed that smack to put things back in perspective.

Why killing one of my characters isn’t an option for me

I write fun fiction with characters I love. Sometimes I write those characters into seemingly impossible situations and even I don’t know how to get them out…like now. Dr. Arienne Cerasola has been in a basement for five days now and I have no idea how to get her out, or even what she’s supposed to do in that basement.

I’m tired of being stuck there. In my mind, Arienne and I are staring at each other expectantly, each one of us waiting for the other to make a move. I have options – like take her out of the basement, or never put her in there to begin with – but I really like the basement…but it’s getting a little old. In order to jump start this novel again, I went hunting for plot twists and came across the idea to “kill one of my main characters”.

I will never, ever do that. Ever.

I know, they’re fictional, and I know I could easily kill one of them off…but I feel like that would be betraying my readers. You see, I write FUN fiction. I want to give readers a wild and fun ride, but I want them to always trust that I will bring them back home in the end without a scratch. Killing someone they like would betray that. I’ve felt betrayed every time it was done to me.

There are a few characters that other authors have killed on me, and I don’t think I’ve really forgiven them. I remember being young and reading Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH…and nearly having a breakdown when the book ended and that was only because the author HINTED at something.

I’ve had the same reaction every time an author kills a character that I love. I keep reading the book because I hope they’re really not dead, but I am generally disappointed. (I’d like you all to note how carefully I’m avoiding naming the characters so I don’t have to put a spoiler alert on this post…but you probably have your own list). My relationship with an author who kills a character I love is forever changed because I don’t really trust them after that.

There’s one author in particular whom I usually love, but I started her latest book and she brought up the character I still haven’t forgiven her for killing several books ago. I have to admit, I read one page after she mentioned the death of the character I loved and I haven’t gone back to the book because honestly, I’m still a little mad about that. Just the mention of his name reminds me that she betrayed me…because I know she didn’t have to kill him. The decision seemed lazy and disloyal.

Even with the betrayal issue aside, I also know life is hard enough. I’ve lost people; we have all have lost people. In this pandemic, we stand to lose more. I won’t add to to body count by killing one of my fictional friends.

I’m not saying that killing a character is always a bad thing, I’m just not the author that does that. I’ve seen the death of a character move the story forward (J.K. Rowling, for instance, but note I said THE DEATH, I do not enjoy a complete massacre and I’m a little mad at her for a few of them). More often killing a character seems like a gratuitous death – like the author saying “see, there’s bad in the world…nobody’s safe.” Real life has taught me that well enough, thank you.

So I will continue to figure out how to get Arienne out of the basement – without offing one of her friends. I will continue to keep my stories light and fun. I like an emotional ride, but I’d much rather write books that make you laugh than cry.

So be warned…things may look dire at times, but I promise I will not kill our darlings.

Life’s hard enough.

Kindle Countdown Deal

Right after publishing The Last 6 Weeks of Summer I started to feel guilty. The last time I saw Arienne Cerasola, Evan, and Coyote they had just returned to the summer residence of the Queen of the Southern Tier Fae. I’ve left them standing on the door step of that house long enough, so I’m now writing Legendary Magic – the fourth book in the Relic Hunter series.

So if you need to catch up, you can pick up the first two in the series for 99 cents today. Just click on the images below and you’ll go to Amazon.com.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B007NO85J4

I just reread all of the books in the series (because I needed a refresher on some of the finer points) and I’ll post what that experience was like in a few days. Writing in a series is fun, because I get to go back and visit old friends. I have loved spending time with Arienne again, and I’m sending her on a new adventure with a whole new outlook. I really hope you’ll join me.

I write fun fiction with smart dialogue. I like those awkward moments in life when you’re sure everything is going to be so awesome and you’re super confident and then you trip over your own two feet and have to carry on anyway. I’ve missed looking at life that way.

I know it’s not always easy to pick yourself back up and just carry on. Those little demons that whisper that you’re not really as good as you think you are can get really pushy sometimes and it’s nice when you realize you really ARE that good – that the demons just talk smack because they can. That’s their JOB. YOUR job is to get up, pick the pine needles out of your teeth and move on doing exactly what you were meant to do.

How I spent my Summer Vacation

I’ve really been busy during the pandemic. Honest. But I took a week off to go to a vacation spot I’ve been thinking about for a few years now. It’s a tiny coastal village in Massachusetts called Mulligan’s Cove. The people are so friendly and it’s the perfect place for me to put myself in a great mood – even when the whole world is going crazy.

Mulligan’s Cove is really a romantic spot, filled with rocky beaches, stretches of sand dunes, and a harbor. I even have a map that shows all of the places I love to visit. I go there to see friends, catch up on their lives, and lose my own problems and worries for a few days.

And all without leaving my office.

So I know most of you read my Urban Fantasy books, but I’m changing it up right now because I’ve been in Mulligan’s Cove for a while and I decided to just stay there and see what’s going on. This is the perfect time to escape and have a little summer romance out by the ocean.

For your first adventure, I’d like to introduce you to Collin Landry, a local celebrity chef who grew up in Mulligan’s Cove. Everything is going really well for him. His friends are fun and he taking a break from the whole globe-trotting chef scene to guest-chef in the fabulous Harborside restaurant in Mulligan’s Cove.

I think you’ll really love Collin (I do), and when Hollywood Defector Angeline Kent shows up in Mulligan’s Cove, things in the kitchen at Harborside come to a slow simmer that’s going to really be a perfect escape from all of the craziness we’re living in.

So I’d like you to buy your ticket for Wednesday, and spend a while in this beautiful seaside town with me. You know you want to come to the beach and hang out. So let’s make this a memorable summer!

Is this really just seasonal allergies?

I bet I’m not the only one who coughed or sneezed in the past week and thought “Oh no!” I’ve put my forearm to my forehead to check my own temperature. I’ve taken my fair share of deep breaths, just to make sure my lungs are clear. I wonder if that slight headache is due to allergies, eyestrain from being on my computer, or if it’s the first sign of Coronavirus.

I might have tendencies toward hypochondria – there have been a few times when someone told me – after I’d spent a lot of time in close contact with them – that they had just gotten over the “stomach bug”. The next time I ate something, I’d focus in on my own G.I. tract to make sure there were no indications of nausea. But this is different because nausea is unpleasant but Coronavirus can be deadly.

Unfortunately, the pandemic is hitting at the same time that the dead wet leaves from last fall are starting to mold. My allergies are kicking in as a result. My eyes itch and burn, there’s a slight pressure to my sinuses. I know it’s just allergies, but to be on the safe side…

I’m not going near people. I’m staying home – as strongly suggested by the government – because I’m not so self-centered that the thought of infecting someone wouldn’t bother me. Should this not be allergies (which I’m pretty certain it is because I don’t have a lot of contact with people to begin with), I don’t want to pass it on to someone else. Hell – even if I have the common cold and pass that on to someone, their immune system will be impacted and this is a time when none of us can afford a compromised immune system.

So I won’t be at the grocery store for unnecessary items. I won’t go to the post office to chat. I’m not visiting friends or relatives. I’m certainly not going anywhere near a hospital or doctor’s office. I’m staying home and I wish everyone else would as well.

There are nurses and doctors fighting this virus who need to stay as healthy as possible. There are people with underlying health conditions who could die from this. It’s not worth the risk.

Day 2: Is enough really enough?

So today is the day I really settle in to this self-imposed isolation. I have done what I could to prepare for this. I’ve started to take an inventory of everything I have on hand (and discovered an odd obsession I have with soap) and yes, I have decided I really do possess enough toilet paper to last me a month.

It strikes me as a wondrous thing that of all the items people were worried about, toilet paper became the number one obsession. Honestly, I would have never given that a second thought. I was more concerned that I didn’t have three bags of Doritos and my stash of Reese’s Peanut Cups were lower than I would like. Perhaps I’m just a hedonist – screw the basics of human comfort and sanitation, I just want my snack supply to be secure.

I did not make a panic run to the store. In fact, I haven’t seen the inside of a grocery store in about two weeks. I stocked up the best I could (mainly on dog food) and figured as long as I have a few boxes of pasta and some cheese, I’m pretty much good to go. I’m fortunate in the fact that I’ve never been food insecure – but it makes me incredibly sad that others are not so lucky. So this will be a true test of our ability as Americans (and as Humans) to look out for the less fortunate among us.

Have you heard about the Eight Oaks Distillery in Rural Pennsylvania? (Here’s a link to their site: https://eightoaksdistillery.com/). They saw a need for hand sanitizer and set about creating a way to produce and distribute it to those in need. It’s pivots like this that will make us come out of the crisis stronger. They’re not the only company using this time to make a difference – education sites are opening up their resources for free to help the nation cope with school closures (another link to a great site: https://kidsactivitiesblog.com/135609/list-of-education-companies-offering-free-subscriptions/). So maybe this crisis has a chance to move us all toward a more collaborative society – one where those who have something can help those in need.

I guess we’ll find out in a few months if we’re evolved enough as humans to do this gracefully and compassionately. I think we are, but the fact that everyone seems to be out of toilet paper does put a dent in my optimism.

Never before have I worried about this…

My first day of Social Distancing

I admit it, the thought of social distancing appeals to me.  I’m not very social to begin with.  My idea of a perfect day is really being alone in my house with my dog and having the freedom to bang out a few chapters of my next novel or work on my graphic design projects.  The thought of not seeing people for a few weeks (months?) really doesn’t cause me any anxiety or sadness.  I know I’m probably in the minority with this, but I’m a true introvert, and being an only child prepared me well for times like these.

With that being said, I also know that at some point I’m likely to find myself stretched out on my couch binge watching some series or another.  In fact, last summer I devoted weeks to the entire Boston Legal series and I loved every moment of that.  In this current situation, though, the mere thought of engaging in slothful behavior causes me to feel a flutter of anxiety.  That could be because last summer binge watching was a luxury that I chose while totally in control of my life and secure in the knowledge nothing big was looming outside my door.

Times are different now.  Oh, how they’re different!  There’s economic chaos on a Global scale.  People are in real danger of hunger and homelessness.  At best, we will feel some minor discomfort from this.  At worst, we face loss, grief, and horrible sickness possibly of ourselves or our loved ones.  Yeah, binge watching isn’t on my calendar today.

I rolled out of bed at 5 a.m., made myself tea, told my dog that this was our “new reality” – and turned on the news for about an hour.  When I had taken all I could of the calamity that’s now our daily experience, I set about being productive.  I cleaned my kitchen.  I did two loads of laundry.  I changed my sheets.  I checked in at my office – via email – and did a few small projects that I had kept for this morning just so I could feel some sense of normalcy.

Then I sat down to write this post and after three different opening sentences realized that my need for productivity comes from a complete loss of control over my life.  I’m not unhappy being here with the dog.  I love having the flexibility to telecommute.  I feel very fortunate that I’m not worried I’ll starve over the next month.  But even I – with my love of solitude – feel anxious that I can’t control any part of this situation.  All I can do is sit tight and count my blessings – and be productive in the hope that when this is over, I have done something to make my life – and those of others – a little less stressful.

Stay safe.  Practice Social Distancing.  Wash your hands.  And do whatever you can today to help yourself or someone you care about feel a little more in control in these crazy times.

I Finally went LIVE with my new blog!

The New Blog is LIVE!

I’ve been back at my writing desk for a few weeks now, working on some new projects and finishing up some old ones.  The new blog is all about where I’ve been for four years – caring for my husband and my mother – and I said I’d share it as soon as I went live.  Not all of the posts are up yet, but more will be coming in the next few weeks.  They’re written and formatted, but I want to double check them one more time (part of being a control-freak writer, I guess).  In the meantime, you can check it out here.

 

Here’s what else I’m working on:

The 4th book in the Arienne Cerasola Series

A brand new series that has a lot to do with feathers (more on that later…)

A new romance series I started last year as my NaNoWriMo project.

I’ll be publishing snippets and teasers over the next few months so stay tuned and thanks for all of your support over the years.