I’m Going to Prove You’re a Liar

Before I get to the post, please note at the bottom of the page, you can enter a giveaway for a chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card and a signed copy of The Love Project.

Now for my quest to prove Miranda MacLeod a liar.

While working with Miranda on The Love Project, I learned something new.

Well, I learned a few things, but for this post, I’m going to confine it to one thing.

My self-preservation skills are severely lacking.

Here’s how I arrived at this conclusion. (Yes, I’ve suspected this for quite some time, but sometimes it’s impossible to look the truth in the eyes.)

In The Love Project, Miranda mentioned a location in Central Massachusetts that I’d never heard of: Satan’s Kingdom.

When I first read it, I thought she was joking, and I called her on Skype to tell her that addition was particularly funny.

This is when she challenged my world view, and I started digging my hole.

She said it’s actually a place in Massachusetts. Being me, I said, “I don’t believe you!”

Okay, I get that someone whose initials are the same as an infectious disease really shouldn’t be casting stones when it comes to names, but remember, I have zero self-preservation instincts, and I always think I’m right, even though I’m usually wrong.

So, I dug in on my stance: Satan’s Kingdom did not exist. Period!

Miranda said in her bemused way when I’m being an ass about something she knows is absolutely true, “It is. I’ve been there.”

“Wait.” I perked up in my desk chair. “Are you telling me this is a place I can visit and get a T-shirt?”

Miranda said that while sadly, Satan did not run a giftshop, I could get a photo of myself by the sign.

I continued to dig and said I’d bet her a day at the spa that Satan’s Kingdom didn’t exist, because she was obviously lying to see how gullible I could be.

She readily took me up on the bet, which should have been a blaring red sign overhead, but I kept burrowing into my disbelief that “rational” adults named a place Satan’s Kingdom. More evidence I forced from my brain happened last summer when Miranda invited me to visit a vineyard in New Hampshire, and I told her the state didn’t have any. Turns out, I was wrong. Click here to read that story.

Last weekend, I convinced The Better Half to hop into a Zip car with me to seek out Satan’s Kingdom. She wasn’t excited about the destination, but going for drives is one of the few things we can still do during COVID-19 times, so she didn’t put up much of a fight.

I punched Satan’s Kingdom into our GPS, and lo and behold, it gave us directions. I wanted to keep up my positivity, but my hope of proving Miranda a liar started to dwindle before we pulled away from the curb. If you’re about to say I should have Googled this before making the bet, I’d really like to know where you were a few weeks ago when I needed you.

As it turns out, Satan’s Kingdom was kinda hard to find, which is ironic since people have been telling me, for as long as I can remember, that I’m going to hell.

We’ve been getting a lot of snow, and Satan’s Kingdom is on some back roads, making the drive a bit arduous at some points. Eventually, the GPS said we’d arrived, but I couldn’t find the sign, and now, I wanted a picture of me in front of the sign. If I was going to be wrong, I might as well be really wrong with photographic evidence. I have a very hard personality to pinpoint. Most of the time, it’s best for me not to delve into introspection, or I’d probably lose my mind.

I typed in Satan’s Kingdom sign in the GPS, and it gave us new directions.

The first attempt failed because the road was blocked by a wall of snow. This really brings into question that old saying that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, because apparently the last mile was unpaved and unplowable.

We turned around, and the GPS recalculated.

Ten minutes later and voilà! There was the sign.

The surroundings were much more pleasant than I thought possible for a place called Satan’s Kingdom.

So, Miranda, when the world goes back to normal, I owe you a day at the spa. Marking my calendar for 2022. Or maybe 2023…

In case you want to hear Miranda’s side of the story, click here.

 

GIVEAWAY

 

To celebrate the release of The Love Project, a slow-burn romance, Miranda MacLeod and I have put together a giveaway.

One lucky winner will receive a signed paperback copy of The Love Project and a $50 Amazon gift card. 

 

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That Time I Had an Obnoxious Neighbor

In The Setup, Rory shares a story about collecting discarded plants to build a plant wall on her deck to block out an annoying neighbor.

This is actually based on something that happened in my real life.

When I moved to Boston in 2006, our apartment had a massive deck, and we loved being outside. We’d get home from work and have a cocktail outside while we chatted about our days. On the weekends, we’d spend a significant amount of time on the deck.

Even our cat and dog loved it.

The only problem was one of our neighbors annoyed the hell out of everyone by complaining about everything. I didn’t smoke, but she always railed at me about those who flicked their cigarettes into the yard. Then, there was the trash problem, as in tenants who placed their trash by the dumpsters and not inside them. Don’t even get me started on the rat problem tied to the trash situation.

Not only did she complain to me every time she saw me, but I wasn’t guilty of any of the transgressions.

So, I built my damn plant wall to enjoy the deck in peace and quiet.

In 2011, while prepping for the move from Boston to London, I couldn’t off-load any of the plants onto friends, coworkers, or neighbors. Not one of them wanted a plant.

I didn’t know what to do. I’d rescued and taken care of the plants for years, and it was impossible to bring them with me.

The only other person in our building who had plants on her deck was the one person I couldn’t stand.

I had to make a decision. Let the plants die, or give them a second or third life since I’d already saved them to construct my wall.

So, the annoying neighbor got all of them.

Part of me wanted to tell her the origin story behind my plant wall, but I’m not actually a mean person. Not to someone’s face. Even if the woman had annoyed me for over five years, lecturing me about things other tenants did.

To make matters worse, she never even bothered to learn my name, even though I knew hers. She’d just say, “Neighbor who’s reading a book” to get my attention. For five, long years.

When I handed over the plants to her the day before the move, she asked me for my email address because she wanted to stay in touch in case she ever visited London, thinking she could stay at my place.

Did I mention this woman didn’t even know my name, but she wanted to sleep on my couch?

Being the idiot that I am, I gave her my real email address. I wasn’t even smart enough to change it just enough so she couldn’t actually contact me. It would have been so easy since my personal email address has a significant historical date no one seems to know, because I’m that type of nerdy history nut.

Anyhoo, I’m getting off track. This isn’t supposed to be a therapy session but show how I insert tidbits from my life into my stories.

Be careful, though. If you piss me off, you just might end up in a story. I’ll never confirm it to your face because I’m not mean, just a petty coward.

 

THE SETUP

Can a weekend change your fate?

As soon as Rory Price’s plane touches down in Britain for her two-year work contract , she has big plans to see and experience everything she can. The one thing that isn’t on the twenty-seven-year old’s agenda is a relationship.

Tell that to her matchmaking British friend who sets Rory up on a coffee date on her first full day in the new country.

Imogen Wright doesn’t want any more complications in her life. The only thing she’s considering committing to is adopting a dog.

Their blind date starts off disastrous, but there might be more than meets the eye.

Will the two headstrong women continue to clash, or will they see what’s so obvious to their matchmaking friend?


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Lady Grey Wishes You a Happy Valentine’s Day

Before I get to Lady Grey, I just wanted to mention, if you click on the image above, you’ll be taken to a page to download two free books. A Woman Complete, Book 7 in the Lizzie series, and Letters to Cupid, written by the fantastic Miranda MacLeod.

Okay, now back to Lady Grey wishing you a happy Valentine’s Day. I may be stretching the truth some, because she really wasn’t thrilled about today’s photo shoot. I may have lost some blood and I’ll have to sleep with both eyes open for the next couple of nights.

Here’s the best shot I could get and believe it or not, that is her happy face:

And, here are all the fails.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

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How Many Sausages Can I Cram into This?

During one of the scenes in A Woman Trapped, Lizzie has an Instacart misfire.

This incident was kinda based on one of my own ordering mishaps. Way back in another lifetime, early April 2020, I downloaded the Instacart app since my regular grocery delivery didn’t have any available slots for weeks.

If you receive my regular newsletter updates, you’ve probably read about my issues ordering things online. It’s never pretty.

The pandemic didn’t cure me of that.

Just like Lizzie, I was quite pleased when I completed the order, and I received the text that it had been received. Within seconds of getting the message, I realized I forgot to order tortilla chips, but I’d gotten an insane amount of salsa. What was I going to do with all the salsa? I needed chips.

There was only one way to fix this problem. Amend my order. So, I did.

The problem was, when I amended the order, I somehow duplicated it. I’m still not entirely sure why this happened, and I haven’t investigated how to prevent it. Now, when I place an order, I don’t amend it at all.

Unlike Lizzie, I don’t live in a house with an extra refrigerator in the basement. When all my food arrived, I had to get quite creative about where to cram everything in the freezer. The dry goods were easier to manage since I have a walk-in pantry, but it still filled up.

Fortunately, I only duplicated one order.

For the rest of the spring and summer, I didn’t have to worry about food at all. And, I got a funny scene for a Lizzie book. As the Better Half just said this morning, every day there’s a possibility for a major mishap you can chuck into a Lizzie story.

I’d like to think I have more finesse than chucking in something, but I couldn’t argue with her point.

A WOMAN TRAPPED: BOOK 8

Lizzie Petrie doesn’t know how to handle life in the best of times.

When COVID-19 strikes, flipping her entire world upside down, she deals with it in true disastrous Lizzie fashion.

Unbeknownst to Lizzie, her wife invites family to move into their home for the lockdown, making it difficult for Lizzie to find breathing room and to give her brain space to put the pandemic into terms she can understand.

Unfortunately, COVID isn’t the only life-altering situation Lizzie is grappling with.

As she begins to question everything about her life, Lizzie tries to keep her feelings bottled up.

Will being trapped with her family and thoughts break her, or is this the start of a new adventure?

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Are Mohawks Back In Style?

I have terrible hair. It’s super thin and dull brown, although gray is quickly overtaking the brown strands.

I’ve never been able to style my hair the way I want it. Even professionals have tossed their hands up in defeat. Hair model has never been in the cards, and sadly, the older I get, the less likely I’ll have a good hair day ever.

A lot of the time, I don’t even look in the mirror to see what my hair is doing. On many occasions, the Better Half has kindly suggested I put on a hat, knowing whatever disaster is happening on my crown is unfixable.

Sometimes the disasters provide comedy, such as this do:

I mean, how can you not laugh at that?

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The Long Stare

One of the things I love about cats is their attitude.

No one can throw shade as well as a cat. I mean the Better Half does a decent job when she notices another gnome (to understand this, click here to learn about my new hobby), but she needs a lot more practice to master the feline death stare.

If there was a hands-down winner in shade throwing, it’d be Lady Grey, my recently adopted cat.

It’s hard to capture her disdain in a photo, but trust me; when she gives me a certain look, I know she’s saying: I want to speak to your manager on the off chance she doesn’t already know you’re the biggest moron (please don’t tell Lady Grey I spelled this wrong 3 times before spellcheck was able to figure it out) on the planet.

Let’s just say we have an agreement. I do what she wants, and she lets me live, but there are moments I think she’s trying to figure out what spices she’ll use to marinate my body. Will she even wait until my body is cold, or will that ruin the flavor?

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I’ve Picked Up an Odd Hobby During COVID

So, I have a confession. 2020 has done it’s best to stamp out any hint of happiness in my life, and it’s almost been successful.

But I’ve been doing my best to fight the darkness by shrouding myself in silly cartoon shirts and watching a ridiculous amount of Disney movies, considering I’m a middle-aged woman, not a child.

However, I’ve found an odd source of even more happiness.

Gnomes.

I should say I know nothing about gnomes. I mean, they could be mythical creatures set out to destroy the earth. That would fit into the whole 2020 theme, and I could be unwittingly contributing to that factor.

Putting this thought aside, I can honestly say, gnomes make me smile. It started with me purchasing one and putting it on the windowsill in my front room, right next to where I sit each night to read and watch telly.

Then I got another one, because I hate for anything to be lonely.

Soon enough, I had a collection.

Then Miranda MacLeod told me she’d gone to Tower Hill, a botanical garden in Central Mass, because they had 300 gnomes hidden in the garden.

300!

As soon as she told me, I knew I would have to go, so I brought it up to the Better Half, who it should be noted has been tolerating my new collection with the same restraint she’s tolerated all my other whimsy during our time together. “Oh, there’s a new gnome on the windowsill.” That’s the extent of her excitement. Or possibly it’s a reprimand. I’m not good at listening to things I don’t want to hear.

However, we’ve been cooped up a lot this year, so she didn’t put up too much of a battle when I said I wanted to go gnome hunting. And, when I wore my Hangin with my Gnomies Xmas sweater, she only gave me an eye roll.

While I didn’t find all 300, because I can’t count higher than twenty, it still was a great day out. Below, you’ll find some photos.

I have no idea what 2021 will bring, but the gnomes in my home are here to stay. They’re gnome-tastic!

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Her Name is What, and How is it Spelled?

There are two facts you should know about me:

  • I have atrocious spelling skills. (This sequence of words took a few attempts before spellcheck could figure out what I was trying to write.)
  • I’m really bad with names.

These two qualities caused me nothing but problems with Dagny, one of the leading characters in my latest, Kismet.

You might be wondering why?

When I was a kid, I loved Scooby-Doo. Hands down the best show. Inspector Gadget is a close second, but Scooby-Doo rocks.

When I was coming up with names for the characters in Kismet, I kept thinking of one of the characters: Daphne.

But I wasn’t entirely sure of her name, and for many years I convinced myself it was Dagny. I have no idea why. Basically, Dagny should really be called Daphne, but by the time I figured out it was wrong, it was way too late in the writing game to alter it without it becoming a bloody nightmare.

You might be wondering how I finally figured this out. I was Skyping with Miranda MacLeod when I hit a difficult plot point. As I was explaining where I was stuck, we got onto Dagny’s name, and I tossed out, “What can I say? I’m that much of a Scooby-Doo fan.”

Now, Miranda is used to my idiocy, but even this stumped her, and I explained, “You know. Not the smart chick but the other one in the show.”

That’s when the lightbulb went off over Miranda’s head, and she said, “You mean Daphne.”

In my defense, I got two of the letters right, which is pretty good for me. Hold on a second… I think I got three of the letters right. Let me compare: Dagny and Daphne. Yep, three letters.

Okay, so that explains the first part of why I struggled with Dagny, but what about the other problem?

I don’t really get names that have a Y, especially when it’s at the end. I love to add an E before the Y. Such as: Dagney. I think I drove my editor bonkers with this particular tick.

It would have been better if I started off with Daphne. No Y at all.

To prove it’s not just this particular name with a Y, here’s another story. I once dated a woman named Kelly. If you’re wondering if I ever misspelled her name, yes, I did. Many times. Oddly, she didn’t find my tick all that cute and laugh it off. Meaning she wasn’t the woman for me. If you can’t find my weirdness funny, then honestly, it’s best for both of us to go our separate ways because there’s no fixing how my brain processes things. Many have tried, but my noggin keeps persevering.

Luckily, not all women have a name that ends with a Y, but remind me sometime to tell you the trouble I have with the name: Lynn. I don’t get it. Not at all. Why the Y instead of an I? My brain just can’t handle it.

What do you do when love strikes at the worst possible moment?

Dagny is convinced she’s about to get engaged while on holiday in England. What she doesn’t expect is getting dumped. To make matters worse, it happens on Christmas Eve.

Allison receives an assignment from her boss that will make Allison’s journalistic career. The investigation will call for one thing: her complete dedication to the story and nothing else.

The two meet on Christmas Eve night, and while Allison is brimming with joy, Dagny wants nothing to do with anyone. However, what’s worse? Being alone on a holiday or spending it with a stranger neither will probably ever see again?

There’s one major problem. They just might be perfect for each other despite the terrible timing.

Is it kismet or a curse?

Best-selling lesbian fiction author TB Markinson has written a heart-warming romance about letting fate take its course to live life to the fullest. Read it today!

Please note: This story started as a 20K novella that was originally published in a limited-time lesfic box set back in the winter of 2018. Some of the elements of the original idea have remained the same, but the project has expanded to over 65K, making it a full-length novel.

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Who do you believe?

I have few needs in life.

I love silly cartoon T-shirts (usually Disney or Peanuts and the occasional funny history quote).

Hot showers every night before bed.

And, to be fed every few hours.

During the summer, I volunteered to help Miranda MacLeod do some research for her latest release, Accidental Honeymoon.

Also, on one of the days we went to a vineyard, we started off at a Shaker village. I know nothing about the Shakers (and I still don’t because no tours were available), but I was lured on the trip because of two things: outdoor time and a picnic lunch.

Miranda agreed to my terms, which I believe were perfectly reasonable.

We arrived at the grounds of the village and wandered around for over an hour, after a drive that lasted well over two hours. Please refer to my third need: to be fed every few hours.

It was a beautiful, albeit warm day. I had water in my backpack, and I assumed Miranda had a snack of some sort in her bag. Alas, when I politely asked for something to eat, she said all the food was in the car.

W-what…?

Now, this is where we remember things differently. I remember saying, in a perfectly calm voice, “Okay, then. Let’s head back to the car and have lunch.”

I mean, who would freak out over something so easily solved. Definitely not me. The only ridiculous thing about me is my fondness for cartoon T-shirts.

So, imagine my surprise when I was beta reading Accidental Honeymoon, and I arrived at a particular scene when Ray has a meltdown because she’s hungry and Miranda had put a note in the margin saying she based it on me.

I did not have a meltdown.

I’m so confident I didn’t that I’m going to hand this over to Miranda to give her side.

Take it away, Miranda.

Have you ever seen a grown woman sit down in the middle of a deserted walking trail and refuse to go on unless she is given an emergency granola bar or beef jerky, stat? If no, please, read on…

The drive from Boston to the Shaker village in New Hampshire is just over an hour (that’s one hour, not two), and like TB, I have certain needs in life, one of which is stopping at Dunkin at the start of a road trip for a fresh cup of dark roast and some Munchkins (donut holes for those who don’t know). Usually, I order 5 of them for 99c. I offered to split them, 3 for TB and 2 for me. Her counter offer was “Buy the box of 50.” So, I did. (TB here to correct the record. I asked for the box of 50, but Miranda refused and would only get 25 of the yummy treats. I’m still angry about that, and she’s absolutely convinced it was the 50-count box, but I would remember that as the best day of my life, so who are you going to believe?)

It should be noted I’m one of those people who forgets to eat when I get busy. If I’m procrastinating and bored, I will raid every cupboard in the house for treats, but if I’m out and about, I can go all day before I realize I missed lunch and it’s time for dinner.

As TB sat on the ground (TB again. I just want to add that I sat on a fallen tree on the ground. I don’t do dirt or grass. I walk on both when out in nature, but I most definitely do not sit on the ground.), claiming she might be on the verge of death, I reminded her of the extra-large party box of Munchkins. I also reminded her the car was only a five-minute walk, and a fully loaded picnic basket was waiting inside. She told me she wasn’t ready to get up because she wasn’t finished being dramatic yet. I may have responded with something like, “Yes, your Highness.”

On the drive back, we stopped at a winery with the intention of getting a flight of wines to taste and something small like a cheese platter or dessert to go with it, seeing as how we’d just had a massive lunch an hour before and really didn’t need much except to do some research.

When we sat down under the huge outdoor tent, TB looked at the menu and listed off an appetizer, a main course, and two desserts with the obvious intention of consuming them all on the spot. I did not argue. I had learned.

To be fair, compared to what happened on the 9-hour drive we made returning from GCLS in Pittsburgh last summer, TB is right. This was not a meltdown. But that’s a story for another day.

GIVEAWAY

To celebrate the launch of Accidental Honeymoon, Miranda will be choosing one lucky winner to receive a signed paperback of the new book, plus a $25 gift card to Amazon, and a basket of New England goodies that should arrive just in time to make the holidays a little more festive. Sadly she can’t send wine through the mail, but promises the treats she’s chosen are the next best thing.

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There’s What in New Hampshire?

Those who know me best are aware of two undeniable facts. I can’t do math or find anything on a map.

So, way back in early summer (which feels like decades ago), when Miranda MacLeod asked me to accompany her to a vineyard in New Hampshire, I thought she’d lost her mind. To me, New Hampshire and vineyards don’t exist on the same plane.

During the entire car ride, I was convinced the destination would simply be a wineshop, not an actual place where grapes are grown, picked, and then magically turned into delicious vino.

Utterly convinced.

When we pulled into the parking lot, Miranda pointed to a small fence with scraggly grapevines.

They weren’t convincing. How could anyone get a bottle of wine out of those?

I continued to gloat but did try being a good sport.

At no time did I say, “I told you so, sucker!”

But then Miranda told me to turn around. Low and behold, there were more grapevines. Rows and rows of them. I skirted around a building, and guess what. There were even more.

Whoopsie.

Instead of apologizing (something I’m loathe to do, even if the need arises more than I’d like), I opted to buy us two flights of wine samples. What else is one supposed to do on a vineyard?

As it turned out, there was a tour of the operation, but the only available time slots were after we polished off the samples, and since I wasn’t the driver, I had a lot more than Miranda.

By the time the tour started, I was tipsy, and instead of concentrating on what the woman said, I kept trying to get a photo of a cute bunny. I never quite managed but not for lack of trying.

Luckily, this research trip was for Accidental Honeymoon, Miranda’s latest release, and I didn’t need to remember any of the details. Sadly, the bunny doesn’t make an appearance in the story. Miranda doesn’t actually remember the critter since she was taking notes like a true professional, not trying to bribe a rabbit with a grape to get one decent photo.

Also, it wasn’t the last vineyard we visited together, because Miranda never holds my idiocy against me.

Sidenote: My skills with wooing a rabbit are right on par with getting a woman’s attention. The bunny sat on its hind quarters, gave me what I’m convinced was the rabbit version of the middle finger, and then ran for the hills.

Back to Accidental Honeymoon, I have to admit Miranda’s book is damn good, and hopefully she’ll still invite me on more research trips. Fingers crossed her next story involves a gin distillery, because this year is driving me to drink.

 

 

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