I Have Some Work To Do

We just passed a milestone in the TBM household. Lady Grey has been living here for six months, and while I prepped a celebratory meal, she sat me down for my review.

To be honest, I didn’t have a clue she’d been keeping track of my pluses and minuses, so I started to sweat bullets when she whipped out the report.

Here goes nothing.

The first category was food, and I had a good feeling about this. Admittedly, the first two weeks were rough since she didn’t like any of the wet food I’d purchased. But, when it comes to her dry food, she’s hammered down the kibble from day one. I braced for a six out of ten, knowing she was a tough customer.

Imagine my surprise when she gave me a three.

“Now, hold on,” I said. “When you moved in, you weren’t happy about anything. I went to the nearest pet store and bought one can of ten different foods. Ten!”

Lady Grey licked her claw and then scratched some markings onto the tablet, and my heart sunk when I realized my outburst had gone in my permanent record.

The next category was sleep. Uh, she sleeps the majority of the day, and I let her, so I had no idea what was about to be said.

While she appreciates that I go to bed early (bedtime is her favorite event, right after eating, and she curls up in a ball and immediately starts snoring), I lost a lot of marks for tossing and turning. She likes to sleep on the puffy comforter but can’t because she learned early on when I roll over, I take all the covers with me, flinging her off the bed.

Apparently, the Better Half also hates this habit of mine.

I received a two out of ten.

I bit down onto my bottom lip to prevent another outburst, still peeved my counterpoint on the food score had been added to my permanent file.

Up next: Sun puddles.

This had to be where I’d shine, so to speak. Our apartment has a lot of windows. Even the bathroom. Not only that, but I’ve added cushions to her favorite window perches, and I put a cozy chair in the bathroom because it gets loads of sun, and I didn’t want LG to have to curl up on the floor. Did she know how hard it is to find an apartment in Massachusetts that had nice windows?

None of that mattered. Lady Grey doesn’t appreciate dull, gray days (we’ve had a lot of those over the past six months), and she blamed me entirely for the subpar weather.

“That’s not fair! I can’t control the weather!” I flicked my hands in the air.

Once again, she licked her claw, and my eruption was added to the file.

I sulked in my chair, tucking my hands into my armpits, but luckily for me, we moved to the last category, which was vacuuming.

Surely, this would work in my favor, because while I hate dusting and doing dishes, I enjoy vacuuming, and LG has long hair. Meaning, to ease my allergies, there’s been a huge uptick in this activity since she moved in.

That was where my reasons for high marks went off the rails. Clearly, this review wasn’t about what I enjoyed, but Lady Grey. And, do you know what she hates more than me stealing all the covers? The vacuum, which she called the Demonic Beast on Wheels.

It took everything I had not to mention how much I despised it when Lady Grey plopped herself down right in front of the television to clean her butt. That, to me, was much worse than vacuuming.

No matter. She marked me down for a zero.

I sucked in a breath but didn’t argue.

We booked the date for my next six-month review with her saying, “This has been unacceptable. Do better.”

Folks, I don’t think things are going to improve to her majesty’s standards. Especially on the food front, since the only wet food she likes to eat has encountered supply-chain delays due to COVID, and it’s out of stock in every store. I have twenty-four cans left and then…

Now, it’s time for me to vacuum. And, yes, I’m fully aware this is going to go down in my progress report, but my allergies are acting up, and I can barely breathe. Something tells me Lady Grey won’t go easy on me if I die, and she’d probably find a way to follow me to the great beyond for all eternity simply to remind me of the many ways I’ve let her down.

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The Healing Power of the Beach

For as long as I can remember, bodies of water have soothed me.

Perhaps this is a result of growing up in Southern California. For many years, when adults asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, my response was generally, “Beach bum.” And, it wasn’t solely because I was a smart-ass. I was one, but this was an honest answer. During my childhood, I spent many wonderful days at Laguna Beach.

However, after becoming an adult, I realized my beach bum dream had been that all along. Every day, I have to do some type of adulting, and it’s infuriating.

When I start to feel overwhelmed, the desire to see a river, pond, lake, or ocean intensifies.

A couple of weekends ago, after I finished formatting the I Heart Lesfic sale, I announced, “I need the beach.”

We hopped into a Zipcar and drove to Cape Cod. Given that it was March and Covid is still raging in Massachusetts, we didn’t expect any restaurants to be open. No, our destination was the beach, and for a glorious hour, we strolled on the sand, listening to the waves breaking. It was cold, but it didn’t bother me.

By the time we returned to the car, the weight that’d been pressing down on my shoulders felt lighter.

The day after, I had to compile all my tax paperwork for my accountant.

I really wish being a grown-up didn’t have to be so adult-y.

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Creature of Habit

I love this time of year. January is over (hate that month and February isn’t much better), and daylight is stretching out. For the majority of the year, I go for a long walk at the end of my work day. It’s a way for me to shut off my brain, which is hard for me to do without exercise.

During the winter months, this ritual is sabotaged by shorter days. If I want to get my usual walk in, I have to leave in the early afternoon. That shouldn’t be a problem, really. I work from home and set my own hours.

The problem is my brain. As much as I like to think I’m a rebel, I’m really a creature of habit. Nine months out of the year, I go for a walk when the bulk of my work is done. When I get back, I have about an hour tops to take care of last-minute administrative tasks before my brain powers down.

So, the winter months, when I leave my house around 2:30 p.m. and get back around 3:45 p.m., it’s a battle to get any useful work done. It’s maddening because I’m 46. I know winter hours exist, yet I can’t break this pattern.

Now that the days are getting longer, and this time every year, I become sorta obsessed with sunset times. The best news is my new fitbit tells me when it will occur.

For the next couple of months, when I notice the time of the event, I know I’ll smile a bit wider. Then, when the sun starts to set closer to 8:00 p.m., I stop looking. Until December rolls around and I start getting anxious for lost hours of work.

I told you I’m a creature of habit.

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Yes, I Really am a Moron

One of the most popular questions I get asked is: Where do you get your ideas from?

I think some want to hear about how I have access to a magic fountain where ideas freely flow, and after I make a sacrifice to the writing gods, there’s a golden light, and the ideas burst forth through my fingers on my keyboard.

The truth is I get them from living life, for better or worse. A lot of the time, some of my most painful and embarrassing moments have provided many readers a much-needed chuckle.

For instance, take my latest new release, The Love Project, cowritten with Miranda MacLeod.

In this book, Hope explains how she ended up on dates that she didn’t know were dates.

During my college years (age 18-23) this happened to me on more than one occasion. At the time, it was beyond humiliating. More than twenty years later, it helped me tap into Hope’s character.

For example, there was the time I was invited to a Super Bowl party by a male classmate. However, it was a party for two. Just like Hope, when I heard the words Super Bowl, my mind filled in the word party.

Imagine my surprise when I showed up to find intimate lighting and a tiny couch. At the time, I knew I was a lesbian, but I wasn’t out yet. That was probably the longest Super Bowl in my experience, and by the end of the night, I was hanging off the end of the couch to avoid any incidental touching.

Then, there was the time I ended up on a romantic date on Valentine’s Day. With a man. Again, I wasn’t out yet.

You may be thinking, how did that happen? It was on Valentine’s Day. Didn’t you put two and two together? The simple answer is no. Even though I was studying history at the university and have been passionate about the subject since the fifth grade, I’ve never been one to know present-day dates.

All of my close friends and loved ones know there’s a strong chance (90%) I’ll have to send belated birthday wishes. Actually, this happened this past February (I was eight days late, which is pretty good for me), and if a friend hadn’t mentioned to me that her mother was making her a cake, I was on track for missing the March birthday as well.

Incidentally, after my friend mentioned the cake-making, it took five minutes for the truth to wash over me, and I blurted out (we were in the midst of an entirely different conversation), “Your birthday is this month!”

Notice my wording. I still don’t know the date of said birthday, but I cheerily said, “Happy birthday!” and now I’m pretty confident I’m covered for birthdays this month. May is the big one in my social circles, since there are anywhere between 3-6 birthdays. I need to do some sleuthing to figure out the exact number.

In The Love Project, it wasn’t just my disastrous dating history we tapped into. Click here for Miranda’s adventures in the big world of embarrassing dates.

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Amazing Deals on Books

Miranda and I are prepping for the I Heart Lesfic mega sale starting on March 15th. These sales take a lot of work, and it’s always a mad dash to get things done. On more than one occasion, I’ve almost forgotten to discount my own books because I’m so worried about getting over 200 books properly formatted. Now that Miranda has joined the IHL team, she’s in the same boat: pulling her hair out to get everything just right so we can make all the readers and authors happy.

To avoid the embarrassment of ripping our own books out of the sale because we forgot to lower the prices, we’ve dropped the prices early.

 

ACCIDENTAL HONEYMOON

by Miranda MacLeod

$2.99 $6.99 (Also in Kindle Unlimited)

Would you marry a woman you hate for a life-changing inheritance?

This slow burn, enemies to lovers, fake relationship romance is as thoroughly intoxicating as the wine from their New England vineyard.

 

HEART OF ICE

by TB Markinson & Miranda MacLeod

$2.99 $6.99 (Also in Kindle Unlimited)

What happens when the one person who makes your heart sing is also the one person who could destroy everything you’ve worked for?

A scorching ice queen, age gap romance about love striking twice.

 

RESERVATIONS OF THE HEART

by TB Markinson

$2.99 $5.99 (Also in Kindle Unlimited)

Can two wounded souls find solace together?​

When divorced doctor and single mother, Stella, meets the younger Aurora, who just needs a date for a wedding, sparks fly. Can two wounded women who believe love is the last thing they want overcome their fears to find healing?

 

KISMET

by TB Markinson

$2.99 $4.99 (Also in Kindle Unlimited)

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

When recently dumped Dagny meets Allison, a journalist on an assignment that could change her career, the timing couldn’t be worse. After spending Christmas Eve in London together, both wonder, is it kismet or a curse?

Happy reading!

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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.

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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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