The Melting of Lady Grey

It’s been a while since I shared some photos of Lady Grey on the blog. I have to admit she’s one of the strangest cats I’ve ever met. For the first month or so, she scared the crap out of me because she didn’t like me. I mean, whenever I entered a room, she’d arch her back and hiss, looking very much like a possessed creature who thought I must be destroyed in order to save the world. It was intimidating to say the least.

Fast forward nine months to when I recently had a minor cold, and she perched right next to me as if protecting me. Peeps, I think I’ve finally broken through her walls, and she sorta likes me. Or she’s figured out I’m the most responsible when it comes to feeding her, and it’s in her best interest not to kill me. Either way, I’ll take it because she’s such a beautiful cat.

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How Many Times Have You Been There?

One of my absolute favorite places to visit in Massachusetts is The House of the Seven Gables in Salem. And, I fully admit I’ve paid to tour the house on more than one occasion. Actually, when I met up with a friend a couple of weekends ago, the Better Half texted asking about my plans. I gleefully responded, “House of 7 Gables!”

The reply was quick: “I made the right choice in staying home.”

True, it was pouring rain, but I knew she meant she couldn’t possibly tour the house again. Me, I can do it all the time. In fact, I haven’t broken the news yet, but I purchased a membership. Maybe she won’t notice the charge on the credit card.

Anyhoo, here are some photos of the grounds. It might be the history lover inside me, but I can’t seem to bring myself to take photos inside museums or historical places.

I’m already planning my next visit!

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Making New Memories

One of my favorite places in Massachusetts is Concord. Not only is the downtown area so quaint, with fun shops, but the city oozes with history.

Whenever I get a chance, I visit, but during Covid, this wasn’t really possible.

Until now. I’m fully vaxxed and I’ve been leaving my apartment for little trips here and there, still being mindful about my safety and those around me.

It felt incredible to stroll around Walden Pond.

I had lunch at Main Street Café with a wonderful friend.

And, I finished off the day with ice cream. Please note, there are no photos of the ice cream portion of the day, because ice cream. All thoughts go out of my head.

All in all, it was the best day and I hope to add many more in Concord.

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The Weather Gods Hate Me

For the past few days, Massachusetts has been sweltering. Temps in the 90s with 80% humidity. It’s been unbearable and kind of a kick in the teeth.

Why you ask?

Over Memorial Day weekend, I reserved a hotel room with an ocean view in Rockport. We had access to a deck so we could sit outside, listen to the water crash on the rocks, and watch seabirds bobble along the water’s surface.

Or that was what I pictured when I reserved the room.

As it turned out, the night we were there, the temperature was in the low 40s, with 20 mile per hour wind, and non-stop rain.

Why couldn’t we have had the nice weather on our night away? Apparently, the weather gods hate me.

I’m determined to go back to the hotel when the weather is good. Not simply because it would be lovely, but I’m doing research for a seaside trilogy with Miranda MacLeod that we’re planning on launching next summer.

My suffering wasn’t in vain, since we’re going to use it as a plot point for the first book in the series, but I still wished the weather had cooperated.

I did brave the chilly temps to snap some views from the hotel deck, but didn’t stay outside long, because I insisted on wearing shorts. Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of summer in the US, and dammit if I was going to wear pants!

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Perfect Ending To My Birthday

Recently, we hopped in a car and drove to Provincetown for the weekend to celebrate my birthday. Every time we drive to the tippy-top of the cape, I’m reminded how long the drive is.

When I first moved to Massachusetts from Colorado, I was amazed when we’d drive for an hour or so and end up in a different state. Two hours away, you could pass through another state. That didn’t happen often in Colorado. It’s been a while since I drove from the top of Colorado to the bottom, but it’s roughly 4 hours and going east to west is closer to seven.

However, when driving to Provincetown, the drive seems never-ending. This might be due to the fact that I’m hardly ever in the car these days.

Anyhoo, after some minor (in my opinion) whining, we finally arrived at the inn.

While we only spent a night there, it was a lovely time. We had dinner outside with an ocean view. Lunch at a quaint café patio where I got to dog watch. Practically everyone in P-Town has a dog. We strolled through the shops. I got a silly T-shirt, a must for me whenever I go somewhere.

All in all, it was a lovely birthday.

Then something amazing happened.

On the drive back, I saw a sign for Plymouth and asked if that was where the rock was. Now, I realize, as someone who loves history, I should have known this off the top of my head, but I have to admit, early American history is not really my jam.

The Better Half did her best not to chuckle because she knows my sense of direction and the ability to read maps are worse than my math skills. She confirmed it was and then adjusted the destination on the GPS.

Dude, I got to see Plymouth Rock, which is really just a rock with 1620 carved into it, but I have to admit, it was the perfect way to end a lovely birthday getaway.

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I Didn’t Mean That!

One of the banes of a writer’s life are typos.

Some of my typos are a result of bad habits, like when I write back in forth. For some reason, I always type it out that way, instead of back and forth.

Some typos are homophones, words that sound similar, but don’t mean the same thing, such as brake and break.

There are the lazy grammatical ones: mixing it’s/its, your/you’re, and they’re/their/there.

And, then there’s my tendency to misspell names, but you can read another blog post about this one because it’s something I do in my personal and professional life.

Others, though, make me chuckle. More often than not, they drastically change the intent of the sentence.

For example, in A Conflicted Woman, Sarah ordered crap alfredo, instead of crab alfredo. This typo slipped by several editors and many ARC readers, and I think the reason was, during the dinner, Sarah is freaking out about her mom’s new boyfriend, so when she orders the crap alfredo, I think many people thought I did that intentionally to fit Sarah’s mood. I didn’t, but this type of typo does give me some leeway to say, “Oh, I totally meant it that way.”

Others aren’t so easy to explain. In Marionette, I wrote free feels instead of feel free. Simply switching the word order and adding an s made the statement sexually provocative when that wasn’t my purpose at all.

Most recently, in The Date, I tapped out Lady in the Tramp, referring to the Disney movie. The actual title is Lady and the Tramp. When an ARC reader pointed it out to me, I dissolved into a fit of giggles because that simple tweak of and to in really transformed the innocent Disney movie into an X-rated flick.

While I hate typos, I know they’re normal for writers, and it takes a team of editors and readers to zap as many as possible. When they’re pointed out to me, I rather laugh over them; otherwise, I’d probably loose my mind. (Yes, I did that one on purpose.)

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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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