Saturday, March 28, 2015

The True Heroines in My Life - National Women's History Month

The month of March is designated at National Women's History Month. The theme this year is Women Weaving the Stories of Women's Lives. I've introduced you to the women of my novels over this month. Now, let me introduce you to some of the remarkable women from my family.

Top left is my maternal grandmother, Anna Kenney Hennessey--Grandma. She bore ten children, raised nine of those children into adulthood. She was the essence of the term 'homemaker.' She always had homemade soup on the stove and homemade bread on the table. She walked miles to church because the church was important to her. Family was her vocation and she lived it well until she passed at the age of 60.

Top right is a photo of my paternal grandfather, me, my sister--Peggy, and my paternal grandmother Georgie Margaret Hurst Rettstatt--Nana. My father was her only child and we were the only grandchildren. She doted on us. I remember shopping with her in Brownsville. It was never just about the shopping, but about going 'downtown' and visiting with women she knew who worked in various shops there. Shopping was a highly social event. She worked at different times, in a dairy store and, later, selling women's clothing in a store in Cleveland, Ohio where she and my grandfather relocated. She was short and round and soft and truly a Nana. She live to the age of 94.

And my sister, Peggy, three years my junior. I grew up with stories in my head about how I'd like to live, the things I'd like to do, the risks I'd like to take. She had the courage to do them. She's still braver than I when it comes to living life instead of imagining it.

Bottom left is my mother, Anna Katherine Hennessey "Kay" Rettstatt. When I look through family documents, I find my mother listed as Catherine, Kathryn A., and Anna Katherine. She used to love to tell stories about herself when she was growing up and then caution my sister and myself to NEVER do the same things she did. She was a risk-taker in her earlier years. From my childhood, I have fond memories of her joining us for a game of baseball in the back yard, playing with a hula hoop (which I still have on 8 mm film somewhere), and the way she sang country songs while she worked around the house. She had a great sense of humor. I always felt a bit of sadness for my mother, believing she wasn't completely happy and that, perhaps, had a dream she'd never pursued. Maybe that's why she had three different configurations to her name. And maybe that's her gift to me--to pursue my dreams.

The next two photos on the bottom are me--expressing my individuality and interest in music at age three and a more recent photo taken during a casual photo shoot for my website. I look at myself now and I reflect that self off those other women. I am who I am largely because of who they were. Nurturing, caring, faithful, hard working, loving and fun-loving. Perhaps with a shadow of mystery, a wee bit of sadness. Not the kind of sadness that makes us want to curl up in a ball. The kind of sadness that reflects a longing for something more, that drives us deeper into the search for our own truths.

There are so many women throughout history who have cleared a path and lighted the way for us. Some of them may still be with us, walking at our sides, covering our backs--bringing a smile from our memories. Take the time to thank them today.

Who are or have been the strong women in your life who have made you who you are today?

Friday, March 27, 2015

Lily and Chelsea Champion - Renting To Own

I bring my celebration of National Women's History Month to a close by introducing Lily Champion and daughter, Chelsea. Lily was going to come alone, but being a single parent, couldn't get a sitter.

I apologize.It's just been Chelsea and me for so long, I'm used to having her with me everywhere. My neighbor, Mrs. Glenn, had a bingo tournament this evening. So it Women's History Month. I'm only twenty-four now, so not much history here. Though some days I feel four times that age.

I don't like to complain because it sounds like I regret my life, and I don't. I especially don't regret having Chelsea. It might have been better to wait a few years, sure. But having her forced me to grow up fast--something I'd already begun after my mom died when I was seven years old. I also have Helen Shaw who was my high school English teacher, my port in the storm and, for all intents and purposes, a mother to me.

I'm finally getting our life together. I have a great job and a house I'm renting to own. At times I feel our life is like that--Renting To Own--paying dues to toward security. Some people look at my life and see struggles and mistakes. Well, hell, who doesn't have those? I look at my life and see love, forgiveness, and strengths I never dreamed I could possess. When I look at my daughter, I see determination and self-confidence in her eyes. If I give her nothing else, I'm proud that I've given her this.

My name is Chelsea Champion and I'm five years old. My teacher told Mommy I'm very sociable. I'm not sure what that means, but I think it's a good thing. Mommy and I moved out of Auntie Helen's house because Mommy got a better job. And then she got a different job again with Rick. I like Rick a lot. I hope Mommy likes him a lot, too. Don't tell them I said this, but sometime I ask God to make Rick my daddy 'cause I don't have one of those. 

Read Lily and Chelsea's full story in RENTING TO OWN (published by Turquoise Morning Press), available in ebook at

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Cee Cee - Ladies In Waiting

Winding down on National Women's History Month with the story of Cee Cee from Ladies In Waiting.

Most people crash wedding receptions or birthday parties. Me? I crashed a retreat for women over the age of fifty. I'm only thirty-two. But I'm so tired and so uninspired with my life. Don't get me wrong. I love my kids more than anything and I think I still love Ben. So much is going on in my life right now and I need him to be supportive. But we just seem to get farther and farther apart. I feel lost. So when my mother was unable to attend the retreat with other women her age, I arranged for my mother-in-law to babysit, packed a bag--which turned out to be filled with all sorts of surprises thanks to my kids--and drove my soccer mom van to a retreat house whose name I couldn't even pronounce.

The other women--Julia, Liv, Markie and Andi--were all there to reinvent themselves. I felt like I was there to invent myself in the first place. I thought about all the things no one told me--that married love changes, that we start to take each other for granted, that sometimes we make sacrifices we regret. That being a grownup is so darned hard.

That these women let me stay with them for the week was miracle enough for me. That they were gracious enough to share their stories with me--the kid of the group--was just amazing. That week was like a crash course in aging well despite making mistakes. They each came to the retreat running from something, the same way I was running. But these women were warriors. They ARE warriors, and I want to finish growing up just like them. I'm glad I started when I did. I'm also glad I found a way to follow my dream and still hold onto the dreams I'd begun to build with Ben and our kids. I know you can't have it all, but I sure do have more than I'd ever imagined.

Get to know Cee Cee better in LADIES IN WAITING, (from Turquoise Morning Press) available in ebook and trade paperback at

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Markie and Julia - Ladies In Waiting

Continuing my month long celebration of heroines from my books, meet Markie and Julia from LADIES IN WAITING. (Talk about two very different women.)

My name is Markie Lyons and I'm an artist. I'm also a left-over hippie, having experienced the great Summer of Love in San Francisco, right after running away from home. I've had an interesting life. It's usually more interesting to others than to myself. I embraced my father's grandmother's Gypsy heritage and I took on her name--Markova. All I ever wanted to do was to create art in several forms, including painting and sculpture. Both require a steady hand and a clear mind. What will I do when I'm no longer assured of having either? I don't see a way I can live without my art. I came to this retreat to sort out thoughts and feelings and fears and to come to some peace with what I need to do next. The small group of women who gathered her are so wonderfully passionate and compassionate. I could easily see myself becoming friends with any and all of them. Even Julia. The poor woman has herself buttoned up so tight and locked in such a small box. I hope she can relax and let go of the tragedy that drove her here. Yes, I know who Julia is and what happened to her. Of course, it's not my place to say anything. I hope she can find the inner forgiveness she needs to get free.

My name is Julia Lane and I'm an Assistant District Attorney in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. But don't spread that around too much. I'm not exactly popular there right now. With good reason. I did my job thoroughly and efficiently on a recent case. The job was all that mattered and the results were tragic. And while I've never been one to admit failure, I failed everyone involved in this case. I'm not here for some New Age crap about reinvention. I'm here because it was affordable, available, and in driving distance, and I needed a place to hide. None of these women know who I am or why I'm here. I intend to keep it that way. I'll have at least seven days of peace and quiet, time to figure things out. I love my work. Or I did until this last case. Hell, I don't blame the people in Philadelphia who are demanding my head on a platter--yes, some of them actually carried signs depicting this. I want my head on a platter, too. Nothing changes by my coming to this place, except that I'm not in that place where people hate me. A week or so and I'll get myself together and be ready to face what awaits me back in Philadelphia. I'll keep to myself and no one will get hurt.

Learn more about Markie and Julia in LADIES IN WAITING (published by Turquoise Morning Press), available in ebook and trade paperback at

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Liv and Andi from Ladies In Waiting

Continuing my celebration of National Women's History Month and the theme of Women Weaving Stories of Women's Lives, I want to introduce the women of LADIES IN WAITING. First up are Liv and Andi.

Hi, this is Liv. When I found the women's retreat in Cape May, New Jersey, I confess I didn't much care about the topic. I saw it as a refuge. I needed an escape, space to just breath, to find out who Liv Zacharias was now. She wasn't the woman hiding under the disguise of hair color and a semi-fictional story. She wasn't the woman the papers made her out to be, either. Of course I fit the profile for the retreat: Embracing the New You: Reinventing Yourself After Fifty. I needed a new you and a reinvention more than anyone I knew. So here I was, sitting in the driveway at Siochain (which I'd learned was a Gaelic word that translated to Peace) and staring at the other women seated on the expansive wrap-around porch of the old Victorian house. I wanted to turn tail and run back to Long Island. What if they recognized me? What if they believed the newspapers? What if my antianxiety meds stopped working? Well, there was only one way to find out.

Andi Ryan here. You know, if you're having a group of menopausal women meet for a retreat on the shore in summer, you should warn them that there's no central air conditioning? When Liv, the newest retreatant to arrive, informed me of that little tidbit, I wanted to get into the car, turn the AC on high, and head straight back to Tom's River. But, damn, I needed this time away. I needed to sort out my feelings about being a young widow (shut up--young is a relative term), being at odds with my almost adult daughter, and finding myself in a very hot relationship with a much younger man. Now this was heat I could tolerate. The Andi I always knew was still in there under all that mess--somewhere. I was sure of that. I just needed to find her again. Sometimes you have to step away from the familiar to see what's right under your nose in the first place. It can be like taking a step back from the mirror and the vision becomes clearer. This was my step back. If the damned hot flashes didn't kill me first. I liked the other women here, at least until I met Julia. You'll see what I mean when you meet her. Now Liv looks so familiar to me, but I just can't place her. Menopause brain, I suppose.

Meet the ladies of LADIES IN WAITING (published by Turquoise Morning Press), available in ebook and trade paperback at

Monday, March 23, 2015

Lainie - Quiet Time

Meet Lainie Graham, the heroine from QUIET TIME, and hear her remarkable story of survival.

Be careful what you wish for--you just might get it. How many times have I heard that? I never thought that getting what we wish for could be a bad thing, though. Right? Wrong. I'm a busy mom and homemaker. James and I decided I would stay at home at least until our daughter, Chelsea, was in pre-school. I love being a mom. I love keeping a home for James. But I do admit there are times when I'd like to run away alone for just a few minutes and have a little private quiet time. That was my wish. In a most unusual and frightening way, I got my wish.

I never knew what hit me. Truthfully. Not until much later when James told me what happened. I just found myself suddenly trapped inside, aware of the world outside, but unable to participate in it. Your mind can really play with you when you're in this state of suspension. I discovered things about myself that I'd ignored or taken for granted--my ability to be jealous, my ability to doubt those I love, my ability to want to give up. I also discovered my capacity for love and forgiveness. I guess you could say I had a grand awakening in many ways.

Travel inside the mind and heart of a coma patient. Let Lainie show you what that life inside is like. QUIET TIME (a short novella) is available in both ebook and trade paperback at

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Alex Ramsey - Rescued

Today, I'm very pleased to share the story of Alex Ramsey, heroine in RESCUED. 

Some people say that what I do for animal rescue is admirable. Some say I'm crazy to spend so much time, energy and my own money to save a few strays. Others (from my family) suggest I might be trying to work out my own issues. I know that what I do serves a good purpose. I may be a little crazy--something I consider when I'm crawling beneath an abandoned mobile home in the middle of night, looking for puppies. And Lord knows I have issues.

I do what I do because everyone deserves a second chance. I thought my second chance was having the resources to operate Harley's Haven and rescue animals. I didn't realize my second chance came with a nearly six-foot frame and wearing an apron. I figured he needed rescuing, too. What I hadn't counted on was that he would rescue me. And then there was Walter....

You can read RESCUED in ebook and trade paperback, available at
* Proceeds from the sale of RESCUED benefit the Tunica Humane Society, a no-kill animal shelter in Tunica, Mississippi.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Shannon Chase - Protection

My featured heroine for today--in keeping with the theme of Women Weaving Stories of Women's Lives--is Shannon Chase from my romantic suspense novel, PROTECTION.

Sometimes when we're blinded by love (or something we think is love), we find ourselves in a situation not all that easily resolved. And sometimes the wisest thing to do is to disappear. No one was taking my baby away from me. Not her father and certainly his powerful wife. Yeah, I know. This is the blinded part of the story. I believed him when he said he was single. I guess I wanted to believe it. As soon as I learned the truth, I broke it off. But by then I was already pregnant.

I never thought I'd be on the run, leaving my family and friends, my job, my life behind. Driving a back mountain road in the fog and hitting a tree proved to be the best thing that could happen. We met Jake.

We needed his help, his protection, more than I could admit at the time. And he took us in, even though he put himself at risk. I learned that some men can be trust. More importantly, I learned to trust myself.

You can read PROTECTION in ebook or trade paperback. Available at

Friday, March 20, 2015

Jessica Windsor - In The Spirit

How have you been celebrating National Women's History Month? Hopefully by honoring the strong women you've known. You may even be one of them. Today I celebrate by introducing you to Jessica Windsor, the heroine of my paranormal romance, IN THE SPIRIT.

I never thought of myself as a strong woman. I've made my share of mistakes. And now, here I am having shuffled my son off to my parents so I can hide in a mountain cabin to meet a publishing deadline. Who am I kidding? I can't finish this book. I was just dumped by my fiance and the book is a romance, for crying out loud. Want to know how I feel about romance right now?

I came her to this cabin to work and now I have a cat that's hissing at the wall and weird flashes of light I can't explain. Frankly, it scares me a little. Strong? Ha! I thought I was losing it--my focus, my ability to write--my mind! Then Andrew appeared. Literally 'appeared.' Now, there's a romance for you--Andrew and Laura. Their love story is what gave me courage and strength to delve into the truth, even putting myself at risk. Isn't it funny how we sometimes find strength we don't know we possess for the sake of love, even if it's someone else's love. And, sometimes that opens us up to our own possibilities again.

Learn more of Jessica's story in IN THE SPIRIT available in ebook at

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Vanna Marbury - Dark Horse (Dark Heroes)

Next in the line-up of my book heroines is Vanna Marbury from my novella Dark Horse (Dark Heroes)

I'm a private investigator and I'm also a single mom. So I'm selective about the cases I take on, careful not to put myself in the crosshairs of danger if I don't have to. People think you have to be tough to be a PI. I think it's tougher being a mom. I took on a case trying to recover a stolen colt. How hard could it be to find a stolen thoroughbred colt, solid black with a white star and white boots? Easy, I thought. Unless your search takes you to Lexington, Kentucky where horse farms abound.

I thought I'd found the perfect small stable to board my daughter's horse and keep a low profile for my investigation. I hadn't planned on the likes of Braxton Hicks. Yes, you read that right. The man is named for labor pains and the name fits.

I've had a good track record as an investigator, proud of the fact that (in a manner of speaking), I've always gotten my man. In this case, I just wanted to get my horse. But I ended up with more than I bargained for.

Read the whole story and find out why Brax's name fits with DARK HORSE, available only in ebook at

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Meg Flores - Unconditional

Women face difficult choices every day, often when it comes to matters of the heart. Meet Meg Flores from UNCONDITIONAL

I thought I knew all about love. I grew up surrounded by love--my grandparents, my parents, even my older sister, Audrey--though love was sometimes irrational to her. And then I met Thomas Flores. Oh, he was so beautiful. Really, in that way a man can be beautiful. Classic Latin features with dark eyes that flashed to black when he felt passionate about something. The last time I saw that look, he was telling me our marriage was over.

To say Thomas broke my heart would be to minimize what his pronouncement did to me. If he'd left me for another woman, well, that would have been oddly understandable given that he left me for his secretary. His male secretary. I didn't know how to fight that choice. Thomas took everything from me--love, trust, and my future.

And despite all that, deep down where it mattered most, I still loved him. When the tables turned in a most hideous way, that love was tested. How do you know when love is unconditional? When it demands more of you than you think you have to give.

Read Meg's entire story in UNCONDITIONAL, available in ebook and trade paperback at

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Valerie Marks - A Falling Star

Today's featured heroine is Valerie Marks from A FALLING STAR. 

I wouldn't consider myself a heroine. Isn't that like a female hero? And to my estimation, I've done nothing heroic. I had the same big dreams many of my friends in high school had--to get out of this small town and build a career somewhere else. Anywhere else. I also thought that future might include Spencer Pulaski, my first love. We had plans, or so I thought.

He broke my heart. But I got over it. I got over Spence. I made tough choices that I believed were for the good and returned home to run the local newspaper owned by my grandfather.

I had built a good life there for myself and my daughter, Ali. Sure, there were things missing in my life. But I have time to fill in the empty spaces.

And who shows up on a street corner in Clarkston one afternoon? Spence Parker (formerly Pulaski), recently dubbed 'sexiest man alive' by at least three national magazines. And, dammit, just like that, one of those empty spaces began to ache. I was not just sitting here waiting for the day Spence would come back home. I wasn't. Honestly. But here he was now and eleven years got ripped off like a Bandaid. If he thinks he going to waltz back in here all movie-star gorgeous and pick up where we left off, he's...well, he's... Crap, he might be right. But I have no intention of making it easy.

You can read more of Val's story from A FALLING STAR at

Monday, March 16, 2015

Jennifer Barnes - Act of Contrition

Meet Jennifer Barnes, heroine of ACT OF CONTRITION, as we continue to celebrate National Women's History Month.

Growing up in Miley's Cove, Maine was like growing up inside a warm hug. My dad, until he was killed, my grandparents, and the Doyles. Especially Patrick. We were friends, then best friends, then lovers Then...Well, then we had a fight and I left.

When my husband and son died in a car crash, one in which I was driving, my physical injuries healed long before the other ones--the ones that would leave permanent scars that only I would see. I could only thing of one place to go--home. Even though my grandparents were gone and the small cottage on Penobscot Bay sat empty. That seemed a fitting place for me, since I also sat empty. And alone.

The accident wasn't my fault. That's what everyone tells me. I wasn't speeding. The roads were wet. We hydroplaned. See, the thing is, I can't clearly remember those few moments because I was distracted by Matt, my husband. We were arguing, as usual. I woke in the hospital to learn I'd lost Matt and my precious, precious son, Cooper. He was named for the small island in the bay where I'd always found magic and mystery and peace.

I came back now to try to find that peace once again. What I didn't expect to find--or should I say who--was Patrick Doyle. I'm strong, a survivor. At least I used to be. I'm just not sure how to survive another round of Patrick.

Read all of Jenny's story in ACT OF CONTRITION at

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Trudi Sheppard - The Promise Tree

Meet one of my more 'mature' heroines, Trudi McNeil Sheppard from THE PROMISE TREE.

When I moved from Paxton Corners, the small rural West Virginia town where I grew up, I vowed I'd never return. Not for more than few days visit to my mother. I'd left the small town, the old farm house and Wynn Colton behind years ago. I'd lived a whole life since then--married, had two daughters, divorced, made a nursing career for myself. Life was good.

It wasn't without its struggles. My father died and left mom alone. Then she began to, as the doctor put it, "fail." She became frail and forgetful. I convinced myself I was being a good daughter by hiring someone to live in and provide care. Boy, the lies we can tell ourselves convincingly. When her caregiver quit, I had to hurry home to put a new plan into place--convince Mom to go into a care facility, either there or in South Carolina where I now live. These things always seem reasonable on paper, don't they?

My eldest daughter was about to make me a grandmother for the first time and I'd promised to be there for the birth. One thing at a time, though. I flew to Paxton Corners thinking I'd be there for a week, two at the most. One evening I took a stroll at sunset to the creek and to tree Wynn and I had dubbed The Promise Tree. I soon found myself caught between a freight train load of memories from the past and a future slipping out of my control. Control is a funny thing. We think we need it until we have it, then we realize we don't want all that responsibility. I could no more control my feelings for Wynn Colton than I could control the disease that was dragging my mother deeper and deeper into darkness. All I really needed to do was to let go.

THE PROMISE TREE is available in ebook at and in trade paperback at Wings ePress.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Candace Hudson - Wake-Up Call

As I continue to introduce the heroines of my novels in a celebration of National Women's History Month: Women Weaving Stories of Women's Lives, let me introduce you to Candace Hudson from Wake-Up Call. Candace and I have one thing in common--we're both social workers.

I'm a little embarrassed to admit to my behavior at that conference in New York. I'm generally a level-headed and responsible person. While it's not an excuse, I can say things have been difficult lately, what with my mother's passing and then being made a complete fool of by my fiance, Randall Spiker. Then this cowboy appears at my door--Griff Calhoun--all six feet, boots and cowboy hat.

I have to say that I managed to check almost every item off my 'do not do this' list in the weeks after I met Griff. What can I say? The heart wants what the heart wants? (I'm not a fan of cliches, but in this case, it's true.) When I answered the phone in my hotel room that morning thinking I was politely responding to what I later realized would have been an automated wake-up call, I couldn't imagine I would get exactly the Wake-Up Call I needed. (And so did Griff!)

WAKE-UP CALL is available in ebook and trade paperback at

Friday, March 13, 2015

M.J. Rich - Reinventing Christmas

Women Weaving the Stories of Women's Lives - National Women's History Month. Meet M.J. Rich, the heroine from REINVENTING CHRISTMAS.

You may have heard the saying, "You can't go home again." That's not true. You can go home again. Just don't expect things to be the same as you left them.

I love my family. They're everything to me. They're crazy and loving and fractured. But they're mine. When I decided to spend Christmas at home instead of at a ski lodge with my ego-driven boyfriend, I thought I'd be walking into something like a warm embrace where I could just relax and be myself and enjoy the holiday.

Boy, was I wrong. It didn't help that a blizzard hit and I got stranded at an airport halfway home. I was brought up to be cautious with a long list of things you never do. I'm sure somewhere on that list is: You never share a rental car with a strange man in an airport and drive half way across the state of Pennsylvania with him. I'm very sure that list included: You never, ever share a deserted mountain cabin with a strange man in the middle of a snowstorm. And then turn around and invite him to join you and your family for Christmas.

I've discovered that, when things don't go the way you anticipate, when what you knew to be true has changed, it's time for reinvention.

REINVENTING CHRISTMAS is a sweet contemporary romance available at and in trade paperback at Champagne Books.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Trish Garrity - Love, Sam

Women Weaving Stories of Women's Lives--the theme for National Women's History Month. Meet Trish Garrity from my award-winning novel, LOVE, SAM.

I think I felt different my entire life. Different even from my twin sister, Tracie. Different from everyone I knew. Until I met Sam. Then I was home.

Life can be so unfair, you know. We had almost six years before.... I learned something from Sam. I learned the true meaning of love. Yeah, I know that sounds so cliche. But it's true. Love isn't all hearts and flowers and romance, though those things are nice. Love is about caring about the other person both in life and until death. Sometimes after.

If Sam hadn't left me a path to follow, hadn't shown me the way through the pain and back into life, I'd have been lost forever. If I never love again, I know that I was loved so completely by Sam. It still amazes me that, even in death, Sam could bring people into my life and take me places that bring me peace.

Read Trish's whole story in LOVE, SAM at and in trade paperback at Champagne Books.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Lexie Morgan - Shooting Into The Sun

Continuing the theme of Women Weaving Stories of Women's Lives to celebrate National Women's History Month, allow me to introduce you to a secondary character who could have easily taken over the story--Lexie Morgan.

I think you may have met my big sisters, Rylee, already? Yeah, I know--she can be a real pill. I love her dearly, but honestly if she comes up with one more freakin' rule to live by, I'm gonna scream. I'm surprised her head doesn't explode trying to remember all the rules and the boundaries she sets. She's wound tighter than grandma's mantle clock.

I, on the other hand, know how to enjoy life. My philosophy: Rules are just suggestions and meant to be broken. Boundaries are there to be tested. You have to push yourself and the boundaries if you're going to get anywhere in this life.

Sure, sometimes that results in disaster. Take my former engagement, for example. Now THAT was huge mistake. But I learned from it and no one died. Mainly because I didn't have a gun on me when I walked in on Jimmy, my fiance, in bed with my best former best friend. If there's one thing I know I can count on, though, it's my sister's need to fix things and maintain order. It is cool having a sister eight years older. Especially when I have a mother who's trying to be two years younger than I am.

Rylee finally offered to take me with her on her summer job that meant driving all around the country. I've never been outside the county. She hired me as her 'assistant.' I knew what that meant--"Lexie, get me this" and "Lexie, put this away for me." I didn't mind. It was a free trip around the country. I figured in addition to gophering, it was also my job to help Rylee loosen up and extract that stick from her butt. I thought she'd pop an artery when we--meaning I--offered a ride to a hitchhiker. Turned out to be the best thing I ever did for Rylee. Life's too short to keep yourself on a leash. That's my motto.

To get a few more smiles from Lexie, check out Shooting Into The Sun at and in trade paperback at Champagne Books.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Rylee Morgan - Shooting Into the Sun

Today's featured heroine in the celebration of National Women's History Month: Women Weaving Stories of Women's Lives is Rylee Morgan from Shooting Into The Sun.

I'm a professional photographer. I don't have time for nonsense. Some people don't understand that, among them my kid sister, Lexie. You'll have to meet her sometime. But I'm here to tell you about myself. Which is a challenge. I don't like talking about myself or about my life. What good is rehashing the past? You can't change anything. You just fix a goal for yourself and set one foot in front of the other and don't deviate from the path. Then you'll be fine.

Except I made the mistake of deviating from my path. To give you a little background, I learned photography in my childhood from my dad, Ryan Morgan. See, I'm named for both my mother and father--Ryan and Lee Ann Morgan. Hence, Rylee. But I was always Daddy's girl. At least until Daddy left. 

I still have the old camera he gave me right before he got into his car and drove away sixteen years ago, never to be seen or heard from again. I studied photography and then got hired at the school I graduated from. And, now, I have a major opportunity to travel around the country for the summer, shooting America. It's a lot of driving and hotel rooms and strange places, but I love the solitude when I work. And that would have been fine by me if it wasn't for Lexie having a life crisis. See, I'm more of a mother to Lexie, who is eight years younger, than my mother is for either of us.

I was looking for a summer of travel and adventure and work. I was NOT looking for a summer of teasing and loud music and explaining myself every five minutes. I also was NOT looking to pick up a hitchhiker (way outside my comfort zone and list of rules) and then fall in love with him. Where did that come from?

One of things I like about photography is that it has certain rules attached in order to get the best results. Not the least of which is: You never shoot into the sun. I thought life worked the same way. I'm not one to easily admit I'm wrong, but....well... I suppose we all are at one time or another.

Read more of Rylee's story in Shooting Into The Sun at and in trade paperback at Champagne Books.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Lynn - Next Time I'm Gonna Dance

The continuing celebration of National Women's History Month and Women Weaving Stories of Women's Lives. Let me introduce Lynn, one of Emmie Steele's closest friends and her sister-in-law.

Since Polly already made it clear that she's Emmie's "best" friend, I'll have to settle for being one of her closest friends. But I do have the singular distinction of being Emmie's sister-in-law. We're family but, then, all of us women are Emmie's sisters.

I met Emmie and the others later when my family moved and I transferred into their school. I thought it would be hard being the "new girl." But I was only the new girl for half a day, then I was Emmie's friend and, by virtue of that, friends with Brett, Chris and Polly. That's Emmie--she only knows a stranger for ten minutes and she's quick to act to ease another's discomfort.

That was the challenge for me when Emmie was diagnosed not once, but twice, with breast cancer. Being there for her despite my own fears. Being with her despite the panic and desire to run. Making her more comfortable. I didn't think I could feel any closer to Emmie and the others. But by including us in her struggle, Emmie brought us all even closer.

I'm usually the voice of reason, the one with the level head of our group. Brett, well you've met Brett. She's a lawyer so everything's kind of black and white. Polly, the soap opera writer, is all about the drama. And Chris. What can I say about Chris? She just so darned--good. But she's has that devilish side, too. Yeah, she's a nun, but not all rigid and stuffy and holier than thou.

What would they all say about me? They'd say I'm good in an emergency. They'd say I can cry at the drop of a hat. They'd say I chose teaching to fulfill my desire to have a child--something that never happened for my husband and myself. Emmie opened me up to new possibilities. What else would my friends say about me? That I'm not too old to learn.

Read more about Lynn, Emmie and all of their friends in Next Time I'm Gonna Dance at and in trade paperback at Champagne Books.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Polly and Chris - Next Time I'm Gonna Dance

Women Weaving Stories of Women's Lives--this is the theme for National Women's History Month. Today, meet two women--Polly and Chris--two of Emmie Steele's closest friends from Next Time I'm Gonna Dance.

Hear that, Chris? We're Emmie's "closest" friends. Whatever happened to "best" friends? BFFs?

Polly, don't start. You can't have more than one "best" of anything. Being the best means you're--well--the best--alone.

Then I'm Emmie's best friend and the rest of you are close friends? Ha, ha. Gotcha, Sister.

Fine, Polly. You got me. Feel better? You know, there is wisdom in choosing your battles. If you get a choice. Emmie didn't get a choice. We had the choice of whether to stand beside her or protect ourselves and keep a distance. Breast cancer in any woman is so scary.

It is. But, Sister Chris, you have an advantage over the rest of us. A hotline, if you will.

Lay off with the Sister stuff. Yes, I'm a Catholic Nun, but I'm no different than you or Emmie or any other woman, Polly, when it comes to something like breast cancer. I was terrified for Emmie. And getting my head shaved almost cost me my job. The Monsignor did not understand why his Pastoral Associate was sporting a bald head. He didn't like the colorful scarves much, either.

Yes, Sis---Chris. You know the easy part was holding Emmie's head while she puked. I never thought I'd say that out loud. Watching what Emmie went through with so much courage made me consider the times I've taken the easy way out. That was one of the reasons why it was easy to quit my job and pursue what I really wanted. Best decision I ever made.

Oh, Polly. We pick at each other and tease. But at the end of the day, we have one another covered don't we?

You bet your rosary beads we do.

You can get to know Polly and Chris and more of their stories in Next Time I'm Gonna Dance, available in ebook at and in trade paperback at Champagne Books.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Brett - Next Time I'm Gonna Dance

March is National Women's History Month and the theme is Women Weaving Stories of Women's Lives. I'm sharing the story of a different woman from my books every day in March. Meet Brett, one of Emmie Steele's best girlfriends.

That's girl friend, not girlfriend. I mean, Emmie and I are friends, but not that kind of friend. Oh, why do I bother? I don't owe you an explanation of my relationship with Emmie. I'm an attorney and work in an environment that's often hostile to women. It helps that I stand nearly six feet without heels. I try my best to be imposing. I can take a hit with the best of them and bounce right back.

But, I have to tell you, my girl Emmie has more spunk, more determination and courage than anyone I know. Even in the middle of her own battle with breast cancer, Emmie is able to listen to my problems, caution me about my choices, and hold my hand when I'm falling apart but refuse to cry. I'm tough, or at least I like to think so. But Emmie's taught me a few things about being tough and about being vulnerable. It wasn't until I let myself be vulnerable that I truly found happiness. I often thought of dancing as a metaphor for what I do in court. I guess I learned to dance, too, in a different way.

To find out more about my fancy dancing, read Next Time I'm Gonna Dance. Also available in paperback at Champagne Books.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Emmie Steele - Next Time I'm Gonna Dance

March is National Women's History Month and the theme is Women Weaving Stories of Women's Lives. I'm sharing the story of a different woman from my books every day in March. Meet Emmie Steele.

I've always been an optimistic person. Perhaps some of that optimism came from my best friends all the way back to grade school--Lynn, Brett, Chris, and Polly. We kind of have a pact that no one cries alone and we always have one another's backs. When I got my first diagnosis of breast cancer, it was only natural for me to stop right outside my doctor's office and call one of them, who in turn called the other three. Within an hour, we were crying, laughing, drinking and making promises to get through this together. When my husband--my now ex-husband--Wes left me high and dry in the middle of chemo treatments because, and I quote him, "I can't bear to stay and watch you suffer like 
this." What a load of crap that was. And, yes, I remained                                                         hopeful that I would come through both the chemo and a                                                        divorce and be just fine. And I was.

I admit my optimism began to waver when the doctor gave me this second diagnosis--the cancer was back in my one remaining breast. And, so, Lynn, Brett, and Chris met me at one of our favorite bars to hatch our treatment and recovery plan. Polly, who lives in New York, was brought on board later that evening via phone. The girls assured me they had my back and, well, my front, as I made decisions for surgery and treatment. Unlike the first time, I knew what to expect. Unlike the first time, I entertained the thoughts of many possible outcomes. I dodged the bullet once. I wasn't all that sure I could do it again. This time was different and I considered regrets. It's funny. There were many things I could regret--like my marriage (though that produced the most beautiful, intelligent and caring daughter ever). But I could only think of one thing--that I never really danced. I have my talents, but dancing is not one of them. I could barely dance at my own wedding (and perhaps that should have been a sign.) I was determined that, if I got another chance, I would learn to dance. What I did not anticipate was having Sonny Palucci step in as my dance partner.

Get my whole story and meet the best friends a girl could ever want in Next Time I'm Gonna Dance. Also available in paperback at Champagne Books.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Abby Walker Mulgrew - The Restoration of Abby Walker

March is National Women's History Month and the theme is Women Weaving Stories of Women's Lives. I'm sharing the story of a different woman from my books every day in March. Meet Abby Walker Mulgrew.

If anyone had asked me if I knew what it takes to keep a marriage vital and alive for twenty-five years, I'd have said, "Of course. I've been married for twenty-five years." I would have said it takes mutual respect, compromise and, most of all, love. And then I'd stick a bow on that pile of crap and smile.

I'm sorry. I get a little bitter when I think about my marriage. See, my marriage to Wil Mulgrew was good. Until it wasn't. And I was the last to know. Oh, there were little signs along the way, but I conveniently explained those to myself and ignored them. And, when I couldn't explain those little things away any longer, I bought sexy lingerie to take along on the cruise Wil and I planned for a twenty-fifth wedding anniversary.

Let's just say that was NOT smooth sailing. Now, here I am, living on the Maryland coast with Blackjack, my adopted Labradane. If you ask, "What's a Labradane?", I'll tell you--it's a really big, really loving, ferociously loyal dog. He's been known to take up half the bed and stare at me while I cry and then to pin a man to the wall for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

If you ask my advice on marriage, I'd say: Don't ignore the small stuff because it feeds on that ignorance into big stuff. Don't take anything for granted. Don't stay where you're not wanted.

If you ask my advice about divorce, I'd say: Make the best of it. Do whatever you have to do to reclaim the best of yourself that marriage may have stripped away. I went into antiques restoration, both because it's something I've always loved and because I needed a business to sustain myself. I discovered a lot about restoration, such as, "If you restore something beyond its age, you remove the patina--the essence of what it is, where it's been." Also, "If you restore, rather than refinish, you bring the old finish back to life." Oh, you think I'm talking about furniture? Well, it applies there, too.

To read more of my own story of restoration, check out The Restoration of Abby Walker. Also available in trade paperback at Wings ePress.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Janet (Hope) DeMarco - Finding Hope

March is National Women's History Month and the theme is Women Weaving Stories of Women's Lives. I'm sharing the story of a different woman from my books every day in March. Meet Janet (Hope) DeMarco.

Hope. We all need a little hope now and then. I, however, needed a lot. Have you ever had the experience of having your buttons all pushed at once, your last nerve stepped on? Well, you've heard all the cliches used to describe that moment when you decide you are through. You're not putting up with things the way they are for one more minute. It was an unfortunate series of events that led me to quit my job, change my name, color my hair and resign from my family roles.

I even posted a letter of resignation. And since other women have read my story, they've told me how much they'd like to post the same or a similar letter. I encourage them to do so. It was very freeing for me. Well, here--you'll see what I mean. (Of course, it was a shock to my husband and two teenagers.)

Dear family,

I quit. Effective immediately, I am no longer the cook, laundress, shopper, housekeeper, chauffeur, landscaper or resident problem-solver. Oh, I’m also not the banker or the ATM. I am, however, the instructor. Classes will begin tomorrow and seating is limited, so you should sign up early.

A cooking class will be conducted at five-thirty sharp. Bring your inquiring mind and appetite. A cook book will be available. On Saturday, I will offer two sessions—general housekeeping and laundry. Supplies will be provided. However, if you are attending the laundry session, please separate clothing into lights and darks and bring those with you. This class begins at nine a.m. in the basement.

Housekeeping will commence at ten, once you have mastered washing machine settings and drying times. Rubber gloves are recommended for those who have delicate skin or have had expensive manicures recently.

Other workshops, such as money-management, will be scheduled as needed and announcements will be posted. Don’t be late and get left out in the cold.

Janet R. DeMarco,
Wife, Mother, Person

(not necessarily in that order)

I took the name Hope. I didn't know why at the time, it was just a name I'd always liked. I needed to remake myself. I became a blonde. And I met the most interesting woman--Joy. We joked at times that we just needed one more person--Faith--to round out our trio. Joy had every reason to not be joyful and yet she'd made peace with herself and her life. Not everyone understood Joy's decisions. Even I had a hard time coming to terms with the way she lived. She was a complete conundrum to me, but she taught me so much about being true to oneself even when that makes no sense to everyone around you. Because in the end, you have to make sense to yourself. I went on a search for hope and became Hope. As an added benefit, my husband learned to cook, my kids learned to clean, and my son will make some lucky woman a wonderful husband one day. And my daughter is already asking those important questions I waited years to ask. Yes!

You might find my story hopeful, too. Finding Hope (Also available in paperback at Wings ePress.)

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Beth Rutledge - The Year I Lost My mind

March is National Women's History Month and the theme is Women Weaving Stories of Women's Lives. I'm sharing the story of a different woman from my books every day in March. Meet Beth Rutledge.

My name is Beth Rutledge. Today is my birthday. I am fifty-one years old. My mother will tell you I have been having a midlife crisis. My best friend will tell you I am courageous. My husband will tell you that, on my last birthday and for just a little while, I lost my mind.

That was the start of my story the year I turned fifty. That was the year I lost my mind. At least it seemed that way, even to me. So many women have told me they've shared my experience of confusion and questioning about their own lives around that age. How can you be happy and fulfilled and still feel that something's missing? It didn't make sense. My way of dealing with the question may seem impulsive or foolish to some. To others, it was a brave and bold move. Well, you'd have to judge that for yourself.

I still thank God for my loving family and my very, very understanding husband, David. Now that could have gone either way. I can't begin to tell you how scary that year was at times, how much I risked to answer that nagging question of what was missing in my life.

I will tell you this: Sometimes you have to lose something in order to reclaim it. Sometimes you have to trust the love that holds the seams of your life together and stretch it to a new limit. Sometimes you just have to lose your mind… and follow your heart.

Get the whole story here: The Year I Lost My Mind (or in paperback at Wings ePress.)

Monday, March 2, 2015

Claire Hutchings - Pieces

March is National Women's History Month and the theme is Women Weaving Stories of Women's Lives. I'm sharing the story of a different woman from my books every day in March. Meet Claire Hutchings.

Life can be full of the unexpected. One minute you're enjoying your happy family and, in the an instant, everything is called into question. I don't know exactly when I shifted from thinking it was all a nightmare to believing it was reality. I repeatedly awoke in a sweat, haunted by an image that stirred anxiety and the question, "Who am I really?" Something planted a seed of doubt that sent me on a quest for the truth. I was so sure I'd prove I was wrong. I hoped. I prayed. And then I accepted.

I was never a fan of jigsaw puzzles. My mother enjoyed them. My sister would sometimes help her. I never wanted to work that hard at trying to put the whole picture together.

Then suddenly I found myself doing just that--searching for one missing piece that would make my life fit. So many discoveries were unexpected, not the least of which was Lee Rowan.

The journey into deception that could have resulted in so much pain for everyone. Don't get me wrong. It was painful to learn the truths about my past and my family. The truth brought me to a crossroad, a decision where I had to choose between resentment or forgiveness, hate or love. I made the only choice I could.

You can get my whole story in Pieces. (Also available in paperback at Wings ePress.)

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Kate Reynolds - And The Truth Will Set You Free

March is National Women's History Month and the theme is Women Weaving Stories of Women's Lives. I'm sharing the story of a different woman from my books every day in March. Meet Kate Reynolds.

I look at this picture, at the crooked boardwalk that has a vague destination and I think that sums up my story. I'm Kate Reynolds and, until I was fifty-two, my path was straight and sure and I knew exactly where I was going. And I believed that was a good thing. Now, in retrospect, my life was boring.

I worked in the same place for over thirty years. Sure, my job description changed and I moved up in pay scale and title, and I managed to convince myself I was really going somewhere. To the top. What can I say--we all have our illusions. I walked in one day to learn I'd been downsized, and not in the way we women generally wish to downsize. 

With a very brief marriage and divorce in my past, both 
parents deceased and my younger sister living across the state, I found myself feeling like a rudderless boat set adrift in a threatening ocean. I did what most women would do in my situation and I refuse to apologize for it--I ate ice cream and potato chips and then I crawled under the blankets and hid from the world.

Let me ask you this: Do you have a best girlfriend? You know the kind--the ones that know you better than you know yourself. The ones who call you on your rationalizations and denial and fear? In other words, the ones who recognize your bullshit. The ones who tell you the truth at the risk of hurting your feelings, then hold you while you cry. Yeah, well I have one of those. Actually, I was blessed with two of them. Terri and Lucy. Both are strong, self-possessed women who, if asked, would probably describe me in the same way. But I felt anything but strong and self-possessed when I was unceremoniously dumped from my career. Okay, so it was a job. But it was my job. Oh, I had enough money to live on for a while and I own my house. It wasn't about how I would live, it was about who I was now. The realization that my sense of self-worth could be so easily compromised scared the hell out of me.

I managed to avoid Terri and Lucy for almost a week before Terri showed up, key in hand, to let herself into my house and kick my ass for me. That's another thing best girlfriends do for us. They give us that good swift kick we need to get us moving again in the right direction. Terri reminded me of who I am and of a dream I'd long ago abandoned. She made me realize that this crisis I was in also presented an opportunity if I'd dare to embrace it. What is it about following our dreams that demands taking so many risks?

In any case, I pulled myself up by my sandal straps and took off in pursuit of that dream. I thought it was as simple as moving on--new location, new people, new work. Ha! You've heard the saying, "The truth will set you free." Well, trust me, it's not as easy as it sounds. No one tells you what you have to go through to get to that truth, or truths as in my case.

I can tell you this: I liked the woman I was before my crisis. I love the woman I am now, the woman whose mettle was tested and tried and proven. In the end, I'd have to say the truth did set me free (with a little help from my friends.) My life is rich and full to bursting.

You can read my story in And The Truth Will Set You Free. (Also in paperback at