Life Lessons From a Pitbull (Pit Bull)

Today my post is by my granddaughter, Kira. She wrote this two years ago when she was twelve. I think I have a legacy, an heir who feels that same compulsion to write on random subjects. Kira is passionate about her two pet pitbulls. I left this as she wrote it (it should be pit bull) but other than bulleting her points, this is all hers. Read on:

The Life of an Abused Pitbull
I am a survivor. I never lost my heart. They tried to take it and nearly ripped it apart, but I refused to break. I am not as weak as those men. They would beat me daily, but I never bit their hands. That’s what makes me different from the men who turned on me. They are the ruthless killers and that’s something I’d never be.

• There will be people who judge you just by how you look. They won’t give you a chance, but don’t be discouraged — just wag your tail and give all the love in your heart. Know that some are ignorant but love them anyway.
• It’s true that pitbulls grab and hold on, but what they grab and hold onto and not let go of is not your arm but your heart.
• If you think pitbulls heads are big, then why can’t you know how big their hearts are?
• I can’t count how many friends have betrayed me, lied to me, used me, but I can count the ones who will never do any of these things: my pitbulls.
• I am terribly afraid of pitbulls. They always give me face washes when they’re not needed and they will always steal your heart. They have a way of making you share your food and dessert, but I have never been afraid of being hurt by one.
• Keep calm and hug your pitbull!
P – rotective
I – ntuitive
T – ender
B – eautiful
U – nconditional
L – oyal and
L – oving

As far as her Nana goes, I have a new box set available today! Unforgettable Suspense – Danger and Trouble has EIGHT stories sure to keep you flipping the pages on your Kindle. Check out a quickie YouTube preview here: 

Full of fire and beauty, but this hot set won’t bite, either!

(Disclaimer: I know some dogs are mean, but it’s seldom the critter’s fault. I’m so glad a twelve-year-old could see that there is potential good everywhere)

The Perfect Match Beach Read Series @AyalaRachelle #mgtab

Have you ever wondered what it would be on a blind date in paradise?
Coming May 1st through June 5th 2018!!!
Available for pre-order in April!
Grab your beach umbrella and prepare for six weeks of romance and fun in the sun with a brand-new series brought to you by USA Today bestselling authors…
Six women receive invitations from Dawson Yates, owner of Perfect Match, a brand-new online matchmaking travel agency for a free week-long vacation to the island of her choice. As part of an extensive promotional campaign, Dawson expects to make six perfect matches that he can use to champion his business. The women expect to meet the men of their dreams. What none of them anticipates is the chaos that ensues when six couples who were strangers before agreeing to spend the week together discover that love is a lot more complicated than a match made by computer algorithms.
Join Bree, Marni, Molly, Jade, Ava, and Maeve as they embark on a once-in-a-lifetime vacation in the pursuit of love.
Here is Jade’s story.

A romance author without a romance. A Navy SEAL looking for a little R&R. What could happen in a week on an island getaway?

For author Jade Reed, romance is for the books. When her bestie cooks up a scheme for the perfect match on a tropical island, Jade sees an opportunity for a writing experience. Who needs a man?

Navy SEAL Aiden Lin needs to unwind. His mom wants a daughter-in-law. She sets him up for a one-week vacation with his perfect match. He doesn’t need a wife yet, but maybe he can have some fun and make his mom happy.

Neither is looking for love though they’re in the right place. Is it the right time, wrong time, or enough time?

Meet the women of Perfect Match!
BREE (Raine English) – May 1, 2018
MARNI (Aileen Fish) – May 8, 2018
MOLLY (Julie Jarnagin) – May 15, 2018
JADE (Rachelle Ayala – May 22, 2018)
AVA (Denise Devine) – May 29, 2018
MAEVE (Josie Riviera) – June 5, 2018
Available for pre-order April 2018
Join Happily Ever After Sweet Romance Readers Group to keep in touch.

Spring ~It’s Time to Dance by @AliciaStreet1 #mgtab

Spring is finally coming. The snow is melting and little bulbs under the ground are sending up green shoots that will bloom into colorful flowers. The horrible flu season is at an end. And I can feel a lightness in the air that makes me want to dance!

Here is a fun video to get you in the mood~

And to celebrate, my contemporary romance Kiss Me, Dancer is on sale for 99¢ until the end of March.

Ballet teacher Casey Richardson is all too familiar with hard times and disappointment. After years of struggle, she’s on the verge of losing her beloved dance academy. Enter handsome playboy businessman Drew Byrne. The sexy divorced dad would fix things with a check if she’d let him. After all, Casey’s the only person who’s been able to reach his shy, withdrawn son. But will saving her school mean losing her heart?

“So much depth, emotion, passion and love.”—Unputdownable Books

      What does spring make you want to do?

Three Irish Hunks–and a Bowl of Soup–for St Paddy’s Day


Here are some St. Paddy’s Day treats for you. Three Irish hunks and a traditional Irish soup.

The hunks are the heroes of the New Orleans Magic series. And from now until March 20, they’re on buy two, get one FREE sale. Jordan and Zachary are 99 cents and Liam is free!

After a murder at a voodoo ceremony in a charming New Orleans bistro, three street cops, Jordan O’Reilly, Liam O’Reilly, and Zachary Doucet, have a personal stake in solving the case. But if they meddle in the investigation, they may get thrown off the force—or worse.

Each of these compelling stories ends with an HEA for the hero and heroine. But only the full set will finally get to the bottom of the murder mystery. Be sure to read them all!

Get them at

And here’s what they like to have for dinner: Irish Potato-Kale Soup.
I first had this yummy soup at the Baltimore Irish Festival years ago and went home determined to make it. This is my easy version. I discovered it BEFORE the current kale craze, but it’s a great way to use that healthy vegetable.

Irish Potato-Kale Soup

Fresh kale adds a subtle and pleasing flavor to this creamy soup.

  • 3 tablespoons butter or margarine
    1 very large garlic clove, minced
    2 medium-sized onions, finely chopped
    3 pounds boiling potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes (about 6 3/4 cups)
    3 cups beef bouillon
    4 1/2 cups whole milk
    6 cups tender kale leaves, midribs removed, and coarsely chopped
    3/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
    Generous 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, preferably freshly ground

In a Dutch oven or soup pot, combine the butter, garlic, and onions. Cook, stirring frequently, over medium-high heat for 5 to 6 minutes, or until the onions are tender. Add the potatoes, bouillon, and milk. Bring to a boil. Cover, lower the heat, and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are very tender. Remove the pot from the heat and cool slightly.

In a food processor or blender, in batches, if necessary, purée about half of the milk-potato mixture and return it to the pot. Return the pot to the heat. Add the kale, salt, and pepper. Bring the soup to a boil and lower the heat. Simmer for an additional 12 to 15 minutes, or until the kale is just tender.

Makes 6 to 7 servings.

Sit down for three fun reads with these guys. And while you’re at it, enjoy a bowl of soup.

Spring Ahead by Natalie Ann #mgtab

I’d love to be looking at my tulips right now, but unfortunately all I see is a white blistery mess in my yard.

Regardless of what it looks like outside of my window, spring will officially be here in less than one week! And with spring comes new beginnings. New life. And maybe even some new romance.

Last Chance is the sixth book in my Lake Placid Series. Riley Hamilton picked up her life and moved on, hoping to find something new. She didn’t expect to find a sexy chief of police who was afraid of her profession. Nor did she expect to find a love that she had been dreaming of her whole life.

Secret Love is the first in my new Love Collection of 99 cent novellas and is available for pre-order now. Piper Fielding is determined to forget about her past. Hide it away and pretend it never existed. Vin Steele needs to put his past behind him in order to move on. When he discovers his sexy neighbor is being stalked, he does the only thing he can do…he finds a way to protect her, and in the process loses his heart.

Secret Love is part of the Unforgettable Suspense boxed set that you can grab for just 99 cents! Eight electrifying page-turners will keep you spellbound and in love with characters you won’t want to leave. Read about a young girl’s retaliation, intrigues and crimes in a high rise, secret loves, lies & passion, revenge, dead bodies and virgin pool boys. These gripping stories will offer heart-pounding entertainment until the very end. If you like unforgettable suspense then you’ll LOVE this collection.
New York Times and USA Today best-selling, award-winning authors present the first romantic suspense collection in the UNFORGETTABLES SERIES

If you’re stuck in the house trying to stay warm like me, or just looking for a new book to read, here are a few to choose from. Enjoy!

How to Write a Budget #mgtab

How to Write a Budget (Washington DC style) by Nancy Radke

1. Look at how much you spent last year.
2. Add a percentage to that amount, say 10%.
3. Take the new figure and call it the baseline.
4. If anyone wants to go below the baseline, it is called a “cut,” even when it doesn’t reach back to the amount you spent last year.
5. You “add” the money you need next year to the baseline. Thus you can increase your amount 30%, but only claim you increased it 20%.
6. If you need more money, print it. (State governments can’t print money, so most don’t use baseline budgeting.)

Since the rest of us can’t handle our finances like this, we believe politicians when they yell about someone making a cut in their favorite program. It is why government budgets always seem to grow, never shrink, even when they “cut” something.

I used to write out a budget, but gave it up as a useless exercise. If I don’t have the money, I don’t spend it.

In my book, Spirit of a Champion, the heroine, Stormy, had cut up her credit cards so she wouldn’t use them, then runs out of money while trying to save her brother’s life in Las Vegas. Kyle, my generous hero, offers to help, but later doubts her story when he sees her staying in an expensive hotel, and driving a new car around. She says her first car blew up, and her cousin loaned her the second one. Where did she get the money? Can he believe her wild story, that someone is trying to kill her? And what can he do when the killers try again?

This book links characters from an earlier novel in this series, Scorpion’s Trail.

Birthing Relationships & Bigger Things





Hello and happy March 8th! In honor of International Women’s Day, I decided to share an essay I wrote a few years back. It touches on the only thing all women (all people) are guaranteed to have in common: we all had a mother at some point.

I hope you enjoy BIRTHING RELATIONSHIPS and that you take time out of your busy day and give yourself a little treat to celebrate and honor yourself–the woman you are, the ways that you’ve grown, the work that you do, and the dreams that you have.

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The dining room at my grandma’s, a huge three-floor farmhouse in Hazelton, British Columbia, held three six-foot tables end to end. For years, upward of twenty people had dinner there every day when she was feeding her whole family, plus whatever friends, miscellaneous mill workers, farmhands, or other relations happened to be around. I was always delegated to the kids’ table. This separation wasn’t any form of  “children should be seen and not heard.” It was just practical: seat people where they’d have the most enjoyment.

Eventually though, kids grew up and moved away, paid helpers decreased until there were none, and those of us who remained were old enough for adult conversation, so the ages merged. I loved to listen to the seemingly endless stories my mom, aunts, and grandma told as they cleared dishes, downed tea, or rattled dice playing Yahtzee.

By the time I began having my own children, I’d already heard a lot of family dirt, yet the fact that my generation was now at childbearing age opened the door to a whole new host of tales.

“Great Grandma—Grandma Peggy—had fourteen children. Three sets of twins!” The story always started the same way, even though we all knew how many kids she’d had. “When she had the last set of twins, one was born too small. Well, they were both small, but Shirley? You could fit a teacup over her head. Peggy was told her newest daughter would never leave the hospital with her brother. But she did—against medical advice.

“The doctor told her she was taking the baby home to die, but Grandma Peggy was stubborn and she had decided that her little one would not die, at least not without a fight. She bundled Shirley up in layers of flannel and put her in a loaf pan, and you know how old cook stoves had a shelf for rising bread? Well, that’s where she put Shirley. And every three hours or so, she’d take her down, feed her, unwrap her and move her arms and feet, change her . . . then wrap her up again and put her back on the shelf, just like she was punching down dough.” Here we all laugh and wait in anticipation for the last phrase. “And just like a loaf of bread, that little girl rose. She was the healthiest little thing you ever saw. And that doctor? Well, he just didn’t know what to say.”

My grandma’s stories about herself are shorter, inserted into other stories when they fit. She specializes in tales of obsolete medical “wisdom”—like discouraging women from breastfeeding—and marvels at how open and knowledgeable women of today are about their inner workings and body parts.

My mom often retold the story of how, when pregnant with my first brother, she endured intense pelvic pain, not continually, but at intervals. “It feels like the baby is purposefully slamming his head into the bones down there,” she complained to her physician. “Don’t be silly,” he replied. “Newborns and babies in utero aren’t strong enough to intentionally lift their heads.” Finally labour day arrived. A day later, when she could first walk to the nursery alone, my mom paused at the door and witnessed two nurses talking animatedly over a bassinet. “I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s impossible!” said one. “Look, look—he’s doing it again,” said the other. Wondering what all the fuss was about, my mom made her way over. There was my ten-pound-plus baby brother raising his head, turning it side to side, and setting it heavily down—almost slamming it—as he shuffled to get comfortable.

Up until motherhood, I had been an enthralled listener. Now I was able to share my own stories. The group favourite is one about the birth of my son. About my hard, fast labour and how I knew my baby was coming soon, but how my doctor disagreed and argued about the nurse’s estimation of how far I was dilated. “She [the nurse] must have small fingers. There’s no way you’re eight centimetres. It’ll be five or six hours yet,” he said, then left. I panicked, thinking I couldn’t possibly endure another six hours.

The minute the doctor was out of the room, I needed to push. “Are you sure?” the nurse asked. “Can’t you hold it?” No, I couldn’t hold it. I was having a baby!

She paged the doctor a bit frantically. He got the call on his cell phone just as he was pulling out of the hospital’s lot. He circled back in, found a new parking spot, and got upstairs and into his scrubs just in time to see the arrival. Christopher burst forth so quickly that he landed on the tray; the doctor couldn’t even catch him. It was only my fourth push and I’d done a sort of crunch thing and got to see my child come out. It was amazing. Seeing him all pink and wet on the stainless steel tray, I announced, “I had a baby. It’s a boy!” The doctor said, “You did. It is.”

Thinking back on these stories and others shared between us women, I realize many had a common theme, childbirth and childrearing, and I have to wonder why.

I think, the fun and laughter of it all aside, we told our stories because they fostered a feeling of connection to each other, despite our many differences.

Even in a family of two or three children contrasts can be dramatic enough, but my grandma had eleven offspring. In her daughters, daughters-in-laws and granddaughters, almost every type of woman imaginable is represented. Widely varying educations, assorted religions, and completely divergent political views abound. Birthing and childrearing are our only guaranteed common ground, particularly the birthing because parenting is more open to dissenting opinions and partings of ways. But in the act of giving birth, no one can argue the other’s experience; they can only identify with its similarities or learn through its differences. Even my aunt and sister who don’t have children bond through these discussions.

“Well, you all completely affirm my conviction to never have children,” one aunt says, laughing. “Besides, I’ve been born and I could give birth . . . I still have the uterus connection.” She makes jests about too-much-information and shares crazily hilarious (and sometimes horrifying) comments she has received from people who range from sceptical to downright affronted that she doesn’t have any “maternal urges.”

Talking of differing adventures and resting in obvious similarities gives us a foundation for conversation about other things. Not all of us are revel-in-the-pure-bliss-of-motherhood types. Definitely not. Our stories are celebratory, but they are also reflective, sometimes negative. They lead into conversations about what we were led to believe as compared to what we found reality to be . . . and trust me, women through the generations (I’ve had five generations to observe) have been taught widely divergent things.

Through our personal situations, we explored and gave body to an idea that we continue to hope stays true—that our pain was not for nothing. We put our life events into story and the listeners gave credence to (and thus soothed) our frustrations and fears, while applauding that which usually goes by unrecognized. It was obvious and permissible to say that being a mother was (is!) important to us. It doesn’t define us, but it is an integral part of who we are and we have pride associated with it.

Years passed, as they do. My grandma finally moved off the farm. The great majority of my relations scattered across North America like dandelion fluff and put down roots elsewhere. Some family members passed on; new ones joined. But we still get together when we can and when we do, we still tell tales. As I relay my own stories and laugh, rage indignantly or get misty-eyed at the ones others tell, deep joy and a feeling akin to immortality surges through me. My daughter and son are adults now, as quick to speak and share as anyone else. I’m almost irrationally happy when my son says, “Tell the one about Uncle Wilf again—but first, did I really wave to you during the ultrasound?”

Today, my mother has been gone for twenty-three years—she died when she was just 42, three years younger than I am now—my grandmother is 88, and my firstborn has two babies of her own. I’m filled with gratitude and awe and something that’s part hope and part responsibility: that our family stories will live on through me and birth the same connection and pride I feel in coming from a long line of tough, resourceful, funny women.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Thanks so much for reading and have a lovely day!

P.S. In other Happy International Women’s Day related news, I was thrilled to have my novel BIGGER THINGS selected by Kobo for their huge International Women’s Day sale. It’s regular price is $7.99, but it’s 60% off for the next four days–and my team and I managed to get it price-matched across all vendors. I hope you enjoy it and that you experience new birth and bigger things of your own in coming months.



Lifelong friends, dangerous secrets . . .

Jen should be celebrating her 121-pound weight loss, but instead feels lost. Chelsea appears to have it all, but dangerous secrets threaten everything. Kyra is struggling to discover who she is after years of putting up facades. Then crisis hits. Can the friends battle their personal dragons and accept change in order to save their friendship, or do they need to go their separate ways?

Florida Everglades


For those of you that follow me on Facebook, or just know me in real life (not social media, lol) you know that my BF and I started taking Sundays for ourselves–away from the computer, and hopefully tromping around somewhere on the beach or on kayaks at the inlet, or on a mini road trip. Florida from Key West up the coast to Pensacola can take 9 hours. We have a loooong, skinny state. Fun thing is, you can cross it in under three. Yep, coast to coast, across alligator alley, Ft. Lauderdale to Naples.

Not only do I write on average six books a year but we also have an author’s services business–which we have narrowed down to the things that work for us. We both edit and Christopher offers one-on-one book coaching in addition to marketing and running all of our websites and newsletters etc. Working for yourself requires a lot of elbow grease and the pay-off is not the same as a nine to five job where you get a dependable check–in order to avoid burn-out, we grabbed Sundays for us. The injection of energy and balance has been incredible and I highly recommend it. You don’t have to spend a lot of money-we love Groupon! And most of the parks are free, or just a few bucks.

We went to the Florida Everglades National Park, which cost 25.00 to get in but the ticket was good for a week. Believe it or not, folks actually camp there 🙂  I have never seen a panther in the wild and the mosquito can be as large as the pelicans.

These three images are all from the same day, and the same park. The first is a bald cypress grove, I think there is a turtle in the second one, and this last image is Flamingo–the park had a small marina at the very tip of the park closest to the Gulf. This place actually had a bald eagle in a nest. Sorry I didn’t get a picture of that!

I was born in Seattle and raised in Spokane where my mom still is–she tells me about shoveling snow, and I don’t miss it. I will take warm sun and sand any day!

My #BytheSea series is a contemporary romance with 14 stories so far (more to come this year!) that take place in Lauderdale by the Sea and I make sure to add in scenes that hopefully bring my love for the coast alive.

Have a wonderful day,