Life is Full of Surprises

Last weekend, my husband and I joined my sister and brother-in-law for a weekend away in Toronto. Our purpose was to attend a Blue Jays’ game, which we did, but we had lots of excitement along the way.

Since gas has gotten more expensive, we opted to take the train rather than drive. While you do have to have proof of vaccine and wear a mask, as seniors our fares were very reasonable, and the trip was comfortable and uneventful.

The fun started when we arrived in Toronto shortly after noon on Saturday. The day was gorgeous, with warm temperatures and sunny skies. We made our way out of the station and walked along Front Street to the Intercontinental Hotel where we stayed. The walk was no more than fifteen minutes, so dragging our suitcases, we joined the throng of people heading west.

This is the view from our room. You can’t ask for a better, closer hotel when going to a game. The walk to the stadium is less than ten minutes.

Inside the hotel lobby, as we were checking in, everyone’s cellphone started to sound an alert. Like many, I assumed it was an AMBER ALERT for a missing child. I didn’t check my phone. As expected, our room wasn’t ready, so we checked our bags with the concierge and decided to go to lunch.

At some point during the fifteen minutes we’d been waiting, dark clouds had replaced the sun. My sister asked me to check to see if there was rain in the forecast. I opened my phone and the first thing I saw was a weather warning unlike any I had ever seen before. I later learned that it was the first time the system had been used. The warning advised people to seek immediate shelter from storms heading into the area which would feature heavy winds, rain, and had the potential for golf ball sized hail. Heeding the warning, we crossed the street and went into an Italian restaurant for lunch. We’d only been inside a few minutes when the rain started, but for us in the city’s downtown core, that’s all it was.

We had lunch, an absolute feast with the best fresh mozzarella I’ve ever tasted, and then since the rain had stopped although the temperature had dropped, we went out exploring. It wasn’t until hours later that we learned that an EF2 tornado had set down an hour north of us. An EF2 tornado has wind speeds between 111 and 135 mph (178 and 217 km/h). Damage from an EF2 tornado is considerable. But the tornado was only part of the story. A derecho had swept across the province creating chaos and disaster, especially in and around the City of Ottawa as well as west, south, and east of it.

Part of a utility pole lies on a driveway, along with the roof of a hardware store that was lifted off by extreme winds during Saturday’s storm, in the community of Hammond in Clarence-Rockland, Ont. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

Unlike the rotating winds in a hurricane or a tornado, a derecho’s winds are straight. That doesn’t mean it’s any less damaging; its winds can topple trees and lift up roofs. Another feature of a derecho is that unlike the slow building of a supercell thunderstorm, the business end of a derecho is at the front.  When you see a derecho approaching, it often looks like an ominous wall of wind and rain.  It hits fast with the worst damage happening in minutes. As I write this, many people are still without power, and it will take months, maybe even years before all the damage is repaired. Luckily, Kingston, where my son lives, and Cornwall where our families were, only got rain.

Oblivious to all of this, we left the restaurant and walked down Front Street to the Royal York Hotel and one of its bars, The Library. Since we were on an adventure, we opted to have something out of the ordinary to drink. Each one of us selected something different. My husband had a variation on a Manhattan, my sister a lemon drop, my brother-in-law a martini, but my choice was easy. I had a Twist of Fate. Why? Because I’d written a book with the same title, a historical romance.

It made sense to me. Twist of Fate is set in the seventeenth century on Saint John Island in the Caribbean.

Can a cursed treasure unite two lonely outcasts?

Overton Stafford, shunned by his family because of a birthmark on his face, made a life for himself as Second Mate on The Golden Fleece. In a battle with pirates, Overton loses his left arm, ending his career. Knowing he will be a wealthy man makes the pain easier to bear, especially when he discovers he can repay a moral debt and help an old friend. When he meets Anna, Overton realizes he wants more from her than a financial partnership.

Anneliese Van Stubel lost her sight at nine as a result of Smallpox. Now eighteen, a ward of the crown because of the Danish Age of Majority law, she lives in limbo, uncertain what will happen to her. When Overton approaches her with the proposition to help her rebuild the plantation, she’s excited with the idea of returning to her home. But her joy fades when her caregiver makes it plain that he has a different future in mind for her, one that will profit him.

Set in a time when brutality against women and slaves was the norm, Overton seeks to change things as he falls in love with the girl who has lost so much.

I couldn’t wait for my drink to arrive. When it did, I wasn’t disappointed.

No one else got a bouquet of baby’s breath with their drink. It was absolutely delicious.

The rest of the weekend was as exciting and full of surprises as the first day was. Some of those surprises included a delicious dinner at another Italian restaurant, a not as much fun fire alarm in the middle of the night because some idiot was smoking in his room, and a dinner down on the waterfront at a brewery and roadhouse. While the fire alarm was disturbing, I didn’t do much other than wake up and listen for instructions. We were on the 24th floor. What else could we do?

Sadly, the Jays lost on Sunday afternoon, but all in all, it was a fantastic weekend full of surprises.

If you’re looking for summer reading for your own getaway, check out, Irresistible, I’ve got a Secret with my latest contemporary romance, Royal Flush.

Everyone has secrets…
But when you find that special someone, it’s those secrets that can make or break a relationship.
Six stories.
Six secrets—some bad, some good—featured in these BRAND NEW STEAMY STORIES From New York Times & USA Today Bestselling, Award-Winning Authors.
Can they hang on to their happy-ever-after once those secrets are revealed?

TWO HEARTS’ SUBVERSION by Tamara Ferguson, USA Today bestselling author: Marc Theroux and Desiree Broussard shared tragedy when they were kids. As friendship grows into something more, they’re forced to keep secrets when both are recruited by separate agencies responsible for investigating domestic terrorism. Will their love survive separation as Broussard Industries is targeted by one of the largest terrorist organizations in the middle east?

NO MORE HIDING by Natalie Ann, USA Today bestselling author:Brent and Vivian both have secrets that they are keeping from the other. When trust becomes a factor, can they find their way past their lies to love again?

MESSY PLANS by Mona Risk,New York Times and USA Today bestselling author:Dr. Matt Lopez is perfectly happy with his medical career until the new nurse practitioner, with her lovely smile and crazy ideas, turns his life upside down.

EVAN by Stacy Eaton, USA Today bestselling author: Can Laney and Evan find a way to build a relationship while keeping others from getting involved, or will the revealed secrets be enough to end any chance of a future before it begins?

DEAR DIARY HOTTIE by Mimi Barbour, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author: During their last months of high school, Eva and Jason hook up in a way that neither of them forgets. When they finally meet by chance, can he forget his animosity toward the girl who never acknowledged him after their passionate encounter, and can she put aside her unending grief that he never called.

ROYAL FLUSH by Susanne Matthews, International bestselling author: Pearl refuses to be part of another of her father’s mergers and runs away to be herself. When she meets Kyle, she falls for him, but what will happen when he learns who she really is?

Chill Out in the Garden!

April 11, 2022, Willamette Valley, Oregon (my yard)

In the northern hemisphere, it’s springtime! Or, depending on where you are, summer! Here in Oregon, USA, we’ve had a very long winter. We had snow on April 11 and only last week, there was frost on the windshield in the morning. It looks like I won’t be getting any cherries, plums, or peaches this year. The apples and pears bloomed late, so we may be okay there.

Gardening is great exercise!

What does the warm weather mean to you? To me, it’s gardening season. That also means I need to get in shape. Here’s a chart that should make you happy about spending time weeding and trimming. Need a butt lift? Move loads of soil or compost around!
Before you commit to your garden project, be sure to have your gear. Plenty of water to drink, a hat, sunscreen, gloves, and of course, a camera to take before and after pictures. Stretch all those muscles first, too. I have a five-gallon bucket with a swivel seat on it that holds my tools. Very nice to have portable accommodations. I never have been a fan of the kneeling pads but my chair/toolbox combo with a handle is great.


MOST IMPORTANT: Audio gear! For me, it’s my Echo frames. Not only do they hold the lenses that help me see, these also have little speakers above the ears and a mic somewhere in front. Since they’re linked with my smartphone, phone calls come through, too. Gloved hands are dexterous enough to tap the right temple, and it’s answered. Need tunes? I tell Alexa, “Shuffle music by Led Zeppelin” or Leonard Bernstein, depending on my mood. I wear scrubs so the phone’s nearby in a big pocket.

Tunes are good, but my go-to request while working and always while driving is, “Alexa, read my book.” Whatever book I’ve been reading on my Kindle device, continues. It DOES NOT have to be an AUDIBLE book, either. Alexa’s voice is pretty cool and way better than the first generation of book readers.

Any story that is ‘Text-to-Speech: Enabled’ on Amazon will work on your Echo. You can do so much more work when you’re listening, waiting for an exciting scene to finish. Even when I’m spent and finally go inside, the story follows me. No Echo frames? Any Kindle or Echo device will keep up with your place in the story. Just ask, “Alexa, read my book.” Smart stuff is awesome!

MURDER IS TO DIE FOR: Diehard Dames Amateur Detective Series

Looking for a long read to listen to for the road or a special project, check out MURDER IS TO DIE FOR. This cozy mystery set won’t make you blush (it’s not spicy) but will keep you intrigued.

Knocking on Heaven’s door

KNOCKING ON HEAVEN’S DOOR

Dear friends,

I hope all of you are doing well and hanging in there through these rough, crazy times.
Personally, I am going through the worst time of my life, having lost my dad on May 8th to lung cancer. I’ve always sympathized with people who fight this horrible disease every second, helped and donated whenever I could, but living it alongside my father was more heartbreaking than I could put into words. You never really know how awful cancer is until it happens to you or a loved one.
My dad was always a fighter and he battled the illness until the very last second. He always said it wasn’t the result of the battle that mattered, it was the beauty of the fight. I don’t feel that he’s lost the fight with cancer, I feel that he’s earned the right to walk in a better place, where there is no illness, pain, death or suffering.

Just the week before he passed away he officially became a published author himself – a dream he’s had for a long time. I’d like to think I inherited his talent with words, and he was especially proud of me being the only Romanian writer who’s a USA Today bestselling author and a RONE award winner.
After Killer Score won a RONE award in 2021, I didn’t imagine it was on such a rough occasion that I would share with you the news that another one of my books, Silent Strike, is nominated for a RONE award this year. Maybe you guys can help me feel more excited about it.
In order for the book to reach the judging round, it needs to get readers’ votes first. As you can imagine, promoting my book and asking for votes is the last thing I want to do right now, while grieving for my father. But being a writer is like any other job: you just have to do it, no matter what problems you have at home or how shattered your heart is from losing a loved one.
So here I am, thanking again to all of you who voted last year, and asking you to please vote for Silent Strike. If you have an account on indtale.com, you already know the process: log in, go to RONES/CONTESTS, then 2022 RONE AWARD READER VOTING, scroll down to Week 6, click Suspense/Thriller: Steamy and then select Silent Strike by Melinda Colt, and press the Vote button.
For those of you who don’t have an account, I made a few slides to help you through the process:

Access indtale.com from your browser.

I thank you all so much in advance for your votes, time and support. Any shares of this email are much appreciated, and may your kindness and patience return back to you a hundred times stronger!
I wish you and your families stay healthy, happy, and strong.
THANK YOU! ❤

Fondly,
Melinda

Watching your child become an adult

Like many of you, I marvel at how quickly time passes. It moves every quicker when you watch your child grow. Once sweet innocent babies, they grow into nosy toddlers almost overnight. Then on to being energetic and curious children, before moody adolescents desperately trying to find themselves and become young adults. It all seems to happen in the blink of an eye instead of years.

I have two children, and I had my first one when I was twenty-one. My second came thirteen years later. My oldest, a boy, has two children of his own. I often wonder when he became old enough to have a career, wife, children, and a home? I watch and listen from the sidelines as my son and his family go through stages of life that I can fondly remember doing myself with him.

My daughter just finished her first year of college, and as I listen to her stories, watch her movements, and her reactions, I am reminded that my little girl is no longer a baby, but a beautiful young lady, on the verge of being a full-blown woman. To some, she might already be a woman, but I still see tiny bits and pieces of her innocence of youth. I still hear the curiosity to understand simple things in life that tells me she still has much to learn. Not that we ever stop, but you get what I mean.

We just helped my daughter buy her first car, and to witness her signing the paperwork, was a sight to see. I asked her how she felt afterward, and she said that it made her feel important, and she felt the weight of it as she signed the document and then sat back, going wow, I just did that. Proud but scary at the same time. I can relate. Remember your first car? What about your mortgage? It is scary.

This summer, our family will probably enjoy one of our last family vacations. Now that my daughter is growing up, she has plans for herself. She has people to see and places to be. We are lucky that she still feels we are important enough to spend quality time with us. Or perhaps it’s just the lure of a beach. Either way, I will take it and enjoy every moment I can before she is off living her own life with a career, home, and family.

Then the nest really will be empty, and I’ll sit back and wonder where the time went. Actually, no, I won’t. I’ll be too busy writing happy stories about people growing up, finding love, and starting their lives—just like my children.

Want to read about siblings growing up and finding love? Make sure to check out my Loving a Young Series on Amazon.