Bonus Material: Read ‘Cross Waves’ Cut Scenes

As Stephen King famously said, you gotta “kill your darlings.” He meant, of course, that writers need to be ruthless in the editing process. No matter how well-written, if the copy doesn’t fit the story, then it should be struck from the finished manuscript.  Most writers will have “cut” scenes—fully written scenes the author eliminates during developmental edits.

If you’ve read Cross Waves, then you’ll be happy to know that I had to cut a scene! You can read the unedited version below. This scene describes a defining moment in Rolf (hero) and Geneva’s (heroine) past. Although the scene was eliminated, the memory is referenced in the finished novel.

Enjoy!

Amanda



Explosion

Seven Years Ago

Geneva Ericksen swore she wouldn’t shed another tear over Rolf Jorgensen. She swiped the backs of her hands across her red-rimmed eyes and strode into Cleveland’s Wayside Tavern, a don’t-mess-with-me scowl on her face. Three men playing pool glanced her way.

She sniffed the air, her nostrils flaring like the government doctors said they would as she grew into her power—her body’s way of shedding excess energy. The men’s gaze slid past her frown and stopped at her chest. The light clouding the air around them shifted from coral to dark purple, the color of lust.  One of the men, the one with a full beard and long shaggy hair, glanced her way and winked. She raised her chin and kept her eyes trained on his. Eyes as sharp and steady as the edge of a blade. He dropped his gaze.

She shoved her heated palms into her coat pockets. She kept remembering the way Rolf  looked at her—like she was five and a total stranger, not eighteen and his sister’s best friend. “Shouldn’t you be at home and in bed?” He’d asked, his cool voice sliding over her skin like soft leather.

She continued moving until she reached the bar, her stomach performing backflips and somersaults. She slapped a five-dollar-bill on the counter.

“I’ll take a Fireball,” she said to the bartender. He looked like something out of a Wolverine movie. Tattoos in a variety of shapes and sizes covered both muscled arms peeking out from his cut-off T-shirt, and a thick, silver ring pierced the left corner of his upper lip.

The energy surrounding the bartender went from beige to navy.

Suspicion.

Adrenaline shot through her body like a pinball. Oh, shit. She was about to be carded.

Not today. Not after turning eighteen this morning and becoming a full-fledged member of the U.S. Government’s Cognitive Mind Unit—or CMU as they called it—despite her father’s protests. Not after being treated with indifference by the only guy she ever cared about, Rolf Jorgensen. Not even if she wasn’t legally entitled to a drink. Heck, she’d walked to this hole in the wall. It’s not like she planned to drink and drive.

She sucked the energy from the four corners of the room, drawing the multi-colored buzzing waves to her. The lights in the place dimmed, distracting the bartender. Although he couldn’t see the energy she channeled, he watched the ceiling like it was bugged. She pumped the massive energy cloud at the wineglasses behind him, shattering them with one powerful, mental thrust.

“What the…?” The bartender glanced her way, then grabbed a broom to sweep the broken glass. She used his distraction to nab a beer she spied behind the counter. It wasn’t a Fireball, but at least it was alcohol.

She sat on a stool and drank the beverage like a regular.


Damn Rolf Jorgensen.
When had her childhood neighbor become such a tempting heart-throb? One day they played Legos, and the next he’d morphed into a tall, dark, and chiseled god. Fate blessed him with enough devil-may-care attitude and charm to tempt the most naïve virgin or strictest prude. Which, Geneva was ashamed to admit, put her pretty much in the same sinking boat with all the other girls he knew.

She wiped her burning eyes and the idiotic tears that wouldn’t stop flowing since their recent encounter. Since he’d once again rejected her.

She studied the beer bottle as if it held answers. She didn’t need him, didn’t want to feel this never-ending attraction, didn’t want to want him. She tipped her head back and took a large gulp of beer. The bitter brew slid its way down her throat.

He didn’t want her either, so they were even.

She raised the bottle in a silent mockery of a toast and drank again. Other guys found her attractive. Other guys asked her out on a regular basis. Too bad other guys couldn’t compare to Rolf.

As if he’d read her mind, or she’d waved him over, the man who’d winked earlier strolled to the bar, sliding next to her. He smelled like cigarettes, beer, and motor oil.

“Hello there, Sweetheart. What’s a nice girl like you doing in a dive like this?”

“What’s it look like?” She peered into the half-empty bottle. Maybe if she ignored him he’d go away.

“No need to get snippy, honey. I just want to get to know ya. My name’s Anthony, but my friends call me Tony. What’s yours?”

Geneva couldn’t help but notice the intense purplish brown waves spiked with raw sienna surrounding Tony. The man was drunk. “I’m just trying to have a beer,” she said. “Alone.”

Tony put his arm around her shoulders and squeezed. “Don’t be like that, sweetie. Tell me your name.”

She pushed him off. “Not tonight.”

Tony’s aura shifted from purple-brown to a mix of coral and red. Uh-oh. She drew back.

He grabbed her arm and pulled her from the barstool. “No need to talk, honey, les’ dance.”

She yanked her head back, put her hands on both his shoulders, and tried to wedge some space between them. Tony’s grip tightened. He swayed back and forth, grinding his hips into hers.

“Stop it.” As if she’d waved a magic wand and summoned them, multi-colored spheres of energy flew towards her from God knows where. She stared, lips parted at the unexpected gift. There was no time to consider further.

The close contact with his sweaty body provided a direct link into his dirty little mind.

Chick has hot tits.

Geneva gritted her teeth and held her breath, trying to ignore the blinding purple light and the hard evidence of his desire. “I’m warning you. Let me go.”

Tony was either too far gone with booze or too stupid to sense the gathering electrical storm. He pressed her face to his chest, his long arms caressing her back. Energy snapped and crackled in the air above Geneva’s head. The hair on the back of her neck rose in response.

“Hey, sugar. Don’t be unfriendly. I know you want me. Don’t play hard to get.” His hand slipped to her rear-end and squeezed.

“Dammit. Get away from me!”

Dark multicolored energy bombs shot from her hands. A thunderous rumble shook the building, flinging Tony against the opposite wall, near where his friends played pool. He crumbled, crying out and grasping his right arm, which hung at an odd angle. His friends dropped their cue sticks and rushed towards him, helping him to sit and examining his arm.

“She did it,” Tony said, groaning and nodding his head in her direction like she’d cursed him.

His friends stared at Geneva, confusion painting their auras a dull brown. They were probably wondering how all one hundred and ten pounds of her was capable of flinging a two-hundred pound grown man across the room.

“Don’t go near her,” Tony shouted. “She’s a witch.”

By now everyone in the bar watched the unfolding scene. If Geneva were a real witch, she would cast an invisibility spell. But the only spell she could summon was the courage to remain in place.

“I’m sorry,” she said and her stomach sank. Why had she thought having a drink in a bar a good idea? She should have known trouble would follow. She wasn’t supposed to be here. Her disappointment, defiance and anger had long since vanished to be replaced by cold, hard fear. She shifted from one leg to the other, tucking her clammy hands into the pockets of her jacket.

The two men glanced at her and back to Tony. “You’ve got to be kidding,” the one with the shorter hair said. “This little thing broke your arm? I don’t believe it.”

“She did it. I swear she did, Tim!” Bright pink streams of light spilled from his aura. “The little bitch is psycho.”

“C’mon, Tony. Let’s get you to a hospital.” The stockier of the two grabbed Tony by his good arm and helped him to his feet. He half-dragged his friend past Geneva and out the door.

Tony shouted at her. “This fucking hurts! She’s crazy, man. Nuts, I tell ya. I wouldn’t get close to her, Tim. Get the hell away if you know what’s good for you.”

Tim did not take Tony’s advice. He didn’t follow the other patrons, who shook their heads and went back to what they were doing before witnessing the explosion. He didn’t approach the bartender, who dumped the busted glass in a trash can, wiped his hands on a towel, and waited on another customer. He stood staring, his gaze flickering over Geneva like he was deciding what to have for dinner. Geneva studied the shifting dark blue in his aura.

Indecision.

Would he leave her be? Maybe if she ignored him, he’d scram. She turned towards the bar, but a flash of dark red light caught the corner of her eye.

Danger. She pivoted towards the exit.

The indecision in Tim’s aura had vanished, replaced with a clearer directive.

Revenge.


*****

Energy leaped from Tim’s body to Geneva’s like a leopard from the treetops, sending a jolt of panic straight to her heart. He strolled towards her, his face hard and angular. He would hurt her…cause her pain as she had done to Tony.

“Stay away from me.” She held one hand out to warn him off and used the other to draw whatever energy she could find in the room. Like before, round multi-colored spheres rushed her. If only she could use them. Exercising her talent to the extent she had earlier required a recovery period. It was difficult, if not impossible, to absorb the power necessary to hurl her punisher across the room. She’d need to distract him.

Adrenaline pumped in her arteries like an IV with a direct line to her aorta. She’d not let Tim grab her. Geneva dodged his grasping fingers, scrambling towards the door. She might have made it, too, if the rubber on her tennis shoes didn’t choose that moment to get caught on the shiny dance floor. She tripped, landing in a sprawling pile.

He grabbed her shirt, hauled her to her feet, and pushed her out the door and into the dark parking lot. The zipper on his jacket caught her face, the pain sore and sharp and stinging.

She pressed her hand to her cheek. Her fingers came away wet.

Break her bones.

The glimmer of thought sent panic ripping through her system. Her heartbeat accelerated and beads of sweat broke out on her forehead. Geneva opened her mouth to scream, but the sound was silenced by a blunt, familiar voice in her head. “Remain calm.”

She looked to the doorway, eyes wide. Rolf Jorgensen, all six feet two of him, leaned against the opening like a caged tiger. Dark patches of multicolored red light poured from his chest and arms.

Rage.

That explained the energy spheres she’d grabbed earlier. What was he doing here? Relief cooled her insides, soothing any questions she had about his sudden appearance. Thank God he’d come. He had three years’ experience with the CMU. She almost felt sorry for the douchebag who held her.

“Let her go,” Rolf said to Tim, his tone rough. A muscle in his jaw twitched.

Tim scanned Rolf but did not let Geneva go. His grip on her arms tightened like a slow-moving vise. “Stay out of this. The bitch broke my buddy’s arm. She needs a lesson in manners.”

Rolf moved in a blur. He thrust out a powerful hand, grasping Tim’s neck in a single, swipe and hustling him further into the parking lot, Geneva still in his clutches. “Watch your language around the lady. If anyone’s giving any lessons today, it’ll be me. Let her go. Now.”

Geneva sensed the pulse of energy issued with the command. Tim responded by pushing her to the ground. She landed in a small heap, letting out a yelp at the sudden freedom and contact with the hard pavement. She scrambled to her feet, eyeing the dark green light oozing from Rolf’s aura. He looked taller and fiercer than a moment earlier. His black leather jacket and hair added to the impression. A glint of metal caught her attention.

“Rolf, he’s got a knife,” she yelled. Faster than she blinked, Rolf grabbed Tim’s wrist and twisted. Tim dropped the knife with a groan.

Rolf growled, grasping Tim’s shirt and lifting him off his feet. Geneva couldn’t stop a shiver at the ferocity in his tone. In the parking lot light, she could see the muscles in his arms bulging and tightening.

“Rolf,” she begged. “I’m fine. Let him go. Please.”

Rolf hesitated and for a few frightening seconds, Geneva worried he’d ignore her plea. But finally he shoved Tim away from him. Tim stumbled but managed to stay upright.

“Get the hell out of here,” Rolf said. “If you touch her again, you’re dead.”

Tim stepped backwards, palms out. “Okay, okay buddy. The bitch isn’t worth it.” He spat at Geneva, then took off at a run across the parking lot towards what looked like a beat-up, red pickup truck.

Rolf took a fast step forward, the weird dark green light preceding him, but Geneva managed to catch his shirt sleeve and tug hard. “Please, Rolf,” she said. “It’s all my fault. Let him go.”

He turned, the dark green color in his aura morphing into bright red with streaks of black, indicating anger, frustration and something more. Something so unusual, Geneva couldn’t fathom its meaning.

“Please,” she said again through a rush of hot tears. “I’m sorry.”

In a flash the strange color transformed into Rolf’s customary green. Geneva expected him to give her a blistering lecture but when had Rolf ever done the expected?  He crushed her against his hard chest until she barely breathed. Beneath the cotton T-shirt he wore, Geneva could hear the reassuring thump of his heart. The steady sound and warmth of his skin mixed with the smell of mint exploded across her psychic senses. Colors in a multitude of shades vibrated in the air around them. Purple. She stilled, every cell alert to the sudden shift in the atmosphere. Passion purple.

In all the years she’d known Rolf, he’d never expressed the slightest desire for her. He’d been protective at times—even big-brotherish. But he ignored her flirting, not giving her a hint he returned her interest. This afternoon he’d refused to give her a ride on his precious motorcycle. But now.

The roar of the engine from the pickup truck as it sped towards them across the open parking lot jerked her out of her reverie and had both of them looking up. Before she could react, Rolf thrust her out of the way. Then he turned and faced the speeding vehicle as if he had the power to stop it. Which was just plain crazy. Rolf was a mind hacker. He could push and change thoughts and invade minds, but he wasn’t superman. He only had a few seconds—not near enough time to convince Tim not to run him over.

“Rolf, look out!” She screamed but he didn’t seem to hear her. Streaks of the strange black light moved inside his aura, like some wild gypsy spirit begging for release. At the last second, Tim turned the truck to the side, and it went careening out of the parking lot.

Geneva rushed into Rolf’s arms, laughing and crying at the same time. She slid her hands up and down his chest. “What were you thinking facing down that idiot? You’re not made of steel. He could have killed you.”

“He didn’t.”

His muscles remained bunched and straining under her palms. And then it changed. A sob rose in her throat, threatening her self-control. A mass of rainbow colors occupied the space in front of her. It was happening again. Gobs of energy. Far too much. She knew her power was enough to kill a man.

She dropped her hands from Rolf’s chest as if it were on fire and stepped backwards. She had mere seconds before the energy detonated. All it would take from her was the wrong thought.

She swallowed hard and sucked in air, blowing it slowly through her nose as she’d been taught as a child. Her pulse slowed, her heartbeat settling into a steady, even thrum. The world fell away, and she floated in space.

Geneva forgot the parking lot and Rolf and their near death experience. She forgot her hurt and anger and fear. She forgot everything except the colors. They glowed almost fluorescent in the seething mass in front of her. Each vibrating strand offered itself to her in bold relief. Take me. Use me. Like a siren’s call, they begged for release. She wouldn’t listen to their pleas. She knew better. Their way led to death and destruction.

She channeled her mind on the lethal, dark amber shades first, separating and pulling them from the chaos as if she pulled a strand of string from a ball of yarn. One by one she identified the individual waves, isolated them from the rest and sent them into the universe until only rose remained, vibrating in the space in front of her. Her own psychic energy. With a twitch of her head she pulled the rose waves inside, and the energy bomb winked out of existence.

She stumbled and would have fallen, except for the strong arms enfolding her. Rolf’s arms. Her stomach lurched at his closeness. She’d imagined the purple color earlier. He held her to keep her calm, that’s all.

Reckless. Immature. Stupid.

Tears leaked from the corners of her eyes and slipped down her cheeks. How would she ever forgive herself if another person she cared for died because of her failure to control her impulses? She never should have gone to the bar tonight.

“I…I almost killed you.” Her voice stuttered like someone shook her, the sound high-pitched and frightened to her own ears. Her heartbeat galloped like a runaway horse. Still, she pressed on, trying desperately to relay how close she’d come to losing control. To losing him. “I’m so glad you’re okay…I’m…”

He tilted her chin and words deserted her. His unusual eyes caught hers—she’d swear they were the brightest and bluest she’d ever seen. They seemed to see inside the darkest parts of her, but they didn’t flinch or look away. Not like the others. No, they scraped her insides. Left her raw and aching and vulnerable until there was nothing left inside. Nothing more to see.

She braced herself for the moment he’d reject her. Waited for it with an expectation born of years of unrequited admiration. Every girl she knew for miles around wanted Rolf Jorgensen. Jorgensen cast-offs. That’s what her brothers called them. The girls who’d tried to get it going with Rolf and failed. Why should she be any different?

I’m worse. I kill. They all knew it. Were all afraid of her.

She opened her mouth to warn him—to break the raw connection that held her immobilized. But his eyes dropped to her lips, and God help her, she couldn’t move if her life depended on it. Purple light flared from his aura as if someone lit a Roman candle behind him. She’d not imagined it. Rolf desired. Her.

Her heart beat against her chest cavity like a frantic bird wanting to be let out. He tilted his dark head, slanting his lips towards hers. She closed her eyes and waited for his kiss. His breath warmed her cheeks. For a moment he hovered just out of reach, and Geneva feared he’d changed his mind. But finally, finally, he closed the gap and his lips met hers.

A thousand colors exploded behind her eyelids.

Rolf’s kiss robbed her of any remaining breath she might have had. His lips were warm and tender and all-consuming, as if he would conquer her body and soul. They invaded her senses: tasted like cool water, smelled like a Lake Erie breeze, heated her from the inside out. They found and worshiped the raw sensitive parts of her. They nipped at her, then soothed and gentled, like the sweetest balm. She could have stayed in the dark parking lot, kissing Rolf forever. But a car honked and someone yelled, “Get a room,” and he lifted his head and set her away from him.

She searched his aura for any hint of purple, but the color had vanished into a sea of dark green as if it had never been. “Rolf?”

“I was trying to distract you,” he drawled. “Looks like it worked.”

*****


Hunt. Destroy. Obliterate.

Dark energy stirred in Rolf’s gut, straining to break free of the mental leash he used to bind it to him. It teased his senses, taunting with its endless, raw power. He breathed deep, his nostrils flaring, automatically tracking the bastard who dared threaten Geneva. Tracking to find. Tracking to kill.

Next to him, Geneva shivered, stirring his psychic senses. He fisted his hands at his sides and widened his stance on the solid pavement, keeping his face squarely turned from hers so he couldn’t see her expression. He’d hurt her tonight. Pretended to be impervious to the wild attraction arcing between them.

Deliberately, coldly, mercilessly.

Overhead the wind strengthened, bending the tree branches and echoing his restless spirit. She placed a hand on his arm. He felt the soft touch in his groin. He jerked beneath her fingertips, the movement doing little to contain the depths of his desire and despair. Did she have any idea how difficult it was to pretend indifference to her constant flirting? To pretend like he didn’t care? He was only human after all. A human monster. She deserved better than to be bound to him.

“C’mon, I’ll walk you home,” he said, his voice hoarse.

He took off towards the main street, giving her no choice but to follow. The night sky held a strange cast. Dark energy shimmered in the air in front of him, twisting his insides. Shit. The bastard who’d planned to break her arm had long since disappeared into the night, but the dark in Rolf could sense his presence like a malignant tumor waiting to be found and wiped from existence.

Behind him, Geneva huffed. “Wait, please, I can’t keep up.”

Why did she insist on believing in his goodness? He stopped but did not turn. Sweat glistened on his forehead. He stared at a point in the distance and counted his heartbeats—one, two, three—a trick he’d learned to keep his emotions under wraps. To keep the dark in him from bursting forth, swallowing everything in his line of sight.

Geneva reached his side, panting. Once again, she touched his arm. “Why do you hate me?”

The question hung in the air like a flickering flame beneath a thousand dark clouds about to release a torrent of rain. What he felt was the furthest emotion from hate, but he wouldn’t examine his true feelings. Far better for Geneva to believe he hated her. Hate would keep her safe. Hate would not bind her to him. Hate would contain the monster within.

“You don’t know how to take no for an answer,” he said with a sneer.

She gasped. The wind whipped the air in front of him into a mini-tornado.

Dark energy coiled like a hissing snake waiting to strike. He didn’t dare look at her, while he plucked her fingers from his arm. “Go home and play with your Barbie dolls, little girl.”

“You’re such a jerk.” Her voice trembled.

“I am,” he said, keeping his tone flat, pretending not to notice how close she was to tears.

She jutted her chin out and faced him, her blond hair twisting in the breeze. The bold gesture drew Rolf’s attention to her breasts, small like the rest of her, but no less attractive. She wore a maroon T-shirt with the words “Bite Me” blazoned across the front in white. An invitation or a dare?

“Stare much?”

His gaze flew to hers, but he kept his expression blank, refusing to give her any sign of his dark desire. Instead he used the moment to shrug his shoulders and turn his back and slam a final nail into her hopeful heart.

“Not a damn thing to see,” he said.

Cross Waves: Five Reasons You Should Preorder Now

In 2015, I sat down and wrote my debut novel, Mind Waves, the first book in the Mind Hackers series, little knowing the book would eventually find an editor and a home with The Wild Rose Press. It finaled and placed in several contests and generally received all around favorable reviews. Readers call it “fast-paced,” “intense” and “not your cookie-cutter paranormal romance.” I eagerly started working on the second book in the series, Cross Waves.

But then I got distracted (which happens a lot with writers) and found myself writing a whole different story, a contemporary romance called Charmed By Charlie. The words poured out of me and the finished manuscript quickly found a home with Boroughs Publishing Group. The book also finaled and won a contest and received numerous five-star reviews to thrill my writer’s heart.

So then I went back to finish Cross Waves.

And I couldn’t.

What had once seemed easy and exciting, now seemed difficult and frustrating. I wrote, rewrote, edited and wrote some more. I floated the book to beta readers and critique partners, hired many editors, and labored over the plot, until I felt like giving up.

But I couldn’t. This story needed to be told. This “child” must be born. I couldn’t abandon it. But I couldn’t bring it into the world with developmental issues. Which brings me to reason number one why you should buy this book.

1.) It’s a labor of love. From start to finish, it took me four years to perfect the storyline. Four years of continual revisions. Four years of twirling my hair, biting my nails, and fretting over the plot. I promise you the finished product is well worth the wait. You are gonna love this story. The copyeditor I hired enjoyed the story so much she offered a contract to bring it to a new serialized romance app called KISS. She said she thought it would do well on that platform. Which brings me to my next point.

2.) It’s fast paced and keeps you reading. Pacing is an issue a lot of writers face: How to keep the reader’s attention so they continue reading until the end. As an avid reader myself, there is nothing worse than not being caught up in the storyline. I want the books I read to keep me up past my bedtime. I want to be so engrossed in the story I must turn the page.  I want to be left guessing what happens next. Early reviewers are using phrases like, “a non-stop reading experience,” “fast-paced,” “heart-pounding,” and (my personal favorite), “I couldn’t put the book down.”

3.) You won’t guess the plot. As I mentioned, I labored over the story line. I don’t like stories where you can guess the ending, which happens far too often for my taste. To me, having the unexpected happen is what makes reading so much fun. I promise you, Cross Waves’ ending is surprising, which prompted one reviewer to label it “explosive.”

4.) The characters are fun, unexpected, and likable. The heroine possesses a dangerous talent. The hero guards a dark secret. The hero’s grandmother plays a pivotal role.  And one character, who you’ll meet towards the end of the book, surprised even me, seeming to appear on his own without conscious thought on my part and setting the series up nicely for the yet unwritten book three, Dream Waves.

5.) And finally, there’s a fantastic incentive. But it won’t last. From now until Oct. 19, you can purchase the ebook for only $2.99 on Amazon (40% off the regular price). And if you preorder the book, you can enter a special raffle to win one of two $10 Amazon gift cards, which you can apply to purchase other books you love.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

So go on, give Cross Waves a try. I promise you, you won’t be bored!

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Apple
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P.S. And if you haven’t read Mind Waves, you should give it a try, too. The book is only 99 cents on Amazon, Apple and Barnes & Noble through Oct. 16!

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It’s Exciting, It’s Shiny, It’s New! ‘Cross Waves’ Up for Preorder

That’s right! After four years of writing, editing and revisions I’m excited to announce that CROSS WAVES ebook is now available for pre-order:

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Apple
Kobo

Or find me on Goodreads and Bookbub.

This page will be updated with other online retailers as the book is added to these platforms.

Preorder the ebook now to have it added to your Kindle upon it’s release Oct. 19!

The book will also be available in paperback on Oct. 19 and audiobook before the end of the year!

HERE’S A BRIEF DESCRIPTION

She can kill with a thought.

Gifted with an explosive psychic talent, Geneva Ericksen can’t risk letting Rolf Jorgensen in her life. If she does, she might accidentally kill him. But when Rolf’s sister goes missing, Geneva and her extraordinary abilities may be his only hope to find her.

He’s hiding a deadly secret.

Rolf‘s not about to let Geneva slip away from him, even if it means protecting her from his dark gift. As Rolf and Geneva trail his sister, they soon uncover a life-threatening plot: someone is attempting to profit from stealing and trapping their power in crystals. 

To outsmart the enemy, it will take all their combined strength. But can they trust each other enough to survive?

Read an excerpt.

Reviewers: If you would like an ARC to read and review the book, complete this Google form.

PRAISE FROM ADVANCE READERS

“The author’s voice is very strong and straightforward. I find the concept and world she has created fascinating.“

“In a sea of shifter and vampire romances, the heroine was a breath of fresh air.“

“I’m loving the story which is unusual because this isn’t my normal read. Great writing.”

“Wonderful story. The characters are believable and have their own voice. Good world that incorporates real world with paranormal elements. Good use of dialogue to advance the story and plot.”

 “Wow. This story is so fresh and unique. I adore it. The very beginning sucked me in and I didn’t once lose interest. I adore a good enemies to lovers trope. The voice and craft is super on point. This is a fabulous story!”

“This is very well done. The writing is top notch.“

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How I found my literary agent

Two weeks ago, I got “the call.” 

You know, the call writers who have agents always talk about? The magical moment a literary agent calls them on the telephone and offers to represent their work.

Most authors believe “the call” will never happen to them. I was no exception. 

Let me explain.


It is a truth universally acknowledged that every author must experience rejection. And not just a single rejection, but continuous rejection over and over throughout their career.

Several years ago, I attended a talk where the speaker—a multi pen name, multi-published author and Golden Heart (a prestigious contest for unpublished romance authors) winner—talked about rejection. She said she won the Golden Heart, found an agent and was offered a three-book deal by a big press. She thought she’d made it until she was…well…rejected after the third book released and had low sales. 

She then went on to sign another book deal for a series with a different large publisher and…you guessed it…was later rejected. Eventually, she self-published a series, which offered her a big advantage over the traditional publisher. No one can tell you no when you self-publish—you’re your own boss. You can’t be rejected unless you reject yourself and who in their right mind would do that? So, self-publishing worked out well for her.

About the time I heard this author’s talk, I was in the throes of dealing with a painful rejection. It was from an agent I had high hopes would fall in love with my work in progress. She said she didn’t see anything worthwhile in the work, and it would be a hard sell to publishers. 

I appreciated her honesty. Really. 

But at the same time, I had also been rejected by my current publisher for my second book in my series. She said my plot needed more work, and what I had in my head wasn’t coming across on the page. She said I was telling and not showing enough in my writing, and she just didn’t “feel” the characters. She said she wouldn’t offer a contract.

Wow.

Harsh words from someone I thought liked my writing. 

If I hadn’t already published two books with two different publishers, I would have probably been crushed at this point. But I reminded myself, if I did it before, I could do it again.

And therein lies the rub. Sometimes the world will give you a resounding “no.” Sometimes you have to block the noise. You have to look deep inside yourself and listen to your heart.

Last year, I picked myself up and finished a new manuscript. The story, SWEET STUFF, finaled and then won its category in the 2019 Stiletto contest.

Great news. 

I figured someone would offer for the book, right? Wrong. The judges liked the book, but apparently, not enough to offer for it. I gave myself a healthy dose of positive self-talk and started my agent search for SWEET STUFF last September.

And got rejected. And rejected. And rejected some more. 

I scratched my head. 

If a contest win and great reviews by critique partners and beta readers didn’t generate results, what would? Maybe I should give up?

I took a breath, ate large amounts of Malley’s chocolates (they’re big in Cleveland), and continued querying. Every time I got a rejection, I sent out two more queries. Every time someone said no, I told myself yes (after shedding a few more tears and eating more chocolate). 

And then one day, an agent I queried asked to read the full manuscript. 

Yay! 

But it was only one request and was followed by five rejections. Then another request came in to read the full followed by more rejections. Then another. And so it went. Soon it was five requests from agents wanting to read my manuscript.

This had to be a good sign, right?

But would any of them actually offer for the manuscript? Two of the agents sent me a nice email indicating they liked the manuscript, but ultimately, it wasn’t quite right for their lists.

What a bummer. I swallowed painfully and sent out more queries.

Soon another agent asked for the full. Would she be the one? Six months had now passed since my first query, and I’d gotten six requests with no offers. I doubled up my research. I loved Hallmark movies, and had a favorite Hallmark writer. I googled and read an interview where she credited her agent with getting her a movie deal. Maybe I should send my manuscript to this agent? It’d be a stretch, but what did I have to lose?

Late one night, I sent my query zipping across the Ethernet. A day and a half later, I received a request for the full. I responded with the manuscript the same day.

And waited.

A week or so later, I was eating lunch with my husband and a friend, when an email notification flashed on my mobile phone. I caught the words “arrange for a call.”

My heart jerked inside my chest. Was this “the call?” 

I texted my critique partner, who’d just landed her own agent, and she suspected it was. Now I was really excited. 

The next day I took “the call.” The agent, Elizabeth Winick Rubinstein with McIntosh & Otis, loved the book, read it in a weekend, wanted to represent my work.

I don’t remember all we talked about during the call, but I do know we discussed a few tweaks (minor) and other ideas I had for new work. We seemed to click. I signed the contract and mailed it off this week. 

And that is how I landed my literary agent.

If you’re a writer looking for an agent, wondering if you’ll ever get “the call,” keep trying. Don’t give up. Rejection is a part of this business. It’s true what they say: writing is subjective. I suspect I’ll be rejected again before too long.

Take it a day at a time, be persistent, have faith in yourself. And when you feel like giving up, which we all sometimes do, reach deep inside, dig for courage, and keep going. Your heart knows the truth, and the truth will carry you to where you need to be.

How I found my literary agent #amwriting #ampublishing #books #book Click To Tweet

Just in Time for Summer! 99 Cents Earns You a Fantastic Beach Read

MIND WAVES, my award-winning paranormal novel, is 99 cents for the ebook through June 14! You can find it on:

Awards & Honors
It took me a year to write the book, a year of endless edits, and another year to pitch an editor successfully, sign a contract and publish the book. I am endlessly proud of this story.  The book has garnered a number of awards, including:

  • Bronze medal,  Paranormal Category, 2015 Rudy Contest.
  • Second place,  2015 Central Ohio Fiction Writers Ignite the Flame Contest in the category of Paranormal/Fantasy/Time Travel/Futuristic.
  • Runner up, 2015 Music City Romance Writer’s Pitch Contest.
  • Finalist, Paranormal Category, 2017 I Heart Indie Awards
  • Finalist, Paranormal Category, 2017 Kathryn Hayes When Sparks Fly

What the reviewers have to say
Critics also have great things to say about the book. Here are just a few of the comments:

  • “It was a mixture of genres and it was woven together in such a way that you did not see the distinction between genres. It just works!”  www.thegenreminx.com
  • “I look forward to reading more books by this author! The concept is intriguing, and I loved how she incorporated it into the modern world. Great book!” www.ladywithaquill.com
  • “What a spectacular story for a debut book and definitely a book I would love to see converted into a movie or a mini series on TV! Yes, it was that good and didn’t fall into the cookie cutter PNR mold.” www.starangelsreviews.com

Cross Waves is coming soon!
As I gear up for the release of the second book in the series — CROSS WAVES — I thought it would be a great idea to offer MIND WAVES at 99 Cents for a limited time. So, if you haven’t read the book, now’s the perfect time to do it. Read an excerpt from Cross Waves.

 

 

 

99 Cents Earns You a Fantastic Beach Read May 31 - June 14 #beachreads readromance #wrpbks #HEA #paranormal Amazon —> http://amzn.to/2tP9L71 Nook —> http://bit.ly/2c78i4y iBooks —> https://itun.es/us/ce0Feb.l Click To Tweet

 

Want a Chance to Win Free Ebooks and Kindles?


Summer brings beach vacations and (hopefully) down time. If you like to read romantic suspense then I’ve got a great deal for you. 
This month I’ve joined with 23 other authors to bring you a special giveaway. 

Win a pack of your favorite mysteries, thrillers, or suspense books on Amazon! If you’re among the four ebook prize pack winners, you could decide which books we’ll buy for you from the millions on Amazon. Even better, you could take home one of two Kindle Fire 7 tablets we’re giving out as grand prizes!

Enter here —>    http://bookwrapt.com/intrigue-giveaway/

(Sponsored by the 24 authors listed below)
Amanda Uhl • Anna Hub • Anne McClane • Authors Billboard • Bethany-Kris • Calinda B • Cathy Perkins • Ethan Jones • Genie Gabriel • Greta Boris • Inge-Lise Goss • Jacqueline Diamond • Jennifer Vester • Julieann Dove • K A Servian • Kathy McIntosh • Laura Haley-McNeil • Maria Elena Alonso-Sierra • Michelle Grey • Naomi Bellina • Sahara Roberts • Soraya Naomi • Tamara Ferguson • Taylor Marsh

Bonus:  Shope the book fair for can’t-put-them-down books in the genre all at $2.99 or less.

2 Kindle Fires, 4 Ebook Prize Packs! Enter the TARGETED FOR INTRIGUE GIVEAWAY for your chance to win! https://goo.gl/LAkNG7 June 19- July 9 #bookwrapt Click To Tweet

 

First Time EVER! Charmed By Charlie $.99 Cents, May 2-22

It’s May, winter is over, and the sun is—hopefully—shining. I’m in a great mood and celebrating with a special deal. For the first time ever, the award-winning Charmed By Charlie is on sale! May 2-22, 2018, you can find the book for just $.99 cents on:

This is a great price but it won’t less forever. But if that doesn’t convince you, here are five great reasons why you might want to check this book out:

  1. It won a bronze medalist in the 2016 Cleveland Rocks Romance Writers Contest.
  2. It was the recipient of Books & Benches Reviewer’s Choice Seal of Excellence.
  3. Library Journal calls it “A lighthearted and engaging read.”
  4. Long and Short Reviews gave it five glowing stars and named it “Book of the Month” for November 2017.
  5. It may be a long while before you see this price again.

But if that’s not enough to convince you, the book is featured as part of this special Love and  Laughter Contemporary Romance Giveaway. Enter May 2-22 for your chance to win. You could be one of 7 lucky readers to take home a Kindle Paperwhite, Kindle Fire 7, ebook prize pack, or Amazon gift card.

(Sponsored by the 34 authors listed below)

Allyson Lindt • Amanda Uhl • Chiquita Dennie • Christine d’Abo • Daphne James Huff • Diane Louise • Donna R. Mercer • Eva Winters • Holly Cortelyou • Jacqueline Diamond • Jacquie Biggar • Jennifer Vester • Joanne Dannon • Karina Kantas • Karly Morgan • Kat Drennan • Leigh LaValle • Lori Sizemore • Lucy Lakestone • Marlow Kelly • Michele Barrow-Belisle • Michelle Jo Quinn • Mimi Barbour • Monique McDonell • RM Alexander • Robyn Neeley • S.L. Sterling • Shaniel Watson • Soraya Naomi • Stephanie Queen • Tara Wyatt • Victoria Pinder • Weston Parker • Aileen Harkwood

Plus, shop the book fair where you’ll find Charmed By Charlie for 99 pennies and plenty of other books for $2.99 or less. There’s  even  a bonus giveaway!

Enter the LOVE & LAUGHTER GIVEAWAY at Bookwrapt.com and you could win a Kindle Paperwhite, Kindle Fire 7, Ebook Prize Packs, or Amazon GCs. https://bookwrapt.com/love-laughter/ #IARTG Click To Tweet

Wisdom for new authors: Don’t rush the process


“I finished writing my first book…now what? Any advice?”

I saw this post by a new author in a writing group yesterday and felt compelled to comment. I prepared a lengthy response and was all set to offer my advice when…poof. I got distracted and my amazing, insightful words vanished under my fingertips.

“Nooooo!” I bellowed, exchanging a few curses with my mobile device. Was that how this would end? Would the world never know the incredible wisdom I had to offer?

Then I remembered I have a website and a blog—a ready platform to share my views on writing or whatever else is on my mind. And I haven’t written a post in some time. So I got busy.

Why do I feel compelled to offer advice?

Not that long ago, 2015 to be exact, I was a new author. Fresh off the high of finishing my first manuscript, I stared at my keyboard wondering: What next? Who should I send this labor of loveliness to? How do I publish my first book?

Lucky for me, I joined a writer’s group with members able to offer advice. Still, no one told me what I’m about to tell you now.

Take your time.

Three little words but they’re critical to success. They spell the difference between good and great, between ho-hum and amazing, between a simple pedicure and the deluxe, between a slice of cheese pizza and one loaded with your favorite toppings, between a single taco and the entire enchilada…okay you get the picture (and now I’m hungry).

I know making it to the end of a manuscript is a miracle akin to welcoming a child into the world. You’ve dreamed about this moment most of your life, never thought you had it in you, and spent many years dredging the courage to begin let alone finish. You want nothing more than to see your finished cover and book in the hands of readers.

But please, take a deep breath and go back to your manuscript.

Did you rush the ending? Even a little? Did you catch every possible mistake? Did you eliminate clichés and make sure your writing is fresh?

Once you’re certain that your ending is as fantastic as your beginning and there’s no saggy middle, take your manuscript and send it to as many contests as you can find.

Yes, you heard me.

Don’t send it to a single agent or editor until you’ve entered contests…lots of them.

Why? Because contest judges provide a whole lot of feedback from professionals. Feedback you can use to evaluate and shine your manuscript until it sparkles. You will need this pizazz to compete with the millions of books in the marketplace and the thousands of new ones released every day.

Your book must be the BEST you can write. Only then should you share it with agents and editors and hopefully, one day with readers. You’ll know you’re ready when you place in your first contest.

Which brings me to my second reason why you shouldn’t rush into publishing.

The publisher.

Part of the learning curve to becoming a successful author is to find the best venue for your work—one that will give you the greatest reach in every format (print, electronic, audio, etc.). Roughly sixty percent of book sales are impulse buys. This means a reader happened to see your book somewhere and decided to buy it. Your book needs to be everywhere your readers are—which is literally everywhere. Will the publisher you sign with provide that kind of reach? Is this something you can garner on your own if you self-publish?

You get one chance to make a first impression. Once you publish your work, it’s out there. You can’t take it back. The publisher holds the rights to your book for the period of time in your contract. No agent or editor will touch it—the same holds true if you self-publish. What’s more, most publishers have the right of first refusal in their contract, meaning they get first dibs on every other book you produce in that series.

So why not take your time and make sure you find the venue that will give your book the biggest boost?

Keep writing while you pitch, and when you find your dream agent and publisher, you’ll not only have one masterpiece, but two or three or more in the making.

Don’t settle for the temporary thrill of seeing your words in print. You only get one shot to wow your readers and keep them returning for more. Perfect writing, like fine wine, takes time.

Don’t aim for a field goal, go for the touchdown. Shoot for the stars but don’t settle for anything less than the moon.

‪Wisdom for new authors: Don’t rush the process #blogpost #Writer #books #AuthorTip #writingtips #writerslife ‬ Click To Tweet

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Expect the Unexpected: Top 5 Surprises from RWA17

My writing buddy Joyce and I celebrating our first ever RWA conference.

From the moment I joined my local writing group, I heard about the Romance Writers of America (RWA) conference from fellow writers.

“It’s the largest conference for romance writers on the planet,” they said.

“Everyone goes there,” they said.

“It’s the place to network with everybody who’s anybody in the romance world,” they said.

“Hmmm,” I thought, shrinking a little inside. “I think I’ll just stay home.” I mean, no sense putting myself in front of a crowd of authors, agents, editors and publishers until I’m further along in the publishing process, right?

Little did I know over a year later I’d have two books released in two different genres with two different publishers. The time had come to experience another first in my writing journey: My first RWA conference. So, I talked it over with my writing friend Joyce, and before I knew it, we had booked two tickets to Orlando, Florida, and a room at the Walt Disney World Swan for the end of July.

What to expect?
Before we left for RWA, experienced conference-goers offered a lot of advice.

“Make sure to wear comfortable walking shoes,” they said.

“Don’t worry about attending every workshop. It’s not possible to get to them all,” they said.

“Bring a sweater—those conference rooms get cold,” they said.

I imagined myself in a mass of authors, trying to navigate through long corridors into frigid, packed conference rooms in a short-sleeved dress and heels.

“Good advice,” I replied and packed my suitcase with comfy flats and an extra sweater.

Off to the races
Joyce and I soon found ourselves using the handy-dandy RWA conference app on our cell phones to plot our schedule before flying the friendly skies to Orlando.

We arrived in Florida at midnight on a sauna-like Tuesday night, a little tired but definitely ready to experience all the conference had to offer. Little did I know RWA17 would reveal a few surprises—here are my top five:

Surprise #1
It’s the People — Sure there are plenty of workshops on a variety of topics. But the greatest value for me came in the form of people—new authors and New York Times best sellers, rising stars and award winners, agents, editors, and owners from small and large presses, bloggers, librarians, readers, vendors, photographers and a top-notch wait staff. People from all aspects of the business and stages of development seemed willing and even eager to interact with little ole me.

Case in point: Wednesday morning, veteran author with more than 100 books under her belt in five different genres, Sharon Sala, treated Joyce and I and four other first-timers to breakfast. This was Sharon’s way of passing it on, and we couldn’t have been more grateful recipients. Not only did we get to enjoy a sumptuous Disney buffet, but Sharon also shared personal stories, offered advice and was genuinely interested in each of us.

Veteran author Sharon Sala treated me and several other first-timers to breakfast on day one of the conference.

Surprise #2
The RITA Ceremony Was Something Special — And not only because it was like The Oscars, although it was. I write this because I didn’t know one of this year’s award winners, but I shared in their excitement like it was my own. Seeing these authors and editors who had worked so hard to write an exceptional book receive their awards was in turns gut-wrenching and inspirational, adrenaline-pumping and emotional. Hats off to whoever wrote the scripts and put together the videos for the event because they were all of the above as well.

Enjoying the RITAs as VIPs–we innocently sat at the wrong table. Lucky for us, the other occupants (editors and agents) were gracious.

Surprise #3
You Really CAN Meet Your Favorite Author — I’m not much of a “fan girl.” But anyone who knows me will tell you that Jayne Ann Krentz is my favorite author. You see, Jayne and I go back—far, far back—as far back as the 1980’s when I read my first paranormal and fell in love with her work. Jayne says she was too ahead of the genre, and it wasn’t the greatest career move. I know because when Joyce and I decided to take a little break from all the RITA excitement and grab a Sangria at the bar, Jayne was sitting at the table next to us…all alone…nursing a drink. A perfect invitation for me to introduce myself and ask a question or two…or in my case, at least twenty. Jayne confessed she worried no one would show for her workshop the next day that she was doing with her best bud, New York Times best seller and all around rock star Susan Elizabeth Phillips. Really? Jayne Anne Krentz suffers writer’s doubts just the same as I do? Yes, she does. And what’s more, she has the same concerns I have as a new author. Stuff like how to best market her books and create publicity. Jayne even gave me a tip, advising me to “claim” my books on BookBub, as they promote them with emails.

Jayne Ann Krentz and I bonding in the restaurant bar at the Walt Disney World Swan hotel. I managed a calm facade, but my stomach was doing somersaults.

Surprise #4
I Fan Girled Over the Founder of Sourcebooks — Okay, “girled” may not be a word. But, it’s true. She wooed me with data, bowled me over with insight and inspired me with her passion—not just for publishing books but for helping authors succeed in a crowded marketplace.

The company tagline? “We publish authors. Not books.”

This from someone who started the company out of her home with a $17,000 loan from her 401K. The company is now the #10 publisher in the country.

When someone asked her how important it is to Sourcebooks that authors have a social platform, she replied, “The job of publisher is to make it public. We don’t need you to do it. Make great work! What we need from you is to be coachable and to write an extraordinary story.”

I was so pumped after her data-driven workshop, I literally chased her down in the lobby to tell her how truly amazing I thought she was. She was on her way to catch a flight but graciously posed for a selfie with me. How cool is that?

Dominique Raccah is not only the visionary leader of publisher Sourcebooks, she also takes a great selfie.

Surprise #5
The Literacy Signing Was Well Worth It — I debated over the literacy signing. Should I attend? It’s a great cause. But hundreds of authors partake in this event, most with much bigger names than me. Besides, no one knows me in Florida…who would possibly buy my book? Not only did I sell two copies to strangers, several attendees took pictures to purchase later online. Plus, I was fortunate to be placed next to Rachel Van Dyken, a popular author who was generous enough to give me a free T-shirt, put me on her live video and pass along her business card so I could reach out if I ever wanted to cross-promote. A win-win all the way around.

Receiving support and a hug from fellow Boroughs Publishing Group author, Michelle Pashko from Canada. Michelle and I met up for the first time at the conference.

Home, Sweet Home
I left Orlando early this morning, my brain buzzing with ideas and my heart full of excitement.

Was RWA17 worth it? You betcha.

Will I attend again? Most definitely.

Should you pack a sweater and comfy shoes? Don’t leave home without them.

 

Joyce and I with the fabulous Jennifer Probst, who writes contemporary romance. I can’t wait to read the book she signed for me.

P.S. Oh, I almost forgot to mention, I also managed to pitch three agents while I was there, each offering to look at my next manuscript. Time to get busy.

P.P.S. If you are a member of RWA and you were not able to attend the conference, be sure and download the data driven session sponsored by Sourcebooks.

Expect the Unexpected: Top 5 Surprises from #RWA2017 Click To Tweet

The Lesson of My Mother’s Hands

“Those hands,” my sister says, picking up one of my mother’s gnarled hands where it sticks out from under the sheet of her hospital bed. She holds it a moment and then sets it down gently. My weary eyes follow the movement, stopping to rest on the familiar knuckles, knotted and curled from years of hard physical labor, arthritis in every joint.

It’s hard for me to see my mother like this, so still and silent, this tiny woman who bore and raised fifteen children. In life she was always moving, always busy. My brother said she’d been shelling peas the evening before she had a massive stroke in her sleep.

This morning, the doctors remove her from life support, telling us she probably has no more than 48 hours to live. My father is heartbroken. After 68 years of marriage, he does not have the chance to say goodbye.

One by one, her children and grandchildren, come to her side. Some stroke her cheek. Some kiss her face. Up until this point, I do neither. I find it hard to equate my active and talkative mother to this still, quiet figure alone in the hospital bed.

Now the others have returned home.
Only my husband, sister and I remain, keeping vigil. It’s in this moment, when all is lost, and there’s little hope she can hear me, I cannot resist reaching out and touching my mother’s hand. If she knows I’m there, she gives no sign.

Her hand is warm and solid in mine, surprising me. Can she really be near death? How many tasks have these hands completed?

I run my thumb across her knobby knuckles, worn with 88 years of living. A fragment of memory surfaces. I’m a toddler, tugging on my mother’s skirt while she does the dishes. She talks to me, but her hands keep moving.

These hands changed dirty diapers, cooked meals, washed dishes and scrubbed toilets—all without a word of complaint. And when one of us didn’t feel well, which was frequent, it was these hands that felt our foreheads for a temperature and whipped up batches of strawberry jello or poured Ginger Ale.

More memories burst forth from a well buried deep within my heart.
Her hands rolling out dough to bake pies in the old kitchen in the century home where I was born. As she works, she gives me instructions.

“The secret to pie is to touch the dough as little as possible,” she explains. She gives me a piece of dough and tells me to roll it out and smear it with butter and cinnamon and sugar to make what she calls tootsie rolls. I do it, trying to handle the dough as little as possible.

I watch as my mother makes her signature design in the top of the pie crust, a curved line with individual grains of wheat. Sunlight streams through the window.

“How did you learn to make such good pies?” I ask.

“My grandmother taught me when I was a little girl. She would give me a piece of dough to roll out and put in a little pan. My early pies did not turn out so well.” She laughs, and I smile as I picture the scene she describes, right down to the tiny toy pie pan she must have used.

We put the tootsie rolls in the oven and when they come out a short while later, they are so hot and bubbly, I burn my hands and mouth trying to eat one. But man are they worth it.

Someone coughs, and I’m back in the hospital room, still holding my mother’s hand. I lay it gently down, wondering if I’ll ever make a pie as crusty and flakey as my mom’s. I never expressed much interest in cooking as a child, and as an adult, I’ve been far too busy to make a pie from scratch. Little did I know that early lesson would be my one and only.

But wasn’t that always the way of things?
My mother’s lessons were never planned. They came in the midst of a multitude of tasks.

Once during canning season, I asked my mother how she could possibly enjoy her life of constant chores and sacrifice. “How can you like this?” I asked. “Don’t you get bored?”

In a rare instance, my mother set down her vegetable peeler and turned to face me. “Never,” she said. “I am very happy with my life…with Daddy and you kids. I can’t imagine a different life. I’ve never once been bored.”

And that was that. She picked up the peeler, finished the mountain of carrots in front of her and went in the house to make enough cheeseburgers and french fries to feed a small army.

I swipe at my blurry eyes that haven’t seemed to stop watering once since I heard the news. My head understands what is happening, but my heart can’t seem to keep up.

Two days later, she is gone.
The day before her funeral is July 4. I don’t have the heart for fireworks, but I don’t want to be alone with my thoughts. I decide to invite the neighbors over for a picnic.

In a rare instance of domesticity, I ask my daughter, who is named after her grandmother, to cut some daisies from our backyard and find a vase for them. She returns from the kitchen, a vintage blue canning jar in her hands. Where she found it, I don’t know. In must have been buried in the back of a cupboard. I gasp when I read the familiar writing, so bittersweet in this moment. Organic Mixed Beans.

In death, my mother’s hands send me a final reminder.

“Life is meant to be lived,” they say. “A life well-lived can be a simple life of baking and canning and taking care of others. In simplicity, we discover true happiness…we find fulfillment.”

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