I had a very busy January. Big goals and I hit them all.
Some were work-related:
Revise and publish my Dark Realm-related short story, “After Dark“. check
Write and publish my fifth Montana Bounty Hunter: Dead Horse, MT, Eli: check
Complete two editing jobs, one of them a whopper 87,000 words: check
Annual physical: check
Start weight loss program (Weight Watchers): check & lost 12 pounds!
Repaint my bedroom, which is 3/4 done (lots of large furniture to work around): check
All of these accomplishments were part of my 2022 Goals/Resolutions, and since I’m following the plan, so far, I’m feeling pretty good. Maybe it’s the 12 pounds I’ve lost so far, or the terrific sleep I’m getting, I don’t know. I played with insomnia for years, but since I started using a CPAP, I get very deep, natural sleep. And I’ve moved my going to bed time earlier and earlier, from midnight to about 9 p.m. so those 4 or 5 a.m. wakeups simply allow me to get so much more done before the rest of the house wakes up—I consider that a huge win.
Yes, I’m happier, getting healthier, and I hope that will be my 2022 trend!
Hate me yet? 🙂
I’m going to put it out there and see what happens.
For work-related, I plan:
To publish my short story from the Cowboys anthology as a single short story release, “Hunk of Burning Love.” I’ll have it in Kindle Unlimited sometime next week and offer it FREE for download on this website from the 11th to the 14th—my Valentine’s Day gift to you.
To write and publish the next Texas Vampires novella, No Tender Mercy. (Have you pre-ordered your copy?!)
To complete 5 editing projects in February!
I’ll continue with Weight Watchers and hope to lose another 5 pounds. I’m not pushing it, because I like how I feel. Slow is good!
I’ll begin some low-impact aerobics, which will include a video workout for old people (I’m not old, and my joints aren’t effed, but I like the low-impact part!), plus, I’ll add some outdoor activities, like pool maintenance and blowing the patio—counting the things I should already be doing to get ready for pool season. All of them burn calories and build muscle. Guess I should count housework, too. Blech.
I’m going to work on getting my art room better organized, because…
I’ll be working on the #100DayProject art challenge beginning February 13th! My third year in a row. Can’t wait! The puzzle I have to work out is how I’m going to fit in daily art with everything else I’m doing!
Comment on anything you’ve read in this post. Give me suggestions. Tell me what you’re doing to make yourself happier and healthier. Tell me what you plan to read… Like I said, comment on anything for a chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card!
February is right around the corner, so Valentine’s Day is on my mind. Maybe it is on your mind, too.
Here are 10 gifts to give your valentine that may or may not cost a lot depending on how you decide to execute this plan:
Provide a meal. This could be breakfast, lunch, or dinner, but taking the burden of cooking off of someone’s plate when they normally do the cooking is an amazing gift and gesture.
Household Chore. Whatever chore your significant other, parent, child, whoever you are showing they are special this holiday, hates the most. Do that chore for them on this day or the day before. You really want to rock? Do this chore for a week!
Snacks. That’s right, get a gathering of this person’s favorite snacks together and present it to them. Let’s them know you know them well enough to get those and they have them on hand. The key to this gift is not eating your Valentine’s gift no matter how tempting that box of thin mints are!
Bake Something. A cake, pie, cupcakes, brownies, etc. are not a meal and not a snack. Desserts are special and when you fancy them up it makes them extra special, so take the time and bake something.
Make Something. It’s not all food on this list. LOL. You know how people pull out ornaments and finger paintings from when you were a kid? Well, you could pull out the crafting supplies and make something. If for your significant other, make two somethings. One for them to display and one that no one but the two of you should ever see.
Journal. A gender-neutral gift that aims to please when you write a nice note on the inside of it so they remember who gave them the gift and when. I give journals as gifts frequently.
Books. eBooks, audiobooks, paperback books, hard cover books, doesn’t matter. Find some books in their favorite genre or by their favorite authors and gift it to them.
Sleep. Whether it is an extra hour in the morning or night, a nap in the afternoon, the gift of sleep matters!
Music. Make a playlist. It’s a throwback to the 80s but now you don’t need a cassette player and the radio station to finally play that song for you.
Time to do whatever they want. An hour to read undisturbed, family movie night without cellphones, whatever it is, gifting someone time with you, with friends, with family, or with themselves is never time wasted and always a great gift.
It’s Saturday! I couldn’t sleep in. I’ve been up since 4:30 a.m.—but that’s because I fell asleep around 8:30 p.m. The reason? The 8-year-old is very, very spoiled. Last night, she asked me to scratch her back so she could sleep, which turned into, “Rub my hands?” She held out her little hands, and of course, I laid down beside her and massaged her hands. By the time I finished, we were both asleep. Very, very spoiled.
I should have read her a book instead. One of my favorites, when I was growing up, was Grimms’ Fairy Tales. Not the Disney, happy-washed tales, but the dark, scary ones that didn’t promise happy endings. One of my favorites was the story about Red Riding Hood. Little Red Riding Hood was one that had a happy ending for Red and Grandma, but I always felt sorry for the clever wolf.
Anyways, it’s Saturday, I’m thinking about Little Red and the Wolf, and fairytales in general, so have fun with the puzzle!
For a chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card, solve the puzzle then tell me your favorite fairytale.
I am, which is why I became a canine handler for search and rescue. Is it my day job? No. It’s actually all volunteer. But I love what I do and I love working with my dogs. So much in fact that I even decided to write a romance novel involving k-9 search and rescue.
Jager is my first SAR dog. He is also a rescue from a local shelter. This dog taught me so much. Not just about training but also about myself, and how to handle myself. Lessons that I even apply to my author life. Like having a Positive Mental Attitude. One of the biggest components that can actually affect survival rates.
My second dog, Drogon, is from a breeder and his specialty is human remains. Talk about working dog blood lines, I don’t think this dog ever sleeps. And he never gets tired. This boy is the one I have to watch to keep him from working himself to death. But boy is he methodical. Like he would make an EXCELLENT copywriter/proofreader.
Bringing these two into my book, Called Into Action, was a lot of fun. I wanted to make the story more authentic to what SAR actually is, something that I always found upsetting when reading SAR novels in the past. Of course, because both of my dogs have interesting stories, I blended them together into a dog named Havoc (no joke, both my dogs cause tons of havoc inside my house and Havoc’s antics are taken from real-life incidents).
Speaking of real-life incidents that I pulled from, Jager used to be a jump alert dog, which means when he found his person, he would run back to me and jump on me as an alert. Imagine a 60 lb. pitbull tank running full speed and leaping into the air. Yup, you got it. Clipped by knees and down I went. Face first. Thank God, this was during training. His alert is different now to say the least.
These two dogs, and all the dogs I have worked with on calls and during trainings, are so inspiring. They love what they do, and they do it for their toy or food reward. That is their payday. I hope these dogs continue to inspire people, continue to show people not to discount shelter dogs, and to let people know there is hope out there.
By the way, did you know SAR teams always need volunteer hiders to help train their dogs? If that sounds interesting, reach out to your local SAR team and offer to hide for a dog. Always tons of fun.
Excerpt from Called Into Action…
Jay glanced sideways at the dog as the truck bounced over the gravel road. His markings were beautiful, and if it was possible, the damned thing had soulful eyes full of blame Jay couldn’t bear to look at. “Face the front.”
If the dog would have howled or yipped in reply, Jay would have been impressed. As it was, Havoc only drooled in response. On the seat. Of his personal truck. Jay winced and sighed. Cleaning the car was one more thing to add to his day. His mood matched the impending rainstorm about to break overhead. It had been a long time since he’d had a canine companion. A companion of any kind, if he was honest.
For a minute today, when he’d first put his arms around Penelope, he’d felt something. A shock. A vibration. A tingling, at least. It had been a while. Too long since he’d had such close contact with another woman. Try as he might, he couldn’t help but notice the way she molded into him. Like God had created her just for him.
He rolled his eyes at such romantic notions.
Okay, maybe he needed a night out. Some female attention. He went through his mental contact list and came up bone dry. There was a joke in there somewhere, but after the day he’d had, he didn’t have the heart to look for it.
“Dick move to put your owner in jail. On the bright side, you’re not going to have to put up with me much longer.” The German Shepherd looked at Jay before dropping to his belly, head laying on Jay’s lap. He gave Havoc a rub between his ears, running his fingers through the dog’s well-groomed coat. Penelope took care of the dog. A couple of shed strands floated in the air in front of him. Remarkably, Havoc didn’t smell much like smoke, but more the clean fresh scent of some shampoo. He was one of the most beautiful creatures Jay had ever seen with his exquisite markings—reddish brown and black and tan that blended to create stunning fur.
By now, most of us are settled into the new year. Some resolutions have fallen by the wayside. Others are still with us. I hope you’re all doing well and staying safe and happy.
This year has started out on the upbeat, for me. My publisher reissued brand new covers for my SALVATION PACK series. I absolutely love them!
I’d originally planned this series to be five books, but I loved it so much, I didn’t want to leave the characters behind. It ended up being nine books: Wolf at the Door, Wolf in her Bed, Wolf on the Run, Wolf from the Past, Wolf on the Hunt, Wolf on a Mission, Wolf in his Heart, Wolf in her Soul, and Wolf of her Own.
But readers kept asking what happened to the children of the original pack. Thus, the SALVATION PACK: THE NEXT GENERATION series was born. So far, Wolf in the Woods has been released. I’m thrilled readers are loving it. And now, Wolf in Pursuitis coming on February 8th!
I’d originally had quite different stories planned for these two characters, but they had other ideas…
Wolf in Pursuit
Salvation Pack: The Next Generation, Book 2
Etienne Rollins is in hot pursuit of Amy Blanchard, the female he wants to mate. Her sheltered upbringing has left her questioning her future and place in the pack. The sizzling attraction between them, the change in their relationship from friend to romantic interest, confused her even more, so she fled. He’s tracked her to a bar in Tennessee and not a moment too soon, as she’s caught the attention of two unattached, unknown male wolves—the Landry brothers.
Amy uses Etienne’s unexpected arrival to explore the sensual heat pulsing between them. Not easy to do while handling the Landry brothers, a violent confrontation with some humans, a kidnapping, and fleeing a crazed wolf who wants to use her to get back at the Landrys. If she survives, she’ll need to confront her feelings for Etienne once and for all.
Snippet from Wolf in Pursuit
Amy turned her head, her eyes devouring the big man who stepped inside.
The black T-shirt clung to his broad chest and wide shoulders, the short sleeves stretched by his biceps. The faded jeans hugged his powerful thighs. Shoulder-length hair was pulled back in a short tail at his nape. Laser blue eyes landed on her.
Her heart took off at a gallop. Sweat beaded her brow. Oh, God. Why here? Why now? A chill washed over her before a flash of heat blasted through her.
N.J. Walters is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who has always been a voracious reader, and now she spends her days writing novels of her own. Vampires, werewolves, dragons, assassins, time-travelers, seductive handymen, and next-door neighbors with smoldering good looks—all vie for her attention. It’s a tough life, but someone’s got to live it.
In One Breath Away, my heroine, Mary Hamilton, is an excellent cook who dreams of one day owning her own restaurant. She does not let her life as a former slave determine her destiny. I do my best to depict heroines who have believable flaws yet are resilient. African-American history provides me with many women upon whom I can base them. One such woman is Maggie Lena Walker, the first African-American woman bank president.
The years following the demise of Reconstruction were ones of enormous setbacks to the civil rights of the newly freed as well as those who had never been enslaved. Yet despite laws rolling back their rights and violence from groups like the Ku Klux Klan, African-Americans progressed because of people like Maggie Lena Walker.
She was born Maggie Lena Mitchell in 1864 in Richmond, Virginia. She was able to attend public schools established for African-Americans in the 1870s and trained as a teacher. She taught for three years but had to resign because she got married.
In 1881, she joined an African-American fraternal society, the Independent Order of Saint Luke, which like other fraternal orders worked for the social and financial advancement of their African-American communities. For sixteen years, she held various positions in the Order, and after becoming its General Secretary, took the organization from bankruptcy to solvency in the twenty-five years she held the position.
In 1901, she shared her vision to charter a bank, start a newspaper, and open a department store. All three came to pass. In 1903 the Saint Luke Penny Savings Bank opened its doors thus making her the first African-American female bank president. She is quoted as saying, “Let us have a bank that will take the nickels and turn them into dollars.” Her bank merged with two other banks to become the Consolidated Bank and Trust Company in 1930. It weathered the storm of the Great Depression when many other banks closed and remained the oldest Black-owned bank in continuous operation until 2005.
Despite personal tragedies and failing health, Maggie continued to model and encourage self-sufficiency in her African-American community until her death in 1934. You can learn more about this remarkable woman in Muriel Miller Branch’s article at https://encyclopediavirginia.org.
When I learn about women like Maggie Lena Walker, I am mindful of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED talk, “The Danger of a Single Story.” Adichie warns that “if we only hear a single story about a person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding.” Writing characters like Mary Hamilton who mirror the resilience and resolve of women like Maggie Lena Walker is my way of thwarting the danger inherent in a single story.
For a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card, share in the comments fictional characters you’ve encountered who have help you thwart the danger of a single story.
One Breath Away
Sentenced to hang for a crime she didn’t commit, former slave Mary Hamilton was exonerated at literally the last gasp. She returns to Safe Haven, broken and resigned to live alone. Never having been courted, cuddled or spooned, Mary now fears any kind of physical intimacy when arousal forces her to relive the asphyxiation of her hanging. But then the handsome stranger who saved her shows up, stealing her breath from across the room and promising so much more.
Wealthy freeborn-Black Eban Thurman followed Mary to Safe Haven, believing a relationship with Mary was foretold by the stars. He must marry her to reclaim his family farm. But first he must help her heal, and to do that means revealing his own predilection for edgier sex.
Then just as Eban begins to win Mary’s trust, an enemy from the past threatens to keep them one breath away from love…
Excerpt from One Breath Away…
Home at last, she’d see if meeting Eban meant this night would be good.
Since her ordeal, her sex rivaled the Chihuahuan Desert in dryness. Yet Eban’s gaze had summoned the fragrant flow that even now moistened her core. Could it be her body had finally healed? She swayed, dizzy with expectation.
The squeak of the indoor pump provided no distraction from the lingering tingle where Eban’s fingers had rested against her spine, where his lips had kissed her hand. She focused on her task to temper her excitement.
Fill the bucket. Lift the bucket. Carry the bucket. Empty the bucket. Fill the bucket. Lift the bucket. Carry the bucket. Empty the bucket.
The pans she filled slowly simmered then steamed on her small, pot-bellied stove.
Her heart seized as she fingered the simple gingham curtains covering Harvest Home’s windows. Harvest Home’s humble kitchen contrasted sharply with the trappings that had graced Mary’s Manor, her Weston restaurant expansion.
She’d looked up the word manor and decided her place would imitate that kind of luxury as much as possible. Brocaded drapes and white, linen tablecloths had dressed up the Manor’s supper room. Slipcovers made from the same linen covered the cushioned chairs. White, bone china and delicate silverware completed the picture of elegant dining she hoped to draw.
A Franklin stove, indoor pump, double sink, polished counter tops and spacious storage cupboards made the Manor’s kitchen a dream made true. Nothing lacked for the grand opening. Picturing couples enjoying themselves in her simple but elegant setting had become her favorite pastime.
Then Judah Little and his lies thwarted her plans. Thwarted. A good word. A true word.
“But not for long,” she whispered. “That dream will come true just as this dream might come true tonight.”
I hope you enjoy reading about Eli falling in love and finding his “fated mate”. Yes, it’s a contemporary romance, but sometimes, a guy really does have just one woman who can reach inside his chest and squeeze the hell out of his heart. Eli finds her in this story.
I’m six books into this series, and I’m still having a blast writing about bounty hunters, but, as I’ve said before, the secret has been making sure I have unique characters every time. No cookie cutters. This time around, my hero is a very reserved man. Someone accustomed to experiencing life at a distance. He’s a former sniper for the SEALs and has closed off his emotions and his ability to connect with the people around him. That is, until he meets his perfect match—a fiercely independent sheriff’s deputy, who with the arch of an eyebrow and a direct, unwavering stare captures his attention. He’s the first “silver fox” of the series, so I enjoyed that aspect as well. In the meantime, there are lots of sexy times, lots of funny shit happening, and of course, we have the Dead Horse crew and townsfolk to add dimension to the excitement.
I hope you enjoy reading about my silver fox! And if you have time, I’d really appreciate it if you’d leave a review. Reviews aren’t for me, they’re for other readers who need to know about your experience with the story. I can say it’s sexy and fun, but readers believe other readers.
An ex-SEAL sniper, who has spent his life experiencing everything from a distance, finds his self-imposed solitude challenged by the one woman in the world who might have been made just for him.
Eli Pope left the SEALs when he feared that he was losing his humanity. Now, he’s the latest new hire at the Dead Horse branch of the Montana Bounty Hunters. However, working with the tight-knit hunters hasn’t broken through his reserve. He’s still the man on the outside looking in.
Then a chance meeting with Sheriff’s Deputy Kira Ennis sets him on a new path, leaving him hopeful for a brighter future. She’s unlike any woman he’s ever met—independent, smart, brave, and strong in her own right. He begins to believe that she’s the one person in the world meant to end his loneliness, but he hesitates, wondering if it’s right to pursue her when she’s so much younger than he is.