From a dog’s viewpoint

‎”Would you like a visit?”

You appear doubtful, hesitant and wounded on a level much deeper than physical as you, with quivering hands which flit like nervous birds, gather your blankets tighter around you and momentarily over your hair, tucking a few lose strands back.

You nod.

Your naked vulnerability is nothing new to me–I have seen a similar state in countless others. With but a moment I can sense your hurt. With but one snuffling huff I know all there is about the wound on your side, the medications dripping through your IV, the age of your NG tube and the state of your External Fixator. Your body language telegraphs a steady message of anxiety, despair, and pain pain pain.zoey and woman

But I am not here to judge.

My partner helps me settle on the bed next to you and offers you my business card. As you glance over the laminated cardstock, I nudge a little closer and you obligingly bring your arm up and around me, pulling me just that much tighter to you. For one moment we both sigh, content, before you thread one hand, no longer trembling, through my hair to fondle at one ear.

We sit in quiet. It is not my place to talk anyway. It is my job to be still, be present, and to listen.

You do not disappoint. After a few moments lost in a companionable hush, you pat my cheek to reassure me of your attention and doting before you begin to speak.

“I had one just like you. She was a bit smaller, though,” you chuckle at the memory, your eyes going sad for a moment, ignoring my small look of exasperation at the comparison. It’s not my fault I look this way. My body is much smaller than my covering gives me credit. “She was smart like you too. Beautiful.” A fond sigh. I cock my head and regard you with pleased silence. Compliments always have a special place in my heart. “Are you always this calm and quiet?” I shake my head and nuzzle a little closer in answer, hoping my response coaxes you on. I’m relieved when you resume carding your fingers through my hair.

“You know, I’m all alone now. My children don’t come to see me now that I’m out of the ICU. They have their own lives. And Ronnie….” A sob takes your voice as you curl closer. Your hand no longer caresses but clings. I don’t mind it. “Ronnie’s gone. My Ronnie is gone.” Breathed into the crown of my head as a terrible, whispering secret. “I never got to say goodbye or I love you…” The nightmare of your heartbreak steeps into my hair with your tears. I close my eyes and lean, struggling to shoulder the weight of this burden, to ease it from you for just one moment so you may rest, so you may smile, so you may hope. In spite of my small size and compact body, I am much stronger than I appear.

It is a strange moment, the moment of spiritual transference when one’s pain becomes shared and it can be overwhelming, stifling. But then your hand moves once more, patting, soothing, brought back to life and action as the tears begin to wane as you realize you are not quite so alone. I raise my face, offering up one of the few consolations I have as I dab your tears from your cheeks with my nose and am rewarded with a hesitant, watery smile and a weak laugh. We lock eyes and, keeping with my code of silence, I will you to see the truth.

Ronnie knows. He misses you. He loved you too. Smile. Heal. Resume.

You nod and bend to kiss my nose but I am determined you understand that this is not your moment to give love, but to receive it, without judgment, without desire for reciprocation, so it is I that kiss your nose.

I’m not a great kisser– they tend to be a little slobbery, but you don’t seem to mind.

You smile and resume your petting with greater enthusiasm, heartache temporarily forgotten. For the first time, I sense something different in your touch–perhaps it is the real you finally peeking through. You tickle my feet and quietly laugh as I tumble onto my back to offer my belly which you immediately scratch and pat. From nearby, my partner signals amusement as well as the warning that our time is drawing to a close.

Offering one last nuzzle and a lopsided smile, I allow my partner to guide me off the bed just as the nurse comes in to offer you more pain medication and something for anxiety. Your confident, calm decline of both makes my tail wag and as my partner taps a coded line of pleased praise with her fingertips along my leash, we respectfully take our leave.

From in the hall, we hear you call out to thank us not realizing that your smile and your time were thanks enough. — Author Unknown

(Thanks to Ruby, Mary and Zoey for the photo.)

(The Return of Joy includes appearances by therapy dogs Zoey and Atlas. You can download your copy from

BIG Blog Hop

When one of my cyber friends  asked if I wanted to participate in a Blog Hop — well, it sounds fun, huh? Like a dance. Go see her blog at and check out her recommended authors.

As she led the first step Frances Pauli asked me about the working title of my current book.

My current work in progress is Starting Over Book Three: Finding Her Voice. The link to this book on my blog is   This is also my primary project for NANOWRITMO, for those of you who can empathize with the long hours of writing this month! (While this is third in a series of three, each book stands alone.)

Where did the idea for the book come from?

This started out a very different book, about a woman whose husband left her. To my amazement, as sometimes happens, as Jen developed in my mind I realized she is a woman who loses her child. The story had been incubating somewhere deep inside me, and comes from my observations of people close to me who have had this crushing, sad and life changing experience and somehow still manage to go on living.

What genres does the book fall under?

The book is contemporary romance, the third in a series about starting over. As you can imagine, though, there are elements of women’s fiction in the first part of the book especially, as Jen somehow gets through the days and nights after her daughter’s death. She builds a group of cyber-friends who have shared her experience, and one day out of that unlikely source she finds a man she can trust, who is willing to walk with her in her grief and rebuilding.

What actors would you choose to play in the movie rendition?

The heroine is part Native American, so someone tall, willowy, with strong facial features. Hmm. Maybe Q’orianka Waira Qoiana Kilcher, the woman who played Pocahontas in The New World.  The hero could be played by Johnny Depp. Definitely a kindof quirky character with a bit of an accent from somewhere in the UK.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

When she lost her precious daughter, Jennifer Robinson knew her life would never be the same, but maybe she and her daughter’s little dog could travel together to find the music, find her voice, find their own path to living after their loss.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I am an author with Desert Breeze Publishing, which has also published the first two books in this series.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Since I’m not quite done yet I have to guess — three months?

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Maybe some of Nicholas Sparks’ sad but loving books like A Walk to Remember or The Notebook or others. The difference is that the loss comes at the beginning of this book.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

My brother and his wife lost a daughter when she was very young. Other close friends lost children and whether it was at age 8 months or 17 years or 30 years, the loss changes everything. Nothing is ever the same again, but somehow these parents have managed to keep on living and to keep on making an impact in the world, even with their tremendous pain. That is a story that needs to be told.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Because no person can really fully share such a loss, my little terrier mix named Oliver found his way into the book to grieve with and love Jen. If you are an animal lover I think you will find that Ollie brings a very special warmth to the book.

Starting Over Book Three: Finding Her Voice will be available in July. You can find the first two books in this series, and the first of the Time After Time Saga with Tami Dee at along with the trailers for all three books.
OK, now for my own favorite five authors/blogs — please visit their sites:
Patty Froese at writes inspiration romance and excellent blog posts. Loved Perfect on Paper and can’t wait to read her latest release. Legally Wed.
Maria Hammarblad at writes fun science fiction with romance  — Kidnapped was a winner for me.
I also enjoy the historical Christian romance by author Tina Pinson including When Shawdows Fall, and Shadowed Dreams part of a series written during and after the civil war.

And Steppenia McGee’s Legacy of Lies is what she calls Christian Fiction with a flair – a modern cowboy story that will keep you turning those pages. (Not a blog but great posts there.)

If historical romance is your favorite try Shirley Kiger Connolly’s Say Goodbye to Yesterday This is an inspirational book with a twist of a dark past to keep you guessing.

Win a download – tell me about your Road Trip

I am looking for funny and poignant stories from YOUR life that will fit the road trip that Jen and her dog Ollie are making in Finding Her Voice,  Starting Over Book Three. If you originate any stories chosen to be in the book you will win a free download of either of the first two books in the series.

So leave a comment here or email me at and let’s talk about the funny side of road trips!

Road Trip – Why do people make them?

Mom and my brother and I looking out over Lone Peak

All of my growing up years we made every vacation into a road trip.

For one thing, Dad had quite a bit of vacation time, we kids were out of school, Mom didn’t work outside the home.

For another, the trip planner (usually Dad) had an insatiable curiosity about history, and wanted to see where it was made.

So we popped popcorn (to help the driver stay awake) and packed suitcases and got into the van — which had been made over to include enough beds for everyone but the driver to sleep (back before seatbelts were much in use) — and Dad would put on his music and away we would go.

We stopped a lot. You would think that was related to four kids and two adults having differing bathroom schedules, and that was probably one aspect. It was more likely, though, that Dad spotted a roadside historical marker, and we pulled over to see what it said. We would troop out onto the roadside and someone who could read would tell what the marker said. We’d look over whatever else was there — sometimes the foundation of an old building or the ruts from a long ago trail — before we got back on the road.

Dad claimed he only needed about four hours, maybe six, of sleep, so he would drive past when the rest of us were awake.

I remember one especially long hitch. There was a campsite that Mom had located in one of the brochures. We were somewhere in the hills of — I don’t remember, Ohio maybe, or Tennesee or Kentucky? It got dark before we got the the area. Dad followed the map and one little sign and wound up and around and deep into these hills.

Picnic on a vacation to Kentucky

It was a little creepy. Not another vehicle in site. We didn’t have GPS in those days so we weren’t sure exactly where we were. And we never did find the expected hookups and bathrooms that usually signified our camp sites. It was really dark and we were really alone in the middle of nowhere.

The next morning we found a river, waterfalls, cliffs — a gorgeous backroad scenic spot. We never did find the campsite (so we didn’t have to pay the fees!) but my Mom, always the optimist  pointed out the treasure of a spot we’d found and we enjoyed it for a couple of hours before we wound back down (which took much less time) and got back on the road.

Crater Lake with a little terrier overlooking the site

Mom was constantly challenged to keep kids occupied and safe while we trekked across the country. She came up with games, we read books, and sometimes she fixed our sandwiches or snacks from the little portable fridge and the supplied she’d brought along. People didn’t eat in restaurants much in those days, either.

The Heroine in Starting Over Book Three: Finding Her Voice decides to take a roadtrip – just her and her daughter’s little dog, a terrier mix named Ollie and named after my own dog.

CONTEST: Looking for funny road trip stories to include in my upcoming book, Finding Her Voice. The winner will have their story included AND will get a free copy of their choice of the other two books in the Starting Over Series.

Love stories – what we love about Romance

Like most authors I live in more than one world.

There is the writer world – and every day I spend time in that world, writing, editing, meeting readers like you and learning how to continue to improve my craft. Even when I’m not at my computer I am living in the characters’ heads and planning out what will happen next in their lives.

There is the personal world — my life, marriage, kids, pets, beliefs.

And there is the professional world, where  I  write reports, policies, and training manuals, and talk to people by phone or email about their work and how to improve what they are doing. And I go by a different name than my writing name, just to make it a little more confusing.

Not everyone in my professional world admits to reading love stories. When they learn I am author, they are curious. When i reveal that I write romance novels, the response is mixed.

It seems a bit silly to me, but some women are a bit snobbish, and won’t admit to reading romance.

What a shame! Because, in addition to being a love story, books like my first novel, More Than A Job, tell a story about specific people. Paige and Joshua are the main characters,  have both personal and professional worlds. Because it is part of my own experience, I found these two in the world of providing services to people with developmental  disabilities. There is even a taste of the conflicts that professionals in the field have with each other.

Evelyn and Joy, in The Return of Joy, have a shared career in their interior decorating partnership. Mark works in building security. Jonas used to teach at the university. All of them have other hobbies and interests, so that their personal and professional lives blend to make a whole.

Romance novels are much more than bedroom scenes. (In fact, I don’t do bedroom scenes until the couple is married.) They tell us about the people who are falling in love. So come enjoy the sizzle and tension of falling in love, set in a small town in Missouri or the mountains outside Albuquerque — and meet the interesting, sometimes flawed but multi-dimensional people whose path to starting over also leads to love.

You can find trailers for both books to the right of this post, and can click on pages highlighting each book in the list of pages at the top of this post.

You can download in most eBook formats from my publisher at You will also find some reviews, blurbs and excerpts there.

Read reviews and previews and download directly from my Amazon author page at:

Romance after 50, or 60 or … ?

I am a baby boomer.

When I began The Return of Joy I was a newlywed, and wrote in part to capture the romance in my life. I was sure no one else could be so in love, so struck by romance so I found a way to weave some of my experiences into Joy’s story.

By the time I finished the book I was 60 years old. And I decided there needed to be another romance in the book. Because my husband and I have now been married almost 38 years and there is still a lot of sizzle in our romance, I decided to put a love interest into the book for Evelyn, Joy’s older friend (her mother-in-law from her first marriage).

And there was already an older man in the story, a neighbor, so why not?

Because love is not just for the young. Romance doesn’t end as you get older. If you care enough to continue to find ways to keep the fires burning, they do continue to burn.

Here is an excerpt from the romance between Evelyn and Jonas:

They rounded a bend that would take them the last few yards to the cabin, and a less than peaceful sight met them. Atlas gave a low bark and trotted ahead, then looked back over his shoulder at them. He didn’t seem to want to get too close to a fracas between Evelyn, with Charity clinging to her legs, and a gray-haired gentleman on the front porch.

Evelyn waved a spatula in the air. Even before she heard her friend’s words, Joy knew she was angry. Charity twirled her hair and sucked her thumb — sure signs of insecurity.

“I don’t know who you think you are,” she said as they came closer. “No one takes over my kitchen unannounced. Now, you knock like any other guest would do, and I’ll decide whether we want to see you again.”

Evelyn scooped Charity up in her arms, stormed into the house, and slammed the door behind her. The lock clicked. Joy turned to Mark with raised eyebrows, wondering about his reaction to the whole unlikely scene.

He looked as if he were about to burst as he tried to keep from laughing out loud. He had a twinkle in his eyes and an odd tilt to his head. He called out, “Good morning, Jonas.”

The older man turned slowly, an answering spark of humor flaring in his eyes. Jonas was tall and slim. He had on walking shorts and a hat, and he carried a carved walking stick. His full beard was almost white, with reddish streaks among the gray that indicated he used to be a redhead, and his bushy brows still held some color. He reached out a hand to fondle Atlas’ head as he spoke.

“Sure wish you’d warned me about…” He nodded toward the closed door. “Those now occupying the cabin. Guess I got myself off to a pretty rough start with that one.”

“What on earth happened?” Joy asked in amazement. “I’ve never seen Evelyn anything but calm and collected. You sure got under her skin.”

“I did, indeed, much to my regret.” He tapped his walking stick on the ground and looked off toward the mountains instead of at Joy. A long pause fell before he continued, as if he were puzzling through the scene himself. “I, um, tend to make myself at home here. I went directly to the kitchen to make coffee, because, as you know, you don’t usually have my preferred beverage prepared.” He nodded wryly at Mark. “So my habit is to start coffee first when I come to visit.”

He cleared his throat, and Joy frowned. He seems nervous.

“Apparently I startled the lady of the house when I made a sudden appearance in what she’s apparently come to consider her kitchen.” He nodded again toward the closed door, then paused a moment, as if trying to look serious. The light in his blue eyes gave him away. “I sincerely hope the subsequent lecture on manners did not result in her burning your breakfast. The pancakes looked quite good.”

He turned to Joy, held out his hand, and glanced to Mark. “Speaking of manners — an introduction might smooth things here, my friend,” he said graciously. Joy remembered the humor in Mark’s expression when he’d called this stately gentleman an old coot, and smiled. This was no mountain recluse, but a man of obvious refinement and culture.

“Joy, this is Jonas Reynolds. Jonas, Joy Huffman.”

Joy extended her hand, appreciating Jonas’ firm, warm grasp and the light in his eyes.

“Well, my friend, I deduce the lady inside the house wasn’t expecting me.” Jonas shook his head. “Not a good start to our acquaintance, eh?”

“I’ve never seen her so rattled,” Mark admitted. He looked thoughtful. “She’s one of the most in-control women I’ve ever known. This is exceptionally odd.”

“Maybe I can help out with your little… um, dilemma,” Joy offered. “Why don’t you two visit for a few minutes?” She patted Mark’s arm, offered Jonas a smile, and then gestured toward the pasture. “Go for a short walk, catch up on the news, and don’t come back for half an hour. By then, we’ll have breakfast on the table.” She hesitated slightly. “I hope.”

She shook her head and started up the steps.

“I’m sure Evelyn was just startled.” Joy continued up the steps, waving the men away. “She’ll be fine once I’ve explained who you are. Now go away and let me settle things here.”

She waited at the door until the men turned away. Then she knocked and called out, “Evelyn, I’m alone and I want in — I sent them away.”

After a long pause, the door opened just a crack and Evelyn peered out at the receding backs of the two men, Atlas on their heels, then widened the door in silence and turned back to the kitchen as Joy slipped inside.

“Lock the door,” Evelyn said over her shoulder when she didn’t hear the bolt go home. “I don’t trust that skunk. He’ll probably come back.”

Joy pressed her lips together to hold back her laughter. What had gotten into Evelyn? Shaking her head, she followed the other woman into the kitchen. She refrained from commenting on the smell of burned pancakes and poured a cup of tea while Evelyn beat the batter for another batch. She beat it rather hard and fast, Joy noted. She glanced at Charity, who watched them both from her booster seat with wide eyes, her thumb in her mouth, twisting at her hair. Joy pulled up a chair close to her daughter, gave her a hug, and chatted with her while she poured a little cereal onto the table.

Charity relaxed and picked up the cereal one piece at a time to pop into her mouth. Evelyn’s back was to them, her shoulders still stiff with anger. She poured the fresh batter onto the griddle. Without a word, Joy rose and poured an additional cup of tea and set it in front of the other woman. She noted that Evelyn’s hands shook, and her color was high. Joy guessed embarrassment, not anger, plagued the older woman.

Evelyn set the spatula on the counter after she turned the perfectly browned pancakes, then sipped her tea. She sighed and faced Joy, who was surprised by the tears in Evelyn’s eyes.

“Fool,” Evelyn muttered, pushing her silver and blond curls back with one hand and taking another long sip of tea. “I’m a fool. I can’t believe I reacted to him so strongly. Must be hormones. They make a woman crazy, you know.” She attempted a smile, set down her tea, and rubbed her eyes with the heels of both hands. “I hate this.”

Joy kept quiet, pouring juice for each of them, then setting another place at the table.

Evelyn’s sharp eyes took in her action. She shook her head. “Wait a minute. Are you telling me, after I embarrassed myself so completely, that I have to face that man again?”

Joy nodded. “Sooner or later, yes. He’s Mark’s friend, Jonas. He’ll continue to come around no matter what you want. Don’t you want to get to know him?”

Evelyn sighed again, moved the finished pancakes onto a serving plate, and poured more batter for the next batch. She fanned her burning cheeks with one hand.

“He scared the life out of me,” she confided. “I suppose I’m on edge — Mark told me we shouldn’t come up here because it might not be safe — and he scared me, not only because he was a stranger in the kitchen, although that startled me enough…” Her voice trailed off. Joy waited for her to continue. “And not just because of the noise.”

She nodded toward the counter, where the aroma of freshly ground coffee wafted toward them from the grinder. “He stood there with his back to me, grinding the coffee. I rushed in to see what the noise was. I knew you weren’t here — I’d seen you from upstairs just a minute before.”

Joy wasn’t surprised Evelyn had been watching them. The other woman sipped her tea and turned with a sigh to finish making coffee for their guest.

“I can’t explain it.” Evelyn’s voice grew puzzled, her mouth curved into a frown, and her brows pulled together in thought. “I can’t explain it, but I knew him. As if I’d dreamed of this before. His back to me, tall and straight, the roar of the grinder. I knew he had a beard before he even turned around. In that flash of first contact, I knew him, and–” Evelyn broke off, covered her face with her hand, and dropped her voice to a whisper. “And I-I wondered if he might break my heart. He scared me.”

Speechless, Joy stared at Evelyn. She’d never heard her friend talk about men. Her first husband, Steve’s dad, had been gone long before Joy met her and she hadn’t seemed interested in any others. She’d never even commented on what actors she found attractive.

Evelyn continued quietly, “To see a fantasy alive and well in the kitchen shook me. So I lost all reason and chased him away.” When she turned back to Joy, her eyes had turned mournful. “How do I explain when he comes back in here with Mark?”

Buy link:

Amazon Author Page for all three of my books:

Reading/Therapy dog Atlas steals the show

A friend of mine loaned me her dog for The Return of Joy.

I wanted to portray a mountain dog = a big dog. You know, one that might keep the bears away just by hanging out.

Don’t ask me why a black lab came to mind, but when I asked our local Therapy Dog chapter if anyone had black lab pictures I could use, my friend Mary replied, “Not black. Yellow lab!”

It wasn’t too late to change that small element in the book, and once I pictured Atlas, a couple of his characteristics crept into the book as well.

Purchase in your favorite e-format from my publisher at or check at  to check out the book and even get a peek inside.

Don’t you love a love story?

Let’s be honest. Sometimes, in my professional world, people look down their noses when I tell them I write ROMANCE.

I guess they expect professional papers or research articles or books about management. I want to spend my evenings writing — and reading about love.

Maybe it is a function of nearing retirement age, but frankly I don’t want to work day and night. I want a break from reality now and then. When I am reading, I look for a love story.

I have a broad taste in books, so some stories like the Star Wars books and movies or Gail Delaney’s Phoenix Rebellion or Phoenix Rising books are based in a future world and have an exciting science fiction backdrop. But woven throughout? You guessed it. A love story. Or if you are lucky, more than one.

In The Return of Joy, Starting Over Book Two,  I explored how a widow can heal a little and begin to reclaim her life but it is also — you guessed it — a love story. She is young, with a young child. There is a parallel story about two older people falling in love. It isn’t the main story, but I’ve seen enough of life to know people don’t stop wanting love because they are aging.

So even if you have grey hair like me … I know you enjoy a good love story. In fact, this is a little more sensual than my other titles. And while it is Book Two, it does stand alone.

More Than a Job, Starting Over Book One, tells the story of Paige Roberts, who loses her job. There are elements of characters who have a disability woven through the story.

Animal Instinct, the first of the Time After Time Saga with Tami Dee, is a romance about a veterinarian and is a great book for animal lovers and includes a time-traveling enemy who has been stalking Dr. Al’s ancestors and now is after her.

All three books take the approach that sex happens in marriage — but the sizzle is there long before, and certainly after.

Check out all three of my current romance titles at where you can read the first few chapters and then decide to buy!