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Time Out Thursday – Looking Back at 2016

The end of 2016 is only weeks away. I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting on this year. I guess it’s that time—time to look back, enjoy memories and evaluate. Soon, we’ll ring in a New Year—2017—and try not to write 2016 as the date. LOL

I’ll make a list of Resolutions (do you make them, too?) and decide which ones I’ll tackle. I’ve found over the years a resolution that makes the list every year but I don’t make time for has to be examined closely. If it doesn’t end up being that important to me, it gets tossed off the list forever. If it is, I resolve even more to accomplish it. Having a book published made my list five consecutive years before I made the time to sit down and write my first. Learning to surf, on the other hand, has been crossed off the list forever. It’s just not that important to me and it’s time to let the ‘this might be fun’ idea go.

But before I do that, it’s time to check the rearview…

There were trips:

barbA quick visit to Austin to celebrate my oldest son’s birthday in March.

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The next trip was June when my daughter accompanied me on a work trip to New York (one of my favorite places in the world!) to spend a day with the Book Obsessed Chicks at their annual Beach Bash.

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barb-3Followed by another trip to New York, this time with middle son for a weekend in the fall. He attended a Gaming event while I met with bloggers (pictured to the left with Jennifer Butler).

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We added to the family:

barb-4At the beginning of summer, we took on a rescue puppy. He’s nine-months-old now (pictured on the right) and comes in at around sixty-pounds. Best of all, he’s settling into his personality and (more importantly) we survived the puppy stage!

On the career front, this has been one of my best years yet. I wrote seven books and played around with two additional story ideas, which I’m cultivating now. I had four releases. the Mason Ridge series ended and the Cattlemen Crime Club series kicked off in summer. The third book in that series hits stores Christmas week. ONE TOUGH TEXAN is almost here!

I had the honor of spending very special time with readers at The Annual Buns & Roses Romance Tea for Literacy in October. We set a record, raising more than $20,000 for literacy in a single weekend!  

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Not everything was as joyous. We lost two cherished friends in almost back-to-back car crashes early on. Both are still deeply missed and they are never far from our thoughts.

My oldest spent the summer in Europe, trying to secure a postdoc position (fingers crossed one of those leads pans out for him) and he’s been so busy that I’ve hardly seen him this year. I hope we have more time together in 2017. And if he ends up working overseas after May’s graduation, well, my Passport is up-to-date. 🙂

With another year almost in the books, it’s almost time to put the past behind and make plans for a new year. I hope the rest of 2016 is filled with good food, even better wine and the best of times!

Now, it’s your turn. Tell me about significant events in your life this year.     

 

Buns & Roses — Best So Far!

Last month, I had the tremendous honor of participating in the 11th Annual Buns & Roses Romance Tea for Literacy in Richardson, Texas and am thrilled to report that we raised more than $20,000! All the funds go to the Richardson Adult Literacy Center to support adult literacy. To learn more, visit http://ralc.org/.

Thank you so much for coming out to support literacy in such a big way.

Thoughts on Tuesday, Giving Back and Paying It Forward

Recently, I had the honor of being part of an event that raises money for adult literacy. The tally is still being calculated from 2016 Buns & Roses Romance Tea for Literacy so I’m not sure how much money we raised yet but one thing is certain; I always gain so much more than I give. The benefits from the afternoon tea go directly to a local library’s adult literacy program (you already know how much I love librarians!). They contribute so much to the community without a lot of money to work with. The tea is their biggest fundraiser.

And people came…

We had an amazing lineup of romance authors from around the country who donated the best gift—their time—for a good cause. And have tea. Which isn’t to say the afternoon was all pretty hats (although there were lots) and sitting with our backs straight on the edges of our chairs listening to literacy statistics.

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My table was conveniently located next to the bar. 🙂

I enjoyed meeting so many readers and getting to spend the afternoon together talking books. We shared a lot of stories, laughs and toasts (all while supporting literacy).

There’s a quilt…

Every year, one of the volunteers makes a quilt to be raffled off. I think Wanda outdid herself this year, don’t you?

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And then there are bears…

Teddy bears.

A volunteer painstakingly makes each outfit by hand. This year’s teddy was a surfer:

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As you can imagine, these guys sell out pretty quickly. A grandmother at my table snatched one up for her granddaughter.

There are baskets to bid on (this picture was taken moments before the doors opened):

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And there’s a chance to meet and talk to each author at a signing (located along the back wall). I met so many fantastic readers!

In America, Thanksgiving is only a few weeks away. We pause our hyper-busy lives for just a moment and take time to appreciate each other (and, you know, fight over sports team picks while we munch on turkey legs—LOL) and the many blessings in our lives.

Maybe that’s why I’m even more aware of the gift I’ve been given in being part of the romance community. Romance readers are the most intelligent and interesting people. And I’ve met so many wonderful and giving authors who I’m fortunate to call my friends.

 

It’s your turn. Tell me about a favorite event in your area or one of the ways in which you give back to your community.

The Cover For TEXAS-SIZED TROUBLE Is Here

The cover for TEXAS-SIZED TROUBLE, my February release from Harlequin Intrigue, and book four in the Cattlemen Crime Club miniseries is here.

A Texas reunion turns old rivals into soon-to-be parents

For as long as the O’Briens have run their ranch, their rivals have been the McCabes. So when Ryder O’Brien returns home to his brothers, only one thing can screw things up: getting involved with Faith McCabe. There’s no temptation greater in Texas, and Ryder is about to pay the price for their forbidden fling.

Because just as their passion ignites, Faith up and leaves…only to return five months later, seeking Ryder’s help finding her missing brother—and pregnant with Ryder’s baby. Ryder O’Brien may have held grudges longer than he ought to, but he always does right by his kin. Especially when the woman about to change his life is in danger.

Cattlemen Crime Club

Click on image to enlarge.

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Thursday Thoughts

When I’m working on a project or a piece of mail comes in that needs to be dealt with I set everything on my breakfast bar in between the kitchen and family room. I walk by this area more than any other place in the house, I’m a self-confessed neat freak, and the clutter will scream at me to clear out whatever’s there (stuff can really pile up in a busy house, right!). Sometimes, there’s a stack of mail that needs to be opened and dealt with. Other times, I put craft supplies there or a magazine that I want to read.

This purely accidental grouping made me laugh and got me thinking. Someone who has never met me could look at this and pretty much get a good read on who I am.

The FABRI-TAC is from a DIY project I’m currently working on. I’m brightening up my bedroom. The headboard got a new, lighter fabric.

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I painted my nightstands a crisp white and added new handles to give the room a more modern look. Below are the before and after pics.

cabnewI’m still on the hunt for a new bedspread and possibly a rug, but I digress. 🙂

The magazine is something I recently picked up. I’ve been a long-time (beginner) Yoga practitioner. I started years ago when my middle son could barely walk because my mind would spin every night on what needed to get done rather than sleep. I’d wake more tired than before I went to bed, so I searched for something to help. I’ve done the same video (Rodney Yee) on and off for sixteen years (how many years can I call myself a beginner? LOL) and I always notice a huge difference in my sleep and overall stress level when I practice every night before bed. I’d love to learn more about keeping a strong, healthy and vital body as I age and this magazine hit on quite a few points.

The ICY HOT is probably self-explanatory. LOL. Sometimes, I stretch too fast. Or bend over too long on a DIY project. Apparently, relief can be found in a bottle. 🙂

And the message on the travel mug is my mantra. I live by those words. she believed she could so she did. It’s such a simple message but it packs so much punch. I find myself repeating it over and over again any time I put myself out there in a new way. That mantra has helped me push myself beyond my comfort zone so many times.

And while the magazine will be donated to the library once I’ve read it, the FABRIC-TAC will be put away after the master bedroom project is finished, and the ICY HOT—well, let’s face it, that’s probably not going anywhere. It’s the mug, those words that will stay on the counter to remind me every day that I can accomplish anything I set my mind to. Because that mantra guides me and feeds my soul.   

Girls’ Trip to New York City

Bags were packed. Schedule was set. Off my daughter and I went to spend six days in the Big Apple. A couple of those were devoted to work commitments but we managed to slip in fun in between an event and several meetings. We both love live theater, so we packed in as much variety as we could; The Rockettes Summer Spectacular, The Sleeping Beauty ballet, and the musical, Wicked.

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There I am in front of Lincoln Center before the ballet and Tori’s pictured in our seats.

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My daughter being a dancer, I heard a lot about turn-out and her new goals after watching the ballet. I love her focus and dedication as she attacks her craft. I like to think I do the same.

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There I am at The Palm where we ate before walking across the street to Gershwin to experience Wicked.

Food is always a highlight of our trips to the city. Tori has been on a quest for the best Cheesecake in New York and found it at The Palm in midtown. It might be our new go-to restaurant. Il Forno in Hell’s Kitchen is another favorite and the food never disappoints. My editor took us to Rosa Mexicana in Tribeca for lunch and I’ll do my best to make it back there every trip. We loved the food and Tori is still trying to decide if cinnamon belongs on a scoop of chocolate ice cream (maybe vanilla? she asks). And then there’s Nizza in midtown. I can’t say enough good things about that place. I took a blogger there for lunch, she’s a foodie, and she gave two enthusiastic thumbs up. Mission accomplished.

romanceNo trip to the city would be complete without a visit to the New York Public Library. It was such a thrill to see so many of my Harlequin Intrigues on the shelf.

We visited a couple of parks, squeezed in a little shopping, and then two tired girls spent the almost four-hour flight home rehashing our treasure trove of favorite memories.

DELIVERING JUSTICE Now Available in Print

DELIVERING JUSTICE, book two in the Cattlemen Crime Club miniseries, is now available in bookstores.

A sexy cowboy comes to the rescue of a beautiful woman who has no idea who she is…

When Tyler O’Brien finds a woman lying helpless after an ATV accident on his ranch, nothing adds up. Especially his real, sudden attraction to “Red.” But aiding the amnesiac only compounds the rich Texas cowboy’s doubts. How can he unlock the truth?

Learning that Red is desperately searching for her twin sister who may have come to harm, Tyler—who doesn’t “do feelings”—promises help and protection. Soon he’s also burning with desire. As the two race against time to find Red’s sister, they’re drawn deeper into a complicated mystery. Tyler will have to draw on every ounce of strength to keep this stranger safe…and resist taking her to bed

STOCKYARD SNATCHING Now Available in Print

STOCKYARD SNATCHING, book 1 in the Cattlemen Crime Club miniseries, is now available at all fine book retailers.

A Texas rancher will do anything to protect a woman in jeopardy and the little boy who could be his son…

With the ferocity of a tigress, Kate Williams desperately fights a kidnapper trying to snatch her adopted son from her arms. When rancher Dallas O’Brien sees the skirmish, he bravely saves the infant and his lovely mother. Single and new in town, Kate accepts the handsome cowboy’s offer of a safe haven at his ranch.

Spurred on by their Texas-sized attraction, Dallas and Kate untangle a web of lies that throws the baby’s paternity into question. And Dallas wonders—could he be a father? Could he be a husband? But when bullets start flying, the real question is, will he survive to find out?

DELIVERING JUSTICE Cover Reveal

The cover to DELIVERING JUSTICE is here!! My September release begins hitting bookstores August 23rd and is now available for pre-order from all major retailers.

A sexy cowboy comes to the rescue of a beautiful woman who has no idea who she is…

When Tyler O’Brien finds a woman lying helpless after an ATV accident on his ranch, nothing adds up. Especially his real, sudden attraction to “Red.” But aiding the amnesiac only compounds the rich Texas cowboy’s doubts. How can he unlock the truth?

Learning that Red is desperately searching for her twin sister who may have come to harm, Tyler—who doesn’t “do feelings”—promises help and protection. Soon he’s also burning with desire. As the two race against time to find Red’s sister, they’re drawn deeper into a complicated mystery. Tyler will have to draw on every ounce of strength to keep this stranger safe…and resist taking her to bed

STOCKYARD SNATCHING Cover Reveal

It’s here! The cover for STOCKYARD SNATCHING has arrived! My August release from Harlequin Intrigue hits stores beginning July 19th and is available for pre-order now.

Back Cover Blurb:

A Texas rancher will do anything to protect a woman in jeopardy and the little boy who could be his son…

With the ferocity of a tigress, Kate Williams desperately fights a kidnapper trying to snatch her adopted son from her arms. When rancher Dallas O’Brien sees the skirmish, he bravely saves the infant and his lovely mother. Single and new in town, Kate accepts the handsome cowboy’s offer of a safe haven at his ranch.

Spurred on by their Texas-sized attraction, Dallas and Kate untangle a web of lies that throws the baby’s paternity into question. And Dallas wonders—could he be a father? Could he be a husband? But when bullets start flying, the real question is, will he survive to find out?

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