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Canal Walk Corrections

Sometimes my characters just aren’t satisfied with the plots I’ve sorted out for them. The worst is when they’re grumping about the endings I’ve given them. This is what has happened with Blind-Sided. No one was happy about the ice cream sundae of an ending I gave them. I certainly thought they would be. Who doesn’t like a happy ending all tied up with a bow and a cherry on top? Well apparently this lot isn’t too keen on neat and tidy endings. “I wouldn’t do that. I wouldn’t do any of that,” Susan said, as she stole a glance over my shoulder last night just before I down tools for bed. Honestly, I didn’t even know she was looking. “I’m dying of a sugar overdose,” she added, wrinkling her nose.

 

 

And out of the corner of my eye, I could just make out Desiree sticking her finger down her throat in a fake gag while Reese sniggered into his pint. Michael and Alonso just sat on the sofa shaking their heads. Gawd, this lot has no appreciation for what I go through for them. SO, in desperation, this morning I pulled out all the stops and went for a walk along the canal.

 

 

 

It was only supposed to be a shortie, just to get my head on straight, and then back to the shops to pick up some fruit and some greens before I got back to work. But Desiree assured me that with an ending like I had in mind, I’d better just plan on walking all the way to London because no one was giving me any peace until it was sorted. And here’s me thinking I’d be home in time for morning coffee break.

 

 

But then Susan joined me just as I hit the canal path and, you know how it goes when two writers get chatting — one scribe to another. Anyway didn’t she start telling me exactly how it was going to be? Now I would be the last person on the planet to argue with a proper Scribe who can wield the magic of the written word like she can. So I listened very carefully.

 

 

And just when she was sorting me out with a proper upsetting of the apple cart sort of ending, I saw the poppies and stopped to take a few quick piccies. By that time both the Guardian and Cave were whispering in my ear. Well, the Guardian was actually sort of creeping me out with some kind of prickly crawly sensation up my spine. And Cave — he texted me, since morning sunlight doesn’t do him any good. You haven’t met Derick Cave yet, but trust me, you’ll like him when you do. He’s the king of the abandon subway tunnels, and he’s not a man I want to argue with.

 

 

By the time I got side tracked by two mute swans busily feeding on the water plants, Michael, and Alonso and Reese had weighed in along with Desiree Fielding, who was complaining about Magda infringing on her territory. The texts were flying, since sunlight isn’t a big favorite with some of Magda’s peeps.

 

 

It’s a hot day here in Surrey. It was well past coffee break and my stomach was grumbling for lunch. The water in my bottle, what little was left, had gone warm as dish water. I reluctantly turned back toward home, but not before I got this shot of some canal boats. That was about the time the lady herself showed up, right at home in the sunshine, all tucked away safely behind her prescription sunglasses, even if she did make a couple of dogs along the route bristle.

 

 

Magda Gardener didn’t miss her opportunity to let me know what she thought, about my birthday cake ending, taking time out to very sweetly flipped Desiree off when she tried to force the issue with a little conference call. By the time I got to the end of the canal path, there was a limo waiting to whisk Magda away to Heathrow. She’s off to Vegas to wrap up some unfinished business with our siren, Samantha Black. Oh yes, you’ll get to know her very well in Buried Pleasures, book three of Medusa’s Consortium.

 

 

You see, part of this writer’s struggle is that while Susan, Desiree and Reese are battling it out with Cyrus and some baddies from Magda’s past, Magda is busy in Vegas helping none other than Death himself rescue a siren so she can save the day. That means I’ve been writing Buried Pleasures and Blind-Sided at the same time. SO once Bind-Sided is out, you won’t have to wait long for Buried Pleasures. If you’ve not read book one in the Medusa Consortium Series, here’s a link to In The Flesh.

 

 

 

Before she hopped in the limo, though, Magda told me a few things that she reckons the gang may not be too happy about. Seems what happened with Cyrus and the one he works for is a real game changer. But I’ve got the skinny on a few things that Magda doesn’t know. Unbeknownst to her, our little scribe, Susan, has penned an “unauthorized” story involving Magda and a certain detective you’ll meet in Blind-Sided. But I think there’ll have to be a lot more long walks before either of these two tight-lipped women divulges all the details to this writer.

 

 

Writing Gives Me Hope

I’m an HEA sort of girl – have been most of my life except for a few years when I was a surly teenager. Being a novelist and loving a good HEA tale means that every time I put fingers to the keyboard to write a story, I deal in hope. Every time I read a good novel, I do it for hope. I understand that we too often don’t get an HEA in real life, and I realize that hopelessness is a constant battle everywhere. I suppose that’s part of the reason I write HEAs. I deal in hope in a world that’s sorely lacking it at times.

 

Yes, I’m well aware that there’s nothing more escapist than an HEA romance … unless it’s a paranormal HEA romance, one with plenty of steamy sex. I get it, and I don’t apologize for it. I’ll let you in on a little secret, I DO write my stories to escape. I’m not getting any younger, I don’t have any super power (you guessed it, I’ve seen Wonder Woman recently) and I’m never going to be an astrophysicist or a prima ballerina. But I have grown up to be a damn decent storyteller, and that, in itself gives me hope. Maybe that is my super power … Sometimes it feels that way when I’m in the zone and my characters and I are in close communion, when I create a world and a situation that broadsides me with possibilities I didn’t expect. Oh yes! Those are the times I definitely feel larger than myself, timeless, living beyond the flesh and bone of physicality.

 

Strange, as I started to write this post, I was going to share a list of the things that give me hope. As is often the case when I write – whether it’s a blog post, a journal entry or a story – I end up in a difference place than I thought I would. My list grows and changes, but at the core of it all, it’s writing that gives me hope. It’s knowing that I write tales of hope, it’s knowing that I do it for love. I do it for myself first and foremost because it’s at the very heart of who I am.

 

The truth of why I do it, why I write, when writers are struggling in the market, when worthiness of a work has less to do with success than luck, when I know the cynical side of the business, when I no longer have stars in my eyes, is that I can’t NOT write. The truth is that writing is as essential to me as breathing, and I’m never happier than when I’m penning a story. That gives me hope. That gives me great hope. My purpose is to write. In that hope I can safely explore my mortality as well as imagine my immorality. In that hope I can examine all the facets of me that can’t be lived out in one lifetime, all the secret depths of me that I keep hidden from the world – both the light and the darkness. In that hope I can face the dark fearlessly. All of the other worlds I create, all of the other people who live and breathe and are flawed and neurotic and sometimes frightening and wicked; who make mistakes and act impulsively and do impossibly heroic things are the hope inside of me, and that hope is steadfast. That hope doesn’t change with the flux of the world around me, and I rediscover it daily in the telling of the tale. That gives me courage to move forward, confidence to share what I write with anyone else who reads stories for an HEA and for a little bit of hope.

 

Urgency V Bluebells

There are deadlines. There are rewrite, there are new stories waiting to be written. There is housework – ironing, vacuuming, dusting. There’s gardening – sweet corn to get into the bed before the weather changes, weeding to be done, bulbs to get in. There’s the pile of stuff I never got done that comes back to kick my “good girl” conscious in the butt in the middle of the night. Every damn thing is urgent! And the older I get the more urgent it all seems.

 

 

Urgent is easy to confuse with doing it all and doing it well. Urgent, in my head, is my failure to do just that. Urgent all too quickly can lead to feeling completely overwhelmed.

 

 

Urgent, however, is at its best when it’s lived out in the moment, lived out in the present, lived out in only this glorious second. And there’s no better place to be reminded of that than smack dab in the middle of a bluebell wood.

 

 

Mr. Grace and I did our first long walk of the spring on Friday and went up to the Chantry Wood to check out the bluebells, which are gloriously early this year. Yes, there was gardening to do. Yes, it meant I left the ironing undone and the read-through I was working on unfinished. Yes, we did it anyway. We took a picnic in our rucksacks and a flask of tea and off we went – for the entire day.

 

 

 

We were more than well-rewarded with bluebells and bird song and a soft breeze through the trees. We feasted our eyes on downland views that we’ve seen a million times, and yet every time we see them, they’re different. For a whole day, nothing was urgent. Everything was present in a single moment in a bluebell wood.

 

 

My New Old Desk

 

Some things just make us feel really good about ourselves. Few things make us feel better than finding a bargain we love. I love to shop at charity shops simply because one woman’s junk is another woman’s treasure – right? I LOVE a good browse about, and never more than when I’m doing some redecorating. That’s how I found my new old desk.

 

I’m very intimidated by redecorating because I live in my head so much and seldom pay attention to my immediate environment, but this time, my redecorating is all about claiming a space for myself. I’m sure every writer – every person — for that matter, understands how essential claiming our own space is. Many of you know that I’m quite tunnel-visioned when it comes to my craft. I’ve kept my head down writing hard for such a long time that I haven’t bothered to claim any space except for my end of the dining table. While tunnel vision can be a good thing for a writer in the throes of a story, it can also keep us from seeing the obvious. Neck and shoulder problems and a wonderful trainer who suggested that part of the solution would be to have a space that was dedicated especially to my work have made me realize, I need to claim a proper space. It’s not that there hasn’t been the opportunity all along, but the room that was earmarked to be my study devolved into a junk room when I had to have surgery not long after we moved into our house. The longer I put off the claiming of space, the more stuff we accumulated. Now it’s cluttered with the detritus of too many moves and the serious accumulations and hoardings of two pack rats.

 

 

God! I’m a psychology lesson happening to myself, aren’t I? As my mind clears from the mad rush to write more and more and the wild fantasies all writers have when the task is new, and the excitement comes from just having someone actually reading our books, from seeing our books in public places, I find myself seeking space. I find myself longing to hone my craft in new and different ways – paths on which my heart leads me. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that those desires coincides with the purchase of a new ‘old’ desk.

 

The desk is like my mind, a bit on the used side, but ultimately, a hidey-hole for my craft, for my imagination, a place to shut it all away for just me. When it’s closed, no one even knows that it’s there. Ooh, I love secret places, don’t you? But when I open those doors, I’m gone – to another place, to another time, to another planet. I’m someone else, I’m multiple someone elses all with a story to be told. Opening those doors is another reminder that, to paraphrase Joseph Campbell, I get to follow my bliss! I get to pursue your deepest passion every day. How lucky am I? The desk is a symbol of where it is I go when I write. It’s a bit battered. It’s used. It has secrets, secrets I’ll never know. But now it’s mine. Now it opens to me. Now my stories and my secrets will fill it every day.

 

I’ve dusted and cleaned and tried out each little compartment and cubby hole inside, filling it with my treasured tools of the trade. At the moment, the room that’ll be my study isn’t ready, but my desk is ready. It’s temporarily making itself at home in my living room right next to the jumble of workout equipment, and I’m making myself at home with it. I can’t keep from wondering what stories I’ll write in this space of my own, and what adventures will result from the simple act of laying claim to space.

 

When Mourning Becomes Joy

Happy Blissemas, everyone!

For those of you who don’t know about Blissemas, a quick refresher. The season of Blissemas starts on the 1st December and will finish on the 24th December. Every day of Blissemas a different author will post up gems of delight in the guise of festive stories, excerpts, recipes, hints and tips and this year one lucky winner will receive a Kindle Voyage! Click here to find out how you can join in the Blissemas celebration and increase your chance of winning.

 

 

I love Blissemas! I always find it a time to be thankful for all of the blessings of the year and a chance to look forward with hope to all that will be in the New Year. But sometimes things don’t go as planned, and sometimes the joy of the season is mixed with tears and sadness, mourning and loss. I lost my brother to cancer on December 21st. It’s been fifteen years ago now, and I still remember the Christmas that followed as one of the richest, deepest Christmases, one of the ones in which I had the most to be thankful for of any I’ve ever had.

 

My husband and I were living abroad at the time. We’d gotten used to spending our holidays away from family, as so many people have, and while it was always a good experience for us, it had become very insular. At the news of my brother’s death – not unexpected, we were on the next plane to Colorado, and what could have easily become one of the worst Christmases of my life became a Christmas filled with wonder and love and appreciation for all that’s good in my life.

 

It was bitterly cold and snowing when we landed at Stapleton International Airport outside Denver after flying forever. We were met by old friends I’d not seen in years, who had heard the news of my brother’s death and insisted we spend the night with them before we headed over the treacherous mountain pass. They took us to their home, fed us, gave us a warm place to stay for the night along with a much-needed dose of laughter and good conversation. In the morning after a good breakfast, they insisted that for the trip over the mountains to my brother’s house in Wyoming, and for the duration of our stay in the Rockies, we take their four-wheel drive SUV instead of trusting to a rental. They drove the mountain roads in winter, and they were always prepared.

 

We arrived safely at my brother’s house in very rural Wyoming to find the whole family already gathered and the house full of food brought in by neighbors and friends. That night before the funeral, we put up the tree, something my husband and I hadn’t done in a long time, but something we all did together for my brother’s first grandchild, who was four at the time and just old enough to miss his papa and to delight in the magic of Christmas. It had been a long time since I’d seen the wonder of Christmas through a child’s eyes, and I found myself delighting in Timothy’s delight and remembering how it had been when I was a kid.

 

At the funeral, there were old friends, friends I hadn’t seen since childhood, all with memories to share of times they had spent with my brother and with all of our family. Some of them came back to my brother’s house afterwards and we all laughed and reminisced and remembered not only the best of my brother’s life – but how far we had all come in our own journeys and just how much we all had to be thankful for.

 

Christmas morning dawned just as bitterly cold as the rest of our time there had been, but with a dusting of new snow – the dry kind with more sparkle than substance, shining like diamonds in the cold winter sun. We all shared in Timothy’s excitement as he opened his gifts, as he laughed and squealed. One particular gift, I recall was a bowling ball – possibly a bit much for a four year old, but not for a four year old from a family who had a passion for bowling. “This is from Papa,” my sister-in-law told him.

 

“I miss Papa,” he said, looking down at the ball he held in his lap.

 

In a strange way, I think I felt my brother’s presence more that Christmas than I ever did when I was a child. We were not close then, and we understood little about each other. Before my brother became bedridden, he had successfully hunted elk that year with his friends, which meant he’d left the freezer well stocked for his family. He had also had time to make sure there was plenty of wood laid in for the winter. The house had a fireplace and a wood-burning stove. My brother was old school – fourteen years my senior, and caring for his family meant keeping them warm and well-fed. I know, that’s what every parent sees as their responsibility to their family, but in the open spaces of rural Wyoming, in the dead of winter, those basics were taken much more literally than they are for those of us living in a more urban setting.

 

Two days after Christmas, we set off back over the pass to catch our flight back to England. As we watched the smoke from the chimney and loaded our borrowed SUV, we walked past the woodpile. Probably every house in a community that was no more than a dozen homes spread over probably twice that many miles had a woodpile, but for me, it symbolized my brother’s last act of caring for his family.

 

That Christmas will always be a reminder for me that sometimes the very best of gifts come from the most painful places. Within the mourning, there was celebration, within the sadness there was joy, and surrounding the whole experience, there was love. That, I remember most of all.

 

Wishing you all celebration, joy and love this holiday season.

 *****

 

Here’s an outdoorsy wild wintery excerpt from the third of the Executive Decisions novel, The Exhibition. Enjoy!

 

The Exhibition: Book Three of the Executive Decision Series

Blurb:

Successful NYC gallery owner, Stacie Emerson, is ex-fiancée to one Thorne brother and ex-wife to the other. Though
the three have made peace, Ellison Thorne’s friend, wildlife photographer, Harris Walker, still doesn’t like her. When Stacie convinces Harris to exhibit his work for the opening of her new gallery she never intended to include him in her other more hazardous plans. But when those plans draw the attention of dangerous business tycoon, Terrance Jamison, Harris comes to her aid. In the shadow of a threat only Stacie understands, can she dare let Harris into her life and make room for love?

 

 The Exhibition Excerpt — Call of the Wild:

The sun was just staining the sky pink when they topped the rise that overlooked an outcropping of rocks opposite them on the other side of a narrow canyon. And there on a ledge were the two mountain lions. Harris could feel the tensing of Stacie’s body in the excitement he knew she felt because he felt it too. From the looks of the situation the female had been calling for a mate, and the male, who crouched on the outcropping just above her, had just arrived. Harris breathed deeply and slowly to steady his hands as he aimed the camera. He was so engrossed in the cats that it took him a second to realize Stacie had her own camera, and he couldn’t help feeling a swell of pride at just how calm she was, already shooting next to him. But then he reminded himself she’d grown up in the Russian wilderness. Beneath the big city venire, she was made of stern stuff. He leaned close to her. ‘This is my cat all right. See the little notch in her left ear, some old injury.’ His voice was less than a whisper, but she nodded that she understood.

 

And then the action began as the two cats went about the business of getting acquainted, the female stretched long and lean across the rock before the male, not unlike Harris had seen Dee’s two tabbies do when they found a particularly nice place to sunbathe. In the crisp quiet of the morning, they could hear the rumble of the purr emanating from the female’s throat. It was a feline act through and through as the two made little grunts and growls at each other and the male sniffed the female’s readiness. It didn’t take long until the female rolled back onto her belly and positioned herself, flicking her tail to one side and lifting her bottom.

 

Being privy to such an intimate act of nature, such an intensely wild and primordial act made Harris’s pulse thunder against his throat. Simply seeing the two cats together like this was an unparalleled privilege, but to share it with Stacie made him feel as though he had somehow offered it to up her, as though he’d had something to do with the cats’ presence here. It felt right on a level that he had no words for. If he were ever to share such an experience, it should be with her. It couldn’t be with anyone else.

 

At some point he realized Stacie was taking pictures of him as well as the cats. He could see the rapid rise and fall of her chest through the dark green fleece she wore. He could almost feel her intense concentration and her delight at sharing the experience, at watching the cats as they got on with creating the next generation. He loved that she’d made no nervous twitters, no off-handed remarks about the cats’ mating. Most people would have. Most people would have been uncomfortable with seeing something so raw, so blatantly and unashamedly sexual.

 

The sky had gone from pink to blue and the monochromatic world had brightened to subtle desert shades of tan and mauve and kaki bathing the cats in golden light as they stretched and preened. Then Stacie and Harris watched as they moved on silent feet single file off the ledge and disappeared into the canyon. They stood and watched long after the cats were gone, as though to move, or to speak would somehow destroy the moment. Harris understood. He sat for nearly an hour after photographing the female with her kittens, unable to move, unable to do anything but try to take in what he’d just witnessed.

 

It was Stacie sniffling that brought him back to reality. He turned to find tear streaming unabated down her cheeks. She offered an embarrassed smile and wiped at her eyes with the backs of her hands. ‘Amazing,’ she managed. ‘They were amazing, so beautiful and powerful and …’ She looked up into his eyes. ‘Thank you for bringing me here.’

 

‘It was a pleasure,’ Harris managed, resisting the urge to take her into his arms. What she was feeling had nothing to do with him, and he didn’t want to take away from it.

 

‘I’d love to come back and try to find her after the kittens are born,’ she said.

 

It encouraged him that she was thinking in terms of the future, a future without Terrance Jamison. ‘I’m sure Doug’ll let us know when that happens. It’ll be three months, maybe a little more, before they’ll be born.’

 

‘In the dead of winter? That’s a harsh time to bring kittens into the world.’

 

‘Don’t worry. She’s up for it. Doug says she’s successfully raised at least two litters before the one I saw. She knows what she’s doing.’

 

Stacie looked after the cats again, and Harris couldn’t resist. He lifted his camera and took a couple of shots of her. When she flipped him off and then offered her usual teasing smile, he only shrugged and continued. ‘Just returning the favour.’

 

The blush that crawled up her throat made her look even more beautiful if that were possible. ‘Yes but you look outdoorsy and ruggedly handsome. I look all swollen-eyed and under-slept.’

 

He kept shooting. ‘To me you look beautiful. You belong here almost as much as those cats do.’

 

*****

 

Instead of shoving at him as he’d expected her to do, she curled a hard fist in his hair and ravaged his mouth with every bit as much ferocity as he had given her, pulling him still closer, rubbing her body against his, making him instantly and startlingly erect.

 

She snaked a hand down between them and savaged his fly until he feared for what lay beneath, until her fingers wriggled and dug their way into his walking trousers to possess his cock with a tight grip as though it were a weapon, one she were about to use to do serious damage.

 

He fumbled to return the favor, with her ripping at her own fly to make room for him, to guide his fingers down over her mons. Her eyes locked his in a devastating gaze that felt as though she could see right through him. ‘I need you to touch me there.’ Her voice was a breathless whisper. ‘Where I’m wet, where I’m open, where I’m always, always hungry for you.’ Her breath caught; her eyelids fluttered and she sucked her bottom lip as he found her cleft, wet and open as she’d promised. ‘You can’t tell me you don’t want to be like those cats.’ She guided his hand still further and manipulated it until first two, then three fingers pressed up into her. ‘You can’t tell me that when I present myself to you all hot and ready and begging for it, you don’t want to service my need. You can’t tell me you don’t want to get a little primal with that cock of yours.’ She gave him a hard squeeze and drove her hand up and down his length, thumbing the already abundant pre-cum over and around the tip until he gritted his teeth and held his breath while his hips bucked hard against her efforts.

He scissored her deep with three fingers and raked the silky slickness of her up and over her clitoris, and the sounds from the back of her throat easily resembled the sounds the female cougar made when the male mounted her. They wildly, madly fucked each other’s hands. The wind had risen and even on the clear morning, the chill left no doubt about lingering for more than the quickest of releases. Then she shifted, pressed her back hard against the stone and rested both of her hands on his shoulders. Before he could protest the removal of her fingers from his cock, she wrapped her legs around his waist, her still clothed crotch rubbing tight and insanely hot against his exposed cock as she began to rock and gyrate, and it was all happening way too fast.

 

‘Stacie I –’

 

‘Shut up, Harris,’ she spoke between chattering teeth. ‘I need to come, and so do you. You can fuck me properly when we get back to the SUV. It’s too damn cold to linger.’ With each sentence she ground against him, baring down with the extra leverage the cliff at her back afforded and, almost before the words were out of her mouth, she convulsed. Her spine stiffened and her shivers had nothing to do with the cold. Harris could stand no more. He felt the eruption deep in his groin. It might have been embarrassing had the circumstances been different, but as he tried to cover himself, tried to hide the results of Stacie’s hard ride, she shoved his hand away, pushed him back and practically fell into the space between them positioning herself so that she caught his release, all of it in her mouth. What could he say to that? What could he do but hold her there, helplessly grunting the weight of his need into the back of her throat. It was an act as intimate and as primal as the cougars mating on the rocks minutes ago. And sex, any kind of sex, with Stacie Emerson was worlds apart from any other sexual experiences he’d ever had. As she stood and wiped her mouth on the back of her hand, the look of hunger in her eyes, the promise of more sex to come in the SUV before the trip home couldn’t help but lighten the mood. As they straightened and tucked and donned their packs, he wondered if that was maybe why she did it. Whatever her reason, it definitely worked for him in ways he was still trying to get his head around.

 

 

Available from:

eBook:

 

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Amazon AU

Amazon CA

iBooks UK

iBooks US

Kobobooks.com

Xcite Books

 

Print:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Barnes & Noble

Powell’s

The Book Depository

Waterstones

Xcite Books

 

 
© 2017 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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