Birds and bees oh my

20180616_152045.jpgI got a bit buried this year, finishing my novel and working on some big yard projects. And, you know, all that life stuff that keeps happening!

Birds and bees… it’s actually bees and chickens in my backyard, but that didn’t sound as catchy. And technically there’s also cute little birds that flutter through the garden. Dragonflies that zoom through the yard. And a very healthy population of ladybugs.

We had lots of ladybugs, attracted by some aphids in our plum tree, and then we decided to buy some for the garden. Thanks to these little hungry bugs, there’s hardly any aphids left.

The good bugs all seem to get along fine. There’s a few paper wasps that hover around, visiting or chewing on the wooden fence. People say wasps are mean but these seem social. One had a tiny hive inside the handle of my shovel. I used the shovel all day before finding it. The hive maker had hovered around without ever stinging or bugging me.

These are my honey bees, “bearding” on the outside of the hive to cool off on a warm, humid day. You can see a few in the air too.

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Honey bees are fascinating. They have guards, foragers, nurses, and “undertakers” who clean out the hive. There’s boy bees called drones that lounge around until it’s time to fly out and look for the mating track, where they hope to spot a virgin queen bee. They have huge eyes to assist them, and no stinger because they needed room for, emm, other equipment. That means you can pick them up. I’m not sure what they think about that!

You can actually let just about any honey bee crawl around on your hand and they’ll be friendly. They hang out with me in the garden, sometimes sitting on a plant or crawling around on the ground.

If you find a honey or bumble bee sitting around like it’s tired, it just might be. They work hard! You can give them sugar water in a teaspoon for some extra energy so they can make it back to their hive. They fly up to three miles and spend the day collecting pollen.

We built landscaping boxes and a tiny pond, which has a trickling waterfall. (The photo is before I got the pond clean and full, and the waterfall going.) When it got hot the other day, the bees were landing on it to drink. I made tiny little ponds in the garden for them, but they really liked the water dripping down the rocks.

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Oh, here’s my funny chickens. Flower Pot is yellow and the boss lady.

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Raptor is the speckled yellow/reddish one. Penguin is black, and in the back you can see Houdini the escape artist. I still don’t know how she gets through the fence from the chicken yard to the patio area. The picture has a glare because I took it through my window by my writing desk. They like to come say hi during the day.

Here’s Flower Pot eyeing a plum. If you’re wondering about her name, my boyfriend’s son Jensen was 6 when he named her, and used his grandma’s suggestion to use a flower name. You gotta love kids!

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If you’re wondering if my urban farming is inspiring any story ideas…it is!

I was working on an idea about a woman running a small farm, but I knew it needed more than that. Or she needed more than that, like a big secret she’s desperate to hide and a big present day problem. The plot is in my head, so I plan to start jotting down notes on my camping trip. It’ll be fun when there’s more to the story and I can share!

I did get in some painting this year. This one is 2 by 4 feet, oil on board, and ended up decorating the wall above our coat rack.

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The big one was inspired by a smaller one I did on canvas.

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I practiced more ocean waves…and have a painting in mind for another board, so hopefully I get to do that one this summer.

In other news, my youngest son Caleb graduated 8th grade! My three kids are all bigger than me, although my 18 year old daughter only has 1/2 an inch to brag about.

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My sons are both 5’8″ even though they’re two years apart. I could’a had twins and saved myself a pregnancy!  (Ben, behind them, is 6’3″ and 14 too. His legs are pretty much as tall as all of me…)

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I’m excited for this summer. It feels like I’ve done a lot of summer things already…in my backyard! But I’m so happy with how well the garden is doing so far, along with the raspberries, grapes, and plums. There’s so much to learn, and then more to learn, about gardening, landscaping, chickens, and bees, and I love that!

One final photo… Here’s a shot of one of the little bumble bees that liked the flowers out front in May. There were little and big orange-bottom bees that visited the Rhoadies.

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Happy adventuring, and reading too of course!

~Kristen

 

 

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Say Yes paperback is out & Kindle is releasing May 31!!

Happy almost summer!

I’ve been super busy in my garden and yard, and playing with chickens and bees. The chickens are a year old and entertaining. I brought the bees home yesterday so it’s been an adventure! I drove across town with a hive of buzzing bees and carried them into the backyard. The hive (box) was sealed for the trip, and then I had to open the door for them. So far the bees are sweeties and have been exploring the yard.

I’ll have to start blogging about chickens, bees, and adventures in the garden!

I’ve also been getting Say Yes ready for publication.

The paperback is out now, if you like reading a physical copy, and the Kindle ebook will be out on May 31.

The Smashwords edition releases June 7, along with other retailers, because I couldn’t move that release date up.

I’m so excited to share this story with you.

Lily and Breandan are at odds, but they’re married and love each other. It makes things complicated. Life is actually complicated with issues at work and with her best friend.

It’s a story about personal growth, friendship, and marriage. So it’s a mix of romance and women’s fiction. I so hope you enjoy it!

You can read more on my home page and of course on Amazon here.

 

SAY YES First Chapter Preview

SAY YES, a story of love, life, friendship, and bouncing back

Chapter One 

Seven years ago when we were dating, I once joked to Breandan that one of my life goals was to have a garage and actually park in it. Everyone fills it with junk and parks outside!

After we got married and bought our loudly purple, contemporary Victorian-style house five years ago, he emptied all the boxes from the garage within a week and moved my car inside. Back then, he called me the Lady of the Castle. A little castle, but it did look like my own tiny castle, and I loved it.

For several years, I always smiled when I went into the garage and got into my car, thinking how much my husband loved me. Today as we got into his Jeep together, I didn’t. It’d been hard to find anything to smile about the last year, and I was thinking about dinner with our friends, who had invited us over for dinner on a Monday night out of the blue.

We had both just gotten home, freshened up, and then jumped in his Jeep to head across Eugene. I had pulled on a pale green lacy T-shirt dress, which I liked because it seemed fancy and casual at the same time. With a shiver, I realized the dress probably wasn’t warm enough for a March evening in Oregon but it was a bit late to change.

Breandan noticed my shiver and turned on my seat warmer as we left our neighborhood, a cluster of houses on a small hill, nestled under tall evergreens. His freshly applied Vince Camuto cologne tickled my nose, a light sophisticated scent. It made me think of the year after we met, our last year of college. He wore a green long sleeve shirt that I liked on him.

“How did it go with that house?” I asked, meaning the house he was thinking about buying. He owned a small real estate company and invested in properties. He had gone to Florence on the coast today to look at a two story home that he wanted to buy in order to rent out as a vacation house. “You were super excited about it yesterday.”

“Well…” He blew out his breath as he made a turn. He use to tell funny stories about his nerdy-hipster business partner Jerry talking with the coffee pot in his hand and accidentally smashing it against a corner. A few years ago, he would have launched into something like that, letting his Irish accent out in full force.

Breandan McKee was the most charming, handsome, fun man I had ever met…and fell in love with and married. The man melted hearts with a look. With his thick, loosely wavy hair and distinctive nose, he looked like Patrick Dempsey from  in Gray’s Anatomy (but with lighter hair) who played Derek Shepherd, or Dr. Dreamy. That really fit Breandan, so much so that for a long time I thought the actor was Irish too.

We used to joke about it. He moved his hand on the steering wheel and my gaze caught on his wedding band. That made it hurt all the worse now. He didn’t know, of course. I was the one who changed.

“It needs a lot of work, too much to make it worth my while,” he said with a disappointed shrug. When he looked over, his light blue eyes weren’t sparkling.

“Darn. That sucks.”

“Yeah, it goes that way sometimes. I saw a few others but they weren’t priced right. It’ll happen eventually.” With each sentence, his voice lifted. Breandan was one to bounce back from things quickly.

He loved what he did for a living, working with his quirky friend Jerry, who had been his next door neighbor in high school. They sold houses the traditional way as real estate agents, flipped houses, and invested in properties too. We had one duplex that we kept and rented out, and Breandan had ideas about buying vacation and rental houses on the coast. Then we’d have them available to us too.

I wanted a smile, to see his face crinkle.

Breandan wasn’t talkative today. Maybe he was working on a new real estate  deal and running numbers. That usually took up his attention.

We passed  a family on the sidewalk, the mom and dad herding the two children toward the crosswalk button. The little girl wore a yellow raincoat, and her even smaller brother toddled along in an oversized winter coat. The dad had a baby carrier strapped to his front with a baby that was too little to see.

“That family’s so cute,” I murmured, sneaking a look his way to see if he noticed them, and if he smiled. We had agreed we didn’t want our own children, way back when we first got serious. He couldn’t have children, actually. I pushed past that thought as I looked back at the family.

Breandan looked their way and gave a light chuckle. The mom was catching the boy as he started for the road with a tiny finger pointed straight ahead at something very intriguing.

“And very busy, by the looks of it.” Breandan turned right onto Ether Street and asked, “Did you get that new client?” He glanced at the dash between us and pushed the button to turn on my seat warmer, something he usually did when I got in his vehicle.

Warmth tingled through me but it was short lived. Did he know which client? It was a pretty safe question given I take on new marketing clients often. This client would be big—Gary Fulton was a local author that had hit some sudden success. If we brought him on and took his sales to the next level, I’d have real numbers to show other authors. It could be a huge market for me.

I owned a growing marketing company, something that used to make me excited to get up in the morning. That excitement had withered in the last year, something I hadn’t fully acknowledged until recently. At first, I wrote it off to mourning my mom, but things still weren’t getting better.

He followed the question up with a glance, longer than usual. It’s hard not to stare at those crystal blue eyes of his, even after all our time together, and even when they don’t look all that excited about me.

“Fulton sounds excited to work with me, but he wanted the night to think about it. He might be afraid of all this sudden success,” I explained, and went on about how the client’s books were selling way better than he thought they would. I knew I could take him to the next level, if I could get him on board.

I couldn’t tell if Breandan was listening so I stopped talking. He looked over again, an eyebrow raised. Suddenly I lacked the motivation to tell him more, and just then the song on the radio ended and the DJ announced an accident on the Beltline expressway.

Breandan listened since we were headed that way, but he drove past the onramp to take another route. We drove down the highway for three miles with a voice murmuring from the radio.

As we neared Cici and Derek’s house, Breandan turned the radio down and asked, “Have you talked to Cici lately? Seems like you don’t talk to her all that much anymore.”

I sighed, ashamed to answer, “No, not too recently.” Cici and I were roommates in college and best friends ever since. In my mind, we still were, but I needed to update that label. We had drifted apart over the last year as she and Derek started talking more and more about starting a family. It hurt to think about it.

I tried to recall the last time I’d spoken to either of them but couldn’t. Breandan has a remarkable memory for dates and information. We were coming up on their house. It sat on the corner in a newer neighborhood of salmon, off white, and tan colored houses. Their peach house had a white porch railing with blooming rhododendron bushes nestled around it, making it look like a perfect Thomas Kincaid painting.

Our modern but Victorian style home had been painted a very loud and bold purple when we bought it. I toned it down to lavender with white accents. When we were house hunting, we’d been looking for something unique, and I fell in love with the house on sight.

We parked in their driveway since their vehicles were both inside the garage.

“Why do you ask?” I got out and waited on my side.

He hesitated while glancing toward the door. Then he shrugged.

“Just curious,” he said over the top of the car.  Did he think Derek and Cici had a reason for inviting us over?

Now, not only did I feel guilty for letting my friendship with Cici slide, I also felt like I didn’t know what was going on with her. I followed his lead and walked to the house, my mind reaching back to last spring to when my mother died. I’d come to call it “the before” since that’s when things changed for me.

This wasn’t related. Sometimes I over-think things, like some little comment Breandan made, or I project my life onto others and end up at weird conclusions. I was starting to think I’m not the most mentally healthy person.

We weren’t to the front door yet when it swung open.

“Hey there!” Derek flashed a wide smile, his teeth looking extra white against his tan skin. Working in the woods gave him an advantage there. It also made his thick, blond hair curly and windswept. He wore a brown shirt that looked soft to the touch with tan cargo pants, which he seemed to live in. I suspected he had twenty pairs.

“Derek!” I stepped into his open arms for a quick hug. He smelled like soap from the shower layered over a woodsy aroma which I didn’t mind. Then he patted Breandan on the back as we stepped into the entryway, a quaint space with a padded bench, hooks for coats, and a large shelf. Derek had built it for Cici because she didn’t like the front door opening into the living room.

We hung our coats and followed him into the living room, which looked different from what I remembered. It was a spacious and tidy space, painted in a soothing cream, and decorated with vases of silk flowers in soft colors except for the contrasting purple blooms. The starker color accented the room, bringing it together. Two large windows with mauve drapes gave the room a soft glow, but I couldn’t remember if the drapes had been lighter before or not.

Then I realized, they had replaced the two darker green couches with a sofa, loveseat and recliner, all in a faded, soft green nestled around a low wooden coffee table. It had bowed legs, making me think of a table from Beauty and the Beast, like it might start walking.

A hallway to the right led off towards the bedrooms and office, and ahead of us the dining area sat next to the kitchen in an open layout.

Freshly baked bread scented the air, which made me think of a trick Breandan used for showing houses. When he had open house days, he’d bake store-bought cookie dough to make the house feel like a home.

“The steaks are on the grill already,” Derek said. “You guys hungry?”

Before we could answer, Cici came down the hallway. “Breandan! Lily Ann!” She hugged us both. “I’m so glad you could come over. It’s been too long.”

“I know! We were just talking about you guys and wondering how you’re doing,” I said, noting how they were both extra beamy today. Apparently they were doing well. They shared a glowy-eyed look, and I started to turn toward Breandan but we both looked away from each other. He turned his attention to a rustic and misty farmhouse painting on the wall—I was sure it was Cici’s work but one that I hadn’t seen yet.

We’re not close like that anymore. This wasn’t a new realization but it was the first time I had let myself fully face it, and I knew Breandan was turning that fact over in his mind too.   

“Hon, you better go check those!” Cici said suddenly, breaking what could have built up into an awkward moment. Derek immediately headed out the back slider with Breandan on his heels.

“Did you curl your hair? It looks really good like that.” She tilting her head to admire it.

I ran a hand down my dark brown hair. “I got layers actually, and it’s doing it on its own.”

“Lucky! And you have such thick hair to start with.”

I did have that going for me. It’d had gotten long too, even with getting the layers cut in a week ago. It was nice having my hair looked more styled without having to actually style it. I wasn’t what you’d call a girly-girl who spent a lot of time on makeup, and Breandan had always seemed to like my more natural look anyway.

“You know everyone loves your shiny hair,” I told her as we walked into the kitchen. She’d always disliked her cornsilk hair, saying it was flat. But it was so super soft and shiny, and looked really cute in the bob she always wore. Mine was coarse and loved to get flyaways.

She touched her hair with a shy smile. Cici doesn’t know how adorable she can be.

“It smells delicious in here,” I said,  breathing in the warm, toasty bread aroma. It almost made me hungry.

“I’ve been sniffing the bread while it bakes, and now I’m starving! I can’t believe how much I’ve been eating lately.” She took down a glass from the wine rack and poured the Barbera red wine for me. “You still like this one?”

“Of course. Thanks.”

We’d discovered it together on a tour of several local vineyards about three years before—that had been a fun day.

“I’m just going to throw the salad together and then I think dinner is ready.” She looked like she wanted to say more, but Derek and Breandan were already coming back in, a platter of steaks in Derek’s hands.

“Lily,” Breandan said, tilting his head back toward the door, “that red velvet rose bush is in bloom.”

“This early?” Last time we were here, Cici told me about it and I’d been wanting to see the roses for myself. I took my wine with me and walked out back. It was gorgeous. Half a dozen almost-black-red roses were in full bloom with several more in bud. I couldn’t help myself from rubbing a few of the soft petals.

Before going back in, I gulped half my glass of wine. I couldn’t pinpoint why tonight was hard, but I felt heavy, like I just wanted to go home. It was so strange. I used to love going out and seeing friends, staying up with a glass of wine and talking while the moon came up. This felt like a chore. I even felt sad about feeling sad over it, and the sadness seemed to chase itself like a dog after its tail.

With a sigh, I watched a flock of tiny black birds bounce through the budding branches of a medium sized pear, silhouetted by the baby blue sky that was starting to darken.

I couldn’t stay out in the yard, however, and went back inside to find the table set and everyone sitting down.

“Maybe we should plant some roses,” Breandan said to me. I nodded, smiling, while thinking that roses were a lot of work with pruning, deadheading, fertilizing… But he was trying to be sweet because he knows I love the feel of their soft petals.

While we ate, Cici asked me how Modern Marketing, my company, was doing and I caught her up on how I’d gotten an actual location instead of working with scattered freelancers.

“It was definitely worth it to rent a space. There are way more bills…” I paused to sip my wine, deciding to push those worries away for right now. “But there’s this great energy from having people working together in the same room.”

“Seems like it’s kept you busy,” Derek said, and while his tone was upbeat, I felt a pinch of guilt.

“I warned her,” Breandan said with a chuckle. “But it’s good to be busy to get things up and going.” He knew about starting a business after he’d grown his own real estate office with Jerry. The conversation turned to that, and I didn’t mind getting out of the spotlight.

With the attention off of me, I relaxed. I even decided as we started rich, chocolate cake for dessert, that tonight wasn’t so bad. Derek and Cici laughed so much I started to laugh with them. The tired sadness I’d been living under lifted a bit.

Cici laid her hand on Derek’s and made a little noise.

“We have a little announcement,” Derek said, his eyes swinging over to his wife as he turned his hand over to hold hers. They share an intimate, loving, close look.

My stomach bottomed out—I felt an IV of burning jealousy dripping into my system. Had I somehow expected this?

I held steady, lifting my eyebrows in polite surprise, even trying for a half smile. The chocolate cake in my mouth turned overly sweet and thick. I reached for my wine. That didn’t taste any better.

Cici had a glass of water by her plate. Somehow I had noticed that all evening without consciously seeing it.

Derek kept talking but my heartbeat covered his voice.

“Congratulations,” Breandan said, happiness seeping through his voice.

Oh, dear God in heaven, there must be a way to make it through this, because I couldn’t run out of the room like I wanted to. I pushed my face muscles in a smile and dug up the feeling of excitement, pretending I was another person in another life.

“When are you due?” I strained to get my voice up.

“August second!” She squeezed Derek’s hand. I stared at their joined hands resting on the table. “We wanted to wait till we were twelve weeks along before sharing,” she added, looking at her husband with a closeness that made another stab into me.

Wait, her due date at the very beginning of August was five months away. Less than that—like four and a half months. She was halfway through her pregnancy and she hadn’t told me yet? Because she knew Breandan and I weren’t going to have kids? Or because we weren’t talking that much?

I snuck a glance at her stomach, realizing for the first time that her bohemian shirt was loose enough to hide a growing baby bump. Was she showing, and I’d missed that too? Images came to mind from What to Expect When You’re Expecting—which I’d read at length—and made me realize how much I’d missed, how much she hadn’t shared with me.

I held a plastic smile on my face and nodded along to their conversation.

I was sick for two weeks in the morning…Didn’t realize… Derek surprised me with a test!

Can you believe she didn’t suspect?

I about fell over, I mean it! I couldn’t believe it! We weren’t even trying yet. I mean, we were talking about it…

“That’s great! Congrats again,” Breandan said with a raise of his glass. “That’s just terrific, and you both are glowing.” He turned my way to share a look with me. I glanced at him and back at them, trying to not show him anything. I didn’t want him to glimpse the molten lava churning up inside me. Maybe I could leave. Just walk to the bathroom. That wasn’t running away.

I waited as long as I could before I slowly rose. “Excuse me. I’ll be right back.” I flashed a smile at them and got two blinding grins back. I thought I pulled it off.

But as I turned the corner away from the dining area, I clutched my stomach and stumbled down the hallway to the bathroom.

I shut the door, all the while pulling in a very long breath through my nose. That didn’t stop the body shattering pain rising in me or stop my lungs from collapsing, ready to pull in air for a sob.

I won’t let myself cry.

I will not cry.

Not here!

But the pain was unbearable and I couldn’t stop. I grabbed a thick, plush purple towel off the rack and buried my face in it. My body fought me, my entire stomach straining with emotion, wanting to scream. I tried to hold back and it made me dizzy.

I slipped down onto the floor, huffing in the towel. Bottomless pain and desperation shook my entire body. My lungs strained, wanting to pull in a big breath for a scream. I pressed the towel as tightly as I could, muffling this awful sickness.

It didn’t stop the loud, quick inhale of breath. And suddenly I remembered where I was…and knew someone was standing outside the door. It had to be Breandan.

“Lily?” The door cracked open. Why hadn’t I locked it? “What on earth?”

He dropped down behind me while I wiped at my face.

“Are you crying?” His voice wasn’t annoyed, just really surprised. Of course he’d be surprised.

I shook my head, still facing away, and felt his hand on my shoulder.

“Please, Lil, talk to me.”

There wasn’t any way to explain this away except the truth. It would hurt him. It would slice through him to know I wanted something he could never give me. I was still gasping but managed to get the words out in between. “I…want…a…baby.”

His hand fell away. I still didn’t look at him. A minute later, “What?”

We had agreed before we got married that we’d be that fun couple that traveled instead of having kids. He’d been clear that he couldn’t have kids, and he didn’t want them anyway. And I’d been okay with that, back in the Before.

“I want a baby. Breandan, I want a baby.”

I could almost hear things clicking into place in his memory. How I had been pointing out babies and families. How I spent less and less time with Cici while they talked more and more about starting a family.

“Lily… I …. I just…” His hand came back up and rubbed my back.

I sniffed, blinking, as panic hit. Here we were sitting on their bathroom floor and I was a mess. “I just need a minute. I’ll be fine. You should go visit. I don’t want to make them worry.”

He lingered while considering what to do, and then he rose. Before leaving, he squeezed my shoulder once more and shut the door behind him. Now he knew.

~ ~ ~

Releasing June 7th!   Check it out and preorder on your favorite retailer:

     Kindle pre-order    iBooks Preorder    Nook Preorder

NaNoWriMo – a novel in a month

National November Writing Month… I’ve wanted to participate in NaNoWriMo for several years now, but I’m usually in the middle of a writing project when it starts. If you write year round, it can be trickier to plan a novel and start it on November 1. This year, however, I got an idea on Oct 30, and decided to jump in.

I’m still amazed that I did, but I finished on November 28 with 50,000 words.

What was the biggest thing I learned? It takes passion and excitement about your story to write that much in that short of a time. Because I’m also a freelancer, I had other writing and editing projects too. So my actual word count was around 80,000 for the month.

The second lesson was to use my creative time–I often worked on my novel at nine at night, when I have a really creative hour or two.

As far as my novel writing method, I’m not sure I’d recommend it to other authors, and especially not newer authors. But here goes:

I get an idea out of the blue (which actually means different things in my life suddenly mixing together) and once I see the story line, I start writing. With this story, and some before it, I busted out 10,000 words in the first day in my giddiness over the idea.

So at that point, I usually pause and realize I need some structure. I start putting in headers before my scenes (marked with Header 2 in Word) and open the Navigation Map, which displays an outline to the left of the text. I’ll start jotting down scene ideas too, right in the manuscript, so I have something to jump into when I sit down to write. I like keeping it all together in one file.

I write in a mostly linear way, but if I don’t feel too motivated on a section, I’ll jump to a different part. Then later, when I feel more focused, I go back and figure out why I wasn’t excited about that problem scene–because when it’s working, I love to write.

I haven’t always used this fly-through-the-novel method. When I began writing in grade school, I would create an outline and type it up on my electric typewriter. Then I’d write chapter by chapter, and if I changed the story, I retyped the outline.

Later on, I went through a phase in my twenties where I’d plan my novel, write it, and then go through a long revising stage where I’d rearrange the story and add quite a bit. A few times I even changed entire novels from third to first person and then back to third.

I think it’s all that writing that got me to my present method. But even though I jump right into it, I do have the story and characters clearly in my head. I even start by writing the book blurb. And on that note, here’s the blurb for my NaNoWriMo novel, Covetous:

Two couples are found murdered in their beds. The only link comes from their phone records, leading Detective Hounder to Lucy Marshal.

Lucy and her live-in boyfriend might be next on the hit list. She doesn’t know who she can turn to. If Luke knew the truth about Lucy, he would have more motive than anyone, but does he know? Her best friend Emma is someone connected to this mess—and hiding now. Her other close friend James was still in love with one of the victims…and involved with Lucy without knowing her connection.

She wants to hold onto everyone but can’t control the web she’s weaved around herself. Lucy can’t trust anyone anymore, not herself, and not the stranger leaving messages for her.

You may have noticed… it’s not like my previous novels. This is more of domestic thriller. (Murder mystery psychological thriller–is that a genre?)  I’m currently polishing the story, and adding to it because 50k is a pretty short novel, and then I plan to submit to agents. 

Will I try to write another novel in a month? We’ll see; maybe if I get another awesome story idea… like the sequel for this one.  

Thanksgiving Giveaway!

It’s that time of year when we’re all thinking about the blessings in our lives and all we have to be thankful for. Many people are sharing daily on Facebook. I love making ‘thankful lists’ and do so throughout the year, either when I’m feeling especially blessed or when I need a reminder of the good things in life. This has been a very fun and rewarding year for me, thanks to the people in my life and because I can share my writing with so many of you out there.

I’m so thankful for all of you! So I’m having a Thanksgiving giveaway on Facebook.   To enter, go to my FB page, then like and share my contest post. 

Thanksgiving Giveaway Kristen James
Two winners will receive a $25 Amazon gift cards and eight winners will receive your choice of one of my ebooks. There are over 10 to choose from. I’ll pull winners this Friday (Nov 22) at noon PST. 10 winners total.

Hope you’ll enter — good luck! And thank you for connecting with me.

Summer Adventures

Sunset over the wilderness from a hiking trail

I love having a blog so I can share not just writing news, but pictures and stories from my different trips. This blog is full of photos from around Oregon that bring back great memories for me. I recently took the above picture while hiking on a wildlife reserve path near my home. The trail starts uphill right from the gravel parking lot and winds up into the hills. There’s several places to pause and look out over the valley on one side and the ridges of hills trailing off to the sunset on the other.

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It’s fun to travel far from home, but it’s also really nice to have places I enjoy so much close by too. It takes me just a few minutes to drive to the wildlife refuge, and I can also drive up the river to several different trails and waterfalls, and even farther to explore mountain lakes.  It’s all still in a day’s drive, and most of the hiking is kid friendly. My kids love to go hiking–it’s a tradition that started with my parents when I was young.

 

 

Hwy 101 and Florence on the Oregon Coast

Here’s a few pictures from this last weekend. I was craving clam chowder so my husband and I headed over to the coast. We’ve gone down to Coos Bay quite a bit, and I love it there, but we decided to drive north this time.  I went on quite a few trips as a kid with my family to Yachats and the area, so it was fun to revisit. Going to the coast means two main things: playing on the beach and eating seafood. We had chowder, fish and chips and found a new place called Tidal Raves at Depoe Bay. We shared seared scallops and cocoanut shrimp there. I LOVE scallops, and those were the best I’ve ever had.

(Of course we had a great time, but this is all research too! When I was writing Point Hope, I went and revisited all my favorite places in Coos Bay so I could include them. The Pancake Mill in Point Hope really is in Coos Bay, and they do have gluten free pancakes. You can also really visit Sunset Bay State Park.)

Can you guess where this is?

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It was snapped from the outside viewpoint of the Sea Lion Caves by Florence. The location has this viewpoint, and an elevator that takes you down 200 feet to sea level to look inside the world’s largest sea cave. It’s usually full of see lions that are busy barking and growling at each other.

I took the next picture from inside the caves, looking out over to the Heceta Head lighthouse.

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We drove north for a while after that and explored the beaches–we found a great little beach that was sheltered from the wind by a giant rock structure. Here’s me with my dog Deco exploring.

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We stayed in a cute little motel, and our room even had books in it! I happened to have some copies of Point Hope with me, so I left one there. 🙂

There are so many special places along the coast. Maybe I can include all of them in a story at some point!