Posts Tagged ‘Home for the Holidays’
It’s been a few weeks since I’ve joined in the My Sexy Saturday fun. A couple of weeks ago, I was so sick that there were several days the laptop stayed firmly closed. And then I was spending time with the Boyfriend and doing last-minute Christmas prep.
Not to worry. I’m back in the saddle again. (And if the phrase doesn’t give you an annoying ear worm, click here for a lovely Aerosmith flashback.)
The rules are simple:
Post 7 paragraphs or 7 sentences or 7 words. The choice is yours. It can be from a WIP or something you already have published. Your post should be live by 9 am US Pacific Time on Saturday. Put those lucky 7s to work for you!
This week, I’m taking you back to Willow’s Grove. The holidays aren’t quite over yet, and Cher and Derrick have more to offer. And I’m cheating a bit. Since I didn’t have any paragraphs last week, you get 12 this time. Don’t worry: Some are short.
In this scene, Derrick has just picked Cher up for their dinner date at DeLuca’s Italian restaurant in nearby Willow’s Grove. She’s second-guessing the outfit she borrowed from her sister, a black mini-dress almost completely covered with a soft lavender cardigan, worried it makes her look like a reject from a Barney the Dinosaur casting call.
“I feel like a thrift store refugee.”
“Don’t. That sweater looks better on you than your sister.” With that, Derrick pulled back onto the highway and pointed the car toward Willow’s Grove.
“Thanks.” She cringed when her laugh came out too high-pitched. With all the adulation she got from audiences, surely she ought to be able to handle a simple compliment without getting nervous. Then again, nothing about Derrick had ever been simple. As hard as she chased him in high school, she’d only ever succeeded in pushing him farther away.
“I won’t tell Carrie you said that.”
With his eyes fixed on the road, he shrugged. “I don’t care if you do.”
When he lapsed into silence, Cheryl sank back into the passenger seat, cursing the impulse that had prompted her to say yes to his dinner invitation. If they were already out of things to say, how would they ever survive the rest of the drive to Willow’s Grove? Even dinner at DeLuca’s wasn’t worth torturing herself with thirty minutes of strained silence.
They began speaking at the same time. Derrick chuckled. “Ladies first.”
She took a deep breath. If she put a stop to this abomination of an outing now, she could borrow Carrie’s car and drive to DeLuca’s for garlic bread after Derrick took her home. “I just wanted to say you don’t have to feel obligated to be nice to me. I’m a big girl. My sister’s fiancé’s best friend and I don’t have to be on speaking terms.”
Derrick didn’t answer right away. Instead, he pulled to the shoulder and guided the car to a stop. His smoky gray eyes were inscrutable as he studied her for several long moments.
Finally, he rumbled, “Cher, I didn’t ask you out for El’s sake.”
I admit, I’ve been nervous about book reviews.
Who wouldn’t be after reading the horror stories about authors who refuse to read their reviews … authors devastated by one-star—or, worse, no-star—reviews …
Putting my books out there, in the world at large, wasn’t hard. I’ve wanted to be a writer, to tell my characters’ stories, since second grade.
Opening them up to strangers’ criticism was a different story. That scared me to death. I get that my voice won’t appeal to everyone. There are some authors I love and some that I struggle to read. But the fear that someone will dub one of my heroines “too stupid to live” or hate one of the heroes that I love? Those worries are the ones that keep me up at night.
I’ve been lucky so far, though. Not that I have a ton of reviews (yet), but the ones I’ve received have been positive.
My holiday novella, HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS, just received a lovely 5-star review from Brianna at Girl Seeks Place. Among her thoughts:
This was another novella that left me wanting more. I like novellas because I can read ‘em quickly, especially when I don’t have a ton of free time, but I also dislike the short length of novellas. Ms. Hittle’s story left me wanting more and I look forward to reading her other book in the future.
On Amazon, a 5-star review from Firefly Girl had this to say about HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS:
This little romp to Willow’s Grove is the perfect read for the holidays or any time. Short, sweet and punctuated with Ms. Hittle’s trademark wit, it’s the perfect length for a quick getaway when you can’t handle another minute of the holiday rush.
The reviews for DIVA IN THE DUGOUT are also good. From the book’s Amazon page:
I love baseball. I love romance. So what’s not to love about a baseball romance? I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Ms. Hittle created lovable characters who make mistakes, but find a way to rise above. I fell in love with Dave, whose life revolves around baseball’s seedier side until he’s given an ultimatum. In the end you will swoon with his maturity and love for his family that outweighs all else. Mel is spunky, cautious and will do anything to protect her daughter. Tara is smart and insightful and way too cute! Fun, easy, heartwarming read. I’m looking forward to reading more from this author.
(Firefly girl might well be my biggest fan!)
And from Patty:
I bought this book because I love romance. I finished the book because I believe in true love. A one night stand can b just that, one night or it can change your life. For Dave and Mel it was the one love that never was or was it? True love conquerors all and families are made with acceptance and of course love. I highly recommend this book and can not wait to read more by Arlene Hittle.
My stories are faring slightly less well on Goodreads. DIVA has an average rating of 3.5 (with a 2-star and 3-star factored in); HFTH is at 4.67.
I find that a bit odd, considering my roommate, who’s read both, said she enjoyed them both but liked DIVA a little bit more.
Thanks for reading, everyone. And for taking the time to leave a review. You’ve helped make my 2013 a year to remember. And for someone who until recently hated the number 13, that’s no easy feat.
‘Tis now the season for holding hands with the one you love while strolling through freshly fallen snow and cuddling (and more) in front of a blazing fire. No need to shiver in sub-zero temps when there are so many fun, creative ways to stay warm, right?
The hero and heroine in my holiday short, HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS, have no trouble staying warm. Cue today’s My Sexy Saturday snippet. Cher has just admitted to Derrick the real reason she’s back in town, and asked him not to tell anyone, even their mutual friend, Elliott.
“Especially El. He’d tell my sister, and she’d blab it to everyone we know—not to mention every total stranger we run across. I don’t want my medical history to become fodder for the gossip rags. Any rumors about Starshine’s future would be bad for business.”
He made a zipped-lips motion. “They don’t call me The Vault for nothing.”
The mention of his high school nickname brought a smile to Cher’s lips. “I thought that was because your parents had more money than God.”
“That, too.” His teeth flashed white in the darkness. “But people tell me things. I must have a face you can trust or something.”
“Or something,” she echoed, her eyes glued to Derrick’s supposed trustworthy face. With his killer smile and cheekbones sharp enough to slice a bagel, trust wasn’t the first thing that came to mind. More like hot, sweaty nights. “What do you say we get inside before we end up with frostbite?”
Wrapping his arms around her, he nuzzled her neck. “We probably ought to wait until the rest of the family leaves, to avoid any more pleas to join in.”
She pressed against him, letting his body’s heat surge through her. No danger of frostbite as long as they were together. “I like the way you think.”
I have so many things to be thankful for in 2013, including discovering this cornucopia photo on Wikimedia Commons. I find old advertisements like this, described as a “propaganda poster to get immigrants to move to California” (circa 1876), fascinating. Did you note how California is “a climate for health and wealth, without CYCLONES or BLIZZARDS”?
Fun, eh? I love to pore through historic ads selling miracle cures or, more recently, claiming smoking is good for you.
Anyway, this is Thanksgiving Day, so I’m here to list the things for which I’m giving thanks. This is a special year for me, being newly published and all.
In no particular order:
— Thanks to the folks at Turquoise Morning Press for taking a chance on DIVA IN THE DUGOUT. It’s been amazing working with such a talented group, and I look forward to getting Books 2 (BEAUTY AND THE BALLPLAYER) and 3 (still untitled) out next March and April, respectively.
— Thanks also to those who’ve helped me ready my first foray into indie publishing, HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS. (It’s not a terribly original title, by the way. There are about 100 pages of them on Amazon … I blame the Christmas carol, which is where I took inspiration for the title.) I couldn’t have done it without my talented cover designer, Rogenna Brewer; former coworker and editor Dani Crabtree; and Marie Force’s Formatting Fairies.
— Thanks to the Boyfriend for always believing in me, even when I have a tough time believing in myself. He’s more excited about my first royalty check than I am … I think he thinks I’ll suddenly be flush with cash, while I know better. I’m not going to disabuse him of the notion, though, because he gives me plenty of time to write.
— Thanks to the people who are buying DIVA and HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS, reading them and leaving reviews. HFTH just got its first 5-star review on Amazon. Among the highlights:
Short, sweet and punctuated with Ms. Hittle’s trademark wit, it’s the perfect length for a quick getaway when you can’t handle another minute of the holiday rush.
Grab a latte or a hot toddy and relax with Home for the Holidays. You won’t be disappointed.
I’ll take that high praise any day of the week (and twice on Sundays!).
— Thanks, too, to my fellow authors for their support and commiseration. I don’t know where I’d be without the gals from NARWA; my Golden Heart sisters, the Starcatchers; and the LaLaLas. They’re always around to bounce ideas off of, cheer me on and listen to me worry. They say writing is a solitary pursuit, and you need a strong support system. Thanks to these folks, I have one. They’re all a phone call, text or email away.
— Thanks to my coworkers, who listen to me squeal with excitement (or groan in disappointment) whenever I check DIVA’s Amazon sales ranking. Even if they don’t really care, they do a good job of faking interest.
— Thanks to my web designer, Larissa, who put together this beautiful website. It’s exactly what I wanted, but had no clue how to build for myself.
— Last, but certainly not least, thanks to Starbucks. Their drinks and pastries keep me going. Oh, the pastries … have you tried the new pecan tart yet? Mmmm …