A Carefree Novel series by Leslie Ray I knew I’d made a huge mistake before I ever finished the first book in this series. I’d only bought first two books and I was devouring them. Thankfully, the third novel was only an email away.
I haven’t taken much time to read until lately. I’ve been so busy with work, writing and life. Getting older sucks. But one thing I’ve learned is I have to take time for myself. I can’t continue to push myself without risking my health. Taking time to read, watch a movie with my husband or hang out with friends and family are a great way to keep the doctors away. Finding great books to read isn’t difficult when you know so many authors but finding the books that resonate with you is a bit more of a challenge. I have a confession, I’m a moody reader. I read eclectically but I have to be in the right mood to read certain books and genres.
The Carefree series hit all the right spots but warning you’ll have to read these books with a fresh pack of tissues close at hand.
Carefree, South Carolina is a peaceful small town, or it was before Julia Hawthorne arrived. Julia didn’t know about the house her father left her in his will, but it might just be the haven she needs. Healing from one heartache after another, Julia plans to restart her life and Carefree’s slower pace is just the ticket. Unless she ends up with a ticket or in lock up… after a few run-ins with Carefree’s police chief she’s not so sure that her new life is going to start out behind bars.
Miles Scott, the Carefree Chief of Police is in for a roller coaster ride as Julia leads him on a whirlwind chase. Returning home after years in the military, Miles hasn’t let people get too close, including his big noisy family, but he has an instant attraction to Julia Hawthorn. Can two broken people heal each other? Secrets from their pasts collide and their fears have them running away, will they take a chance on love or is their fear greater than their attraction.
Kat Henley is the big, shouldered broad who owns the local diner Kat Got Your Tongue. She’s not a person who lets anyone else tell her what to do. Kat is happiest tending everyone else’s business, but she doesn’t like to have the tables turned. Preparing for her twin’s wedding, she has an unexpected surprise that changes everything. Ashamed of choices she made in her past, will she continue to let it control her or is she brave enough to face the future?
Officer Marshall Brooks is Miles’ best friend and a fixture in the Scott family. He’s been in love with Kat since they were kids. New challenges and old fears threaten their future as he tries to convince Kat to take a chance on them. Will he give up on the woman he’s loved nearly his whole life? This was an awesome sequel to Exposure. The feel of the town of Carefree and the secondary characters adds so much richness to this story. I could see Carefree as a series. I can’t wait to read the last book in the series, Division.
I have just returned from family vacation. We went to see my second grandson’s graduate from high school. It was a lovely time but as a writer, I could help making notes of possible story ideas, character traits and jobs, settings, and more. Do you find yourself seeing the world around you in different ways? Does a new environment or a new adventure inspire new ideas?
I think if you are creative, whether you are an artist, writer or entrepreneur, you see new things and get inspired.
I asked my grandchildren about a story idea for a reunion short story I’m writing, and they came up with an awesome idea: a reunion concert tour. I’ve been playing with a couple of ideas. The kids suggested a love triangle where the person chose the wrong person and wants a second chance with the right one. I’ve written a few hundred words but it’s not gelling yet.
I’d like to explore a character who works for the aquarium. What kind of education would they need? How did they apply and get the job? What are their duties and job titles? What goes on behind the scenes?
Southport inspires many story ideas from a new business starting up in a tourist town. I can see a restaurant owner befriending an artist who is opening their first business. Maybe he allows her to display her artwork in his restaurant and makes sweets for her to sell at her shop. He could introduce her to some seasoned business owners who help her and maybe one who wants to see her fail because she has her sights on the restaurant owner.
The rental house we stayed at was really nice. It also inspired a few ideas. Perhaps the vacationer and the owner have been emailing back and forth in preparation of her vacation, and they develop a sort of friendship. When they meet in person, it becomes more but because she is only visiting a short while, they think it isn’t feasible to start a romance.
Do you get inspired on vacation? Did you find something interesting on vacation you wanted to do at your own house? Did your vacation inspire a new poem, painting or even a new outfit? I’d love to hear what inspired you and how you used it.
Why I love Ethnic Movies and Books, I love learning about different cultures and discovering our similarities as well as what makes us unique.
I was watching Wedding Season last night. It is a charming television movie about two Indian families. One family wants their daughter to marry and find happiness. She works hard but has closed herself off to love after a bad relationship. Her sister is getting ready to marry a white guy who is trying too hard to embrace the Indian culture. He loves her so much. He wants to show her family he is worthy of her but in the process is making her a little crazy. The second family, the good son has disappointed his father by dropping out of college, the father won’t listen to the young man when he tries to talk to him about his life and his work. The old man assumes he’s a bum and won’t be able to find a wife by telling the truth, so he makes up a profile for his son. The mother of workaholic daughter makes up a profile for her, and the two are coerced into meeting.
Now many of us would say, why don’t they just refuse. Why don’t they contact the ap and have their profile taken down? What compels them to do this crazy thing for their parent? Is their culture so different than our own?
Growing up in the south, I can relate to the Asian and Indian culture of the importance of family. My parents were loners and tried to avoid a lot of family events but even they understood the importance of family. If my dad’s sister requested his presence at an event, or my mom’s mother, then they would attend, perhaps grudgingly, but they’d attend. You do a lot of things because of family expectations, go to a preferred school, join certain clubs, make career choices… If my parents arranged for me to meet someone, I’d feel compelled to at least show up and meet the guy.
One of my daughters-in-law is Cambodian. She and my son had two weddings in order to appease her parents and also have the wedding they wanted. They had a traditional Cambodian wedding which lasted three days (it would have lasted a week if my son had been Asian too), and then they had a Christian/civil ceremony a few weeks later.
As I watch these movies or read books with strong matriarchal or patriarchal societies I can relate to a degree because there is a certain amount of pressure to please our parents and grandparents especially if you have a close family. Add in the struggles many of these families have had just getting to America and building their lives here, some having left home with little or nothing, possibly not even knowing the language, and you can see how the community becomes an extended family.
My daughter-in-law’s family were refugees. They were prepared to go to France. Her father was a teacher. He spoke French. But when things fell through and they were unable to go to France, they came instead to America where they were not prepared, did not know the language, and the hardships they faced put a strain on their family. The Asian community helped them find work, places to live and even helped them acclimate to life in America.
In rural North Carolina, I grew up with a sense of community and that community was part of my extended family. I grew up as a neighborhood kid. I was part of the community and they were a part of teaching and training me. As I write my stories, I bring family and community into my setting and characters. Like many of the ethnic stories I read and watch, I feel a kinship because here in our small town we are invested in each other’s lives.
Reading books and watching movies that entertain us and give us a little taste of what someone else has gone through, and suddenly the world becomes a little smaller, strangers become neighbors, and our differences don’t seem so foreign because they are the uniqueness of a friend or the peculiarities of a neighbor, so they are not as frightening as those of a stranger, nor a foreign as someone living half a world away.
I love the holidays from Halloween to Valentine’s Day this time of year is just so full of wonder and joy. I don’t remember ever decorating for Halloween or Thanksgiving when I was a kid, but Christmas the whole house got a makeover. From the doilies on the tables, the candles, and of course the tree, everything was dressed up for Christmas.
When my own children came along, we decorated with handmade ornaments. I often did a themed Christmas with all the decorations matching that year’s theme from a Native American Christmas tree where I cut my fingers carving tiny fetishes, to a Toys Christmas tree where we even hung some of the kids’ toys on the tree.
As the boys got older, they cared less and less about decorating the tree with me. It’s one of the saddest things decorating a Christmas tree by yourself. I love the movies where families get together to decorate but I guess I didn’t instill that love in my kids. Was I too much a perfectionist? I constantly move ornaments when I think they don’t look just right even when I place them on the tree myself. Did I hurt feelings or are they just not that interested? Whatever the reason, more and more I found myself decorating alone. I’ve learned to make the most of it. Put on a Christmas audiobook, usually a romance, and fix myself a drink whether it’s an adult beverage or something tamer, this year it was an iced Chai tea latte made with cinnamon creamer. The trick to making an iced Chai tea latte is getting the tea strong enough to withstand the ice and of course letting it cool.
My tree is not as themed as it once was. It is mostly red and white with a lot of penguins. Why I like penguins I’m not sure, but they make me smile. I also have a couple of Minions. They make me smile too. I have a few homemade ornaments from friends and family. Ornaments I’ve bought from the craft fair and special ornaments I’ve collected over the years or received as gifts. Having lost all of our old ornaments in the house fire, it’s bittersweet to remember those ornaments. My son’s college ornament, my other son’s Army ornament, ornaments to represent each of the children, some with photos, ornaments made by loving hands of those no longer with us, none of the ornaments were expensive but they were priceless. I am thankful for the memories and the love that went into them.
One of my favorite memories and one that makes my heart swell every year is when my husband hangs my Christmas lights. He’s not big on decorating for the holidays but he knows how much I love it and he does that for me. Coming home from work and seeing the snowflake lights on my porch and occasionally he’ll put out other yard decorations, it fills me with the spirit of Christmas like nothing else can.
What are some of your favorite holidays or celebrations? Do you have a favorite part? Do you decorate? Share some of your favorite things.
For our last meeting the Pamlico Writers decided to share short stories with a Thanksgiving theme. I decided to do a little experimental writing. When our Writers Read group used to get together in Belhaven, hosted by Marni Graff, there was an amazing young writer there who wrote a story in second person. Blythe was only a teenager at the time but her talent was astounding and her story has stayed with me. Now my little experiment is nowhere as good as what she wrote but I am proud that I attempted something so very different, I hope you enjoy it. Happy Thanksgiving.
Just a little post script: this is more like Christmas morning but since I was writing it for Thanksgiving I took creative license. I am thankful for the little kindnesses my family shows me and this is almost a true story.
You awaken to the aroma of coffee brewing and muffled voices. Staggering from your bed you bump into the chest at the foot of the bed and stumble towards the bathroom. After relieving your swollen bladder, brushing your teeth, and taming the wild fluff on your head you follow your nose to fresh brewed coffee.
Your oldest son turns from his task at the stove and apologizes, “Sorry mom, we didn’t mean to wake you. We were trying to be quiet.”
“I smelled coffee.”
Smiling, your middle son hands you a cup and turns to his older brother and says, “I told you she’d be awake as soon as she smelled the coffee.”
The oldest grandson squeezes past with a couple of dozen eggs.
“Did you have to wait for the hens to lay them?”
“Yep,” he replies with a grin and does a reverse squeeze out of the kitchen and out of his uncle’s reach. He gives you a brief hug as he exits.
The scent of roasting garlic mingles with the sweet smell of cinnamon and brown sugar. Wrinkling your nose, you ask, “What’s with the garlic? I thought you were making French toast casserole?”
“I am. Ryan wanted to get a head start on lunch.”
Number 2 grandson lifts his head at his name. The headphones give him an alien profile and allowed him to be oblivious to the previous drama. “Hey grandma.”
“Hey, whatcha making?”
“Garlic butter.” He returns to his task squeezing roasted garlic from its skin and blending it with melted butter, olive oil, and chopped basil.
“Why don’t you sit down with your coffee until breakfast is ready,” the oldest son suggests. “We’ve got this.”
Feeling pampered and knowing you’ll spend most of the rest of the day in the kitchen preparing the Thanksgiving meal, you smile and nod and shuffle off to your recliner to take advantage of the reprieve.
The making of The Americans Are Coming didn’t just happen overnight. In fact, this book has been simmering for several years. I have taken countless classes through Romance Writers of America and my local group, Heart of Carolina on everything from Horses in Literature to Writing a Historical Novel. I have also been focusing more on the cozy mystery aspect of writing. I have really enjoyed following YouTube Author, Jane Kalmes aka Fiction Technician. Jane had a mystery writers’ course recently I really wanted to take but with my responsibilities with the Pamlico Writers’ Group and the Heart of Carolina, the timing didn’t pan out. But I am really thinking about taking it the next time she offers it.
The kernel of an idea came about thanks to my husband, actually his grandfather. In our home that burned David had a whip that once belonged to his grandfather who’d been a performer in a wild west show. When I heard the story, I knew one day I’d write a character who was a performer in a wild west show. Incidentally, David’s grandfather did an act where he snapped quarters tossed in the air with his whip.
Winnie’s name took several metamorphoses. I originally planned to name her Willowmina but since I used Willow in my contemporary story, Willow’s Retreat, I did not want to confuse myself more than normal. Keeping my characters’ names straight is almost as bad as keeping my children’s names straight. Unfortunately, readers don’t like it when you call the role in a story. My kids probably don’t like being called by the other’s names either but oh well.
Winnie, a nickname for Winona, and Harry her love interest were inspired by good friends I’ve known since my childhood, the parents of one of my dearest friends and school mates. They also became close with my youngest son when he began working with Mr. Harry at the museum. Our backyards connected and so much of our lives intertwined. They always seemed to have a good time together and made being around them fun. I couldn’t think of a better couple to inspire my young sleuths.
As the story came together, Winnie became half Lakota and as I began describing her appearance, I used my granddaughter Phalha to help me get an image of the character. You can see a slightly younger version of the character and Phalha in the original artwork painted by Susan McIntyre. Sue used photos I had of Phalha to create the cover of the book. While Phalha is half Cambodian, not Lakota, looking at pictures of Lakota women, I felt she closely resembled them and gave me a more personal connection to the character.
Since I am not a horsewoman, I needed expert advice to help me flesh out my character as Winnie is a trick rider and caregiver to the animals. I turned to another of my granddaughters, Hailey. Hailey is an accomplished horsewoman who trained her horse Cooper whom others felt was untrainable. Not only did she train him, but she’s won countless awards with him. Hailey answered all of my crazy questions and she inspired much of Winnie’s relationship with her horse and the other animals.
My grandsons Psi and Jack were great about helping me with Riley and Harry, inspiring looks as well as some of the fun things they do from the inventions to their reactions. My husband and my sons were also on hand to answer questions about ‘would this work?’ It’s great to have people around who know things or are willing to research them. My husband has become my accomplice on many of my adventures from helping me plan my murders to planting evidence. If our family decides to turn to crime, it could be bad…really bad.
A lot of research went into this story but I’m sure I didn’t get everything just right. I mean sometimes you have to bend things to get the story to work the way you want it to work.
I am so thankful for my friend Cyn Hayden who gave me information on steamer ships for that one little piece I needed to make the story believable. The ending wouldn’t work without it.
I am also thankful for my local library and the women who work there: Robina Norman, Denise Toler and Myra Shields. These ladies are great at finding things I cannot find online. They are my research assistants, my Beta readers and proofreaders. I cannot thank them enough for always supporting me. They have hosted my book signings and even suggest my books to patrons.
I have several Beta readers who make the story better, stronger, less filled with errors. I said less errors, not error-free, I still manage to get a few of those, sorry. Everyone who reads and gives me feedback, everyone who reviews the stories, they all help me make a better story and I appreciate all the love and support, the encouragement and the occasional kick in the butt I need to get these stories done.
The cover design is by my friend and fellow Pamlico Writers’ Group member, Sue McIntyre. Sue is the author of a memoir, Outside Heaven: An Afghanistan Experience and she is also an artist in residence at the Lemonade Gallery in Washington. She has done two paintings for me for this novel. The first based on a photograph I sent her with just a few ideas. I loved it but as I was finishing The Americans are Coming, I realized I needed to represent the main character better. Since she was half Lakota, an obviously white woman would not be representative. I also wanted the first book to give more of the feel of the wild west show. Using photos of my granddaughter, Sue did a lovely job of depicting Winnie.
While she is younger on the cover than in the story, I still feel it is a great depiction of what the beginning of the series is about. Winnie isn’t exactly innocent, her life even before joining the wild west show was hardly easy, nor was she protected from the harshness of life. But Winnie’s outlook is one of hope and love. Everything she does from trying to solve the murder to breaking up her father’s relationship with one woman and pushing him into a relationship with another, is about love and hope for the future.
The Americans are Coming is a murder mystery, but it also has romance, family drama, friendship and a view into living together harmoniously with diverse characters. Fiction should entertain but it should also make you feel something. I hope when you finish this book you feel the connection and understanding I was trying to convey. Happy reading, y’all.
Print books are suppose to arrive today but they won’t have this cover. If you want books with Sue’s original artwork, they are available at Amazon, and I hope to have them available elsewhere very soon.
It wouldn’t be Christmas without a few delicious desserts, drinks or special meals. What are your holiday favorites? Do you cook them or look forward to a family member or friend bringing them to you? Do you give food gifts for Christmas? I’m listing some of my favorites linked to special memories, but they are in no way all of them. At close to sixty I’ve had a lot of Christmas treats and some are more about the person who is no longer with us than the food itself but remembering is a way of keeping them with us and when we eat or drink that special treat, we get to have them with us for just a little while, even if only in our thoughts.
My grandmother wasn’t a domesticated lady. In another time or situation, she’d have been a businesswoman, possibly a world traveler but instead she was the wife of a sharecropper. For any familiar with the term, you know they were poor. But in truth, I never realized they were poor. I knew grandma wore her house clothes until they were threadbare but when she went off, she dressed nice. I also enjoyed culinary delights that I couldn’t find anywhere else, when I was at my grandma’s house. She had homemade jam, sweet cream, biscuits and molasses. For Christmas she made sugar cookies, candy confections with pecans and coconut dipped in chocolate, peanut brittle that would yank all your fillings out and icebox fruitcake and applesauce cake.
I look forward to our local community holiday craft fair every Christmas because a local lady, Ms. Mary Jo makes peanut brittle even better than my grandmother’s. Sorry Granny. Hers melts on your tongue with just the right amount of sweetness.
When my children where little, I enjoyed baking sugar cookies with them using Granny’s recipe.
I still bake the applesauce cake every year because it’s not too sweet and it’s just the right amount of fruit and nuts and holiday spirit.
Grandma’s icebox fruit cake is another story. No one seems to be able to recreate hers exactly even using her recipe. Not sure what she did differently but ours are always too dry or too sticky, not enough raisins and pecans…something. Maybe we’re just lacking the love Granny put into everything she made.
Grandma told me once that she learned to do a lot of things not because she wanted to but because there was no other choice. As an adult raising six children, I came to understand that. We learned to do in order to make things better for those we love.
Grandma’s Ice Box Fruit Cake
1 box graham crackers crushed and pulverized
1 box raisins
2 cups pecans chopped
1 can sweetened condensed milk
Mix everything together if too dry add more milk, if too wet or sticky add more graham cracker crumbs.
Divide and roll into logs. Wrap in plastic and foil. Refrigerate until firm. Slice and eat.
I started using dried cranberries for a festive look and tart flavor.
Grandma’s Applesauce Cake
1 ½ cup self-rising flour
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon Allspice
½ teaspoon Cloves
½ teaspoon Ginger
1 can apple sauce
2 chopped apples
½ cup chopped pecans
1 stick of softened butter (if you use unsalted add a pinch of salt)
1 teaspoon of vanilla
Preheat oven to 350. Grease loaf pans.
Mix dry ingredients first. Flour, sugar and spices. You can add your pecans too if you’d like. Flouring them keeps them in place.
Add eggs, softened butter, apple sauce, apple and vanilla.
Bake 25-30 minutes or until no longer wet in the middle when you insert a toothpick to test.
Remove from oven and let cool. Makes great gifts.
You can substitute cranberry sauce for the apple sauce for a holiday twist.
It is difficult to diet during December. Between holiday parties and food gifts, oh my. I look forward to the special treats some of my friends fix for the holidays. Ms. Peggy’s homemade heath bars, Tina’s drunken chocolate covered cherries, Robina’s pomegranate cupcakes, oh my. I think I gained five pounds just writing about it. I can’t forget Ms. Helen’s fudge and Ms. Hix’s cookie assortment and candied nuts. Now y’all understand why I’m fat. I haven’t even talked about the real food and the drinks.
I’d never had eggnog until my youngest son was a teenager. He insisted we try it. It’s good but a little too rich for my taste. Working at the ABC store, I decided to try the alcoholic version and it’s better but still way to sweet for me. I like one glass every two or three years or so.
I enjoy apple cider when I can find good cider. I buy the unpasteurized kind, add it to my crockpot with orange juice, ginger ale and cinnamon hard candies. It’s a family favorite. You could add a little apple ale to perk it up or a splash of cinnamon whiskey instead of the hard candies.
One of my favorite holiday treats is the peppermint mocha iced coffees. Forget your pumpkin spice, give me peppermint and chocolate. If you want to adult it, there’s a great already premixed just add cold coffee or hot if you prefer. You can also make your own with cream liquor, peppermint schnapps, chocolate liquor and coffee.
My daughters-in-law introduced me to chai tea and iced chai lattes. Oh my goodness, Christmas in a cup. It is so good and my new favorite holiday drink.
My traditional favorite for Christmas dinner is roasted turkey with all the trimmings. For Christmas morning we’ve done waffles and ice cream or left-over chicken. We’ve done monkey bread, all ooey gooey and loaded with cinnamon, but most recently we’ve started doing a French toast casserole because we have such a large crowd. It’s a very simple recipe and feeds the masses. We get bags of old bread crusts make an egg and milk custard with vanilla, sugar and cinnamon pour it over the bread and put it in a pan in a preheated oven at 350 for about 30 minutes, topped with butter.
My mother-in-law does something different every year for Christmas Eve. We’ve had Mexican with tamales, hand rolled and bought from a lovely Mexican lady. We’ve done assorted Italian dishes, soups and sandwiches, and even quiches.
Damian is the hero of K.B. Davenport’s new adult fantasy novel, Magic in Autumn Springs. Welcome Damian Baxter to Creekside Café.
Damian: Thanks for having me, Sherri! The café is beautiful. Reminds me of home!
Sherri: Damian it is so good to have this chance to get to know you better. I enjoyed reading about your adventures in Autumn Springs. Have you always lived in Autumn Springs? You went to college there as well? Have you ever wanted to travel? Did you ever want to leave Autumn Springs?
Damian: Thanks for reading my story! I have always lived in Autumn Springs. Born and raised! I love my hometown. It’s a friendly place (mostly), and there’s always something brewing. After I graduated high school, I went to Autumn Springs College. I wanted to stay close to home, despite not having the best relationship with my parents. The town always had a pull for me, though, so I couldn’t bear to leave it. I guess, after reading my story, you know why! There was something waiting for me there, I just had to figure out what it was.
I’ve traveled a few times. Mostly to surrounding states and tourist destinations near Autumn Springs. Never too far. But I’ve always wanted to go to Switzerland. It’s so beautiful, I feel like it’s the only place that could rival my love for my hometown. Springtime there seems like a fairy tale!
When I was younger, I wanted nothing more than to leave Autumn Springs. From around ages ten to seventeen, I dreamed of moving far away and living a fast-paced life in a city somewhere. I was convinced that Autumn Springs was only for people who wanted big families and small lives. It took some time to realize how mistaken I was. Something clicked one day, and I’ve been happy there since. That’s not to say I won’t let life take me to other places. Who knows where I’ll end up now that Bartley and I are together! He’s much more of a traveler than I am.
Sherri: You had a special relationship with your grandmother. What connected the two of you?
Damian: Granny Sue was an interesting person. She had a steadfastness that I admired from an early age. I also felt her sadness about not being able to connect with her daughter (my mother), and I think it helped me deal with my own pain. But beyond that, she was an immensely creative and talented person with lots of stories and love. She would paint, sing songs, grow beautiful gardens, and it all came so naturally. I was her only grandchild, too, so I was a bit spoiled, I guess!
Sherri: How old were you when you started experiencing strange things? Magic? Dreams?
Damian: I think I was around seven or eight. At least, that’s when I have conscious memories of things happening.
Sherri: What was your first magical experience?
Damian: Just little things at first. Like, I’d be thinking about a snack I wanted in the kitchen and wishing it was in front of me. I would concentrate hard and try to move it, but the best I could do was lifting it an inch or so off the counter. I think wish fulfillment is every young witch’s first experience with magic, though!
Sherri: Who started calling you Kachoo? Where did the name Kachoo come from?
Damian: Granny and Grampa had an ornate toy train at their house when I was little. I’d always play with it when I visited them. Granny always called it a choo-choo, but I had trouble saying it. I would say “ka-choo” instead, like a sneeze, and Granny always laughed. It stuck around as my nickname as I got older. It was sort of an inside joke between us.
Sherri: You spoke of the men you’ve dated just passing through, only in Autumn Springs for school. What type of man are you attracted to? What is the most important element in a partner?
Damian: I love bookish types with a bit of a roguish side. A guy who can quote Shakespeare and swashbuckle pirates would be ideal. I mean, essentially that’s who Bartley is. He surprises me every day with new adventures. We just went spelunking a few weeks ago! The caves near Autumn Springs are spooky and mystifying.
I hate to sound cliche, but communication is really it for me. If we can talk through what we’re feeling, no matter how silly or childish we may be feeling, we’ll get through any problem. A lot of guys in my past weren’t the best communicators, despite being in college. It’s like they spent all their time expressing themselves at school and wanted to shut off when it came to romantic involvements. Bartley is so much different from any other guy I’ve met. He listens to me ramble on and on and pretends like it’s the most interesting thing he’s ever heard. I’m lucky to have him!
Sherri: You and Granny Sue share a love of plants, what are your favorites? One of my favorites is rosemary but I’ve never had much luck raising it. I have some monster aloe plants though.
Damian: Rosemary can be a bit tricky! I love herbs as well. My herb garden gets a lot of my attention, since I cook with them so much. Aloe plants are great! I love succulents, especially for the porch so I don’t have to spend too much time caring for them. I’ve been pretty busy lately, so I’d hate to let a more complicated plant suffer. I love my spider plants and rubber plants, too. I like classic and simple things.
Sherri: Tell us about Marble, she is a bit of a diva, but she is more than a pet, isn’t she?
Damian: Marble is…
Marble: Marble can speak for herself, thank you very much.
Damian: I guess I’ll let her share the spotlight!
Marble: I was Granny Sue’s familiar for many years. I was assigned to her by the Elder Witches after my previous caretaker passed. I was sad and lonely, and so was Granny Sue after Grampa passed away. She volunteered to take on a familiar, and I was the one she got! I couldn’t have been happier. My time with her is something I’ll cherish forever. Although, Damian treats me pretty great, too. He even lets me help fish when we go to the river. I caught a huge salmon this spring.
Damian: It was a tiny mosquitofish. But it was pretty feisty!
Sherri: Were you a human at one time Marble? Where or when were you from?
Marble: Long ago. As a lady of class, I won’t reveal my age, but I will say I had an adventurous life. Damian knows from our recent trip to New Orleans that I lived in the French Quarter for some time in my youth. I may or may not have gotten into some trouble there which led to my current state. I had a magic show in a little café there and a stunning girlfriend named Marie. We used to cause so much havoc, like when we lured that nasty old politician into the alley way and—oh, but perhaps I should share that story another time…
Sherri: What is the deal with your co-worker Shay? Sometimes she seems a little lazy and others more enthusiastic. Is she bi-polar?
Damian: Shay is an enigma. She’s never told me about being bi-polar, but she has hinted at it in the past. I try to be understanding, as I’m sure she does with my inwardness and quietness. I guess we all have our own things to work on. She’s always supportive of me, though, so I can’t say too much! I think she’s misunderstood by a lot of people, especially new people.
Sherri: If you’d have known who Bartley was when you first met would it have changed your feelings towards him?
Damian: I don’t think it would have changed my feelings, but I do think I would have been less confident! Something came over me when we met, and I presented my best self. That’s always been a challenge for me. I feel like I often misspeak or get tongue-tied when I meet new people and try to explain who I am or what I do. With Bartley, it was so easy. After I found out who he was and how prominent his family was and is in Autumn Springs, I was even more intrigued. But I probably would have freaked out if I realized he was sort of a local celebrity before we met!
Sherri: If you could go back in time and change one thing, what would you change? Why?
Damian: I would change how I dealt with my parents’ passing, if I could. While we were never very close, I did love them. I felt like I tried to push them and their memories out of my life once they were gone. I wish I would have been more reverent toward them and had taken better care of my dad’s study. Who knows what I could have discovered about myself earlier in life had I connected with their memories more? That’s been my mission lately. Since everything has settled down, Bartley and I are cleaning up the study, and I’m finding great artifacts for the library where I work.
Sherri: Do you have any regrets? Anything you wished you’d done differently?
Damian: Pushing away my magic and my sense of whimsy at an early age. Although Granny Sue encouraged me to be myself, I had so many other influences telling me otherwise. I let the naysayers get the best of me for a long time. If I could, I would be open and free with who I really was.
Sherri: What are your hopes or plans for the future? Do they include a hunky Irishman?
Damian: Oh, yes, definitely! Bartley and I are talking about all kinds of new adventures. As Marble mentioned, we’ve been fishing a lot, and we visited my aunt in New Orleans not long ago to help her with a magical dilemma. I can’t wait to visit his family in Ireland! We’re thinking of going to see them at Christmastime this year. Other than that, I just hope to stay happy and healthy with my family. I love to see Marble growing closer with her new pal, Harlan, and hopefully my former rival Elias and I can be friendly neighbors one day!
Sherri: If you liked this interview with Damian and Marble check out their book, Magic in Autumn Springs by K B Davenport and my earlier interview with author, K B Davenport.
Needing romantic comedy more and more in my life right now with everything going on in the world, I turned to Avery Flynn’s Awk-weird. This delightful story of misfits who find their place and create a family is more than a romance, it’s about friendship and teammates, and yes, it’s about finding that one person who completes you. When Tess Gardner ends up a wallflower at her best friend’s wedding rehearsal, she inadvertently draws the attention of one the groom’s Ice Knight teammates. She’s not his usual type, cute, not sexy gorgeous but when they team up against some of the other players in a trivia game, they wipe the floor with the guys until Tess gets concerned about taking the rookies’ money.
After a night of riotous sex, Tess is nearly late for the wedding. She gives Cole an out by telling him they’d been wedding-ed and what happened wasn’t their fault. But when they realize the expiration date on the condoms they’d used turned their one-night stand into something more, they’re forced to take a second look at each other. Could they find their forever person with one another? Busted pipes and a leaking ceiling has Tess in Cole’s guestroom messing up his well-ordered life. Cole likes things to always be one way but with Tess around things never go the way he expects and maybe, just maybe, that’s a good thing.
I loved this story, laughing and crying and swooning right alongside the pair as they navigate romance in reverse.
sherrilhollister.com/Suspense She Writes Bookstore Dismiss