My True Hero

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Many people scoff at romance novels (and romance novelists) and say they create unrealistic views of love and men.

But you know what?

I don’t think we do.

Sure, romance writers idealize/ romanticize many settings, scenes and lines of dialogue – what novelist doesn’t? – but I don’t think I’m coming out of left field with the fact that there are many, many good men out there who love unconditionally and truly, and who know how to love well.

Case in point – my husband.

Yep.

I’ve always called him “Superman” on this blog, since I started it in 2009, (and here’s why), but he’s raised the bar considerably in recent months as he’s come to my rescue during cancer.

Here’s what a real-life hero looks like:

  • Within about 2 days of our hearing my cancer diagnosis at the Breast Cancer Center, a package came from Amazon with a little bell in it. It was from my husband. He said it was for me to ring anytime I needed anything. It was a beautiful, symbolic gift. So, so sweet. I stare at the bell (which is on my nightstand now) and feel appreciative at the gesture more than I ever actually ring it.
  • He has done ALL the cooking and ALL the grocery shopping and ALL the kitchen chores/cleaning for a long time now (since I’ve been on writing deadlines, which has been about 2 years), but he’s really stepped it up with the cancer diagnosis. This is especially important because we still have a teenager at home who still needs that consistency – that life is still on a regular, expected schedule.
  • He basically goes to the store any time I need something. Like RIGHT THEN. He picks up all my prescriptions, shops for all toiletries, basically rushes across the street to the store any time I vaguely hint that I might want or like or need an item. In about 15 minutes, it’s right in front of me.
  • He got me a housecleaning service! Twice a month. A godsend!
  • On my “down” days during chemo (two days after chemo day, usually Saturday and Sunday), I never feel very social or chatty, so he would always leave me alone exactly when I need it. I would camp out in our bedroom and he would give me full control of the remote/TV all day, or leave me alone with my stack of books.
  • He would make me a healthy protein breakfast every morning (when I could handle it) — eggs/spinach usually. He would bring it upstairs to me and I would eat it while I was getting ready for work. Now I’m mostly drinking “Ensure” shakes because they’re more tolerable, but I appreciated the egg effort so much.
  • He came to any appointment I asked him to.
  • He buys me little things for comfort whenever I express that I want something. Examples: my port incision hurt really bad when I’d use my seatbelt, so he RUSHED out and got me one of those furry things to cover the belt strap; my mouth hurt one weekend and I said other patients seem to use Biotene, so he RUSHED out to find it and brought me home two different products; I had a really bad headache at first after chemo and he RUSHED out to get me one of those frozen masks you put on your face; I felt sad that my Kindle cord wasn’t long enough to read in bed all day so he immediately ordered on Amazon FOUR different 30-foot-long cords!

That’s a true hero.

They’re truly out there.

 

Health Update

Last chemo

I’m so excited that I had my last chemo session yesterday — No. 16 out of 16! I’m a little beat up — I’m tired, bald, have no eyebrows, no eyelashes, I have mild neuropathy in my fingertips and frustrating “chemo fog” in my brain, my fingernails look like someone took a hammer to them, my muscles can’t even seem to open my car hatch, I can’t walk up the stairs without gripping the rail, my purse looks like a grandma’s purse with Kleenexes and pill bottles, but ….

I’m DONE!

And my doctor assures me that all these side effects (and there are more!) will go away.

So that’s why even though I have all those side effects, I still have a smile.

The smile is for my gratitude toward God, my doctor, my husband who took care of me, my parents and sis-in-law and so many friends who came with me to chemo and helped me out, all the wonderful friends who texted and sent cards and sent Facebook love and Instagram love and cheered me along, my lovely readers who sent emails and notes to check in on me — just SO MANY people. I’ll be writing more posts for all of you throughout May, to thank you all!

I’ll also be sharing more of my experiences — what chemo is really like, my hat parade, a wonderful surprise hat party that my friends threw for me, what it’s like to be bald, and things that surprised me (the good, the bad, and things in between).

Next up is surgery, planned for the end of May. But before then I need to get my red blood cells and white blood cells (always depleted by chemo) back up, which means that throughout May, I get to relax, rest, and recharge.

(And, because I am who I am, write!)

I love you all! I hope you join me here on the blog through May. …

Book Giveaway!

TenGoodReasons_hires.FINALGuess what season it is around these parts?

It’s whale-watching season!

The whale festivals are taking place up and down the Pacific Coast, and people are heading out on boats (or even watching from shore) to see the beautiful gray-whale migration from Baja up to Alaska. The mama grays are usually the ones to head up in this first pass, with their brand-new babies in tow.

To celebrate this awesome season, and awesome sight, (and because I love ya), I’m doing a Kindle book giveaway of TEN GOOD REASONS, where whale-watching season played the sunny seaside backdrop to the romance between Lia McCabe and sexy boat captain Evan Betancourt. Offer ends 3/19 or when all prizes are claimed.

Here’s the contest gobbly gook:

See this #AmazonGiveaway for a chance to win: Ten Good Reasons (A Sandy Cove Romance) (Kindle Edition). Enter here. NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Ends the earlier of Mar 19, 2016 11:59 PM PDT, or when all prizes are claimed. See Official Rules here.

I hope you all will enter. Or — if you’ve already read the book — enter to win it for a friend! Odds are 1 in 200, and you get to see right away if you won. Please pass along to friends who might be interested in my books, too!

Here’s where you click to enter for a chance to win: Win a copy of TEN GOOD REASONS.

Good luck!

Breast Cancer and the Whirlwind of the Last Few Months

Okay, I have to admit, my blog is starting to feel overwhelming. Mostly because I’m so behind now that I don’t know how to catch up.

But – now that I think about it – I do know. One foot in front of the other, right? That’s become my new mantra.

So here we go:

Since September…

  • I skidded into the finish line getting my fourth book done (Lavender Island 2) on Oct. 6.
  • The next day, I went in for a long-overdue mammogram because I felt a lump about 2 days prior.
  • Over the next couple of weeks, I did a follow-up visit to my dr, a diagnostic mammo, an ultrasound, a biopsy, and was diagnosed with breast cancer on Oct. 19.
  • My edits came in on Oct. 21.
  • Life became a bit of chaos through the end of October as I navigated fear, appointments, more fear, a PET-CT, an MRI, a gene test, meeting a breast surgeon, meeting an oncologist, fear, edits, having port-placement surgery, my regular full-time job, fear, edits, and more edits. Also Halloween. Also my son’s 16th birthday.
  • I started mellowing out once all the testing was done and I was “staged.” I was put at Stage II-B breast cancer, which means lymph nodes were also affected, but also nowadays has about a 97% success rate of living beyond 5 years, so that relaxed me considerably and made me square my shoulders and just get ready to do this thing.
  • November was mostly about telling everyone that I had breast cancer – Who to tell? How? Plus I worked on edits for 6 weeks. By Thanksgiving, though, I was feeling strangely calm and ready to roll on the breast cancer treatment! We’d decided on chemo first, surgery second.
  • My first book with my new publisher (The Kiss on Castle Road) came out in the UK on Dec. 1.
  • My first chemo was Dec. 3.
  • I turned in my edits on Dec. 7.
  • Then December was another month of chaos, but the fun kind — lots to keep my mind occupied while I did two rounds of chemo. My older kids came home from out of state; we mostly sat around and visited (very low-level shopping, wrapping, and decorating – they helped out a lot!) Plus there were lots of family gatherings and parties that made the month fly by and kept me very preoccupied. My husband shaved my head on Dec. 25, and things got real.
  • My third round of chemo was on New Year’s Eve.
  • The Kiss on Castle Road launched officially on New Year’s Day.
  • January was adjusting to a new reality of no hair, feeling sicker with chemo, and not as many happy distractions to keep me from noticing how sick I felt. But I was excited about my book!!!
  • My copyedits for the second Lavender Island book came in on Jan. 7ish and were due Jan. 26.
  • I had my fourth (and last) round of the “worst” chemo on Jan. 14.
  • I turned in my copyedits for the 26th.

And here we are! – Both books are done, all edits are done, my contract is done, my “worst” chemo is done, the holidays are done, and I’m suddenly feeling like the groundhog from yesterday’s Groundhog’s Day, popping my head out, looking around, and seeing what’s going on. What happened while I was in my own little personal tornado since late September?

And where do I go from here?

Happy New Year! Did you get your KISS?

Happy New Year to everyone! I hope all of you got your deserved kiss at midnight, but if you’re still waiting, my latest book, THE KISS ON CASTLE ROAD, launched today and can provide just the solution! Those of you who preordered probably got your KISS at midnight exactly, but for those who didn’t, you can still get your KISS today!

This book got an early release in the UK on December 1. (Hello and welcome to new UK readers!) And it actually hit the No 1 spot for contemporary romance there for nearly a week! I was so thrilled.

I hope you all love this book as much as I do. It’s the first in a new series, which will be set entirely on fictional “Lavender Island” off the coast of California.

(Fun fact: Lavender Island was based on a real island off the coast of California, called Santa Catalina Island. Have any of you been there? If you have, you might recognize in this book some of the quirky features of Catalina, like the bison, the golf carts, and more. Over the next month, I’ll be uploading some fun photos and videos of the real Catalina Island if you want to see it. Be sure to visit THE KISS ON CASTLE ROAD book page on my website throughout January to check it out!)

the-kiss-on-castle-road.media kit photoNatalie and Elliott were so much fun to write, and I particularly loved writing my very first “nerd hero.” Sweet, quiet guys are the true unsung heroes (and often the best men in the world to fall in love with), and I wanted to give them a romance story, too. So Elliott leaped into my mind. He’s everything I wanted him to be. I also feel strongly that a solid friendship is the basis for any long-lasting romantic relationship (and especially marriage) — do you all agree? I was glad to write a story where that was the main theme. I was worried it wouldn’t be sexy enough, having such a slow build of friendship in the background, but I think Natalie and Elliott helped me hit just the right note of sexual tension to keep you flipping pages!

I hope you love their story. And I hope you love the cast of crazy senior citizens and other island residents (including the ones with whiskers!) — they should all give you a lighthearted, endearing, fun, warm, and romantic ride to start off your new year!

Here’s the buy information:

Print books and audiobooks available here:

Amazon  |  Target.com  |  Barnes and Noble.com  |  Powell’s  |  Walmart
The Book Depository (ships internationally)

Or order an e-book that you can download and read right NOW (for only $3.99!) here:

Amazon


Do you want to read the first chapter first?

You can read Chapter 1 here.


 

Happy New Year to everyone! And here’s to lots of love, laughter and kisses in the new year!

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