Coleslaw to the Rescue

We love coleslaw. It’s cheap, easy to make, cool and refreshing. So, when hubby asked me to make some, I gladly jumped on the project and began assembling the few needed ingredients. I asked Jim to get the food processor I use to shred the cabbage and carrot from the hall pantry’s top shelf where we keep things that simply don’t fit in any of the kitchen cabinets.

“Hey, Renie,” Jim called from the hall. “How come the Cuisinart is wet?”

Wet? Huh? I hurried over, and sure enough, the appliance was indeed wet. So was everything else on the top shelf. Overhead, a small leak was oozing out of the slightly cracked ceiling. I knew instantly there was something wrong with the A/C unit even though the house was nice and cool.

A quick trip to the attic told Jim the problem had something to do with the A/C drain line, but he didn’t feel he had the expertise to fix it. Hence the call to son number one, who lives nearby. Later, the two of them descended from the broiling-hot attic with the determination that we needed to call “The Guy.”

Before #1 son left, I reminded him that his father needed help shoring up our back fence which was leaning a bit from last year’s hurricane. I brought up, once again, the forty-seven hours of agonizing labor and painful delivery I went through to birth him. I said, “You owe me!” He rolled his eyes and we laughed. Again.

Long story short, “The Guy,” actually two of them, came over a few days later and took care of the leak. We still have to repair the ceiling that sagged over the weekend and fell in a few places, but we’re thankful the damage was inside a closet and not somewhere else.

If it wasn’t for the coleslaw, we wouldn’t have caught the leak until much later. Probably not until the damage had extended into the hallway. And, if son number one hadn’t come over to help hubby, I might still be waiting to get my fence fixed.

Yay for coleslaw, I say! I think I’ll have some now.

Coleslaw dressing:

  • 1 cup mayo
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup vinegar

Writing a New Book

There’s something enormously satisfying about writing a book, going through the agony of edits, and finally launching it into the world for all to see. A jumble of thoughts fill my head… Did I do my very best? Was this the final-final-final draft, or should I have gone over it ONE MORE time? Oh, dear, did I miss anything? Will my readers like it?

To put it bluntly, releasing a book is scary. Rewarding? Yes. Still, scary.

The last book I put out was the third in the Unlikely Love series titled, The Street Magician and the Librarian. So far, so good. Reviewers have been kind in their assessments.

For me, there’s always the question of what to write next. Or, I wonder if I should take a breather and write a short work like a novellette? Maybe concentrate on promoting the books I have? Decisions, decisions.

Happily, after conferring with my wonderful critique partners and weighing their excellent advice, I’ve decided to write a sequel to Saving Chase. Of course, the decision didn’t come without drawbacks. For the past three nights, the characters from Saving Chase have been keeping me awake at night, each one vying for top billing.

I’ve got the storyline in my head. Now, to put it down on paper.

What am I going to call the new book? Good question. I have no idea. Oy. Another thing to agonize about…

Be a Memory Maker

While driving home from Winn Dixie the other day, a familiar old song niggled my brain and I couldn’t hold it in. In the passenger seat, hubby joined in and we sang it to the end. Hubs smiled and said, “Did I harmonate good with you?”

I had to laugh. Jim has a gift for butchering the English language by slightly altering or making up totally new words on the fly. But, this gift—if you could call it that—didn’t develop by accident. Nope. It was passed down in his genes from his mother.

My mother-in-law passed away over twenty years ago, yet I think of her often, especially on her birthday, which would have been today. She was a special lady, and sometimes the sweet memories of her becomes a nostalgic lump in my throat, making it hard to swallow. Tears brim my eyes, and I’ll admit to sometimes letting them fall unashamedly. Love does that, and when you think about it, it’s a beautiful thing.

Speaking of the linguistic gift… Most people pour oil into their car’s engine. Not my mother-in-law. She used earl. Remember way back when we used to buy film for our cameras? Mom bought fill-um for hers. Oh, and here’s some sage advice from my MIL:  don’t ever put a plastic bag over your head. Know why? You’ll smothercate!

Little things etched themselves deep in my heart. When my first child was born, my mother-in-law held him close, her eyes misting, and said, “Thank you for giving me a grandson.” It was a sweet and tender moment between us.

Mom had a little problem with her weight, but kept a candy stash in her dresser drawer, away from my father-in-law’s watchful eye. She shared her secret with my daughter and they would sneak a private snack together with shushes and giggles.

My little girl loved miniature tea sets, and Mom made it a point to present her with gifts to add to her collection. Ever thoughtful, she seemed to know exactly how to make a child smile.

Most of all, I’ll remember my mother-in-law’s hearty, infectious laugh forever. She threw back her head and laughed with her whole being. I loved it. Once, she and my father-in-law came to visit when my youngest son, Jesse, was about four years old. My dad was present also. We were standing outside talking when Jesse looked up and said, “How ‘bout that. Two grandpas and a lady grandpa.” My mother-in-law had a good, long belly-laugh that set off a chain reaction. Good times.

I hope when I’m long gone my memory will be the lump in my loved ones’ throats. That I will have made a difference and my presence will be missed.

Yay, I’ve launched my first audiobook!

Most of us like to dip our toes into the water before diving in. We want to feel it out and see if we’re comfortable with what lies ahead before making the committment.

It was no different for me with diving into a new venture of producing audiobook versions of my existing repertoire of novels, etc. For my toe-dipping experience I chose a novelette titled, One and Only. I’m super excited about it and am glad I took the plunge.

Here you go. I hope you like it. Have a listen, then click the audiobook cover to visit ONE AND ONLY on (Also available on Amazon.)

The cat that came for a nap

Let me preface by telling you that we own two cats and this guy isn’t one of them.

Hubby and I were standing in the carport when a cat strolled toward us and began weaving between our ankles and rubbing against our legs. Not only was he affectionate, but also very vocal with kitty trills, singsong meows, and a host of other cat conversation.

When hubs opened the door to go inside, the cat zoomed past him and walked around the house as if he owned the place. He ate a bit of our cats’ food, found their litter pan, and used the “facilities.” After exploring the whole house from one end to the other, he decided a nap was in order.

Judging by his clean and ultra-soft coat, this kitty was loved and well-taken care of. He wore a red collar with a little bell hanging from it, but didn’t have any kind of identification tag. I uploaded his photo on the NextDoor app and hoped his owner would see it. Also, I decided to bring him to a local vet and see if he was chipped.

Turns out, Simba was indeed chipped! But no one responded to the phone number associated with the chip. I had no choice but to take the cat back home with me, which was okay. I needed a nap and Simba did too. He cuddled with me as if we were long-lost buddies.

Lo and behold, someone recognized Simba’s photo on the NextDoor app, notified the owner, and the pair were reunited. I kidded the young lady who came to pick Simba up and told her the cat had cheated on her and slept with me. We had a good laugh, and Simba went home where he belonged.

Simba, claiming the top spot on the cat tree.

Thanksgiving and… DOGS

It’s been a couple of years since my novella, Thanksgiving at Canine Corral was published, but every time the holiday approaches, I find myself rereading and enjoying it. Yeah, that makes me sound a little biased and a tad self-absorbed, but… Okay, okay! A LOT biased and self-absorbed, maybe. LOL. But I seriously enjoyed writing this book!

I’m an animal lover from way back. The first dog in my life was Cindy, a honey-colored mutt with a gentle and sweet temperament. Cindy was a few years old when my father came home with a stray pup he’d found wandering on the street near the garage where he worked. My mother was not pleased as she did not want a second dog.

But Mom also had a soft heart toward animals, and as I sat there watching the ensuing exchange between my parents, I had a sneaking suspicion that this newcomer was going to be with us for a long, long time.

“Mike,” Mom said to my dad. “We don’t need another dog!”

The little stray knew how to WORK the situation! She put her head on my mother’s lap and poured on the sad-puppy look.

“I’m serious, Mikey. One dog is enough for our apartment.” Now, Mom was unconsciously stroking the pup’s luxuriously soft and gorgeous fur and scratching behind its ears.

“But, Mabel–”

“No. We have a cat and a dog. That’s enough to feed and care for. She’s got to go.” Mom cupped the puppy’s face and kissed the top of her head. “I’m sorry little girl, but…”

Suddenly, Mom was crying. She scooped the pup onto her lap and hugged the wriggling bundle.

I was right. The newcomer stayed with us the rest of her life and was a joy to the entire family.

So, you see, it comes as no surprise that I would write a book about a young woman whose passion for animals led her into a lifelong quest to find homes for stray, abandoned, and otherwise homeless dogs.

I hope you enjoy Thanksgiving at Canine Corral.

Click HERE to visit the book on Amazon

Dear Edward…

Don’t you love getting handwritten letters? Especially from someone who piques your romantic interest? Such was the case for Special Forces lieutenant Edward Giordano in the romance novel, A Soldier Finds His Way.

After saving the the heroine’s life, then being separated from her for a period of time, he receives a sweet note, inviting him to her family’s home for a meal on Easter Sunday. Her tenderness and sincerity – not to mention, beauty – intrigues him. But, having guarded his heart for so long, the gruff and tough soldier has a hard time dealing with the softer emotions that swirl through his entire being as he reads…

I think of you often. I would like to see you. The words bounced around his head. He couldn’t turn them off. Our laughter echoes through… He stopped and pulled the letter out of his pocket and searched for the line. Our laughter echoes through my mind and makes me happy all over again.

Bottom line? He’d be a bonehead not to go, even if opening his heart might lead to pain and disillusionment.

A Soldier Finds His Way is book one in the Forever a Soldier Series.


A Soldier Finds His Way – regularly priced $3.99.

ON SALE for .99 Sept. 1-6, 2020

Do you enjoy reading sweet romance novels? Great! Click HERE or on the image below to check out some sweet deals. Are you a Kindle Unlimited subscriber? Even better, as all of these books are enrolled in the program. Enjoy.

Pulling the Plug on Social Media

It’s official. I’m out of Facebook and Twitter for good.


When I landed book deals with a couple of publishers several years ago, they recommended I join some social media sites to a) get my name out there, b) interact with readers/fans, and c) promote my work. There were no real instructions as to how to accomplish those three tasks once my accounts were set up, and for me, vague recommendations just don’t cut it.

I’ll admit, I did enjoy the cat videos, Forrest Gump memes, and the occasional Chuck Norris jokes (Before going to bed, the Boogie Man checks the closet for Chuck Norris…). Photos of friend’s gardens, their grandchildren, and pets sleeping in crazy positions made me smile. But the bombardment of political opinions and re-posts of un-researched and un-true news, quotes, and quasi “facts” more than tipped the scale in the opposite direction.

Most of all, for ME, social media was a vortex that sucked large quantities of time and gave little in return. If I was writing and the muse just wasn’t tickling my creative side, I’d pop over to FB to…to…to…I dunno. Certainly not to find inspiration. It had become an addiction, plain and simple. A go-to place to relieve boredom and veg out.

I judge no one. If you’re happy with social media, wonderful. I’m glad you enjoy it. Really.

I’ll still be here. Hanging out at the house. Writing. You know… Living large. (LOL)

Until next time…


Full ugly cry.

When I read a book, I judge the author’s writing strength by very simple criteria.

I’m not terribly concerned about a few typos or a couple of boo-boos with punctuation. Minor formatting errors mean nothing to me. The criteria I’m looking for is this: Can the author make me laugh, cry, get angry, smile, feel nervous, or afraid? Will the story evoke primal emotions in such a way that I feel fully immersed in the lives of the characters? That’s the kind of writer I strive to be.

Recently, I was blessed by a reader who wrote a blog about Justice for Hattie Mayfair, the first book I’d written outside my normal romance genre. I hadn’t strayed far, but this story had added elements of suspense. In her blog post, the reader gave me the best compliment I’ve ever received as a writer. Her comment let me know I had hit the mark. That she felt things. Deeply. Here’s a snippet of what she said…

“I can tell you I was on my toes most of time. I sat on the edge of my seat, laughed, and shed a few tears. Especially at the end… full ugly cry!”

Full ugly cry. I love it.