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Planning Ahead

I talk a lot about my plans. I like to have my goals plotted out and broken down so I know how to get to the end-point. My 2021 writing goals in their broad form fill an entire sheet of paper, printed and posted on my bulletin board, and broken down by month, almost 3 pages (to be fair the third page is mostly because one of the projects on my writing goals list for 2021 involves publishing dates that will start in 2022). I post a new goal sheet on the bulletin board beside my desk each month with that month’s steps to get to the next goal on the overall list. I used to break each month down by week as well, but I quit doing that some time ago, though if I give myself a word count goal for the month, I do break that down to how many words I need to write daily to get there.

Funnily enough, I do not do the same when I’m writing a story. My brain doesn’t like to write that way. I have only once successfully plotted out a story from start to finish, using a synopsis-writing checklist from a workshop a writing friend did, but it’s never worked for me again. Mostly when I start writing a new story, I know something about the two main characters (I can’t actually start writing until I have their names and some background info, with only one exception, where I didn’t have character names until I was nearly finished writing a novella that just wouldn’t wait for something silly like names for the hero and heroine), I know something about their conflict and goals, and of course, I know there will be a happy ending, but I don’t know how they’re going to get from start to HEA. Just that they are going to get there. I’m working through that ‘how’ in one of the manuscripts that will be in those 2022 releases as long as everything goes according to plan. I’ve had the start to the story for ages, just not much more. It makes the journey more interesting for me.

Before I go back to finding out how they get there from here (and at the moment, ‘here’ is a very messy, unpleasant spot in the middle of the story for them both), I have a little snippet of story for you from Light the Way Home (which is available at all your favorite booksellers, and you can find it by clicking on the title)…


Lucie had been on Mac’s Light Island for almost three weeks, but the view from the back door of her temporary home still took her breath away. Right now, she realized she’d been standing there staring, slack-jawed, at the sunlight glinting off the grey-blue ocean waves for a good five minutes. Shaking her head, she pulled the door shut and stepped down onto the sidewalk, feeling in her purse for her car keys.

She closed her fingers on the fob as a giggle reached her ears. She turned to the white picket fence that bordered the property next door as a big multi-colored ball sailed over it, toward her. “Oh!” She caught it before it hit her in the face, then started across the grass, balancing the ball on her hand.

Another giggle sounded as she neared the fence, so she adjusted her direction a tiny bit and came to a stop looking directly down onto a tousled blond head.

“I think you lost something,” she said.

The little boy’s face tipped up quickly, his blue eyes wide with surprise–as if he couldn’t believe she’d found him already.

Lucie grinned and held the ball higher.

He smiled as he got to his feet, brushing off his jeans-clad knees.

From seeing him playing outside several times already, she’d guessed he might be four, but now at close range, she scaled that back to three.

“Hi, I’m Hayden,” he said, holding out his right hand.

It was her turn to be surprised. She shook his hand, bemused. “Hi, Hayden, I’m Lucie.” Not too many three-year-olds had such good manners. Aside from the ball toss at her face, that is. “Nice to meet you.”

He glanced up at his ball. “Me an’ my dad are your neighbors.”

“I see that.” She noted he hadn’t mentioned his mom. “Who were you playing with?” She gave the ball a little bounce.

“Maybe you wanna play with me.” Guileless blue eyes locked on her face.

Ah. She squelched the pang in her chest. “I wish I could, but I’m on my way to town. Maybe we can play another time?” she added when his grin vanished.

“Like this afternoon?”


The deep voice got her attention–and the boy’s–just before a tall, sandy-haired man rounded the back corner of the next-door house.

Lucie’s mouth went dry. Wowza!

He frowned when he saw them, but his stride never slowed, just changed direction, toward them at the fence. “Hayden, we have to go to Grandma’s.” He stopped close to the boy. “You were supposed to stay on the porch.” His brown gaze lifted to her face. “I’m Nate Baxter.” He stuck his right hand out. “Sorry if Hayden bothered you.”

She reached across the fence slowly, trying not to gawk at her hot neighbor. “Lucie Russo. And he wasn’t bothering me, we were just making a date to play ball.” She met his palm and gave a firm shake, pretending not to notice how warm his callused fingers were around hers. Or how wide his shoulders were in the dark flannel shirt.

His brows dipped a little more as he looked from the ball in her hand down to his son. “That isn’t nec–”

“I like to play, so it’s no problem,” she said smoothly, tugging her hand free. “But since you have to go, too,” she continued, dropping her gaze to Hayden, “we can do this later, okay?” She held out the ball with a smile.

He grinned as he took it. “Okay. Thanks, Lucie.”

She winked, waving as he ran toward his house.

Leaving her with his father, who still didn’t look happy.

“You’re house-sitting?”

She forced her lips to keep holding the smile. “Sort of. I’m calling it doing a favor for a friend while I have a break.”

One of his eyebrows inched up. “A break?”

“My employer relocated my job far away, so I have some free time to help Mindi and Harry while I figure out my next move.” Holding the smile now became a real challenge. She hadn’t expected to need a back-up for her practical life plan.

He made a small sound, but didn’t speak for a moment, his brown eyes staying on her face. “Sorry to hear that,” he said finally. “You don’t really have to play with Hayden later.”

“I try hard not to break promises,” she said before he could go any further. “You can check my references with Mindi and Harry if you like.”

A ghost of a smile curved his mouth at last. “If they trust you to take care of their place, I already know you’re trustworthy.”

Lucie swallowed, noting the dimple in his right cheek.

“But I don’t want him to intrude if you need to spend your time on a job search.”

“I haven’t quite reached that part of my break yet. I think I’ve only reached the shock stage so far.” She smiled, pleased with the light, joking tone she’d pulled off. “When I get to acceptance, then I’ll have to polish up my résumé.”

One of his eyebrows lifted. “Seems like you might be more interested in playing ball in the denial phase, don’t you think?”

Lucie laughed at his unexpected tease. “I’ll probably need more when I move from bargaining to depression.”

Nate smiled, too, and the dimple deepened. “I’m sure Hayden can help you through, if you’re sure you don’t mind.”

“I don’t mind at all.” She didn’t. Having some company might be a good way to stop her brooding.

“Dad! I’m ready!”

Lucie smiled again at his wince.

“I think that bellow is my cue,” he said with a crooked grin.

“It was nice to meet you both.” She waved and took another step back.

He strode to his house, and she allowed herself to observe–broad shoulders, narrow waist in faded jeans, nice butt, strong legs.

She jerked her attention away from her hot-temporary–neighbor. Not where she needed to focus. She took a quick breath and turned to her car parked beside the house. Groceries and mail. That was her purpose this morning. A ferry trip to the mainland, brief contact with the real world, and then back to the island to lick her wounds some more.


One of the other things on my January goal list is finding cover art for the second and third Medusa books, and I have to say, that is a much bigger undertaking than I expected. I found my cover for Light the Way Home fairly easily. These two stories are harder, I think mostly because I need to find artwork that is a similar style to the first book’s cover. I’ll persevere, though. By the end of the month, there will be cover art, one way or another!

What is on your January goal list?


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