Winding Down the Year


It will be December in two days. 2020 has been a truly unprecedented year, in so many ways. For many, it’s been extra-challenging, and for some just different. I’ll be honest and say I’m looking forward to 2021 and a shiny new year. I often look forward to the new year, for lots of reasons, but this year, it seems like saying goodbye to 2020 will feel really good. I am working on my writing goals for 2021, so that is giving me additional motivation to be ready: I have big plans for next year. I won’t share them until things are finalized, but I am excited about the things on my list for 2021.

The picture above is from a December some time ago. We haven’t had a good December snow like that for a while, and I don’t expect to see one soon. It’s too warm here in Pennsylvania. I was just outside to feed the neighborhood cats with no sweater, and I didn’t feel like I needed one. I hope that changes soon. We haven’t had a good winter here at all in ages, and I feel like we’re overdue. Last year, we had one decent snow to start the season, about six inches of snow, and then the rest of the winter was mostly just an inch or two here and there. Really disappointing.

I’m about to go back to work on the third Medusa story, Freeing Medusa. I can see the end from where I am, and I’m so happy about that. My goal was to have it finished by the end of November, which is tomorrow, and I am absolutely going to reach that goal. Before I go, I have a snippet for you from Light the Way Home.

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Nate schooled his expression to neutrality before turning around. Hayden’s chin jutted stubbornly, and his blue eyes narrowed. “I’m saying Lucie might be busy right now,” Nate said evenly. “Maybe we’ll see her outside tomorrow.”

“I can knock on the door.” His son crossed his arms on his chest, covering the spotted blue dog graphic. “She said we’d play later, and it’s later.”

“We can check, but, buddy, you have to promise not to be upset if she’s busy. Plus it’ll be suppertime soon, so we’ll be busy here, too.”

Hayden’s chin jutted out further.

“Just don’t get your hopes up,” he said, trying to keep his tone from dropping in defeat.

Hayden bolted for the back door.

Nate followed more slowly, picking up his son’s jacket from the chair inside the door. By the time he reached the bottom step, he heard his son’s voice, then Lucie spoke in reply, though he couldn’t hear the words. When he cleared the lilac bushes, he expected to see Hayden’s shoulders droop.

He was a little surprised to see the two of them walking into the middle of the neighboring yard while Lucie bounced the big yellow ball on one hand. Huh. He would’ve bet on her putting Hayden off. He paused at the open gate between the yards to watch them. They’d stopped, and she crouched in front of Hayden, who chattered a mile a minute. She nodded as she rose.

Hayden jogged backward a few steps, grinning, then held out both hands.

Lucie gave the ball another bounce before she tossed it to him.

His son caught it, giggling. “Too easy,” he shouted. He jumped once, then moved a few more steps away from her. “Ready?”

“Ready!” She leaned forward and held out her hands.

Nate wished he could see her expression.

Hayden lobbed the ball at her, and she caught it before it hit her in the face. He smiled and shook his head when his laughing son danced backward a couple more paces. “Throw it again!”

“You sure you can catch it so far away?” The tease in her voice made Nate relax. Lucie Russo might be a nice woman. Mindi and Harry trusted her, which meant she was okay.

But she seemed to be enjoying his son, genuinely enjoying him. Maybe she had nieces or nephews–she was comfortable, chatting with Hayden as they played catch.

He leaned on the fence to watch.

“Daddy, come play with us!”

Lucie straightened and looked over her shoulder, eyes widening.

Nate felt a little kick in his gut at the appealing image–pink cheeks, green eyes that tipped up at the outer corners, full lower lip dropping a tiny bit. Lucie Russo was pretty.

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To save us from another day of Thanksgiving leftovers, and mostly to use up the rest of the can of pumpkin I opened this week to make cheesecake, I’m making a Pumpkin & White Bean soup for dinner today. My husband will happily eat the rest of the stuffing for as long as it lasts, but since I sent a large quantity of leftovers home with the boys, we’ve finished off the mashed potatoes and most of the gravy. Have you cleared out your Thanksgiving leftovers yet, or are you still working on them, too? Or are you doing something else with your leftovers, like throwing it all in a soup pot? I’d love to know.

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