Destination Planes, Trains & …

It’s field trip Friday!

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Although I live in Chicagoland, we are not heading toward the city!

Say what? Aren’t all the best attractions located somewhere close to the Chicago city limits?Screen Shot 2017-06-22 at 9.19.50 AM.png

Nope!

So slam on the breaks, lay down a strip of rubber, and reset your Navi system because we’re headed out to Volo, Illinois. And for a good reason.

If you followed my last post, you know my one and only son is about to fly the coop. Here’s how I see this spreading-of-the-wings thing going down: Destination Iowa State. Destination any-Formula-One-engineering internship/co-op. Destination…video chat with Mom and Dad…

IMG_5634.JPGSo, this summer we’re making the most of our time together before University move-in day comes. If you’ve figured out that my son loves fast vehicles, well anything with an engine really, then this day of fun will come as no surprise. And it is a full day, with pole barn after pole barn filled with cars. Vintage cars. Muscle cars. Fast cars. Cars for sale.

There is so much to see—planes, snowmobiles, bikes, submarines, just to name a few. With a thirty minute guided train tour, plenty of food and drink, and antique shopping also on site, there’s a little something for everyone at the Volo Auto Museum.

Here are some of my favorite pictures from our visit…

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Are these photos bringing back any memories?

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No museum would be complete without a Star Wars exhibit!

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You should definitely visit the Batmobile in honor of Adam West!

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For more information you can check out the museum’s website Volo Car Museum. I am not affiliated in any way with this museum. I just enjoyed our day and wanted to share.

Got a favorite destination you like to visit when you’re not writing? Post it below. I’d love to hear about it.

 

🙂

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Time to CELEBRATE!

When events come, they come like an engorged river. Fast, furiously paced, and powerful.river

2017-06-09 20.29.12Two weeks ago, our son graduated from High School. He’d been taking classes at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee for the entirety of his senior year, after his two morning classes at his High School, so he’s been straddling adulthood for awhile. He’s remarkably good at it – let’s just say better than his mom did when she started college at seventeen.

He’s eighteen now, so that happened as well.

Our daughter got engaged on a trip to Greece with her now fiancé. My husband and I will be celebrating our 30th Anniversary next month, and he’s having a birthday that matches the speed limit for most rural communities. Our food business, Macski’s Highland Foods, just celebrated its 5th Anniversary.

WOW!

Decades of marriage and two wonderful children. Where did the beginning of the middle of our lives go?

2017-06-21 06.21.45I sit with photos of our family, old poems, and cards and ribbons for jobs well done plastered to my bedroom door, and I smile at Susan’s blog and the photo of the most recent birthday card her daughter made for her.

Life is a series of photos, cards, poems, and memories. While I’m a little whistful, regarding the ones from when our children were young, I am enjoying every moment with them now.

I’m also looking forward to what I’m sure will be a grand adventure with my best friend – the man I love with my whole heart.V&M

Let’s see what the next 30 bring….

Leigh

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Best Birthday Present Ever

IMG_3338One of my seven-year-old twins made me this card for my birthday last week. I love it. I don’t need anything more than this.

Life as a working mom of three young girls can be overwhelming. I’m always playing catch-up, trying my best to keep up with the demands but seemingly still falling short.

Sure, I know I’m important to my kids – but when one of them takes the time to tell me, it means the world.

On the weekend, I remarked to my other twin that she looked cute in a picture I’d taken. She looked at me and said, “You’re cute and brave and strong.”

“Like Wonder Woman!” I joked.

She agreed wholeheartedly.

I don’t see myself as any of those things. But there it is, the reward for all my hard work and sacrifice as a mother – I get to be Wonder Woman in someone’s eyes.

That’s pretty amazing.

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Fun Summer Read ~ Raine English

If you’re looking for a fun, sweet read this summer, then you’re going to love WEDDING PETS & KISSES, a multi-author boxed set consisting of New York Times, USA Today, and National Bestselling authors. My contribution to the set is A LITTLE ROMANCE.

When Taylor Wayne agrees to help out at Doggie Town daycare, so her sister can have the wedding and honeymoon she’s always dreamed of, Taylor has no idea the mayhem that’s in store for her. The first day on the job, a rambunctious French bulldog escapes while under her care,and the dog’s handsome owner blames her. Can Taylor find the dog and redeem herself in the eyes of the guy who just might be Mr. Right?

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Wedding Pets & Kisses is available at Amazon for $0.99!

 

 

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Is There a Techie in the House?

Yes, there is.

And, apparently, it’s…

cavewoman…me?

Last night was another of those evenings where the menfolk kept pestering me about their electronic devices. It’s as if the minute they see me open my WIP to get some writing done, they conspire to sidetrack me. And it’s always those devious electronic devices that stump my guys.

We’ll begin with The Boy (who, at 20, probably deserves a new nickname by now, but I’m not ready to call him The Man, thankyouverymuch.)

Let me set the stage. I’m sitting in my bedroom with my laptop, writing. My hero is just about to find out the heroine’s big secret from a secondary character who’s a blabbermouth. The Boy knocks on my door and enters.

Boy: Is your cable okay?
Me: Seems fine. Why?
Boy: Because ever since we had that power outage yesterday, my television’s been skitchy.
Me: Did you reboot the box?
Boy: I’m trying to watch the hockey game and the picture keeps wobbling. I think it’s the connection in the attic.
Me: We just replaced the connection in the attic a month ago, remember? So unless you’ve been hanging out up there, playing with the wires, or the cats have grown opposable thumbs, I doubt that’s the issue. Have you rebooted the box?
Boy (muttering): Great. I’ll just get a headache from watching the wobbly picture.

I leave my hero sitting with the blabbermouth who hasn’t yet blabbed and follow my apprentice martyr into his room. I reboot the box, which, of course, solves the problem. Lo and behold! I am a genius!

One last glare in my son’s direction and I return to my room to settle down with my manuscript, ready to get my hero and heroine immersed in their black moment. Naturally, I’m interrupted again. This time, it’s the Hubster, who stalks into the room to inform me he’s still having problems accessing his voicemail on his cell–a fact I was unaware of, but apparently, I should have surmised this based on…

I dunno. I got nothin’.

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Hubster: One of these days, you’re gonna have to fix that for me. It’s frustrating to see all these calls and not know if it’s important because I can’t play the message.
Me (with a heavy sigh): Bring me your phone.
(He hands me the phone and I ask him what the problem is.)
Hubster: I told you. I can’t access my voicemail.
Me: Why not? (I hit the voicemail button. It shows he has ten unheard messages. I choose one, hit play, and voila! It plays. No problem.)
Hubster: Hey! You fixed it.
Me: Yeah, how about that?

This is why I always worry when I travel that I will return home to find my boys huddled around the blackened remains of my house, trying to open a can of peas with a sharp rock. It could happen.

With conference season in full swing, I’m about to have some sleepless nights. But at least  I’ll get some writing done!

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Christmas Stories in June

baby blue christmas 2Is it too early to start talking about holiday romances? Here on Main Street, we’re pretty passionate about Christmas stories. I’ve been working on mine, and I’m pretty sure my author friends are busy polishing theirs, as well. Here’s the first chapter of my Baby Blue Christmas. If you have a holiday romance you’re working on and want to post a sneak peek, please do! baby blue christmas 4

Baby Blue Christmas

By Kristy Tate

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Chapter One

 

 “So long as there shall exist, by virtue of law and custom, decrees of damnation pronounced by society, artificially creating hells amid the civilization of earth, and adding the element of human fate to divine destiny; so long as the three great problems of the century—the degradation of man through pauperism, the corruption of woman through hunger, the crippling of children through lack of light—are unsolved; books of the nature of Les Misérables cannot fail to be of use.”

Sophie glanced at the spine and wondered again why she’d picked up Les Miserable. She didn’t need to read about the crippling of children, the corruption of women, or the degradation of man. She needed something light and funny. And this was not it. In fact, the actual physical book was almost as heavy as its subject matter. But according to the Mommy Blogs she followed, intellectual stimulation was important for new moms. So…

Sophie glanced at the dark night through the frosty windows and watched the trees shake their barren branches. Clouds shrouded the moon, but they were wispy rather than stormy, and for that she was grateful. It had taken an hour to calm and lull Jamison to sleep and she didn’t need a thunder clap to wake him.

She’d been living in her sister’s house for a little more than six months now and she still felt like the babysitter. Lauren told her that any major move requires an adjustment period of a year, but on dark nights such as this, Sofia wondered if she would ever feel at home in her sister’s house, filling in her sister’s life. Maybe this place, like her sister’s shoes, would always rattle around on her. A little too big. Not quite right.

Sofia propped her feet on the ottoman, and pulled a quilt around her legs before returning to the novel. “Mademoiselle Baptistine was a long, pale, thin, gentle creature; she realized the ideal expressed by the word “respectable”; for it seems that a woman must needs be a mother in order to be venerable. She had never been pretty; her whole life, which had been nothing but a succession of holy deeds, had finally conferred upon her a sort of pallor and transparency; and as she advanced in years she had acquired what may be called the beauty of goodness.”

Sophie did not want to grow into a Mademoiselle Baptiste, but she wasn’t sure how to stop it. Her work as an attorney had given her plenty of social interaction, but didn’t win her many friends. Her new-found motherhood left her plenty of empty hours, but few opportunities for social connections. She’d decided to join the book club hosted by the downtown bookstore, but she didn’t want to slog through Les Miserable. Maybe she’d watch the movie—the one with Hugh Jackman. She would enjoy an evening with him.

The moaning changed in tone and the door shook again. Sofia put down her book and stared into the flames dancing in the fireplace. Lauren had suggested she replace her sister’s furniture with her own, but her sleek contemporary style didn’t suit the old farmhouse, and so her belongings were stored in the basement in a holding pattern. She wasn’t ready to let them go.

Bark!

That was not the wind.

Bark! The door shook again.

Sophie kicked off the quilt and padded to the front window where she saw nothing but wind tossed trees and dancing leaves. After undoing the latch, she opened the door. The cold wind circled the room and the flames in the hearth jumped and flickered. A bundle of fur quivered on the front step and pleaded at her with giant brown eyes.

Sophie dropped to her knees and rested her hand on the puppy’s head, trying to ease his trembling. He whined and tried to lick her hand.

“Who are you?” she muttered, avoiding his tongue while searching for a collar or tag.

He whimpered in response.

She picked him up and nestled him against her chest, horrified by his bony rib cage and splotchy fur. “You can’t stay here,” she told him. “I’m still learning how to take care of a baby. I can’t add a puppy to my chaos, especially not a sick one.” She glanced at the dark woods surrounding her house. Lights from the Jespersen’s farm told her that they were awake, but she couldn’t imagine either of the aging couple traipsing through the forest that separated their properties to deliver a puppy to her doorstep.

After bringing the dog inside, she snagged the quilt off her chair, wrapped the shivering puppy in it, and headed for the kitchen. “But I can’t leave you outside. Not on a night like this. Are you hungry?”

What did puppies eat? Other than puppy chow? She couldn’t drag Jamison from his crib and into the cold to pick up dog food at the store. The closest store was the Millie’s Mini-mart, and it was seven miles away. Besides, it didn’t make sense to buy a whole package of chow for a one night stay.

Sophie smiled at the thought. While most people her age were partying and having one night stands, she was babysitting her sister’s child and rescuing puppies. She blew out a sigh, sat down in front of her computer, cradled the dog in her lap, and Googled how to make homemade puppy food.

The Internet had been her lifesaver since her sister’s death. It staved off loneliness by keeping her connected with her city friends and introducing her to Mommy blogs where millions of moms could answer any and all baby questions while she struggled to find her own parenting legs. Briefly she wondered if there were puppy blogs.

But, no. She didn’t need to connect to online puppy owners since this creature was leaving first thing in the morning. He couldn’t be a permanent fixture in her life. The puppy nestled against her, and as she surfed the web searching for chow recipes, the tiny creature fell asleep, reminding her that she also needed to sleep. Jamison kept early-bird hours.

 

#

 

Luke sat the corner of Main and Olympic not quite sure where to turn. It was an odd sensation, one that he hadn’t felt since…actually, he couldn’t remember a time when his life hadn’t been planned out in an air-tight schedule. Was it his brother’s death that brought him back to his hometown in a herculean effort to create a do-over?

That had something to do with it. He glanced down Main. During the spring, summer, and even into the late fall, the streets would be teeming with surfers and beach-goers, but on this gray November day, Main Street matched his bleak mood.

His thoughts strayed to Matt, as they often did. In the force he didn’t deal with violence, as most of his work had been the cyber-sort, but he’d witnessed plenty of deaths. But none of them had shaken him like Matt’s.

Honk!

Luke shook himself, glanced in his rear view mirror, and waved a half-hearted apology to the car behind him before rolling through the intersection and pulling to a stop in front of the hardware store. But as soon as he climbed from his SUV, the delicious smell of Betty’s Bakery hit like a blow to his hungry gut and lured him in like a fish on a line.

Seconds later, he emerged with a cup of coffee and a chocolate éclair. In the few minutes he’d been in the bakery, the morning sun had burned off the marine layer, and Hamilton didn’t look so bleak.

“Valjean! Stop!”

Luke pushed himself against a clothing rack as a tiny bundle of fur streaked past. A woman pushing a stroller barreled after the dog.

Could it be Sophia?

She looked…good. Really good.

And the baby…that had to be Jamie.

His heart twisted.

Jamie had only been a few months old when his parents had died. Now, he would be six or seven months old, getting teeth, sitting up, and maybe even crawling.

And Sophia…He had last seen her at the funeral. She’d been livid with him, of course. Dimly, he’d been aware that she’d lost a lot of weight since high school. She’d worn a black suit worthy of Madam Hillary, and she’d thrown a lot of accusations at him.

“Valjean! Come here!” Sophia tried to sound commanding.

She hadn’t known about his position, of course, so he’d automatically forgiven her. He only hoped that now that he’d returned and hoped to settle down that she’d forgive him. He followed her into Tina’s Timeless Treasures and found her very attractive backside sticking out of a circular clothing rack. The clothes jostled as she moved. He tried not to stare.

Squatting beside the baby, Luke smiled at his nephew, searching for signs of Matt. Jamie waved a chubby fist at him. He was blond, blue-eyed, and pink-cheeked like his mom…and his aunt. Other than the curls, Jamison looked nothing like his angular, strong-jawed father.

“I heard you were back in town.”

Luke tore his gaze away from his nephew to smile up at Tina Moon, the owner of the Timeless Treasure shop. She’d been old when Luke was in high school, but like her collection of what-haves and what-evers, she hadn’t seemed to age at all in the past fifteen years.

“Bought the Jacoby’s farm, have you?”

“Just the barn,” Luke told her.

Sophia scooted out of the clothes, clutching a puppy with a red ribbon tied around his neck to her chest. She had a smear of dust across her cheek and her hair was mussed. She probably had no idea how adorable she looked.

“Luke.” She made his name sound like a cuss word.

“Hey, Sophia. How are you?”

She climbed to her feet, hugged the puppy with one hand, and pushed her hair out of her face with another. He’d heard that she’d been practicing law at a prestigious firm in San Francisco before the accident. Her baby-doll appearance had undoubtedly thrown her opponents a curve ball as soon as she opened her mouth and filleted them with her wit.

“I see you’re reacquainting yourself with Jamison.”

Jamison?

“Yes,” he said softly. “It’s about time,” he said before she could.

She pursed her lips, but he didn’t know how to read that or the look in her eye.

“I want to talk.” He pressed on, despite the scowl forming between her eyebrows. Straightening, he gave her his best smile. “Can I take you to lunch?”

“Now?” She shook her head. “I’ve got to pass out these fliers and after that it’ll be time for Jamison’s lunch and nap.” She appraised him before lifting her chin. “He’s on a schedule and so am I.” And there’s no wiggle room for you, her tone told him.

Luke grinned. He liked a challenge. “Well, I can help you pass out the fliers. What are you advertising?”

She handed him one. Below the words FOUND DOG was a picture of the puppy followed by her phone number and address.

“You can’t pass these out!”

She grabbed the flier from him. “Why not?”

“It has your number on it!” He swallowed. “And your address!”

“So?”

“Are you still living at Matt and Chloe’s place?”

“Yes, she is,” Tina said, her voice thick with disapproval.

Luke, so wrapped up in Sophia, had nearly forgotten about Tina. Sophia’s wide eyes told him that she had also. Luke took Sophia’s wrist with one hand, and picked up the folder of fliers and placed it behind his back with the other. “Let me take you to lunch.”

“No. I told you I have to—”

“You are not passing out your name and number.” He rubbed her inner wrist with his thumb.

“You can’t stop me!” She jerked her hand away and folded her arms across her chest.

“Come on, Sophia,” he said.

“That’s Sofa to you!” she spat out.

“Oh, that’s low. Seriously, you’re going to drag out junior high stuff?”

She put the puppy in the back of the stroller, and turned to flounce away. He followed, knowing she couldn’t go very fast while pushing Jamie.

“I want to help with Jamie,” he told her backside as they walked down Main at a brisk pace. “I know you gave up your job in the city…I admire that.”

Sophia acted as if she hadn’t heard him. She paused at a lamp post, pulled a roll of tape from her jacket pocket, and reached into the stroller for the folder of fliers. Straightening, her gaze flicked between the folder in his arms and his face. “Give them back!”

He shook his head. “Be reasonable. You’re living alone on nine acres and you’re going to invite everyone who passes by this street post to come and claim the dog? I don’t think so. Not while my nephew is living with you.”

She stared at him for a moment. Her eyes narrowed. Seconds later, she shoved the puppy into his arms.

“Fine. Now he’s your problem!”

The dog, a bundle of curly fur with big brown eyes, smelled of lavender soap. But no matter how adorable it was, Luke couldn’t keep it. “Sophia! Come on, I can’t take care of a dog.”

“Yes, you made that perfectly clear six months ago.”

Luke glanced around at the nearly deserted street, hoping no one was listening. An elderly gentleman was washing the windows at the Pizza Palace. A woman browsed through the potted plants at the Finicky Florist Shop. He lowered his voice. “I couldn’t be here then, but I’m here now.”

“Thank you very much for taking care of Valjean.” Her voice caught and she stroked the puppy between the ears. “He’s just a puppy. He likes chow made with carrots. I know it sounds weird, but according to the dog-bloggers, it’s the best. If you’ll come by, I’ll give you his things and the recipe for the chow.”

He cocked an eyebrow. “His things?”

“Well, yes. He has a quilt and some toys. Actually, the toys had been Jamison’s…”

“You weren’t going to keep this dog, right?”

“Well, no, but…” she paused, then shook her head. “This isn’t going to work. Give him back.”

Luke edged away from her. “Are you going to pass out fliers with your name and phone number on them?”

“No. I’m going to keep him.” She motioned for him to hand over the dog.

“I’ll give him back on one condition.”

“What’s that?”

“If you decide you can’t keep Valjean, I get first dibs.”

“It’s a deal.”

“And you’ll meet me for dinner tonight.”

“Why?”

“Because I want to be a part of Jamie’s life and for that to happen, I need your cooperation.”

Sophia sucked in a deep breath. “Okay.”

Luke gently placed the dog back in her arms.

Sophie tried to ignore her trembling knees, but if she were honest with herself, meeting Luke again had shaken her. When he’d stroked her inner wrist, she worried she would pull an Valjean and roll onto her back for a belly rub. Of course, she’d heard he had bought the Jacoby’s barn and had plans to renovate it, but she didn’t know what that meant for Jamison.

But she did know that other than an occasional free babysitter and a back-up plan for Valjean, it meant very little to her.

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Seasonal Reading

I love to read Christmas romances just before the holidays. Love, romance, and holly and green. Writers like Grace Burrowes can lavish you with Regency holidays. The balls. The gowns. The dashing men under the mistletoe. Ahhh! I can spend a whole day in a snowy English wonderland.

 

 

In the summer I love to read adventure tales. I binge on Andy McDermott, James Rollins, Dan Brown, Brad Thor, and Jonathan Maberry. The lure of other lands, of larger-than-life heroes and heroines is an easy way to escape the heat of summer. I am not an outdoors kind of girl. Give me a corner of the couch, a good book, and a glass of iced tea and I’m good to go for several hours.

 

Do you find your reading follows the calendar? Do you only read Christmas stories during the holidays or beach reads during the summer? Or do you branch out and read whatever strikes your fancy?


Jill James, writer and reader

working on Christmas novella: names and title still a work in progress. 🙂

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