He needs this job to honor his late wife.
She needs to complete her late fiancé’s bucket list to be free.
Former action-movie star Chet has counted the days since he lost his wife last New Year’s Eve almost a year ago. When he’s given a shot at starring in a reboot of her favorite TV show, he jumps at it. But there’s a catch: the producers won’t hire him unless he can prove he’s regained emotional stability—by bringing a steady girlfriend to his five auditions.
Which means: five mandatory dates for this bereft widower.
Social worker Holly lost her fiancé to war. With his good life snuffed out too soon, she feels compelled to finish his bucket list of unselfish deeds. But four years later, several remain, and they’re ridiculously impossible. Until she accomplishes her soldier’s dreams, she can’t even consider moving on with her life.
When they meet on the beach at Getaway Bay, what she doesn’t know is homeless-looking mourner Chet is actually Colt Winchester, screen star and fashion icon. What he doesn’t know is that he’s a means to an end.
When their walls start to crumble on their Christmas season dates, can these two find love again, or will they forever be chasing ghosts?"
Q&A With the Author:
1. Describe yourself in 50 words or less.
I’m a wife, a mother, and I love a great book. I write sweet, escapist fiction I call “Cotton Candy for the Soul.”
2. What do you love most in the world?
Easy, my family. This will probably sound dull! But it’s so true. They’re the reason I do pretty much everything, even writing the fluffy, sweet romance novels I’m constantly trying to come up with. I’m a wife of a handsome, brilliant lawyer/judge, and we have these five amazing kids who delight and challenge us, and I’m just … all in when it comes to them.
3. What inspired you to become an Author?
My husband! I was a writer, majored in writing in college. My jobs out of college were all political writing in the U.S. Senate and in the U.S. House, answering letters, writing press releases, and such. But when I quit a day job to do an all-day-and-all-night job raising kids, I was getting a little brain dead. My husband suggested I write a novel. I thought, no way. I only write technical things. But he encouraged me. And so I began. It took me six years to complete my first novel, and he cheered me on, making sure I had the proper tools and at least a little time now and then to create and edit. He’s my biggest cheerleader, and now he helps me plot and rework stories. I am probably the luckiest writer there is, in that matter. Plus, everything I know about romance, I’ve learned from him.
4. What is your favorite Winter / Holiday tradition?
Ooooh, pie. Hands down. I’m part of a big, food-loving family on my husband’s side, and on Thanksgiving we get together and eat. But what I call the “pie count” is part of the fun. There’s just so much pie! Often, I’ll count pies and count people, and I’m often hoping for a greater than 1:1 pies:people ratio. We eat dinner on Thanksgiving, and then pie from morning to night the following day. And there has to be whipped cream. Lots of it. I married into a really fun family.
5. What is your trick for getting past writer's block? And what advice do you have for other authors who are struggling to tell their story?
For me, if I know what motivates my character and what his/her biggest fear is, then I can get past the block. I find when I’m blocked it’s because I just don’t know my characters well enough. Once I know them, I can tell their stories.
6. Now that we've gotten to know each other, tell me a story. It can be long or short. From your childhood or last week. Funny, sad, or somewhere in between. Just make sure it's yours. What's your story?
Remember Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure? Well, the follow-up was Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey, an inferior movie, in my opinion. However, its title perfectly mirrors my experience … with fake eyelashes.
You may shake your head in a mix of horror and pity. It's raw, it's real, and it's got a lot of jumps in verb tense. (Sorries. Lots of sorries for that.) It’s the tragic history of me and my eyelashes, also known as The Great Lash-tastrophe.
In the late summer, before attending a couple of writing conferences, I decided I need fake eyelashes.
Not sure why I came to this conclusion, since my normal eyelashes are actually one of the features I am okay with on myself. Eyelashes and ankles! As for everything else in between? Well, let’s not talk about that.
Before I had allowed myself to give it too much thought, I’d texted my hairstylist and she’d slotted me in for the following morning at nine. No backing out now.
I go through the nearly two-hour process (which sucked away nearly a whole morning of writing time—a precious commodity since I have kids at home and mornings are my only chance to write) and come out with these holy cow look at her lashes.
If I’d been in a movie, they would have needed their own line in the credits.
I mean, did I like them? Heck, yeah. They looked amazing. I asked my stylist how much I owed her. When she told me, I kept it together, but inside I was falling off the tilted table. H-h-h-how much? And h-h-h-how often do I have to redo this? Oh, twice a month? Oh. Oh … okay.
The things we should research, people! The things!
So, I go through life with these awesome lashes. I don’t have to put on mascara. I don’t really even have to wear other makeup or even really do my hair, since they’re the only noticeable feature on my person. I. Am. LashLady.
Until…they begin to trickle out. My stylist warned me this would happen, which is why a fill is necessary after a couple of weeks. I hemmed and hawed about just caving and getting them filled, but we had a sudden household expense, and I realized that many dollars a month was just stupid when I have a kid in college and another teen about ready to need auto insurance.
So I allowed lash-attrition (lash-trition?) to occur. After another couple of weeks, only the Truly Glued lashes remained. The brave, the strong, the ones that could have doubled as the legs of a black widow spider—which is basically how my eyes looked now. Like I’d killed a few beetles and done some kind of ritual sacrifice involving my eyelids.
Something had to be done. But not something crazy-expensive, but what?
Walgreens drugstore to the rescue. Turns out they have an enormous selection of false eyelashes and glues—from subtle to LashLady made of “faux mink” (whatever that is. I grew up in the country with neighbors who raised mink, and I saw very little resemblance.) I choose something middle of the road, and what looks like a durable glue.
Maybe my first mistake (besides doing this in the first place) was not watching the YouTube how-to videos. Instead, I forged ahead. Who needs how-to videos when you’ve got common sense?
Ummm… Forty-five minutes later, I’m sitting on my countertop in my bathroom (a place I’ve never once sat in eighteen years of owning the house), with little tiny balls of black glue all over my clothes, the countertop, the sink, an unlucky hand-towel, the floor. Some even ventured as far as the tub.
Plus, my top and bottom eyelashes are glued together. I can’t separate them. I’ll be blind. Forever. And I’m late to take my daughter to school.
At this point, what could I even do? I peeled them off, but now my eyelids were red and swollen—plus they still had the beetle-legs on them from the earlier stylist lashes. At which point I discovered that my natural lashes that had been quite nice were bare stubs.
Disgust at my vanity gave me some kind of adrenaline-fueled superpower, because I reapplied glue, reapplied the sticker-lashes, and stomped out of my bathroom, swollen eyelids and all.
And they didn’t look too bad. Other than the blobs of grey glue mushing them together in some areas.
Let’s just say that today, I’m wearing simple mascara on my formerly quite-nice lashes. They may grow back. Fingers crossed. Something about this feels like one of those fairy tales with an obvious moral. However, shouldn't I come away from this wiser?
Probably, but the truth is, I'm going to buy another set of the faux mink lashes later today. This will not defeat me.