Thursday, July 1, 2021

Best Worst Vacation Ever!


Vacation season is upon us. Some vacations go exactly as planned, and some do not. Here is the exciting tale of one that did NOT.

It all began on a peaceful day in July of 2018...

Ah, Michigan! I was born there and have wonderful memories of summer vacations there with all my family. There are some truly beautiful places in Michigan! I thought it was high time my kids got to experience them, so I crafted a route and booked our hotels. It was going to be awesome!

Then I realized transportation would be an issue. My car at the time was teeny tiny and my husband’s car had been acting squirrely; neither of these would work as a Family Vacation Vehicle. So we opted to drive our daughter Joy’s precious car. Her dad bought it for her three years ago when she was sixteen. It was super cool—a zoomy Dodge Charger that used to be a sheriff’s chase car! Just what every teenager needs, right? But there was a huge trunk and enough leg room for all four of us, so we christened it our road-trip wagon. Joy called it Penelope.

We headed North. Michigan is just as beautiful as I remember! We went up to the Traverse City area and I showed the kids some of the old farms and cherry orchards that used to belong to my family. My kids got to swim in lakes that I used to swim in as a kid. We bought fruit at a roadside stand from people who recognized my maiden name and claimed to be distant relatives, and we had dinner with cousin of mine whom I haven’t seen since middle school. 

We climbed giant sand dunes (my kids declared them “sand mountains”) and played in the water of two different Great Lakes. We hopped on the ferry and went to Mackinac Island to be fascinated by the horse carriages, the beautiful homes, the historic fort, the made-right-in-front-of-you fudge, and the exorbitant prices for everything.

The first days of our vacation were wonderful. I started not feeling well out on the Island and was glad that we were on the way to our last stop—a short stay at Frankenmuth with history, shopping, putt-putt golf, and the most kitschy surroundings imaginable. It was just a few hours drive there, a straight shot south on I-75. We had stuck to the schedule and would settle into our touristy Bavarian-themed hotel there right on time. I was planning to let Jack and the kids go explore on their own while I went to bed early—I assumed my headache, stomachache, and overall yuckiness was just the result of too much fudge.

It wasn’t. And we never made it to Frankenmuth. We made it to the freeway interchange at Gaylord.

While stopping for gas, we had a freak accident. An ill-placed embankment was cleverly hidden in shadows. We didn’t see it. The car hit the curb/wall/murderous-ledge at around 10-15 miles per hour, but it was just enough to destroy it. The car, not the ledge. The impact crushed the oil pan, punctured the radiator, and sheered off the very important bars that are supposed to hold the engine in place. We still have no idea how so much damage could be inflicted by such a minor bump, but it did. My daughter’s precious car—her darling Penelope—was dead.

My husband was devastated. He’d been driving and felt as if he’d killed our daughter’s best friend. I felt sick and miserable—after all, I’d been the one navigating as we pulled out of the service station and I should have seen the evil concrete barrier. My daughter, bless her, did her best to hide her sorrow, and my son, God love him, pretended that he never had wanted to stay at that hotel in Frankemuth with its gaming arcade and indoor water park.

And so began the epic struggle to locate a tow truck, find a mechanic—after hours on a weekend, of course—and decide what could be done. The tow driver told us he thought things looked bad, the guy who owned the garage confirmed the worst. The cost of fixing the car would be well over the value of it, and it would likely take weeks to even locate the parts that we’d need. My husband crawled under the car and did hours of his own online research into parts and repair and decided that the mechanic was honest—the car was a loss. The best we could do was sell it to the garage and let it become their problem. Our problem would be to find another way home.

I’ve been told that was an epic story of its own, but I truly don’t recall. The last thing I remember is the very pretty 18-year-old daughter of the garage owner piling us and all our worldly possessions into her daddy’s giant Ram truck and driving us around Gaylord to find the one and only hotel room that was available that night. I remember the kids ooing and ahhing over the giant hotel suite we finally found, dragging all our stuff into it, and from then on things get a bit murky. 

I spent the next hours/days sicker than a dog, hugging the porcelain font, shaking with fever, and sucking ice chips to stay hydrated. We were in that hotel for more than two days and I don’t remember any of them.

When the fever finally broke and I "came to," my son hugged me furiously and said he’d been pretty sure I was going to die. I discovered another man in our hotel suite, too. My husband’s best buddy had come up from Ohio to drive us all home--he's the nicest guy and truly a lifesaver. No matter where my husband looked, he had failed to find a single rental car, van, truck, or horse carriage anywhere in Michigan. It was the height of vacation season and they were all rented. Of course.

Long story short (too late!) we made it home, with all of our things. Somehow our friend managed to cram us all into his SUV and he drove us back to the Buckeye state. I have vague memories of sleeping in a strange vehicle, propped up with a pillow. Or maybe they put the pillow over my head to keep me from breathing on them for the long drive. Luckily, I was well beyond the puking stage; there was nothing for me to puke that hadn’t already been puked. It took several days before I could eat or drink anything after all that. Somehow, nobody else got the least bit sick, so I still don’t know what on earth kind of illness I had. Some freakish Michigan bacteria, maybe? On the plus side, I lost nearly ten pounds and we have a Vacation-From-Hell story to talk about for years to come.

After a couple weeks we found a new car for Joy and helped her purchase it. She opted for something cute but practical and named this one Oswald. It will never pass for a police chase car, but it’s economical on gas and she won’t have any trouble parking in the crowded lots on campus this year. I slowly recovered and got all the laundry caught up, and life got back to normal. I have a feeling that Michigan mechanic was eventually able to fix up Penelope and maybe his pretty young daughter had as much fun with her as Joy did. I’m okay with that.

This will always be a vacation that we remember, and I’m okay with that, too. The whole point of family vacations is to be with each other and make memories. We certainly accomplished that goal with this trip!


Thursday, April 12, 2018

Happenings for May 2018

Cover Reveal!
Sorry, you'll have to wait until September for the book, but you can join me in oooing and ahhing over the cover right now. Isn't it pretty?  Rogue of the Greenwood is a sort-of Regency version of Robin Hood. Let me tell you, I've been having some fun writing this one!  No spoilers, but I can't wait for you all to meet Sir Robert Locksley and his neighboring nemesis, Miss Marianne Maidland.  Sparks--and arrows!--will definitely fly.

Making a Public Spectacle of Myself
On May 12, 2018, I'll be speaking at the Richwood-North Union Public Library in Richwood, Ohio.  This is my home turf, so I look forward to lots of laughter and some rousing Q & A.  If you are in the Central Ohio area, please come out and join us at 11:30 am! 

A Funny Freebie for You!
Here's an exclusive gift just for my subscribers!  Follow this link to read a short-but-sweet story written just for you!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Fall Back in Time

Last night we turned the clocks back an hour here in the USA. We gained an hour of sleep, but we lose an hour of daylight every day until daylight savings kicks in again next year. For now, though, what do we do with all these shorter days and chilly weather? I have just the thing! How about curling up with a soft blanket, a mug of something warm, and a fabulous book? My preference is Historical Romance.

Why Historical Romance, you ask? Oh, only about a million reasons! I love being transported back to days-gone-by. I love the beautiful clothes and the elegant architecture. I love horses and carriages and flickering lamplight. I love that there were no cell phones or televisions—information had to be carried person to person. I love that social rules were different and more complicated to navigate. And I love all the intricate storylines that can be woven into these historical settings.

Are you curious about Historical Romance? Here are a couple great links to check out: Great Escapes Books  and  Historical Romance Network .

Have you read any Historical Romance lately? Leave a comment and tell me what you love about historical romance and your name will be entered in a drawing!
On November 8th I'll select a random winner who will receive a print copy of Yuletide Lies, a Regency Christmas novel full of mystery, a motley menagerie, and the gift of true love.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

A Regency Ghost Story!

When things go bump in the night, there's no telling what might happen. Miss Amelie D'Arnaud isn't certain what's worse, being trapped in the dark all alone, or having to rely on the gentleman who once broke her heart. In a house full of secrets and specters, does true love stand the ghost of a chance?

THE GHOSTLY GOAL OF SCARY LORD LARRY(view on Amazon) is the first ghost story I've ever written. I had so much fun with it! Of course, my favorite part is the love story, but I really enjoyed putting my characters in a dark, creepy house and then confronting them with strange noises and unexplained happenings. With disappearances and danger all around, the threat of spooks is very real! So is the promise of a dash of humor and the hope of a happily-ever after. (It is, after all, a romance.)
This story is the last in my Lord Larry trilogy. All three stories ("The Delicate Plot to Bury Lord Larry", "The Elegant Scheme to Marry Lord Larry", and "The Ghostly Goal of Scary Lord Larry") are available digitally on Kindle. They are also neatly bound up in a print anthology now, too. THREE TEMPTING TALES OF LORD LARRY(view on Amazon) is full of Regency mayhem, mystery, and romance.

With mild language and sweet subject matter, this Regency collection is suitable for all readers. It would make a great gift, too!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

"Who's Ben Skrewd?"

Who's Ben Skrewd, you ask? Take a peek behind the Red Door and find out! 

  I've joined forces with some very talented romance authors and we've come up with something I think our readers will really love. Eleven novellas, each with a red door, and one thing in common: Ben Skrewd.

Who is he? Well, we can't really pin him down. He's somebody different in each novella--as unique as the authors who created his various personas. I'll give you a hint, though, he's been lurking on our websites.

  On April 15, 2014, you can check him out for yourself. Also, you can get involved in our hunt for him and possibly win a pretty cool prize. (Seriously, it's a very nice prize!) Visit!whos-ben-skrewd/c1un for details and a complete listing of participating authors and their novellas.

Also, follow us on Facebook ( ) where we'll be doing give-aways and having a party all day! I personally will be offering a prize at 8:00 pm, EDT. It should be fun, and you'll be able to tell all your friends you saw who's Ben Skrewd.