Out Oct. 19, 2011

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Welcome

Love is always in season—and welcome whenever it arrives. Whether it’s first love in the springtime of our lives, the passionate love of our summers or the mature love of autumn and winter—love truly does make the world go ‘round.

Love -- romance and the love for friends, family, country, work -- is the wellspring of all our stories. Contemporary romance, women's fiction -- no matter which genre I'm writing -- I cherish the chance to tell great stories with characters we care about, whose journey to love is all-encompassing.

Here I share with you news of my Meg Bellamy stories, and I hope to hear from you in all the seasons to come. In the meantime, wishing you happy and loving days.

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Homecoming, from The Wild Rose Press, available 10/19/2011

    When family illness forces Julie Loring to return home to North Carolina from New York, she intends to make the speediest possible escape. Her hope to avoid seeing old love Dan Williams is dashed the first night back in their small town...
    Still in love with Julie, not knowing why she ran off twelve years before, Dan wants her as his wife and mother to his child. Though Julie warns she's not changed, neither of them can deny the sparks that fly between them.
    But Julie left with a secret -- one she's certain will destroy any chance they might have to make a life together.

Homecoming is actually the latest version of a story that has deep roots for me -- several decades deep. Though I now live in the San Francisco Bay Area, scratch my surface and I'm still the Jersey Girl I was when I grew up, first married and had my children. While I still lived in New Jersey I read a news story about a couple somewhere in the South. After they'd broken up, they discovered she was expecting. She wanted to end the pregnancy, but he wanted her to have the baby and give him custody. When I read the story, the ex-lovers were facing off against each other in court.

I never did find out how that case came out, but I thought about it a lot. How would the woman have felt if she had to go through with the pregnancy and turn the child over to its father? Was there any chance that the child would bring the couple back together? So many questions and so many ways for that story to turn out.

In Homecoming, my version of the story, Julie is very young and very determined to escape the poverty she grew up with. She's so determined that she's willing to turn her back on the deep love she and Dan share. And so she tears herself away from her roots, resolved never to return. Then one day she has no choice and must return to the home she despises.

That's all I'm going to say for now. Having the chance to write an ending to that newspaper story I once read is one of the reasons why I love being a writer. How about you? Do you love to speculate and supply endings to the unfinished stories that come your way?

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Dancing with the Stars in My Eyes

My husband Lee and I don't watch much TV, but we've made an exception for "Dancing with the Stars." Though I don't usually get involved enough to vote, during the past season all that changed when Gilles Marini competed. As a former French teacher I'd have been a fan of this romance hero handsome star even if he hadn’t also been a great dancer.

Lee chose to celebrate his birthday with a long weekend in Yosemite. On May 11, we took the bus ride up to Glacier Point at elevation 7,300 feet.  He had wanted us to take the four-mile hike back down to the valley floor at 4,000 feet, but that trail was closed due to snow.  After being assured that the 8.5 mile Panorama Trail was quite easy, I impulsively committed both of us to do it.  My husband is usually the conservative, i.e., in this case, intelligent spouse who curbs my impulsivity.  This time he didn't.  We actually ended up hiking down (and sometimes very steeply up) ten very difficult miles—lots of rocky terrain, unavoidable torrents of water and steep switchbacks.

Though success at times appeared doubtful, we did make it off the mountain.  I kept loudly expressing my wish for a rescue helicopter.  Lee gently reminded me that there was no choice—we just had to keep moving. However, what really motivated me to keep placing one foot in front of the other was knowing that Gilles Marini was appearing that evening in the semi-finals of "Dancing."  I did not want to miss the "live" broadcast and the chance to vote.

We had started our trek just after noon and didn't reach the valley floor until 8 p.m. We caught a shuttle bus back to our lodgings. I knew we missed the beginning of the show but hoped to catch part of it. In our exhaustion, neither of us had any appetite for dinner, so at my request Lee stopped at the gift shop for ice cream and wine while I "ran" (well, painfully hobbled) ahead to the room and "Dancing with the Stars."  It was at this point that I discovered that my room key wouldn't unlock the door.

Lee (ever my hero) arrived with the requested provisions and unlocked the door just in time for Gilles' first dance of the night... We lay on the bed and ate and drank as we watched, then voted and took hot baths.

Fast forward to Friday, June 5. I went to my neighborhood Costco for a few odds and ends. I was walking to the parking lot when suddenly, there he was… walking directly toward me… Gilles Marini. Clutching my heart and making eye contact, I exclaimed, "Mon Dieu, mon Dieu" ("Omigod" in French). I soon switched to English and told him how he'd saved my life. We had a delightful chat, then he gave me his autograph and a big hug.

He's even handsomer in person and he's a totally nice, polite guy who was very generous to a raving fan outside Costco, which has now become my favorite store.

He signed the back of my receipt, which now has a permanent home on my fridge... If only I'd been tech savvy enough to have a photo-taking cell phone..