Woman@Heart

Musings on Life, Love and Lefovers

Whose Home for the Holidays?

Ah love. It starts out innocently enough. You say yes to dinner and a movie. He brings flowers and chocolates. There are romantic walks on the beach. And before you know it, you’re married. The days of staring lovingly into each other’s eyes are replaced with scanning the food section for bargains and listening for the sound of the shower turning off, so you can take your turn.

You’re occupied with many challenges as the two of you begin a life together. So many decisions to make: Cable or satellite? Pepperoni or sausage? Over-easy or scrambled? Foreign or domestic?

Days, weeks, months pass. Miscellaneous facts are gingerly revealed: He likes Brussels sprouts. She thinks birthday cake is a breakfast food. Both of you have trouble staying awake for the 10 o’clock news. Deals are reluctantly made: He agrees to read the sports section until she’s finished with the front page. She’ll watch Entourage if he’ll sit through reruns of The Office. Then, your newly formed family of two becomes three, four and maybe even five.

In my case, over eight quick years, the duo of Nick + Claire expanded into a quintet that included Shawn, Jake and Seth. Of course, more questions arise, more choices need to be made. Cloth or disposable diapers? Public or private school? Soccer or taekwondo? As fledgling parents, we made it through these either/ors while learning about raising sons. shutterstock_11570470

But every November the same question arose; one that never seemed to have an easy answer. Where are we spending Thanksgiving and Christmas this year? At your parents’ place or mine?

This guilt-inducing query is best avoided when you’re dating. Discuss religion, how you’ll vote in the next primary, which pro football team you’ll cheer for, but tiptoe around this explosive topic.

Like lots of young couples, we tried to appease everyone by attempting to be in two places at one time. We’d go to my mom’s house for an early dinner and his folks’ place for dessert. Playing beat-the-clock when Thanksgiving Day is limited to 24 hours is tough. The same is true of Christmas Day. There’s not enough time to enjoy the holiday if you’re spending most of it crisscrossing the county. We’d barely taste a forkful of candied yams and cranberry stuffing at my mom’s table before we were loading ourselves back into the car.

I can still hear the voice of a 6-year-old Jake yelling from the backseat as we drove to our next stop: “There goes the pumpkin pies.” In our haste to be on time, the desserts had been set down but not secured. They slid aimlessly across the van floor and slammed into the back of the front passenger seat, making a gooey-looking burnt sienna splash across the cloth upholstery.

Scurrying from house to house was how we spent the next several Thanksgivings and Christmases. Inwardly I wanted to mount a stay-at-home-for-the-holidays coup. The thought of packing up three kids, two car seats, a green bean casserole, and sundry other items had lost its appeal. Maybe I had spent too many Christmas Eves staying up until 2 a.m. helping Nick put together a 350-piece something whose box has innocently cautioned: “some assembly required.”

Exhausted toward the end of one of these marathon holiday events, I collapsed on the couch where other similarly fatigued parents grouped. My brother-in-law, Leo sitting nearby listened as I lamented the craziness of the season. He smiled and nodded knowingly. His family had just spent their day under similar circumstances. “Next year, why don’t we move our get-together to the day after Christmas?” he proposed to no one in particular. A huge sigh swept through the room, followed by cheers of relief. “Why hadn’t we thought of this before?” asked a sister-in-law. “Where does it say that we have to scrunch everything into one 24-hour day?”

The meaningful parts of our celebration would be the same; they would just occur a day later. Pop-pop would still be the center of attention as he donned his Santa hat to pass out gifts. The grandkids would wait wide-eyed to hear their name called before eagerly opening their presents. The overabundance of sugar cookies, popcorn balls and fudge would get a second chance to find a welcome palate.shutterstock_525751432

A once stress-filled, jammed-packed ritual was forever transformed into an extended familyfest. Leisurely, all of us kids-at-heart could delight in the blessings that come when you’re part of a large family, minus the harried disposition. No one would have to keep an eye on the clock, poised to rush out the door for another gathering. As a bonus, we all got an extra day to anticipate the fun.

The years have passed since we could look forward to sipping a cup of Nana’s hot apple cider, gobbling a scoop of Sitie’s pistachio fluff or listening to Uncle George regale us  with stories, while we laughed as though hearing his tales for the first time.

It’s the sweetest memories that last. And isn’t that really the best part of the holidays.

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The Power of the Story Inside Us All

During the last century, I filled my college hours in Dr. Hartung’s news reporting 101 and Mr. Krumming’s Media Law classes, fascinated with fact-finding, spelling and grammar. Who could ask for more?

Well, San Diego State University administrators can, and did. In those days, SDSU required J-school undergrads to have a minor, whether it be finance, history or art. They probably knew the odds of getting a writing job were similar to winning the California State Lottery.

So, as many of my fellow students, I set about to select a minor. If I knew then what I know now, I would have invested my time in comparative literature or marketing. But psychology captured my imagination and units. So, I learned about Freud’s id, ego and superego as well as the behaviorism theories of Pavlov and Skinner. Surprisingly, a lot of  my journalism classmates shared my affinity to explore the inner workings of our minds, but I never understood why.

Then I read “The Power of a Story” in a recent issue of Real Simple magazine. I now realize the path I chose was meant to be traversed. There’s nothing happenstance about my choice. In the article, Jennifer King Lindley intersects psychology and plot twists in a fresh, creative way. And since this storyteller lives on the corner of character arc and classical conditioning, I was immediately taken with the premise.

According to Lindley, “We naturally think of our own lives as stories, psychologists say. Changing the way you tell yours can help you handle whatever plot twists come your way.” In her article, I learned about an emerging field of study–narrative psychology. Too bad that minor wasn’t offered at San Diego State when I was a junior.

Hope you find “The Power of a Story” as fascinating as I did.

https://www.magzter.com/article/Home/Real-Simple/The-Power-Of-A-Story

New Release – Proposal for Love and Giveaway

My copy showed up this morning on my Kindle. Can’t wait to read.

Sharon C. Cooper

Hi All, it’s release day! Woo hoo!

PROPOSAL FOR LOVE, book 2 of the Jenkins & Sons Construction series is now available!

Nathaniel Jenkins-Moore never allows romantic entanglements to get in the way of running Jenkins & Sons Construction. That is until the woman who ripped out his heart crashes back into his life. She wants to leave the past in the past, and though Nate knows a thing or two about rebuilding strong foundations, her betrayal still haunts him. He can’t forget. He won’t forgive. She can’t be trusted. But why does his heart still beat double-time whenever she’s near?

Liberty Stewart has been living a lie. Masking her shredded self-esteem and trying to overcome the emotional torment inflicted by her abusive ex-husband, she’s ready to rebuild her life. But just when she thinks she’s on track, her current assignment brings her face to face with the only man she’s…

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What’s Your Rush?

shutterstock_392375377It happened again today. I was late meeting a friend for coffee. As I drove around the parking lot searching for a spot, I caught a glimpse of her sitting at the sidewalk café. Not wasting time waiting for me to show up, she was cleaning out her purse. I apologized for my tardiness as she gave me a hug. “It’s no big deal,” Margaret said letting me off the hook. “I’ve been wanting to clean my purse for a while anyway, but I never could find the time.”

The frustrating thing is, I shouldn’t have been late in the first place. I was ready to walk out the door 15 minutes early. But since I had extra time, I tossed a load in the washing machine and wrote an overdue thank-you note. Presto, now I was running behind.

I start out on time, but for some reason, being early often makes me late. It’s like my day is 10 minutes shorter than everyone else’s. The truth is, being a chronic multi-tasker (aka woman/mother/sitie) has impaired my time-management skills. Even though I’ve adopted “Be in the moment” as my personal mantra, more often than not, my actions are focused on reaching the destination instead of enjoying the journey.

My husband doesn’t classify me as a woman-in-constant-motion, even though Nick is often the benefactor of my never-waste-a-moment mentality. To him, I move about as fast as — well — as a wife. So several weeks ago when I got pulled over for speeding, he was shocked. In fact, since my speedometer rarely hits 60, Nick agreed that my car must have been the only one the officer could catch. At the time, my mind was on where I was headed; not how fast I was getting there. Luckily the patrolman let me off with a stern warning. Maybe I reminded him of his own wife.

I blame my scheduling shortcomings on a high regard for the value of time. I’m committed to squeezing every second out of the day as if I’m crushing oranges so every drop lands in the glass. I know time is precious and I don’t want to waste it. But somehow in my quest to get the most from every moment, I’m often rushed, segmented and rarely able to strike a reasonable balance between using time wisely and staying in the moment.

Just a few weeks ago, while going through the afternoon mail, I noticed a long-awaited check for a freelance writing assignment. I opened the envelope, looked at the amount, smiled and then — as any busy woman and mother would do — went on to finish a variety of chores. About a half-hour later I realized I had misplaced the check. Panicked, I retraced my steps. Wow, I had done a lot in those 30 minutes — paid some bills, vacuumed the familyroom, dropped off magazines at the neighbor’s house, fed our dogs, Bandit, Jersey Girl and Bowie. Still, I couldn’t find the check.  I was discouraged about losing my hard-earned money, but what really bugged me was how much time I’d wasted looking for that envelope. In my haste to get more done, I’d accomplished less and I was more stressed for my efforts.

About an hour later I found the check, tucked inside a stack of papers filed for a future writing assignment. But the reality hit me. Doing several things at once can actually cost more time than it saves — and it doesn’t do much to strengthen long-standing friendships, either.

I already have a few changes in mind to get me on the path of doing less and enjoying it more.

I’m told the best way to solve any problem is to acknowledge it and then take small steps toward improvement. I already have a few changes in mind to get me on the path of doing less and enjoying it more. For starters, I could replace quick showers with an occasional lingering bubble bath or eat a real breakfast instead of bites of an untoasted Poptart. On days I really want to splurge, I’ll actually read an entire magazine instead of skimming through the pages and ignore that little voice adding items to my “to-do” list.

There’s one improvement I’ll definitely make the next time Margaret agrees to meet me for coffee. I’ll leave the house 15 minutes early — no checking e-mail or devising last-minute menu plans.  This time she’ll find me sitting at the café table with nothing more to do than sip a warm, chocolatey mocha, happily awaiting her arrival.

 

 

 

 

 

Dancing in the Baron’s Shadow

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I love an engaging story. When that story also give me a history lesson, I’ve hit the bonus zone. That’s just how I felt after finishing Fabiene Josaphat’s novel. The story is set in Haiti. It’s 1965 and Francois Duvalier, AKA Papa Doc, is ruling the country with brutality. I knew very little about this country or about this dictator’s unrelenting violence to control the impoverished island nation.

This book centers around two brothers, Raymond and Nicolas L’Eveille, caught in the country’s misery and changing times. Raymond and Nicolas are as different as two men can be, in their intellect, goals, desires and dreams. In spite of their vast differences, Raymond is compelled to help his younger brother who has been arrested by the Haitian secret police and thrown into a hellish prison.

I connected with both men and their struggles, but what kept me reading was their deep, unwavering love of family.

 

Release Day – Breaking Bad Box Set!

Wow, what a great deal. Mine is already on my Kindle!

Sharon C. Cooper

YES! It’s release day for Breaking Bad: 14 Tales of Lawless Love Box Set!

Breaking Bad is a compilation of fourteen interracial stories of lawless love by fourteen dynamic authors. Included in the set is everything from contemporary romance, romantic suspense, and fantasy to name a few. All for the low price of $0.99! *Limited Time*

Breaking Bad Blurb:
Nice guys finish first, said no one ever. But we guarantee you’ll finish this collection filled with dark and dangerous alphas who obey no one, play by their own rules, and least of all allow anything to come between them and what they desire most. Download these 14 tales of Lawless Love and you’ll never look at thieves, hit men, bounty hunters or ex-cons the same way again. Break bad and our sexy-as-sin bad boys will steal your heart.
*
Here’s a sneak peek of my contribution to the box set:

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Maybe This Time — FREE

To kick off the summer beach-read season, download Maybe This Time for FREE, today, June 28.  And remember to leave a review, like it or not!

Enjoy your summer.

 

An excerpt from Maybe This Time:

Eric swiped at grains of brown sugar on Kate’s cheek. “You do everything with passion, don’t you?” he whispered not wanting to interrupt the instructor and the other eight students clustered in the kitchen of a gourmet supply store. Scents of soy sauce, rosemary and lemon zest competed for the attention of his nostrils, but Kate’s perfume won that battle. When Trish suggested taking Kate to a cooking class, he thought she had lost her mind.

But Trish was a woman and should know what women like, so he gave it a shot not expecting recipes, ingredients and measuring to be this much fun. Food was the language of love. He’d have to tell Trish she’d been right. On second thought, no way. She’d never let him forget.

“My mom was a good cook,” Kate replied, continuing to stir her sauce rhythmically. “I never really bothered to learn more than how to boil an egg and make a grilled cheese sandwich. I’m surprised at how interesting all this is.”

“We do look great in our aprons, I have to admit,” Eric said. Kate looked amazing in whatever she was wearing, the cobalt blue apron made her green eyes appear bluer. He loved how whatever she wore transformed her eyes from a warm amber to a vibrant pacific blue. Sadly the apron also covered the neckline of her knit sweater. He couldn’t wait for class to end to enjoy the full effect of the clinging fabric.

Kate carefully poured the glaze over the salmon and turned to put their combined effort into the oven. “This is going to taste good.”

“Don’t forget to set your timers,” Chef Andre reminded the class, but Eric knew that prod was intended for him and Kate.

“Are you always this innovative with your dates?” Kate asked before taking a sip of wine.

“What do you mean?”

“Well, we went to the fair. And now a cooking class. It’s like you googled best first dates or something.”

Eric looked away.

“You did, didn’t you.” Kate shoved his arm playfully.

Eric nodded, avoiding the glare from a forty-ish woman seated at the cooking station in front of the class. She hung on every word from Chef Andre as though learning the wonders of whisking would improve her life. Maybe they would. Seemed to be working for him. What Eric knew for certain was that the woman’s brown sugar maple glaze would turn out much better than theirs and she didn’t appreciate the chatter of young love.

He put his finger in front of his lips, and slid his gaze from the woman to Kate, signaling that they were a disruption. If they didn’t cease and desist their conversation, everyone’s cedar plank salmon would be ruined.

 

Reunited Series Box Set – Now Available!

What a great deal!

Sharon C. Cooper

Hi All!

Great news! The first three books in my Reunited Series (romantic suspense) are now available in a box set for only $1.99! That’s right, you can get all three books: BLUE ROSES, RENDEZVOUS WITH DANGER, and TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES for just $1.99!

So if you haven’t read my romantic suspense yet, this is the perfect time to check them out!

NOTE: The $1.99 AND the box set is a limited time offer. Get your copy today!

Get your copy today! $1.99 *LIMITED TIME*

Amazon |  Barnes & Noble

About BLUE ROSES:

Where most women would welcome love from a wealthy, good-looking man, Chicago-based investment manager, Dallas Marcel, is not one of them. She will never let a man control her life again. That includes handsome entrepreneur, Tyler Hollister. Dallas is on track to making partner and she’s not letting anything or anyone get in her way. But…

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Release Day for Maybe This Time

I’m excited to celebrate the release of my novella, Maybe This Time. Here’s a short excerpt I thought you might enjoy. 

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Available exclusively on Kindle Unlimited.

Kate held the door as Colleen, eyes still glued to her tablet, walked out of the coffee shop. “I’ll follow up on the wine and chocolate class,” Kate promised.

“Nothing gets your mind off a hot guy like wine and chocolate,” Colleen said. “Are you coming to yoga practice?”

“Naw, think I’ll head into the office early and catch up on a few things.”

And wait for Eric to call.

“If he calls, he calls. I just met the guy. This isn’t life changing.” Kate argued more to herself than to Colleen, dismissing the idea aloud that she was already in deep. The pounding of her heart did little to reinforce the casual tone she hoped to emit. After all, she and Eric barely spent an hour together and most of that was discussing floor plans and parking flow. “There he is.” Kate shouted at Colleen, shoving a crinkly bag of leftover scones into her friend’s hand before racing up the street toward a parked taxi cab.

Colleen fumbled to catch the bag without dropping her tablet. “He who?” she yelled, chasing behind, but not at the same sprint Kate exhibited. Suddenly Kate stopped hard, as though she hit a wall and turned around. Oh my God. Her breath hitched as she tried to regain her composure before Colleen caught up to her.

“What are you chasing after?”

“A dream,” Kate responded, sucking in air. “It wasn’t Eric. I made a mistake. Let’s go.” She grabbed Colleen by the arm and tugged her toward the cafe, hoping she wouldn’t ask any more questions. Kate didn’t want to tell her friend that she saw Eric standing near a cab. Her Eric, being kissed by a shapely woman with a tiny waist and long legs. A beautiful blonde who whispered something sexy into his ear before walking away. They must have been on a romantic getaway. How stupid I am to think a guy like Eric is waiting around for me. He probably dates lots of women—at the same time.

“Hey, Kate. Is that you?”

Kate walked faster, but Colleen stopped. “There’s a guy back there waving at you. Kinda nice looking. Now he’s coming our way.” Colleen smiled as though inviting him to come closer.

“Don’t encourage him,” Kate said.

“Too late. Here he is.” Colleen made a sweeping motion as though she were a hostess on a game show introducing today’s prizes.

Oh God, his eyes are browner than I remember.

“Kate, I’m glad I caught you,” Eric said. “Sorry I missed you on the phone. I got back into town early.”

“I see that,” Kate muttered, her icy tone coating each word. Not going through this drama again. Crazy guy. Multiple girlfriends. Bad endings.

“I’m Eric Wiley,” he said, offering his hand for Colleen to shake before returning his attention to Kate.

“So maybe we can set up that coffee date. There’s a great little place a couple of doors down.”

“I know. Colleen and I just had coffee there.”

“And scones,” Colleen chimed in, handing Kate her bag of leftovers. “I’ve got to get going. I have class in thirty minutes.”

“Teacher or student?” Eric asked.

“Yoga instructor.”

“Nice. Maybe I can take your class sometime. It’s not that sweaty yoga, is it?”

“No, it’s more of a flow class. Kate can tell you all about it.” Colleen tapped Kate on the shoulder. “I’ll see you later,” she said before scurrying toward the yoga studio.

“I like your friend,” Eric said gesturing to Colleen’s back.

“She’s pretty terrific. We met in her class. Used to be a cop.” Kate wanted to run away, but her feet grounded into the earth as though an alien force rooted them in place. All the small talk didn’t comfort her. Minutes before this guy was kissing another woman, and now he was flirting with her. Was there no end to his nerve?

“Now that’s really switching career paths,” Eric said. “I consider doing that sometimes.”

“And leave the family business for what? I don’t see that happening.” You’re such a privileged mama’s boy, Kate wanted to say, but didn’t. Truth was during their earlier interactions, Eric didn’t strike her as someone who life had been easy on. It was obvious his parents leaned on his judgment. Eric presented himself as a self-made man, working for what success came his way. Still, he was hiding something she couldn’t quite put her finger on.

Granted with business-owner parents, his path may have been smoother than many. Even if your folks set you up, you’re the one who has to walk that path. Kate knew lots of privileged folks who took the benefits they were born into and managed to drink, gamble or in some other way squander their advantage, as though opportunity was an all-you-can-eat buffet. Made a bad choice, no problem. Just get a clean plate and try again. The sports pages and movie magazines were filled with celebrity examples. A couple of Kate’s sorority sisters were still trying to find themselves. That’s what they claimed at the last reunion.

“You’d be surprised. I can tell you more about my future plans over a hot mocha.”

Kate readjusted her purse strap and leaned away. “Thanks for the invite, but I need to get to work. We’re already brainstorming the next complex. Proposal is due in two weeks.”

“Yeah, I know. We talked about your innovative ideas. I thought they were great. You’re great.” Eric licked his lips and stepped closer. “Seems to me like we connected, at least a little bit, but if you’re not interested, just say so. You don’t have to go through not answering my calls and giving me the brush off. Just be honest. It will save us both a lot of time.”

Kate shoved her paper pastry bag in her coat pocket and crossed her arms. “Honesty? Is that the most important value to you, because I believe in always telling the truth. I always tell the truth.”

“And you’re suggesting I don’t?” Eric’s nostrils flared with anger, causing Kate to step back. “We are standing in the street arguing about I don’t know what. Do you want to have a cup of coffee with me or not? It’s just that simple.”

“Not until you answer a question first.” Kate straightened to her full five-foot-six height. “Who were you kissing a moment ago?”

“Kissing? What are you talking about?”

“Near the cab. The woman who kissed you. Who is she? You’re an only child, so I know that wasn’t your sister. A cousin, maybe?” Kate huffed.

Eric’s eyes widened.

Is this how he stalls for time, cooking up a lie, Kate thought. This should be really good. She waited, even tapped the toe of her boot a time or two. “Well?”

“Like I said on my call, business ended early. I grabbed a cab with a coworker. End of story.”

“Not quite. Here comes your coworker, and she looks ticked.”


 

 

You’ve Been Sweet To Me … So here’s a treat for you!

As a reader, I love a good story and I know that you do too! That’s why I’ve attached a link for a free ebook copy of Maybe This Time as a thank you for your ongoing support, enthusiasm and, well, just because you are you! The novella comes out this Friday, but you’re getting it first and for free!

Use this link before May 19 to download your free copy:  

The Jameson sisters are at the center of my Begin Again series. You’ve met Monica Morgan in A Corner of Her Heart. I’m hoping you’ll enjoy this prequel about Kate, the youngest of the three. Her novel, Promises To Keep, is coming soon.

And I haven’t forgotten about Julie Rafferty, the oldest sister. Her story, Playing Games, is coming in the fall.

I’d love to hear from you. Email me at claire@clairefadden.com.

Maybe This Time
​Architect Kate Jameson has sworn off men. That is until she meets Eric, the handsome son of her current client. Fresh out of a messy relationship with a coworker, Kate’s not ready to trust her judgement where men are concerned. She dodges Eric’s advances, but can’t deny the attraction growing between them. Everything–especially his soul-searing brown eyes–makes her want to throw caution to the wind and try again. At her sister’s prodding, Kate finally agrees to date Eric, surprised at the joy he brings into her life. But when their budding romance is threatened, Kate is forced to make hard decisions and fight for her true happiness.

​Undercover CIA agent Eric Wiley has survived enough loss in his life to ever want to risk being hurt again. He has long since given up on true love. Still, he’s drawn to Kate in a way he can’t rationalize. Avoiding her isn’t working and for the first time in a relationship, he wants to be truthful about his past and his career. Before their romance can bloom, however, Kate goes missing. Recognizing the danger, Eric stops at nothing to rescue the woman who has captured his heart.

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