WELCOME to SUMMER!!

I’m celebrating the beginning of summer with 25 other authors as we join together in a sexy summer solstice blog hop, where the grand prize is a Nook Simple Touch with a glowlight.

Click HERE to join the hop from the beginning.

There are all kinds of prizes along the way including books, swag and gift cards. Participants who follow the hop all the way through between 9am EDT WEDNESDAY, JUNE 20 through noon EDT SUNDAY, JUNE 24 will be eligible for the grand prize.

This hop we were challenged to use a word generator to create a sexy scene for our readers. My story must include a popstar, salsa dancer and a news anchor. The scene will take place in a city park. And I need to work in happy, successful and drunk characteristics. And I get extra credit if I manage to work in the phrase “streaks of purple and gray“. LOL! Let’s see where this takes us. Please enjoy this summer solstice scene …

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Despite a full pot of coffee and two cans of diet cola, Kate Silva could barely drag herself to her Mustang convertible. The evening heat wafting off the sidewalk wasn’t helping the exhaustion weighing down her limbs. It seemed summer had arrived early in the sleepy town of Pinecrest. Maine didn’t usually see temperatures in the nineties until well into July. Heck, with the solstice still several hours away, summer still hadn’t officially arrived. But you couldn’t prove it by the heat and humidity making a mockery of Kate’s chignon and makeup.

Her early morning news cast had turned into an early afternoon luncheon with the governor and the nap she’d so desperately needed to make it through the evening ahead was usurped by another family emergency.

“Oh, sweetie, I’m so sorry you couldn’t rest before the fund raiser tonight.” Aunt Marion locked the door to Patchouli Gardens, her spiritual supply and natural herb store. “I really thought Lucy was choking with all those yards of lanyard wrapped around her little body.” She scooped up the little wiener dog at her feet. “I just don’t know how she gets into that storage room.” Marion’s baby speak was directed at the happy mutt showering her with doggie kisses. “No I don’t. I just don’t know. You had mommy scared right out of her mind when all the boxes tumbled. Yes you did.” Her aunt leaned over and kissed her cheek and the dog snuck one in as well. “Anyway, thank you.”

“Of course you’re welcome.” Kate scratched the dog’s ears. Truth be told, she’d do anything for the eccentric woman with her Bohemian skirt and her stylish hair with streaks of purple and gray. The woman was all she had left of family.

When Aunt Marion had called to say her store was in trouble, Kate had pasted a smile on her face, accepted a job at a local television station and moved in. The six month internship had segued into a street reporting position and eventually the anchor desk. Three years later Patchouli Gardens was in the black and Kate had to admit, she’d grown fond of the little town and protective of the woman who was more like a mother than an aunt.

Dumping the oversized handbag from her shoulder into the backseat, Kate slipped in behind the wheel and wondered again why they’d asked her to be part of the summer concert series at the city park, Dancing Under the Stars, like a takeoff on the popular show. Only she was nothing more than a small town news anchor at a small town television station in central Maine. It certainly didn’t fit her definition of successful, let alone, high profile celebrity. At twenty-eight Kate had expected to be traveling the world reporting the news, not quietly living with her aunt and a troublesome weiner dog—both of whom she loved with all her heart.

As if reading her thoughts, Lucy let out a happy yip.

“This is going to be so much fun,” Aunt Marion said as she tucked Lucy in the little picnic basket at her feet and paused. “You look so beautiful, Katie. Maybe this is the night you find someone special.” Tears welled in her eyes. “That rose quartz you’re wearing calls to your soul mate.”

Kate had never believed the crystals her aunt held so much faith in would do anything, but she’d put on the beautiful necklace because it had complemented her dress. “Aunt Marion, I appreciate the thought, but you and Lucy are enough for me right now.”

“That’s nonsense, child. Everyone needs someone to complete their heart.” She laughed and buckled her seatbelt around her plentiful waist. “I guess we’ll just enjoy the evening and worry about true love later. Tonight promises to be so much fun. I can’t wait to see little Markie. It’s been years. I can’t remember the last time I saw him in a concert, let alone here in town.”

Kate pulled away from the curb, curious about what kind of popstar could have possibly grown up in Pinecrest. The whole town had been buzzing for weeks about Markie’s return like he’d gone out and made a name for himself. But Kate’s internet searches for a Mark Hood made famous had turned up nothing but a lot of articles about his high school football career and a graduation photo. The photo hadn’t been too shabby as she recalled—a handsome young man with an infectious smile, a couple of dimples and a sandy mop of unruly hair.

“You know, it is the solstice. Magical things happen on the solstice.” Aunt Marion clapped her hands together. “And how serendiptious that two of my favorite people in the world got paired together.”

From the glint in Aunt Marion’s eye, Kate was thinking—it probably wasn’t a coincidence at all.

* * * *

Mark Hood hadn’t been home since high school graduation. His agent had had an apoplectic fit when he’d turned down the gig in Chicago in favor of the Civic Center in Portland. But after the six month whirlwind tour of Europe, he was looking forward to a couple weeks home with his dad and a small venue to reconnect with his local fans. What he needed was full blown vacation. Hell, after five years of mega-hits, what he really needed was a sabbatical!

The invitation to this charity event, regardless of how lame, couldn’t have come at a better time. It was the perfect reason to step away from all the screaming fans and chaos that had become his life. He only hoped the local news anchor they’d paired him with to dirty dance to one of his own songs wouldn’t make him look like a complete dork on stage. No doubt the woman was pushing her seventies. No one retired in this town. He looked around the local celebrities hidden behind the small stage they’d set up in the park. At least he couldn’t look worse than the salsa dancers who seemed to be stumbling over each other like they were drunk.

“Excuse me, sir.”

Mark turned and looked down into the eyes of a young girl in a pink ballet tutu.

“I’m dancing tonight. I’m the middle school spelling bee champion.”

“Well, congratulations.” He bent down and whispered conspiratorially, “I’m dancing too, but I’m really nervous. I hope my partner looks as beautiful as you.”

“Thank you.” A blush crawled up her cheeks as she shyly lifted one of the programs and a pen. “I know you’re Marcus Tyrone from Radio Haze and I was wonder—”

“Marissa we talked about this.” The man in charge swooped over and stepped between them. “I’m sorry Mr. Tyrone. I asked everyone—”

“No, excuse me.” Mark gently moved the man to the side and put his hand on the slumping shoulder of the little girl. “Marissa was just giving me some advice on how to calm my nerves.” He winked down at her, took the program, signed his stage name with a flourish and bent to kiss her soft cheek. “Let’s hope we both kill ‘em out there!” The girl hugged him and skipped off happily.

He clapped the guy on the back. “Don’t worry about the autograph seekers. I don’t mind signing a few—”

“Mark! Mark Hood!”

He barely had time to register his late mother’s best friend before she wrapped him in a fierce bear hug. The familiar scent of patchouli and hair spray wrapped around his nose, sending him back to his youth and hours spent sweeping floors and stocking shelves while his mother shared tea and secrets with Marion at her store counter. He’d grown up believing the woman currently bruising his ribs was a witch. With all those crystals and herbs it was hard not to think something mystical happened in her shop.

“Ms. Marion!” He returned her hug, happy to see a familiar face. “So good to see you!”

She pushed away from him, but kept her hands firmly holding his biceps. “The fame doesn’t seem to have hurt you any.” Marion laid a hand on his cheek. “Your momma would be so proud.” The last words caught in her throat. “We’ll catch up later. In the meantime, I want you to meet your dance partner.”

The breath caught in Mark’s lungs as Marion stepped back and introduced the stunning woman behind her. The little red number she wore hugged her curves like a second skin. With the sexy waves of ebony hair falling around her face, the bun at the back of her head looked anything but matronly. As a matter of fact it left her throat exposed, her pulse hammering in time with his. He couldn’t seem to make his brain work. And from the way the stunning woman’s mouth hung open it looked like she was having difficulty as well.

Marion clapped her hands together. “Kate Silva, I’d like you to meet Mark Hood. Mark, this is my niece, Kate.”

“No …. but you’re … I mean holy shit! You’re Marcus Tyrone, from that reality show Rock Icon,” Kate stammered as she stretched her hands across the expanse as manners would dictate. “Aunt Marion never said the boy who helped at her shop was a world renowned singer/songwriter.”

“And no one mentioned my dancing partner was such a beautiful woman.” He wrapped her delicate fingers in his hand, enjoying the electric current shimmering up his arm and warming the rose quartz in his pocket. “That’s a beautiful necklace,” he whispered, cradling the glowing stone at her throat in his other hand.

“Oh, what a lovely couple you make.” Aunt Marion sighed as she gathered a wiener dog from a picnic basket at her feet. “What a coincidence you were paired together the night of the solstice. Who knows what kind of magic can happen tonight.”

Mark was thinking the same thing. “Already feels magical to me.”
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Thank you so much for stopping by. I love summer concerts in the park. It’s one of the activities Mr. Nina and I wouldn’t miss. A picnic dinner, a couple of camp chairs, a bottle of wine, great music and a sultry summer night with the man I love. What more could a woman want? What’s a favorite summer activity you wouldn’t miss?

****   GIVEAWAY CLOSED   ****

One person commenting between now and SUNDAY, JUNE 24 at noon EDT will be chosen at random to win a print copy of RIPE & READY (including my novella Divine Deception) and a $10 Amazon Gift Certificate. (Book shipping to US and Canadian residents only. An international winner will receive a $25 Amazon Gift Card only.)

66 Responses to Blog Hop Into Summer!

  • Yvette – That does sound heavenly!

  • Aww what a sweet story! I hope it works out for those two =)

    Happy solstice!

  • My favorite summer activity is taking the kids to the pool, waterpark, or sitting outside in my favorite chair and reading a good book. Love your books and can’t wait to pick up the next one. Thanks for the giveaway.

    • Chris – Oh, when my kids were little we went to the town pool every day … I loved it. Thanks for mentioning my books! You totally made my day.

  • I love going to the beach and camping out.

    • Cheryl – I’ve always loved camping. Unfortunately it’s not one of Mr. Nina’s favorite things to do. But some day I’d like to get a small RV and travel the US. Enjoy your summer!

  • My favorite summer activity is sitting on the porch reading a good book and drinking cold lemonade.

    jmesparza821(at)gmail(dot)com

  • Favourite summer activity? Sitting with my mother in law having a good gossip over a long tall drink, watching the world go by

  • my new favorite activity is driving back roads with the convertible top down and blaring music.

  • That was really fun Nina! Inventive and magical!

  • Virginia – Those porch swings with our sweeties are the best … aren’t they! (And thanks for the compliment on my story.)

  • I would say my favorite summer activity is sitting on my swing reading while my kids play on their swingset or in their pool not to far away. Its been to hot the past couple of days to do it but I look forward to a cool down so I can lounge and get a tan while doing my favorite thing….reading.

    ~*Drea*~

    • Drea – I loved when my kids were little and I had to supervise them outside in the summer. Nothing like relaxing in the shade while they play in the pool or on the swings! Enjoy every minute of it!

  • I’m a summer concert gal, too! Though the bands I love usually don’t get here until very late summer, or early fall…two are starting to tour as we speak, and I’m worried they’ll play on the same night. Thanks for the giveaway!

    • Trix – Oh no! I hope they don’t play on the same night. Either way … sure hope you enjoy the concerts. Thanks for stopping by.

  • It is a good thing I am not a writer because I could never build a story around random items. lol

  • Victoria – Oh, put that outside on a sultry summer night and I’m with you! Thanks for stopping by.

  • What a beautifully written scene! As for me? A candlelight dinner on the beach 🙂

  • Enjoyed the scene. 🙂 As for a summer activity I wouldn’t miss, I’d have to say I love going for long walks in the sunshine. But I don’t like it if it’s extremely hot out, so I’m picky.

    bizdotbizinc@yahoo.com

    • Ezra – LOL! I like a walk, but you’re right, it it’s too hot it’s just darn uncomfortable! The only way to get around that is walking along the beach with your feet in the water.

  • My favorite summer activity is heading to the beach. So relaxing

    • Theresa – When I was a teenager we’d just lay there in the sun, tanning, reading … and of course flirting with the guys. (It was always so funny when an errant football landed near us and one of them had to come over and pick it up. That pickup always cracked me up … as if we couldn’t see through it!)

  • what a fun concept for a hope – that was a fun read!
    the concert idea sounds great – good music, a few snacks & special company!

  • One summer activity that I absolutely would not miss is hanging out with the students that I tutor at summer camp. I get to see them in and out of the classroom, and I especially love how they call me “Miss Heather.” Although, sometimes they say “Header” instead. Either way, they are too adorable!

    • Heather – A teacher after my own heart! Kids are so much fun and tutoring and a camp sounds like a great way to spend the summer.

  • HAPPY BIRTHDAY YADIRA! I hope it’s a wonderful day spent laughing, surrounded by people you love. 😀

  • I’m not much of a Summer person. Not a fan of heat and humidity. But I do love watching fireworks during the Summer nights!

    rae.gwendy(at)gmail(dot)com

    • Rae – I always feel I should qualify and say I live in New England where it’s rarely too hot. (Can’t prove it by this week. LOL!) Therefore my love of summer.

      And fireworks are definitely one of my favorites too. (Though I saw them once in the winter at a ski slope … and that was pretty cool too.) Thanks so much for stopping by!

  • Enjoyed it very much. I wish I had the ability to write something with the scene generator.

  • 4th of July parade is my favorite summer activity (followed by a party). Great job on the story

    jlhmass at yahoo dot com

    • JLH – I’m glad you enjoyed the story. And I do love 4th of July with the family BBQ, parades and the fireworks … I love fireworks!

  • I like these random scene starters. You did a great job with yours–working in all the words and phrases.

  • You were an overachiever using your bonus phrase. Great job.

    My favorite summer activity is sitting on the deck reading a book. Nothing better than getting alittle tan while I do something I love.

    • Lisa – LOL! Yeah, you have me pegged. I always did the extra credit on tests as well. LOL!

      I just love having a little bit of a tan. Doesn’t it feel so good. (Oh, and if I can enjoy a good book while soaking in the sun, well all the better!)

  • I love the story you came up with, it was a something I enjoyed reading for sure.

    My favorite summer activity that I wouldn’t want to miss is the fireworks that are down at the lake every year for the fourth of July. I have been going for the last five years and it’s a good way to catch up with friends, there is a little carnival that we have, and even if you don’t get anything the sounds and smells of the carnival remind me of when I was younger so it’s lovely.

    • I’m glad you enjoyed the story, Tiffany. It was fun to write. Oh, your carnival sounds wonderful. There’s nothing better than walking around visiting with friends on a sultry summer night. Sounds like so much fun! Thanks for sharing.

  • I’m a sucker for a cook out and I firmly believe that food in the summer should be grilled over charcoal!

    • I love a good BBQ Sasha. But I will only eat food over charcoal if the chef doesn’t overdue with the starter. (Nothing like a steak that tastes like lighter fluid. Blech!)

  • My favorite summer activity is reading on the beach. Since I live where it is sunny most of the year, I can do it whenever, not just in the summer. 🙂
    trb0917 at gmail.com

    • Tina – You had me at “beach”. I spent the better part of my youth lounging on the beach and reading. You’re so fortunate you get to do it year round! Thanks for stopping by.

  • My favorite Summer activities is going to the lake with my son and my grandson. I would never want to miss that. We take our two dogs(Pugs) with us, have a picnic, wade in the water and just have fun. It is always a memory I treasure.

  • My favorite summer activity is picnics by the river.
    I enjoyed the story very much and I am amazed you were able to use all of those crazy words and phrases, great job!

    • Carin – I’m glad you enjoyed the story. I really have a good time trying to squeeze everything in. Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your favorite summer activity. Anytime there’s water involved … I’m there!!

  • I love the family BBQ’s that we have twice a month. Lots of good food and laughter.

  • That was very nice. I like summer BBQs.

  • Loved the scene and my favorite thing to do in the summer is read I’m not a fan of the heat even with being born in the summer

    • Tabitha – I live in southern New England so the heat in the summer is rarely unbearable. There’s just something about being able to go out the door without extra layers that I really love.

      I hope you find lots of quiet for reading. Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing.

  • I love reading at the beach and looking at eye candy, or skinny dipping in the backyard pool!

    Thanks for the amazing giveaway!
    elizabeth @ bookattict . com

    • Oh, I haven’t skinny dipped in so long, but I’d love to have a backyard pool to enjoy that freedom. 😉 Hope you enjoy your summer!

  • Great excerpt! My favorite thing to do is curl up, with a good book and a glass of sweet iced tea. Thanks for sharing and for the fun hop! And thank you for the awesome giveaway!
    shadowluvs2read(at)gmail(dot)com

  • My favorite summer activity has to be the county youth fair. This year, I get to take my one year old niece on her first trip around the grounds. Can’t wait.

    @drainbamagedgyz

    • Kathryn – I love county fairs. In southern Maine where I’m from most of them happened in the early fall. Have a wonderful time with your niece!

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