December 28, 2013

Excerpts

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LynnSexySaturday_buttonIt’s been a few weeks since I’ve joined in the My Sexy Saturday fun. A couple of weeks ago, I was so sick that there were several days the laptop stayed firmly closed. And then I was spending time with the Boyfriend and doing last-minute Christmas prep.

Not to worry. I’m back in the saddle again. (And if the phrase doesn’t give you an annoying ear worm, click here for a lovely Aerosmith flashback.)

The rules are simple:

Post 7 paragraphs or 7 sentences or 7 words. The choice is yours. It can be from a WIP or something you already have published. Your post should be live by 9 am US Pacific Time on Saturday. Put those lucky 7s to work for you!

This week, I’m taking you back to Willow’s Grove. The holidays aren’t quite over yet, and Cher and Derrick have more to offer. And I’m cheating a bit. Since I didn’t have any paragraphs last week, you get 12 this time. Don’t worry: Some are short.

In this scene,  Derrick has just picked Cher up for their dinner date at DeLuca’s Italian restaurant in nearby Willow’s Grove. She’s second-guessing the outfit she borrowed from her sister, a black mini-dress almost completely covered with a soft lavender cardigan, worried it makes her look like a reject from a Barney the Dinosaur casting call.

***

“I feel like a thrift store refugee.”

“Don’t. That sweater looks better on you than your sister.” With that, Derrick pulled back onto the highway and pointed the car toward Willow’s Grove.

“Thanks.” She cringed when her laugh came out too high-pitched. With all the adulation she got from audiences, surely she ought to be able to handle a simple compliment without getting nervous. Then again, nothing about Derrick had ever been simple. As hard as she chased him in high school, she’d only ever succeeded in pushing him farther away.

“I won’t tell Carrie you said that.”

With his eyes fixed on the road, he shrugged. “I don’t care if you do.”

When he lapsed into silence, Cheryl sank back into the passenger seat, cursing the impulse that had prompted her to say yes to his dinner invitation. If they were already out of things to say, how would they ever survive the rest of the drive to Willow’s Grove? Even dinner at DeLuca’s wasn’t worth torturing herself with thirty minutes of strained silence.

“Cher, I—”

“Derrick—”

They began speaking at the same time. Derrick chuckled. “Ladies first.”

She took a deep breath. If she put a stop to this abomination of an outing now, she could borrow Carrie’s car and drive to DeLuca’s for garlic bread after Derrick took her home. “I just wanted to say you don’t have to feel obligated to be nice to me. I’m a big girl. My sister’s fiancé’s best friend and I don’t have to be on speaking terms.”

Derrick didn’t answer right away. Instead, he pulled to the shoulder and guided the car to a stop. His smoky gray eyes were inscrutable as he studied her for several long moments.

Finally, he rumbled, “Cher, I didn’t ask you out for El’s sake.”

HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS, available now on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

December 27, 2013

Musings

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I admit, I’ve been nervous about book reviews.

Who wouldn’t be after reading the horror stories about authors who refuse to read their reviews … authors devastated by one-star—or, worse, no-star—reviews …

Putting my books out there, in the world at large, wasn’t hard. I’ve wanted to be a writer, to tell my characters’ stories, since second grade.

Opening them up to strangers’  criticism was a different story. That scared me to death. I get that my voice won’t appeal to everyone. There are some authors I love and some that I struggle to read. But the fear that someone will dub one of my heroines “too stupid to live” or hate one of the heroes that I love? Those worries are the ones that keep me up at night.

I’ve been lucky so far, though. Not that I have a ton of reviews (yet), but the ones I’ve received have been positive.

Arlene_HomeHolidays_300dpi(1600x2560)My holiday novella, HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS, just received a lovely 5-star review from Brianna at Girl Seeks Place. Among her thoughts:

This was another novella that left me wanting more. I like novellas because I can read ‘em quickly, especially when I don’t have a ton of free time, but I also dislike the short length of novellas. Ms. Hittle’s story left me wanting more and I look forward to reading her other book in the future.

On Amazon, a 5-star review from Firefly Girl had this to say about HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS:

This little romp to Willow’s Grove is the perfect read for the holidays or any time. Short, sweet and punctuated with Ms. Hittle’s trademark wit, it’s the perfect length for a quick getaway when you can’t handle another minute of the holiday rush.

Diva-Dugout-AHittle-LGThe reviews for DIVA IN THE DUGOUT are also good. From the book’s Amazon page:

I love baseball. I love romance. So what’s not to love about a baseball romance? I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Ms. Hittle created lovable characters who make mistakes, but find a way to rise above. I fell in love with Dave, whose life revolves around baseball’s seedier side until he’s given an ultimatum. In the end you will swoon with his maturity and love for his family that outweighs all else. Mel is spunky, cautious and will do anything to protect her daughter. Tara is smart and insightful and way too cute! Fun, easy, heartwarming read. I’m looking forward to reading more from this author.

(Firefly girl might well be my biggest fan!)

And from Patty:

I bought this book because I love romance. I finished the book because I believe in true love. A one night stand can b just that, one night or it can change your life. For Dave and Mel it was the one love that never was or was it? True love conquerors all and families are made with acceptance and of course love. I highly recommend this book and can not wait to read more by Arlene Hittle.

My stories are faring slightly less well on Goodreads. DIVA has an average rating of 3.5 (with a 2-star and 3-star factored in); HFTH is at 4.67.

I find that a bit odd, considering my roommate, who’s read both, said she enjoyed them both but liked DIVA a little bit more.

Thanks for reading, everyone. And for taking the time to leave a review. You’ve helped make my 2013 a year to remember. And for someone who until recently hated the number 13, that’s no easy feat.

December 17, 2013

Musings

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I know, I know. You don’t need me to tell you Christmas is a mere nine days away. Countdowns are everywhere, inexorably ticking off the days, hours and minutes.

With no children of my own to make holiday magic for, I don’t find the holiday season quite as hectic as some, I’m sure.

Yes, I still try to do some baking. Since I’ve been sidelined with a cold/flu/mysterious ick  for a week now, my Mom’s butter cookies are still unbaked. I hope to get to them before this weekend, but it’ll depend on when I can stand for extended periods without trying to hack up my spleen.

And kids or no, I still love watching all the holiday specials. I’m afraid I’ve missed “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” this year. (Pouting will commence … NOW.)

The one show I absolutely will not miss? “A Christmas Story.”

In fact, this year I spent $8.50 to watch it on the big screen. I needed to take a longish dinner break, and Harkins just happened to be showing “A Christmas Story” as its “classic” Tuesday night flick. I couldn’t pass it up.

The movie is a family favorite for one big reason: Although it was filmed in Ohio, it’s set in Hammond, Indiana, on Cleveland Street. My grandma and grandpa Kiger lived on Cleveland Street in Hammond, Indiana. 3003 Cleveland Street, to be exact.

That’s right. Young Ralphie could have been my mother’s neighbor. I think he’d have been a few years older, but still … everything about the movie — tone, humor, everything — is spot-on.

I’ve seen it once already this season, but that won’t stop me from watching it at least one more time during TBS’ 24 hours of “A Christmas Story.” (I’ll probably catch it more than once, to be honest. Like classic episodes of “Twilight Zone,” it never gets old.)

And if anyone wants to get me a present, I have just the thing:

"The soft glow of electric sex …"

“The soft glow of electric sex …”

My very own Leg Lamp! (As seen at Walgreen’s.)

“Fra-gee-lay. It must be Italian.”

“I think that says ‘fragile.'”

I’m so tempted … But I have nowhere to put it, so I’ll have to content myself with Leg Lamp butter cookies instead.

ButterCookies6-764x1024Yes. Leg Lamp butter cookies. I found the cutter last year at Target. For only $1, I HAD to buy it.

Tell me: What’s your favorite, can’t-miss “I’ll watch it a thousand and one times and it never gets old” holiday movie?

 

December 7, 2013

Cher & Derrick, Excerpts

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LynnSexySaturday_buttonDashing through the malls? That’s so last week.

‘Tis now the season for holding hands with the one you love while strolling through freshly fallen snow and cuddling (and more) in front of a blazing fire. No need to shiver in sub-zero temps when there are so many fun, creative ways to stay warm, right?

The hero and heroine in my holiday short, HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS, have no trouble staying warm. Cue today’s My Sexy Saturday snippet. Cher has just admitted to Derrick the real reason she’s back in town, and asked him not to tell anyone, even their mutual friend, Elliott.

****

Especially El. He’d tell my sister, and she’d blab it to everyone we know—not to mention every total stranger we run across. I don’t want my medical history to become fodder for the gossip rags. Any rumors about Starshine’s future would be bad for business.”

He made a zipped-lips motion. “They don’t call me The Vault for nothing.”

The mention of his high school nickname brought a smile to Cher’s lips. “I thought that was because your parents had more money than God.”

“That, too.” His teeth flashed white in the darkness. “But people tell me things. I must have a face you can trust or something.”

“Or something,” she echoed, her eyes glued to Derrick’s supposed trustworthy face. With his killer smile and cheekbones sharp enough to slice a bagel, trust wasn’t the first thing that came to mind. More like hot, sweaty nights. “What do you say we get inside before we end up with frostbite?”

Wrapping his arms around her, he nuzzled her neck. “We probably ought to wait until the rest of the family leaves, to avoid any more pleas to join in.”

She pressed against him, letting his body’s heat surge through her. No danger of frostbite as long as they were together. “I like the way you think.”

Get HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS now at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Only 99 cents — less expensive (and fattening) than a fancy coffee drink.