As Martha reflects on the early days of her life with Hal, she is transported back in time.  Excerpted from Interior Designs.


We had met in college, although I did recall seeing him in the high school yearbook when I was a freshman.  He’d been a senior then.  And a football star.  So, because I was hoping to be a cheerleader at some point, I was very interested.

But when I started college, that’s when I really met him…at a football game, of course.  He’d looked so hunky back then, yet he had this teddy bear kind of charm that appealed to me.  I liked muscular guys, but when that detail was combined with an approachable, huggable aspect, I was smitten.  I guess he noticed me because, by then, I was a cheerleader.  And after one of those games, we’d gone for drinks with a group.  Luckily (or unluckily, if you looked at it in retrospect), I ended up sitting next to him.

I could almost hear the conversation still, which went something like this:

“Hey, I’ve been noticing you out there cheering us on,” he’d enthused.

I recall giving him my dimpled smile, tossing my blondish hair, and grinning.  “Well, our cheers worked, didn’t they?  You guys were awesome.”

We moved from this exchange to one in which we talked about our goals.  He already knew he would go to law school, and I was majoring in design.  I had big ideas about the future I could have, too.

After everyone else left, we were still talking.  He’d learned all about my dreams and I’d heard about his.  He only casually mentioned that his parents were farmers (Fresno was a big rural community, and we were attending California State University at Fresno); this seemed like a given.  He looked like someone down to earth.

When he walked me to my car afterwards, I knew that he would ask me out.  And he did.

We dated all through the rest of my college years, and when he entered law school, we got married.  It seemed inevitable.

My parents had been thrilled.  They had been so impressed with Hal from the very beginning, so they were determined to put on a fabulous fairytale wedding.  And since my design ambitions were already expressing themselves, I helped put it all together.  By then, I had an entry level job in a local design firm.

My parents sent us off to Europe for our honeymoon—one of their gifts to us.  The other gift was rent-free living in their cute little guesthouse.  Like a Tudor cottage, it adjoined their lovely home, but sat back at the end of a curving drive, surrounded by a picket fence covered with wisteria.  A truly gorgeous dream love nest.

With such a beginning, how could we have gone wrong?  I still asked myself this question now, all these years later.
I think that “oblivious” is a word that would describe me during my marriage.

Had I just expected happiness to unfold, and did I turn my attention away from any signs to the contrary?  Yes, now that I think about it, there had been little clues.  Hal seemed remote at times, which I had chalked up to his very grueling study schedule.

Busy at work myself, I couldn’t really tune into him like I should have done.

Nevertheless, I recall plenty of magical moments in those first three years.  Living in the fairytale cottage which was a dream to keep up; planning little picnics on the weekends; driving up to Shaver Lake, where my parents had a cabin (they later gave this cabin to Hal and me); taking little jaunts to the coast (Pismo Beach was only a couple hours away); and even trips to LA to see plays.

When Hal graduated from law school and started preparing for the bar exam, I was over the moon.  Soon the perfect life would be within our grasp.

Maybe that was the first sign of trouble…the fact that I always thought of our “perfect life” as just out of reach.  Not that I hadn’t enjoyed the early years and the romance of new beginnings.  But we were still struggling financially, even without having to pay rent.

Hal had passed the bar exam on the first try, and the very same week that we got the results, I discovered I was pregnant.  I hadn’t planned it that way.  In fact, to this day I think of it as a blessed contraceptive malfunction.  For I adore Meadow, and we both doted on her once she arrived.

But I could still see the expression on Hal’s face when he heard the news.  He’d tried to cover it up, but that first shadow crossing his face told me that, instead of seeing a blessed event, he had caught a glimpse of something that marred his perfect future.

Once he had joined a law firm and started bringing in paychecks, he seemed happy, though.  Finally.

And I worked until the month before Meadow was born, banking my checks into our savings account.  We were finally on our way, I reminded myself, even as a part of me felt that everything between us had shifted, just a bit.





Front Cover-resized again



Friday from the Interior


Welcome to another Bookish Friday, in which I  share excerpts from books…and connect with other bloggers, who do the same.

Let’s begin the celebration by sharing Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and let’s showcase The Friday 56 with Freda’s Voice.

To join in, just grab a book and share the opening lines…along with any thoughts you wish to give us; then turn to page 56 and excerpt anything on the page.

Then give us the title of the book, so others can add it to their lists!

What better way to spend a Friday!

Today I decided to change things up and present this post on my An Interior Journey site.

My featured book is one I downloaded last week, and haven’t started reading yet.  It is from an author I’ve been enjoying lately:  The Black Widow is a chilling new thriller from New York Times bestselling author Wendy Corsi Staub, one woman looking for love online is entangled in a killer’s terrifying scheme . . .




Beginning:  (Prologue)

“Some things,” Carmen used to say, “just don’t feel right until the sun goes down.”

It was true.


Bedtime stories…

Turning on the television…

Putting on pajamas…

All much better—more natural—after nightfall, regardless of the hour or season.


56:  June heat shimmers in waves on the pavement this evening as Gabriela steps out of her building’s lobby.  It’s not even summer yet, according to the calendar, but already the city is in the throes of its first official heat wave.


Blurb:  In the moonlight, shovelfuls of earth fall on a wooden crate at the bottom of a deep pit. Soon the hole will be filled and covered over with leaves, erasing all trace of the victim below, waking to the horror of being buried alive . . .

Newly divorced Gaby Duran isn’t really expecting to find her soul mate on a dating site like InTune. She just needs a distraction from pining over her ex-husband, Ben, and the happy marriage they once had. And she’s wise enough to know that online, the truth doesn’t always match the profile. Almost everyone lies a little—or a lot.

But Gaby quickly discovers there is much more at stake than her lonely heart. Local singles are going missing after making online connections. And a predator is searching again for the perfect match. One who will fulfill every twisted desire . . . or die trying.


Do these quotes make you want to keep reading?  What do you think?  I am eager to read more…I love a good thriller.




Good morning!  It’s Monday, and time to join Jenn at A Daily Rhythm to muse on a variety of topics.

She has provided a number of potential topics below:

  • I’m currently reading…
  • Up next I think I’ll read…
  • I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
  • I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I can’t wait to get a copy of…
  • I wish I could read ___, but…
  • I blogged about ____ this past week…



First, I’m going to chat about a book I’m eager to possess:  What She Knew, by Gilly MacMillan.  It will be released on December 1, so not very long to wait.



In her enthralling debut, Gilly Macmillan explores a mother’s search for her missing son, weaving a taut psychological thriller as gripping and skillful as The Girl on the Train and The Guilty One.

In a heartbeat, everything changes…

Rachel Jenner is walking in a Bristol park with her eight-year-old son, Ben, when he asks if he can run ahead. It’s an ordinary request on an ordinary Sunday afternoon, and Rachel has no reason to worry—until Ben vanishes.

Police are called, search parties go out, and Rachel, already insecure after her recent divorce, feels herself coming undone. As hours and then days pass without a sign of Ben, everyone who knew him is called into question, from Rachel’s newly married ex-husband to her mother-of-the-year sister. Inevitably, media attention focuses on Rachel too, and the public’s attitude toward her begins to shift from sympathy to suspicion.

As she desperately pieces together the threadbare clues, Rachel realizes that nothing is quite as she imagined it to be, not even her own judgment. And the greatest dangers may lie not in the anonymous strangers of every parent’s nightmares, but behind the familiar smiles of those she trusts the most.

Where is Ben? The clock is ticking…


Doesn’t this tempt you?  Grab you in a thrilling way?  Or perhaps you are not as fascinated with thrillers as I am…but adding this one to my stack will be a no-brainer.


Why do I read?  Wow, where to begin.

Well, at the beginning.  I grew up on a farm miles from anything interesting happening in the world.  There were lots of chores, there was no TV until much later…and my mother took me to the library every week.  There I found fascinating worlds outside my own, and I soon immersed myself in them.

I have not stopped engaging with characters, settings, and worlds outside my own in lo these many years.  I think I’m hooked!

For those who have visited this blog, or one of my others, you know that my obsession with books has extended to the acquisition of them.  Too many, some might say.  I have done some purging, but I always want to feel the bookish world encircling me every day.

What about you?  Why do you read?  What are you reading, and what do you want to read next?




It’s Sunday morning, and most mornings find me here in my office. 

Yesterday was chaotic, as the TV equipment had to be updated…but now all is well.

Earlier in the week, I did some more book reorganizing.  Yes, that’s what I’m calling what I’m doing now, although I did purge a few books in the process.

But mostly I was combining books from two shelves into one, which ended up with TWO shelves in my bedroom.  When I started the purges, I had FIVE.

Here is one of my shelves after purging…with some space to fill.




And here is the shelf after receiving books from another shelf in the room…which is now gone.  Yes, it looks full, but remember…another shelf is gone.





The shelf I emptied:




And now what remains on this side of the room:




What is different here today:   my new theme and header.  What do you think?  It took a while to find the one I wanted to try.

Enjoy your week, and thanks for visiting!





Entrance Doors to pdr rcsh


In this excerpt from Interior Designs, Martha remembers the past and an evening with Zach Lowenstein.



Saturday night, as I curled up in the big caramel-colored sofa in the family room, a stack of DVDs next to me on the coffee table, I tried to forget about thoughts of romance or anything else resembling a social life.

But somehow, I couldn’t keep my mind on track.  First of all, I had chosen movies like When Harry Met Sally, and Sleepless in Seattle—old favorites that touted romantic couplings.  Instead of Tom Hanks on the screen of the second movie, I thought about Zach Lowenstein.  And recalled something that had happened between us early in our professional relationship—he had invited me to dinner, and telling myself it was a business meeting, I had agreed.

But then we had walked into a charming bistro, where the head waiter led us to a small table in the corner.

Oh, my God!  This is all a big game to him!  I had struggled for the poise that had deserted me.  Finding something resembling my usual casual ease, I had murmured softly:  “Everything looks great.  I really like this place.”  Glancing around the room, I noticed for the first time that all the other tables were full.   Maybe it was sheer accident after all, finding ourselves stuck over here in what had looked like a clandestine setting.  Blushing even more for fantasizing about Zach’s motives, I slid down in my chair, hoping that all my thoughts and feelings weren’t plastered all over my face.

“Marty,” he began again, casually using the nickname that I hadn’t heard in the longest time, and triggering moments from a distant past when someone else used to call me that.  I could visualize that younger version of myself, strolling along the beach, holding Hal’s hand.  Abruptly brought back to the present by Zach’s voice, I startled as he continued.   “I’m sorry if I’ve made you uncomfortable in any way.”  Suddenly serious, he fastened his gaze upon me.

Was this a game, too?  “It’s all right,” I insisted.  “I’m afraid that this….” I waved my arms around the room, as if to embrace the intimate lighting, the ambience, and finally, the secluded setting.  “It’s all very lovely, and it’s just been a long time since I’ve enjoyed such a treat.  I’m afraid my life has been all business for awhile now, and this just reminded me that there is life after work.”  I had hoped that my tone and words belied the shakiness of my insides, and that my face didn’t reveal how much this whole thing meant to me.

“Well, if that’s true, then you’re long overdue!”  Gesturing for the waiter, he placed our orders and requested a bottle of very nice, very old wine.

Impressed, I decided to just enjoy this little moment in time.  Later, I could take the memory out and treasure it, reminding myself that sensuality and beauty still existed in the world.  Even for Martha Cummings, rejected wife and lover.

Over the next couple of hours, I sat back, watching him orchestrate the most lovely, ambient evening I’d experienced in a long while, from the wine on through each course and finally, topping it all off with that decadent dessert that just oozed with layers of chocolate and cream.

As we finished the last bite and sipped the final drop of brandy, we could hear the music softly emanating from the nearby lounge.  Our eyes met, and by unspoken agreement, we rose together, meandering slowly between the other tables until, almost magically, we found ourselves on the dance floor.  And like everything else about him and this perfect evening, our dancing seemed light and airy, as if our feet had sprouted wings.

Finally the evening wound down and, regretfully, we walked to the parking lot.

He stood next to me as I unlocked the car door, and then, when I turned to him, opening my lips to say something socially correct, he covered them with his.  I melted.  My body seemed to move imperceptibly into his embrace while my curves connected with his musculature.  I’m not imagining any of this!  He really feels the passion, just as much as I do!

Brought back to the present by the ringing phone, I sat very still, for just a moment, as if to savor the memories.

“Hello, Martha,” the very familiar voice spoke, in that deep, resonant tone that used to send me into ecstasy.

“Oh, hi, Hal,” I replied, in what I hoped was a neutral tone.

“I just wanted to touch base about Meadow,” he continued.  “I was hoping to pick her up for spring break.  That’s coming soon, you know,” he added, as if I might live on another planet and not be aware of it.

“Of course, Hal.  I do still keep a calendar.”  I laughed, to soften the harshness of my words.

As we worked out the details, I let my mind go somewhere else, while I busily jotted down the notes.  I couldn’t afford to let emotion enter into this exchange.  Even after all this time, it still hurt.

Hanging up the phone finally, I sat back, feeling as if someone had socked the stuffing out of me.  And then I laughed out loud at that expression that had seemingly come out of nowhere.  Who said that, anyway?  I frowned, as if to burrow once again into my memories, and, like magic, I found myself somewhere else.

I was transported back to the early days of Hal and me.





Front Cover-resized







How does one fall in love and commit to anyone when everything in one’s experience shouts that nothing works? Nothing lasts?

Joanna Robinson has been flailing about, trying new places to live and new careers, and then she lands in Portland, Oregon, staying at first in her sister Laura’s laundry room/closet, until she finally finds an apartment. The description of the apartment as sparse and bare were understatements. It sounded grim.

Joanna’s ideas about love and relationships might have been born of her childhood experiences with divorced parents. But must the children of divorce be so afraid, so cynical?

Malcolm Martin is the friend of Ted, Laura’s fiancé, whom Laura marries shortly after the book begins. Malcolm leaves for the Peace Corps almost immediately after he and Joanna meet, and they write letters to one another. But what happens when he returns? Are they together, or are they just friends?

Finally Joanna buys a house, but it is also grim…until she and Malcolm arrive at an agreement to live together as friends, and he will help fix it up.

Broken Homes and Gardens tugged at my heartstrings…who wouldn’t root for Joanna and Malcolm, even though they seem to be their own worst enemies? When others enter the canvas and insert themselves between them, will they succeed? Or will Joanna and Malcolm arrive at some “When Harry Met Sally” moment? I really enjoyed seeing inside Joanna’s head and trying to understand how she arrived at her decisions.

Sometimes her choices seemed a little off the wall, but her quirkiness was fun. In the end, there were some predictable moments, but on the way to the denouement, I wasn’t entirely sure how things would turn out, which made the journey satisfying. 4 stars.



Good morning!  My Tuesday started here, in my office nook above.  I have my coffee cup, my cordless phone, and my Pippa.  Yes, must have Pippa nearby, just in case I want to download something onto it.

And I did!  November 9, by Colleen Hoover, was released today, and although I’ve only read one of her books so far, Ugly Love, (click for my review), I have been impressed by all the hype.





Fallon meets Ben, an aspiring novelist, the day before her scheduled cross-country move. Their untimely attraction leads them to spend Fallon’s last day in L.A. together, and her eventful life becomes the creative inspiration Ben has always sought for his novel. Over time and amidst the various relationships and tribulations of their own separate lives, they continue to meet on the same date every year. Until one day Fallon becomes unsure if Ben has been telling her the truth or fabricating a perfect reality for the sake of the ultimate plot twist.

Can Ben’s relationship with Fallon—and simultaneously his novel—be considered a love story if it ends in heartbreak?


Sounds good to me!

Later, I’m going to curl up here on my cozy sofa; you can see my post-carpet-cleaning area…a little messy, but comfy.  See the post-its on my notebook on the coffee table?  I use a lot of post-its to remind me of all kinds of things.  The other day, I reached for another post-it, and realized I had used them all!  They then went on my list, along with all the other things I run out of regularly, like coffee.





And here in my dining area, I keep a To-Do List….If you look really hard, you can see a list on the table.




Now…back to my living/dining room, and a view of the pub table and the bookshelf that has been purged until there are few books left…was that a mistake?





What are your Tuesday Thoughts?  Do you find your interiors comfortable, cozy, or in need of purging?




At some point during the past couple of weeks, I created the above header here.

Finding new ways to showcase the blog, I am often searching through various themes and trying out new headers.  Yes, I am easily bored.

Early on, I noticed that some bloggers did not recommend changes….it might distract from the brand.  Well, that could be true, but I am more interested in finding new ways to keep up my own interest…and hopefully, the bloggers who enjoy that about me will continue to visit.  LOL.

A couple of days ago, I also changed the theme and look of my website.


PicMonkey Collage-website - nov 7


I decided on the Hemingway Rewritten theme…it felt appropriate for a writer.


You might think that I am overly fond of that blackboard featured in this header and also in the header above.  I even used it at my Serendipity blog.  It reminds me of the days I was in elementary school, with teachers who wrote on a blackboard, trying to ignite our passions for learning.

Now that I think of it, though, all that chalk dust…probably not a good thing.  Nowadays, I think they use whiteboards.

Here is a glimpse of me, back in the day of blackboards:



Lrs at age seven


I was seven in this photo, and on my birthday that year, the teacher drew a birthday cake on the blackboard, using colored chalk.  That was her treat to each birthday child.  The cake below reminds me of that birthday cake in chalk.


birthday cake


Do you have special memories from childhood?  From your school days?  Do you bring those memories forward into your writing and blogging?

Enjoy!  Thanks for stopping by.




fancy cocktail hour at home



Despite her reservations, Martha shows up at her parents’ home for cocktails and dinner.  Excerpted from Interior Designs.




We arrived at my parents’ home around six o’clock, just in time for cocktails.  Cocktail hour had been a part of their household routine ever since I could remember.  Even though most people nowadays didn’t necessarily cling to such a ritual, James and Marie Scott stuck to it almost as if their lives depended upon it.  But I didn’t think either of them had a drinking problem.  They had their martinis, or sometimes my mother sipped a glass of sherry; they always had wine with dinner.  When I thought about it like that, though, I realized that quite a number of drinks were consumed every day.

And when Hal and I had been married, we’d pretty much followed this same pattern.

I wonder what he and Amber do these days, I pondered idly, but then I caught my mother looking at me strangely.  I tossed my hair defensively and met her gaze.  “Why are you looking at me like that?”  As soon as I said the words, I knew how I sounded and realized—again!—that I was behaving out of character.  The good girl would not do any of the things I’d done lately.

Including having that tryst with Zach Lowenstein.  With those thoughts, I could feel a blush flooding my cheeks, just as my mother decided to reply to my demanding remark.  “I just thought you might be worried about something.”  She shrugged, stood up, and gestured.  “Dinner is served.”  And she led the way into the dining room, where Ramona was just dishing up the meal.

As usual, everything looked marvelous.  I decided to relax and pretend to enjoy myself.

Later that evening, after I’d tucked Meadow into bed, and once I’d made sure everything was in order downstairs, I curled up in my bed with a book.  I glanced around surreptitiously, as if to reassure myself that my world was intact—as much as it could be, anyway.  Over there was my favorite spot, the window seat, reminiscent of the one I used to adore as a child in my parents’ home.  Mine now was more luxurious, with its bevy of needlepoint pillows tucked decoratively along the pale rose-colored cushioned seat.  The windows looked out onto the backyard, another one of my favorite places.

My bed, with its pink and white floral Laura Ashley spread, shams, and assorted coordinating pillows felt like a queen’s throne.

So why did it seem as though the fairytale had ended?  Just because the prince had dashed off on his white charger to rescue another damsel didn’t mean that I was the wicked queen in this piece.  And maybe Hal wasn’t really a prince after all.

Which made me think of Zach again…I hadn’t called him back, but I’d tucked the pink message slip into my datebook.

My thoughts veered backwards in time to the moments, in the seemingly distant past, when I’d first realized that Hal was betraying me.  A mysterious e-mail message from that horrible girl Miranda Templeton had triggered the downward spiral for me.  My behavior had been less than stellar back then, and months later, when I’d realized how I had created that whole nefarious dark side, it was too late.  I couldn’t turn back the clock, but I could certainly change how I reacted nowadays.  I had to set a better example for my daughter.

Sighing, I tossed the book aside.  Traipsing down memory lane seemed to be the order of tonight’s business.  I could feel the pain all over again, even though I’d vowed to put it all behind me.  Actually, when I compared my marriage to Hal to the newer relationship with Zach—even though that hadn’t actually been a real relationship, but more of a liaison—I realized once again that Hal and I had lost our connection a long time ago.

What had happened between him and Amber had almost been inevitable.

So why did I still feel the sting of betrayal?  I wasn’t exactly suffering here.  In the months before our divorce had actually happened, I had been busily squirreling away funds in separate accounts, just in case.  And when we’d actually sat down to divide up the assets, Hal, in his eagerness to sever our ties so he could move on, had been very generous.

I would not be suffering like other abandoned wives, trying to make ends meet.  I had retained the beautiful family home, a vacation home at Shaver Lake, some stocks, and a substantial trust for Meadow.  So my feelings were really more about my wounded ego.

I likened the feeling to the one I’d grabbed onto earlier—that image of my parents in their own little world, cocooned, while I sat somewhere on the outside.  Left out, excluded.

Was that a normal feeling?  Or was I behaving badly again?

Frustrated, I picked up the book and tried to read.