Social Distancing

These are strange times. School suspended, stores closed and toilet paper is becoming its own currency. So, as I’ve said before, since my husband had a kidney transplant a few years ago, we have to be extra careful he doesn’t pick up a bug.

And I’m just talking a normal, run of the mill bug, not this crazy super virus we are all facing now. Because of COV19, we are having to self-quarantine to be safe. Which is pretty normal for me because I’m a writer. Writers are known to be recluses. But even I get antsy at times, and I thought you must be, too. So, I did some research and came up with a few ideas of things you can do while you’re staying home.

  • Read a book (or several). Didn’t you know that would be at the top of my list?
  • Start journaling. Yes, it’s something you’ve said you were going to do for years.
  • Bake! Try that 4 tiered cake your grandmother used to make, or just experiment.
  • Interact with your family. You might be surprised at how much you like them.
  • Take an online class. There are lots of great cooking, photography, language classes, etc.
  • Learn to knit or crochet. If you already know how, make something for me. J
  • Start an online book club.
  • Play video games (but limit your time).
  • Take a walk, but stay away from others.
  • Use Facetime, Skype, WhatsApp, Zoom, or any other means to hold an online party to chat with your friends.
  • Clean your house. Why not? What else have you got to do?  (This one didn’t work for me. LOL.)
  • Do yard work. You’ll feel great when it’s done and it looks great.
  • Binge watch a fabulous TV series
  • Play cards or games.
  • Tackle a project in the house. Yes, it’s finally time to build that new book shelf!
  • Write that book you’ve always want to write.

Well, that’s about all I could think of for now, but I’d welcome any suggestions you want to add. What are you doing to pass the time while social distancing?

It’s That Time of Year Again

I’ve been sneezing, coughing and my nose is running. No, I don’t have COVID 19. I’ve got seasonal allergies. As most of you know, I live outside of Houston, and this time of year, all of SE Texas has a layer of fine yellow pollen EVERYWHERE! The pollen is so thick that when it rains, there are rivulets of yellow running along the ground. So, March is peak allergy season here.

Did you know that according to the National Institutes of Health, more than half of all Americans have one or more allergies? Fortunately, I don’t have any food allergies (that I know of, thank goodness). Allergies to shellfish, nuts, fish, milk, eggs, and other foods cause an estimated 150 to 200 fatalities a year in the United States. And of course there are the allergies to animals, the most common being to dogs and cats. Again, I’m thanking my lucky stars I don’t suffer from animal allergies. I’ve always had dogs and cats.

I’ve never actually been tested for allergies, but I know there is something every spring that sets me off. And the bad news? As the world gets warmer, allergy seasons lengthen. Researchers report that ragweed pollen season in North America has lengthened since 1965—by 16 days in Minneapolis, for instance.

At least I know that by mid-April, most of what bugs me is gone—until next year.

Do you have any allergies?

Winner!!

The winner of last week’s giveaway is Sheliah Schodlbauer. Congratulations! You’ve won a CC Hunter t-shirt. Please email you address and t-shirt size to me at cc@cchunterbooks.com.

Saying Goodbye

Losing a parent is something we all face.  It’s a pain, a personal type of grief, that we must all find a way to internalize, to get past the emotionally crippling feeling, and then to live with the emptiness that fills our chest. There is something so hard about knowing that the person who loved you more than anyone, the person you knew would do anything to protect you, is no longer in this world.  And I don’t think there’s one way, or a right way to deal with that feeling.  Everyone deals with this kind of grief differently.  

For me, I’m doing a lot of remembering.  Taking a stroll down memory lane, reliving the good times. Letting a memory of laughter soothe the ache.  And to be honest, there was a lot of laughter where my father was concerned.  The time we visited a casino when he sat beside me while I played poker slots and when the option for double or nothing would appear, he’d hit it before I could decline.  I’d say, “Why did you do that?”

He’d laugh and say, “Look, I just won you twenty dollars, and when I didn’t win he’d blame it on me for not holding my mouth right, or because I didn’t curl my toes.  Before long we had a huge crowd gathering around us laughing with us, waiting to hear what crazy thing Dad would say next.  It was an example of how people love to be around happy people and laughter. 

I will never forget the time he had open heart surgery and I stayed to take care of him for two weeks.  He had a heart a shaped pillow and he would have me come close, he’d put the pillow on his chest and I would press against him so he could cough.  This one time he sat on the edge of the sofa, I stood right in front of him.  He had it bad and for several minutes, coughing and dealing with the pain that came with it.  I had tears in my eyes, knowing he was hurting.  I would lean my head down and say over and over again, “I’m sorry, Dad.  I’m sorry.”

He managed to say, “Christie, I need to tell you something.” 

“What?”

“It’s . . . hard to say.”

My chest filled with emotion so tight that it hurt, I waited for him to tell me how much he appreciated that I was there.  How much he loved me.  Then in a raspy voice, he finally got the words out.  “You need a breath mint.”

I burst out laughing.  He started laughing, and that hurt and he told me to leave the room.  “Now.  Get out.  Leave.”  When I walked back in, he’d take one look at me and start laughing again.  I spent the next few hours going in and out of the room.

When he was in the hospital once he told me in his deep tone, “You have to be a real man to deal with this kind of pain.”  Then he cut his twinkling blue eyes up at me and said, “I’m not a real man.”

We laughed our way through heart surgeries, knee surgeries, lung surgeries, the time he almost took his leg off with a saw.  The time he fell off a ladder.  There was the time he got shot in the stomach with a nail gun.  Someone once accused him of doing things just to get to me to come to Alabama to visit.

I loved that man. And even more telling was that I knew I was loved.   

But between smiling at those memories, I will have those brief moments, sometimes only seconds when I forget he’s gone and I think of him as still here, still alive.  I want to tell him something, call to check and see if how he’s feeling, and when I remember he’s gone I tear up and feel that wave of emotion that I thought I’d moved past.

I know it’s going to take time.  It’s a process.  It’s a part of life.  A universal feeling that most all of us must face.  

I looked up quotes and inspirational saying about grief and I keep them close by to read.  Below are a few that have touched me the most.

Those we love never truly leave us.  There are things that death cannot touch.

   — Jack Thorne, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – Parts One and Two

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”  — Dr. Seuss 

 “Remember that people are only guests in your story—the same way you are only a guests in theirs—so make sure the chapters are worth reading.”  ― Lauren Klarfeld

Winner!!

The winner of last week’s giveaway is Sheliah Schodlbauer. Congratulations! You’ve won a CC Hunter t-shirt. Please email you address and t-shirt size to me at cc@cchunterbooks.com.

Binge Watching, Binge Reading

Recently, hubby and I have been binge watching some series on Netflix and Prime.  For some reason, we’ve been doing a lot of British shows. We’ve finished D.C. I. Banks, then we went to Happy Valley and we are now watching Last Tango in Halifax.   I’m afraid I might slip up soon and use the word bloody, when I’m upset at something. 

It occurred to me that binge watching is sort of like reading in that you don’t have to wait a week or longer to read another chapter.  I think we just follow stories better when we don’t have a week between episodes. 

But that isn’t true when we refer to book series.  And yes, I got plenty of pissy emails saying I left a reader hanging and now they have to wait until the next book. 

I won’t deny that as a reader, I want to be able to grab the next book right away—especially if there’s a hook at the end.  And when I have to wait, I’m biting my nails.  And yes, as a writer, I use hooks at the end of my books in series.  It’s part of good storytelling, leaving a reader, or viewer, hanging on, feeling just a little desperate for the rest of the story.

To be honest, if there isn’t a hook, I might very well finish the book and grab a different series.  A friend of mine was just talking about a series she’s binge watching and she said, “I may watch the first season and then move to something else.”  And having watched that series, I can tell you there isn’t a hook at the end.  So it might be easy for her to do that. As an author, that isn’t what I want.  I want the reader to be chomping at the bit for the next book.  And the way to do that is to leave them with some questions.  But I also know waiting is hard.

I know a lot of readers who wait until a series is finished before starting it.  And recently, I’m hearing about a lot of Indie writers who are actually finishing a series before putting it up.  Then releasing each book in the series a week or two apart.  As a reader, is that what you would prefer? Or don’t you mind if one book from a series is released every year? Do you binge watch shows?  What shows are you watching now?

I’ll give away a T-shirt to one person who leaves a comment.

Happy Reading!

Fear!

I’m not talking about the dark.  Or spiders.  I’m talking about the Coronavirus.  I don’t consider myself a person who panics.  I haven’t ordered any masks.  I’m not staying at home yet.  But I have bought a few extra canned food items. 

And sadly, I have had to cancel my trip to ApollyCon, because my hubby, a transplant patient, has such a low immune system. His doctors are advising that he avoid events with large crowds, and traveling, for a while.  Because I live with him, they recommend the same for me.

When I stop and think about the worst-case scenario, and yes, as a writer my mind goes there, it’s scary.  But as my mind creates this scenario, the writer in me starts plotting a book.  Sort of a dystopian world where groups of people barricade themselves off from the rest of world.  Who knows the idea may actually draw a book out of me.

However, because I’m generally a positive person, I haven’t let the fear consume me in my day to day life yet.  Does it worry me? Yes.  And I do watch the news and my heart hurts for the countries where it’s much more serious.  My mom lives in California and I worry that there may be a larger outbreak there. 

A friend of mine reported that two people in the grocery store were wearing masks.  I know someone who has ordered masks and someone else who made a huge grocery store purchase just in case. 

I’m not saying these people are overreacting. I’m just in wait and see mode—cautious, but not completely alarmed yet.  That said, I know everyone reacts differently to the news.  For some people, buying the masks and stocking up on food is a way to deal with the stress.  And I wouldn’t judge them for doing it.

How are you reacting to the news?  Are you nervous?  How are you coping?  I have started a new book, I think reading and slipping into a different world is a great way of coping with the added stress. 

Museum Madness

March 26-29 I’ll be in Washington D.C. for ApollyCon. ApollyCon is annual, multi-day reader event featuring Young Adult, New Adult, and Adult authors, panel programming, and social events, owned by #1 New York Times & Internationally Best-selling author, Jennifer L. Armentrout.

This will be my first time, and I’m really excited. I’m particularly looking forward to the HUGE 3 hour long book signing with so many great authors(check out the lineup HERE). As I’ve said before, I love meeting my fans and I’ll have ample opportunity to hang out with my readers at this conference.

Another reason I’m excited about my trip? Washington D.C. has the Smithsonian Institute with over 11 museums. I particularly love the Natural History Museum and the Air and Space Museum. I’d love to visit the new National Museum of African American History and Culture, too. I’ve heard really wonderful things about it. Hopefully, I’ll have time to also see the International Spy Museum. I bet that’s interesting.

I like museums that are a little weird or quirky. Don’t you? Did you know there are two Museums of Death? One in Hollywood and one in New Orleans. I’ve always wanted to visit the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia. It’s a museum of medical history is filled with creepy body parts, anatomical specimens, and skulls. Yup, there are a lot of weird museums out there.

There’s even a Museum of Bad Art in Massachusetts, Toilet Seat Museum in San Antonio and Museum of Funeral History right here in Houston (and it’s actually really interesting).

Have you been to any weird museums? What is your favorite museum (weird or otherwise)?

Winter Isn’t Coming, It’s Here!

It’s February, so most of the U.S. is pretty chilly. Even S.E. Texas, where I live is nippy in the morning and evenings. I’ve turned on my little heater under my desk that keeps my feet warm while I write. I bundle up when I walk in the mornings. So, I was thinking about ways to stay warm and beat the cold. So, I did a little research online. If you live in a cold climate, you’ve probably already tried a lot of these already, but I thought I’d share them anyway.

  • Bundle up, layers are best. It’s easier to regulate body heat than turning up the thermostat.
  • Turn on your ceiling fan. Warm air rises to the ceiling. Run your fan on its lowest setting in a clockwise direction to push the warm air back down to where you can feel it.
  • Switch between hot and cold in the shower. Hot showers immediately warm you up, but cold showers improve blood circulation between your skin and organs.
  • Replace thin curtains with heavier wool or fleece drapes in the winter. But be sure to open them on sunny days for free heat.
  • Bake! Using your oven heats up the whole house. You’ll feel even cozier if you invite friends—and all their body heat—over to eat four dozen cookies.
  • Use a humidifier. Make your home feel warmer in the winter by using a humidifier to add moisture back into the air. It also helps keep winter skin soft and moisturized all season long.
  • Curl up with a good book, a fuzzy throw and a hot cup of tea or coffee.
  • Or you can disregard all of the above if you cuddle with a smokin’ hot guy.

How are you staying warm this winter?

Romance is in the Air

This is Valentine’s week, and Valentine’s Day is thought of as the most romantic day of the year. Now romance means different things to different people. Some find roses and chocolates romantic. Others enjoy a romantic getaway to a B & B. If you have young children, you may prefer an evening away from the kids. But based on books and movies, I think we can agree on a few generalities.

I write about romance. In my Christie Craig romantic suspense books, I put in a lot of romance. In my C.C. Hunter YA books, I tone it down a bit, but it’s definitely always there.

This is one of my favorite romantic moments from Three Heartbeats Away, the third book in my Mortician’s Daughter series.

I worry he did too much today. “Hand me your keys and I’ll unlock your door.”

He hands them to me, and I move with him up the walkway.

We get to the porch, and I unlock the door and hand him his key.

Our hands touch, and the brief contact is almost painful. “Riley, I’m sorry you’re having to go through this.”

“I know.”

Before I realize his intention, he pushes his walker aside and hugs me.

I close my eyes and let my head rest on his chest. I know this spot. I can smell his skin, feel his chest rise and fall. Alive. The boy I was so afraid of losing is alive and walking. And he cares. About me. Emotion stings my eyes.

His cheek comes down to the side of my temple. I savor the closeness, relish the feel of his arms around me. I memorize his whispered breath against my cheek. Counting the seconds, I pray for twenty. Or more than twenty. I get to thirty before Hayden says, “I’ll be thinking about you.”

His arms fall from around me. I step back. Our eyes meet, hold, and I feel it, the connection I’ve never felt with anyone else.

“Call me,” he says. “If only to say you survived. I’ll worry if you don’t.”

Nodding, I walk back to my car. I get inside. The warmth of his embrace lingers. I look out the window. He’s still there watching me. Part of me wants to run back and hug him again.

Every time I read that scene I sigh and get a lump in my throat. It takes me right back to being a teen and falling in love for the first time.

So this Valentine’s Day, don’t worry if you don’t have plans. Just find yourself a good, romantic book—and fall in love.

What’s your idea of a romantic evening?

Happy Chinese New Year!

Yes, according to the Chinese Zodiac, 2020 is a year of the Rat, starting from January 25th 2020 and ending on February 11th 2021. What does that mean? The Year of the Rat is the first zodiac sign in the Chinese zodiac cycle.

According to the Chinese zodiac story, in the competition held by the Jade Emperor to decide the zodiac animals, the quick-witted rat asked the diligent ox to take him on a ride to cross the river and jumped down before the ox crossed the finish line, so the rat won the race and became the first of the zodiac animals.

The 12 zodiac animals are, in order: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig. A Rat year occurs every 12 years. And like the astrological zodiac signs (Libra, Cancer, Leo, etc.), there are attributes associated with each animal, traits you would supposedly have if you were born that year.

Rats are quick-witted, resourceful, and smart, but lack courage. With rich imaginations and sharp observations, they can take advantage of various opportunities well. In Chinese culture, rats represent working diligently and thriftiness, so people born in a Rat year are thought to be wealthy and prosperous.

And guess what? I’m a rat. Yup, but I like to think of myself as courageous. And I will say, I am observant and use those observations in my writing. I don’t really believe in all that, but it’s fun.

What are you in the Chinese Zodiac? You can find out HERE.

What is Lady?

Last week I asked you to guess what Lady’s DNA results were. Thank to everyone that guessed. You came close. Lady is actually:

19.8% American Pit Bull Terrier

18.6% Beagle

17.6% Chow Chow

10.5% Australian Cattle Dog

7.6% Border Collie

5.7% Rottweiler

5.0% American Eskimo

15.2% Supermutt

Winner!!

The winner of my giveaway is HorseGirl15. Congratulations! You have won a C.C. Hunter t-shirt and a dog toy. Please email me at cc@cchunterbooks.com and give me your mailing address and your t-shirt size.

What is Jenny?

Last week, I posted a photo of my daughter’s dog, Jenny, and asked you to guess what kind of dog she was.  We had her DNA tested and this is the result.

Jenny is:

25% Beagle

25% Boston Terrier

12.5% American Staffordshire Terrier (Which is pit bull)

37.5% Breed Group of Sporting and Hound dog

I was a little shocked, but I will tell you that I was really shocked when I got my dog Lady’s DNA back.  Here’s a picture of Lady. 

Hubby met Lady at a junkyard when she came up and rolled over at his feet. The junkyard owner asked hubby if he wanted a dog and said something along the lines of, “If not, I’ve got to do something with her.”  He said she was a stray and it sounded like he might hurt her.  So hubby came home with a dog and an old Ranchero. 

She’s very smart.  She is meek and sweet to friends we have over to the house.  But if a stranger, like a contractor comes in, she’s not so sweet. She can be very protective. If a stranger comes in and gets too close to me, she will get behind them and nip at their ankles or calves. She’s not too keen on other dogs.  She has lots of dog friends, but strange dogs, may get nipped at if they come and try to smell her backside.  I don’t blame her. If someone tried to smell mine…

So…what is she?  They also included pictures of other dogs with similar DNA for us to see—dogs that looked so much like Lady that we were stunned.

So what type of dog do you think Lady and these other similar dogs are?

Giveaway!!

Leave a comment and I will send one person a C.C. Hunter T-shirt and a dog toy.  (Sorry, this giveaway is for U.S. residents only. If you’re reading this on Goodreads, you must post on my blog page to enter.)

Winner!!

Thanks to everyone who ventured a guess at what Jenny is. This winner of my giveaway is Taylor Thompson. Congratulations! You have won a signed copy of One Foot in the Grave and a dog toy. Please email your postal address to cc@cchunterbooks.com, and I will send you your prize.