Monday, October 29, 2012


The doorbell rang this morning.  Not expecting guests or deliveries, I was surprised to see the DHL courier standing on the porch.  In his hands, he carried a large box from my editor.  She’d found a dozen copies of The Officer’s Girl and wanted to make sure I had them. 

"Leigh Duncan gives the term 'beach read' a whole new meaning," said Becke Davis in a review of The Officer's Girl for Buy the Book.  "She makes you feel the sultry Florida heat, but the story--true to the Harlequin American Romance style--is heartwarming, sexy and sweet."

Heartwarming is a word a lot of reviewers use to describe my books.  Night Owl Reviews calls my latest one Rancher's Son a "heartwarming story...the kind of story Harlequin does best."  Romance Reviews Today calls it "an enjoyable tale with a sweet romance." 

Rancher's Son will be available the end of November, just in time for Christmas.  But since I now have extra copies of The Officer’s Girl, I think I should share them with you, don't you?  The Officer's Girl has been out of print for a while, so this is a rare treat! 
Comment here for a chance to win one of two copies of The Officer’s Girl.  Names will be chosen at random from the comments made between now and 10 AM EDT Tuesday, 10/30/12.  US or Canada only, please. 

Friday, October 26, 2012


(This post, which I wrote shortly after my own daughter's wedding, goes out to my good friend, Leslie Kelly. Leslie's daughter is getting married this weekend and, like it did with my daughter, a hurricane threatens to ruin months of planning. Fingers crossed that all works out as well for your daughter as it did for mine, Les.)
            My husband and I live just yards away from the ocean on Florida’s East Coast.  The old-timers call our section of the state Hurricane Alley because big tropical storms regularly blow our way.  When that happens we evacuate further inland to my sister’s house taking our most precious possessions along with us – the family photo albums, the dishes Nana’s mom brought from “the old country”, my grandmother’s heirloom quilts … and my husband’s fly rods.  Once, we didn’t move quickly enough and spent twelve terrifying hours stranded on the wrong side of the causeway when a hurricane hit.   After watching whole trees fly past our windows and listening to our walls groan in the wind, we vowed, “Never again!” and considered ourselves experts on these big storms.   Our advice?   “Get out of their way!”

          Looking back, it was good advice.  Too bad we didn't consider it when planning our daughter's wedding.  Despite reams of lists and months of preparation, none of us ever considered the impact of a major hurricane moving straight up the Atlantic coast and into Washington, DC.  I wish we had.

            When our daughter's Maryland wedding approached, hubby and I flew up a week before the wedding to help with those pesky last minute details – like paying the bills.  We left Florida on Friday, leaving clear skies and balmy weather behind us.  At my daughter’s, the telephone rang on Sunday. 

            “We’re heading to your house,” my sister announced.  “What do you want us to get?”

            I had no idea what she was talking about and told her so.

            “You haven’t heard about Floyd?” she asked, incredulous.  “Don’t you watch the weather up there?  Floyd’s a Category 4 storm and he’s headed straight for us.”

            I don’t know who decided on giving names to hurricanes; someone with a wicked sense of humor who wanted to imbue them with personalities, I guess, but a Category 4 storm was nothing to ignore.  Storms get their ratings according to their strength with Category 1’s something like a toddler having a temper tantrum in a toy store.  Andrew, who nearly destroyed South Florida, was the giant who squished the toy store flat at Category 5.

             I asked the really important question, “Are you still coming to the wedding?”

            My question was met by dead silence.  At last I heard a big sigh.  If the airports don’t close and if we still have a house after this storm, we’ll be there … but I wouldn’t count on it.”

            Uh oh.  My sister was the wedding coordinator and if she couldn’t make it, we had a big problem.  Without her, we had no one to oversee the caterer, no one to meet the florist at the church, no one to make sure everyone walked down the aisle on time, no one to hold the smelling salts.  The way things were going I was pretty sure we’d need those smelling salts.

            The telephone rang again.  Someone else wasn’t going to make it out of Florida for the wedding.  By Monday night, we had ten cancellations.  Tuesday, another ten.  That night, Floyd made a last minute turn, struck Florida a mild, glancing blow and decided instead to head up the East Coast.  The cancellations moved right along with him. 

            Now, if you’ve ever planned a wedding, you know that the caterer gets paid in advance.  Everything is based on head count and that number is decided upon weeks before the wedding.  Last minute cancellations are like flushing money down the toilet; you’ve paid for the meal, the drinks and the cake, but no one will be there to consume them.  By Wednesday, thirty-five of our one hundred and fifty guests had cancelled; the toilet was flushing like crazy, and Floyd was bearing down on Baltimore.

            We called the caterer.  He suggested we re-schedule.  “Out of the question!” snapped the bride.  We agreed to talk again the next day. 

            Thursday and Floyd arrived together.  The airports closed.  The schools closed.  The banks closed.  But we were in full wedding mode.  Armed with lists of errands, we turned a deaf ear to the storm warnings and ventured out into high winds and torrential rains.  By noon, the father of the bride had driven far enough. 

            “We’re going home,” he said.

            “One more stop,” the bride replied.  “We have to pick up my wedding gown.”

            A huge gust of wind buffeted the car, pushing us into the on-coming lane.  I screamed.  Luckily, ours was the only vehicle on the road.  Hubby muscled us back into the right-hand lane. 

            “Nope,” he said and started turning the wheel. 

            “What about my gown?” she asked. 

            “If you die trying to get it, you won’t need it,” he answered.

            I tightened my seat belt and longed for the peace and quiet of the hotel.  We had reservations starting that night.  Or at least we did … until the airport at BWI closed.  When we tried to check in, our suite was not available.  Someone else’s flight had been cancelled and they had not checked out on schedule. 

            “Throw the bums out,” my husband grumbled.

            “Sir, we can’t force them out into the middle of a hurricane,” replied the clerk without seeming to understand that she was doing the same thing to us.  

              By Friday morning the storm had passed, the airports re-opened, and people from all over the country were calling to un-cancel their cancellations.  Thinking the worst was over, the bride and I hopped into our rental car, drove over power lines and around downed tree limbs, picked up the wedding gown and managed to arrive at the rehearsal only 45 minutes late.

            “It’s all downhill from here,” I thought as the minister took his place at the front of the church. 

            But instead of putting us through our paces, the minister asked, "Has anyone checked on the ballroom?"  He was only asking because he had just stopped at the McDonalds next door.  The McDonalds didn’t have electricity and was closed.  A sign on the door said it might be several days before power was restored.

            I had attended a wedding once where the electricity had failed; I didn’t want to do it again. I reached for the paper bag I carried for just such emergencies and tried to remember my doctor’s advice:   “Put the bag over your mouth and breathe slowly.  Everything will be okay.  Just breathe.”

            Picking the right date for a wedding is second in difficulty only to finding the right gal or the right guy to marry.  Everyone has a time when they absolutely, positively cannot be there.  Our groom was an ardent basketball fan; he ruled out an entire season.  The bride didn’t want to “glow” in her wedding gown; she vetoed the summer.  One brother-in-law handed us a Florida State University football schedule and told us to count him out if FSU was playing the weekend of the wedding.  Even my hubby weighed in, suggesting we avoid times when the fish were running.  (His request was overruled; no one can be that flexible.)

            This was our first experience in planning a wedding.  Since we only have one daughter, it will be our last.  In setting the date, we tried to consider everyone’s needs. 
            If we had to do it over again, I wouldn’t listen to a word they said.  I’d just pay more attention to the weather.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Writers.  Sometimes our conversations veer in strange directions.

For instance, at Writers’ Camp the other day we took a break after an intense two-hour stretch to discuss what we’d like to have as our last meal.  (Don’t get me started on the connection between marathon writing days and thoughts of last meals.) 

One of my friends swears it’s shrimp-and-grits for her.  But she’s not talking about bland white grits with a sprinkle of cheese with a few rubbery shrimp on the side.  She’s talking about ‘Nawlin’s style shrimp-‘n-grits, which is a whole nother deal.  Delicately cooked, plump shrimp.  A fabulous spicy sauce flavored with bits of ham.  Coarsely ground, slow-cooked grits. (For the Northerners among us, think cream of wheat with butter and salt instead of sugar and you’ll be in the ball park.  Not running the bases, mind you, but at least in the ball park.)  Done right, shrimp-and-grits is mouth-watering goodness.

Not to be outdone, the rest of us weighed in with our last meal choices.  One wants a perfectly grilled steak with twice-baked potatoes.  One who, I swear, will be watching her figure on her deathbed, specified salmon and spinach. 

Me, I’m partial to rack of lamb with a nice merlot sauce.  I always thought I’d top it off with one of those super-rich chocolate desserts.  Maybe one of those molten lava cakes.  You know, the kind where you slice into warm chocolate cake and this liquid chocolate sauce flows out. 
The only thing better than chocolate, however, might be a slice (or two, since it’s my last meal, right?) of Key Lime pie.  I had a bite of the perfect pie this weekend when hubby was kind enough to share his from Harry’s Seafood Bar and Grill in Tallahassee, Florida.

I tell you, one taste and my mouth thought it had died and gone straight to heaven. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Digging A Little Deeper Into Facebook

“You must have an Author Page,” my friend said.

“Why?” I asked.

“Once you have over three-thousand friends on Facebook, the site will cut you off,” came the response.
“Not a problem,” I insisted after checking my lowly Friends count.  “I’m a long, long way from that.”

“But it’s hard to make the switch.  You need to act now.”
Convinced, I corralled another friend, Kristen Painter ( , to spend an afternoon giving pointers.  She was/is a saint.  And one of the most knowledgeable people I know.  As co-founder of Romance Divas ( she’s so techno-savvy, there are times I just keep my mouth shut rather than taking the risk that my ignorance will slip out. 

But for one whole afternoon, she taught and I, well, I tried to absorb. 
Let’s just say I’m not exactly a sponge, okay?
But Kristen is such a good instructor that I walked away, my head fairly bursting with knowledge, the owner of a brand, spanking new author page...with nothing on it.  A blank slate, if you will.

I immediately set to work designing a “cover” (Facebook-ese for pretty banner) and populating my About sheets (more Facebook-ese for “important information).    Despite a few roadblocks,

things turned out pretty well.  Or at least, I think they did.  Why
don’t you check it out yourself at: 

Stick around long
enough to “Like” the page, and I’ll keep you informed with all my
writing news and updates.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Reward

The other day, I asked if you could guess what was on its way to my house.
Do you think you know?
One last hint:

It's not a very big box, is it? 
Certainly not large enough to hold
the culmination of months of effort.
Mine and many others.
So, are you ready for the big reveal?

Here they are, the advance copies of Rancher's Son
Most of them will go to reviewers.  A few I'll tuck away...forever.
In the meantime, I have something else to give away. 
If you'd like a Rancher's Son autographed bookmark, send your snail mail address to me at:

Monday, October 8, 2012

Guess What's Coming To My House Today

The notice below appeared in my inbox yesterday morning.  Can you guess what's coming to my house later today?  Or why I'm sooo excited about this package?

This notice alerts you that the shipment listed below is scheduled for delivery tomorrow.

Scheduled Delivery Date: Monday, 10/08/2012

If the scheduled delivery needs to be changed, select the Tracking Number below or log on to to request a delivery change from the tracking detail.

Shipment 1


Approximate Delivery Time: between 3:15 PM and 7:00 PM

Friday, October 5, 2012

I'm visiting the Gem State Writers today and hope you will, too.  I'll be talking about where we get the characters for our books, so swing on over and say, "Hi!"