“I tried to tell him how the things he did made me feel,” my friend argued, “and he threw a mantrum!”

“A mantrum?” I asked, taking a moment for the new, self-explanatory word to sink in before laughing.

“Yes!  It was like an adult child was in the room.”

I couldn’t stop laughing.

“He’s pouting now,” she continued.

Regaining my composure, I asked, “So did he eventually calm down enough to talk it out?”

She let out an exasperated sigh. “Yes, but then he just started mansplaining, and I’m even more confused than I was before the whole discussion started. It just went on and on nonsensically. He even peppered it with a few sports analogies.”

Laughing again, I asked, “How many of these ‘man’ words do you have? Because they’re kind of brilliant.”

She rolled her eyes. “I think that’s it, but I may come up with more if this topic comes up again.”

Ladies, how many times have we had a guy say something that left us feeling taken aback? Seeing our response was not going to be favorable, he would immediately start mansplaining in an effort to go back and cover his tracks.

Frankly, whenever a guy has tried to mansplain something to me, I’m left with no idea how what he said applies to the situation at hand. What happened to that old saying that men are simple creatures who say exactly what they feel? Maybe they do in the sports and news departments but, when it comes to discussing a relationship or feelings, it’s not so simple.

The guy who throws a mantrum may have not-so-hidden anger issues. I’m not the kind of person who responds to yelling, jumping up and down, and pouting. Believe it or not, I don’t find that sexy. On the other hand, a guy who can empty the mousetrap for me, I find that pretty sexy. Now, what would I call him? A man-saver? A man-i-nator? A man-god? A man-cat? I guess I’m not as creative as my friend, so I’d better just stick with “hero” and make him a Manwich.

Happy dating!

You can still enter to win a signed copy of The Tunnels on Goodreads until February 2, 2017!

The Tunnels is now also available in an audiobook format.





I’m excited to announce that, starting today, January 2, 2017, you can enter to win a free, signed copy of The Tunnels on Goodreads!  I’m attaching the link below.  Good luck!





As I browse through men’s profile pictures on dating sites, I notice many men don’t post pictures that include them. Instead of photos of themselves, I see photos of their motorcycle, photos of what they think is a fancy car, photos of their boat, and some have photos of their dog. Many post shirtless bathroom selfies. Grodie.

When I shop for a man online, am I really interested in seeing a guy’s abs of steel and bulging veins? Gross. I hate bulging veins. Do they feel these photos will make them more desirable to women? Aren’t all of the above, except the grodie shirtless bathroom selfie, something they should be showing to their male friends to impress them?

Are women really impressed by flashy cars, Harleys, abs of steel, and their dog? Okay, admittedly, the dog photos catch my eye. They don’t catch my eye and make me think “I want that guy for his great dog;” really, I think, “I need to rescue that poor dog.”

If a guy has abs of steel, that’s great; but it just isn’t appropriate or classy to be flashing your abs to people you don’t know. Save something for the third date. I understand that men are visual, and they might like to see a woman posting photos of her abs; but, really, aren’t most of us looking for more than the perfect body? Yes, there has to be some physical attraction and spark but, hey, my eyes are up here! I don’t need to see “the goods” until I get to know you, and I’m certainly not showing you mine.

Then we get to the photos of cars, motorcycles, and boats. Are these people just so insecure that they know no women will want to be with them unless there’s a good car, motorcycle, or boat in it for them? Maybe they think some women will like the bad-boy bikers. I’m sure some do. If that’s the case, the guy should be on or next to the bike, not just showing us a photo of some random bike he took. How do we even know it’s his?

Personally, as long as their car isn’t rusty and doesn’t look like it came off the set of Uncle Buck, I don’t care what kind of car they drive. Okay, I’ll admit a guy with a Mercedes turns my head; but, if I don’t care for the guy, the Mercedes isn’t going to be what makes me stick around. If guys’ heads are turned so easily by cars, maybe I should post a pic of my VW Tiguan on my profile. I’m sure they would be lining up around the block for a test drive.

After looking at a lot of profiles, since men are so visual, I decided to post one of the most attractive pictures I own to my profile. It’s a picture of a fresh batch of my salted caramel kookies. I’ll share it with you in case it makes you, I don’t know, feel like dating me.

Happy New Year, and happy dating!

The Tunnels is now available in audiobook format! PM me if you’re interested in receiving a free audiobook download in exchange for an honest review.






I am super excited to announce that The Tunnels is now available in audiobook.  Now you can download it and listen while you drive, exercise, or shovel snow!  Narration by Jack de Golia.




, , , ,

“But don’t you feel like you’re missing out on the right person?” I asked my friend in a candid lunch discussion.

“No. I believe I am with the right person.”

“But don’t you think the right person would be not only your best friend and a kind person but also someone that you have a spark with?” I argued.

“No, I don’t.”

I felt so sad hearing her response. “So you don’t believe in getting it all?”  My eyes stung.  “You don’t believe in soul mates?”

“Oh, yes, I believe in soul mates; and I believe I’m with my soul mate.”

I felt a pang of hope surge through me and leaned forward.  “But you would have a spark with your soul mate.  There would be amazing chemistry.”  I wanted to hear that she had it all.

She shrugged.  “I guess there was some chemistry in the beginning,” she offered weakly, “but the physical stuff becomes less important as you grow older.”

“But don’t you think your soul mate would have it all?” I pressed on, not liking the answers I was getting.

“I believe, with your soul mate, you learn to love different parts of them, and you don’t miss the parts that are missing.”

This idea left me reeling.  Had my soul mate come and gone, and I missed out because I was looking for the complete package?  Was having it all just some fantasy that women believe in like children believe in Santa?  Like Santa, we really hope it’s out there for us, but is it only an idea that doesn’t exist in reality?

Do we ever really get it all?  Maybe I’ve set my standards high because one of my close friends has it all, so I believe in it.  Is she just one of a very select group?  Don’t we all get it? If we choose someone that doesn’t give us the full package, are we settling?  Is that why they call it “settling down,” because we decide to overlook what’s missing and love what’s there?

When you think of the classic fairytales, the characters didn’t really spend much time getting to know each other; it was more of a love-at-first-sight thing.  Maybe their spark was so strong that they chose to love that part and overlook the personality part.  Like many women, I’ve always chosen to believe it was two soul mates recognizing each other at first sight.

So now I’m left to wonder how many of us have been close friends with the opposite sex but didn’t feel any spark and, hence, missed out on our soul mate?  Did we miss the opportunity of a lifetime, or are there some of us who will never settle for less than the complete package?  Are those the people who end up alone?

I once heard someone say that Santa is a spirit, and you either believe in him or don’t.  Maybe, like Santa, my soul mate is something that exists only in my mind.  Whether I believe in Santa or my soul mate and choose to make that belief a part of my life is completely up to me.

May you all find your complete package!  Happy dating!

Check out The Tunnels and Devil’s Elbow for some holiday weekend reading!






“He says all of the women he’s dated are crazy,” she said. “Maybe I should start acting crazy because he seems to like crazy women.”

“I would hesitate to play your crazy card,” I advised. “Save it for an emergency.”

We all have moments of meltdown where we act a bit crazy. The ending of a relationship can be very stressful, and this seems to be when we act the most out of character. Maybe that is the last impression we leave on our soon-to-be ex, so they tell everyone we are crazy because that’s what they remember most vividly about their time together.

Personally, I don’t care for men that tell me their ex is crazy. Chances are, in the not-too-distant future, I’ll become his ex, and I don’t want him prancing around telling people I’m cray-cray.

Thinking about this topic, I realize there are times when people in relationships, either purposely or subconsciously, play their crazy card. Maybe they’re testing their boundaries. Maybe they’re pushing their significant other away. Maybe the relationship is over, and they don’t know how to deal with it in a way any more mature than to completely obliterate any good memories.

Whatever the reason, maybe it’s best to leave a good impression on our soon-to-be ex. It’s the best way to remain friends after the break-up. Further, hasn’t everyone figured out that, if he speaks poorly of his ex, he’ll speak poorly of you? Maybe we should all discuss our past relationships by simply saying, “It just didn’t work out.”

I’m sure eventually everyone’s crazy side accidentally sneaks out, so why would you purposely show it? Save it, baby. Save your crazy card for an emergency.

Happy dating!

Devil’s Elbow is the latest book available in the Harbor Secret Series.  You can get it in either hard copy or the Kindle version.  You can pick up a copy today at the Good Hart General Store!





I recently played tennis with a guy for our first date. Although we’d corresponded a couple of times to schedule the tennis, I really didn’t know anything else about this person.

When he met me in the parking lot, I held out my hand to greet him. He held his arms open, suggesting a hug. Ugh. I sucked it up, used my acting skills, and hugged.

An hour into the tennis, he came to the net when I did to pick up balls. Again, he held out his arms to hug over the net. Again, I used my acting skills. Double ugh.

At the end of the match, he ran to the net, licking his lips. I held out my hand and said, “Good match.” He went in for another hug and pulled back as if he was going to kiss me. That was it. My acting skills had reached their limit. Fearing he would try it again in the parking lot when we said good-bye, I told him the only touching from there on out was a high-five.

Obviously, this man was raised a hugger. Obviously, I was not. I’m not saying I don’t hug people I know well, it’s the strangers that I’m not comfortable with. It’s my personal space, and these huggers are invading it. For all they know, I could be Ted Bundy’s protégé…or even Al Bundy’s, for that matter.

I once visited a guy’s family, and they were hugging every time I turned around. They couldn’t keep their hands off of each other. When they tried to incorporate me into their circle of love, I informed them I would give them a hug coming and going, and that was it. And I didn’t mean every time I left their house and returned.

Is there a middle ground between the super affectionate and the not-so affectionate? Is there ever a nice way to tell someone you’re not comfortable hugging them and would rather just high-five? Is avoidance of huggers the only way around this debacle?

Admittedly, I’m to the extreme end of the spectrum when it comes to not hugging people I don’t know well. I’m sure there is room for improvement. Maybe I was leading the guy on. Maybe, instead of reporting the score as love-love, I should have clarified, “That’s like-like to you.”

Although you say the word “love” a lot in tennis, there is one thing I am quite sure of: There is no hugging in tennis.

Happy dating…and hugging!

Devil’s Elbow, Book 2 of the Harbor Secret Series, is now available in hard copy!  Yay!




Devil’s Elbow, Book 2 in the Harbor Secret Series, is now available on Kindle!  Hard copy to follow in a few days.  I’ve attached the Prologue and Chapter 1 for your reading enjoyment.

Devil’s Elbow


The screams of the girls penetrated the thin tent, drifted into the field surrounding it, and were finally absorbed by the edges of the thick forest.

“Keep it down in here,” Judy advised as she stuck her head into the tent. “We troop leaders are trying to enjoy a bottle of sparkling cider in peace.”

“Sorry, Aunt Judy,” Kylie apologized, throwing her aunt a nine-year-old grin of uneven teeth, “but Vicky just had a really scary ghost story.”

Judy sniffed in dismissal. “There are no such things as ghosts.”

“Yes, there are,” Cammy corrected.

Judy looked at the nine-year-old with wavy blonde hair and freckles. “No, there aren’t.”

Cammy leaned in to the lantern that sat in the middle of the circle of Girl Scouts. “Yes, there are, and I’ll prove it.”

“How?” Judy asked impatiently.

“By telling a true story.”

Judy started to roll her eyes.

Kylie scooted over. “Come sit next to me, Aunt Judy.”

Judy hesitated. “I really should be getting back. I don’t want Stella to eat all the cheese.”

“Staaaaaay,” the girls pleaded in unison as Kylie pulled at her aunt’s arm.

Judy let out a sigh and dropped to the floor of the tent, crossing her legs. “Okay, fine. Tell your true ghost story.”

Kylie wrapped her arm around her aunt’s and snuggled into it as Cammy started to speak.

“This all started when my mom was a baby,” Cammy began as she leaned her face closer to the lantern for emphasis. “My grandma and her baby were driving home to Cross Village through a terrible snow storm when they saw a man walking beside the road.”

“Did he jump in front of the car?” Jennifer asked.

“Shhh,” the other girls quieted the interruption.

Cammy waited for the silence to return before continuing. “He was tall and thin, wearing a tan coat that went to his knees, and carrying a satchel.”

“What’s a satchel?” Kylie interrupted.

“It’s like a briefcase but made of soft leather,” Cammy informed.


Judy smiled fondly at the girls as Cammy continued.

“He had long, scraggly black hair, and his face was very pale.” Her own face was calm as she stared into the light from the lantern and continued. “My mom was just a baby and sleeping in the back seat, but her mother stopped to offer the man a ride.”

“Then he stabbed them all?” Laura interrupted.

“Uh, no. Cammy wouldn’t be alive if that happened,” Jennifer pointed out.

“Duh,” Kylie chimed in. Judy nudged her, and Kylie held back further comment.

“So then what happened?” Laura asked, pushing a strand of long, blonde hair behind an ear.

“So he got into the car, but he never said a word,” Cammy continued. “My grandma tried to make conversation, but he just stared straight ahead and didn’t comment.”

“So then what happened?” Kylie couldn’t help herself.

Cammy leaned back and parted her hands mystically. “So, when they got to Devil’s Elbow, he started to bang on the car door. My grandma stopped the car, and he got out without ever saying a word.”

“So where does the ghost part come in?” Judy asked impatiently. “Seriously, there was only one block of cheese left, and Stella needs more cheese like she needs a hole in the head.”

Kylie gave a yank on her arm, and Judy bit her lip.

“When the man got out of the car and my grandma started to pull away, she looked in the rearview mirror, and he was gone.”

“Well, they were in the middle of a snow storm,” Judy commented.

“No. My grandma stopped the car and looked back, and he had totally disappeared.” Cammy made a gesture with her hands to replicate the disappearance.

“Okay. So is that the end of the story?” Judy asked, starting to rise.

“No,” Cammy continued. “Three days later, my grandma was working in her kitchen in Cross Village. She turned around and saw him looking in the window at her.”

“Eek!” the girls shrieked.

“Wait,” Cammy continued. “When my grandma went outside, he wasn’t there. When she looked under the window he had been peering into, there were no footprints in the snow.”

“Eek!” the girls shrieked again.

“Yeah,” Judy commented as she slowly got to her feet, “I think this might have happened during your grandma’s cocktail hour, which I happen to be missing.” She stepped to the door and turned back. “Try to keep it down, girls. I don’t want anyone calling out Harbor Vice with noise complaints.”




Kylie watched her dog Cupcake tiptoe next to the edges of the waves as they rushed into the Good Hart Beach.

“I don’t think she’s ever going to learn to swim,” she told local fire chief and boyfriend Jason Lange, who stood thigh deep in the cold water of Lake Michigan.

“Try throwing a stick out,” he suggested.

Kylie glanced around the white sand beach before picking up a stick, waving it at Cupcake, and throwing it a short distance towards Jason. “Go get it, Cupcake.”

Cupcake yipped but made no effort to get more than the bottoms of her paws wet. She skipped around anxiously.

Jason waded closer to shore and picked up the stick. “Cupcake, look,” he said as he waved it in the air before dropping it in the water in front of him. “Look, Cupcake,” he tried again when she didn’t respond.

The black, six-month-old puppy wasn’t looking at the fire chief. She was looking behind her towards the tall beach grass that separated the beach from the woods.

“Oh, no,” Kylie heard Jason say as she started to follow Cupcake’s gaze.

At the edge of the grass was a young deer trying to get to the lake for a drink.

Kylie made a lunge for Cupcake, but it was too late. Cupcake darted towards the deer, and the deer darted down the beach.

“Cupcake!” Kylie called before taking off down the beach after the puppy. Kylie was a seasoned runner, but the puppy was faster, and the deer was fastest. She hadn’t made it fifty yards before Jason passed her, his long, strong strides quickly leaving her behind.

The deer ran down the beach before turning left and running through the grass and into the forest. Cupcake and Jason followed. Kylie took up the rear.

“Ouch! Ooch! Ouch!” she exclaimed as her bare feet encountered the prickly gravel road of Lower Shore Drive. She hopped painfully across the road and followed the deer path towards the bottom of the bluff. “Cupcake!” she called as she headed into dense forest.

“She’s over here,” Jason called.

Kylie stepped over sticks as she trotted up the deer path that ended at a small pond hidden in a narrow ravine. Cupcake stood at the edge of the pond, her hair on end as she growled towards a thicket of saplings.

“The deer went in there,” Jason gestured towards the small thicket.

“Well, grab Cupcake so she doesn’t scare the poor thing.”

“She’s pretty worked up. You grab her.”

Kylie let out a sigh and stepped towards the puppy, who let out an uncharacteristically loud growl. “Cupcake Marie, what is the matter with you?” Kylie scolded.

“Marie?” Jason lifted an eyebrow at her. “She has a middle name now?”

Kylie ignored him as she stepped towards the growling puppy. “What’s the matter, Cuppie?”

Cupcake kept her focus on the thicket. Kylie grabbed the dog’s collar and held her back before dropping to her knees to peer ahead and see what the puppy saw. “Oh, my gosh!”

“What?” Jason moved next to her and dropped to all fours to peer into the thicket.

“It’s an opening in the bluff.”

Jason looked at the small deer trembling inside the opening that was barely large enough to house it.

“You’d never notice it if you weren’t down at this level,” Kylie whispered.

“Let’s move back and let it leave,” Jason advised, starting to crawl backwards.

“Come on, Cupcakie,” Kylie said as she lifted the forty-five-pound puppy into her arms and moved towards the road.

Cupcake barked and tried to break free, completely unhappy with the situation.

“Let’s go back and get the truck,” Jason decided. “Maybe the deer will feel comfortable enough to leave without us around.”

Kylie struggled to hang on to the puppy that squirmed and fought the whole way back to the truck. “I’ve never seen you like this,” Kylie told the large puppy. “What is wrong with you?”

“Maybe she likes venison,” Jason commented dryly.

Kylie threw him a disapproving look. “She doesn’t even chase squirrels. That deer was bigger than she was. It’s just not like her.”

A half hour later, the truck pulled up to the deer path, and the couple walked up the trail, Cupcake lagging behind in a reluctant walk on her leash.

Kylie looked at the thick and silent trees that lined either side of the path and felt herself shiver. For the first time she noticed how quiet it was. “Where are we, anyway?”

Jason’s eyes traveled up the bluff that towered above them and observed how it sunk in sharply to hide the pond. “Devil’s Elbow.”

“Her hair is standing up again,” Kylie observed Cupcake when they reached the pond. “This is so weird.”

Jason dropped to all fours and crawled towards the cavern. “The deer is gone. Come on.”

Cupcake growled again.

“Come on, Cuppie, the mean ol’ deer is gone,” Kylie assured.

The couple crawled forward through the thicket on their hands and knees, dragging a growling Cupcake behind them.

Jason pulled his cell phone out of his pocket, switched on the built-in flashlight, and shined it into the small opening. “It must have been carved out by that spring coming out of the base of the bluff,” he observed as his light reflected off of the trickle of water running down the back wall and through the center of the cave.

“And it looks like the place where baby deer go to die,” Kylie observed.

Jason moved his flashlight to illuminate the array of tiny hooves and bits of bone in the center of the cavern. His expression sobered, and his tone lowered. “Stay here.”

Kylie watched as he crawled into the small cave for a closer look before coming out.

“Let’s go.”

“What did you see?”

He crawled back through the underbrush. “Let’s go,” he repeated.

Cupcake was more than happy to oblige as she pulled Kylie along after Jason.

Back in his truck, Jason rested his hands on the steering wheel and stared straight ahead.

“What is it? What did you see?” Kylie asked.

Without turning his head, Jason answered, “I think those were human remains.” Shocked, Kylie didn’t respond; and he continued, “I’m going to have to call it in.”

(End of excerpt.)



He slammed her petite body against the wall before planting a hand on either side of her head and coming down hard on her lips. Her arms wound up and into his hair as his body pressed against hers.

“Get a room!” someone called.

He pulled his head back, a smile on his face. “Your place?”

She shook her head. “My roommate is home.”

“So my place?” he asked.

She nodded, and he took her hand, pulling her away from the wall.

Half an hour later, he fumbled with the lock before the door swung open into the dark apartment. Not wasting time with lights, he picked her up, kicked the door shut, and carried her into the bedroom.

The next morning she awoke in the strange place. Smiling, she slowly remembered where she was as she felt his body move behind her.

“Good morning,” she whispered, starting to reach her hand behind her back to touch him.

“Good morning,” he chirped cheerfully as he walked into the room holding two cups of coffee.

The smile left her face as her hand continued its movement to land on an unfamiliar texture. Seconds later, she was dressed and fleeing his apartment, leaving her lover and his six-foot python on his bed alone and confused. Needless to say, this was not the kind of snake that she had been hoping to start her day with.

Whether it be snakes, lizards, ferrets, tigers, or potbelly pigs, this is the kind of subject that would usually come up in discussion on a first date, you would hope. All the more reason not to have a fling with someone you pick up at the bar. And even more reason not to walk into a dark room and take your clothes off.

Personally, if I knew a guy had a pet snake or lizard, there is no way I would go to his place because there is always a high likelihood of escape. I meant of the reptile, not me. God willing, I’d escape, too.

Do men with exotic pets have them because they strive to be different than the rest of us? Are they really actually drawn to snakes or lizards or birds? Were they impulse buys, or is the pet some kind of status symbol?

Reptiles aren’t very snuggly. The food you feed them might be snuggly, but the pets themselves aren’t. They are definitely a chick repellent. I hope you have a friend with mice in their house because you’re going to need a lot of them to feed the large reptiles every ten days for the next thirty-plus years.

Looking on the bright side, maybe these are guys who can actually commit. Some birds can live ninety years. Large snakes can live thirty years. Most kids move out in eighteen years so, in contrast, these exotic pets are a huge commitment.

If the guy gives the pet a safe and healthy life and doesn’t leave it in a cage, I’m all for his choice. I just would not make the choice to live with an exotic pet or, hence, the owner of one. But that’s just me. My little nugget of advice? As a part of practicing safe sex, ask what pets he has before you go to his place.

Happy dating!

Coming soon, Devil’s Elbow!

Harbor Springs, a tiny resort town in northern Michigan, has always been a resort area.  However, hundreds of years before it was known for sailboats and cottages, it was known for its hunting and fishing.

Kylie Branson thought she was getting a quiet day at the Good Hart Beach with her boyfriend and dog until an unusual visitor shows up.  When her dog, Cupcake, takes off after a fawn, Kylie and her boyfriend chase her to Devil’s Elbow, where they discover what appear to be human remains.  Intrigued by the unusual find and DNA results, Kylie delves into the history of the area and soon uncovers a secret that has been kept for hundreds of years, discovered, and then hidden again.  Could the Native American sign at the bend warning of an evil spirit and voices after dark be more than a legend?  Could there be a deeper meaning behind the local ghost stories, reported sounds of a drum, voices, and even apparitions?  Follow Kylie as she learns about the history behind the treacherous turn in the Tunnel of Trees known as Devil’s Elbow.