Struggling With A Dual Reality

It’s been two years and four months since my son died.

Lately, I’ve been struggling with this dual reality my life has taken on. There was my life before and now my life after. The problem with after is before still intrudes. It’s still very much part of this new life; it’s the foundation, really.

Except we can’t focus on before and wish for what we can’t have, so our only option is to forge ahead, keep moving along this new path. Until four months ago, the second anniversary of my son’s death, that new path was shadowed by his ghost.

But now our new life is truly, entirely new. Everything we do, everything we experience from this point forward has never occurred before. He didn’t make it past this point. My daughter will be our first to finish seventh grade; first to start eighth grade. First to reach her fourteenth birthday. Every single day is a first, for the rest of her life.

One of the biggest struggles along this new path is the guilt. Because it’s true what “they” say: it does get easier. It gets easier because we think about it less. There’s really no choice; life charges on, whether we want to stay stagnant and drown in our memories or not. And eventually, we get caught up in life, and we think about those who are gone less and less. Even if we don’t want to let go.

Don’t be fooled into thinking they are ever very far away, though. They still regularly intrude on this new life, often in unexpected ways. Sometimes I see a toddler, going about his merry way, and he does something that reminds me of my son. The other day, in church, it was actually a little girl. She kept digging in her mom’s purse, pulling out small packages of fruit chews. Just like my son used to do.

Sometimes it’s a parent of one of his friends, posting something on Facebook about high school, driver’s training, homecoming, a first job; pretty much any step they take in life, that my son will never get to experience. The other day my husband and I had a conversation about high school graduation: when his friends graduate, will we go? Can we handle it? Do we want to put ourselves through that, what will be a day of celebration, happiness, joy, pride–for all those other parents?

We didn’t have the answers.

Sometimes it’s another death, someone’s parent or spouse. Very occasionally it’s the death of another child. Someone reaches out—another friend of theirs is suffering the same fate my family had, and they thought I might be able to help in some way.

Sometimes it’s simply life.

Did you know July is Bereaved Parents Awareness Month? I had no idea, and I’ve been part of that club for over two years now. I did a little research about it when I was thinking about writing this blog post. Just a little, though. Lord, it’s hard to read those stories. It’s a dual pain—I hate it for those other parents and I hate stirring up my own memories that are best left tucked away in the dark recesses of my mind, where they don’t make me cry. Not all the time, anyway.

But they are always still there, no matter what I do, where I go, what I think, what I wish. I can’t ever escape, not entirely. I can go for long bouts without thinking about them, but eventually they will surface, insist upon rearing their ugly, sad, depressing head. Which aren’t really ugly, sad, and depressing. Most of those memories are fun, wonderful, cheerful, sweet, any number of positive emotions.

Until I remember that this is all I have: memories. Old memories. Past memories. There will be no new ones.

And when that happens, all I really can do is cry. Seriously, there is no other cure. Having a wallowing in self-pity cry is the only way to shoo those memories back to where they belong, so I can continue on this journey called life.

I guess I don’t need to feel that guilt after all, do I?

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Tami Lund writes depressing blog posts as an outlet for the pain of losing her child. She also writes romance because she craves a happy ending, more so now that she’s suffered the sort of pain she often puts her characters through. Her next release is Dragon His Heels: A Bad Alpha Dads Romance.

 

Three Sexy FBI Reads for 99 cents Each!

Check this out: I just discovered a few of my earlier books have been dropped to only 99 cents. Didn’t know it was happening, and no idea how long it will last, so my advice to you is: Grab ’em now, just in case.

Why?

Well, 99 cents is a steal for a full-length, good-quality book. Also, these books are romantic suspense with a touch of funny, so bonus!

They’re part of the Tough Love series. The first in the series is Naked Truth, and yes, Jack’s undercover assignment as a stripper was inspired by the movie Magic Mike.

Do you really blame me for putting that experience into a book? I didn’t think so.

So Jack’s an FBI agent who’s gone undercover as a male stripper, trying to catch a serial killer who’s targeting said strippers. Right before his assignment, he meets a good girl at a friend’s wedding and convinces her to have a one-night stand.

Except he wants more. But his job–not surprisingly–is getting in the way. Especially when the killer sets his sights on…Kennedy, the girl Jack may or may not have fallen in love with.

After you’ve devoured that 99 cent read, you’re gonna want to pick up the second in the series, Undercover Heat. This one, by the way, won a RONE Award in 2016. So yeah, it’s well worth your time and attention.

(Here’s the funny blog post I wrote about winning the award and giving an impromptu speech: Awards & Sexy Shoes.)

In Undercover Heat, Kyra and Quinn are both FBI agents and their undercover assignment is to… act like a married couple to ferret out a Ponzi scheme crook who has bilked people out of millions of dollars all across the country. Problem is, Kyra and Quinn can’t stand each other. Well, at least initially. But underneath all that loathing is a serious dose of lusty attraction that becomes too damn, er, hard to resist.

When their newly discovered desire threatens to blow the case, what are they gonna do?

(PS – a large part of the reason this book is so good is because Quinn is a fabulous broody hero with a very deeply hidden heart of gold. I’m pretty sure he is my favorite of all the heroes I’ve written.)

And lastly, we have Delicious Deception. It’s a slight change from Naked Truth and Undercover Heat because the hero, Connor, is actually wanted for questioning by the FBI. Oh yeah, and he’s sleeping with Jack’s (from Naked Truth) sister. So yeah, things aren’t looking so good for our hapless beta hero in this one, which I think may be the funniest of the three, thanks to the back and forth between Connor and Jack.

Three great summer reads for only three bucks. And like I said, I have no idea how long they will be so cheap, so get to clicking. And enjoying! Three cheers for sexy FBI heroes (and Connor…)!

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Tami Lund writes angsty FBI heroes and sexy chefs, when she’s not drinking wine and winning awards, at any rate. Want more? Check out her website: http://tamilund.com/

Last Chance to Grab this Magical Antho

Back in December, I participated in an anthology that was published with the intention of donating all proceeds to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. It’s titled 12 Magical Nights of Christmas.

12 Magical Nights Antho Cover

I’m proud to tell you we’ve donated thousands of dollars over the past six months. (And there will still be a few more donations, as we will continue to collect royalties until September!)

But that was all it was intended to be; six months. And that time is quickly coming to a close. On June 24th, as a matter of fact.

Which means you have only a few more days to support this great cause, and add a fabulous collection of paranormal short stories to your E-reader.

So hurry!

PS – Here’s an excerpt from my contribution to this anthology. It’s called Gift of the Gods.

Seamless Wallpaper Pattern, set of six colors

 

 

Chapter One

 

“I know Christmas is still a few days away, but I’ve brought you a gift, to prove to you I’m sincere.”

With the horse’s reins in his hand, Asher paused before rounding the corner of the stone building, cringing at the sound of Prince Julian Montclair’s oily voice.

No doubt he was talking to Princess Charlotte of Mecosta. Julian had been chasing the princess’s skirts since that day, ten years ago, when he’d come across Asher and Charlotte kissing in the woods and had been so furious, he had Asher thrown into the dungeons beneath his father’s castle.

Sure, Asher was a pauper, and the princess—well, she wasn’t supposed to be locking lips with someone so beneath her station—but gods be damned, they’d been thirteen at the time. The punishment hadn’t exactly fit the crime.

Asher had intended to give Juniper a run, but not if it meant he would have to interact with those two. Shaking his head, he turned to trudge back to the stable, but paused when Charlotte spoke.

“Why do you think you need to prove your sincerity by giving me a necklace, Julian?”

“The serving girl comes to mind,” Julian said.

“You insisted that was entirely innocent. Are you changing your story?” Charlotte’s voice was frosty.

“No, not at all. It’s just … I know you were upset by it. Even if it was innocent. Because, of course, it looked … well, we all know what it looked like.”

Asher leaned forward to better catch her response, which was silly since he doubted she would say, “It looked like you were trying to convince that serving girl to share your bed that night. And considering you’re a prince, it probably happened. Even though you’re supposed to be courting me and treating me like the princess I am, the queen I will someday be.”

But in fact, she didn’t say anything at all, and eventually, Julian cleared his throat. “It’s enchanted. See how it has started to glow with a blue light? That’s how you know your one true love is near.”

Yeah right.An enchanted necklace? Asher could conjure magic like that in his sleep. And he’d bet last week’s pay that Prince Julian paid someone to cast a charm over it. Because everyone and the gods were fully aware the man could barely invoke the simplest of spells.

But power and control were all about the station one was born into, and Julian Montclair has been one lucky son of a bitch—no, son of a queen—since the moment he came into this world.

“It’s lovely,” Charlotte said. “And it’s warm to the touch.” Her voice drifted over Asher, making him hard like it always did. He grit his teeth, angry with himself for being so stupid. There were plenty of women in the village who were of an acceptable station and perfectly happy to warm his bed for a day, an hour, a year, however long he was willing—and he wouldn’t end up on the gallows the next morning, either.

Yet all he did was yearn for a woman he couldn’t have. A woman he didn’t really want.

Okay, didn’t want to want.

***

Gift of the Gods by Tami Lund

He’s a pauper. She’s a princess.

Ten years ago, he spent three months in a dungeon as punishment for kissing her. He’s never forgotten the experience—or her.

Now, they’re stuck together in a cottage in the woods, in a snowstorm, days before Christmas, when she’s to become betrothed to another. They can’t have forever, but what’s the harm in taking advantage of tonight?

Some gifts are worth waiting for.

Grab the antho HERE, before it goes off sale on June 24!

Tami Lund Headshot 2014

Tami Lund

…is an author, a wine drinker, an award winner, and a lover of romance. She writes happily ever afters, one book at a time. Check out her website for more books, as well as the many ways in which to stalk her on social media: http://www.tamilund.com

 

 

Things You Don’t Think About Until Tragedy Strikes

It’s been two years and two and a half months since my son made the incredibly devastating decision to leave us behind forever. He was thirteen and in seventh grade when he took his own life.

My daughter, the one child I have left, is about to finish seventh grade, and will be thirteen in a few weeks. I am already counting down the days until her fourteenth birthday. Even though that age begins a whole new era of challenges (hello dating, driver’s ed. on the horizon, and making decisions about college…), none of those can remotely compare to the fear that my other child will do it too.

Sometimes I tell myself, Come on, Tami, you know she won’t. And then myself whispers back, That’s what you thought about him, too.

It’s an argument I’ll never win. But in my head, I’m convinced the argument will become less vocal, less at the forefront, once she moves from thirteen to fourteen. Subconsciously, I will believe the threat of suicide will have reduced significantly, even though, realistically, I don’t believe it is even there in the first place. Of course, tell that to Self…

Tragedy messes with your head, let me tell you. It’s like this living, breathing monster, hovering over you, whispering in your ear, exploiting every fear you’ve ever felt and blowing them up until it feels like they are crushing you.

And then when I think things like that, I think, Gee, is that where my son’s monsters came from? Did they come from me? Was it my fault?

There’s a topic for discussion next time I’m parked on my therapist’s couch.

Here’s a perfect example of my fears running rampant and my internal self telling my, well, self, to calm the fuck down:

I have recently come to the (not popular) determination that housework was not meant for only one person. In fact, I proclaimed to my family, there are three of us living here, three of us making a mess of the place, so therefore three of us should clean it up.

I know, novel concept, eh?

The announcement, handily made over Mother’s Day weekend, spurred (extremely) grudging completion of chores by other members of my household, thus giving me a little bit more time to do what I love: write stories. Too bad for them there was such immediate and joyful gratification from the work they did, because now I have the expectation on the regular.

Yep, I’m a crazy one, all right.

So this past Saturday evening, I said to my husband, “Tomorrow’s the day. We all just need to pitch in one hour and the house will be clean.” He was amicable because, well, he knows I’m right.

Since I know my daughter well, I know she would rather do her portion when we aren’t around, versus all of us happily cleaning away together, like a family. So on Sunday, just before it was time to go to church, I gave her a list of chores to complete while her father and I were gone.

And she coped an attitude. One of those giant ones teenagers are so amazingly capable of.

I told her again what was expected of her, and she started with the questions, all of which basically came down to, “Why?” I explained that dust is gross and needed to be wiped away on occasion, and frankly, she should be glad because we sure as hell don’t dust this place as often as it needs it. It usually happens when I accidentally brush a finger along a shelf and it comes back gray—or worse, when the sun shines in the window at exactly the right angle and highlights all the dust motes with glowing little halos. (Every time that happens, I think, there is nothing heavenly about dust. Nothing. In fact, if heaven really is heaven, there will be no dust there ever.)

Not surprisingly, the conversation deteriorated until I uttered that ever-hated phrase, “Because I said so.” And to make matters worse, my husband stormed into the room at that point and had my back. “Here, let me help you listen better to your mother,” he said and promptly turned off her computer in the middle of whatever game she was playing.

Ouch.

So naturally, when we left, she was angry and not speaking to us.

And also naturally, I spent the entirety of mass completely tuning out whatever the priest was saying and instead stressing over my daughter, home alone, angry, sitting and stewing in what was once her brother’s room. And to be honest, I’m a little bit surprised I didn’t get up and leave in the middle of it because seriously, that internal angst shit is real, and it’s seven thousand times more potent when you’ve already experienced the fear you are imagining at the time.

Needless to say, my daughter was alive and well when we arrived home. And the dusting had been done, as well as vacuuming and making her bed. Damn, I should have given her a bigger list.

And none of us are angry anymore, either. So life goes on, and I can breathe easily again.

For the moment. Only 385 more days before she turns fourteen…

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Tami Lund writes books, drinks wine, wins awards, and writes quirky blogs about her life. She also recently released a brand new book called BABY, I’M HOME, if you want to check it out!

Guest Blogging, New Books & Recipes

Hey, so I guest blogged somewhere else this week, and figured I’d send you all over there today, instead of figure out something new to write. It’s interesting – it’s about how the book I’m releasing next week (Baby, I’m Home) came to be. And there’s a chance to win a free copy of it, too. Oh, and there’s a YUMMY recipe!

So, take a look, have a read, try the recipe, and then leave a comment to possibly get to read Baby, I’m Home for free: SCORCHING BOOK REVIEWS

Thanks!

Tami Lund Headshot 2014

 

 

Tami Lund writes romance, drinks wine, wins awards, and sometimes looks for the easy way out of her twice monthly blogging date…

I’m Not Gonna Blog About #Cockygate…Okay, Yes, I Am

So #cockygate exploded on Twitter before I had a chance to come up with a post for this week’s blog. And it’s still going strong now that I’m down to the wire and have to get something up for you all to read. Oh, the self-imposed deadlines!

I thought about discussing something entirely different, but I was worried it would get lost in all the drama. Okay, and I couldn’t really think of anything else.

So let’s talk #cockygate.

I’m not going to give you a recap because you already know what’s going on. And if you don’t, climb out from under your rock and check out the hashtag on Twitter. But be prepared to get sucked in for a few hours. Not exaggerating. I also recommend checking out the hashtag if you really do have time to kill because in amongst all the anger and shock and frustration are some pretty hilarious gems. The creativity of some of these tweets tells me there are lots of talented people affected by this drama.

I’m not going to bash the author because, um, that’s well and truly taken care of, and that’s not my M.O. anyway. I prefer to make fun of a situation. Actually, I prefer to stay out of bullshit like this altogether but this time, I couldn’t. Not unlike the entirety of the romance community, it appears.

I’m not going to blather on about the legality of it all, because I’m not a lawyer (although I hear a writer who is a lawyer has gotten involved, which, if it must happen at all, is pretty damn cool) and I don’t honestly know. It doesn’t seem like someone could trademark a common word and refuse to let other people use it in a country where freedom of speech is taken to some pretty crazy extremes, but hey, I don’t work at the trademark office. And if whomever does work there made a colossal mistake and accidentally gave this person the right to trademark something they shouldn’t have, well, I’m really glad I don’t work there.

What I am going to do is unabashedly promote a friend’s book because, 1) it has the word ‘cocky’ in the title. And 2) she didn’t copy her work from that other author, who I’m pretty sure she didn’t know existed until this past weekend. And 3) it’s a really good book. Not just because of the cool title, but because she’s a really good writer. I know this because I’ve read everything she’s ever put out, oh, and I happen to co-write with her, too. Heard of my Sexy Bad series?

What? You haven’t? Well, go check out the website, I’ll wait: https://sexybadbooks.com/.

Hey, welcome back! So yeah, Misti Murphy is the other half of that writing duo, and she has a few books of her own and they’re all quite good. And while I think you should read every single one, I want to especially call out the cockiest one of them all:

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Cocky F@#ker on Amazon

So I think that about covers it. Questions? Let me know. Recommended cocky reads? Let me know those, too!

Tami Lund Headshot 2014

 

Tami Lund is a writer, wine drinker, award winner, and supporter of her fellow authors. Because we all just want to read romance…

Here’s her website: http://tamilund.com/

Let Me Tell You About My ‘Ice, Ice Baby’ Weekend

It was the weekend of April 13-15, long after Mother Nature should have retired her snow and ice.

Damn that Mother Nature.

So anyway, she didn’t. Retire either snow or ice, I mean. In fact, she hit us with both. Because if you’re going to extend winter far beyond what’s proper, let’s do it with serious style, apparently.

My family and I were supposed to go visit my dad for the weekend. He lives about two and a half hours away, due north, close enough to see on the reg but, as he said when he moved there, “Far enough away that you can’t dump your daughter on me every single weekend.”

(My dad’s pretty cool, for the record. He was kidding when he said that. Mostly.)

He also lives far from the city, which is particularly attractive to me, the one who hates the city. Might have gotten that particular trait from him. So yeah, chillin’ at his house in the woods for the weekend sounded pretty damn good.

Until I glanced at the weather report.

Ice. Snow. Rain. Ice. Ice. More snow. Ice.

“Don’t travel if you don’t have to.”

Beginning Friday evening and extending until 5pm on Sunday.

So basically, if I’m reading the weather reports correctly, assuming I actually make it to his house, I’ll be stuck there, at least until Monday. Tempting, but…

So we stayed home. And did a whole lot of staying home. Pajamas. Movies. Wine. More pajamas. I spent a whole lot of time in front of my computer, while my husband and daughter binged on Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes.

(He’s seen the series a hundred times; she’s just being introduced. Such cute father-daughter bonding time. Especially the questions she’s asking as a result of the snarky dialogue: “What’s an orgy?”)

I wrote 20k words. That’s write, I mean, right: 20,000 words. Oh man, did it feel GOOD. Orgasmic. (Yeah, there were a few of those in those words. I write romance after all.)

Sunday evening, my husband made a delicious homemade beef stew. And opened a bottle of cab from Napa Valley, circa 2013. Words cannot adequately express how freaking amazing that wine was.

He said, “Damn, we should have saved this for a special occasion.”

I said, “Hell no. This was perfect. Special occasions generally involve other people and no way did I want to share this bottle with anyone but you.”

We’re so romantic like that.

And life was good. Rosy. Fulfilled. Peachy. We went to bed Sunday evening and I thought, “That was an unexpectedly great weekend.”

And then Monday morning, April 16 happened. It was quite literally a succession of coincidences and dumb luck.

First, my suitcase from my spring break vacation two weeks prior was parked on the landing to the basement stairs, because I thought if I put it there I would actually take it downstairs and put it away.

When I woke up to get ready for the day job on Monday morning, I finally had enough of moving the damn thing out of my way every time I went outside or to the laundry room or, let’s be honest, down to the basement. So I grabbed it, flipped on the light, and headed down.

And stepped in water.

Uh-oh.

To be fair, our basement does flood on occasion, but it’s not real flooding. It’s in the northwest corner and it sort of seeps up through the floor when it rains a lot, and it’s probably a result of the roots from the really old shrubs on that side of the house.

But this, this was way more than that, plus it wasn’t in that northwest corner. It was…well, pretty much the entire basement.

Yikes!

So I texted my boss, “Um, I think my basement’s flooded, so I’m not coming in today.” And I woke up my husband (lucky bastard goes into work a full hour later than I do), who went downstairs and said, “Uh, the sump pump isn’t working.”

Oh shit.

If you live in the Midwest US, Northeast US, and probably the parts of Canada that actually thaw for the summer, I know you are cringing right now.

For the rest of you that means, well, think about it: I have a basement, and by definition, that means the room is entirely below ground level. Or damn near, anyway (it does have windows, although they are pretty high and tiny). Which means when it rains—and snows, and ices, and then warms up so that all that frozen precipitation turns to water—the sump pump has to collect the agua pouring toward your house and pump it up, up, and away from your basement. And if the sump pump doesn’t do that, well… hello, insurance claim.

Yeah, this needed to be dealt with, pronto.

So I did what any red-blooded human being would do: I called my friends.

Help! Help! Does anyone know how to fix (or, eek, replace) a sump pump???

And like awesome friends do, one of mine came to my rescue. She called probably ten seconds after I texted her and said, “My husband has replaced three sump pumps for us. He’s on his way.”

God love her.

And him.

Side note:This is so totally a romance novel epilogue, don’t you think? Heroine finds her happily ever after with hero and author thinks, I need to let my readers know they really, truly did have an HEA. So she writes this adorable epilogue about the heroine’s best friend who’s in a bind and the heroine sends her fabulous, wonderful husband to the rescue. Except in a romance novel, he’d drag his best friend along, and this epilogue would be the start of the second book in the series…

Wait, back to reality.

It wasn’t an easy job. Sump pumps don’t ‘get repaired.’ They get replaced. And usually when you figure out it’s time, the basement is flooding, or damn near. Which means water is pouring into the concrete hole in which your sump pump resides at an alarming rate (only alarming when the pump doesn’t work, FYI).

We had two minutes in which to work. (By we, I mean “he.” All I did was time how long it took for the water to fill the hole before the old sump pump kicked on and sucked it all out again, which was, to reiterate, two minutes. Also, even though he got the old one working again, it needed to be replaced. Like, stat.)

And he did it. Boom. Two minutes. Switched out one incredibly corroded and old, old, old pump for another, brand new, pretty, stainless steel beauty.

(I don’t want to make this weird, because these are my real life friends I’m talking about in this post, but damn, doesn’t this sound like an awesome scene from a romance novel??)

Which wasn’t sucking the water out.

Oh, it was working, just not fast enough.

You see, I live in an old house. Not, like, historical landmark old (which would be so cool), but, like, not-remotely-up-to-code old. What that means in terms you and I can understand is: the pipe that sucks the water out of the house and spews it into the front yard wasn’t big enough. Back in the 60s, when my house was built, they thought it was. Today’s reality: we need a pipe that’s twice the size of the one currently hooked to the over-worked sump pump.

Twice. The. Size. Think about the Mississippi River and, oh, some random creek meandering through, I don’t know, anywhere.

That’s the difference, when you factor in the number of feet up (like defying gravity up) the pipe has to push water so that it’s out, out, and away from my basement.

Commence bailing. My friend’s husband and I started scoping water from the sump pump well and running it up the stairs, through the garage, and out onto the driveway, for literally an hour, while he tried to piece together exactly what to do next because what we thought was a miracle wasn’t working.

“I’m going to run to the hardware store, see if they have [insert gobledegook here—or at least that’s what it sounded like as I rushed past him, water-filled bucket in hand], I’ll be back as quick as I can. Hold down the fort.”

That’s what my friend’s husband said at this point.

So I held down the fort. I ran up and down those stairs, scoping and dumping water, for… maybe five minutes.

Yeah, five minutes later, he pulled back into my driveway. I’m not even sure it was that long.

“Wow, that was quick.”

“Yeah, I found a plumber at the end of the road.”

I am not joking. That’s what he said to me.

“He’s on his way down here right now.”

That’s the other thing he said to me.

And guess what? This guy (kinda cute, like, might be the muse for my next plumber-hero) hurries down my stairs to look at my almost-overflowing sump pump well.

Seriously?

Even I paused at that point. Like, wait a minute, is this real life? Because it’s reading like a book right about now. Not a nonfiction one, either.

But yeah, that’s what happened. My friend-with-plumbing-experience left my house to go find some part that might possibly solve my flooding problems, made it to the end of my street (which is like 800 feet long), spotted a plumber at one of my neighbor’s houses, and convinced him to come down to my home to fix my problems.

Does this shit happen in real life?

(Sure, but it costs and arm and seven legs, but we won’t get into that right now, because that’s not particularly romantic.)

So anyway, that’s what happened. My basement flooded. I texted a friend. She sent her husband to help. He tried. It didn’t work (through no fault of his own), so he tried again. Found a plumber. Plumber charged me a million dollars (not really; it was pretty much exactly what I expected if I didn’t use a friend), fixed the flooding problem.

Happy ever after.

Yet one more reason why I write romance. Because the HEA…happens.

Tami Lund Headshot 2014

Tami Lund writes romance. Wins awards. Drinks wine. And writes about the plumbing problems in her 50 year old house. Because, why not?

http://tamilund.com