Monday, September 29, 2008

Five Reasons F. Scott Fitzgerald Is a Genius

1. "There was music from my neighbor's house through the summer nights. In his blue gardens and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars" (43).

2) "Her face was sad and lovely with bright things in it, bright eyes and a bright passionate mouth--but there was an excitment in her voice that men who had cared for her found difficult to forget: a singing compulsion, a whispered 'Listen,' a promise that she had done gay, exciting things a while since and that there were gay, exciting things hovering in the next hour" (14).

3) "--but no one swooned backward on Gatsby and no French bob touched Gatsby's shoulder and no singing quartets were formed iwth Gatsby's head for one link" (55).

4) "The modesty of the demand shook me. He had waited five years and bought a mansion where he dispensed starlight to casual moths so that he could 'come over' some afternoon to a stranger's garden" (83).

5) The whole darn book. Read it. More than once.

Top 100 Banned Books, 2000-2007

Banned Books Week, September 27 - October 4, 2008
From, here is the list of Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books in 2000-2007. How many have you read?
My results:

1 Harry Potter J.K. Rowling -- No (but Monster #1 has)
2 Alice series Phyllis Reynolds Naylor -- Some
3 The Chocolate War Robert Cormier -- Yes
4 Of Mice and Men John Steinbeck -- Yes
5 I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings Maya Angelou -- Yes
6 Scary Stories Alvin Schwartz -- No
7 Fallen Angels Walter Dean Myers -- Yes (and Monster #1 is currently reading it)
8 It’s Perfectly Normal Robie Harris -- No
9 And Tango Makes Three Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell -- No
10 Captain Underpants Dav Pilkey -- Yes (Why the heck is Capt. Underpants challenged?!)
11 The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Mark Twain -- Yes
12 The Bluest Eye Toni Morrison -- Yes
13 Forever Judy Blume -- Yes (one of my students is reading it; her mom bought it for her)
14 The Color Purple Alice Walker -- Yes
15 The Perks of Being A Wallflower Stephen Chbosky -- No
16 Killing Mr. Griffin Lois Duncan -- Yes. Loved it.
17 Go Ask Alice Anonymous -- Yes
18 King and King Linda de Haan -- No
19 Catcher in the Rye J.D. Salinger -- Only if 3 chapters count. I hated it and DNF.
20 Bridge to Terabithia Katherine Paterson -- Yes
21 The Giver Lois Lowry -- Yes
22 We All Fall Down Robert Cormier -- Yes
23 To Kill A Mockingbird Harper Lee` -- Yes. I'm teaching it next month.
24 Beloved Toni Morrison -- Yes
25 The Face on the Milk Carton Caroline Cooney -- Yes (another what-the-heck title)
26 Snow Falling on Cedars David Guterson -- No
27 My Brother Sam Is Dead James Lincoln Collier -- Yes
28 In the Night Kitchen Maurice Sendak -- No
29 His Dark Materials series Philip Pullman -- No
30 Gossip Girl series Cecily von Ziegesar -- No
31 What My Mother Doesn’t Know Sonya Sones -- No
32 Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging Louise Rennison -- No (but I'm so picking it up, just because of the title)
33 It’s So Amazing Robie Harris -- No
34 Arming America Michael Bellasiles -- No (but it sounds cool)
35 Kaffir Boy Mark Mathabane -- No
36 Blubber Judy Blume -- Yes
37 Brave New World Aldous Huxley -- Yes
38 Athletic Shorts Chris Crutcher -- No
39 Bless Me, Ultima Rudolfo Anaya -- No
40 Life is Funny E.R. Frank -- No
41 Daughters of Eve Lois Duncan -- Yes
42 Crazy Lady Jane Leslie Conly -- No
43 The Great Gilly Hopkins Katherine Paterson -- Yes
44 You Hear Me Betsy Franco -- No
45 Slaughterhouse Five Kurt Vonnegut -- Yes
46 Whale Talk Chris Crutcher -- No
47 The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby Dav Pilkey -- No
48 The Facts Speak for Themselves Brock Cole -- No
49 The Terrorist Caroline Cooney -- Yes
50 Mick Harte Was Here Barbara Park -- No
51 Summer of My German Soldier Bette Green -- Yes
52 The Upstairs Room Johanna Reiss -- No (although I think I may own a copy)
53 When Dad Killed Mom Julius Lester -- No
54 Blood and Chocolate Annette Curtis Klause -- No
55 The Fighting Ground Avi -- Yes
56 The Things They Carried Tim O'Brien -- Yes
57 Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry Mildred Taylor -- Yes
58 Fat Kid Rules the World K.L. Going -- No
59 The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things Carolyn Mackler -- No
60 A Time To Kill John Grisham -- Yes
61 Rainbow Boys Alex Sanchez -- No
62 Olive’s Ocean Kevin Henkes -- No
63 One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest Ken Kesey -- No
64 A Day No Pigs Would Die Robert Newton Peck -- Yes (What? Who challenged this?!)
65 Speak Laurie Halse Anderson -- Yes
66 Always Running Luis Rodriguez -- No
67 Black Boy Richard Wright -- Yes
68 Julie of the Wolves Jean Craighead George -- Yes
69 Deal With It! Esther Drill -- No
70 Detour for Emmy Marilyn Reynolds -- No
71 Draw Me A Star Eric Carle -- No
72 Fahrenheit 451 Ray Bradbury -- Yes (Um, ironic much that this book is on the list?)
73 Harris and Me Gary Paulsen -- No
74 Junie B. Jones series Barbara Park -- Yes
75 So Far From the Bamboo Grove Yoko Watkins -- No
76 Song of Solomon Toni Morrison -- Yes
77 Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes Chris Crutcher -- No
78 What’s Happening to My Body Book Lynda Madaras -- No
79 The Boy Who Lost His Face Louis Sachar -- No
80 The Lovely Bones Alice Sebold -- Yes
81 Anastasia Again! Lois Lowry -- Yes
82 Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret Judy Blume -- Yes
83 Bumps In the Night Harry Allard -- No
84 Goosebumps series R.L. Stine -- Yes (Monster #2 glommed them)
85 Shade’s Children Garth Nix -- No
86 Cut Patricia McCormick -- No
87 Grendel John Gardner -- Yes
88 The House of Spirits Isabel Allende -- No
89 I Saw Esau Iona Opte -- No
90 Ironman Chris Crutcher -- No
91 The Stupids series Harry Allard -- No
92 Taming the Star Runner S.E. Hinton -- Yes
93 Then Again, Maybe I Won’t Judy Blume -- Yes
94 Tiger Eyes Judy Blume -- Yes
95 Like Water for Chocolate Laura Esquivel -- No
96 Nathan’s Run John Gilstrap -- No
97 Pinkerton, Behave! Steven Kellog -- No
98 Freaky Friday Mary Rodgers -- Yes
99 Halloween ABC Eve Merriam -- No
100 Heather Has Two Mommies Leslea Newman -- No

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Get Hooked . . .

For more info, click HERE.

Holding Patterns

Scenes from St. Augustine -- Pretty tame white peacock at the Fountain of Youth. Yes, the displays are a little dated and a tad hokey, but the planetarium is awesome and the grounds (14 acres of them) are beautiful. It's shady and a great place to spend a hot afternoon in the Oldest City.

I know I've been very cryptic lately about being at a crossroads and not knowing where to go. I'm struggling with what I want to do once my masters is finished in June -- do I want to teach at a different school? Do I want to apply for a different position, one that would take me out of the classroom?

I once made a huge, three-year-long career mistake, and I'm terrified of making another one. Sometimes I think I let that fear of change and the fear of making mistakes hold me back from what I'm supposed to do. Then I think that . . . well, I think a lot of things, none of which are making much sense. Lately my head has been this big hamster wheel that goes nowhere. I even started making charts of pros and cons, and still I'm nowhere near being out of the holding pattern (yes, I know -- I'm mixing metaphors everywhere. I told you my brain was on the fritz!). Why, you ask, am I even worrying about this in September? Because if I want to apply at other schools or for other positions, my resume has to go out in January. I'm trying to figure out if my niggling sense of dissatisfaction means I need something different or if . . . I don't know.

See? Nowhere near an answer. I guess I can just get used to this holding pattern for a few more weeks, until my brain decides it wants to work on making decisions.

What are you up to this lovely September Sunday morning?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Total Randomness

Scenes from St. Augustine -- A view at dusk of the cemetary next to the visitor's center.

My cousin is getting married. My sister emailed to say he was sending invitations but didn't want gifts. This might be a good thing, because as said beloved sister pointed out, what does one buy a millionaire?

Do you know how weird it is to contemplate being related to a millionaire?

I'm still working on revising Chris's book. Said revisions are due next week. I'm trying to wrap them up, honest I am.

I've been whining to Joan for the last twenty minutes or so about being at a crossroads of sort and not knowing where to go or what to do. I can empathize with my friend Pam, who was working on her first doctoral paper today, in which she had to explore her personal goals and how they intersect with her educational goals. "Personal goals?" she said. "I don't have any!"

She does, of course. She just didn't see them until we'd talked them out. I'm kind of hoping my current situation is the same -- that the answers or goals are there and that I simply don't see them yet.

Any suggestions for how to puzzle out hazy goals or plans? I'm open to them!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Grumbly -- and Not in a Winnie-the-Pooh Way Either

Hero: Chris Parker. Book: Facing It. Pages left to revise: More than I want to admit to.

I'm very grumbly today. I'm pretty sure Connie is tired of listening to me. I don't even know why I'm grumbly. I just am. I know I'm all grumbly and grouchy when little things that normally don't bother me try to push me over the edge (like kids who don't understand BE QUIET at the beginning of standardized testing situations!).

On the positive side, several juniors came in for extra help with their Post-Modern papers after school the last couple of days. This is a challenging unit, and I can see major progress with their learning. That makes me happy.

But I'm still grumbly.

I've been trying to pre-read the Orwell article my seniors are reading tomorrow, but the office is the family-gathering spot and Monster #2 is in here reading aloud Rifles for Watie, and it's impossible to concentrate on Orwell's rules for the English language while he's reading. So I'm making a chapter two quiz for The Great Gatsby.

Did I mention I'll be teaching 1984, The Great Gatsby and either To Kill a Mockingbird or Lord of the Flies simultaneously? That means 50-60 pages of re-reading nightly because I have to read what the kids are assigned, plus my graduate reading (I'm working on my literature review for my Educational Research class) and my editing and revising.

Yes, I'm still grumbly.

I wonder if I watch Ghost Hunters if that will improve my mood?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Monday Musings: Movies, Kids & Writing

Scenes from Winfree's hometown -- the school where my mom (and Paula Deen) attended elementary school. Also coincidentally part of the campus where I now teach. It was constructed in the 1930's.

Over the weekend, I previewed the 1963 film version of Lord of the Flies so I could show it to my seniors this week. I'd heard it was a great adaptation; however, I was greatly disappointed by it. Usually, I prefer the book to any movie, and this was no exception. Although parts of the film were well done, there was so much on the page that didn't translate to the screen, and I ended up feeling cheated. The ending, especially, disappointed -- the ending dialogue was cut and so all of the subtext of Golding's denouement, with its skillful point of view shift and cutting irony, was lost. The kids will still love having a movie day, but I'm interested to hear their take on the film versus the book.

Next up in Brit Lit? 1984. I'm excited! I love teaching it, although it is a major challenge for me.

The juniors are reading The Great Gatsby in American Lit and wrapping up their Post-Modern projects this week.

Freshmen? They've just come off The Quest, which they didn't do so well with. I hate that because generally if students don't do well with it, I end up playing prison guard instead of teacher . . . and if I wanted to be a prison guard, I'd go apply for that job. Anyway, they are continuing to work on their short story unit. I'm ready to move to the second unit, which continues to explore the short story and its elements, but includes a creative-writing component.

On the writing front, I recieved an email that Truth and Consequences was chosen for Samhain's Kindle giveaway in October. More details to follow.

I'm still working on revisions to Facing It, Chris and Ruthie's book. I'm also thinking through the plotting for a new WIP, a contemporary romance. Here's one of the photos I picked up for my hero, Vince Falconetti:

I'm off to do some school plotting. Hope you had a great Monday!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sunday Check-In

Scenes from Winfree's hometown -- This used to be my parents' grocery store. They opened it when I was in kindergarten and retired when Monster #2 as a year old. I have lots of great memories of this place, like playing with the buggies (shopping carts for those of you outside the South) and even spending Saturdays working the cash register as a teenager. One of my really good friends from high school, Vann, was the bag boy then. He was killed in a car accident his freshman year of college; I still miss him.

Not much going on here. I'm working on revisions on Chris's book. We spent a lot of time this weekend working in the yard, and it looks so much better -- not so much like a jungle anymore. Educational Research is going better than I anticipated, so that's good. I have a new man in my life, too -- my new grandnephew who put in his appearance yesterday. From all accounts, mother and baby are doing well.

Anything new with you?

Friday, September 19, 2008


Scenes from Winfree's Hometown -- A side view of the grandparents' home. Some of my favorite childhood memories -- like spending the night and sleeping on a lawn chair -- revolve around this home.

Is there anything more to say than . . . "It's FRIDAY!"? I'm tired. I need to sleep in tomorrow. We have major yardwork to do this weekend, but I'm looking forward to some downtime, too.

What are your weekend plans?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Football Players Meet Romance Novels.

Scenes from My Hometown -- the walkway to my grandparents' home. It has fallen into disrepair, but my parents are planning renovations.

So what happens with macho high school football players* meet romance novels? Hilarity ensues.

My juniors are working on Post-Modernism projects in which they read any novel by any American author which falls into the Post-Modernist time period. So a few days ago, when they brought in their books, I kinda/sorta did a doubletake when I saw the purple cover of one football player's book. He held up the relatively thin paperback, with its orange-ish cover art of a secret agent and the words "Harlequin Intrigue" emblazoned across the top, and said, "I got it from my stepmom. It's okay, right?"

"Um, yeah." I glanced at the book again. "Are you sure you're going to read that?"

"Yeah! I read the back and it sounds kinda good."

I shrugged and went on to log other kids' books -- lots of Stephenie Myer and Twilight**, Sachar and Holes, Tayari Jones and Leaving Atlanta***, even one Winfree and What Mattered Most. The kids spent several days getting immersed in their books. Then, last Thursday, Mr. Football player (I'll call him Robert) looks up from his tome with a horrified expression. "Ms. Winfree! This is a romance novel!"

"Um, yeah, Robert. It is. I thought you knew that."

"No! Why didn't you tell me?!"

By this time, his football buddies are laughing and generally having a great time at his expense. I pin the most vocal (and one of the smartest) kid on the front row (let's call him Ray) with a stare. "You have a problem with romance novels?"

"No, ma'am." He gestures toward Robert's book. "It's just . . ."



I thought so.

Anyway, two or three days pass. Robert is still reading his Harlequin Intrigue. His football buddies are still giving him a fit. I might, maybe, just perhaps have gotten frustrated with his tendency to talk excessively during class and said, instead of threatening him with up-downs at football practice, "Hush and read your romance novel."

So today, it's reading time. All is quiet. Robert snickers. He becomes intently engrossed in his book. He looks up. "Hey, Ms. Winfree, this is a great book."

Now, why do I just know at that point what kind of scene he's discovered?

He goes back to reading. A few minutes later, I am pulled from conferencing with a student about her book by the sounds of a small scuffle. Robert and Ray are tussling over the book, Ray leaning over dangerously in his desk to read whatever page Robert is on. I sigh, excuse myself, go separate the boys, who by now are giggling like seven-year-old girls at a slumber party.

The bell rings a little later and I notice that yet a third football player (we can refer to him as Tom) now has the book and is engrossed. He looks up. "Hey, do we have anymore of these books?"

Well, they're reading . . . that's a good thing, right?

*Names have been changed.

**In my classroom, this series of books is moving beyond what was a girls-only audience. The girls have talked it up so much, the boys are picking them up.

***If you have not read this book, go buy a copy. It's a must-read.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sunday Check-In

Scenes from St. Augustine -- The Atlantic Ocean, off Vilano Beach
I was going to post football pics, but left my camera in the car and was too lazy to go back for it. Our boys played so well last night. I'm really proud of them. We actually scored! Final score, 16 to 6.
My first paper for Educational Research is turned in. I have edits due tonight, grades due tomorrow. After today, I need to work on new units and revisions for Chris's book (due the end of September).
I haven't been as active on here the past few days, and y'all I'm sorry, but my life has little of interest going on right now. Hearts Awakened is still holding on at number ten on the bestsellers list, which is nice, but I'm pretty sure you're tired of hearing me yak about that. I'm trying to update my website but have a ways to go on that. I'm at a crossroads writing-wise as I try to figure out what project I need to tackle next.
Other than that, I got nothing. What are you up to?

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

My Brain Is a Morass

Scenes from Winfree's Classroom: The rejection wall. Those are my rejection letters and current rejection count, overlaid with pithy motivational statements. It's meant to be motivational.

Today? Today I do not have the clue to motivation, teacherly or writerly. I went for a run and my brain is all over this weird crossroads place I seem to be at in multiple areas, but it did little to straighten out the mess.

I'm hoping it's just an off day. I thought about writing out what all was in my head, but it doesn't even make sense completely to me and as I said, I'm not close to figuring out directions, etc.

Snagged a cool British poem that sparked a censorship furor via Smart Bitches. I'm using it and the author's reply poem with my seniors Thursday. It's perfect for Lord of the Flies.

Taking my grumpy, contemplative self off to fix hot dogs for the family. Hey, at least we're eating together as a family.

Monday, September 08, 2008


Since I was showing you character photos yesterday, I thought I'd share photos of the characterization evidence my 9th graders gathered about me by playing detective in my room. They could look in my desk, around the room, anywhere they wanted except my purse.

Here's the class debriefing:

These kids are smart. All that from five minutes of browsing? Let's see what they got right . . .

Well, they're doing pretty well. I can't stand Jazz Pepsi -- those cans in the class fridge belong to the Monsters. And I'm not a Republican. The Republican cap that led them to believe so was left behind last year by a kid doing his research project on politics. So what else did they get right . . .?

They're doing well. It's not so much that I like stuffed animals but that my DH is really good at those claw machines and I hate to discard his gifts. I do like some classic literature, but I think they overlooked all the current commercial fiction on my bookshelves, too. One more column . . .

The bananas one is funny. Someone gave me a box of bananas and I've been handing them out for days to get rid of them. You notice they called me beautiful, right? Listen, kids, flattery isn't getting you out of anything.

Overall, they did really, really well. I like this exercise. It gets them moving yet provides a purpose and is a nice segue into looking for characterization in the literature they read.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Pictorial Inspiration

So I have to have pictures for reference when I write. I look for photos that match what's in my head. Now, usually, once I'm beyond the first chapter or so, I can put the photos away. Anyhoo, I was organzing and deleting files on my computer, thought I'd share the photos I'd pulled for the Men of Chandler County.

Tick (2 shots)

Troy Lee:



See, this is soooo much more fun that figuring out a problem for my Ed Research course.

Sunday Morning Stuff

Scenes from St. Augustine -- A view of the Matanzas Bay from atop the Castillo de San Marco.
What's going on this morning . . .
  • Mrs. Giggles does not love the Cookie. But that's okay. I've been doing this long enough to get that what works for one reader (or editor or agent) does not work for another. I think I'm going to post the 69 review on my rejection wall in my classroom. My kids would love that idea.
  • However, others do love the Cookie. I have have two recommended read reviews, an A+ at the Good, the Bad and the Unread, and I've gotten some really nice reader feedback. And it's still holding the #1 spot at MBAM.
  • More laundry.
  • I have to choose my topic for my Educational Research class. I'm afraid, very afraid. What if I pick a topic I can't find enough literature on? I don't have to turn my topic in until later in the week. I think I'm going to read ahead in the course material then do some preliminary library searching to make sure there's info out there on whatever I choose to do.
  • I need to plan for next week. I have finally figured out the key to accomplishing things with my ninth graders -- group work. They don't do well with straight instruction time, so I'm trying to work as much as possible into a minilesson followed by practice model for them.
  • Edits. I have about 65 pages to go on Troy Lee's book. I should get 20 pages or so done today.
  • Continue fiddling with the website. I'm trying to clean it up, update and add new content. I am s-l-o-w with the whole web thing. But I'm working on it.

What's up with you this morning?

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Hey, Look!

From My Bookstore and More this morning:

Best Sellers:
1. Hearts Awakened by Linda Winfree
2. The Boys Back Home by Sierra Dafoe
3. Fated by Lauren Dane
4. Her Master's Pleasure by Kassie Burns
5. Bound by the Past by Mackenzie McKade
6. Behind the Mask by Tawny Taylor
7. What's a Ghoul to Do? by Mardi Ballou
8. Sweet Dreams by Dana Marie Bell
9. Dante's Inferno by Evie Byrne
10. Jaci's Experiment by Bianca D'Arc

Friday, September 05, 2008

Did I Mention I'm a Cult Member?

Scenes From St. Augustine -- The Ghostly Experience walking tour. No, there aren't really dead hamsters buried under the brick street. But yes, the Augustin Inn was haunted . . . until they had it exorcised. That's the DH in the green shirt and the white baseball cap.

Yes, I belong to a a cult, a teacher cult that worships reading guru Kelly Gallagher. It all started a couple of years ago when I went to a workshop on reading strategies for at-risk learners. The materials included two of Gallagher's books and I fell in love. So I've been pushing Wayne (hey, Wayne -- you need a blog and a website. You also need to finish that darn book, but that's a different story!) to read Deeper Reading. He's had it, he just hasn't read it. So at the beginning of the year, he finally gave in to the yummy-teacher-goodness that is Kelly Gallagher's Deeper Reading and now Michelle (the 8th grade LA teacher) and I have sucked him into the Gallagher cult.


Want to know how bad it is? Wednesday morning, I walk by the two having a conversation. Michelle stops me to ask my take on essay-length with middle schoolers. I mention using powerwriting as a teaching technique and Wayne says, "Is that Gallagher?" No, but that starts a whole 'nother Gallagher-worshipfest as we talk about how we're using his techniques and how they're working in our rooms.

Yes, we are sad people.

But if you teach language arts in grades 4-12, you need the Gallagher goodness. Seriously.

(And Anonymous, when you pop by -- all of our ELA teachers in grades 4-12 need a copy of Gallagher's Deeper Reading of their own. We should do staff development with those strategies.)


Misc. Notes:

1) Hearts Awakened is garnering lovely reviews and is at #2 on the MBAM top ten list!

2) I'm fiddling with my website. If you pop over there and things are wonky, that's why.

3) Monster #1 is at a middle school dance. Considering how much effort he put into his appearance, I do believe scamming on middle school girls was on his agenda. He was horrified when I mentioned possibly chaperoning said dance. I am an evil mom.

Thursday, September 04, 2008


It’s not the past that wounds us…it’s the ghosts we hold onto.

Hearts Awakened by Linda Winfree
Book Six of the Hearts of the South series

A lifetime ago Mark Cook’s pregnant wife vanished, taking everything and leaving an empty, aching hole in his life. Since then, as penance for his failure as a husband and father, he’s refused to allow himself to live. Refused to lay his sleeping heart on the line for any woman.

Enter Tori Calvert, his best friend’s baby sister. Suddenly, against his will—and against his better judgment—that same damaged heart seems determined to reawaken. And Mark’s not sure he can withstand the pain.

When she was a teenager, a vicious attack ripped away Tori’s very essence as a woman. Finally she feels ready to focus her existence on something other than her job as a rape crisis counselor. And to step outside the shelter of her loving, protective family. She trusts Mark more than any man, yet fear holds her back.

Fear that even the healing light of love may not be enough to banish the shadows of the past.


With the bathroom light offering slight illumination, Tori lay awake and stared at the ceiling. Outside her window, car doors slammed and disembodied voices moved along the sidewalk. Another car cruised through the parking lot, a spotlight flashing briefly against the heavy drapes. In the room on her east side, the television droned.
She hadn’t heard Mark’s door or his moving around in his room. Restless, she flopped over in the bed. The blanket pulled at her belly button ring and she winced, rubbing the spot. Above her, a deep voice rumbled, followed by a roll of male laughter.
The red numerals on the clock radio glowed. After one in the morning. Where was he?
Like she had to ask. The idea caused a painful clench in her chest and she rubbed at her gritty eyes. Pushing the covers aside, she padded to the window and perched on the ledge to peek between the drapes. Nothing moved in the parking lot. No vehicles traveled on the street.
A figure stood silhouetted on the sidewalk facing the bay. A familiar male build, arms at his sides, head slightly bent. The ache in her chest increased and she clutched the edge of the drape. Everything in the line of his body spoke of intense pain and misery.
Go to him.
“I can’t,” she whispered. He didn’t want her comfort or help. What he wanted was easy, anonymous sex. He was right—he wanted the one thing she couldn’t offer him.
As she watched, he lifted his head and turned toward the motel. She froze, not wanting him to see her watching. Soft footsteps shuffled on the walkway. His door opened and closed, and she breathed a slow sigh of relief. At least he’d come back alone. He hadn’t brought the other woman, whoever she was, with him.
The other woman. Tori shook her head. For there to be another woman, a relationship had to exist, and it definitely didn’t.
His television clicked on and the volume dropped quickly. She leaned against the wall, eyes closed. He was on the other side of that partition, getting ready for bed.
“Stop thinking about that. He’s back, and he’s alone. You can go to bed now. He obviously is.”
She slid from her perch on the window ledge. She’d grab a glass of water and go back to bed, try to get some sleep.
As she passed the second bed, her right foot caught the corner of the platform, under the bedspread. Pain exploded in her toes. She yelped, bent over with the force of the agony moving up her leg in waves.
Clutching her injured toes, she hopped on one foot and bit back a moan. Lord, that hurt.
“Tori?” Mark knocked on the connecting door, his voice sharp with concern. “Are you all right?”
She couldn’t speak, tears blurring her vision, her energy focused on breathing and fighting off the burning pain.
Blood leaked between her fingers. Biting her lip, she dropped on the end of the bed, rocking back and forth.
“Tori?” If anything, his voice was sharper, a note of alarm creeping in around the edges. “Tori, I’m coming in.”
Whatever. He could walk to Timbuktu if he wanted. All she wanted was for the throbbing in her entire foot to stop.
“What’s wrong?” He knelt in front of her, his hands running over her. Checking for injuries. She recognized that much. “Tori, what happened?”
His voice wavered. She shook her head, still clutching her foot. “My toes.”
The sharp gray gaze dropped to her foot and he swore. He cradled her heel in his palm. “Let me see.”
“Hit them on the bed.” She forced her fingers to let go. Blood dripped on the carpet.
He lifted her foot. “Oh, honey.”
One strong finger probed at the side of her toe and she sucked in a breath. “Ouch!”
“I’m going to get a towel and some ice. Hang on a sec.”
Gently, he set her foot down and rose to return to his room. In seconds, he was back, carrying two towels and his ice bucket.
“Here.” He lifted her foot again, wrapped one towel underneath and placed the second, filled with ice, along the top of her toes. She flinched. “I know,” he said, his voice soothing. His fingers moved over her ankle in a comforting caress. “It’ll feel better in a sec.”
Under the numbing cold, the pain receded slightly and she stared at him. Barefoot and resting on his haunches, he still wore his khakis, but he’d shed his polo shirt. A fine layer of dark hair covered his chest and formed an arrow down the line of his stomach. A small tattoo lurked between his pecs, an infinity swirl angled to the left, over his heart. He rested her foot against his thigh, muscles rippling beneath her heel. Her breath stopped, but this time it had nothing to do with pain. Her fingers tingled. What would it feel like if she traced the tattoo, ran her hands over his chest? Were those muscles as hard as the ones in his arms?
“Wiggle your toes for me.” She did, her gaze on his hands touching her. Deft and gentle, his fingers moved over her foot and shivers trickled through her, almost making her forget the burning pulsing. “I don’t think anything’s broken. You have a cut, but it’s not very deep. We can clean it up and put a bandage on it.”
“Thanks.” Warmth traveled out from his touch, an odd contrast to the numbing cold at her toes. He glanced up at her and all the warmth died. Deep pink lipstick smudged the corner of his mouth. Leaning forward, she swiped it away with her thumb. “Did she make you forget?”
He froze, staring at her. Slowly, he shook his head. “No. I mean, I didn’t…” A hard swallow moved his throat. “I couldn’t.”
A trickle of icy water dripped down the side of her foot. Tori moistened dry lips. “Why not?”“Because it didn’t feel right. Because it’s not working anymore. She probably could have made me forget Jenny for a little while…” Another swallow, his Adam’s apple bobbing. “But she couldn’t make me forget you.”

Monday, September 01, 2008

Do You Have Your Cookie Yet?

Hearts Awakened releases today!

It’s not the past that wounds us…it’s the ghosts we hold onto.

Hearts Awakened by Linda Winfree
Book Six of the Hearts of the South series

A lifetime ago Mark Cook’s pregnant wife vanished, taking everything and leaving an empty, aching hole in his life. Since then, as penance for his failure as a husband and father, he’s refused to allow himself to live. Refused to lay his sleeping heart on the line for any woman.

Enter Tori Calvert, his best friend’s baby sister. Suddenly, against his will—and against his better judgment—that same damaged heart seems determined to reawaken. And Mark’s not sure he can withstand the pain.

When she was a teenager, a vicious attack ripped away Tori’s very essence as a woman. Finally she feels ready to focus her existence on something other than her job as a rape crisis counselor. And to step outside the shelter of her loving, protective family. She trusts Mark more than any man, yet fear holds her back.

Fear that even the healing light of love may not be enough to banish the shadows of the past.


Hearts Awakened is a Recommended Read at Fallen Angel Reviews!

"Ms. Winfree’s skill at putting emotion into words is nothing short of genius, she had me laughing, crying, cheering and just a little hot... she had the mix of want and fear that Tori experiences perfect. Anyone that reads Hearts Awakened will not walk away unaffected and I can guarantee you’ll fall in love with Ms. Winfree’s work." -- Rachel C., Fallen Angel Reviews

For an excerpt and more information, click HERE.