Reflection on the fire alarm – by Judith Stevens (Jess’ Facebook Fave post of the week)

Two of my favorite women, sisters Judith and Robin Stevens, write some pretty funny posts on their FB pages.  I saw this one reflecting on their recent experience with a fire alarm in their building and thought it was too funny not to share!
So we’re sitting here minding our own business (I’m sorta sleepy in fact) when a truly obnoxious and loud alarm starts blaring. Robin Stevens, after looking out the peephole says, “that’s the fire alarm,” rather matter-of-factly. Apparently when the alarm sounds, a strobe light also starts flashing and so it was pretty obvious visually, as well as aurally, what was happening.
So I get up to follow her to the door and she proceeds to open it and say “I smell smoke”. I looked out the door also and saw that the steel fire doors had closed. They are normally held open by electric magnets which release when the electricity goes off or (now obviously but not seen previously) the alarm is pulled. I smelled something funky also, though I will point out that allergies make my testimony unreliable. At that point my adrenal glands figuratively said, “Release the hounds!” Since we were in our nighties, we both went to get pants on. Well I went to dress enough to brave the freaking cold night air, Robin dressed completely including undergarments of a supportive nature. Please vote who you think will survive and ACTUAL fire at the end of this story.
I called to Robin to hurry up because I’ve seen the documentaries about how fast a fire can spread and I didn’t want to get caught with the stairways blocked. While waiting I shoved my kindles, my ipad, my iphone, and my prescription medicines into my purse. No chargers (note to self, keep an emergency kit of chargers ready at all times in future). We then proceeded down the stairs and out the front door, where in a building with 16 apartments, we were the only people who had exited the building. Hmmm. Reassuringly, a few moments later the Military Chaplain and his wife came out to the foyer as well, so now there were four of us. They also said they had called the fire department.
I walked around the building to see if I could see smoke, and as I rounded the end of the building I saw a fox! Or a coyote! Really, I’m not a zoologist, but it was dog-like (but definitely not a dog!) creature with a fluffy tail. It looked at me for a while and then crossed the road and went into the woods. At this point I heard an alarm sounding from the parking garage under our building. BTW, still no firetruck. Then a guy walked up from the parking garage and said that a water pipe had broken (he heard the sound and went to investigate) and was spraying water on an exit sign which caused an electrical short or something. More people started arriving from where they had apparently been dining out (I deduced this from the Bonefish Grill carryout bag they had). Then our ‘across the hall neighbors’ who live in Saba Modjarrad‘s old apartment came out and I felt bad they were still in the building and asked them if I should have knocked on their door to get them to leave. (I would have thought the fire alarm itself was enough but…). Now that I look back, they never really answered. Hmm.
After that the fire engine with NO sirens finally showed up (like it wasn’t an EMERGENCY). Can I just say that one time I got stuck in the elevator and I used the emergency phone to call for help – it actually called 911, which I thought was a bit of an over-reaction at the time but it autodialed, so what could I do? The elevator fixed itself and opened up while I was still on the phone so I told them never mind but the firetruck came anyway before I got my door unlocked (editorial note: my door is like 7 short woman steps from the elevator). Now we may have a FIRE and it takes like 10 minutes for them to show up. What’s that all about? Then I noticed it was the Liberty Road Firehouse, not the closer Owings MIlls Firehouse. Delay explained. So then there were firemen, tripping all through the building, not speaking to us. Well they did talk to the guy who investigated the pipe in the garage, but that was it! People began to disperse since there didn’t seem to be a problem anymore. Robin started up the stairs,  I took the elevator (my mom didn’t raise an idiot).
Thus ended the adrenal portion of my evening.

Thursday Threads with S.C. Mitchell!


Son of Thunder

Title: Son of Thunder

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Heat: Sizzling

The son of the Thunder God, Thor, has a lot to live up to…and no time for love.


The man looked like a god. Then again, he was one. . .

Jord Thorson was a god– the son of Thor, the Norse God of Thunder. In his search to find his missing father, Jord seeks out the mortal, Meghan Larson, who is in possession of his only clue–Megingjörð, Thor’s magical belt of power.

But when the belt decides to take matters into its own hands, locking itself around Meghan’s waist, Jord and Meghan are plunged into the middle of a massive conflict that rages across the heavens.

Giants, magical artifacts, and a golden city in the clouds weren’t exactly what Meghan Larson expected when that amazing belt arrived at her museum. Now Megingjörð is stuck around her waist and talking to her in her head. She’s got to be dreaming, but with the wonders around her and hunky Jord Thorson at her side, Meghan’s not sure she wants to wake up.


The rainbow ended on a street that appeared to be paved with silver stones. Jord pulled up to the first building, a tall tower of a structure. As he turned off the cycle Meghan jumped from the seat and swatted his shoulder.

“You might have warned me a bit, about what to expect.” Her heart was still racing, but now that her feet appeared to be on solid ground again she felt herself calming down.

“Be honest.” He smiled at her. “Would you have believed me if I’d told you?”

Had anything that had happened to her lately been believable?

“No,” she admitted.

“Jord!” A husky voice called from the doorway of the building. “Welcome home.”

A large man in blue jeans and a black t-shirt with an ornate sword belt strapped around his waist leaned on the doorpost of the tower entrance. He had short blond hair and a very full beard. The sword at his side had to be almost four feet long. He was smiling and waving.

“Heimie.” Jord went to take his outstretched hand. “Any news of my father?”

“None that I’ve heard,” Heimie replied. “Your grandfather has been looking for you though. Maybe he has some news I haven’t heard.”

“There isn’t anything you haven’t heard, Heimie.” He patted the man on the shoulder.

The man then looked a Meghan, raising one of his eyebrows. “And what do we have here?”

Jord turned to her. “Heimie, meet Meghan Larson. Meghan this is Heimdall, guardian of Bifrost, the Rainbow Bridge. He’s kind of like the TSA at airports.”

“Welcome, Meghan Larson,” Heimdall said. “Welcome to Asgaard.”


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BetterU Challenge – 12 Week Intervention (T-14 weeks)


Days 1-2 (Technically, still pre-days.  I’m trying to lose ten pounds before weigh in!)

The BetterU Challenge is a great opportunity the American Heart Association provides for women to start their journey to better health.

When I received the application via email, I said to myself, “Self- what do you have to lose?”  The answer—about thirty pounds.  So, I filled out the application.  After all, things have been a bit slow to get back to normal after the second baby.  Let me clarify—the ‘baby’ is now almost three.  Prior to ‘baby’, I ran 5k’s, had a normal BMI, and was probably the healthiest I’d ever been.

And then my coworker cursed me.  He told me that once I lost all the weight and started feeling good about myself, that I’d end up pregnant again.  And he was right.  I gained well over fifty pounds, and to my surprise, the baby didn’t weigh nearly that much.  After the baby,  I entertained the idea of losing the weight.  I joined the gym, signed up for Weight Watchers, bought some Fiber One bars.  It didn’t really work out that great.  Rather, I didn’t really work out.

So, nearly three years later, I filled out the application, not thinking much would come of it.  After all, I’m not really obese, just ‘fleshy’.  Imagine my surprise when I received the notice that the American Heart Association believed me to be unhealthy enough to necessitate intervention.  The next 12 weeks will be spent learning to be healthier with the assistance of diet and exercise coaching, culminating in a big reveal at the ballroom at Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana.

So, Monday 1/20/2014, I thought I’d get a jump on the whole thing.  My older exercise clothes were a bit snug, so I purchased a new ensemble for the occasion.  It may have looked more flattering on the hanger.  This inspired the question, “Should I wear Spanx with my exercise clothes?”  It’d go a long way to iron out all those lumps and bumps.  My pants made my legs look like two sausages in black, shiny casing, with my bottom resembling two pork roasts covered in Lycra.  The whole thing left a lot to be desired, but I applied my new coral lipstick and went onto rediscover my treadmill.

Jazzy Dance Moves

Jazzy dance moves in the new exercise clothes


The treadmill in the basement/jungle gym for kids


A mix of exercise, eating, and writing (I think they might all be connected!)

Monday 1/20 – Thirty minutes of walking twice in one day.  Severe overage on my Weight Watchers Points.  There was this red velvet cupcake, and the wine, and then the frozen pizza for dinner . . . Will try harder tomorrow – made healthy soup.  Sales fell on book (insert pouty face).

I made these . . . and then ate them.

I made these . . . and then ate them.

Tuesday 1/21— Ate healthy soup.  No comment.   Walked during lunch at work.  Received bad review, plus an addendum to a previous bad review (what’s up with that?).  Then ate two Valentine’s Day cakes.

Turkey sausage, northern beans, and a lot of vegetables.  Needs . . . bacon.

Turkey sausage, northern beans, and a lot of vegetables. Needs . . . bacon.

Thursday Threads with Tina Susedik


Riding for Love Cover

Title: Riding for Love

Genre: Contemporary Mystery

Heat: Sizzling

Can a man who is afraid of horses learn to ride to re-establish a relationship with an old flame?

Love, Loss, Redemption

“Hi, sweetheart,” Rose said, ruffling his hair before going to the refrigerator for a glass of lemonade.

He jumped and slapped a hand to his chest. “Geez, Mom, you scared the daylights out of me.” He set the brochure down and picked up an envelope. “What are you doing home? I thought you were going out with friends tonight.”

Rose sat down on the opposite her son. “I did, but Tom had to get back early and the others had family obligations. Tonight is the last night at the ranch for a youth group from Milwaukee.” She reached over and slid the brochure across the table. “It’s a group of teenagers learning to ride and care for horses to teach them alternative ways to channel anger. Eve developed the program this year.”

“Wow, I’m impressed.”

“You should be,” Rose commented, flipping through the pamphlet filled with photos of the cabins, lodge, barn, and horses on trail rides. “Eve’s worked very hard to make the ranch a success. Every year she comes up with another way to help others relax and have fun. Last year was the first year for winter activities.” She folded the brochure and pressed it smooth. “Have you been out there yet?”

Denton opened the envelope and slipped out a sheet of paper. “No, I’ve been too busy at work. Besides, I don’t think Eve would appreciate me just showing up.”

“Why? She’s so proud of what she’s accomplished.” Rose peered at her son. “You never did tell me what happened when you went to dinner with her. Is she still mad?”

Running a hand over his face, he huffed out a breath. “I guess that would be a good way of putting it, although mad seems too light a word. I explained about Marie, and she seemed to understand what happened, but, after all these years, she’s still angry with me.”

“There could be a good reason.”

“Yeah, like what?”

Rose reached across the table to stop his shredding the sheet of paper he was holding. “Could be she still has feelings for you. Do you still care for her?”

“What’s that got to do with anything?”

“Just answer your mother, Denton Johansen.”

“I never lost my feelings for her.” He pushed the paper away and tapped his fingers on the table. “She said she never had closure. Well, neither did I. One week, I’m home enjoying time with her and next, I’m married to someone else.” He raked his fingers through his hair again. “Now she’s ignoring me. I’m probably beating my head against the wall. I’ve called, written, sent flowers.”

“Hmm . . .”

Lord, he hated it when his mother got that tone in her voice. She didn’t have to say one word, just utter “hmm” like she knew something he didn’t and he would ultimately pay for it. “Hmm, what?”

“What happened when you went to dinner with Eve?”

“We met, had a drink, talked about old times, etc., etc.”

Rose chuckled. “Oh, I’m sure much more than that happened for you to be this upset.” She held up a hand to stop a reply. “Don’t say you’re concerned about the lawsuit. I’m your mother. You’re a problem solver and taking care of the embezzlement was more than work for you.” Rose rested her chin in her hand and stared at her son. “It’s solving the problem of Eve making you discombobulated.”

Denton pushed the piece of paper toward his mother.

“What’s this?”

He smiled nervously, stood, and paced the length of the kitchen, stove to refrigerator and back again. “Part of a plan to get close to Eve.” He finally settled his backside against the stove, folding his arms over his chest in defiance.

Rose dropped the paper on the table. “Are you crazy? You can’t possibly do this.”

“Desperate times call for desperate measures.”

Rose stood and placed a hand on his cheek. “But this is a little drastic, isn’t it? Are you so keen on getting her back you’d go this far?”

“Mom, I need to find out if what we had as teenagers can be resurrected.” Denton wrapped his arms around his mother and held her close so she wouldn’t notice the tears in his eyes. “I’ve missed Eve for ten years and will do anything to win her back. Anything.”

“But, dear, how are you going to be able to get through two weeks of riding lessons? Aren’t you still afraid of horses?”

He laughed, hoping to ease the trip in his heart at the thought of spending fourteen days on the back of one of those giant creatures. But fourteen days spent in Eve’s company sent his heart tripping faster. “Nope.”

Rose leaned back. She squinted at him.

“Nope, not afraid.” His Adam’s apple bobbed up and down, and he refrained from wiping sweat from his upper lip. “More like petrified, horrified, scared stiff.”

“Well, you should be, considering what happened the last time you rode one,” Rose said, leaving Denton’s arms and picking up the confirmation for his stay at the ranch.

“Mom, that was twenty years ago. I need to overcome my fear of horses to spend some time with her, hopefully break through the wall she’s built against me,” Denton replied, trying to convince himself as much as his mother.

Rose shook her head and patted her son on the shoulder. “Well, you have only three weeks to convince that to your shaking hands, my dear boy.”


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Twitter: @tina susedik

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Thursday Threads with Sandra Harris



 Alien, Mine

by Sandra Harris

Genre: Science Fiction Romance

Heat Level: Sizzling




Torn from modern day Earth and stranded on the far side of the Galaxy, Sandrea Fairbairn must use every particle of courage she possesses to adjust to her new life and live for tomorrow.

Eugen Mhartak, a general in the Tri-Race Alliance Army, refuses to bow to the merciless Bluthen. Haunted by the loss of far too many innocent lives he has vowed to drive the ruthless invaders from Alliance space.

The strength and valour of Eugen Mhartak attracts Sandrea as no man ever has, but she struggles to read the enigmatic general’s heart. Determined to help him triumph over the Bluthen she uncovers a diabolical plot against the Alliance.

Drawn by the courage and exotic beauty of Sandrea, Mhartak battles to overcome the barriers of cross-cultural differences that separate them and claim her ardent interest. He must conquer his deepest fears to be the man she needs. When his principles are betrayed by his own government and he is faced with the impossible prospect of taking Sandrea’s life in order to save his home planet, Mhartak desperately searches for a way to keep safe both his world and the magnificent woman who has stolen his heart.


“I’m sure Miss Sandrea is safe, Sir.” Sergeant Kulluk’s voice interrupted Mhartak’s sombre contemplation of his moon-speckled boots.

He shifted his back against the rock he leaned against and stretched his legs before him. Trying to get comfortable while wearing body armour was still an art he had yet to master, even after all these years. The subdued murmurs of Corporal Shrenkner and Privates Ragnon and Dovzshak drifted from the dark behind him. Their quiet discussion on the aptitude of the Magran villagers and their resolve to defend their settlement with the weapons reaped from the fallen Bluthen heartened him.

Pride in his team warmed him as no fire could. They’d routed the Bluthen despite being outnumbered five to one. Cold and weary, with nothing but combat rations to satisfy hunger, they nevertheless followed covert procedure without murmur. He hadn’t even had to issue an order to prohibit fires. They were no keener to advertise their position than he.

“Your brother is a good man,” Kulluk continued. “He’ll ensure nothing harmful befalls our little human.”

A bristling sense of possessive anger flared through Mhartak’s gut. The only ‘our’ Sandrea belonged to was him and her, even if he was yet to convince her of that.

“He’ll protect her,” Kulluk offered.

Yes, T’Hargen’s protective instincts ran deep—too deep for his own good.

“And she’ll feel safe. He always was a charming . . . person.”

That, Sergeant, is what concerns me.




Last stop (for now)


Tomorrow is my last stop for this blog tour with Goddess Fish.  But don’t worry – embarrassing insights into my personal life as well as excerpts from Compromising Miss Tisdale will make their rounds again in March compliments of Tasty Book Tours.

Stop by and enter to win a $50 dollar gift card to Amazon or Barnes and Noble at