Facebook Twitter Instagram Pinterest Website Email Bookbub

When we took off on our anniversary road trip to Oregon, I decided we desperately needed a day or two to wind down and decompress after such a busy few months. So, our first stop was on the shoulder of Mt. Shasta, which rises—Mt. Fuji-like above the central valley—to 14,170’ (4,322 meters).

I can’t tell you how times I’ve driven past this stark, treeless anomaly on I-5, but this was the first time we stopped and took the time to explore it. We booked a campsite for two nights at Mt. Shasta City, which gave us a chance to break out the bikes and explore the town.

Photo collage below: Even Big Foot wore a mask; the view of Mt. Shasta from Main Street; Paul had a devil of a time keeping his hat on because the wind was brisk; Black Butte wearing a gray “cloud” toupee. 

After lunch, we headed to the mountain…in the RV. The 14-mile drive through a spectacular evergreen forest took us to the Bunny Flat trailhead at 6,950,’ where we learned that Shasta is an ACTIVE volcano. I did not know that. Luckily, the last eruption was 1786. Whew!

We hiked the Horse Camp trail (about 3.4 miles, with an elevation gain of 1,030’). It brought us to the historic Sierra Club cabin, where we socially-distance chatted with some Bay Area transplants. Going down was so much easier and faster, which was a good thing because some clouds blew in and the air temperature quickly dropped!

The next morning we headed north and west toward our destination of: Florence, Oregon, to visit an old friend who retired there a couple of years ago. I highly recommend visiting spots with a “local” tour guide! Can’t wait to share this awesome spot with you next week.

Judith Arnold is a true “rock star” to me. I went all “fan girl” the first time I met her at a writers conference. When we wound up serving on some sort of committee, I couldn’t get over how down-to-earth, friendly, and wicked funny she was…er, is. I’m super excited to share this witty snippet from TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS with you. Enjoy!

Judith Arnold - USA Today bestselling author Judith Arnold has more than 100 published romances, mysteries, and women’s fiction novels to her name. She’s won four Reviewers Choice awards from RT Book Reviews, which named her novel Barefoot in the Grass one of the best romances of all time, and she's been a multiple finalist for Romance Writers of America's RITA™ Award. Her novel Love In Bloom's was named one of the best books of the year by Publishers Weekly. You can learn more about Judith and her books at www.juditharnold.com.



When Hank Patterson hires dog walker Abbie Harding to take care of his mother's rambunctious mutt while his mother is out of town, he doesn't expect romance to be a part of their arrangement. After all, Abbie loves dogs and Hank doesn'tand as they soon learn, mixing business with pleasure can cause a whole lot of trouble.


Taking Care of Business © Judith Arnold


       To be blunt about it, Priscilla was a bitch.
       Hank had never gotten along with her. She was selfish and demanding. She raced around carelessly, shoving things out of her way, filling the air with her irritating yapping. And that flirty bow she always wore in her ash-blond hair—the one time he’d tried to get rid of it, she had nearly bitten his thumb off. She had sharp teeth.
       He liked his thumb. In fact, he liked all his fingers. So the bow remained.
       It was bobbing in her hair right now, a flash of pink satin clipped to the shaggy strands above Priscilla’s beady brown eyes as she scampered around the yard, her feet scattering the thin layer of snow that had fallen since midday. Hank should have worn boots. His feet were turning to blocks of ice as he stood on the patio, moisture seeping through the seams in his loafers. But his afternoon meeting had run late, and he’d been afraid that if he didn’t get to his mother’s house in time to let Priscilla out, she’d leave a monumental mess on the kitchen floor. Or even worse, on the Aubusson rug in the living room.
       When he arrived at his mother’s house, he discovered, to his relief, that Priscilla hadn’t left a mess inside. Unfortunately, she wasn’t leaving a mess outside, either. She was too busy having fun, prancing through the snow, chasing after the random white flakes that continued to flurry down from the gloomy gray sky. A squirrel dared to cross her path, and she went wild, chasing the furry little creature until it scaled an oak tree and vanished into the leafless branches overhead.
       Priscilla remained at the foot of the tree, snarling and growling, demanding that the squirrel descend the tree. The squirrel, however, appeared to have vanished, leaping from branch to branch, from one yard to the next. It was probably a block away by now.
       “Come on, Priscilla,” Hank shouted, waving the plastic bag he clutched, a hint that she was supposed to do her business so he could pick up her poop, tie the bag, and drop it in the trash can in the garage—and then get on with his life. He was a good son, and he’d keep his promise to his mother. But Priscilla had to do her part, too. She had to do what he’d let her out of the house to do.
       Forget about counting on that twit to do anything she was supposed to do. A squirrel had flagrantly defied her. How could she possibly empty her digestive tract when she was contending with such a personal affront? How could she take a dump when she knew that squirrel was laughing at her?
       Hank would have laughed at her, too, if he’d found anything amusing about her—and if his feet weren’t so freaking cold. “Just go already,” he half yelled, half muttered.
       Priscilla barked.
       Yeah, he was a good son. Too good, he thought as he swiped a hand through his hair, feeling the dampness as snowflakes melted into the strands. He had grown up in Massachusetts, and people who grew up in Massachusetts prided themselves on being impervious to the cold. They wore shorts and flip-flops year-round, and donned hats and parkas only if they were skiing or digging out from a blizzard. This light snow wouldn’t have bothered him if Priscilla were a little more efficient about going to the bathroom.
       He pulled his cell phone from an inner pocket of his blazer and tapped a quick message to Nick Fiore, whom he’d promised to meet for a drink at the Faulk Street Tavern at five o’clock. It was now quarter to five, the sky was fading to black, and Priscilla was doing what she did best—being a bitch. Running a little late, he texted. Get there when I can.
       A rhododendron, its leaves shriveled in the cold, suddenly became more intriguing to Priscilla than the absent squirrel. She sniffed the shrub eagerly, her stubby tail wagging with joy. Then she romped across the snow to the holly bushes. Would their berries poison her if she ate a few? Hank could hope.
       Not a good-son thought. He swallowed a curse, turned up the collar of his blazer to protect his neck from the cold, and…oh, thank you, God! Priscilla finally did what she should have done twenty minutes ago.
       He stomped across the snow, aware that he could no longer feel his toes, and scooped her shit into the plastic bag. “All right,” he snapped. “Back inside.”
       She raced away, returning to the oak to bark some more at the invisible squirrel, then digging through the snow as if hoping to unearth a great treasure—a bone, a toy, a dormant tulip bulb. Hank traipsed after her, nearly managing to snag her twice. His third attempt, when she stood cornered by the hedge, was successful. Her fur was wet. He’d have to towel her—and himself—off before he left.
       She growled and snapped at him as he carried her into the house. He’d learned to cradle her in such a way that she couldn’t puncture his skin with her nasty teeth. As soon as he reached the kitchen, Hank dropped her and let the warmth of the indoor air wrap around him, thawing him out. Wiggling his toes inside his shoes, he sighed as they burned with the return of sensation.
       Priscilla ran to her water bowl, banging into it and splattering water across the floor. Hank dropped the knotted plastic bag into the sink and grabbed one of the old towels he’d left on the counter. He did his best to dry Priscilla, but his best wasn’t very good; she clearly felt sprinting in circles and barking insanely at her empty food dish took priority over letting him dry her off. He gave up on her and used the towel to sop up the spilled water, instead.
       Ten minutes later, the floor was dry and Hank had filled her food dish with a can of some overpriced gourmet dog food his mother insisted on buying. According to the can, it was a blend of chicken liver, pumpkin, brown rice, and herb extracts. Priscilla ate better than many adults, Hank thought as he rinsed out the can.
       She sniffed the dish and gave him a skeptical look. He showed her the can, as if she could read the label for herself, and she growled at him. “Go hungry, then,” Hank grumbled, shaking the can dry. “If it was up to me, you’d be eating dry kibble.”
       She growled again.
       He carried the can and the plastic bag to the garage. Through the mudroom door, he heard her yipping indignantly.
       “Shut up,” he snapped, not because he expected her to obey, him—obeying people was not among her few skills—but because saying it felt good.


Priscilla! You dog!!! Can’t wait to read this one.

By the way, LOOKING FOR LAURA, one of my favorite Judith Arnold books, is currently on sale for 99¢. You can grab it here.

And, don’t forget,the preorder price for CUPID TO THE RESCUE
is only 99¢. Pre-order here!

Last week's Q&A was: Do you like to listen to music? Yes or No?

Nearly everyone who responded said, “Yes.” Many of you listen to music daily. Some, like me, only when they remember, but I loved your stories and was especially tickled that several of you are also fans of The Mavericks. Also, thanks for the recommendations!

My two randomly selected winners this week are:

Susanna Klein
Anne Hill

(Susanna and Anne congrats. Please email me your pick of either a $5 Starbucks or a $5 Amazon gift card.)


This week’s Q&AAre you doing anything fun for Halloween this year?

I wish I could say, “Yes,” but it’s a big no for me. Here’s my advice. 😉

On a very personal note, my late sister, Jan, would have—should have—celebrated her 84th birthday this week. Jan was so many things to me: sister, friend, mentor, co-caregiver for our mother, comedic sidekick, copyeditor, to name a few… I miss you every day, Sis. Hope you had a kick-ass birthday in the great beyond.

I may have shared this photo before but it always makes me smile because she’s holding Rya (who is now 15) and she doesn’t seem to mind the stickers some other child, probably Malte (who is 17) plastered to her shirt. That was Jan.

Take care and stay well, my friends,


Next week: Oregon pics + Snippet #6 from Cupid to the Rescue.



Copyright © 2020 Debra Salonen