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Because life isn’t busy enough, my son decided to buy a fixer-upper. 😉 Not that I blame him. It’s an interesting property that was screaming to be rescued.

You may remember that the “Property Sisters of Montana” concept came about when my family all pitched in to remodel a “flip house.” All hands on deck is the Salonen way. Even when it’s Mom’s release week. Sigh.

We basically gutted the kitchen last week. JP had hoped to save the uppers, but after two hours of cleaning…one…cabinet, it became clear to me that plan wasn’t going to fly. New uppers have been added to the original order. New windows will be here next week.

Transformation is a joyful thing to watch. But writing is a lot less strenuous than mudding walls. Just sayin… 😉

As promised, over the next 8 weeks, I will be sharing a short snippet from each of the books in the CUPID TO THE RESCUE anthology.

First up is my old friend, Kathryn Shay. A NEW YORK TIMES and USA TODAY bestselling author, Kathryn Shay has been a lifelong writer and teacher. Her novels have been serialized in COSMOPOLITAN magazine and featured in USA TODAY, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL and PEOPLE magazine. There are over ten million copies of her books in print and downloaded online. Reviewers have called her work “emotional and heart-wrenching.” She lives in upstate New York with her children, grandchild and two adorable Yorkies. Check out all of Kathryn’s books and deals at:

Her contribution to the anthology is: Teacher’s Pet.
When Maggie Marino comes to work at Stepping Stones Special Needs School, Noah Carson has no idea she and her glossy-coated Golden Retriever, Rosie, will change his life. But will the emotional-support dog be enough to bring Noah and Maggie together again after the tragedies of their pasts collide?


Teacher’s Pet © Kathryn Shay

       Noah was taller than she remembered, Maggie thought as she stood beside him in front of the bulletin boards. From a box he’d set on a nearby table, he picked up a bundle of papers and drawings. “I put them up randomly and don’t group them by genre. If things are too unbalanced, we can change them around. You take four and start at that end.” She moved to the right of the board.
       She picked up the one on top, a mishmash of sayings and pictures cut out of a magazine. Mostly, they were toys and games. The second was a few paragraphs written in neat script. The third was a gorgeously sketched Christmas tree with beautiful lights. Fourth was… She turned to him. “What’s this, Noah?”
       “If anyone in class doesn’t want to put up what his vacation would be like, they can free draw or free write.”
       “This is a drawing?”
       He sighed. “From Brett Barker, a student who has oppositional defiance disorder, and often free draws for his assignments.”
       “Is that allowed?”
       “Anything’s allowed. He goes for special counseling every day—they call it Enhancement—and sometimes the psychologist can get him to do his assignments. BTW, other kids go out for enhancements, which is often enrichment. Other kids go to get help with their work. And counseling, of course.”
       “Very interesting. Will we go over the roster to talk about each student?”
       “Let’s do it now, while we’re putting up their work.”
       Maggie learned about the special needs of each student. The class was intentionally mixed so they all got to socialize with kids different from themselves. Maggie took notes on her tablet. When he finished, she said, “Wow. I find it fascinating that Terry Peck, who did the beautiful Christmas tree, has ODD.” Oppositional Defiance Disorder.
       “They’re fascinating kids. Can you guess which one was put in my class intentionally to work with you?”
       “We’re hoping Rosie will help him deal with things in a less explosive way.”
       “Anything else you’d like her to help with?”
       “The other kids can use some warm fuzzies from her, companionship, a sense of calm. I’m hoping they can read to Rosie, too.”
       “She’s very good with readers and never gets bored.” She gave him an impish look. “She has a very high IQ.”
       “I didn’t know—” he caught sight of her grin. “Ah, you’re joking.”
       “I am.”
      She gestured to the table on one side near Rosie. “Should we make an overall plan for maybe the month? So we know where we’re going?”
       “That fits right in with what I like to do.” Noah took from his desk a calendar with empty spaces for the weeks in January and they sat next to each other. So, close to him, Maggie inhaled the woodsy scent of his cologne. “Let’s see the progression of integrating Rosie.”
       “First, we need to acquaint the kids with her.”
       Noah picked up a pencil. “In case we need to move ideas around.” He had even, white teeth and when he smiled, his eyes crinkled at the corners. “Now for the first lesson.”
       “We’ll introduce Rosie’s Corner. Point out the bed, the crate, and what each is for. Show them the vest she wears with a leash, and anti-dander spray for kids’ hands if they’re allergic.”
       As she spoke, Noah recorded the information.
       “We’ll explain to them that they shouldn’t disturb her at the water bowl, and how to play with each toy that’s there.”
       “My guess is that will take about an hour.”
       “I agree.”
      “Then we’ll teach the kids how to approach the dog. They’ll need permission to pet her, at least at first. We’ll fit in instructions about how many students can be around her at once. We’ll list words Rosie recognizes, like recess.”
       At the mention, Rosie’s ears perked up. She barked softly. They both laughed.
       “Finally, we’ll alert them to signs of stress in Rosie, so they can recognize when she’s anxious or overwhelmed.” She looked over at him. “If the kids are ready, that can be a springboard to verbalizing signs of their own stress.”
       “I’m on board for that.”
       “These are the broad strokes for the three-day week when they return from break. We’ll need to not only teach them about these things but allow each of the eight students to practice under our supervision.”
       “Fine by me. How about week two?”
       “You integrate subjects, right?”
       “Yes. We pick a project that teaches them Science and Math, Social Studies and Language Arts.”
       “I’m wholly in favor of that kind of curriculum, Noah.”
       “I’m scheduled for garden work in the mornings of week two.”
       She grinned. “In the greenhouse out back, right?”
       “Yes. There’s a planting section where they can put things in to grow and transfer them to the outdoor garden when the weather allows.”
       “Oh, gosh, I hope Rosie can be in the dirt with the kids. She loves to dig.”
       “We’ll see if we can manage that. I want her to participate in addition to her calming effect on the kids.”
       “There’s a story room in there?”
       They went on to weeks three and four which took till noon, when their time was up. Exactly at twelve, someone appeared at the door. “Are you ready, Noah?” a beautiful woman with long blond hair and blue eyes asked.
       “Wow, is it noon already?” Noah said.
       “Maggie, this is one of the counselors for fifth grade, Jill Danner. Jill, Maggie Marino.”
       “Hello Jill.”“Maggie. You’re the dog lady.”
       Maggie frowned.
       Noah did too. “And much more.” He turned to Maggie. “I’m having lunch with Jill today.”
       “Go ahead,” Maggie said sweetly. “I’ll get my stuff and Rosie’s together then I’ll lock up and leave.”
       Jill turned her gaze to Noah. “I’ll drive. Let’s go.”
       “All right.” After getting his navy pea coat out of a long, broom-closet-like closet, he shrugged into it, and gave Maggie a nod. “See you in a week.”
       “Rosie and I will be here.”
       When they left, Maggie felt a sudden wave of loneliness. She’d best get home to Connor’s house, and see her uncle and family. That should take care of her sudden attack of being alone.

Ooh…interesting, yes? I can’t wait to see Rosie in action.

Don’t forget, your preorder price is only 99¢.

Pre-order CUPID TO THE RESCUE here!

Last week's Q&A was: Do you prefer stand-alone novels to connected series? Yes or No?

I enjoyed your answers. I think we can all agree that cliffhangers are bad. The majority of those responding favored series, although many qualified that by saying, “the best series is made of stand-alone books—with a definite HEA and recurring characters.” I couldn’t agree more.

My two randomly selected winners this week are:

Shirley Tokromo
Roberta McCord

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


This week’s Q&A: Pumpkin Spice? Yes or No.

I’ll tell you my answer now: a resounding no. I’m always tempted and always disappointed. But feel free to try to convert me. 😉

(Two winners will be chosen by random drawing to receive either a $5 Starbucks gift card or a $5 Amazon gift card. Please reply the usual ways:
email or on my DebraSalonenAuthor Facebook page.)

Thanks for your concern and good wishes regarding our smoke situation. Sadly, the Creek Fire is only one of many burning in California right now. So many people have lost so much that I really can’t complain about our grayish brown skies and bad air. Pray for rain.

Take care and stay well,


Next week: Snippet #2 from Cupid to the Rescue.



Copyright © 2020 Debra Salonen