My friend author Kitty Bucholtz is stopping by today to share an excerpt of her chick lit book, Little Miss Lovesick (btw a great, funny, sweet story!). Kitty is very special to me because a few years back she generously stepped up to mentor my fledgling writing endeavors, long-distance, from her then home in Australia! What did we do before the internet?!
Besides chick lit, Kitty writes superhero urban fantasy with romantic comedy elements. (She just celebrated her 25th anniversary to her college sweetheart, so she’s got a lot of experience with rom-com!)
Little Miss Lovesick is free this week on Kindle. Be sure to download it for your phone or computer using your Kindle app or directly onto your Kindle between Tuesday, May 19 and Saturday, May 23.
Here’s an excerpt from Kitty’s book for you to enjoy:
WE WERE all going to die.
My great escape into the wilderness of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to vanquish Heartbreak from my life was going to end in my early demise. And here I thought it was my broken heart that was killing me.
We’d been driving for over seven hours. The last town snuck past us an hour ago when we’d turned off the paved road. Pavement became gravel, then dirt, then two-tracks. The wooden hand-painted signs with arrows and mileage that marked our way made it feel like we were driving through another world. Like the kids through the wardrobe in the Narnia books. Okay, that part sounded kind of nice, actually.
Dirk would hate it here. No tennis courts in the forest. No skim lattes with soy milk and a sprinkle of cinnamon. And he certainly wouldn’t drive his BMW down a two-track through the woods with the top down.
I sighed. This was harder than I thought it’d be, getting Dirk out of my head. If I could exorcise him from my head, I’m sure my heart would heal faster. I was so tired of crying, of whining, of wishing life was different. All I wanted was to settle down with a husband and a house and a dog and 2.4 kids. I knew exactly how I wanted to decorate our home. I’d planned the kinds of parties we would have. We’d be part of the Neighborhood Watch team, and we’d plan block parties for 4th of July. We were going to have the perfect life together.
Then it all ended. Abruptly. Without warning. And I thought I was going to die. But that was four months ago. I had to find a way to get my life back again. Hence the trip into the wilderness.
Then I remembered we were all going to die. Who knew there was this much wilderness out there?
“How much gas do we have?” I called from the back of the fifteen-passenger van. I could just see the obituary.
Ten city girls who should have known better died last week when they drove a van through the wilderness without gassing up in the last town.
Yeah, that’s the way I can see my life ending right now. Great.
“There’s plenty of gas, don’t worry,” said Patty.
Patty McEntyre had organized this fly-fishing trip — an idea I’d loved before I became convinced of our imminent deaths. Patty had become my Mom-away-from-home since I’d moved to Traverse City two years ago. My mom and I talk, but we don’t communicate. Patty’s the one I trust to listen and give me good advice. Mom’s advice…well, she means well, but she’s a big Dirk fan.
See, I met Dirk — Frederick Wayne Schneider III — when we both worked for the same company in Lansing, Michigan, where we’re both from. All the girls lusted after him, but I was the lucky one who got to sigh into the mirror and say, “He picked me.” Naturally, when he moved north to Traverse City, I came with him.
Well, I followed him. Looking back, I see the difference. On the one hand, he didn’t want us to move in together to “protect my reputation.” On the other hand, he had no compunctions about sleeping with me. Silly me, I thought that if I saved myself for the man I’d marry, he’d actually marry me! Instead, after four years of promises, he dumped me. Said he was in love with someone else.
So there I was in Traverse City with a job I loved (turns out I’m a great residential realtor), an apartment I’d assumed would be temporary, and a naked ring finger. Completely heartbroken. After four months of tears, I’d decided I needed an escape. Well, Patty suggested it, and my best friend Emily signed us up. A girls-only fishing trip into the wilds of the Upper Peninsula with the Harbor View Nature Club.
Though if we didn’t find some kind of civilization soon, I had my doubts that we’d ever be seen or heard from again.
“Only fifteen miles to go,” Shelley said from behind the wheel.
“Fifteen miles?” Emily cried. “At five miles an hour, that’s three more hours!”
Emily Dodson, my best friend in the whole universe, had been unnaturally excited about this trip. I wanted her to come because she’s my best friend and I didn’t want to go alone. But I wasn’t prepared for her — well, exuberance. Emily’s a city girl. Well, as city as you can get where we live. She’s all about malls and looking great and having beautifully painted nails. She’s more Sex in the City than Northern Exposure. Emily had never even gone hiking with me. In a healthier state of mind, I would’ve seriously questioned her newfound desire to kill and cook her own dinner.
Patty smiled soothingly at us from the front passenger seat. “She’s teasing you. We’re almost there. Half an hour at the most.”
“That’ll make us look even more intelligent in our obituary,” I said. “‘Ten women died twenty minutes from civilization. It’s rumored that they drove in circles saying, ‘Just a few more minutes, a few more minutes.’”
Emily grunted. My pseudofascination with how I would die usually amused her. The fact that she wasn’t laughing meant she wasn’t so sure I was wrong this time.
She waved her cell phone. “It’s impossible to die in the wilderness if you’re anywhere near civilization in this day and age.” She sounded like she was trying to convince herself more than the rest of us.
I looked at her phone and quirked an eyebrow. “Oh yeah? How much longer do you think it’ll say, ‘Searching for signal’?”
Emily looked at her phone. “Panic” would aptly describe her expression. “Are you sure you know where we are, Patty?”
But twenty-eight minutes later (I looked at my watch so I could gauge time of death), the two-track suddenly opened into a huge yard of sorts, a meadow really. Obviously it was used as a parking lot because there were half a dozen vehicles there.
But wherever tire tracks hadn’t crushed them, the lively color of wildflowers sprang from the ground. The pine, birch, and maple trees joined together to form a harmony of forest around us. To the left as we pulled in was a two-story building with a quaint painted sign, “Abundance Creek Lodge and Store,” nailed above the door.
Next to the store stood what appeared to be the bunkhouse. Two, no, three little cottages peeked out from the woods on one side of the meadow. The first thing that came to mind when I saw them was The Three Little Pigs. It made me smile. So long as the Big Bad Wolf and all of his real life brothers stayed far away. Yikes. I’d forgotten the U.P. (Michigan-speak for the Upper Peninsula) had actual wolves. I tried not to think about it.
Thing is, I expected all of the buildings to be rugged, wooden structures, hardly a step up from tree forts. Wooden they were, but there was a sense of artistry here. Nothing like what I assumed men would build in the wilderness — or even what I figured men would choose if it were this pretty place or a more earthy, flea-infested fishing lodge.
But hey, I’m single, so what I know about men is obviously in question here.
I don’t know where I went wrong, sighed Little Miss Lovesick. I was so close to having it all.
Ignore her. I’m not Sybil or Eve or anything, but…well, you know those voices in your head? I named them. Not all of them, just the obnoxious ones. I mean, it’s nothing weird or anything. Okay, it is weird, but it’s better than talking out loud, right? Then everyone knows you’re crazy. Oh, forget it. Anyway…
Shelley parked the van and we all spilled out, groaning and stretching. The feel of real, not-planted-by-human-hands grass under my feet made me take off my sandals. I sighed with pleasure as the long grass enveloped my feet. This trip was a great idea.
“I hope they sell fudge,” said Tracey, a marketing consultant I remembered from a previous Nature Club excursion.
“Why?” I asked. “We just drove here from the fudge capital of the world.”
She laughed. “But now we’re the ones on vacation. We can act like Fudgies and the locals can wish we’d spend our money and leave.”
It’s true. That’s what we call tourists in Traverse City — Fudgies. They’re always backing up traffic when they try to turn into a fudge shop unexpectedly. Very annoying when you’re trying to get somewhere. On the other hand, you have to be grateful for the economic boost. Me especially, since sometimes it’s a “Fudgie” buying a vacation home that helps me make rent.
Of course, the fact that you pay rent and not a mortgage is Dirk’s fault, said Pride (Sergeant Pride, I call him). You give the man love, loyalty, sex (!), and what do you get? The old kick in the caboose. Jerk.
Turns out Mom was right about the milk and the cow, sighed another Voice.
Whatever. I mentally stuck my tongue out at myself. I would be institutionalized — or medicated at the very least — if anyone ever found out about all the voices in my head.
Everyone followed Patty into the store. Everyone but me. I waved Emily off, deciding I needed to breathe in some soothing, wilderness air. The sugar blues that follow a sugar buzz wasn’t helping my roller coaster of emotions. I decided to self-medicate. I opened another candy bar and a can of Sprite from our stash.
Starting today, I would force my broken heart to heal if it was the last thing I did. Then maybe I’d lock it away someplace safe.
Don’t say that, said Little Miss Lovesick. Love is the most wonderful thing in the world. You just need to find true love.
True love. That’s what I wanted, but if I thought I had it once and I was wrong, how was I ever going to know how to find it for real?
I walked through the grass, trying unsuccessfully not to tread on the flowers. Closing my eyes, I savored the feel of the breeze on my face. Ahh, heaven. Feeling calmer, I folded the empty candy wrapper and stuck it in my pocket. I took a swallow of ice cold Sprite as I climbed the porch steps—
And ran smack into an opening screen door. Which wouldn’t have been so bad except the body moving through the door was moving in my direction and crashed into me. Cold Sprite sloshed down my shirt, making me gasp.
“Damn! Are you all right?” A hand cupped my cheek and moved the screen door away from my face. Cold Sprite dripped all down my front. I took a step backward in an awkward attempt to get away. I felt my balance wobble. The hand firmly gripped my elbow, moving me away from the danger of the stairs.
Sputtering from the pop up my nose and in one eye, I wiped at my eyes and squinted to see what had just happened.
It’s The Diet Coke Man, Little Miss Lovesick choked out.
I know I watch too many YouTube videos, but Lovesick may have been right. The Diet Coke Man from the “11:30” commercials was standing right in front of me. A flash of the commercial where the office women ogle the construction worker across the street blew through my brain. Dark hair and piercing eyes, built like a Viking. The way his black T-shirt outlined his muscular form did nothing to remind me that Heartbreak was the reason I had to get away.
Luscious, said Lovesick.
Holy… I tried to squeegee the liquid from my eye. Yeah, he looked equally fabulous with both eyes open. He stared at me in a concerned way that made my stomach flutter. I kind of liked men who looked at a woman this way. Like all you had to do was say the word and they’d fix whatever was broken.
The Diet Coke Man brushed drops of Sprite from my cheek and chin and I immediately sprang back, which only caused him to grasp my elbow tighter as I fell onto a lower step. Theoretically, I liked that kind of man. Realistically, I needed to keep my distance.
“Excuse me!” I found my footing and backed out of reach. He let go when I grabbed the handrail on the stairs.
“Sorry, sorry.” He wiped his damp hand on his jeans, and had the grace to look embarrassed. “Are you all right?” He was dangerously appealing standing there trying to help, looking both embarrassed and amused.
I shook my wet right hand, not really wanting to wipe it on my shorts (like a guy), and wiped my face with my left hand. My cold chest caught my gaze and I gasped, pulling the fabric away from my body.
“Fine!” Did I look fine? My shirt was white and wet. My bra was black and lacey. I glared at him so he knew I was lying about being fine. He couldn’t have noticed my glare, however, because he was staring at—
Look for a ring, Lovesick murmured.
You’re not looking for a wedding ring on a stranger who knocked you down and is now ogling your breasts, declared Sergeant Pride.
“Uh, wait right here,” said The Diet Coke Man, and he rushed back inside. As he opened the door, my eyes followed his left hand — but accidentally. Didn’t matter. Couldn’t tell. A moment later he was back, ripping a wad of napkins from a plastic package.
I swear, if he started dabbing at my chest with them like Hugh Grant did to Julia Roberts in Notting Hill, I’d pour the rest of my pop over his head.
* * * * *
Kitty Bucholtz writes superhero urban fantasy and romantic comedy, often with an inspirational element woven in. After she earned her MA in Creative Writing, she decided to become a writer-turned-independent-publisher, forming Daydreamer Entertainment and self-publishing her first novel in late 2011. She loves to teach writing workshops online at WriterEntrepreneurGuides.com and in person.
Be sure to check out Kitty’s site, signup for her newsletter and get her free self-publishing checklist. Oh, and don’t forget to download Little Miss Lovesick between Tuesday, May 19 and Saturday, May 23!