It’s been one of those weeks, or couple of weeks, when life has moved at a breakneck pace and I’m still huffing and puffing and trying to catch up. You have heard all about my RWA conference, but shortly after I returned home, we made a quick trip to Louisiana to see my grandmother. She’s in a nursing home, and she’d recently been moved to the hospital with an infection and a distinct lack of will to live. We went down there not knowing what we’d find, but she took a turn for the better. She’s back in the nursing home now and promising to eat and get stronger if we’ll take her to Wal-Mart when we come back. She’s always loved Wal-Mart.

I was glad to see her (if I told you how many years it’s been since I’ve seen her, you’d be shocked) and sad too. She used to be a bold, brash woman who chain-smoked, cussed, and read paperback novels like there was no tomorrow. Going to her house for a couple of weeks in the summer was a supreme treat because she had a room crammed absolutely full of novels. And she didn’t care what I read. I remember reading 9 and 1/2 Weeks once and being shocked at the sensuality of it. There were horror novels, romances, women’s fiction, science fiction, etc. I read lots of stuff, so much that I can’t remember everything. It was like living in a library, especially since the room I stayed in was the library room. I was surrounded by books. (And, unfortunately, the scent of cigarette smoke.)

Grandma doesn’t read anymore, mostly because she’s weak and can’t see well. I gave her a copy of my book (large print) just in case, but I’m not sure she’ll read it. Which is okay. I think just having it there is enough. Though it was good to see her, I came away with a horror of nursing homes and a bit of anger that she did this to herself. See, she wouldn’t stop smoking, no matter how sick she got, no matter how smoking ruined her body. Smoking doesn’t just give you lung cancer. I learned this past weekend that it can debilitate you so bad you have to be hooked up to a catheter and have nurses change you because you can no longer get out of bed.

You may wonder how I can be certain it’s the smoking that did this. Grandma has two sisters, one younger and one older. They are spry, capable women who still have all their motor functions and who live in their own homes. They don’t smoke, and they exercise. Grandma chain-smoked and ate whatever in the hell she wanted. And she never exercised. So yes, it’s a combination of factors, but I can’t help but think how differently it would be if she’d taken better care of herself, if she’d listened to the doctor’s advice and given up the cigarettes. She could still be in her home, reading books, going for walks, enjoying life. Instead, she’s in a prison for old people. A soul-crushing, depressing place that smells like boiled pasta, urine, and mold.

I guess I sound like a public service announcement, but I do hope that you will take care of yourselves. Give up bad habits, start healthy ones, and read romance. Speaking of romance, Spanish Magnate, Red-Hot Revenge is available in stores NOW. I’m so excited about it! Even though I went to Louisiana for a somber mission, I still managed to get into a couple of bookstores and sign my books. It was great to see them so far from my home, and to be welcomed so warmly.

I’m working on my next book (my 4th for Presents), so better get busy. What are you up to today? Writing? Reading? Exercising? ๐Ÿ˜‰