New Release

Well, my time of internet silence hasn’t been for naught.

I’m happy, nauseous, thrilled, ecstatic to announce that my new book Recycled will be available for sale in paperback and ebook March 19th!

The blurb:

When a small town psychiatric patient is hunted by a leather-clad Reaper, she must decide if she can trust her heart to the only man who might be able to save her life.

The docs say seventeen year old Michale Morgan is a schizophrenic. Her parents agree, and then ship her off to live with her eccentric great aunt. When immortal pacifist Lysander and his smart-mouthed watcher crash Michale’s group therapy session, Michale discovers she’s stuck in a reincarnation loop.

Reaper Fate is not satisfied to simply end Michale’s current life, but strives to entrap her soul, breaking this unnatural cycle of death and rebirth forever. Michale becomes desperate to prevent her very essence from being pickled and left to rot in a dusty corner of some cosmic pantry for the rest of eternity.  Clearly everyone can’t have their way.

While Fate chases them across country, through a casino, a life insurance seminar, and a backwoods honkytonk, Michale must learn to trust Lysander enough to save her life— and maybe even her heart. Meanwhile, Lysander must choose between his vow of peace and the love of his immortal life.

If they fail in this life, there may not be another.

I’ll be posting the cover here in the next few days. I hope that y’all are as stoked as I am! (Minus the nausea…)

And I’m back…

No, really! Except for the ones below.

No, really! Except for the ones below.

Activate your most shrill, Molly Weasleyish voice.


Deactivate and end the necessity for shouty caps. Now that I’m properly chastened, allow me to explain.

Thankfully October ended. I wasn’t able to complete my These Things challenge for two reasons. The first being that family drama (of the insane variety) drowned out any happy juju I’d manage to summon through my positive thinking, which admittedly was not a lot.

The second reason is that I honestly couldn’t think of more good things to write about my father, which was depressing. I’m hoping this blockage is due more to my emotional tsunami than the actual lack of positive memories from my relationship with my father. I guess I’ll know in time…

November was Nanowrimo. I’m always going to be MIA when I participate. For those of you who care, I’ll be posting about my experience and takeaways with that next week.

December was crazy and flew by waaaaaaaaaay too fast. Seriously, I blinked and it went poof−even the smoke flitted away with unnatural speed. The only exception to this weird time vortex was the 46 hours I spent in a car with my equally sleep deprived husband, my three minimen, and the twinions, who get terribly carsick and have a love for Barney that’s bordering on the obsessive. (Aforementioned trip led to a true love/hate relationship between me and the portable DVD player.)

But now it’s January, and we’re getting back to real life!

I have a good feeling about this year. How about you?

I lose.

After weeks of being gluten-free to the absolute, very best of my ability, I’ve spent the last 2 days in close proximity to the bathroom. It’s discouraging to say the least.

Finally, I threw my hands up and shouted, “You win, gluten!”



And promptly ate a full size Snickers bar.

I almost immediately regretted that decision.

On the plus side, I feel closer to the Lord after all of that praying.

P.S. Most restaurants nowadays have gluten sensitive menus. Good enough for diets, but not for those with Celiac disease.  Just a little something to keep in mind.


This Time Last Year

Having never been a blogger or even really kept a diary (I lost the key to my sparkly unicorn one when I was 7 and never quite recovered …) I’m often completely unsure hesitant about what to post on this site. In a perfect world, I’d have killer parenting tips or funny stories accompanied by even funnier drawings or something that would benefit the web community as a whole. But lacking that, I always wonder is anyone going to read this? Would it be a waste of their valuable time if they did? And lastly, is this too personal? The answers to those questions tonight are maybe, probably, and yes. But writing is cheaper than therapy and you’re not required to keep reading, so here we go.

One night around this time last year, I had just gone to sleep, when I realized my phone was buzzing and I actually answered it. (Anyone who’s ever tried to call me, especially before the twins’ first birthday, should know what a miracle this sequence of events actually was. Seriously, it’s up there with the fish and loaves.)

My aunt was on the other end.

“Baby, I’m calling about your Daddy. He’s in the hospital and … it’s not good.” She always calls me baby, no matter how many years it’s been since we spoke. Normally I get warm fuzzies with a hint of longing that lingers from my childhood. My aunt had a wonderful family, and as a little girl, I always wanted to be part of it. But that night, I just felt cold dread.

I’d received variations of this call for over a decade. When my father first started having heart trouble, I still lived close enough to sit in the hard backed chairs of the waiting room all night to hear word. Over the years we’d been gone, I’ve made trips back when he had a bad attack or it seemed more serious. But there’s also been times when his significant other (whoever that happened to be at the time) didn’t call, so I’d find out too late to even worry.

In fact, when my father’s father died, no one told me until a week after the funeral, because we lived 900 miles away and they just assumed I couldn’t make it. I always feared the same would happen with Daddy.

He’d been driving his latest girlfriend and her kids out of town for dinner when it happened. The details were sketchy but his heart stopped, his pace maker fired once, twice, three times, and 911 was called. He’d been airlifted back to our local hospital by then and was in the ICU. It’s not good was an understatement.

For once, I didn’t ask if I needed to come home. I knew I did.

I rushed downstairs to tell my husband but all I accomplished was a sobbing babble. After a few minutes, he simply handed me my phone and told me to call my mother. After all, if she can understand my never-ending voicemails, she might be able to crack this code as well.

My mother and my father were teenagers when she got pregnant and they got hitched. But they were young, and he was a bit wild. They divorced not much later and he drove a truck nearly all of my life. I’d see him maybe once a year with few exceptions. They tried to give it another go when I was about 6, but that time was shorter and more painful and thankfully ended real quick. So you’ll understand when I say, my mother (and her family) were the only constants in my life until I started a family of my own.

I calmed down as we talked and made a rough plan to go south as soon as possible, crash with my grandmother who had more room available, and felt like it was all going to be okay by the time I ended the call. I just needed to get back home.

Since my husband is USAF and I was in no condition to drive 22 hours with five kids by myself, we contacted the Red Cross as he called his superior officer. They were incredible and we were on our way about 3 hours after my Aunt’s first call.

The drive was miserable. I swung between anger at myself for not making more of an effort to keep in touch with Daddy and old bitterness that he didn’t either, which then left guilt for being so petty when he could be dying. Then I’d think I was being silly for rushing down, putting my family through the physical and financial stress when he’d probably be in step-down by the time we hit the city limits.

We’d only been in New Jersey about 3 months, so I worried about my husband’s job. What if he used all of his emergency leave? What happened next time? But eventually we made it. I got a quick shower, because I always feel nasty after a long car trip, and then went straight to the hospital, leaving my tired kids and exhausted husband to fend for themselves.

Over the next 3 weeks, I sat by his bed for hours, switching out with my aunt or his girlfriend. I didn’t do anything. I was just there. But most days, I’m thankful I was.

There were many times I asked myself how long we could stay. My boys were missing school. My twins were off their schedule and beyond fussy. My milk supply dropped. We were broke; we’d have to borrow money to even get home. The doctors wouldn’t give firm answers, just “we hope” and “if this works, then we’ll-”. But I just couldn’t seem to leave.

Finally, my husband had to go back to work. So we planned to leave in 5 days with only hours to spare for him to get back to report to duty. My grandmother said she didn’t think I needed to return for the funeral, if there was to be one. I’d done enough. I didn’t think there was such a thing, but I held my tongue. She meant well, after all.

That night when I was cooking supper for my people, my aunt called. She said it was time to take him off everything but the pain meds. We weren’t sure how long it’d take but if I wanted to be there tonight, they were letting all of the family in.

I stood by his bedside until he passed away that night surrounded by his family and his friends and bandmates, and I tried to be happy he’d had such a full life. I tried to be thankful I’d gotten the time I did−my half brothers and sisters scattered all over the continental US weren’t able to be there at all. I tried to be strong as cousins, who knew him better and had claimed more of his time and heart, sobbed when his breathing stuttered, pausing for so long we thought he was gone, only to draw yet another rattling breath. And ever since this time last year, I’ve tried to forget his desperate, panicked gaze when he knew the end was near. But I failed then and I fail tonight as I type this … whatever this is supposed to be.

I wish he had been a better father and that I had been a better daughter. I wish that he was able to keep all of those well-meaning promises over the years and that I’d stopped believing everything he said at a much younger age. But mostly, I wish it didn’t still hurt to think about him, but then sometimes I feel guilty that it doesn’t hurt more−that his loss didn’t make more of an impact on my day-to-day.

It sneaks up on me at the strangest times though.

On my way to Walmart in the middle of a Wednesday, I picked up my phone to call because everyone else I know was either busy or working and then I remembered he’s not there anymore.

Daddy never remembered my birthday. Sometimes he’d forget altogether or get it confused with my mother’s, but usually I’d get a call sometime in November. I waited for that random call last year, and I’m afraid this year will be no different.

I forgot his birthday this summer−I never really knew it or was able to celebrate it with him− but Father’s Day was rough. Even more so because my husband doesn’t understand how I can mourn a man I didn’t really know, one who hurt me time and time again through his unintentional neglect and thoughtlessness. On the way home from the emotionally disastrous funeral, my husband said to just forget my father and all of those people, their opinions don’t matter anymore. So how could I possibly explain that to me they do and probably always will?

So I hope you’ll forgive me for oversharing, for expressing my grief rather plainly here, and for the next time I’m in a maudlin mood and repeat the offense. I guess I just need someone to talk to tonight and congratulations, internet peeps, you’re it.

Date Night

In the queue: Jimmy Eat World and All-American Rejects with a dash of Adele in the mix.

Words written: zero. (I thought it’d look better spelled out … I was wrong.) But I did make it through about 10K first draft edits, so that’s something.

Moving on!

I’ve been a wee bit stressed, and my hubby has been TDY more often than not the last few months. In fact, after being home a whole week, he’s deserting us again on Monday. So last night, after the twins were in bed and my mini-men returned from karate, I experienced first hand the rare and often elusive date night.

It does exist, and man, it was awesome.

Honestly, we just grabbed a quick bite and caught a late movie, but yeah … heaven! And since we were the only irresponsible adults out late on a weeknight at the beginning of the school year, we got a private screening.

The hubs has already seen The Guardians of the Galaxy three times, so we chose The Giver, which is the actual reason for this post for those of you wondering. I went into the theater, expecting nothing but a quiet, dark room with nobody “MOM!”ing me, and then discovered the flick is an adaptation of the 1994 book by Lois Lowry. I’ve never read the book –and now I won’t because I liked the movie– but I couldn’t help but notice similarities to a few other movies in the past twenty years. Actually, my hubby couldn’t help pointing out each and every similarity. (The downsides to being alone in the theater: I couldn’t shush him without being more rude, thus losing the courteous high ground, and if I gave into the temptation to strangle him,  there were no suspicious chaps about to blame or even create a little reasonable doubt.)

***Spoiler Alert***

The Giver: Matrix style, starring Meryl Strep as Agent Smith.  The giver-in-training is like a less flexible Neo: he does what no one else can do by getting info uploaded directly into his brain.  But  Jeff  Bridges as Morpheus is where this one falls apart.

What about The Village? I mean, you have the all-knowing, all-concealing council of elders, a town secluded from the rest of the world, and a hero who has to leave the boundaries of his world, which he thought was perfect mere days ago, in order to save a life. 

But Equilibrium was the most obvious comparison that came to mind. First of all, the citizens get meds that take away their emotions, everyone is the same, no artwork or music, no color to life. There’s one scene in particular when both main characters basically get their emotions back and start seeing color again. Maybe the scenes standout because they’re so touching–the restoration of something so vital and  essential to what makes us human–but I still got that deja vu  vibe.

And within the first ten minutes of the movie, I exclaimed, “Oh! This is like Matched!”

If imitation is the truest form of flattery, then surely Lois Lowry has been inundated  with Facebook pokes,  #Friday follows, and Be Mine, frilly pink hearts filled with chocolate caramel clusters for years. But accepting that there’s nothing new under the sun, (Yep, I just went all Biblical on y’all.) where is the line between inspiration and imitation?

This is the question I will be pondering when I should be doing something productive tomorrow.

Just what can I eat?!

Tonight’s forecast: Happiness!!! Beware of gratuitous exclamation points.

Playing on the dock: Pharrell. How apropos…

Since I’ve begun my gluten free journey, you won’t be the least bit surprised to know that I’ve whined. Like, a lot. A smidgeon of wailing and gnashing of pearly whites may have also been spotted… I couldn’t say for sure. And while searching my stockpile pantry, the most whined question has been, “Just what can I eat?!”

The short answer: Fruits, vegetables, and meat that has not been breaded or marinated. Unfortunately, none of these lovely items were what I’ve been mourning the loss of. My muse requires nothing less than sugary caloric deprivation to be at her best. Last time I tried to snack on celery and carrots while writing, she filibustered my writing time for an entire week with ridiculous plot bunnies, excessive adverbs, and a sudden desire to look at cat pictures.

But tonight — oh, tonight! — I’m doing a fancy, muscle-pulling jig on Cloud 11. My happy-vator paused at the 9th cloud when I discovered I can still indulge in my beloved Dr. Pepper without damaging my health (any more than usual), and just kept on going up, up, and away when my hubby produced a bag of Skittles!


SKITTLES!!! The chosen nectar of persnickety, sugar-craven muses everywhere! (Well, at least in the vicinity of my laptop…)

Now I’m off to write! Wish me luck.

Oh! I’m also compiling a list of links to articles, people, and places I find who do gluten-free way better than me. Yes, the list will be extensive as it’ll include anything remotely helpful and informative. If you have any resources to add, drop me a line!

Dietary Mourning

The labs came back Monday. I’ve got celiac disease. It’s not the end of the world, but going gluten free is going to be quite an adjustment.

Last night, I was bemoaning the fact that everything I was cooking for dinner had been infected with gluten cooties. So my loving husband hugged me and said, “I’m sorry you’re having a rough time. Here, have a cupcake. I know they’re your favorite.” And they are! You know, the cream filled ones topped with the chocolate ganache and finished off with the trademark white swirls.

While my deepest desire was to respond like this:



My oozie brassiere was in the wash. Meh, I don’t really have the figure to do the move justice anyway.

The rest of my week  night went more like this:



Nevertheless, I have come to value my colon, and as the old saying goes, I’m sick and tired of being… well, you get the idea. So I will suck it up, mourn my unrestricted diet, and try to brave this new world where everything is contaminated with the glutes. I swear, it’s horrifying!  Like the first time I saw a hotel room under a black light…

But I digress.

Farewell, sweet Taco Bell. I shall miss your chalupas and nacho bellgrandes and cinnamon twisties. To be fair, I can partake of their sour cream, salsa, and most of their fountain drinks, so not all is lost.

I’m going to go watch Dirty Dancing and have a good cry now.

sad pony

Takeaways from the Writer’s Digest Conference NYC ’14

So, I was a bit leery about spending so much money to attend the 2014 Writer’s Digest Conference in NYC last weekend, but the stars aligned, my hubby’s leave was approved, and I was off. Honestly, with 5 kiddos at home, I figured it’d be a vacation if nothing else.

But I must say the conference was simply amazing! It left me on information overload in the best possible way. The keynote speakers were obviously chosen with care. At least twice during each of their speeches, I felt like they were talking about or to me. I could gush copiously and wax all poetic about each and every one of these fine literary paragons!  But I won’t.

At least not online…

On this website…

At least, not tonight… But I am going to hit some of the highlights and my personal takeaways from my incredible weekend.

1. According to Dani Shapiro, even if I get traditionally published, make the New York Times bestseller list, or receive that coveted call from Oprah, I will still never feel secure enough to call myself a writer. And now that I know I’m not alone, that’s ok.

2. I will forever more remember Harlen Coben quoting Cher and Mary Higgins-Clark in the same sentence. (FYI: Mary Higgins-Clark is an amazing woman. Period.)

3.Even with all of the marketing, publicity, and publishing business that is essential and time-consuming for any successful author, writers write. It sounds like a no brainer, but after days of listening to the business end of things, it’s nice to be reminded.

4. Have a little faith, a lot of patience, and be willing to work your ass off.

5. Agents really are just people. Sure, they’re people who can help you reach your dreams or crush your every hope beneath their French tips, but they’re people. And the ones I nervously pitched my story to were unfailingly kind.

6. In this digital age, there are many ways to get your work into the hands of your readers. You can self-publish, go the traditional route, or go with a newer hybrid method. No matter which method you choose, do it right. Take the time to present your work to the best of your abilities. And if your abilities are lacking (I know mine are in several areas), hire people to bridge the gap.

7. Chuck Sambuchino is hilarious and really helpful when it comes to advice for pitching to agents.

8. Last but certainly not least, “Don’t be a douchebag.” A direct quote from Central Keynote Saturday: The Rules of Writing and When to Break Them with Harlen Coben.

eyebrow photo: raise eyebrow tumblr_lfwhoezERj1qdwjb5o1_500.gif