Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy New Year!

It's a New Year! 2017! Hooray!

I have to say....2016 was a rough one. Between drama over the summer, mixed with losing my dad, mixed with a friend losing her daughter, mixed with the perils of living abroad, mixed with the presidential elections in the USA.....

It was kind of a hot mess.

So I, for one, am happily and cheerfully welcoming 2017. This will be a good year. It will. My son is graduating...but not before taking some amazing trips through his school. He will leave to serve a mission for our church this summer. My other children will begin their third and last year in school abroad...thank goodness. I will release two more books. Maybe more. We'll see how the words flow.

I have high hopes. Not just for myself, but for my amazing reader and writer friends. You all are the P in my PB&J. Without you, I have no dream career. You are all amazing. Thank you.

Happy New Year....


P.S. Start thinking about your resolutions, friends. We'll talk about them when I'm back from Boracay.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Have you ever let your imagination run wild?

I have. Clearly.

So there is a lake near the place where my family and I used to live in the Inland Northwest. It is in Idaho, and it's called the Pend Oreille Lake. It's beautiful. Surrounded by mountains covered in deep green trees, dark water deeper than deep......try like 1200 feet deep in some places.

No. Not kidding.

There were a few times when my family went camping there, and I was TERRIFIED to let my kids go into the water. All I kept thinking was...if they drown, we'll literally never find the body.

I know, I know. Dark. I can't help it. My imagination ran wild.

My other thoughts were....there could be anything at the bottom of that lake and it's possible that nobody would ever see it. And from there....

Underwater was born.

Check out an excerpt here:

“I’m not afraid anymore.” I dropped my hand to his neck and tangled my fingers in the brown waves at his nape. “Tell me.”
He pursed his lips. We are not allowed to tell humans about the existence of Mer, and we are not to stay in human form for any longer than one passing of the sun. Above all else, once we have come of age, we are expected to keep our kind alive. Beguile a human into the water and then alter him or her into a Mer.”
My hand froze. “Beguile a human?”
He offered a defeated shrug.
We found that while we could no longer procreate with other Mer, we were still able to mate with humans. Humans, as a whole, are an incredibly fertile society. So the Council decreed that when a Mer reaches eighteen years, he or she is expected to find a human and…procreate.”
I stared at him. I could barely keep my room clean, and he was being forced to find someone to make little half-human-half-fish babies with. “So… you don’t mean right now, do you?”
He laughed. In due time. Most Mer couples will make their life commitment to each other and then have a family after a few years. The idea is to grow into maturity with your mate. That’s why we alter humans when we are still young.”
It suddenly felt frigidly cold inside my house as I pictured Isolde’s face under the water. “Which is why you drown people.”
He nodded, looking down at the floor. If we don’t, we are exiled. Cast out. And we don’t live long out of our element. So most Mer have just come to accept this as what we must do. We hunt for a human that fits our criteria, beguile that human into the water, and then…
I wrapped my arms around myself. I didn’t have to hear the rest.
“I’m sorry.” I pressed my hand to my mouth, and tears filled my eyes. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t know you were being forced to do this. I treated you so badly yesterday, I…”
What else was there to say? I’m sorry I behaved like a bitch, even though you’ll essentially die if you don’t murder a human—and you’ve chosen me. They didn’t make greeting cards for this crap.
He brushed his hands up my arms and cupped my elbows again. When he spoke, his deep voice filled the room. “You mean to tell me I just admitted that we murder people, and you’re the one who’s sorry?”
“You’re not proud of it.” I fisted the front of his T-shirt and willed my tears to remain unspilled. “You don’t want to do this. I can tell. I can see it in your eyes.”
He shook his head, making his hair flop onto his forehead. “No. I don’t. This isn’t the kind of being I want to be. For months, I’ve been sneaking away and going into towns along the shore. I snuck into movies and went to galleries. I walked into classrooms in the college and at different high schools and listened to what they were teaching. Humans are amazing. Their source of knowledge is limitless and ever changing, and I can’t get enough.
“My time posing as a human started out as a search for my mate, but became something more. My time walking among you humans was addictive. You don’t deserve to be murdered at random. You shouldn’t be used as tools. I still wonder how long it will be before I’m caught, especially now that Isolde knows I’ve been shifting. But I can’t stop. Not now.”
I squeezed the thin cotton and drew a breath. “Why?”
He tilted his head. “Because of you. The moment I met you, it was like a key in a lock. This is the connection that Mer don’t often find until after they’ve altered their human. I never expected to experience what I…”
He stopped and just stared at me, his eyes infiltrating my mind like a flashlight in the dark. The warm fuzzy feeling returned. My head swam, and I grabbed the handles of my chair to steady myself. “Don’t do that,” I whispered. “Don’t use mind control on me. You promised—”
“I’m not.” He leaned closer to me and used both of his hands to brush my hair back from my face. “Whatever you’re feeling, I’m not doing it. In fact, I’m wondering if you are doing something to me.”
My eyelids drifted shut when Saxon’s fingers brushed along my jaw. “What do you feel?”
“Dizzy.” He laughed. I could feel his warm breath on my mouth.
“You inspire me, too, you know?” His lower lip was so full and soft, I lifted a hand and touched it. I could have sworn I felt him tremble underneath my fingers. “You’re risking your life every day to learn and grow. You value human life more than most humans do.” I stopped speaking, and the silence hung between us, filled to the top with the urge we both obviously felt.
I moved first, bringing my mouth to Saxon’s with more fervency than I’d planned. Our lips molded together like clay, mine starting where his began, and vice versa, and it sent a thrilling shiver sashaying up and down my spine. When I tilted my head to the side, deepening the kiss, he slid his arms underneath me and picked me up off of my chair. I heard it roll back a few inches and bonk into the table, but ignored it and tightened my arms around his neck, digging my fingers into his messy hair.
He stood up, cradling me against his chest as he stalked into the living room and sat down in the overstuffed easy chair where Declan liked to sit while he played Wii every afternoon. When Saxon settled me across his lap, our faces parted, and we gazed at each other breathlessly. I could feel my heart pressing against the inside of my tank top and was pretty sure his was pounding in time with mine.
He brought up one of his hands to cup my cheek, and I covered it with my own. “That was some kiss.”
He nodded, just once. “It was.”
I didn’t want the moment to be over. I wasn’t done kissing him and was pretty sure I never would be. “Do it again.”
I slid my eyes shut, and explosions of bright colors went off behind my lids as his lips brushed against mine a second time. I didn’t want to be anywhere else, with anybody else, and couldn’t possibly concentrate on anything else.
Which is why I didn’t hear a key turning in the lock on the kitchen door.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

I recently lost my dad...

...And as many of you readers know, the character of Billy Cole, from The What if Guy was loosely based on him.

Check out a classic Billy scene here:

“Oh, come on.” Elliott scooped a third helping of mashed potatoes onto his plate. “You don’t think that’s hokey?”
“No, I do not think it’s hokey.” I ignored Henry’s and my father’s snickers coming from across the table. “The Flag Day committee chose the design for the mural because it embodied community and citizenship.”
Elliott shifted his eyes to his grandpa. “Sounds like a cheese fest, huh?”
My dad choked on his food. “Pretty weenie, Auto.”
“Argh.” I rolled my eyes. “You boys are impossible. Pass me the mashed potatoes.”
Henry handed me the bowl with a reassuring smile. “It doesn’t matter how cheesy it is, your work will be exquisite.”
“Thanks.” I tasted the potatoes. “You weren’t kidding. These are tasty.”
 “Told you .”
“Well, Elliott’s on his third helping, and that says a lot. He’s been talking about Holly’s mashed potatoes since November.”
My dad nudged El. “Maybe we’ll get some meat on those bones.”
Elliott blushed. “You’re one to talk.”
The two of them swatted at each other’s arms a few times, and Henry covered my hand with his on the tabletop.
 “So when will you start painting?” Henry asked, squeezing my fingers. “We’re already halfway into May, and Flag Day is June fourteenth. You’re running out of time.”
“I’ll go into Spokane tomorrow to pick up the supplies and paints. Then, I’ll be at the post office every day, working on the mural as soon as the sun hits the wall and dries the dew.”
Elliott squared his shoulders. “Everyone at school is talking about it. Miss Price wants me to take pictures on my cell phone to sneak a peek for her.”
“Miss Price needs to wait like the rest of us.” My dad pushed away his plate of barely-eaten food. “Auto’s gonna make this town proud.”
“I hope so. It’s not going to be easy, and I’ll be at the post office until dark every night until it’s done.” I looked at my dad’s yellowed hands, and took a deep breath. “You’ve been getting pretty disoriented in the evenings. I’m worried about not being here.”
“I’ll be here.” Elliott said. “I can help him.”
Henry adjusted in his chair. “And I will, too.”
My dad looked at him in surprise. “You don’t gotta do that. I’m just tired these days.”
The look on his face said otherwise. My father was well aware of his deteriorating health. We’d talked about the measures he wanted me to take to sustain his life if he took a turn for the worse—none. The only thing he’d expressed emphatically was that he didn’t want to die alone in a hospital room.
I thought I could grant him that one wish.
“Of course not.” Henry spoke quickly. “But I don’t have cable at my house, so I miss all the good games. If I come here after work, I can teach Elliott how to make mashed potatoes and watch the games with you.”
My dad knew what he meant. He stared at Henry for a beat, frowning, then snapped, “Mooch.”
Henry grinned. “You got me.”
“What makes you think I want to learn how to make mashed potatoes?” Elliott licked his fork.
I raised an eyebrow at my son. “You just had four helpings, El. You’d better learn to make them for yourself, if you want to keep up that potato habit.”
“I was thinking that we could work on your cello during the afternoons, too,” Henry said, stabbing a bite of salad with his fork. “I don’t get to spend much one-on-one time with you at strings once a week. I’m thinking the Spokane Junior Symphony might be in your future. Tryouts are in September. If we start working now, we can get a selection down pat. You have to play from memory at the auditions. I think you can do it, Elliott. I really do.”
El’s cheeks became pink. “I don’t practice here as much as I did in Seattle. I would have to practice a lot. And I would have to come up with a cool piece to play. I mean, a really cool piece.”
My dad banged his fist on the table. “Willie Nelson.”
We all laughed.
            I began clearing the table. “Sounds like a plan. Elliott, go finish your math homework, and hit the shower. I can smell your sneakers from here. Dad, go sit down,” I called over my shoulder. “I’ll bring you your medications.”

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Happy Anniversary to my nerd.

Eleven years ago, I married my handsome, nerdy husband. He came into my (our) lives and loved me (us) from day one. He jokes that half the reason he married me was because he'd fallen in love with my two young children, too. We became a family before anything was official, and we've been going strong ever since.

(Don't worry. It's all me in all the couples shots. Wigs, remember?)

We got married on a Tuesday night, just two days after Christmas. We didn't make a big deal out of it. Just went to our church and got hitched. Only a few people were there. Nobody from either of our families. And that was okay. It was just perfect.

He's my very best friend. I married up, and I know it. He loves our four kids utterly and completely, and he leads our family with patience, righteousness, and honor. He treats me like a treasure, and really, isn't that what every wife wants?? They don't make men like that anymore. I'm grateful I snagged him.

Happy Anniversary, old man.


Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Ready to do some reading!?

So the presents are all opened, and everyone is coming down from their Christmas highs...

It's clearly time to read some books. Am I right, or am I right?

Check out and excerpt from my Young Adult Romance, The Art of Being Indifferent...

“Sorry to interrupt.” Posey Coulter, er, Briggs, or whatever the hell it was, held up her number between Maddie and me. She glared at me through her hair. “Mr. Kingston said to give you my information so we could get together.”
            “Get together?” Maddie’s hands went to her hips. “Excuse me?”
            Posey didn’t even blink in her direction. “So is tomorrow good?”
            “Tomorrow for what?” Maddie demanded, making a couple of girls passing by stop and stare.
            Shaking my head, I took a step back. “Wait. What?”
            Posey rolled her eyes. Or at least I think she did, I couldn’t see through all of her black hair. “Oh come on. Kingston didn’t talk to you yet?”
            “Oh.” I sneered down at her. “That.”
            Maddie nudged me. “Drew. What?”
            Posey glared at Maddie. “Got him on a short leash, Princess?”
            Maddie took a threatening step towards my new tutor. “Who the hell do you think you are?”
            I waited for Posey to charge off in the opposite direction. This was social suicide. Surely she knew that. Instead, Posey snorted. “I think you’re mistaking yourself for someone important. Why don’t you run along to the girls’ room and reapply some of your gloss? You’re looking a bit tired.”
            Maddie’s lips curled back into a sneer. “You ugly little sleaze.”
            I almost laughed. Nobody talked to Maddie that way, least of all someone like Posey. “Listen, I got the message from Kingston.” I said, grabbing the paper out of her hand. “This your phone number?”
            Posey jerked away from my touch and brought her eyes back to mine. They were the iciest shade of blue I’d ever seen. Or maybe that was just because she clearly hated me. “Call me if you’re going to cancel,” she snapped. “Otherwise be in the library by two-fifty-five. If you’re not here by three, I’m leaving. Got it?”
            I blinked a few times. “Uh… I guess.”
            And with that, Posey turned and skulked off down the hall, her head down. I watched her walk away. Seriously. What in the hell was wrong with her?
“Well, this is going to be fun,” I muttered. I rubbed my eyes and looked at my ex-girlfriend, who appeared ready and able to tear one of the metal lockers off the wall. “Uh… Maddie?”
            “Who does she think she is?” she yelled, kicking the bottom of my locker and making it echo down the hallway. The crowd around us scattered like rats. “When I’m done with her, Drew, she’ll regret ever coming here.”
I went to touch her arm, but she jerked away. So much for getting back together on the sly. Thanks again, Posey.
“What the hell are you doing hanging out with her?”
            “It’s not my choice,” I told her. “Mr. Kingston is making me. He says I need help in Lit or he won’t pass me.”
            Maddie’s eyes flashed. “So get help from someone else.”
            “Don’t you think I would if I could?”
            Maddie started petting her long hair like a dog. She always did that when she was freaking out. When I broke up with her, I was afraid her ponytail was going to fall off the side of her head. “Drop your dad’s name, for hell’s sake. Get out of this. This is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard of.”
            I looked down at the dingy tile floor. “I can’t.”
            “What do you mean, you can’t?” She threw her hands out. “If you think that I’m going to be with you while you’re cozying up with that trash, you’re kidding yourself.”
            Anger started to churn in my gut. First I was being forced to hang out with the school freak show, and now my ex-girlfriend was forbidding me to do it? This was out of control, and my headache was cracking my skull into pieces.
            The final bell rang above our heads, and I squeezed my eyes shut.
            “You know what?” I backed away from Maddie, officially done with the conversation. “You’re not my girlfriend anymore. I don’t need your permission to do a damn thing.”
            Her mouth dropped. “Drew.”

            Turning around, I walked away.