Sunday, December 31, 2017

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Monday, December 11, 2017

An Unexpected Christmas Gift

If you had asked me, more than a decade ago, what my expectations were as I started my writing career, I'm not sure how I would have answered.

Honestly, just the thought of having a book published seemed almost impossible.

I treat my writing the same way I treat all creative endeavors...what can I make?

Can I take the story in my head and put it down on paper and make it sing?

Can I create something with these plants? These flowers? Cook something? Knit something?

Will it fail or will it taste good, look good, read good?

When I started my holiday series, I really only had one simple goal in finish a book.

Beginning, middle, end. Finish. Make the story that had been rattling around in my head take form and become something real.

Throw in a heaping dose of inspiration from the Black Dagger Brotherhood Series by JR Ward--I loved the camaraderie of the brothers--and SWEET INSPIRATION soon followed.

I had five brothers. I had plans for five books.

I didn't know the path to get to the end would include a near-fatal heart attack, a bunch of professional bumps-in-the-road, navigating the world of teenage parenting, etc.

But I finally got to the end--last year--when I published the final book of THE KLAUS BROTHERS SERIES.

What did I expect to happen? A huge feeling of relief, a sense of completion, pride in my work. Yes.

But what I didn't expect--never entered my mind when I started writing that very first paragraph about Nicholas Klaus and his crush on Lucy Brewster--was how my readers would embrace this series.

My readers. My small and merry band of totally kick-ass readers who share my quirky sensibility and are lovely and supportive and send me notes and messages and gifts in the mail!

What I didn't expect was that The Klaus Brothers would become a holiday tradition for so many people. A way to usher in the spirit of the holiday. A way to remind ourselves about family and love and generosity. An escape from reality to a magical world filled with elves and Yeti and real heroes.

I honestly cannot believe how many folks tell me they re-read The Klaus Brothers Series every year. It's one of their Christmas traditions!

That is, hands-down, the coolest and most unexpected thing to happen to me as a professional author. 

And so, I would like to say Thank You and Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to my loyal readers. Hugs to all!

With much love,


Thursday, November 16, 2017

Review for WANT IT by Elisabeth Barrett

Review for WANT IT by Elisabeth Barrett

As most of you know, I have a wee little problem with Harlequin in, I read them every day. They are my go-to happy place. To be honest, I have not been reading a lot of non-HP romance lately.

Until now.

I discovered a new-to-me author and she is FABULOUS! Woo hoo!

Order of events...

1. Was wasting time on Facebook and I saw this cover. I thought...Hmm, very nice! 

2. Read the book blurb...saw the words "six brothers" and "distillery" and "bearded" and I thought...Hmm, very nice!

3. I went to Amazon and read a sample. This is imperative for new-to-me authors. I've been burned too many times.

So, I read the first 8 sentences, and I knew. I knew this chick could write. Sometimes that's all it takes. Then I read a few more paragraphs and I bought the book. It had a great hook, was funny, and best of all...GOOD WRITING!

4. I started reading and I couldn't stop. Not only did I read the entire book in one sitting, I also bought book #1 in this series (OWN IT) and read it later that day.

5. Good stuff about this book: Setting that pops off the page in all the best ways. Portland comes to life. Barrett does a superb job with setting, which adds excellent texture to the story. The food, the local hotspots, everything. Now I want to go to Portland!

6. More good stuff: The distillery and its cool details. You can tell Barrett has done her research--particularly in the first book of the series. I love learning new things. I learned about whiskey and beer and wine and cars and...let's face it, a family brewery and distillery is a super sexy setting for a family of six brothers + cousins who are bearded, burly, and hot. Hmm, very nice!

7. I have a real soft spot for "family" romance, and this one is sooooooooooo good! Not only did I love the hero and heroine in this, but the secondary characters were fantastic. Brody's family is full of quirky, sexy men (with beards!) and Juliette's hilarious Italian family made me laugh out loud. The conflicts and dialogue were to-die-for. Barrett excels at dialogue, including the sexy banter between the financial wiz Brody and his gorgeous Italian neighbor Juliette. I really loved this couple!

8. This book is VERY sexy. Maybe a tad too much for me (Vanilla Penny *cough cough*), but it totally worked in this story. If you like sweltering hot sexy scenes, you'll be satisfied. (Pun!)

9. I liked the 2nd book a bit better than the first book only because I am pretty much a low-angst girl. The first book has more angst. WANT IT was just right for me...perfect amount of conflict, etc.

10. In conclusion...if you like well-written, well-crafted novels with plenty of sexy banter, quirky secondary characters, a setting that pops off the page, a satisfying and sexy romance, and bottom line high quality romantic fiction, this book is a winner!

Bonus: Beards. 

Grade: A

Have a nice day,

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Viva Halloween! 5 Favorite Horror Movies in Watsonville

It's the most...wonderful time...OF THE YEAR!

No, not Christmas. Halloween! I'm one of those people who LOVES horror movies. But I'm picky. I don't like "torture porn" stuff--rather, I enjoy movies that are clever, suspenseful, and preferably with a huge unexpected scare and/or twist. I also adore humor and horror combo!

Here are five of my all-time favorites...


1. JAWS (1975) is one of the first horror movies I watched, and it made quite an impression. Even without high quality special effects, this film has stood the test of time. The story itself, the characters, and of course the fear of "Bruce" the shark, managed to transform good old-fashioned Cape Cod into a horror lover's perfect vacation spot. Steven Spielberg realized his fake shark pretty much sucked, and so he had to do a rewrite on set. Instead of having the shark be the center of attention, he made the fear of the unknown the scary part of this film. And it worked. I highly recommend getting the Collector's Edition--it includes a documentary on the making of JAWS and it is absolutely fascinating for a horror buff.



2. ALIENS 2...Although I do love the original Aliens movie, the sequel is my favorite. It's so great to see a powerful and courageous woman as the lead in a Sci Fi/Horror film. To be blunt, Ripley kicks serious ass in this film. I could watch it a million times! Also, I used this film as an example of insect colony morphology and development when I was teaching biology class. (You wish you were my student, right?) This film has it all...amazing special effects, the perfect build-up of suspense, and insanely scary moments. The follow-up films have not been as successful in my opinion, but this movie is a classic monster film. Love it!


3. What's better than chocolate and peanut butter? Horror and humor! When it's done right, it is so entertaining. SHAUN OF THE DEAD is possibly the best example of blending horror and humor I've seen. Simon Pegg manages to make us laugh and scare the bejimminies out of us at the same time. I just adore this film. Think quirky characters in a zombie apocalypse.


4. I accidentally watched this one on TV--not having any clue what it was about. I fell instantly in love with it! So clever, bursting with dark humor and horrifying monsters. It plays with the conventions of typical horror movies in a most satisfying way. Really just a brilliant movie. The whole idea of watching a movie within a movie, and how it spirals out of control, is lovely. If you haven't seen this one, check it out.


5. As a long-term horror movie fan, I am somewhat immune to real "scares" in these films. You pretty much know what to expect...scary music, stuff pops out, etc etc. But if I had to confess about the single-most terrifying movie scene I've ever watched, it is from THE RING. There is a scene in this film that literally made me JUMP out of my seat and scream. Literal jump, not figurative. I think my heart stopped. Holy shit. The whole film is interesting and atmospheric and creepy AF, but honestly, that one scene is worth the whole thing. *hides under a rock*

What about you? Do you have a favorite horror film? Do you love October as much as I do! Every year on October 1, I jump out of bed and yell "IT'S THE 31 DAYS OF HALLOWEEN!" and my husband groans because he hates horror films. Hee hee!



Friday, September 15, 2017

Review for THE SUBURBS HAVE SECRETS by Barbara Wallace

After writing an impressive collection of romantic fiction, author Barbara Wallace decided to try her hand at cozy mysteries. And I'm SO happy she did!

THE SUBURBS HAVE SECRETS is an adorable cozy debut, filled with likable (and bitchy!) characters, a very sexy chief of police, a Boston suburb much like my own, and a lot of coffee from the local cafe.

In fact, this town is so very similar to my own Boston 'burb, I sometimes felt like Barb was in our very own Starbucks.

My town also has the gorgeous blonde mummies in their big black SUVs filling up a French Roast frequently throughout the day.

And I know for a fact they have secrets, too!

Not as exciting as the secrets in Barb's book, however. 

My favorite things about this book?

1. Sadie the heroine

She is a widow who is struggling with a career in real estate and firmly enmeshed in the suburban lifestyle...sort of against her will. She is likable and authentic, and I love her witty and often snarky observations about life in the 'burbs.

2.  Chief of Police Dan Bartlett

Yum! Super yum! The sexy new police chief is a romantic interest for Sadie, and their sexual chemistry is delicious. I love how he gets all protective of her. My favorite kind of fictional hero!

3. The town

I love the juxtaposition of pretty tree-lined streets and Boston 'burb charm with the sometimes sleazy stuff that goes on behind closed doors. Nice contrast. And perfect setting for mysteries!

4. The Bitchy Girls

This is so spot-on it's scary. Tight yoga pants and plenty of mean girl-attitude make for LOTS of possible suspects in a murder mystery. 

5. Sadie's side-kicks: her best buddy Rob and her son Tim

I don't want to spoil all the quirky details in this book, but suffice it to say Rob--who is a flirty British billionaire--has a hilarious secret of his own. And Tim is the son with an interest in prepping survival skills. I hope they get more air-time in the next book. Both have a ton of potential for this series.

6. The fantastic and unexpected twist at the end


I loved it.

THE SUBURBS HAVE SECRETS has all my favorite things in one cozy intriguing setting, an adorable heroine, pitch-perfect writing and a nice tight plot, lots of colorful characters, spots of snarky humor that made me laugh out loud, and best of all...for this romance-lover!...a budding romance with a delicious and protective hero. SWOONY!

Grade: A

I cannot wait for the next installment!

Off for my afternoon Starbucks French Roast...


Want to buy a copy?

Find it at Amazon!


Thursday, September 14, 2017

How I Accidentally Became A Writer Who Doesn't Write, and How It Sort of Saved My life

Folks have all sorts of reasons why they write. Some do it to make a living, some do it as a creative outlet. Some like being part of the community. Some people need it for self-identity.

I do it for the same reason I wrote stories when I was eight-years-old, lugging around my dingy white notebook filled with a first novel about Mandy, the girl who lived in a treehouse.

Because I'm a storyteller.

I actually feel most comfortable with this description of what I do. More so than "author." I get stories in my head and I write them down. Occasionally they win awards or sell a modest amount or make a bit of money. Not a lot. It's never been about the sales/money for me.

I am fortunate enough to have a husband who not only supports our family financially, but he also supports my writing as a creative outlet. 

So how is it that I found myself overwhelmed with deadlines and anxiety and a dread of writing and the publishing world that had turned something I used to love into something soul-crushing?

Well, let's see.

Starting the publishing journey is like rolling down a snowy hill. You start out as an enthusiastic snowflake, gain some momentum, turn into a snowball, roll along gaining more speed, and suddenly this thing that used to be about writing and creativity becomes about promotion and productivity and deadlines and it's not that fun anymore.

And when you have a lot of stress in your life--could be family stuff, other jobs, money, health, whatever--adding more stress because you feel obligated to publish a book every three-six months or get left behind--this becomes the straw that broke the camel's back.

Part of my writing stress is self-imposed. I'm an all-or-nothing writer. Once I dive into a story, I become all-focused. I think about it in the morning when I drive the kids to school, I skip lunch, I skip dinner (families tend to not like that so much), and my brain is pretty much a whirlwind of THE BOOK until it's done. This is just the way my process has always been. I have short intense bursts of creativity--I call it the "punctuated equilibrium" approach to creative writing.
What I noticed as I aged was that my ability to deal with stress--my resilience--was starting to crumble. Things that used to roll right off me were causing insomnia and anxiety. My brain was a jumble of stuff to do for the kids, the family, the dog, the house, and the book. 

Guess what wasn't in the jumble?  


I wasn't in the jumble. 

More specifically, my happiness was not in the jumble.

My days were about to-do lists and I rushed from one thing to the next, not engaged in the moment but focused on getting the next thing done. The next thing to worry about.

We only have so much emotional energy in our lives. If we use up all of it worrying about the kids or family or book, there is nothing left for us.

It's almost impossible to "remove stress" from your life. Being healthy is not really about removing the stress. It's about becoming better at managing the stress.

And so, after pushing myself to finish a holiday romance in time for Christmas (that's a deadline that can't be moved back, by the way), I decided to take a breather and figure out how to manage my stress better.

My initial idea was to take a short break--maybe a month or two--and then slowly work back to a regular writing schedule.

I took a month off. 

I took another month off.

I started to add "WRITE" onto my to-do list. But...interestingly, it didn't happen.

I did this over and over again, feeling guilty each time the day went by and the "WRITING" thing didn't happen. And then...I stopped putting "WRITING" on the to-do list.

The first time I did this, I was giddy! I felt like a kid playing hooky. How could I have a to-do list without writing on it? Impossible!

Actually, it was strangely liberating. I started to figure out stuff that made me happy again.

I made lists that had things like "hike in the forest" "have lunch with the girls" "plant pumpkin patch in the garden."

I told my husband I was stripping my life down to the studs, and then building it back up. I needed to get down to the very basic stuff I need to be happy and healthy, and then add back the extras. Figure out how all these pieces fit.

I spent a lot of time researching simple living and minimalism and Hygge and I came up with a list of things that work for me every day. And my resilience shot up. I became better at managing stress. And believe me, with a 14-year old teenage girl, I have stress that would make your hair turn white. (Yes, my hair is white).

These are the things I do each day to feel centered and happy. After nine months of not writing, I feel...better. Much better. I didn't intend to take nine months off, but it turned out to be exactly what I needed.

Now I'm attempting a new writing process, one that feeds my soul instead of crushing it. I need to find a way to incorporate this into my schedule without it taking over everything else. And I'm ignoring every single thing about publishing and focusing only on writing. Back where I started. Over forty years ago.

This week was the first week back. It felt good to work on my book and to dive back into research and a new writing challenge. But I still managed my walks, cooking dinner for my family, and going out with friends.

It's not uncommon for women to overburden themselves with responsibility and to ignore their own health. I'm talking physical and mental and emotional well-being. We put our kids and family and jobs on the totem pole, but often we don't put ourselves there. Either we're at the bottom of the totem pole, or not on it at all.

I realized this year either I put myself on the damned totem pole, or I'm gonna fail. I needed to replenish my emotional energy.

Most of all, just needed to find my happy.

I found it.

Now I'm ready to write my happy.

Looking forward to a fresh start,


Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy 2017!

Here's hoping all of you have wonderful things coming up this new, adventure, exploration, simple pleasures.