Sunday, September 07, 2014

Revisiting a Piece of Home

So as a brat, moving every few years my tenure in most states includes a coupe years of middle school here - year of junior high there - and maybe if I'm lucky I got a longer stay for high school.

I spent two years of my high school in the state of Virginia, twenty miles south of D.C. - then my dad's next duty station took us overseas for my junior & senior years.  At this point, it hit hard as I'd finally felt like I'd come into my own as a teenaged girl and suddenly I was forced to pack up and move away from all close my friends and my comfort zone.  As a military brat, you get used to this sort of thing but it's not like you love it all the time.

Long story short ... my older sister and I are going back this weekend for her class reunion.   She also attended this same school, and had to leave right before her senior year. Although it's her 30th high school reunion - it's also an 'all class reunion' as our high school is celebrating its 50th anniversary.  Since Virginia is one of the few places we lived in more than once, I was lucky enough to spend some middle school and high school years in this same place.  Even though I'm accompanying her back to revisit her roots, we're both going to see some close friends that we've still stayed in touch with all these years.

On top that I've got classmates from my DOD high school in Japan, where I actually graduated, who are living in this same area now.  So I'll get two reunions all in one.  I'm so blessed to have my military brat friends to spend my day with on Saturday.

Along with catching up with our friends, my sis and I will probably spend time driving around our old neighborhood, and take a short trip to revisit our favorite places like Occoquan and IKEA.  All the while, I'll be taking mental notes as my next book is taking place in Virginia.  It's been a while since I've been there so I'll have to refresh my memories for my new character, Paige, and step through the state as if in her shoes.  I'll have my own weekend, all the while thinking what would Paige like or prefer?  How would Paige take this in?  What would she want to eat?  Would Paige love the Potomac as much as I do? If so, what would she be doing alongside it?  How will she and her friends get along and where will they hang out?

I know right?  It's a weird world inside my head sometimes.  I'm just ready to catch up and take a walk in Paige's shoes and revisit my roots in mine.  I'm a firm believer you can never go back.  I don't believe is glorifying the old days.  However I think it's good to keep in touch with a few solid friends and taking time for them and yourself.  This trip will be good for my sister and I to do together as we both had to suddenly leave a place we loved, for the unknown.  Although the next step in our journey was equally as great, Virginia is one place we left a piece of ourselves in.

It will be good to go home.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Humbling Responses

This was a review on Amazon, which was left recently for Finding Kylie.  Between reviews like this ...  and supportive texts (see below) from some of my favorite blogger buddies, like Terri, about COMING HOME - I'm so happy.

Sometimes God gives me inspiration on what needs to be included in my books ... sometimes I pray - not knowing - and it just evolves from there.  Either way I have to believe they're just as they should be -- with a message for someone who needs it.  So keep reading America and let me know how each book has touched you.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Long Story But the Point is Worth it ...

I started a new full time job, on Friday, which means I now will not be able to go to any of the home games for The University of Oklahoma. (BOOMER SOONER!)  When I took the position, I told them I already had plans for Saturday, or yesterday.  It was the first game of the season - and we had a huge family tailgate planned and everyone was counting on me begin there.

It was in the high nineties yesterday with no cloud cover.  So to say it was hot was an understatement.  Some of the ladies around me literally had their makeup melting away as the heat had them drenched.   My sister had an awesome mister bottle that she kept spraying us with, and we had nice fan plugged in so we could get some air ... but it was still sweltering.

The reason I love these things is that all of our friends and family stopping in to visit and eat.  We all bring something and usually there's a ton of food.  We have our standard group of people in our tent, and they all usually bring something to contribute.  The tents next to us all know each other, and we all share food and swap stories.

However yesterday we had some people there that were not invited by us. Although they weren't total party crashers, as they were family members of of some friends, but they still came empty handed and sponged off everything in sight.  Okay ... I shouldn't say empty handed. They brought their own beer... but they didn't pack water for their own children.  So they ate all our food and let their kids fend for themselves.

(OKAY HERE'S THE MOM IN ME ROARING) What kind of parent packs beer for themselves, but doesn't plan ahead for a hot day for their child????

We ended up giving the kids, who were within minutes of exposure to the heat flushed, a ton of water to drink, which meant we didn't have our own water to drink.  I'd happily go without water to make sure a child was taken care of, but I thought it was a shame that I was caring for kids, as their parents partied down at the end of my tent.

Needless to say, I didn't have enough water, and by the time I climbed 76 steps to get to my seats in the stadium - I felt light headed and thought I could pass out.  BUT I kept my mouth shut because I know when it comes to games, my husband is zoned into football and heaven forbid I upset the apple cart.

He bought us both an strawberry freeze, and I thought something ice cold would be good for me, as I was feeling overheated and worn out. Within ten minutes of eating it - it felt like I bottomed out.  My head was pounding, my stomach was raging, and the noise of the crowds around me felt like it was ringing through every nerve in my system.  I felt like I was going to explode ... that's the only way I can describe it.

To add insult to injury ... I have a problematic tailbone from an old injury.  My husband forgot to bring something comfortable to sit on, so the hard benches had my tailbone in so much pain that I sat on either side of my behind to keep pressure off it.

Is that enough going on all at once?  I couldn't believe that a 42 year old was having so many issues.  I mean it felt like I should have be 65 with all that was happening in that moment.

Long story short ... I made it through one quarter.  My husband, although having a hard time understanding why I was having issues, stood me up and we left to pack up the tailgating gear.  It took another hour to get it all packed away.

He'd parked maybe 50-60 yards away in an apartment parking lot, with a note in the windshield, which let the apartment management know that he was a visitor.   We usually park about a mile away, and pay 20 bucks or so.  However a family friend told us to use his friend's apartments to park in, saying that we had permission to do so, if we put a note on our dashboard.

After my husband finished toting everything over to the back of the truck, he came back to get me near our tailgate (I was resting in a chair) and asked me to walk over to get in the truck.  He lifted up the generator and hauled it back to finish packing everything away.

When I got in our truck, I glanced to his back wind shield and noticed a large X had been shoe-polished on it.  I didn't think anything of it as I was just trying to lift myself up into the passenger side.  Once we got out of the parking lot and headed toward home, my cell phone rang ...

It was my mother in law and she said her car had been towed.  She parked where we did, with the same sort of note on her dashboard.  We asked her what happened ...

Apparently, the girl that gave them (and consequently us) permission to be her visitor gave us the wrong information.  She said all we had to do was leave a note on our dashboard saying we were visiting her.  However the apartment manager requires an official blue pass issued from their office, which none of us had.

212 dollars later my mother in law got her car back, which also had an X shoe polished on their car.

Long story short ... although my day had downward spiraled into a dehydrated, over heated, geriatric back, with a frustrated and abrupt husband kind of experience ... it was all used for our good as we were slated to be towed away.  Not only could we not spare 212 dollars at the moment, but we would have had no way to tote all that tail gate gear back to Oklahoma City.

Once we got home, my over anxious husband returned to his normal sweet self and actually thanked me for getting sick.  LOL.  God's plans were bigger than his expectations of what game day should be like.  He could have stayed and had a great game day ... and watch all four quarters of bliss ... only to find his truck gone.  I think he'd rather go home in a piss-poor mood, than to have to shell out money for his truck.

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Launch Was a Success

This weekend was the launch for COMING HOME, and I'm still reeling from the amount of people that came in from all over the country.  There were people from California, Kansas, Texas, and of course ... Oklahoma.

Although it was the launch for COMING HOME, I also had my other books for sale.  Since Finding Kylie has been re-released with a new cover, it was also a highlight of the day.

From 4-7 p.m. it was non-stop traffic, with about 140 in attendance.  The Shave Ice stand and the Egg Roll truck I had on site were also a plus.  From the free appetizers to door prizes - customers were lining up in support of my big day.

After I signed each book, I slipped out from my table for a picture with each new reader.  Here are a few for your enjoyment.

Thank you to all of you who drove in for the fun event.  I'm so grateful to you all and blessed by each one of you.

I look forward to your reviews coming in.  To leave a review for COMING HOME (paperback version) - go here.

I just saw this post from my first book launch and had a giggle.  Man, time flies.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

What's in a Name?

When creating names for my character in any of my books, sometimes deep thought goes into what I name them ... and then one name will just spark something within and it becomes a name, which was meant to be.

Sometimes a name may come to me in a dream ... and then there are always those particular readers that send me an emial or leave a good review ... and if they make me smile ... their first name may make it into my next book.

So tell me - if you've read my books - which character has spoken to you most? Would have been the same if Chastity Banks were named Pam Brown? Or did her name, Chastity, give her something extra in your imagery of how she portrayed the character?

As I'm creating my fifth book, I'm loving some of the names that have come to me. I'm still re-working how they fit together. However, I'd love to hear from you ... write me at and tell me who your favorite character has been to date. If your words speak to me -- your name may make my next book, Second Chances. :)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Reviews Make Me Smile

From time to time, I'll get onto Amazon or Goodreads and see that more people have left me a review for one of my books.  And no matter if its a 5 star or a 1 star review, I smile.  Even the bad reviews (although I'd rather they be good ones) mean someone was moved enough to take the time to review.

And in all honesty - no one is going to get 5 star reviews 100% of the time.  Look at every President or public figure in the world, do they have a 100% satisfaction rate?  No!  So why would a little author like me?

This week, I've seen some really sweet reviews come in though.  They've been the kind that make your heart warm.  So for those of you out there, who have been kind enough to leave such heartwarming words ... THANK YOU!

Here is one, for FACING REDEMPTION, that particularly made my day:

From time to time, I'll post a favorite or two here.  So if you've ever enjoyed my books.  Leave a review ... maybe I'll pick yours to share.

Have a great day and make time to read once in a while.  :)  We, authors, thank you.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Use What you Have

In 1991 and 1992, I lost both my grandparents.  They were the highlight of my life, as they were one of the only constants in my life. As a military brat, I moved - on average - every two years, so these two lovely gems were the part of our standard summer vacations, as we would always come back to Oklahoma to visit them.

I'll never forget running up the driveway, after popping out from our beat up station wagon, to land in my grandmother's soft comforting arms.  She'd be in the doorway as smells of a home cooked meal and frigid air would escape through, as we crossed into the front room.  If you're wondering why the memory of frigid air would ever register ... well spend one summer in Oklahoma and you'll know how welcoming cold air is ... it's just as amazing as my grandmother's fresh baked homemade rolls or her green jello salad.

Once inside, my grandfather would come walking in, supporting himself with his cane, as he carried his white poodle, Lucky, in his arm. He'd grin and set her down to embrace me into a strong hug.  When our heads came near - his hearing aid would whistle, to which he'd start laughing and say, "Whoops!  Now you've done it!"  His belly laugh would start me in a fit of giggles, as his eyes were filled with mischievous joy.

Papa and Grama were and are still so close to my heart.  In '91 and '92 - the hardest thing I did was lay them to rest.  I'll never forget holding my grandfather as he passed. I swear he saw heaven coming for him.  I'll never forget helping my grandmother in the nursing home, as her cancer progressed.  I changed her diapers like she used to do for me.  I'm sure she was humiliated that I saw her like that - debilitated beyond her means.  But when you love someone you care for them through thick and thin.  These were my angels then and now.

When cleaning out their home, I was amazed at how much stuff they collected.  But as children of the depression, my grandparents made use of what they had by never wasting a thing.  Papa's garage was filled with mason jars, which he used for storage.  He also had gallon milk jugs, which had the tops cut off.  He also used the jugs for ... you got it ... more storage.

As I threw the plastic away from Papa's garage, I shook my head that he had to hold onto so much stuff.  But I'd never walked in his shoes.

Last week, I was rinsing out my plastic to put in my recycle bin, but held onto a small 1 quart plastic jug.  I absentmindedly rinsed it out and stuck it in my sink to use as a watering jug for my plant on the front porch.  As soon as I saw it sitting in my sink, to dry and be stored away, I let out a huge belly laugh.  As if my grandparents were standing there at my side, I felt their smiles of approval that I'd learned their lesson.  Less is more - use what you have.

I'm still learning from them ... even today.