Status: Drafting the fourth book in the PERILOUS series!

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Discovering my platform

People used to ask me all the time what my platform was. Why I wrote. What was my purpose.
Did I have to have a purpose? I wracked my brain. Mostly I just had stories in my head. I thought maybe my platform was on empowering moms. Finding happiness within yourself.
Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend an amazing little writers conference in Kansas City. The classes were amazing and the camaraderie lifted my soul.
But I also had a crazy epiphany. There were some defining moments that helped me solidify my mission and role as a writer. It began years ago when a friend helped me see an overarching theme in everything I write: social issues. But another writer at the conference helped me see that this is more than a writing preference: it's a calling. And it's one I should embrace because of the lives I can touch and change. Even when I try to write light and happy, the darker themes peek through.
Because the reality is, I see the dark things in life. I've experienced the dark things in life. And when I'm writing, I want to shed light on these hard topics. I write into the darkness so I can give it light and hope and redemption. I want to show people who have walked in the darkness that they are not alone and there is light! And I want to show those who have never experienced darkness that they can still have empathy and compassion and understanding for people walking through the darkness. Maybe they can even be that light.
And so I have my goals and my purpose in front of me. I have found fellow authors like Kierstin Marquet and Mary Gray who feel the same desire I do. To this end we have banded together with one mission: to write light into the darkness. To write hard topics with happy endings. I will continued to write about abuse and peer pressure and eating disorders and bullying and prejudice and promiscuity. I will continue to shed light on issues we sometimes are afraid to even whisper about. Because this is reality for many people. But I will also give hope and light and faith to the stories I write.
I won't be offended if you don't want to read my books because of the heavy topics. But I hope you will anyway. And I hope you will share them. Because just because something makes us uncomfortable doesn't mean we should pretend it doesn't exist.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

How to run a marathon (half) if you're not a runner

I did something crazy last Saturday.
I ran a half-marathon. That's thirteen miles, people. And the craziest thing? I'm not a runner.
No, seriously, before you close your computer or put your phone away laughing, hear me out. I hate running. My husband ran track in college and has been trying to get me to run for thirteen years. But I hate it. Passionately. I ran a mile for the first time about two years ago and the most I'd ever run before in my life was two miles and it took me nearly a year to work up to that.
Everyone knows this about me. So a lot of people have been asking what I did, how I trained, etc, and I'm happy to share the story. Because really, it just proves that anyone can run a marathon. Or at least a half.
Early in November I saw registration available for a 13 mile race in the woods behind my house. I love hiking and being outside and the woods, so somehow I managed to ignore the running aspect and got really excited to be outside for thirteen miles. When I told my husband I wanted to sign up, he laughed at me and told me I should probably run a 5k first. Touche.
But I signed up anyway. And then I thought, what the heck, I have four weeks to train. Let's see how far I can run.
So I ran three miles. Something about running through the woods, over the hills and down the valleys, makes the miles seem less cumbersome than on the road. It's interesting and beautiful and satisfying. And I felt great. So the next week, I pushed myself to four. Four miles! I couldn't even believe it. I was so proud of myself, running four miles! But I knew I had to do more. The next week I planned a six-mile loop, knowing if I could run six miles, I could double that. 
that's how I felt, too. Six miles was hard, but doable. I knew that with race day adrenaline, I could do that and then do it again.
Then the next week I got sick and only ran three miles. Three miles all week! Suddenly I was super nervous. How was I supposed to go from three miles to thirteen?? To top it off, Saturdaydawned super cold (for me), below freezing. I put on a scarf, a hat, two pairs of gloves, a tank top, two long-sleeved shirts, a sweater, exercise pants and another pair of pants over the top. Ready or not, here it came.
And when the whistle blew, I ran. Last. Everyone else ran out and I was still programming my phone. But then I went. Three miles in, I stopped and stripped off all my extra layers except one long-sleeved shirt and a hat and texted my husband to meet me at the aid station and take my backpack. Seven miles in, I realized I'd gone farther than I'd ever gone before. Twelve miles in, I realized I only had one mile left (sort of. Turns out the course was 13.78 miles).
I didn't run the whole way. I walked and panted on some of the uphill sections. But I did it, the whole thing, in less than three hours. It was awful, it was glorious, it was painful, it was rewarding.
I don't love running. But I'm absolutely thrilled to know I can make myself do something I never believed possible. I am capable. It's given me such a positive outlook and made me feel so empowered that I'm ready for 2018. I'm going to do great things. And now I won't bat an eye if my husband wants me to do a 10K with him.
Tell me about you! Runner? No? Ever done a marathon (or half)? Ever wanted to?
 Yeah, that's me. Super proud. :)

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Can we talk about social issues?

The reality of a teenager's life

I've already had a few people email me or post in reviews that they were a little disturbed by a topic that gets brought up in the newest Cassandra Jones book. Since it's not a central part of the plot, there's nothing in the blurb or description to warn people, so it's natural that some people will react in surprise or alarm.
So I'm going to warn you.
Junior high marks the beginning of what will become a four-year battle with an eating disorder for Cassie. It starts slowly. It springs on her in the most normal way, with just wanting to be pretty and thin and popular like all the other girls.
It creeps into her life until it's got its grip on her and she has to fight hard to shake it.
This trial in her life is never going to be the main plot, but it will be a part of her story for the next few years. And there's a reason for it. If you've read any of my books, you know I don't shy away from hard topics. I never start out to write a book with the intention that it's going to teach or be a moral lesson; I don't look for polemic topics. But these things are so very real and normal that almost everything I write about, I have intimate experience with. Not saying all of these events have happened to me, but many of them have, and those that didn't happened to close friends of mine.
Eating disorders are very real, and they are so prevalent in a young teen's life that probably half of them battle that mindset before most conquer it. A few, like Cassie, succumb.
If that makes you want to avoid the next few years of her life, I won't be offended. You can pick the series back up at Springdale Bulldogs Year 3, after she's put those demons to rest. :)
I'm not one of those authors who writes beautiful poetic feel-good books. I hope you feel all the ranges of emotions when you read my books: sadness, despair, heartbreak, joy, love, laughter, peace.  
So now either you'll want to read the book or you won't. :) If you don't have the book, it's not too late to get it! Book 1 is free for now. And the last book of Season 3 is available for preorder now, so it's pretty much all out there!
Feel free to reach out and tell me what you think about Cassandra's upcoming dilemma, or even what you think about social issues!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

The lives we touch

You may have seen me mention on my Facebook page the death of an old friend.
Not old as in age, but old as in, we became friends in high school.
This person was my friend Joey. If you've read Priceless, you kind of already know him. While the real Joey liked music more than football, his sense of humor, his friendliness, his dark hair and lanky body were all very much the same.
Though high school was a long time ago, Joey and I stayed friends. Three days before his death, we were texting about the publication process. I'm kind of shocked. I can't believe he's really gone. It just doesn't seem real to me that someone can be there one day and gone the next.
But he is gone, and it makes me more anxious than ever to finish up the Perilous series with the final book, the one with the big reveal that should shock all my readers and add the final sense of closure for Joey, both fictional and in real life.
And though Joey and I talked a lot, I don't know that I ever told him how he touched my life. How years later I could still remember our chats and late-night philosophical discussions. I don't think he knew how much he mattered to people. I don't think any of us do.
There are people around you who will never tell you when your words change their lives or your actions touch their hearts. There are people who you think don't even know your name, but they would mourn your loss. You might think that kid you were friends with twenty years ago doesn't care anymore because you haven't talked in two decades, but they still carry that torch of friendship. Two decades or two days, it really doesn't matter. The love and friendships we feel and create might get filed and put away, but they're not deleted. I frequently go through the list of friends I've known over the years with fondness and affection, and I'm sure I'm not the only one.
The following is a conversation between Jaci and Joey, taken from Priceless. This book and the one after it will always be in memory of him.
“I think,” Jaci said softly, “that you and I have created an amazing friendship. And it would break my heart if I lost that.”
A small smile pushed at Joey's lips, and she recognized the disappointment and acceptance in his eyes. “I would hate to lose your friendship also.”
“You are so much better than you give yourself credit for, Joey.”
He looked down and shook his head at the table. “Your first impression of me was probably the most accurate.”
She laughed at that. Her first impression was so far removed from the person she’d discovered Joey to be. “I hope you can forgive me.” She reached over and squeezed his hand.
“I can.” He squeezed back. “I care about you. That won’t ever change.”
“I feel the same way,” she said.
I know I am not the only one to deal with the sudden death of a friend or loved one. The loss of life is such a tragedy; my heart goes out to all those who have to keep going in the face of such pain.
Thank you for listening and allowing me to mourn in my way. Feel free to reach out if you want to chat.
Lots of love,

Thursday, June 8, 2017

10 Life lessons from the shore (and a big giveaway!)


My kids helped me come up with this list, amidst laughter and some tears (happy I hope). So without further ado, life lessons from the sandy shore.
1) You don't need a surfboard to surf
2) Boogie boards give you carpet burn on your tummy
3) There are bugs in the sand that bite you
4) Electronics aren't so great in the sun
5) Sunburn hurts
6) The ocean floor can disappear from under your feet
7) The beach does amazing things to my hair
8) There are crabs
9) The sand can scorch your feet
10) The water burns your eyes
Awesome, huh? Fun fun. We'll always remember this trip. Me and my four little bacon bits.
But let's talk about #4! Electronics aren't great for the sun.
Normally, if you asked me paperback or ebook, I'd say ebook. Hundreds of books in the palm of my hand, cheaper, my kindle can read to me . . .
All of which was pointless at the beach. I couldn't see my phone and I didn't want to get my kindle wet or sandy. And nothing was more comfortable than holding a paperback. But I only brought one! So I realized, if I'm going to the beach, I need books! Lots of books!
And so do you, whether it's the beach, the lake, or the pool!
So I created a beach pack Goddess of Fate giveaway!
Of course, there are things I want in return. (Big smiley face.) I'm calling this the LAY ME DOWN review push and my prizes will be given out in tiers, depending on how many reviews for LAY ME DOWN I get. I want 100. I'll run this giveaway for the rest of June, and if I get no new reviews, I'll give away a $10 gift card.
But if my book ends up with 50 reviews, I'll give away the gift card to one person and paperback copies of the GODDESS OF FATE series to another person!
It doesn't end there! If we get up to 75 reviews, I'll give away both of the previous give aways AND a third giveaway, the GODDESS OF FATE series and the $10 gift card!
And if we make it to all 100 reviews, I'll give away a beach pack (in addition to the other giveaways) including: the two paperback books, a beach mat, sunscreen, lip balm, aloe, lotion, and a tote bag.*
If you haven't read LAY ME DOWN, you've got three weeks to do it and get your review in! If you've already reviewed it, you get five entries for that and additional entries if you review other books of mine. You also get entries automatically for being one of my readers and/or following me on Facebook!
If you have any questions, please ask in the comments! Then I can address the answer for everyone.
So hop on over to the giveaway and get your entries in! Can't wait to see who wins!

Still need a copy of LAY ME DOWN? Get it here!
*Winner outside of the United States will be sent the paperback and the equivalent gift card amount of the beach pack.

   a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, May 29, 2017

YA Scavenger hunt and my magic word!

YA Scavenger Hunt #66

Welcome to the sixty-sixth stop on the YA Summer Scavenger Hunt! Scroll down to find the, well, sixty-sixth word in the short story. Be sure to read the entire post so you don’t miss it! In the mean time, check out my own personal giveaway below!

Novels of Kellam High

Would you like to give the Novels of Kellam High a try?
Reviewers say it is "incredibly powerful and touching," and "hauntingly beautiful." Sign up to be one of my readers and receive a free ebook of LAY ME DOWN. You'll automatically be entered for a chance to win paperbacks of the first two books in the series!


The secret word is: “AND
Put together all the words (in order from 1 ~ 140) and reconstruct the “Secret Legend”.
When you’re done, enter the grand prize here.
If you have any questions, make sure to visit the main post and list of participating authors here.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

In June, the Alliance of Young Adult Authors is sponsoring a massive young adult scavenger hunt. This is a chance to meet some new authors, grab a bunch of free books, and sign up to win a whole bunch of epic prizes!


Each author will be given a special keyword, which will be bolded and all caps like this: BUTTERFLIES. All you have to do is visit all the author's sites in this order, write down the special keywords to discover the short story, then enter the giveaway with the completed secret legend HERE. There will be one main giveaway for the main prize, but most of the participating authors will also have smaller giveaways for free books, amazon credit and author swag, so make sure you read their post carefully to see what else they're offering while you're on their site for the keyword.

THE MAP (participating authors)

  1. Cindy Ray Hale
  2. Katherine Bogle
  3. Melle Amade
  4. David Kudler
  5. A.M. Yates
  6. Alethea Kontis
  7. Stevie Rae Causey
  8. Katlyn Duncan
  9. Debbie Manber Kupfer
  10. Meredith Rose
  11. N.M. Howell
  12. Lara Ann
  13. K.M. Robinson
  14. J.A. Culican
  15. Heather Karn
  16. Rob L. Slater
  17. Dylan Keefer
  18. Sarah K. Wilson
  19. L.J. Higgins
  20. Gina Marie Long
  21. Em Kazmierski
  22. Travis Hall
  23. Heather Young-Nichols
  24. Anna Santos
  25. J.L. Weil
  26. Jo Schneider
  27. Rebecca Fernfield
  28. Kristin D. Van Risseghem
  29. Martine Lewis
  30. Tara Benham
  31. Stacy Claflin
  32. Beth Hammond
  33. Erica Monroe Cope
  34. Nicole Zoltack
  35. Char Webster
  36. Sabrina Ramoth
  37. T.J. Muir
  38. Raquel Lyon
  39. Beth Rodgers
  40. S.L. Beaumont
  41. Eva Pohler
  42. Melanie McFarlane
  43. Cheryllynn Dyess
  44. Audrey Rich
  45. Amanda Zieba
  46. Sandie Will
  47. Elle Scott
  48. Angie Grigaliunas
  49. Ashley Maker
  50. Mandy Peterson
  51. Audrey Grey
  52. Elisa Dane
  53. Amy McNulty
  54. Melinda Cordell
  55. Monica Leonelle
  56. Claire Luana
  57. Frost Kay
  58. Preeti C. Sharma
  59. Bentz Deyo
  60. April Wood
  61. Lena Mae Hill
  62. Angel Leya
  63. Wendi Wilson
  64. Wendy Knight
  65. Chogan Swan
  66. Tamara Hart Heiner
  67. Norma Hinkens
  68. Patti Larsen
  69. Megan Crewe
  70. Jamie Thornton
  71. Jessie Renée
  72. T.A. Maclagan
  73. Lydia Sherrer
  74. Phyllis Moore
  75. P.D. Workman
  76. J.A. Armitage
  77. K.N. Lee
  78. Angela Fristoe
  79. Rhonda Sermon
  80. G.K. DeRosa
  81. Erin Richards
  82. Ali Winters
  83. Larissa C. Hardesty
  84. Kristine Tate
  85. Debra Kristi
  86. Bella Rose
  87. Cortney Pearson
  88. Jeff Kohanek
  89. Kristal Shaff
  90. Rachel Morgan
  91. Emma Right
  92. C.L. Cannon
  93. Joanne Macgregor
  94. Lindsey Loucks
  95. Farah Kuck
  96. Erin Hayes
  97. Jesikah Sundin
  98. Dorothy Dreyer
  99. Danielle Annett
  100. C.J. Ethington
  101. L.C. Hibbett
  102. Madeline Dyer
  103. Katie John
  104. Nicole Schubert
  105. Rachel Medhurst
  106. Tee G Ayer
  107. May Freighter
  108. Heather Dyer
  109. Jen Minkman
  110. J.L. Gillham
  111. Karen Tomlinson
  112. Kate Haye
  113. Megan Linski
  114. Martina Billings
  115. Jo Ho
  116. Brian King
  117. Inna Hardison
  118. Rachel Bateman
  119. Sally Henson
  120. J.L. Hendricks
  121. A.L. Knorr
  122. T.M. Franklin
  123. Konstanz Silverbow
  124. felisha Antonette
  125. Jake Devlin
  126. S.F. Benson
  127. Laurie Treacy
  128. Emily Martha Sorensen
  129. Leia Stone
  130. T. Rae Mitchell
  131. J. Keller Ford
  132. Kat Stiles
  133. Jessica Hawke
  134. Elyse Reyes
  135. Sophie Davis
  136. Bianca Scardoni
  137. Jenetta Penner
  138. David R. Bernstein
  139. Olivia Wildenstein
  140. Derek Murphy

Starts June 1st!

Just go through the "treasure map" above to find the keywords and reconstruct the secret legend. Once you've got it, enter for the grand prize HERE. Don't forget to keep an eye out for other giveaways or free books as you search for the keywords, most authors will be offering their own prizes as well.
For rules, updates or trouble-shooting, make sure to check out this main post which will stay updated.


Authors will post the rules and the full list of participating authors sometime in June, and have their post up and visible on their site/blog, with their keyword, by June 1st. Readers just need to go through the list, find the words, and use the story to enter for the grand prize.  
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