Sunday, December 1, 2013

Would you read this?

Hi guys!

If you follow my tweets, you'll know I was in NM last month doing some preliminary research for my next book. Here is a picture clue:

And another one:


The premise:

For valedictorian Kai Begay, an unexpected visit to a national historic petroglyph site called Picture Rock brings her face to face with Kokopelli; an ancient Indian rock art deity turned into a handsome human version of the fertility God and puts a serious dent into her “picture” perfect future plans.

Whadya think? Would you wanna read something like this?

Monday, October 14, 2013


Yesterday, my daughter and I walked to Blockbuster to rent a couple of movies. My Knight In Shining Armor and Prince went snowshoe hare hunting in the mountains. But first, they had to stop by Cabelas to get Hansel a new pair of boots. I mean, look here:

Men’s size 9.5 and he’s only eleven years old! His Royal Highness grows out of shoes quicker than you can blink and we always get at LEAST a half a size bigger than he needs. One might think that I'd given birth to a Hobbit except for the fact that he is tall, too.

Gretel and I both love fall. Here is the view outside our castle this morning.

I am very inspired creatively this time of year; a period of going inward. I seek solitude. It gives me peace of mind and allows me to let my thoughts go and recharge.

Also, everything pumpkin. I mean, you’ve pretty much got to be a Nazi if you don’t like pumpkin.



I think I’ll make a warm chai tea today and snuggle under the covers and watch Midnight in Paris. Yesterday, was Les Miserables. I'm visiting Paris, didn't you know?

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Colorado Book Signing

Here are some pics from yesterday’s book signing at Barbed Wire Books in Longmont, Colorado.

Getting Set Up

My favorite part was talking shop with fellow authors and readers.

From left to right: Me, Mary Kathleen Rose, Jason Gage, Nancy Mervar

One of the things I love most about Barbed Wire is that there are books tucked away in every cranny, nook and corner, including the bathroom! Love that. It was great to meet new faces and say hello to familiar ones. Thank you Kathe, staff, authors and readers for a great day at Barbed Wire Books!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Colorado Author Book Signing

I am pleased to announce that Colorado Author Book Signing will take place on Saturday, October 5th, from 1-5 pm at Barbed Wire Books.

I will have hard copies of my middle grade books, Between and Apart, as well as Rumspringa book marks and a special giveaway! So please join me and other Colorado authors for a big day of fun! I'll see you there!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Colorado Author Live!

Hi guys!

I wanted to take a quick moment and let you know that Colorado Author Live! is scheduled for Saturday, October 5th from 1pm to 4pm at Barbed Wire Books. So mark your calendars and join me and over 35 local authors for book signings and giveaways!

I am happy to tell you that I should have print copies of APART available for signing and for sale that day! Deets coming soon…

Take care,

Friday, August 9, 2013

APART now released on Amazon!

Finally, finally, finally! APART is ready for you to purchase on Amazon! 

Peaches thought that turning thirteen and becoming a teenager would mean she'd finally have it all figured out. She's got a new boyfriend, a year of middle school under her belt and is moving on about her parents' divorce. What she's not ready for is her Dad remarrying and moving out of state. How is she supposed to spend a magical summer with her first boyfriend if they're apart? And as if that's not enough, back at school Peaches is asked to tutor Joey McGregor in order to fulfill her volunteer hours for JHS. And not that she's obsessing about it or anything, but isn't there someone else who could do it? In a new year full of changes, Peaches learns that absence can make the heart grow stronger!

Don’t have a Kindle? No problem!

Download the free Kindle app on your computer, tablet or smart phone and purchase APART in Amazon (you might have to set up a Kindle account even though you don’t actually have a Kindle), then begin reading!

Actually, I prefer this method when reading at night because the app provides a wonderful back light that I do not have on my old version of Kindle. It makes it easier to see, so I can continue to read when the lights are on or off. So there. No excuses, right?

Not familiar with the first book? No problem!

As a special promotion, BETWEEN will be free for the next five days!

Please click on the above links or the Apart book cover image on the sidebar to purchase. Thanks so much for all of your support and please share with your social media profusely or forward to a super reader – enjoy!

All the very best,

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Shipshewana- Rumspringa Country

Recently, my family and I went back to the Midwest and stopped in northern Indiana Amish country for a visit to Shipshewana! I wanted to spend a day in the world where Liam and Sarah's story takes place. I spent so much time there in my imagination it was amazing to visit it for real and it didn't disappoint. Here are some of the highlights:

The McDonalds in Middlebury where they go after their first back acres Rumspringa party

A horse and buggy traffic jam looking out our front car window, much like Liam experiences driving Sarah to her home for the first time

A horse and buggy ride – the way Sarah and her family get around daily

Author and son posing with Tony the horse after our ride

Um. Well…an obvious byproduct of Amish transportation

Standard road signs in and around Shipshewana and LaGrange county

Lunch at a local café where an Amish gal was working (just like Sarah!)

The most amazing pretzels you’ve ever tasted in your entire life

Amish hats for sale

Beautiful hurricane lamps for sale at the hardware store

A LaGrange county parking lot – Amish style, of course!

It was so easy to imagine the story of Liam and Sarah coming alive!  I was thrilled to spend the day here with my family in the "real" world of my Amish YA novel Rumspringa. If you think you would enjoy a light, contemporary read please click here and download now! 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Update on APART

I know some of you are anxiously waiting the release of APART and I wanted to give you an update on that. After a final review by my critique partner, I have decided to delay the release for a short while.

I need to beef up a couple of areas to make the story better. Believe me, I would prefer just to publish it this very minute but I think you and I both know that we’d like to see a story that is emotionally satisfying. That is why it is so very important to having writing partners who you trust implicitly to help keep things real. I want to make it good enough for you to read and enjoy. So with that said, I will hopefully, hopefully, hopefully get it out to you soon but I have decided to take the time for one more round of revision.

Sorry for the delay and thank you for your patience! I will keep you posted on this blog. xoxo


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A Dabble in Showbiz

Last week my daughter was chosen as an extra for the Dear Eleanor film. It is a coming of age story about two girls in 1962 driving cross-country to meet Eleanor Roosevelt.  Recently, I had a dream that I was still on set. We were on break and I was ordering a burrito for lunch with the crew (it looked very tasty by the way). Obviously, I’m still processing my experience of being a stage mom from last week.

My star eating a late lunch at the Denver Diner after a long day of filming

Having my daughter act as an extra was a great experience and one I will not soon forget. The best way to describe being on set is that it's similar to the organized chaos of camping: packing up, unpacking, piles of equipment everywhere, people gingerly stepping over each other, eating late, things not always going as planned, meeting people, changing in a bathroom stall, making do with what you’ve got, hot, dusty and often a wet environment while trying to stay clean, eating off of paper plates, quiet hours, curious and sometimes obnoxious onlookers/neighbors.

Spending time with the cast and crew was fun, friendly, professional, at times stressful, serious and very bonding. My daughter of course, loved it. Having to shoot a scene repeatedly from the back, then again from the front while staying in character and looking fabulous just isn’t my thing. I will stick with writing. But I understand and have a great respect for people who are willing to put in the incredibly hard work and dedication it takes to follow their dream and help tell a good story no matter the medium. As a novelist, THAT is something I will always support and get on board with!

If you want to read more about the Dear Eleanor film follow the tweets here.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Breaking Amish Season Two

Omg, you guys!!! SO excited about this…on May 12th TLC will debut the premiere for season two of Breaking Amish! If you are not familiar with this reality show, it's about a group of Amish young adults in the midst of their rumspringa who move to NYC. Here is a sneak peek. I’m going to go all Jennier Weiner on you and live tweet the event (how can I not?).

AND the most serendipitous thing happened the other day; I was meeting with my critique partner for coffee and I checked the #breakingamish hash tag on twitter only to discover that TLC in the UK was launching the first season of Breaking Amish at that very moment! I immediately started tweeting and joined in the fun; like a virtual rumspringa PAR-TAY (without the alcohol)! It was especially exciting because my friends across The Pond had a lot of questions about the Amish culture and they graciously endured my comments.

Plus, I keep getting stopped people who’ve read my eBook Rumspringa and loved it. I know. I KNOW! I am still fascinated with Liam and Sarah's connection even after spending a year writing and revising the novel. If you would like to check it out for yourself, go here. And don't forget that you can download the free Kindle app on any computer, smartphone or tablet so anyone can enjoy it! If you read Rumspringa please consider writing an Amazon review. Many thanks!

Meanwhile, happy May and I will see you May 12th at 10/9C here!

All the very best!

Update -  Note to self:  DO NOT write and post a blog entry after 8pm. Apparently, I like to channel a 1980's Valley Girl. PAR-TAY? Very classy.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Happy Spring and APART Cover Art Reveal

So you might not know this but spring is typically my least favorite season. Always has been. I think it’s due to the cold incessant wind and the lack of green and sunshine. In the high county (mountains) they call it mud season for obvious reasons. But really, my dislike probably stemmed from this early childhood encounter:

Cari and the Easter Bunny
I know. I look less than pleased with the Easter bunny. I guess he kind of freaked me out. Believe it or not I’m not a huge fan of candy or that plastic grass stuff in Easter baskets that manages to finds its way into every crevasse and that I worry my cat will find and think is real and try to eat then choke (sometimes an active imagination doesn't exactly help).

But I am a big fan of spring break in warm places! And this time I really did take a break. Usually I work (write) because I can take advantage of the larger chunks of time. And now that I’ve just returned from vacation I’m feeling much more relaxed and well rested. It was long overdue.

Paradise: Spring Break 2013

Here is what I AM excited about this spring…I promised you that I would release APART and that is the plan. Check out the cover art and book description that you can mark it as "Want To Read" over on Goodreads until it is released.

Which means it should (tentatively) be in your hands by summer (June21st)! Here is the description:

Peaches thought that turning thirteen and becoming a teenager would mean she’d finally have it all figured out. She’s got a new boyfriend, a year of middle school under her belt and is moving on about her parents’ divorce. What she’s not ready for is her Dad remarrying and moving out of state. How is she supposed to spend a magical summer with her first boyfriend if they’re apart? And as if that’s not enough, back at school Peaches is asked to tutor Joey McGregor in order to fulfill her volunteer hours for JHS. And not that she’s obsessing about it or anything, but isn’t there someone ELSE who could do it? In a new year full of changes, Peaches learns that not only does absence make the heart grow fonder but stronger!

So thank you for your patience. I know some of you wanted to see APART earlier but Rumspringa just had to be written. And I’ve got a great premise for another YA book but first: APART!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A Humongo Thank You!

A big thank you to all who supported (or endured!) the Rumspringa social media blitz this weekend. I was able to cultivate a TON of downloads and shelves over on Goodreads. I can’t WAIT for folks to start reading this one.

I think the highest Rumspringa ranked on the teen fiction chart was #15 but I didn’t get a screen shot of it. What was interesting was that once Rumspringa landed on the adult romance fiction Top 100 list, the downloads snowballed. Check out Rumspringa's steamy company...

L.O.V.E. that!

Sadly, the free promotion ended only a few hours after. Such is the life of an indie author! So don’t be afraid to experiment and take what you’ve learned to grow.

If you downloaded Rumspringa for free and liked it, please consider writing a review on Amazon or Goodreads. Many thanks!

Thanks again for your support!
All best!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Rumspringa FREE on Amazon

In the most counter intuitive marketing plan ever, Rumspringa is FREE on Amazon! It magically drives up sales (go figure). No, really. It worked for Between and I'm not even kidding you. Please share with your social media profusely. Many thanks!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Rumspringa Debut on Amazon!

Here is my young adult novel debut entitled Rumspringa. Isn't the cover gorgeous? Don't you just want to pee your pants? I know!

I found this photo over Thanksgiving break last year and knew at once, this was it. The cover models look exactly like I pictured my protagonists. Sarah's long hair flowing up is a striking image. The novel is told in alternating viewpoints between Liam and Sarah and I am so excited to finally share their story with you! So clear the decks and get yourself ready for a great read! 

p.s. To purchase, please click on the cover image in the sidebar. If you read Rumspringa and like it, please consider writing an Amazon review. Many thanks!

p.p.s. Don't have a Kindle? If you have a computer or smart phone download the free Kindle app. That works, too!

p.p.p.s. (last one, I swear!) Please feel free to tweet, link to your Facebook, email your friends and share with your social network profusely! All the best! :-)

Teaser Tuesday

Here is the final teaser...
Rumspringa Teaser #6 - Liam 

          I didn't quite understand the specifics but none of the Amish drove motor vehicles. If they wanted to get anywhere further than walking distance, they used their horse and buggy. And if they wanted to travel quickly, they hired drivers. I'd seen the ads on the bulletin boards at the Gas-n-Go.
          We stepped outside into the chilly dawn and I could see our breaths in short puffs. “It’s over here," I said leading her to Jerry's battered old gray Ford Escort, my new wheels. It needed some work, the engine had to be coaxed to life in these brittle temperatures but even so, I was glad for the freedom it provided out here in the country. Often after work, I'd drive the back roads just to roam around and clear my head.
          I opened the passenger door for her and quickly shoved the empty Yoo-hoo bottles over and miscellaneous trash to make some room. Without saying any more we got in and she fumbled with the seat belt, her ears turning pink.
          I leaned over and fastened her in. I got a whiff of her shampoo, something fruity. She looked frightened and leaned way back, out of my way so I could adjust the strap. I guessed the prospect of riding with me in a car would be nerve racking for any Amish girl. I started the engine after pumping the gas pedal a couple of times. The tunes from my iPod were attached to the car radio and Distrubed blasted from the speakers. Sarah grimaced and covered her ears with her hands. I quickly turned the music off and she released her grip. Her face was white and she pressed an open palm to her heart as though she’d just been shocked.
          “Not a popular song in Amishland?"
          “Nein.” She shook her head but I noticed the corners of her mouth slightly turn up suppressing a grin.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Manic Monday

Rumspringa Teaser #5 - Sarah

“Let’s make a pot of regular," Rebecca said, interrupting my thoughts. She removed the orange handled decanter from the bottom and placed it on the top burner. She leaned over to open the cabinet below and took a pre-filtered bag of coffee out, then ripped open the foil packaging and placed the grounds in the machine. "Do you think the rumors about him are true?" she whispered.
"Rumors?" I repeated, wiping down the counter with a dish towel. She pressed the button that illuminated an orange light, indicating the brewing cycle had started. She nodded her head toward Liam. "They say he's a big city boy from Chicago. A drug dealer. Killed somebody."
"Nooo," I said and clucked my tongue. "Rebecca do not spread gossip," I admonished, alarmed that she should voice my own thoughts so clearly. I continued straightening the creamer and plastic stirrers.
“I heard about it at school.” Rebecca turned to face me and grinned, squeezing my forearm. "He's easy on the eyes, ya?"
I twisted around to get a good look at him over the open counter between the kitchen and the dining area. The jet black of his sharply angled hair cut swept over one of his darkly lined eyes accentuating their blueness. The effect was striking. He had a wide, generous mouth that looked out of place with the rest of his features. As if sensing I was watching him, he suddenly looked up at me, not bothering to flick his inky black hair out of his face and our eyes met. I quickly glanced away, embarrassed to be caught staring but not before I noticed the tingling sensation that skated down my spine. More than just his appearance, something about him set me on edge.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Sunday Sing-a-long

Here is another excerpt from Rumspringa... Enjoy!

Rumspringa Teaser #4 - Liam

          I obviously didn't get the memo. Surrounded by a group of severely conservative looking teenagers at the Apfel Haus Restaurant employee meeting wearing pressed khakis, buttoned up collared shirts and long dresses, my dark jeans and leather jacket stood out. I was used to my appearance causing a stir, especially when I used egg whites to stiffen out my Mohawk into pointed spikes for a night on the town in Chicago, where the occasional muttered insult of "freak" was the norm. But these teenagers— dressed like grandma and grandpa— were like something out of the early 20th century.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Teaser Tuesday

Rumspringa Teaser #3 - Sarah

"Alright, I'm off then. Class starts in twenty minutes,” Rebecca told me. Taking her things from behind the counter she added, "I forgot to tell you, my brother says the Schrock's are having a rumspringa back-acres party Memorial Day weekend. I want you to come with me."
"You're not going to the sing-a-long on Sunday?” I asked, following her into the women's restroom where she could change.
She gave me a pointed look. "No," she said, handing me her apron. "And neither are you." Rebecca rapidly changed into her English clothes for school in one of the stalls. She doesn't like to stand out at Westview High School and her parents think it is for the best. She stepped out wearing tight fitting jeans and a pink Aeropostale T-shirt. Not exactly the Amish style of long dresses and prayer caps. Her hair was left up even though it was not covered. To wear hair exposed was considered dishonorable. 
Rebecca sighed heavily. "Sarah, you promised me that during your rumspringa you'd branch out a little bit. After all, it's what we're meant to do, to run around and be free of our usual constraints."
I did not add that the real purpose of rumspringa was to find an Amish mate, but I was tired of sounding like a sour grape.
Apparently I hesitated too long because next thing I knew she grabbed me by both of my shoulders, giving them a gentle shake. "Now is the time," she insisted.
          "Okay," I agreed. It probably would not hurt for once, just to be with the girls. And she was right, now was the time. "I will give it a go, I guess."

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Here's to you, Peter Wilson

I have been meaning to do this for some time. This morning while the house was quiet, I found a couple of moments to transpose my son's writing essay about someone he admires. It's not about the president. It's not about Martin Luther King, Jr. It's about a fisherman. It's totally cute and please don't judge - he takes after his mother's lack of spelling (Willson is really Wilson) and grammar skills (you might find a few missing commas).

I admire Peter Willson. Peter Willson is my dads friend. I admire him because he is a good fisherman.
       One time me my dad and Peter Willson went camping at a lake. He cot* about fifteen fish no joke. He can catch fish in lakes and rivers.
       Peter Willson cot fish in different condishoins. Like when we went camping he cot fish in the cold and in the warm. He can catch fish high up in the mountins and low.
       Peter Willson catchs different kinds of fish. Peter Willson has cot trout. Also a fish called carp. He has cot steelhead samon and king samon.
       So that’s why I admire Peter Willson hes a great fisherman and all those reasons.

Simple, direct and right on point. What's not to love about this AMAZING essay?

*My son would like you to know that he knows how to spell cot now. I mean caught.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Friday Fun

Here is another teaser from Rumspringa my new young adult contemporary romance novel out on submission. Enjoy!

Rumspringa Teaser #2 - Liam
She was staring at me again. The pretty one.
When she was preoccupied with taking a customer’s order, her back was towards me and I could study the way the early morning sunlight streamed through the windows catching each individual flyaway hair, turning it into a shimmery golden wisp around the crown of her head.  The effect was like a halo about her prayer cap which was always perfectly in place and the pleats of her dress pressed without a wrinkle.
I admired the Amish - from a distance - their faith, their commitment to family, their community, the steadfastness of it. I was not religious, but I did think everything had a soul, just in a non-practicing, non-dogma sort of way.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Tantalizing Wednesday

Because Wednesday is only at it's beginning, I have decided to lighten the mood by offering a teaser from Rumspringa my new young adult contemporary romance novel. Enjoy!

Rumspringa Teaser #1 - Sarah

At work, I often caught myself watching Liam. I wondered what a contemporary city boy was doing in the middle of Indiana Amish country. I knew that he had come suddenly to live with his uncle, but I did not know any of the specifics. I also knew that Liam was not attending Westpoint High school with Rebecca because she would have told me so.
Regardless of how dangerous and out of place he looked, I could see him staring thoughtfully at the flour and salt as he began each shift, quietly. He seemed very adept at the process of turning stock ingredients into something delicious. He started by sprinkling a little flour onto the board and on his rolling pin to keep it from sticking. Next, he patiently rolled the dough out into a perfect rectangle then switched to using his hands and gently tugged on all sides to stretch the dough, careful to straighten out the wrinkles, like a delicate piece of cloth. His skilled fingers artfully folded the cinnamon filling into the pastry, tucking the sugared apple pieces in just so. Afterwards, he generously brushed melted butter over the exposed layers for good measure.
There was a lot of gossip about him flying around our close-knit community. That he was a trouble maker. A delinquent from Chicago. Recovering drug addict. Lazy. Watch out. Idle hands are the devil's tools.
There was nothing idle about those hands.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Declaration of Love for My Knight and Shining Armor

In the spirit of St. Valentine and at the risk of exposure by sharing too much personal information (what else is new?) here are two journal entries I recently discovered from 20 years ago, copied verbatim and made into a Valentine for MKISA today.

May 23, 1993

It’s the little things that make me happy. Like when Keith did the dishes or when he made dinner that one night or when he thanks the waiter or waitress and moves off of the hiking path so people can walk by first. The little things, that really is what counts the most for me. Plus he’s a bit of a romantic. I’m a little frightened because I know I want a husband and children and I do not want to rush anything because I know I want these things. In other words, how long do I wait? And how much do I compromise? What’s really important? Keith really is so nice in these little things. What the hell is in his head about the big picture? What does he think about me? Does he even think about me? The other day when he asked me if there was anything I wanted to do (because he was thinking about rock climbing with this girl) and I said, “Whatever you want.” And he replied, “That’s not what I asked.” And I wanted to marry him right there.

November 11, 1995

Well some years later here and I need to come back and finish this journal. Now Keith and I are engaged and I am happy.

Wedding Day  

*No, that is not a mole or bug on MKISA's neck but residue on the computer scanner and I don't have time to fix

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Business of Writing

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the business of writing (no news on the submission front for those of you asking, believe me you’ll read about it here). At some point authors have to shift from the “dream” of writing to the “business” of writing. 

You may or may not know that at a publishing house editors have an acquisitions meeting every week or two. This is where editors come to the table to sell your book to their colleagues (the publisher, marketing, sales and the like). I imagine it goes something like this:

Editor #1: You guys, I’ve got this family drama about two football coaches who are brothers always trying to best the other and eventually go head-to-head in the competition of their lives during the Super Bowl XLVII championship.

Editor #3: That is so yesterday.

Editor #2: I’ve got this one book about vampires and werewolves.

Editor #1: *yawns*

Editor #3: No dude, you’ve got to read this new tell all book from @JocelynnBieber who apparently says behind closed doors Justin Bieber really did grope her boob in that pic that went viral.

Everyone all together: *eyebrows raise* Ohhhhh!

Assistant to Editor #1, Editor #2, and Editor #3: Who wants Starbucks?

This is why it’s super important to have a good pitch ready for your novel. You need to help your editor and agent sell your book to their business associates because it takes a village, people. You might even want to consider this before you spend a year writing your next bestseller.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

More on The Amish

I couldn’t resist writing about this recent article on the Amish in the Washington Post brought to my attention by Erik on his Amish America blogpost (which I can’t recommend highly enough if this subject is of interest to you) where he summarizes Why We Are Fascinated by the Amish.

For me, I’d have to say that my family history is the main reason I am interested in the Amish. My great-grandmother and namesake, Carrie, grew up Amish in Northern Indiana. I remember my grandmother taking me to visit Amish kin when I was a little girl and I used to play with the kittens on their farm. Also, I’ve always had an interested in simple living and appreciate and respect those who choose a self-sufficient lifestyle.

And naturally, as a juvenile fiction writer, rumspringa is of great interest. One of the universal truths I used in order to write about my Amish protagonist Sarah Yoder, is the common coming of age questioning of faith. Doubting the religion one was raised in is something many young adults from all walks of life can identify with. But for Amish youth, I believe it is even more of a struggle because they will be required to answer that question in a very concrete way: will they decide to get baptized into the Amish faith? Or not and relinquish their ties to family and community?

I drew upon my own experiences from the Peace Corps when I was in Africa to help me understand Sarah. I was thrown into a completely new environment and seriously questioned my faith. Like Sarah, who is catapulted into the English work world to help her family survive the economic downturn of the family business due to the recession, she encounters a very different environment from the one in which she grew up. The boy she meets is the wild, free and naturally artistic punker Liam who, due to life circumstances is very mature for his age, like many of the Amish who from early on are given more responsibility than their English counter parts. Despite their dissimilar backgrounds they have much in common and find themselves irresitibly attracted to each other. 

As you can probably tell, I cannot wait to share this story of first love with you! And of course I am curious to know, what parts interest you in the Amish?