Saturday, December 9, 2017

Female Positive Children's Books

I believe Christmas gifts are for children. In my life, there are five qualifying persons. Shopping for the offspring of my two best friends in the world is the most fun I have during the holiday season.

This year, I've decided to do books. I think kids should be exposed to more stories written by women with girls in the lead. I don't feel like there were enough of those when I was growing up. Here are some ideas:

  1. Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls is 100 bedtime stories about extraordinary women and illustrated by female artists from around the world.
  2. Judy Blume. Any of them, all of them, but especially Are You There God? It's Me Margaret
  3. Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maude Montgomery.
  4. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.
  5. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett.
  6. I preformed a scene from Autumn Street by Lois Lowry for my seventh grade oral interpretation.
  7. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson is about the deep friendship between a boy and a girl. It deals with grief. I read this as a kid and was excited to learn she has a new award-winning book out called My Brigadista Year.
  8. Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt.
  9. A Wrinkle in Time by Madaleine L'Engle is getting a reboot as a more diverse version for Disney.
  10. For younger readers, I Like Myself by Karen Beaumont.
I'm selecting from this list and buying them from my local indie bookstore, Antigone Books. It ends up being slightly more expensive, but gift wrap is free!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Holiday shopping with a conscience

I do my best to avoid sweat shops. I don't buy clothing very often and when I do, I either spend more money for something made in America or I hit a thrift shop. My favorite new find is ThredUp.com. I recently spent around $50 for ten brand name items in good condition - including a pair of American made jeans.

Holiday shopping can be incredibly difficult. I've stumbled across a few gift guides, but their suggestions are often very specific and pricey. ABC News says that if  each of us spent just $64 on American made goods during our holiday shopping, the result would be 200,000 new jobs. I think that's a challenge worth taking and this is my fifth year of doing my part.

I've always had good luck with the American made section of FatBrainToys, which has reasonably priced, educational toys and games.

When I'm looking for US made kids clothes, I usually go straight to etsy.com.

For several years now, my family has decided to donate to charity in lieu of gifts to each other. We have given to UnicefHeiferCharityWater, and OxFam to name a few. Helping someone on the other side of the world to become self-reliant feels better to me than receiving a bunch of things I really don't need. (And it saves on standing in the exchange line on December 26th.) It's much more consistent with the Christmas spirit.

Before selecting a charity, I always check them out at Charitynavigator.org to find out how much of donations go to services and how much they pay the CEO. (I can't stand charity CEOs who make millions.) I recommend checking out your charity here before donating. You can even look at their list of top-rated charities if you need ideas.


I'm always looking for new shopping sources. Please share your favorites in the comments section.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Print copies

I always get so excited when the box of paperbacks arrive! Blood & Water is my fourth novel, but this time was no different.

Over the years, I've become a reluctant Kindle user. There are definitely times when they're convenient for travel and having a diverse collection of reading material at your fingertips. But, if you're like me and appreciate the feeling of a good, old fashioned book in your hands, you'll be happy to know the print copies are now available.

Here it is with my last book, Finding Charlie. (Kindle Scout is running a 99 cent sale for that one all month.) Don't they look good together? Shout out to Deb, my amazing cover designer at thecovercollection.com.

How many of you are ignoring the ebook "trend" in favor of paperbacks?

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The Opening

Delilah: Tuesday, October 17th 2017

It isn’t yet dawn as I ransack my apartment for things I can’t leave behind.  The list is surprisingly short.
       Handfuls of clothing stuffed into a duffel bag. My laptop. An awkwardly-sized cardboard box full of nostalgia, the only things I’d allowed myself to take from my parents’ house after my mother died. I wrap both arms around it, hefting it onto my hip as I cast my eyes in nervous darting circles, contemplating what doesn’t make the cut. The futon. The microwave. Sheets and towels and curtains. I leave it all.
       Everything fits quite easily in my Mini Cooper, the box and the duffel bag smooshed together on the backseat like sleepy children apprehensive of the spontaneous road trip. I go back to lock up, remembering to take a pale blue scarf from the hook just inside the door. I drape it over my fleece, which I zip up to my chin on the way back to the car. I slide into the front seat and turn the key. It starts right up – nothing like nightmares and old movies, where people can never leave in a hurry when they need to. Everything goes smoothly. Leaving is easy. As I pull out of the lot, and my apartment building gets smaller in the rearview, my breathing slows. I’m certain I won’t miss any of it. I wonder why I never thought of this before. 
       I feel no attachment to material things. I take some degree of pride in that. Near the end of her life, my mother asked me to take her antique furniture. She had an oak dresser and nightstand that were a set and she didn’t want them separated. She was dying and she was worried about keeping the furniture together.
       After the funeral, there’d been an estate sale. I don’t believe in an afterlife so I don’t believe my mother is upset with me or proud of me or looking out for me.
       Dead is dead.
       The cardboard box contains twelve file folders that hold report cards and artwork and essays from every year I went to school. If I looked closely, I’m sure I’d find my SAT scores. I haven’t looked closely, though. I saved a shoebox full of loose photos, but I haven’t looked closely at those either. When I first lifted the lid in the basement, my throat started closing. I replaced the lid and set it aside. For later. Whenever that is.
       My mother died five years ago, six months after being diagnosed with lung cancer. She’d never smoked. My father had smoked, though he quit before I was born. He’d died before her diagnosis. A heart attack we hadn’t seen coming. She’d just begun to shake off the most crippling parts of her widowhood when she got the news that she wouldn’t need to get used to living without him after all.
       My father’s death was sudden and shocking and devoid of the opportunity to say goodbye. It was terrifyingly fast: the fear in his eyes, his twisted face, the ambulance sirens too late. My mother’s death was miserably slow, an endless terror with a million goodbyes until there was nothing left to say and nothing left to do but wait for the guilty relief when it was over.
       Tucked into a corner of that box, wrapped in a checkered kitchen towel, are their wedding rings and her quarter carat diamond in yellow gold, the only jewelry my mother owned.
       As I wait at the intersection on the way to the highway, remembering my favorite frying pan with grooves in it that made burgers look like they’d been grilled, I see a police cruiser in my rearview mirror. It turns into the parking lot of my apartment complex and I take a right on red.

Blood  & Water is available on all platforms.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

The best laid plans

So, on Monday I found out that the online distributor I use, Pronoun, is going kaput.

I have a very involved launch strategy for this book and started the pre-order phase October 1st. This news means reformatting the book for each platform and contacting all the promotion sites I had set up and losing my rank and losing the sales I was building for the past month and a half. 


After having a good cry, I've regrouped and spent yesterday doing all those things. I'm not done yet. 

Apologies to those who already purchased my book, but those sales have been cancelled. Here's the new link for
 Blood & Water
There are two more weeks to get your copy during the 99 cent launch.

If you're not an Amazon person, don't fear. Here's a link to all other platforms.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

A Long Thaw - an excerpt

There are just a few more days to get my novel, A Long Thaw, for 99 cents. This is a multi-generational story about the power of secrets and the unbreakable bonds of family.Here's an excerpt: 

             Abby hasn’t seen Juliet in ten years. That summer, they had both been thirteen and had that special kind of girl-love that precedes the insecurity and competition of adolescence. They could spend an entire afternoon balancing precariously on rocks at the edge of the ocean, looking for starfish and empty crab shells and other beach treasures. They wore bathing suits that had been stretched and faded with overuse. They pulled snails from the rocks, slowly as not to harm them, and sat with them on their hands waiting for them to suction to their palms. They took turns burying each other in sand and then washed themselves off in the bone chilling Atlantic, squealing as they bent their knees so that the water rose to their belly buttons, their armpits, and finally, their throats.
            They’d had no way of knowing it would be the last summer. If Juliet knew her parents were bound for divorce, she hadn’t let on. By fall, Juliet would be starting school somewhere in California. The exact address was never given. There would be no postcards between cousins, no more family outings to the beach.
            Their parents sat low in beach chairs, talking and giving out snacks periodically. Juliet’s mother was still breast-feeding Lilly. Hannah sat at her feet, the architect of a primitive mud castle. She was four then, too young to want to follow her older sister around.
            “Stay where we can see you,” Abby’s mother would remind the girls whenever they were in earshot.
            “They’re fine,” Juliet’s father assured. “Juliet's a good swimmer, aren’t you Jules?”
            Juliet beamed and puffed out her chest, nodding.
            “They’re both good swimmers, Allen.” Rachel was squinting up at her brother with her hand against her brow like a visor. “This is the ocean.”
            “Just be careful, girls.” Abby’s father sat under an umbrella, reading a book about the Civil War.
            Abby nodded and Juliet took her hand, pulling her back to the frothy water’s edge.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

A Long Thaw 99 cent sale!

This week, A Long Thaw is on sale for 99 cents! I'm gearing up for the launch of my new release, Blood & Water, November 28th.
I don't write sequels, but all my novels are connected and a familiar face from A Long Thaw shows up in the new book.

I’ve always imagined A Long Thaw as a modern interpretation of the old prince and the pauper story. Abby and Juliet are cousins who, until the age of ten, live the same privileged, sheltered lives in a big Irish Catholic family. When Juliet’s parents divorce, her mother moves across the country so that she no longer has that safety net. The cousins reconnect in their twenties and the book deals with the ways we are changed by our experiences as well as the ways we are unchangable.

As a writer (and human being), I am endlessly fascinated by issues of identity and family dynamics, by the nature vs. nurture debate. These are things that inevitably find their way into my fiction.