Anywhere but Here

I never imagined I’d end up here.

My whole life, I wanted to live someplace exotic. Someplace different. Maybe domestic, maybe foreign. But not necessarily here.

I thought I’d live someplace green, and perhaps abroad. Nothing quite so exotic as an ex-pat, right?

I was born in Alabama, and I lived there until I was eight. When I was in third grade, we moved to the desert. It was my first exposure to dry, brown hills, to a barren landscape that, when seen in the right light, looks like it could be on the moon.

Growing up out here, I missed fireflies and magnolias. I missed rain and sultry summer nights. I missed the moist heat of the deep South. In many ways, I still do.

I’m sure I’ve romanticized it in my head. I’m sure that, if I left the high desert, I would miss it too.

There are things about the high desert that are fascinating. Sure, it’s not very often that I see swirling mist and feel the sense of mystery I alway get every time I see the fog. With 300 days of sun a year, it’s not very often that I feel a gentle rain on my face. Although when it does rain, I certainly do, mostly because I don’t even own an umbrella.

But there are things about the high desert that are intriguing, things I would probably miss if I were to leave.

Dry, barren hills glow golden at sunrise and sunset. Coyotes howl under the light of the moon, and even here, in the suburbs (and just a few blocks from Costco), I can hear them howling at night when the wind is right. There’s something eerie about the sound, something vaguely sinister or ghostly.

Desert lakes reflect the bright blue of an azure sky better than any other body of water I’ve ever seen. And the night sky…. Well, I’ve never seen stars as clearly as I see them here.

I don’t feel like this is MY place–it’s never been mine. It was always my parents’, and I stayed here because of happenstance. But just because I know it’s not mine doesn’t mean I wouldn’t miss it if I ever leave.

If you had the choice of places to go, would you stay where you are, or would you leave? And if you could choose anywhere in the world to live, where would it be?


I Got a Clencher!

I got my cover for my book today.

It’s a really nice cover. I’m excited and freaked out and thrilled beyond belief. I still can’t believe this happened to me.

You’d think, being a writer, that I would have something to say about this, but I don’t. There are no words to describe the feeling that comes from seeing the cover of your first book for the first time.

I thought, when this moment came, I’d be giddy, and I am. But I think, more than that, I saw this cover and my brain… stuttered.

For a moment–okay, for a period of time somewhat longer than a moment–in the space between my ears, there was only the sound of crickets. It sounds like I’m kidding, but sadly, I’m not. Crickets.

And after that, all those little crickets started singing in their little cricket voices… Oh. My God. It’s actually real.

I knew it was real before–after all, I signed a contract. But it all felt very academic. I made jokes about getting published, but I’m not sure I believed it until I saw the cover with my name on it.

I worked really hard to get here. I have stayed up to all hours of the night working on my  various manuscripts, and gotten up the next morning and gone to work, coached soccer, taken the kids to swimming and done all those things I have to do as a responsible adult. And then, in the wee hours of the morning, I wrote and I wrote and I wrote some more, even though there was no tangible reward at the end of that journey, just the prospect of querying and writing, entering contests (sometimes finaling, sometimes not), getting rejections and feeling like a failure and a hack.

I queried two places with this book, and neither of them were the original publisher I’d hoped to land when I started it (mostly because, by the time I finished it, the book no longer fit the guidelines specified by the original publisher). I only queried this particular publisher not that long ago.

So it all felt unreal when I got “The Call.”

It felt unreal when I got the contract.

And now… uh… it’s real.

Welcome The Marker, my debut novel, coming out in December of 2011 from Soul Mate Publishing.

This cover does a really nice job of encapsulating my entire story, from the couple at the top to the saloon at the bottom. I think that’s what good covers do.

What are some of your favorite book covers, and what do you think a cover should portray?


Gluttony’s B*tch

My love of food is wholly unrequited.

I would stalk food if I thought for a minute it would love me back. I would follow it home from school and sit in the tree outside its house. If it dropped something from its backpack, I would pick it up, take it home, and sleep with it under my pillow. I would be the creepy stalker that stares at the window from the sidewalk, hoping to catch a glimpse of food maybe stepping out of the shower, or just hanging out watching TV.

(Scarily, this is sounding a lot like something that happened to me in high school, so now I’ll have to move on from my stalker routine and on to something else. I’m starting to creep myself out.)

I love watching cooking shows. I love trying to make the food I see on TV. I love everything about cooking: the act of cooking, the presentation, and the eating. Oh, the eating! (Not so much the dishes, though. I am not a domestic goddess in any way, shape, or form)

Unfortunately, as much as I love it, food doesn’t love me back.

Gluttony, my favorite sin, has broken up with me. It doesn’t return my calls or answer the phone anymore. The things I can actually eat are things that are *gasp!* good for me. Yes, I’m looking at you, kale. I like you kale, but I don’t like like you. Let’s just be friends.

As I sit here and eat homemade kale chips (because, let’s face it, the store-bought ones taste like horse manure), I reminisce about the good old days when gluttony and I had a really great relationship. Honestly, homemade kale chips simply don’t compare to, oh, say, a really decadent chocolate cupcake. Really, truly and honestly.

Homemade kale chips vs. brussels sprouts–that’s a contest (like Mathlete vs. Spelling Bee winner. It seems like a fair fight). Kale vs. Cupcake? Hardly. That’s like pitting the president of German Club (hey, I resemble that remark) against the captain of the cheerleading squad. Kale wouldn’t even last one round against Cupcake. Kale would get her azz handed to her and be forgotten by the next day.

So, as I sit here and watch Cupcake Wars and Barefoot Contessa and fight the temptation to get up and lick the television set, here’s what I have to say:

Food, you suck. (love me, love me, love me.)



Launch Party!

Tomorrow is the launch of my publisher, Soul Mate Publishing! Launching tomorrow are eight brand new titles from some great authors… whom I can’t wait to read!

Here are the titles launching tomorrow…

Love’s Guardian

Prince Charming, Inc. 

Blood and Kisses

Trust of the Heart

That Carrington Magic

Legacy of Olympus


The Bizarre Life of Sydney Sedrick

Congratulations to all of you who have a book launching tomorrow morning. One of our authors, Donna Shields, is hosting a launch party on her blog… Click on over and see what the hubbub’s all about!

The Hopeful Romantic

I’m what you could call a “hopeful” romantic.

I adore a good love story, and, as I’ve mentioned before, I love romance novels, mostly because I know I’ll get a happy end. I’ve written tortured fantasy before, where everyone dies at the end. I got over that after four or five German literature courses. I can’t even tell you the number of stories I read where everyone dies of starvation even though there’s a loaf of bread left uneaten on the counter of the flat next door. Certainly, that’s an exaggeration, but it’s close enough to the truth that when my husband took me to see some German movie and the camera panned in on a loaf of bread, M leaned over and asked loudly, “Oh, there’s the loaf of bread you’re always talking about. Is everyone going to die now?” And the answer to his question was, yes.

I think he was actually pretty relieved when they did. I know I was.

So I don’t write the tortured stuff too often anymore. Oh, I torture my characters, but I’m going to give them a happy ending. And I’m going to do it for one simple reason: Hope.

As a romance writer, that’s what I’m peddling. We all want to believe that these characters are going to have their happily ever after. We want to believe the bad guy will get caught and get his just desserts. We want to believe in love.

Because if we do, we can hold out hope it will happen for us.

I was a romantic long before I ever met my husband, and I’ll be a romantic until the day I die. I got married because I had hope. Hope that we could defy the odds. After all, we married young and against our parents’ wishes (more his than mine). Half of all marriages end in divorce, but I believed in the happily ever after. I believed in love. I believed that we would count ourselves among the lucky few and defy the odds. That we would be the ones who would grow old together. I believed it with the strength of conviction only the young and the insane possess.

I still believe it fourteen years later.

Oh, it’s not all sunshine and roses, because I live a real life with a real man. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t have faith that we’ll somehow make it through whatever life throws at us. It won’t be perfect because life isn’t perfect. I’m okay with that because I have hope.

At twenty-two, I found “the one,” and for all of life’s ups and downs, I wouldn’t trade a single minute, because everything we’ve gone through, every fight or rough patch, has led us here. And what got us through those tough times was the hope and the unwavering faith that we still loved one another and things would get better, because they always do.

So when I write a romance novel, it’s not because I’m too weak minded to do anything else. I’m not. It’s because there’s a certain beauty in writing something as hopeful as a romance novel. When we start on our journey, we ask the reader to have faith in us. We ask for them to hold onto the hope that everything will be okay, no matter what we throw at our characters.

So yeah, I’m a hopeful romantic. And proud to be one.