Fifty-four (54!) months with Alvie Bean

Dearest Bean,

I kinda think I might need to demand a maternity test. Although there are times when I’m positive you’re my kid (your favorite food is a grilled cheese sandwich and you tripped and did a header into a shelf of wine, breaking 11 bottles with your skull), there are other times I’m just not so sure.

Last weekend, we were cleaning your room and I said you needed to pick five things to put in the give away box.

You chose five books. Four of which were Caldecott Medal winners (I would’ve chosen the airplane book clearly written for a much younger child or the random book on Greek festivals that is not only for someone much older, but also extremely out of date and poorly written). You also told me you’re not going to learn how to read because “it takes too much time.”

It's no wonder when these are the books I give him, right? (Oct 2014)

It’s no wonder when these are the books I give him, right? (Oct 2014)

This is deeply disturbing. You may not know this about me, but I read. I like reading. It’s my favorite hobby. I’ve been reading to you since before you were born, and every night before bed we read a story. (We used to read three, but your books are much longer now that we’ve graduated from Boynton.) The only nights you don’t get stories are the nights you either fall asleep unexpectedly soon or the nights you’re possessed by sloth demons and can’t get yourself ready for bed in a reasonable amount of time. (That second happens so seldomly – I think only when you forgets that mama never makes threats she doesn’t intend to keep and story skipping is definitely my last resort.)


The only thing in the universe that matters now is Pokemon. I know a lot more about Pokemon than I ever thought possible.


This morning, you disowned me because I wouldn’t let you watch Pokemon before going to school. You seemed shocked that I didn’t immediately capitulate. I told you that since I was no longer your mother, that meant I didn’t have to share my tv, or my internet, or my cheese with you anymore. There were tears. I won ex-mom of the year. (I have since been brought back into the family.)

Weirdest family ever.

Weirdest family ever.

You are four and a half. Other than the reading part (and the part where you’re four and a half, which OMG! Why doesn’t the quest for independence and the strong personality development happen the second you leave for college? Can’t you just be agreeable and pliable and do everything I ask until you move out and need to think for yourself?) you’re really a great kid. You’re so kind to others – especially those smaller than yourself and you love helping.

He is a shockingly good carrot peeler.

He is a shockingly good carrot peeler.

You’re affectionate and smart and funny (although maybe not quite as funny as you think you are). You never, ever stop talking. Ever. EVER.

Well, maybe occasionally.

Well, maybe occasionally.

You’re stubborn and charming and determined. You are easily frustrated when things aren’t easy and I fear this will be the biggest challenge you face as a developing human, because DUDE! I feel you. (And seriously, socks can be difficult.)

You have the capability of making me seethe with anger like no one else and can make my heart feel too full seconds later when you look at me and say, “I love you to the sun and the moon and back, mommy. I will love you until you die. And then I will still love you when you’re dead.”

"I'm dead, mommy. I don't have to go to bed tonight."

“I’m dead, mommy. I don’t have to go to bed tonight.”

You’ve been waking up in the middle of the night and wanting to crawl into bed with me. I probably allow it more often than I should, because I’m tired, too, and it’s the path of least resistance. I’d like you to start sleeping through the night again, though. Every night. That would be great.

I document a lot of sleeping to remind myself that it really does happen.

I document a lot of sleeping to remind myself that it really does happen.

You are a bundle of heart and feelings (and dirt) and I am so thankful that you’re mine. You challenge me constantly (and sometimes literally – we have a lot of weaponry about). You make me want to be a better person so I can be the best mom for you.

"I will take our selfie, Mommy."

“I will take our selfie, Mommy.”

Love you to the sun and the moon and back forever and two days.


Book Review: Wordless by Mel Sterling

Although I typically read and review paranormal and fantasy romance a lot more than contemporary romance/romantic suspense, when Mel asked me if I wanted an ARC of Wordless, I immediately said yes. I’ve read some of her other stuff (in my primary genre) and loved it. PLUS, we’re practically neighbors and I have an obligation to help support my local economy by insisting that every single one of you buy this book right meow.

The Blurb

Disaster reporter and internet celebrity Jack Tucker is disillusioned after a stint embedded in Iraq. The IED that destroyed his team’s Humvee brought him tragedy and regret, robbing him of the joy he took in his job–or anything else. He spends his days in a small Camden bookshop, struggling with writer’s block, until the elderly proprietor dies, leaving him adrift.

Lexie Worth abandoned a promising career to keep her uncle’s beloved bookstore alive. But the store’s tabby cat hates her, local poets invade twice a month for scurrilous readings, and she knows she shouldn’t get involved with sexy, troubled strangers like Jack. When the FBI comes knocking, with suspicions of fraud and racketeering, Lexie realizes someone’s after more than a first edition or two.

Someone’s been using the bookstore to hide their crimes. Someone dangerous–maybe even deadly. Jack wants to protect Lexie–if he can believe her. And if she doesn’t find out exactly who he is…

Wordless, book one of the Pink Sofa Secrets series.

The Cover

love this cover. It is so perfect. Judge this book by the cover. You will not be sorry.

RIGHT? Perfect.

RIGHT? Perfect. (This is a link. Click it.)

The Review 

The mystery – fraud and racketeering – was really well crafted. I’ll admit that  I can almost never figure out who did it in any mystery, and that drives me crazy. (I own almost every Agatha Christie ever written, courtesy of my father, and I’ve read all of them so many times. I can never remember who did it. Ever. EVER. Not even on the tenth re-reading.)

ANYWAY – the mystery. Although one of the bad guys jumped out at me right away, the way it played out in the end was not how I’d imagined it happening, but it was deeply satisfying. Plus, who doesn’t love intrigue and crime set in the midst of books? (My dream job would be to own a bookstore but not have to rely on it for income, because that sounds stressful. We would be open whenever I felt like it, and there would be coffee in the morning and wine in the evening and I could sit in a little alcove and write and occasionally make out with hotties in the rare book room. But in a non-book-damaging way.)

In addition to a finely crafted mystery, the romance was well-paced (although I always used to feel a bit skeptical when people in books got so serious so fast, it oddly seems more realistic to me now). Jack and Lexie are both damaged in different ways and it really felt like the damage informed their decision making more than becoming an excuse for bad decisions. It’s a fine line to walk, and I thought Mel walked it adeptly.

My favorite character – sorry Jack & Lexie – was Melville the cat. Melville was the best cranky cat ever. (My dream bookstore will also require one grumpy cat who is perfectly toilet trained.)

…he’d had plenty of dinner, but Melville considered any time spent in the kitchen without feeding the cat wasted time.

I feel you, cat.

The Quote

Usually when I do a quote in a romance novel, it’s something about love or commitment or whatever, but honestly, this (other then the cat quote above) is the passage that spoke to me the most.

All those folks who shopped the section and complained that the high fantasy shouldn’t be mixed in with the space opera – well they’d just have to tolerate elves on the spaceships a while longer.

I mean, right? Elves on spaceships! 

I’m not going to lie – I cannot get this image out of my head now.



The Verdict

This book was really good. Good romance. Good suspense. Great cat. Space elves! (Not really. I don’t want you to be disappointed about that.) Plus, it’s set in a bookstore which is kind of where I want to live when I grow up. All this and some steamy, steamy sex. How on earth could you say no to that?



Three Things Thursday: Rainy Day Edition

  1. It is pouring down rain. It’s wet and gray and chilly. All I want is to curl up in front of a fireplace with a large cup of cocoa and a good book. Instead, I am trying to edit (again) the book that’s getting professionally edited starting next week.
  2. I am tired. Alvie had zombie nightmares Tuesday night so we were up a lot (I feel like zombie nightmares are a big step up from smoke detector nightmares in the evolution of bad dreams) and I didn’t manage to catch up last night.
  3. Bean started swimming lessons this week and is doing a great job already, although he’s the youngest person in his class. Apparently when he’s done, he’ll be actually swimming ALL BY HIMSELF. I don’t know if that’s true.
This is his game face

This is his game face


Book Review! “Teeth, Long & Sharp”

“Teeth, Long and Sharp” is an anthology with short stories from Grace Draven, Antioch Grey, Aria M. Jones, Jeffe Kennedy, and Mel Sterling. I received it as an advanced reading copy but that no way influences my review (there’s my disclaimer).

The Blurb

A collection of tales sharp and pointed.

IVORIES by Aria M. Jones – Eleanor resents the afternoons sacrificed to piano lessons and a disagreeable teacher who gloats over her failures and humiliations. Today, it’s Mrs. Lundemann’s turn for a sacrifice of a very different nature…

NIGHT TIDE by Grace Draven – Something hunts the surf at night, luring villagers to their deaths with a lullaby of sorrow and the torture of nightmares. Blessed with the gift of water-sight, Zigana Imre senses the presence of an ancient predator possessing a taste for human flesh sweetened by grief. With the help of a child of earth, she will battle a spawn of the sea to protect a loved one and save a man who will one day save a world.

THE NOISE OF FUR by Jeffe Kennedy – The first time, it came at night…

In the forest, a Thing prowls, picking off members of young Raven’s tribe. If they flee their home, they face starvation. If only Raven can answer the question of what kind of fur makes that noise.

VENETRIX by Antioch Grey – A merchant and a poet come to the City, seeking justice for the murder of a relative, and if justice cannot be found, they will have revenge. They collude with vampires, negotiate with mermaids, share ale and meat pies with gargoyles and navigate the prisons, waterways and court system of a city ruled by a Master possessing long life and even longer teeth.

The City will make you a fortune, or it will kill you, but it will always change you.

THE VAMPIRES OF MULBERRY STREET by Aria M. Jones – Living the simple life in small town Indiana, Mrs. H has everything she could possibly ever want: a cozy house, peace and quiet, and a garden that is the envy of Mulberry Street. But when sinister outsiders disrupt the tranquility of her neighborhood, it might be time for her to come out of retirement and take up tools more deadly than pruning shears and a trowel.

VOICE OF THE KNIFE by Mel Sterling – Biologist Charles Napier doesn’t mind getting lost in a Florida swamp—it’s part of a scientist’s job. Logic and training will get him out safely. Except lurking in this swamp, there’s a monster Napier’s science can’t explain…a lonely, exquisite, desperate monster.

The Cover

The pic is a link!

The pic is a link!


The Review

This was such a great collection of stories. Each grabbed me (with the teeth, obviously) in a different way.

Mel Sterling’s story was the one that gave me the legitimate goose-fleshy creeps, though. I read it late at night, alone in the dark, with the wind brushing branches (I hope) against my windows. By the time I was done, I was jumping out of my skin at every noise and the only reason that every light in the house wasn’t on was because I wasn’t sure I wanted to put my feet on the floor and traverse the long, dark path to the light switch.

My note made during this story include:

“If an old geezer ever tells me that a river is haunted, it’s going to be really hard for me to disbelieve it at this point; Mel Sterling has ruined me for swamps and canoe trips and possibly shellfish.”

Antioch Grey’s “Venetrix” was such a fun read. I love the carnivorous mermaids (I’d just seen a cartoon the other day saying that mermaids were too often depicted as topless beauties and not enough as “luring men to their death and crunching their bones.” This story definitely took care of that (although they are topless).

There was a good balance of world building (something that can be hard in a short story), suspense, and humor.

It was typical of the City that you should both skulk around and be seen ding it so that people knew you were skulking but not why.


The mermaid smirked, and Maris resolved never to swim in mermaid infested waters.

“The Vampires of Mulberry Street” by Aria M. Jones was a great read. I enjoyed the building of the main character – learning her history along with her present – and finding out why the sweet, old lady knew so much about the sleeping habits of her new neighbors.

My grandmother always said the quickest way to a man’s heart is between the third and fourth rib. She never said what came after, though.

Another important point – bread and butter pickles really are the best, aren’t they? Mrs. H was not wrong about that.


The other three are just as delightful as the three mentioned. Jeffe Kennedy’s left me gasping at the end, Aria M. Jones’s ending surprised me enough that I had to read the entire thing again because I thought I’d gone wrong somewhere, and Grace Draven has, once again, found something to give me nightmares and keep my heart in my throat for pages.


The Verdict

You cannot go wrong with this book. Every story has something pointed to offer and the way these authors weave their craft makes that offering delightful. I’m grateful especially for the chance to discover new authors as I’d not previous read anything by Aria M. Jones or Antioch Grey.


Words. So Many Words.

I’ve been plugging away at the writing project. I’m about 1/4 of the way done with the book in progress (which is #4 in a series I’m writing). It’s been fits and starts and it’s generally taking me a lot longer to get the words down than I would’ve predicted. I’m not as efficient a writer when I’ve got all day, apparently.

I do need to get better at that, though. I have just over a week to make final changes to my first book before the editor starts working on it. She has three readers who took a look at it and got their comments back. Two of the readers had some good critique, but overall liked it. The third did not so much like it. For some reason, that person’s opinion holds much greater weight than the other five people who’ve read and said they enjoyed. Not sure why the rating system is weighted that way… In real life, shouldn’t five positives > one negative?


ANYWAY – I have a cover artist. I have a content editor and a proofreader. I should have a book published by the end of the year if all goes well.

And then people should give me money and not tell me if they don’t like it. If you want, we can even skip the part where you read the book. Just buy it and forget about it.

So – goals for the next few weeks – tighten up the first 1/3 of Eleanor’s first book and get to the editor.

Finish up the fourth book in the series. Start a second draft of the second book in the series.

And then – the other series…I have two scenes left to write in the first book and I’m ready to start the second!

So much writing. So much editing. And I should probably try to find a new job that will pay me in cash money since I’m guessing that I’m not going to sell a million copies of my book in the first week of being a published novelist.

Life goals

Life goals

Today, however, I’m making fig jam and listening to my #ginforthewin playlist.