S.R.Claridge writes Mystery and Romantic Suspense novels. Her work has been said to have the energy of Dan Brown, the mystery of Mary Higgins Clark and the humor of Janet Evanovich. Claridge novels will take you to the edge of your seat, keep you guessing until the very end and ultimately warm your heart. It is on the pages of every S.R.Claridge novel that Mystery and Sensual Suspense collide.

For more information on bookings, interviews and upcoming releases, please visit the author website and Facebook fan page.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Love is Hard...Even for a Mob Boss

Relationships are hard.  That’s a statement of truth and one in which we can all relate because no matter what type of relationship you’re in, at one time or another, it is sure to encounter conflict.  Whether with a lover, a spouse, a friend or a sibling there will be moments when conflicts arise and it will feel like it’s all falling apart.  Sometimes it does fall apart.  Sometimes the conflict is smoothed over.  And sometimes the foundation has to crumble in order for it to be built back even stronger.

In the Just Call Me Angel series, Angel encounters many difficulties in her relationships with her grandfather, Giovanni; as she struggles to acclimate to her new lifestyle in a Mafia world.  She tries to bring balance to Giovanni’s perspective, which is no easy task.  Despite tempers flaring, guns blasting and the occasional Tasering, in the end Giovanni and Angel always come to a place of resolution.  Why?  Because they are family and everything they do stems from an urge to protect and love one another.  They may not always go about it in the best way, but at the center of their heart lays the best of intentions.

In a book, it is easier to see the intentions of the characters, as the author readily displays their hearts in written format; but in real life, relationships are more difficult to navigate.  We deal with an un-seen heart and often have to guess what lies or does not lie within it. 

People always assume the worst when it comes to relational conflict.  It’s a natural, human method of self-protection and defense.  But, key to conflict resolution is to realize that when you’re dealing with people who love you, you shouldn’t jump to the assumption that you are being attacked by them, merely because they disagree with you.  Sometimes, it becomes necessary to attack something in someone’s life that is hurting them, but that doesn’t mean they are attacking you.

For example:  I have a friend whose child is a drug addict.  They’ve been struggling for years to help her overcome this addiction.  Out of love for her, they fight against the addiction; but never against her.  Their efforts and strong stance against the drugs is out of pure love for her; though often times she is unable to see beyond the addictive haze and grasp that truth.

When you love someone, you defend them against things that can harm them.  You protect them against deceptions and manipulations… and sometimes that means you have to take an uncomfortable stance against whatever it is that can or has hurt them.  Taking this stance can be heartbreaking and agonizing, as you want to support someone you love, but at the same time, you cannot in good conscience, support them in something that damages them and those around them.  Often times life presents situations where you have to love toughly in order to save someone from self-destruction or the destruction of a family.

In the Just Call Me Angel series, Giovanni would send his men to remove anything that stood to harm Angel.  Real life isn’t so easy.   In real life, we have to stand on the truth that we know, have faith that our efforts will pay off in the long run, hope that our loved one will see the depth of our affection for them, and ultimately believe that God’s words are true when he said, “the greatest of these is love.”

I believe love conquers all, endures all and will never fail... and because of that, I will never stop trying.  ~


Friday, September 28, 2012

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Winner will be announced on Monday, October 1st.


No Easy Way to End a Stalemate

Have you ever been involved in a relationship that was at an impasse?  Let’s face it, over time every relationship encounters some degree of conflict; but more times than not, people are able to resolve the conflict or agree to disagree and let the matter die. 

In reality, there are only three options toward conflict resolution:

1.  Agree to disagree and never discuss the matter again.  (Ignore it)
2.  Continue to argue over it and let it bring an end to the relationship.  (Avoid it)
3.  Open-mindedly discuss the root of the issue and work together toward resolution.  (Fix it)

But, what happens when one person refuses to discuss the root of the conflict?  How, then, does the stalemate end?

Even more difficult is when one person, in trying to avoid the topic of conflict, pretends that the root of the problem is something entirely different.  This blame-shift, in essence, opens up a can of worms that didn’t need to be opened, causing nothing but more hurt and turmoil. 

For example, in my novel, No Easy Way, Kate and Tom’s relationship is at an impasse because neither of them can bring themselves to face the root of the problem.  Tom dives into work and avoids the conflict and Kate pretends his work IS the problem; when it isn’t.  Their marriage doesn’t become fixable until everything blows up and they are forced to face the real issue beneath it all.

Just like in the book, there is no easy way, through life’s conflicts; and sometimes it takes everything blowing up around you to make you realize what’s really important.  Sometimes you have to let people go and give up the fight until they are ready to discuss the root of the problem.

But…giving up the fight doesn’t mean you’ve given up the hope of one day ending the stalemate.  The challenge is... there's just no easy way.



Thursday, September 27, 2012

Angel and Andrew's "Prayer" Time

In book one (Tetterbaum's Truth) of the Just Call Me Angel series, Angel meets Andrew and in book two (Traitor's Among Us) the attraction between them grows beyond friendship.

In the scene below Andrew and Angel give new meaning to what it means to "pray together."

The meeting with the Bosses was to take place at Tetterbaum’s Pub at 7:00pm,  which gave Angel a couple of hours to sleep before she had to get ready and rehearse the speech she and Andrew had prepared.  She lay her head against the arm of the couch and closed her eyes, thinking of Olga and her mother.  She quietly prayed, dozing off with every word.   “Our father, who art in Heaven…” her voice tapered off.

“Il nostro padre, che è nel cielo,” he whispered.

 “Hallowed be Thy name…” she mumbled.

“Hallowed è nome di thine,” came his voice again. 

Angel opened her eyes, certain she was half in and out of sleep, but aware she had heard something.   “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven,” she finished the sentence.

His voice came from behind her.  “Il tuo regno prossimo, tuo sarà fatto su terra come è nel cielo.”  She rolled onto her back and gazed up at Andrew, who was freshly showered and standing near the end of the couch.  “Give us this day,” he prompted.

“Give us this day our daily bread…”

“Diaci questo giorno il nostro pane quotidiano,” he came closer.

 “And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us,” she spoke softly.

            “E perdonici le nostre trasgressioni mentre perdoniamo coloro che trasgredice a contro di noi.”  He lowered himself onto the couch.

“Lead us not into temptation…”

 “Conducali non nella tentazione…” he inched closer.

“But deliver us from evil,” her voice quivered.

“Ma trasportili dalla malvagità,” he lay down on top of her.

 “Amen,” they whispered in unison and his lips enclosed on hers.

Andrew made good on his promise to show her what an Italian lover could do, and Angel melted beneath his touch.  He wasn’t the first Italian lover she’d had.  Tony was her first.  Grayson, her second.  The third was definitely the charm.  When the euphoric glow of passion gave way to exhaustion, Angel drifted to sleep with her head on Andrew’s chest and the sound of his heart beating in her ear.
The Just Call Me Angel series can be purchased in ebook or paperbook at Amazon, Barnes&Noble and Smashwords.


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A Jagged Little Pill of Truth

There are moments in life when speaking the truth isn't easy, especially when you know that the truth is going to hurt someone's feelings.  There have been plenty of moments in my life when I have been on the receiving end of a truth I didn't appreciate hearing; but when I look back I realize I didn't want to hear it because the truth can often be painful.  It can be a jagged little pill to swallow.  That being said, hindsight is twenty/twenty and I can now glance back and see that the people dishing up that plate of truth were the ones loving me the most.  They were trying to protect me, not hurt me.  They were trying to open my eyes so that I didn't stumble into something dangerous and cause permanent damage to myself or to others around me. 

They weren't attacking me with the truth... they were attacking the lie I was living in order to free me from it.

We often live under the unspoken pressure of seeking approval and when those around us disapprove, a normal human reaction is to isolate ourselves from them.  In essense we end up pushing away the very people that love us the most, simply because we don't want to face the truth.  We bury our heads in the sand, refusing to look at it; and often, egotistically claiming it is not the root of the problem; but in our hearts we know otherwise.

Sometimes we let ego replace love, judgment trump acceptance and elitism overcome humility....all because it's easier than looking at the truth.  Sometimes we kick out of our lives everyone who isn't living our same lie so that we are surrounded by constant approval.  In doing so, we grow more inbalanced.  We shun every person who has had the courage to speak against the lie, claiming to be attacked instead of realizing how much we are loved.

It is only when we agree to seek out wisdom and knowledge that we will know the truth, "and the truth will set you free."  (John 8:32) 


Monday, September 24, 2012

The Electrifying Earth Mage, Smoky Trudeau Zeidel

Today I have the great honor of interviewing fellow author and friend, Smoky Trudeau ZeidelSmoky is the author of three novels: The Storyteller’s Bracelet, The Cabin, and On the Choptank Shores; a collection of short stories, and two nonfiction works: Smoky’s Writer’s Workshop Combo Set and Observations of an Earth Mage, a photo/essay collection about her relationship with natural, all from Vanilla Heart Publishing
Her short story, “Breakfast at the Laundromat,” was nominated for a 2013 Pushcart Prize. She has published short stories and poetry in literary journals such as CALYX and online e-zines such as The Foundling Review.
A native of Illinois, Smoky succumbed to her bohemian spirit and need to live near the mountains and the ocean and moved to Southern California in 2008, where she lives with her husband Scott and an assortment of animals, both domestic and wild, in a ramshackle cottage in the woods overlooking the San Gabriel Valley and Mountains beyond. An ardent outdoorswoman with a deep reverence for nature, when she isn’t writing, she spends her time hiking with Scott and their little dog Tufa in the mountains or desert, camping in the Sierras, splashing in tide pools, and fighting the urge to speak in haiku.

When you were a little girl, what did you want to “be” when you grew up?

That depended on what day of the week it was, or what I was reading at the time, or what I was studying in school! I wanted to be a mommy, a nurse, a writer, an astronaut (although I was told little girls didn’t want to be astronauts—this was right after John Glenn went into space), a teacher, and a national park ranger. I wanted to be Peggy Fleming and glide across the ice wearing a silk handkerchief dress; I wanted to be Barbara Streisand and sing like an angel. I wanted to be Shirley Temple and tap dance across the silver screen, and I wanted to be a mad scientist and blow up things in my lab. I wanted to be a Cherokee Indian, or maybe a Navajo. I wanted to be a zookeeper, a veterinarian, a marine biologist, and the first woman to reach the North Pole. I guess that’s why I became a writer. I can do all these things in my imagination, and turn them into stories.

At what point in your life did you realize you wanted to become a published author?

I guess it was about fourth grade, however old that would make me. I read Harriet the Spy, and started carrying a little notebook around with me, taking notes about what my siblings and neighbors were doing. My mom put a stop to my spy activities pretty quickly, but I soon picked up my first real diary—one with a lock and key—and have been writing ever since. I guess having someone publish a novel I’d written was a fantasy of mine from those early spy days, but that desire grew stronger once I started writing professionally as a feature writer for my hometown newspaper. I enjoyed writing features, but what I really wanted to write was a novel. So I did, and the rest is history. 

You’ve been described as “eccentric” or “quirky”…. Give us a definition or a tiny example of your quirkiness.

Hmmm, I’m quirky in so many ways. I dress like it’s still the 1970s, long peasant skirts and blouses. I went skinny dipping in an icy High Sierra creek a few weeks ago, not caring if hikers strolled by (they didn’t). I name our garden plants and trees, as well as the lizards that live under our deck and in our poppy patch. I once named a tomato hornworm Spike. I talk to the trees—my grandmother oak tree in particular—as well as to the snakes and birds and deer I encounter when I walk around my hill or hike in the mountains. And they talk back to me; I can understand the language of the trees and the rocks, and some of the animals. I’d rather camp in our tiny tent than stay at a 5-star hotel. My stepson Christopher calls me a hippie, and I think that describes me pretty well. 

You are called the Earth Mage … how did you acquire this title?

From my blog, actually. I often write about nature and about earth spirituality, and I drew a huge blog following from these posts. Managing editor Kimberlee Williams at Vanilla Heart Publishing, who publishes all my books, suggested I do a book based on these blog posts. Observations of an Earth Mage was the result. A friend of mine called me a Earth sage one time, and I really liked that. Only I decided to change it to Earth Mage—meaning one who knows earth magic. Not magic as in “abbra cadabbra” sort of stuff. Rather, I’m someone who can see the magic in nature. I mean, I look up at the ancient grandmother oak tree that towers above my house, and I look at the tiny acorns she drops this time of year, and I think, “Wow … this fabulous tree came from a tiny acorn just like this.” If that isn’t magic, I don’t know what is.

You have experienced a remarkable, life-altering event… beyond the “normal” life-changing events that we all have.  You were actually struck by lightning and survived.  I am sure my blog readers haven’t heard your story, so please share your story with us.

I wish I could in an interview, but the story is long and complex. I can’t do it justice in just a few sentences. In a nutshell: On July 11, 1989, a bolt of lightning struck me in the neck as I was walking from my suburban Chicago home to my car. I was clinically dead; if not for the fast thinking of a witness, I wouldn’t be here today. I’ve had more than 20 surgeries since that time to correct damage received from the lightning, and I have peripheral neuropathy in my arm, a heart condition, and other health issues that continue to plague me 22 years later. But I try to make the best of my life, going on despite living in constant chronic pain. I figure I’m going to hurt if I moan and groan and lie in bed all day, and I’m going to hurt if I put a smile on my face and try to live a normal life. If I’m going to hurt either way, I choose option B.

People can read the entire harrowing tale by downloading my short bio “In a Flash” from Amazon for Kindle, Barnes & Noble for Nook, or Smashwords for any other eBook format. It’s just 99 cents, and it really is a compelling story.

I can’t imagine the many ways in which that experience changed you and shaped you, but can you tell us a few things that come to mind? 

Well, the most obvious thing is that I was studying to be a therapist, but since I was so badly injured I was unable to complete graduate school, I took up writing professionally. I had an understanding editor at the newspaper who knew he could get kick-ass stories from me when I felt well enough, so he’d let me take a pass on assignments when I was feeling sick or in the hospital.

The lightning also has made me more in tune with the natural world and the spirit world. I think it opened my eyes to see the possible where before I’d seen the impossible. For example, my dad came to visit me a few days before he died to say goodbye to me. He didn’t literally, physically visit me—I’m in Los Angeles and he was in an assisted care facility in Indianapolis. On top of that, he had dementia from multiple strokes. But he came and spent a day at my side, and I knew he was saying goodbye to me. I was very grateful I got that opportunity.

How many books have you written?  How many are currently published?  What can readers expect to see from you in the near future?
I’ve written three novels: The Storyteller’s Bracelet, The Cabin, and On the Choptank Shores (formerly titled Redeeming Grace). I’ve also written a short story collection, creatively titled Short Story Collection Vol. 1. I’ve written three nonfiction books: Observations of an Earth Mage, which I’ve briefly spoken about already, and two books about writing. Those books were combined last year into my Smoky’s Writer’s Workshop Combo Set. So I guess that’s a total of eight books, if you count each of the two writing books separately and as the combo.

As for the near future, I’m currently about a third of the way into my fourth novel, The Madam of Bodie. A real, honest-to-g*ddess Western, set in the California gold mining town of Bodie, which at the time of the Gold Rush was considered “the baddest town in the West.” And it was! I’m also collaborating with my husband on a photo/essay/poetry/story collection called Trails. Another short story collection is in the works—this one, variations on one theme—and finally, a sequel to The Storyteller’s Bracelet, called The Storyteller’s Daughter. 

What are some of your favorite books/authors?

 There are so many, it’s hard to know where to begin! I love the Portuguese author Jose Saramago, particularly his Death With Interruptions. I love anything by Willa Cather or Eudora Welty. I like to read books about nature; some of my favorites have been Walking With Bears by Terry DeBruyn (how could he not be a bear biologist with a name like DeBruyn?) and Silent Thunder by Katy Payne, which is about African elephants. My husband and I enjoy reading poetry, particularly anything by Billy Collins or Mary Oliver. 

To whom would you say that your writing style is similar?

I think I’ll leave that for my fans and my critics and reviewers to decide. I write like me, in my own voice. 

What are the top three things on your bucket list? 

1.   Learn to speak Spanish! I live in Los Angeles, for pete’s sake. Everyone here speaks Spanish. 

2.   Visit Machu Picchu in Peru, preferably hiking there along the Aztec Trail from Cuzco

3.   Visit Italy with my husband, and attend mass at St. Peter’s Cathedral in Rome (and I’m not Christian, let alone Catholic!).

If you were told you could only have one more meal and then you’d never taste food again, what would that meal be?

My husband is a gourmet chef; we’re real foodies, so this would be somewhat of a disaster! But I’d have to say Scott’s eggplant parmesan, tomato salad with arugula pesto, fresh peaches from our peach tree, and his egg custard pie for desert. Then, I’d want seconds. 

Congratulations on your Pushcart Prize nomination!  Tell us a little about the book that has been nominated. 

 It’s a short story called “Breakfast at the Laundromat.” It’s the somewhat autobiographical story of a lost soul and a free spirit who find each other in, of all places, their neighborhood laundromat. I’m crazy about this story; I had so much fun writing it. I’m glad Vanilla Heart Publishing thought it worthy of a nomination—the Pushcarts are a big deal, and just being nominated is an honor.

Where can readers find you on the internet and where can they purchase your books? 

I’m all over the Internet these days; if people can’t find me, they aren’t looking very hard! But seriously, here are the links to my pages and places my books can be found:
Website and Blogs:  www.SmokyZeidel.wordpress.com

Facebook Fan Page:                 www.Facebook.com.Smoky.Zeidel.Writes

Twitter                                     @SmokyZeidel

Pinterest                                  Smoky Zeidel

Barnes and Noble:                   http://bit.ly/RXJ0XO

Amazon Author Page:              http://amzn.to/mUvjpC

Goodreads Author Page:          http://bit.ly/pGXAXq

Smashwords Author Page:       http://bit.ly/qan6Nx

All Romance Author Page:       http://bit.ly/p6pR9O

I’d sure like it if readers would stop by and subscribe to my blog, follow me on Twitter and Pinterest, and become a fan on Facebook and Goodreads. If you’re on all these places, great! If you’re only on one or two, that’s fine, too.

I appreciate your time conducting this interview, Susan. Thank you very much for having me today.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Radical Elitist Bigots Are Terrorists Too

I’m going to go off on a rant here, but it’s my blog so I’m allowed.  I’m not going to apologize if I step on toes with what I’m about to say, because I feel strongly that it needs to be said.

If you’re a Christian and you are judgmental and condemning to others, stop it.  You’re giving other Christians a bad rap, just like radical Islamic terrorists are giving Muslims a bad rap.  Not every Muslim is a terrorist and not every Christian is an elitist, judgmental jerk. 

On that note, allow me to point out a basic element of the Bible so that the Christians who are so outwardly condemning toward others, might see the error in their own ways; and stop giving us all a bad name.

Thou shalt not judge.  Period. 

Feel free to look this commandment up.  It’s located in several places in the Bible, Luke 6:37, Matthew 7:1, Romans 2:1, just to name a few.  More interesting than what it says is what it does NOT say.  It does NOT say, “Thou shalt not judge…with the exception of when you disagree with a particular law or lifestyle…. NO!  It simply says don’t judge other people, period.  Meaning, you don’t have the right to cast your condemning eyes on anyone other than yourself.  Stop pointing fingers and go look in the mirror and reflect on your own bigotry.

Faith. Hope. And Love, but the greatest of these is love.

Just because the Bible says God hates something, doesn’t give you the right to condemn those who do it.  The Bible does NOT say since God hates this thing you should tear down and obliterate anyone who has anything to do with it.  NO!  In fact, it says quite the opposite.  You are to love everyone.  You are to show love to everyone.  Your purpose on the planet is not to point out sin and dish out God’s judgment, adherent to a self-proclaimed “God agenda.”  Your purpose is simply to love.  Beyond that, God has given you no agenda.  You can’t even do that, so why in the world would He give you more to do?!

When Jesus was on the earth he spent most of his time with the so-called sinners, i.e. the tax-collectors, prostitutes, etc.  He stayed clear of the “church” people and I can’t say that I blame him.  I look at some of the quote “on-fire Christians” and I am repulsed by the elitism, the judgmental nature, the condemning attitude and the outright bigotry they emit.  On the inside they are no different than that Islamic terrorist.  It must make God sad to see how His very own people warp and use His words in His name to hurt others. 
The radical Muslim blows people up.  The radical Christian tears people down.   They are both terrorists to God’s ultimate plan to love one another.

Has it ever occurred to you that in your quest for the outward status of super-spirituality that you might actually be driving people further away from God?  With your elitist, “I’m chosen” attitude, have you ever noticed that the only people left in your life are the ones exactly like you; because you drive all others away?

Radical elitism is damaging no matter what religion you follow.  That’s why God said, love and don’t judge...because without judgment, elitism can't exist.  Without elitism, bigotry can't exist.  Without bigotry, there is equality and when there is equality, hatefulness ceases to exist.  That's what it means when God said, "the greatest of these is love." 
If you can't love others without being a radical, elitist, bigot... then please stop calling yourself a Christian; because true believers like me don't want to share the title with the likes of you.  ~



Thursday, September 20, 2012

Just What the Dr.Seuss Ordered

I love Dr. Seuss.  His words have influenced me more than any other poet, including Shakespeare.  Don't get me wrong, I enjoy Shakespeare's work, but I've never felt "inspired" by it.  Dr. Seuss, however, has inspired me on many levels. 

At a young age, he was told to stop drawing because his pictures were terrible and he'd never become an artist.  He didn't quit.

In college, he was told that his writing was mediocre and he'd never go anywhere in the realm of literature.  He didn't quit.

He wrote from what was within his heart, encouraging generations of children to be themselves, to embrace their spots, to like who they are and follow their dreams, whatever they may be and down whatever road they may lie.  His words, though bashed by critics as nonsense, have stood the test of time and remain in a league of their own. 

What a phenomenal person he must have been...and how many lives he has touched with his pictures and words.  He has certainly touched me and, at times in my life, brought healing and strength in a way no other doctor could.    Thank you, Dr. Seuss.  Your wisdom is often just what the doctor ordered.


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

From Psychotherapist to Writer, Melinda Clayton Keeps It Real

I recently had the pleasure of talking with fellow VHP author, Melinda Clayton.  Melinda Clayton is the author of Appalachian Justice, Return to Crutcher Mountain, Entangled Thorns, and short story, Emma Puckett’s Moment of Indiscretion.  In addition to writing, Melinda has an Ed.D. in Special Education Administration, and is a licensed psychotherapist in the states of Florida and Colorado.  Her vast experience working in the field of mental health gives her a unique perspective on human behaviors, and she likes to explore this dynamic in her writing.  Melinda lives in central Florida with her husband, two children, and various cats.

When you were a little girl, what did you want to “be” when you grew up?

Believe it or not, I wanted to be a social worker and a writer.  As a psychotherapist and writer, I've come pretty close!

If we were to poll ten people from your high school, how would they describe you back then? If we were to poll ten people from your life now, how would they describe you?

What a great question!  I went through a definite rebellious phase my early years of high school, because my family had moved and I had to switch schools.  I wasn't very happy about it.  So people who knew me from then would remember me as angry, probably, and a little rebellious.  People who knew me my later years of high school would describe me as quiet, serious, studious. I suppose I'd adjusted by then!  People who know me now would describe me as quiet, somewhat of a homebody, with a good sense of humor if you know me well, but a tendency to be too serious.  I think they would say that my family is my priority.

You worked as a Psychotherapist for eighteen years. Do you think that experience helps you in developing the characters in your novels? Have you ever built a character around the characteristics of one of your previous clients?

Love this question!  Yes, it definitely helps me in developing characters.  I haven't built a character specifically from a previous client, but I do draw from my experiences to try to portray the struggles my characters face in a realistic way.  I have huge respect for the people with whom I worked over the years; they showed incredible courage and tenacity in the face of great trauma and adversity. My characters are made from bits and pieces of the issues I assisted people in dealing with back when I was practicing.

If you were told you could only have one more meal and then you’d never taste food again…. What would that meal be?

Ha!  That's easy.  I'd have a quarter pounder with cheese and large fries, from McDonalds.  I haven't had fast food like that since I started watching what I eat about three years ago.  It would probably make me sick at this point, but it would be worth it!

How does it feel to have your short story, Emma Puckett’s Moment of Indiscretion, nominated for the Pushcart Prize? 

It feels a little surreal. But very, very cool!

Tell us about one of your most embarrassing moments.

I had to laugh remembering this one.  I used to work as the program director at an agency for people with developmental disabilities located in Colorado Springs.  Every month the directors would take turns hosting a "Directors' Meeting." The day it was our turn to hold the meeting, I set up the conference room, put coffee on, set out the donuts, and finally took my seat on one side of the table.  Which promptly fell apart.  Seriously!  The chair collapsed and I ended up on the floor, caught somewhere between laughing and crying.  I had forgotten we'd set that particular chair aside to be fixed, and when I set up the table I retrieved it from where it sat against the wall.  I guess in hindsight, it's a good thing it was me that ended up with it! 

Where can readers find about more about you and your books?







Thank you, Melinda, for chatting with me today and letting my blog friends get to know you a little better.  Best of luck with the Pushcart Prize Nomination!  Wishing you future success, health and happiness.  :)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Pushcart Prize Nomination - Petals of Blood

I woke up yesterday to the exciting news that one of my books, a short story entitled Petals of Blood, has been nominated for the 2013 Pushcart Prize.  Needless to say, I've been grinning ear-to-ear ever since...and my husband says I'm glowing.  :)

If you'd like to read Petals of Blood, you can download a copy for only $.99 from Amazon, Barnes&Noble or Smashwords.  If you like what you read, please post a review for others to see. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

The HOT Fireman

I was listening to a local radio station, who has a comedy bit every evening called, “White Trash News Flash,” wherein they talk in hillbilly type accents and tell a true story about some ridiculously stupid thing someone, somewhere did. 

Today’s story was about a woman in Pennsylvania who locked herself out of her house.  She didn’t have a spare key so, instead of calling a locksmith, she decided to call the fire department.  Initially, this doesn’t sound like a terrible idea.  I mean, firemen certainly know how to get into houses when necessary.  But, she didn’t just call the fire department and ask for help.  She decided it would be better to set her awning on fire and then call 9-1-1.  So, she did, and the fire department came and put out the fire.  Then, she told them why she had started the fire. They, of course, called the police, who charged her with arson. 

This got me thinking about fires and firemen and it brought back a memory from when I was in college.  I lived in an apartment on the second floor and these two hot firemen lived directly below.  They were several years older than me and I was crushing on one of them…BIG Time!  Alas, he didn’t notice me, despite my many attempts at desperate flirtation.

One night, after several shots of Tequila, my roommate and I decided to get the hot fireman’s attention once and for all.  So we stuffed some rolled up rags into the almost empty Tequila bottle, lit it on fire and dangled it off of our balcony….so that it hung right outside their sliding door. 

Needless to say, it got their attention ... and so did we for many nights thereafter.  J

I'm thinking I might need to incorporate this story into one of my novels.   

Friday, September 14, 2012


Please enjoy a FREE sample of several of my novels, and if you like what you read, please leave a review and share this with your friends.  There is nothing more fulfilling or rewarding for a writer than to hear that people are enjoying their books.    :)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Nail Gnawing Submissions

Whenever I submit a new manuscript to my Publisher, it is with both trepidation and excitement.  My hand hovers over the SEND button for several minutes, as I read and re-read what I have written; and then ask myself the same nagging questions over and over.  Is the manuscript ready to send?  Did I edit it enough?  Did I format it correctly?  Did I tie in all of the loose ends?  Did I define the characters well enough?  Is the story clean of redundancy?  Is it the best work I could give? 

At this point, I usually save my email as a draft and go back through the manuscript one more time.  Then, I retrieve the email and, once again, hover over the SEND button; conflicted by my own emotions.  I'm excited that it's done and scared that it will not be accepted.

I recently submitted my seventh manuscript (six full-length novels and one short story), wherein I went through the aforementioned process.  Once the SEND button was depressed, the agonizing nail gnawing began.

Thankfully, she didn't make me suffer long.  Yesterday, I received an email that my manuscript has been accepted.  In fact, she not only accepted it, she loved it.  This brought a huge sigh of relief and a smile that hasn't left my face.  

Now... it's time to grow my nails back and begin working on the sequel.  :)


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Wiping the American Ass

I was cleaning the bathroom this morning and replacing an empty toilet paper roll with a new one.   In my haste, I inadvertently hung the roll so that the toilet paper dispensed from the bottom instead of neatly rolling over the top.  Upon noticing the error of my ways, I quickly corrected it.  My nine year old witnessed this action and asked, “What was wrong with the way it was?”

“I put it on backwards the first time,” I explained.

He stared at the toilet paper and cocked his head to the side.  “There’s a backwards?”  He asked.

“Well, not so much a backwards…” I muttered.  “I just put it on wrong.”

His stare intensified and he squint his eyes.  “There’s a wrong way to put toilet paper on?”

“Yes!”  I exclaimed.  “The right way is when the toilet paper rolls over the top and hangs down ever so slightly,” I explained.

“Why?”  He asked.

“Why?” I repeat, as if he should already understand the ramifications of a toilet paper roll hung awry. 

“Yeah, why?”

I stare blankly, suddenly realizing I have no answer.  There is no justifiable reason other than the fact that I sometimes like to form a little triangle with the square that hangs down.  I tell him about the triangle and he says, “Mom, don’t you just rip the triangle off when it’s time to wipe anyway?”

“Yes.”  I hang my head and sigh.  “Yes, you do.”

He stares at me.  “Then I don’t get it,” he says and walks away.

And it got me thinking…

Our political system isn’t much different than that roll of toilet paper.  Some think it should roll from the top.  Others think it should roll from the bottom.  And as we adhere to our anal, preconceived notions about how it should be or how it has always been … are we missing the fact that regardless of what side it comes from, it’s still toilet paper.  It’s still what we need.   

Up, down, left, right, triangle, no triangle… it doesn’t really matter…because what we should be focusing on is cleaning up our nation, or as I like to call it, wiping the American ass.   ~  


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Shocked, Scared, Stranded...but Alive

On September 11, 2001 I sat on the couch with my infant daughter, rocking her back and forth, staring at the television in horror.  Like every American, I was terrified.  But, on that morning, I wasn’t only afraid for our nation.  My fear was personal.  I was afraid I had lost my husband.

My husband, Cash, traveled every week for work, and after years of this travel lifestyle I stopped writing down his flight numbers.  So, on the morning of 9/11 all I knew was that Cash was leaving Boston on a United flight, home to Colorado.  The first plane hit the Towers and I stood frozen.  The second plane hit and I, like the rest of the world, began to realize we were under attack.  The news reported that the planes were both United flights, heading westbound out of Boston, and I couldn’t breathe.

Diving for the phone, I dialed Cash’s cell phone, but he didn’t answer.  I dialed again and again and again for seven minutes straight.  It was the longest seven minutes of my life.  When he finally answered I almost collapsed with relief.  He was alive.  Shocked, scared and stranded; but alive.

It took Cash another five days to make it home and when I saw him cross the threshold of our front door, it was one of the best moments of my life. 

My 9/11 story had a happy ending, but for others that wasn’t the case; and today, especially, I pray for those whose loved ones didn’t come home.  ~ 


Saturday, September 8, 2012

Sick and Tired

I spent all of yesterday morning in Children's Hospital with my nine year old.  He was writhing with abdominal pain and I was worried we were on the road to an appendectomy.  After five hours, an IV, blood and urine tests and a CTscan, I was relieved to learn that there was nothing wrong with his appendix; and that he was merely suffering from a viral infection in the intestinal tract. 

By the time we returned from the hospital, my son's abdominal pain had subsided and his appetite was back.  He ate yogurt and chicken-and-stars soup with some crackers and drank a blue Powerade.  I began to relax and thought we were over the hump and in the clear. 


He didn't want dinner last night and complained that his stomach was hurting "a little."  By 4:00am he was in the bathroom vomiting...and again at 5:20am.... 5:50am... 6:18am...and 7:30am and just a few moments ago.  He can't seem to stomach even a sip of Sprite. 

It is looking like today is going to be another miserable day for him; and another heart-wrenching Mommy day for me... the kind of day where I feel helpless, wanting to make him better but only able to try to make him comfortable and pray for this yucky virus to pass.

Suffice to say...we are all sick and tired.