Monday, April 30, 2012

Z is for Zealand

Wow.
Seriously, I HAVE to go here!

New Zealand... it's so beautiful and I can't help but dream of someday getting to see the landscape and walk in this country.  The mountains, streams, forests, and beaches... I'm in love with all of it.  Someday. :)

That's all that I have for this A-Z challenge!!  I want to thank all of you for joining me on this journey and for getting the chance to read your comments!  Whew... I'm glad to be done.  Although I admit that all of my posts were scheduled, it took quite a chunk of each day to read your blogs and letters. 

Normal posting should resume... sometime next month... yeah, that sounds good.

I survived.  You survived.  We did it together!! :)

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Y is for Year in Review

I absolutely love these!

2007 is the best one, so you should check it out... :)

Almost done, one more post!!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Labyrinth (Creepy Hollow #2) - Review

I wanted to share with you a review for one of my blogging friends' book, Rachel Morgan!  I devoured her first book and I HAD to read the next one in the series!


 

Title: Labyrinth (Creepy Hollow #2) 
Author: Rachel Morgan
Publisher: Kindle
Publication Date: April 1, 2012

Genre: Fantasy
Plot: First, here is the summary of "Labyrinth (Creepy Hallow #2)" from Amazon - Guardian trainee Violet Fairdale has officially been suspended for bringing a human into the fae realm. No assignments, no training, and goodbye to that position at the top of the class. While this sucks, it at least allows her time to secretly keep visiting Nate, the human boy who caused her suspension in the first place. It’s not the wisest move to continue breaking Guild Law, but no one’s going to find out. And Nate is worth the risk, isn’t he?  To prevent herself from going into assignment withdrawal, Vi throws herself into investigating Nate’s real mother, Angelica, a woman who seems to be mysteriously connected to the world of the fae. Nate’s never given her much thought, but that was before an insane faerie abducted him in order to blackmail Angelica out of hiding. Now Nate wants answers, and Vi’s got the perfect ability to help him.

Another enthralling installation in the Creepy Hollow series!  The story picks up right where the last one left off and keeps the action moving.  There are so many new twists and turns!  I found myself gasping at what would happen next.  The author kept me guessing until the end, where I was left wanting more!  We get to know more background on the history of the Guardians and Nate's character becomes deeper. 

Romantic Element: The relationship between Nate and Vi is so forbidden and wrong, but it's a first love and the romance is pure.  I love that she can't figure out how to get another kiss!  It's so very true of young relationships.  And after this one, I really really have a book-crush on Nate and his hilarious sense of humor! 

Overall: I am very intrigued to read the next book in the series and I hope that the next one comes out quickly!  There's so much good dialogue in this book that had me laughing out loud!  This is a series that I will continue to read as long as Ms. Morgan continues to write it!  These are books that you literally can't put down!  I highly recommend it!


X is for Xenophobic

Xenophobia = an unreasonable fear of foreigners or strangers or of that which is foreign or strange.  One of the most common forms of xenophobia is aliens.

What?

 I can definitely say that I'm NOT xenophobic.  I'd love to meet:

The Ferengi (TNG) - Just hold onto your purse/bars of latinum
Worf (TNG) the Klingon - awesome
Naomi Wildman (Voyager)  Adorable alien child

Xindi (Enterprise) nah - they are pretty creepy

Shran (Enterprise) the Andorian - very tough guy
Spock (Lenard Nimoy) in his awesome t-shirt, yes!

I grew up on Star Trek.  What can I say? :)

Although I probably wouldn't want to meet the Borg (Voyager) - don't wanna be assimilated
Would you meet an alien?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

W is for Where and neWs!

Where do you hail from?  Where do you live?

I actually borrowed this idea from Peggy, over at her blog, Will Write for Cookies, which you should definitely check out! :)

Sometimes blogging can be a little lonely.  I don't "know" a lot of people that blog that I can actually see or go have coffee with.  I forget that most of you don't even live in the same state as I do.  You could be overseas for all I know!

As for me:  I live here, in the center of Iowa.


Well, I don't exactly live in a cornfield, but during the summer months most of Iowa looks like this.  Pretty. :)


That's probably closer to where I live since this picture was actually taken while I was reading in the tire swing behind my apartment.  I like reading out there and even doing a little writing. 

Where to you live?

You don't have to give your exact location and I promise not to stalk you. :)

-----------

In other news, I finished "Nameless" yesterday!  50,002 words and 28 chapters!  This is my fifth novel and it is COMPLETED! :)  I am very, very excited!  It's probably my favorite of the five that I've written.  I like the other ones, but I am very passionate about this one!  I also have plans for a sequel in mind.  (Considering the twist at the end and open ending - it's going to be just as good!)

I am going to leave it alone for two weeks or so and take a break to get some reading done, but I might be looking for some critique partners who would like to help me with the book.  I really think that this book can go places.  It's exciting - I laughed, cried (a lot in parts), was frightened, and loved the characters.  The story is unique, in my opinion.  Think about it for a few days - don't answer today.  I'll probably be looking in about two weeks, so sit tight. :) 

Wow, five novels.  Just wow.

So, where do you live??  And wow I am just totally excited!!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

V is for Voice

An author's voice is unique and needs to be strong.  Everyone's written voice should be different and there's many ---

Nah, who are we kidding?  :)

I'm talking about "You're the Voice" sung by John Farnham.  My favorite 80's power ballad.  Great for dancing or singing loudly in the car! :)

You gotta love Colin Morgan and Bradley James from BBC's Merlin, who play Merlin and Prince Arthur.

In all honestly, I love the lyrics to the song;

We have the chance to turn the pages over
We can write what we want to write
We gotta make ends meet, before we get much older

We're all someone's daughter
We're all someone's son
How long can we look at each other
Down the barrel of a gun?

You're the voice, try and understand it
Make the noise and make it clear, oh, woah
We're not gonna sit in silence
We're not gonna live with fear, oh, woah

This time, we know we all can stand together
With the power to be powerful
Believing we can make it better

Ooh, we're all someone's daughter
We're all someone's son, oh
Give a look at each other
Down the barrel of a gun

You're the voice, try and understand it
Make the noise and make it clear, oh, woah
We're not gonna sit in silence
We're not gonna live with fear, oh, woah    (lyrics continued here)


Great song!  And Colin and Bradley - love them!  (And Colin's thick Irish accent.)  :D

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

U is for Unless

 
One of my favorite children's books is "The Lorax" by Dr. Seuss.  And one of my favorite passages is:

"But now,' says the Once-ler, 'Now that you're here, the word of the Lorax seems perfectly clear.  UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better.  It's not.'" 

Such a beautiful story - I've yet to see the new movie, but I hope it's good.

What was your favorite children's book?

Monday, April 23, 2012

T is for To Love Without Hope

Another novel teaser - To Love without Hope is one of the hardest novels that I've written.  It is inspired by a true story.

There was a young man that disappeared from my college campus, Jon.  He was just gone, disappearing one night in January and no one knew he was gone for a week.  Very sad.  I would see his picture on the bus everyday and I couldn't help, but wonder who was he?  I became emotionally attached to the situation.  I started the story, wanting to find out what happened to him, but I stopped.  In April, they found his body.  I mourned for a boy that I never even knew.  It was very hard and I didn't want to continue the story because... Jon was dead.  It took my friend Adam convincing me that this could be my way of dealing with his death and to give him a chance to live.  I'll share you with us just a small scene of Sophie sitting in the diner with her friend Abby and trying to study but looking at the missing poster.

___________________


Abby snapped her fingers to get my attention, but my gaze had fallen elsewhere.  My eyes were focused on the sign on the door to the restaurant.  The smiling face was looking back at me and I couldn’t help but feel pain.  I played with my cross necklace to distract myself.  Abby noticed my expression.  She glanced at the poster, frowning when she too remembered.
“You can’t dwell on that,” she whispered as if she were afraid the restaurant’s two other customers would care.
“I know… but it’s been over a month,” I muttered.
His name was Jordan Michaels.  He had short blond hair, green eyes, weighed 150 pounds, and was five foot, nine inches tall.  Above the picture was the word “missing” in all capital letters.  He’d disappeared on campus two months ago.  The police had no details of the kidnapping and no evidence.  His phone wasn’t receiving a signal anymore and his bank account hadn’t been active.  Everyone assumed that he was dead, but no one would say it.  Jordan was a business major at the same college I attended.  I didn’t know him, but I wished and prayed that he was still alive.  His parents and his sister had written a letter to the college and I had read it weeping. 
“Doesn’t it frighten you?” I asked.
“Sophie… we’ve talked about this,” Abby murmured.
“He’s only a year older than us and attended the same college… do you really feel safe?  His picture is everywhere and no one knows anything.  People don’t even think that his body will be found.  It’s terrifying.”
“Sophie!” she snapped, getting my attention.  “We can’t focus on this.  There’s nothing we can do to help him any more than what the police are doing.  We really should study for our exam.”
            Good old Abby, the voice of reason.  But was it reason or the fact that she didn’t care about the missing boy?  As the months passed… would anyone still care about Jordan?  I sighed, breaking eye contact with the picture and returning to staring at my endless pages of notes.  I couldn’t stop thinking about Jordan and I didn’t know why.  We had never met, but I dreamed about him and thought of him a lot.  His face was everywhere, on every door and on each bus that traveled around campus.  I tried to push those thoughts away and focus on my exam, but it was difficult.  

___________________

Have you even written anything that really hit home with you and was very personal?

Saturday, April 21, 2012

S is for Sponsorship


I had this post written three weeks ago and I was all prepared to write about my novel "The Secret" and give you a little teaser, but I can't do it.  There's something more important that I want to talk about for the letter S.

Sponsorship.

My sponsored child, Noemi
I'm not talking about sponsoring a team so that they can play a game in a big city tournament.  I'm talking about sponsoring a child in another country that is hungry, thirsty, wearing rags, doesn't go to school, and has no access to medical care.  Orphans and children living in poverty.

Sunday, April 22, 2012 is Compassion Sunday, which is put on by Compassion International.  They have sponsored over a million children!  You have the power to change the story of a child living in poverty.  I know that a lot of us here are writers and we love stories.  I love that I can change the story of a little girl so she has a better life.  Compassion International gives food and clean water, medical care, educational opportunities, important life skills training, and a chance to hear about God's love.

The most important thing for me... Noemi.  I love getting her letters and hearing how much I have helped her.  She tells me that she loves me and I've never met her, but I love her too.  Her story breaks my heart, but I am doing my best to give her a chance at a good life and I promise you that she deserves it.  Literally, I am crying as I write this because she has changed my life so much and I'm so passionate about helping these children.

It's $38 a month.  A little over a dollar a day and my gift is giving her life.  It's tax-deductible if you are worried about that. I work as a coffee barista, barely making over minimum wage and I have the money to sponsor her.  You can do it. :) I'll never regret making this choice.

I'm not preaching to you, but if you can, look into it!  Here's a link to a little more about my story and their website:
http://my.compassionsunday.com/kjmclaughlin

Have a great day!

Friday, April 20, 2012

R is for Reading List

My Reading List

* "The Lucky One" by Nicholas Sparks  -- I just finished it on Wednesday night!  A review of the book and movie is coming soon!  (Hopefully I can see the movie tonight) :)

* "The Fault in Our Stars" by John Green

* "Fireseed One" by Catherine Stine

* "Guardian" by Rachel Morgan   ( Done!!  Find the review here)

* "Labyrinth" (Book 2) by Rachel Morgan

* "Matched" by Ally Condie

* "Crazy Love" by Francis Chan

* "The Lord of the Rings" by J.R.R. Tolkien - this one is a reread!  I love it!!

* "The Puzzle Master" by Heather Spiva

______________

Hopefully during the next few months I will have read all of these books and be able to give them a review!  You'll be able to find them here on my blog. :)  If you have a self-published book that you think I might like (or a published book) - let me know about it and I'll check it out!  Don't be annoying about it and post it on all of my posts, but I'm willing to look at it.  I'm all for helping other authors and hope that when I'm self-published someday that others will return the favor. :)


What is on your reading list?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Q is for Quilt

Q for Quilt!

Along with cross-stitching, I also have made a quilt. :)

This is made from leftover fabric scraps :)
The back side (sorry, picture wouldn't rotate)

Though this isn't quite a quilt - I made this blanket for my cousin's little guy, Blake.

I gave it to him at the baby shower
And though I haven't had time to start this one yet, here is the fabric that I am going to use for my new quilt that will be a gift for a friend. :)

A beautiful and colorful quilt someday!
I love quilts! :)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

P is for Picnik

One of my favorite features from Google, that sadly closes tomorrow.  It is being replaced with a better model, but I loved the old.  I just wanted to share with you a few pictures that I had edited with this program.

My dad likes to tease my mom that he's gonna feed Coco to the eagles

Fun on Easter!

Our Christmas photo

Steph and H

I made this for use as a computer background in 2010

I love this quote
Who needs a real Valentine's?  Mine are cuter. :)

An old picture of A and H
Have a pretty awesome hump day!!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Guardian (Creepy Hollow #1) - A Review

Finally, a post NOT dealing with letters of the alphabet - I'm having a lot of fun on the A-Z Blogging tour, but it is exhausting.  I will be glad to be done, though I am meeting some great new people! :)

I wanted to share with you a review for one of my blogging friends' book, Rachel Morgan!

Title: Guardian (Creepy Hollow #1)
Author: Rachel Morgan
Publisher: Kindle
Publication Date: March 5, 2012

Genre: Fantasy

Plot: First, here is the summary of "Guardian (Creepy Hallow #1)" from Amazon -
1. Receive assignment.
2. Save a life.
3. Sleep.
4. Repeat.
Protecting humans from dangerous magical creatures is all in a day's work for a faerie training to be a guardian. Seventeen-year-old Violet Fairdale knows this better than anyone--she's about to become the best guardian the Guild has seen in years. That is, until one of her assignments--a human boy who shouldn't even be able to see her--follows her into the fae realm. Now she's broken Guild Law, a crime that could lead to her expulsion. The last thing Vi wants to do is spend any more time with the boy who got her into this mess, but the Guild requires that she return Nate to his home and make him forget everything he's discovered of the fae realm. Easy, right? But Nate and Vi are about to land themselves in even bigger trouble--and it'll take all Vi's training to get them out alive.

My first impression of the book - finally faeries that I like!  Ask anyone and they will tell you that I don't like Tinkerbell; she's evil and super annoying.  Right from the beginning the reader is thrown into the story and caught up in the action as Violet is performing one of her duties as a Guardian in training.  I was hooked!  There was no info-dump at the beginning of the story and the reader is thrown into the lives of the characters.  I love Violet's character; she's a very determined faerie and very brave!  Nate is adorable and I might have a book-crush on him after the little scene with the tree sprite. 

Romantic Element:  The love element in the story is definitely a forbidden attraction for Nate and Violet.  Just letting him see her is breaking one of the two main rules.  The forbidden relationship is a little rushed, but it is only a novelette and it's not like they are... wait, they do. :)  I won't ruin it for you.  I am very interested to see how the relationship develops in the second one!

Overall:  I am very excited to read the next one! (Which I will do as soon as this review is done) The world that Rachel has created sounds beautiful and I wouldn't mind spending some time there for a while... just minus the monsters.  It's a very vivid story and even though it isn't very long, the story will take you to a new place and expand your imagination.  The dialogue is very amusing!  Did I mention that Nate is hilarious? I do wish it was a little longer though, so we could have a little more to the story.  :)  I definitely recommend this book!!

Also, if you notice - I've added a new little thing to the side ------>  I joined Twitter!  I am now tweeting!  Mostly I am tweeting about writing and having no idea how to correctly use Twitter, but I'm learning.  I finally jumped on the bandwagon. :)  I'd love if you would follow me!  @kjmclaugh

O is for One Direction


Now, I usually don't focus a lot on music on my blog, though I follow a lot of wonderful blogs that have musical posts and I love learning about new songs.  My friend, Amy, came home for Easter a few weeks back and shared this song with me.  I'm literally in love with this song. :)  You should really listen to it.


They are way too young for me (still very cute boys), but I love the words to this song.

Hope you liked it!!

Monday, April 16, 2012

N is for Nameless

Nameless is my current WIP and even though I've shared little snippets, I wanted to share another scene from it.  I'm working on it diligently and I have to say that I really love the characters in this book.  This might actually be my favorite novel of the ones that I've written. :)  I've already got ideas in my mind about the second book!!

The story revolves around a group of children that are healers, but because of the king's decree - they are being hunted and slaughtered.  Seventeen-year-old Edom is the oldest healer to ever survive and he does his best to protect his sister, Liora, and a large group of others.  The Guard desperately want him dead.  It's a very emotional story and I just love writing it! :)

I decided to share the scene where Edom meets the villainous king after a failed rescue attempt towards the beginning of the story. 

_________
       
“We think it’s him, Achieus,” one said.  “He’s the one that the king wants.”
Without warning, Achieus wrapped his fingers around Edom’s hair and yanked, forcing him to look up at him.  His face was scarred, the lines crossing each other like wrinkles in the bark of a tree.  His age was well beyond the others and his shoulders were hunched.  Achieus looked upon Edom for a moment before looking away.  He released Edom’s hair and took a step back.
“Take the others to the cells.”  Achieus’ voice was hoarse and soft, but no one would challenge him.  “King Alined is still awake.  Have him come to the throne room.  He will be very pleased with this one.”
“Yes sir.”
Edom fought the hold of the man as he watched Elijah, Leetov, and the little ones as they were taken away.  Achieus nodded once and Edom was forced to walk towards the palace.  His captor squeezed his arms tightly.  The heavy doors opened slowly and they stepped into the darkness of the front hall.  Candles were lit and guided the way down the corridor.  Edom’s wet feet almost slipped on the smooth stone floor.  He could see the long shadows of paintings upon the wall and tapestries detailing the legacy of the kings before.  The only sound was the thumping of the Guard’s feet and heavy breathing. 
Edom was forced to wait outside two large doors as more candles were lit.  A few minutes later, he was admitted to the Throne Room.  Candelabras lined the walls, along with glass windows letting in the flashes of light from the sky.  Edom walked up the dark purple carpet as he felt his stomach churning.  Seated upon soft pillowed cushions on the raised part of the floor was King Alined, the man that Edom hated more than the Guard.  The king was dressed in a long white nightshirt, yawning as two women fanned him from the heat in the stuffy room.  His blond hair was long and straight, resting upon his shoulders.  Green eyes stared at Edom as he was brought forward and forced to his knees.  Edom stared at the two scantily clad women tending to the king.  Both were dressed in small garments that barely covered their most intimate places and were adorned with beads in their curly hair and dozens of gold bracelets on each wrist.  That was not what caught his attention about the women.  Each one was wearing a metal anklet with a chain, tethering them to the stone.  They were the king’s slaves of promiscuity and even they could not be free of him.
“Kneel before your king,” Achieus hissed, kicking the back of Edom’s knees and letting him stumble until he was kneeling before the king.
“What have you brought me?” King Alined inquired.
“He was caught trying to rescue a group of six traitors from a hut.  He and two others broke into your city to take them.  I believe that this is the one you’ve heard rumors of.  He’s too old.”
King Alined sat up a little straighter at the news.  “Are you certain?”
“Yes, your majesty.”
The king nodded and Edom felt the gag behind untied before it fell from his mouth.  He coughed, trying to clean the dirt from his lungs.  It had been all over the gag. 
“What is your name, healer?” the king demanded.
Edom pursed his lips.  He would not speak to the man that had ordered his kind to be murdered.  Achieus smacked him across the face at his refusal, drawing blood from Edom’s lip.  The young man didn’t make a sound.  It was a bitter rusty taste in his mouth.
“You will answer the king when he speaks to you,” Achieus ordered.
“Tell me your name,” King Alined repeated.
Again, Edom was struck without an answer. 
“He’s your king, you will show him respect.”
“Never,” Edom spat.  “You are no king of mine.  You’ve killed some many children and their innocent blood is on your hands!  Murderer!  I will never show respect to you.”

__________

See?  I just am in love with this story and the characters totally hook you!  Please forgive any mistakes, I'm still writing this story and haven't edited anything yet. :)

What do you think about this murdering king and Edom?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

M is for Meme & Music

Memes of cats.  Totally my favorite. :)




One of my favorite books and cat pictures :)


And music!

I'm over half way through my current WIP (I already passed my goal for the month and I'm still going!) and I decided that I would share my writing playlist (music) with you.  It's a little random, but it actually helps me write. :)

Writing Playlist

1.  Gotta Go my Own Way - High School Musical 2 (Dorky, but I love the bridge of the song)
2.  Little House - Amanda Seyfried (from the movie Dear John)
3.  Somewhere Only We Know - Glee version (Darren Criss, I love his voice and his hair)
4.  Faithfully - Glee version
5.  To Sir With Love - Glee version
6.  You Keep Me Hanging On - Glee version
7.  I will always love you - Glee version 
8.  Higher Window - Josh Groban
9.  Voce Existe Em Mim - Josh Groban
10.  Prologue - Beauty and the Beast (I absolutely love this beginning!  It's so wonderfully written!)
11.  When I Look at You - Miley Cyrus (don't judge me - I really love this song)
12.  May It Be - Enya
13.  I'll Be (Acoustic version) - Edwin McCain
14.  Come What May - Moulin Rouge
15.  The Hill - Glen Hansard (from the movie "Once" - I didn't like the plot, but the music was beautiful)
16.  Shadowland - The Lion King (Broadway version)


Yes, that is the most random list of music ever, but it's my writing playlist and I like it. :)  

Would any of those songs make it onto your playlist?

Friday, April 13, 2012

L is for Left-Handed

Have you ever heard the phrase that God only made a few perfect people and the rest are all right-handed?

Great picture!  Don't think it would take off, but nice try!
People who are left-handed make up 5 to 15 percent of the population.  I am left-handed and very proud of it!  I'm the only one in my family to be left handed.  So, for today's post I decided to look up some funny "facts" about lefties!

* Left-handers are more likely to be geniuses - 20% of all MENSA members are reportedly left-handed.
* Two righties only have a 2% chance of having a left-handed child.
* Lefties are more likely to really, really hate spiral notebooks.  (That one is so true!  My hand presses on the metal rings as I write and it's painful!  I actually like writing on the back of piece of paper for this reason.)
* According to one study, lefties have an average lifespan that is nine years fewer than that of righties. (Darn.  I'm guessing that we probably die because of things designed for only right-handed people... like computer mouses?)
* In the late 1890's, left handed people got the nickname of south paw.
* August 13th is Left-Hander's Day - celebrate your right to be left-handed  (Cool!)

My favorite:  CREATIVITY
"It's a common belief that left handed people are more creative, but there is a reason why some lefties can be more creative. The right hemisphere of the brain is the dominant side with left handers. That part of the brain is associated with creative, non-linear thinking. So left handers are often considered to be genetically more creative."

More creative - yep, that's me. :)

Are you left handed or right handed?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

K is for Kleptomania

Kleptomania = an irresistible urge to steal items of trivial value, people with this disorder are compelled to steal things, generally, but not limited to, objects of little or no significant value (pens, paperclips, paper, or tape)

Ah yes, but is Krista a kleptomaniac?  (She sees her readers clutching their novels to their chests and glancing around with shifty eyes.)

No, I'm not.

I'm actually a recovering kleptomaniac, though I guess it isn't anonymous anymore.  The meetings weren't that good anyway - all of the pens kept disappearing and one woman always had a purse full of crackers.  I don't get it.

But, what was my crime or passion for my kleptomania?  Shiny things.  (Readers start laughing hysterically)

I couldn't help it.  I was eleven and I was strongly compelled to have a collection of shiny things hidden in the cat's bed.  (Snowball didn't like sleeping in it anyway.)  I had a few pieces of tinsel left over from Christmas, paperclips, quarters, a tie pin, and even the cap at the end of my sister's flute.

Shiny... pretty... and shiny.
Yes, I took that.  But those days are over. 

 I promise you that I am no longer a kleptomaniac and your shiny items are safe. :D

Did you have anything that you "collected" or actually collected as a kid?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

J is for Jennifer

Jennifer is my middle name.

But...

My great-grandma kept a portrait of Jennifer in the guest bedroom room that someone had painted for her from a photograph.  She was wearing a white jumper with little red flowers and her thin brown hair was parted into two piggy-tails resting on her shoulders.  Her blue eyes were dull.  The corners of her mouth were barely turned up and it was hard to make out a smile on her young face.  She was two-years old and her young little face was forever frozen in that moment.  The original photograph was taken a few weeks before she died.  Her mother was driving down a grave road and rolled the van.  Little Jennifer flew through the windshield and was killed instantly.

Jennifer was my mother's sister and she would have been my aunt.

I'm her namesake. :)

I will definitely keep her name in my family and someday I'd like to make her name, the middle name of one of my kids.  It's important.  And I'm glad that car seats have improved since the 70s and I'm grateful.

I'm the little short one, the coat I'm wearing belonged to Jennifer.  The older girl is my sister, Stephanie.  Don't judge me; I was a chubby child. :)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I is for In the Creek

Technically, I'm cheating a little for this one since the title of the book is called "Down In the Creek", but I hope you can forgive me.  I already used "D" and I didn't want to change that one. :)

Down in the Creek was written during NaNoWriMo of 2009.  It made it to be one of the finalists in the Delacorte Random House Publishing Contest and it is currently sitting at the top of a stack in a publishing company, but they are not taking any new projects right now.  That was what I was told in May of 2011 and I still don't know anything, but that's okay.

I wanted to give you another little teaser from the book for today's post.  This is a fun little scene with two of my favorite minor characters, Tom and Maggie Myrtle.  As a little background, Olivia's parents died in a car accident a few months before this.  She is spending a fun evening with her best friends, Carter and Tabitha.


We finished bowling and decided to go out for ice cream at the little mom and pop restaurant across the street.  They made these delicious clown cones with a scoop of ice cream and the cone on upside down like the hat.  It was a child’s dessert, but we all loved it.  The restaurant resembled a dinner from the 1950’s, complete with neon sign and bad music.  Mr. and Mrs. Myrtle owned the place.  They were both in their eighty’s and probably opened the place back in the fifty’s.  We sat up at the bar on the tall stools.
“Would you kids like to hear a ghost story?” Tom asked, wiping down the counter since we were the only people in the restaurant at the moment.  His white hair stuck out from the edges of his chef hat and the wrinkles around his mouth created deep smile lines.
“Sure,” Tabitha answered.  “But is this another story about Michael Jackson coming over to your house to use the bathroom?”
Maggie Myrtle laughed from the backroom and came out wiping her hands on her apron.  Her gray hair was tucked up in a messy bun and she smiled big at us.  “Is he still telling you that story?  You can’t believe a word that that man tells you.  I think his memory is going.  Last week he told me that we got married by Elvis in Las Vegas.”
Her husband laughed and kissed her on the cheek.  “That story isn’t as good as the time that I spoke to Woodrow Wilson at a parade when his car broke down.”
“I personally enjoy the story about you peeing off the Statue of Liberty,” Maggie chuckled, tossing a towel at her husband.
“No,” Carter piped up.  “My favorite story is the one about him chasing Indians through the jungle and then almost getting eaten by Big Foot and then Michael Jackson came over to his house to use the bathroom.”
“Or was it the time that he ate his weight in pizza?” I asked, laughing.
“He tells you all those stories?” Mrs. Myrtle chuckled.
“Ah, never mind my woman.  Just let me tell my ghost story.  I’m sure that these kids will love it.  The grandkids couldn’t sleep after they heard this story,” Tom protested.
“I believe that the grandkids didn’t have to worry about sleep since they fell asleep during the story.”
She laughed at her own joke and walked back into the dish room where I could faintly hear her singing something. 

Also, if you've ever participated in NaNoWriMo, you might have heard of the traveling shovel of death...


I laughed and allowed her to guide me out into the main part of the restaurant again. It appeared that Mr. Myrtle was just finishing his story.  He was holding a shovel in his hands that had dirt on the handle and the blade.  It was dusty and hadn’t been used properly in a long time.  There was a crack near the bottom and at the top were the initials, T.D., engraved the handle beginning. 
“That was the last time that anyone saw Timothy Dean.  He was holding this shovel when the undertaker pulled his body away from the dead body of Mr. Rein’s.  No one knew why he killed the pharmacist.  Some think that he was given the wrong drug and it put him into a psychotic frenzy.  Others think that the shovel was the reason for the murder.  They believed that the shovel was evil and linked to several deaths across the county and across the country.  The villagers called it the traveling shovel of death and feared it.  When they buried the bodies of Timothy and Mr. Rein’s, they put the shovel inside the coffin with Dean.  Two weeks later they found it on top of the grave, and the soil beneath wasn’t disturbed.  The shovel had somehow escaped.”
“Why do you have the traveling shovel of death?” Cara asked, leaning forward on her elbows to hear the answer.
“My great-great-grandfather was the undertaker that found the shovel and he hid it from everyone, hoping to keep the story quiet.  But somehow he ended up dead by a blunt force object six weeks later.  The shovel gained a crack in the side and the dirt was permanently caked onto the blade.  Some say that it is the blood of my great-great grandfather holding it in place.”
Maggie burst out laughing, causing my three friends to jump slightly.  I walked over to them with a grin on my face and pretended to show Tabitha what her face had looked like.
“Are you still telling that made up story?” Maggie demanded, putting her hands on her hips.  “Your great-great-grandfather frequently dressed up in women’s clothing and ran around the town with curlers in his hair.  I believe he also had a nickname…. What was it?  Oh, I remember.  His nickname was Fancy Pants Carl.  And that shovel belonged to Timothy Dean, who worked at the butcher shop until last year.  He moved out and you forgot to return it.  Stop trying to scare the poor dears,” Maggie chuckled.

Hope you liked the humor!  These two characters probably would be cut by a publisher, but I really enjoy them. :)

Monday, April 9, 2012

H is for Hippos

Pretty self-explanatory.  I love hippos. :)


Those are my best fuzzy friends!  From left to right:  Bert (if you watch NCIS, yes that is the farting hippo - he's awesome), Lancelot, Emmy, Bert Jr., and the big blue one in the back is Chubby.  (Hank is not pictured, he actually sneaked into day P)

Not strange though, Chubby has actually shown up in three out of four of my novels.  Everyone has to love a cute blue hippo named Chubby. ;)  Well, maybe not, but he's cute.  Don't judge me - I'm a kid at heart and if I get married someday, they will probably go in the closet. :)

Do you have any stuffed animals?

Also, H is for Happy.  I hope that you all had a Happy Easter yesterday!  I wanted to share with you my favorite pictures from our family get-together. :)  


I love this; I might crop it and make it a book cover

H and A hunting for eggs

We traded headbands!

I am the green lantern and this is the evil Dr. Fluffy-face

Wait, Lacey is the green lantern?




Have a Happy day!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

G is for Goonies


Pirates - bad guys that make counterfeit money - Sean Austin - booby traps - treasure - a band of crazy kids that call themselves The Goonies!

This is one of my favorite old movies!  It's actually my go-to movie.  When I'm tired or bored or had a long day, I pop in The Goonies (1985).  My older sister, Stephanie, used to watch it with me all the time and we would quote the dialogue to each other.  I admit that my friends think it is stupid, but I love this movie!

Here's one of my favorite parts:



Have you seen "The Goonies" and loved it or hated it? :)

Friday, April 6, 2012

F is for Falling Star

"Falling Star" was my very first novel that I wrote.

I wrote it during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) of 2008.  Admittedly, I self-published this book in 2011 and after a few months, I took it down.  It's really not that good and now it will only live on my computer, hidden in a file.  I am still quite proud that I wrote it, but it's just not to be read.  I think almost every author has some book on their shelf that they wrote, but won't share.

I do want to share a small excerpt with you.  It's one of my favorite scenes in the book, towards the end.  As a little background, Evelyn was raped and became pregnant with the baby of her rapist.  She refused to ask for help and kept it a dark secret until she miscarried.  This scene is where she tries to understand what has happened to her. (Also, it is Good Friday and she's in a church.  It does fit.)


The inside of the building was warmer than the December wind that had threatened to bite my wounded skin.  I walked down the maroon carpet, leaving wet shoeprints.  Pushing open the heavy oak door to the sanctuary, I looked at the dark pews and faded light coming in through the stained glass images of Christ and the cross.  When I was younger, I used to stare at those windows for hours and now I could barely glance at them.  Resting my hand on my empty stomach, I knelt on the floor in front of the pulpit.  Tears trickled down my cheeks as I stared at the wooden cross on the wall behind the grand piano.  Was God still there now?

“I quit.”

God didn’t answer.

“I still believe in you and I want to know that you love me, but God… why did you take my baby from me?  I want her back.  Please.”

In my heart, I knew that the silence and peace of the sanctuary was my only answer.  I couldn’t have my baby back.  God was showing me that he wanted me to know that he was in control and I wasn’t.  My life hadn’t been in control since that fateful day in October when my fairy tale ended.

“God, answer me!” I screamed, bending over as the emptiness in my heart filled me.  “Please say something!  Anything!  I need to know why I am suffering!”

Looking up with angry tears cascading down, I saw my answer.  Hung upon the wall with a crown of thorns on top was the cross.  On that cross an innocent man had died.  Whatever I was suffering, God has felt it a million times over.  His only son died upon a cross like a criminal when all he had done was come to love and teach us.  I may have lost my baby, but God lost the world through Adam and Eve and to save to the world he sacrificed his son.  I was a fool.  God loved me even more at this moment and he was cradling me in his arms, comforting me like a small child that tripped and scrapped a knee.  Sobs exploded from my chest as I wished that I could be whole again.

“I’m sorry Father.  I’m sorry that your son had to die for someone like me.”


 Do have something that you wrote and it's hidden in a computer file?