In my books, you might have noticed a 'Genevieve Trudeau' in the Acknowledgments sections. Genevieve has been a friend since college and the ornament above was sent by her to my daughter one year from Budapest. Sometimes, it's so hard to stop during this busy season and truly reflect on people, places, and situations in our lives, but my Christmas tree ornaments always help me do that. Genevieve is easy to reflect on because I've been lucky to have her as a friend all these years.
My groups of friends vary widely in experience, politics, religion, education, hobbies, careers, location, and temperament. Genevieve is extraordinary in that she has traveled extensively, worked for impressive non-profits that make a difference in the world, has lived overseas, is well-read, and has the sort of compassion that--if the world had far more of her--we'd be living on a rather fantastic planet. On top of all that--and I only learned this a couple of years ago--she can belt out some damn powerful karaoke.
She's the person I turned to for information on Tibetan boxes that I needed for a story and insights on topics I'm exploring in my next Awaken My Heart series novel. She knows what makes a good story (she's my prime beta reader), and she has one-liners that can make me laugh no matter how I'm feeling.
Like most of us, she has her share of things she would like to change about life...sometimes real tough stuff, but I've never seen someone so contantly battle to keep challenges at bay. Maybe it's because she's freaking brave and bold in ways I wish I could be. Apart from moving across the Atlantic back and forth and venturing into third world countries, she has hunted down relatives in another country to find out more about her past--and took on a new language to facilitate that.
I'm grateful for her friendship and her willingness to beta for me this Christmas!
One of my favorite things to hear about the Awaken My Heart series is how people love the Zabriese family. Readers have said they want to be adopted by them and they wish Katherine was their mom!
I agree. I have always wanted a big family. I wanted to know that when one person wasn't available to tag along somewhere or help solve a problem, someone else likely would be. In short, a large supply of unconditional love, and the Zabrieses are full of that. They're open-minded, full of empathy ... yet, as any fan of the series knows, they are not perfect. I suppose that's what makes them so appealing: They have had their tragedies, arguments, family issues ... but they rise above it all, tripping and stumbling along the way. Most important? They take care of each other--perhaps to a fault at times, like the way Galen always feels he must safeguard his siblings and his mother, preserving the deep bond between them all. I love the idea of that emotional security.
I grew up with one sibling, a cousin who was like one, and a friend who became like a brother from a young age. Those were special relationships to me and I thought they would last forever. Much of it drifted away, though when I was older and the sadness over that did a number on me. Still, it might have been even worse if it wasn't for something else ...
Around age 15, I met a group of friends--four guys and one girl--who became family. Although one has steered in another direction, the rest have been the closest I could ever get to the Zabrieses. They've seen me at my worst and never cast me aside afterward. So, when I ruminate over wishing I had come from a large family, I am reminded that those friends filled in the empty spaces to become real uncles to my kids, examples of loyalty and love.
So this Thanksgiving, I'm going to concentrate on being grateful for the people and things that filled in the empty spaces. After all, part of what makes the Zabrieses so fantastic is the group of friends they typically have around them. I have that. They might be way too far away these days, but I do have them.
And my immediate family? It might be just the four of us, but if there was one thing I've ever done right in my life, it was raising two really great kids...awesome people. So, this Thanksgiving, I'll be feeling a bit like Katherine, I suppose.
Who are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?
I realize July is nine months away ... but I have to share: I'm going to be one of 50+Authors rocking Savannah July 25 - 28, 2019! I can't wait to meet readers of the Awaken My Heart series and meet new ones!
Have you registered yet? If you do before October 31st, you are entered to win cool experiences with authors. Certainly sounds like a lot of fun and I can wait to enjoy drinks with a new reader. There will be prizes, opportunities to dive into a variety of romance genres. We'll be signing, selling, partying with all of you, so what are you waiting for? Here are the links for more information:
Facebook Event info: www.facebook.com/events/871256626393289/
So sign up quick so we can talk outfits. I mean, what are you going to wear?
I've been spending unexpected moments longing for odd things lately--especially this weekend. I was in St. Augustine, walking the streets ... George Street, residential streets, and I longed to live there and I couldn't figure out why.
Was it the atmosphere? The history? The fact that the houses were all different like I was used to back in my neighborhoods up north? Was it the cute little shops--all different with fewer chain shops and restaurants? That had to be it--uniqueness. Was that the theme? Different homes? The uneven sidewalks that had seen countless generations walk to school as they fought against old tree roots? Different shops? Different coffee origins? I do gravitate toward unique things and people.
But at one point I walked past a corner house that wasn't particularly spectacular on the outside--many St. Augustine homes are not: they are often old and beaten up from flooding--and I suddenly wanted to go inside. I stopped walking a moment and wondered what was wrong with me. I mean why? I didn't know the people. I thought, thought, and ... then I had it.
Roots. The home looked like the people living there had roots they put down over the years. The flower pots looked like they had been there a long time. I could see some stuffed shelf units through a window. There were rocking chairs on the beat up porch and an older shed in the backyard that I imagined held a mower and a family history worth of junk.
I grew up in the two-family house my father grew up in. I found my grandparents' old Christmas ornaments in the attic. Our home was ... ours ... our history. I had found marbles my father and uncle used to play with while digging in the backyard. My mother always spoke of the past as if clinging to it even though she had left England in her early 20s. Both my parents were very regimented in the way they did things. I grew up very adverse to change, always seeing the sentimental in everything. Always trying to hold onto the past.
It was exhausting.
Eventually, that way of thinking made me feel stuck and I grew a fear of the past repeating itself ... seeing school pictures of your father on his first days of school standing exactly where you did in yours will do that. By 17 I was craving change--but I went to a close college where I didn't need to stay in dorms. Going further was discouraged. But that's another story.
When I got married and moved out, then later moved a little further into NJ, it was to a town where we used to visit family friends. I had dreamed of moving to that beautiful suburb my whole life. It was like a dream come true. After a while, I did find its drawbacks--I suppose every town has them. Still, I wasn't prepared to move from my comfort zone and all the way down South three years ago.
Now I'm in a brand new development where the houses, despite variances in style, all look the same to me. There are rules about what can be displayed, etc., and I feel like I've lost my roots and that much of this new area has been wiped clean of its past. But change happens. I know this: You can't step into the same river twice.
After renting it out for years, my parents sold my childhood home shortly before I moved out of NJ--with many of the things they had deemed so worthy of hanging onto still in it. And when I moved fom my home, so many things had to be given away or sold first. And I hate the sadness of so much being gone, but it was just stuff--not important. Yet, sometimes I need to remind myself of that. So, now I'm surrounded by chain everything, and the only sense I can find of history and roots is in antique shops--which I can't stand. But that, too, is another story.
So, I'm caught between running from the past and wanting to feel roots. Looking to the future and missing the past. And this, too, is exhausting. So, looking at that house on a little street in St. Augustine, wanting in, perhaps was my heart's way of wishing to experience roots even if they were someone else's. And that ... I think ... is just plain weird.
I guess what it means is that I'm still in transition down here...even as more changes are heading my way with kids going off to college. It really is time to look toward the surprises of new horizons and while I do enjoy the idea of that, part of me is stubborn, still trying to grab the past and hold it close, and asking myself, "For what?"
Before leaving St. Augustine, I walked on the beach, played with the shell-strewn sand. Finally, I relaxed. Fiddling with small handfuls of shells out of gajillions, watching huge amounts of water tumble, roll, and seep up onto the shore ... it became a momentary peace. I was small in comparison, yet I had my place in it all. The shoreline balanced my love and hate of nostaglia, my craving for the past and my yearning for something new and fantastic in the future. I wish I could bottle that feeling.
Anyway, like I said, it's complicated.
Just wanted to announce that I get to pair up with The Voluptuous Book Diva for this year's Foster an Author! It all takes place next week beginning October 22nd. Please visit this review blog!
The site is super pretty, isn't it? But right away I started to get the feeling this blog was more than just a pretty face. The blogger, Laura Hernandez, has read and reviewed loads of books and has earned outstanding rankings as a book reviewer. In fact, Book Sirens has given her the following reader rankings:
Laura is always up to sharing anything that authors and even other bloggers need shared. All they have to do is hit her up on the page or click on the email button.
I hope you'll check out the Voluptuous Book Diva website for reviews and cover reveals, like her on Facebook, share and comment on her Foster an Author posts and follow her on Instagram!
What's the toughest part about being you?
For me, the thing I love to do most, write stories, is part of what makes my life tough. Oh sure, writing is rarely easy for anyone. How it makes my life tougher though, is this...
I can't get MY story right. I can't find my way to the ending I want. Am I talking fame? No. Sure, I wouldn't turn it down, but I'm talking about the story I told myself for decades: I would grow old with my family and my closest friends--in some cases, they have become one and the same. I thought we would be physically there to support each other through our entire lives. And yes ... we can talk, but what happens when we really need each other or when it's time to celebrate milestones? Serious illnesses? The marriages of children? Retirement parties? Empty nesting? Deaths? The birth of grandchildren down the line? I am no longer physically there to share those moments, the good, the bad, the ugly.
I had to move. I don't know if and when I'll ever be able to move back. Money is tight, so hopping a flight isn't always an option. And today, thinking about all this, I really struggle with what feels like writer's block. My friend--more like a brothe--is finally getting married. His bride is a wonderful person. And I'm so happy for them, but I cannot share in this day. Try as I did, I couldn't rewrite the situation and stick to the story I had in my head for years.
And it hurts so bad. Of course, the truth is that the moment you decide something about your future is the moment God, the universe, fate laughs and switches the game up. So "writing" your story and your HEA is a stupid move to begin with. As much as I know this, my heart isn't about to bow to the logic of my brain. So, I'll smile at the pictures on social media and truly feel happiness for my friend who deserves a wonderful day. Never in my wildest dreams, though, did I think I would miss the wedding of someone so important to me. And it's only one of many significant moments to follow.
Although, when it comes to stories, I don't write with definitive outlines ... just very loose ones. So, I guess it's time to put on the big girl panties and keep writing, keep living. Time to work on finding some sort of thrill in not knowing what my story has in store for me.
What's the toughest part about being you?
When I began writing the first story arc--Ren & Galen's story--for the Awaken My Heart series, I was dealing with some missing pieces of my own. Not the same sort Ren and Gale dealt with by a long shot! However, it really doesn't matter what type they are, missing pieces can hurt.
When a jigsaw puzzle is missing pieces and you’ve looked for them long enough, you eventually arrive at the conclusion that the vacuum cleaner or the dog ate them, they’re gone and not coming back. The puzzle is useless now. Better to chuck it and buy another.
It’s not so easy when the pieces missing are part of your heart, your psyche, part of your soul. As we go through life, some of us lose more pieces than others. Some loser bigger pieces. Some are lucky enough to find them again or cobble together suitable replacements. For others, nothing works and they simply let those missing pieces gape wide open, allowing all sorts of garbage like toxic people, bad habits, and self-loathing to collect.
Ren and Galen’s story arc in The Awaken My Heart series is all about cleaning out those empty spaces and finding beautiful new pieces in each other that seal them up perfectly. It’s a transformative, healing story of one person who had filled the empty pieces of her heart with ice and desperate habits and another who filled his with guilt and self-denial.
In Jigsaw Hearts, Ren and Galen struggle to clean out the spaces left from their missing pieces to make room for the pieces they find in each other. Pieces of You, Pieces of Me gives us a glimpse of their new normal where they make sure those new pieces fit nice and snug. In Whole Piece of My Heart, they show us what they’re ready to do for each other if anyone tries to dislodge those pieces again.
I hope you'll enjoy this first section of the series! Already read it? Please consider giving a review on Amazon, Goodreads, or wherever you feel like it! Thank you!
Talk to me for more than ten minutes in person and you'll probably hear me lament how much I miss my friends up north. Probably not what anyone really wants to hear, but when the friends you've known for so long are as wonderful as mine, it makes sense. The following story is one of meaningful friendship and the universe throwing me a bone.
So, someone I know where I live now took to social media talking about a bout of anxiety. I thought I would share what I do for anxiety and for not being able to sleep: lavender tea. I discovered it years ago, back up north in a little cafe I love in Nyack, New York. I used to buy it loose from there after that. Now anytime I'm back home I grab some to take back with me. Anyway, I went to buy a box of lavender tea bags to share since I didn't have access to the loose stuff anywhere near my current residence and I only had maybe one serving left from my last trip. Driving home, I fell into a bit of a funk thinking about how I had to use these tea bags instead of varying the strength with the loose tea I love from my little Art Cafe. I know ... first world problems, right? Definitely. Still, the real issue was far deeper than that. I didn't just miss the comfort of easy access to that particular tea, but the comfort of knowing my friends were not far if we needed each other.
Anyway, I headed home from the supermarket, stopped by the mailboxes, and I had a package! One of my dearest friends had sent me something. I tore open the envelope (decorated with colorful markers!) and the smell of lavender hit my nose. I nearly cried. Again, it wasn't just the comfort of knowing the next bunch of times I wake in the night and can't sleep, I have that tea handy to get me back to sleep ... it was the comfort of being reminded that those friends who know me so well are never as far away as the miles between us.
And that's the secret with any relationship, isn't it? Wanting the best for your friend, your sibling, your parents, your significant other. So I thank my friend for not only sending me a meaningful gift, but for allowing the universe to work with her in it arriving at the most perfect time.
So thank you to my amazing friend, who usually makes me laugh, but today had me sniffling! Love you!
My newest baby is here! Well, almost. Official launch is September 2nd! I so love this cover ... the intensity you can see in his biceps as he holds her so tight. As if she is everything. And in this book, Galen will definitely let you know that ... mostly in his own voice.
This novella makes Ren & Galen's story arc in the Awaken My Heart series pseudo-complete. Pseudo, as in we will be diving into Corinne's love story next, but you will see what Ren, Galen, and the whole Zabriese family is up to on the sidelines along the way. AND I might just throw another novella or mini their way at some point.
I hope you'll snap this heart-wrenching story up when it debuts, love it, review it, and talk it up. Thanks so much to those of you who already do!
I'm so excited to share the first of two new covers with you! Jigsaw Hearts and Pieces of You, Pieces of Me have new covers to go along with the launch of Whole Piece of My Heart (late August).
Thanks so much to the wonderful fellow authors and readers who provided early feedback! You're awesome sauce!
With this cover, comes a new blurb: To overcome her sensitive nature, successful entertainment journalist Ren Hayden locks away her emotions along with the scattered pieces of her tragic childhood. The only person she trusts, but probably shouldn't, is a criminal—her brother, Seth.
When Seth dies unexpectedly, he sets off a chain reaction causing Ren's coping mechanisms to falter. Unable to make sense of messages she receives from beyond the grave, she can't stop herself from finding comfort in the arms of Galen Zabriese—the brother of the woman Seth ruthlessly conned.
Ren discovers life's missing pieces in Galen and steamy experiences in his bed but struggles to feel worthy of his love. While battling his own missing pieces, Galen becomes hell-bent on drawing Ren's real nature to the surface. Can selfless, true love help them complete each other or will Seth's past catch up with them first?
Jigsaw Hearts is a stand-alone novel full of emotional depth and steamy romance. Ren and Galen continue the beginning of their life together in two follow-up novellas, Pieces of You, Pieces of Me and Whole Piece of My Heart. Look forward to more novels and novellas involving the unconventional, flawed, but fabulous Zabriese family throughout the Awaken My Heart series.
Cover reveal for Pieces of You, Pieces of Me will be up in a few days. Watch for it!