Monday, November 6, 2017

Life Is [Hopefully] Finally Settling Down

I like November. It means [American] Thanksgiving is coming—which is one of my absolute favorite holidays ever. And one of my favorite bands has a great lyric: I always believe in futures / I hope for better in November.

I've been waiting for November to roll around this year because it finally means a break in activity. September and October were especially busy for me, and it looks like all my medical business is winding down after I had my gallbladder removed in July.

So what does November have in store for me then? Nothing. And I can't tell you how excited that makes me. Instead of being bogged down with social events and obligations, I'm staying home!

In all honestly, I do have two major tasks on my agenda for November, which is to thoroughly clean my apartment and organize it, and to really sink my teeth into Dump and Chase. I have so many ideas, and I don't seem to have the time to get them all out.

That should all change, starting tonight! I did a lot of cleaning and organizing this past weekend, so that should free up my nights for writing in my office.

For those of you who aren't in my Facebook reading group, here's your first look at the blurb for Dump and Chase:

What happens when a dating pro meets a dating dud?
Ben Holmes has never had much success with the ladies, but that’s okay with him. As a forward for the Dallas Comets hockey team, he has a great life—and an awesome bachelor pad and sweet ride. Finding a girlfriend isn’t high on Ben’s list of priorities until his meddling, match-making teammates finally persuade him into signing up for an online dating site.
Lennox Jones has everything she could possibly want—except a fulfilling, serious relationship. She is the queen of worst first dates and horrible hookups. Her horror stories have been making her friends laugh and cringe for years, and now she’s telling all as the anonymous author of Chronically Single, a blog detailing all of her dating disasters and rocky relationships. But as the number of hits to her blog skyrockets, her romantic hopes plummet.
When Lennox gets a late-night message from a new match with no profile picture or description, she’s tempted to swipe left. However, his admitted inexperience with online dating makes her agree to meet him in real life. Ben is attracted to Lennox’s feisty spirit and relentless drive, and he can’t believe that an accomplished woman like her is still single.
One bad date won’t stop Ben from pursuing the beautiful blogger who, unbeknownst to him, uses their interactions to entertain her followers. He’s ready to ditch his dating profile and get off-line until he finds out that he’s become a popular figure in Lennox’s blog. Can Ben handle having his private love life publicly disclosed on Chronically Single? If so, maybe he has taken Lennox on her last first date!

 And I can't wait to share the cover, too. I hope to make huge progress this month so I can share this story with y'all ASAP.

I have a Chinese order placed to pick up after work, so I can get home, dig into some lo mein, and get right into my manuscript. Hopefully that'll mean that I will have some good news for you come December. ;)

Happy reading!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Falling into Fall

October is one of my favorite months, and it's almost over! It's going by so fast. Too fast.

Last weekend, I was celebrating my friend's big day: her wedding!
My friend and I with the beautiful bride.
That was the first big event of the month. Next up is my Halloween party. I love Halloween, and I'm going all out for my costume this year. I'll post pics in my Facebook readers' group, the Jay Birds, for you to see.
But most excitingly is the author event I'm doing on the 28th. I'll be one of many authors at the Glass City Author Event (check it out on Facebook and get tickets here).


If you're from the Toledo area, I'd love to meet you!

And in between all that, I'm working on the next book in the Dallas Comets series. I've got a great title for this one: Dump and Chase. Is that not awesome? I'm working on the blurb, and I'll post it as soon as I've perfected it.

As always, stay tuned for updates and more info!

Happy reading!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

FALSE START Releases September 28!

Eight months are in the bag for 2017. It's September, which means hockey starts this month! Players are starting to come back to their NHL towns. Training camp starts soon, which means preseason soon after, which means regular season after that!

Plus, fall is starting to emerge in my corner of Pennsylvania, with temperatures cooling and nights slowly getting longer. I love fall!

But I've got more reason to celebrate. I've finally pinned down a release date for False Start, Comets book #4. Right now, the only retailer up is Amazon, but I'll post the others via social media as soon as they go live.

I'm really excited to get Chris and Helene's story out to y'all. This is a different kind of story for me—more in the new adult genre. I hope you'll enjoy!

Each time I share a story, it's like sharing a part of me. And I've worked for a long time on this story, off and on, through bouts of illness. Even when I couldn't write, this story stayed with me. One of the main issues in it is vulnerability, and writers often feel very vulnerable. I guess that's one reason why this story is close to my heart.

Anywho, I have to get back to work. There's a lot that needs to be done yet to get this book out on the 28th!

Happy reading!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Rediscovering Normal.

I know "normal" is a relative word. What's normal to me isn't normal to someone else. And what used to be normal for me has gone flying out the window. So now I begin the search for my new normal.


On July 21, I had my gallbladder out. Within a week, I was feeling great! I was off the pain meds, could stand up and sit down as good as ever, and was starting to experiment with what foods to eat. I've been able to to eat pizza and fries again! No more nausea and vomiting! Even better, I've gotten back some of my lost energy; last week, I was able to go grocery shopping and then come home and put everything in its place! And yesterday, I did laundry and put it all away in the same evening. Yes, I'm definitely feeling more energized.

So I'd chalk the surgery up as a major success.



I will continue to experiment with my diet to see what works for me and what doesn't. I still have IBS, so I have to learn what foods to avoid, what foods to limit, and what I can go hog-wild on! Oh, JK. Those days are over! Moderation is essential from here on out.

I'm loving the extra energy most of all. I didn't realize that my poor digestion was affecting me as much as it was. What a reminder to keep your body in its best shape to maximize what you can get out of life!



I have a lot of chores to take care of around my apartment; so much went by the waysides while I was recuperating from surgery. My mountains of dirty laundry are eroding into hills. I can see the surface of my dining room table again! My fridge and freezer are stocked with fresh foods and homemade, prepped meals instead of Lean Cuisines and nutrition drinks.

And this also means I can spend more brain power on False Start. Although I can't make any release-date promises, I'm hoping it'll be as soon as next month. Updates will follow as soon as I have them.

As as I work toward finding/establishing my new normal, I'm trying to establish good writing habits again. Getting my butt in that seat and spending time with my fingers fluttering over the keyboard. Wish me luck!

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Nashville Antics

 In June, I met up with Lisa B. Kamps, Michelle Monkou (and her daughter), and Julia Canchola for a writer's retreat in Nashville, Tennessee. That week turned out to be one of the most amazing experiences of my life!

Get ready for my virtual slideshow!


  • We ate delicious food and had some amazing drinks:
 (Bavarian Bierhaus, in Opry Mills Mall)

(Jack's BBQ, on Broadway)
(Sangria at Rock Bottom on Broadway)
(Happy Gilmore at Nelson's Green Brier Distillery)


We had a great time sightseeing, visiting a lot of the places that make Nashville, well, Nashville.

  • We went honky-tonking, my favorite place being Nashville Palace. The grilled cheese with ham was to die for, as were the apple pie moonshine margaritas that Lisa insisted we try! Josh, our server, was the more adorable introduction to the great Tennesseans we encountered.


  • On Friday, June 23rd, we went to the Grand Ole Opry to for the radio show.



  •  On Saturday, we hit some of the big attractions in the city. We saw Bridgestone Arena, where the Pens got to lift the Stanley Cup this year as back-to-back champs! We walked along Broadway, where all the honky tonks are. It was busy, even before noon—and it was packed before 5:00pm! We toured Nelson's Green Brier Distillery and tried some bourbon during at a tasting. We hung out at the Parthenon, a one-to-one replica of the one in Athens. And we toured Music Row, where recording artists lay down the tracks for their albums. We saw the famous RCA Studio B, where some of the biggest musicians have recorded their hits.










  •  And I got some great pictures of travel on the way back:
(Statue of Liberty)

(Manhattan)
(Downtown Pittsburgh)









  •  We went shopping at the Opry Mills Mall, and I bought the cutest boots that I've been wanting forever! They're classic-looking cowboy boots with some great accessories. I had almost given up my search when Lisa showed me these. Even better, they're comfortable! I love these boots!
 



 There's more, of course, but this trip to Nashville was more than a chance to relax and visit Music City (although I did feel completely refreshed after a week away from my everyday life). It was a writer's retreat, which meant this was a working vacation. 


 I made some major headway with False Start, and I got a lot of other stuff done too. All my books are now available via Google Play. I have a production schedule in place through 2018 and new covers in the works for next year's planned releases.
 I learned so much from my fellow writers. They were encouraging, supportive, and always ready to help with their insightful anecdotes and advice. Above all, I learned a lot about myself and my process as a writer. That week was invaluable to me, and I can't thank Lisa enough for inviting me and including me!

 Nashville was a great way to end the first half of 2017; there's still so much yet to come this year, and I feel ready for it all! July itself is shaping up to be a busy month, and I'm trying to ride the wave of productivity from Nashville while back home in PA.

 Here's hoping y'all are enjoying your summers! If you want to tell me about your vacations, feel free to do so in the comments. Otherwise, happy reading!

Friday, June 2, 2017

(Finally) An Answer

I got a call from gastroenterologist's office yesterday with news about my latest test, a HIDA scan with CCK: my gallbladder is functioning at 18%. They have recommended removal and are in the process of referring me to a general surgeon.

Finally, an answer as to the culprit of my ailments!

The offending organ!

I'm very relieved to have been told there is a cause for my ongoing symptoms. I'm excited to think that maybe this treatment will cure some (if not all, fingers crossed!) of my digestive problems.

But even more than that, I'm relieved to not have to focus so hard on finding an answer. So much of my mental energy was wrapped up scheduling tests, having tests performed, waiting for test results, and then repeating that cycle over and over and over again. I did so much online research and reading about tests and procedures and drugs for every possible outcome and learning as much as I could.

Months of this, and years of enduring symptoms, was exhausting. My mind had a hard time thinking about anything else. I'm kind of obsessive that way.

I'm most comforted by the thought that I can finally stop worrying/thinking so much about my health now. Of course I know I'm not out of the woods, so to speak, since I will be having surgery and the process of finding my new "normal" could took a while. Believe me, I have no notion that going forward will be any easier as far as my physical health is concerned.

But my mental health will be better, as I can rest assured that my doctors and I finally found a physical cause for at least a partial amount of my symptoms.

This means focusing on my stories and my characters more and better! Since my mind can relax now, it can wander into the fictional worlds of Chris Lacey and Helene Michaels, the leads in my upcoming Dallas Comets installment, False Start. I get more and more excited as I continue on their journey, both together and separately. It will be a little different than what I usually write, but definitely in a good way, I think. I hope you'll think so too!

This will be the first weekend in a long time that I'll have an unburdened brain, and I'm looking forward to using it in front of my laptop—not Googling low ejection rates, but writing!

Monday, May 1, 2017

Getting Gutsy

It's time for me to talk about something I've been avoiding for a long time.

I'm not a very open person about certain things in my life. I'll share pics of my cats and bad hair day selfies, but I keep some stuff close to my chest. Like politics, relationships, and... health stuff.

In a previous post, I mentioned that I was going to spend 2017 getting healthy and trying to resolve some ongoing stomach issues, but I didn't divulge anything else. I had no specifics to give out, and I didn't want to discuss anything more than that. I felt the need to let everyone know that I would be taking more time for myself than usual, meaning there would be less writing happening because my focus would be on me and my health/issues.

Now it's time to be gutsy and talk about my guts.

For the past couple of years, I've felt like a walking Pepto-Bismal commercial (and that's all the detail you're going to get about that!). I went to my doc, and she told me I was lactose intolerant and that I didn't have Celiac's. I tried a bunch of different diets to eliminate possibly problematic foods, but the symptoms never really went away.

I would miss a day of work here and there due to the stomach issues. I canceled plans because I didn't feel well. I became reluctant to make plans, because I didn't know how I would be feeling at any given point, and I didn't want to get stomach cramps or feel sick while with other people. Going to the gym became difficult because I'd have to stop the machines and run to the women's room in mid-workout.

When I was at the adult prom—something I had been looking forward to for months—I hoped that I wouldn't get any symptoms and I'd be able to enjoy the whole night. But sure enough, after dinner, I had such bad cramps that I had to get off the dance floor and sit at the table while everyone else kept having fun. I had tried to put on a brave front in front of my friend, since I didn't want to ruin the night for her, but she saw straight through it and let me know that it was okay if I needed to take a break.

We still had a great time, but these ongoing issues have put a real damper on my social life. I started staying home rather than going out just in case I didn't feel well. I didn't want to get stuck somewhere when my gut began to gurgle and let me know that my body was not happy.

Months ago, at a follow-up appointment with my doctor, she noticed some abnormal numbers in my yearly blood work. We retested, thinking the results were a fluke, but they weren't. There was something going on in my body that needed further investigations.

Without going into the nitty gritty details—most of which would bore you to death, if you aren't already (and if you aren't already, thanks for reading! Hi!)—I've been through a litany of tests and we've ruled out a lot of conditions. I can tell you what I don't have, but... I still can't tell you what the true problem is.

Just change "princess" to "diagnosis" and you're in my shoes, Mario!


I was hoping that today would be the magical day for me to get a definitive answer at my appointment, but we're doing some more testing. Right now, the focus is on my gallbladder and if it may be the cause of all these wonderful issues I'm experiencing.

I probably won't bother with a health update unless I get a concrete answer, because like I said, I'm just not open about these kinds of things. But I do feel a duty to disclose the details of my life when it affects my writing time. I am still writing, but the words are coming out more slowly than ever due to the epic stress I'm under and the lack of time/energy I have. But I am still working on False Start, and I want to finish The Back Up (a standalone) this year as well. That's the plan, and that's what I'm working towards.

This may have been a bunch of rambling nonsense to you, but it felt good to get off my... chest.