Updates, writing

Catching Up – 11/27/18​

I’m still not doing a good job of updating this site on a regular basis, but I’m hopeful that as I get further along with my work in progress story, I’ll have more to talk about.

I spent some time updating the website with information on my new work in progress. While Colder Weather took place in Iowa and had a Winter theme, my new novel – code name TBH – takes place in Florida and will have a Summer theme.  You can check out TBH’s page here, and I have the beginnings of a playlist built here. I currently have seven chapters written into the skeleton version of the novel, and I’m looking forward to fleshing it out more once the first pass is completed.

I’m also excited to announce that I’ve been invited to join the Kindred Ink Collective.  I’m looking forward to being a part of this wonderful group and supporting authors Shannon Taylor Hodnett and Julia J Simpson as they work toward getting their second novels printed as well.

Besides writing, I’ve really gotten into photography.  I purchased my first DSLR camera – a Nikon D5600 – and I’ve been exploring the different settings, with mixed results.  I’ve learned that if the photo is important, use one of the auto settings for now, but I’m also having a good time figuring out all the manual settings that are available on my camera.  You can find my photography here if you’re interested.  All photos are taken with my Nikon D5600, iPhone 7plus/iPhoneXs, or credited if not mine.

That’s about it for now.  Thanks for reading. 💖


Good Eats

Good Eats – 9/1/2018

It’s been a long time since I’ve updated my website.  I had all sorts of ideas planned to feature after Colder Weather was published, but between work, raising a teenage boy, and everyday ups and downs, I wasn’t able to work on any of those posts.  This doesn’t mean I wasn’t able to accomplish other writing tasks, but the website updates kind of fell to the wayside, while I wrote an article for an online magazine and beta read novels for three people over the Summer.

One of the things that I struggle with is making sure that my family has something good to eat for dinner and with our busy schedules, sometimes we cheat and grab something from a local restaurant or order in pizza, but that gets old after a while.  I’ve turned to my crockpot and Pinterest for help and decided to share some of those recipes with you in a segment called Good Eats.

If you can’t guess from my last name, my husband is of Puerto Rican descent. Whenever we visit his mom, she always makes what has become a favorite meal for us, and I’ve found a recipe that is close enough to hers to come in a close second.

Bistec Encebollado

I’ve modified the recipe in the link above to make an easy, delicious meal that my boys love.   I use beef for stew from our local grocery store.  It’s already cut up in nice, bite-sized chunks and perfect for marinating.  The other thing I cheat on is my grocery store offers already cut up onions.  You can get them in rings or chopped.  I switch back and forth between these depending on what’s available, but both work well.

You’ll need:

  • Beef for stew – I normally use one package as there are only three of us
  • 1 container onions – chopped or in rings – or you can cut an onion if you choose.  For three people, 2 large onions are too much, so if you use the recipe in the link, you’ll want to determine what is right for your family.
  • 1/2 cup Olive Oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced Garlic – you can either use fresh or dried.  This doesn’t seem to affect the end result, so it’s a matter of preference or time.
  • 1 pinch dried Oregano – I’m a little more liberal with oregano and just shake a decent amount into the bag.  Again, this is a matter of preference.
  • 1 package of Sazon seasoning (.18 oz)
  • 1/4 cup White Vinegar
  • 1 can of Swanson’s beef stock
  • 1 teaspoon Salt

You’ll need a large Ziploc bag to combine all of the ingredients in.  I normally start with the beef, add the dry ingredients, then vinegar, olive oil, and beef stock.  Once all of your ingredients are added, remove the excess air from the bag, zip it closed, then mix everything around until all of the meat is evenly covered.  After that, it’s ready to go into the refrigerator.  I recommend putting the bag on a plate or in a bowl to prevent any issues if the bag should have a problem.  (Mine never has, but better safe than sorry.)

Marinate the steak for a minimum of four hours or up to several days. Usually, I get the bag ready on Monday night and put it in the crockpot on Wednesday or Thursday.

On the day you’re ready to eat this yummy goodness, put the entire mixture into your crockpot, stir it, and let it cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.

My mother-in-law serves it with the best yellow rice I’ve ever tasted, but I haven’t had a chance to experiment with a recipe for it yet, so I use white rice.

That’s it.  If you decide to try it, please let me know how it turned out.  💖



Writing Update – July 7, 2018

Hello!  I’ve meant to sit down and type up an update (as well as other blog posts) for quite a while now.  I had initially planned to do several posts about my experience in independently publishing my first novel, but time just seems to get away from me.

While I was editing Colder Weather, I started looking forward to what my next book would be and had two choices.  Story 1 was a little harder to figure out all the logistics, and then Story 2 popped up.  In theory, this was going to be the easier of the two, so I decided to shelf Story 1 and work on Story 2.

Both Story 1 and Story 2 are going to take place in summery, island type settings, so when we decided to spend a few days in Sanibel, I knew that it would be the perfect place to gather some details for either one.  By the time we were heading home, Story 2 was really starting to build in my brain.

There usually are two types of writers in the world.  Planners and Pansters.  I’m a Panster.  I write everything without knowing what’s going to happen next or only having a vague idea of how it will end.  It’s always worked for me, but I really wanted to try being a Planner.  Or at least a Planster (half planner/half panster) if I could.  I wanted to build the world my characters would live in, create character analyses, know where the story was going and how it was going to end.  While this was all good in theory, I found myself struggling with getting it done.  I signed up for some free resources on Well-Storied and for the first few days, wrote what I could, and found life getting in the way of my planning.

I’d over-extended myself.  I was asked to review a short book.  To write an article for an online magazine.  (And I’ve loved every minute of being able to step outside of my comfort zone and try these things.)  I volunteered to beta read a novel for someone I don’t know, while also beta reading for two of my dear friends.  Sometimes I would get on the laptop, do the things I needed to do for others, then just stare at my own stuff, wondering why I wasn’t writing.  As I finished the things above, I went back to world building and fleshed out something rather spectacular (hopefully) for Story 2, but I couldn’t sit and work on my character analysis like I wanted.  It was frustrating.

But then Story 1 poked its head out of the sand and gave me some significant information.  I filed them away in my brain, intent on working on Story 2, but Story 1 wasn’t having it.  More details came in, got filed, and still no writing was accomplished.  Finally, I decided I would just write the little fluff piece of backstory that was running amuck in my brain and that really set some things in motion.  Story 1 was not the plan.  But as my friend Julia told me, “the plan is whatever you make it”  and this freed me up to really allow myself to just let whatever happened, happen.

In the course of two days, several pieces have come together and I wrote the beginning chapter on my phone because it wouldn’t leave me alone when I was trying to sleep.  So apparently I’m just always going to be a Panster.  I don’t know how this story is going to end, but it wants to be written.  It is not satisfied to wait until Story 2 gets done.  It’s not even satisfied to wait until I work on all those blog posts I wanted to do.

So here’s to Story 1, flying along by the seat of its pants, ready and eager to be told.  I hope it’s a good one.

Thanks for reading! 💖


Colder Weather Book Blurb


Do you like me? Check yes or no.

When sixteen-year-old Emma Jordan unexpectedly runs into her childhood crush, Jace Brown, old feelings come surging back to life with new intensity. As the snow falls and winter closes in, Emma’s world opens up as she navigates first love, changing friendships, and family tension. But young love rarely lasts forever. As Jace deals with changes in his own life and follows his dreams, will their relationship stand the test of time? Or will Jace keep drifting in and out of Emma’s life just like the colder weather?


Writing Update 4/13/18

It’s been an eventful week.

Every spare moment has been spent working on my novel. A few weeks ago, I decided to use some editing software to assist with cleaning up each chapter during the second round of editing. After trying some free apps, as well as one that I paid for, that didn’t do what I thought it would, I finally decided to pull the trigger and purchase Grammarly. They have a free version, but the paid version was so much more robust, and it’s been worth it so far. I pasted each chapter into Grammarly, then once the edits were complete, added them to Pressbooks. While this might seem like overkill to some, I liked the way Grammarly pointed out overused words, passive voice, and punctuation. I didn’t always take the suggestions it recommended, but toward the end, I was getting into a good flow, and I think this made my novel better. I started seeing my own issues. Things that might not bother anyone else, but seemed off to me. Currently, all the chapters are in Pressbooks, and I have a good idea of what the page count might be at this point. I’m going through a final round of editing, and then my critique partner, Julia, will go through it for one last read.

My other exciting news is that I have a book cover now. That was an exciting process to go through, and I’ll probably do a separate post on it near or after the book is released.

Speaking of when it’s going to be released, I think at this point, realistically, it will be in early to mid-May .

I’ve had a request to review my experience with Pressbooks, and I think I’m also going to do Grammarly, and Createspace as well after the book is published. It will be from my perspective as a new writer.

If there is anything else you would like to see here or questions you have, please feel free to let me know.

Thanks for reading! 💖


Writing Update – 4/5/18

My novel is moving forward at a brisk pace now. The first round of editing is complete, and as part of round two of cleaning everything up, I’m also posting chapters into Pressbooks as I go.

While some parts of Pressbooks are confusing and even frustrating, it is fun too. I’ve changed the font of the book several times until I found one that I’ve settled on using. I also found a lovely little page divider on Etsy that is perfect for the book’s theme. So far ten chapters have been added to Pressbooks, and I’m able to export the book to a . pdf file after each one so I can see how it will look in print.

I’m hopeful that in the next few weeks, I’ll have all the chapters uploaded and will start proofing that final version. Once that’s complete, my critique partner will look it over one more time, and then I’ll be ready to move onto the next step, which will get my novel one step closer to a publishing date.

Thanks for reading!💖


Writing Update – 3/17/2018

I’m excited to announce that I’ve finished my first pass through my novel.  It was rather satisfying to see the words The End at the bottom of my document.  While several chapters are still out to my critique partner – including at least one that needs a rewrite – I’m still excited that this hurdle has been overcome.

When I first decided to publish this novel, I knew I was coming into it blindly, but didn’t realize all the ups and downs that I’d be encountering.  The first one was realizing that some chapters didn’t fit or weren’t good enough to be read by anyone other than my wonderful critique partner.  When it came to the first chapter that needed a complete overhaul, I didn’t think I could do it and I stared anxiously at my screen, feeling rather helpless.  Once I got over my fear, I turned on some music, and just started writing.  Whole paragraphs were changed, moved, or replaced, and the end result?  A better chapter.  One I didn’t know existed.  And one I didn’t think I had the ability to create.

When two more chapters were combined into one I wasn’t as scared this time. I had the evidence to prove that it could be done.  Then a missing scene had to be added into the middle of another chapter.  The end result was something that created depth to the story and interlinked some major and minor plots into place.

So what’s next?  Another round of reviewing and editing.  I’ve highlighted several sections that I want to spend more time looking over.  I’ve also found that I use certain words and descriptions a lot and I want to clean them up as well.  In late March I’ll work with a designer to come up with a cover for this baby and I think that process will make all of this seem more real to me.

I don’t have a timeframe yet for when the book will be published.  I don’t want to set a deadline that is unrealistic when I’ve never been through this process before.  I’m luckier than most first time authors.  My awesome critique partner, Julia J Simpson went through this for the first time last year with her novel Ashes Swept and she’s been a godsend in helping me with everything.  I really couldn’t do it without her.

Thanks for reading!💖


Writing Style

When I first started writing, I wrote in third person/past tense.  I also found that the majority of books that I read at the time were written this way, and I became very comfortable with this writing style.  Four years ago, I decided to spread my wings a little and made the switch to first person/present tense.  Just like when I started writing in general, the first few stories written after the change were clunky at best.  Because I wrote mostly fan-fiction, I introduced this change into my writing at a time when I was also writing for a new series.  It always takes a while for me to get comfortable writing new characters; feeling like I get them enough to step into their skin and tell their stories is a process in itself.  Adding a new writing style complicated things immensely, but it slowly got better and I am writing exclusively in first person/present tense now.  While I still love the flexibility of third person/past tense that allows me to get into the head of multiple characters, I’ve come to really enjoy my new writing style.

Besides the point of view, my writing is mainly about relationships.  I love exploring the beginnings of a relationship, no matter if it is romantic, platonic, or something else.  The secondary theme in most of my fiction is angst.  There is always something for the characters to overcome before they finally get their happy ending.

Specific to fan-fiction, I love when the show runners drop little hints to the character’s past, and you’re left wondering how that all worked out.  For me, if those hints spark a relationship of some sort, I want to know more, and that’s what I want to write.  As an example, in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) it is theorized that everything is connected and what we see on the big screen is the same universe as what we see in shows like Agent Carter, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, and Inhumans.  When S.H.I.E.L.D began, the only connection was Phil Coulson, and the first season had to work its way into Captain America: Winter Soldier.  When Marvel went to Netflix, that link became clear with the introduction of Daredevil all the way to the upcoming Avengers: Infinity Wars.

One of my favorite hints was dropped in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D and Daredevil when it was revealed that both Skye/Daisy Johnson (Mary Sue Poots) and Matt Murdock/Daredevil lived at St. Agnes Orphanage in New York.  This tiny thread created what was to become my first and only cross-over series, The Girl Down the Hall.  The relationship I created here was one of big brother/little sister and the angst was already built into the show, so I just needed to add it to the story.  In a way, it was like fleshing out their backstory just a little, and for me, it makes the characters more three dimensional.

For my novel, the goal is to create original three-dimensional characters that people will care about as much as I do. I hope you, the reader, will be invested in their story and if so, I’ll feel like I did exactly what I set out to do.

Thanks for reading!💖


Origin Story

Some people look back throughout their lives and can remember writing from a young age.  That is not me.  What I remember, is reading.  As a young girl, my mom and I were often side by side, reading books, magazines, or newspapers.  By the time I was eleven, I was reading whatever she had just finished.  In high school, I often had several books going.  Ones for school; others for fun, but I never imagined that one day I would actually write a novel of my own.

The other thing I look back on was (and is) my love of relationships in television and movies.  Long before I knew what shippers and shipping were, that’s exactly what I was doing.  Character interactions were always very important to me, and often kept my attention, even if the writing was bad, or the show was destined to fail.  When I stumbled onto internet communities and found out that fan-fiction was a thing, I was totally hooked.  People were writing their own versions of situations with their favorite characters, and it was extremely satisfying to see these characters getting together, professing their love for each other, or whatever else that was not happening in the series currently.

Since I was instantly hooked on this idea of fan-fiction, I had to try writing stories about my favorite characters at the time.  And let me tell you, they were really bad stories.  Not the subject matter so much, but the writing.  Absolutely awful.  But, you have to start somewhere, and encouraged by amazing friends, some who have become incredible writers themselves, I kept at it.  Years later, the majority of my writing was only being shared with one person, but we enjoyed the little world we created, and I decided to expand my fan-fiction to several different series – some of which are available on AO3 – but the majority of them are still under wraps.  I also wrote lots of original fiction.  Mostly short stories, until one year I decided to try Nanowrimo.  Finally, a novel came out of nowhere, but I couldn’t imagine what to do with it after that.

So the novel went on the shelf, the fan-fiction and original short stories continued, but it was always on my mind to do something more with it.  Last year, I had the honor of watching my good friend, Julia Simpson, publish her first Novel Ashes Swept and as she went through the process, I wondered if my novel was good enough to publish.  Julia – who has read it through once and is helping me with my edits – seems to think so, and I really hope that anyone that decides to read it, does too.  At the end of the day though, this is a goal I’ve set for myself, and I am looking forward to going through the process.

That’s my origin story.

Thanks for reading! 💖