Are you appreciating it all? #LiveLifeNow


This is a picture of me at my parents' house. My favorite place to be in the summer is in that pool. I have a special floatie that puts my feet and bum in the water, so I can read/tan for a long time. It also has a cup holder. For Starbucks. Or a margarita if I'm really feeling festive.

I can't see my parents because a. I'm in another state and b. my brother is immune-compromised.

And yet, I know at this time, we have to focus on the good things. The world is dark and depressing. The news will suck you under so I've been focusing on my book. Which is done today. It needs a lot of editing, but I hope that it will be done and out so I can be in that pool on July 4th. It's where I belong.

That photo represents everything I don't have. My family, the pool (it's 110 in Phoenix, thank you very much) their dog (she died at Christmas) and espresso without a creepy line and weird rules. I'm so over this virus.

But I'm alive. My family is alive. They're not in a nursing home/hospital where I can't see them even if I was close. The pedicure place is open (so the mani/pedis can be back, thank goodness.) I've had plenty of time to write, but I do have to keep the news turned off because it affects me too much. I can't stand cruelty in the world and it seems like that's all there is right now.

None of these hoarding shenanigans affected me because I'm a hoarder by nature (cleaning products, paper products, makeup, etc.) so that helped me.

What are you appreciating these days?


Thanks to Christina Greenwalt for this great picture!

#MyBrilliantFriend -- Again

To say I'm obsessed with this show that I randomly started watching on HBO would be an understatement. I love this book and story so much that it is up there with "The Thorn Birds" for me. This week, season 2 wrapped up and I pray that they're filming season 3 -- which is supposed to come out in April of 2021, but who knows with this virus and Italy?

Anyway, the show ended in such an unexpected way that my mouth literally dropped open. I was like, "NOOOOO!" to the television set. Not that I'm above talking to myself while in quarantine. My characters have conversations out loud, what can I say? My dog STILL stares at me like I'm nuts. Who needs a judgmental dog, am I right?"


As soon as the season ended, I went right to Amazon and bought the third book because I need to know what happens next.


The author writes under a pseudonym and there is a great mystery in Italy to find out her true identity. How cool would that be? To have people love your book so much they NEED to know who you are? How do you stay quiet when you're on every bestseller list in the world? It just ups her coolness factor in my book.

Once, I had a literary detective (to find the truth author) as a heroine in a book and my agent told me it was boring and weird. Okay, then. I thought it was kind of cool. I heard the same thing about my physicist hero -- and this was before "Big Bang Theory." Physicists are naturally weird and brilliant. They are perfect for my books. I love a nerdy hero.

I also started watching "Outlander" since the book has rated higher on the PBS list than "Pride and Prejudice" -- "As if," as Cher from "Clueless" might say. (Emma.) Anyway, I have tried to get through the books, but I just drop them. They don't interest me. No offense to Ms. Galbadon, it's clear she does not need my approval. So I watched a bit of the show. It's just not for me. The Scottish hottie doesn't appeal to me at all. I want that hot professor husband of hers. I think you're supposed to like them equally.


I mean, he's in a Fedora!! With swing music playing in the background. How does a dirty castle compare? Maybe it's different in the books so I give you Scot/Outlander fans your due -- I have not read them, but there you have my take. If Frank is a jerk in the books, I get it. I will probably not find out, even the show is too dark for me. And I have Elena Ferrante novels to catch up on at the moment.

#30 Day Song Challenge

As entertainment, my daughter and I are doing the 30-day song challenge on Instagram. It goes something like this. Every day you're supposed to post something according to the challenge.


Example? What's a song you never get tired of:

Elle's: Troubadour by George Strait
Moi: Come On Get Higher by Matt Nathanson

Then, it's usually followed by Elle's making fun of my music taste. Yesterday's was a song from your preteens. So I said, "Summer Lovin'" from "Grease." To which, my daughter sent me a text merely saying, "You're old."

I mean, who raised this kid?

Anyway, I love what she said about George Strait. She always had a crush on him -- because I mean, well yeah. Who didn't? But she said she has to give that up because on his latest song, he's got the "full grandpa sit" going. Then, she brings up the picture. "Look Mom, I mean, it's a full grandpa sit. Look how deep he is on that bench."

We should all look so good as a Grandpa. And that tequila is over $100 a bottle.

Today's challenge is a song from the 70's, which I feel is too redundant. I already said, "You're the Biggest Part of Me" by Ambrosia for something, and "Back in Black" for playing something loud and then, there's Grease. But I'm glad my daughter knows good music from the 70's. Her song to drive to was "Fortunate Son" by Creedence. Mine was "Circles" by Post Malone. How backward is that?

What are you doing to entertain yourself as this shutdown gets longer?

I'm almost done with my book, Room at the Top, and I hope it have it edited and available by June 1st. Lots of love to you out there!

Life is easier for Christians who grew up that way...

I, however, grew up Catholic. And Catholics are different in that they swear. At least, the ones I knew, did. They were Irish and Italian. I mean, that's a lot of energy to be contained in a small human container so there it is. Today, I was watching Matt Nathanson (one of my favorites) on his live stream. And I wanted to recommend it because he loves music. Music is life. He says he loves music more than people and sadly, I can identify with that. Music makes you feel alive. Sometimes, people, not so much.

Anyway, a long time ago, I saw Matt Nathanson in a really small, intimate venue in San Francisco. (The Swedish American Hall) And my friend canceled on me at the last minute, so I took a new friend from my church. Not remembering that Matt, well Matt likes a cuss word. He's hilarious, but he does love a well-placed F-bomb. Much like my old-school Italian/Irish upbringing, Matt is not one to keep things to himself. So while I'd love to recommend Matt's live stream to the world, I must acknowledge that my upbringing has prepared me for the Matts of the world. Because a cuss word is just an exclamation point to some people. But wow, if I'd never heard that my whole life? This life as a Christian writer would be SOOOO much easier.

I really hate to hear the Lord's Name in vain. That still gets to me, but yeah, the swearing doesn't determine a person's Christianity to me. I've known a few terrible people who never said a curse word. Anyway, here I am with Matt in 2016. I was supposed to be in San Diego with my bestie from high school seeing Adam Ant in May -- but now that's not going to happen. Will we ever get to concerts again?


I'm still not putting Matt's live stream here because you know, I don't know who grew up Irish/Italian out there. You're probably really nice people. On a happy note, I am on the last scenes of my latest book and this makes me happy. It's taken me longer to write "Room at the Top" than any other book I've written. How y'all doing out there?

Is anyone watching #MyBrilliantFriend?

I feel like I have to decompress after last night's episode. Holy, that was excruciating to watch. Anyone out there watching it? I will just say I'm glad I haven't read the books and now, I don't know if I can stand to.

If you're not watching, the show on HBO is based on the books by Elena Ferrante, an Italian author. It's the story of two friends. One, Lenu, is a bookish, nerdy student who is so smart she's attending school when most Italian girls just got married. The other friend, Lila is supposedly more brilliant, but she is a looker and manipulative as all get-out.

The characterization of these stories is absolutely incredible and I see every archetype I saw growing up in my extended Italian family. Some of it, a lot of it, is not pretty. Anyway, if anyone watched, feel free to comment and tell me what you think about Lenu's decision last night. I'm still reeling!


#RoomAtTheTop cover reveal coming soon! #Novel #ChickLit #WomensFiction

I have six beautiful choices for my new cover. Colleen Coble hooked me up with my old cover designer from Harper Collins Christian, so I'm pretty stoked.

As excited as one can be when confined to the house without espresso. I'm an introvert and I like being home, but I have to say, this just sucks. I hate the world being closed. It's creepy and dystopian, which only makes me want to write happy stories. My friend told me she was reading a dystopian novel and had to put it down. Ya think?

We need to keep our spirits up so we can stay strong and help those who need it. Silicon Valley is a mess with this virus so it's hard to be here and hear about what's happening there. I hate what tech did to my home, I really do. Everything became about who was the richest, who had the most elite Tesla and whose mansion had more pools, bowling alleys, etc. What a waste of life. I hope this virus shows us all that money is not what matters. Being unable to gather with family members, unable to attend church or go out to dinner with friends...that's what matters: Connection.

My daughter is here with me, and I'm grateful for her company, but we really want to go explore and we're just stuck. We did get some plants at Wal-Mart and she planted in the back before the lockdown started. What are you doing to keep busy?


As a little ray of hope, the cactus blossomed today.

Emma's star: Miranda Hart

Okay, it's no secret that I'm not an Emma fan. This version even less so than normal. In the book, I find Emma less than brilliant. Essentially, she's not winning any Nobel Prizes for physics. But in this version, she comes off as a queen bee mean girl who is smart enough to know better. Austen knew what she was doing by making Emma more "Lydia" than "Elizabeth." I feel as if this version did not get that and so it's very hard to root for the "You can't sit with us!" character in finding love.


I don't know who the actress was that played her, but Miranda Hart, who plays Miss Bates really redeemed the movie for me. I do love that we get new versions of Austen for each generation -- and granted, I am not of this generation or even the marketing target of 18 to 49-year-olds, and while the costumes and scenery were gorgeous, I didn't care enough about any of the characters to stay focused.


I'm harder on the Austen adaptations, but the cast was pretty wonderful, so I think it was the script. Anyone see it?

The New #Emma

Emma is my least favorite of all Jane Austen's novels. Yes, I like it less than Northanger Abbey. Emma as a character just annoys me. But I will still go see it. I hope artsy movies play here in Phoenix. Now that I'm out of Silicon Valley, I'm a little worried about my arthouse films.

The supporting cast of this movie looks fantastic. Bill Nighy. I mean, who doesn't love him? Josh O'Conner from "The Crown" and "The Durrells in Corfu." I saw the gal who plays Emma on a morning show. Found her kind of annoying, but for me, that fits the character.

Anyway, I'll be there like the slave I am to any costume drama.

#TheDutchHouse by Ann Patchett

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I bought this book because Tom Hanks reads the Audible version and I wanted to hear my beloved "Toy Story" favorite read a book. But I'm not an audible lover. I want to see the words. Slowly devour them and read them again when I love a sentence, so I needed to read it first. Tom had to wait.

It took me forever to read this book. I left my Kindle in my son's truck in San Diego. I don't think any of my kids know what a post office is -- besides a place you send mom when you need something mailed -- so I was without a Kindle for a good, long while. I found my old Kindles -- but one is a Kindle Fire and the other is an old black and white one with missing pixels. I couldn't get the book loaded on the older one so I had to do the Fire. I abhor reading on the Fire. But I was desperate.

Okay, enough of my Kindle drama. The book. Ann Patchett is an amazing writer, much like Anne Tyler. She takes the mundane of everyday occurrences and ensures that you will not be able to put it down. That being said, I can't really explain the plot. Other than to say it's the story of a boy who grows into a man and all that happens with his childhood home.

If you're looking for a suspense-filled page-turner, this isn't the book for you. But if you enjoy entering a different world that is painted so creatively by an expert, "The Dutch House" might be for you.

Currently reading: Maybe You Should Talk To Someone

This is another book that sounds uninteresting, but in the hands of this author, it's a fun-filled, hilarious ride. Primarily because the writer (a therapist herself) is the most neurotic character in the book and she throws it all out there. Brutal honesty and self-reflection is the key to any bestselling biography/autobiography. The other thing that's great about this book is it has short chapters so it's easy reading, but it's also very hard to put down after those short chapters.


I'd like to talk more about Jane Austen's Sanditon, but Cox Cable's DVR doesn't actually tape, so I haven't been able to watch the last two episodes. Just when Sidney was starting to grow on me.