#HouseHunting -- Model home envy.

This weekend, my son and his wife were here and we went through all the model homes in the area looking for a starter home. Here's the thing about model homes. When you come home, your place looks like a dump -- no matter how nice it is. You have stuff on the counters, messy tchotchkes, books in the bookshelves, etc. Your house is lived in! Let me state that I love my house. I walked into it last August for about ten minutes and knew it was mine. I told my friends that it was like that movie, "Miracle on 34th Street" and my grandfather wanted me to have that house. Yes, they gave me the look you're probably all giving me right now. (My grandfather died in 2015 at 100-years-old.)

This house did not have my white kitchen. It had a hickory wood kitchen that I knew I could never paint over because my grandfather's voice would be telling me never to cover good wood. It had the same arches that my grandparents' house had (my grandpa built their house.) And it was in Arizona -- where August temps are typically over 110 degrees -- and I hate the heat. But somehow, I knew this was my house, so imagine my surprise when I found out it was sold already. NOOOOO!!! I went home to California dejected, certain I'd never find another home like it, and upset that I'd misunderstood this wasn't my house. There was no Santa cane in the corner.


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Well, the next week the house fell out of escrow and I jumped. But there was another offer and I had to make a decision that day. So after spending ten minutes in this house on my way to Mexico with my friend Colleen and family, I bought a house. Over the phone. In a bidding war.

However, no one had time to redo the flooring when I moved in because it was right before Christmas. So I moved in on someone else's carpet. Which grossed me out, but didn't undo me until I went through the model homes this weekend. Then I knew that it was time to fix the flooring. So that's my goal this week. I'm getting a wood-look tile. And from here on out, I'm letting the kids go househunting on their own so it doesn't cost me too much money.


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#Birchbox Fun Little Samples...

A friend of mine bought me a subscription to Birchbox -- which tailors and sends beauty samples out to you monthly. Since I just moved, it was nice to open a box of goodies every month. One of the things that came this month was a cream blush -- now I think it's common knowledge that Nars "Orgasm" is the most perfect blush color on most everyone's skin. But this little cream blush looked like that color so I thought hey, I'm getting older, let's give it a go. Well, I put it on this morning and drove to Starbucks, got my coffee. Come home, and somehow, this blush has basically turned on like a searchlight and I am looking like Baby Jane with pink, blush headlights. Holy.


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So perhaps this is a sample that needs to stay in the sample bin. The happy news is there is no where to go presently, so me and my scary drama queen cheeks will be fine.


Mistakes Happen...

One of the mistakes I often make in my books is I confuse character names -- now usually, there were six editors reading it after me -- and still, sometimes, it would get caught at the very last minute -- or not at all.

Yesterday, I watched an old Fred & Ginger movie -- The Barkleys of Broadway. Now if you haven't seen a Fred & Ginger movie, don't watch this one first. You won't get why they're a "thing." But it has the distinction of being their only color movie and the ONE movie where they actually kiss on screen.


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Anyway, while watching this movie, there are two heroes. Josh and Jacques. And Ginger actually calls the name out wrong -- Josh when she means Jacques. How many people watched this movie, directed it, edited it and yet still, this mistake appears in the movie some 70+ years later. I know it's no excuse for my own mistakes in editing, but it does make me feel better. And yes, I have typos in my professionally published books as well as my self-published. Because you know...people are human.


Art Begets Art -- Do you have a muse? #AmWriting

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I know I go on about Fred Astaire, but I never could see what people saw in him. I thought he was a strange little man who danced. Then, I saw him on the big screen at the Stanford Theater (when I was in high school) and I've been in love ever since. Fred has a charm that is so charismatic that he jumps off the silver screen. Well, this weekend I watched a biography on Ralph Lauren the designer and do you know how he got started?

He wanted to wear a white tie like Fred Astaire in the movies and he couldn't find one. So he made one.

I love hearing stories like this. How one person's art inspires another. Although I was an avid reader and devoured the classics, I never imagined myself a writer. It wasn't until I read Jane Peart that I wanted to write a book. She wrote the "Brides of Montclair" series and my grandmother and I would read each one as soon as it came out. Today is my grandma's birthday so it seems right to remember Jane, too. I once wrote Jane a fan letter and she wrote me back on a beautiful baby blues stationery. I still have it -- naturally. My favorite author was Thomas Hardy and he was no fan of the church, but wow, did he understand it. Hardy made me want to write that God's people are not God. God is love, even if believers act like animals sometimes.


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David Crowder is my other big muse. He makes me want to write because he gives me all the feels. When I had writer's block back in the Ashley Stockingdale days, I'd go to the beach and listen to this on my iPod. Remember those? This son with the waves in the background -- ahhh perfection! I found David Crowder at my church. He came for a concert. Man, those were the days!



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So...what kind of art do you create and who/what is your muse?


Mom, you're too excitable...

My kids used to tell me that often. I'm too excitable. Little things make me happy. I'm petty that way. I still love Disneyland and caramel apples like I was five. I get excited for double points day at Starbucks. I am what you'd call, basic. And I'm fine with that. Someone needs to be excited about the simple pleasures of life. Like the fantastic pedicure I had this week -- totally worth the mask!

So my son is in San Diego and this week, I told him, "Hey, you have to look for Big Ed from '90 Day Fiance' because he's hanging out at the restaurants in San Diego." My son and his wife have been working all through this quarantine and they live for a fancy meal out in downtown San Diego where they live. Well, people, the next day...the VERY next day, my daughter-in-law posts this to her SnapChat.


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I cannot tell you how happy this picture makes me. My daughter-in-law is nearly 6 feet tall and Big Ed is 4'11" so I don't imagine this was an easy shot to get either. But it literally made my week. "90 Day" is my crack. I watched all of them. I've force addicted my friends and family members to watch it so they can talk smack with me and it's been a saving grace during quarantine in my new state/home.

The one darker aspect is it really makes me want to move back to California. I miss all the action. I miss the extreme people watching. And it will be 118 degrees here this weekend so I may be turning into a snowbird and spending summers in my home state. However, not this summer. This summer, I'm finishing book two about Brinn Wentworth. : )


Edify!

"Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear." Ephesians 4:29

I'm starting over at 53. It's not easy to start up a career after years away and really, only knowing how to parent as a "job." My kids might tell you I wasn't that good at it either. LOL Four kids -- all with distinct personalities -- are not easy to raise. But no one is in jail. No one does drugs and all of them are functioning members of society. I call that a win!

Regardless, I wrote my first book in years. Writing is a public job -- which I hate because I'm an introvert. But here's the thing. As soon as you get a book or something up? Someone will try to tear you down. It's the nature of the beast I suppose, if you produce something, someone has nothing better to do than to rip it apart. I get that. I see Twitter on a daily basis. But here's the thing that has ALWAYS gotten to me. The Christian sites? They tend to be the worst and I do not get that. I do not get tearing another Christian apart because you feel entitled to some kind of godly opinion.

Today I read a horrifying story about a young man who used to be a Marine and a former college football player. He caught a baby thrown off the third floor of a burning building. The child was saved, but his mother sadly was not.

Reading the comments, there were lots that a $10 fire alarm would have saved the family. Seriously? This man is a hero. The mother is dead and that's what you get out of the story? The need to tear down people for a mistake that killed them? Maybe they didn't know their battery was dead. They were in an apartment, so it should have been the apartment owners' requirement to change the battery. At least in California. When I leased apartments, we changed the batteries twice a year. Does that help these people? No, it does not, so why say something so cruel? We've all made mistakes and most of us are simply fortunate that it didn't kill us. There, but for the grace of God, go I.

I think as the darkness of our current world descends, we need to be very careful about our words. We need to edify and build up because otherwise, we are part of the problem. Be the solution. Throw kindness like confetti. (A sign in my office.)


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Good rule of thumb: If you wouldn't say it to someone's face, don't say it on social media.


"Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone." Colossians 4:6

After attending a Bible study this morning via Zoom, I am moved by how hard it is in the world for many people right now. People separated from loved ones. Job losses. The ugliness out there in the world. This is a reminder not to contribute to the darkness. Let your words be light and rid yourself of judgment and condemnation. Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

It seems like there is no way to be out in the world or speak up on anything without facing the backlash of angry people who direct their vitriol at you. This makes me so sad. I was watching a show called "The Genetic Detective." This woman takes her love of genealogy and figured out how to find criminals from DNA matches and going back over time and pouring through census reports, etc., to find murders and rapists via their DNA from shared databases.

On one episode, she was getting ready to speak and she said, "Whenever you put yourself out there you open yourself to criticism." And she was nervous to speak.

Now as a writer, I know this. Lots of readers have come after me as an author rather than review the book, but I simply write stories. I was taken aback that anyone would go after someone like CeCe Moore. She's using her gift to find and capture murderers/rapists from cold cases up to 30 years old? For families who never thought they would have any closure. And yet, people have a problem with her? What the heck is wrong with people?


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What are these critics contributing to the world that they can so smugly bring people down who are out making a difference? Social media has become a curse of keyboard warriors who would never say to your face what they do on "Twitter." I'm guilty of it myself on "90 Day Fiance." Man, do I love that show and bravo to the brave people on it who put their hearts on the line and go after love with all they've got. Who am I to judge?

Anyway, I'm passing on the word. Think before you speak. Are you putting out gentleness to soften the harsh world or ramping up the darkness? Harsh words are no joke and I don't want to contribute to anyone's pain in this already dark time. Let's do better.


What NOT to post on #NextDoor

I'm beginning to hate this app. People are incredible jerks under the guise of being neighborly. Here are some examples:

1. Someone posts that they left their cars unlocked and it got broken into, so he's warning others to lock their doors.
Inevitably, some helpful soul posts, "I never leave my cars unlocked. That's not smart."
Yes, Einstein. That's why he's reminding you to lock your doors. Learn from his mistake. It's called being neighborly!

2. Someone posts they've had their catalytic converter stolen from their car that was parked in the driveway.
Helpful soul: "I always park my car in the garage. You should too."
Then, the original poster will tell the guy that his truck doesn't fit into the small garage.
To which the helpful soul replies, "Then you shouldn't have it. HOA states..."

3. Someone posts a pick from their doorbell app that shows a perpetrator stealing their packages.
Helpful soul: You shouldn't post someone's picture here publicly. Maybe they were taking the package to the right address.

4. Someone posts a picture of some sketchy dude ringing their doorbell and checking to see if the front door is unlocked.
Helpful soul: He probably just had the wrong address. I don't agree with you posting this.

The truth is, many people aren't neighborly and you can't expect an app to fix that. The wider you cast this net, the more jerks you're bound to pull in and that's what I've found NextDoor does.

I also find the app misogynistic because if a woman asks a DIY question, a man acts like she should know better and essentially calls her stupid. This has happened to me more than once and it really hurts my soul because what happened to chivalry? In my opinion, a man who will be so aggressive to a woman on an app has extreme personality issues. Mostly, it makes me grateful I'm not married to the guy and glad I can go to YouTube before I ever ask another question.

But I think it's an app I don't need in my life. The world is angry enough.


Preorder #RoomAtTheTop Today! https://amzn.to/2AYmYDR

My new book is finally available for preorder. It will be released on June 26, 2020. Here's the blurb for all you patient folk!

From the author of What a Girl Wants comes a funny and romantic new series that celebrates family and sisterhood, even when the relationship seems impossible.

Sophia Campelli likes the structure of her predictable life in a rundown Victorian house in the San Francisco neighborhood of North Beach. She’s always told herself her father can keep his wealth and his acknowledgement of her and her twin sister. She’s surrounded by her noisy but lovable Italian family, and that’s all she needs.

When she and Gia receive the news their fraternal grandfather has left them something in his will, they meet their three half-sisters for the first time—and receive the astounding news of a massive inheritance. But Sophia can’t celebrate yet, not when she and her sisters hear the conditions attached to the money. The “real” daughters loathe Sophia and Gia on sight—and the feeling is mutual. But they have to work together if any of them hope to inherit the obscene amount of money left to them. They must live together and restore the large mansion in Pacific Heights for an entire year. Otherwise the entire estate will go charity.

Gia tries to convince Sophia they have to walk away, but Sophia isn’t so sure. For once, their mother might get a chance to rest instead of working every minute. She could help a lot of families in her job as a social worker too. It’s tempting. And once she catches sight of Joel Edgerton, she can’t resist the temptation to get involved in her unwanted family.

The path to happily-ever-after is fraught with missteps and the treacherous waters of sisterly undercurrents. Can Sophia persevere when everyone seems to be against her, even her own twin?


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Kindle Link for Preorder


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The Paperback version will be coming shortly!
Edit: FYI, this is only on Kindle for now because "going wide" costs a writer money. And I have no money. Because I'm a writer. Whose name is not J.K. Rowling. ; )