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

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.


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!


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.


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. : )


"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.)


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?


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!

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?


Kindle Link for Preorder


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. ; )

I Finished My Book! -- It Takes a Village!

All right, so I know I've finished 40 books before, but this one...this one is special! I've been working on it for over five years, but life kept getting in the way and I didn't have time/energy to finish it. I feel like this book is a group effort because honestly, without my friends urging me from behind and lighting a fire under me, it would have never gotten finished.

Have you ever needed an extra push in life to do what you're supposed to? It's annoying as heck to be that person. I'm sure I annoyed everyone within my stratosphere. But it's done. It's already been through one edit and it's onto the second with a reader. Let me just give you an example of how my friends made this happen.

Colleen Coble read anything I'd send her, bought me a cover and helped me edit.
Cheryl Hodde (Hannah Alexander) wrote with me every single day with timed writing sprints and also read anything I sent her.
Jenny B. Jones wrote with us when little man Sullivan allowed AND offered to format the book.

I could go on and on with offers I've had to simply do what a writer is supposed to do: WRITE! However, sometimes it isn't that easy.

I'm an author who writes intuitively, which means essentially when the world is blowing up, I want to stop and pray. Mostly, for people to act decently and upright. How hard is that, people? Do the right thing! But when they don't, it affects me, and writing humor is more difficult. But I don't want to be a downer, so I immerse myself in things that make me laugh.

Yvonne Orji has a new HBO standup show and it's hysterical. I don't remember if it's brash in places, but I'm sure as the star of "Insecure" it probably is -- all I know is she made me laugh and I needed that. She's really brilliant, so her comedy is smart and on point -- I didn't know Nigerians were really into education, but the one Nigerian family I knew? Both girls went to Harvard Medical school so whatever is in that water over there? We need to import some and make ourselves some doctors. Maybe that's aiming too high. How about fewer idiots perhaps?

Speaking of which -- 90 Day Fiance: Before the 90 Days. Seriously, what would quarantine be without this show? I don't even want the answer to that question because other people's bad decisions? I'm sorry, but they're entertaining. I mean, let's look at the current season of 90 Day Fiance: The Other Way. Why wouldn't you want to be a sexy Instagram model who loves a pair of booty shorts and a push-up bra and move to Muslim Jordan for a guy? I mean, really, what could possibly go wrong?


I only have one friend that watches this show and so I'm relegating to Twitter when I watch it. Why? What's wrong, people? How do you not know this is the best entertainment on television? If you've ever been afraid of joining a dating site, this show will terrify you. It will make you love on your dog and count your blessings. The guy above, David, is a single man who lives in Las Vegas and has a lot of money to spend on Ukrainian websites. His anger scares me. Like for real. He once yelled at his friend's wife who was trying to help him and if I was that gal's husband? I'd have clocked him. At the same time, I admire David's fortitude. He loves Lana and he's not listening to the haters.

"90 Day Fiance" is the perfect reminder that none of us are perfect and God bless these people for sharing their boldness as they venture into new worlds most of us only dream of!

After all that rambling. My book is done. "Room at the Top" should be ready within the next week. I'll be sending out a newsletter to my readers, who probably think I'm dead -- but thanks to the work of very good friends, I am not. And I finished a book.

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.