Real Life Inspiration

Before I switch gears and turn my focus to my new book, Floating Loose, which is scheduled to be released on June 28, 2016, I wanted to do this post, which I’ve been meaning to do for a long time. I wanted to share a few pictures of some of the real life places that were inspirational in one way or another when I was writing Legacy of the Dog.

Picture the Donovan’s house on the left and the stable on the right. Plenty of space for everyone to park in between.

A view out across the field. Imagine grass instead of…are those soybeans? In the distance, the woods that they walk through to get to the stream.

When I began writing about the Donovan’s property, I was describing the way everyone came up the long drive and parked between the house and the stable, which were across the driveway from each other. As I was picturing it and doing my best to give a feel for it in words, I realized that the place I was describing was my cousin’s farm in Michigan. He’s a dairy farmer and also grows corn and soybeans, among other things. He and his family are completely awesome–some of my favorite people in the world! Once I realized that I was describing their property, it was fun to picture exactly how the Donovan’s property was arranged against that backdrop.


white hawk

Their town gets a name. White Hawk, Colorado

For my first two books, when I was choosing a place for the stories to occur, I first chose an area of the country. I went pretty specific and found actual spots on the map. And then I made up town names, which is a lot harder than it sounds. You’d be surprised how many of the town names you make up already exist. Give it a try sometime. For Legacy of the Dog, I chose Colorado, near the Rocky Mountains and then began the search for a name. In the end, I picked a name that had the feel I was looking for, which was sort of rugged and outdoorsy. It also happens to be the name of a country club in a neighboring town.

In the final scene of the story, when Ty and Jessie finally get a chance to be alone and talk, they go to a park with a small lake and a walking path. There are fountains in the lake and lots of trees and benches. And again, I was describing it before I realized that I had an actual place in my head. This park is two or three towns over from where I live, but it’s close to my brother’s house and I go by fairly frequently. I made a special trip over there the other day to take some pictures for this post.

Centennial Park 2

The park with the walking path and fountains.

Centennial Park 3

Where Ty and Jessie finally got things figured out between them.

Of course, whenever you read a story, you conjure up your own pictures in your mind of what everything looks like. Do these pictures look anything like what you pictured when you read it? If you haven’t read it, go ahead. You can get back to me when you’re finished. I’ll wait.   😀







Middle School Talent Show

Four or five years ago, my daughter decided to participate in the middle school talent show. She and a friend played the piano and did very well. I’m super proud of her for many reasons, but the main one is below.

First, let me tell you what any kind of public speaking/performance seems like to me.



This is actually just a bonfire, but I’m guessing it’s like this, only probably, like…bigger and more.

I don’t do any kind of public speaking or anything that resembles it in any way. Believe me, if you saw me trying, you’d be happy if I just sat back down. Why? Because I panic so hard that it’s just painful and uncomfortable for everyone. It’s just a bad scene. A huge NOPE.


Yeah…I don’t think so.

Therefore, anyone who participates in something like this is already Superman/Wonder Woman in my book. Add to that the fact that these were kids…KIDS…no older than fourteen. Suffice to say, I was impressed before I even entered the building.

But then there was this one girl in particular. She was introduced and came out onto the stage to sing her song. She started with a small, cracking voice and quickly made a mistake. She panicked and left the stage. A moment later, the vice principal came out and said that she was going to come back and try again later and he introduced the next act.

Boy, could I feel for that girl. She was me and I was her. Except that I wouldn’t have gotten up there in the first place. I thought…poor thing, we won’t see her again tonight.

singing with mic on fire

This isn’t her, but it was like this…with the microphone on fire and everything.

But she did come back out a few acts later. She started tentatively again, but then found her groove and nailed her song. I was blown away by the courage it took to come back out on the stage a second time, in front of everyone. And by the applause, I wasn’t the only one who saw it that way. I wanted to go up to her and hug her and tell her how great she did. But I didn’t know her so…you know…creepy.

This is my shout-out to all you public speakers and performers of any sort. God bless you guys. You’re amazing. I’d hug you, but…you know…creepy.



It’s About To Get Sappy Up In Here

For this post, let me open with my closing lines.

I am grateful for you.

I appreciate you.

I love you guys!

Tomorrow is the release of my first book – Legacy of the Dog. I may have mentioned it in passing. Once or twice, maybe. (Wink, wink. Because really I’ve mentioned it a LOT, but you knew that.) It’s a huge milestone for me. It was 39 months ago that I sat down in front of my computer to try my hand at this writing thing.

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My New BFF, David Sedaris

* To those of you who already know David Sedaris – you’re going to love him even more. To those of you who don’t – you’re welcome.

My sister and I had the great pleasure of seeing author David Sedaris in person last night. One of the stops on his book tour was just outside Chicago and we were there with bells on – his #1 fans!

He did an hour of book signing prior to the show, as well as afterward. As his #1 fans, it was appropriate that we be at the early signing. When the doors opened and everyone clamored to secure a spot in line, we ended up somewhere around 20th, maybe 25th. I didn’t count. While we waited, we struck up a conversation with the couple behind us. The guy, as it turned out, was David Sedaris’s #1 fan. After talking with him for a few minutes we decided that he did, in fact, deserve the title slightly more than we did and we became David’s #2 fans.

After a while, I checked my watch, concerned that the line hadn’t moved much. I leaned to the side to see what the holdup was. It was, of course, people. People who were talking to David for too long.

“They need to get a wrangler,” I said to my sister, “so they can tell people to hurry up and get moving.”

Continue reading My New BFF, David Sedaris

Breaking the A$$ Out of the Spider


When my kids were little, our birthday tradition always included a pinata. Half of the fun was picking it out, half was filling it and half was beating the crap out of it. (If you did the math…yes, it was always 50% more fun than we even expected!)

(Not this pinata)


For one of these parties, we had a spider pinata. Don’t know why. We don’t have any birthdays around Halloween or any good explanation like that. We just had a spider. A couple of days before the party, my three-year-old daughter informed me that she intended to “break the a$$ out of the spider.”

spider pinata(But this one)




Okay, you caught me. We use a little salty language at our house. And yes, my three-year-old said a$$. (I suppose I could say ass, but a$$ seems more ladylike.)

Continue reading Breaking the A$$ Out of the Spider