Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Hippoty Hoppity Bloggity

Becoming Beauty is weeks from its release date! I'm living in a constant state of crazy ecstasy waiting for the blog tour, the release, and my book launch. However, while I'm twiddling my thumbs (not really), I'm happy to have the Blog Hop to distract me.

The baton was passed to me by the illustrious and incomparable Jo Ann Schneider (a.k.a. The Ninja Novelist). Jo writes a little bit of everything, from sassy Super Secret Agents to YA Sci-Fi/Fantasy, all of which is amazing, engaging, and fun. Pop over to her website to learn more about her. You won't regret it, she's hilarious.

Anyway, Jo invited me to participate in the Blog Hop and chat about myself and my current projects. And what writer would say no to that? (Also, saying no to Jo can be bad for your health. For a petite blonde, she packs a punch.) So, off we go!

What are you working on?
My current work in progress, like Becoming Beauty, is a twist on a fairytale classic. Twelve Dancing Princesses is less well known than Beauty and the Beast, but its story is nonetheless endearing. Recreating a tale about twelve sisters required the development of twelve distinct personalities (okay, eleven, because my identical twins are so identical no one can tell them apart). As you might imagine, this creates some interesting family dynamics. I consider Twelve my ensemble cast piece. The entire tale is told from a man's perspective. (I figured growing up with five brothers made me uniquely qualified for this project.) 

Here's a truly beautiful version of the traditional tale:
If I send some of you scurrying to bookshelves, libraries, or Google to familiarize yourself with the original tale, I'm happy!  Fairytales are powerful!

How does that differ from other works in the genre?
In life and literature, I always put a unique spin on things. In my stories, I'm adamant about creating a realistic setting where events in the story might have occurred. In the traditional fairytale--and in most of the rewrites I've read--the twelve princesses escape their father's watchful eye via magic to dance the night away in a fantastical underground land. However, in my tale, the sisters rely on their own wits to get out from under their father's thumb. Gifting the girls with the brains, sass, and sneakiness necessary to achieve this task was a lot of fun.

I added another element to the tale by expanding upon the kinship between Jonas (narrator/assistant to the head gardener) and Braden (obnoxious upstart/under gardener). There's something else concerning these two that's new, but *SPOILERS* you'll have to learn about that yourselves when it's released.

Why do you write what you write?
Quite simply, I'm a fairytale junkie. Since my girlhood I have been obsessed with all things fairytale, and after years of devouring Once Upon a Times, I crafted my own original fairy story in my teen years and I have never looked back. To read more about my obsession with fairytales and all things dorky, read Fan Fiction & Fairytales or Embracing the Fangirl Within where I explore these topics in more detail.

What's your writing process?
I admire writers who plot everything out beforehand. They have well-developed characters listed name, trait, and prominence in a character bible, an outline of events that will transpire in a specific sequence, and carefully plotted story and character arcs before they even sit down to write the first sentence.

I'll be honest. I only learned what half of those things meant after I landed my publishing contract. I'm the writer who sketches out characters and develops a basic idea. Then, I fly with it. I let the characters lead me where they will. This means that sometimes I write myself into a corner and have to delete or rewrite, but it also means that cool things pop up mid-story that I never would have expected. At the beginning, I'll never be able to tell you exactly what journey I'm sending my characters on, but I guarantee you'll have as much fun reading it as I did writing it.

That's it, my friends! Now I get to pass the baton to Misty Dawn Pulsipher, author of the modern Austenian classics Pride's Prejudice and Persuaded. Can't wait to see what she's working on!

* * *

To read more about Twelve, peruse Interlude in the Rose Garden featuring Jonas and Ariela, the eldest of the Twelve daughters. Following the links at the bottom of the post will send you to more excerpts of Twelve.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


Happy Halloween my lovelies! This picture seriously creeps me out. But if dolly had one chunk of hair left tied with a dodgy little bow, she'd be exactly what I pictured for Nanny's companion. 

And on that delightful note, on to the finale!

Creepy Old Ladies & Dolls
Part Three

                A hand patted his cheek. “Ben!” The urgency in the voice pulled him from the darkness that held him captive. “Ben, please wake up!” 
                The scent of her, homey and honey sweet, wafted over him. But the comforting aroma was tinged with something else. Smoke?  But his mother didn’t…Then it came to him. The fire. His eyes popped open to see his mother bent over him, her face twisted with concern. Red and blue lights flashed behind her.
                “Oh thank heavens!” she said, throwing her arms around him. “What happened?”
                Ben tried to piece things back together again. The interchange with the old woman. The doll.  The fire.  He pushed the words out. "Did she get out all right?"    
            “Who?” his mother asked, the concern deepening the faint lines around her eyes.“Was there someone with you?”
                “The woman...” he faltered.  “The old woman upstairs.”
                Her frown grew more grim, the look in her eyes a mixture of pity and worry.  “There was no one upstairs.”
                Ben wanted to explain what he meant, but his head was pounding so hard he could barely think. Something niggled at the back of his mind. Had his parents ever really referred to the old woman? He remembered thinking of her often throughout the years and longing to ask questions.  But every time he had brought her up, his parents changed the subject, always with that same concerned expressions.
                “The doll,” he muttered dazedly, looking around for it.
                “Do you mean this old thing?” His mother brought forward the tattered doll, pinching its pigtail between two fingers.
                “She...” he hesitated, unsure how his mother might react. “She called herself a nanny. She threw the doll out the attic window before she broke the lamp and started the fire.” 
                His mother glanced up at the narrow attic windows, the color draining from her face. Ben propped himself up and followed her gaze. Obviously, the fire had been contained quickly, but the shattered, blackened window testified of what had transpired.
                The next words out of his mother's mouth were so faint he barely heard them. “Nanny West,” she said softly.
                “Nanny West?” he repeated.
                His mother's eyes—fear flickering behind them—fixed on him. “When you were born, I was too ill to care for you, so we found a nursemaid. Her name was Isabel West.” She looked down at the doll still pinched between her fingers and laid it gingerly in her lap. “She was quite elderly, but she was a wonder with children and seemed particularly taken with you. When I recovered enough to take care of you, she became resentful and jealous.” Ben's mother fidgeted for a moment, smoothing the doll's dress and straightening the hair bow. Finally she lifted her eyes to meet Ben's again. “Her emotions became so erratic we were afraid of what she might do...take you away or harm you in some way.”
                “So you sent her away?” His mother confirmed the guess with a grim nod.
                It fit perfectly with what the old woman had said. Except for one thing. “Then why has she been living in our attic for all this time?”
                “She hasn’t.” Her voice wavered, devoid of its usual strength. “Isabel West has been dead for fifteen years.” 
                Shock ran through him like lightening. Ben turned his gaze back to the attic window.
                His mother cupped his cheek to draw his attention and he refocused on her face. 
                “All those times you told us you heard something upstairs, we didn’t believe you. We thought it was nothing more than an overactive imagination,” she explained.  “I never believed in ghosts, but if there was ever a woman determined to protect a child, it was Nanny West.”
                The statement hung in the air, worming its way more into Ben’s mind with each passing second.
                “How did she die?” he asked.
                His mother took a deep breath and released it slowly. “After she left us, she refused to take another job.  She retired to a small cottage on the outskirts of town, barricaded herself inside, and refused to see anyone.  One day they found her, dead in her own bed. Apparently she’d overdosed on something and passed away in the night.”
                “What about that?”  Ben nodded toward the doll sprawled in his mother's lap.
                “It was with her when she died,” she said, pressing her lips together, as if it that was all she would say on the matter.
                Ben narrowed his eyes, willing her to put into words whatever she had held back.  
                She dropped his gaze, shame creasing across her brow.  In a voice so small Ben barely heard it, she said the one thing that would haunt him for the rest of his life. 
                “It was buried with her.”
* * *
Thanks for reading! I'll admit I hate horror but I love suspense and mystery. A special thanks goes out to my dad for introducing me to both Alfred Hitchock and The Three Investigators and for my five brothers who regularly scared the pants off of me. Sometimes literally.

Did you get scared? I'd love to hear what you think! Read Parts One and Two again!  

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Meet the Author!

The time has come! That moment writers dreams of while they're waiting to hear from their publishers when they've submitted yet another draft: Launch Day.

Becoming Beauty Launch Party
Saturday, November 15, 2014
1:00-4:00 PM
Barnes & Noble
1780 N 1000 W, Layton Utah

Posters and bookmarks have been ordered and venues have been booked. The only thing left to do is show up looking adorable and greet my fans!

For more information on upcoming events, visit the Events page. I'll keep it updated for you!

Thanks for stopping by! I hope to be able to celebrate Becoming Beauty's release with you!

* * *

P.S. I can't wait to put on a cute outfit, pretty up my hair and makeup, and sit behind a table to greet readers. And yes, I already know what I'm wearing!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


Generally, dusty attics just make me sneeze and itch. However, dark attics featuring crazy old ladies your parents refuse to talk about are super duper creepy. We seem to have left our hero Ben in that very situation.  So without any further ado, I present:

Creepy Old Ladies & Dolls
Part Two

              “Excuse me,” Ben tried again, but the old woman either couldn’t hear him or wasn’t paying attention.  Taking a couple of steps closer, he spoke the words again, this time more loudly.
                With a flash of sparse teeth and black eyes, she turned on him.  “What is it you want, Benjamin?” 
                Startled, he took a step back.
                “Would you like to kiss the baby?” she asked, thrusting the bundle clutched in her claw-like fingers up at him.  The thing, which had at one point been a porcelain doll, goggled up at him with one unblinking eye, the other socket standing empty.  The grimy doll, dressed in a tattered gown, had lost all of its hair except for a patch on the right side, which was tied with a ragged bow.
                “Isn’t she beautiful?” the woman asked, her voice gruff, but with an edge of tenderness. Not waiting for him to agree, she pressed the doll back to her sunken bosom and recommenced rocking and cooing.
                Gathering his wits, Ben voiced the question that was bothering him most. “Who are you?”
                Keeping her gaze on the doll, the old woman’s wrinkled mouth cracked into a wry yellow-toothed grin. “Don’t you remember anything, Benjamin?”
​               He searched his memory for a hint of who she might be, some shred of lost memory, but nothing came to mind.
​               “I suppose you were too small,” her eyes narrowed, glinting like black glass in the light, before she returned her attention to the doll. “But one doesn’t forget a child she has held to her breast.”
                Ben was taken aback.  He was repulsed by the notion but at the same time he struggled to grasp her meaning. She left him little time to ponder.
               “No! No! No!” she punctuated each ‘No’ by banging the doll's head on the arm of the rocker. Then she shook a gnarled finger in the doll's mangled face. “No biting!” she finished, before pushing it back against her chest with more force than necessary.
                It was clear that she thought of the doll as real child, and if that was so, Ben didn't want to know if he had been acquainted with her in his childhood. He contemplated hurrying downstairs and blocking the attic access so she couldn't get out, but she had already turned her attention back to him, pinning him in place with her sharp eyes.
            “That's right, my boy, you too were comforted by these hands and cradled in these arms.” It was the same tender tone she'd used on the doll before she’d tried to bash its head in.
              Escape was sounding better and better. She could thump away to her heart's content, as long as he didn't have to spend another second in her presence.
            “You've forgotten your old nanny, haven't you?”  The softness drained from her tone.  “I'm nothing but a stranger to you, now.” The wrinkled mouth pulled into a cruel sneer before she continued. “After all I did for this family, all I sacrificed for you and your mother, they left me here to rot with only Dolly for company.”  She turned her cold gaze on the dilapidated toy in her arms. “It's not enough anymore!” She screamed, pitching the doll directly at Ben's head. He dodged just in time, the doll careening past him to crash head first through the nearest window. Glass tinkled to the floor while Dolly spun through the air to land in a twisted heap on the ground. Paralyzed, Ben could only stare down at the toy, stunned by the old woman's rage.
            Ragged nails digging into his arm brought him to his senses. Her surprisingly strong hand tightened around his bicep. "Now that my own child is returned to me, what need have I for a half-blind doll?" She yanked at him, trying to tow him back to the rocking chair. Ben didn't care if he was six foot two and almost out of his teens, he admitted that he was well and truly frightened of this woman.  With a panicked yank, he pulled his arm from her grasp, the nails raking his skin as the momentum flung her small form across the room as easily as a ragdoll. Ben watched in horror as her head struck a nearby upended trunk with a dull crack.
                “What have you done?” she screamed, lurching drunkenly to her feet, a trickle of blood starting at her temple. “Wicked, wicked boy!” 
                Ben didn't wait to see what damage had been done, but hurried to the stairs.
                “I knew you'd come to no good!” she shrieked, scooping up the lantern and holding it aloft.  The dim light flickered over her face, revealing the mad expression painted there.  With a roar, she threw it to the ground. The glass shattered, the oil puddling at her feet and bursting into flame. Horrified, Ben watched the fire lap eagerly at the ragged hem of the woman's dress. 
            Screaming in fury, she launched herself at Ben. He staggered backward, half tumbling down the stairs and landing on his backside at the bottom. His foot caught on the last step, and fighting to free it, he inadvertently kicked the stairs upward.  The door shutting between them, he caught his last glimpse of the old woman, her face twisted in rage and her mouth forming a bloodcurdling scream as the flames engulfed her.

                Fear propelled him out of the house. Reaching the front lawn, he turned to see flickering flames in the upstairs windows.  He tried to catch his breath and reclaim his common sense, and after a moment, his mind clicked into action.  No matter how mad the woman was, he couldn’t let her die.  Sprinting for the closest neighbor, his toe caught on something. Tripping, he sprawling onto the ground striking his head on the concrete walkway when he fell.  As his vision closed to black, the woman's screams ringing in his ears, he saw what had caused him to fall.  Dolly, something like a sneer spread across her cracked face, stared at him out of her one good eye.
* * *

I really hate dolls. Especially old dolls with that creepy old doll smell. Ick. But you might have guessed that already. Tune in next week for the thrilling conclusion! (I've always wanted to say that!) Here it is: Part Three of COLD. And feel free to revisit Part One of COLD. Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, October 9, 2014


In honor of scare-yourself-silly month, I present an excerpt from one of my Halloween shorts. I wove some of my primal fears into it, so hopefully it creeps you out. At least a little.
Creepy Old Ladies & Dolls
Part One

               Ben turned the TV volume up to the level his mother referred to as an “unholy racket.”  It made no difference.  Nothing could cover the sound. 
                 Thump. Thump. Thump.
               The movie on the screen, a healthy mix of murder and mayhem, was less disconcerting than that rhythm repeating over and over.  It burrowed into his brain until it felt as if his mind might crack.  Glancing up at the ceiling, he noted the gentle swaying of the light fixture in conjunction with the banging. 
                Why tonight of all nights?  For the first time in forever, he was on his own.  His parents, dressed as Sonny and Cher, had left over an hour ago. 
                “Everything will be fine,” his mother assured him, planting a sloppy kiss on his forehead and smearing her lipstick.  “The candy’s by the door for the trick-or-treaters, ” she said, reaching the door.  “Call if you need anything, hon.”
             Before she was out the door, he’d formulated a plan: First, wipe off the greasy kiss. Second, switch off the porch light to dissuade trick-or-treaters. Third, pop in a horror flick. And fourth, consume all the goodies. 
                His mother was to blame. She knew Snickers was his favorite. 
                His plan had gone swimmingly. The movie had just reached the good bit—the chainsaw going at full-tilt and dismembered limbs flying every which way—when the noise began.  It had been low at first, perhaps nothing more than tree limbs rustling against the window, or a sprinkler hitting the side of the house before moving on.  But the night was still and windless and the sprinklers wouldn’t come on until early morning. 
                That only left one explanation.  It had to be her.
                Setting aside the half empty bowl of fun-size candy bars, Ben looked up at the ceiling.  They never talked about the old woman upstairs.  Maybe because his mother knew how uncomfortable the subject made him.  All the same, he wished he knew more about the person whose presence brooded over them like a black cloud. 
                Well, he thought, listening to the continuous thumping, I guess it’s time to meet the neighbors.
                Sternly reminding himself that he was six foot two and a buck ninety and had no reason to be frightened of little old ladies, he made his way to the hallway where the sound was louder.  Squaring his shoulders, he reached for the handle to lower the attic steps.  Cool, musty, air rushed over him as the steps unfolded.  With his nostrils full of a scent somewhere between moldy laundry and ancient dust, Ben placed one foot on the bottom stair and began to ascend the steps.  The thumping had abated at the creaking of the hinges, but now it resumed.  
                The room was long and narrow with a peaked ceiling lined with naked beams.   The only real light filtered through four narrow windows from the streetlamps outside.  Pausing at the top of the steps, Ben let his eyes adjust and glanced around at the lumpy piles of refuse scattered about.  Even taking shallow breaths, the scent was noticeably stronger here.  Almost overpowering.
                There in the far corner, bathed in the brightest band of light, stood his mother’s broken rocking chair.  Facing away from him, it moved, seemingly of its own accord, to the strange rhythm.  The bottom of one the front legs and the rocker attached to it had cracked off when he’d over exuberantly leaped into his mother’s lap as a stout ten-year-old.  The chair had been a family heirloom, and his mother had been so saddened by the loss that his father had promised to fix it.  When it proved unmendable, it had been relegated to the attic instead.  The sound, he now realized, was caused by the broken leg striking the floor every time the chair rocked forward. 
                Swallowing, he called out a nervous, “Hello?”  He grimaced when his voice cracked on the second syllable.  
                No reply—other than the continual thumping—returned his greeting.  Cautiously, he made his way around the chair to the nearest window, keeping a good five feet between himself and the rocker.  The light fell fully on the seat of the chair, revealing a small form perched there.  A guttering lantern—emitting much less light than the streetlamps—sat beside her on the floor.  Tangled white hair concealed her face.  Her bony frame was dressed in filthy rags.  She emitted an odd cooing, something between a grumble and a lullaby, aimed at whatever was cradled in her arms.
                “Excuse me,” Ben tried again, but the old woman either couldn’t hear him or wasn’t paying attention.  Taking a couple of steps closer, he spoke the words again, this time more loudly.
                With a flash of sparse teeth and wild black eyes, she turned on him.  “What is it you want, Benjamin?”

* * *

Thanks for visiting! Read Part Two and Part Three if you dare! 

Need something else to read? If you're interested in any more story excerpts, try Barbie's Dream Boat, Interlude in the Rose Garden, Just a Taste, or Woman: The Most Dangerous PlaythingHappy reading!


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

I'm Too Old For...

Creaky joints, no energy, exercise is a chore, and feeding myself is a pain in the neck.  Basically, my life makes me feel like an old lady.  Or, you know, this guy.
There are days when I complain of my old lady issues.  I hear myself saying things like: I can feel that storm a-coming. As if I can sense it in my bones or like my rheumatism is kicking in. And I haven't even hit forty yet. 

Pathetic, right?

The truth is my life is stretched between two worlds. In the pays-the-mortgage world, I chase after kindergartners every day and remind them not to leave the bathroom door open because no one wants to see their naked bodies. (I have actually used that line so many times that I've lost count.) In my writerly world, I have sole control of the remote, laptop, and iPad for research purposes. Sometimes I'm too darn worn out to care about anything else. There are many things that at one point in my life I may have considered doing, but these days I'm accepting that it just ain't happening. Probably ever.
10 Things I Will Never Do:
  1. Skydiving. Really? You get it wrong once and...
  2. Climbing Mt. Everest or basically anything tall and/or cold. Having no access to my jammies, blankies,  and my Vicks Vapo Rub anytime after 5 p.m. is a deal breaker.
  3. Learn a foreign language. Yeah, been there, done that. No quiero. 
  4. Watch Dumb and Dumber, Dumb and Dumberer, or Dumb and Dumber To. I can actually hear myself getting stupider.
  5. Redecorate. Who has the energy? Aren't doilies and pastel pink ruffled throw pillows always in style?
  6. Go on a reality TV show. If the options are being a bachelorette, making pretentious cupcakes, or being roommates with someone as emotionally developed as a five-year-old, I'll pass.
  7. Wear skinny jeans and/or leggings as pants. Just NO. (Leather/pleather pants are also verboten.)
  8. Ride a scooter/moped. Really? They sound like a weedwacker. Is that supposed to make it more or less butch?
  9. Stay up/out all night. It turns out sleep is basically more important than anything else.
  10. Participate in any female wrestling opportunities. Mud or no, fully clothed or not, it's just not me. And ew.
It's a relief to admit that there are some things I'm not game for anymore, even though there are plenty of things I love doing. For Instance, I'm a huge fan of playgrounds, rollerskates, and spending my days with people who appreciate potty humor. And if you ever need someone to help you consume an entire package of bacon, I'm your girl.

Anyone else have a Never Gonna Happen Bucket List? I'd love to hear about it. Leave me a comment!