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Kingston Court Release Date

Kinston Court’s official release date is only two and half weeks away!!!  September 10th. I’m as nervous as a cat on a hot tin roof and as excited as if it were my first Christmas. I’ll be adding buttons to this website between now and then that will link to some of the many places Kingston Court will be available for purchase including: Amazon, Kindle, Nook, Barnes & Noble.com, ITunes, Kobo, and more.

Kingston Court Cover

 

Thank you so much for all of your continued support in my book journey!!!

 

Leap of Faith

About two years ago I made the incredibly difficult choice to reinvent my life, to take an uncharted path away from predictable routines and a well-mapped future. As I have mentioned in previous blogs, I had financial security, a beautiful home, healthy children, and cute pets. Why rock the boat? Why listen to the deeper ache or confront what lay beneath the surface?

At the time, change felt terrifying and reckless. I woke each morning with a tight knot in my stomach and acid reflux burning my throat. After asking for a separation, I feared for my children’s well-being and worried I might fall into so much despair I wouldn’t be able to function. If that happened, I might as well have stayed where I was.

Shortly after moving back “home” to San Diego and renting an apartment for just my boys and I, I stumbled upon a framed print in a going out of business section of a boutique. It depicted a beautiful woman with roses in her hair and butterfly wings. It read I Choose Hope.

I choose hope

In spite of a tight budget, I bought the seriously discounted picture and hung it on my bedroom wall. I wanted something more for myself and the people I loved, and I was taking steps to make that happen. I was that woman in the picture. I was choosing hope.

Today, in this particular moment, I feel like Hope won. My ex is living with a smart, ambitious woman who truly gets him and inspires him. I have a man in my life who I would chose spending time with over John Mayer and every other celebrity I’ve ever crushed on (Keanu Reeves and Javier Bardem are totally crying right now that they can’t have me).

Most important, my children have adjusted to their shifted reality and truly appreciate the new people in their life. We are all proving that a nuclear family, society’s ideal, can change for the greater good and still grow emotionally and spiritually stronger.

I am days away from closing escrow on my very own home, one week away from starting another school year with my boys as a single mom, and less than a month away from releasing my first novel, Kingston Court, into the atmosphere.

Life is messy and complicated. What shows incredible promise today could end in failure or disappointment. The Vegas house could be more square footage and responsibility than I can handle, the boys may need more from me than I can give, my book could be ridiculed or ignored, nothing but a huge waste of time.

There’s a scene I adore from an old Steve Martin movie, Parenthood.

Steve Martin’s character, Gil, is complaining to his wife about his crazy life. Grandma wanders into the room.

PARENTHOOD

 

Grandma: You know, when I was nineteen, Grandpa took me on a roller coaster.

Gil: Oh?

Grandma: Up, down, up, down. Oh what a ride!

Gil: What a great story. (extreme sarcasm)

Grandma: I always wanted to go again. You know, it was just so interesting to me that a ride could make me so frightened, so scared, so sick, so excited, and so thrilled all together! Some didn’t like it. They went on the merry-go-round. That just goes around. Nothing. I like the roller coaster. You get more out of it.

I agree, and I’m taking a leap of faith in betting it will all work out.

 

Chameleon

There’s a new Sci-Fi book waiting to entertain you! K.T. Hanna has just released her debut novel, Chameleon, The Domino Project Book 1.

KT Hanna cover

What’s it about? It follows a mysterious woman named Sai and her newly awoken psionic powers that accidentally destroy her apartment complex. She’s immediately thrown into an intensive training program. Her only options are pass or die.  K.T. Hanna, a transplant to the U.S. from Australia, is a bit of a foreigner herself in a strange new world. I emailed back and forth with her recently to find out more about her must read story:

K.T. Hanna

K.T. Hanna

 

Holly: OK, K.T., let’s get straight to it, what the heck is psionic power?

K.T.:      Psionic power is mind powers, or power of the mind. I used to play a type of Dungeons and Dragons called Rift – and my favorite character in there was a psionic. It’s related to psychic powers and the paranormal. Like suggestion. In my book I take it to extreme levels, like sinking into someone’s mind and reading their minds, manipulating their thoughts, right through to the manipulation, through the other person’s brainwaves of bodily functions like healing and harming.

Holly: Sounds intense! What inspired you to write this story?

K.T.:   Mind magic has always fascinated me. From simple empathic tendencies, through to Phoenix and Jean Grey in the X-men. This book is a combination of 2 previous ones. I tried to take the best of both worlds.

 

Holly: What a cool concept. As a fellow new author, I have to ask, what is your biggest fear in releasing your first book?

K.T.:   To be honest? That no one will read it. Because seriously, we write to bring our worlds to life, and it’s already alive for me. So my biggest fear would be for no one else to get to experience the world I love so much.

 

Holly: I can totally relate to your fear. It’s one thing for people to say bad things about your book, but that they won’t bother to read it all? … Yikes! OK, change of subject, how does your real life inspire you?

K.T.:   I have a 2.5 year old who just makes me believe in living for every day. And if I don’t pursue my dreams, how is that a good example for her. And my husband and his belief in me are pretty amazing too.

 

Holly: When and where do you write?

K.T.:   I write in a total binge a few times a year in my pretty office that hubs set up for me. It’s away from all noises and distractions and has a beach and lighthouse theme. You know, because being from Brisbane, Australia and living in Kansas – I miss the water.

 

Holly: Last question, give us your best pitch, why should people read Chameleon?

K.T.:   Hmmm. Because no one is ever perfect, and my characters have flaws and real struggles within themselves and their relationships with others and the world. Or I’d like to think they do.

It’s a kick ass world. There are aliens, privatized government, double agents, perpetrated lies, controlling drugs that become psychedelic if people with the wrong genetic makeup take them… It’s a big world, a post-post apocalyptic future in the wake of a meteor eco-disaster that alters earth’s atmosphere and shorelines.

 

That’s the book. I hope the story speaks for itself.

 

Holly: Thanks so much for all of your time K.T. I know a lot people are definitely GOING to read this book. Better yet, they will get all swooped up in your dynamic world and be waiting with baited breath for Book 2.

To order a copy for yourself, check out KT’s website or click here.

Almost Finished … Vegas Baby!

The Vegas house is almost done, the VEGAS HOUSE is almost DONE. That’s all there is to say.  Here’s a picture diary:

On our way to see the house!

On our way to see the house!

 

Checking out the backyard first. My favorite part.

Checking out the backyard first. My favorite part.

 

Yay! The flooring is all finished.

Yay! The flooring is finished.

 

Kitchen is almost complete

Kitchen is almost complete

 

Upstairs all done

Upstairs all done

 

Climbed the mesa in celebration - Wahoo!

Climbed the mesa in celebration – Wahoo! (Can you spot the two children at the top?)

Autism – Just Add Water

marzo rail grab

Living with Asperger’s is like living without your skin. You are fully exposed, raw and vulnerable to the world.

Affectionately know as Aspie’s to those who love them, Asperger’s syndrome includes those who rate low (meaning high-functioning) on the autism scale. Aspie’s are much more sensitive to sounds, light, taste and touch than the average Joe. Even more challenging, they are socially blind…they don’t pick up on the social nuances, like someone crossing their arms or taking a small step backwards means they don’t like what you just said. It’s extremely hard to make and keep friends when you can’t read facial expressions and you have no idea you’ve just said something “wrong.”

Clay Marzo, the star of the new book, Just Add Water: A surfing Savant’s Journey With Asperger’s, knows all about this.  Though he is known as the best freestyle surfer in the world, Clay struggled most of his life with undiagnosed Asperger’s syndrome. Clay’s story makes for a surprisingly entertaining beach read and his rise to the top is beyond inspiring.

Clay Marzo Book

Another reason to read his riveting story….autism affects 1 in every 68 children. We will ALL be touched by autism in some way.

I recently exchanged emails with my writer friend, Robert Yehling, who co-wrote Just Add Water, alongside Clay. Here’s what he had to say:

Robert Yehling

Robert Yehling

 

HOLLY: Robert, what led you to write this story?

ROBERT: This story came to me. I was having dinner with my sweetheart, Martha Halda, and my good friend Mitch Varnes when Mitch brought up the idea of a book on Clay. Mitch has been Clay’s manager for almost 10 years. I was a little unsure at first, only because memoirs from surfers don’t tend to do well commercially, but when Mitch and Martha started talking about Clay’s Asperger’s and the challenges of parenting an autistic kid, I realized this book had to be written.

HOLLY: Once you got started, what surprised you most?

ROBERT: Clay’s remarkable wisdom when it comes to the ocean, his view of the world, and working with autistic kids. He is a loving and caring man who can fully express it at times, which in my experience is unusual on the spectrum. I expected emotional coolness and aloofness, but instead, he was warm and kind quite often. Quiet, but warm and kind. The other surprise is that he was a good writer when he was a kid; his stories from grade school are outstanding (we ran one in the book). While we were driving around Maui, the digital recorder rolling, he said to me, ‘You know what’s cool about working on this book? I feel like I did when I used to write all the time. It’s nice to feel like that again.’

HOLLY: I totally agree with your observations about Clay being warm and kind. The Aspie’s I’ve met are some of the sweetest, most loving people I know. That they can’t connect with others is such a misconception. For many of them, they want and need friends more than anything else. That said, what in your opinion, was Clay’s biggest challenge?

ROBERT: Clay’s biggest challenge is reading facial and social cues, like most with Asperger’s. It frustrates him, but he’s learned to ask someone he trusts to help him interpret facial expressions. His other lifelong challenge concerns serious anxiety issues. They have already deeply affected his professional surfing career, making competition very difficult for him. He gets anxious with just a few surfers in the water, so he often paddles off and surfs alone. Plus, he doesn’t do well in dog-eat-dog environments, which a pro surfing contest certainly is. He feels the same in any crowded restaurant, at airports, around people he doesn’t know… he will always be challenged by this.

HOLLY: How does he overcome that challenge?

ROBERT: Clay’s tendency in any situation like this is to go off by himself, or play with his dog. He also has a great one-two support team, his mother, Jill, and girlfriend, Jade Barton, who talk with him every time his challenges lead to uncomfortable moments in public, or at home. They essentially break down what happened, and help him see alternative ways of dealing with it. As his behavioral therapist, Carolyn Jackson, told me, ‘His brain is not wired to handle these things like we would. Our responses are built-in; he doesn’t have those.’

HOLLY: Clay is lucky to have found such an awesome support group. I wish all Aspie’s had people like Clay’s mom and girlfriend in their corner. I imagined you learned so much yourself while putting this story together. How did writing this book change you?

ROBERT: I have a far deeper appreciation for what parents and loved ones experience and how their lives are impacted by kids and adult children with autism. Martha’s niece is the mother of an autistic boy, and in spending all the time with Clay and his mother, I was able to give Sarah a bit of a preview of things to come — something I’d never be able to do before. The book also has changed my view of people with high-functioning autism completely. 180 degrees. When I talk with or meet someone who is autistic or an Aspie now, I find out what their areas of interest are, and that’s what we talk about, or what I do with them. Never would have known how to interact like this had Clay Marzo not walked into my life.

HOLLY: What a wonderful gift! Why should other people read Just Add Water?

ROBERT: One reviewer put it, ‘It’s a great beach read and, at the same time, a very important read on one of our biggest social issues.’ That captures it for me. It’s both a lot of fun and a very inside look at how one autistic child impacts a family and community — and in Clay’s case, the world, since he’s an internationally renowned surfer. I think the notion of a world-class athlete being autistic is, in itself, going to arouse curiosity. How did he become so great? How does Asperger’s help his focus and prowess as a surfer? We have that, but also how the Marzo family swung the doors open and gave their varying opinions of life with an autistic son/brother — and these opinions are raw and contentious in places. We’ve had more comments on this than anything else.

HOLLY: I bet you have. There is so much diversity of opinion in the world of Asperger’s and of course, no two Aspies are alike. This has been such a great interview Robert, anything you’d like to add before we go?

ROBERT: This was one of the most fun projects in my 40 years as a professional writer, and one of the hardest. I had to use every interviewing and conversation-creating trick in the book to get enough recorded material from Clay to produce the book the way we wanted it. Sometimes, that meant sitting in absolute silence for hours at a time. I often asked questions four or five different ways, trying to spark answers. Some days, it was very tough. When I went with the flow and sat silently, the next day was always good.

HOLLY: Well your time and effort were well worth it. The book is fantastic. Thank you so much for your time Robert!

ROBERT: My pleasure.

To order this must-read book, click here or visit your local Barnes & Noble. To learn more about Robert Yehling and his writing, check out his website.

Clay Marzo at a book signing.

Clay Marzo at a book signing.

Dating With 5 Children

My topic today is dating with children, in my case with FIVE children between us. There’s a baby, almost three, an 8 year old, 10 year old, and two 12 year olds.

The Ferocious 5

The Ferocious 5

I wish I could snap pictures of the looks I get when I’m out schlepping all of these children on my own. My skirt is often splattered in cereal bars and schmutz, my limp frazzled hair tied back in an enticing bun. Strangers look at me like I’m batshit crazy, selfish for overpopulating the earth, or in complete awe at my bravery and calm demeanor. I pretend I’m Angelina Jolie.

51201220 Actress Angelina Jolie takes her five youngest children Shiloh, Pax, Vivienne, Zahara, & Knox for a day out at aquarium in Sydney, Australia on September 7, 2013. FameFlynet, Inc - Beverly Hills, CA, USA - +1 (818) 307-4813 RESTRICTIONS APPLY: USA ONLY

When Ro and I first started dating, we saw each other without any of our children. It was romantic, and sexy, and exciting. Our clothes were clean and our hair smelled good. People would comment how in love we looked. It was all super sweet and reassuring. We talked about our kids a lot, about how much they would adore each other and improve one another’s lives. The two twelve year olds are both quirky and smart, they would be instant friends. Ro’s 10 year old would adore anybody he loved. My 8 year old baby of the family would be a bit jealous of an actual baby, but he would enjoy having Ro’s middle child as a playmate. Sounds great, right? My mother chuckled.

A big piece of me knew better. The reality of blending families is tough business. I grew up in a big blended family, my mom has four and my step-dad has four. Eight is Enough, and most of us are girls. Five girls menstruating. Five girls sharing two bathrooms. Five girls who liked boys.  We had the kind of drama in our family you could write memoirs about.

Usually siblings fight with one another. Throw in kids from another mother or father and watch those same siblings line up like comrades in war – red vs. blue. Or, maybe one of those siblings defects to the other side, now you are talking a lifetime of wounds and rifts. The parents get involved and they discreetly, or in some cases, very adamantly, take sides. It gets loud, emotional, and sometimes dark. There’s great stuff too, really awesome things like big family dinners and holidays, lots of birthday parties, clothes to borrow and plenty of gossip to share. Still, it’s not all fun and games and I knew it.

When Ro and I first introduced our children to each other, we disproved the odds. With all the hazy shine of an Instagram picture, our dreams for our kids to adore each other bloomed into fruition. It was glorious. They got along, they shared their Pokémon cards, they stayed up all night talking and giggling.

Now that they have all spent plenty of time together, it is much more clear. It’s not always going to be that easy. The kids argue over which video game to play, which movie to watch, who gets to sit in the front seat of the car, and they maneuver for spots closest to their respective parent. They often disagree agree on what they want for dinner, where they want to go for the day, or who spilled the popcorn all over the carpet. Best of all, one of them ALWAYS bangs on the master bedroom door the moment it is closed shut.

Just like with my own childhood, the good still outweighs the hard. Like when they are all getting along and dog piling on top of one another, or playing hide and seek, or pushing each other on the swings at the park. There is never a shortage of toys, or books, or snacks, and they never have to sleep alone when we’re all together. Once they have been apart, they miss each other.

4 kids

 

 

Kick Ass Woman

Sorry this post is a little late in the week…I haven’t had access to wifi…cue massive anxiety!!!

Any whoo……I’m so excited to introduce you to my web designer, friend, and a super Kick Ass Woman, Lisa Work. Lisa is quirky, smart, loud, and funny.

Lisa Work

At 42 she just graduated from Colorado State University while raising two children on her own 24/7 and running her own business. It took her 5 years, taking the minimum course load to qualify for full-time, except for her last semester which was BRUTAL – 19 credits. Lisa reminds me a lot of my hard working mom who raised my sister and me as a single mom, while simultaneously attending college full-time (pulling straight A’s!) and cutting hair forty-plus hours a week. Like my mom, Lisa is definitely someone who inspires me.

In a recent blog, Lisa talked about her reasons for sacrificing sleep and free-time to do something that mattered even more to her. Here’s what she had to say:

One month ago I graduated from college.

I’m so glad that I decided to go back to school, even if the road was not always easy and there were many – MANY times that I wanted to quit.

When I first separated from my husband, I really wasn’t sure what I was going to do.  I had two small kiddos and had been a stay at home mom for 5 years.  I had dabbled here and there with some things and my husband and I created a few different businesses, with varying degrees of success.

For each of them I was the one who created our website and managed all of our marketing.  That’s what led me back to school.  I felt that my design skills were lacking and I wanted to learn more.

And learn more, I did!  For sure a ton about design and visual storytelling and how to use Photoshop and all the stuff that helps me do my job here.   But, I learned a lot more than all of that.

Things about myself, life, living and what it really takes to succeed on my own.

These are the 4 biggest lessons that I’m taking with me from these past 5 years:

  1.  I am an artist.  And so are you.  We all are.

I entered school wanting some help with how to make things look pretty on my computer.  I didn’t enter into it thinking that I would become an actual graphic designer!  And I for sure never, ever thought I could claim the title of ARTIST.

Way back forever, when I first attempted college, I was a math major, because I’m good at math.  But I hated it and ended up dropping out. I always loved art and was friends with creative people, but never thought **I** was an artist.

One month ago, I received a Bachelor of Fine Arts, with an emphasis in painting + photography!   I’ve learned and taught myself how to draw, and how to SEE, and how to bring my ideas into a visual reality.  Along the way I became convinced that anyone – ANYONE can be creative.  It just takes commitment, discipline and practice, AND a willingness to not know what you’re doing most of the time – but to experiment and try things anyway.

  1.  Things don’t have to be perfect.

I was just going through some of my first college art projects and remembering how much time and effort and agony I would spend on each one of them, wanting so badly for the finished product to be PERFECT!

Now, I just paint – or shoot pictures, or throw pottery – whatever I’m doing.  I just do it.  It’s more about the process and feeling my way and expressing what’s in my heart.  I’m not concerned about perfect, I’m more interested in communicating and sharing my ideas.  I try to bring that into all areas of my life.  It’s not easy to give up perfection, but it does seem to produce better results – results that are more authentic and satisfying.

  1.  Keep going, no matter what.

I wanted to quit.  A lot.  Often.  There were times when big stuff was happening with my kids and they really needed me, way more from me than I was able to give while juggling all of it.

There were times when it all seemed so stupid, my business was doing well and I wasn’t sure if I was really learning anything new in school.  I just wanted to get on with it, you know?

And then there was the exhaustion.  Some days I’d be up at 4am to finish an assignment, then get the kids up and off to school, then do my 50 minute drive to campus, where I’d be in the studio all day, then drive home, get the kids, make dinner, and work on client projects until 1am.  EXHAUSTED!

But, I kept going.  I had already invested so much and I knew that finishing would send a message to my kids about what I felt was really important.

What surprised me though, was how important that message ended up being for ME.  The day of my graduation was one of the proudest days of my life.  Who I was for myself changed.  I did it and doing so meant that I could do anything.  A ton of self doubt melted away up there on that stage and I know that I’m not the same person now.  

There are many things that I have given up in my life.  Haven’t we all?  There are things I’ve finished and things that just expired on their own.  For me, the fact that I kept going – through some of the biggest challenges I’ve ever come up against over these past five years proved to ME that pushing through is worth it.

  1.  Just put yourself out there!

Sitting through art critiques is one of the most excruciating things ever. There you are – having just poured your heart and soul into an art piece and then you stand before your instructor and your peers and get to hear what works and what doesn’t about what you’ve created.

It’s not easy.  And scary as hell.  And there were many times when I totally failed to create something that I was proud of, but I put it out there anyway.

And I survived.

But, most importantly, I learned something.  Especially the times when the feedback wasn’t positive.  It made me a better artist.  AND it made me a better risk taker.  It made it easier to risk putting my ideas out for the world to see and not have failure crush my spirit.  Which is HUGE!

I now have it firmly in my bones to keep going – no matter what, to keep putting myself out there.  To share what I love, what I dream about and even the fears and boundaries that hold me back.

Sharing all of it makes me a better business woman, artist, designer, consultant and mom.

Worth every penny and all the time and effort.  Going back to college was one of the best things I’ve ever done.

Lisa Work Grad

Lisa’s mission is to make visions and dreams a reality. Her passion for making people’s lives meaningful and powerful is pretty awesome. And for all of that, she easily earns a crown for being a Kick Ass Woman!

Check out some of her cool pictures and learn more about her life’s work by visiting her website.

Off With Her Pants!

You know what the best thing about turning forty has been for me? Not wearing any of these adorable jeans – ever again!

Jean pic 1 jean pic 2Jean pic 3

I put them on one last time for this super exciting photo shoot after not wearing any pants with a button on them for nearly a year and a half. I thought they looked kind of awesome.

In my teens, twenties, and even into my thirties, jeans were my go-to pants for nearly every occasion. They can be dressed up or dressed down. They even give me a bit of a booty, and show off my tiny curves. Plus, they go with just about everything.

But they have always done something else too…something I used to be willing to ignore for the sake of fashion. They made me feel like I had a boa constrictor wrapped around my tummy and climbing up my crotch (Not in a good way!) I would secretly unbutton them just to eat a meager salad and from the moment I put them on, thoughts of tearing them off consumed me. I’m pretty sure I’ve left behind a good time on more than one occasion just so I could go home and put on some comfy cozies.

Thankfully, something absolutely magical happened as I approached forty. I stopped caring about stupid things as much. I learned that enjoying my time and the people I am with, is far more important than how good my butt looks. Far. More. Important.

I’ve noticed most of my other girlfriends also started to change as they approached their forties. It’s like Mother Nature knew we needed an extra dose of happy. Our joints are just beginning to creak and our faces are sporting more lines and spots, but our souls break free. We instinctively put greater value on what matters.

A few weeks back, I asked my fabulous Facebook buddies to tell me some of the best things they have noticed or learned since zooming in close or breezing past the big Four O. Smart ladies that they are, they had some great advice and heartfelt lessons to share. Here’s what they wrote:

 

I’ve learned to trust my gut, always, and to stop apologizing for who I am. I’ll add this: Beauty really does derive from within, and from happiness. Our passions are everything. They won’t fail us if we trust them. – August McLaughlin

Don’t be concerned what other people think. Do what feels right in your heart. All people are doing the best they can. – Reena Jordan Reilly

Happiness is a choice!!!! Not something that just happens to you. – Victoria Ronningen

Sex is not love…it’s just sex…don’t choose a life partner soley on that! – Kathryn Bedbury

Your voice is worthy, strong and worth hearing. If you have something to say, say it. – Asavari Phadnis

The people who aren’t nice to you/ignore you/are cliquey aren’t people you’d want to be friends with anyway. If you WERE part of their group you’d be shunning someone else and that’s not who you are! (This has been a huge lesson for me.) – Danielle Levinson Beres

Do for others, without expecting anything back. The act of being kind is enough, otherwise you might be disappointed. – Shellene Mueller

Beauty (in the commercial sense) is overrated, really good friends are far and few between, don’t forget the people that really care about you. When one big event is over, start planning the next, time goes by so fast, don’t get too caught up in your mistakes (mostly you are the only one that notices them… don’t tell on yourself, likely no one noticed but you. – Mariea Henry

I was super shy as a child and teen. Always thought I was different from everyone. Now I have realized that pretty much everyone like they are different and don’t quite fit in. My lifestyle now however, is different than my peer. Now I just could care less what anyone thinks. My son’s opinion is the only one that matters. – Nicole Lyons

Something that resonated with me lately was, “It is not about getting what you want, it is about wanting what you already got.” It reminded me that it is easy to get caught up in the quest for more or the next thing instead of enjoying the present. – Cindy Franklin Katz

And when it comes to dating… If a man wants to meet at his place for a first date, you can tell him to f*** off and go pay for it! – Susannah Cernojevich

 

What has changed for you for the better???  We want to know.

 

P.S. I gave one of those uncomfortable pairs of jeans to my BFF after the photo shoot. She totally rocks them out…so glad they are no longer torturing me or taking up space in my closet when they can be enjoyed by someone who appreciates them.

dani booty

 

 

 

 

Under Fire

Things are getting real. It’s been such an eventful month.

In addition to lining up loads of media interviews for the book, hangin’ with my boys at the beach, and all the other things that go on when your children are off for summer vacation, the Vegas house is getting built well ahead of schedule. While unheard of in California, it looks like my Nevada home will be finished about two months earlier than expected.

The drywall went up, the outside has stucco, windows are installed, baseboards are nailed in, and paint has been applied on the interior and exterior walls. Cabinets are even in place now, throughout the house. Take a look:

Kitchen Cabinets

Paperwork is being rushed. Timelines are shifting. I momentarily lost sight of how incredibly exciting all of this is and began freaking out about how I was going to get everything finished on my end in time, move boxes in the dead of a desert summer, and how in the heck I was going to furnish and landscape the biggest chunk of space I’ve ever owned.

Just as I was getting my mind around the house being done early, one of my older brothers called with a major life reality check. He took his little Puggle, Sasha, for a walk outside his home in West Hollywood and saw a twenty-something guy sitting on the curb, dressed in baggie jeans and white athletic shoes. Two police cars screeched to a stop in front of the guy and four armed officers jumped out, guns pointed. They told him to freeze and the guy stood up and charged. All four officers fired multiple shots. They guy went down.

Blood pooled in the street. My brother saw a knife on the ground near the guy’s body. An ambulance came and put him on a stretcher, a sheet covering most of his body. My brother watched the guy’s feet twitching in his athletic shoes as they carted him way. Thank goodness he hadn’t taken his three-year-old daughter with him on the walk. My brother and I talked about whether or not the LAPD over-reacted, ways they could have handled things differently, and how quickly life can turn in an instant.

My brother’s story underlined the importance of three universal truths: Life can change in the span of a dog walk. People are crazy. Appreciate who and what you have…while you have it.

My house will be finished by the end of summer. Forget lush landscaping and rooms full of new furniture, I’m going to do my very best to fill this home to the brim with love, music, children, family, and all the things that matter most.

backyard

Don’t Turn Around

I just finished reading Caroline Mitchell’s heart-stopping, page-turning paranormal crime thriller, Don’t Turn Around.

Don't Turn Around

 

Forget turning around. This bestseller has me a bit afraid to turn off the lights , or sleep alone, or look under my bed. Thanks Caroline!

Besides being a bit freaked out, it was a fantastic book full of some very unexpected twists and turns, and a whole lot of paranormal activity throw-in.

As a writer, when I finish a good book, I wonder about the author’s thought process behind the story. Lucky for me and you, I’m friends with Caroline. I get to ask her. The following is a quick interview with my UK buddy from across the pond:

CarolineQ: So, Caroline, my first question is…what was the seed for Don’t Turn Around. What got the whole ball rolling?

A: I had just finished writing my true story, Paranormal Intruder, that is my account of paranormal activity in my home. After I finished, I was keen to get back into writing, and infused my own experiences of the police and paranormal to come up with the DC Jennifer Knight series.

Q: Where did you do most of your writing and how long did it take you to write the book?

A: It took me around nine months to write it, and as I work full time I just wrote wherever and whenever I could. I’ve now got a swanky writing room, but a lot of my writing is done on my daily commute to work (I’m writing this on the train right now). It makes for an amusing journey when you’re plotting a murder and someone is looking over your shoulder!

Q: As you’ve mentioned, in real life, you are a mom and a full-time police officer on the coast of Essex, just outside of London. How does work and motherhood influence your story telling?

A: I am fiercely protective of my children and you can see that in my true story, because I don’t go into a lot of detail about them. I changed their names to protect them and wouldn’t feature their pictures in any media, although I was asked to, many times. In Don’t Turn Around, I used the bonds of motherhood to describe Jennifer’s relationship with her nephew Joshua. Although she is his aunt, she loves him like a son, and like me, would do whatever it takes to protect him.

Q: I know that feeling well. Real life can play such a big role in a writer’s storytelling. That said, what is your personal favorite part of the writing process?

A: Oh I love it all. It’s really turned my life around. I guess if I had to pick one thing it would be the early days, when you’re in that lovely free writing creative stage. (As opposed to the structuring, “What-was-I-thinking-this-is-never-going-to-work” stage.)

Q: I’ve heard that from other writer’s too. In the beginning it’s all about letting your imagination run wild. Then editing is all about reigning things in and giving them structure. Speaking of structure…you mentioned Don’t Turn Around is the first your DC Jennifer Knight series. Do you already know the final ending for the series??? Can you give us a hint?

A: Although I’m signed to produce three books, I’m keeping the ending open in case I write more, and have a book four in my head. Having said that, I’m also working on a straight crime novel featuring a DS Ruby Preston that I’m very excited about. I just need more hours in the day to write it.

A: You are a busy bee Miss Caroline. I guess we’ll have to wait for you to finish writing your books before we find out the ending. Can’t blame me for trying? OK, one last question before I let you get back to your train commute. If you could hang out with just one of your characters for the day, who would it be and why?

A: Great question! Believe it or not, I’d like to hang out with Frank. I find him such a fascinating character and I’m sure we’d have some very interesting chats – as long as I could persuade him not to kill me!

Holly: That might be a tough sell, Caroline. Frank seems pretty disturbed and untrustworthy. Maybe you know something I don’t. Thank you so much for your time today. This was fun!

Caroline: Thanks Holly, I really enjoyed it. Best of luck with your forthcoming book.

To learn more about Caroline and her fabulous books, you can check out her website here. Don’t Turn Around is available via Amazon by clicking here.

Stay tuned for an update on the Vegas house in next week’s blog. It has painted walls now…and cabinets, and an enclosed backyard. It’s getting real!

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