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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!

Children Of The Gods

Bam! It’s Jessica Therrien’s cover reveal. My writing bestie just revamped the covers of the first two books in her Children of the Gods series, and for the first time, is revealing the cover for the third and final book in her trilogy. I know I am totally biased, but…. aren’t they stunning?!!

Oppression Second Edition CoverUprising Second Edition CoverRedemption First Edition Cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jessica and I met at a writer’s conference four years ago. She was reading pages from her manuscript to a group of writers at a Read & Critique session. Her voice was timid, but her words were not. Jess’ writing gave me the shivers and I knew she had created something special. I told her so and when a publishing house asked her to sign with them a few hours later, we were both ecstatic.

I admired her work, she believed in mine, we made plans to exchange chapters online to edit for one another, and fell quickly into a priceless friendship. She is a sounding board, and my brain-storming buddy, and a brilliant writer. When she released her first book in her series, the first time around, it became an instant Barnes & Noble bestseller. Now we are timing the release of our latest books together so we can walk this journey together.

On September 2, 2015 Jessica will re-release Oppression, book 1 in her best-selling YA series Children of the Gods. Uprising, comes out October 2. Her final book in the series, Redemption, goes for sale November 2.

Congrats Jess! I couldn’t ask for a better author friend to join me on this exciting publishing adventure.

If you had to choose, which cover is your favorite? I can’t decide!

Kick-Ass Woman

Forget the celebrities! There are so many provocative, fascinating, Real Life women running around who can inspire us. That’s why I’ve decided, every once in a while on my blog, I’m going to recognize one these fine individuals. For my very first Kick-Ass Woman Blog, I’d like to introduce you to a feisty, out-spoken, break-the-mold and be your-best-self kind of a broad – Alena.

Alena

I’ve never met Alena in person. She is a friend of a friend on Facebook. That said, I always get a kick out of her posts. Last week, I got sucked into an online conversation about what women look for in men, and what men look for in women.

The whole subject of dad bod’s came up and a couple of the woman agreed that’s what they like best.

dadbod

Have you heard about this, women preferring men with middle-of-the road bodies? This got me all irritated and riled up. How sad it is for us poor women, we never hear about men wanting mom bods. WE don’t get full admiration from men or women unless we are the “ideal.”

 

That’s when Alena piped in with her comments about herself:

I’m a gray haired- 40 yr old, size 14…… I also have smaller tah-tahs and short hair- so by beauty standards everything I “am” is a “no”…. Guess what? Idgaf what the standard is. I’m doing me– and I’m happy as can be- and those who like my kind of “me” let me know. And I don’t hate on my beautiful sisters- skinny or big boobed- long hair- or large and in charge – hell, go-girl, just as happy for them….Empower. Close the magazines- turn off the TV + stop comparing! Vanity is the best way to suck people into their products and make millions- be smarter than that!

How do you not immediately love her?! That is the kind of attitude that changes the landscape. If we love ourselves as we are, other people’s opinions on the subject become irrelevant. Personally, I like long hair, frilly dresses, and lots of lip gloss (even if it only stays on for a total of five minutes…at best.) But that’s the whole point. It’s ok to dress and cut our hair however we like it best. This is a liberated country and we can wear a push-up bra or let them hang free, die our hair blonde, or purple, or go au-natural.

If more of us would take advantage of this freedom and truly adopt Alena’s attitude, the glossy mags would accommodate a wider range of women, our daughters would grow-up stronger and women overall would feel a whole lot better about themselves.

Thanks for your posts Alena. You are my Real Life Kick-Ass Woman!

Occasional Warrior

I wrote up a brilliant blog last week to post today on self esteem. I had a great opening line. Some women are born with it, some women take a hundred thousand years to develop it. I talked about all the great progress I have made in the past year.

Then I got an email from someone mocking my newfound warrior status in a way that seemed to imply I was a fraud. I felt immediately broken, all my words about self-esteem and growth were a big fat pathetic lie. I was still a scared little girl on the inside who worries about everything.

That ugly inner voice in my head starts up in weak moments, telling me I’m not smart enough, not talented enough, I don’t work hard enough, I don’t try hard enough, and then it gets worse. I start thinking of terrifying scenarios. What if my kids want to leave me and go live with their father full-time? Why would my kids ever want to be with me, when I’m just the mother with an anxiety disorder who takes too many naps and makes them eat vegetables every night and limits their screen time?

Just the other day I had an anxious meltdown about my soon-to-be published book. What if it totally sucks? What if people read it and hate it, or worse, are too bored to finish it? What if, G-d forbid, it ends up in the free book bin at the library!!!

Eventually, after crying to my mother, several girlfriends, and finally my boyfriend, I pulled myself back together. It also didn’t hurt that my guy texted me this picture and message, which made me tear up all over again:

Ro and Jordan

 

No matter what happens with your book…we love you…we appreciate your work…we believe you are beautiful…and you will always be our celebrity.

 

It made me feel infinitely better and it also made me think, who wants to be a twenty-four-hour warrior anyway? That would be a complete pain in the ass.

Here’s what I do know for sure. We are works in progress. Some days we are warriors and some days we are wusses. What matters is, deep down we learn to love ourselves and behave as if we believe in ourselves.

My wish for all the women out there is to believe in your bones these simple truths: We don’t have to be the sweetest, or the cutest, or the most accomplished to be valuable. We just need to do our best, be good people, love ourselves, and expect the best for ourselves. We deserve that. We are worthy.

Do you agree? What is your truth?

Home

house pic

My house is growing! It’s starting to look like a real home.

To honor this momentous event, and preserve something special under the skin, I wanted the special people who will be spending the most time here  to write their names in permanent marker on the wood of the house.

heart pic

 

Soon it will be sealed with drywall and paint. Soon it will look like an ordinary kitchen. For me, I will always know that Josh, Alex, Lana, Jacob, Jordan, Rolando, and me, beat in the heart of the bones of this home.

boys at house pic

Ro & JacobJordan house

Cover Reveal

It’s finally time! I get to share with you all my book cover for Kingston Court. For those of you who aren’t writers, an author’s book is like one of their children. This may sound silly, but getting to show you the cover feels a whole lot like sending out my boys’ first baby pics. I know I’m biased, but I think it’s beautiful and perfect.

 

Kingston-Court-Larger-Cover

 

What do you think???

Confession

I am a material girl. Not Manolo Blahnik shoes or luxury vacations kind of high maintenance (although I wouldn’t turn them down.) But… a pedicure every three weeks, brow waxes, regular haircuts and color, expensive makeup and name-brand dresses, feel like a necessity. I can spot a knock-off purse or a bad pair of jeans in an instant, and it gives me anxiety.

Sometimes I feel ashamed of this. I want to be someone I admire, someone less superficial with better values, someone who doesn’t fall prey to the marketing world’s messages of what a woman needs to do to feel pretty.

Other times I think, what the hell. I want to look exactly how I want to look. If I was born on a little house on the prairie, I would still want to sew the prettiest dresses and run around in the tall grass to make them spin.

spinning girl

I just happen to be born in the right body, at the right time, in the right country. As long as wearen’t hurting anybody, what’s wrong with embracing who we are?

The truth is, it doesn’t matter. As I go through this transition in my life, I can no longer afford to buy whatever I want. If I am going to build a solid foundation for my future, I need to buckle down. It’s time to paint my own nails, pass that perfect Free People dress taunting me from the hanger, and say “No thank you,” to that gorgeous new shade of lip-gloss shimmering behind the counter.

Like a weak woman lifting weights each day, gradually I will become stronger. We become disciplined with practice. This is my hope anyhow, because the 80’s are long gone, and this material girl needs to live with her rules for 2015.

Just don’t ask me to give up the scented candles and lotions or the occasional purchase of best-selling books from Barnes & Noble. That’s where I draw the line. That would be asking too much.

What can’t you resist splurging on???

I Choose Hope!

My life is beginning to feel more and more like I’m a character from my novel, Kingston Court…. a divorced mother of two discovering my new path. As most divorcees will tell you, it hasn’t been fun.

My children and ex-husband greatly resented my choices for quite some time. We sold the family home we loved in Northern California, and my boys and I moved into a small apartment near friends and family in Southern California. It took months to learn to fall asleep alone when something went bump in the night.

Of course there’s also the joy of working out child custody arrangements, spousal support, child support and dividing up all of your material possessions.

There is good stuff though, the thick threads of silver linings. After a year on my own now, I am dating an incredible man who loves me just the way I am, I’m growing my content editing career, releasing a debut novel, and now….I’m buying a house. This house thing is perhaps the boldest step I have taken so far. I want my boys to have an unwavering place to call home and buying something nice in San Diego was going to be a stretch. So I opted for Henderson, Nevada instead. Real estate is still undervalued throughout the state, it’s a great place to do business (no state income taxes), Josh and Alex love Vegas, and my honey lives in Henderson.

Holly House Pic

As a single mom, it feels like an enormous commitment, but I am fortunate enough to be able to afford it, and I believe it will lay the foundation for our new life. Just like Samantha and Natalie in Kingston Court, I have decided to make choices based on hope rather than fear. The builder recently poured the cement pad for the house and it’s only a matter of time before sticks are in the air and framing will be in full swing. In the meantime I have countertops, flooring, cabinetry, and much more to select. This is my grand new adventure and I will keep you posted on my journey. What big steps you have taken lately toward new beginnings?

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