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FINALLY LETTING GO

Whew…

I’m not sure where to even start.   Do I back up and tell you about the 20 years of friendship or begin where it fell apart?  I guess to understand where I’m coming from, you have to know the story.  I’m sorry, I’ll warn you now: THIS WILL ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY, CERTAINLY be long.  As in really long with a lot of rambling, so if you’re not interested in settling down with a cup of tea or coffee for the long haul, I suggest you pop on over to another blog.

When I was in seventh grade, all the cool kids played sports and like most kids, I wanted to be cool, so I tried out for the volleyball team.  Somehow, although, I had never picked up a volleyball before then, I made not only the team, I made the highly distinguished, “A” team.   It was in volleyball that I met a girl named Casie.  I can’t say Casie and I hit it off immediately.  We weren’t all that much alike.  She was shy and kind of backwards.  She played sports, but always made the B-team.  That never seemed to matter to Casie, though,  because sports weren’t really her thing.  Casie’s real passion was band.  I’ll be honest, I never understood her obsession with it, I don’t play any instruments and I can’t carry a tune to save my life. Nonetheless, our differences didn’t stop us from striking up a friendship.  By eighth grade we were inseparable.  I mean, you never saw one without the other.  We took turns staying at each other’s house on weekends and every day after school she would come to my house to hang out. We told each other everything and our parents quickly became adopted parents to the other.  Highschool didn’t change things.  Neither did the fact that I continued playing sports while Casie continued with band.  Nothing kept us apart and while other friends came and went, she and I stood strong.  She was the glue to my paper.  The zing to my zap.  My person.  My best friend.

I know you’re thinking, I see where this is going.  We grew up, graduated and drifted apart like so many others do, but that’s not true.  In fact, we remained tight through college and became even closer when it came time to start having real adult relationships.  We met her future husband a few months after highschool graduation.  Coincidently, he introduced me to my husband, whom he had gone to basic training in the army with.  It seemed like a perfect match, two best friends, dating and eventually marrying two guys, both of whom were from Kentucky and in the army together.  Life was indeed good.  Even after I moved to Kentucky, Casie and I talked every day.  And, when we weren’t talking, we were texting or emailing or planning on when or how we could see each other.  It was one of those friendships we never questioned and one I thought would always last.

So what happened?  I’d love to say there was a definitive moment, in reality, I guess there kind of was, but I’ll get to that in a minute.  Honestly, it ended up being just what happens to some friendships.  After sharing everything, after being there for every important event in each other’s lives from marriage to children, we slowly began drifting apart.  It started with little things mostly.  I found it offensive that she thought I should sanitize my hands to hold her baby and she thought it was repulsive that I allowed my children to play with toy guns.  We won’t even get into how she felt about my husbands hunting or how I was happy to live next door to my in-laws while she would rather hers went away and never come back.  She was a stay at home mom, while I juggled forty hours at an office.  The truth is, our lives changed, our circumstances changed and with that, so did our friendship.

Fast forward to 2011.  At this point, Casie and I have been friends for twenty-two years.  I’ll say it again, twenty-two years.  Damn, that’s a long time. Do you know how many friendships last that long?  Not many.  Unfortunately, 2011 would not be good for me.  I’ve talked briefly about it in an earlier post, but 2011 year was one of the hardest years I’ve ever had to endure.  Within a six month span, I learned my sister had ALS, I lost two Aunts and both my grandparents died within two weeks of each other.  It seemed like every time I turned around someone I loved was sick or dying.  To say I wasn’t at my best is an understatement.  I was pretty low.  Lower than low if you want to get real.  I couldn’t sleep and I cried all the time.  It didn’t help that we had to downsize at work, which caused me a great deal of concern or that my husband also had some health issues going on.  I was about as stressed as one person can get.  Trying to figure out how to handle my sister’s illness on my own was tough enough, but I also had to put on a brave face for my mom and my kids and help them, too.  So, I leaned on Casie.  A lot.  Too much apparently because I woke up one day to find she had blocked me and my family from Facebook.  Yep.  Poof.  One day she was there, the next I went to look more closely at some pictures of her kids she’d posted the day before and she was gone.  No warning, no explanation, just gone.  You can imagine how that made me feel.  I’m not sure that a knife through the heart is a proper description for the pain because it felt more like someone had ripped out my insides and shattered my soul.

To be fair, I should say I wasn’t that great of a friend.  Casie was having marital issues that I didn’t pay enough attention to, and instead of trying to focus on the good things in life, I cried incessantly and became moody every time she and I talked.  Yeah, I know, I had reason’s to be that way.  And trust me, I’m not excusing what she did by any means, I just know being my friend during that time couldn’t have been easy.  On the same token, being her friend during that time wasn’t easy, either.   Like I said, we had both changed.  We saw faults and judgments within the other we didn’t like, which made us unsympathetic.

I guess you’re wondering what happened or what I did.  Well, of course, I shot off an ugly email telling her exactly what I thought.  Then I called and left an ugly message because you know that’s what you do when you just got pissed on.  I never did get the courtesy of a return call, but I did get an email that wasn’t any nicer than mine.  Her exact words were “You’re life sucks and I don’t want to be a part of it anymore.”  Harsh a little?  Yeah, maybe just a tad.  But it hurt even more when she said she didn’t want to be friends mostly because she didn’t want to be around when my sister died because she doesn’t handle other people’s emotions well.  Trust me, any vulgarities floating through your mind have already come out of my mouth so feel free to say them.  Like I said, at this point, we’d grown apart, apparently more than we thought.

Friendships that last that long are much like a marriage.  Our lives were so tightly intertwined and woven together that every aspect crossed over.  And like many marriages that go south, our parting didn’t go well.  How did I handle it?  Well, I did what every mature adult would do.  I wiped her free from my life.  Her email was blocked, her phone number, all of her relatives, I even went so far as to defriend every friend or acqaintance we had from highschool because I wanted to ensure our paths never crossed in any way.  I removed my maiden name and highschool info from my profile so no one could find me, and then removed all her pictures and unfollowed her on every social media account I had at the time.  When I got home, I gathered everything she had given to me, piled it up in a bonfire and then lit that baby and watched it burn.  Childish?  Yes. Very.  I’ll happily admit it.  All I can say is I’m an all in or all out kind of girl and I did what I felt I had to do to get by.

That’s my ugly little secret.   Once upon a time I had a best friend and then I didn’t and I didn’t handle it so well.

So why is this on my mind today?  Well, two reason’s really, one, a few months ago, a close friend of my sisters growing up, friended me on Facebook. She posted today that it was the anniversary of her sister’s death.  Her sister, Amanda, was a year younger than me.  She died in a car accident when I was in 8th grade.  So my middle school years have bore heavily on my mind today.  And then out of the blue, I got a friend request from a guy I went to highschool with.  It surprised me, because like I said, I have sort of hidden myself away. But do you know what surprised me even more?  I didn’t hesitate to accept his request.  In fact, I got a little excited to see a little piece of that time of my life again.  So I I’m officially back on the grid and it feels pretty darn good.

I guess this means I have finally let go and made peace.  All I got to say, it’s about damn time!

As for Casie, although, they haven’t talked in years, my husband is still friends with her (ex)husband on Facebook.  Yes, apparently they got divorced. I supposed she’s doing okay, maybe?  I don’t know.  I  could ask her mother, who I occasionally have contact with, but I would rather not open that door.  Do I want to make amends with her?  No.  She hurt me.  Badly.  Our friendship might have been on the downward spiral, but the ending could have been handled differently.  For now, it is what it is  … and I’m finally okay with that.

So, to Casie … hope life is treating you well.

ps. I know you follow me on Twitter and that’s okay, too 🙂

 

Okay, so I kept a few pictures.

 

 

 

FROM THERE TO HERE AND IN BETWEEN

It’s that time of year … time to reflect on the past twelve months and the things we were able to accomplish, as well as, the things we wished we had.   Like most, I’m sitting at my computer remembering good times, sad times, moments of happiness and sorrow.  It has been a year of many highs and some very deep lows for me, a rollercoaster of emotions that have taken me to places I want to go again and places I wish I could erase from my memory as if they never existed.  I haven’t blogged much (hardly at all), so I thought I would sum up my year in one post.  Here it is:

  1. In January, I received my first of many calls from The University of Kentucky Hospital. Why do you ask?  Well, they wanted money, of course. Money for the ER visit and surgery my youngest son had back in September when he scalped his head at school.  We will just say, the lady on the phone and I didn’t exactly hit it off since her demeanor wasn’t all that friendly.  As I think back on that phone call now, I want to laugh because as soon as her attitude flew, so did mine.  Needless to say, nothing got resolved that day, however, in the coming months, Celeste and I would become quite acquainted with one another.  In the end, she ended up being a HUGE advocate helping to get the bills paid from our school systems insurance.   It took exactly one year and one week to have them all paid and that was after many tiresome calls, faxing of bills here, there, verification of what my insurance paid sent and then not received, threats of collection agencies, not so friendly calls to our superintendent, etc.  I know the important thing is that my son was okay, but when you have an excess of 100 grand of debt looming over your head, it becomes quite stressful.
  2.  In February, my sister, who is terminally ill, was dealt a blow when her husband asked for a divorce.  As if the devastation to her wasn’t enough, it was so much more than that, as my ex-brother in law was her primary caregiver (legally speaking.  My mother has always provided most of her care.)  I could say a lot here.  In fact, I’ve written and deleted several times, but I’ve decided to take the high road and spare you all the bitter details.  Sometimes you just have to cut your losses and move on.
  3. Instead of flowers, May brought tears with the passing of a beloved woman, who was so many things to me that I can’t think of a significant enough title to honor her.  Carolyn Conley was both of my boy’s preschool teacher, she is my co-worker’s eldest sister, my friend, all too often a lunch date, a supporter of my writing, fun travel companion, and our last stop on Halloween because she gave out the best bags of candy.  My list could go on and on.  She was truly one of the kindest people I have ever known and nothing I could say would ever properly describe her gentle and compassionate soul.  I loved her.  My kids loved her.  My husband loved her.  Our community loved her. She was a rare gem that is truly missed.
  4. Life hasn’t been all stressful or burdensome, though.  In June I took a girls trip to North Carolina with two friends (I blogged about this).  We had a blast.  I mean, we had an awesome and relaxing time visiting some of the places where Nicholas Sparks books are set.  If you’re a fan, you should visit and even if your not, you should still go because there are some really cool sites to see.
  5. July brought my husband’s and my 16th wedding anniversary.  I can’t begin to explain the amount of love I have for this man.  He is my rock, my soul, my best friend and better half.  And yes, I truly mean better, because I know without a doubt he could do so much better than I and yet he chooses every day to be my partner in this life.  There is no better feeling in the world than to know you are loved and he lets me know every single day.
  6. If I could pick a time to back up and replay again, I would pick July.  I’d replay it over and over and over.  Stop, rewind, play.  Stop, rewind play.  We vacationed in Florida with two other families that month.  There were ten of us in a house.  We stayed up late, played cards, had cocktails, listened to music, ate together, and laughed together.  Each night after the kids went to bed, the adults swam in the pool until the early hours of the morning.  My family snuck off to the Key’s for two days to visit my neighbor who has a house and boat there.  We went fishing, caught a shark, took a drive to Key West and toured Hemingway’s house. I also had the best (and expensive) lobster grilled cheese sandwich.  To say it was a great vacation is an understatement.  It was one of the most relaxing times I’ve ever had.  Unfortunately, if I had known what I know now, I would have done things differently.  I would have skipped the Keys.  I would have passed on that grilled cheese and Hemingway’s house.  I would have told my neighbor that we would catch him another time and I would have spent every minute we had making memories with those friends at that house.  I would have stayed in the pool later.  I would have talked until I couldn’t talk anymore.  I would have danced, laughed, cooked, whatever anyone wanted.  We all thought we were beginning a yearly tradition of vacationing with our families never knowing the blow we’d receive in just a few short weeks.
  7.   Man, it’s been five months and I haven’t written in depth about this.  It’s not easy.  If I had known what August 7th would bring, I would go back to that house in Florida and take in every word Anthony Gabbard had to say.  I would roll my eyes and head just so he would give me shit about it.  I would sit at the table by the pool and laugh about AT&T (inside joke) until the sun came up. I would tell him to eat all the pork you want buddy because who cares if your gout flares up.  I’d take more pictures and I’d tell him jokes to make him laugh because he had a great laugh.  On August 7th, after a night of shopping, dinner and a movie, my husband and I went back to our friends, the Gabbards, to play cards.  We stayed late or early, depending on how you look at it and as always, we had a great time.  Anthony and I were card partners and much to our dismay, we finally lost a game.  It was somewhere around four am when we left their house.  At nine we got a call that Anthony was being taken to the hospital unresponsive.  He passed from a sudden, massive heart attack before we made it there.  I have gone through a lot of emotions since then, but there is one thing that still plagues me and I think it always will.  Guilt. There is always that looming question of whether I missed something that I shouldn’t have.  It’s something I’ll never know.  It’s been five months and like I said typing all that out it isn’t easy.  He brought so much life to our group of friends.  He is deeply missed.
  8. August also brought a new school year.  My boys went on to middle and high school and yeah, that makes me feel old.  I suppose I am now.
  9. I turned forty and I hear it’s all down hill from here.  I hope not because I got a lot of life I still want to live.
  10. And last but not least, around Thanksgiving, my husband and I acquired a small parcel of land that joins our property.  Hopefully, in the new year, we will be begin building our forever home.  It’s something we’ve talked about for a long time and now our dream is finally becoming a reality.

Even with the bad that has happened, I look back on the year and can truly smile.  I have neglected my writing and reading, but I’ve also spent a lot of quality time with my kids.  I’ve strengthened friendships, worked on losing weight (down 15 pounds), gone to the theater and hiked a lot, I started taking pictures and cooking more.  I went to concerts, I’ve shopped and played board games.  I began volunteering my time and advocating for our local library.  I’ve met new people, got back in touch with others.  It has been a year of making time for the things that make me smile and really, isn’t that what life is about?  I believe it is.  I’m one blessed individual.

To 2017, may we all have a great one!

 

COVER REVEAL: What The Bachelor Gets by: Kristina Knight

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COMING … February 8, 2016

Vegas Nightly just named local property developer Gage Reeves its Sexiest Bachelor, not a title he likes, especially when it brings showgirls, local socialites and entertainers to his doorstep 24/7.

Callie Holliday has a plan: make her day spa the hottest ticket in Vegas. The problem? She’s saddled with a bad location and a zero account balance. A chance meeting with childhood friend Gage Reeves offers one solution: setting up shop at his new development.

Gage’s ordered life twists out of control when he begins to fall for his childhood friend because Callie is determined to keep things business like. She doesn’t like to depend on people, but Gage makes it hard to remember exactly why…

EXCERPT:

Callie unlocked the front door but didn’t move to go inside. Instead, she stood beside him as if waiting. Their bodies didn’t touch, but he could feel a slight hum that seemed to connect him to her.

“Good night, Gage.”

“Good night, Cal.”

This time she moved, toward him. Gage stepped forward, too, and leaned in to press his lips to hers. She was soft, her full lips steady beneath his, and she tasted like the Corona and lime she’d been drinking. Gage slipped his hands to her neck to play his thumbs against the sensitive skin beneath her jaw, and Callie stepped forward again, this time bringing her body in full contact with his. His dick jumped in his jeans.

Her hands pressed against his chest and then pushed up around his neck. Callie slanted her head and opened her mouth to him. Gage pushed her against the doorframe, insinuating his leg between hers as he took the kiss deeper.

She drew him in, deep into the depths of her, and Gage didn’t care if they kissed like this for the rest of the night. He wanted to be near her. Wanted to feel her against him. Wanted to go on tasting her until he was positive he’d never forget any of it.

Finally, he broke the kiss, panting, his lips millimeters from hers.

Callie swallowed, and he watched the muscles in her throat slide down and then up slowly. She blew out a breath.

“Good night, Gage?” It was a question, and he didn’t want to answer it.

“Good night, Cal,” he said. “I’ll call you tomorrow.”

Before he could talk himself into her condo, Gage returned to the truck. He sat in the cab for a long moment, watching until Callie went inside and closed the door. Then he looked at his jeans and said, “Cold shower, buddy, ice-cold shower.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Once upon a time, Kristina Knight spent her days running from car crash to fire to meetings with local police–no, she wasn’t a troublemaker, she was a journalist. Her career took her all over the United States, writing about everything from a serial killer’s capture to the National Finals Rodeo. Along the way, she found her very own Knight in Shining Cowboy Boots and an abiding love for romance novels. And just like the characters from her favorite books, she’s living her own happily ever after.

Kristina writes sassy contemporary romance novels; her books have appeared on Kindle Best Seller Lists. She loves hearing from readers, so drop her a line!

WEBSITE          FACEBOOK          TWITTER          PINTEREST          GOODREADS          GOOGLE+

A New Kind Of Christmas

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Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, Mom and Dad were stirring about like chickens with their heads cut off.

That was how most of my Christmas Eve past have been.  We’ve never put any presents under the tree until Christmas Eve after the kids went to sleep, when Santa came and usually it’s a late night trying to get them all wrapped, because wrapping gifts is one of my least favorite things to do in the world.  It’s a job usually reserved for my husband, who dolls each one of them up perfectly.  He’s good at it and I think enjoys it, which is fine by me, because I’m perfectly happy writing names on gift tags.

Things changed this year.   The Santa secret is out, so there won’t be any need to stay up late to slide gifts under the tree when no one is watching.  I’m sort of on the fence about how I feel about that, too.  I miss the magic of it all.  Tracking Santa on Christmas Eve to know where he’s at.  Baking cookies.  The boys excitement when they see the tree for the first time and the happiness when they received a gift they really wanted.  I know some of that will still happen.  But there’s an essence missing when they no longer believe.   However, not having to keep all things hidden and secretive has it’s advantages.  We’ve begun making new traditions.  One’s that will probably carry on until heaven forbid should I say grandchildren come around …  I wrapped gifts as they came in.  Yes, I wrapped them.  Most of them anyway.  They aren’t all pretty and neat like my husband would have them, but does that really matter?   Most are also already under the tree.  Since the boys have gone through them and tried to guess what each were (they’re pretty darn good at it, too) I’ve saved a few back that I’ll slip in later tonight.  Tonight we’ll still bake cookies, but instead of trying to usher them off to bed, we’ll stay up playing games.  We have a rematch of Clue planned and I’m determined to win this time. Even tomorrows breakfast will be different.  Instead of tossing some cinnamon rolls in the oven because it’s simple and quick, I’ve planned a crockpot breakfast casserole that will cook all night.  I think the guys will appreciate it much more since they are hearty breakfast food eaters.

Things are changing and that’s okay.  It’s how life works.  The kids get older and they no longer enjoy doing the things they did before, but that doesn’t mean the beauty of it all has to disappear.  We’ll create new traditions.  And I’m sure as the years pass, we’ll add to them, figuring out what we like and what we don’t.  But in the end, the only thing that really matters, is that we are all together.

I hope whatever you celebrate this Holiday season, you celebrate it with the one’s you love.   Merry Christmas from my family to yours!

First

For Dwayne. Thanks for showing me how amazing the stars can be. 

                                           -Drive Me Sane dedication 

There’s a lot that goes into writing a good romance novel.  Well, there is a lot that goes into writing a good novel period, but we’re talking romance here today.  More specifically “first.”  You know, that first glance.  The first time your eyes met and lingered.  The touch that made your whole body nearly whither to the floor. First words, first date, first kiss.  The first time you … well, you get my point.  All of these acts are equally important in writing a good love story.  But, that doesn’t mean they always have to be perfect.  More often than not, it’s the weird and awkward occurrences that draw us in.  After all, real life is rarely a fairytale, right?

Right.

Today is mine and my husband’s fifteen year anniversary.  We’ve had a lot of first together.  Some of them I remember and some of them I don’t. Sadly, I can’t recall our first kiss, but I do remember the first time he tried.

We were at the lake with some friends and were left alone by what I now suspect was preplanned by either our friends or maybe the guys.  Sitting at a picnic table, we talked, about what I don’t know.  I just remember every once in a while he’d get that look in his eye.  You know, that look of bravery just before you try something new.  And every time he did, I’d turn my face up toward the sky.  Of course I knew what he was leading up to and of course I wanted it to happen, but I was also more nervous than I’d ever been in my life.  Like butterflies went wild, sweaty palms, could barely talk straight nervous.  Yes, those things really do happen.  I’ll just be honest.  Girls can be funny and it seems we always do the exact opposite of we want.  I wanted to kiss him and I didn’t and every time he’d move closer, I’d inch a little bit away.  Finally he leaned in and I jerked my head back up at the sky.  “The stars sure are pretty,” I said.   They were pretty.  Sprinkled across the darkness, twinkling like little diamonds.  “They are,” he answered.  And that was that.

No kiss happened that night and yet I remember it as clearly as if it happened yesterday.  It just goes to show, that sometimes it isn’t the act itself that’s so meaningful, but all those special things that happen along the way.  We laugh about this now, as well as, a proposal I completely ruined, but that’s a story for another day.

Happy Anniversary D.  I don’t know how you put up with me, but I’m sure glad you do.  Love you

So tell me, anyone else have a first that went wrong or an awkward moment that turned out to be a pleasant surprise?

The Romance Reviews Sizzling Summer Reads Party

They are at it again!  The Romance Reviews is celebrating with a SIZZLING SUMMER READS giveaway.  More than 350 participating authors and publishers with more than 350 prizes up for grabs during the whole month of June. Grand prize is a $100 Gift Certificate!  And guess what!!!  I’m there today with a digital copy of Drive Me Sane up for grabs.

ssr2015

 

Please note that you must be registered and logged into their site to be able to play along.

Best of luck!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shadow Beneath the Sea by Joanna Lloyd

TO COMMEMORATE 100 YEARS SINCE SINKING OF LUSITANIA, 
SHADOW BENEATH THE SEA IS ONLY 99¢

Shadow cover promo 20151915: Britain and Germany are at war and the waters off Great Britain have been declared a war zone. In six days the luxury ocean liner, Lusitania, sails from New York to England with 1,959 passengers on board.

 The story of the 202nd Atlantic crossing of the luxury liner, Lusitania was one of the great maritime disasters of the last century. The actions of the German U-boat captain, as the great ship cruised the Irish coast, spawned a flood of conspiracy theories, investigations, a court case, hard questions of the British Admiralty, and targeted Captain William Turner as the scapegoat. The whole truth of this disaster was closely guarded to protect the actions or non-actions of the Admiralty.
However, there sailed on this ship a group of fictional characters whose motives for travel were as varied as their personalities. In the time it took to cross the Atlantic Ocean, in the microcosm of this floating universe, lies and deceit festered, secrets changed lives, money was made and lost and a deep and lasting passion ignited between Lillian Marshall and Edward James.
AMAZON US      AMAZON UK     AMAZON AUS
EXCERPT:

A cold chill crept up her spine, and she licked her lips, her mouth suddenly as dry as an empty coal bin. Before she could answer, there was a collective gasp in the room. The colonel had folded his cards and relaxed back into his chair. Walter and Zeke stared, unblinking at each other.

“Did you hear me, Walt? I am calling you and raising ten thousand dollars.”

Her father pulled out a large handkerchief, patted his throat and put his money on the table. Lillian saw the nervous gesture, but it didn’t match the gleam of excitement in his eyes. “Show your cards, Zeke.”

Edward grabbed her arm. “Tell me, now, Lillian. Quickly, before they end this.”

Tears welled in her eyes at the lies she was about to utter, but her future depended on this money. “There is nothing to tell, Edward. You have allowed your imagination to get the better of you.” His gray eyes searched her face, begging for the truth, and in that moment she knew she had wronged him as much as he had wronged her.

Jo - bio pic resized

Joanna Lloyd was born in Papua New Guinea and educated in Sydney, Australia. With a background in Psychology, she trained as a mediator and conducted Workplace and Family Law mediations for over twenty years. After muscular dystrophy caused her to be wheelchair bound, she transferred her fascination with human behaviour from real people to the written word. She now lives, and writes historical and contemporary fiction, in tropical Far North Queensland, Australia – her version of paradise.

WEBSITE     BLOG     TWITTER     FACEBOOK   

MEET KATE FOSTER AND HER MIDDLE GRADE NOVEL, WINELL ROAD

Please say a big HELLO and welcome Kate Foster to the blog.  A woman of many talents (as you’ll see in question number one below), who works on a variety of projects at any given time, Kate graciously gave me a few moments of her time and answered some questions about herself and her newly released, middle grade novel, Winell Road. But, before we get to the fun stuff, take a look at that beautiful cover and the blurb for Winell Road.  I must say, my boys are already dying to read this (me too!)

Winell Road cover 2

Twelve-year old Jack Mills lives at 5 Winell Road and probably has the world’s weirdest neighbours. Like freakishly weird. And to top it off, he lives with Mum: nosy, interfering, a hideous cook, and Dad: unsuccessful inventor of the Camera Belt and Self-Closing Window. All in all, it’s a boring, embarrassing, dead-end place to live.

So when Jack arrives home from school one day, a close shave with a UFO is the last thing he expects. But the fact it doesn’t abduct him, and that no one else, not even Mum, sees the gigantic flying saucer hovering over the street, adds a whole new layer of strange.

Soon after, an alien encounter threatens Jack’s life and he becomes embroiled in a galaxy-saving mission. With the assistance of his new neighbour, frighteningly tall Roxy Fox, he discovers Winell Road is hiding secrets—secrets Jack might wish he’d never uncovered.

RECOMMENDED INDEPENDENT READING AGE: 9+

BUY WINELL ROAD

Now for the fun stuff.

Kate, please tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a writer of children’s fiction, obviously, mainly middle grade novels and picture books, although I do have a chapter book series I’m working on — when I get time! I’m a freelance editor and proof reader, and volunteer my time for Ink Pantry Publishing (part of the Open University in the UK) proof reading articles and interviewing authors. I’m originally from a small village in the UK but now live on the Gold Coast in Australia with my family. 

Where did your inspiration for Winell Road come from?

My children, mainly. The main character is based on a mixture of my two eldest sons. But I find inspiration comes from anywhere and everywhere to make up my novels as a whole. In the case of Winell Road, an awesome scene from one of my favourite movies (True Lies – the bit where, after Arnie and his wife are captured, he then explains what the bomb is and Jamie Lee Curtis is like, ‘WHAT? But you’re just a sales rep!’) gave the wheels the push they needed, and from this the story grew.

I have boys and from reading the blurb, it sounds like something they’d both enjoy. Do you feel Winell Road is a gender neutral book or does it mostly cater to one or the other? 
I have boys, too, so I guess, understandably, I wrote this initially with them in mind. But in truth the book will certainly appeal to both boys and girls. Although the protagonist is a boy, Jack, his new neighbour, Roxy Fox, is a feisty, confident and fascinating girl, as well as being frighteningly tall, and she shows Jack how to 1. have fun, and 2. believe in himself.

What was the most difficult part of writing this story?
The first draft. I’m not afraid to admit that I despise them. I have all these grand ideas and vivid scenes playing out in my mind like movies and translating them into words can be a struggle at times. And I don’t like getting things wrong, so when I write something that I know isn’t portraying the imagery perfectly, I get extremely cross with myself and the world.

Is it a standalone or will it become a series?
It’s the first in a series. The second book is written, the third is plotted out and ready to write. One day.

Do you have a writing process?
Not really. I write when I have spare moments, and I have to admit I have numerous projects on the go at the same time – so I could be described as a messy writer. But all these ideas have to come out of my brain straight away or I will forget them, and I absolutely hate writer’s block. It makes me feel low – not good – so I like to be able to move away to another project if this happens. I’m yet to experience writer’s block on all my projects at the same time, but if I do, I will most definitely start something new!

Are you currently working on anything else?
Yes! I have a handful of picture books in various stages of the editing process, some out on submission to agents. I have the second in the Winell Road series to polish, and another unrelated mid grade I’m editing. Mix that in with various articles and blogs, and I think that’s probably enough!

You’re also an editor.  Can you tell us your favorite thing about editing?
The entire process, to be honest. There isn’t a part I can say I dislike. I love rearranging sentences and paragraphs, scenes and chapters, and even entire storylines, until they run smoothly and sing to the reader. And pair that up with getting to know new authors every day and watching their careers go from strength to strength is pretty close to bliss for me.

Is there a message you’d like your readers to get from Winell Road?
No, not really. Is that bad? If they do then that’s great, if not, I just hope they’ve had a ball and want to continue with Jack on his adventure. I want them to experience what I did as a child when I read Enid Blyton’s Magic Faraway Tree books and The Wishing Chair series; magic.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Enjoy as much of the process as possible, NEVER give up, and listen to advice. Whether you take it or not is up to you, but get as much feedback as you possibly can from as many people as you possibly can and at every stage of the book’s life.

And now a few favorites, just because I’m nosey 🙂
Color – Brown
Time of Day – Bedtime
Food – All of it
Book – Can I have two? The Uninvited by Liz Jensen and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon
Hobby – Writing!
Season – In England it was spring, in Australia it’s winter.
Holiday – (Does this mean a trip I’ve taken abroad? If yes…) Andalucia in Spain.
Type of Music – I love a good bop, so dance music

 KATE FOSTERKate

A YEAR LATER

UK-Basketball-2014-15-Roster

Where has the time gone?  More importantly, where has the year gone?  I mean it feels as if I just sat down to write my first blog post and now here I am a year later.  So, Happy Blogiversary to me!

By all rights this should be a day of celebration for undertaking something new. However,  like last year on this date, I’m blogging about something heart-wrenching.  Hold on to your panties because I’m not about to get all emotional.  Well, okay, I was fairly emotional a few days ago, but my mood has sombered since then.  You see, I really wanted this post to be different.  I mean, REALLY wanted it!  But alas, it just wasn’t meant to be, which is still hard for me to swallow.  You see I started my blog on the whim of high feelings over Kentucky’s loss to UCONN in the championship game last year.  Tired of hearing all about the NBA draft and who was going or staying,  I sat down and penned my thoughts, never imagining what was in store for me next.  What happened?  Well, I sold my first book, my family finally took that vacation to Yellowstone that we’d been planning for years, and my husband won his first dirt track race.  So yeah, I have quite a bit to brag about.  It’s been a great year.  But the one thing that would make it even better is if I could be writing a different post than I am today.

Almost a week has passed since Kentucky lost to Wisconsin in the final four.  I still feel ill just thinking about it, because it wasn’t just any loss.  It was the loss of something special.  Something no other team has done.  To win the championship with an undefeated season.  We were so close.  38-1.

To the seven young men entering the NBA draft, good luck!  And to the new one’s coming in, welcome to Kentucky.

Until next year …

SISTERHOOD OF THE WORLD BLOGGERS

sisterhoodoftheworldbloggersaward-graphicI’ve been complaining for weeks that Old Man Winter is nothing but a tease.  With a flurry here or a light dusting there, I was beginning to think a pretty white winter wasn’t going to happen.  And then … BAM! Old Man said take that and pounded us with a foot of snow.  Before moving to Kentucky, I saw snow twice in my life. Twice, and even after being here for sixteen years, I still get excited about it.  And since I don’t drive on the stuff- I do good maneuvering a vehicle on good roads, much less slick ones- and because the hubby pretty much works around the clock during bad weather, I’m home bound.  Which means I should be putting these free days to good use and working on my manuscript, but it seems I’ve done a lot of everything but.  Things like the Sisterhood Of The World Bloggers award. Another blog hop?  Yeah, why not?  I’ve got time 🙂

The rules are fairly simple.

1. Thank the blogger who nominated you, linking back to their site.

2. Put the Award logo on your blog.

3. Answer the ten questions sent to you.

4.Make up ten new questions for your nominees to answer.

5.Nominate seven blogs.

So, thank you very much E.L. Wicker, I appreciate the nomination. I mention her quite often on here.  She’s one of those people I just clicked with.  So if you’ve never visited her site, you should.  She’s the author of The Bearwood Series, an amazing new vampire series with a modern twist. Fractured Immortal is available now and Finding Immortal is on its way soon!

So, to answer the questions given to me by E.L.:

1. What is your favorite book?

I hate when someone asks me this question because I have so many and it’s hard to narrow it down to just one, so I’m going to say Night Sins by Tami Hoag and simply because it sparked my love for reading again.

2. Do you have a favorite character in a book?

Hard one! Especially since I typically read romance and the type of characters vary so drastically.  I like strong, driven females, especially those that go against the norm of what is expected from a woman, but I still want them to be a lady.

3. What is your preferred book genre?

Easy peasy- romance

4. What book did you most read as a child?

The Sweet Valley High series.

5. If you could live in any book world, where would it be?

You’re making me think! I would love to say Harry Potter, because I think that would be super cool, but in reality I’m such a weenie it would probably scare the shit out of me.  I’ve had this fantasy romance somewhat going through my mind about mermaids and I love all things water, so I think I’d pick something like that.

6. One of my favorite books is The Killing Place because of the wintery atmosphere – do you have a season you prefer to find in books?

I also love wintry themed books, especially those with a snowed in trope.  I also enjoy reading Christmasy books all year long.  Again, I think it’s because they typically occur in winter.  I think it has something to do with being in the cold with  a hot, sexy guy to warm up too 🙂

7.  What’s you favorite TV Show? – I’m just being nosy now!

Do sporting events count? Because if the Kentucky Wildcats are playing, I’m there.  But, gosh I don’t watch TV unless I’m at my sisters and then it’s usually some kind of reality crazy stuff like Snapped.  I do love Criminal Minds, though. I have an obsession with serial killers and how their minds work- weird I know.

8. Name one interesting thing about yourself.

I blogged about this before, but in case someone missed it. I was born and grew up in Texas. My husband was born and grew up in Kentucky.  We met when he was in stationed at Ft. Hood while in the army.  Years after we were married, we discovered that the doctor, who delivered me, was originally from Kentucky and was a brother to the doctor who delivered my husbands two older brothers.  So, our paths weirdly crossed before we ever met.

9. What is your biggest fear.

Mice.  I hate the little boogers.  I’m convinced I must have had some kind of past traumatic experience that I’m blocking because even saying the name gives me chills.

10. Would you like to join my vigilante team? (must supply own bows and leather/pvc suit)

Hell yeah!  I’ll grab one of the boys bows, but it’ll have to be a pvc suit, cause um … leather would not be pretty on this!

And now for the nominations – oh jeez! Seriously 7? I’m terrible at this.  How about I’ll nominate a few and then if anyone else wants to join in they can. And for those that I’ve nominated, please don’t feel obligated to participate. Although, I’d love to see everyone’s answers, I know how busy we all can be and that we use our blogs for different things.

Rachel Carrera

Paige Randall

Aetherhouse

April Nichols Baker

Julie Stock

And, the questions:

1. How often do you read?  Daily, weekly, monthly?

2. Favorite Movie?

3.  Worst habit?

4.  I have a couple weird food quirks.  I don’t like chocolate or ketchup.  How about you?

5.  Since we are all authors, what’s one accomplishment you’d like to have with your writing?

6.  Collect anything?

7.  Most daring thing you’ve done.

8.  Although I don’t believe a drop of what I read, I’m a tabloid junkie.  I know shameful, but I can’t help it.  So, what’s your guilty pleasure?

9.  What’s the last picture you took with your phone?- A bit nosy, but I’m running out of interesting things to ask!

10.  I think we all have a few OCD tendencies in one way or another.  Mine is list. Emails, caller ID, and text messages even my work list on my computer at work, they drive me crazy if something is sitting there.  Have any obsessions/compulsions?