Breaking the Rules is LIVE!

Alma and Sawyer’s story is finally live and I hope you got yourself a copy. There is a little bit of faux pas on my part for Barnes & Noble and Kobo. Somehow I missed the deadline to upload last week and the aggregator automatically set the preorder on 6/26. So I’m off to fix that little problem but probably not until morning when someone can actually answer my email…

In the meantime, you can get your copy from Amazon and iBooks.

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Crack Open A Window



From Barstow, we make our way to Flagstaff. I sit in the back seat next to Tyler, entertaining him with the toys I’ve brought along with me. Sometimes I catch Sawyer watching us in the rearview mirror. Sometimes he catches me watching him.

It’s a harmless game between us and I’m grateful for the distraction. I’ve never met any of Sawyer’s girlfriends before but I’ve seen pictures of them, or at least, one of them, a petite woman with a pixie haircut who Drew told me was a massage therapist and yoga instructor. I vaguely remember Drew saying that she was the reason Sawyer spent a lot of time in Sedona although that was a few years ago. The only thing I know about Sawyer’s love life so far these days is that he doesn’t wear a ring.

“You sure you don’t want me to take over driving?” I ask when I catch him looking at me again.

“Nah, I’m good. Take a nap if you want, Al. I got this,” he replies as I lean back in my seat. “You don’t mind country music, do you?”

So far, our playlist has included Phish and the Dave Matthews Band. No country music—yet. “I’d never have figured you for a country music fan, Sawyer.”

“I’m cycling through all the songs on my phone so I think country is next. I don’t think Tyler would appreciate heavy metal.”

I laugh, shaking my head. “I know I won’t, not with him in the car, but country’s fine.”

Sawyer grins. “Country it is then.”

By the time Kip Moore’s Bittersweet Company plays on the radio, Tyler is fast asleep. I prop one of the neck pillows I brought with me against the window and close my eyes. With nothing to look at but barren landscape and cars and trucks zipping past, I might as well join Tyler in his nap.

When I wake up, Tyler is wide awake and kicking happily on one of the stuffed animals by his feet. Sawyer looks at me through the rearview mirror before focusing his attention back on the road ahead.

“Are we there yet?” I stretch my neck, my body starting to get sore from all the sitting.

“Almost. About ten minutes.”

“Oh, good.” I look at Tyler who seems so content in his car seat before I realize why. He’s busy concentrating. “Uh-oh! I think Ty just went number two.”

“Eight minutes,” Sawyer says as he hits the gas. “You may need to crack open a window.”


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Have You Heard About My Giveaway?!


No? Then let me tell you!

I’m celebrating the release of Breaking the Rules with a Kindle Fire 7 PLUS $20 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway and you can enter to win here.

Not only will you get a chance to win a Kindle Fire but you get $20 to buy all the books that are not mine haha. But seriously, you can buy so many books with $20 unless it’s Bill Clinton and James Patterson’s latest novel which will probably set you back $17.99, leaving you with only 2.01 left to buy another book.

There are many ways to enter, too. So many choices!

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So whatcha waiting for?

I’d also like to wish all the cool fathers and fatherly dudes out there a Happy Father’s Day!

Three Days


Already the ARCs went out and I really hope readers will enjoy Alma and Sawyer’s story. The paperback will be delayed because it took me forever to get things started and my cover designer won’t work on it until next week. But one thing’s pretty sure: I think I’m ready to let go and hand it to the universe.

Don’t forget to pick up a copy from your favorite retailer!


Alma sits in the front passenger seat this time, with a clip-on mirror on the sun visor allowing her to check on Tyler who is yawning as I get on Interstate 40. From here it’s four more hours before we get to Taos. We talk about music for a while before she turns quiet again, propping her bare feet on the dashboard as she leans back in her seat. Before long, she’s asleep, the neck roll cushioning her head against the window.

The deafening pop comes half an hour later and smoke and remnants of the rear tire go flying behind the trailer. A shudder reverberates through the SUV just before the vehicle veers to the right. Behind me, the trailer swerves precariously toward the second lane, the car behind me swerving just in time to avoid us. I ease on the brake as best as I can and make my way toward the shoulder, my knuckles white against the steering wheel.

Everything would have been fine but as the SUV slows to a stop along the side of the interstate, I might as well have been on the edge of some Afghan’s farm with my unit seconds before Smith stepped on the IED, the smell of blood and sulfur filling the air. And instead of Alma’s startled gasp, I hear the shouts of my fellow Marines as we do what we can to get out of the line of gunfire and RPGs.


On Writing: What’s Essential?

I found this Twitter thread that’s so valuable that I have to park it here before it disappears into the depths of my newsfeed:

Click on the tweet and read the whole thread. It was what I needed to hear after five months of agonizing over plot and story and everything else.

Hope your day is filled with lots of stories worth telling and writing about. As for me, it’s the kid’s first day of summer vacation and we’re staying home so far. I’m still nursing a cold and so outdoors stuff will have to wait until tomorrow.

Four Days


Songs have always inspired most of my stories and Breaking the Rules is no exception. For months, I agonized over the Prologue the way it appears. I’d take it out, rewrite the beginning and then put it back in and then rewrite the beginning again. I was too afraid that it would turn readers off—and I know it will. But if I played it safe with my stories, then what’s the point of telling them if I tell them guided by the fear of, “OMG what will they think?”

With four more days before the release of Breaking the Rules, I’m finally at a point where I can look at the whole picture (in this case, the book), pick out my favorite lines, and look back at the song that inspired the characters.

This is Alma’s:


I take a few deep breaths, letting my gaze wander around the hotel room, the time, 3 AM, flashing in the semi-darkness. I wonder when the dreams will stop, when my fears will finally allow me to move on.

After all, wasn’t that why I took that apartment even when it was right next to a car repair shop? I’d allowed my apathy to take over after Drew’s death, the guilt I carried spilling over everything I touched. I’d always prided myself as someone who was able to get up and move on quickly but Drew’s death was something else. The guilt was worse.

But things are different now. I’m taking control of my life and this time, I’m determined not to let my grief and apathy win.

Five More Days

While finalizing the playlist for Breaking the Rules, I realized I hadn’t shared some of the songs that inspired the story. There are a few but I’ll start with Sawyer’s song, Are We Too Late by singer/songwriter Tom Leeb.


Half an hour later, I step out of Tyler’s nursery and find Sawyer drying the last of the dishes and putting them away in the cupboard. Tall, broad shoulders, slim hips, he’s perfect in every way. He even puts the dishes away.

“How was the water pressure?” I ask as he turns to face me, drying his hands and setting the towel on the rack.

“Just like dinner, perfect,” he replies.

I hate having to put him on the spot but I don’t want to play any more games. “Sawyer, about the other day–”

“I’m not sorry for kissing you.”

“I’m not either. But why do I feel like you’re pulling away?”

“Because I promised Drew I’d take care of you, not take advantage of you.”

“Who says you’re taking advantage of me?” I ask. “You’ve helped me more than anyone I know. You offered this place when you didn’t have to. You drove with us when you could have flown instead. That’s not taking advantage of me at all. That’s being a… a good friend.”

“That’s the problem, Al,” he murmurs as he closes the space between us. “I don’t want to be just a friend.”


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He Made It! #MPRaccoon

I was going to wait it out last night, and sure enough I did, but I was too busy fixing timeline issues with my book to post it in real time. So here it is, MPRaccoon making it to the roof of the building, to safety. Where he is now, though, and his fate is up to Animal Control.

Like someone tweeted, he’s the perfect metaphor for 2018.

Oh wait, you haven’t heard of #MPRaccoon? Here’s a Twitter Moment rundown:

The State of Things


A quick summary so far:

  1. I finished the book. Now everyone has to scramble to get it all edited, proofread, and looking nice and purr-ty in seven days.
  2. From here on, no more preorders and no more planning. Just write it and if it’s done, good. That’s one book down. No pressure. I’m sick of the stress, honestly.
  3. I have a nasty cough and cold thingy where I sound like a man and I’m currently on antibiotics.
  4. It’s ugly out there in indie-romance-land where everyone is posting screenshots of private chats, doxing fellow romance authors/publishers and carrying out witch hunts. It doesn’t look like it’s going to end any time soon.
  5. My secret list of authors I really admire is falling apart faster than a Nature Valley granola bar.
  6. I really hope #MPRaccoon lasts one more night. I want him to prove 2018 wrong, that good things STILL happen, damn it. Even if it’s just this one.

The Things We Leave Behind

One of hubby’s uncles passed away in his sleep two weeks ago and last night, we had his wake. This afternoon is the funeral with military honors although I’m not sure if I can attend it as the little guy will be in school.

I’ve only ever met this man about five times since I married into hubby’s vast extended family. My first memory of him is from my church wedding day when, at the reception, he came up to the main table and asked us where we were having our honeymoon. Granted, I had not wanted a full-blown church wedding and we’d already been married two years before in Vegas, going away on a honeymoon was the last thing on my mind. I was also too exhausted from smiling all day, but I probably answered something like we haven’t thought about it yet. So he gave his suggestions and one of them was Asia. For some reason which I don’t remember now, it segued into something that had to do with hookers and I had to laugh because he was saying this to the husband and wife. Of course, he was joking but I always remembered him to be larger than life and opinionated, often loud but sincere.

Last night I got to listen countless relatives and friends, former coworkers, and community representatives stand at the pulpit to honor his legacy. Every single one of them noted his big heart and desire to help others. He was the Boston kid who was pro-union, had a picture taken with John F. Kennedy, and could pull enough strings in his community to get a kid going to school at the wrong side of town into the better school on the other side of town (the better side) in less than 48 hours after his mother called to ask for his help.

I almost cried a few times listening to their stories and marveled at what an amazing man he was and was truly loved by the community that they ran out of time to accommodate people who wanted to share their thoughts about him. But we got closure and know he’s in a better place.

It got me thinking about the things I’d leave behind when I move on. What will people say about me? What would they think of me? How would they remember me? It’s one of the things I often worry about when people see me running around town without my makeup and I can’t help but wonder if they ever think to themselves, wait, that’s the author?

Anyway, I slept on this question only to wake up to learn that Anthony Bourdain is dead at 61. Cause of death? Suicide.

I first heard about Bourdain through his bestselling book Kitchen Confidential that began life as an article in the New Yorker. It would change his life and as far as my saute pan choices, mine, too.

I enjoyed his TV shows, especially the ones where he went to the Philippines where he declared the best lechon came from my home town. He also loved the smelly durian which is one of my favorite fruits as well. It smells so bad that it’s prohibited in many, if not all hotels in Southeast Asia. They actually have tables where you need to check the contents of your bags in case you decide to sneak in durian or jackfruit. He even beat Andrew Zimmern there who couldn’t stomach eating it.

Val Kilmer wrote a post about Bourdain’s passing that may be triggering to some folks but when you read it and ponder on his message, you see it from the side of the ones Bourdain left behind. It’s selfish, yes, but it also deserves to be explored because for those of us left behind, there are many things some of us may never find closure for.