Book Cover: Circus in a Shot Glass

Here’s the cover for Circus in a Shot Glass (I couldn’t wait ’til next Friday to reveal it):

Book cover by Cora Graphics

Thanks to Cora at Cora Graphics for doing such a superb job! Circus in a Shot Glass is slated to released September 9, 2018 from Clean Reads. It’ll be available in e-book from


Tea: This Writer’s Beverage of Choice

Tea is a yummy beverage with a rich history and cool customs.

“I like tea. Tea doesn’t make me sad.” – Circus in a Shot Glass (Clean Reads 2018)

Everyone has a preferred beverage or two. My brother’s is diet Mountain Dew. My niece’s is chocolate milk (or Olive Garden’s berry smoothie, depending on what day you catch her on.) My sister’s is very, very sweet hot tea. Seeing as she’s my twin, I have to second her preference…just maybe not quite as sweet.

Also, it’s fitting: Writers often sing the praises of caffeine.


And oftentimes, that caffeinated beverage of choice narrows down to either tea or coffee.

Tea has been around for centuries. It mainly comes from the East, from countries such as China, Taiwan, India, and Japan, but some black teas come from African country Tanzania. The leaves are plucked from tea bushes, overseen by a tea master, then fired and rolled and shaped and eventually, they wind up on store shelves.

Here are some cool things I’ve learned about tea from The Tea Enthusiast’s Handbook by Mary Lou Heiss:

  • In Russia, people often sweeten their tea with fruit jam. It’s usually a thin, seedless jam, and the most commonly used flavor is cherry. (I might have to try this some time, just to see what it’s like.)
  • Using water boiled more than once for tea is a no-no. It affects the flavor profile of the liquor (liquid tea) in a negative way.
  • Different teas require different water temperatures and steeping times, and some can take milk or lemon and/or sweetener. Others are best if you drink them “black.”
  • There are five “classes” of tea: Black, white, yellow, green, and oolong.
  • Tea was first introduced to the West in the 1600s. Tea leaves were given to the Russian czar as a gift, which he initially refused and had to be persuaded to try. Since then, it’s gone on to be the country’s #1 (non-alcoholic) beverage.
  • If your green tea is bitter, the water you steeped it in was most likely too hot.

There’s a scene in my novel Circus in a Shot Glass where two of the main characters go to a tea shop in some obscure New York (State) town. Scotch (female protagonist) drinks a cup of berry-flavored tea with sugar, milk, and lemon. Ardal (male protagonist) drinks a mint infusion (not really a tea, since tea comes from two—or is it three?—varieties of the same plant, none of which are mint 😉 )

In the scene, the scent of the tea brings back a strong memory for Scotch, an alcoholic amnesiac, and—well, I don’t want to spoil anything!

I don’t want to even think of how many cups of the hot beverage I drank while writing the novel over the span of four years. Or while I was doing edits. *shudders* Or querying. *double shudder*


Writer or not, what’s YOUR beverage of choice? Tea? Coffee? Pop? The blood of your enemies?

Keep your nose in a book,


I know I’ve been quiet lately, and I might go back to being that way for a little while. Just a heads up 🙂

005.JPG(Isn’t he adorable? ❤ ❤ ❤ )

Some things coming up:

Fall 2018:

  • Circus in a Shot Glass comes out (Clean Reads)
  • Things Heard in a Graveyard comes out (indie)
  • My newsletter will (hopefully) get going

Keep your nose in a book,

Love = Feeding

The lengths we’ll go for someone we love, am I right?

My cat Chester (2003 – 2016–almost 2017) had had renal failure for almost six years when he died. To take care of him and to keep his life happy and comfortable, we had to mix Epakitin in moist food twice a day, gave him 1/4 of an antacid once a day in a Pill Pocket or any treat we could trick him into eating, fed him a special kidney diet, took him to vet appointments every so many months to get his blood toxin levels tested, and we had to administer subcutaneous fluids a few times a month. The vet was shocked that Chester lived so long after his diagnosis–and lived happily and comfortably at that.

Another thing I love (not as much as God, people, or pets, so don’t worry 😉 ) is my writing. How much do I love it, though?

I buy/read books to study the craft of writing. I critique others’ works, and sometimes people critique mine. But other than those things, how am I feeding my writing? My craft?

Some things I could do to improve my quality of writing life:

  • Read more (I read a decent amount, but I can always up my reading time and improve the quality)
  • Play. Just let myself play on the page and have fun.
  • Try other art forms, such as painting, clay sculpting, singing (I kid, I kid)
  • Take better care of my mind. There has been so much bad stuff on the internet lately, maybe it’s time to take a break from at least parts of it.
  • Take better care of my body. Better health can mean better spirits, which in turn means better quality of output


What about YOU? What do you love and how do you show it?

Keep your nose in a book,

Kindness in Literature

There’s been a lot of negativity in online communities as of late. And while it’s important to keep up with politics (to a point); and be a social activist, standing up against the lions of injustice…it’s also so very, very much needed to be kind and focus on positive things.

Here, for all our sakes, is a small collection of kindness found in books. The motives could be dissected (no human motive is 100% pure), but I’m not going to do that.

“It’s not enough to be friendly. You have to be a friend.”
― R.J. PalacioWonder

Oh, Wonder. You’re such a wonderful book. This whole middle-grade novel is full of kindness moments and quotes.

The premise: A kid who has looked different all of his life ventures out into the world (the world being grade school), makes friendships, moves people to be kind, and all-in-all inspires others as he comes out of his shell.

While I don’t condone violence, my favorite scene involves Auggie’s best estranged friend, Jack Will, standing up for Auggie. Violence isn’t the answer (he punches another kid for making fun of Auggie), yet his heart was right. That’s what I loved. His heart.

“His love for Frodo rose above all other thoughts, and forgetting his peril he cried aloud: ‘I’m coming Mr. Frodo!”
― J.R.R. Tolkien


Samwise Gamgee from The Lord of the Rings trilogy is a great example of love and kindness in literature. Not only does Sam stay with Frodo no matter what, he even offers to carry Frodo’s burden. And when Frodo won’t let him do that, Sam carries Frodo. Sam is good and is the second being to willingly (if not un-reluctantly) give up the Ring of Power.

“But I feel as if I did know Rue, and she’ll always be with me. Everything beautiful brings her to mind. I see her in the yellow flowers that grow in the Meadow by my house. I see her in the Mockingjays that sing in the trees. But most of all, I see her in my sister, Prim.”
― Suzanne CollinsCatching Fire

Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games not only took her sister’s place in the dreaded arena, she befriended a girl from another district who could seemingly be of little benefit, taking the girl under her wing and ultimately avenging and mourning her as if she had been her own sister.


These are just a few of my favorite kind moments in literature. What are YOUR favorites?

Keep your nose in a book,

(Self) Sabotage!

No need to sing Beastie Boys at me. Please don’t.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way…

Today I’m going to talk about sabotage. More specifically, SELF-sabotage.

A friend once asked me if I was my own saboteur. I think I replied around the lines of “I don’t know.” Because I didn’t. But the more I look at my patterns of behavior, the more I’m noticing that yes, yes I do sabotage myself in many different areas of my life.

When I know I’ll binge eat at night, I fail to eat earlier in the evening so that I’m not hungry then. Then I’m “starving” late at night and fall into that pit. Sabotage.

I buy a pair of jeans a size larger because I think I’m bigger than I am. The pants fall down (a lot) when I’m around home, and I still find a way to think I’m bigger than I am. Sabotage.

When I’ve edited a manuscript but it’s not quite there yet, I go ahead and hit SUBMIT. Because I’m never going to get any better and suck and might as well get the rejection/s over with. SABOTAGE.

The sad thing? I keep doing the above three things. I haven’t learned.

There’s a good book that gives me hope. It’s called RESTORE and it’s by Vince Antonucci. He talks about going to a rehab of sorts and how there are really six or so tools to help get yourself out of a bad habit (and I count sabotaging myself as a habit.) They’re covered in AA, I believe (at least some.) The first one?


Read the book for more explaining, but suffice it to say that by seeing my sin and weakness and turning to God for help, He’s able to do amazing things.

Non-Christians: This is a good book.

Christians: This is a good book.

So please pray for me, that I can stop messing up my life when I know God has good things in store for me.

Keep your nose in a book and your pen on the page,