Happy Holidays!

I’m off to celebrate the holidays with my family and friends and hope that you have the chance to do the same.

Looking forward to a fabulous 2020 with all of you! I’ll have two books out in the fall and will be writing a whole new Ashford Falls series.

Until then, wishing you and yours all the comforts and joy of the season.



How is your summer going so far? We’re four days in to summer break here and I’ve only heard “I’m BORED!!” 54 million times since breakfast. I think we’re all looking forward to camp starting in a few weeks.

So here’s what I’ve been up to recently…

WRITING: I’m rewriting Christmas at Starlight Lake while drafting Double Dating with the Dead. And I had another short story idea for a mailing list giveaway. So I’m writing all the things! I’m actually really enjoying writing multiple projects and *so far* seem to be getting a lot done. So onward! I’m participating in Camp Nanowrimo in July so looking forward to that too.

READING: I just read two books that I loved. Daisy Jones and the Six is a rockumentary about a fictionalized band. I could not put it down. SO GREAT! I hear that the audiobook is even better. And I also just read Maybe You Should Talk to Someone which is a therapists account of her therapy sessions after a breakup. OMG! So good too. Treat yourself to these summer reads. (NB: Links are Amazon affiliate links).

STREAMING: I just started Amazon’s Good Omens which is wickedly, hilariously funny (probably not a surprise since it’s based on a book written by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett). And David Tennent is sex on legs as Crowley, the fallen angel who didn’t so much fall as saunter vaguely downward. Love this one. I also watched Amy Poehler’s awesome Wine Country (that’s on Netflix). Such a cute, fun friendship movie. Worth a watch! (NB: Good Omens links are Amazon affiliate links).

LOVING: Have you seen Schitt’s Creek? It’s a Canadian comedy from the father-son team of Eugene Levy and Dan Levy. It’s been described as the Kardashian’s lose all their money and have to live in a rural small town. Catherine O’Hara has a star-making turn as the iconic Moira Rose and it’s got one of the best love stories ever scripted (Daniel and Patrick 4eva!) The first four seasons are on Netflix. The fifth season should be added in the fall with a sixth and final season out in 2020. GO WATCH IT!! (I will say that, sadly, the first season is the weakest. Still funny but not as great as seasons 3 and 4).

GRATEFUL FOR: In April, we took my parents to Hawaii to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. We stayed at the amazing, awesome Aulani, the Disney resort in Ko’Olina on the west side of Honolulu. It was so much fun. Got to see Pearl Harbor, the North Shore, Waikiki, and attended a luau, interspersed with days at the resort, splashing in the pools. It was wonderful and relaxing and I want to go back!! Here are just a few of my favorite pix from our trip (still working on our Shutterfly album!)

That’s about all that is new with me. Better get back to writing! Hope you’re having a wonderful June!



Just thought it’d be fun to put up a quick check-in post. How are things where you are?

Currently writing: Christmas at Starlight Lake. I just hit the midpoint on Sunday and I’m loving writing Noah and Clemmie’s story. She’s his brother’s childhood best friend and they both end up back at Starlight Lake (a fictional lake in the Finger Lakes region) for Christmas. They get involved with the town’s Christmas festival and many fun hijinks ensue. So many fun secondary characters too. I’m having a lot of fun writing it and I can’t wait until you all get to read it.

Currently listening to: I alternate between a few Spotify playlists. One is all Christmas all the time (Hallmark Christmas Marathon). Another is Chillhop for concentrating more on getting words down. And did you know Disney has a ton of Spotify playlists? My personal favorite is Disney Score to Study To.

Currently reading: 44 Scotland Street series by Alexander McCall Smith. He’s best known for his No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency mysteries but the 44 Scotland Street series is a serialized novel that originally appeared in The Scotsman newspaper. It’s such fun to see these characters interact in their everyday lives in Edinburgh. I’ve just finished the fourth installment (it’s a 12 book series!)


Currently watching: I just finished the new seasons of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and Grace and Frankie. I love them both. I’m now watching the final season of The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and catching up on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. So sad they’re both ending!


Currently crafting: I’m still unpacking my brand new basement craft studio. Can’t wait until I can actually craft in there! But I did take some time out of writing to go hang out with my bestie and make some signs at our local Board and Brush. We even got to wear VIP aprons while we did it. I’ve got another B&B class this weekend. What can I say? #addicted

Currently looking forward to: SPRING! We just had double snow days here. I’m so #donewithwinter! My hubby bought me these gorgeous daffodils to brighten the kitchen. Aren’t they pretty?

How about you? What’s currently going on with you?



So, if you follow Romancelandia on Twitter, you’ve probably seen the hashtag #CopyPasteCris. Author Courtney Milan discovered that her book, The Duchess War, had been plagiarized. Further searching uncovered the fact that, in fact, the “author” in question (Cris Serruya) had plagiarized multiple books, crafting her books into a patchwork of Frankenbooks with words lifted from Nora Roberts, Tessa Dare, Bella Andre, and many others. Cris Serruya admitted on Twitter that she’d had the books “ghostwritten” via Fiverr, took down her website, and promptly went radio silent. More and more evidence (entire paragraphs of it) continues to mount on Twitter.

I am shocked and appalled because I happen to “know” Cris Serruya. We have never met IRL. She may indeed be a bot or an avatar. I couldn’t tell you. We first “met” as part of the group of Kindle Scout winners in the fall of 2015. She also participated in two boxed sets with me (Happily Ever Alpha and Billionaire Ever After both in 2017). Both the boxed sets are long since unpublished and I have no way of knowing if Ms. Serruya’s included books were also Frankenbooks. UPDATE (2/19/2017 7:07 PM: Apparently, yes, the book she included in Billionaire Ever After, the boxed set which did hit the USA Today list, was Damaged Love which was plagairized from at least three other authors. Again, I am truly sorry. I had no idea that her entry was plagarized.)

As I was totally unaware of Ms. Serruya’s plagiarism, I’ve also recommended her books in my newsletter in the past. Please accept my apology. I would never knowingly condone plagiarism. It is theft. It is wrong and a terrible thing to do. My sympathies are with the authors whose hard work has been stolen. I am currently in the process of reviewing my own work to ensure that pieces of my books aren’t being cobbled together by other unscrupulous scammers.

All I can say is that I’ve written every word of every one of my books. I guarantee it. They’ve all been completed with blood, sweat, and tears as I slaved over the keyboard to bring my stories to life. I don’t condone plagiarism in any form. To be clear, my problem is NOT with ghostwriting, which is a legitimate form of work-for-hire writing, but with stealing another authors work, i.e. plagiarism in any form.

I happen to agree with the theory put forward on Smart Bitches and by Bree and by Alyssa Cole that Cris Serruya isn’t the only “author” relying on the same pool of cheap ghostwriters. I’d be willing to bet there are plenty more out there–usually those authors that are slapping up a “book” into Kindle Unlimited (KU) every few days. I suspect there is much more to come. (This speculation is in no way meant to excuse Ms. Serruya–just acknowledging that the Wild West of Indie Publishing is full of black hats and other scammers.)

Hopefully, Amazon will crack down on these authors that are cobbling together pieces from others hard work. Until then, constant vigilance, my friends.

MFRW 52 Week Blog Challenge 2018, Uncategorized

Woohoo! Celebrate Good Times! #MFRWAuthor

Today’s topic: How I celebrate completing a manuscript

By starting a new one?

I’m only kidding–sort of. I’ve always been blessed with tons of ideas, more than I could hope to write in five lifetimes. Thank goodness for Evernote to keep them all straight. I’ve always got tons of new story ideas that I’m excited to explore.

The truth is that writing “The End” is always an enormous relief. I’m usually excited to get to the end of the current story and start something new, with new characters and issues to explore. Plus, my books always end happily so I’m sending the characters off to enjoy their new life, with their own happy ending.

Having said that, it is a bit more difficult to end a series. When a series is still going on, I can always drop in and visit on the earlier characters. Ending Cupid’s Coffeeshop was especially heart-wrenching for me, which is probably why I have not one but two spin-off series in development.

For a while, I commemorated each book by purchasing a small piece of jewelry. For example, when I wrote a book with a teacher heroine, I bought the Alex and Ani apple bracelet. But then, I realized I wasn’t really wearing all that jewelry so I stopped that tradition.

Writing this prompt made me realize that maybe I should have some smallish sort of celebration for finishing a manuscript. After all, it is a big achievement and the occasion should probably be marked somehow. I’m just not sure what I would do. Anyone got any ideas they’d like to share?



Imagine a Literary Dinner Party #MFRWAuthors

NOTE:  I intended to post this on Friday morning but I set it for the wrong year! GRRR! Here it is anyway.


This week’s prompt is a fun one. Five authors (alive or dead) that I’d like to meet.

Did I ever tell you all about the first time I met Nora Roberts? As I mentioned in last week’s prompt, reading Nora’s book Partners launched my romance reading hobby. She and her husband own a charming bookstore in the little town of Boonsboro, Maryland, about an hour’s drive from my hometown. So, in the mid-90s or so, my mom, my best friend, Lynn, and I set out to go to a signing.

During the long drive, I brainstormed what question I, as a budding writer, would ask when I finally came face to face with my beloved writing idol. My mom and BFF (who clearly possess the patience of Job) helped and we had a lively discussion. We enjoyed lunch in town and then moseyed over to the bookstore to get in line. All through the line, I’m excited to ask my question and having a roaring good time chatting to all my new buddies in the fairly long queue. My BFF got her book signed first and then I stepped up to the table.

Nora gave me a warm smile and asked my name. I said, “Ummmm.” She blinked and looked up at me again, “What’s your name, sweetie?” I just stared back blankly, overawed to be in the presence of greatness. Finally, my best friend, concerned that I was now breathing like a landed fish, answered for me and spelled it. Nora graciously signed my book and my friend tugged my sleeve to lead me away. Yes, that’s right. I completely forgot my own name, much less my thoughtful and incisive writing question (which I don’t now recall).

Mortifying. So mortifying! Never meet your idols, kids.

Several years later, I won a tarot card reading for La Nora at a writing retreat and we had a lovely chat. She’s always gracious and warm with fans. A lovely person in addition to an amazing talent.

So, since I’ve already met her, I’d pick the following for my fab 5.

Anne Lamott. She wrote one of my all-time favorite books on writing, Bird by Bird, plus, she’s just a hoot. Here’s her amazing TED talk which you should go listen to right now. 

Chuck Wendig. He’s the author of the writing blog, Terrible Minds. His amazing piece on writing 350 words a day helped me to form a writing habit, after years of struggle. Plus, he wrote the Aftermath trilogy so I think we’d have a grand time chatting about Star Wars.

Jane Austen. I’d definitely want to hear more about that unfinished manuscript (The Watsons). She wrote three of my favorite books–Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice, and Sense and Sensibility.

Agatha Christie. Love her mysteries but what a life story too! I’d love to hear more about her life in archeology digs. Her autobiography is a great read, if you haven’t read it yet.

J.K.Rowling. Adore Harry Potter and would love to meet her. I’ve got questions too 🙂

Honorable mention: Hemingway. I’m not a fan of his writing other than A Moveable Feast. I’d love to walk around Paris with him. What a tour that would be!


How about you? Who would you pick?


Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Binge Watch

First, let me say thank you to all of my wonderful, amazing readers. The Happily Ever Alpha: Falling for the Billionaire anthology boxed set had a terrific launch. We made it to #1 on Kobo and #4 on Barnes and Noble’s romance list. We stayed in the top 500 on Amazon with over 110 reviews in the first week. I understand we did well on Google and iTunes but I have no idea how to verify that. But overall, it was a thrilling week last week. We won’t know if we met our goal—hitting the USA Today and/or the New York Times bestseller lists—until midweek this week.


It’s agonizing! I hate waiting. The die is cast. My fellow authors and I gave it our all but there’s now nothing left to do. Waiting is tough. My concentration is low. I should be writing as I still have Abby and Shortie’s story to finish but it’s a struggle. So, instead, I binge-watched Crazy Ex Girlfriend! Now I need someone to talk to about it. Lucky you, blog readers!


Have you seen it? It’s a musical sitcom or a comedic musical about attorney Rebecca Bunch (planed by Rachel Bloom) who, after running into her summer-camp boyfriend, abandons her prestigious New York job to move to West Covina, California, which just happens to be her boyfriend’s hometown. It’s totally coincidental (not!) Once in California, she finds a job and a group of friends as she single-mindedly pursues her heart’s desire, Josh.


And interspersed in there are full-on musical production numbers with insanely clever, witty, subversive lyrics. This show is funny, smart, and has heart. It’s awesome. Seriously, I binge-watched it in less than a week. You should too! It’s got like 31 episodes total. You can do it!!

So, here’s the ex-boyfriend, All-American, bland Josh Chan (I’m not a Josh fan). He’s the object of Rebecca’s devotion. I like Josh. There’s nothing not to like about Josh, except that he’s a terrible match for super-smart, super successful Rebecca.

Here’s her fling, Greg, who happens to be Josh’s bestie. Greg (who voiced Hans in Disney’s Frozen) is smart but not driven like Rebecca. He’s snarky instead. He’s not my favorite. To quote his departure song, they are a bit of a s**tshow together. (Warning: adult lyrics ahead).

And here’s her new boss, Nathaniel, who is Draco Malfoy, if he became a California lawyer. He’s awful and vile. And I adore him. He’s as smart as Rebecca but has major daddy issues too. I totally want to see these two together for season 3. Not as an OTP but just as a train wreck worth watching!

The real OTP of the show is Rebecca’s friendship with her bestie, Paula, who becomes absorbed in Rebecca’s crazy life as a way of coping with her boredom and frustration in her own stale marriage. In the second season, Rebecca falls in with her girl squad as Paula pursues her own dream and the show handles that tension really well.

Here’s the Spice Girls send up: Friendtopia. Still makes me laugh.

There are other plot lines, including one of the best explanations of bisexuality ever and a loving relationship between two men that is pitch perfect. It’s an extremely addictive show.

When I was trying to analyze what makes the show work—because, to be clear, often the characters are not all that likable and make terrible decisions—I think there are two things: 1) Rebecca may be a total train wreck in her personal life but she’s a really awesome lawyer. We tend to root for competent people. Years ago, I wrote a vampire romance with a heroine cop who was dreadful at her job. It didn’t work for many reasons but that was one of the reasons the manuscript died on my hard drive. 2) The songs are clever, witty, and truthful. Her Sexy Getting Ready song is just one example of this. Great comedy often conveys profound truths. We learn while we laugh.

And here’s my favorite all time Crazy Ex Girlfriend song, just because 🙂

Uncategorized, Writing

More Lessons Learned from Watching Friends

Last month, I talked about watching the first two seasons of the sitcom, Friends, on Netflix. Now I’ve completed watching through the end of season five and I thought I’d share what more I’ve learned since then.



1) Archetypes

Last time I talked about how Joey, Chandler, and Ross are archetype equivalents to Kirk, Bones and Spock (respectively). Now I wanted to talk about the girls. They are also a power trio called the Three faces of Eve. Phoebe equates to the playful innocent one, Rachel equals the hot and sexy one, and Monica is the calm and capable wife or team mom. Interestingly, Monica is the one who shown to be someone who could build a home life and is therefore a good match for Chandler. Rachel is definitely the hot one, the one we all desire to be. Phoebe veers toward being a manic pixie dream girl when the show highlights her eccentricities to the point of weirdness.

Utilizing archetypes with a twist is makes an effective story by combining a universal element with a unique spin.



2) Comic Exaggeration

Over five seasons, the comic identifying characteristic for each individual becomes increasingly exaggerated. Joey starts out as somewhat dimwitted but by the end of the fifth season his stupidity is often played for laughs. Sometimes, I think he gets dumber every show. Phoebe was always eccentric but now she is just weird. Ross was always high-strung and type A but now he delves toward whiney jackass.

Some of these are due to the sitcom format. But it’s still a cautionary tale. Character quirks can quickly become irritating if exaggerated too far.



3) Couples

At the end of the second season, Ross and Rachel became a couple. In a sitcom format, they couldn’t allow them to be a happy couple for long so by the middle of season three, they go “on a break” and never really reunite as a couple. So therefore the beta couple of the show, Monica and Chandler, become the main couple and the heart of the show within a single season. They get together in the finale of the forth season and are moving in together at the end of season five. Ultimately, their relationship is shown as a healthy example and much more interesting than the endless on off-again, merry-go-round of Ross and Rachel.

I’m still enjoying watching the show. I’ll report back at the end of season seven.