Monthly Archives: April 2016

Click on the title of the blog post to view the entire entry.

roller skating flashback

Today is flashback time! Going back to Woodland skating rink in December of 2007, because a scene in the new book takes place there. These pictures were from a roller skating party our son, Zach, had through school. Jake, Chloe and I went along, and we had such a fun time.

Look how tiny Chloe is. hehe! She was 4. She pretty much stayed by the wall or along the rail the whole time.

Zach had actually had lessons in his P.E. class, where they taught the kids how to skate, so he did pretty well out there. Well, most of the time.

I always loved to roller skate. My friends and I would go to our little local roller skating rink, Roll-A-Rama, in high school sometimes. I wonder if I was ever there at the same time as my husband, because he told me that he used to go skating on the weekends sometimes, too. So funny to think that we might have been out there skating next to each other and not even known each other yet. :)

During college, I went to the Woodland rink, shown in these photos, with a bunch of people from college, which inspired the scene in the book that takes place at this very skating rink. I saw recently that, after many years, the Woodland rink closed for good. So sad. But I’m glad to have happy memories there and some fun pictures of our kids skating at the place I enjoyed so much. And it will live on in my book, Until Then. ;)

a gentle breeze

photos taken April 2014. Look at my little girl. She’s grown so much in two years!

I’m antsy. I can’t seem to shake it. Maybe it’s because the book is coming out a month from TODAY! Maybe it’s the fact that we are in a bit of a transition with Jake starting his new job. Maybe I’m just letting the every day stuff worry me too much or I’m sitting at the computer too much and not getting enough fresh air. I have no idea. I get this way every once in a while, and I hate it. But since I know this about myself, I know to relax and get a change of scenery.

It is a beautiful day here in Michigan, so I went outside and sat on the back porch for like half an hour. Chloe came outside and sat with me and was making videos on her phone (one of her favorite things to do). The sun was warm and there was a light breeze gently blowing my hair, which is one of my absolute favorite things. When I was a teenager, I would sit on the hill behind our house listening to music on my headphones, and I loved it when there was a gentle breeze. It calmed me and, for whatever reason, always made me feel pretty. Maybe that sounds weird, but it’s how I always felt and still do when the wind blows through my hair.

Sitting on our little back porch today for those thirty minutes, I closed my eyes and felt the breeze and prayed for God to calm my crazy, chaotic emotions. I wasn’t instantly calm or anything, but it did help. And even though I had no makeup on, my hair was still slightly damp from my shower, and I was wearing comfy clothes and slippers, that gentle breeze God sent my way made me feel pretty. He knows me well.

When I went looking for a picture to share with this post, I came across the above photo of me and Chloe from 2014 sitting in the exact same spot we sat today. The flowers are blooming right now, just like they were then. And I’m pretty sure we were looking at her iPod videos that day, too. ;)

Simon and Michelle | first words

I came across this picture the other day when looking for pics of guys grinning for my little “Show Me Your Grin” contest. ;) It immediately made me think of Simon and Michelle from my books. They have such a close friendship — best friends forever. And I love them and their instant connection.

I adore the actors pictured here (from the movie “Love, Rosie”). Sam Claflin is one of my favorites, though I think he’s a little shorter than what I imagine Simon to be. And Lily Collins is beautiful, but she is super short to be Michelle (like 5’5″ when Michelle is 5’10”). But I love this picture, and it makes me happy when I think of Michelle and Simon as real people, not just characters in my books.

So, I thought I would share the first words Michelle and Simon ever said to each other with you today. A little setup for the scene: It’s move-in day at college, and Michelle has gone to the gym to check things out. There is a group of guys there playing 3-on-3. She stops just inside the door to watch. And …

     One of the guys immediately turned her head. He was tall and handsome, with nut brown hair and an athletic physique. But he was a terrible shot, hitting the backboard way too high at least half a dozen times. He suddenly lobbed the ball at the basket and completely missed, sending it bouncing in Michelle’s direction.
     She retrieved the ball and dribbled it in place, glancing his way.
     He jogged over to her, and she tossed him the ball.
     “Thanks,” he said with a grin. “Do you play?”
     Michelle flipped her long, dark ponytail over her shoulder and raised an eyebrow in reply. “The real question is … do you?”

Hehehe. So cute, right?

If you’ve already read Goodbye, Magnolia, then you know how things turn out with them, and you’ll get to see it all unfold in Until Then, which comes out on May 24th.

the story behind the SHOW ME YOUR GRIN contest

Last weekend, while on the way to our daughter’s gymnastics meet, my husband, Jake, was reading my latest book, Until Then. Though my contemporary romance books aren’t really his cup of tea, he is very well read and I trust his opinion and input when it comes to my stories. So, I’m driving along and he makes a comment that there is a lot of grinning going on in the first part of the book. There was some discussion about a line where I said she gave a weak grin, which launched into what exactly a grin looks like.

My mom and I both showed him our best grins. I would show you a picture of us grinning (I’m grinning in that bio picture at left), but these guys do it better. So this is what we both picture when we think of a grin:

Jake shook his head and said, “That is not a grin, that’s a smile!” and proceeded to look up the definition online.

The official Merriam-Webster definition of GRIN:
to draw back the lips so as to show the teeth especially in amusement or laughter; broadly. To smile widely.

This is how my husband thinks all the characters in my book are looking at each other:

The official Merriam-Webster definition of SMILE:
to make the corners of your mouth turn up in an expression that shows happiness, amusement, pleasure, affection, etc.

What? How have I gone my entire life thinking it was the other way around? At what point did I start to think closed mouth = grin? I’m sure I was taught the correct definition in school. I guess you learn something new every day, right?

So the point of all this was to see just how many people agree with me and how many agree with Jake. How many have come to believe that those handsome guys at the top of this post are grinning at us? And how many picture the cheshire cat when they think of a grin?

Four people shared their selfies with me. It was actually a 50/50 split. So I’m not the only crazy one that thinks a grin is a little closed mouth smile. Even my mom-in-law agrees with me, but my sister-in-law agrees with Jake. ;)

The winner of a signed paperback
of any one of my novels,
wearing a very pretty “grin” is:

Thanks to everyone who participated. :)

our weekend

Our daughter, Chloe, has been in gymnastics for the past 4 years. She started out taking a class then joined the team and has been competing since then. When I was in middle school, I was obsessed with gymnastics. I never took a gymnastics class in my life, except for some tumbling in gym class. I never even learned how to do a cartwheel. But my girl has been flipping since she was little, so this was the perfect fit for her.

Over the past year, she started mentioning that she might not want to do team next year, and I always said that if it wasn’t fun for her anymore, I would not force her to do it (even though I love watching her compete!). So, sadly, this past weekend’s USAG Michigan State Championships was her final meet. I’m so proud of her. It has been such a joy to see her learn and improve in this sport. And so much fun to watch – always so graceful with her long legs, making back walkovers on the balance beam look effortless, pushing up onto her tiptoes just before she runs for the vault (love that), putting her hands together to form a heart whenever she saw me in the stands. So proud of you, baby girl. <3

Afterwards, we went to dinner with my Mom and Mom & Dad O, who all came over for the meet. It also happened to be this guy’s birthday, so we celebrated him that night, too.

Another bit of GREAT NEWS to celebrate — JAKE GOT A JOB! He started on Monday, so we were really happy and celebrating that fact as well. Thank you to all of you who prayed for us over the past few months while he was without a job. God is good and it’s so awesome the way He worked everything out for Jake to get this new job and stay in the publishing industry. We were a little nervous that we might have to move out of the area or even out of the state, but it all worked out and the job is still close to home. We are thankful.

So, since we knew we had to travel across the state to Saginaw for the meet, we decided to stay in Frankenmuth at the Splash Village hotel for the night. Great choice! We took the kids there nine years ago and it was just one small room with one big slide, a water bucket, lazy river and some kiddie slides. Since then, they have added a huge atrium to the back of the building and really expanded it with a couple of bigger, faster slides and a bigger lazy river. It was nice. One of Chloe’s teammates was there with her family as well, so they had a blast together.

Before leaving Frankenmuth, we hit the outlet mall at Birch Run to pick up some dress pants for Jake for work. We went into a few stores for the kids to spend some money they had and I mentioned that there was a Claire’s and spontaneously said, “Chloe, you could get your ears pierced at Claire’s.” I have been telling her for a few years now that we would go get her ears pierced, and this seemed as good a day as any. A nice reward for her last gymnastics meet and four years of hard work.

She loves them! She opted to have both done at once, which was a good thing, because she said it really hurt. ;) She had this scared look on her face just after and I thought for sure she was going to pass out or something. haha! She didn’t.

Another highlight of the weekend was sitting in the hotel room with my mom chatting while the kids and Jake spent a couple hours at the water park. We talked about my books and checked my sales stats online. Goodbye, Magnolia was on a free promo over the weekend and we watched it jump to #1 in its categories, which was fun. I also told her what I’ve come up with so far for Book 3 in the series. She always lets me talk things out and gives me her thoughts.

It was a very good weekend. :)

show me your grin | selfie contest

So … last weekend, my hubby and I got into a disagreement about what a grin looks like. When you’re reading along in a book and it says “she grinned at him”, what do you picture? What does a grin look like to you? I thought it would be fun to do a little selfie contest to see what you all think a grin looks like and have a giveaway at the end of the week.

To enter:
• Take a selfie of you grinning
• Share it in the comments of my Facebook post HERE

On Friday, I will share the whole story and draw a name. One person will win a signed paperback copy of any one of my books. (US residents only. Sorry!)

Thanks for your help! :)

AJAXed with AWP