Free books!!! FREE. Zero dollars.

Usually new things drop on Tuesdays. I’m getting a jump on things and launching mine on MONDAY. Are you excited Internet? You should be, because today and tomorrow you can download my newest book, Strawberry Wine, FOR FREE. That’s less than the price of a cup of coffee.

 

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Strawberry Wine was my first attempt at writing a full length novel. It’s a sweet coming of age story about first love and consequences. Yes, there’s sex. Some would argue there’s statutory rape, but they would be wrong. Nobody was raped in the making of this novel. I dare you to read it and not fall in love with the characters. They are a delight. (And there’s GOATS! Everyone loves a nice goat. Goat’s are great company.)

 

Also of note, and also FREE is my novella The Stormclyffe Affair. I spiffed it up with a new cover, and it will be free from now until Halloween, so if you haven’t grabbed a copy yet, now’s your chance. And really, who wouldn’t want to read a Halloween mystery with GHOST SEX and a stuffed weasel? (To be clear, the ghost sex is with a person, not the weasel. I do have standards.)

 

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So there you have it, Internet. My Halloween gifts to you – two free sexy-time novels! Please like and share this blog with anyone that you think might enjoy any of the following:

Goats, stuffed weasels, ghosts, cowboys, hot teachers, prune juice, painting, Pride and Prejudice, historical house restoration, Rocky Road ice cream, beaches, oldies, Halloween parties, psychics with dreadlocks, seances, mysterious tragedies, art galleries, blood donation, wine, quacking duck aprons, Banksy, birthday cake, a plain old damn good story.

If you are inspired to leave a review on Amazon I will consider it an early Christmas present, and you’ll be off the hook for that too!

I love you guys, thanks for reading.

(To access the books just click on the title links or click on the pictures of the books on my sidebar)   →

 

UPDATE: There seems to be a bit of confusion about the whole Kindle thing. You DO NOT need a Kindle to read these books. Simply download the FREE Kindle app from Amazon and you can read them on your computer or device of choice.

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Little pumpkin

 
I never got a shot of Seren amid pumpkins last year. I couldn’t let that happen two years in a row!

 

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A year in faces: Seren

 

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A few years ago I took a picture of the kids every day for one full year. I used several different cameras throughout the year, and most of the pictures are red-eyed and messy. I made a point of not editing any of them. It was a quasi-photo documentary. Brecken’s video is here, and Karis’s video is here.

I thought it would be cool to do the same for Seren for her first year of life. Some of the photos were taken with my Canon, and some with my crappy iPhone. You can tell the difference. It’s damn near impossible to take a non-blurry picture of a kid with an iPhone.

I really like the end result. A lot of these pictures are edited, but mostly just light levels and stuff because often I would take the pictures in low light and they would be too dark and grainy. I find it fun to watch the baby grow from a spotted, wrinkled little grub into a sweet toddler.

 

 

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Seren is officially one

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My baby girl has been all the way around the sun. Yesterday was her first birthday, and we celebrated with Aunt Dani and Apple Josh coming over for cake and her favorite dinner – pasta and broccoli. We had a star theme for her party. The kids watched me make the cake, then played with the left over fondant until the back patio table was a sugary mess and Brecken had eaten enough to fell a horse. Gross. Here is the result of our efforts:

 

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As I was decorating it I overheard Karis telling Brecken about the symbolism of their first birthday cakes. (She came up with this all on her own – I never really thought much about symbolism in cakes and party hats.) Each of the kids have a party hat that I add a decoration to every year. Karis’s decoration happens to be flowers because I had a bunch of them and thought they’d make a cute hat. Brecken’s decoration is dots because those were easy to cut out of felt, and seemed masculine to me. Karis’s first birthday cake was my first foray into fondant, and I decorated it with flowers because that was the shape of the cookie cutter I had. Brecken’s first birthday cake was an adorable rubber ducky. I’d show you a picture but there are none. So. Anyway, this is the conversation I overheard:

Karis: “Seren’s cake and hat have stars on them because her name means ‘star’. My cake and hat had flowers because my name means ‘grace’ and ‘beauty’ and ‘love’ and that’s what flowers stand for. Your cake was a duck, I’m not sure why, but your hat has spots on it because your name means ‘freckles’.”

Brecken: “Really?”

Karis: “Yup.”

I just laughed quietly to myself and kept cleaning up the kitchen. I don’t know where that child comes up with this stuff, but I love watching her thoughts unfold.

Enjoy these photos of Miss Seren experiencing her first birthday cake!

 

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And last but not least the picture I forced Jesse to take at exactly 3:01 PM. “Hurry, hurry! It’s three oh one! Take a picture of us!”

 

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Happy birthday, kid. I’m so glad you picked us to be your family!

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Comic relief

For some reason my Comic Life program wont let me save or export anything, so please enjoy this blurry screen cap I managed to take of a little comic I made up of Seren in her explorations.

 

 

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Sweet Pickle

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I’m not a fan of pickles. Some people are, but not me. Pickles seem to be very provocative fruits. Or are they vegetables? What the hell is a pickle, anyway? Whatever classification it falls under, the pickle is not something one can be apathetic about. You either love it or hate it. There is no Switzerland of pickles.

I remember a book company (?) (I’m not sure what kind of company it was actually)

SIDE NOTE: Look at all of these things I could Google but choose not to!

I remember a company I was somehow exposed to as a child that called itself Sweet Pickles. I can even remember their jingle, and the fact that whatever product they sold (books? Magazines?) came with a scratch-n-sniff sticker that smelled like a pickle.

Um, gross.

I can still smell that sticker smell. After all these years it is still as unappealing as ever.

Oh Jesus. I Googled it. This came up:

 

 

Along with this commercial came a rush of childhood feels. I am amazed, for example, that even now, at the age of 36, I still irrationally hate the face of the girl in pigtails in this commercial. I had no memory of this girl until watching this old commercial, but now I *do* remember her, and my completely unprovoked dislike of her and her stupid face. I still do that. I still have gut reactions to perfect strangers based on their faces. I don’t like Jamie Bell’s face. I’m sure he’s a lovely person, and I don’t mean he isn’t handsome, I just don’t like his face. (Sorry Jamie Bell – I love you in Turn!)

My god, what a bizarre turn this blog post has taken. (And isn’t it bizarre how “bizarre” is spelled? I would think it should be spelled b-i-z-z-a-r-e. *shrug*)

All of this rambling is a result of my wanting to share with you my latest crochet baby gift. It needs back-story explanations lest you think me in need of counseling. (In an ironic twist, my pre-back-story rambling has illuminated just how much counseling I do need.) You see, my latest crochet gift is a baby rattle that is a pickle, but unfortunately also looks like a diseased phallus.

In answer to your next obvious question of why the hell would I make a baby a pickle rattle for any reason, but especially considering my dislike of all things pickled, I will say this: This baby’s dad makes his own pickles. I’m told they’re good, but I refuse to actually eat any of them because, well, see above. I think he’s starting his own pickle company and it has a very clever name that goes well with his last name. Anyway, I thought it would be cute for his new baby to have a pickle rattle.

 

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Seriously though, you guys, pickled things are gross. Eggs, cabbage, cucumbers, severed toes… I refuse to eat any of these things.

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There’s no I in self-publish. Oh, wait…

I’m about to publish a new novel, Internet! Well, maybe “new” isn’t the best descriptive word. Let’s try new-to-you. It’s actually the first full length novel I ever wrote. I wrote it back in 2009, but never really found the right fit for it with a publishing house, so I’ve decided to publish it myself. There are a handful of people that have helped me along the way, so I’d like to tip my hat to them in this little blog post.

I’d like to thank Alexis Ayers (That’s a pen name, but I thought she’d like me to give you guys a link to her stuff rather than use her real name in my thank you.) for taking the time to give me tips on self-publishing and ways to market my creations. It’s always heart warming when someone shares their experience with the new-comers. One of the tips she gave me was telling me about this guy.

My biggest obstacle when self-publishing is cover design. I’m a bit artsy-fartsy, and when I design a cover I pay way too much attention to what I want it to feel like for the story, and not enough attention to what will look good, or pop on a virtual bookshelf in thumbnail form. James over at Go On Write  is a graphic designer that makes ready-made book covers, so all you have to do is buy one and change the title to your own. Pre-made book covers are a dime a dozen on the internets. What I like about James’s covers it that they’re actually good. Plus, James is very funny. His dummy titles have a tongue-in-cheek quality that remind you never to take yourself too seriously. Here are some of my favorite dummy titles:

 

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 All of these covers are available at goonwrite.com. Extra points to you if you keep these titles!

Anyway, if you’re into steamy fare in your reading pursuits please check out Alexis Ayers, and if you’re looking for some quality book covers give James’s site a gander. Aside from reminding me of the good, snarky qualities of Hemingway, James also offers other services for self-publishers like editing and formatting. So far, everyone I’ve worked with over there has been a delight. You can check them out while you’re trying to contain your excitement over my book coming out!

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Daddy’s little girl

 

Both Karis and Seren idolize their father in a way that is decidedly different than Brecken. While Brecken thinks his daddy is the strongest, most amazing ninja warrior on the planet (as well he should) the girls look at him in a different light. He is their Prince Charming. I remember fondly the elaborate weddings Karis used to throw for the two of them when she was three. I was NOT invited. (I was the other woman) I was relegated to watching discretely from the upstairs window. There were flowers and gowns and passionate kisses. She was deliciously dramatic. I find myself eagerly anticipating being dethroned once again when Seren is old enough to play the part of the bride.

My girls are not alone in their hero-worship of their father. Last weekend some family friends came for a visit and they asked if we would snap a family photo of them. We set up the backdrop in the hot garage and chaotically clicked away, managing to capture a few keepers. This one was my favorite. They were between set ups, and it was a silly moment between father and daughter. I think it really shows that special parent-child bond.

 

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I guess there’s just something about daddies.

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Another year, another carrot cake

Jesse celebrated turning 38 and still being smokin’ hawt yesterday. In honor of the event I made him carrot cupcakes. There are only so many ways one can dress up a carrot cupcake to apologize for it being a carrot cupcake and not a real cupcake. This year I cut heart shapes out of raw carrots as cake toppers. They turned out adorable, and my husband, who is amazing in so many ways, actually noticed the effort it took to form raw root vegetables into hearts.

I made two versions. The lots-of-frosting version popular with the kids:

 

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And the just-a-drizzling version which Jesse appreciated because of his unnatural aversion to sweet things. (Except me; I’m sweet and he’s totally not averse to me!):

 

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In addition to “cake” he received cards from the kids. These cards… These cards were gut-wrenchingly beautiful. I did not tell them to make him cards. They took it upon themselves and each privately made him a card. They were detailed and specific and spoke to what a wonderful father he is. I teared up when I read them. Jesse didn’t cry, but that’s because he’s 94% robot.

I also took him for a float in the sensory deprivation tank. I am proud to report that neither of us peed this time. And tonight Dani is going to watch our spawn so we can go have a pint at a local Irish pub. Ohmygosh I must love this man if I’m going to choke down a beer in his honor! At least it will be a Guinness. Of all beer, Guinness sucks the least.

 

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Random midnight update

Today was Jesse’s birthday, so I forced surprised him into going for a float. Guess what? I didn’t pee in the tank this time! Yay me. (The trick is to ignore everyone’s advice and *not* drink a gallon of water before going.)

Also of note today, the exterminator came in response to the dead little visitor I found by the fireplace. He said my house was “way too clean” to have a roach problem, and judging from the location of the roach and the condition of my house he thinks the little guy wandered in when we left the screen door open, or maybe the dog brought him in.

I’m gonna go with The Wizard’s First Rule* on this one and happily assume there are no bugs up in here.

 

*People will believe anything you tell them because they fear it is true or they want it to be true.

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