Another Sad & Shitty Day

On Christmas Day we found out that our sweet little furry friend Chewie had lung cancer. This came as a huge blow because she was so young and only three months ago we’d also had to put our Boxer to sleep (stupid, shitty cancer!).

We took Chewie home and kept her comfortable and loved on her as long as we could, but yesterday we realized it was time and we made the hard decision to say goodbye.

4 1/2 years wasn’t nearly long enough, but we loved every day we had with her. I’m comforted that it was Christmas break and the kids where home, so she spent her last two weeks surrounded by her family.

She was a sweet girl who loved her boys, playing with cats, reading time, jumping on the trampoline, making snow angels, playing German Spotlight with the boys & their friends, going for walks & to the dog park. She also loved sitting under the Barking Tree and…barking.
We will miss you girl 😢🐶💔

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She was a huge fan of road trips
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Taking a break from jumping on the trampoline
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Rocking the shades
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Reading time with her boys was a favorite
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Senior pictures photo shoot with her main boy
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As wee little fluff, right after she picked us to be her family
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Making snow angels
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My what big…talons(?) you have
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A primary member of the writing support crew. Always eager to hear about the latest plot development
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<3 I’ll miss you sweet girl, RIP…
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Literary Support Crews

Here’s the thing about being an author: it’s a solitary, always in your head kind of thing. I can ask for help with the very tangible steps in the process (critiques, beta-reading, listening to passages), but there are times when an idea or image is a whisper of a thought in my head, something that hasn’t been worked out yet, and may not be for years. But it’s there, and I want to know everything I can about it while it’s swimming around in my brain.

So how does a writer take a whisper of a thought and turn it into a total sensory experience? Well you imagine each and every sound, sight and sensation that could go with that (imagined) moment in time. And sometimes, you risk exposing the humiliating randomness of your brain, and you ask for help to “experience” what you’ve imagined.

Being the friend of an author isn’t the same as being friends with a photographer, painter, or musician (or so I imagine). To take part in the process with a writer or photographer, you might be asked to pose, with a musician you can hear the creative process as the piece is developed. With an author–well, a lot of time we don’t even know where the piece is going, can’t describe it, and you won’t even see it until it’s done-ish.

But what’s important is to have those people in your life that you can turn to and say, “So, I have this totally random thing I’d like your help with.”

And so it was, in Scotland when my own family and friends (my literary support crew!) helped me capture the sounds and images of what it might be like to march into an enemy castle…

Storming the castle…

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Words of Welcome for a New Baby Boy (aka- Words of Warning for Parents of a New Baby Boy)

Friends from work welcomed a new baby boy early this morning.

Of course, every time a new baby makes an appearance on the periphery of one’s life, it causes one to sit back, reminisce, and then assault the new parents with a litany of advice and rules (most of which we rolled our eyes at and chalked up to complete bullshit when we were on the receiving end!).

So, I’d just like to take a moment to welcome little Colton into the world and offer him some support as he makes this transition into the exterior world. So, little baby, these are the things I’ll tell your parents. It’s real-world advice that most people won’t discuss in “mixed company”, but I’m here for you. It’s really what I do best (and because after three kids, I still don’t really know shit about layettes and how many onsies a person should have–which may explain a lot about my parenting journey, but back to your parents…).

I’ll tell them that:

  1. You’re going to pee on things. Lots of things. Like, not even now, or when you’re potty training, but a few years later. Just when they assume it shouldn’t be an issue.
  2. In the first few months, as they transition into the sleep-depraved, coffee-fueled parents they thought only existed in sit-coms, the magic words are: Always cover the wee-wee. They may be too tired to take the extra step, they may think they can change a diaper fast. But nothing on earth is as fast as the sudden breeze that sweeps in from tinkle-land and causes a baby boy to respond. As fast as that stream is, it’s also multi-directional, and nothing will wake them up faster than the light tinkle of urine spraying the window blinds over their shoulder at 2 am.
  3. Never put the baby directly on the couch, bed or carpet. Always have a blanket or towel (cheap ones that you don’t care about, but not so cheap that they give off carcinogenic fumes when you burn them!). You may think a diaper and clothing serve as a barrier, but there will be blowouts of such magnificent proportions that you can’t get into the same room without getting some on you. Trust me people, poop travels…far!
  4. Speaking of poop–never, ever, ever again assume that something is chocolate.
  5. You will do and say things that will make them question their own sanity. You’ll also say things that–however innocent–will sound completely inappropriate. Usually in public. In a very loud voice. In that two-second time span when every other sound on earth has paused. And everyone will look at them with the judgiest of judgemental faces. And just when you have everyone’s attention, you just feel free to say one more thing to really tip the balance out of their favor (trust me, they’ll just smile and shrug. There’s really nothing else they can do!).
  6. They’ll have to make rules they never imagined they’d have to verbalize: a) You cannot pee on your brother; b) Sneaking food in your underwear isn’t a good idea; c) You can’t put sausage patties in a toaster; d) You can’t use the plastic bins just because you’re in the middle of a LEGO project–get up and go to the bathroom. (I’m really not profiling–a lot of things boys do just involve pee)

But despite the exasperating, appalling, confusing, and human waste covered moments they’ll never be the same. They’ll barely be able to recall a time when you weren’t in their lives, they’re first and last thoughts each day will be of you, and every cell in their bodies will be finely tuned to where you are in the world and will know on a cosmic level if you are safe, well, and happy. And if you do nothing else in the world, the fact that you exist has made them exactly who they are right now, and it is the very best of everything!

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August #Giveaway: Win 1 of 20 free critiques

(*Updated to reflect additional critiques)

My birthday is this month and I’ve decided to give, give, give! (Oh, and I asked some of my friends to help me give)

For my August giveaway I’ve decided to gear it toward those of you out there who are still writing away, editing and polishing your manuscripts, obsessively revising your query letters, and dreaming of the day your efforts are rewarded. That’s right, authors, this one is for you.

At the end of  the month 21(!) free critiques will be given away.

So, what do you do to enter? Click on the Rafflecopter link and follow the prompts. And yes, there are a lot of Twitter profiles that you can follow, but there were a lot of generous authors who volunteered their time to help out, so please show them some love.

Details (and the Rafflecopter link) are below. Best of luck to everyone.













a Rafflecopter giveaway

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A Colorado Girl and Harry Potter Fandom

A few weeks ago I was in Scotland. Aside from the castles, thrones, and really old stuff (more to come on that later) I had the chance to indulge in some Harry Potter fandom. Just to clarify, I’m not someone who knows Harry Potter trivia in detail. I’ve read the books, seen the movies, and I’m a fan of both and of the mystique that surrounds all things Potter-ish.

That said, while in Scotland I did engage in some literary fandom. Months before our trip my sister-in-law, Kate, sent me a link to The Elephant House. This (for those who don’t know) is a lovely little tea & coffee shop in Edinburgh where JK Rowling spent some time writing Harry Potter while looking out the windows at amazing architecture of that historic city. After some more research I discovered just how rooted in Harry Potter this little cafe has become. People from all over the world visit and, because it’s become the thing to do, write messages on the bathroom walls. Initially, the owners and staff tried to paint over the graffiti, but it’s rumored that by the end of the day the walls would be covered again. And so they gave up. Now, the walls of the bathrooms, the mirrors, pictures, towel dispensers, even the ceilings have messages to and from Harry Potter fans from across the world.

And so, not only did I have a beverage–Fleur’s Fantasy–and a delicious piece of Victorian sponge cake, I made a point to use the bathroom (and I brought a marker and put my name on the wall!).











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Mother’s Day 2017

Happy-Mothers-Day  Happy Mother’s Day to all the ladies out there who answer to the name “Mom” (also “Mommy”, “Momma”, “Ma”, and sometimes, “Worst Mom EVER!!!!”).

For all of you who have stumbled from the warm cocoon of your blankets at all hours of the night to chase away bad dreams, feed hungry babies, change the wet, clean vomit and to administer a cuddle because a small voice called out in the middle of the night to request it, Happy Mother’s Day.

For all of you who’ve ever spent hours pureeing fresh vegetables (even those of use who gave up that dream rather quickly!), baking birthday cakes, making halloween costumes, experimenting (and, maybe, failing) with Pinterest projects, and slaving over school b6fa1b1bf93319761fb4b557c7e88993projects with a day’s notice, Happy Mother’s Day.

For all of you who have handed over your soda on a hot day because your child spilled theirs, who eat cold food because you make sure everyone else has been served first, who’s “tv time” involves folding laundry, and who haven’t had an uninterrupted trip to the bathroom in years (maybe even a decade!), Happy Mother’s Day.

For all of you who are rocking this motherhood thing, and those who struggle, but keep at it because you know how important it is in the long run–for your kids and yourself–, Happy Mother’s Day.

And for those who have lost, and those who have craved or dream of motherhood, and those who care for others in mothering ways, Happy Mother’s Day.


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Online Writing Contests: To Join or Not to Join?

There are no limits to the number and types of writing competitions you can join online. You can submit a 35-word pitch or submit a longer manuscript for a more in-depth contest. The goal of the contests is the same: to get your manuscript before an agent/publisher who will (fingers crossed!) love it.

In the past several years I’ve taken part in my fair share of writing contests. My contest experiences have been varied as my results. While I’ve heard of a number of authors finding their agent/publisher through contests I haven’t been so lucky (…yet!). I have entered pitch contests and more involved ones with varying results. I’ve had my manuscripts selected to go on to the agent round, I’ve been selected as a team member, an alternate and I’ve also been completely left out of the running. I’ve had several partial requests, some full requests and (*gulp*) zero responses during the agent/editor/publisher rounds.

While the constant highs and lows of entering contests can sometimes make you doubt yourself and your work it’s important to realize what you are winning with every entry.

First–and most important in my humble opinion–is the support structure that you’re establishing each time you enter an online writing contest. You aren’t alone in your endeavors and dreams. A simple Twitter search for any contest will show you the number of people who are in the same position as you. The conversations that take place, messages of hope, support, guidance and empathy go on all day long. The writers who enter will often follow each other and end up with enduring online support systems. There are a  number of people who I’m still in contact with that I met because we’d all entered the same contest (or contests!) and struck up conversations. We continue to beta-read for each other, offer query critiques, pitch critiques, and even opening critiques. Most important we are there for each other when one is feeling frustrated or when someone has exciting news to share. I’ve also made some lasting connections with people who have mentored me and my novel during contests.

Second, the feedback and help that you get is amazing. There are a number of “pop-up” pitch workshops in which contestants–and writers who just want to help–review each others pitches to make them stronger. There’s no shortage in the number of people who will put out an offer to help by reviewing your pitch, opening lines, query letter, etc. The online writing community is such a supportive one and those who have been helped often give back by helping others.As an alternate for one contest I was given a ridiculous amount of editing feedback/guidance. There is no way my manuscript would be as strong as it is now without that help.

Finally, you get an idea of your own determination and how much you can endure in order to meet your goal. Can you accept rejection, and use it to better your craft or fuel you further, so that you can continue this journey?

I’m not saying you should enter every contest. There are times when you’re not in a good emotional or creative place because of the number of disappointments we face as writers. Those are the times when you should sit out and tend to your creative/emotional self. But do keep in mind all the ways that you can “win” even if you don’t win a contest.

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Aspiring Writers: Throwing in the Towel…Or Not

You’re having a great day, and then ding, your email alerts you to a new message. Another rejection!

You’re enthusiastic about a new contest. You’ve gotten a partial request followed by a full and have had some delightful email exchanges with one or more mentors. You can feel in your soul that you’ll be chosen; this was meant to be. You scan the list and…your name isn’t there.

The life of an aspiring writer is one that runs deep with disappointment and rejection. We go into it knowing this to be true. At some point we’ve decided that the risk of rejection is worth the joy of being able to pursue our passion. But some days the disappointment starts to sting. Some days the rejection hurts so deep that you might actually consider giving up writing all together.

It isn’t easy to get through the disappointing days–the truly painful days. But don’t be so quick to throw in the towel. Take a few days to deal with the emotions that you’re experiencing. You’re sad, or mad, and those feelings are completely valid. Let yourself feel them. Refocus your energies for a few days: read, binge on Netflix, eat unbearable amounts of ice cream.

Once the initial feelings have dulled take some time to really think about what your next step will be. After an honest evaluation of your manuscript, does it need more work? It’s important that you are sending out the best manuscript possible. If you haven’t already, send your manuscript out to some beta readers–not just friends and family, but other writers who will give you an honest assessment.

In some cases–especially with your first or second novel–a manuscript just isn’t ready, or right, for publication. Consider putting that novel away and starting a new project. With each novel you become more skilled and can incorporate new things that you’ve learned about the art of writing, story structure, plot and dialogue. Each successive novel will be stronger than your previous. Starting a new project can also kickstart your creative juices and reignite your passion for the craft.

Once the disappointment and doubt have faded you may find that you’re eager to get back into the trenches and start submitting again–maybe after another round of revisions. You may decide that submitting isn’t for you. Some people write simply for the joy that it brings them and never submit their work for publication. Whatever you decide remember that there is a passion inside you that drives you to write. Don’t let that passion be extinguished.

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On the Loss of Deputy Geer

Something is going on in my mind. For the past three mornings I’ve woken up at 4 am, unable to go back to sleep and with one thing on my mind. It isn’t a thing that directly impacted me, it won’t alter the day-to-day realities of the rest of my life, and yet I feel the need to purge myself of my thoughts and feelings. This thing isn’t mine, I can’t claim ownership of it, as it really happened to someone else—to several someone else’s, actually—and yet I’m in a community of people who are feeling the sting.

On February 8, 2016 Deputy Derek Geer, with the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office, responded to a call. The suspect that he contacted was a 17-year old boy. There was an altercation. Deputy Geer attempted to use his taser to subdue the suspect. That 17-year old proceeded to fire a gun—several times—leaving Deputy Geer mortally wounded.

For residents in Mesa County the shooting of Deputy Geer has been a shocking blow. Although our community has grown significantly, a large number of residents have been here since it was a small town, and Grand Junction has managed to maintain its small town personality, despite its growth. Our town is a true “six-degrees” type of community: everybody is connected to someone else in town by no less than six steps—more often only 2-3.

While we realize that we aren’t immune from the crimes and tragedies that happen in larger cities, we haven’t experienced many of them yet. The last deputy of the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office to be killed in the line of duty was in 1906. Our Police Department has only suffered from one active duty loss when, in 2004, a K9 officer, Gero, was shot and killed.

Because of our size, our history, and the close ties in our community, it was devastating to find that our law enforcement personnel—valued members of our community—aren’t as safe as we imagined them to be. And, because our citizens are so closely linked together, even those who didn’t personally know Deputy Geer or his family knew someone who did know them. We knew his friends, his coworkers, and those of his wife and children. We saw how it hurt those who were directly impacted. We knew details about how his family was notified, who was with them at any given time and who was preparing them dinner that night. We saw the local law enforcement at the hospital, and later at the mortuary, standing sentry (which they may not realize that we saw, and appreciated, but lacked the words to pass on). And, we waited until the final announcement had been made, that Deputy Derek Geer had committed his final selfless act—the donation of his organs—on February 10.

On Monday, our community—and others from across the U.S.—showed up in force to bid our final respects to Derek Geer. The support was so great that several remote locations were used and the services streamed to those sites. Even with the staggering number of people watching the services, the streets of our town were crowded along the processional route with those paying their respects. It was truly awe-inspiring that our community came together once again, like the small town we still identify as, to say good-bye to one of our own. And, while I know that the loss to Kate Geer and her children is far greater than what we experienced, I am still saddened for my community in what we lost along with Derek Geer. We lost a little more of our innocence and our sense of safety. But, we also proved how strong we are and how our neighbors will pull together to support each other in the darkest of days. For that—the overwhelming sense of living a community that will stand up together to say, “you are not alone”—I am grateful.


Derek Geer (11/15/1975-2/8/2016)


As a member of the community in the city of Grand Junction and Mesa County, I would like to offer my heartfelt gratitude to all of the members of law enforcement and EMS who traveled our area to pay their respects to Deputy Geer. I’m sure we missed some but we did note the presence of representatives from the following cities, towns, counties and agencies in addition to Mesa County, Grand Junction, Fruita and Palisade:

Adams County

Adams State University

Alamosa city & county

Archuleta County






Boulder City & County



Buena Vista

Cañon City

Castle Rock


Cheyenne County

Clear Creek County


Colorado Springs

Conejos County


CU Boulder

De Beque


Delta city & county


Douglas County


Eagle County

El Paso County



Fremont County

Garfield County

Gilpin County

Grand County




Hinsdale County


Lake County


La Plata County

Larimar County


Lincoln County

Logan County



Moffat County

Montezuma County

Montrose city & county


Oak Creek


Ouray City & County



Park County


Pitkin County




Rio Blanco County



San Juan County



Summit County


University of Colorado- Anschutz Campus

Weld County




Cottonwood Heights, UT

Moab, UT

Montezuma Creek, UT

Salt Lake City, UT

Missoula, MT

Sweetwater County, Wyoming

Rapid City, South Dakota

Department of Homeland Security

Department of Fish & Wildlife

US Forest Service

United States Navy

United States Army



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