Frustrations Turned to Blessings

Frustrations Turned to Blessings

Hurricane Frustrations Turn to Blessings

It’s about time I told you the whole story.

It started just after the launch of the Gene Rift. You see, I get books for book signings through my publisher, not through Amazon. Just after the release, I contacted my publisher and they put in an order with the printer for a decent sized set of books. They’d be here in plenty of time for th etwo book signings I had scheduled at the end of September.

At least I thought so.

But then hurricane Harvey hit. And then hurricanes Irma, Jose, and Maria followed quickly after. Due to the devastation in our country, the book order was delayed. In fact, the printer didn’t know where it was.

It was frustrating for me not to have books at the two signings I had, but not as frustrating or devastating as those who had lost all their belongings and their homes to hurricanes. I got off easy with a simple delayed order.

So I decided to make the best of it. At both book signings, I donated 10% of the proceeds  and many of you readers chipped in extra to donate to UMCOR, the United Methodist Commission on Relief. Through this agency, 100% of all donations go toward the relief efforts and not to administrative expenses.

I just wanted to say a huge THANK YOU to all who donated. You helped make a difference in the lives of people who are hurting.

And for those of you wondering, I did eventually get my books!

The Truth About Book Signings from a Small Town Author

The Truth About Book Signings from a Small Town Author

I love book signings. Truly, I do. I love meeting with readers and answering questions about my creation. There’s something magical about it. However, it’s not all autographs and book sales.

Here’s the truth: Some days, it will be an “If you write it, they will come.” kind of book signing. Other times it’ll be more like wandering in the wilderness for 40 years (or 40 minutes.) I’m going to take the next few minutes to walk you through my book signing event experience. Maybe I shouldn’t give you the low down, but at this moment, I feel like those outside the field of writing need to experience the truth.

In September of 2015, The Breeding Tree was released. I spent the rest of September and October doing online promotions. Then near the middle of October, I had my first book signing. It was held at my local library, the Sinclairville Free Library. I love that place. More importantly, I love the people in it. They celebrated with me in style. Even bought a cake that had my book cover on it! This was one of the largest turn outs I’ve had with 25ish people, including my Mom and Dad, 4 aunts, and several people from my church and writer’s group. These are my core fans. The people who have supported me most of my life. These are the people I want around me when I celebrate my small and large successes.

Following this event, I did a workshop. Usually a handful, anywhere from 1-6 people would attend depending on the week.


But, here’s where the truth comes. The next few signings were very sparse. Like, 2, people, 6 people, and 1 person sparse. It’s a little disheartening. Now, don’t get me wrong. I am SO THANKFUL for those who take the time to plan these events and for those who come to hear me speak or come wanting their book signed. For people like you, I will continue to schedule signings because you, my readers, are what inspire me to keep going. Besides, it might be one of you telling your friend who tells another friend about my book that causes people to start to take notice. You are important, vital even, whether you are the only one present or one of 25.

So tell me, fellow authors, is your experience anything like mine? And readers, do you have any interest in meeting the people who create the books you read?

The second picture you see here might have been my most exciting signing. It was at another local library, Ahira Hall in Brocton, NY. The librarian contacted the school and the English teacher gave extra credit for any student who showed up to my presentation on a Saturday! I was so excited! There were teens there! When you write for teens, it’s kinda slightly important that they start reading your books. So, after hanging with about 25 teens for the afternoon, I headed home, heart lightened. It didn’t matter that I hadn’t sold any books. I had teen readers.

Maybe my experience isn’t the norm. I don’t know. Being from a small town, I’m excited if anyone shows up to these events. But I’ll admit, it would be awesome if I was able to meet more than one person at a time. Perhaps one day I’ll have books on the shelves of every bookstore in the country. Maybe I’ll end up traveling far and wide to meet fans and connect with teen readers. But until then, I have to start somewhere. So let me encourage you to support your local people, be them authors, musicians, business people or something entirely different. We are striving to create something beautiful for YOU, and we want you to be a part of the journey with us.

Dear Son: YOU ROCK!

Dear Son: YOU ROCK!

Dear Son:

You won the middle school spelling bee today. You, as a 6th grader, beat out all the 7th and 8th graders to take the cake. I’m so proud of you! I’m thankful for your intelligent mind. But I have to offer some advice:

  1. Winning isn’t everything. –Don’t get me wrong. Winning is great, as long as you worked your hardest to get to the top. But sometimes the lessons are in the journey and not in the winning.
  2. While you’re floating on Cloud 9, keep your feet grounded. — Yes, you are intelligent. Sometimes too much so. But never forget that no matter how smart you are, it’s important to be kind and humble. It’s the kindness and humility that will gain you the respect from others you truly desire.
  3. Be proud of yourself. — You should be proud, but tomorrow, you’ll need to get back to work. You’ll need to study and grow. This moment will pass.
  4. I’ll love you unconditionally.– Do these moments in your life make me proud? YOU BETCHA! But if you had never won a spelling bee or lead a youth band or assembled motors at a young age, I’d still be proud of you. My pride and love don’t stem from the things you do. They stem from who you are. You are mine. My kid. It’s your heart that makes me proud.

I love you (even if you don’t win spelling bees.)




to doToday has been a frustrating day. My hubs was having computer issues, so he had to steal my laptop in order to work. This meant the thousand things I needed to finish on my own to-do list weren’t going to happen. For a while, I cleaned my  house till I finally got the idea to crash my mother’s house and use her computer. I realize now as I cross items off my to-do list that our situations are all about perspective. I could have moped all day, irritated to not have my computer, or I could look at the bright side. So, here’s what I’m thankful for in the midst of  my frustration:


  • First world problems: I have a computer, a house, electricity, food, health, safety.
  • My mother: She welcomes me into her home whenever I want. Not only that but she entertains my children while I work.
  • My mother’s home: It’s just around the corner, a mere 1 minute drive or a 10 minute walk.
  • I’m able to worry about things like crossing off items on my to-do list rather than where I’m going to find my next meal.
  • My house is clean; my laundry is folded: I couldn’t get my computer work done, so I found other things to do.

Tell me, what are you thankful for today? Is there a frustration in your life that you can look at through new eyes and with new perspective?

Dear Son- Appearance Never Trumps Heart

Dear Son- Appearance Never Trumps Heart

Dear Son

You got your first professional haircut yesterday. You look handsome. I think so and you think so. You want to be cool, to look cool, to act cool. Remember that Appearance Never Trumps Heart. What’s inside you, the man you are and will become, is a thousand times more important that how you look. Looks will fade away, but your kindness and giving heart will never fade. 

If you don't have anything nice to say…

If you don't have anything nice to say…

How many of us have heard the saying “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Seems like pretty common knowledge to me. So I’m amazed at how many people don’t listen to this sage advice.


IMG_20151103_163747594Last year, I had a friend who moved away. I have been working with her new school to set up a Skype session. (If your school is interested in having me Skype with your classes, contact me here.)  In the course of our interactions, I received a note from Mrs. R, a teacher there. She’d heard of an 8 year old young man who was interested in writing and wanted to get involved in his school’s creative writing team. In this email, she relayed his story: The deadline was fast approaching, he got busy and ended up writing his piece quickly and perhaps not to the absolute best of his ability. But he turned it in and hoped for the best. After turning it in, the teacher who received it (Not Mrs. R) essentially told him it was crappy and he shouldn’t have even tried.

I was appalled. First off, the boy is 8 and even if it was written hastily, it was written. Imagine the self-motivation an 8 year old must have to even take a chance to participate in a creative writing group. What kind of teacher says those kinds of things to a student? It doesn’t make sense. Secondly, the boy wants to write! We should be encouraging that!

So, Mrs R. contacted me. She asked if I’d shoot him a message to encourage him.

Absolutely!!! So I did. I wrote up a little note telling him not to give up, to work hard and give writing his all. Later that week I received a message from this boy and his mom, thanking me for taking the time to encourage him.

It’s so easy. Our words have power. They have power to build up or tear down. We just need to decide how we’re going to use the words we’re given. That’s why I write.

I have strong opinions on subjects and could easily go off on rants. (Imagine that.) But I work really hard to say and write things that are going to build people up. Yes, they may make my readers look at the world a little differently. That’s the goal, but I can do so in a way that doesn’t tear people down.

So tell me, do the words you write or say build up or tear down? Do you encourage or discourage? Are you even aware of the power of these things we create with 26 letters of the alphabet?

You have influence whether you want to or not … whether you realize it or not. How are you going to use that influence?