Memory Making: Combating the Sorrow of Alzheimer's with Notes and Labels

My mom has Alzheimer's disease and we're losing her too quickly.  What began as basic forgetfulness has changed too quickly over the years since her diagnosis. We enjoy moments of clarity with Mom, but other times she doesn't know our names or our faces. She can no longer hold a pencil, cook a meal or read a book. We know that time will soon gobble up what is left of her memories. It is a heartbreaking thing to experience, as many of you know.

But long before Mom began to lose her memory, she started labeling things in her house. She wrote dates on the back of photos, saved letters and drawings from her kids and grandkids with Post-It notes on the back: "love this!" or "Drew, age 3." She kept report cards and concert programs, circling our names, commenting on what we sang or what our teachers said about us. She kept a Thanksgiving journal: how big the turkey was and how much she paid for it, what the weather was like, which recipes she served, which d…


In the era of #metoo and #genderequality, the subject of marginalized women comes up frequently -- even more so this week after Frances McDormand's Oscar speech on Sunday and International Women's Day on Thursday... 

I am glad that women are taking advantage of this opportunity to tell our stories, to climb toward success and to (hopefully) bring other women along with us. And even if some of the hoopla feels a bit bandwagonish (Just imagine: if Roman Polanski or Woody Allen had been unfortunate enough to have their scandals while #metoo was trending, they might not have had famous actresses coming so quickly to their defense, but I digress) I think open dialogue about these issues is always best. TRUTH, after all, will resonate in a few hearts before the spin doctors rush in to obfuscate it with their analysis and monochrome arguments. (Or before they turn #truth into #mytruth and #yourtruth.)

That's why I want to draw your attention to four groups of women who are so mar…

Write Now: 5 Steps to NaNoWriMo Success

It's November first again, the official start to National Novel Writing Month, also known as NaNoWriMo. Are you already feeling the pressure to hit those daily word-count goals? Create something magical? Write that masterpiece?

Get up, Get up, pressure, pressure...
Paint the scene for me,
Paint it bright and clear...

So, maybe Bastille isn't talking about the pressure to write a great novel in their song "Lethargy" but, nonetheless, it plays in my head when I sit down in front of a blank page.

So how do we keep going when we're weighed down with pressure, almost before we've even begun?  Here are my tips for tackling your writing goals, whether you participate in NaNoWriMo or not:

1. Write Now.

Some people will make excuses. Others will write. Those excuses might be valid, by the way, and there are many great writers who completely ignore NaNoWriMo. That's fine. But if YOU want to participate, then don't make excuses. Go Write.

2. Don't Overthink It.

The SHOCKING Secret Health Benefits of Posting Book Reviews

Please enjoy my latest blog post, written by an author friend who wished to remain anonymous:

Want to stay healthy? Youthful? Full of energy? The first step is writing that book review!

Okay, okay. So I'm really bad at writing click-bait headlines. (And I can't even commit to a good falsehood for, like, five seconds!) But, I'm kind of desperate. Because, you know that author who keeps begging you to review her book? (Me.) She doesn't just want your reviews. She needs them. (Also me.)


Not to put too fine a point on it, but here's the truth: She will never, ever be able to make a living as a writer if you don't post that review. Here's why. Even though she has spent years writing quality novels that readers seem to enjoy, and even though... She spends hours each week marketingHer reviews are goodShe advertisesShe promotes on social mediaShe maintains a blogShe builds a mailing listShe keeps writing more booksShe hosts giveaways, promotions, launch pa…

Too Christian?

STEALING LIBERTY comes out today and I am SO excited! I hope you buy it, read it, love it, review it and tell all your friends so they can buy it, read it, love it and tell all their friends too.
But even if you don't, I want to tell you the story of how it was almost never published.
Last year, after my literary agent, Cyle Young of Hartline Literary, had contacted all the big name publishers, inviting them to offer us a contract for Stealing Liberty, he heard back from very few. That's not at all unusual. But the ones who did respond declined to publish it. They liked the concept and the writing, they indicated, but the story was "too Christian."
"Too Christian?" I asked. "Really?"
Cyle was baffled too.
Two things confused us most:
First: a couple of these publishers have a long history of publishing Christian fiction. 
Second: STEALING LIBERTY isn't even really a Christian novel*.
Then what made STEALING LIBERTY "too Christian," Jenni…

Do All Lives Matter? (Part 4: Beating Hearts)

In 1787, Constitutional Convention delegates came to a "Three-Fifths" compromise when deciding how many representatives each state should be allowed in the U.S. House of Representatives. Southern states wanted to count their slaves. Northern states didn't think they should. Thus the three-fifths rule that said each slave could be counted as three-fifths of a human being. Seventy years later, in 1857, a slave named Dred Scott petitioned to buy his freedom because his owners had moved from a slavery state to a free state. In what is largely seen as the most horrendous ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, the court said that residing in a free state did not entitle Scott to his freedom and that, furthermore, African Americans were not and never could be citizens of the United States

Roughly seventy years after that, Adolf Hitler was rising to power in Germany, espousing the idea that some races are inferior to others, including blacks and Jews, whom he pain…

Do All Lives Matter? (Part Three: Guns and Control)

"Every single year, more than 30,000 Americans have their lives cut short by guns—30,000." -- President ObamaPresident Obama said that during a speech he gave on January 5, 2016, when he announced a new executive order to tighten gun control. I have no doubt he believed what he said -- that he believed in what he was doing. First, because Obama's personality has always been unequivocal. During his eight years in office, I never saw him waffle on what he believed. One of Obama's defining characteristics was his fondness for standing ankle-deep in the hardened cement of his progressive ideas while demanding that others "compromise" by coming around to his way of thinking. Second, because Obama shed tears while he made his speech, and as much as I disagreed with him on ... well, almost everything, I DO believe he was sincerely moved by the issue of gun violence in America -- or at least his own righteous indignation in it.

I really don't fault him for that…