Friday, February 13, 2015

An Anniversary Surprise

When I met my husband, I knew within a few hours that I was going to marry him--or try like hell to marry him, anyway. We "clicked" instantaneously. He was handsome, hilariously funny, down-to-earth, chivalrous and incredibly smart. He had been in the military, which is something I deeply respect and appreciate. We had so many things in common. We even ordered the same meal on our first date. We were also very different in many ways. We had each had different life experiences which was cool because it gave us--and still gives us--lots to talk about. It makes us interesting to one another.

I have always thought that we complement each other well. He is very math/science/engineering-minded and I'm all literature and humanities-minded. He’s all neat and clean and I’m a big, old messy mess. He can cook meals that are so delicious they’ll make you weep, and if I even look at the toaster, the smoke alarm goes off. He can draw anything and build things, construct things out of almost nothing whereas I can barely draw a stick figure. He is very MacGuyver-like, and I never get tired of watching him work his magic, especially in an emergency. He is one of the most resourceful people I know. Anyway, the one major difference for us which wouldn't even be major except that I write books, is that I am a reader and he is not. To be fair, when I say not a reader, I just mean he doesn't read fiction. He can read a manual from cover to cover. He reads news stories and he'll read about history or historical figures. (I'm always astounded by the vastness of his knowledge of military history!). So basically, his tastes run to non-fiction. Plus even in terms of movies and television, he doesn’t like crime dramas the way I do and, as you know, my genre is crime fiction. Even if he did read fiction, I don’t think that my genre is one he would enjoy.

It's never bothered me. I know plenty of people who either don't enjoy reading at all or whose reading tastes are very narrow. I know it's not personal. So I never expected him to read my books. I know plenty of authors whose spouses don't read their work. He has always been supportive of my writing and my career and that's all I ever really asked.

So imagine my complete and utter surprise and delight when, for our anniversary this year, he read Finding Claire Fletcher! He read it in secret when I wasn't home so he could surprise me. On the day he knew he was going to finish the book, he told me he needed some time undisturbed to "finish" my anniversary present. He kept going in and out of the room with stuff like carpenter's glue and paint brushes and I kept wondering what he was constructing! Then he came out wearing his I Found Claire Fletcher t-shirt and handed me a box. I opened it and unwrapped the object inside and it was my book! I was completely baffled. I said, "I don't understand" and he said, "I read your book." Naturally, I didn't believe him (my exact words might have been, "GET THE $%&# OUT!" hah hah hah) but after quizzing him on several elements of the book, it was quite clear that he had, in fact, read it!

The best part is that he plans on staying married to me! Hah!

He actually enjoyed it too. He was surprised because like I said, crime dramas aren't typically his thing. I know he was being sincere because he asked me a lot of intelligent questions about it and we talked about the book for quite some time. He said since he enjoyed FCF so much, he is looking forward to reading the other two now. It's funny because pretty much everyone in his family has read all of my books (and he has a very large family) and since 2012 he has been subject to a constant ribbing over the fact that he is married to me and is the only one who hasn't read them. But he didn't want to read them just to put an end to the relentless ball-busting cause he's stubborn like that. (Our daughter gets it from him--now I've got two of them!) He wanted to read them on his own terms. I know it was hard for him not just because of the fiction or the crime drama disinterest but also because he is one of these people who is always busy. I can never get him to sit down for very long. God forbid he gets sick and has to rest. It never happens. But for me, he sat down for a few hours each day, figuring that, when he started, if he read seven chapters a day, he would finish by Valentine's Day. He finished two weeks ahead of schedule!

My husband and I love to watch television shows and movies together. We have great discussions about the writing, plot, and characters of our favorite shows and movies all the time. His feeling was that we should be able to do the same with my own books. Plus, he said he really wants to share that part of my life with me, which is incredibly freaking awesome. Maybe it's a writer thing but of all the romantic things my husband has done for me--and there have been a lot--this was the most romantic thing he's ever done.

For Valentine's Day, which is now our anniversary, I typically get flowers, a special meal of my choosing and a gift that he's put some thought into--it's usually something he knows that I've been eyeing, something I really want. I've always been thrilled with that. I'm a sucker for flowers and like I said, this man can cook his ass off. Him finally reading my book as an anniverary/V-Day bonus--I am really not sure he can top that and I’ll tell you why. We’ve been together for nine years. This is only our third wedding anniversary but we were together quite some time before that, and my husband was up front with me from the beginning that he doesn’t read fiction. And I was up front with him that it was fine with me that he didn’t read my work. I never expected him to read my books. I learned a long time ago that if you go into a relationship with the expectation that the other person is going to magically change for you one day, you’re dooming the entire venture to failure. So my husband had a pass. For nine years he didn’t read any of my work and he could have easily kept on going without ever reading a word that I wrote, but he didn’t. He made the effort, he took the time. He surprised me. Now we have a whole new level of closeness and lots more to talk about. He’s not only shown me a deeper level of commitment by doing this but he’s added a sense of newness to our relationship—and if you’re married then you know newness is hard to come by. Nine years ago, he walked onto my parents’ porch and the two of us talked for hours. We hadn’t even kissed yet but I can remember looking at him, thinking, “I’m going to marry this man.” Boy, was that one of the most awesome decisions I ever made!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Guest Post: Elizabeth Seckman & One Super Twisted Tale

I am thrilled to welcome back one of my favorite ladies to the blog today, the brilliant and incomparable Elizabeth Seckman. She's on tour for her latest release, DEFYING REASON and she has stopped by with a doozy of a story for you! Without further adieu, here she is:

Trying to come up with blog post topics is never easy, and when you're touring and trying to come up with twenty in a So, I was wandering the web and looking up odd love stories (keeping the love thing going, ya know!) and I stumbled on this story. It's a bit bizarre and at first I thought it had to be a hoax, but it seems to be a true. 

But, where could I share a story of some truly bizarre lovin'?

Then I thought- where else...with the mistress of the blow-your-mind-with-twisted-tales, Lisa Regan! 

So, here it is....

Blanche Dumas was born in the Caribbean in the mid-1800's. Nature equipped her with four breasts, three legs, and two vaginas. Seems she was pretty well-adjusted to her exceptional body and didn't mind using it for, um, pleasure. 

Once she was an adult, she headed off to Paris where rumors of her sexual exploits were doubled, and she was becoming quite the legend. 

Then someone told her about the man to whom nature supplied with two fully functioning man-parts. 

Well, Blanche was quick to let the world know- Juan Baptista dos Santos, the man born with two penises, and an extra leg to boot...was one man she was eager to meet. 

Rumor is they did meet and some say they found love...though the full truth of that meeting will remain a mystery. 

Now, that's a love story that totally defies reason! 

*For the record, the book promoted below has characters with the normal number of body parts. 

The Blurb:

Jo Leigh Harper comes from a long line of trouble-making, white trash stock.
Tanner Coulter comes from a longer line of wealth-creating, blue blood stock.
Jo graduated college top of her class, moving toward a future full of possibilities.
Tanner dropped out of college, trading a law degree for drinking games and one night stands.

A family crisis throws the rich party boy and the poor genius girl together. The attraction is immediate, though neither one is a heart-in-the-sand-drawing believer in true love. But as the summer sun heats up along the shores of the Outer Banks, so does the connection between them. Maybe, just maybe, they can win at love by defying reason.

Author Bio:

Elizabeth is a multi-published author of books for people who are believers in happily-ever- after, true love, and stories with a bit of fun and twists with their plots. The mother of four young men, she tackles laundry daily and is the keeper of the kitchen. She lives along the shores of the Ohio River in West Virginia, but dreams daily of the beach. 

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Friday, January 30, 2015

My First Foreign Translation

I'm kind of ridiculously excited over this. HOLD STILL was translated into German and will be released in Germany in paperback and ebook format on 2/24/15. That's the cover there! I think Amazon Crossing did an amazing job and I'm just beyond thrilled over the whole thing.

I think when you're collecting those rejection letters from agents and daydreaming while hitting the refresh button on your email 79 times an hour, you think about particular things: getting an agent, getting a contract with a publisher, holding your book in your hands for the first time, having your book translated into a foreign language, selling your movie rights, seeing your book on a major bestseller list, being on the TODAY show . . . you get the idea and if you've ever embarked on the writing journey, you know exactly what I'm talking about! LOL

I've said it before but I'll say it again: selling books is hard. Like super freaking hard. Believe me, after I got my first royalty check I figured most of those daydreams were out of reach. But it was cool. It didn't even bother me. I was just happy to have held my book in my hands finally. So everything that has come after has been not only stupendously amazing, but very surreal. This is surreal for me--in the greatest possible way. So yeah, there it is and I am WOO HOO-ing my behind off right now!

While I'm here, I'd also like to say CONGRATS to my long-time friend, first reader and fellow author, Michael Infinito, Jr., whose next book, XXXtreme Discretion comes out on February 28th. Check out the cover:

I am a long-time fan of Michael's and since this particular book leans more toward thriller than horror/supernatural, I really loved this one! Very chilling!

While I'm at it, you should head on over to Dana Mason's website and check out the cover reveal for Katie Mettner's upcoming release, Winter's Rain. I'm going to take liberties and post it here too cause it's awesome and was created by the brilliant Carrie Butler over at Forward Authority Design:

Speaking of which, Carrie has a cover for the third book in her Mark of Nexus series, which is one of my favorite series ever! LOYALTY will be coming soon and I can tell you that it is pure awesomeness. The best book in the series.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

A Sad Ending

I posted a few weeks ago about a young man from my neighborhood who had gone missing the night before Thanksgiving. This past Saturday, he was found. Unfortunately, it was not the outcome that anyone in my community had hoped and prayed and wished for. Shane Montgomery's body was recovered from the Schuylkill River not far from where he was last seen by a volunteer diving group called the Garden State Underwater Recovery Unit. These wonderful, compassionate people began searching at the request of the family in addition to police resources. Maureen Wittman, a family member of Shane has advised me that: "Garden State was called in as an additional resource. The Philadelphia Marine Unit was out on the river searching for our Shane every day." Fortunately and unfortunately, it was Garden State who ultimately found Shane. Fortunately, at least he was returned to his loved ones and they no longer have to wonder or search. Unfortunately, he has passed away and his death is devastating to his family and our entire community. He will be laid to rest this Friday after services on Thursday and Friday. You can read about that here.

I just want to thank everyone who shared my post or my posts on Facebook and who left kind comments. As I had indicated in my first post about this young man, his disappearance deeply moved my entire community. I have never seen anything like the mobilization I saw in this neighborhood after this young man went missing. It was truly humbling. I feel blessed, lucky and privileged to live among people like the ones who make up Manayunk and Roxborough. As this article in says, "If love could rescue Shane Montgomery, he would have been home by dinner on Thanksgiving."

In their last press appearance, the parents of Shane Montgomery asked for privacy in the coming weeks and months so that they can mourn their son and move forward. I know that people are going to have questions about his death. (His uncle has said that it was ruled accidental but no other information has been released.) I can tell you from experience that the very best thing people can do is to respect that request for privacy. Because no amount of answers will satisfy our very human need to make some sense out of this tragedy. You can ask questions, speculate, theorize, grill others for information and talk yourself around and around what might or might not have actually happened until you're blue in the face. At the end of the day, it doesn't change a damn thing. It will not ameliorate the sense of loss that people who knew him feel or that the community at large feels from having lost one of their own. I can tell you from experience that even after you've unearthed every answer, even after you've satisfied every question your personal curiosity can come up with, the sadness doesn't go away.

I had a friend who lost children many years ago and I often acted as a buffer between her and the rest of the world. People always said to me, "I don't know what to say to her." Because there is nothing you can say. There are no words. There literally are not any words and believe me, people can say things that they mean as comfort but those things end up offending loved ones. The best thing you can do is to offer your condolences (just "I'm sorry for your loss" will do) and let the family and loved ones know you're there if they need something. But after that, it is a journey that loved ones must take on their own. Privately.

So to the Montgomery family I say: I am so very sorry for your loss. You will be in my prayers and in my thoughts.

Finally, please consider doing as the family has asked and donating in Shane's name to the Garden State Underwater Recovery Unit or to Friends of Saint John the Baptist--both were essential to the ongoing search for Shane Montgomery. You can find information on where to send your check here.

Rest in Peace, Shane Montgomery.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Real Life Drama: Shane Montgomery

If any of you are Facebook friends or followers then you've seen me post about this since just after Thanksgiving.

Please look at this young man's face. This missing persons case is deeply personal to me. Shane Montgomery is from my neighborhood. He grew up here, just like me, just like my husband, just like both of our families. His family lives one block over from where I've worked every day for the last decade, which is only blocks away from my home. In fact, they live only a few doors down from where my grandparents lived for decades. (My grandmother just sold the family home about 6 weeks ago).

It was reported that this is the shirt he was wearing when he disappeared.

He is 21 years old. He is a senior at West Chester University but he is from my neighborhood. He was home for Thanksgiving break. On Thanksgiving Eve, he and his cousin went out for the night, hitting some bars on Main Street in Manayunk. (Manayunk and my neighborhood, Roxborough are side by side, with Manayunk at the bottom of "the hill", closer to the river, but we're not talking about a huge area here). Anyway, he left Kildare's Pub at approximately 1:50 a.m. and seemingly vanished into thin air. A cell phone ping at 2:38 a.m. indicates that at that time he or at the very least, his phone, was still in this area (i.e. Manayunk/Roxborough). The case is extremely baffling on just about every level.

Philadelphia Police and the FBI are hard at work on this case--make no mistake. But so is my community. People in my amazing neighborhood have turned out in droves to help search, post and hand out fliers, share on social media and raise money to help this family search for their son.

There is a reward for reliable information leading to his whereabouts that is up to $65,000 as of today.

Look, my neighborhood--Roxborough/Manayunk--it is extremely tight-knit. Everyone knows everyone and if you don't know the person, you usually know of the person. (Don't even get me started on all the weird connections my husband and I had in terms of family and friends before we even met!) In fact, I did know of the Montgomery family and Shane's mother's family before this happened. They are decent, hard-working people who deserve answers as to what happened to their son. For those of us who live here, Shane Montgomery is "one of us" on such a fundamental level, that it is hard to put into words. I wake up every morning with this young man on my mind and I go to sleep every night thinking of him and his family--praying, praying, praying that the next time I turn on the television or the next time I go onto Facebook, there will be good news about him. If you live here, if you have roots here, then you've likely gone bar-hopping in your 20s on Main Street and walked home safely and without incident. We've all done it. It could have been anyone's son, brother, nephew, cousin. Any of us, really.

So I'm asking you to please look at Shane Montgomery's face. Even if you live nowhere near here, please look at his face. Yes, the search has focused primarily on this area but the bottom line is that we do not know what happened to him yet and because of that, no possibility can be ruled out. So please. Look at his face. Visit the website and the Facebook page. Share his photo. Pray.

Most importantly, if you see something or if you know something, say something.

If you live here or you were in the Manayunk area over Thanksgiving and you think you may have seen something, please come forward. If you were out and about in the Manayunk area, check your phone for all photographs you took on Thanksgiving Eve. There might be something useful in the background.

People do not vanish into thin air. If you read my books or you know me or you've followed my blog for any length of time, you know how passionately I feel about missing persons. This case hits home for me in a major way. People don't go poof and disappear forever. Someone knows something. Perhaps they don't even know that they know it. Or maybe they know exactly what happened but they're not speaking up. Maybe that someone or someones will never read this but if they do, I would like to say this:

This is not going to end until the Montgomery family gets the answers they deserve. This will not end until Shane is home. If you think for one moment that his family or this community will stop looking for him--stop looking for answers--you could not be more wrong. This will not die down or blow over. You better believe that when you see Karen Montgomery on the news saying that she will never, ever stop looking for Shane and that she will go to the ends of the earth, she means it. I know this because I am a mother too. I live here too. I am raising my child here too. A mother does not stop looking for her child. Ever. And as you can see by the fliers and green ribbons on damn near every tree and telephone pole in this neighborhood, and in the windows and on the doors of damn near every local business, the rest of this community will not stop either. So end this now. Pick up the phone and call the FBI. 215-418-4000. Do it right now.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Finding Claire Fletcher T-shirt Fundraiser

I just wanted to say THANK YOU SO MUCH to everyone who participated in the Finding Claire Fletcher t-shirt fundraiser! As you may know, I am raising funds for a non-profit called Operation Underground Railroad (O.U.R.) whose goal is to stop child pornography and human trafficking. You can check them out here:

My campaign ended on 11/12. My goal was to sell 30 shirts and I sold 35 so YOU GUYS ARE TOTALLY AWESOME!!!! THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!! (Yes, multiple exclamation points.)

Many people have asked me if they can still get shirts. As I understand it, if Teespring receives 15 reservations for shirts, they'll reopen the campaign and bring the shirts back. So if you're interested, you can go to the link below, reserve a shirt and hope that 14 other people do too. :)

I'd love to see O.U.R. get more money! But if it doesn't work out, I am thrilled with what we've accomplished! Again, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for your support!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Predictability v. Expectations

So I read this book recently where the killer turns out to be . . . well, the killer. What I mean by that is the main character is convinced that the person who was convicted of killing her loved one is innocent and that the real killer is still out there. So the book follows her along this odyssey--her fight to bring the "real" killer to justice but in the end, it turns out that they had the right guy all along. I thought this was brilliant although perhaps it just spoke to the part of me who knows what it feels like to have lost a loved one and want answers that are never, ever going to satisfy. At any rate, many other readers were extremely disappointed and angry. I, however, thought it was a really novel way to end a suspense/crime novel. I mean I don't think I've ever read one where the killer turns out to be the killer they had behind bars the whole time! So to me that was satisfactorily unpredictable. (I'm not going to name the book cause I don't want to spoil it for other readers.)

I see this whole complaint about books being predictable all the time. ALL THE TIME. I read reviews of books before I buy them so I read a lot of reviews.  I read my own reviews too. Readers want books that are unpredictable but in the back of my mind, I'm thinking: "Do we? Do we really?"

Most readers I know read primarily in the same genre or genres--there are usually one or two genres they prefer over all others. Many readers I know only read romance or only read crime fiction and so on. Like me, I really only read crime fiction. I'll pick up books in other genres from time to time but for the most part, I enjoy crime fiction the most, so that's what I read. So having read a ton of crime fiction books, I have certain expectations about what's going to happen. There are certain conventions that each genre uses and as much as readers like to be surprised, we also don't like it when writers stray too far from the accepted conventions. In other words, I think it's a fine line between giving readers the unpredictability we crave and meeting our expectations of the genre.

For example, I read a book many years ago that was part of a series where, at the end, the author killed off one of the two main characters. Yeah, killed him. Dead. Gone. Forever. (It would be like watching the Lethal Weapon movies and at the end of the third one, Riggs gets killed off. I mean, really?) So was the book I'm talking about unpredictable? Hell, yes. But not the kind of unpredictability I find acceptable as a reader. I did return to that series but it wasn't for a long, long time.

So my question is: how much unpredictability do you really like as a reader? I mean is it okay if, at the end of a romance novel, the two main characters don't end up together?  Is it okay if, at the end of a crime novel, the mystery is not solved or the bad guy gets away? Or to a lesser degree, take movies for example--would it be okay to have the story in an action movie wrap up without a big, long, protracted chase scene at the end? Or a big old showdown between the good and bad guys? Would it be okay for a Disney princess movie to end without an impending wedding? What truly is an acceptable level of unpredictability in storytelling?