An email from a fan

I got this email the other day, via the “contact us” link on my website (


SO I guess I better get to writing something interesting, huh? SO MUCH PRESSURE. Next time, Essie, please tell me which posts were especially interesting to you.

Then I remember I DID write something not boring.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to post and respond to every goofy email I get. I think this one is funny though. Clearly, she’s read ALL my blog posts and just wants MOAR BLOGS PLZ.

Let’s see. What have I got to write about?

I’m pretty much divided like this, timewise:

  • Work (I have a day job at a major health insurance company)
  • Family (Twins, and my husband is a critical care nurse)
  • The Book (Releases in just over two months so I’m doing marketing, etc.)
  • House (we just moved and I’m still unpacking, organzing, hanging stuff on the walls)
  • Other (gym, improv practice, hanging out with friends, reading, etc.)

That’s about it. I don’t have kooky neighbors to write about. I’m not interested (and neither are you) in musing over my own mental health (or lack thereof). You won’t find a bunch of smarm about my kids or motherhood or what have you (privacy, y’all). I might write more about the marketing parts of the book, but that will be in a separate post.

So here is some random brain-bot-generated items for your consideration.

I had Kool-Aid (cherry) yesterday, for the first time in decades. It really took me back to my childhood: hot Kentucky summers when my sister and I would bum around the house and our neighborhood and I made gallons of the stuff.

I’ve become someone who complains about the grocery store and actively laments not being able to shop at the one we went to before we moved, which is now too far away for convenience.

I don’t like vests (I mean sweaters or jackets without sleeves). I get the point of them…I guess… But I also hate shorts (trousers that stop at the knee, rather than carry on to the ankle). And vests are shorts for your torso. I look terrible in shorts so I only wear them to do sporty things. So maybe that’s why I hate vests? I hate torsoshorts.

Our new house? Is in the dodgy end of the neighborhood.

I really want to be a famous enough author that I can justify the eccentric look from this site. And to afford stuff from here and here. Oh, and to make enough to quit my job and write all the time.

Patreon. I’m considering it.

That’s it for now! Being serious though, I will try to post more often.


*Author’s update/edit: Someone pointed out that I shouldn’t post anyone’s personal info. This is true. I wasn’t worried about that in this case because that is clearly a bot sending the email. However, to be sure and just in case and covering my bases, I have omitted the bot’s sender’s name in the screen picture.





January News

Well. Here we are, in 2017.

Just to catch you up, this is what’s going on since you last heard from me:

New house We relocated within the city and now my morning commute is SEVEN MINUTES (versus 25-30 from the old house). It’s a pretty 116-year-old home with creaky floors and lots of natural light. We love it. Our family study/office is in the added-on part of the house and is therefore not level. If I’m not careful, when I’m sitting at my desk in the rolly chair, I will drift toward the windows. I really hope NOT to have the same neighbor problems we’ve had in the past, but if we do, I’ll definitely share.

HOLIDAYS We moved 4 days before Christmas so instead of one big tree, I got 4 table top size trees (one for each of us) and put up the stockings, called it a day.

Book launch prep WE ARE THREE MONTHS AWAY FROM THE BOOK BEING LOOSE IN THE WORLD OMG OMG OMG. I’m having a freak out about this. There are so many things I can’t do until these three months, so I’m nervous!!!

Sick friends On a serious note, I have several friends who are dealing with serious illnesses. These are people my age, not “old” people, and it’s scary. That’s all I’m going to say about that.

More about the book:

I’m going to organize a Thunderclap campaign for the cover reveal and the launch. I’ll post more about that in the coming weeks.

You’ll be able to get the book in three formats: physical copy, e-book, and audio book. Hooray!

If you haven’t done so, I’d love to have you sign up for my newsletter if you want more book-related/word-nerdery. It’s out every other month or so, and I won’t sell your email address unless someone offers me a million dollars for it.

I hope you are well, and that 2017 brings you everything you hope for!


NaNoWriMo 2016

It’s apparently been 6 years since I did National Novel Writing Month. I’ve been working on book 2 of my urban fantasy series since the beginning of the summer and it’s been… I don’t like to call it writer’s block. It’s more of a writer’s constipation. I know the story is in there, but it just won’t come out. (Yes, I’m aware that I just compared my writing to poop. It’s what we in the biz call a ‘metaphor.’)

You’re supposed to start NaNoWriMo with a blank slate. No words written until November 1. I’m totally cheating. I had about 33k written and couldn’t get past that. I thought this would be a good challenge, a kick in the skirt to get those last 50+ thousand words down on paper.

I’m up to almost 38k as of this morning and it’s not entirely crap. I must keep reminding myself that it’s okay to write crap. It’s easier to shape a big pile of words than it is to shape and edit 250 blank pages. The trick is in the editing.

In the midst of all this, we are about to move. We’re staying in Louisville, but moving closer in toward town/our friends/things we like to do/my family/my job/better schools/this really great bagel shop. Plus the holidays are coming up. I would love to get this draft done and out to my beta readers by February but I don’t know if that will work. I still get up early and write before the boys are up, still do research and thinking throughout the day, and sometimes write a few hundred words at night.

Still working on getting my newsletter out in a timely fashion so if you haven’t signed up, you can do so here. The archive isn’t updated but it will be soon. I plan to add some short videos, too. You can also like my Facebook page, if you are a Facebooklet.

That’s all for now. Next post will (I hope) have more fun details about the Book.

Book Reports: Eighth Grade


Ok, so, I went to a private Catholic school from kindergarten through eighth grade. My favorite class was always English, and its permutations – Literature, Language Arts, etc. I could diagram a sentence in 20 seconds. My spelling was on point. My vocabulary was HUGE. (Just ask my fourth grade teacher. She gave me a low grade in Language Arts because, and I quote, “Sara often uses words she doesn’t know the meaning of.” Which is utter. Total. Complete. Bullshit. She never asked me if I knew the meaning of those words, and I was using them correctly. But I digress.)

In the eighth grade, we did book reports. One per month. We had a class period in the school library where you picked your book and then told the teacher the title. I suppose this was so you didn’t repeat books from month to month, or read a little-kid board book. (I mean, who DOES that?? Who DOESN’T want to read a book?? I didn’t get it.)

The librarian was newish to the school. She took over when Mrs. Wolff, who was the sweetest woman, retired. The new librarian’s two kids went to our school and she was pretty cool. I don’t remember her name… We’ll call her Mrs. Smith.

I browsed the paperback rack of choose-your-own-adventures, classics like The Witch of Blackbird Pond and (my favorite, but I’d already read this for a prior report) Island of the Blue Dolphins. It was getting toward the end of the hour we had allotted to pick a book.

Finally, I grabbed a Judy Blume I hadn’t read and got in line to tell the teacher which book I’d chosen. After all, I’d read tons of Judy Blume. Tales a Fourth Grade Nothing, Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself, Blubber, The One in the Middle is the Green Kangaroo.

Here I should perhaps mention that I was not curious about bodies. Or sex. My mom explained how babies are made, sure, but I really didn’t feel the need to know any of the squishier details. We certainly  hadn’t yet watched the childbirth video that would traumatize the entire class for the next decade.

If you have never read Forever, Judy Blume’s take on teenage sexuality, well… (SPOILER ALERT) It’s about a high school girl who has sex for the first time with her boyfriend, then they break up because she meets a sexy tennis instructor and she wants to do sex with Mr. Tennis Balls, instead of the guy who calls his penis “Ralph.”


I was also really embarrassed.

But THIS was the book I’d chosen. And THIS was the book I would report on. I was too embarrassed to tell my teacher what had happened. I mean, it was a Catholic school. She would have TOTALLY let me pick another book on the basis that I should probably not be reading this anyway.

We filled out worksheets with open-ended questions on the book. I’ve never turned in such…blank assignment.

Q: “Write a description of the book.”

A: “Katherine is a teenager who has a relationship with Michael. They break up and she begins dating Theo.”

Q: “What was the central conflict of this book?”

A: “A girl struggles with growing pains.”

Q: “What are some of the themes?”

A: “Growing up. Relationships. Feelings.”

I got a C on the report. But I didn’t care. DID NOT CARE. Because I didn’t want to explain any further than I did. I just wanted to put this incident behind me.

A few weeks after that, I was back in the library, researching for a different assignment. I made some comment about being surprised that such a book would be in our school library. Mrs. Smith knew exactly what I was talking about. She replied, “Some authors get to be so big, their publishers let everything they write go to print.”

We had an understanding.

My dad was a big reader, and that’s where I got my love of books and reading. My mom is not much of a reader, and isn’t widely read, so they didn’t bat an eye when I read Lady Chatterley’s Lover in seventh grade. (I know, I know, you’re thinking: She was outraged at Forever but didn’t know what the fuss was about Lady Chatterley? All I can say is, I am large. I contain multitudes.)

Though at the time I was shocked that a book like Forever would be in my grade school library, I think in retrospect, I’m glad we weren’t censored in that way. I was allowed to read what I wanted to, above and beyond my grade level. And sometimes I was shocked or embarrassed or I just didn’t understand the context of the literature. But I learned how to read, really read, and understand. So thanks, Mrs. Smith, and Parents of mine. For giving me free reign.






I’m Only Happy When It Rains

Monday is typically my twin sons’ day at “school.” But since one of them has been throwing up since about noon yesterday, I am working from home. A home coated in old blankets and towels to catch all the goo.

I am happy to stay home on days like today. A few hours ago, my friends were all posting pictures of the sky – dark and ominous horizons, huge cloud banks rolling in, trees mid-whip in the wind. Yes, I thought. I’m happy to be home today.

When I was about five, maybe six, a storm like this began to brew. It was mid-afternoon. My mom had a clear plastic umbrella with a white tassel on the J-shaped handle. I ran outside with that umbrella and sat on the sidewalk. The umbrella formed a toadstoolish cover to keep me dry as the rain pelted down. I was fascinated, watching the ground around me form a perfect circle of dry pavement. I could look up and see the rain racing down at me.

“What are you doing?” My mom called from the front stoop.

I don’t remember exactly what I said. Probably a sheepish, “Nothing…” Which meant, I don’t know what it’s called but it’s making me happy.

Another time, not long after that, I walked up and down the short street on one side of our house. Rain pouring down, with that clear umbrella. My dad hollered from the back porch, “You look like the Morton Salt Girl!”

The truth is, I don’t love sunny weather. My English-Irish skin burns too easily. I hate being hot. I hate sweating and smelling bad. I’m not good at outdoor things like sports. Or tanning. I loathed summer vacation because I like a lot of structured time. When I was a kid, nobody had invented helicopter parenting, and we didn’t have a ton of money, so my summers were spent watching cartoons, reading, riding my bike aimlessly around the neighborhood.

Rainy days at school meant we did indoor things like coloring. YASSSS COLORING. I like indoor things. Board games and reading and watching movies.

I’ll go outside in the rain. I like umbrellas. I’ll run through the rain and splash in puddles. Everybody is good at that.

I’m not sure how I would do in a rainier climate, like the Pacific Northwest. But I’d like to visit. Just to see.

Lost in Translation

(For C, because he asked, and is very like the only person I know who has not heard this story 12 times already.)

I went to India while I was in grad school. My friend Rashmi invited me to her wedding and I thought, “Screw the panic attacks. I’m going.” It was the farthest (furthest?) I’ve been from Louisville – after a 22 hour plane ride, then a 2 hour plane ride, then a 10-hour train ride later… I got to Palagkat, India.

This story isn’t about the whole trip, just a couple of moments. Moments where something got lost in translation.

Like when I asked Rashmi, “Should I bring enough clothes for the whole three weeks, or can I do my laundry?”

She laughed and shook her head in the charming way some Indians do that makes them look like bobbleheads and can mean anything from “yes” to “I’m listening” to “no.”

“Oh, Sara,” she said. “We have help for that sort of thing.”

Translation: we have a house maid who will beat the life out of your clothing on a huge rock, then hang it to (never) dry on a line in a place where it is so humid, there is just enough air to breath the water.

“Rashmi, do I uh…need to bring toilet paper?”

Laughing, head bobbing: “Oh, Sara, no. We have toilet paper.”

Translation: “We will offer you goofy Westerner something on a roll that is thin enough to read through and then you must not put it in the toilet, lest you clog it. You must put it in a plastic bag and the above-mentioned house maid will clear it away.”

None of the house servants spoke a word of English, so there was a lot of smiling and nodding and pointing on my part.

My mom gave me a silver ankle chain for my birthday, a few months before this trip. I wore it, one of the only pieces of jewelry I took with me, thinking I didn’t want to keep track of that stuff on the way to and from other side of the planet. I also wore a lot of long sari-ish skirts and modest t-shirts, thinking that I would be somehow less offensive this way.

It didn’t seem to matter though. I wasn’t offensive, for the most part, but I was in a very remote part of India – surrounded by farms and the occasional Ayurvedic center (which, sadly, were all closed at the time of year I went). I am a very, very, very pale person. I have dark hair and light eyes. This is an  unusual combo to see in southern India. I never got used to be stared at or pointed at, or, on one occasion, gripped in an old woman’s hands as she implored me to, “Go back to America and tell them about India.”

You think I’m going to keep this a secret? Not a chance.

The night before the wedding, almost forty people were at the bride’s parents’ home, just talking, relaxing before the big day. I’d been in India for almost two weeks and while the jet lag had abated, I was still uneasy all the time – people staring at me was part of it, but also just culture shock.

I sat in a corner, drinking tea, and trying not to look so uncomfortable. To my right sat the groom’s grandmother, a Buddha-woman with glasses, wearing an orange and green sari. She didn’t speak English, so we didn’t have much to say to each other. But at some point, she seemed very interested in my legs or feet.

She looked down at my lower half. Per local custom, I was shoeless. I wore a long navy blue linen skirt. She frowned and turned to her right, speaking rapid Mallayallam to the auntie on the other side. Auntie leaned around and looked at my legs as well.

Now they were both frowning a little bit.

The house was too crowded for me to really get up and go anywhere, so I sat. Frowning granny and frowning auntie continued their concerned conversation.

Eventually, the party broke up and I tracked Rashmi down.

I asked her about the frowning.

“Oh, Sara,” (headbob laugh), “they wondered where your other ankle bracelet is.”

“My other…? This is from my mom. I only have one.”

“Yes, well, the only people who wear one ankle bracelet here are prostitutes.”


She continued, “The servants have been asking if they can help you find your other ankle bracelet. They assume you lost it.”

Right, because there’s no way mistress brought home a dirty American whore.

The day after the wedding, I bought a pair of ankle bracelets for myself, my sister, my mom, my best friends.