New Excerpt!

When you lose your mom when you’re little, it’s hard. But you miss her even more when your dad has to buy you your first bra.

I’m so excited! The Mortician’s Daughter: One Foot in the Grave will be out Oct. 31st. I think you’ll love Riley Smith as much as you loved Kylie Galen.  Yup, they have a lot in common. One thing is that they both see ghosts—but both girls also have a lot of baggage to deal with. Riley lost her mom when she was young, and that’s bee difficult, especially when her dad had to be both her dad and mom.

If you pre-order The Mortician’s Daughter, you’ll get it for a special price. So head over to Amazon or Barnes & Noble and pre-order it today.

EXCERPT FROM THE MORTICIAN’S DAUGHTER

I’d always gotten a feeling Dad didn’t know how to parent a daughter. My first bra and the whole starting-my-period experience almost killed him. And not once has he said the word “sex.”

Working on that Mustang gave us something in common.

“Speaking of cars,” Dad says, smiling, “I’m about to make your day.”

“Really?”

“Yup. I got your insurance card in the mail.”

“Yes!” I do a little victory dance in my chair. When he lost his last job, he had to cut the insurance on my car, so I haven’t been able to drive it for almost two months.

“So I can drive it to school tomorrow?” I ask and squeal a little.

“Yeah.” He chuckles. “You and that car.”

Thrilled I don’t have to walk to school anymore, I dish a big bite of stew into my mouth and taste it for the first time. It’s good. “You sure you don’t want a bowl?”

“No.” He sips his water. I eat.

The almost empty echo in the house reminds me how big it is. All our houses in the past have been small, older. They seemed to fit us better.

“Have you made any friends at school?” Dad asks.

I almost lie, then decide against it. “Not really.” A sudden puff of steam rises from my bowl. A chill runs down my spine. I continue to eat and ignore it. Pumpkin hauls ass out from under the table and darts under the sofa. Dad frowns.

“You should put yourself out there more. Make some friends.”

I point my spoon at him and force my eyes to stay on him. Just him. “Says the man who never puts himself out there.”

“I’m around people all the time.”

“Dead people don’t count.” I lift a brow and take another bite.

“Not just dead people.” He turns the water bottle in his hand. “Did you get into the honors classes you wanted for next semester?”

I think so,” I say. Good grades mean a possible scholarship. I’m going to need one. My next intake of air brings with it a hint of jasmine. I remember smelling it earlier. Dad leans back in his chair.

“There’s an antique car show going on downtown this weekend. I thought we’d go. Hang out. Talk cars with people.”

“Great idea.” I finish my last bite of stew and go rinse out the bowl and put it in the dishwasher. Then I pull out containers to store the leftovers.

Halloween!

CSfH1sHVEAEaU5EHalloween is coming. It will be here soon. I have my ceramic pumpkin that I put a candle in and set out on the thirty-first, but I unfortunately, we don’t’ get a lot of trick or treaters. Still, my husband uses that as an excuse to bring home candy.  Right now there are packs of peanut M&Ms calling my name in a kitchen drawer.

 

 

I recently read a few surprising statistics about this beloved holiday, so I thought I’d share them with you.

  • More than 35 million pounds of candy corn are sold annually. That equates to nearly 9 million pieces, enough to circle the moon 21 times! (Didn’t think that many people liked it.)
  • Fifty per cent of American homes decorate their yards for Halloween.
  • U.S. growers produce over 1.5 billion pounds of pumpkins every year. That’s twice the weight of the Empire State Building!
  • A pumpkin grown in 2010 weighed 1,850 pounds—as much s a dairy cow or half the weight of a small car.
  • There are36 million children in the U.S. between the ages of 3 and 13—the prime ages for trick or treating.
  • Reese’s is the number one Halloween candy with $509.86 million in sales. Number 2 is M & Ms.

Well, was there ever any doubt that Reese’s reigned supreme in the world of Halloween candy? That didn’t surprise me.

So, most scholars believe Halloween came out of the Celtic holiday Samhain (pronounced Sah-win), their biggest holiday. The Celts believed that at the time of Samhain, more so than any other time of the year, the ghosts of the dead were able to mingle with the living. That’s why we see little trick or treaters in ghost costumes.

But for some people ghosts aren’t only around on Halloween. Riley Smith in The Mortician’s Daughter: One Foot in the Grave has more of a year round ghost problem. Guess her ghosts haven’t listened to the scholars, so they keep showing up in her life—and not always when she’s fully dressed! That can lead to some embarrassing moments, especially when the ghost is a hot, young guy named Hayden. But Riley’s job is to help these troubled souls move on, and she knows she’ll have to help Hayden move on, too. But what if she can’t let him go?

Pre-order The Mortician’s Daughter: One Foot in the Grave today at its special pre-order price and save!

You can buy The Mortician’s Daughter at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

The One and Only Time I Made Money Taking Off My Clothes

(Warning This Title May be Misleading.)

The one and only time I made money taking off my clothes was in a fifth-grade school bathroom.   A certain girl, a bully, kept accusing me of stuffing my bra.  Yeah, by eleven, I was a B cup.  After weeks of torment from this girl, one day she pulled out a five-dollar bill and announced with snark and sass—in front of about fifteen girls—that she would give me that money if I would go in the bathroom and prove I didn’t have tissue in my bra.

People were watching, and for the first time, I wasn’t just embarrassed, I was furious.  So I dropped my books on my desk, and said “Come on!”

The two of us went into a stall.  I yanked my top up, lifted up my bra, then I grabbed the $5 bill and left that bathroom holding that bill out like a trophy for everyone to see.

That was one of the two times that I felt I’d bested a bully.  The other was in seventh grade and actually resulted in a fight.  I was the quiet girl, being dyslexic, I felt as if I wasn’t as smart or as cute as my peers. I know I wore my insecurity on my sleeves.  Which made me a target.  And this particular girl had tormented me for over two years.  I didn’t make money that time—I kept my clothes on—and I can’t even tell you if I won that fight.  Oh, but I remember being summoned to the principal’s office.

Of course this girl said I’d started it and made me out to be the bully.  When he informed me that because he didn’t know who was telling the truth, both this girl and I were suspended, I was so outraged that I found some courage.  I pointed out that I was certain this girl had been in his office numerous times for this very offense, because duh, she was a school bully.

With fire in my belly and leaking out in my voice, I asked him to find my records and tell me all the times I’d been in his office.  “What’s wrong?” I asked him, when he didn’t turn to the file cabinet.  “Maybe it’s because I’ve never been in your office?  And you still don’t know who you can trust?”

He listened to me.  Then he rescinded my punishment, but not for the school bully.

I like to remember those two times when I somehow found my voice and the courage to stand up for myself.  Recently I had a conversation with someone about my writing young adult novels. I told her one reason I felt I could write relatable teen characters was because I hated being a teen.  She laughed and told me that she, too, hated high school.

Today, I’ve tapped into my self-confidence.  I’m no longer quiet, and I’m comfortable with who I am.  I think writing did that for me.  But when I look back at my younger years, I get angry at my younger self for all the times I didn’t defend myself. Sadly, this isn’t just something that happened back then.  It’s something that’s happening today. So many teens lack self-esteem and confidence.

I also know that the bullies are probably dealing with the same kind of low self-esteem.  They bully to feel better about themselves.  Not that it’s okay.

I often ponder why so many teen girls deal with this.  Is it society’s view that all females should be pretty and beautiful? That we know the perfect standard and know we don’t measure up? Can bad body images cause this?  Or is it more?  Was my own self-doubt caused from being dyslexic and feeling less intelligent than my peers? Was it because I matured early and that caused bullies to attack me? Or is it all of the above?  Whatever it is, I wish I could fix it for all the girls today.

While it isn’t a cure, I hope by writing characters with their own insecurities, by showing my fictional heroines finding the strength to stand up for themselves, I’m offering girls a chance to tap into their own self-confidence.

414fOgxyWRLBoth Riley Smith in The Mortician’s Daughter and Leah McKenzie in This Heart of Mine are confronted by bullies.  Both find a kernel of courage to confront those bullies, to hold their chins high, and to use their voices to defend themselves against people who treat them as if they don’t matter.

As a teen, did you suffer from self-esteem?  Have you ever had to stand up to a bully?  Do you have any advice for others who face these issues?