O Come All Ye Faithful – RIP Sandy Hook Angels

O Come All Ye Faithful – RIP Sandy Hook Angels

On this weekend when so many Americans need emotional support and a sense of stability in the wake of the unspeakable incidents that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School, I rediscovered a video which has repeatedly brought comfort to my soul. When I write about “The Note For Which There Is No Name” (Blood To Blood) I think of Mariah Carey and the angelic beauty she communicates in this version of “O Come All Ye Faithful.”

At 2:40, there is an indescribable look on Patricia Carey’s face as she gazes at her daughter. That gaze speaks of years of struggle, love, sacrifice and reward. It is a look that revels in the honor of knowing that your “mom work” paid off.This look of pure love and joy almost always brings a smile to my face.

Nevertheless, today my heart breaks when I see the parents of the angels who were taken from us at Sandy Hook; angels whose parents will never have the opportunity to gaze lovingly at them as they live out their dreams. Angels who will never see their children again in this life.

God bless the parents and children of the angels of Sandy Hook. God bless our country and show us the Light.

“O Come All Ye Faithful”

O Come All Ye Faithful – RIP Sandy Hook Angels

Why Angel Brown Doesn’t Swear

Why Angel Brown Doesn't Swear

Why Angel Brown Doesn’t Swear

I’ve been having the conversation a lot lately. You know. The conversation about young adult books and why it’s important, at least to me, that they be actually written with a young adult audience in mind. I’ve been talking to a lot of readers about why the heroine of Blood To Blood, Angel Brown, doesn’t swear and, at the age of sixteen, is still a virgin.

We’ve all heard, ad nauseam, about how the young adult book market is growing by leaps and bounds. But any fan of YA literature, and classics such as Little Women, Lord of the Flies, or The Hobbit (one of the biggest fans would be me) can tell you it’s not a new thing, it’s not a trend and YA is here to stay.

But one relatively new, and glaring, aspect of YA book readership is the fact that the majority of consumers, specifically of the YA fantasy genre, is way older than the age defined as YA audience. Seemingly, the average reader is a Kindle or Nook-toting 30-something year old mom with 1.37 kids and that audience age can go as high as the 50s and beyond.

Fully 55% of buyers of works that publishers designate for kids aged 12 to 17 – nicknamed YA books — are 18 or older, with the largest segment aged 30 to 44 – Bowker

Part of this phenomenon, well-documented with the Twilight series, seems rooted in the fact that women of all ages love a good story involving the blossoming of the heart. Moms love to relive the fluttery feelings they had for hot guys when they were still young and it all seemed so exciting and over-the-top. I myself got hooked on Twilight right as my marriage was falling apart and lost myself in memories of those feelings that I once had and missed terribly.

So there’s nothing wrong with old-ass women such as myself writing and reading YA books, but what happens when something labeled and marketed to a young adult is geared towards said old-ass women?

There are a number of YA series out there that depict their teen heroines as potty-mouthed, sexually adventurous, fashion-plate, overly made-up biatches alá 80s/90s music videos. As if said old-assed women want to somehow go back in time to re-invent themselves as vampire huntresses, immortals or simply the most popular, hottest chick in school. At what point do we take responsibility for shaping how young adults see themselves and relate to the world? What happens when every other sentence features an expletive? Seriously, why not utilize more adjectives; overused swear words, like many love-lives, get old and boring quick.

Why Angel Brown Doesn't Swear

Why Angel Brown Doesn’t Swear

Take an example from ultra-violent Clockwork Orange, the 1963 classic featuring raging, raping, killing teens and a society out of control. As dark as the subject matter of this once-banned book gets, the author Anthony Burgess didn’t use swear words as a crutch or carrot, and instead developed the characters and their world through the use of unique language which, in turn, offers an expanded view into the underlying themes.

Am I a saint? Hell, no. My book’s only in pre-release right now, and already it’s gotten criticized for depicting earth craft (sometimes called witchcraft) and blood rituals. But, I feel strongly about young girls who read my books coming away from them without the feeling that it’s somehow ok to lower your standards of personal civility and self respect in order to be, or be perceived as, sexy. Preachy, maybe. Everyone’s cup of tea? Certainly, not. But that’s why Angel, with all her amazing powers, is as straight-laced and conservative as any character I’ve ever written.

At the end of the day, I believe authors have a responsibility to their audience. As responsible adults it’s up to us to decide whether what we’re writing is truly for young adults or for the unrequited fantasies lurking within our own grown-up subconscious.

Why Angel Brown Doesn’t Swear

November 7, 2014: Edited with the Heart To Heart cover

Weekly Word: Perseverance

Today’s weekly word: Perseverance

There will come a time when you think everything is finished. That will be the beginning.- Louis L’Amour

This quote can apply to a lot of things in life but it really resonated with me when I was going through the editing process for Blood To Blood.

Contrary to what some people think, there are self-published authors who actually spend much time and money in the editing process, as all writers should. It took me 3 months to write the first draft and 2 years to get it right.

But after all the beta-reads, re-writing and critiques the part that really got me was the copy-editing. You get to the point where, finally, you’re hiring a copy-editor and there’s actually an end in sight. Or so you think. The process took about a month and a half.

But eventually, once I’d read the manuscript 3 more times after the final, final, final submission from my fabulous copy editor, I did get to the point where I, with butterflies in my stomached, realized there was no more editing to do.

Or so I thought…

Yep, as I was reading the book out loud to my 8 year-old, we came across an instance of the word “the” which should have been “then.”

It just goes to show you, no matter how far you think you’ve come, there’s always some more to go. I’m grateful for making it through that journey! How about you? Any tales of perseverance to share?

Weekly word: Perseverance

Current Playlist

My current playlist

To answer the question of what’s on my current playlist, I’m listing the most prominent artists on my daily rotation. This list changes as my mood changes and I think you might be surprised at what’s on it today.

These tunes are getting ridiculous play regardless of whether they’re connected to a scene, or character, or not. Many of these songs have a direct relationship to what I’m writing, some of them have no connection whatsoever–at least none that I can see right now. Sometimes, I’ll have music on rotation for no apparent reason until one day it either hits me as to why it’s on the list, or it just starts making sense. Sometimes the characters choose the song(s) and I have little to do with it.

For the record I’m currently writing two pieces: a short story and the follow-up to Blood To Blood.

Current playlist: Santigold

Current playlist: Santigold

Current playlist: The Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Current playlist: The Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Current playlist: Green Day

Current playlist: Green Day

Artists in current rotation

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Green Day

Andy Gibb
Muse (of course)

Cee-lo Green
Kylie Minogue
Arcade Fire

Alabama Shakes
Class Actress

Blood To Blood Available in Pre-release

Blood To Blood: Available in pre-release via Amazon (Kindle). Buy or borrow today!

Blood To Blood Novel

Blood To Blood Novel

Finally, after 3 years of writing, re-writing, editing and querying over and over again, my book is out and in the world. Blood To Blood, available in pre-release, is my first novel.

*Major exhale* Phew!

I am so very excited to be sharing these characters with everyone! There’s something very liberating about knowing that I did my part to infuse these characters with the personalities they showed me, and now it’s out of my hands.

During pre-release, the book will be available exclusively through Kindle where you can buy or borrow it. The official release, which will see it available across multiple platforms as well as in hard copy, will be in October 2012.

There’s nothing more I can do with this book except hope that readers enjoy it and fall in love with Angel, Sawyer and Justin, too.

By the way, you may wonder how I chose to celebrate this momentous occasion. I went to see Dark Knight Rises. It rocked. However, my prayers and love energy go out to the people whose lives were forever changed by the senseless killings at a screening this past weekend.

Well, I’m off to write the next story. Hmmm…it may include at least one of the above-mentioned Blood To Blood characters. In the meantime, enjoy an excerpt.


My Muses – Van Hunt

One of my favorite all-time muses is Van Hunt. I interviewed him back in the mid 2000s, but had fallen in love with his eclectic style of music way before then.

Van Hunt

Van Hunt

When it comes to categorizing his style, it’s impossible to squeeze his discography into one genre; he covers everything from soul, to rock, to funk, to pop.

While his music is unpredictable he’s always superior when it comes to creating a specific atmosphere and evoking a mood. “At the End of a Slow Dance” is one of my favorite Van Hunt songs, and continually haunts me years after first hearing it.



Van Hunt – “At the End of a Slow Dance”



Van Hunt’s recent album is more rock oriented and has one or two tunes that’s found their way onto my current playlist for the Blood To Blood sequel.

Blood To Blood

Blood To Blood Summary from the upcoming book’s back cover

Here’s a quick preview of Blood To Blood:

Angelika Brown has a killer voice. Too bad her über-conservative parents aren’t happy when she decides to quit high school to be a pop singer. What’s worse, she’s morphing into a blood-drinking immortal and her soaring vocals can now decimate everything, and everyone, within earshot. Will she learn how to control her new powers? Or will her bloodlust cause her to kill her girl group before they reach the Top 10?

My Muses: Top 3 Muse Songs

Out of all the thousands of songs that inspire my writing, the ones that repeatedly rise to the top come from one band. As a result, several have consistently been the top 3 Muse songs that influenced my work.



Over ten years ago when I lived in Los Angeles, the local radio station WKROQ was one of the few that gave this band any love. Since hearing them, I’ve not only been a fan of Muse, I’ve also rabidly consumed every lyric their lead vocalist, and resident mad man/genius, pens.

I could rant about Matthew Bellamy’s brilliance, the band’s amazing live performances, etc. etc. but that’s another post. Right now I’d like to talk about their impact on my writing and share with you the the top 3 Muse songs that helped shape my book.

Top 3 Muse Songs

– This song is the biggest musical thread in the fabric of Blood To Blood. It is a rally cry disguised as a love song. Absolutely brilliant. “Whatever they say, your soul’s unbreakable.”


-This love song is one of their most haunting songs. It is the inspiration for a couple of romantic scenes in the book.

Map of The Problematique

– This song changed my writing. Seriously. In part, it was responsible for  introducing a level of darkness into the lives of my characters, particularly Justin McCarthy.

There are many more Muse songs that inspired the tone of Blood To Blood. An honorable mention goes to “Bliss” “Cave” and of course “Time Is Running Out.”

My Muses: Cosby Show

Inspiration for the family in Blood To Blood came from what some may consider to be an unlikely source: The Cosby Show.

Cosby Show: The Huxtable family

The Huxtables

Long ago (early 2000s), in a land far, far away (Los Angeles) when I was working on a different project (Star Trek) the idea for a TV show came to me. The family was based, in part and very loosely, on the family from the show, the Huxtables.

Since the theme of family comes up again and again in my work, it’s no surprise that the Huxtables inspired my writing. The series gave us a strong mom and dad who were both successful in the professional world, and managed to translate that success daily on the home front by making their family the priority.

Interestingly enough, when the Cosby Show first came out, some people were blown away by Black American characters who didn’t display any of the stereotypical dysfunction heretofore marketed to TV audiences. The reality of educated, upper middle-class Black American family life had been unseen on prime time. Millions of viewers became fascinated by a typical American family that was once considered The Other.

It’s the concept of Otherness disguised in the packaging of The Everyday that fascinates me.

As with the other family that inspired Blood To Blood, the element of otherness percolating within the framework of day-to-day life (or, as in the case with Dark Shadows, the ordinary percolating within the framework of Strangeness) inspires me to create characters who deal with the same issues we all deal with, but in a slightly “different” context.

Like most families, Angel Brown’s family grapples with the daily challenges of raising children into responsible adults, making good decisions, living a moral life, etc. The fact that they’re witches and blood drinkers is the stuff that makes them different, but it’s the commonality, the connection to all families, that makes them familiar.



Muse 2012: Grub Street

You all know I’m a big fan of Muse but this post’s about a writers conference I recently attended.The annual conference is put on by Grub Street, an independent writers’ center in Boston, and has quite a reputation.

Especially thought-provoking was a talk given by Richard Nash:

Whether it’s a multi-day conference or a local writers’ support group, these types of events are beneficial for writers, both aspiring and seasoned. There’s nothing like being in a room with 3000+ writers or a room with just 3 writers for making new connections and getting invaluable information on the business side of writing. Thanks, Grub Street!