Rose Gardens and Horse Names

I do not have a green thumb, but we recently went to a nursery (we needed a new blueberry bush, because my husband ran one of ours over with the lawn mower…lol) and they had the most beautiful roses.

I was drawn to them and I turned excitedly to my husband and asked “What about some roses?” Roses are easy to take care of right? My husband shook his head, “No, you don’t want roses. They can be difficult.”

Difficult? No thank you. I immediately went to look at plants under the sign that said “Drought Tolerant” (meaning they’ll survive when I forget to water them). But  later that day I kept thinking about the roses, and looked up all the different types of roses there are on the internet. I got some more bad news…most roses don’t like the Deep South (too hot). There are some types that do grow well here, but not the ones I really liked. Bummer.

After that disappointing news, I continued working on the sequel to The Kings of Charleston and as I hinted in an earlier post the newest character, Dev, loves horses too. In fact, his family owns some of there own horses and I started looking for horse name inspirations.

Casper Whitley’s horse names are all derived from characters from Casper the Friendly Ghost stories (i.e. Good Witch “Wendy”, “Hot Stuff” the Little Devil, Nightmare, The Ghostly “Trio”), so I thought Dev’s horses needed a theme too.

And then it hit me…rose names as horse names (there’s a reason Dev’s family would name their horses after roses, but I’m not sharing that :)). An example? Dev has a horse named Alister Stella Gray that he calls Stella.

So if I can’t have the roses that I want in my yard (or the gardener to take care of them), then I can have them in the form of the names of some pretty special horses.

Alister Stella Gray Roses. By A. Barra (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

Swimming in Nostalgia

I’ve been watching the Olympics, specifically the swimming and I can’t help but feel a little nostalgic. As the competitors dive into the pool, make the turn at the end of the pool and head for the touch pad I can’t help but miss the feeling. No, I never was as fast as a world class Olympian, but swimming was still my life.

I was on a swim team from about the age of 10 till I graduated high school. When I was younger, I was a part of a competitive swim team which continued through middle school and high school. In high school, I was a part of the school swim team and the summer league, so there was never a vacation, except for a little time right after school started each fall.

I lived and breathed swimming as a kid. I had the chance to swim in college, but I turned it down because I was just so burned out. After what felt like a long eight years, I was ready to hang up my goggles and swim cap.

But now, I realize how phenomenal an experience that truly was. And it’s funny the things I miss about it. I miss the strong smell of chlorine that hit you when you walked into our high schools indoor pool. I miss putting on a swim cap (and how exciting it was to learn how to put it on by yourself) and the rush you got on the block waiting for the race to start. I even kind of miss the 6 am practices before school (yeah, crazy considering I’m not a morning person).

I was not a freestyle swimmer really (although I frequently swam the 500 freestyle…didn’t enjoy it though). I was a back stroke and butterfly girl (I had the back muscles to prove it). I loved butterfly and back stroke, because they both allowed you to be graceful in a sense. Not that being graceful was the name of the game, when all that mattered was who touched the wall first.

I think the reason I loved the grace was because I truly wanted to be a diver. I can remember being in practice up on the block, diving into the pool and trying to make sure it was a “pretty” dive. I can also remember my coach telling me that my dives were beautiful and all, but they weren’t fast starts.

Our school didn’t have a dive team, so I settled for competitive swimming because I loved the water. I loved the quietness in your head as you did laps up and down the pool. It was such a great time to think and let go of all the worries of the day. By the time you got out of the pool your were physically exhausted, but mentally I always felt refreshed.

If only I had appreciated it more at the time. Now, as I try to get into the routine of running for fitness, I think back to my years in the pool and the fact that I will always be better at “running” in the pool.

I think it’s time to give up trying to make myself into a runner and be the swimmer (or diver) I’ll always be at heart.

By Max T-M from New York, USA (Butterfly) [CC-BY-2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

Sequel Secrets

I’m finally moving full force into sequel mode and working diligently on And All the Kings Men. It’s taken some time for me to figure out where the story was going. Actually, I still would be lost if I hadn’t I relented and let Casper pull me into her world.

Now that I have a clearer picture as to where the story is going, I’ve begun doing research on new elements of the story.

Sometimes research can be a whole lot of fun. This afternoon, my husband and I went to an Indian restaurant (I’ve never had Indian food) and I was amazed by all the different flavors and spices that were used. Indian food is completely different from anything else I’ve ever had and it’s definitely not one note. I enjoyed it, and my husband thinks we need to do more “research”.

I’ve also been working on a new playlist of songs to listen to while I’m writing, which is an important part of the process for me. I don’t like silence, especially when I’m writing (I can’t even write a post without music…currently I am listening to One Republic on Pandora). When I first start writing a story, I search for new songs that help me get the right mood for different scenes so that the scenes can play out like a movie in my head.

A little secret? The scene in The Kings of Charleston where Casper is alone in the house after the Fourth of July party (trying not to give away what happens to those  who haven’t read it) was written to “The End Is the Beginning Is the End” by the Smashing Pumpkins. And the scene in the barn with Casper and her Dad? “Shake it Out” by Florence + the Machine.

Since today’s all about research for the sequel, I thought I would reveal a couple of tidbits about what’s to come:

There’s a new character in town named Dev and he’s going to cause a lot of problems for Casper in more ways than one. He’s handsome, has nothing to do with Kythera and he loves horses as much as Casper does (which makes him pretty irresistible).

Does this spell trouble for Cal? Not so fast…like everyone else Casper meets, Dev has some secrets of his own.

The secrets in Charleston are getting deeper and more difficult to keep.

New Retailers, Events and Book Updates

Today, I mailed off a box of autographed print books to my parents for anyone who would like signed copy of The Kings of Charleston in my hometown. If you are interested in an autographed copy, please contact me at to order one.

I’ve also set up a new page called “Upcoming Events” that will list any promotional events (including book signings) that I will be attending for The Kings of Charleston in the future.

Currently, I will be attending the SIBA (Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance) Tradeshow in Naples, Florida in early September. I’m excited to meet independent booksellers and other authors.

There is also a couple of new retailers that have been added to “Where to Buy the Book” that includes Amazon retailers in Europe. The Kings of Charleston is now available in the UK, France and Denmark through their respective Amazon websites.

There’s Two Crazy Kat’s Living in My House

Things round my house get a little confusing, because although my pet cat has a name, (Frank…don’t ask) we just call him “cat” most of the time or “kitty”. The best is when my husband call’s my name and the other “cat” comes running, meows and looks up at him.

My cat is not a normal cat. He has dependency issues. I thought most cats were pretty independent. Not our cat. No, if you leave the room and shut the door, he sets at the door and meows until you either let him in or you come back out. If he gets tired of meowing, he’ll go sit all pretty  in the corner and wait for you to come out. If he’s asleep up in his kitty tower and you leave the room, say to go into the office, seconds later he will appear, curl up in a chair and go back to sleep. He’s completely happy as long as me or my husband is in the room with him. I love that about our cat, but it’s abnormal as far as my definition of a cat goes. He also doesn’t like tuna or chicken, but it you drop a marshmallow or Gold Fish Cracker it’s gone in seconds (guess he likes junk food).

But the best part about my cat? Is the crazy things he does that just make me laugh. I was sitting at the computer this afternoon with the door closed, but not shut all the way. Suddenly, I hear the door crack open slowly and I look behind to see the cat with his head stuck in the room. But he isn’t looking at me, he’s looking at a pen cap that he’s pushed under the door. I say “Cat, what are you doing?” He looks up at me with his big blue eyes, all of a sudden aware of my presence. He freezes, then slowly retracts his head until I can only see one eye from behind the door. I keep looking at him, trying not to laugh. Then the other eye disappears and I think he’s found something else entertaining. I look at the door a second longer and all of a sudden a white paw appears under the door, searching for the pen cap. The door is still cracked from when he poked his head in, but he won’t come in because he doesn’t want me to “see” him get the pen cap. He thinks he will get in trouble and by sticking his paw under the door, I can’t possibly detect him right? I laughed, and shook my head before turning back to the computer.

I never thought I would have a cat. I always thought of myself as a dog person who would eventually have a poodle or some other frou frou dog. But one day my husband shows up on my doorstep (while were still dating) with this cat, a litter box and flea shampoo. He’s an adorable kitten, but I kept thinking evil thought’s about my husband and what made him think I wanted a kitten? Sure, I had said he was adorable, but I think baby monkey’s are adorable too. Doesn’t mean I want one.

Needless to say, this cat quickly stole my heart with his big personality and I’m now happily a cat person. Oh and we have a dog too. She has dependency issues as well, but that’s a whole other story. 🙂

A Moment Like This

As I’m sure most have you already heard the tragic news out of Aurora, Colorado, I wanted to take a moment to give my sincerest condolences to the families affected.

In a moment like this you realize we are not promised a single moment on this Earth, and that we should make every precious second count.

In a moment like this we are reminded of what really counts…and more often than not it’s not the things that we spend the majority of our time on. We take for granted the little things, the moments of happiness filled with smiles, laughter and love.

In a moment like this we need to let go of the little irritations that in the grand scheme of things are nothing but regrets when that person is gone. Something that someone told me awhile back (can’t remember if it was someone in person or on TV), but it changed how I looked at things. They said think about one thing that annoys you about your spouse, like that he leaves his socks on the floor and his jeans slung over the lamp and how irritated it makes you. Then think about the day you walk in and the socks aren’t on the floor or the jeans on the lamp because he’s gone. Suddenly, you want nothing more than to see the socks on the floor and the jeans over the lamp, and you realize how insanely crazy you’ve been for being so irritated over something that in the grand scheme of life doesn’t really matter.

In a moment like this we need to look to the only One who can help us, comfort and heal us in times of sadness and pain. Please say a prayer for the families who’ve lost friends, children, siblings and parents today in such a tragic way.

Ghost Hill Farms

If you’ve read my book, you know that Casper moves from her family’s horse farm called Ghost Hill Farms to Charleston, South Carolina.

So why a horse farm? One, I’m from Kentucky and there’s just a natural fascination with horses. There’s a lot of history and culture in my home state that involves the beautiful horses that graze its green rolling hills. They are just as much a part of the landscape as the trees, flowers and bluegrass. It’s because of that history that placing Casper on a Kentucky horse farm allowed me to impart some of my own history into the story.

Second, horses are just fascinating creatures with so much personality and life that they lend a lot to a story. I can remember as a kid always asking my parents for magazines about horses and reading novels about horses. I loved the movie’s National Velvet and Black Beauty (and now Secretariat). Horses have these big beautiful expressive eyes that feel like they can connect with your soul and see past the person you might be hiding from everyone else.

And flying on the back of a gorgeous horse over the hills of Kentucky Bluegrass represented something integral to my story…freedom. If you understand Casper’s relationship with her horses then you understand something special about her.

Kindle Winner and Thank You’s

I would like to announce the Kindle winner, Mrs. Lisa Wireman! Thank you to everyone who participated and I will be doing other contests in the future, including giving away signed copies of The Kings of Charleston, and possibly a Nook or other e-reader. Please check back often for new contests!

I also want to take a few minutes to say thank you to some who’ve been a great encouragement to me. I know I thanked people in an earlier post, but I don’t think you can thank enough the people who get behind you in whatever you pursue. The people I’m thanking today were not necessarily apart of the actual writing process, but the minute they heard about The Kings of Charleston they were on board.

Thank you Aunt Cheryl, because I think you were one of the first people to buy my book and to share it with all your friends. I hope you all enjoy it!

Thank you Claire, my wonderful sister-in-law (truly I consider her my sister with no need for the “in-law” attached) for taking the time to share my book and for being the positive happy person you always are. I always have so much fun with you.

I have to thank my boss, Paul, because he’s been just as excited and supportive about my book as anyone else. I have to admit, I wasn’t sure what he would think, but he went around telling everyone about my book and that just made me feel great and confident.

Thank you to Morgan, who I didn’t previously know (although we later realized we had indeed met at a wedding) for taking the time to write me a note and letting me know how much you enjoyed the book, and for sharing it with your friends.

Thank you Kelly, my oldest  friend (I don’t mean age… I’ve known her since I was seven) for being so encouraging on the phone and excited to check out the book.

Thank you to all my supporters on Facebook, including all those who’ve taken the time to share my book with others. Some shared my book without any provocation, while I asked others if they would share and they did so happily.

There are plenty others who have shown their support that I’ve not specifically named, but if I truly took the time to write all those who I am thankful for, then it might be a book (or at least a novella) on it’s own, so I’ll just have to sprinkle my thank you’s through out my posts.

I’ve come to realize, the support you get after you’ve put yourself out there is so important and needed. I know there are many that I’ve not personally named, but you know who you are and if you don’t already know it, you’ve played an important role in helping me bring The Kings of Charleston to life.