I Want to Write!

I can’t tell you how good it feels to say (err…type) that!  The past 5 and ½ months have truly been the best of my life.  With Baby D, every day is a new adventure, but when exciting things happen everyday, it can be exhausting.  Very exhausting.  So while I’ve been having so much fun, I’ve been so tired too, and writing has been the furthest thing from my mind no matter how many times I tried to will myself to do it along the way.

But this weekend I felt a spark; one that I hadn’t felt in a long time.  The Other Side of Later was on a free promo with Amazon so I was on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram like crazy trying to promote it.  I started reading other writer’s tweets and posts, and I saw how excited they were to write.  I missed that feeling.  Then yesterday, I took advantage of the mild weather and went for a run, and something clicked.  The ideas started flowing, and I couldn’t contain the writing bug inside of me.

I hope it lasts because I can’t wait to share some sneak peeks of my next novel with you!

Stay tuned!

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!  I hope you all enjoyed the holiday season.  I can’t believe how fast it flew by!  If the past four months taught me anything, it’s how fast time passes when you have a little one.  Every day has been a new adventure, and I’ve loved every second, but I realized how easy it is for time to slip by.  Because of that, I decided to think of a few things I want to accomplish in 2017 and focus on them throughout the year.

  1. Learn how to balance work and family time – On the eve of my first day back to work, this one seems a little daunting, but I’m hoping my organizational skills come in handy especially in the early morning hours!
  2. Finish the draft of book #2 – I really wanted to finish book #2 by the end of 2016, but time with Baby D was way more important.  I’m hoping in 2017 we’ll get more of a routine and I’ll find a few minutes here and there to write while Baby D sleeps.
  3. Run a half marathon – I’m all signed up for the Atlantic City half marathon in October.  It’s something I’ve thought about doing for several years, and a couple months ago, I decided to take the plunge and sign up!

I hope I’m able to fulfill all three by December 31st!  Do you have any goals for 2017? What are you doing meet your goals?

30 Day Gratitude Challenge – Part 1

As I mentioned in my last blog post, I’m participating in the 30 Days of Gratitude Challenge on Instagram.  It’s such a great way to think about many of the things I’m thankful for leading up to Thanksgiving.  I thought I’d expand on a few of my favorites so far!

Day 1 – Home


My entire life I’ve called the small southeastern corner of the Jersey Shore home, and I can’t imagine living anywhere else!  There’s a bike path that runs through my town and several others.  No matter the day of the week or the time of day, you’ll always pass a friendly face – children riding their bikes to school, parents pushing their little ones in a stroller, and retirees enjoying a nice stroll.  The bike path promotes such a wonderful sense of community.  I’m so thankful for a welcoming place to run and walk with Baby D.

Day 8 – Family & Friends

When I think of my family and friends, my heart just bursts with love and joy.  As much as I like to think I have a way with words, I’m always at a lost when I try to articulate what they mean to me.  The walls of my house are filled with pictures of all our loved ones, and I smile and count my blessings every time I walk past them.


Day 15 – Music

Oh, how I love Christmas music!  While I typically try to hold off until the week of Thanksgiving to start listening, this year has been a little different.  Since I’ve been home on maternity leave with Baby D, I’ve gotten the festive holiday bug to start listening a bit earlier than usual!  As a kid, my parents would play songs by Dean Martin and Perry Como so my playlist has some of their classics along with my new favorites by Straight No Chaser, Carrie Underwood, and Kelly Clarkson.  With every song, I reminisce about how lucky I was to have wonderful Christmases as a kid and look forward to watching Baby D make memories each year that includes some of my favorite songs!


Are you participating in the 30 Day Gratitude Challenge?  What are you thankful for?


It’s time for a little update.  While I didn’t make a huge announcement, I dropped little hints here and there on Twitter and Instagram that I was expecting my first child.  Baby D, as I refer to him on social media, arrived at the end of summer, and it’s been such an exciting and joyous whirlwind ever since!

With that being said, I’ll be honest.  Ideally, I wanted book #2 to be released this December, but that’s not going to happen.  I thought I may be able to write while I was on maternity leave.  And while I’ve had the time while Baby D naps, I’ve had terrible writer’s block about 90% of the times I’ve sat down to write.  With Baby D turning 9 weeks this week (seriously, where did the time go?!?), I’ve decided I need to get to try to get the creative juices flowing again.  I had every intention of having a blog post ready to go on November 1st, but again, writer’s block hit.  But then I found a great challenge on Instagram – 30 Day Gratitude Challenge.


I thought it was such a great way to reflect on the things I’m most thankful for each day.  While I’ll post a picture every day on Instagram, each week, I’m going to write a post and expand a little bit here.  I’m hoping the prompts for each day help me get out of my writing slump.

I hope you’ll follow along and share the things you’re most thankful for too!

Details, details…

The boardwalk was cold and blustery, not an anomaly for a December night.  The damp, salt air blew my hair, which had been swept back off my neck in a loose chignon hours earlier, all around.  My heels clicked against the boards as I tried to avoid the gaps between them.  I clutched my grandmother’s classic long, velvet winter swing coat to my body as I walked.  I had no destination in mind, but somehow I was drawn to the pier.  I walked past the abandoned carnival games and listened to the waves crash against the wooden support beams.  It had been over two months since Drew showed me the pier, but as I approached the railing we leaned against that October night, I was back in that moment with him.  I looked back at Atlantic City.  Casinos were lit up, some with red and green lights to mark the upcoming holiday…

Some of my favorite parts of The Other Side of Later are the details.  They’re small, usually sentimental, and probably don’t mean a thing to anyone else, but including them made my debut novel more special to me.  In the excerpt above, I made sure to mention Julia’s coat used to belong to her grandmother.  That’s a direct lift from my life!  There have been several formal occasions through college and my adult life when I’ve gone to my parents’ house and dug through the walk-in closet to find my grandmother’s classic, long velvet winter swing coat.  It’s truly a classic style that finishes off whatever dress I’ve picked and when I wrap it tightly around my body, I smile knowing that she’s extremely happy and smiling down on me because the coat is still getting good use many, many years after she bought it.

I know these small details are most likely overlooked as The Other Side of Later is read, and that’s okay.  But as I continue to share the background behind some of the details in my books, I hope you enjoy them!

The Unknown

I distinctly remember a night as a 17 year old as a high school senior when I laid on my childhood bed sideways with my feet hanging off the side of the bed staring at the ceiling thinking about how a year from that night I’d be in college, away from home and away from my family and friends.  Growing up, it was essentially a foregone conclusion that I’d go to college, and I can honestly say that without an ounce of bitterness that some carry with them about the choices – or lack thereof – presented to them in their young adult lives.  Regardless of my parents’ wishes for me to go to college after high school, I always wanted to go to college too.  I liked school; I saw college as the next logical step.  That wasn’t the problem that night half a lifetime ago.

That evening, I was looking ahead to the future, and it was exciting.  College football games, meeting new friends, campus life – I had heard about it all.  It sounded great, but there was this allusive event so to speak that existed in my head – actually moving to college.  I looked around my room and the reality of it escaped me.  I knew it was coming in less than a year, but how?  What would this room that I lived in for 17 years look like after I moved?  (Little did I know college dorms are so small that my childhood bedroom remained virtually untouched from the way it was that night.)  How was I going to feel living away from home?  No familiar face each evening when I done with classes; no childhood friends to eat lunch with.  How was that possible?

Well, I knew it was possible, but it still remained an enigma until that early September years ago.

And it’s funny because 17 years later, I’m staring down another one of life’s unknowns – childbirth.  My husband and I are anxiously awaiting the arrival of our first child – a boy – at the end of the month!  (I can’t believe I can finally say I’m due this month even if it is still 4 weeks away!)  Just like that night half a lifetime ago, there are so many exciting and amazing things on the other side of labor and delivery.  But it’s those whens and hows that leave me on edge just like I was as a high school senior anxiously awaiting the move to college.  When is it going to happen?  How will it all go down?

Of course, I guess that’s what makes it such an exciting part of life.  As much as I want to know, sometimes not knowing makes it all the more special when it happens.

Kieran, dim the lights…

I won’t pretend to remember where I was or if I even watched the first episode of American Idol back in 2002.  In fact, those who know me and know how much of an avid Idol fan I’ve been through the years would probably be surprised to learn that I didn’t really watch the freshman season.  I heard snips of it as I walked by my mom’s room, and my college roommates and I watched the last 10 minutes of the finale when Kelly Clarkson was announced the winner.  But it wasn’t until the next spring when Season 2 aired that I really became hooked.  Maybe it was talent; maybe it was the mesh of personalities; maybe it was just the perfect distraction a college student needed on Tuesday and Wednesday nights between solving integrals and writing lab reports.  Regardless of the reason, the talents of Clay, Ruben, Kimberly, and the entire top 12 along with the banter of Simon, Paula, Randy, and Ryan, had me tune in week after week from January through May.  And after that, I was an Idol fan.

Last spring, when Fox announced this season would be the final one for Idol, I was filled with mixed emotions.  Anyone could see the show had pretty much run its course.  Through the last few seasons, major changes had been made to try to keep it afloat:  switching nights from Tuesday/Wednesday to Wednesday/Thursday, recruiting big-time record executives to mentor the finalists throughout the season, and ultimately consolidating the two night showcase into a one night a week show.  However, a pang of nostalgia hit when I thought about Idol coming to an end.  In the time I had been a fan, I had met my husband, graduated college, went to grad school, bought a house, got married, and now I’m even expecting my first child.  A lot can happen in 14 years and every spring, Idol was a part of it.

I reminisced (in other words rewatched on You Tube!) about my favorite performances – Carrie’s rendition of Heart’s “Alone,” Constantine’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and Chris Daughtry’s spin on Elvis’s “Suspicious Minds” just to name a few.  I remembered the moments that were bigger than just a reality TV show – the Season 2 Top 10 performing “God Bless the USA” just days after the United States invaded Iraq in 2003 and the first installment of Idol Gives Back.  I thought about how a group of us at work would discuss the Internet crazed sites of Dial Idol and Vote for the Worst every Wednesday morning back in the mid-2000s.  Of course, I’d be remiss if I forgot about the harsh and sometimes cringe worthy critiques from Simon or the trademark slogans that became a part of pop culture like Randy proclaiming a particular contestant was “in it to win it!”

If I’m being honest, I haven’t really watched this season like I have for the past 13.  The format was really different – Idol alumni duets, semi-finals in an old church, multiple eliminations in one night.  It felt different – too different, and I guess it had to be in order to accommodate the abbreviated season.  But I just couldn’t get hooked like I did before.  Maybe it’s appropriate.  The few auditions I did watch all touted that this year’s winner would be the book end to Kelly’s inaugural season win, and I didn’t watch much of that season either.  How’s that for symmetry?

But some things haven’t changed.  The show is still about young, talented artists, and Ryan still opens each episode with the trademark “This is American Idol.”  While I can’t remember watching the first episode of Idol or hearing Ryan utter those famous words in 2002, I know I’ll remember watching the last and hearing him say “Kieran, dim the lights” before announcing the winner and wishing America goodnight one last time.

Sneak Peek: Halloween in Sea Grass

Throughout middle school and high school, my friends and I would always gather at my best friend’s house after trick-or-treating to swap candy and watch the ridiculously cheesy Halloween specials on TV while our parents and neighbors would gather upstairs around the dining room table. While trick-or-treating was never my favorite thing to do (side note – other than plain chocolate, I’m not a big fan of candy…I know, I know, I’m weird), I always loved Halloween night. It was a tradition that lasted for years, and I always considered it the unofficial end of the early part of fall and the beginning of colder nights and cozier holiday gatherings. Like so many parts of The Other Side of Later, the scene from Halloween night is based, in part, on my own memories. I hope you enjoy this sneak peek of Halloween in Sea Grass!


“A few of the neighborhood kids were in the family room swapping candy and Carson was out like a light in my dad’s recliner… I took a sip of the warm apple cider my mom had made. Since Luke’s freshman year of high school, my parents started having a post trick-or-treating gathering on Halloween night. My parents’ house was decorated to the hilt, but not in the modern commercialized way. It was homey and welcoming for one of mid-fall’s traditions. Jack-o-lanterns glowed on the front porch steps, pumpkin flavored snacks from cheesecake to cookies lined the dining room table, and chocolate wrapped in orange foil filled candy dishes throughout the house, but my favorite was my mom’s homemade warm apple cider simmering in the kitchen.”

The Other Side of Later is available on Amazon for only 99¢!

Let’s Get Real…

For the past several weeks, I’ve been wracking my brain trying to figure out new ways to promote my book, understand why I’m not getting many sales, and accept that the self-publishing venture is not for the faint of heart. While I still may not have all the answers or reasons why, it’s forced me to take a step back and take a look at not only how I’m presenting my work but also how I’m presenting myself. I’ve realized that I’ve only put out little blurbs about The Other Side of Later on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and here on my blog without really trying to open up and connect with my potential readers.

So let’s get real. I’m a very private person. While I’m very sociable among family and close friends, I’m also very reserved and probably perceived as slightly introverted to someone who doesn’t know me. Many times, I keep important things to myself. Day in and day out, I’m a logical and rational person. However, big changes – even good things – can throw me for a loop, and good reason can sometimes be thrown out the window until can wrap my head around it.

Why am I sharing all of this now? First and for most, the characteristics I described in the paragraph above are the reasons why I chose to publish under a pen name. Yes, there was a small part of me that chose to use a pen name because I’m an engineer by day, and the fields of engineering and romance/chick-lit writing are worlds apart, but at the end of the day, I was extremely nervous to put my name on my work. I poured months and months of my heart and soul into it. What if it was bad? What if I shocked everyone I knew? What if people thought of me differently? Those questions scared me. So I decided to publish under a pen name. I’ve never been sorry about my decision. The name has a special connection to my family and childhood, and I know it was the right choice.

It’s really not important whether or not my real name is attached to my work, but I’ve realized that it is important to be more open about myself in order to be successful as a writer. During a long run about 6 years ago, I passed by an old classmate on the bike path, and the premise of The Other Side of Later was born. Julia, the main character, is a lot like me – her childhood, her parents, her hometown. She’s independent, loyal, tenacious, but stubborn. So many of Julia’s reactions and decisions stemmed from answers to the question I kept asking myself “what would I do if I were Julia?” Was I ever in her position? No. But as I created and immersed myself in the fictional but familiar town of Sea Grass, NJ, I put myself in her shoes. The result is my debut novel. It’s truly a piece of me. Now, 6 plus months after I took the plunge and self-published on Amazon, I’m ready to admit it. Hopefully, this is the beginning of me sharing a bit more about myself and connecting with you. If you’re still reading, thanks and I hope to connect with you soon!

Labor Day at the Jersey Shore

I know.  I know.  Another post or tweet about the beach or Jersey Shore?  I promise there’s more to me and The Other Side of Later than the little southeastern corner of the Garden State that I love so much.  But it’s Labor Day weekend so you’ll have to let me indulge just one last time for the summer.

Labor Day has always marked the unofficial end of summer at the Jersey Shore.  As a kid, my grandfather would always tell me we were “locking up the beach” for the year when we left on Labor Day.  You’ll find that phrase in The Other Side of Later as well as a scene of Julia and her family and friends celebrating the unofficial end of the summer season on the beach.  It’s very much like the one my family, friends, and I create each and every Labor Day.

I’ve included a little sneak peek of Julia’s Labor Day.  I hope you enjoy it, and more importantly, I hope you enjoy your Labor Day weekend with family and friends as well!

Labor Day on the beach at the Jersey Shore was a little bit of a production. It was the unofficial last day of summer. For years, the regular beach crew would have a little party. Over time, the little party grew into a bit of an extravaganza with close to 25 people. There were plenty of snacks, a cooler of soda, and we ordered subs. When the weather cooperated, it was the perfect time to be on the beach. Early September when all of the shoebies had departed for the summer; only the locals were left to enjoy it.

The Other Side of Later is available on Amazon.