An Open Letter to New Father, Richard Sherman of the Seattle Seahawks

My son sure does know how to make an entrance!  2/5/15… Is it a coincidence or is he just that clever?! Either way I’m ecstatic

— Richard Sherman (@RSherman_25) February 5, 2015


Dear Mr. Sherman.

It’s been a little over five weeks since you became a father. Warmest congratulations to you and Ashley! The world already knows what a clever boy he is to make his entrance on the date that echoes your jersey number, but as an old veteran of parenthood, I wanted to speed up your learning curve as you navigate the first year of Rayden’s life.

My husband and I are raising two girls, 11 and 17. We didn’t have family around us as we struggled through those first weeks of babyhood. Eyes wide in shock, two days after our first baby was born the nurse nudged us out the door with a smile and a wave, “You’re ready to go home,” and I really wondered if we were.

baby-on-board-signLesson One: Don’t Mock Other Parents

Lord have mercy! That ten minute drive home was our first endurance test. The other cars sped and juked around us like they were playing MarioKart. With our new baby tucked into the backseat, we’d never felt more vulnerable. I don’t think we went over twenty miles per hour on that drive. Holding my hand over the baby’s chest, I remember asking God to forgive me for all the times I mocked drivers that hung a “Baby on Board!” sign in their rearview window.

Lesson Two: Three Really is the Magic Number

Three is a magic number!

In the days that followed we learned the ugly truth no one tells you about newborns. Their internal clocks are flipped. Nights are days and days are nights. In a coherent moment one of us, probably my husband, remembered our pediatrician telling us that newborns can learn any new routine in three days. Dr. Eichner told us that if we kept our baby up for 30 minutes before the last feeding of the night and repeated this for three nights in a row, the baby’s internal clock would switch. As you know by now, a half hour of wakefulness for newborns is code for crying. Reluctantly, we obeyed. We played Chopin and walked with the baby, jiggling her when she nodded off. She cried. And we cried. But on that third night the magic happened. She slept. Yes, Chopin is ruined forever for me, but she slept.

**Note: This works for changes in sleeping arrangements, feeding routines, etc.

Lesson Three: You and Ashley Came First

big heartThe other piece of advice Dr. Eichner gave us was this, “Your baby joined your family. The two of you came first. Don’t forget that” He reminded us to keep doing what we loved and bring the baby along. Well, we loved hiking, traveling and eating at restaurants – all cringe-worthy activities to attempt with a newborn and we did them. Yes, some of our adventures had to be cut short because of a diaper blow out, but most were wildly successful. Dr. Eichner was right. The babies joined our family and made delightful additions.

So, in the weeks to come when you feel like your house has become a bunker, remind yourself to get out with baby and breathe the fresh air.

Lesson Four: Don’t Wait to Travel with Rayden

t-birdBack to the travel, Mr. Sherman. Travel with Rayden now, next month and throughout next year’s football season. Don’t wait to introduce him to planes, trains and cars. I’ve seen the parents that waited until their child was a year old, they’ve been seated next to me struggling to keep their child seated, belted and content. Our kids have been traveling on planes since they were five months old. To this day they are complimented by the flight attendants for their exceptional behavior. They grew up learning how to travel and it shows.

Lesson Five: Start Reading to Rayden Today

the-snowy-day1Don’t wait to share books with your son. Make reading a daily habit and have fun with it for heaven’s sake. Find books that are colorful and rhyme. Do your craziest, funniest voices and make grand facial expressions as you read to Rayden because you’ll bring language to life for your son. The result? You are raising a boy that will love reading his whole life.

Two of my favorites are Ezra Jack Keats’, A Snowy Day and Sandra Boyton’s, Barnyard Dance. To this day, I can still repeat them by heart.

Boynton-Books Lesson Five: Your Instincts Are Perfect!

You are a cerebral man. Stanford doesn’t abide anything but brilliance. So, I’m pretty sure you’ve purchased your fair share of books about raising babies, you’ve maybe even bought that minefield of self-diagnosis, The Mayo Clinic Handbook, but I’m here to tell you, your instincts are perfect. The instruction books, online sites and even the Mayo Clinic Handbook have a place, they do. But, your gut knows when something’s not quite right. Listen to it. Check your resources only to give weight to your hunch, that’s fine. But, we all we need. Yes, the Seahawks’ saying even applies to parenthood.

Lesson Six: When You’ve Made it Six Weeks, Things Get Exponentially Easier

Six weeks is a miracle in the development of babies. Maybe it’s a chicken and egg thing. At six weeks new parents have a handle on the everyday routine. That leads to feeling confident and relaxed. Then maybe, baby responds, becoming more relaxed himself. I’m not sure. But I do know that at six weeks, babies smile. They giggle. They explore the world with hungry eyes. It makes us fall in love with them all over again.

So, in closing, enjoy this time. I’m sure tells you this, but the years fly by. I can’t believe my first-born will be going off to college next year when I can still remember the milky smell of her onesie like it was only yesterday. Embrace each day and savor the blessing of your new, bigger, family.

With kindness,


JIMG_3488ennifer L. Hotes is a Seattle author and illustrator.  Mother to two daughters, she is the surrogate mother to the four teens in her first mystery novel, Four Rubbings. Jennifer volunteers time with Providence Hospice of Seattle to raise money for grieving and bereaved children. Even though her sixth grader squirms, she hugs and kisses her everyday.


girlsruleIt’s International Women’s Day. Though I’m happy that we received a Sunday in March, I can’t help but notice that even in this, our holiday, we’re receiving less than men. It’s also the day we set the clocks forward an hour. Yes, #InternationalWomensDay is one hour less than every other day of the year. (insert grumbling and mild cursing here)

This week I was talking with my teen daughter about women’s issues. My kid is bright, artistic and a science nut. I call her a hybrid. She worked hard on her final project for a stage craft class. The next day in the final minutes of her presentation, she was asked to grade herself. She gave herself 22 out of 25 points. The class erupted in argument and she finally upped the score to 23. My cheeks burned pink as she relayed the story.

IMG_5292I know from my days as a psych major at the University of Washington that studies show females tend to under-score themselves in these situations and men give themselves a more generous grade. My daughter must’ve sensed a preaching coming on, because she said, “I could’ve done more. It’s not perfect, Mom. It’s not.”

This, coming from a girl that speaks out about sexism daily. No matter who is within ear shot, she argues when someone says, “Oh, you’re such a girl,” (actually the phrase is cruder and involves genitalia.) She will point out how women have the babies, and that fact alone proves we are genetically stronger than men. Nature chose women to have the babies because we were the gender that could handle it. Boom.

But, I felt like she was missing that secret dialogue, the one that we may not even be aware of ourselves. Women are raised to be modest, humble, unassuming and that works against us in self-grading as well as in our professions. I got on my apple crate and preached. She gave herself a modest grade to appear modest and humble in front of her classmates. That’s not okay. It’s one thing to be a perfectionist and admit there were flaws in her project. But, if she was to compare her work to her classmates, she’d have to give herself a higher score. She felt uncomfortable doing that. I don’t blame her there because I’ve got 45 years of social training working against me.

Today, I found this article about how bright girls struggle. I thought it was well-written and points out that bright girls are afraid to take risks. They are raised to believe their intelligence is innate and in that way, won’t grow. Boys are raised to see intelligence as something you earn by researching, testing, trying and failing. Intelligence is a continuous pursuit. In this one thing, I believe we need to mimic boys. Here’s the link to the article!

So, on today of all days, I think it’s time to roar, women. I think it is well past time that we push past our comfort zones and own our strengths. Not comfortable crowing about your strengths and achievements? Then, just try not to downplay or dismiss them. Maybe that’s why our holiday is an hour shorter than all the others? We’re changing ourselves from within, and that feat alone deserves an hour break.

“The Mind of a Child” by Marshanne Mishoe

Marshanne Mishoe

Marshanne Mishoe is an author, wife and mother who makes her home just north of Atlanta, GA. Her new book called, “The Mind of a Child,” is a dual story line, with a woman who gets a job as an assistant teacher in a Special Needs classroom with absolutely no experience, leading to often comical results. The other part of the book tells the fictional story of a woman who has a Down Syndrome baby in 1940. The story delves into how the child’s disability affects his whole family, and the drastic step the family takes when they feel they have no options. This story is based on her grandmother’s life. But there were other family members who were also affected by this special child’s life. Read on.

Imagine being a little boy with a brother who has special needs? What if we are talking about 1940 when not much was known about the genetic ailment, eventually called, Down Syndrome?

Well this was my father’s life. He was older by two years than his brother, called “Bubba.” They were close in some ways because all they had was each other for friends. Their parents were loving but busy working and Dad and Bubba had to keep each other entertained.

Now imagine that you had grown very resentful of your brother, whose latest stunt involved man-handling your 10th birthday cake, tearing down the decorations and causing the guests to leave the party early. You were sick and tired of Bubba getting away with all sorts of bad behavior and you let your parents know about it.

Blog 4Then, one day, your parents call you in and sit you down. They tearfully say that they have decided to send your only brother away, to a “school” for children like Bubba. How would you feel? This is where I have to make my best guess, because my father has never spoken to me or anyone else that I know of, about this very important happening in his childhood.

I imagine my father, as a 10-year-old boy, felt a mix of feelings. He probably felt scared about the change, he probably was curious about where his brother was going. He probably felt excitement to have the little pain-in-the-neck gone. But mostly, I imagine he felt guilt. Heavy guilt. Like the kind a child stuffs down so that he can put forth a brave face. He probably thought the impetus for the decision was his birthday party. And since it was his party, it had to be his fault.

I can imagine my father going with his parents to drop his brother off at the school, which was a five-hour car ride away from home, and wondering how his parents could just leave his brother there.   Except for hospital stays, Bubba would never leave the school again. This could have made my father angry. And I can imagine his scared, tear-stained face in the rear window of the family car as they drove away, now as a family of only three.

Fast forward thirty or so years, and my dad is a grown man, of course, with a family of his own. He was paralyzed with fear when his first daughter was born looking so beat up, with a squished head. The doctors had to reassure him repeatedly that it was the forceps that caused this appearance and that his daughter was fine.

Her new novel. This would make an amazing book club selection, don’t you think?

As his daughter grew, she would relish the visits from her grandparents. They lavished love and attention on her like no one else. But many times, during these visits, her grandparents and her father got very sad and had to make a mysterious trip to visit an uncle, with the mind of a child. Plead as she might, they never let her go with them. So now the daughter starts storing away misconceptions.

Finally, as an adult, the daughter realizes that this uncle has Down Syndrome. She even meets him, twice before his death.

My father’s birthday is February 26th, and he will be 79 years old. But I know, for a fact, although he has never told me, that he still thinks about and longs for that kid brother who suddenly went away.


Final Tour Banner——- Editor’s note——

“The Mind of a Child” is available now on I’m putting it on my must read list and I hope you do the same!

Did you know?

A tombstone from Seattle’s Lakeview Cemetery, one of the locations that inspired Four Rubbings

Because #funfactfriday isn’t a thing yet, or least that I’m aware of, I hope this post starts a trend.

As I sat in my art loft working on edits to the second book in the Josie Jameson series, I thought about you the readers of Four Rubbings. I have a crate of research behind that first book, and I wanted to share some interesting facts, some of which you might already know, but a couple may surprise you! Some are about the book, but others are about me. (cringe) Soon though, Spring 2015, the new book in the series will be out which I’m dying to share with you.

  • Author, Jennifer L. Hotes visited and researched over forty cemeteries before writing the book. She’s visited another 20 since then.
  • The novel originally had five teens, but Hotes dropped one after a developmental edit. She’s keeping the fifth storyline tucked away for her first adult mystery which will be published in early 2016.
  • The elusive Bain McLaren is an Irish orphan with a Scottish name. She took her husband’s name when they married, but her adopted name was Bain O’Reilly.
  • As a University of Washington grad, the author knew early on she wanted to feature a few quirky UW campus locales in the book. Look for the reference to the medicinal herb garden in the pages.
  • The cat featured in Four Rubbings is a devon rex. It is a rare Celtic breed with even rarer curly fur and beloved for its batty ears.
  • Recently, the author found out that her grandfather professed to have faced Death – yes, in person. When Death came for his mother, Vincent Snezeck told Death to go away saying he needed her on earth a little longer.
  • This is the author’s third year of serving on the board for Providence Hospice of Seattle Foundation and her third year as chair of the organization’s annual luncheon. This was the first pediatric hospice in the northwest!
  • Her first paid job was stuffing envelopes for Cal State University Fresno. She was fourteen and got paid $800 for two weeks of work. This is where she picked up her rubberband shooting skills and obsession with Good-n-Plenty candy.
  • Most readers assume Four Rubbings is set in historic Lakesview Cemetery. Though it provided inspiration for the book, Lakefront Cemetery in the novel is an amalgam of many locations.
  • Hotes won an art contest in third grade, for her depiction of an Easter egg.
  • She won a writing award in fourth grade for a book based on the life of a fictional raccoon.
Quincy growling at a squirrel
My pal, Quincy. He died as Four Rubbings neared completion. His death nearly kept me from finishing the novel.


Packing List for Super Bowl XLIX

Seahawks PackingHeading to Arizona this week to watch Super Bowl XLIX? Well, I’ve got a packing guide to keep in mind as you fill that carry-on bag. Yes, there are some critical items you need to cram between your Seahawks jerseys, #12 flag and underwear in order to make the most of the trip.

deodorant1Item #1 – Deodorant! (the stronger, the better) I’m a rabid Seahawks fan, but this game is shaping up to be a real nail biter. We’re playing a New England Patriots team that has everything to prove to the world as they step onto the field. Can they redeem themselves after #DeflateGate? I’m sure the team hopes to erase all doubt Sunday with a win. But, my Seahawks play with a chip on their shoulder every week. They approach every game of the season as a championship game. So, come Sunday, every down, these two teams are going to smash helmets and fight for yards. Swipe on two layers of that industrial-strength deodorant and smell like a daisy well into the fourth quarter, okay?

If you haven’t packed one of these beauties, it’s not too late!

Item #2 – Air-pump. No really. You think I’m eluding to eleven underinflated balls, but not so! You’ve got to get to the big game, maybe on a shuttle, a bus, a car or bike. All these things have tires that can deflate. That might keep other fans from arriving at the gates on time, but not you. You’ll have planned ahead and packed an air-pump with you to handle flat tires. Way to go! Click here to link to and purchase NOW!

Item #3 – Disposable camera. Yes, most of us carry cell phones equipped with cameras these days, but technology can fail miserably when we need it most. This is a game for the ages, a bucket list opportunity, you’ll want to document this experience. Take a few minutes to buy a disposable camera at airport newsstand. It’s a fail-safe you won’t regret having.

If it’s good enough for elite athletes, it’s sure as heck good enough for Super Bowl spectators

Item #4 – Adult diapers. Consider wearing adult diapers to the big game. After all, it’s the freaking Super Bowl. You can’t slip away for ten minutes during the game because you’ll risk jinxing your team, or you’ll miss the turnover/play that crashes the internet. Halftime is also a no-go, because Katy Perry promises to deliver an eye-popping show. And if you don’t relieve yourself at some point during the game, then Monday you’ll be forking over a co-pay to some medical clinic to diagnose that burning bladder infection. Do what countless marathoners already do, and wear adult diapers. Yes, you’re welcome.

71luLqnFQiL._SX522_Item #5 – Instant portable phone charger. I’ve linked you to so you can add this handy item to your cart asap. It’s not only you that’s going to Super Bowl XLIX, every family member, friend, co-worker and frienemy you left behind is living vicariously through YOU. They’ll be texting hours before kickoff, I promise. I know this because I plan to pepper my own dad with texts the entire day. He’ll be sitting somewhere behind the goal posts and I’ll pester him for pics and updates. I’ll want to cyber-celebrate TDs and turnovers with him, and expect him to answer me at least a couple of times. Your batteries, like my dad’s, will drain fast. So, think ahead, and bring along an instant charger. Keep those lines of communication open and your acquaintances happy.

We were there to witness the NFC Championship in person
We were there to witness the NFC Championship in person

So, there they are, the five items you need to add to that suitcase. The weekend will fly by at lightening speed, but try to savor every moment. Travel safely home and if you happen to be a 12 like me, you better scream yourself hoarse on Sunday. Go Hawks!



Cat Bite!

He doesn’t look like a blood-thirsty monster, does he?

Never one to use an alarm clock, I peeked out from a pile a blankets and saw 5:05am blinking in red. I had an hour left to linger in the warmth and comfort before waking. I fell back to sleep and soon felt our cat, Romeo, nuzzle into my side. He tucked himself into the crook of my left arm and purred. Between the warmth and companionship, we both settled into Dreamland.

Then, a scream, a burst of pain and a mad scrambling cat; all of it happened at once. Romeo vaulted off my chest onto the nightstand, knocked over a lamp, a stack of books, a cup of water and two angel statues. Two.

My husband startled awake and raced out of the room – apparently chasing down some imaginary thief in his half-asleep state. I clutched my left hand and ran to the bathroom. My thumb felt like it was on fire as I scrubbed it under the water; then it began to tingle in a bad way. I was afraid to know what the damage was, so I kept the lights off and continued to scrub. I went through more than four rounds of the “A-B-C” song I always made my kids recite in the name of good hygiene; something my youngest called a, “stupid parenting tip.”

After a handful of minutes, I wrapped my hand in a towel, clutched it to my heart and turned on the bathroom lights. Gently, I peeled back the towel and found four giant puncture wounds; two were deep and the others were super-duper deep. Gone, down the drain with a steady stream of blood, was any hope I had to become a hand model.

Romeo, our pet of eleven-years, is a Maine Coon. The cat world loves to call his breed, “gentle giants.” That’s normally true with Romeo. He weighs in at close to fifteen pounds, has a huge personality, gravitates to people – both family as well as visitors – and knows more tricks than our dog, Cooper. Romeo sips from a drinking straw. He opens drawers and cabinets. He sits, he stays, he high-fives. This cat is something special. That’s why we keep him as an indoor-only pet, he’s smart – but not street smart. In fact, he’s got the street smarts of a Quaker toddler.

This text thread happened during my urgent care visit and we were only joking, I swear!

A few weeks after moving into our new house, Romeo slipped out the back door and was gone. After three days of searching, we received the call we’d been hoping for; someone had found Romeo. Yes! Somehow he had managed to climb a three-story brick building, the masonic temple building in fact. The building has no ladder. There is no external staircase. How he clawed his way to the top, we’ll never know. But, a woman passing on the street heard him caterwauling from the rooftop. She later admitted to me that she’s deathly afraid of heights, but in that moment her inner-Mama Bear kicked in; she tracked down a maintenance man. She climbed the loaner ladder and she carried Romeo fireman-style down, down, down to safety.

Soon after, his rescuer called us, we entered her office. Romeo was working the room with his spins, high-fives and other fancy tricks. Every face in the room registered disappointment at the sight of us, Romeo’s family. His rescuer joked, “Oh, we were hoping you wouldn’t show up. He’s a really great cat.” Yeah, he is.

In the weeks that followed, I became friends with his rescuer. She runs an advertising company and does amazing charity work. She invited me to a fundraiser for a pediatric hospice, the place I later joined as a board member and volunteer. Romeo did all that, he brought us together to do good.

Back to that day when I was bitten, I slathered liquid bandage on my wounds and used the blow dryer to slow the bleeding so I could drive my daughter to school. I worked a full day, then picked up my daughter, got both kids ready for fencing, then drove through rush hour traffic to attend a pediatric board meeting. My hand throbbed red and hurt, but I ignored it. My fellow board members though, they didn’t. Most of our board works in the field of medicine, no surprise. And as soon as they heard the words, “cat bite,” they made me promise to check into urgent care after the meeting – which I only did to appease them.

IMG_4821The next day, I couldn’t use my left hand. But, two beloved members of my family were traveling into town for a long planned visit. The fridge was chocked full of the supplies I needed to cook meals each day, basically spoil them rotten for three days. But, I limped to the airport and before we’d even driven halfway home, they made it clear that they were going to take care of me. They cooked. They tidied. They reminded me to sit and rest. They made me laugh. And even though accepting help makes me squirm and sweat, I survived. In fact, I thrived. The kids had an amazing time with their grandparents and I soaked up every minute of their loving presence. By Monday, we marveled at how something so awful had morphed into the best visit we’d ever had.

Sometimes we don’t see how the bad stuff leads to something better, but I see it with laser vision now.

In the days since Romeo bit me, I’ve had to remind myself of all the love and good this little cat has done and will do in the future. Now, on my second round of strong antibiotics and with a markedly less puffy hand, I take time each day to stroke his back and say, “You’re a good cat, Romeo. I forgive you.” I’ll continue to repeat it until the words ring true, because yes, even cats deserve more than one chance. Especially Romeo.




Cover Reveal – Soundings: Water Elemental by Janine Donoho

Yes, you get the first glimpse of a new book coming out in February.

SoundingsSoundings: Water Elemental by Janine Donoho is perfect for readers that crave adult paranormal suspense/thrillers. (Readers of Four Rubbings – sounds perfect for you!)

Publisher: Booktrope Publishing

Release date: February 27th, 2015


Is there hope for a grieving mother’s heart?

Ecopsychologist Dr. Margo Updike loses herself in a shadow life after her daughter’s tragic death. When a century storm deposits a young girl on Maggie’s secluded beach in Puget Sound, a miraculous renewal begins. Then the apparent orphan exhibits signs of neglect and worse, prompting Maggie’s vow to protect and heal her—no matter the cost.

The arrival of a mysterious man claiming to be Sorcha’s father upends Maggie’s life. She finds Morrissey strangely irresistible even as her friend Sheriff Ajax Smith questions the man’s motives and odd behavior. As a serial killer’s victims begin surfacing in Seal Cove, Jax must curb his suspicions to enlist Maggie as a profiler.

Will Jax and Maggie find the murderer before he strikes again? With Morrissey’s secrets trapping Maggie on destructive shoals between reality and legend, can she grasp his true nature before losing her chance to rebuild a life worth living? To what depths—and heights—will she go for a daughter, a beloved man and, ultimately, her humanity?

Book links:


Taking one from the Playbook of Russell Wilson: Take Advantage of THIS Opportunity

seahawk dogeWhether you’re a teen, a young adult or older still (like me), there’s something to be learned from Russell Wilson, star quarterback of the Seattle Seahawks. As he prepares to play in another NFC Championship game, you may assume his road to the pros has been easy, greased with natural talent and a dose of good luck. Baloney. He’s created his reality with a keen sense of purpose, hard work, humility and grace. It’s worth studying the habits of Mr. Wilson if you’re working towards a goal.

images-1Lesson One: Russell Wilson makes his own good luck He prepares every day to achieve his dreams. He studies his opponents, hones his own skills, connects with his teammates and coaches to prepare for the game. Takeaway? Make your own good luck. No matter your goal, work today to make it happen. As a writer, my favorite saying on achieving big goals comes from Anonymous, “A novel is written one word at a time.”

Yes, no doubt your goal seems too big to wrap your arms around, but break it down into small bits. If you’re striving for better health, start simple. Cut back by one cigarette, substitute one carb for a carrot, park a smidgeon further away from your office building. Take one small step. Then tomorrow, do it again. Pretty soon you’ll find you are making real progress toward that goal. You are creating your own future.

Thanks for this!

Lesson Two: Russell Wilson doesn’t think any goal is out of reach  He’s put duct tape over the mouth of his inner governor. Yes, that same irritating voice all of us have in our heads that tells us we can’t, we don’t deserve it, we won’t.

Well, our takeaway? Hush that negative mental thinking. It won’t happen overnight – because this bad habit took a lifetime to develop. But, we can retrain our minds. It starts with awareness; notice when you hear that negative thought. Replace the words you hear with something else, something Pollyanna positive. Sure, it’ll feel ridiculous, but keep on trying. Replace the negative with something better. Pretty soon, you’ll start believing the good stuff. Why not you?

imagesLesson Three: Russell Wilson uses rejection to motivate his success  Chances are (and this is specifically for my teen readers) Mr. Wilson wasn’t offered a scholarship to his dream school. In fact, football wasn’t even his favorite sport, baseball was. But, his opportunity came to play both sports for a smaller college, and boy, did he? Yep. Look him up on Wikipedia. He took the opportunity and made every other college regret their decision to look him over, took Wisconsin to the Rose Bowl and broke school records. He might not have developed as a player or person the same way if he’d gotten a full-ride to say, Florida.

Takeaway? Well, if you currently have a job, an internship or a seat at a school, maybe it’s not your dream place, but it is where you are at right now, so say thank you by giving it all you have. Work hard. Be positive. Give something back to the place that gave you a chance. It’s the beginning steps to making something special happen.

thLesson Four: Prepare. Prepare. Prepare.  Mentally, physically; start right now. Prepare for your goal to come true. If you want to write a novel, tuck a notebook and pen into your bag so that you’re ready to jot down that idea or phrase whenever it hits you. If you want to teach kids, ask your local elementary school if they need student tutors. Start now. Be bold and ask your role model to be your mentor. Bring people into your dream. Tell them what you are preparing to become. Own it. And then, when you’re tired from your efforts; keep preparing.

Lesson Five: Russell Wilson does all this for God.  Yes, every success and setback, Russell Wilson gives thanks and praise to God. He practices hard and plays to the best of his abilities not only for God, but for the guy playing next to him. He does everything for others, not himself. Takeaway? Well, speaking from my own experience, when I do something for others, it becomes greater than me, exponentially. Yes, I write fiction books – I’m not a pediatric neurologist – but I am mindful as I write that I want to evoke a response from my readers, maybe help them to see the world in a different way for a few hundred pages. It makes my writing better when I aim to create something that will resonate with others, not just fill up my computer screen for a time. So, whatever you’re working on, let it be for others. Bring us into your goal; maybe we’ll help you raise the bar higher than you ever thought possible.


Want to get inspired by Russell Wilson in real time? He unveiled his new website yesterday at Super Bowl 49 Media Day. Here’s the link!




Top Ten Blog Posts of 2014

Before 2015 rolls in, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the wit, candor and beauty shared by bloggers across the globe. Here are my top ten favorite reads. If you like what you read, please support their writing by subscribing to their blogs and/or checking out their published works. If you’ve got a favorite to share, add a link in the comments and spread the word.

Black Friday: THE Toy of 2014!

THE toy of 2014 is hidden in this photo

I wish I hadn’t been eating lunch when I read this post. Not because it was disgusting, no, but because I literally choked on my sandwich it was so damn funny. Well done, dumb white husbands, specifically, author, Clayton Smith, one of a handful of contributors to this top shelf website.


Aww, thank you, Jan!

84_0.478284001377119273_9781620151631-thumbnail-bpfbtJT Twissel shone a light on my book, Four Rubbings and I’m grateful. She swears, though I don’t have the necessary access to her dashboard to confirm it myself, that this was her most popular blog post of 2014. Thank you so much for your kindness and generosity, Jan.


Puppy Kindergarten, I mean two words that come together to create mayhem, right?

Darling Ms. Lucy

This winning post comes from the website, It Happened at Purity,  where writer,  Kate, comments on life in a small northern California town. The unlikely star of her popular blog is Ms. Lucy, Kate’s pound rescue. In fact, Lucy’s adoring fans often stop she and Kate as they walk the streets of Ft. Bragg to say hello. Here’s my favorite post from the past year:




A Blind Spot for Boys by Justina Chen

9780316102537_p0_v1_s600Avid reader, book author and educator, Vicki Conrad, is growing a loyal group of followers with her well-written book reviews. She knows her stuff and it shows in her popular blog. From the blog of Vicki Conrad, here’s a great review of a YA book I’m adding to my must-read pile immediately:



My Own Personal Penguin

happy-feet-penguin-birdIt started out with a silly YouTube video of beautiful Benedict Cumberbatch. But, because I’m a hyper-emoting writer, soon I got contemplative. What did I try to do but fail miserably at time and time again?

Then, after I posted the blog I was still scratching my head, but not about my weight, but this; why is it when something is painful to write, it makes the best reading? Anyhow, I was encouraged to hear back from readers that the blog helped them. I’m glad of that. And, in spite of my nervous, squirming family, I’ll keep writing my truth and I’ll continue to share it because I love you.

What Mortuary Students Do in Mortuary School (you know you’re curious!)

Okay, on a much lighter note (sort of) From Confessions of a Mortician comes a blog post about what students do in mortuary school. It’s a question not many have been bold enough to ask, but here’s the compelling results:


Hope in a Full-Length Mirror

IMG_3420Best-selling author, Tess Thompson, lives and breathes her authentic self and her blog is no different. She shares her stories; the victories, defeats and everything in between with a rawness I adore. This one about having the courage to hope for love again was powerful:



Garage Regret 20 Years Later

This special post from Deb shows how regret and tragedy can stretch from one generation to the next if we’re not mindful:


Dear Rick Steves

IMG_1722Well, Rick Steves never wrote her a response, but I’m grateful author, JT Twissel took the time to post this. Her account of driving in Europe made me bust a gut laughing:





Day in the Life

CeriFrom MIT student, Ceri R. (yes, nepotism is alive and well people) a candid day in the life of a college coed. I wish I’d been this cool and frank and well, awesomesauce in college. Ceri’s putting a human face on the college experience in her own fresh and candid voice. Well done.