All posts by Madeline

Not a Zombie Sneak Preview!

“Not a Mermaid” is finally up on Amazon and pretty much anywhere you find your e-books! The paperback will be available, hopefully, next week. Been having some problems with the print cover, but I think we’ve solved them!

Anyway, the real reason I’m here is to say thank you to anyone who has stuck it out and been so patient waiting for Book 2 of Jake & Boo’s adventures. I thought you might like to get a peek at Book 3:


I was helping Miss Nancy spoon beans and rice into a serving dish when we heard a knock at the front door.

“Who could that be?” my mother asked. “Were you expecting anyone else, Nancy?”

“No. We’re all here.”

“I’ll go,” said my dad, and fled the kitchen. Mom resumed her interrogation of Petreski, and Miss Nancy handed Don a dish to take to the dining room. I grabbed the water pitcher and followed him, setting the pitcher on a folded napkin on the dining table. I could hear Dad’s voice in the living room, but couldn’t make out his words, or the low voice that answered him.

“Who could it be?” Miss Nancy asked, coming out of the kitchen, my mother right behind her. They passed through the dining room, stopping abruptly at the French doors that led to the living room.

“How –?” My mother’s eyes went wide and I don’t think I’d ever seen her struck speechless before.

“Nancy. Is it really you, Nancy-Girl?” I heard a rough, low voice ask.

Miss Nancy gasped, taking a step back, and before anyone had a chance to say or do anything, she crumpled to the floor. I looked up, at the man’s face as he came into view, and recognized the shuffling figure from my recent dreams. Why was he here? And why was my mother yelling at him, and my father pulling her back?

The man ignored my mother, stepping around her and bending over Miss Nancy, and I was moving forward before I could stop myself.

“No! Don’t touch her!” I threw myself between the intruder and my friend, and I felt someone – I think it was Don – grabbing my arm and trying to pull me back. I could hear Petreski’s voice and turned towards it. He would know what to do. He was kneeling next to Miss Nancy, checking her pulse, his cell phone pressed to his ear.

The strange man stood still, surrounded by our chaos, and never took his eyes off Miss Nancy’s face. My mother seemed to recognize him, and whoever he was, it was a shock to Miss Nancy. All I knew for sure was that, whoever he was, he was bringing trouble to our door.

“She fainted, but we’d like to take her to the hospital, make sure there’s nothing more going on. But it’s up to her. If she says no, we can’t make her go.”

I recognized the EMTs as the ones who had shown up a few months ago, when I’d been knocked out in a vicious street brawl. Okay, actually I’d been pushed down by an angry fat man and hit my head, but it was in the street. I turned to Petreski. “You made me go. Can’t you make Miss Nancy go?”

“Hey,” said the EMT whose name I didn’t know, “I thought I recognized you! Doug, it’s that guy who hit his head when that lady got stabbed with the icepick! Remember?”

“Oh, yeah! Well, you actually hit your head, so he was right to make you go,” said Doug.

“No hospital,” Miss Nancy broke in. She sat on the sofa, my mom on one side, me on the other. “I know you’re worried,” she said, turning to me, “but if I promise to go see my doctor first thing Monday morning, will you stop badgering me about the hospital?”

“Works for me,” said Doug. “What about you, Ty?”

“Yep. Okay, we’ll get out of your hair. Good-night, folks.”

The EMTs left and the room was silent.

“Jacob. Abernathy. Hillebrand.” I did not like the tone of my mother’s voice. “What’s this about you going to the hospital and a woman getting stabbed?”

I looked around the room, anywhere but at my mother. My father sat in a rocking chair by the fireplace, Don leaning against the wall behind him. Petreski was perched on the arm of the sofa next to me, and the strange man from my dreams was standing near the door to the dining room, his gaze flitting back and forth between Miss Nancy and the food on the table.

I didn’t stab her.”

“Of course you didn’t. But it does sound like the kind of… life event… that you should tell your parents about.”

I looked up at Petreski, but he shook his head. “I’m with your mom on this one.”

“He saved her life.”

Everyone turned to look at Don, even the stranger in the room, and I wondered why we weren’t focusing on him right now.

“Who are you?” I asked him, and he turned to look at me. Miss Nancy’s shoulders stiffened under my arm.

“Yes. I’d like to know that as well,” said my mother. “Because I know who I think you are, but that’s impossible. I don’t know what kind of trick, or joke, this is, but it’s not funny.”

“No.” Miss Nancy stood. “It is not funny, and it is not a joke. What are you doing here, my brother, when I saw you put in the ground twenty years ago?”

My New Process Is Yielding Results!

So… Nasty depression-induced writer’s block seems to have been conquered! Not a Mermaid, the second Jake & Boo novel, is available for pre-order on Amazon. It will be available in other outlets, and in paperback, soon! As a self-published author, I have to take care of these technical details myself, and it’s been so long since I’ve done them I’m having to relearn the process. Crossing my fingers that I’ve got it right!

I’ve got a new process that seems to be working for me. On weekday mornings I head over to a nearby coffee shop, where I meet a friend who is trying to get her dissertation written. She also gets too distracted when she tries to work at home. But this way we each know that the other person is expecting us to be there and we keep each other accountable. It’s kind of like going to work. Now I focus on writing in the morning, and spend the afternoons working on technical stuff, or social media stuff (not much of that at the moment), or trying to dig out from under the clutter at home!

Let me just be perfectly frank here – one of the reasons I can’t really write at home is that my desk is covered with crap – papers and notebooks and mail and so many pens and stickers and you name it. It’s ridiculous, it really is. I used to be able to sit there, and look at my fig tree, and drink tea, and feel inspired. So decluttering has become a major goal, if not yet a major pursuit.

But none of that is really important right now. What is important is that I’m already five chapters into Not a Zombie, and I love what’s happening there. I promise, honestly promise, that you will not have to wait as long for Book 3.

Too damn hot

Whew, it’s really just too hot to do much – I hardly go outside at all anymore. That’s just as well, as I have writing to do. And laundry, of course, but the less said about that the better.

I can see the light at the end of the tunnel on “Not a Mermaid” and have started plotting and outlining “Not a Zombie”. So yes, things are really happening. I sometimes wonder if it’s worth it, since it’s been a year since book 1 came out and I’ve totally dropped the ball. But I’m plugging away and I’m not giving up and hope that anyone reading this won’t give up either.

I’m coming up on the first anniversary of my mother’s death, and I think that’s important. I haven’t really felt “right” since it happened and my focus has been outward rather than inward, and part of that has resulted in me not writing. But a year – I need a kick in the pants, y’all. Seriously. Shit needs to happen.

When the world makes you sad…

So much in the world today is making me sad, or angry, or frustrated. Hate-filled maniacs with guns, hate-filled maniacs running for president, hate-filled maniacs buying politicians – you know, so they can ensure that hate-filled maniacs can continue to acquire guns…

It can be so tempting to climb back into bed, turn on Netflix, and tune it out. Or we can drown in the rhetoric coming at us from all sides. There are no easy answers and ignoring it is no longer an option.

I feel so raw lately. Do you feel raw? My husband and I were in Orlando two weeks ago. It was his first visit and he had never been to a theme park, so we made that part of the trip. We are still in that early phase of returning when people ask us how our trip was. Now it feels almost wrong to talk about the wonderful time we had there.

Now when I think of Orlando my heart breaks for all those young lives – those promising futures cut short. The families and friends grieving for their loved ones. I’m tearing up while I’m writing this, but at the same time I am angry at the powers that be that allow this to continue happening.

What will it take for them to wake up? To realize that the US has, itself, become extremist? That the Constitution is more than the Second Amendment, and that their defense of the Second Amendment has begun infringing on our other rights? Our right to “domestic tranquility”, for example? What about “general welfare”?

I may not leave this up – I am sad and needed to say this, but maybe I don’t need to say it out loud. Maybe this isn’t the place. Or maybe every place is the place. Maybe we all need to say it, and keep saying it, everywhere we can as often as we can, until enough of us say it that we are heard, and something is done.

If we are going to survive as a nation, we can’t keep living like this.

Loss and Resilience

Still reeling a bit here – my father’s health started declining when my mother passed in September, and he finally slipped away to join her last week. He was ready to go – life just wasn’t complete for him without her. They were married almost 74 years, and had known each other since they were children. When someone has been by your side for that long, losing them is like losing half of yourself.

But we were so lucky to have them as long as we did, and their lives were long and full, and their ends were peaceful and painless. As a good friend told me, there is more here to celebrate than to mourn, and I am surprising myself with how resilient I apparently am. Who knew?

Anyway, as resilient and well-adjusted as I may be, I’m still feeling the kick. I just haven’t been able to get myself into the happy space in my head that gave birth to Jake and Boo, and right now I really need Jake and Boo, you know? So I’m trying, I really am, but when life kicks you in the gut, sometimes you just need to roll around on the floor for a while before you get back up again.

A brand new year

I love a new year. It’s not the New Year’s Eve festivities that excite me, although we do have a lovely tradition of spending it with friends having a “high end pot-luck” and drinking a better class of wine than we usually get.

What I love about it are new beginnings and fresh starts. I’ve never been into Spring Cleaning. I tend to do my big cleanouts at the new year. I try new routines, start new books, try new foods. This year I am renewing my commitment to daily meditation. It was during a meditation session last year that I came to the realization that I needed to be writing. I could use some more of that clarity – couldn’t we all?

My office is still a horrible mess, though, and I can’t work in there at the moment because my husband bought scented kitty litter. This is no joke – I have an extremely sensitive sense of smell and difficulty with perfumed items, and this scented litter smells worse to me than plain old cat pee. I had carefully researched and selected an unscented, environmentally sound litter that was great at limiting odor and dust. All was right with my world. And now I can’t get anything done because the cloying smell of this cat litter has driven me from my office! And I can always tell if one of the cats has just used the box because the smell of the litter clings to them. So gross.

So I’ve been trying to write at various other spots around the house while this box of litter gets used up, but it’s slow going. Not a Mermaid is coming along, but not as fast as I would like. But I need to get it finished soon because I’ve got so many ideas for Not a Zombie that I want to work on!

Is it feeling like the holidays yet?

Is the weather where you are starting to cool off? Can you drink a cup of hot cocoa without feeling foolish? Does your chimney need cleaning (no, that’s not a euphemism)?

I just took a sweet potato pie out of the oven. It’s the first time I’ve made this recipe and I’m testing it on my friends tonight before I bake it for my dad. That’s what he wants for Thanksgiving. He’s always loved sweet potato pie, and it’s gotten so hard to find a ready made one any more. And now that Patti LaBelle’s pie has gone viral, it’s even worse. So, I took the sweet potatoes I was going to use to make a virtuous, fat-free, vegan stew, and mixed them up with a bunch of butter, sugar, eggs, and milk to make a pie. My family probably thinks that’s a better use of sweet potatoes anyway, so it’s feeling festive for them!

For me the holidays have lost some of their thrill. Thanksgiving was always my favorite because I loved planning the meal and getting up early to prep the turkey and cook and drink wine and boss everyone around. But now the day is just my dad, brother, husband and me. All the food comes from Trader Joe’s and I stick it in the oven to warm up. I still drink wine, though. And my husband, brother, and I hang out in my brother’s kitchen eating cheese until they go to the assisted living facility to pick up my dad and bring him back. Afterwards, maybe we’ll watch a movie or something, but it’s just not the same. Rinse and repeat for Christmas.

New Year’s Eve we traditionally spend with friends, at someone’s house, and we dress up and bring fancy food and it’s a lot of fun. That’s my idea of festive – gathering with people and sharing the day with food and laughter.

My old traditions for Thanksgiving and Christmas just aren’t working anymore. I’m feeling frustrated because I’m ready to start new traditions with my husband, centered around our own home and city rather than requiring us to drive halfway across Texas. Or maybe traveling to experience the Christmas traditions of another culture. I’d love to have a big Thanksgiving dinner at our house, with friends who linger and spend the day and pick at the turkey until it’s time to eat again. We’ll all drink too much and play games and no one will want to watch the Cowboys game.

We’d be able to go to all of our friends’ holiday parties, even the one on Christmas Eve, because we wouldn’t have to leave town. We could sleep late on Christmas day and have lasagna for dinner, or go to Chinatown for dim sum, or wear our pajamas all day while we watch movies and drink mulled wine and eat cheese and crackers. In other words, we could just do whatever we damn well want.

I could decorate the house, and I wouldn’t stress because we’d be leaving for days. Instead of planning a portable menu, making hotel reservations, and getting the car checked out for the drive, I could bake cookies, go Christmas shopping, wrap gifts, and knit a pair of socks for my husband.

Anyone else stressing about the holidays? Are you imagining your ideal season? Or are you already enjoying your dream?

A quick update!

I’ve taken some time off this last month, dealing with the fallout of my mother’s passing and trying to get back into some kind of routine. Things are settling down now, though, and my mind is turning back to writing!

I am plugging away at the second Jake & Boo book, and you know what November is… NaNoWriMo! I will be using NaNoWriMo to draft the third Jake & Boo book – Not a Zombie.

My ambitious goal is to have both books ready to publish by the end of the year. Think I’ll make it? We’ll find out. In the meantime, here’s a sneak peek at the cover of Book 2: