Happy Birthday (to me)!

I have never celebrated Valentine’s Day because my birthday is so close. One year I was supremely irritated because the holiday fell on the weekend closest to my birthday. My family tried to go out for a birthday dinner and it was insanity. Parking was impossible. There was an almost two-hour wait to get into any restaurant. I was in my teens at the time and had a teenage breakdown (not so bad where my parents went into “don’t make me turn this car around” mode).

Since that day, I have been hyperaware of the holiday’s proximity to my desired family meal day. The latter is this afternoon, and we are going to a local Korean BBQ place. This will be my grandmother’s first time trying it, so we’ll see what she thinks. I suspect she will like the sweeter marinades the best and not care as much for the spicy sides. 

A friend also sent me the flowers in the main picture, which was very thoughtful. Other than that, I’m planning to take it pretty easy this weekend. I’ll polish another six to ten chapters of Hidden Strength to send off to my alpha readers. I have just over twenty chapters left to send, so I’m hoping to get those out before the beta feedback for Hidden Promise comes in. 

Though, I should also reach out to the cover artist if I want to have that done in time for the April newsletter…Okay, maybe “take it easy” is a bit of an overstatement, but these are busy times, and there are only so many days between deadlines! 

Business Unusual

Last summer, I parted ways with another manager with whom I was extremely dissatisfied. On one side, I have worked for some wonderful leaders in my career. On the other, I also worked for and under people with zero interest in the business or the employees. Their concern was how to look good on paper quickly for their next role or promotion. The latter frustrated me endlessly, and after this latest parting, I found myself entirely disillusioned with the corporate world I had loved after graduation.

I also enjoyed being a manager and often said “I could do this better.” The last four months have been about me putting my time, money, and effort where my mouth is as I have worked toward buying and executing a new franchise business. Everything comes together over the next six weeks as I attend training, hire employees, and start serving customers.

If I fail, I set myself back five to ten years of savings and will have to spend double that working longer before I have enough to retire. If I succeed, I will make less annually than before from a salary perspective, but there are other benefits. I can still hate my boss (myself), but I will be able to change the things that frustrate me about her. I will be able to create an environment of employee development and culture I’m excited about. I will focus on the things that matter to the employees and business rather than making someone else look good without consideration for the broader implications.

I don’t think it will all go horribly wrong, but wish me luck anyway!

On the Writing Front

My goal is to get the book 100% revised/edited to send to my beta readers before I head to the training class, but I don’t think I will make that timeframe. It will be close though, so I might be able to finish it after class in the evenings of the training week. Either way, I’m still within the buffer timeframe to hit the release date for Hidden Promise in June.

The greatest challenge will be if my betas come back with broad revision recommendations. I’m working through the grander adjustments from my alphas now, so it all depends on if we all missed something big. Don’t worry, though. I gave myself enough time to get through this in addition to working a full-time job.

I will probably place the release date for Hidden Strength, the series finale, another year out to be safe again. I can always move it up, but pushing a preorder date out has penalties I want to avoid.

If you haven’t started the series yet, or if you want to leave a review, you can find the first book at this link: Hidden Memory. The first two are free to read in KU, and the third will go into KU a month after release. Hidden Promise is also on a preorder discount. You can pick it up for $3.99 until after it releases. It will then go up to $4.99, the same price as the second, Hidden Sanctuary.

As always, thanks for all your support, and you can find more by signing up for my newsletter on the home page or following my social media accounts. Have a great weekend!

Merry Christmas 2022!

I made the mistake of going shopping today for some groceries. Christmas Eve, the store was packed. Parking was crazy, and someone blew through a stop sign as I was going through, nearly hitting me. We were not in danger of being hit, since I was going about five mph. With the car drama and then standing in line for an extended period, I think my brain has decided it’s done for the day.

The late shopping excursion could not be avoided. We signed up to bring various vegetables for Christmas Day, so I did not want to buy them too early. Then the PNW icepocolips hit, preventing anyone not desperate or jonesing for adrenaline from going anywhere. At one point I decided it would be a good idea to at least grab the mail since we were not going for our daily walk. That expedition ended at the top of our driveway when we looked down and wondered if we would be able to return to the house after.

This is the actual slope of our hill and driveway, with zero camera tilt.

Fortunately, temperatures rose overnight, and the two inches of ice coating every surface melted away. We are back to pouring rain in time for driving to events tonight and tomorrow. If you are one of the many people who had flights canceled due to the dangerous weather, I hope you can still make the best of the holiday time remaining. To everyone, Merry Christmas, and I leave you with this picture of my cats snuggling in their heated cat bed.


Before I knew him, my husband had reconnected with various friends from different stages of his life. They all came together frequently for parties and gatherings to hang out and have fun. He kept up the tradition for years, and we started executing them together once we became a couple. Even through marriages and children, his friend group has remained cohesive and consistent in their dedication to spending time with each other.

One of the events traditionally held each year is Thanksmas. Some people do Friendsgiving, usually held on or around Thanksgiving. We do Thanksmas, which is between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It effectively serves as the “friend’s holiday” for the group, including a formal dinner. The host generally provides the turkey, and the meal is potluck style.

With practice and many stumbles along the way, the food has vastly improved over the years. Before my time, there was apparently serious drama with the mashed potatoes one year. Some people are very protective of potatoes now because of that incident.

Probably splitting off a kid’s table next year to stretch the seating a little further.

We hosted and did the turkey this year. I think our Thanksgiving turkey was slightly better, but we have gotten pretty good at it. Our trick is the dry-brine process beginning about a day and a half to two days before the event. I get the seasoned salt under the skin to help the flavors seep all the way through the meat. If you generally dislike turkey because it comes out dry, I recommend trying out dry-brining.

The second trick to our turkey is the Big Easy Cooker. It is a relatively inexpensive appliance we use for a number of things, but it is the best for getting a nice crispy crust or skin on whatever you are cooking. The Big Easy is billed as an oilless deep fryer and infrared cooker using propane and done outside. They have not sponsored me to say this (though I would be willing to entertain offers!), and it is a pain to clean, but I love everything we make in it.

Despite how crazy I look here—or maybe that is a contributing factor—I have also gotten pretty good at carving the turkey.

I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season!

Moving Day

I am glad I finished my November writing goals early because a fair portion of this week was occupied by work and helping my grandmother move. She was living down in the Puyallup area, which is about a forty-minute drive in each direction from where we live. Other family members used to also live in Puyallup, but they moved away this year, so she wanted to be closer to us.

We took her to look at a few options and then compared locations and prices. She decided on one and wanted to move before the holidays, but the final repairs and paint would not finish until after Thanksgiving, so we planned the move for the last day of the month. The early snow falling here complicated matters. We did not want to pay for December at her old place, so she had to move that day. While the movers we booked could still make it, the price would now include a hazard fee. 

My dad and I arrived at her place early. She had done a fair amount of packing in the preceding weeks, but there was still much of the food and cleaning supplies left on shelves and in cupboards. We busted out the boxes and bags and got to work, expecting the movers to arrive at ten am. The appliance also needed to be disconnected, since she had purchased those relatively recently. They were too big for her new place, so we planned to have those dropped off at my sister’s house and we will sell them. 

Because of the weather-related traffic, the movers did not arrive until eleven. By then, we had most of the final items packed, the appliances were disconnected, and we were ready to take out the stuff we would transport in our truck. The two men took a look around and got to work. 

It took them over two and a half hours to get everything packed from her two-bedroom retirement apartment. The process makes me want to clear out some of the clutter in my house; but who has time for that? We drove the forty minutes to the new place and started unpacking. She is losing about two hundred square feet of space. Most of it is bathroom space, but with all the boxes, her living room looked like a storage unit at the end of the day. 

We focused on getting the bedroom clear enough to sleep in, then we went out to a much-deserved dinner with the rest of the family. It was still snowing, but the stuff on the ground was mostly slush, so we were able to drive safely. My sister and I are headed back over today to help with more unpacking and moving furniture. Hopefully, she will feel settled soon enough. 

Have a great weekend!