Sunday, September 14, 2014

I heart frozen yogurt.

So the hubby and I took three of our four kids out for frozen yogurt on Friday night.

Our teenage son had a dance to go to on Saturday, so we forced him into having some family time on Friday. He was unenthusiastic right up until we announced we were going to Froyo. (Froyo is a yummy serve-yourself frozen yogurt joint in our neck of the woods. Our kids go nutty when we go there. It's a sight to be seen.)

Here is a forced picture of two from our adventure. After we ate our frozen yogurt, we went home to watch a movie "Mom's Night Out" (which was hilarious) and I worked on my WIP, Cabin Fever. 

What did YOU do this weekend?

Friday, September 12, 2014

Book giveaway! Hooray!

Book Giveaway! 

On October 1, I will be giving away ALL THREE books in the This & That series (ebook) to a random reader! 

All you have to do is spread the word and tell your peeps to "like" my fan page! 

On Oct 1, I'll pick a random reader to score not one, not two, but THREE free ebooks! 


Monday, September 8, 2014

My muse is baaaack!

My muse is back after a long (try about 4 months) hiatus.

I'm so freaking glad. No, seriously. I'm loving my new book, Cabin Fever. I can't wait to share it with everyone!

Welcome back, muse. I've missed you so.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

I love Posey and Drew...

Have you read my contemporary young adult novel, The Art of Being Indifferent, yet?

Yeah. I love this book. I wrote it at a time when I desperately needed to tell a story about a foster kid, mostly to heal my own heart. Posey Briggs was a character that cut straight through my heart, and her adoptive family was one that I wished I were a part of. Oh, how I love them.

Know what else I love? Broody, romantic stories about first love. In The Art of Being Indifferent, Posey is about to turn eighteen, thus meaning she is about to age out of the foster care system, and Drew Baxter is the handsome, athletic son of the town mayor. Posey is a social reject, and Drew rules the school. When they're paired together for a tutoring project by a teacher who sees through BOTH of their hard exteriors...magic happens. Posey's defenses go down, and Drew's facade crumbles. They not only discover that they have abusive parents in common, but also discover that they're utterly made for each other.

Want to know how I pictured Posey?

Yeah. Beautiful but dark and peculiar.

And what about Drew?

Yup. Handsome, athletic, and "hometown Golden Boy" like.

The Art of Being Indifferent is on sale now (ebook) for just $1.99. CLICK HERE TO GRAB YOUR COPY!!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Geez. My hair is SHAWT.

So I recently started wearing my natural hair again.

(Those who follow me, know that I wore wigs for about 7 months this year, and that I am struggling with some alopecia for varied reasons. I.e. weight loss, stress, etc...but the good news is, it's growing back!)

And wow. It's short.

My whole life I've wanted to rock a short pixie cut, a'la Winona Ryder.

Unfortunately, I always felt too heavy for that haircut. Oh, and I'm also definitely not Winona Ryder....I don't shoplift, and I'm also not as gorgeous as she is. So now that I am 95 pounds lighter, I feel more confident rocking the super short hairstyle of of dreams.

Well......that is, until I started wearing it.

Now, don't get me wrong, it's cute. My hairdresser is a Godsend, and she's got skills. But I am reeling, because this cut is so incredibly short. It's taking some getting used to. I feel very self-conscious most of the time, despite its cuteness.

And for some reason, it makes my neck look about two or three inches too long.

Here's hoping it grows quickly. And thank goodness for headbands and flowers. I'm feeling a serious need to prove my femininity right now.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Excerpt time!

Wondering what to read this week? Here are some excerpts from some of my most popular novels....

An excerpt from my bestselling romantic comedy, BABY & BUMP, on sale now for just 99 cents!

“Anytime.” I looked up at Fletcher, who was beaming at us. “What brings you guys to the market today, Fletcher?”
His smile tensed. Just a bit. “Well, Marisol said you guys were setting up a booth.”
“Oh, okay.” My heart coughed at the mention of Marisol. “She’ll, um, be right back. She went to grab a mango.”
She was still pretty sore about the fact that I refused to share who the father of my baby was with her. In fact, as she’d stalked away from our booth with her keys fifteen minutes earlier, Marisol looked over her shoulder and called, “Your stomach is growing by the millisecond, and if I don’t find out who the father is soon, I’m going to stop speaking to you. Serving appetizers with me all winter is going to blow if I’m giving you the silent treatment.”
“Oh, okay. I’ll just wait.” Fletcher’s voice brought me back to the present. “Martha and I needed some produce, anyway.”
I forced myself to grin up at Fletcher. “Well the market’s the right place for that. What are your favorite vegetables? How about you, Martha?”
“Tomatoes. Broccoli. And corn.” She rolled her eyes towards her father. “He hates all of them, and whines when I cook them.”
My mouth dropped open. “Doctor Haybee, you should be ashamed of yourself. Didn’t you tell me I needed more iron from leafy greens at my last appointment?”
“I did. But I’m a hypocrite.”
“You totally are.” I snickered, cutting into another roll. “I’ll bet you don’t take vitamins every day, or get a full eight hours of sleep, either.”
“Wait a second. I do too take a vitamin.” He winked, and my stomach tightened. Well, the stomach muscles around my ever-growing offspring. “But I’m lucky if I get six or seven hours of sleep.”
“You might try eating some edamame. It has tryptophan.” Apparently my flirt was set on high, because I tilted my head to the side and offered him a coy smile. “Or some spinach. That’s a vegetable guaranteed to get you into bed.” I bit my lip. Did I just say that?
 Fletcher stepped closer. “I just haven’t met a vegetable I like yet.”
“That’s because you haven’t had my pasta primavera.” One of my eyebrows arched, and the corner of Fletcher’s mouth tugged upward. “It’s been known to convert even the staunchest of vegetable haters into vegetarians.”
“Really?” His voice had lowered by at least an octave, and he leaned forward with his palms pressed against the table. “You sound pretty confident about that.”
My stomach whirled. The closer he got to me, the more my skin started to sizzle and pop like bacon in a pan. “Oh, I am.”
Fletcher paused, and for a moment, all of the noise of the farmer’s market melted away. Through the corner of my eye, I saw Martha’s head bobbing in both directions, her gaze going from her dad to me and back again. My insides melted into goo, then churned inside of my belly.
He stepped even closer. “I find your cocky side very compelling.” A smile was making his lips twitch and his eyes dance, and it was completely irresistible.
He’s flirting with me. There’s no mistaking it this time.
Fletcher’s grin widened. Our faces were only a foot apart. “Listen, Lexie, I—”
“Hey, handsome. What are you doing here?” Marisol’s voice shattered the moment into about eighteen dozen pieces that scattered all over the grass. The melted goo in my stomach hardened into a large, guilty block.
Fletcher tore his eyes from mine and stood upright. As soon as his attention was off of me, it felt chilly. Like when the sun slips behind a cloud.
“Hey!” He pulled Marisol in for a quick hug. “There you are. We were looking for you.”
Marisol leaned in with her cheek pointed at Fletcher’s face, but he released her and let his hands drop down at his sides without even noticing. My heart did a little victory dance, but I quashed my joy when I saw a flash of disappointment in Marisol’s eyes.
Bad friend.


How about an excerpt from APPLES & ORANGES, the second romantic comedy in the This & That on sale for only $1.99!

Cocinero bounced around the river rocks that bordered my lawn, undoubtedly taking his time to find the proper place for taking a crap, when my home phone rang inside the house.
I glanced at my watch. It was almost ten o’clock. Nobody called me this late, except for the occasional booty call. But I wasn’t currently involved with anyone, a fact that irritated me almost as much as the fact that my cat insisted on taking a hour to take a dump every night. A booty call sounded nice right about now.
“Probably Lexie,” I murmured to myself, slapping across the hardwood floors with my bare feet—which were still repulsive on the bottom from my little adventure earlier. She was probably up feeding the baby, and fretting about the quiches. She was infamous for adding an ingredient at the last minute that transformed dishes from good to great, and unfortunately that inspiration only seemed to happen long after we’d stopped cooking for the night.
I plucked up receiver, and answered without looking at the number. “Lexie, this is the worst booty call I’ve ever gotten. You know I haven’t swung that way since that one kegger in college.”
There was silence on the other end.
“Lex?” Pulling the phone away from my ear, I looked at the tiny screen. “Oh, um. Sorry. Who is this?”
“Is this Marisol Vargas?” The deep, gravelly voice on the other end sent a whirl of excitement shooting up my spine.
Demo-the-mechanic. I’d left him my home number back at the shop, since my iPhone was still missing. Note to self: replace cell tomorrow. Well, well. Maybe it was a booty call after all.
Not interested, my ass, I snickered to myself. “This is she,” I purred. “And let me guess. This is Demo… Demo… uh…”
Dang that crazy last name of his. It was blowing my sexy cover all to pieces.
“Antonopolous,” he replied.
“Right.” I pressed my lips together and reminded myself to keep my temper in check. “So why are you calling me so late? A little lonely in the garage at night?”
“I towed your car after we closed,” Demo said simply.
My eyebrows rose high on my forehead. He’d done something nice for me. Maybe there was hope after all. “Oh. Well, thank you.”
“Since it was after hours, I’ll have to charge time and a half.”
My eyebrows dropped back to their normal spot. “Of course.”
“You made it sound like money wasn’t your primary concern,” Demo explained in a flat voice.
“It’s not,” I hissed. “Do you always work this late at night?”
“I knew you wanted it back quickly,” he answered simply. “So I brought it back and took a look.”
I leaned against my kitchen countertop and waited for the bad news. The booty call scenario fizzled right before my eyes. “So what’s the verdict?”
I heard him shifting some papers, and then the clang of something landing on the metal desk. “You’ve got a bad alternator.”
“The car’s only a year old!” I blurted.
“It happens. Got a buddy across town who works with BMWs all the time. He says your make and model are infamous for alternator problems.”
“Can I get his number?” Grabbing a pen and paper out of my nearby mail stack, I readied myself to write. “Maybe he’ll be able to fix it.”
“Oh, I can fix your car.” Demo’s voice took on a defensive edge. “I’ll have it ready by ten tomorrow morning.”
“You can?”
“I can.”
“You’ve got the right parts, and everything?” I didn’t know much, but I knew enough to know that BMW parts weren’t usually sitting on the shelves in most Spokane mom and pop auto shops. That was the reason why I usually took it to the specialty shop at the dealership for maintenance.
“Got a buddy who owns a parts store.”
“My, you certainly have a lot of buddies. He let you into his shop to get the part this late at night?”
“She opens at six am. It’s in stock.”
A random spark of jealousy blinked inside my chest. I really needed to get a grip on myself. “Well, I underestimated you, Mr. Antonopolous.”
Yes! I got his last name right. Score one for me.
“Seems to be a habit,” he grunted.
I grit my teeth together. “And you’re telling me that you’re going to fix my Beemer first thing in the morning?”
“For time and a half, right?”
“The tow was more,” Demo growled. “The labor will be standard cost. Unless you’d like to pay more, Princess.”
Seeing red, I pushed myself away from the counter. “Hey, who do you think—”
“Sorry. Listen. You want me to work on your car?” he interrupted. “I’ve got a client who needs new sparkplugs in his delivery van real bad. I can do that first, if you like.”
“Just one moment.” I put the phone down on the countertop and kicked the back of my couch a few times, leaving black footprints. “Estúpido, grosero culo limpie!”
I thought I heard a chuckle when I picked the receiver back up and said, “I would love it if you fixed my car first thing tomorrow.”
When Demo spoke again, there was a smile in his voice. “You know I speak Spanish, right?”
I scrunched my face up and slapped a palm to my forehead. Whoops. I’d focused so much on his bulging biceps and surly attitude, that I’d forgotten that detail. “Yes,” I lied. “Yes, I do.”
“Well, it’s settled then. See you at ten.”
“Right.” I felt like punching a hole in something. Anything.
He hung up before I could say another word.


Enjoy an excerpt of THEN & NOW, the last book in the This & That Series that rounds out the love lives of three best friends. This book has been described as "cougariffic". You're welcome.

I set the zucchini down in the middle of the table. “Let’s eat right now, then. Kids, dinner’s ready!” The kids ran to the table, the sound resembling a herd of small elephants.
“It looks yummy, Candace.” Mom leaned in and smelled the food, as she helped Aubrey into her chair. “Did you grow these veggies yourself?”
When I shook my head, my dad banged his hand on the table. “Take up gardening. Do that for a living.”
“Mommy’s going to sell vegetables?” Ellie poured herself some milk, and it splashed onto the tablecloth.
“She’s not becoming a farmer.” Corrine asked. “I think she should work for me. I’ve got some entry level positions that would suit her just fine.”
Mom shook her head. “I don’t know. Candace was never very good with numbers. She was a Lit major in college, remember?”
“I like numbers,” Quentin announced, playing with his fork and spoon.
“Always reciting Shakespeare or reading or dragging someone to an obscure play.” Dad rolled his eyes. “It was exhausting. Hey, I’ve got it. Why not become a librarian?”
I smiled to myself. I’d considered that a time or two. The local library was always hiring pages, and nothing sounded better to me than being surrounded by books all day. Except maybe writing books all day. That sounded even better.
I used to write stories, years and years ago. I created worlds and put them down on paper, then made my friends read them. I wonder what it would be like to take that up again? To actually write for a living?
“No way.” Corrine’s voice jerked me out of my thoughts. “Librarians don’t make good money at all.”
“Well, maybe your sister doesn’t want to be rich.” Mom adjusted her glasses. “Not everybody has it in them to live the high life like you do, Cori.”
“It’s Corinne, and I’m not saying she has to live a high life,” my sister snarled.
“She’s got kids to support.” Dad gestured at my children, then stabbed one of the steaks with his fork. It landed on his plate with a thud. “She can’t work for peanuts. You know that.”
Mom nodded. “The house may be paid for, but there are monthly bills to consider.”
My eyes bounced between the three of them for a few minutes, and a dull ache started to throb between my eyebrows. Did they not realize that I was right here? My family acted like I was stupid. Or invisible. Or both.
Corrine huffed. “She’ll make more than enough money if she works for me.”
“But will she be happy?” My mom threw out her arms. “Nothing makes her happy. She doesn’t work. She doesn’t date. She doesn’t spend time with her friends.”
Dad cut into his steak. “What friends? She doesn’t go anywhere or do anything.”
Frustration built in my chest. “Hey, wait a second. I can hear you right now.”
“Mommy goes on dates,” Ellie announced, helping herself to a spoonful of pasta salad. “She went on one a few nights ago.”
My parents and sister looked at me. “You went on another date?” Mom asked.
Heat scalded my face. “No.”
Corrine’s mouth spread into a smirk. “You sure?”
“Well, fine. Okay. Yes.” I used a potholder to wipe sweat off my forehead. “Marisol set me up again.”
“And how did it go?” Mom’s eyes were wide and hopeful.
“It didn’t,” I muttered. “It was over before it started.”
“Candace didn’t score.” Corrine served herself a steak and dug in. “Bummer.”
“No, I didn’t,” I snapped, glancing at my kids. Thankfully, they were preoccupied with their food. “I told Marisol no more set ups. If I meet someone someday, it’ll be because I met him myself.”
Corrine put her fork down, and covered her eyes. “Were they all strippers and pimps?”
Dad jerked around in his chair to gape at me. “You dating a male stripper?”
“What’s a pimp?” Quentin asked.
I glared at Corrine. “Real nice.”
“Why don’t you let me fix you up again? Maybe someone nice from church, perhaps?” Mom asked, taking a bite.
“No, thank you.” I wiped my mouth with a napkin. The back of my shirt was sticky with sweat now. “The last guy you set me up with turned out to be emotionally unstable.”
Dad frowned at me. “Your mom’s just trying to help—”
“I know, but…” Taking a breath, I willed my pulse to slow down. My family loved me, but why hadn’t I noticed how much their interference strangled me? And, damn it all to hell, why was it so hot in my house? “I can handle it myself. Besides, I’m too busy to go on another date now. I’ve… I’ve got a lot of things going on.”
“Well, we know that.” Mom started cutting her meat, her eyes never leaving my face. “But other than the children, have you already got a job you haven’t told us about?”
The pain in my head flared, and my skin heated even more. Seriously, had I forgotten to turn on the air conditioning? “No. I’m not working.”
Dad grunted. “Well, if you’re looking for a man so you don’t have to work, can you at least have the decency to stay away from strippers and pimps, for hell’s sake?”
“She’s not looking for a man so she doesn’t have to work,” Corrine said. I opened my mouth to thank her for defending me, but she cut me off. “She did that last time, and look where it got her. Alone with three kids.”
My mouth dropped. “Hey—”
“Brian passed away.” Mom leaned over to press a quick kiss to Aubrey’s head, then dropped her voice to a hiss. “He didn’t leave.”
Dad frowned at Corrine. “No, he didn’t, young lady.”
“Sorry.” She shrugged, and went back to her food. “I just don’t want my big sister reverting back to being a wife and mother, when she has the potential to do more with herself. Especially if she’s marrying a stripper.”
“Mommy, are you getting married?” Aubrey asked around a mouthful of food. Ellie and Quentin looked up from their plates curiously.
“No.” I tucked my hair behind my ears. My head throbbed, like my eyeballs were going to fall out and land on the table any minute. “Of course not.”
“But you’re looking for a new man,” Corrine pointed out.
“No!” I rubbed my eyes. “I’ve been set up a few times, but wouldn’t say I’m dating anyone at all.”
“Because you don’t want to?” Mom searched my face. “Or because you haven’t found the right man? If you let me help, that might change.”
“I like men like daddy,” Ellie said, matter-of-factly.
“We all did, kid,” Dad agreed, shoving another bite of steak into his mouth.
Sweat trickled down the back of my neck. “Hey, weren’t we talking about work? Let’s go back to that topic.”
“I’m not sure I understand why you won’t work.” Mom used her napkin to wipe a drip of catsup off Aubrey’s chin. “Is it because you’re dating a stripper? Do male dancers make that much money? I’m not familiar with that sort of thing.”
Ellie licked food off her fingers. “Can I be a stripper? I like to dance.”
All of the adults in the room replied in unison. “NO.”
“I want to be a construction worker,” Quentin announced. “I want to hold the slow sign on the road. That job looks fun.”
Corrine looked appalled. “You can do better than that.”
“It’s honest work,” Dad quipped. “Beats marrying a male stripper.”
“I’m not marrying a stripper!” I slammed the potholder down on the table. It skidded across the table, knocking over Quentin’s empty cup. It rolled off the edge. Everyone went silent and stared at me. I heard a car door slam somewhere outside, and the neighbor’s Pomeranian bark. After a few beats, I cleared my throat. “Sorry.”
Corrine went back to her steak with raised eyebrows. “Well, that was dramatic.”
“I need…” I took a deep breath to steady myself. My head ached so bad, I felt sick to my stomach. And the heat in my house was un-freaking-believable. I made a beeline for the front door. “I need some air.”
“Air?” Mom put down her fork. “It’s ninety-three degrees outside. You’ll get better air in here.”
“Let her go, Dory.” Dad waved a hand, dismissing me. “Candi needs to chill out. It’s a girl thing. Remember when they were teenagers? All those hormones and mood swings? Boxes of Tampax everywhere?”
“Oh, here we go again.” Corrine put her fork down. “Mom, why do you let him bring up menstruation every time he refers to our adolescence?”
I slid out the door and pulled it closed behind me with a decisive click. I couldn’t hear anymore, otherwise I was going to go postal. I don’t know what I would have done had I not been able to lean on my parents over the last two years. But put me in a room with them now, and then pepper the mix with my feminist sister, and it was a shit salad with extra drama dressing on the side.
It was almost July in eastern Washington, and the heat was stifling, the air as dry as Melba toast. It settled on my skin as I settled down in the chair on my front porch and tried to draw a few deep breaths to calm my frazzled nerves. I didn’t know what I would do with my time without the kids, but I wouldn’t be hosting any more family dinners for a while.
I had to figure out what I wanted to do with myself. For the first time in fifteen years, I found myself completely free to do as I wanted. No husband to consider. No career path laid out for me. Just total freedom. I could go into anything, if I wanted. The freedom itself frightened me more than the idea of working again. How lame was that?
I’d fallen a long way from that free-spirited girl who dreamed about writing fiction and living in a New York loft. Back in college, I thought I could go anywhere, do whatever my heart longed for. Then I’d met Brian, and happily surrendered every wild dream I’d ever imagined for a life in the suburbs. Now I was a widow who rarely did anything besides read books written by other people and drive my kids around in a dusty minivan.
I jumped at the sound of metal grating on metal. Glass broke. There’d been a moving van in the driveway next door all day today, and I’d assumed the new neighbors were all done moving in by now. Guess I was wrong. They were apparently still moving in… minus one lamp.
I heard the muted sound of a man’s voice from within the back of the moving van, and craned my neck to get a glimpse of the new people. I hoped it was a family, so the kids would have some new friends to play with.
A teenage boy emerged from the van, shirtless, with low-slung jeans hanging on his hips. Sweat glistened on his back and shoulders as he hoisted the remnants of a lamp on his shoulder and hiked down the ramp towards his front door.
My eyebrows rose high on my forehead. That teenager was cut. His lean torso was defined like a washboard as it descended into the waistband of his boxer briefs, and his arms were corded with muscle just enough to look strong, without appearing like a poster child for adolescent steroid use. Though I couldn’t see this kid’s face, one thing was clear: he was probably very popular.
“They didn’t make boys like that when I was in high school,” I whispered, forcing myself to look away. Good Lord, lonely or not, gawking at an underage moving boy was wrong. Super wrong.
I heard the shuffle of his feet walking back up the ramp, but didn’t look up. Didn’t want to get caught checking out a kid. A kid whose mother I would probably deliver welcome to the neighborhood cookies to by the end of the week. I needed to get back inside, and make nice with my family.
He started to whistle, the sound echoing inside the back of his van, and I glanced back in that direction.
This is so wrong. I’m a creepy old lady checking out a pimple-faced kid. I need help.
My front door swung open, and the screen whacked into the side of my chair with a smack. “Mommy?”


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

On my class reunion.

I've had a few readers email or tweet or FB me, asking me about my 20 year class reunion I went to at the end of July.....and I've been thinking about how I wanted to answer that question. I wanted to meter my words, because I know they carry weight. I know that some of my old classmates read my blog (and books), whereas others do not. I know that some would be sensitive to my thoughts, and others wouldn't care. So I feel a lot of pressure to tread lightly.

You see, on one hand, going back to my modest high school and revisiting a place (and people) that not only stifled and weighed me down, but also built me up and helped to create the person I am...was a most excellent adventure. And I do love an adventure. But on the other hand...sometimes going backwards isn't such a great idea. Sometimes it opens old wounds and hurts. Sometimes it takes people back to feelings they've taken 20 years to work through...and that's no fun. No fun at all.

When the fact that I was embarking on my 20th post-high-school summer, I volunteered myself to help whoever was in charge with the festivities. In hindsight, I should have volunteered for something a little less awkward, such as underwear modeling, or swimwear waxing in nursing homes. Both of those jobs would've been infinitely less awkward than calling all 39 (yes, I said thirty-nine) of my classmates and announcing (and I'm paraphrasing):

Hi, this is the chick you all thought was a colossal geek in high school, calling to remind you about an event you probably couldn't give two craps about, that will likely cost you money to attend. It will be hot out, because it's hotter than a witches britches out on the plains in late July, but you're invited to come and stand around awkwardly while we all mentally assess which of us got fat, and which of us makes more money at our respective jobs. Hope you can attend! See you soon!

By the time I handed over all of my well researched connections to my high school friend (who had spearheaded the event, after nobody else except ME offered to help) I'd been through the gamut of emotions. For the first time since leaving my tiny school in the plains, I found myself wrangling feelings like inadequacy, self-consciousness, nervousness, and the dreaded body dysmorphia I'd struggled with the entire time I actually attended the school way back when. (Ohmigosh, I'm so fat! I'm so unattractive! I have the ugliest face in the class! No wonder he doesn't like me! No wonder they hate me! I'm repugnant!"|) Yeah. Class reunions bring it all back to the surface. And it feels fan-freaking-tastic.

Kidding. It feels like garbage.

So fast forward a few weeks when the actual even took place......

Now, I have to admit, I came into this reunion thing with some very "pie-in-the-sky" visions of having tearful hug-fests with my odd little band of five friends that I referred to as my "posse" in high school. I envisioned the six of us sitting around a table while cheesy music from the 90's played on speakers, all of us pouring over photographs, wiping away wistful tears as we brought each other up to speed on the last twenty years that somehow managed to go by, despite the fact that we were all apart!! GASP!

Yeah. Not so much.

Here's what happened: I ran into the following people, all of whom happened to be in my former "posse"....

1.) The reunion planner: the one who is running around doing 90% of the work, and is entirely too busy to stop, take a breath, have a conversation, or merely thank the person who put her very ego on the line by personally calling every member of the graduating class one by one. This person didn't really care whether I was there or not, and didn't put any loving, heartfelt Facebook statuses online about how great it was to see me.....or to get my help....or to, I don't know, listen to me kiss her arse for four hours. She was too busy, and just not as enthusiastic to see me, as I was to see her. It was a classic case of "she's just not that into you." *forehead slap*

2.) The completely disconnected one: this is the one who only breezed in for the last half of the last activity, merely long enough to say a breathless hello to everyone, air kiss a few people, then hustle back to her busy life. She didn't seem particularly happy or nostalgic to be at the reunion, and I would've equated her response to having our "posse" together again equal to the enthusiasm she probably feels when finding a most excellent sale on dishwasher tabs at Target.

3.) The one who never left our hometown: you know, I have to say, this one was pretty sweet and nice, during the times when we actually spoke. You know.......when that actually happened. I actually enjoyed my visit, however brief and wistful tear free, with this particular girl. Unfortunately, we no longer had much in common. It was like pulling teeth, and it kind of broke my heart a little.

4.) The no show: this one needs no explanation. She wasn't interested in coming to the reunion, and stopped responding to texts shortly after the plans started falling into place. At this point in time, I sort of think she was the only one of us that had our head screwed on right. She was smart enough to NOT subject herself to the hell-casserole that was going to my class reunion. I applaud her. No, I envy her. She was smart. And probably saved a fortune because she didn't have to buy a reunion dress.

(Though, in my defense, my dress was wicked cute, and I looked great in it. So there.)

And 5.) The show-stopper: yeah. This is the one who stung me the most. This is the one who deliberately showed up late to the reunion, so that everyone would notice her arrival. She came in with an air of self importance and pretension that shouldn't have shocked me, or anyone else, in the slightest. This is the person who talked and talked and talked and talked to everyone at the reunion, but never once managed to ask anyone a question about themselves, and always kept the conversations centered around her life, her job, her hair, her clothes, and, most importantly, her.

You know, class reunions in the movies are always so much more nostalgic and tender. The vintage music plays over the speakers in the gym, while crepe paper streamers dance on the thick summer air, and people mingle, with little regard to who dated whom, or who hated whom. Maybe that's just me having Peggy Sue Got Married visions in my poor, sad old head....but I had these grand visions of posing for these loving, tear streaked pictures with my arms around the girls I loved and valued most all those years ago. I envisioned using said pictures for my Facebook profile shots, labeling them with things like "It felt like no time had passed at all!" or "BFF's then AND now!"

Sadly, my visions were not at all realistic.

The day after the reunion, as I woke up and headed out on a vacation with my family, I realized that I'd apparently not been a treasured member of the posse as others. I saw that the reunion planner had posted a picture of the show stopper on social media, declaring how their friendship had transcended time, and how she always knew she could count on the show stopper for whatever she needed. Blah, blah, complete me...blah're the wind beneath my wings. You get the picture.

Um.....*tap, tap* (tapping microphone) "Is this thing on?"

Who humiliated herself by spending (literally) two months cold calling, emailing, and Facebook stalking the very people who tormented my entire adolescence, when the show stopper essentially refused to help? Huh. Alright. Okay. It's cool. The show stopper and the reunion planner must've stayed in touch, when I dropped the ball and lost touch for a number of years....or until Mark Zuckerman invented this clusterf*** we call social media. I guess I deserved that. I didn't keep in touch. They apparently did. And they're still besties. Got it. It's cool.....I'll do better in the future. I got phone numbers! I was told to text anytime! In fact, I'll send one now!!!!

Except that I was given a bogus number.

Yeah. At my 20 year reunion, I was given a bunk number, and told to text anytime.

This proved not only to be humiliating, but incredibly, indescribably hurtful, as well.

You see, it's okay that we've all grown apart. And it's okay that some of us managed to stay in touch, when some of us didn't. And it's okay that I'm yet again, even after 20 years, somehow finding myself on the outside, looking in. This is a position I was extremely familiar with in high school, especially within the bonds of my so-called posse. Two of the girls were sisters. A girl like me, with no sisters of her own, could never infiltrate that bond. Two the the girls were super pretty, super successful in everything, super tight and liked to spend their spare time together. A bonehead student, non-athlete, with horrid hair and giant glasses like me had no chance of penetrating that bond. They were in each other's weddings, for pete's sake! And finally, two of the girls became college roommates. Yeah.....I didn't go to that college. I couldn't have gone to that college with them, even if I'd tried. I had no shot.

Overall, at 38 years old, I realize that friendships grow apart, and that my Peggy Sue Got Married visions of my 20 year reunion were completely unrealistic. Unfortunately, I set myself up for failure right from the get-go, and I should've known I was getting too excited about the worlds most awkward evening that ANY adult in their late thirties can experience! I mean, come on. If those girls were ever my "posse", would they have allowed me to fall out of the fray so easily in the first place? Would we have lost touch with each other? Would we have somehow "forgotten" to invite me to the ten year reunion?

(Yeah. I noticed. And I call your BS. You knew where I lived, what my number was, and how to reach my mother, if nothing else worked.)

Now, before you all start pitying me, I have to follow all of this whining and griping up with what was actually sort of wonderful about my 20 year reunion....

Oh, yes, I am about to get all sorts of positive and heartwarming.

Here's what else I learned at my reunion: there are some people that you go to high school with (yes, even in a class of 39 people) that you never really get to know. And often times it isn't until you are 38 years old that you realize what a gem you let slip through your hand when you were a stupid, self obsessed teenager.

Here are the people that I met at my reunion: (Granted, I actually "knew" them when we were all kids, but it wasn't until I was well into my thirties before I realized what incredible people I'd been overlooking for decades.)

1.) The supporter: this is the girl who seems like my absolute, polar opposite. She looks different from me, acts different from me, lives her life differently from me, and if anybody saw the two of us standing next to each other, they'd probably think we didn't give a crap about each other. However, I've found over the past few years that she is one of the most supportive women I've ever known. She's come to my book signings, she's bought and read all my books, and she came to a play I was in, purely because she read on Facebook that I was sick with nerves. She is the real deal. A true friend. I value her friendship very much.

2.) The enthusiast: this is the person who seemed to have it all. Beauty, popularity, personality for days, athletic skill, and a brain that made mine look like a stale raisin. When I was in school, I wasn't her biggest fan. Not because she was mean, because she wasn't, but because life just seemed to come so easily to her. Ugh. It was infuriating! But you know what? She didn't have it easy. Not at all. In fact, one thing I've learned about her over the years, is that our lives were sort of parallel the whole time we were growing up. She struggled in ways that I struggled, and when she read my debut novel, The What if Guy, she just "got" me. And that felt divine. When the enthusiast saw me at the reunion, she asked question after question about my books, my family, my career. She praised my work, and told me about her adventures. She was bouncing in place with total joy, and didn't seem at all annoyed or bothered that it was me she was talking to. She encouraged me. And holy crap, it felt wonderful!

3.) The unlikely ally: this is the guy that some of the girls from the list way, way above used to fight over. When I was still in high school, he teased me mercilessly, and while I wish I could say that has changed, it hasn't. But I've grown up a lot over the last 20 years. And well...I get it now. I get him now.  The cool thing about this friend, is that he's managed to put a smile on my face lately, when generally nothing else could. It's much deeper than a mutual fondness for teasing and insulting one another. He values mine and my husband's desire to adopt more children, and while he can't necessarily fix it, he treats us with kindness and patience, which is more than I can say for so many. He is a good, good person. I wish I'd known that in high school. I think I would have, had the two girls in my "posse" not been fighting over him all the time. I guess I got him in the end. HA. Well, maybe not me, but my husband and I did, in a very strange, convoluted way. He's an ally, and frankly, we've needed one.

4.) The old friend I'd forgotten how much I loved: this is a friend that I let slip away a long time ago, that I wish, wish, wish I'd been more conscientious of her feelings so long ago. Sadly, I'd allowed my need to fit in with the aforementioned "posse" become more important than cultivating a friendship with  this old friend. I let them say ugly things about her, lied by omission, and allowed her to be teased for so long. It still makes me sick to my stomach when I think about it. You know, when you're sixteen years old, you very easily disregard how wonderful a person makes you feel on the inside, and wrongly prioritize social acceptance instead. I am so grateful that this friend has a forgiving nature. I didn't deserve forgiveness, and yet I got it...and I've got a lifelong friend because of it!

5.) The nurturer: this was the most shocking of all my discoveries. This is the girl who seemed to have life on a platter in high school. Beauty, talent, friendliness, smarts, she had it all, and she had it in spades. Life appeared easy for her. She was always at the top of the social totem pole, and I was always so envious of her platform. The worst part was, she was so damned nice. She had a place at the top of the heap, and yet--despite the fact that I knew she didn't like me much--was always kind to me. So when she asked to be my Facebook friend a year or so ago, I accepted with a frown on my face, asking myself, why does she want to be friends with me? This is lame. She doesn't like me. She never did. And never once did she comment on my stuff. To my knowledge, she didn't read or notice a single thing I posted.....that is, until I went to my 20 year reunion. What touched my heart, was...she took me aside, touched my hand, looked me in the eye and said "It's been a rough year for you and your family. You've had so much loss. How are you? How are you doing?" And you know what? She actually cared. She legitimately wanted to know how I was doing with the loss of our daughter. She wanted to know how my husband and our children were getting through things. She told me that she'd been praying for me, and that she followed my Facebook page, and followed my life, and was pulling for us.

It was astonishing.

I hadn't even managed to get that much concern out of my "posse".

Words can't articulate how much that simple gesture touched my heart. Because yes, it's been an awful year for us. And yes, I need people pulling for me, because some days are really, really freaking hard. And as weird and hysterical is this sounds, I can honestly feel it when people pray for us. I really can. It gives me strength. I swear it does.

You know, my 20 year reunion taught me a lot. I mean a lot. I've learned that the people you might assume will always be your "posse", might not wind up being the ones who actually give a crap about you or your life....or, crap. Even your mere presence. And I also learned that some times the ones that you would consider your least likely "posse", wind up being the ones who actually give a hoot. They're the ones who will follow your career and your ups and downs and your life. They're the ones who will be there when you're signing books, or when you're scared to go onstage at a performance. They're the ones taking time out of their day to research adoption options for you and your husband. They're the ones who will hug you and hold you and drop you a text out of nowhere reminding you how loved you are. And they're the ones who are willing to take time out of their busy day to kneel and pray for you and your family.

Sometimes your posse is made up of a bunch of unlikely friends that you really didn't give enough credit to twenty years ago.

Sure, show stoppers are fun to look at. They're shiny and perfect and exciting........but in the long run, it's not the shiny, perfect things you turn too when you're cold and scared and alone. It's the warm, familiar things you reach for. And nowadays, 20 years after my experience in our tiny school on the plains, I've discovered that my posse is made up of the warm, familiar folks I didn't give a fair chance to 20 years ago.

I am extremely grateful and humbled to have a second chance.

But count me out for the thirty year reunion. I've had all the reunions I can take for a lifetime.