Need Something to Read?

It’s been a while since I promoted my own work, but since I have that freedom again, I’m going to give my horn a big honk here.

If you like romance, I’ve got this for you:

Playing All the Angles

Dominic Phillips is an enjoyable distraction from fashion designer Eve D’Amico’s loneliness, but there’s never been anything more between them than hot sex. Since he desires no commitment from her either, it’s pretty much the perfect arrangement…except for the fact that he’s dating her sister Isabelle.Eve’s grown used to being the promiscuous black sheep of her family ever since an unplanned pregnancy at age fourteen, and Isabelle is the only one in the D’Amico clan who doesn’t treat her like a second class citizen. Eve doesn’t exactly revel in the idea of hurting her sister if the truth ever comes out.Just when she starts hitting it off with the sexy new neighbor next door, her world is turned upside-down when Dominic reveals his plans to marry Isabelle. As if things weren’t complicated enough, life decides to throw another surprise her way, and Eve is suddenly trapped with another secret to add to a much more shocking one from her past, both of which threaten to destroy every relationship she’s ever hoped to have. She must soon decide whether to reveal the truth and save her sister from a man who’s incapable of commitment, or to keep her lips sealed and secure her own place in the family. For now, though, she will dance around that decision for as long as she can, keeping everyone in check by Playing All the Angles.

If you like cozy mystery, I’ve got this for you:

TiaraTroubleEbookTiara Trouble

One foreign policy question five years ago sent Destinee Faith Miller’s dreams of being Miss American Universe up in flames and landed her back in her hometown of Phenix City, Alabama, with her tail between her legs. But like the mythological bird that her hometown is misspelled after, she rose from the ashes to create Destinee’s Dolls, a thriving pageant consulting business knee-deep in pink, prints and glitz. A death at the local level of a national pageant lands her the job of pageant emcee, and Destinee dares to dream of bigger things—maybe even a reality TV show! But when judges start dropping like flies, she has her hands full just keeping herself alive long enough to see those dreams come true. Contending with catfights, car bombs, and the camouflage-colored funeral of a redneck’s dream, Destinee gets a little help from her friends, family, and a pit bull named Clarabelle, to track down the killer and, more important, produce a simply magnificent pageant.

Or this:

chasing the codexChasing the Codex

Bryndis Palmer, owner of The Neglected Word bookstore, invites her fourteen-year-old niece Frida to visit her so that the precocious, Jane Austen-loving young girl can accompany Bryn to the “Midwest Booklovers’ Convention” being held in nearby Saint Louis. Never mind that Bryn has just broken up with her on-again, off-again boyfriend Holt Furst, or that said boyfriend has suddenly disappeared from his apartment above her shop––possibly in a violent kidnapping. Bryndis dutifully heads to the airport to pick up Frida, only to discover that Frida has also disappeared––reportedly swooped up by a chauffeur and whisked away in a limousine. Who would kidnap her niece? Where could they have taken her? Where could Holt be? Brynn is an amateur sleuth from her childhood days of reading Nancy Drew mysteries, and she barges ahead with her own investigation, certain that the local police and the airport authorities will bungle the job, and fearing the wrath of her sister Lia if anything happens to Frida. Of course, Bryn doesn’t know that the disappearances of Holt and Frida are actually connected, and as she begins her search, a mystifying tale starts to unravel––introducing her to a host of strange characters, all more unusual than those in the murder mysteries she’s accustomed to reading. Along the way, she discovers that she herself is somehow at the center of it all, and swirling around her are other strange curiosities––a missing Bible, a famous frontier hero, and a hidden secret code. Will she find Frida? And Holt? How does it all connect? And how is Bryn involved? It will all be revealed in CHASING THE CODEX.
(I wrote Chapter 2)

If you like vampires,

bookcover!The Order of the Blood

Once, vampires of the Order of the Blood were revered and respected, but a change in political tides and waves of genocide forced them into hiding. Now, split into two factions with very different means to the end of regaining their freedoms, the brothers of the Order face a resurgence of public fear and hatred. A newly turned vampire, Ian, finds himself torn between sides. Interested only in saving his mortal love, Robin, from the bewitching spell of an older, much more powerful leader of an underground rebellion, Gideon, Ian must choose between protecting Robin, or betraying those of his kind. Though Gideon claims to love her, too, how far will he go to protect the fragile beginnings of his new world order? And with the membership of of their brotherhood divided, who will be powerful enough to stop him?


If you have kids, you might prefer:

WIOD cover thumbWhat If One Day

Funny what comes up at bedtime. Thomas wants to know what would happen if his mother turned into a talking cat. His mother wants to know how he would verify her identity. Children learn about asking questions, and doing more than accepting someone’s word at face value in this charming book written by a mother and son duo




mrw coverMy Rainbow World

Every day is an exciting adventure in a rainbow world. What new colors will you see each day? Join the fun in finding all the colors in your rainbow world. Then, join your little one to journal about the colors you love best.





If you’d like to read about motherhood, you’ll enjoy

9780990647355-Perfect_MommyDMommie Diarist

Motherhood, the good, the bad, and the boldfaced. A collection of honest essays about the hardest and best job in the world. Women from all stages of life contribute with stories that will make you laugh, make you cry, and make all mothers feel part of the greater tapestry of life.






If you want fine literature, you’re on your own.


Older Than Chalk

When I was a tween and teen, the girls surrounding the rock stars and celebrities of my dreams seemed so old and mature. I was fifteen when Simon Le Bon married the then-twenty-one-year-old Yasmin Parvaneh. She might as well have been fifty for as elderly as she seemed to me.

This morning, I realized how young the same girl-gaggles are now. When I was fifteen, twenty-one seemed grown and experienced. At forty-five, I look at twenty-one and want to get it a glass of water,  tuck it in at night, and pat its back until it falls asleep because…sweet babies!

And you’ve got Adele over here, at twenty-five, writing about “when we were young.” Bless her heart.

A darling girl recently told me about how her elementary school had tried to teach her to use Excel in second and third grades. This is how old I am: Not only had Excel not been invented when I was a third-grader, but I learned how to calculate using an actual abacus.

In my twenties, I could easily fantasize about Rupert Everett seeing me from across a crowded room, and falling in love at first sight. This is because there was no internet to inform me that the only reason he might notice me is because I’d walked in front of the hot guy he’d been eyeballing. And thank goodness because I enjoyed those imaginary meet-cutes.

I was thinking about some of the things that are different for my son.

  1. He is able to watch serialized cartoons in order. I loved Star Blazers, but since it was played on UHF channel 24, I only got to watch what they wanted to show me. I’ve still never seen the episodes in order. I guess I could now…  Battle of the Planets was my favorite, but it wasn’t even regularly scheduled. It just showed up when it showed up, and I was glad to get it. My little dude has had his own DVR file since he was old enough to express a preference for Curious George.
  2. While my son has seen, and used landline phones, he has never lived in a world without a smart phone. He has no idea what a phone book is, or what 4-1-1 is, or how to call time-and-temperature and stay on the line, waiting for the call-waiting beep of your best friend ringing you at the appointed midnight hour, so that your parents didn’t hear the phone, and ground you for talking after bedtime. He has no idea what it means to have someone else pick up a landline phone while you are talking.
  3. He has no concept of why any night of the week has ever been must-watch-TV. Why would anyone bother sitting down to watch a show as it airs? You can watch shows any time you feel like it. If you miss the show, so what? I’ll tell you what! If you miss the season finale, you have to wait until summer re-runs and WATCH THE ENTIRE SEASON OF EPISODES AGAIN TO GET TO THE FINALE AGAIN! And by that time, everyone has already told you what happened.
  4. There are no phone booths, but he knows exactly how to find a charging station, or a hot spot. I spent I don’t know how many hours hanging around phone booths in Manhattan one summer, while a friend tried to rent an apartment. We would go to the phone booth, she would PAGE her realtor (like, call his pager, and leave the phone booth phone number on the pager) and then we would stand there waiting for him to call back and tell us where to meet him. And then, if we weren’t sure how to get there, we would have to go to a bodega and hope there was a map we could look at for free!
  5. Actual paper maps are things he will never use. He will never buy a Mapsco. He will never know the frustration of trying to refold a road map. He will never sit down and plot a course on paper
  6. He has never known life without a remote control, a computer, instant access to the internet, central air and heat, debit cards, ATM machines, online banking, online shopping, or on-demand entertainment. He will never shop at a record store, a video store, or hope someone snuck a tape recorder into a concert.
  7. He has never used a blackboard, or banged erasers, and has no concept of that awful sound the metal made when the teacher would drag the staff liner across the chalkboard to make lines for handwriting practice.dee54874c15e7e06af0204b2f58540b2

8. For that matter, he has no idea what handwriting practice is, outside of what I made him do–and I didn’t make him do that much.



Smart, or Cheap? Ask Joan.

Yesterday, I wrote about how foundation garments structure the way clothing falls. I feel like I grew up in a fabric store. My mother made more than half of my clothes, and because she was determined that I not look like a bumpkin, she crafted every item with the kind of care and detail you normally only find with a couturier. My clothes weren’t homemade. My clothes were bespoke. And what she bought, she tailored to fit me. My mother spent hours, and days, and in a few cases weeks perfecting gowns, and dresses, and skirts, and tops, and shorts, and bubble suits, and pajamas, and costumes, and bonnets, and shawls, and anything else she could think to put on me. If I had an idea for something I wanted and we couldn’t find it, she would buy three, or four different patterns and jigsaw them together until she had an original piece for me.


What this means is that for every hour my mother spent on a project, we spent three hours in a fabric store*. Or, at least it felt that way. We spent a lot of time rubbing fabric between our fingers, feeling for weight, heft, and fall**. Depending on what she was going to make, we would spend time pouring over various weights of thread, piping, ric-rac, sizes of needle, buttons, frogs, styles of zippers…I know my zippers. We would carry bolts of fabric around, unwinding a couple of yards to see how it would drape, and checking to see if trim was too heavy, or too light. I learned about lining, and interfacing, and buying extra yardage of patterned fabric to properly line up motifs.


Without benefit of a fashion education, my self-taught mother taught me about creating high fashion out of the remnants bin at Mott’s 5 & 10. My mother can twenty-five cent fabric and make it look like it came off the Chanel runway. My mother would wipe the floor with the n00bs at Project Runway. I mean, she would devastate them. Granted, she would be calling things “whizzbangs” and “doodles” and Tim Gunn would have no idea what she was saying, and she would tell the judges where to stick it, but after she’d won, we would all go to Red Lobster, and everything would be okay.


I was thinking about all of that as a conversation continued on the Spanx-spanking thread I’d been reading. One of the lessons my mother was adamant to impart was that garments are meant to have a certain look, and not every garment is going to work on the structure of a body. For example, the baby-doll dress. I love a good baby-doll dress. When I was 15 and flat-chested, they looked adorable on me. When I finally hit puberty at 20, and grew in a chest, something happened. Whereas before, the baby-dolls had hung level from my shoulders, now, they were a good two inches shorter at the hemline in the front. The back stayed the same, but those new boobs ruined the line in the front. I couldn’t just buy a baby-doll off the rack anymore. I needed to look for styles that were constructed to fit grown women (hint, darts at the bustline).


Another example is in skirts. Again, when I was 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, and 20 and had no hips, or butt to speak of, skirts were easy. I put them on, and went on my merry way. After the lotus bloomed, when I put on a skirt I had to make sure it was as long in the back, as in the front. My callipygian backside was raising the hem. It was, and is totally unfair. I blame the Y side of my family because the M women have neither bust, nor bottom to speak of.


What my mother drilled into me was that when something did not fit well, or hang right it looked Cheap. Cheap was the cardinal sin of clothing. We did not buy this fabric because it looked Cheap. We did not put this style button on this style fabric because that looked Cheap. We always finished the hem because otherwise, it looked Cheap. My mother did not let her daughter look Cheap. Or tacky. Tacky was the lower level sin. If it meant taking the garment apart and lining it, or changing a seam, or ripping out the heavy zipper because it puckered, and putting in a lighter one, if it meant changing the design to incorporate hooks-and-eyes instead of buttons, or frogs instead of hooks-and-eyes, or adding two inches to the hem, or nipping in an inch at the waist, or changing the armhole on the sleeve—or just putting on a different style of bra and panties—my mother showed me how the smallest details made the difference between a garment looking right, or looking Cheap.


And that goes for men’s clothes, too. When I am shopping for my son (because I did not inherit my mother’s patience for perfection as a seamstress) I am looking for structure. I dress my child inexpensively, but he does not look Cheap. He looks Smart—which is the opposite of Cheap in Joan Terms.


When I am putting together outfits, I think a lot about my mother, who taught me how to mix fabrics, styles, patterns, and lines so that they look Smart. My son inherited her eye, so if I want a real, honest, and good opinion, I’ll ask him. This earring, or this? This boot, or this? These tights, or these? 9 times out of 10, he’ll pick what I know my mother would. They even do the same thing when they don’t like what I’ve put together. Lower lip disappears, and they say, “Hmm.” I’m pretty fortunate to be sandwiched between generations of good taste.


*We went all over town once, looking for just exactly the right kind of tulle to fill out the flare of a fit-and-flare gown we were putting together. I wanted a tapestry fabrication for the body of the gown, which took days to find, and with a fabric that heavy, just your run of the mill tulle wouldn’t do. It needed to be stiff, but still soft, and it also needed to be fuchsia. It took days. When we finally found it, Mom bought it with a matching stiff mesh (another few days searching), and built a crinoline that would have made Bob Mackie cry with joy and envy. Then, she hand beaded Swarovski crystals around the neckline, cap sleeves, and where the bodice met the flare. Those crystals came from yet another store.


And then there was the time we went to every store in Dallas trying to find just. The. Right. Buttons. She was always exactly right, too.


**I spent a lot of time moaning and wailing that she was ruining my life by making me sit in a fabric store for my entire childhood. I was dramatic.

What You Wear Under There

Let’s talk about underwear.


There is a new viral picture + rant making its way around the internet, of a young woman in a formal gown, whose mother is livid that a salesclerk suggested her daughter should wear Spanx under the gown. The mother is insistent that this is an example of body shaming. I am here to help.


“You shouldn’t wear that dress because you are too fat,” is an example of body shaming.

“You will need to wear [whatever is the equivalent of proper foundation garments] under that dress,” is an example of good salesmanship.


I was thinking about underwear as I was trying on a cocktail dress. It was a super hot dress, with a zipper down the back, and as fantastic as it looked, I had a nice laugh thinking about what anyone would find, should they unzip it. They would find Spanx and a dowdy strapless bra because I have a) a belly button, and b) real boobs.


If you can see your navel through the fabric of a dress it means that the dress is not properly lined, is too tight, or needs proper undergarments. A pair of Spanx will smooth out that line (and any others) if the dress fits properly. Likewise, if your dress makes a big smile under your belly, or puckers at the small of your back, it either does not fit correctly, or it wants some foundation help. That is okay. That is not body shaming. That is understanding how fabric works. (And if you like to see your navel, and you feel never fully dressed without a belly-smile, or you want to look like you are hiding a prehensile tail, you do you. I won’t judge.)


As for the dowdy strapless bra, I would buy myself some gravity defying boobs if I weren’t so afraid of general anesthesia, if only so that I could wear all those cute tops meant for the newly blossomed and silicone enhanced. My boobs are real, middle-aged, and are totally into physics, so I have to find ways to haul them up from the love affair they are having with Newton’s law of universal gravitation into some semblance of youth and fertility. I’m told youth and fertility are what we’re aiming for as far as levels of attractiveness go.


In my world, and in the world of most of my compatriots, getting undressed from a fancy night out is less a Victoria’s Secret fashion show, and more a struggle out of our sausage casings and flying buttresses. There is no movie scene strip tease from gown to gorgeous underwear. In fact, I want to see this scene played out realistically, as a woman (larger than a size 6) works her way out of her Herve Leger bandage dress to reveal her nude colored shaper and stick-on, underwire, strapless/backless bra. And I want to see a realistic reaction shot from the man as confronted by the creepy doll-looking body under the dress. I also want to see him peel off the stick-on bra with a straight face–no, with the same smoldering look of passion that kicked it all off.


Here’s the thing: Unless your body is your job, your parents are Giselle Bundchen and Tom Brady, or you’ve had some surgical reshaping, chances are you’re going to want to wear something more under your clothes than the flesh colored g-string favored by runway models. Chances are, your cocktail/evening wear is going to hang better with some sort of body shaper. It has nothing to do with YOU and everything to do with fabric.


And trust me, when the movies have the lovely actresses in formal wear (which has been tailored to their shapes exactly, unlike your great find at Dillard’s), those lovely actresses have on more foundation gear than you can imagine—because that’s what makes a dress look like a million bucks, instead of something you got for $19.99 at Ross. Bodies don’t make clothes look good. Good structure makes clothes look good.


So, when your salesclerk offers you a body shaper, give it a try. She is telling you that your gown needs a little help–not that you do.


I’m going to need all my favorite celebrities to stop dying for a little while, okay? Thank you.

You know when it’s really going to be a blow? When Keith Richards dies. Because you’ve gotten so used to Keith Richards still kicking around while much younger, cleaner-living celebs slip their mortal coils, that it’s become a punchline. Keith Richards and roach bugs will be the only things to survive the nuclear winter. So, when he goes? THAT is when we’re all going to feel our mortality.

As long as Keith Richards is alive, there is a whisper of hope for immortality. As soon as he is gone, we know we’re all going to die sooner, or later.

I’m hoping for later.

Meanwhile, Alan Rickman, thank you for further complicating my already complicated relationship with movie villains. And for making that one Robin Hood movie bearable. You will be missed.