Monday, November 13, 2017

Meet the supervisors – Sergeant Torres and Corporal Harris

What you will learn about the Bravo 400’s shift as you read “Final 42” is that they are a close-knit shift. A big contributing factor as to why they’re so tight is because they are led by two men who are not only good leaders, but who respect and genuinely like one another.

Sergeant Gabe Torres is the man in charge. Sarge is a retired Navy Gunner’s Mate, ‘an old salty dog’, some may call him. He retired just before 9/11/2001 and joined the Corpus Christi Police Department because he wasn’t finished serving. Sarge is a serious man, an intimidating man, but his kind eyes give hints to the integrity behind them.  He and his wife, Eva, are parents to two adopted daughters – Victoria and Veronica, now college students attending the same university.

Sarge leads his shift in the same manner he did as a supervisor in his Navy days, trusting the man below him, never micro-managing or looking over his officer’s shoulders.  Sarge is often quiet and sometimes unreadable, but the shift respects him and likes working for him.

Corporal Jared Harris is jokingly called ‘The Cool Corporal’, because of his ‘cool as a cucumber’ approach to police work and calls. He never loses his composure, never shows emotion even on the worst of calls he has to deal with. He loves his job, but sometimes imagines a different life as his wife, Becca, hates his chosen profession.  He and Becca, an elementary school teacher, share one son – Max, who is seven-years-old and in the 2nd grade. 

For a short-lived time, the Bravo 400’s shift was near perfect, under the supervision of these two.  Of course, things change. Learn what happens to Sarge and Corporal when you get your copy of “Final 42”, set to be released on February 27th!

Be on the lookout for my next character intros. I’ll be telling you all about the single members of the Bravo 400’s.

Until next time . . .

Monday, July 17, 2017

More than can be measured

It’s already July, 2017. WOW.  I said at the beginning of the year that I’d blog more about what I am grateful for and I haven’t done enough blogging.  Not because I lack things to be grateful for, or the gratitude itself . . .

I’m going to remedy my lack of blogging with a post about what I thank God for every day, without fail.

My kids, of course.  My offspring.  My crazies.  My half-dozen.

Faith Ann, Caroline Mae, Scarlett Clare, Thomas Michael, Barrett Gabriel, Marian Grace.

Some reading now are totally thinking, yikes, six is a lot! And that is correct.  Six is a lot. No doubt about that.  I really couldn’t have guessed that I would have a large family.  My husband and I both hoped for at least four, and were blessed with super fertility.  Now I can’t imagine anything else.

I don’t have to tell you that it’s hard.  Everyone knows kids are hard. One kid, twelve kids, whatever your number, you know how trying parenting can be. 

From the very start, little ones come out demanding a lot.  Nourishment.  Attention.  Cleaning up after. Those are the just basics.  And each one is different, so you may think you kind of have it down after the first, and the next will come out with a totally different personality.

They grow out of the baby stage in one blink and become toddlers. Oh. Toddlers.  Toddlers are cute.  And terrifying.  Ticking time-bombs that can throw tantrums over the color of a sippy cup, and then fall asleep on you within the hour, suddenly looking like angels, melting your heart.  Terrorists.

I may be getting off track here – I suppose I could blog all about the hardships of kids, but this was originally about gratitude, correct?  Yes, the hard is real, the hard is H-A-R-D.  I mean, 100% honest, most difficult job I’ve ever had.  But that’s not what I’m blogging about today. Moving on.
Let me tell you what I'm grateful for.

I’m grateful for the laughs.  The laughs I get when I’m tickling them, or when their Daddy is chasing them around the house.  The belly laughs I hear when they’re playing together.  Oh, I really love those.  Seeing your kids loving on each other, that sweet sibling love, is the best.

I’m grateful for the snuggles. The weight of a baby when they fall asleep after nursing.  The weight of a toddler who crashed after playing too hard.  The weight of a six-year-old, who fell asleep watching a movie on the couch, while transferring her to bed.

I’m grateful for the kisses.  The early baby kisses that are way too slobbery but adorable.  The “Mommy, you didn’t kiss me goodnight,” second kiss from a 4-year-old who is just prolonging bedtime.  The kiss you see your baby give your husband out of the blue, just because.  The kisses never get old.

I’m grateful for the moments I feel proud.  I remember when my oldest first started recognizing letters.  I remember my second baby being sent home with a letter from her teacher explaining that she was reading at almost a second-grade level, while she was still in Kinder.  I remember watching my son hit the ball with all of his might off a tee, his very first time.  I remember my sixth baby’s first steps towards me.  I laughed, and cried, at the same time.  My heart swelled with pride.

These kids.

I’m telling you, they have me on my knees asking God for the grace and patience to parent them well.  Then they have me on my knees thanking Him for the blessing that they truly are.  He tells me time and time again – “This is exactly where I want you, taking care of these children I’ve entrusted to you.”  I feel it, with my whole heart.

So, simply to say that I’m grateful for these children, it just doesn’t feel like enough.

I always tell each of my kids “I love you more than can be measured.”  And it’s true.  “To the moon and back”, is cute, but there is a stopping point to that.  My love doesn’t fit on a scale. 

“More than can be Measured” is the title of a book I’d like to write one day, about my parenting adventures.  But I’m only eight years in, so . . . many, MANY more parenting adventures await me. 

For now, suffice it to say – I am oh so grateful to God for my half-dozen.  Almost too grateful for words.

Until next time . . .

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

On Going Back

This particular blogpost requires some backstory. 

In September of 2003, I arrived at my first duty station – Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Fifteen (HM-15) which was located at the time onboard Naval Air Station Corpus Christi (it has since moved to Norfolk.)

This is when I was a Yeoman Third Class. HM-15 admin office.

I would spend a total of three years at this squadron.  The first two, I resided in the barracks on NAS. The last year I spent in an apartment alone off-base.

Those three years were the most formative of my life.  I’ll explain.

For one, I met my husband while I was there. He was not assigned to HM-15, but to base security there on NAS.  I blogged about our beginning earlier this year. You can find that story here.

I also joined the Catholic Church while I was there. (Again, I’ve blogged about this experience before too. Link for that one is here. )

I worked with and for the best Sailors one could ask to work with.  The friends that I worked with, and shared barracks with, became like my family – there was a bond, and a trust, there that was unparalleled to any other friendships I’d known.  Those friendships were like something out of a corny coming-to-age movie or something. A mix-up of 'Real World' meets ‘Friends’ on steroids, Navy style.  We were all in our early twenties . . . well, almost all of us (calling you out now, Dennis) and we could have fun doing anything.
My Navy girls. We're at the beach in Corpus here.

We often spent weekends at country bars in Corpus (I even sang some pretty terrible karaoke a few times), organized occasional bonfire parties at the beach, but most frequently – we just sat outside of our barracks rooms, joking all night about our work and the Navy, our pasts and our relationships.  We drank beer together, ate the unhealthiest foods, played Twister.  We laughed.  A LOT.  More than normal people, I think.
Halloween 2004. We're outside of our barracks here.

We knew then, as it was happening, that it was good.  We also knew that it was temporary.  We knew we would all eventually transfer and be separated.  But I’m not sure we allowed ourselves to process that thought at the time.  I can speak for myself, anyway, when I say that I’m glad I didn’t. If I focused too much on the temporary, perhaps then I would have held back a bit, shielded myself from becoming too close to those I’d have to say good-bye to.  I’m truly glad that I allowed this group of Sailors to become my family.

If I’m being honest – when I allow myself to look back at that time, looking through old photos and such – it’s bittersweet.  Sometimes it aches a bit because I know I can’t have that magical time back.


I kind of did go back. Well, not exactly. I wasn’t in the physical location.  However . . . there was an Airborne Mine Countermeasures (AMCM) reunion this past weekend in Panama City Beach, Florida.  I attended with three of my best Navy girls.  We all live in different areas now, but met up in Houston and road-tripped it all the way there.

We hadn’t all been together in a decade. Yep. A decade.  And you know the honest truth? It was as if we hadn’t skipped a beat.  Oh, you should have seen us at first, all four crying tears of joy as we saw each other.  I’m smiling thinking of it now.
My Navy girls, together and acting as if no time had passed.

We went on our trip and met up with past Sailors of the AMCM community and it felt just like the old days.  The laughter, the reminiscing, the drinking (as Sailors do, of course) – in a strange way it felt like I was back in 2004 again. It really did.  I had a blast, we all did.  It was incredible. I’ll remember this weekend forever.
The full group from the AMCM reunion, 2017

In a flash the reunion was over and we parted ways again.  I was sad to leave my girls but happy, and ready, to get home to my husband and kids.  This life of wife+mom is my adventure now. It’s one I know is fleeing fast as well, as all of our time does.

All I can say after this weekend is that I’m filled with gratitude for those times. And I’m filled with gratitude for my current times. Life is a gift, such a sweet gift.  And sometimes, if you’re really lucky, you can go back and revisit some of those sweet times.

Until next time . . .

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

A love story

Once upon a time, a 20-year-old female sailor was almost arrested for violating article 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.  What was she doing, you ask?  Well, she was conducting in a nature that would bring discredit to the Navy.  More specifically?  She was drinking under the age of 21.  Even more specifically?  She was drinking a bottle of Bud Light, with approximately 8-10 other young sailors, in a friend’s barracks room.

This young girl knew she shouldn’t have been drinking underage.  But she wasn’t very bright, and was not thinking of the consequences of her actions if she were to be caught, so she did it anyway.

That evening, a young male sailor on duty (he was a master-at-arms in the Navy, in other words-military police) was patrolling the barracks.  He’ll tell you now, if you ask him, that he was bored and looking for something to do.

Well, he found something.  He found the aforementioned girl and her friends, drinking beer at the barracks, door wide open and music blaring. It didn’t seem she was even trying to hide her drinking (I mentioned already – not so bright.)

Moving along. He told that girl to show her military ID. To prove she was of drinking age, of course.  She told him then – “it’s not on me, it’s in my room down the hall, I can go and get it.”  She began walking that direction, but thought to herself, as soon as I get it and he reads it he will see that I’m not 21 yet, what am I doing?

She turned back around. “I’m not 21 yet,” she said to him. Then she began to cry. “But I’ve never been in trouble before . . . could you please just let me go?”

The young master-at-arms lectured the girl. He’s kind of a jerk, she thought, as she continued to cry.  He lectured her some more. But then, to her pleasant surprise, he actually let her go. WHEW! Lucky break!

Fast forward a couple of months.  Base security, the place where that boy worked, needed more females to work with them.  The young girl he had almost arrested, she was asked if she would be willing to be temporarily detached from the helicopter squadron she was assigned to for six months to help them out.  She thought – why not? And said yes.

Her first day at base security, who would walk by, of course, but the guy who had nearly arrested her?  Ah. But this time – he caught her eye differently.  Huh.  She thought.  Turns out he’s kind of cute.

They began to work together.  She got to know him, and couldn’t help but be attracted to him.  But there were some stumbling blocks.  He was dating a girl in the Coast Guard.  She herself, she met and dated a Cowboy for a couple of months.  During this time they developed somewhat of a friendship.  The more she got to know him, the more she developed feelings for him.

Those security shifts – they were 12 hours long.  The shifts were divided into four blocks of watches.  So you might patrol a certain zone of the base for the first three hours, then move to the North Gate of the base and check ID’s of people coming in for another three, et cetera.  That young girl, she looked at her schedule one day and saw that she and that boy who almost arrested her, they were assigned to the same zone for one of those watches.  She couldn’t help but smile.  She’d be in a car patrolling with him for three straight hours, just the two of them! They could really talk a lot.  This excited her more than anything had for a long while.  She waited in anticipation that day for that specific watch.  And then, when it was finally time, he didn’t show.  The security officer had needed him elsewhere, she was told.  She’d have the watch alone.  She was so disappointed.  She had really been looking forward to that time with him, and now she wouldn’t have it.

Time moved forward still.  The relationship the girl had with the cowboy, it didn’t work out.  And then the relationship the boy had with the Coast Guard girl, that one didn’t work out either.

An opportunity arose then for something more than friendship between those two, and the girl knew she needed to be brave.  So, she asked him out on a date.  And he said yes.

That was their beginning.  That boy and that girl, they would fall in love. 

A year into their relationship, the boy would get orders to Cuba and they would be separated for an entire year.  They would stay together still.  The girl, she would get assigned to El Paso, Texas, and after leaving Cuba and finishing his time in the Navy, he would follow her there, so that they could stay together still.

They would marry the year she would complete her contract with the Navy. That same year they would settle in his hometown.  That same year they would buy a home.  That same year he would begin the Austin Police Academy.  That same year that girl would become pregnant with the first of their SIX children.

This is our story (but you knew that already, I’m sure.)

I want to go back in time and tell that girl who was pouting on watch one night all because she wanted three hours with that boy that – guess what – you’ll get a whole life with him.  You’ll get his last name.  You’ll carry his children.  You’ll create a home with him with six little people who are a beautiful combination of you both.  You’ll spend every Sunday wrangling those kids in Mass and thanking Jesus for this incredible life you’ve been given.

Ah. I feel I need to pinch myself sometimes – how amazing is it that I got to marry that boy that I so desperately wanted to spend time with?

It isn’t your average fairy tale.  We certainly have a real marriage and it isn’t all rainbows and butterflies.  It can be hard sometimes.  We can irritate each other, wrong each other at times too.

But.  It’s good.  It’s really good.

I’m a blessed woman, in love with her husband.

We started out as this pair of kids – one a young military cop, one a young dumb girl drinking underage at the barracks – who’d have guessed we’d come this far?

Us, our first year together

Our wedding day - April 12, 2008

Austin Police Academy Graduation - January 2009

Our family today.

Until next time . . .

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Top 3 reasons I LOVE my publisher

Hello, January! Hello 2017! I don’t normally make New Year’s Resolutions, but I DO want to be better about seeing and acknowledging the things in my life I am grateful for.  I’m starting now with a blog post explaining the reasons why I am grateful for my publisher, eLectio Publishing.  (I know what you’re thinking – ‘you love them because they said yes to your manuscripts!’ – but actually, there is more . . . )

1.        They’re faith-based.  As directly stated on their website ( they are “First and foremost a Christian publisher.”  Does this mean that they only accept manuscripts from Christian authors? No, it doesn’t! Does this mean that they only accept manuscripts that are Christian works? Again, no. It DOES mean that they are a Christian company that seeks to put God first and seeks to put out wholesome books.  You won’t find a garbage book from this publisher.  It’s refreshing to be associated with a press whose CEO and COO have unwavering values.

2.       They’re a small press – so it’s personal.  I shared a blog post a long while ago with the benefits of a publishing house such as eLectio - - and I have to tell you my own experience has been nice, to say the very least. Last March, eLectio held their first author’s conference. At the time I still had a nursing baby and thought there was no way a baby would be permitted at an author’s conference, therefore there was no way I was going to attend.  I mustered up the courage to ask if I could bring her, and to my pleasant surprise, the CEO said YES.  My 7-month-old was in tow as I sat listening to the speakers, and as I talked with other authors in our small-group activities.  Even better than that – she was welcomed. The COO gave her the title of ‘future eLectio author’ and everyone in attendance at the conference was so sweet to my baby.  That experience really made me feel like I was more than just an author at a conference. It made me feel like I was a part of a family, the eLectio family.

3.       They publish books that I love! I have collected some books put out by eLectio. 
What you cannot see in this photo are the titles in my Kindle from eLectio authors, which include works from Parker J. Cole, Kathleen Hewitt, Chad Thomas Johnston, Maddy Lederman and Amanda Romine Lynch.  I’m going to tell you something now that you may not believe, but something that is genuinely true: I have enjoyed each and every title that I’ve read in this group.  I really have! I trust that when eLectio releases a new book, it’s going to be a good, quality read.  I can’t tell you what it means to be included in this group and to have authors I respect as my peers. It’s a blessing, one I thank God for.  One I thank eLectio for.  And one that I am grateful for!

Until next time . . .

Monday, November 14, 2016

Meet Allison, the protagonist who tends to be her own antagonist.

Allison Clark is a girl who is accustomed to getting what she wants.  An only child to two parents who give her everything, she drives the car she wants, goes to the college she wants, and even gets the pure-bred puppy she wants after she graduates from nursing school.

What she doesn’t want is a jealous, controlling boyfriend – so when she finds herself in a relationship with one, she ends it.  She doesn’t need a relationship, she thinks.  She has a comfortable life without one.  Until she meets Jeremiah, the new guy in the apartment next to hers.  He’s perfect.  She can’t keep away from him.  The attraction between them is unlike anything Allison has experienced before, and in what feels like a whirlwind, the two of them are engaged to be married.

Allison’s relationship with Jeremiah had the potential to be a fairy-tale.  But Allison, with her self-regard a little too high, doesn't quite realize the damage she is capable of when putting her own selfish desires before the love of her life.  Find out just how much damage she causes, in the Consequence, available November 29th!
Until next time . . .

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Meet Jeremiah - the husband.

Jeremiah is married to Allison, the main character in The Consequence.

He is attractive in a subtle way – his sandy blond hair isn’t long, but is just long enough to peek out from underneath the ball cap he wears when he isn’t working.  He has a tiny dimple on one cheek – when he smiles, and the dimple is revealed, it’s impossible not to smile back at him.

Before meeting Allison, he leaves his parents and three brothers behind in Minnesota for an accounting firm and the promise of more sun in Dallas, Texas.  He’s an accountant because he likes numbers, but what he loves is working with his hands, building, so he volunteers for Habitat for Humanity to satisfy that passion.

He meets Allison after moving into the apartment next door to hers.  He sees her getting out of her car one day, wearing scrubs.  He can't help but take interest in this nurse who is literally the girl next door.  They marry, and have what he believes to be a good marriage.  Life is turning out to be everything he could have hoped for.

Then something happens . . . something that turns everything upside down.

A secret is told – one of betrayal – that was kept hidden for years.

At a time, Allison and Jeremiah’s marriage was one to be envied, but this secret permanently stains the relationship.

Just how damaging will this betrayal be?  Find out how it changes everything for Jeremiah, in The Consequence. 

Until next time . . .