Walk With Me by Debra Schoenberger

Source: the author
ebook, 108 pgs.
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Walk with Me by Debra Schoenberger is just that a journey along with the photographer as she explores not only her own city of Victoria, British Columbia, but places to which she’s traveled. Her pictures range from the mundane moments of empty chairs in a restaurant to the pilled moisture on fruit. Her macro shots are detailed and well contrasted, and her close-ups of people illustrate the unbridled joy found in daily jaunts.

Schoenberger chooses to frame not only every day moments, but also colors that we often forget we see.  Highlighting the rainbows present in our busy lives demonstrates to readers of her book that there is more to our life than those scheduled appointments and deadlines. We need to remember those colors, those giggles of children’s laughter, and soft touch of petals on our skin. We can breathe in the scent of life to calm us and look at our neighborhoods to find the humor lost in large window displays.

Walk with Me by Debra Schoenberger is a journey, a meditation, and a pause for readers. I would like to have known where some of the photos were shot because there are some really interesting places captured here. They could be anywhere in the world, or right down the street.

RATING: Quatrain

About the Author:

Debra Schoenberger aka #girlwithcamera

“My dad always carried a camera under the seat of his car and was constantly taking pictures. I think that his example, together with pouring over National Geographic magazines as a child fueled my curiosity for the world around me.

I am a documentary photographer and street photography is my passion. Some of my images have been chosen by National Geographic as editor’s favorites and are on display in the National Geographic museum in Washington, DC.  I also have an off-kilter sense of humor so I’m always looking for the unusual.  Website ~  Facebook ​~ Instagram ~  Pinterest


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How to Love the Empty Air by Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz

Source: Wunderkind PR
Paperback, 100 pgs.
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How to Love the Empty Air by Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz is emotionally arresting and a love letter to the past and the passing of a mother. How many times have we said, “I’ll get back to that in a few days” or “It’s only for a year.” Many of us have said these things and others when speaking with friends, parents, and others. In this busy world, we often forget to go back to those events or people. This leaves an emptiness. How do you deal with that emptiness or learn to love that emptiness?

In “My Mother Wants to Know If I’m Dead,” Aptowicz’s narrator finds an email from her mother asking if she’s died because she has not let her know that she’s arrived safely. These are real life situations that come to life in poems throughout the collection. She points out the inanity of these emails if the receiver is in fact deceased, but she also acknowledges the sentiment and the anxiety and the worry behind the contact. These are moments we all can relate to, understand, and lament.

“Rabbit Hole” is the poem in this collection that brings the whole together. It hammers home the connections between the poems and the struggle with emptiness.

Holding your mother's hand
while she is dying is like trying to love
the very thing that will kill you.

Similarly, “Text From My Sister, June 2015” expresses how this loss that seems so singular is broader and encloses everyone who was connected with her mother.

Definitely have had lots of
sadness lately. The passenger
seatbelt in Dads car smells like
her. But the house is starting to

There are days when there is a hole in our lives that doesn’t seem like it will ever be full again. How to Love the Empty Air by Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz is not as tough to read as you’d expect. It’s funny, it’s witty, it’s sad, but it’s also content in the empty moments of life.

RATING: Cinquain

About the Poet:

Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz is a New York Times bestselling nonfiction writer and poet. She is the author of six books of poetry (including Dear Future Boyfriend, Hot Teen Slut, Working Class Represent, Oh, Terrible Youth andEverything is Everything) as well as the nonfiction books, the >Dr. Mutter’s Marvels: A True Tale of Intrigue and Innovation at the Dawn of Modern Medicine, which made 7 National “Best Books of 2014″ lists (including Amazon, The Onion’s AV Club, NPR’s Science Fridays and the UK newspaper The Guardian, among others) and Words In Your Face: A Guided Tour Through Twenty Years of the New York City Poetry Slam, which Billy Collins wrote “leaves no doubt that the slam poetry scene has achieved legitimacy and taken its rightful place on the map of contemporary literature.” On the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) podcast Art Works, host Josephine Reed introduced Cristin as being “something of a legend in NYC’s slam poetry scene. She is lively, thoughtful, and approachable looking to engage the audience with her work and deeply committed to the community that art (in general) and slam poetry (in particular) can create.” Cristin’s most recent awards include the ArtsEdge Writer-In-Residency at the University of Pennsylvania (2010-2011), a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Poetry (2011) and the Amy Clampitt Residency (2013). Her sixth book of poetry, The Year of No Mistakes, was released by Write Bloody Publishing in Fall 2013, and would go on to win the Writers’ League of Texas Book of the Year Award for Poetry (2013-2014). Her second book of nonfiction, Dr. Mutter’s Marvels: A True Tale of Intrigue and Innovation at the Dawn of Modern Medicine, was released by Gotham Books (Penguin) in Fall 2014, debuted at #7 on the New York Times Bestseller List for Books about Health.

Daphne and Her Discontents by Jane Rosenberg LaForge

Source: the poet
ebook, 86 pgs.
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Daphne and Her Discontents by Jane Rosenberg LaForge begins with the dancing tree on the cover. It sets the tone for her latest collection, as Daphne was a nymph turned into a tree as she sought to escape Apollo. She uses the tree and the myth to explain the flexibility of being a woman with responsibilities, but how that flexibility can have its limits in “My Mother the Tree.”

LaForge explores motherhood, being a daughter to a harsh father, and a sister in her poems. Readers are taken on a journey in a myth as it is made and as the narrator is transformed and relationships are modified. In “Goddess of Water,” she says, “We are bodies of water so of course/What controls the tides/Conquers us.”

There are juxtapositions between Christianity and her Jewish heritage as she speaks about the Christmas tree business her father owned. She speaks to the past, the present and the rest, and how it is internalized to generate new growth if we allow it and do not hinder it with our own doubts and criticisms and dwelling upons.

Daphne and Her Discontents by Jane Rosenberg LaForge is a woven history and myth rolled out over several poems. She re-engages readers with old myths to create new ones. Not to be missed.

RATING: Quatrain

Other Reviews:

About the Poet:

Jane Rosenberg LaForge’s poetry, fiction, critical and personal essays have appeared in numerous publications, including Poetry Quarterly, Wilderness House Literary Review, Ottawa Arts Review, Boston Literary Magazine, THRUSH, Ne’er-Do-Well Literary Magazine, and The Western Journal of Black Studies. Her memoir-fantasy, An Unsuitable Princess, is available from Jaded Ibis Press. Her full-length collection of poetry, With Apologies to Mick Jagger, Other Gods, and All Women  was published in fall 2012 by The Aldrich Press. She is also the author of the chapbooks After Voices, published by Burning River of Cleveland in 2009, and Half-Life, from Big Table Publishing of Boston in 2010. She lives in New York City with her husband and daughter.

Dead Men Can’t Complain and Other Stories by Peter Clines (audio)

Source: Purchased
Audible, 4+ hours
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Dead Men Can’t Complain and Other Stories by Peter Clines, narrated by Ralph Lister and Ray Porter, thrusts listeners into a surreal world in which lizard men are interrogated by police and travel through time and in which zombies seek full human rights even though they are dead and could possibly begin eating living human beings.

Clines’ stories are highly imaginative and often rely on tropes from science fiction, but he twists them into his own inventions that leave readers considering ethical issues and more. Science fiction fans will enjoy this set of stories, but so too will those who can suspend their disbelief and have never read a “space” novel. He twists the tales of Jacob Marley and Superman to make them his own, and these stories are highly entertaining and clever.

Generally, short story collections are books that readers dip in and out of, but in the case of Clines’ book, readers will be hooked and keep reading until they’ve finished. Each story is unique and the characters are dynamic and fleshed out, but the stories are complete and do not leave readers hanging or wanting a resolution that doesn’t come. These stories encapsulate these worlds neatly and completely.

Dead Men Can’t Complain and Other Stories by Peter Clines, narrated by Ralph Lister and Ray Porter, is delightful, disturbing, and fun. Readers will be hooked and may even explore other “sci-fi” or apocalyptic books about zombies or aliens or superheroes.

RATING: Cinquain

About the Author:

Peter Clines grew up in the Stephen King fallout zone of Maine and–inspired by comic books, Star Wars, and Saturday morning cartoons–started writing at the age of eight with his first epic novel, LIZARD MEN FROM THE CENTER OF THE EARTH.

The Sweetest Ruin by Amy George

Source: publisher
Kindle, 150 pgs.
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The Sweetest Ruin by Amy George is a modern retelling of Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen set in Sin City — Las Vegas, Nevada.  Yes, that sin city! William Darcy is a workaholic and his family is deeply concerned about his health. After his doctor orders him on bed rest, Darcy finds himself smothered by love and concern, and too much attention to his work habits. The walls are closing in on him, and he takes off for America.

There’s an old saying about Vegas: “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas!”

Unfortunately, how Darcy meets Elizabeth is not at all what readers will expect and what happens in Vegas will likely not stay in Vegas if he has anything to say about it. He’s fallen head over heels and he has to break it to his over-protective sister, Georgiana.

“There was no sound coming from England. No breathing, no thudding telephone. It was the quietest his sister had ever been.”

Darcy and Lizzy not only have to come to terms with their quick romance, but also how different their lives are from one another. Will secrets he’s keeping wear their thin connection away or will their love conquer all? Even his condescending and rude sister?

George’s novella shows a delightfully carefree Lizzy living in Nevada, and even though she’s lost much, she’s created her own family from the friends she encounters. Her support system is strong and fiercely protective, like Darcy’s sister. Despite a few editorial misses in the copy I had, the story was fast-paced and full of romance and humor. I particularly loved Thad and Damien and, of course, Lizzy and Darcy. There were a few things that were wrapped up rather quickly, probably because it is a novella, but I wish there had been a few hints dropped earlier about how Georgiana would come around to liking Lizzy.

The Sweetest Ruin by Amy George is delightful in its demonstration of how a workaholic can find the balance he needs with the woman he loves by his side.

RATING: Quatrain

About the Author:

Amy George is a middle-aged woman who got rid of her old lady/grown up and has since purchased an unreasonably small car. She refuses to listen to its radio at a reasonable volume, especially when the Beastie Boys or the Violent Femmes are playing. She lives in a small town in the Midwest where the bookstore and yarn shop are neighbors and most food is fried. Her household consists of a dog, a man, a hermit, and stubborn soap scum. She has been writing since she was a child and ran the Hyacinth Gardens, a popular but defunct JAFF site.

Fun fact: My birthday is January 30th so this is like a big birthday party.

Find her on Facebook, GoodReads, Meryton Press, and Twitter.


8 eBooks of The Sweetest Ruin are being given away by Meryton Press and the giveaway is open to international readers.

Terms and conditions:

Readers may enter the drawing by tweeting once each day and by commenting daily on a blog post or review that has a giveaway attached to this tour. Entrants must provide the name of the blog where they commented.

Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter and the giveaway is international. Each entrant is eligible to win one eBook.



We Are Legion (We Are Bob) by Dennis E. Taylor

Source: Audible
Audio; 9+ hours
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We Are Legion (We Are Bob) by Dennis E. Taylor, narrated by Ray Porter, which was our January book club selection, is a science fiction novel with humor.  I’m not even going to attempt to recap the plot of this hot mess. Think Star Trek with a bunch of star date logs that jump from one Bob to another version of Bob, who has had to rename himself to reduce confusion. This confusion comes not from the fact that Bob replicates himself to complete this inane mission, but from the constant back and forth in time and between characters.

There were moments of humor, but most of it was forced with the narrator believing his jokes were funny and trying to convince the reader that the jokes are funny. The most interesting parts of the novel that raised moral and ethical questions were quick to pass and more time was spent on stupid missions or arguing between Bobs and other characters or even between themselves.

The beginning in which Bob originally finds his brain had been sold to a company 100+ years before and then was used to turn him into an AI was intriguing.  He had to learn to navigate his new environment, its restrictions, its politics, and the fact that his past would be that — in the past. Once launched into space, the only other part of the novel worth exploring is when a planet with inhabitants is reached and the AI must decide whether to play god or allow a species to certainly perish.

We Are Legion (We Are Bob) by Dennis E. Taylor was too disjointed and lacked a purpose — with the only plot line carrying the story being the search for a new planet for a human race that may be no more. In all honestly, I had 2 hours left of the audio and I just couldn’t bring myself to finish it.

RATING: Epitaph

GoodReads Synopsis:

Bob Johansson has just sold his software company and is looking forward to a life of leisure. There are places to go, books to read, and movies to watch. So it’s a little unfair when he gets himself killed crossing the street.

Bob wakes up a century later to find that corpsicles have been declared to be without rights, and he is now the property of the state. He has been uploaded into computer hardware and is slated to be the controlling AI in an interstellar probe looking for habitable planets. The stakes are high: no less than the first claim to entire worlds. If he declines the honor, he’ll be switched off, and they’ll try again with someone else. If he accepts, he becomes a prime target. There are at least three other countries trying to get their own probes launched first, and they play dirty.

The safest place for Bob is in space, heading away from Earth at top speed. Or so he thinks. Because the universe is full of nasties, and trespassers make them mad – very mad

About the Author:

Dennis Taylor is a computer programmer by day, a writer by night, and a snowboarder when in season. He’s read science fiction for many years, and has written his own.

***Book club seemed to enjoy this***

Said Not Said by Fred Marchant

Source: Purchased
Paperback, 78 pgs.
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Said Not Said by Fred Marchant differs from his previous collections that focused heavily on the Vietnam War and the effects of war on soldiers and those nations caught in war. His poems here tow the line between direct speech to the reader and remaining deafeningly silent, requiring the reader to parse out the meaning of his lines and over-arching themes. In this collection there are poems about the Vietnam War, the Benghazi issues, and the deterioration of his sister.

The poet is both witness and subject, and Marchant has an uncanny ability to not only empathize with “the other” but to inhabit their suffering in a way that makes it his own and requires the reader to take their own ownership of that suffering.

“Twin Tulips” is particularly powerful as the narrator is running his finger down the stem of tulips painted in watercolor that falls down the page like tears she shed as she struggled to hold onto her memories and herself even as her mental faculties stripped them away. There is significant beauty in the sorrow, but there is a longing that remains with the last words — “as long as” — because we often feel the same. We want to hold on as long as we can, even though we know that time in finite for each of us.

This theme is carried through the collection and appears in “Forty Years”:

How the sound of the rust-bucket trawler named Memory followed her
wherever she went, its torn nets dragged across the floor of her being, the
silt clouds and debris fields, a stern winch sounding a lot like pain.

Said Not Said by Fred Marchant is wonderfully rendered and deeply emotional. It tracks the sorrow tied to mortality, but it also demonstrates the connection we share as a humanity. This connection needs to be cherished and never forgotten no matter how we age. It is this connection that imbues us with empathy and understanding — something we need more of in modern society.

RATING: Cinquain

Other Reviews:

Couldn’t resist sharing this old gem.

About the poet:

Fred Marchant is the author of four books of poetry, including Full Moon Boat, The Looking House, and his most recent collection, Said Not Said, all from Graywolf Press. His first book, Tipping Point, won the 1993 Washington Prize from The Word Works, and was recently re-issued in a 20th Anniversary Second Edition. House on Water, House in Air, a new and selected poems was published in Ireland by Dedalus Press. He is the editor of Another World Instead, a selection of William Stafford’s early poetry, also published by Graywolf Press. With Nguy?n Bá Chung, he co-translated From a Corner of My Yard, poems by Tr?n Dang Khoa, and published in Hà N?i. Emeritus Professor of English at Suffolk University in Boston, Marchant is the founding director of that school’s creative writing program and Poetry Center. He lives in Arlington, MA.

Owl Diaries: Warm Hearts Day (Book 5) by Rebecca Elliott

Source: Purchased
Paperback, 72 pgs.
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Owl Diaries: Warm Hearts Day (Book 5) by Rebecca Elliott is a delightful addition to the series in which the owls celebrate a holiday like Valentine’s Day. But the owl’s holiday is more about getting along with everyone and learning to help one another out. Elliott helps younger readers learn empathy and how to prioritize things that happen in their lives.  While making presents for family is a nice way to celebrate, it is better to share gifts with those in need and to help those less fortunate.

This series is going fast, with my daughter asking for more than one chapter to be read per night. We’re sometimes reading two chapters at a time, and the other day, she wanted to buy owl pjs so she could be like Eva Wingdale. Ms. Elliott is missing out on merchandising here.

As always, the book is told in diary format with colorful illustrations. This format makes it easy for younger readers to follow along, and my daughter is getting to know the days of the week better than ever by sight.

Owl Diaries: Warm Hearts Day (book 5) by Rebecca Elliott is just one in a series of books to share with your children at bedtime. Eva is a delightful, caring little owl who is still learning how to see beyond her own concerns.

RATING: Cinquain

About the Author:

A school project from when Rebecca was 6 reads, ‘when I grow up I want to be an artist and a writer’. After a brief detour from this career plan involving a degree in philosophy and a dull office job she fulfilled her plan in 2001 when she became a full time children’s book illustrator and has since written and illustrated hundreds of picture books published worldwide including the award-winning Just Because, Zoo Girl, Naked Trevor, Mr Super Poopy Pants, Missing Jack and the very popular Owl Diaries series.

She lives in Suffolk in the United Kingdom with her husband, a history teacher and children, all professional monkeys.

Finding Momo by Andrew Knapp

Source: gift
Paperback, 144 pgs.
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Finding Momo by Andrew Knapp is photography-activity book for young and old alike. If you ever had fun looking for Waldo, you’ll have fun looking for Momo. Knapp’s photos of Momo are inventive.  Whether in fields or outside homes, Momo is easily spotted with his black-and-white fur, but there are some instances where he blends right in. Knapp even includes a key in the back if you need a little bit of help.

My daughter had a good time when this book arrived.  I spent another day on my own checking out Momo and seeking his cute little face.  It’s clear this dog and his owner go on a lot of adventures together. I may just have to follow Momo on Instagram where it all began.  How about you?

RATING: Cinquain

About the Author:

Andrew Knapp, born in Sudbury, Ontario and has travelled extensively with his border collie. In his first book, New York Times Bestseller Find Momo (2014), the reader is introduced to the hide-and-seek loving Momo who is cleverly camouflaged in each photo. His second book, Find Momo Coast to Coast to be released May 19th, 2015, and features photos of landmarks and odd finds on a road trip from coast to coast across the United States and Canada in a VW camper van. Andrew is also the co-founder of We Live Up Here, a multimedia project founded to connect and inspire folks in his hometown and across the world through collaborative art.

PoeTRY Something New 2018

2017 got away from me at the end of the year, but I wanted to get this post up early for those interested in continuing their poetry reading in 2018.

I love seeing which books others read, and I often add new books to my ever-growing TBR list of poetry books. I’m sure 2018 will be no different.

If you’re interested in reading poetry this year, challenge yourself to try something new. Read a single volume of poetry outside your comfort zone.

If you normally read classic poetry, read a contemporary volume.

Another challenge would be if you read from a book at home, go to reading instead and hear a poet read live!

Sign up here in Mr. Linky to join the challenge and link all your reviews (if you do them) in the linky too:

Happy reading!

Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice in 61 Haiku (1,037 Syllables!) by James W. Gaynor

Source: the author
Paperback, 208 pgs.
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Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice in 61 Haiku (1,037 Syllables!) by James W. Gaynor is an ambitious undertaking in which the poet takes the first lines of each of Pride & Prejudice’s chapters and turns them into a haiku that reflects not only the first line, but major happenings within the chapter.

Chapter 2:

In pastoral terms,
Bingley was breakfast for the
Bennet early bird.

Gaynor provides the first line of each chapter as written by Austen and his haiku on the following page. It is a labor of love for him to incorporate her wit into his haiku and still maintain the main highlights of each chapters. I can only imagine how long it took to get each haiku to fit not only the form, but also the intention of the project. In many of these haiku he succeeds well in highlighting ironic twists within Austen’s chapters in just one line of verse. In the back, Gaynor also includes a summary of each chapter in the back of the book to highlight the what, the where, and the when that are on display in his preceding haiku.

Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice in 61 Haiku (1,037 Syllables!) by James W. Gaynor is a fun collection of haiku for poetry and Jane Austen lovers alike. It’s size even lends itself to the stocking stuffer gift for your literary friends and relatives.

RATING: Quatrain

About the Poet: (#HaikuJim)

Author of Everything Becomes a Poem, James W. Gaynor is a poet, artist, editor, and writer. A graduate of Kenyon College, he lived for years in Paris, where he taught a course on Emily Dickinson at the University of Paris, studied the development of the psychological novel in 17th-century France, and worked as a translator. After returning to New York, Gaynor worked as an editor at Grosset & Dunlap, Cuisine magazine, Scriptwriter News and Forbes Publications. His articles, book reviews, poems and essays have appeared in The New York Observer, OTVmagazine.com, Peeking Cat Poetry Magazine, and The Gay and Lesbian Review Worldwide. As #HaikuJim, Gaynor publishes a daily haiku drawn from current newspaper headlines and is the creator of Can You Haiku? – a corporate communications workshop based on using Japanese poetry techniques to improve effective use of today’s digital platforms. He recently retired as the Global Verbal Identity Leader for Ernst & Young LLP. A silver medalist in the 1994 Gay Games (Racewalking), Gaynor’s found-object sculpture has been exhibited internationally. He is a member of the Advisory Board of New York’s The Creative Center at University Settlement, a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing the creative arts to people with cancer and chronic illnesses (thecreativecenter.org) Gaynor lives in New York City with his canine companion, Emily Dickinson Gaynor, and the cat who oversees their entwined lives, Gerard Manley Hopkins Gaynor. #HaikuJim jameswgaynor.com

Kin Types by Luanne Castle

Source: gift
Paperback, 30 pgs.
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Kin Types by Luanne Castle, which is touring with Poetic Book Tours, is more than poetry. It is a breathing history of ancestors and how their lives impact the present long after they have left the earth. The poet opens the collection with “Advice from My Forebears,” in which readers are greeted with much the same advice they probably heard from grandparents and others about not spending what you do not have, etc. And much of this is advice about risks we may encounter in life and it sets the tone for the collection. It demonstrates how the past can inform the present and even guide it toward better decisions, but it also calls to the rebels within us who want to go against even good advice.

Castle’s narrative poems leave the reader with a sense of the past, and through detailed accounts, she places us where she wants us to bear witness to the hard lives of these ancestors. Many of these people are immigrants leaving their homes for a better life, or at least what they believe will be a better life. But not all that befalls these men and women is good, and not all of it is bad.

From "New Life, New Music" (pg. 15)

The boy in knee pants didn't notice
the many wrinkles
or if he did they created that comfortable
space between his own raw starch
and her eyes and smile that were only his.

Like us, there are dreams held close by these ancestors. They may have a sense of loss that these dreams were not achieved or even lost, but they never let that stop them from living their lives. In “What Lies Inside,” Castle asks how well we really know our closest family members and speaks to the secrets we hold unto ourselves, as a self that we protect from the outside hardships of our lives. It is one of my favorite poems in the collection, with this haunting line: “If I don’t have this one space, where can I go to protect this self/kept inside only by my thin twitching skin?”

Kin Types by Luanne Castle is haunting and deeply emotional, allowing readers to wander off and discover their own ancestral stories. Perhaps they too will re-create the past and see how it mirrors the present or has shaped who they are.

RATING: Cinquain

About the Poet:

Winner of the 2015 New Mexico-Arizona Book Award, Doll God, Luanne Castle‘s first collection of poetry, was published by Aldrich Press. Luanne’s poetry and prose have appeared in Grist, Copper Nickel, River Teeth, Glass Poetry Press, Barnstorm Journal, Six Hens, Lunch Ticket, The Review Review, and many other journals. Published by Finishing Line Press, Kin Types was a semi-finalist in the Concrete Wolf chapbook contest.

Luanne has been a Fellow at the Center for Ideas and Society at the University of California, Riverside. She studied English and creative writing at the University of California, Riverside (Ph.D.); Western Michigan University (MFA); and the Stanford University writing certificate program. Her scholarly work has been published in academic journals, and she contributed to Twice-Told Children’s Tales: The Influence of Childhood Reading on Writers for Adults, edited by Betty Greenway. For fifteen years, she taught college English. She divides her time between California and Arizona, where she shares land with a herd of javelina. Visit her website.