Friday, June 16, 2017

It's Summertime Once Again!

Hello friends of the interwebz! Can you hear the birds chirping? Can you feel the sun shining? That's right...It's SUMMER!

As a full-time teacher, I am incredibly happy for summer vacation. I need time to refresh and renew, especially after final exams and writing report card comments.

As a part-time author, I am ECSTATIC to have time to brainstorm new story ideas, edit old stories, and contemplate future ventures in publishing. #SummerAuthor

I've had a contemporary YA story sitting in my computer for quite a while now and need to do something with it. I have a half-baked idea for a YA fairy tale in a writing journal that I actually need to start typing up to see if it grows into anything else. I have a couple of picture book ideas that I can noodled around some more. And then there's the epic rewrite of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE that Jessica Grey and I started a few years ago and haven't completed. I really want to work on that one.

On my summer reading schedule, I have a few new books to read for the next school year (specifically, a King Arthur story that is suitable for 7th graders). I picked up a copy of DOCTOR THORNE from the library and I'm looking forward to that because I enjoyed the mini-series so much.

We don't have any big vacations planned but we'll have a few "stay-cation" trips around Southern California. (I really really really want to go to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios with my kids.)

How are your summers shaping up? Any books that you recommend for me to read?

Thursday, January 19, 2017

HWJ: Will You Be Mine?

Hello friends!

It's time for another book from the ladies of HOLIDAYS WITH JANE!

When we first came up with this idea, we decided that we would each take one of Jane Austen's novel (she wrote six and there were six authors*) and write a holiday themed story inspired by the novel that we picked/were assigned.

Our first anthology of short stories was CHRISTMAS CHEER.

After that, readers were asking us, "What holidays are you going to highlight? Is this going on forever?" We answered the first question with:





and our newest....

Book Release is very soon! (I'll keep you posted!)

(Aren't the covers AMAZING?! Thanks to Victoria Austen-Young for such great work!)

The answer to the second question is...we didn't want to "go on forever." There aren't *that* many holidays that are interesting enough to base a story on. (Arbor Day? I don't think so.) It's bittersweet that we're done writing but we have these amazing collections that we can share.

The order that I wrote my stories for HOLIDAYS WITH JANE were:

"Mischief and Mistletoe" (NORTHANGER ABBEY) - HWJ: Christmas Cheer

"Whine and Wineries" (SENSE AND SENSIBILITIES) - HWJ: Spring Fever

"Emma Ever After" (EMMA) - HWJ: Trick or Sweet

"Twice Upon a Sea" (PERSUASION) - HWJ: Summer of Love

"Construction of a Heart" (PRIDE AND PREJUDICE) - HWJ: Thankful Hearts

"Concealed Spark" (MANSFIELD PARK) - HWJ: Will You Be Mine?

I'm going to write about how I approached writing each of these stories next week. Some were easy and some were hard. And one was absolutely horrid during the process but I think hope it was successful.

~~~More about WILL YOU BE MINE? during our book release week extravaganza!~~~

*Kimberly Truesdale contributed to the first three books. Nancy Kelley contributed to the last three books. Jessica Grey, Jennifer Becton, Cecilia Gray, Rebecca M. Fleming, and I contributed to all six collections.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Interview over at Becton Literary!

We just released the fifth book in the HOLIDAYS WITH JANE series, THANKFUL HEARTS and Jennifer is showcasing the various authors on her blog. (Thanks!!)

The wonderful Jennifer Becton, multi-genre author of the thriller series SOUTHERN FRAUD and the Austenesque PERSONAGES OF PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, interviewed me for her blog.

Read the interview here.

You can check out Jennifer's books here and learn more about her here.

And you can still read THANKFUL HEARTS even though Thanksgiving is over. (It's still November, right?) Pick up the paperback or the Kindle edition on

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Thankful Jar...and ALL THE FOOD

Holidays with Jane: Thankful Hearts
(ebook available on Paperback coming out soon!)

It’s time for crisp weather, colorful leaves, and a Thanksgiving feast. The authors of the Holidays with Jane series bring you Holidays with Jane: Thankful Hearts with six modern-day adaptations of Jane Austen’s novels. Join your favorite heroines around the fire with a cup of hot apple cider for heart-warming takes on these classic stories.

"The Construction of a Heart"
by Melissa Buell
Elizabeth Bennet credits the success of Bennet Homes to her close-knit family, however dysfunctional they might be. The Meryton Chamber of Commerce calls on local businesses to host the annual All-Town Thanksgiving Feast. Unfortunately, Elizabeth is paired up with pretentious businessman Will Darcy of Pemberley Estates, her main rival in the construction business. Will Elizabeth be able to fill up her Thankful Jar this year?

In my short story for HOLIDAYS WITH JANE: THANKFUL HEARTS, I reimagined PRIDE AND PREJUDICE by Jane Austen. If you've read my blog at all or you know me IRL, you know that PRIDE AND PREJUDICE is my favorite novel. Do you know how hard it is to reimagine your favorite novel into a short story?! It's hard, guys. The struggle is real. But I got through it with copious amounts of coffee, tea, and brownies at Panera Bread. I owe much to the wisdom and enthusiasm of Jess and Rebecca. (Thank you!)


In my story, I write about a "Thankful Jar" and also about food. Lots of food.


I love the idea of a "Thankful Jar" for the month of November. Every day, write down one thing (or several!) that you are thankful for and add it to your jar. On Thanksgiving, read the things you are thankful for as you eat your Thanksgiving feast. Some might be silly, some might be romantic. I want to remember that we have so many blessings and much to be thankful for. Will you start a Thankful Jar this year?


One of the many things to be thankful for at Thanksgiving is the FOOD! (Am I right?) My mom's family is from the Midwest, which means we have all of the best food. Butter. And gravy. More butter. We've added different dishes over the years as my generation has learned to cook and bake but we always have the old standbys: turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, rolls, and PIE.

Oh, pie. I love pie at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Especially with Reddi-Whip. (Homemade whipped cream is great but Reddi-Whip is awesome.)

We always have pumpkin pie and pecan pie. Sometimes there's a random apple pie or cobbler thrown in. My sister-in-law told me about five years ago that she saw a recipe from Paula Deen for Pumpkin Pecan Pie. My seester and I both don't love pumpkin pie so we were excited at the idea of something different without being too weirdly different. I found the recipe and I've been making this pie for Thanksgiving ever since.

Link to Paula Deen's Pumpkin Pecan Pie recipe

Link to Pinterest Board of "Holidays With Jane: Thanksgiving Food

Now that you've read about being thankful and pie, here's an excerpt of my story! (And keep reading because down below is the Rafflecopter link for the giveaway that I'm hosting!)


"The Construction of a Heart"

The first time they had met was at the Chamber of Commerce “Salute to Summer” mixer at the end of August. Elizabeth, Jane, and their younger sister Lydia were scheduled to take turns manning the Bennet Homes booth that evening. Elizabeth and Jane took great pride in setting up an attractive booth at each Chamber event.
            As she and Jane approached the booth just before the mixer began, it was obvious that someone had ignored the schematic that Elizabeth herself had developed that kept similar businesses from being next to each other.
            The table in the booth next to them was overloaded with glossy tri-fold brochures, plastic scale models of houses, and a laptop with a gallery of high impact photos flashing on the screen. Sterling silver trays held macarons and chocolate tarts while urns with gourmet coffee burbled away. A Lucite sign proclaimed “Pemberley Estates Welcomes You!” in purple letters. A blond man and a brunette woman were chatting quietly outside of the booth, gesturing towards the coffee urns.
            Elizabeth glanced over at her humble homemade lemon squares and peanut butter cup brownies with chagrin. The blue gingham tablecloth and collection of white porcelain cake plates looked charming along with their framed photos of houses they had rehabbed into a “Bennet Home.”  Charming compared to classy? No, Elizabeth shook her head. They can make fun of my booth but I’d rather be personal and homespun than fake and plastic any day. I need to make the best of the location and meet our new competitors.
            “Are you ready to meet our neighbors?” Elizabeth whispered to Jane.
            The blond man in front of the Pemberley Estates was already making a bee-line towards them. He extended his hand with a friendly smile.
            “Hello, I’m Chase Bingley,” he said as he shook the hands of both sisters. “We’re new in Meryton and so happy to be a part of the mixer. It was gracious of the event coordinators to include us.” He gestured behind him. “This is my sister, Carla Bingley.”
Carla Bingley strode over and looked down at Elizabeth and Jane with a haughty expression. “Nice to make your acquaintance,” she stated in bored tone.
“Our booth is right next to yours,” Elizabeth said with a determined smile. “Bennet Homes. Feel free to have a lemon bar or brownie. They’re homemade,” she added when she saw Carla’s mouth twitch unpleasantly.
“How delightful!” Chase said as he stepped forward to pick up a brownie. “I don’t know the last time I had a homemade treat.”
“That’s because I have better ways to spend my time,” Carla murmured just loud enough for Elizabeth to hear.
“Would either of you be available to introduce me to the other vendors here?” Chase asked, his eyes fixed on Jane.
            Elizabeth smiled as she stepped behind the table. “I have the first shift at the booth.”
            “I’m available,” Jane said shyly. “We can start with Mayor Lucas. He just arrived.”
            “Carla, be sure to introduce Darcy, won’t you?” Chase asked as he walked away.
            And Darcy is…another sister? I hope she takes after Chase, not his sour faced sister, Carla.
            The community room was slowly filling up with guests from the Chamber of Commerce and Elizabeth put all thoughts of Pemberley Estates and their employees away as she handed out business cards and treats. A dark haired man with dark, brooding eyes walked toward her booth during a lull. Elizabeth checked her phone and was unsurprised to see that Lydia had texted her that she would be late for her shift.
Elizabeth turned to replenish the cake plates with baked goods and found the dark haired stranger standing in front of her booth, looking at each framed photo carefully. He glanced up as if he felt her eyes on him. He nodded at her and said, “Will Darcy.”
She deposited the fresh brownies on the plate and replied, “Will Darcy do what?”
“Will I do what?” he asked, a confused expression in his chocolate brown eyes. “No, I am Will Darcy.”
“Oh!” Elizabeth shook her head. “I thought you were asking if Darcy would do something. The Bingleys have a sister named Darcy…” At the look on his face, Elizabeth knew she had made a mistake. “Wow. Never mind. I assumed a sister when Chase said to introduce ‘Darcy’ to me. It’s one of those guys-call-each-other-by-their-last-name things.” She smiled and stuck out her hand. “Let’s start over. I’m Elizabeth Bennet of Bennet Homes.”
            “Will Darcy of Pemberley Estates,” he stated as he shook her hand in a brief but firm handshake.
            “Yes, you are our friendly competition,” Elizabeth said.
            “There’s not much of a competition,” Carla drawled as she stalked over to where Will stood. “We build designer houses. You paint old relics.”
            “We do more than ‘paint old relics’,” Elizabeth said, struggling to keep her cool. “We revitalize homes that need some love. We match up our customers with the best home for them. We partner with our customers to give them their forever home.
            Carla waved a well-manicured hand through the air dismissively. “Take a page from Pemberley’s book and knock the wreck down. It saves time and money. Not to mention removes an eyesore from the community.”
            “Is that Pemberley Estates marketing tagline? ‘Removing landmarks one at a time.’ That’s not going to work well here in Meryton. We are all devoted to preserving our history.”
            “Mayor Lucas and the zoning commission just approved our proposal to build on the old bowling alley site off Route 1.” Carla’s dark eyes gleamed. “We’ll be putting up our model homes in no time.”
“I wouldn’t call the bowling alley a landmark, exactly,” Elizabeth admitted. “But I’m still disappointed that the zoning commission would not want to rehab it into something else.”
“You are opposed to new buildings?” Will asked. “Isn’t that antithetical to your construction company?”
Elizabeth chuckled. “I’m not opposed to new buildings. That would be the kiss of death to any construction business. We are happy to build anything our customers want. I personally prefer a building with a history. Old buildings have such character and charm to them. I don’t want to haphazardly knock them down just to make room for something plastic and shiny. Steel is great for girders but for a family room? Not so much.”
Will Darcy quirked up one eyebrow. “You obviously feel very passionate about this. Excuse me.” He took out his phone and walked away.

Well, that was awkward. Was it me or was it him? I’m pretty sure it was him. If only Jane was here to evaluate it. Though she most likely would have said that he was self-conscious. It doesn’t matter. We’re not likely to have much to do with Pemberley Estates. She glanced over to Carla Bingley preening in front of her booth. Not that I want to.


Giveaway time! Check out the Rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Thankful for a new book!

Holidays With Jane: Thankful Hearts is now available!

Be sure to check out all of the bookish fun coming your way in the next week. Indie Jane Press (publisher of the Holidays With Jane series) is hosting a week of festivities which includes a readalong on Twitter with author Jennifer Becton & Melissa Buell (myself) and giveaways from all of the HWJ authors. The Facebook page has lots of info.

Check out the links below for the awesomeness!

Tuesday 11/1 – Jessica Grey
Wednesday 11/2 – Nancy Kelley
Thursday 11/3 – Melissa Buell
Friday, 11/4 – Rebecca M. Fleming
Saturday 11/5 – Cecilia Gray
Sunday 11/6 – Jennifer Becton
Monday 11/7 – Winners Announced

Monday, September 26, 2016

Winner of "Fall Into Austen" giveaway!

Thank you to all who entered to win the gift card. The winner (chosen by is...Heather Sebastian! I have emailed the winner.

Please enjoy our *free* book right now: HOLIDAYS WITH JANE: Trick or Sweet.

There's more fun on Indie Jane Press. Be sure to check out the blog posts and Facebook posts.

Friday, September 23, 2016

"Falling" in love with Austen

To kick off our Fall into Austen event, our collection Holidays with Jane; Trick or Sweet is FREE for your kindle September 22 – 26. Snag a copy on Amazon.

"Falling" in love with Austen

PRIDE AND PREJUDICE was my first Jane Austen novel that I read and it has remained my favorite Austen novel and my favorite novel of all time. (I’m saying this as an English teacher who majored in English literature that loves to read in my free time.) Why does P&P remain my favorite, even after a dozen readings? Is it the romance between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy? Is it the sweetness of Jane? The country/city life compared? The fact that it is set in England? The answers to all of these is yes and no. 

I mean, of course I love all of the above.  But is goes deeper than that. It’s the varied themes of the novel. Finding true love and not giving up on it. Finding out that we are proud and prejudiced in so many ways. Our families are a part of who we are. Being confident in the role we have been placed in. THERE ARE SO MANY THEMES. 

My AP English class just finished this novel and it was an amazing transformation. They started the novel with 0 students liking the story. They thought the premise was absurd. They hated every character. Slowly, as they read more, as we discussed more, as they thought more, they began to dislike it less. By the end of the novel, they all cheered when Elizabeth and Darcy finally got together. Of course, there were remarks like, “Why couldn’t they just have gotten together in the first few chapters?” My response, “That would be a very short book. And you wouldn’t have cared about the characters and what happens to them.” 

As we read, we make an investment into those characters. That’s why we yell at books when our favorite characters make “stupid” choices. It’s why we dress up and host Jane Austen tea parties. It’s why my friends and I write modern adaptations of Jane Austen’s novels. It’s why we take those “Which Austen heroine are you?” quizzes. It’s why we all wanted Austenland to be a real place after reading the novel. Jane Austen knew the human heart and she knew human imagination. She combined them in magical ways. 

It’s easy to fall in love with Austen’s writing. You’re in good company.

**Giveaway** One person will win a $10 gift card! Fill in the Rafflecopter info below.

Be sure to check out all of the cool stuff on the Indie Jane Press site. You can enter to win a Starbucks gift card and a free copy of our newest book!

We will also have some fantastic giveaways starting September 22, as well as fun blog posts to keep us falling into Austen all weekend long.
Here’s our posting schedule!
9/22 – Kick off Post and NEW BOOK REVEAL – Jessica Grey
9/23 – “Falling” in love with Austen – Melissa Buell9/24 – Making a Mansfield Perk Approved Flat White – Jennifer Becton9/25 – Austen, Magic, and a Modern Teenage Darcy – Jessica Grey9/26 – Rebecca M. Fleming9/27 – WINNERS POSTED HERE on

We hope you’ll join us for this fun event!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Curious World - HMH

There's an app called "Curious World" from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. It's for the iPhone and iPad.

Here's the the link to the App Store:


From Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, a leader in classroom education for over 100 years - start your child’s learning journey with a FREE TRIAL and get unlimited access to nearly 1,000 fun and educational books, games, and videos, perfect for your child’s discovery or family time! Designed for kids ages 2-7, Curious World brings you: 

• Over 500 fun and educational games, videos and books
• Favorite characters like Curious George and Gossie
• New activities added every week
• A safe and ad-free environment
• Content curated by early learning experts across key learning areas
• A personalized experience based on your child’s age

Games, videos and books are curated by early learning experts across the following key learning areas:

• Science
• Math
• Literacy
• Executive Function
• Creative Expression
• Social & Emotional
• Family & Community
• Health & Wellbeing

Subscription details:

Curious World is free to download with access to select content and features.

With a Curious World subscription, you will receive:

• Exclusive access to unlimited games, videos and books – new content added weekly!
• A personalized experience for your child
• Ability to create up to 5 child profiles
• Access to the Parent Dashboard to track your child’s activities
• A safe and ad-free learning environment


Friday, June 17, 2016

Updates and such...

Hey there!

It's June and school has officially been out for two weeks. That means I get to sleep in (for an extra hour or so) and spend a lot of time with my boys. I'm working on a setting up a steady writing schedule this summer. This has been difficult in the past because MY CHILDREN ARE AT HOME. Even if I put the "Writer Cave" sign on my door, they still knock. And I answer. Because parenting and being present for my kids is more important than writing. So...I need to find a way to write AND keep them occupied.

Fortunately, we have an awesome public library in city. I can bring my laptop into the children's library and write while my sons play "learning games" on the computers, gather up books, do them summer reading program fun, and READ. It's a win-win.

Here's a recap of some favorite things that I've read/watched/done these last few months.

I was part of the "B-Fest" at Barnes and Noble, Fullerton. I was on a panel with Meadow Griffin (author of LEGENDS OF ERIN) and Valerie Noble (author of THE ENERGY CRUSADES). Thank you to Jen Loomis for making this an awesome event!

"Doctor Thorne" - produced by Julian Fellowes. It's a four episode mini-series, similar to BBC adaptations of Jane Austen novels. My sister-in-law told me about this show and I'm SO happy! It was fantastic.

"Doctor Who" - seasons 4, 5. I'm rewatching "Doctor Who" with my teenager. It used to be on Netflix but left! Sad day. But we found it on Amazon Prime! Yes!

"Lark Rise to Candleford" - I just started this series and I like it already. It's fairly obvious that I'm a Angliophile. I don't think about it until I'm saying things like, "These earbuds are rubbish. Throw them in the bin." I've been reading a fair amount of British novels, too.

"Captain America: Civil War" - Of course. Cap is my favorite Avenger. This movie. AMAZING.

"Love and Friendship" - The movie adaptation of Jane Austen's story "Lady Susan." I saw this with a friend who is also a Janeite. It was so funny and perfect. Austen's wit was sharp when she was young.

HOLIDAYS WITH JANE: Summer of Love - We have another short story collection out! It's wonderful to read the stories that my fellow authors have written. Jennifer Becton started to do a read/tweet along with the stories. I joined in. Hang out with us on Twitter! #holidayswithjane

An assortment of books. Now that's it's summer, I'm starting to read books for the next school year. (A teacher's work is never done!) I'm considering adding FRANKENSTEIN to the AP English 12 class. I would also like to teach FAHRENHEIT 451 this year. I'm also looking at my "To Be Read" pile that has stacked up over the last school year. I need to do some fun reading. :-)

I'm still formatting Book 3, THE CURSED BLESSING, to be in paperback. I thought I had it all done...and then discovered that all of the italics were stripped out. HOW?! I have no idea. So, I've had to go back and read the whole book again and add italics to all of the thoughts my main character has. THERE ARE A LOT OF THOUGHTS. I will *hopefully* be done today. Then I will be able to get it to CreateSpace and work on all the other aspects of publishing it.

New writing? Yes, I hope to have something new. And soon! I have a finished story that I need to revisit. I have a fairy tale that I need to finish outlining. I have another fairy tale that is just an idea right now. Perhaps while I am on vacation this summer...

Enjoy your time this summer! I know that I will.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Holidays With Jane: Summer of Love

A new book is out in the wild! The fourth book from Indie Jane Press is now available:
Available on Kindle (and Kindle app) now. Paperback will be out soon.

For all of the blog posts about it, visit the site. We're hosting a giveaway and have a music playlist for you.

Holidays With Jane on Facebook

Giveaway on Rafflecopter

Happy summer, friends!