we live in brooklyn

Homeschooling, learning disabilites, and oh hey I have a first grader.

Once upon a time, a girl met a boy on the Internet and they fell in like. When the girl found out the boy had been homeschooled and planned on homeschooling his kids, as he hoped to have some someday, something inside the girl clicked. "I could marry this guy. He's a possibility. We like the same spiritually angsty folk rock, he can quote Anne of Green Gables, and neither of us care if Gavin Rossdale is a poser because come on, 'Machine Head.'"

Like turned into love pretty fast. Twelve years, a diamond, a mortgage, a child and a whole lotta other stuff later, we're about to embark on a new homeschool adventure.

Boy was homeschooled all the way through. As the oldest of six, he still lauds his mom as the bravest and most self-sacrificing person he's ever known. I, on the other hand, went to private school through seventh grade, at which point I was NOT diagnosed with dyscalculia, but should have been. I was excelling in all other subjects, but no matter how many help classes or how much time I spent on my homework, my grades continued to drop.

I understood the processes just fine. I can still look at even an algebra problem and walk you through how to do it. The problem is the numbers and values sort of lose form somewhere between the paper and my brain. I still have to add and subtract on my fingers if I don't have paper. If I do have paper, I have to write it down and check my work twice. I came up with an on-paper counting process early on that I still must use today. In short, even if I have to copy a row of multiple-digit numbers from one column to another, I'll make mistakes. Everything just starts jumping around on the page for me. It's really not awesome. 

Because of my failing grades when I was in seventh, I finally came home one day and told my mom I wanted to be homeschooled. I knew I wasn't stupid. I knew there was something going on that couldn't be corrected in the classroom environment.

My mom was wary at first. She'd been a substitute teacher for a long time, but she was working full-time for my dad (he is an INVENTOR, he hates that term because it makes people think of kooky crazy dudes and insists on saying his is in "R&D" but we all know he is an INVENTOR and I think it's cool and I love saying my dad is an INVENTOR, SO THERE, DAD). But my mom is awesome and she started looking into it.

And in eighth grade, we started.

It wasn't easy. But I think we both loved it. Mom and I have always gotten along really well, and it was just tons of time together, which rocked. My mom is super-organized, so I think all came pretty naturally to her, really. Long, cool story short, I absolutely loved being homeschooled. I got to do amazing things I wouldn't normally be able to do, like be the youngest intern ever at the Governor's Office and work extensively on political campaigns, and I did graduate and I did go to a really good college and --

I would not change it for the world.

It was definitely the best gift my parents could give me. And I definitely want to give that to my daughter.

The entrance date for our school district is September 30. That is, if she's six by September 30, she has to start school. Her birthday is September 22. I have a first grader, yo!

I am so pumped. I know from watching many amazing friends homeschool and my mom's experience that it won't always be easy and sometimes it will be downright hard. But I am grateful, so grateful that I can do this for my kid. I like her. I like being around her. She's the coolest person I know, and I know some REALLY STINKING COOL people, no lie.

Here we go, y'all.

we live in brooklyn

Putting the inspiration and romance in inspirational romance

A few weeks ago, I ranted about what devices/cliches/WTFrack things I was TIRED of seeing in "inspirational romance." I'm feeling like of like an authority on this, having read more than 20 Christian historical romances since February of this year. The original post is here: Taking the inspiration and romance out of inspirational romance.

I also said there were several standouts among that bunch of books. Several of my friends were like OHWOWPLEASESHARE. It seems y'all are as annoyed with the genre's cliches as much as I am.


Here's the first post of my recommendations.


1 - These are all books released RECENTLY. I'm not going back and pointing out good old Francine Rivers or even "newer" authors. I'm talking books published in the past year or two.

2 - This is in NO WAY comprehensive, and it's restricted to historical romance. If you want to point out books outside of the genre in comments, DO DO DO PLEASE DO. SHARE THE LOVE I AM SRS.

3 - I hate making derogatory comments about books. Because, as a writer who's dealt with her share of critiques, criticism, and rejection---well. Yeah. I know most people are writing because its their passion, and so often with writers, it's a compulsion. We MUST WRITE. And we long for people to love the worlds in our heads the way we do. At the same time, that's not always good enough. So rather than point fingers at books/authors who don't DO IT RIGHT (by my standards), we're gonna go with the whole BAMBI wisdom of, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." I know what I don't like and why I don't like it. I may talk about it in a one-on-one situation, but I'm not going to tear anyone down on my site. And I'm not going to permit anyone else to do it, either. You name names in a less-than-flattering way, I'll delete the comment.

4 - That being said, I am GLAD to discuss ELEMENTS I don't want to see any more of, or ones that are done badly. I'm all for talking about IMPROVEMENT OF THE GENRE you guys. So feel free to TALK, just not about speciic authors and books.

There are some more points of contention with the genre I want to address, but for now, I'll share one of the books I loved-loved-loved.




A DISTANT MELODY by Sarah Sundin.

Description from Amazon: Never pretty enough to please her gorgeous mother, Allie will do anything to gain her approval--even marry a man she doesn't love. Lt. Walter Novak--fearless in the cockpit but hopeless with women--takes his last furlough at home in California before being shipped overseas. Walt and Allie meet at a wedding and their love of music draws them together, prompting them to begin a correspondence that will change their lives. As letters fly between Walt's muddy bomber base in England and Allie's mansion in an orange grove, their friendship binds them together. But can they untangle the secrets, commitments, and expectations that keep them apart? A Distant Melody is the first book in the WINGS OF GLORY series, which follows the three Novak brothers, B-17 bomber pilots with the US Eighth Air Force stationed in England during World War II.

Why this stands out:  A setting so rich you can feel the California sun on your skin, even when you're stuck in an Ohio February. Add the "He Wears a Pair of Silver Wings" Pandora Station to this and you never want to step away from this book. Stuff HAPPENS and there are REAL CONSEQUENCES to actions. They have good, gentle humor, not silly antics! After the first chapter I was all like THESE PEOPLE HAVE TO GET TOGETHER OR I WILL NEVER BE HAPPY AGAINNNNNNN. And flailed a lot because I LOVE actually connecting that fast to characters. Best of all: these two people SERIOUSLY CARE ABOUT EACH OTHER I AM NOT KIDDING YOU. They encourage each other in their faith! He's a more mature Christian than she is! They have real flaws and circumstances and fears that keep each other from one another, not some canned misunderstanding! And I want to KNOW THEM and have them over for coffee and now I'm sort of sad that I can't because they are NOT REAL.  Also, she writes the technical bomber Army WWII stuff so fluidly that you're never ever pulled out of the narrative.










Taking the inspiration and romance out of inspirational romance

I have read a lot of inspirational romance in the past few years.

This post has been building for about three of those years.

Things that annoy me in Christian fiction

I really am not going to tolerate much more of these things:

  • Stories in which the women are stronger in their faith than the men. GIVE ME SOME STRONG GUY LEADERS. Also? GIRL NO SAVE MAN'S SOUL. Does not work this way. Girl adds facets to man's person? Yes, totally. TOTALLY.
  • Stories in which the crisis of faith is due to loss of family. At this point, I am just finding it whiny. WE ALL LOSE PEOPLE. Some more than others. Give me some theological or lifestyle dilemmas. ENGAGE MY BRAIN.
  • Irresponsible, headstrong girls instead of really strong, capable women. I NEED ME SOME ROLE MODELS. Challenge me to be a strong woman for reals, not just flip my hair and get mad about the world "submit." Not cute, not funny, even if they do "come around" or the inevitable romance leads in a marriage which is a partnership.
  • Being able to manage the ranch, ride, shoot? Makes the woman capable. Does not make her character strong.
  • Women who don't want kids pre-marriage suddenly wanting kids for no apparent reason in the last three pages of the book. *FLAILS* YOU JUST MURDERED THE CHARACTER I SPENT TIME GETTING TO KNOW.
  • Complete disregard of the term "character arc." See above.


That said, there are some writers who are knocking it out of the ballpark in this genre. SRSLY, there are some incredible Christian romantic books out there. Totally fulfilling reads.That post is pending.


Be My Fictional Valentine? (WIP excerpt)

In which Teagan tries to figure out what to do on her first day at her new school.



First time ever I've been bummed it's a Saturday.

I'm flipping to the next page in my handbook to see if there are any notes on what to do on the weekend when someone knocks on my door.

"Come in!" I call. If it's Catalina, maybe she can help me figure out where I'm supposed to be.

The door opens.

It is so not Catalina.

It's a guy.

A man, really.

Tall. Dark. H-h-h-handsome. Bright blue eyes. Broad shoulders. I should say something.

Teagan, really, say a thing. Say something.


He raises an eyebrow. "Teagan?"

I nod. Mute. 'Cept for the little whimper. He totally just said my name. He should do that again.

So. Pretty.

"I'm Colm." He steps into my room, leaving the door open, and extends a hand to me.

I just grin.

I mean, what else is there to do?

He so wants to touch my hand. Heh.

I reach up and shake. Still grinning.

I'm an idiot. I don't care. Anyone would be an idiot in this guy's presence. He's probably used to it.

He sure acts used to it. Retracts his hand, leans a shoulder against my wall.

Lucky wall.

"I'm your mentor."



Sometimes a girl shouldn't filter herself.


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we live in brooklyn

Books through Bars at Freebird Books

Sunday, February 20, 4:00pm - 8:00pm

Freebird sponsors a special dictionary book drive for Books Through Bars.

For the cover charge of one used paperback dictionary join us for beer, refreshments, and some good natured Scrabble competitions. Not to mention prizes!

Prisoners send thousands of requests to Books Through Bars each year, and number one on their list is the humble pocket dictionary. Books Through Bars NYC can barely keep up with those requests and is in constant need of more copies to fill their shelves. To hammer that point home we sponsor a unique single subject book drive to highlight why literacy is so important to the incarcerated.

Two Scrabble games will be going concurrently for anyone comfortable enough to exercise their verbal acuity without those reference guides safely at hand. We will have refreshments and Books Through Bars volunteers will be on hand to answer questions and show off the library and workspace in our basement.


* Beginners board & expert board

* Beverages & snacks on hand


Freebird Books
123 Columbia Street (between Kane and Degraw streets)
Brooklyn, NY 11231
Hours: Sat-Sun 11 am-10 pm (but call ahead); the rest of the week by chance and for events
we live in brooklyn

Indentified by Books

I realized today that people know me for books.

I have people, everywhere I go regularly, who as soon as they see me, they start talking books. Not just MY book, but books in general. Whenever I meet up with my best buds for coffee or lunch, books are exchanged. Today it was Annie Proulx. Yep. At church, I got to talk about Annie Proulx.

And that is really cool.

It's way better than being known for like, gossip.

That said, I spent the morning reading.



Pariah exceprt

From the WIP.


Tara is my twleve-year-old sister. She has a degenerative nerve condition you've probably never heard of and you probably never want to know exists. She's been fine for the past six months. She's not able to walk--she'll probably never be able to walk, no lie--but she hasn't had any new symptoms pop up.

Doesn't mean we're not all braced for the next emergency room trip.

Doesn't mean Mom no longer carries a well-stocked overnight bag in the van.

Doesn't mean Dad doesn't hold Tara the longest of all of us before he leaves for a trip.

Doesn't mean my heart doesn't clench up and my stomach fill with lead at the slightest hint of something being less than normal at home.

But if something was up with Tara, Mom would've called me, not the library.  So I relax some as I walk home. Wonder what's up with Mom. Consider the homework I have to do over the weekend. Imagine what rumors will be going around school once we've had our weekend to read status updates and texts and whisper and stuff.

School started last Monday. That was an epic adventure. No, really. Epic. Adventure. And it's been increasingly adventurous ever since.

I'm walking down the street in the fading sunlight, ready to wind my way back to our tidy townhouse of Cheer and Goodness, when the two and the two come together.  And then I curse very loudly and make a lady walking a dog look at me, sigh, and then shake her head.

Tara's fine. I'm pretty sure of it now.

Mom found out what I did.

I stop walking. Hop a little and make whining noises and turn a circle one way and then another and generally act less like a fifteen year old and more like a five year old than I should.

Mom found out.

And I'd already forgotten.

I pull out my phone, 'cause I'm not allowed to wear accessories like jewelry or watches anymore, and check the time. 8:49.

It all went down about five hours ago.

And I'd already forgotten.

My memory refreshed, I can't contain a grin.

Epic. Adventure.

She is gonna be so mad.

we live in brooklyn


Okay, so no Grapemo posts for me yet because Casa Serenity is still down with The Plague.

Basically we're doing little necessary things and then falling back in bed at strange times. V included in this.


I LIVE and that is a Thing right now.