Apr 28

On A Totally Personal Note…My Son’s Going To College!

When I tell my friends the names of some of the colleges my son was recently accepted into the response is often, “Wow, he got in there?!

And when I tell them he got into Allegheny College their response is often, “What’s that?”

Similarly, when my son came to me in late December, informing me, after all his other applications were in, that he now wanted to apply to Allegheny I looked at him and said something along the lines of, “What’s that?”

Fortunately my son was able to jog my memory, reminding me the school was featured in a book we had both read a while back, Colleges That Change Lives. It’s known as an academically rigorous college that requires its students to either double major or major and minor in completely different disciplines (say Chemistry and English) and then take a few classes in a third (like Music). So I could see why my son, who has a passion for art, biology and history, might be attracted to the place.

The acceptance letter for Allegheny appeared in our mailbox on the same day that the acceptance letter for one of the most competitive liberal arts school’s in the country came in. And I have to admit, I wasn’t as excited about the first as I was about the l17854759_10154561215089077_6671770095474596773_oatter. The fact that Allegheny is located in Meadville, a town we had never heard of in Pennsylvania, located an hour and a half away from the nearest airport, didn’t help. He had been accepted into schools in Portland, Memphis and Boston. We’re city people, Angelinos. Why would he choose to spend four years in a town with one hotel and no Starbucks? I couldn’t fathom it.

And yet for various reasons we decided to visit the campus. And the first thing I thought upon arrival is, this place is gorgeous. One of the other schools he had been accepted into was, according to the Princeton Review, the most beautiful campus in America. But after seeing Allegheny I found myself in disagreement with the Princeton Review. So many beautifully restored and maintained buildings from the early 19th century. It was awe inspiring. We also discovered that it’s a much bigger campus than what’s typical for a small liberal arts school. In fact it’s bigger than UCLA. They also have countless student activities and clubs for their residents to occupy themselves with.

I dropped my son off at Admissions where he was to meet his host for an overnight-stay in campus housing while I crashed at a nearby B&B. The next day he told me it had been the best college overnight he had had. The students were welcoming, they got his offbeat sense of humor, they took him to the game room where they played pinball and old-school style arcade games and to top it all off, his host lived in themed housing for students who had a passion for books (yes, really). He was also able to meet with one of the professors in the art department whom he really clicked with in the morning before he sat i17854753_10154561214729077_3109877072839729289_on on a class.

Oh, and about that class, the school had selected a poetry class for him to observe. While he had asked to observe an English class, he certainly hadn’t said poetry and I figured that in and of itself might end up being a strike against the school.

But my son, my comic-book-reading, Star Wars loving son, came out of that class truly excited about poetry. The professor had apparently been amazing as had the class discussion. So much so that he was still having that discussion with one of the students as they walked out of the English building.17834903_10154561217009077_3178792897514098764_o

Finally the two of us met up again for the campus tour in which we learned that Allegheny had one of the top 5 Environmental Sciences departments in the nation, that they have an observatory with an antique telescope that the Smithsonian is vying for (Allegheny won’t give it up. It still works and the Astronomy club still uses it…did I mention my son loves astronomy?) and that the alumni network is both strong and supportive. My son asked our student tour guide if there was a Hillel and he said, yes and that, in fact, his roommate was the president.

As we got closer and closer to Decision Day, we got more and more mailings from all the schools. There were letters bragging about the high entry level salary of one school’s graduates, another touting a school’s latest Fulbright and Rhodes Scholars, another from an alumni who was now attending Harvard Business school for his graduate degree and yet another from a alumni/titan of Wall Street.

Like these other schools, Allegheny has its fair share of Fulbright Scholars, famous and wealthy alumni, and alumni who went on to get graduate degrees at Ivy Leagues. But I only know that because of my own research. The mailing we got from Allegheny was a letter from our tour guide’s roommate who heard my son was interested in Hillel and wanted to tell him about it.

In other words, the student who was touring us, remembered my son’s interest in Hillel, told his friend about it and his friend reached out.

So my boy decided that his path is leading him to Allegheny, a school that, until a few months ago, I had never heard of.

17834251_10154561214874077_3013509032958565722_o

A school that appears to be absolutely perfect for him.

Now, as a mom, I just have to learn to let go.

Jan 05

Hey There, 2017!

Well it’s a new year and, as is my habit, I’ve rejected the idea of taking on a New Year’s resolution in favor of something a little different.  Every year I choose a word that I will periodically mediate on in regards to how it applies to my life, whatever it is I’m doing at that particular month, week or moment and use it to help me focus in my over-arching objective. In the past I’ve chosen words like Progress, Faith, Discipline and so on.

This year I’m choosing two words: Rebirth and Accomplish.

13124588_10154093530158917_7619544837694401199_nThis will be the year of the Rebirth of the Sophie series. I will be re-releasing a revamped version of VANITY, VENGEANCE AND A WEEKEND IN VEGAS for a temporary, heavily discounted price and I’ll quickly follow that with the release of the brand new Sophie book, CHAOS, DESIRE & A KICK-ASS CUPCAKE. Also, in addition to writing a Hollywood themed romance novel, I will make 2017 the rebirth of all my characters by putting out an anthology of holiday short-stories, one for each protagonist I’ve created in the past. That’s Sophie for the Sophie series, April from SO MUCH FOR MY HAPPY ENDING, Kasie from JUST ONE NIGHT, Bell from the PURE SIN SERIES and Mercy from JUST ONE LIE. Expect at least one of those characters to get engaged in those stories as well (and no, I will not give a hint in regards to who that person will be).

On a personal level, my son will be graduating high school this year and it seems as if my husband will be launching a new TV series, MONSTERS OF GOD (pictured below), for the first time in years, so those will be kinds of Rebirths too. It’s all a little overwhelming and extremely exciting. 15356612_10154799432324591_6446710015021825830_n

As for Accomplish…

I don’t want this to be a year focused primarily on planning or working up the courage or discipline to do something.This year isn’t about “the process.” It’s about shit done, period.  I’ve created a very ambitious writing/release schedule for the year, particularly when you take into account I’m co-writing a screenplay this year as well.  But while it will be hard, it’s also 100% doable, and so I’m simply going to do it.  Accomplish

If this year goes well, maybe next year’s word can be kick-ass.

Nov 09

Please Hear Me Out: Why This Election Hurts

Let me begin by saying I know this is an odd place for a post about the election. I also know that it will cost me some readers. I’ve made my peace with that. But I do hope that those who think both candidates were equally bad or don’t understand why so many of us are terrified by this Trump win read this with an open mind and, even if you disagree, try to understand where we’re coming from:

The day I fully understood that Trump’s candidacy was dangerously different from that of other Republican candidates was when my son drove down to Anaheim, CA to go to Disneyland with a friend during primary season. While he was on his way I turned on the news and heard about the KKK march that was taking place at that very moment in Anaheim. As I tried to reach my son I listened as the event descended into violent chaos, resulting in numerous injuries and one counter-protester being stabbed with a flagpole carrying the Confederate flag.

As Trump’s campaign continued, I watched as anti-Semitic posts on social media increased in both frequency and repulsiveness. I listened when Melania (Ms.-Anti-Online-Bullying) was asked about a reporter who, after writing a story about Melania, had been inundated with Tweets and emails with the reporter’s face super-imposed over Holocaust victims while Trump was cast as the happy SS officer ready to turn on the gas. Our soon-to-be First Lady’s response? “(The reporter) provoked them.” Melania did not condemn the anti-Semitism. She did not call for the attacks to stop. Neither did her husband.

Over the last year I’ve read the accounts of the basketball teams of mostly-Hispanic high schools who were greeted in the gymnasiums of their competitors with big pictures of Trump and calls to “Build a wall.” I’ve tried to absorb that hate crimes against Muslims are up 78% since Trump announced his candidacy.

And of course I’ve heard person after person laugh off Trump’s boasts of sexual assault.

Trump did not invent bigotry.  I am not naive enough to think that the KKK sprung up in Anaheim overnight. But this was the first time in many decades that they felt confident enough to march through those Southern Californian streets.

Individuals who have hate in their hearts but previously had enough shame to restrain themselves in public forums have been emboldened by the rhetoric of Trump’s campaign. The KKK made that much clear when they officially endorsed Trump in their newspaper. They never endorsed Romney, McCain, Bush, Dole or Bill Clinton and they sure as hell didn’t endorse Obama.

But now the man who has been endorsed by The KKK, David Duke and the head of the American Nazi party who helpfully pointed out, “Donald Trump’s campaign statements, if nothing else, have shown that our views are not so unpopular as the political correctness crowd have told everyone they are!” will be our next President. It’s patently absurd to think that having seen their candidate of choice succeed these hate groups are now going to dial it down a notch.

Yes, I fear what Trump will do in the Oval Office, but I fear what he has unleashed in others more. And the fact that this wasn’t a serious consideration for half the American voting public hurts. Worse yet, I now know that it WAS a consideration for a not insignificant number of Trump voters who either embraced the hate or decided they could live with it. That hurts more. If my dignity and safety as well as the safety and dignity of those who look like me, or belong to other minority groups, is valued as less important than punishing Clinton for her husband’s trade deals or for using the wrong email server how can I feel any degree of patriotism? Yes, I know many of Trump’s voters didn’t like what he was saying but rarely did they hold him accountable by insisting that he change his rhetoric if he wanted their vote.

When Trump won my first thought was, maybe my family needs to get out of this country. Clearly that was the first impulse of many people based on the crashing of Canada’s immigration website. The logistics of becoming an expatriate would be hard for my family, but not impossible. But what about all the marginalized Americans for whom moving would be impossible? Am I supposed to abandon them when they are at their most vulnerable?

I can’t do that. I have to stand with them. Speaking out against injustice and for other people’s civil liberties has never been as important as it is now that I know half the country either doesn’t see it, doesn’t care or, in some cases, hope to be the perpetrators of that injustice.

Please don’t be one of those people. Regardless of how you voted, please hear me. Stand with me, with my son, with the Americans who tried and failed to protect us against this abuse with their votes on November 8th, 2016. Please hold our next President accountable for his words, particularly if you did support him or if you didn’t vote at all. Because his words will translate into other people’s actions. It’s already happening. Please see it and help us stop it.

Oct 17

SALE ALERT!

Love cheap thrills?

JUST ONE LIE is on sale for $1.99* (reg. $7.99) for a limited time! It’s rebellious indie rocker, Mercy Raye’s story of passion, love, heartbreak & redemption.Slide1

 

Slide1Amazon: http://amzn.to/2ekv9h7
B&N: http://bit.ly/2emBdlo
Google Play: http://bit.ly/1PYfgFR

*ebook only. Trade paperback on sale for $4.48 from $15.99 at Barnesandnoble.com

Sep 14

A New Sophie Is On The Way

No, I don’t have a cover yet, nor do I have a release date. But I do have a title:

CHAOS, DESIRE & A KICK-ASS CUPCAKE!

You can read the synopsis on my Sophie Katz mysteries page.

And you can readDeep Under the 1st chapter if you buy Lisa Renee Jones‘ novel DEEP UNDER which is currently on sale for 99¢!!

You’ll also get excerpts from upcoming novels by Audrey Carlan, Whitney Gracia Williams, Carly Phillips, Nicole Snow, Layla Hagen, Linda Jones and Linda Howard, Melody Anne, Brenda Novak and Geneva Lee!

No matter how you look at it, you win. So go out and grab Deep Under and get a taste of a Kick-Ass Cupcake!😜

 

May 09

The Surprises of Being A Mom

13174181_10153646744934077_3083748045224293548_nWhen you become a mom, you come to understand how inadequate the word “empathy” is. Because when my son is hurting I don’t just understand & share his pain. His pain IS my pain. When he feels pride in an accomplishment you can bet that pride is seeping out of my pours. And when he’s happy life is good and all my other problems seem smaller and more manageable.

 

If we all really knew before we decided to have kids that this is what we’d be in for we might have stuck with the birth control. After all, what this means is my mom’s been through the distress and drama of TWO divorces, one from her 1st husband and my divorce from mine. It means that I have been through the anguish of middle school twice. It’s not that our childrens’ experiences are our experiences, but the emotional fallout is.

13173483_10153646744989077_2413584274410436916_oBut I didn’t know so I did become a mom, and now I can’t imagine life without this richness and amazing intensity. Both the gifts and blows of being a parent have done so much to shape who I am. It’s turned the mere act of living into a more passionate, thrilling, frightening and wonderful adventure. I’m so grateful for that and I’m so appreciative of my mom who has stood by me during all the good times and bad because now that I’m a mom, I understand what that took.

So Happy Mother’s Day to her and to all the moms who stand strong through the pain and elation of parenting. This is one holiday that you have personally earned.

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