A Sneak Peek

I’m thrilled to be working again with author Dean K. Miller.  This time, it’s for his forthcoming poetry book, Echoes: Reflections Through Poetry and Verse.
Echoes: Reflections Through Poetry and Verse by Dean K. MillerIt’s not available until November, but in the meantime, I’ll leave you with this sneak peek of one of the several illustrations I did for the inside . . .
Past Due

You can also read one of Dean’s poems, “A Letter Home,” featured on Readwave.


Essay in Mind + Body Magazine

The Stress of Fractures -- April Moore

Check out my latest essay, The Stress of Fractures, published by Mind + Body Magazine!

Someecard Rant Irony

Because of my Pinterest addiction, I come across many Someecards where folks have something to say, but unfortunately their message gets lost in [grammatical] translation. With hundreds to choose from, it was easy to find some gems:

Grammer/Grammar . . . what’s the difference, right?
Knowing singular from plural is NOT your forte.

Plural, singular

Again, vein/vane . . . what’s the difference, right?
vein, vane

Hmm. Who’s calling the kettle black?
your, you're

Perhaps he left because of your bad grammar.
your, you're
The following all feature my biggest pet peeve: placing punctuation outside quotation marks. Okay, I get that in the UK, this is how it’s done, but I see American journalists, bloggers, professionals and even teachers violate this rule. If you live in the US, there is no excuse to get this wrong.
quotesAnd technically, there should be a comma after “hey.” Way to go, dumb ass Grammar Nazi.

your an idiotSigh . . .

So, before you hit “save” on that hilarious Someecard that you’ve just created, check your grammar. And if you haven’t had enough of my own grammar rants, check out my guest post at The Writing Bug about why I blame social media for the poor grammar epidemic.

Cover Reveal: The Odyssey of the Monk

I’ve had the opportunity to work with Dean K. Miller, a very talented writer, for his book, The Odyssey of the Monk. Below is the cover I illustrated. The story is about a young orphaned monk who leaves the Buddhist temple he was raised in, to venture out on his own. It’s a beautiful story and is now available as en e-book. You can read more about Dean and his other works at his blog and check out the other illustrations I did for the inside. I’m also in the midst of working on drawings for his poetry book, due out in November, so you’ll be seeing those shortly.

Odyssey of the Monk Cover

Visit Dean’s blog and be sure to check out his other wonderful book, And Then I Smiled: Reflections on a Life Not Yet Complete.

Mom Jeans or Butt Bling . . . How Do I Choose?

It’s been over a year since I bought new jeans and it was time for a new pair. I rank this type of endeavor with bathing suit shopping, and well, getting a pap smear. It doesn’t help that even in a city of 155,000, our shopping options are limited, especially since our mall is in the midst of renovations. It is what it is. But surely, there’s enough decent denim to cover this 37-year-old derriere. After a four-store excursion, this is what I’ve learned about my current options in my city:

Mom jeansFeaturing the high waist, roomy thighs and tapered leg. Fantastic. These would be perfect with my Rudolph Christmas sweater.

Fade OutNot only does it look like you sat on a light table for days, you also get to have these fabulous faux creases, showcasing that you sat on a light table for days. I don’t about you, but I just love having these particular areas showcased.

Blingy Bottom

As you can see, these are the most readily available option. Some even sport both fading and bling! I jokingly asked the sales guy if a pair of marshaling wands come with a purchase of these. Blank look. “You know, those handheld illuminated beacons airport signalers use to guide planes? These are like airport landing strips.” Ah, I then got the courtesy laugh and he politely pointed me to where I’d find the mom jeans. Poor guy, he’s just trying to pay for school.

Seriously, these are my options? I may be a 37-year-old wife and mother, but do I really have to be relegated to Lee comfort fit?! I don’t understand these trends in women’s jeans. Perhaps if I had two Boca chick’n nuggets for an ass (I’m a vegan after all), I might be able to get away with this, but even then, should I? Maybe for some women, their butt is so small, they need to bring attention to it; I’ve never had that problem. I fall in the range of size 6-10 (depending on the brand—and that’s a whole other blog post), so I most certainly don’t need jeans designed by a Las Vegas showgirl. Frankly, I think any woman, no matter what size she is, should never wear butt bling over the age of 18. (And I’m not even old fashioned; I have an arm full of tattoos.) But hell, if you can pull it off, more power to ya. For me, it’s a trend I’m all for boycotting. Sure, I could pay $80-$150 for less flashy designer duds, but I find that utterly ridiculous.

So I left these stores empty-handed and almost without my phone. Did you know you’re not allowed to take pictures inside Macy’s? Well, you’re not. My jeans are out there; I’ve found them before and I’ll find them again—with or without marshaling wands.

Butt BlingUgh.

2015 Top of the Mountain Book Award

NCW Top of the Mountain Book Award

It’s that time of year again. No, I’m not talking about when I blog again. Yes, it’s been almost a year. (I will be posting regularly from here on out.) I’m talkin’ about the Northern Colorado Writers’ Top of the Mountain Book Award that is open to published and unpublished authors, and for fiction and nonfiction. Deadline is February 1, 2015 but I advise you to get your entries in before the time-sucking phenomenon called “HalloThanksMas” takes over your life. Before you know it, you’ll be tossing your shriveled jack-o-lanterns in the trash and waking from your post Thanksgiving meal nap to the jolly jingles of “Deck the Halls.” And don’t make this a New Years’ resolution because who sticks to those anyway? (If you do, call me; there’s an article in that.) Did I mention, the top prize is $1000? I’m pretty sure last year’s winner put his winnings in a low-risk, high return investment and now writes bestsellers from his Swiss chalet. What I’m saying is, that could be you. Check out the rules. Enter. Good luck.

The Effect of Andrew McCarthy on the Female Brain, by Guest Author Katherine Valdez

Oh, Andrew . . .
My guest author, the talented Katherine Valdez, had an opportunity to chat with actor/director/author Andrew McCarthy earlier this year. I had also met him at the same event, and I think Katherine perfectly captured the essence of what it means to have “brain melt.”

Andrew McCarthy 719

As teenaged girls, we swooned over him and Rob Lowe getting into trouble in “Class,” romancing Molly Ringwald in “Pretty in Pink,” and falling in love with Kim Cattrall in “Mannequin.”

We feel like we know him. We refer to him by his first name. And when we see him in real life, part of our brain melts.

This is the effect of Andrew McCarthy on the female brain, a.k.a Brain Melt. I know it’s real, because it happened to me.

Earlier this year, I attended the Northern Colorado Writers conference, featuring actor/director-turned-bestselling-author Andrew McCarthy as the keynote speaker.

I joked a couple of times with NCW Director Kerrie Flanagan about picking him up at the airport, a challenging task she had selflessly decided to take on despite her hectic schedule. I volunteered to put my heart on the line, too. “If you need help, I’m available,” I emailed, punctuating my offer with a smiley face.

Still, when I attended the volunteer training – a dozen of us answered Kerrie’s request for help as “ambassadors” – I was surprised to see my name printed on the assignment sheet next to the task “Book Signing.”

Kerrie requested one more volunteer for that task, and my friend Dori added her name. We chatted calmly about Meeting a Famous Actor, and pretended the teenybopper part of our brains wasn’t screaming and jumping up and down.

The big day arrived. I spotted him walking through the hotel lobby. In a burst of confidence, I called out his name.


He stopped and smiled.

“Hi, I’m Katherine. I’m going to assist you with your book signing tonight.”


“Your essay ‘Going Back In’ really spoke to me,” I said, referring to his first-person account of a young woman’s death years ago in Wyoming during an outdoors leadership backpacking trip. “I backpacked the Wind River Range once with my husband. I mean, my ex-husband. I’m divorced.” I realized I was babbling. “We saw a lot more people than we wanted to.”

“The Wind sees a lot of people. I’ve spent a lot of time in Lander going on trips,” he said, mentioning the town where backpackers launch their expeditions.

“We hiked in about 12 miles and there were crowds,” I said. “We even saw a Paris Hilton-type girl carrying her little dog.”

He smiled, as though he sympathized with our quest for solitude.

“We went up Fremont Peak and there was only one other person, so it was nice to get away for a while.”

He said something about the mountain, but I can’t remember, because I was too busy thinking I’M TALKING WITH ANDREW MCCARTHY!

“You know Fremont?” I asked him. “You’ve been up it?”


“The summit is so exposed, like ‘I don’t want to look down,’ ” I said with an embarrassed laugh.

Aware that I was starting to make a fool of myself, I said in closing, “I hope you have a chance to explore a bit before you leave town.”

He perked up. “What do you recommend?

“A good hike with a view of the whole city is hiking up to the “A” above the football stadium. You go all the way west on Prospect…” I pointed in the wrong direction.

“This way is west?” He pointed in the opposite direction.

“Yes, all the way west on Prospect and there’s a gate and you walk up a hill that leads to the trailhead, and you hike up the ridge to the white “A” painted on the hill above the stadium, and you get a view of the entire city.”

“How long does it take?”

“If you hike at a brisk pace, about a half-hour one way. So, go all the way east on Prospect…”

“East or West?” He smiled.

The painful realization struck me: I was suffering from Brain Melt.

“I’m sorry, West,” I said. I need to stop talking, NOW.

Andrew wore a slight smile on this face during our entire conversation, as though he knows the effect he has on women. No doubt he’s witnessed Brain Melt many times.

The irony is I hate the idea of being star-struck. When I see ordinary people screaming and falling all over themselves in the presence of a celebrity, I think, “C’mon, he’s Just a Normal Person.”

What the heck was I thinking? Of course he’s not Just a Normal Person. He’s a Movie Star. He traveled to India in search of the perfect cup of tea, went diving for black pearls in French Polynesia, climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa, and published articles about these adventures and more. And, of course, he’s the author of a best-selling memoir, The Longest Way Home: One Man’s Quest for the Courage to Settle Down.

The best possible thing happened next. He turned away from my Advanced Brain Melt deteriorated state to talk with two female writers who waited patiently at his side.

I was so relieved. And just a tiny bit disappointed. But mostly grateful this episode of epic humiliation had come to an end.* Note to Self: Don’t ever talk to a famous person again. Ever.**

Later, Dori and I showed up at the book signing table, only to find that a vivacious redhead had appointed herself Andrew’s assistant, single-handedly corralled everyone into a line, and asked them to open their copies of Andrew’s memoir to the title page, ready for him to sign.

Dori and I swallowed our disappointment, and exchanged amused smiles. Brain Melt had claimed another victim.


Katherine Valdez is the author of “Close Encounters with David Sedaris” and “Little Red Riding Hood Seeks Vengeance.” If you subscribe to her blog and like her author Facebook page, she would be glad to entertain you with more embarrassing, true stories.


 *With a fist bump to Aisha Tyler, comedian and author of Self-Inflicted Wounds: Heartwarming Tales of Epic Humiliation

 **With apologies to Taylor Swift, “We Are Never, Ever Getting Back Together.”



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