only may in paris will tell character interview: haidin bayliss

Today’s character interview features Haidin Bayliss, Hilton‘s former hook-up buddy. The night before Only May in Paris Will Tell began, Hilton went to Haidin’s hotel room to celebrate him winning the Indy tennis tournament. When she knocked on the door, it was answered by Haidin’s ex, Aubrey Gage. This interview takes place a couple weeks after the start of the book. Game Set Match magazine (and therefore, the world in general) does not yet know Haidin and Aubrey are hooking up again, or even in contact with each other. Don’t worry…no major spoilers!! 🙂

haidin omip

Haidin Bayliss, No. 4 ranked player on the ATP tour

In what will possibly be Game Set Match‘s most exclusive interview of the summer, we snagged a few minutes of the most elusive player on tour’s time. That’s right, you guessed it, tennis bad-boy-turned-mystery-man Haidin Bayliss has decided to grace us with his presence. If it’s anything like his ESPN2 interview a few hours ago, all we can say is lucky us…

Deidre Fox: Haidin, you’re having a hot year, but you couldn’t win a title. Finally you did, a few weeks ago in Indianapolis. How did that feel?

Haidin Bayliss: Like it was about f***ing time.

DF: How did you celebrate?

HB: Privately. With a friend, and a present from another friend.

DF: Hmmm. Might our readers know either of those friends?

HB: They probably know both.

DF: Any chance you’ll give us a hint to their identities?

HB: I might just tell you, if you’d ask.

DF: Who are they?

HB: Ha. Right. Like I’d actually tell you.

DF: Well, it was worth a try, I guess. Did either of these friends have anything to do with your subsequent disappearance?

HB: I told ESPN already. I was kidnapped. I beat off my captors with tennis racquets and still made it in time for the birth of my bastard child. Did you miss that interview?

DF: No, I sure didn’t. Just thought you might have some additional details to add. Like if one of those “friends” you mentioned a minute ago happened to be the mother of your bastard child.

HB: (Laughs) Nope. No more details.

DF: You also told ESPN a couple hours ago that the world would probably find out soon enough where you had been. Is right now soon enough?

HB: No, not now.

DF: When?

HB: Like I said. Soon enough.

DF: Fans around the world were worried sick, imagining every possible scenario. Our “Where’s Haidin” tip line got thousands of emails from distressed fans, most of them not claiming to have seen you, only worried about your safety and fearing the worst.

HB: I would say that’s probably because GSM made my “disappearance” into a big deal by publishing that ludicrous story the other week. And setting up a “Where’s Haidin” tip line.

DF: Clearly we weren’t the only ones thinking along catastrophic lines.

HB: Whatever you say.

DF: Does it make you feel good to know people care so much about your well-being?

HB: Hell no. It makes me think there are a lot of people who need to find something better to do with their time than care about a stranger’s personal life.

DF: What did you think of Brad Gilbert’s new nicknames for you today? Haterade from Adelaide? Or the Bossy Aussie?

HB: Haterade from Adelaide has a nice ring to it. Not bad.

DF: Well besides the big reveal of where you were the last couple weeks, do you have any other surprises in store for the tennis world in 2009?

HB: Not that I can think of. Yet, anyway.

DF: I have a feeling that just won’t be the case. Haidin Bayliss has a quiet fall and winter, barely makes the headlines? No way.

HB: Well, I guess it remains to be seen then.

DF: Can you give us any updates on your love life? How’s Hilton?

HB: She’s great, I’m sure.

DF: You’re sure? So you don’t know? Are you two no longer involved?

HB: Like Hilton and I have always said, we don’t talk every day. We’re not a couple. We never have been. But before you ask, yes, we’re still friends. Everything’s fine.

DF: Just fine?

HB: Just fine. (Smiles)

DF: Any new love interests?

HB: Nope. No one new at all.

DF: Okay, well, you remain tennis’s mystery man. Thanks for your time, Haidin.

HB: Yep.                GSM


To find out what Haidin’s “disappearance” is all about…and what happens when the secret about him and Aubrey is revealed…order a copy of Only May in Paris Will Tell here!

Or, if you like to read in chronological order and want to know about Haidin’s relationships with Aubrey and Hilton from the beginning, check out Love Means Zero, the first book featuring Haidin! Or to really go back to the beginning, check out the Spin the Bottle series, about Hilton and her best friend Jill‘s high school adventures!

And stay tuned for the next Only May in Paris Will Tell character interview, featuring the infamous Aubrey Gage!


#OnlyMayInParis front cover 🙂



#LoveMeansZero front cover


only may in paris will tell character interview: luke windler

luke omip 2

Luke Windler

Today’s interview, conducted by Deidre Fox from Game Set Match magazine, features Hilton‘s ex-boyfriend and still-best-friend Luke!

DF: Looking snazzy in that suit, Mr. Windler!

LW: Yeah, I’m a real lawyer now. Still feels kinda weird even though it’s been a year.

DF: And you are still based at a firm in Indianapolis?

LW: That’s right. Garrett, Banks, & Fogg. I’ve been working there since I passed the bar last summer.

DF: Any big cases yet?

LW: Not exactly. I’ll have to work there quite a bit longer before I get a case of my own, or at least one on any kind of large scale. Paying my dues, you know. But I don’t mind; it’s a great firm, and I’m learning a lot.

DF: Oh, I wouldn’t sell yourself short. You never know when that big case might come along.

LW: Well thanks, that’s just not exactly how it works.

DF: Speaking of Indianapolis, isn’t it true that your roommates, Hilton Joliet and Jill and Todd Blake, are moving to LA?

LW: Yes. They all are. It’s just gonna be me left here in Indy.

DF: And how do you feel about that?

LW: Well, I have mixed feelings. I’m really happy for them, and I think it’s definitely the right move for all of them, but I’ll be lonely. (fake sobs)

DF: Ever consider moving to LA with them?

LW: I mean, the thought has crossed my mind, and of course they’ve brought it up too. But I need to stay in Indy for now. I have a good job, and I wanna try to build my life here. Also, I don’t wanna take the bar in another state!

DF: So will that life you’re building include any romance?

LW: That remains to be seen, I guess.

DF: I recently interviewed Hilton. She mentioned she might have a “prospect” in her romantic life. Is it you?

LW: (laughs) Wouldn’t you just love to know?

DF: Yes I would. And I’m sure our devoted readers would too.

LW: Well, I’ll let Hilton decide when and if to talk about her love life.

DF: Do you know who the prospect is?

LW: That I can confidently say I do.

DF: Oh my…we’re all in suspense.

LW: Good. I guess?

DF: So what do you think will be the next big scandal in the tennis world?

LW: I have no idea. (laughs) I’m not really part of the tennis world.

DF: Oh, but you are. Will we see any surprises from you in this book?

LW: Actually, you will.

DF: Can you tell us what they’re about?

LW: Well, one’s about my love life, and one’s about a weird coincidence.

DF: Ooohh, can’t wait to know more. But I have a feeling you’re not telling any more right now.

LW: Well, I will say that near the beginning of the book, Hilton predicts I’ll be in GSM again, even though I’m not living with her anymore. She just might be right.

DF: Really. Well now I’m dying to know!

LW: Well now I’m not saying any more.

DF: Of course. Will readers be happy with your storyline in this book?

LW: I guess that depends.

DF: On?

LW: On what readers want to see happen in my love life. And Hilton’s. And Haidin’s.

DF: Haidin’s?

LW: Yep. But of course…

DF: That’s all you can say. You’re killing us, Luke. Okay, I guess we’ll just have to read and see what happens.

LW: Sounds good to me.  GSM


Stay tuned for the next Only May in Paris Will Tell character interview, featuring Hilton’s ex-hookup-buddy Haidin Bayliss!

In the meantime, to read more about the book, go here. If you want to know more about Luke before the start of Only May in Paris Will Tell, check out the first book featuring him, Everything Happens for a Reason…, which starts during his and Hilton’s junior year of college!

Or, if you like to read everything in chronological order, check out the very first book about Hilton, Really Good Friends, when she and Jill were freshmen in high school!

And don’t forget to check back for Haidin’s interview, because if you know anything about him, you know he loves to stun the world… 😉


#OnlyMayInParis front cover 🙂


Everything Happens for a Reason…


#ReallyGoodFriends front cover



only may in paris will tell!

My latest book, Only May in Paris Will Tell, is available to pre-order! I will have copies in just a couple of weeks, and I would love to mail a book to any readers who want one hot off the press! 🙂 The retail price is $22.99, but for anyone who pre-orders, I will sell it for $15 plus $2 shipping, so $17 total! To pre-order, just send an email to or message me on Facebook or Twitter!

In the next few weeks, I’ll be posting a series of character interviews, so make sure you stop back by to hear from Hilton, Tanner, Luke, Jill, and of course Haidin and Aubrey! And in the meantime, check out the book cover and description below!


#OnlyMayInParis front cover 🙂


back cover of Only May in Paris Will Tell…background pics taken at Court Philippe Chatrier, Roland Garros, Paris – where the French Open takes place!

And just in case you don’t want to read the tiny print on the back cover, here is the description:

The emotional wreckage of a failed proposal. A broken ankle. A wild bachelorette party at a gay bar. A jaw-dropping exposé on one of the world’s top tennis players. That was May in Paris in 2009, when the tennis tour landed in the city for its annual French Open fortnight. Hilton Joliet, a photographer for the magazine Game Set Match and a friend of several players on tour, was at the center of it all. And in the two months since Paris, life has continued to serve up surprises.

A month ago in Vero Beach, Florida, Hilton told her best friend on tour Tanner Bruin she’s in love with him. Five nights ago in Indianapolis, they kissed, but Tanner still doesn’t know how he feels about her. Last night, Hilton knocked on the Indy hotel door of another friend on tour, her former hookup buddy Haidin Bayliss, to celebrate his latest tennis win. The door was opened by Haidin’s lingerie-clad ex-girlfriend and self-described Hilton enemy, bitchy, outrageous A-list actress Aubrey Gage. This morning, Hilton is 600 miles away in Kansas, driving across the country with her ex-boyfriend and still-best-friend Luke Windler, from whom she fears her life will soon go down a very different road.

In ten months, the next French Open will bring the launch party for Hilton’s photography book Living in a Postcard, a divorce less shocking than the events of the marriage preceding it, two pregnancy announcements, a fake girlfriend on a fake trip who may actually have gone MIA, and a connection between another of the world’s top tennis players and a year-old unsolved murder. Until then, the seductive dance that is the tour lifestyle…one that draws Hilton and her friends together one week and drops them in different corners of the world the next…will swirl on, clouding the air with questions and setting the stage for the answers only May in Paris can reveal.

Just a forewarning…it’s probably my craziest one yet. 😉 So make sure you place that pre-order…


See you next time for the start of the character interviews… 🙂

real pictures and places from a stranger thing…denver!

Ok guys, I really am going to start updating my blog WAY more often. 🙂 Last time, I featured some pictures I took in Brussels, where my character Kella lives and where a few pretty important scenes in A Stranger Thing take place, including the awesome cliffhanger! 😉 Today, I am showcasing Denver, where Lorylyn, Zibby, Taylor, Crissy, Winthrop, and Brady live, and where I used to live as well! I love this city so much. 🙂


downtown Denver


16th Street Mall, where Lorylyn, Taylor, and Zibby’s apartment building is 🙂


clock tower on 16th Street Mall, one of Denver’s iconic landmarks…the tallest building west of the Mississippi until 1957! I lived 2 blocks from here!


my favorite sculpture in Writer’s Square on the 16th Street Mall


my apartment building in Denver! I lived on the 27th floor here for 3 years =D


view from my bedroom window 🙂


view of Uptown from my living room…this is one of the places Zibby and DJ look at houses


another fabulous view from my living room 🙂


Red Rocks Amphitheater, one of the places Lorylyn takes Jansen, Kylar, and Cade to visit when they come for Thanksgiving


Casa Bonita, the best restaurant in the WORLD!!! =D Another of the places Lorylyn takes Jansen, Kylar, and Cade


view of Denver from Buffalo Bill’s grave on Lookout Mountain, where Lorylyn and Cade talk about her relationship w/ Brady and whether to move to New York


looking the other direction from Buffalo Bill’s grave at the top of Lookout Mountain


the creepy bronco statue at DIA…just google “Denver airport conspiracy theories” 🙂 love this thing!


My brother Josh and me at the summit of Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park…it tops out at just over 12,000 feet and is the highest stretch of paved highway in the country! This is where Zibby and DJ go for a weekend shortly after moving to Denver, while Lorylyn is in Florida for Jill’s wedding. Another fun fact…for every 1000 feet of altitude gained, the temperature drops as much as every 600 miles driven north…so going up this road from where it starts at 7500 feet to here, just over 12,000, is like driving to the arctic circle in an hour 🙂


Josh and me in Vail. The house in the background is like I imagine the one to be where Lorylyn and her friends stay in Breck


Colorado ski slope


my 2nd time skiing…me and my friend Derick


me and my Denver besties at the Coral Room, our favorite spot for Sunday Funday 🙂


another fabulous Sunday Funday at the Coral Room…read the dedication page in the book 🙂


Katy, Holly, and me…I had most of my craziest Denver adventures w/ these lovely ladies. They are the real-life Crissy and Taylor…fictionalized of course 😉


meet the real-life Winthrop Gilligan (but also fictionalized, of course) ;)…my other Denver bestie Speedy!!


Katy, Holly, and me at a Rockies game at Coors Field 🙂


pretzel necklaces for the Great American Beer Fest


at one of our favorite rooftop bars, which consisted of LoDo’s and the Tavern Downtown…this was LoDo’s


author pic for the book, taken about a block away from my apartment at an outdoor fountain downtown


another view of downtown


16th Street Mall at sunset 🙂

I hope you’ve enjoyed the photo tour of my Denver world and gained some insight into Lorylyn, Taylor, Zibby, Crissy, Winthrop, and Brady’s Denver world too! 🙂 Make sure to check out A Stranger Thing, if you haven’t already, to read much more about it! 🙂

this i believe…

One of my English teacher friends gave her students an assignment to write 100 things they believe. She and I and a few other friends did it too, and today we got together to share them over beer, wine, and pizza. It was one of those afternoons I’ll never forget and one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. Below is my list. Those marked with *** rather than a number are the brilliant insights I stole from my friends Krista, Debi, Callie, Jack, and Danielle. 🙂

This I believe…

1) Everything happens for a reason!
2) But I believe you have to go out and pursue your dreams, you can’t just sit around waiting for great things to come to you
3) I believe life is incomplete without pets

kitty variety pack
4) I believe in TRAVEL!!! It is powerful beyond description and will change anyone’s life
5) I believe in living somewhere outside the state or country where you were born for at least 6 months at some point in life
6) “I believe in song lines, obvious and not. I’ve ridden them like camels to some most peculiar spots. They run across the oceans, through mountains and saloons, and tonight out to the desert where I sit atop this dune. I was destined for this vantage point, though so far form the sea…” ~Jimmy Buffett, “Far Side of the World”…I believe in lyrics and their ability to take us places within our minds we wouldn’t have found otherwise
7) I believe “the secret to surviving is knowing what to throw away and knowing what to keep, cuz every hand’s a winner and every hand’s a loser” ~Kenny Rogers, “The Gambler”
8) I believe “if we weren’t all crazy, we would all go insane” ~Jimmy Buffett, “Changes in Latitude, Changes in Attitude”
9) I believe in having “a lot of pretty, pretty boys that [I call] friends” ~Eagles, “Hotel California”…By this I mean I believe best guy friends are awesome and I believe in staying close with mine even when in a romantic relationship
10) I believe in making myself happy over trying to please others, especially when it comes to important things like my wedding, where I live, how I’ll raise my kids, etc. As Kelly Clarkson says, “This is my life, and I won’t be told what’s supposed to be right”
11) I believe in spontaneity
12) I believe intuition has our best interests at heart, and we should listen to it
13) I believe there is always a solution, always another way to look at a problem or obstacle. If you haven’t found the answer yet, keep looking. Stretch your mind
14) I believe when nothing is sure, anything is possible
***I believe in writing in bars
15) I believe in not allowing money, or lack of it, to limit me
16) I believe what Oscar Wilde said, that “anyone who lives within their means suffers from a serious lack of imagination”
17) I believe tired is a choice (most of the time)
18) I believe a situation does not determine our happiness or unhappiness. Our reaction to that situation does
19) I believe in valuing every situation and relationship as its own entity rather than comparing it to the last time or the best time
20) I believe in Left Bank Paris in the 1920s…the cafés filled with writers, artists, and dancers who were very poor and lived very well and happily
21) I believe the best relationships are those where two individuals align and compromise without losing parts of themselves, rather than those where two people merge into one and their identities become hard to separate. 2 independent personalities > 1 codependent personality!
22) I believe in being totally inappropriate and outrageous with my friends
23) I believe anybody can benefit from feeling uncomfortable, and I occasionally like to help people feel that way. Why be functional when you can be awkward?
24) I believe in God but not in organized religion. Steven Hyde from That 70s Show says it best, “While I respect the Judeo-Christian ethic, as well as the Eastern philosophies, and of course the teachings of Muhammad, I find that organized religion has corrupted those beliefs to justify countless atrocities throughout history”

25) I believe the Bible is not the work of God, but the work of humans who wanted to scare and influence others. It is a great work of literature worth studying but not basing every behavior or decision around
26) I believe people who judge others on the basis of religion are hypocrites, because a common concept in most religions is to love and not judge
27) I believe in the power of prayer, and I pray a lot
***I believe in recycling and other green efforts
28) I believe in being a person others live vicariously through
29) As evidenced by ending my last sentence (and several others) with a preposition, I believe in breaking the rules of grammar…not because I don’t know them, but because I do
30) I believe in knowing rules and knowing how to break them in general
31) I believe in the idea that “reality” is different for every person. In the words of Ernest Hemingway, “There’s no one thing that’s true. It’s all true”
32) I believe if we knew some of the things our government knows, “reality” would look drastically different. But I don’t believe we need to know these things. To quote another song line, “To the heart and mind, ignorance is kind. There’s no comfort in the truth” (~Wham!, “Careless Whisper”)
33) I believe in higher education
34) I believe in the concept of “the young so educated they never grow old”…that lifelong learning is the only way to move with the times (quote from “Seven” by Prince)
35) I believe the concept of war is barbaric because I see it as using mass murder to declare dominance, and I find it shocking it’s as easily accepted in modern society as it was thousands of years ago
36) I believe in living in the reality of our society. While I don’t believe in war and violence, I believe it’s necessary for our country to have an active military, and I believe in the right of individuals to own guns for personal protection. However, I think there should be a training and certification process anyone should have to go through to own a gun
37) I believe in the work of intelligence groups like the CIA and NSA and I find them fascinating
38) I believe I would make an excellent CIA agent or asset
39) I believe open-mindedness is one of the most important qualities any person can possess
40) I believe in Sunday Funday

at the coral room in denver

sunday funday at the coral room in denver

41) I believe day drinking is more fun than going out at night
***I believe everyone should get a summer break (or at least 8 weeks of vacation a year)
42) I believe animals deserve love, appreciation, and respectful treatment from humans
43) I believe in animal organizations and charities, especially those helping make shelters no-kill places
44) I believe in Trap, Neuter, Return programs to improve life quality for both community cats (aka stray or feral cats) and people who live in those communities
45) I believe in helping animals more than I believe in helping people. Animals are innocent, people are not
46) I believe humans and animals have souls that continue living after we die
47) I believe in the DREAM Act and other similar laws that allow undocumented students who have attended high school in a state for 3 years prior to graduation to attend college for in-state tuition
***I believe in walking and public transportation
48) I believe in gay marriage and hope one day the idea that it wasn’t always allowed will seem as backwards and uncivilized as slavery and not allowing women to vote seem now
49) I believe we are limitless. We all have things we say and think we would never do, but were the situation altered, we would do them
50) I believe in making a decision and then making it the right one. Emotion spent on options not chosen, other than a brief time for nostalgia or reflection, keeps us from moving forward
51) I believe an option not chosen at one time in life may be right at another time in life – thus the importance of reflection
52) I believe in going after what you want, because it’s better to say “oh well” than “what if”
53) I believe in asking for forgiveness rather than permission
54) I believe in no regrets, unless you hurt someone in an unnecessarily cruel way. Then, do anything you can to make up for it
55) I believe postcards are one of the greatest forms of storytelling in history, from the pictures to the written messages to modern creations like Post Secret

postcard i bought in old orchard beach, maine

postcard i bought in old orchard beach, maine

56) I believe honesty is NOT always the best policy
57) I believe I could be happy living anywhere, if the right people were with me
58) I believe I could be almost happy living in certain places, even if the right people weren’t with me
59) I believe in soulmates
60) I believe your soulmate can be anyone in your life; it doesn’t need to be your romantic partner
61) I believe different relationships in our lives fulfill us in different ways, and we shouldn’t look for everything we want and need to come from our romantic partners
62) I believe my character Lorylyn’s dissertation, which presents a modern version of Sternberg’s Triangular Theory of Love. Sternberg’s theory says physical attraction + friendship + commitment add up to “true love.” Lorylyn and I say those three things can add up to “friends with benefits,” if the commitment is more to the friendship than to being romantically together. We believe to have “true love,” a fourth piece is needed, which is the overwhelming feeling of knowing you’re in love with the other person
63) I believe in ghosts, but I’ve never seen one
64) I believe in leadership training and student council
65) I believe in dancing!
66) I believe anything in life can be related to an episode of Friends
67) I believe if you’re happy, you won’t look for every situation to give you something, and you’ll feel much more patient and generous
68) I believe in Britney
69) I believe having an amazing experience, the loss of which you know will later make you sad, is better than not having that experience
70) I believe it’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all
***I believe a dozen roses is a waste of money
71) I believe in pushing boundaries
72) A character in a book I once read told two of his friends, “You are both extreme people.” He meant they each had such a drive to be independent and were so non-traditional in that way that not everyone would be able to deeply relate to them. I believe I am an extreme person
73) I believe I can never be limited by the place where I physically live, because I live in an international community built from my friends and travels, and anyone or anywhere is just a plane ride away

visiting kim in madrid (i'm also wearing the gray hoodie mentioned in #77)

visiting kim in madrid (i’m also wearing the gray hoodie mentioned in #77)

74) I believe in huge slices of New York style pizza
75) I believe in most other pizza too
76) I believe “pizza just gets me”
77) I believe the gray zip-up hoodie I’ve had since freshman year of high school is acceptable to wear with anything and the best piece of clothing I will ever own
78) I believe black cats and the number 13 are lucky
79) I believe in raising my kids in a diverse environment
80) I believe there is always a reason to love my life
81) I believe living a story is way better than listening to somebody else tell one
82) But my characters and books tell really damn good stories, and I believe they will add something to your life
83) I believe all forms of entertainment we can read, watch, look at, or create…books, music, movies, TV, video games, musicals, ballet, art, etc….are a way to learn as well as to live more than one life in more than one place
84) I believe there will always be challenges, obstacles, and less than ideal conditions…aka, reasons to make excuses. There is no such thing as the perfect time. The time is now
85) I believe in going to bed at the time most people are getting up
86) I believe Piano Man Bruce from the Neon Cactus at Purdue is the BEST piano bar player. I’ve been to many piano bars and never found anyone who comes close to comparing

oldie but a goodie w/ @PianoManBruce

oldie but a goodie w/ @PianoManBruce

87) I believe part of me is a New Yorker, even though I’ve never lived there
88) I believe in true love, and my definition of true love continues to evolve with my life experiences and those of my characters
89) I believe it’s possible to be truly in love with more than one person at the same time
***I believe in falling in love with a character in a novel, TV show, or movie
90) I believe what research says about humans using only a small percentage of our true brain power, and I am always trying to tap into a little bit more
91) I believe in Revenge the way Emily Thorne and Nolan Ross do it
92) I believe travel can give us the psychological space to heal and move on from any pain
93) I believe when you are dreaming about someone you know, they are dreaming or thinking about you too. I came across this theory while writing a research paper on dreams in tenth grade, and I have had weird experiences that validate it
94) I believe in spending as much time outside as possible
95) I believe in rooftop patios, parks, beaches, trails, and other areas that encourage people to spend time outside
96) I believe in living someplace where the sun doesn’t set till 10 pm in the summer
97) I believe humidity is more comfortable than dry heat
98) I believe the islands of southwest Florida make up one of the most magical and unique places on earth

fort myers beach, estero island, florida

fort myers beach, estero island, florida

***I believe the truth is in the eyes
99) I believe in signs, including the really big sign I got while writing about what I believe
100) I believe in cliffhangers 😉

“every hand’s a winner, and every hand’s a loser”

Life is full of choices. People spend a lot of time worrying about whether they’re making the right ones. I’ve spent hours trying to make decisions by writing about the different possibilities, talking about them with friends and family, making pro and con lists, and so on. My characters do this too. In Wrong All Along, Lorylyn panics over breaking up with Brady because even though their relationship can’t go on as it is, she knows letting him go now could mean losing him long-term, and she still loves him. In Love Means Zero, Hilton has to choose whether to pursue her dream life and career of traveling and taking pictures at the expense of her dream relationship with Luke.

Choices almost always involve a risk…letting go of one thing for the hope of something else. So you wonder, what if it doesn’t turn out like I want? Then I will have made the wrong choice and gotten nothing. And maybe lost out on something pretty big.

But I believe that a lot of the time, there’s not really a right or a wrong choice. It’s not the situations you put yourself in that cause happiness or unhappiness; it’s your thoughts and actions regarding those situations. If you make a choice but are consumed by doubt about it, you probably won’t do your best to live it out to the fullest. You have lingering what ifs bogging you down. And that leads you to believe you made the wrong choice…and even to doubt your future choices. In this case, you did make the wrong choice…about not having confidence in your original choice!

I heard a quote last summer by Earl Reum, a motivational speaker and great advocate for student leadership. He said, “Make a decision, and then make it the right one.” What he meant was, when you make choices, you need to put your all into them and get everything you can out of them. No doubts, no regrets.

One of my all-time favorite songs is “The Gambler” by Kenny Rogers. The title of this post is a line from the song. “Every hand’s a winner, and every hand’s a loser.” It’s true…in poker. A hand without even a pair can be a winner. If you choose to bluff and do it well enough to scare off the player with a flush, you will take the pot. And if you’re the player with the great hand who just got scared and folded…well, that just proves every hand can be a loser too.

And isn’t it also true in life? Take Lorylyn. If she stays with Brady, she’ll be winning in that she won’t have to let go of him and can try to improve their relationship. Or, she’ll be losing in that she could continue to feel their relationship is a compromise because it doesn’t match her idea of love. If she breaks up with him, she’ll be winning because she won’t be compromising, and maybe she’ll meet someone else. But she’ll be losing him, possibly for good, and she’s really not ready to even think about meeting anyone else.

“The Gambler” offers a further bit of wisdom, telling us “every gambler knows / the secret to surviving / is knowing what to throw away and knowing what to keep.”

Since, of course, every hand can be both a winner and a loser.

So how the hell do you know which hands to throw away and which to keep? Which hand to pick as your winner?

Well, if you go back to making a decision and then making it the right one, I think you find the answer in realizing what you’ll have to do to make that hand a winner. How hard will you have to work, and is it worth your time and effort? For Lorylyn, how can she improve her relationship with Brady? Is it worth the pain and possible feelings of rejection she’ll have to go through to do it? Or, if she breaks up with him, how can she go about finding a better relationship? Is that worth the pain and possible feelings of rejection she’ll have to go through to do it? And which scenario feels like the real win?

Or, maybe you’ll find the answer in what could make that hand a loser. What can you absolutely not stand to lose? For Hilton, can she imagine her life traveling the world and taking pictures…but without Luke? Or can she imagine herself in an amazing relationship with the guy she considers the love of her life…but lacking professional and creative satisfaction?

I recently got to hear a Mount Everest climber named John Beede speak about the experiences that led to his successful summit. He had a college professor who assigned students to write down 100 goals for their lives, which is what started him on his quest. He encouraged those of us listening to do the same…write down our goals. So I did. I didn’t get all the way to 100, but I got down some good, specific ones.

So now I have a choice. And the ironic thing is, whichever hand I pick as my winner will probably move me toward one of my biggest goals and farther away from one of my others. So I have to think, which choice can I make that will still allow me to meet the other goal, just maybe in a different fashion? And ultimately…which one is worth the risk it involves? Which one am I willing to give 100% unyielding effort to, once I’ve chosen it, to make it a winning hand?

Whichever one I choose, it’ll become my next postcard, one piece of the story of my life, the moment I’m living in that I would die for. (Go here for my theory on postcards:  So I’m pretty excited to make my choice, and then to make the most of it. 🙂


spin the bottle

spin the bottle covers

“spin the bottle”

a pact to always stick together in high school
the first party at the lake
“hey, we should play spin the bottle,” she said
and so it all began

the beautiful girls, so sure of themselves
they could get anything they wanted
the gorgeous boys, so funny and tan
one look, one smile, they totally had you

losing old friends, making new ones
love at first sight, the boy of my dreams
everyone called us “really good friends”
he didn’t know i wanted so much more

summers of sun, cedar point
laying out, more parties at the lake
best friends with the boys of their dreams
charming boys who said all the right things

i had that gut instinct all along
told me it was just too good to last
but i ignored it and
fell harder and harder instead

another summer, i hate her so much
she has everything i want
another pact, shots of captain, a new boy
i feel like a bad girl and i love it
something tells me to stop, we’re going too fast
but i’m way too caught up to listen to that too

another school year, i still hate her
and he’s so confusing, sometimes i hate him too
lonely nights, don’t know what to do, everything’s wrong
then finally back to good or better
but back to the same lies too
crazy parties, hot dates, basketball games
screaming so loud, losing my voice
i love being so mean to the other teams
we were all so invincible

well-played games, better-told lies, best-kept secrets
if only we’d had any idea
funny how a moment of realization could change everything

i feel like things meant so much less to him than they did to me
i guess maybe i never knew him at all
and she still loves him, she says she knows it’s right
and i still love him, but i feel like it’s wrong
how did we end up here?

looking back we never would’ve said
that pact would only last a month
it’s been so long, we’ve come so far
it’s almost done, we’re almost gone
it’s so crazy to think about

please don’t forget me, don’t forget what we are
i’ll remember you, and i’ll remember the scars
and now it’s that morning, time to leave
and everything i lost is yours to keep

This poem, “Spin the Bottle,” appears throughout my Spin the Bottle series, with a different part of the poem at the beginning of each book. I wrote it to try to capture what Spin the Bottle is all about…the emotions of high school. The relationships, the friendships, the self-discovery. The parties, the boys, the classes. The peer pressure, the tears, the romance.

People always ask me which of my books they should read first, and since Spin the Bottle encompasses the first 4 of my books chronologically, it’s always a good place to start. There’s one book for each year of high school, and they go in the following order:

Really Good Friends
Wrong All Along
Best-Kept Secrets
Game Over

I thought it would be fun to introduce some of the main characters so you can get to know them!

Jill Sherer is the number one main character of the series. Most scenes are told through her perspective, and her storyline gets the most space on the pages. At the beginning of Really Good Friends, Jill is about to start her freshman year of high school. She is somewhat shy around new people and hasn’t had a ton of life experience, but she has a solid group of girlfriends, or so she thinks. A couple of them are in a major hurry to leave their eighth-grade selves far behind, and within a month one of them will basically be out of Jill’s circle of friends for good. But Jill is about to meet two people who will still be part of her life in the book I’m working on now, which takes place 12 years after Really Good Friends. Jill is the character readers often say they relate to most. She’s the good girl who’s dying to be a little bit bad, and her relationship with Todd over the years is a pretty great love story, or so I hear. If you like to scream and pull out your hair in agony, that is. 🙂

Hillary Andelin has been Jill’s best friend since pre-school. She is boy-crazy and becomes even more so when she gets into a fast-moving relationship with a cute boy near the beginning of freshman year. Hillary has a tendency, especially as she gets older, to say exactly what she wants when she wants, which sometimes irritates Jill but is sometimes just what’s needed in a situation. Her friendship with Jill has many ups and downs throughout the series, and Jill often goes back and forth in her mind as to whether Hillary is truly a good person or a friend worth having.

Lorylyn Porter is Jill and Hillary’s other best friend. If Jill is a little shy and naïve, Lorylyn is even more so. She’s cute with a bubbly personality, and she is shocked by a lot of things she discovers about “the real world” during her freshman year. She falls hard and fast for a boy she meets at a lake party, and even though she’s innocent to the extreme, this boy seems to like that about her. Her relationship with him is one that will lead to the best and worst times of her life, shape who she is to become, and continue to affect her well beyond high school.

Hilton Joliet went to a different middle school from Jill, Hillary, and Lorylyn, and she’s the popular girl Jill looks up to from the day they meet. Hilton is gorgeous, confident, and laid-back, not intimidating or a bitch like some of the other girls. And she seems to know everything there is to know about guys and how they think. As freshman year begins, Hilton becomes one of Jill’s new best friends. Hilton is outgoing, free-spirited, and a loyal friend who manages to be a girls’ girl and one of the guys at the same time, someone who can look at any situation realistically and still be a romantic at heart.

Landon Kessler is a year older than Jill and her friends, and his parents own a cottage on a lake outside town, where he throws outrageous parties that bring all the characters together and lead to hookups, breakups, makeups, love, and disaster. He’s also the longtime crush of one of the girls mentioned above, and he’ll play a pivotal role in all their lives.

Todd Blake is the boy with the surfer hair whom Jill meets on the first day of high school in advanced English. For Jill it’s love at first sight, and for Todd it’s the beginning of a fun new friendship…when he notices her a few days later. Their complicated relationship over the years is poignant, maddening, hilarious, heart-wrenching, and everything in between.

Brady Cash is Landon’s best friend and has a sort of “bad boy” air about him. He’s a flirt, he’s a partier, and he’s a dream guy to a lot of the girls around him. He knows exactly what he wants, and he usually gets it, even when it’s more than one girl at the same time. He’s a heartbreaker in one breath and a romantic in the next, the guy who says all the right things at all the right times…until it comes back to bite him in the ass.

Brooke Carlson is a popular cheerleader who’s not afraid to speak her mind or go after the guy she wants. She’s the life of every party and at the center of most drama. She’s fun to be around until she takes the fun too far, usually in the form of a blindsiding stab to somebody who’s wronged her or one of her friends. A self-described bitch, she’s somebody whose bad side you don’t want to be on. But deep down, she’s a girl who’s been hurt by a boy she loves, just like everybody else.

At the end of the series I wrote another poem, or really more of a paragraph. Unlike the “Spin the Bottle” poem, which is more about what happens in the series, this one is more about the characters, and it captures their spirit and the spirit of the books. It goes like this, and it’s how the series ends (don’t worry, no spoilers!):

We sang at the top of our lungs and screamed at the top of rollercoasters. We stayed up all night and stayed out on the lake all day. We could dance like crazy and we could outdrink anyone. We talked fast, drove faster, kissed with passion, and lied without a second thought. We hoped for the best and were shocked by the worst. We crashed hard and bounced high. Our voices were loud, our laughs wild, and our dreams big. We were scared as shit and smart as hell. We owned our world, and we looked good doing it. We craved thrills, we rolled the dice, we demanded attention, and we loved with all we had. We lived to play, we played to win, and we almost always did.

You can learn more about Spin the Bottle here:! There are dolls designed to show how I think the characters look, and each character has a personal webpage with theme songs and other interesting info! Thanks so much for checking it out, as well as reading my blog. 🙂

the crazy thing about postcards

It took me a long time to decide what to call my blog. Two and a half years, really, because two and a half years ago is when I realized I should be blogging. But a few weeks ago, when I started thinking seriously about it, one of the first titles that came to mind was Living in a Postcard. It’s the name of one of my books, and the “living in a postcard” theory, which my characters Hilton and Jill created and use to define their lives, is one I very much believe in too. It’s all about finding those moments you would die for and actually living them. But in the end, the name for my blog came from “The Tigger Song.”

Yeah, “The Tigger Song.” From Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too. If you Google it, it’s everywhere. I remember it from a Tigger jacket I had when I was little. It was printed on the inside of the jacket, and I used to sing it to our cat Tigger, who had markings like a tiger. When I was throwing around titles for my blog and mentioned The Thing About Postcards, it suddenly reminded me of “The Tigger Song,” which I told my mom, and she said, “Yeah, it does!” And when I realized I could even rewrite the song to be about postcards, I knew that was my title. The song would go something like:

“The Postcard Song”

The crazy thing about postcards, is postcards aren’t just blurbs

Their fronts are made out of pictures, their backs are made out of words

They always tell a story, even if it’s just one line

But the craziest thing about postcards, is they capture a moment in time

I think postcards are fascinating, one of the best and most intriguing forms of art and communication in the world. In my book Living in a Postcard, my character Hilton views a postcard as a snapshot of her life at any given moment. And this is what postcards are. Every one of them tells a story of a life at a given moment in time. There’s the most obvious way – when the story is written in a paragraph or two describing what someone is doing on vacation in the place from where the postcard was sent. But even that is just one of many stories told by that particular postcard.

That postcard also tells a story about the relationship between the person who wrote it and the person at the address printed on it, even though often that story is only known between the two of them. It tells a story about the person or people who took the photograph(s) on the front, or put together the design. It tells a story of the place or thing(s) represented on the front at the time the postcard was created.

Postcards tell other stories too. What about the ones mailed with no writing, only an address, letting the picture on the front speak for itself, along with whatever the recipient reads into the blank space on the other side? What about postcards kept by the person who bought them, as part of a collection or a scrapbook? Those tell a story too, of that person’s travels, where he or she was and what struck him or her about that place that’s reflected in the postcard and immortalized in a personal collection or album. I buy postcards from lots of places I travel, and I have them hanging on a wall in my apartment. I see them every day and they take me back to those places I’ve been and the people who were there with me. They also give me this constant sense of the bigger world, what else is out there besides my small piece of it.

Postcards can tell funny stories, like the one I used to think was so hilarious to send to all my friends when I was in Florida for spring break – the one that was completely black on the front and said “Florida at Night.” Or the ecard postcards online with the hilarious sayings like, “Romeo and Juliet is not a love story. It’s a 3-day relationship between a 13-year-old and a 17-year-old that caused 6 deaths. Sincerely, everyone who actually read it.” Postcards can tell inspiring stories with a beautiful picture or a quote that somehow adds something to your life. They can even tell secrets, like on Post Secret. They tell stories of one moment in time – the people, the place, the feelings.

I heard this quote once I really liked, in a documentary about the Titanic, that talked about “a series of inconsequential events” leading to the sinking of the ship. The idea was that each of these events alone would not have caused the ship to hit the iceberg, but when aligned together, they did. I thought, isn’t everything really caused by a series of inconsequential events? We have seemingly small, random things happen in our lives every day, and we never know which ones will still be affecting us years later. I think of each of these individually inconsequential events as postcards, and when strung together and hung in a row next to each other, they tell part of the story of our lives.

For example, in my life a few of these postcards might be “finding a Tigger jacket in the Disney Store at the mall,” “my dog Abby chasing a cat up a tree,” and “living in Indy for a year.” These events happened over a span of 19 years and would seem to have no relation to each other, and really they don’t, but aligned together, they led to the name of my blog.

Another example for me is this one day I spent in New York City. The events that would’ve by themselves been inconsequential were that it rained in the morning, I tried to go to a movie in the early afternoon but found the showtime listed online didn’t really exist, and LaGuardia Airport was closed for an hour in the late afternoon. Aligned together in that one day, these events led to a discovery that has a major connection to a trilogy I’m writing and a timeless night in New York that I’ll use in some romanticized way in a future book.

It’s such a basic idea, about all these moments that make up our lives, that I never thought about it till I heard that quote in the Titanic documentary. But it’s exactly what my blog will be – a series of entries, each of which tells a small part of the story of my life or my characters’ lives, just like a postcard does.

The crazy thing about postcards is they connect people and places across time. They can be impersonal or intimate; they can tell a complete story or a fraction of one. Everyone can see what they say, yet they can be anonymous. They’re so little, yet they tell the story of the world.

The crazy thing about postcards is they help us piece together the moments of our lives. And those moments, some seemingly inconsequential, some standouts, are the stuff of my books, and now my blog.

So thanks, Abby, for chasing the cat who became Tigger up a tree that one afternoon. 🙂

Tigger and me!

Tigger and me!