YSU English Festival

51uxbcsyoblTomorrow kicks off the YSU English Festival!  Matt de la Peña is the featured guest, and I’m pumped!  I’ll also be teaching some prose workshops on Wednesday and Friday, so if you’re going, be sure to find me and say hello!



Review: Apsara Essence of Lavender lotion

61guxiyvoql-_sy550_I was a longtime user (and sales associate) of Bath & Body Works. This past year, however, I’ve switched out most of my personal care items for organic, truly natural products and I’ve seen a huge difference in my health — that’s without changing my diet or exercising more. The more I research ingredients, the more I understand that the synthetics that went into my B&BW products were making me miserable! Muscular pain, migraines, digestive issues, severe lethargy, brain fog. Now that I’ve detoxed from the toxins I’ve been putting on my skin, I have a high sensitivity to most “mainstream” products.

Enter Apsara. The company asked me to give an honest review their lotion in exchange for their a discount, and I agreed. In short, I really like the product and would buy again. Some highlights:

– If you think lavender really smells like what you get at most trendy stores, you’re going to be thrown by this. It’s not a sweet fragrance whatsoever, and it’s not purple. I’m used to the lavendula angustifolia variety, and this has a very similar, herbal scent. That’s GREAT.

– I can definitely smell the turmeric in balance with the lavender. Depending on your previous experiences with spices, you may or may not love the peppery scent that comes with the turmeric at first. Believe me, you’ll grow to love it. Your body KNOWS you need it! 🙂

– If you haven’t researched the health benefits of turmeric, you need to stop reading this, open up a new window, and start Googling. Pronto.

– Its consistency is thick enough to nourish the skin, but there’s no problem getting it out of the bottle, either.

I’m giving it four stars. Four because I LOVE the idea of this product, but I’m docking one star because it contains Tetrasodium EDTA and Phenoxyethanol. Why only one star? Because I know our bodies are designed to filter out dangerous chemicals to a certain degree. I don’t know how much of either chemical is used in this, and I don’t know if the company will improve on this in the future.

Based on what I know now, I feel like the good in this product outweighs the bad, and it’s still doing far better than most mainstream lotions — even prescription ones — can do. I’m definitely going to keep watching Aspara! I love their vision, and I want to see what they come up with next!


Thank you, 2014!

While the latter quarter of 2014 is a blur of homeschooling, work, illnesses and setbacks, I’m so grateful to have some pretty amazing things to put in the yearbook, too.

– Vacations to Hilton Head, Geneva-on-the-Lake, St. Louis, St. Simon’s Island, and NYC

– My first SCBWI conference!

– New family by way of weddings and birth (we love you, Mark and Clara!)

– Collaborating with Storybird as part of their Creative Partners Project to release THE MYSTERY OF DOGWOOD CROSS

I went back at the end of the year and looked at the stats the story garnered and read through reader comments, and was just blown away with the love shown there for my debut novel. To anyone who’s read the book, this one’s for you!
2014 readers


Do What You Love

People keep asking me, “How are you? You seem really busy!”

And I am really busy, but it’s a busy-with-good-things kind of busy. I really do love my job, and homeschooling is by far the most fulfilling, exciting thing I’ve ever done. I’m done with my travels for the year (I think!), having just gotten back from a week in New York. And I’m still having a blast over at Storybird. Aside from the cycle of illnesses that seem to hit every fall, things have been going really well!

As my current work project winds down, we’re shifting gears to be more school-centric. THE MYSTERY OF DOGWOOD CROSS is approaching its final chapters, too, so I’m looking to what’s ahead in my writing life.

Right now, though, I probably won’t be updating this blog for a while. Instead, I’m focusing my posts over on my Storybird Author’s Journal. If you want to know what’s on my mind, you can find me there.