A Little In Love With You: A Love at First Note novella

Emma Hill, the female protagonist in Love at First Note, isn’t the only one with a great love story. Her roommate and best friend, Lilly, has her own story to tell–about the fateful day that she met Trav, and the huge misunderstanding that almost ended their chances before their relationship even began.

I’m so excited for readers to enjoy Lilly and Trav’s story in my latest novella, A Little in Love With you. For a limited time, the novella is available exclusively on Amazon for only $.99. That’s pennies, guys. I hope you’ll read and review and share with others.

Buy A Little in Love With You on Amazon.

In Love Cover

Lilly has all but given up on her love life. It’s been ages since she’s even seen a smile from a guy, much less had a real conversation. Until she meets Travis–cute, in the hippie rugged way she likes, quirky, funny, charming, and completely NOT eligible. Expectant fathers on the labor and delivery floor of the hospital where she works generally aren’t. Plus, a guy that would hit on a nurse while his wife is in labor? Yeah. Don’t date that guy.

But there’s more to Trav’s story than Lilly first understands. Older brothers can be supportive too, after all. Despite their rocky start, and an old flame that just won’t fizzle out already, Lilly and Trav hang onto their hopes that maybe, they really can have a future together.

What My Kids are Reading – 2016 Edition

stack-of-booksI have a lot of readers at my house. I have teenage readers and middle grade readers and elementary school readers. We go through books quicker than we go through a package of Oreos. And with just as much voracity. It makes me happy, because I absolutely believe reading makes kids smarter, but also because I love to talk to my kids about the words they read. What they mean. How they make them feel. Which ones have become their very most treasured favorites. And so I’m here to share those favorites with you!

If you missed my list of Summer reading recommendations a few years ago, you can see it by clicking on the following link. We discovered many favorites that Summer, so you’ll see a few repeated here.

Summer Reading Recommendations

And now, our favorites:

Picture Books

The Book with No Pictures, by BJ Novak – The best read out loud book I’ve ever read. If you only have room for ONE new book on your shelf, pick this one. My three and five year olds laugh themselves silly and beg to hear it again the minute it’s over.

Stuck, by Oliver Jeffers

The Incredible Book Eating Boy, by Oliver Jeffers – Jeffers is a new favorite of mine. His stories are touching in simple ways and his artwork is fantastic. You can’t go wrong with any of his books but these two have risen to the top for my kids.

Mix it Up, by Herve Tullet

Press Here, by Herve Tullet – Interactive in the best kind of way, these two Tullet books are so much fun.

A Wish for Wings That Worked, by Berkeley Breathed – Recommended by my sister, Emily (as are several others on this list), I can’t read this book without crying. It’s a great Christmas story or anytime story, really.

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, by William Joyce – Beautifully illustrated, there isn’t much not to love about a book . . . about books.

Middle Grade

(*If you see this little asterisk next to a book? It means I know the person that wrote it and they deserve bonus points for being fantastic humans in addition to excellent authors. So. Support my author friends, yeah?)

*Almost Super, by Marion Jenson – Funny, funny book, great for reading out loud. Even Ivy stayed engaged with this one and begged for another chapter every night before bed.

The One and Only Ivan, by Katherine Applegate – Another great one for reading out loud. Very touching story.

Wonder, by RJ Palacio – Should be required reading for every middle grade kid, everywhere.

*A Night Divided, by Jennifer Nielsen – Lucy loved this one. About a family separated on opposite sides of the Berlin Wall.

*Mark of the Thief (Book 1) and Rise of the Wolf (Book 2), by Jennifer Nielsen – These are Henry’s new favorites. We love Jennifer Nielsen’s books at our house!

*Fires of Invention, Mysteries of Cove (Book 1), by J. Scott Savage – Sam started this the same night we brought a signed copy home from the bookstore. And then finished it. IN ONE NIGHT.

Counting by 7s, by Holly Goldberg Sloan – Lucy read this first, then brought it to me and wouldn’t give up until I’d read it as well. Great message, great story.

Out of My Mind, by Sharon Draper – Another highly ranked favorite from Lucy and Sam alike. Which is saying something since Sam generally requires dragons or magic or huge explosions for a book to be a hit.

*Airships of Camelot: The Rise of Arthur, by Robison Wells – A kindle edition only, this book is every cool thing imaginable crammed into one story.

*The Farworld Series: Water Keep, Land Keep, Air Keep, and Fire Keep, by J. Scott Savage – One of Sam’s favorite series.

Revolution, by Deborah Wiles

The Thing About Jellyfish, by Ali Benjamin

Older (ish) Teen Readers

I can’t exactly call this category YA, because in the strictest sense of the genre, the books listed here aren’t YA. But they are books that my teenage son has enjoyed.

*Brandon Sanderson. The end.

Okay. I’m sort of kidding. (Not really.) But if you look at Jordan’s shelf right now, he’s definitely a Sanderson fan. (Once I pulled some strings and earned huge mamma bonus points when I had Sanderson call Jordan and talk to him about his books. During their conversation, Brandon said this to my kid: “Jordan, I started reading fantasy when I was your age and it changed my life.” Yeah, that was an awesome moment.) If Jordan had to list his books in order of favorites, it would probably look something like this:


The Stormlight Archives Series (The Way of Kings and Words of Radiance) – I’ve read these too and they are POWERFUL books.

The Reckoners Series (Steelheart, Firefight, and Calamity)

The Mistborn Series

And finally a few others that have been enjoyed by one or multiple kids in the house that I forgot to add in the above itemized list:

The Michael Vey Series, by Richard Paul Evans

The Rangers Apprentice Series by John Flanagan

The Harry Potter Series, by JK Rowling (Still going strong. Four of six have finished the series. Two more to go!)

Septimus Heap Series, by Angie Sage

Eragon, and the entire Inheritance Cycle, by Christopher Paolini

All things written by *Brandon Mull

I wish I could say this was an all encompassing list, but I’m sure I’ve forgotten some. I may amend and add more when the kids are home from school and can fact check my list. In the meantime, Happy Reading!

Do You Have a Strong-Willed Child?

I do. Oh my, do I ever.

I often say that Ivy rewrote the book on parenting. She’s number five, so I should pretty much know what I’m doing, right? Ha. Ha ha! Ha ha ha!!

Ivy is 3 years old. 3 has a reputation anyway, doesn’t it? Preschoolers can be tough. TOUGH I tell you! But Ivy has managed to take the requirements of parenting preschoolers to a level I’ve never experienced, in 12 years of parenting preschoolers. what worked with my first four children doesn’t work with Ivy. She doesn’t sleep like her siblings. She doesn’t react to punishment like her siblings. She very frequently cannot be coaxed, cajoled, persuaded or distracted. If she makes a decision to do something, (like, say, NOT go to sleep, or put her shoes on by herself or buckle her own car seat buckles) she is unrelenting, fiercely determined and completely affronted if you get anywhere near her with an alternative. Sometimes compromise works. Sometimes it doesn’t. Screaming is often involved. She has an iron will, a firm, unrelenting spirit and (lets be real) she is utterly and completely exhausting. Now, she is also out of this world fun, always entertaining and so very funny.

My favorite Ivy story lately is a perfect representation of her strong will working in her favor. Her baby dolls were upstairs in her bedroom. The lights were off, and as she looked up the stairs, she told me she was scared. She didn’t want to go upstairs by herself. Well, I was right in the middle of cooking dinner, had a baby on my hip and couldn’t walk upstairs with her. “Ivy,” I said, “You can do it. Just turn the light on in the hallway. You’ll be fine.” She walked back to the stairs, took a deep breath, and started up the stairs. The whole way, she sang: “I-veee, you can do it. I-veee, you can do it.” And she did. It only took  her a moment to muster up the courage to do something that was frightening. Similar scenarios are pretty common. She’s one tough cookie, and I LOVE her for it. But I’ve had to realize some important things about her personality in my quest to recognize those good qualities. I’ve had to accept that parenting strong-willed children is DIFFERENT. She is DIFFERENT.

I like to give my kids choices. I like to empower them to have control when it’s appropriate for them to have control. I like to teach them what is expected, what is good and right and true and then seek opportunities for them to make choices on their own, to learn and grow by their own experience. (All age appropriately, of course.) But my strong-willed daughter has little care for age appropriateness. Every day, every moment, she fights to be in control. Power struggles? Yeah. We’ve been around the block a few times with those. In my weakest mothering moments, I’ve felt tempted to break Ivy into submission. I will be in control. You will do what I say. You will answer/comply/stop right NOW. But over and over again, this sort of authoritative “Because I said so” approach just doesn’t work with Ivy. I’ve watched her eyes change as she’s made a decision, her little arms crossing across her chest. “Go ahead and make me,” her little attitude seems to say.

Now I’m not saying I think it’s okay for Ivy to stomp all over my authority as her Mama. But I am saying, because of her personality type, the getting there — to that place where we get along and make it through the day still smiling and loving each other at the end — has to be a different process.

ImageI’ve just read this book: You can’t Make me (But I Can Be Persuaded): Strategies for Bringing Out the Best in Your Strong-Willed Child, by Cynthia Ulrich Tobias. I nodded through the first few pages. Yes, that’s my kid. Oh, yep. That’s my kid too. OH MY WORD the author has been in my house watching my daughter because THAT. IS. MY. KID. My favorite section of the book talks about how strong-willed children are wired. Tobias shares these three points:

1. Strong-willed children don’t have trouble with authority, but with how authority is communicated.

2. Strong-willed children don’t need to control you; they just can’t let you take all control away from them.

3. The quality of the relationships you have with strong-willed children determines the effectiveness of your parenting strategies.

These points gave me much to think about, particularly number 2. It was a process for me to realize that inherent in Ivy’s little personality is a desire to do things on her own, to feel in control. Funny, I really hate feeling out of control myself. If I recognize that, can I also recognize Ivy’s defiance not as a personal affront to ME and my requests as her Mom, but as an expression of herself, her desire to do things in her own way? It’s hard! I’m the Mom! I’m in charge! Well, yeah. But this little girl has a spirit in her that cannot be broken and if I can’t work with that, I have a feeling we will fight through her entire childhood.

Tobias goes on to outline suggestions for making it easier to communicate with strong-willed children, from toddler years, all the way through to teenagers, and adult children. Much of what she shared felt pretty intuitive to me, but I had many “ah-hah” moments where I thought, “Okay, I can do better with this one.”

I think the most important lesson of the book, with preschoolers in particular, is that we cannot take their defiance or misbehavior personally. We might say, “WHY are you doing this to me? Why are you making things so difficult? You’re going to make me late.” And on, and on. We make it about us. We think only about how their behavior affects US. This book reminded me to take a step back and recognize that Ivy, though in miniature form at the moment, has a personality and spirit that might very well be different than me. She has her own way of seeing things, her own way of experiencing the world. It’s up to me whether or not I make that a good thing or a bad thing.

I won’t lie. It is HARD WORK being her Mom. But I’m of the mind that every kid deserves to be championed, celebrated and encouraged. So I’ll take the hard. She’s totally worth it.