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Good Housekeeping


Meh. Whatever floats your boat. I think homes can be happy and messy or happy and tidy. If mess and clutter stress you out, obviously your messy house isn't going to be a happy one. If walking behind your kids all the time, cleaning up after them is more trouble than it's worth to you, then you're going to be a seriously crabby patty pursuing that magazine-perfect living room. No matter which way you are, being a sanctimonious a-hole to someone with the opposite viewpoint is a no-no, in my opinion.

I'm not always tidy; I'm not always messy. I let my mood dictate which one I'm going to be (or somewhere in between) on any given day. When I'm in the middle of writing a first draft of a novel or in the final stages of the publication process, I'm more apt to ignore the mess around me.

When I emerge from my writing fogs and decide, "We're disgusting, and this house must be cleaned," then it better happen... in double-time. I also clean when I'm stressed out or worried or angry. That is, when I'm not hiding in bed eating chocolate because I'm stressed out, worried, or angry.

My attitudes about tidiness and housekeeping seem to drive the rest of my household. It usually takes me reaching my clutter limit for the finer details--like vacuuming and dusting--to be addressed. And that's fine. Whatever. See, the benefit of that is that when I want the house to be clean, we clean the house; when I don't care, nobody bothers me or guilts me into thinking we should clean the house. It's a beautiful arrangement. (Fortunately, I also have a husband who's a functional, responsible, useful human being and doesn't need to be treated like a child and told to do what needs to be done to keep us from being shut down by the Health Department.)

I'd like to make one thing clear, though: my possession of a vagina has nothing to do with my ability or desire to live in a clean home. Therefore, my housemates' (a.k.a., husband's and offsprings') genitalia are also irrelevant. So when I see things in my online travels that seem to place all of the responsibility for housework on the wife/mother of the family (with occasional "help" from the kids and husband, "if he's willing"), well........ stroking out is a real possibility.*

I know, I know... scroll on by. But... but... but... I can't! Because... equality!**

Now. Let me state specifically what kind of living situation I am addressing here. I'm talking about a two-adult household in which both adults work a job (whether at home or away from home) that requires them to focus on non-household matters in order to support their family. If you're a stay-at-home parent (male or female), and you make the person who brings home the bacon (male or female) scrub toilets on the weekend, you're a jerk. (Unless they really love scrubbing toilets, and then... well... you're living with a somewhat strange person, but to each his/her own.) And if you're a single parent, God bless you, and you deserve to be five times as outraged as I am by these privileged a-wipes who spout their "womanly housework wisdom."

Let's just take my own family as an example: I work forty hours a week outside the home; my husband works forty-plus hours a week outside the home. When we're home, we share in making and cleaning up the mess. And our spawn contribute three-fold to that mess, so they have to help clean it up, too. Do we divvy up the chores according to age, ability, and inclination? Absolutely. I hate grocery shopping, so my husband is nice enough to do that. You know, because he eats the food, too. I'd actually like our clothes to remain wearable, and our kids still have plenty of time to learn how to turn white underwear pink... on their own dime... so the kids get to do things like unloading and reloading the dishwasher, taking out the trash, and keeping their rooms tidy(ish). I get the odious task of paying bills. Everyone pitches in with bathrooms, because--this may shock you--we all use the bathrooms, some of us more neatly than others. It's not about score keeping and being all fairsy-waresy, necessarily; it's about getting the job done. Notice, though, that sexual organs don't play any part in the division of labor. Not one bit.

So when I do run across "helpful hints" for "working women" about how to keep a clean, tidy house, in addition to everything else we do, it brings out the snark in me. Big-time. I don't care who writes it. That lack of solidarity, that smug know-it-allness, that "See? You can do it all, if you just try harder" bullshit makes me want to scream.

But I don't like loud noises. So I wrote my own "tips" instead, in response to the latest piece I read. You know, for women who may not be as lucky as I am, with my thoroughly modern husband who knows how to run a vacuum and separate lights from darks. (Yes, I'm rolling my eyes.)***

How To Be the Perfect Woman (On Weeknights and Weekends, When You're Not Earning a Paycheck to Feed, Clothe, and Shelter Your Family):****

  1. Multi-task. Forget those naysayers who say multi-tasking isn't possible and results in multiple things being done insufficiently. If you're not breastfeeding while vacuuming while overseeing your kids' homework completion while planning the next week's completely organic dinner menu while signing field trip permission slips, you're just not doing enough.
  2. Technically, this is all your mess, if you think about it. You married that person and made those kids who made that mess. Now deal with it.
  3. We have the technology. Set up reminders on your phone to keep you on-task. Never leave a load of laundry to mildew in the washer ever again. There's an app for that!
  4. To save time during the folding process, make sure all of the socks have mates when they go into the washing machine. (Something tells me you're not spending enough time on your hands and knees, looking under beds. Tsk. Tsk.)
  5. If you really aren't awesome enough, then I suppose you can respectfully ask your spouse and children to help you out. But do so with the full knowledge that they're saving you, and any help they give--no matter how half-hearted it may be--is strictly voluntary and worthy of your gratitude. (In other words, add the ingredients for all of their favorite treats to your next grocery list, honey, and get baking!) Speaking of groceries, the pantry and fridge aren't going to stock themselves. Chop, chop!
  6. Forget "me" time. Hobbies are for selfish people who spout maxims like, "You can't feed someone from an empty bowl." You won't have any bowls at all if you don't unload and re-stack that dishwasher, pronto. Anyway, speaking of bowls, what's more rewarding than seeing those bags under your eyes reflected in that sparking toilet? Nothing.
  7. If you need more motivation, allow yourself five minutes to go on social media (for research, not for fun), so you can compare yourself to all of the women out there who have it figured out. Do you see clutter in the background of the photos of their precious darlings as they craft their homemade seasonal decor? No. Because your peers have their priorities in order... unlike some people (ahem).
  8. Do it all with a smile. Every job is more enjoyable when you're smiling.

Let's face it, folks: people with vaginas are simply better at scrubbing, folding, tidying, and organizing. It's science.***** So ladies, what are you waiting for? Those nearly-identical-but-not-quite white socks from this week's laundry aren't going to mate themselves. (See #4's handy tip for making this step easier.)

Now where are my pearls and heels? I need to clean the oven.

*I was going to link to the blog post that triggered my ire... this time... but I don't want to be responsible for any other exploding heads. Mine was bad enough. Just trust me. It's out there. In 2015. With more two-income households--by necessity--than ever. Also, a quicker, easier way to make your head explode is to Google quotes for "messy or clean house" and see how EVERYTHING is centered around women and features pictures of women. "A good MOM has sticky floors." (And good DADS have shaggy lawns and dirty cars... I'm not kidding!!!!) "Dull WOMEN have clean houses." REALLY???? REALLY??? What effing year is this??????? KA-BOOOOOOM! SPLAT!!!!!!!

**If it so happens that the division of labor falls along more "traditional" (I hate that word) gender roles in your household, and everyone's happy with that, GREAT! That's not what I'm talking about here. I'm talking about the assumption that women clean the house, no matter what else they do to support their household, simply because they're women. THAT is wrong. And I will be a sanctimonious a-hole on that issue every. single. time.

***Not that I take him for granted, especially now that I'm fully aware it's somehow acceptable, even nowadays, for penis-bearing people to simply opt out of basic household chores. I'm ever so grateful I didn't get stuck with one of those guys.

****Okay, the title's a little long, but I felt specificity was important.

*****Not a scientific finding AT ALL. Also, I don't know what same-sex partners do. Maybe some can chime in here and tell us how they manage to display blatant sexism in their households. I suppose women have to rock-paper-scissors each other for the privilege of cleaning out the litterbox, and men... Well... both are off the hook? Must be nice!


When I'm not writing sarcastic, disdainful rants, I'm cleaning my house. JUST KIDDING! I do write books, though. Lots of them. All the time. You can find my entire catalog right here on this site. My latest, Out of My League, released in October, and I'm currently working on three other novels, which I hope to release in 2016. If I'm not dead by then. Thanks for reading!


Holy Release Week, Batman

Seems like great minds think alike (hahaha), because about a thousand people I know released books this past week, many of them on the same day I did. It was all I could do to promote my own new book, so I was a total slacker on the support front. To rectify that, I've put together this little post, where you can see many of them in one place. With links! Yes! A bookworm's paradise.



Kathleen Irene Paterka -
Secrets of the Royal Wedding Chapel 

Clodagh Murphy - Some Girls Do

Monique McDonell - Any Way You Fight It

Jennie Marts - Tangled Up in Tuesday




Sarah Knipping -
Flamingos, Dust,
and Occasional Leopards

Wendy Janes - What Jennifer Knows





Hilary Grossman - Plan Bea

Geralyn Corcillo - Queen of the Universe




Rich Amooi - Mr. Crotchety



PLUS a bonus anthology, Passionate Kisses 3: Under the Mistletoe, just in time (*cough, cough*) for Christmas, including:

SCROOGE YOU by Nikki Lynn Barrett
MIRACLE OF LOVE by Allie Boniface
ALMOST ROMANCE by Kylie Gilmore

And if that doesn't keep you in chick lit for the rest of the year (or at least the weekend), you, my friend, are insatiable, and there's nothing for it. Congratulations to my fellow new book parents, and happy reading!!!



Have you checked your e-reader today? If you were one of the lovely people (thank you!) who pre-ordered Out of My League, it should be waiting for you. Or will be soon. Or something. (I don't really know how all of this works; I'm just the writer of the words.) My point is, launch day has finally arrived for the first book in my Underdog Trilogy, and for that, I'm ecstatic.

Okay, maybe "ecstatic" is an exaggeration, but I am excited. I'm happy to share this story and these characters with you at long last. I'm also much happier about my fictional football team's season than I am about my favorite real life team's performance so far. Pretend losses are so much easier to take, for some reason.

But I'm not here to lament the 2015-2016 NFL season so far; I'm here to celebrate yet another publication day!


You and me, celebrating. We're very agile!So, what do I want you to know about this book before you dive in? First, I want you to know that you don't have to love or even know much about American football to read--and hopefully like--this book. The sport is a mere backdrop to a more universal story about self-worth and acceptance, told with my usual irreverence. Second, I do love football, so I had a great time writing this book, immersing myself in a life I can only imagine and getting to know these characters. I'm also looking forward to continuing Maura and Jet's story in the second installment of the trilogy, although I haven't done much more than brainstorm some plot ideas. I have two more books in the works right now, so Out of My League's sequel will have to wait a while. But not too long. Third, I have high hopes that you'll like Maura and Jet just as much as--or even more than--the characters in my other books, and when you're finished with this first installment, you'll be eager to know what happens next. I'm eager to know. But I might be biased.

The only other thing I'd like to say is, "Thanks!" Thank you for keeping up-to-date with my writing, for ordering my books, and for recommending them to your friends and family. Thanks for being patient between releases, giving me the time to focus on producing the best books I can produce while also not completely neglecting my busy family. And thanks for getting in touch to offer your support and encouragement. You make this so much more fun than it was when I wrote for the heck of it and merely daydreamed about what it would be like to have people outside of my family read my stories. And by the way, those fantasies didn't even come close to what the reality has been, thanks to you!

For those of you still wondering how you can get your hands on your very own copy of Out of My League, look no further. Click right.......... here.


Stating the Obvious

Fire is hot.

Ice is cold.

Rain is wet.

Rocks taste bad.

Mean people suck.

Okay, before you hit the "x" to close this post and dismiss it as yet another whiny, "writing is hard" piece by an author, just hear me out. Because I'm probably going to surprise you by the end of this post (and possibly piss you off), and I hope you're not going to have to wait long to get to the surprise, because... I'm writing this on a whim and really have other things to do, but I can't seem to concentrate on those things until I get this off my chest.

Hello, run-on sentence!


Like every other member of privileged, developed countries, I have a lot of time on my hands (relatively speaking), because I don't spend half the day fearing for my life or fighting oppressive regimes or fleeing my war-torn homeland. Therefore, I spend a lot of time on social media. Specifically, I spend an obscene amount of time on Facebook and Pinterest. Other writers spend a lot of time on there, too. It's where we go when we should be writing, except [say it all together, in your best possible moan], "Writing is hard!" And when we're on social media, our favorite thing to do is talk about how hard writing is.

We pin memes.


We share quotes.

We tweet our struggles.

We blog about it, too. In fact, technology is so grand, it recently reminded me, "Hey remember when you whined to the whole world that one time about how hard writing is?"

Oh, yeah. That.

So I read back through it, and I thought, "Okay, not the worst whining I've ever done," (I'm kind of an expert) "and I did some decent tough-talking to myself in it, but... eye-roll-worthy in its own way." Because here's the thing:

As writers, we need to stop talking (i.e., "bragging") about how freaking hard writing is. It's like saying, "Man, look at this cross I have to bear. And yet, I bear it. For you, the reader. Aren't I great? More back pats, please. Can I get a treat?" Ew. Who wants to be that person? I do not.

Let's face it, you rarely hear someone with a truly awful, difficult job complaining about his or her job. I know this from experience, because my husband has a truly difficult, physical job, but he has to be at his absolute limit to say anything about it. Yet, I could have trouble finding the right words to describe a facial expression, and I'll push away from my desk and sigh and moan and go get another cup of coffee and lament about how there are just so few ways to explain said facial expression, and I feel like I've used them all a hundred thousand times, and "Why the eff is writing so effing hard?"

Now before I have hordes of writers saying, "How dare you minimize our struggle?? My feelings have feelings! My books are my babies! My characters are real to me!!!" let me acknowledge: writing can sometimes be hard. Like fire is hot and ice is cold and rain is wet. I'm not saying it's not true. I'm just saying... let's say it a little less often. Let's stop bragging about how hard it is. Because I want to let you in on a little secret: other people, people who don't write, people who work legitimately back-breaking jobs for low pay, people who hold lives in their hands every day, whose jobs can be and are sometimes a matter of life and death? They've been talking. And they're saying stuff like this:

and this...

aaaaaaaand this...

Embarrassing, right? So I thought it would be best if you heard this from a friend, maybe in friendlier terms. Let's not deny the hard work we put into our writing or minimize the importance of writing and other forms of art in society, but let's change the conversation a little. Let's remember that we do it because we love it. It's hard work, but it's not working-in-a-coal-mine hard work. It's Tough-Mudder hard work. It's birthing-a-baby-hard work. It's FUN and/or rewarding hard work. It's this:

Let's strive to keep it in perspective.


When I'm not being melodramatic about writing or going on good-natured rants about others who exhibit the same behaviors I do every single day, I'm hard at "work," hanging out with imaginary people. My brand new book, Out of My League, which was extremely "hard" to write (no, it wasn't... well, sometimes it was, but I loved 85% of the minutes of it), releases October 13, 2015 in paperback and ebook. Please buy it and read it so you can mock me and say, "She thought this was hard to write. Pshaw!" Or buy it and read it so you can say, "Loved it!" and give me a treat. Or buy it and let it sit unread forever on your night stand or e-reader of choice. In other words, I just want you to buy the dang book, m'kay? Thanks!

Thanks for reading! This post is part of Julie Valerie's Book Blog FICTION WRITERS BLOG HOP. To return to the hop, click here:


Laughing Through (At) Life

Laughter is a weapon. I learned how to use it at a young age. My parents never advocated violence--even in self-defense--as a solution to anything. We'd come up with these crazy scenarios to try to get them to advise us to use fists to solve our problems ("What if the other kid sics his pet kangaroo and his thirty brothers and sisters on us? Then can we fight back?"), but they were firm in their directives: "Talk it out"; "Tell a grownup"; "Walk away"; and my favorite--although sometimes the most frustrating: "Laugh at them."

Laugh at them? They're calling me a nerd or threatening to kick my butt, and you think I can laugh about that at all, much less in the person's face?

Yep. That was their idea of a great talisman: laughter.

Lord knows they'd used it on me enough times. I can't tell you how many of my temper tantrums as a child were met with laughter. And man... that was so infuriating. But it also snapped me out of it. I realized how ridiculous I was being and that throwing a fit wasn't getting me anywhere except a one-way ticket to Humiliation Town.

(Now before you get all sniffy and 2015 Helicopter Parent on my parents' butts, this was the 80s. Also, they never laughed at any of my legitimate gripes. Because I didn't have any. I lived in a real-life Cleaver-Brady-Huxtable house. Sure, we had problems, but nothing that couldn't be solved in twenty-two minutes after a bit of a one-on-one with Mom or Dad, a kissed boo-boo, and a glass of milk.)

So, laughter. That was the strategy of choice from an early age. Someone picking on you? Laugh at them (then run like hell, because they're probably going to really want to kick your butt because you embarrassed them in front of others, but... you got the last laugh). Life not going the way you want it to go? Find the humor in it and laugh about it. Kid poops his pants in the car line at school? Put a laugh track behind it, and it's a totally different situation. Take same kid to the doctor to find out why this is happening and see an x-ray so full of poop, you wouldn't believe it was humanly possible if you hadn't seen it with your own eyes? Shrug and say, "We always knew he was full of it, but... dang!" and listen carefully as the doctor outlines the best weekend ever for you, involving laxative and lots of toilet time. Sideswipe your teenager's car on your way into the garage, because... you're an idiot? Buff out the scuffs and file it away for your next fictional character--who's apparently an abysmal driver.

Humor. It's kind of like finding the silver lining, without denying that the situation is shit. In fact, you're reveling in the fact that the situation is awful. That's what makes it funny. In every modern comedy since Seinfeld, the hilarity isn't in how perfect everything is; it's in how messed-up it is.

That's why I write chick lit. (Or rom coms. Or whatever you want me to call them this week so that you're not offended by my label. I'm looking at you, Marian Keyes... And now I'm running, so you don't kick my butt.) Writing fiction is not only an escape from real life; it's a way to laugh in the face of real life. I'm telling Life, "Screw you! You want to make me walk through a shit storm without an umbrella? I'll turn it into a novel, only the protagonist won't eat her feelings or have stress zits. But she'll definitely talk to God, using inappropriate language, while drying her hair, so nobody else in her house can hear her. Because that's funny!"

I don't always turn my problems into fictional people's problems, but I do like to think, "What if...?" and put them in some pretty awful pickles for laughs. I guess that's not very nice, either, but... they're not real people (just a reminder). And it's good practice for real life. Once you learn to find the humor in adversity, even if you don't see it right away, you're halfway to victory. Sharpen that weapon.

My parents' advice still holds true, no matter how many crazy things life throws at me: Talk it out [with the hair dryer on, so your kids can't hear you]; tell a grown-up [story]; walk away [with your sanity intact]; laugh at [life].

Here's a shameless plug for you to read my latest humorous romp (what a dumb word), Out of My League, available for pre-order now on multiple platforms and releasing on October 13, 2015. Or, heck, read any of the others. Just read them. Please. I want to make you laugh. I also want to pay the rent tomorrow. No pressure.

Also, this post is part of the Fiction Writers' Blog Hop on Julie Valerie's Book Blog. To read others' great posts, click here: