Planet Perfect

You are chosen to live in a perfect world … all you have to do is leave everything and everyone behind. Do you go? Amy and Jack have anything but the perfect life. Struggling for years to get pregnant, they are broke and heartbroken. When a team of fertility doctors and plastic surgeons handpick them to come live in a beautiful walled community with no violence, guns, pedophiles, pollution, or ugliness ... and promise to give them a healthy baby, Amy and Jack agree to leave everything and everyone behind—including the only family they have left, Amy's disabled brother Liam—and start a life together in this amazing new world. Soon, strange things begin to happen in the community, and Jack and Amy discover that true beauty is in the eye of the beholder. They are now forced to ask themselves how far they are willing to go to get the perfect life...

Inspiration for this book. We live in a world where there's so much pressure to be perfect and look perfect. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, the selfie culture is not helping. We look at everyone else and their perfect life and it makes us feel less perfect, less happy, less adequate. I think it's both fascinating and sad. It made me think how far we would go to be perfect. How much would we really sacrifice if we were promised a "perfect" life?

Holding on to Hurt

I dread that every day I live, I’m one day further away from my life with Scottie
Irene Hurt has always dreamed of having a large family with her adoring husband Bruce. That dream is shattered when her doctor performs a hysterectomy after the birth of her only son Scottie. Though heartbroken, Irene accepts the outcome and cherishes every moment with her son and her husband, until ... the day she gets the call every mother dreads. Scottie is injured in a mass school shooting and is rushed to the ICU, where he's put into a medically induced coma to wait out his fate. Devastated, Bruce pulls away and even tries to convince Irene to remove Scottie's life support, to save his son from a life of lesser existence. But, Irene refuses to give up hope. On her journey through grief, denial, anger and finally, acceptance, Irene discovers more about the events of that tragic day, the boy who shot her son and then took his own life, and the husband she thought she knew and could trust. Will Scottie pull through and, once again, be the glue that keeps this family together? Or, will Irene accept that sometimes, the best thing a mother can do for her child is let go? Set in the darkest hours of winter in Seattle, Holding on to Hurt tells the gripping story of one mother's fight to keep her son alive, no matter what she has to sacrifice.

The inspiration for Holding on to Hurt...
I’m stepping out of my usual lightweight/humorous genre here. And I am for sure stepping out of my comfort zone. It’s not that I like crying for every other word I put down on paper, but I do like to write from my heart. I do like to write about real life and, sadly, this is what life hands us sometimes. It was a few days after the terrible Sandy Hook tragedy. I was watching Obama’s speech surrounded by my little ones, our hands tightly knitted together. I was doing okay, wiping away a silent tear here and there. But when Obama started reading out loud the names of those little angels, I totally broke down in tears. As a mother, this is the worst nightmare I can ever imagine—your precious baby huddled on the floor, scared to death... The image is too strong to bear. That day, my heart was bleeding together with everyone else’s. And I knew that, one day, I had to tell the story—not about Sandy Hook but a story that could express the frustration, anger, helplessness, and hurt I was feeling and still feel about the senseless school shootings that take place way too often and the grief and suffering it brings about.Finally, about three years later, I sat down and put my pen to paper. It took a lot of courage. It took a lot of heart-breaking research about shootings, grief counseling, and coma patients. And it took a lot of tears … I cry because I am a mother first. I cry with and for all the grieving mothers who had to live through this and I hope that no one ever has to suffer a tragedy like this ever again. With this book, I hope to raise awareness: (School) shootings are not just headlines or statistics. Behind each and every one of them, there is a mother, sister, father, brother, or a friend.

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Miss Apple Pants #1: Lost in Seattle

Ella Jensen is an old soul stuck in a teenager's body, and she doesn't make friends easily. In her senior year of high school, her family moves across the country to Seattle, turning her already-small world upside down. She feels alone and lost… But then she finds a box of decades-old love letters between Martha and Frederick; she becomes best friends with her new midget neighbor, Miss T; she falls in love with Hans, a very symmetric German exchange student; and she learns that sometimes life is what you make it. But summer ends abruptly when she is forced to make a decision that will change her life. Forever. The story—set in 2012 and the eighties in the sweet Seattle rain—is a celebration of life, love, friendship, motherhood, and that special bond of girls, daughters, women, and mothers across generations.

The inspiration for this book....
My first published book started out quite differently than where it ended up (and a little longer than expected). The premise was something like this: What would you do if you ended up somewhere without a single of your belongings? How much are we defined by the things surrounding us and vice versa? I thought it was an exciting platform and it poured out or me. But as I was halfway through the story about Eleanor Rigby Jensen and her journey, my own life took a turn. I suffered two consecutive miscarriages and what had only been footnote-themes in the story—motherhood, infertility, and loss—suddenly became a major part of it. In other words: My life changed. My novel changed. They say it’s the cracks in life that make you shine and I believe it’s true. And this is what this book is all about—about how love, struggle, and motherhood bring five women together—two centuries apart.

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Dancing Queen

Fiona has a big butt and big dancing dreams, which, according to her mom, don't go well together. Now, at the age of thirty-five, Fiona is finally ready to prove to her mom, the world, and herself that every body can be a dancer's body... All her life, Fiona Madsen has dreamed of becoming a dancer—a dream that was shattered on her seventh birthday when her mom told her that dancing was not for “fat girls” like her. Now, Fiona is again confronted with her weight issues when the HR department at work kindly encourages her to attend a support group for people with health problems. Here, she connects with Skinny Stu from accounting and realizes the two of them have more in common than she could ever imagine. To address their issues, Stu suggests the two sign up for a Dancing With the Local Stars competition. After much deliberation and soul searching, Fiona says yes and together they—Fat Fiona and Skinny Stu—embark on a journey that will change their lives forever. But they must overcome one major obstacle first… Fiona’s sister, who’s running for mayor, finds out about the competition and threatens to have Fiona disqualified.Will Fiona withdraw from the competition to protect her sister’s reputation or will she follow her childhood dream of becoming the ultimate Dancing Queen? Set in everyday life in Seattle, Dancing Queen is a story of hope and finding the courage to be happy with who you are instead of who others think you are.

The inspiration for this book...
My third book, Dancing Queen, came to live one afternoon as I was watching a very overweight woman dancing silly around with her little toddler girl at the playground when she thought no one was looking. It was such a cute sight: They were wearing mathcy-mathcy pink outfits and the daughter was wearing a little pink tutu. At one point, the mom looked up and our eyes met. Quickly, she looked away, let go off her daughter’s hands and stopped the silly dancing. She was clearly embarrassed. The daughter, on the other hand, didn’t stop dancing but twisted and twirled until she sat down exhausted, a happy smile on her face. When my kids and I met them at the parking lot half an hour later, the woman shrugged and offered me a halfhearted laugh. “I know a woman my size really shouldn’t be dancing around like that.” I didn’t know what to say but just smiled at her and the little girl. All the way home, I thought about her and her little girl and how we—as we grow up we—adhere to all these rules and restrict ourselves in the way we express ourselves because of the way we look, or the way we think we look. Sadly, body image has become such a big and determining factor on how we perceive and judge ourselves and others. I knew I somehow wanted to write about this but without the normal stereotyping. And I’m not overweight myself, so I had to tread waters carefully. I imagined the big woman from the playground dancing as a kid in front of the mirror, innocent and full of hope and dreams and from there it just took off. Dancing Queen is a story about going after your dreams, big or small, little or tall. No matter what.

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The One That Got Away

Have you ever wondered what would happen if you suddenly looked into the eyes of your handsome ex-boyfriend, at a romantic wedding in Rome... far away from your husband?
It all starts with Facebook and a reality check in the mirror... Helen, a married, middle-aged woman, clicks on a high school reunion site on Facebook and finds herself staring at pictures of Rob—the old boyfriend—and his perfect life. When she learns he’s going to a mutual classmate’s wedding in Rome, she decides to go. But when she finally looks into Rob’s sexy and familiar eyes, she’s overwhelmed—afraid where her rekindled emotions will take her in the City of Love. When her husband shows up unannounced and confronts her, Helen runs away—drunk and confused—and spends the next few days roaming the streets of Rome, wrestling with past feelings come to life in the present tense. When Rob suddenly reappears, looking more handsome than ever, her cold feet thaw. It only takes one small kiss from him and suddenly she stands to lose everything. Contrasting everyday life in gray, cloudy Seattle with sunny, romantic Rome, The One That Got Away is about the search for love and validation, and the perfect life—fueled by the Hallmark card images on Facebook where everyone is happier, prettier, and skinnier.

The inspiration for this book...
Once again, this novel was inspired by real life. I was reading an article about how this older guy had tracked down his old high school sweetheart on Facebook. Three months later, they had reconnected, both gotten divorced from their respective wife and husband, and gotten married to each other. In Vegas. It made me wonder: Does old lover ever die? Do we ever let go of the one who got away? This is basically the theme of The One That Got Away. The story evolved, even more, when I went to Rome with my dad in the spring. The year before, he had suffered a severe stroke and when he was able to travel again, I had promised that—wheelchair or not—I would take him to the cobblestone streets of Rome where he had spent two years as a kid. The vibrant and revitalizing atmosphere made my dad blossom in such a way it made me think of Rome as almost another planet. Thus, in Rome, sitting on the balcony like a true Roman, the rest of my story almost wrote itself. Rome was the perfect setting to use as contrast to the rainy and gray Seattle I had left behind and it helped me navigate the feelings of all my characters. The One That Got Away is about how we all can feel small, insecure, and lost even in the best of times and how love conquers all.

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