Snares 2015I miss being in high school. I do. Well, a part of it anyway. I miss twirling my baton during halftime at football games and marching in the parades. It’s been many years since I wore the silver sequins of my captain’s uniform, but I still have my baton and my twirler’s jacket. I even pull the baton out from time to time and give it a spin. I still marvel in the way it catches the light as I toss it in the air. I loved the sound of the crowd clapping and cheering as we marched on the field. I have those memories tucked away, but sometimes I need to bring them out and dust them off.

Now, I’m living vicariously through my son and next year I’ll add my daughter to the mix. He’s in the high school marching band. He plays in the drum line and Noodge 2 will join him in the color guard. The marching band just finished their competition season placing 2nd in the State Championship. Many students were disappointed in their placement. They lost by such a little margin. But it’s what the band director said in an email that got to me. I’m quoting him:

What’s most important…do not let the opinion of a few individuals change the feeling that you had when you marched off that field. Scores and placements come and go. Trophies eventually get thrown away or recycled, but that feeling…..the feeling that you get when you are out on that field…playing your horn….performing your work….playing your drum….DOIN’ YOUR DUB STEP…..That will remain with you long after your high school years are a thing of the past.
How right he is. It’s been so many years since high school and I still remember the feeling during my senior year when the marching band and the color guard danced during our performance and the crowd shot to their feet cheering and clapping for us. It was, at the time, the greatest moment of my life. No one had ever clapped for me like that before. I was a part of something far bigger than myself. I loved it.
I envy my son in so many ways. He’s at the start of his life where all things are still possible. He’s making the memories he will dust off when he’s my age. He’ll look back on a simpler time in his life and smile. He is lucky to be a part of something much bigger than he is and excel at it. Second place isn’t chump change.
I love being able to watch him be a part of the marching band. I also love my girl will twirl a flag next year. How lucky I am to be a part of their magical moments. To watch them perform, be able to hold their heads up proud to be a part of this band. To know, they are good at something. To make friends that may last a lifetime. Someone to share the old memories with some day. “Remember when,” they’ll say and laugh.
It’s sad when you realize a stage of your child’s life has ended and they’re onto something else. No more Thomas the Tank Engine trains, no more American Girl dolls. Soon, high school will be over and no more marching band for me to watch and cheer for. My Noodges will be all grown up and onto something else that most likely won’t involve me.
In the meantime, I’ll be at the football games and the competitions. I wear the school colors with pride. I’m supporting my marcher. And when it’s all over and the uniform is hung up, I’ll sneak into the closet, pull out my baton and give it a twirl.
Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

I’m doing this on Facebook today, so I thought I’d do it here too. Give me one word, in the comments section, that describes your day today. Mine: reading.

I’m reading the final pass through of Welcome To Skull Mountain before I send it off to my formatters. From there they will set the story up for the eReader and print versions and then we go live! It’s been a long road (so the word for my writing these past months is ardorous. Love that word) to get to publication with this book. I’m grateful and thrilled to be ready to hand it off to you to read. Look for the book on December 1. (I know, I keep pushing the date out. Should we add frustrating to my list of words?)

So, go ahead, leave me that word that describes your day. Can’t wait to see what you’re up to. It will be fun.

photo courtesy of

photo courtesy of

I think I’ve become a town crier. Here’s what wikipedia says a town crier is:

The town crier can also be used to make public announcements in the streets. Criers often dress elaborately, by a tradition dating to the 18th century, in a red and gold coat, white breeches, black boots and a tricorne hat. They carry a handbell to attract people’s attention, as they shout the words “here ye, here ye.” 

I’m not making public announcements in the streets, though I could be persuaded, but I do announce the time every morning. I bang on Noodge 1’s bathroom door and shout the time so he will get out of the shower and make it to the bus on time. I don’t understand why he spends so much time in the shower, and honestly, I don’t want to know, but I do want him to make the bus so I march up the steps, bang on the door, and cry out the time.

Part of me finds this whole escapade every morning frustrating because in addition to crying out the time for the shower I must announce the time to wake him up. (The only things missing each morning are the gold coat, white breeches and the handbell. Wait a second, I actually have a handbell! Hmm….I might be going about this all wrong.)

I don’t want to be the town crier, though I might want to wear the clothes. I want Noodge 1 to wake up by himself, take a shower without a reminder to get out and oh, I don’t know, wear his retainer without being told. “Is that too much to ask?” I ask.

But part of me, the mommy part who misses her little bald baby sometimes, takes a deep breath and says “enjoy being the crier. You look good in the hat.” You see, in two very short years, Noodge 1 will be in college and I won’t be able to walk into his room and shake him awake or bang on his bathroom door. I’ll miss him terribly and wake each morning wondering if he got off to class all right. I won’t know how he’s spending his time or if he’s getting his homework done.

Noodge 2 doesn’t need me to wake her up, gets ready on time, and has one foot out the door into adulthood already. She won’t step into her brother’s place for me.

After Noodge 1 goes, how will I spend my mornings?

Folding up the breeches, hanging up the coat, tucking away the tricorne hat.

You can bet I’ll never stop ringing that bell!

By the way, Welcome To Skull Mountain, book three in the Gabriel Hunter series, is due out the end of November. More details coming soon.

FOF007_Wilkes_KataTartaroo_F_LRBut first let me tell you a little story, with the upcoming release of my third book, I’m going to submit Welcome To Kata-Tartaroo (Book One) to BookBub for selection. BookBub is an on-line ebookstore that allows readers to purchase really good books for a small amount. Not every book submitted is selected, but from my research it appears those books that are selected end up with lots of downloads which means more readers than before. I’d like to be one of those authors. I’d really like to grow my readership, but here’s where I need help. I need more reviews on Amazon and GoodReads in order to be chosen. I don’t have enough now, so if you’ve already read Kata-Tartaroo, and haven’t yet written a review, would you mind writing a short review for me? One sentence will do. It doesn’t have to be 5 stars either.

And if you haven’t read Kata-Tartaroo yet, but would like to here’s the link to my Amazon Author’s Page.

Please write the review by Sept. 30th then comment back here so I know the review is up and I will put your name in a drawing for one random winner to receive a $25 Amazon Gift Card.

Thank you for your continued support of my writing and my blog!! I couldn’t do this without you. 


photo courtesy of

photo courtesy of

I usually write silly stories about my family and my writing that I hope make you laugh and entertain you. But today, I want this blog to be about remembering. We have to remember the acts of September 11th. We must remember the 3,000 people who lost their lives that day.

Those people were going to work, planning their lives. They worried about their children, their parents, will they get the promotion, will she marry me if I ask, will I be a good father when the baby comes, will I ever be a father at all? They were mothers, sisters, wives, husbands, brothers, fathers, aunts, and uncles. They were our neighbors and our friends.

They were innocent. They did nothing wrong that day. But they died for being American.

For the first time in 14 years, I thought I’d make it through this day without crying. Maybe I’m finally past it, I thought. I was wrong. I listened to a woman on the radio recount her experience on Sept. 11th and I was doing okay until she spoke about the people jumping from the tower. A man, with his tie flapping in the wind holding the hand of a woman whose skirt was riding up. She kept trying to push it back down against the force of the wind as she plummeted to the ground. She was worried about being modest in the last moments of her life.

This is the greatest country in the world. The one place, with hard work, where you can make your dreams come true, make as much money as you want, the place where you can speak your mind, and practice your beliefs. On September 11th, all that we hold dear was rattled, cracked, broken even. And it hasn’t stopped. Terrorism has still touched our soil, by monsters who believe that the very country that allows them to practice their beliefs should be stopped.

Today I say, no more.

Today I say, never forget.

Well, like everywhere on the east coast it is the start of another school year. So many of us are jumping up and down and shouting, “YEAH!!!” My kids are going to learn all kinds of great stuff, make ever-lasting friendships, and love their parents unconditionally. Okay, I admit it, there are chocolate rivers where I live.

But seriously, the school year is upon us and I love the structure the school day gives our lives. My kids get on the bus at an ungodly hour, and in the winter in the pitch darkness, and I now have 7 hours to write, which really means I have 7 hours to write, market my writing, take care of the house, the dog, and exercise because I constantly slurp from the chocolate river.

Today was the first day of school for Noodge 2. She’s in the 8th grade and Noodge 1 started his sophomore year last week. I’m a big kid mom, which means, I’ve been to the first day of school rodeo several times. And I think it’s showing.

Two years in a row I forgot to take someone’s picture on the first day. Probably because they no longer begin on the same day and once the first one goes, well, it ends up being tough luck for the second one. I’ve stopped buying brand new clothes for the first day of school unless I’m pestered which would only be by Noodge 2 since she’s a she. But why bother wearing new fall clothes when the first week of school could be a hundred degrees and you’re going to need to wear the same things you’ve been wearing all summer? Why not wait a few weeks, the crowds will die down and the fall clothes will be on sale. You won’t need a sleeve until October. See? Big Kid Mom tricks. Ten years ago I was a very different mommy.

But I always drive my kids to the bus stop because we live too far away from it to walk and if they did even want to walk, which God forbid, they do not, they’d have to leave at least 10 minutes sooner to get there on time and we all know what 10 less minutes means in the morning. Even in the land of chocolate rivers.

For the high schooler, I drive down, drop him off and turn around to go home. Easy-peasy-one-two-threesie. And remember, school started last week. High school is old hat by now. But the middle school started today. Oh boy, what a difference at this bus stop and there has been a bus restructuring so now we have some elementary school kids on the bus. Big Kid Mommy wasn’t expecting what she found at the bus stop. Oh no.

Tons of kids, in the street, lined up to take photos and all the young mommies outside their cars, chatting, cameras at the ready. There was even a daddy and a mommy team. Really? It’s just the first day of school. There are 179 more opportunities to come to the bus stop.

Unfortunately, for me, it’s a been there, done that, kind of thing. I’m an old mommy. I want the bus to come so I can get back to work. And don’t get me wrong, I love my kids to death. I enjoyed having them around all summer, but it’s school and it’s time to get back to business.

So, when we turned onto the street and there was a parade of people at the bus stop, I stopped the car half-way down the street, turned to my daughter, told her how much I loved her, to have a fantastic day, but I wasn’t going to attempt to drive my vehicle through that crowd to jockey for a space on the street and I wasn’t going to get out of my car and take pictures of her. She would rather die than allow me to do that. School pictures are only allowed in the house and I can only share them with my mother.

And guess what? I forgot to snap a picture of her this morning,after all. Well, that’s what tomorrow is for or the next day. In twenty years, who will even remember what day it was I took that picture? Not me, I’ll be sipping from the chocolate river.

This baby will be born in November.

This baby will be born in November.

Welcome To Skull Mountainbook three in the Gabriel Hunter series, will be out in November if it kills me and it just might.

Let me tell you a little about writing a book: it’s hard! And it doesn’t get any easier with each book you write. Sure, there are mechanical elements that have to be in every story, and I’m not talking about comma placement, but it seems the more I know the harder it is to write. I say things to myself like, “that can’t happen,” or “don’t forget on page 59 the character said this.” I won’t bore you with the nonsense that runs around in my head.

I’ve heard this analogy a million times, but it’s worth repeating. Writing a book is the same as birthing a baby. For those of you who have birthed your babies you’ll understand, and for everyone else, trust me. I spend months writing a first draft, just like a pregnancy. There’s research to do, like I did when I was having Noodge 1. “Ooh, what does the baby look like this week???!!” The story has to get on the page, just like the baby must grow in womb.

But the editing process is just like the labor and delivery. And if you were like me and gave birth without the aid of pharmaceuticals (not my choice, believe me) the pain of reworking your novel rivals that of pushing a child into the world. Because when Skull Mountain will finally be done, I’ll be panting, sweating, thinking I’m not going to survive, and wondering why the heck I thought writing this book was a good idea to begin with.

Then when your baby is born, wearing a beautiful new cover with your name printed on it and crisp, clean pages to flip on the inside filled with your magical words that come to life, you’ll want everyone in the world to know about it because you created it. “Look what I made! Me! I did that! Can you believe it??!!” Just like having a baby.

You’re going to want everyone to come over and visit with the baby. You’ll want them to hold it, see how marvelous it is, and then write a great review about it so others will want to pick up your baby and drool over it too.

The difference is your book will never sass you back. It won’t know more than you do, think you’re old no matter how long ago you wrote it, and it won’t go to the therapist some day blaming their failures or bad book rankings on you.

Skull Mountain is in the labor and delivery process now. This has been a very long delivery for me since I decided to trash the original version of this book and start over. But come November, you’ll have a brand-new pretty copy to hold in your hands or download to your Kindle. I hope you’ll come visit us on the maternity floor and ooh and aah over it. I’ll have the cannolis. I’ll need it.