THE UNREPENTANT: a story of survival & revenge

Charlotte Reyes has been kidnapped, beaten, and raped repeatedly. And she’s only eighteen years old. Former soldier Mace Peterson happens upon Charlotte during her escape attempt, and in a split-second decision, he aids her escape and puts himself in the path of ruthless, evil men.

Charlotte quickly realizes that escaping isn’t enough. She’ll have to kill every man involved so he can’t harm more women. Mace doesn’t support her plan, especially when she puts his ex-wife in danger with her recklessness. But he’s in too deep to step away, and together they’ll get the revenge that Charlotte so desperately needs.

E.A. Aymar’s The Unrepentant is unflinchingly dark and brutal. Both main characters suffer from PTSD, and there’s no shortage of violence. But there are surprising moments of comic relief.

Aymar never shames or victim-blames Charlotte, and this simple fact makes this brutal story digestible. And when Charlotte begins her quest for revenge, the story remains tense but also becomes wickedly fun.

Girls and women are trafficked every single day. I hope more authors give them voices and stories that aren’t steeped in shame. Charlotte is a victim, but more than that she’s a survivor.

LAST MINUTE: curl up with a gritty cozy

If you’re FB friends with me, you’ve heard me gush about my girlcrush on Libby Kirsch. I’ve known her for just under two years. We were introduced by another Ann Arbor author, Sarah Zettlel. Since we’re both busy with writing and kids, we’ve developed our friendship over writing time at the library and brunch, and two glorious trips to Bouchercon. Other than the pages we’ve traded for critiques, I’ve never read any of her work (sorry, girl). Mainly because I didn’t want to read her books and pass any judgements as writers are prone to do. But she needed someone to do a quick editing pass before her next book was released (TODAY, BTW!) and I couldn’t say no. Really, I couldn’t. She had agreed to take a look at my latest, messy rough draft and it would have been super jerky of me to refuse to do an edit of hers when it’s already polished and ready. And really with the world falling apart, the best distraction I can think of is reading fiction. This is how I came to read the advanced reading copy of LAST MINUTE, the second in Kirsch’s Janet Black series.

The protagonist Janet Black is a hardworking, hands-on bar owner. I’m a former bartender and restaurant manager, so this character was dear to my heart right away. When one of her regulars learns of a suspicious death in the family, Janet has to put her business on hold to solve the crime because the cops aren’t getting it right. The local police chalk up the death to an accidental overdose, but Janet’s investigative intuition suspects more is at stake. She’s already in trouble for snooping without a PI license, so she has to grab clues quick before she’s caught again. She’s treading on dangerous ground with both the cops and the yet-to-be-identified murderer.

When Janet discovers the victim has ties to a drug dealer and a hired escort, and her prime suspect turns up dead, she’s pretty sure she’s gotten herself into an unintended mess that she can’t extract herself from. Can she protect the innocent and find the real killer before she becomes the next victim, while keeping her bar running, keeping her increasingly frustrated boyfriend from leaving, and keeping herself out the pokey?

My favorite thing about this book is the way Kirsch captures the chaos in Janet’s life. There is a rising anxiety that follows her as the story unfolds and she’s trying to keep her life together. But perhaps since Kirsch comes from the cozy world, the anxiety is manageable and not overwhelming.

LAST MINUTE is the second standalone book in the heart-pounding Janet Black Mystery series. It’s a fun, chaotic ride with blue-collar Tennesseans. It’s entertaining, gritty escapism that won’t leave you depressed or angry. It’s available TODAY on Amazon.

Find your inner pretentious dish

What pretentious hipster food is lurking in your soul? Find out here!

Select the food assigned to your birth month-

January: Julienned

February: Tempura-battered

March: Truffle-infused

April: Curried

May: Twice-baked

June: Capicola-wrapped

July: Locally-sourced

August: Artisanal

September: Moroccan-spiced

October: Pureed

November: Cocoa-crusted

December: Braised


Next find the date of your birth-

1.     Pancetta

2.    Gouda

3.    Brussels sprout(s)

4.    Asparagus

5.    Duck confit

6.    Goat cheese

7.    Lentils

8.    Scallop(s)

9.    Filet

10.   Parsnip(s)

11.   Short rib(s)

12.   Hearts of palm

13.   Daikon radish

14.   Bone marrow

15.   Quail egg

16.   Calamari

17.   Camembert

18.   Kale

19.   Orecchiette

20.  Pork belly

21.   Brioche

22.  Chorizo

23.   Fennel

24.   Lobster

25.   Tuna

26.   Plantain(s)

27.   Parsnip(s)

28.   Duck bacon

29.   Soft-shell crab

30.   Lamb

31.   Brie


And the first letter of your first name-

A: With raspberry coulis

B: Drizzled with Nutella

C: With crème fraiche

D: Au Gratin

E: A l’orange

F: Carbonara

G: With hollandaise

H: With root vegetable remoulade

I: Pops

J: Flatbread

K: With roasted shallots

L: Ravioli

M: With balsamic reduction drizzle

N: On a bed of micro greens

O: With garlic aioli

P: Soufflé

Q: Sliders

R: Waffles

S: Skewers

T: Croquettes

U: Crepes

V: Meatballs

W: Quiche

X: Crostini

Y: Tart

Z: Tacos

I’m a Moroccan-spiced duck confit soufflé. Now that I know, I can fix all of my problems.

Planning for Disney requires booze

After years of procrastination, the Jones family is finally planning a trip to Disney.  And holy shit, I had no idea how much work just planning this crap would be.

This shit is legit giving me a migraine.
This shit is legit giving me a migraine.

The first thing I did was visit a friend who makes frequent Disney trips. She and her husband were very helpful and had so much information that I left feeling completely overwhelmed. They had an abundance of advice to offer but it couldn’t conquer my theme park ignorance. Fortunately, we had to delay the trip a year because right after the Disney interrogation meeting, we bought a new house.

So, the first thing I did this go-round was enlist the help of a Disney travel agent. She works for Disney, so it’s a commission situation that doesn’t add to the already bazillion dollar cost. She has taken care of everything with the minimal amount of input I can bring myself to give.

Just tell me where to show up, yo.
Just tell me where to show up, yo.

Now we’re to the part where we have to pick restaurants and parks. I have no idea why this is so overwhelming for me. Probably because I’m the mom and if we go to a park that’s not as fun as it should be, or we eat a restaurant that turns out to be grody, it will be me who is subjected to the loudest whining.

I really don’t give two shits if we eat with Chip and Dale instead of Donald Duck. Nobody likes Donald Duck anyway. He’s the Newman of Mickey Mouse. And I can promise that no matter where we eat, I’ll constantly be reminded that not eating grains or cheese makes me a restaurant pariah.  So I’ll eventually relent and eat whatever is offered, even if that means spending half of the vacation feeling like I accidentally swallowed a basketball that will never, ever pass through.

A delicious way to ruin my day!
A delicious way to ruin my day!

And no, there isn’t a marijuana dispensary at Disney.

Oh, yeah. This guy is totally holding.
Oh, yeah. This guy is totally holding.

My hope is that the planning is worse than the actual trip will be. I do tend to get worked up about things that usually turn out fine. There will be cool Star Wars stuff, and Phineas and Ferb. It can’t be awful, right? Or maybe it will be an absolute shit-show, complete with kid meltdowns and colitis.


Either way, we’re freaking going. Yay, Disney!

Mystery Men rocks my socks.

Superhero movies are ubiquitous in our culture. But none have been as underrated as 1999’s Mystery Men. It’s a story about a bunch of nobodies desperate to be heroes in crime-ridden Champion City. It was panned by critics and lost a ton of money. But here’s why it’s one of the best movies ever:

1. Ben Stiller is a ticking time bomb of fury. His character Mr. Furious is a convinced that his super powers come from a place of unbridled rage. The only problem is that his anger is actually fairly mild and benign, and his real name not Furious. It’s Roy.

This is an angry primal scream to let you know he's really furious.
This is a big-time primal scream to let you know that he’s really furious.

2. Janeane Garofalo makes bowling look really cool. She plays The Bowler, the only female superhero in the ensemble. She is the son of Carmine the Bowler, and is out to avenge his death. And she keeps his skull in a bowling ball.

Whatever. I have the coolest ball and your ball is stupid.
Whatever. She has the coolest ball and your ball is stupid.

3. This movie is full of awesome quotes. Including, but definitively not limited to, “He who questions training only trains himself at asking questions,” and “I don’t need a compass to know which way the wind shines.”

4. Tom Waits builds awesome weapons. He plays Doc Heller, a genius who makes powerful non-lethal weapons for champions of justice.

Yo, bro. Tom Waits has what you need.
Yo, bro. Tom Waits has what you need.

5. Paul Reubens has the worst farts ever. Pee Wee Herman himself plays the Spleen, a man who was cursed by a gypsy to “forever be he who dealt it”. It’s a chemical weapon straight from his ass.

Mystery Men was not the worst time he's ever had at the movies.
Mystery Men was not the worst time he’s ever had at the movies.

6. Hank Azaria likes to throw forks. He plays the Blue Raja, and his catchphrases include “I say, what the fork!” His super skills all center around silverware.

Don't make fun of his forks if you're not willing to save Champion City yourself!
Don’t make fun of his forks if you’re not willing to save Champion City yourself!

7. Eddie Izzard is a disco-dancing bad guy named Tony P. He killed The Bowler’s dad, and he’s a giant fan of velvet and fake fur. His wardrobe is reason enough to watch this film.

These clothes were from his personal wardrobe.
Pretty sure these clothes were from his personal closet.

8. The main bad guy is played by none other than Geoffrey Rush, and his name is Casanova Frankenstein. He plans to vaporize Champion City, and that just ain’t cool to the Mystery Men.

That's Lena Olin by his side, you guys.
That’s Lena Olin by his side, you guys.

9. I know this is the writer geek in me talking, but I honestly enjoy the character arcs in this movie. The protagonists are sympathetic and lovable, and they all find their redemption (spoiler alert).

10. Tim Burton may or may not have been the director. The director credit goes to someone named Kinka Usher, whose resume includes no other movies, only commercials. Tom Waits eluded in his autobiography that Tim Burton was indeed the director. I love this movie either way, but it’s always fun to entertain a real-life Hollywood mystery.

Fall schmall

Everybody I know seems to be worked into a froth over autumn leaves. “Yay, orange and red on the trees and falling to the ground and making big colorful piles and shit. Blah, blah, blah…”

These harbingers of doom are lovely!
These harbingers of doom are lovely!

Please friends, stop having kittens over dying leaves. Because the death of the leaves is just the beginning. Everything is going to die for the winter, including my soul.

Forgive me if that seems hyperbolic. I assure it’s not. Winter in Michigan is AWFUL, comparable only to Dante’s fifth circle of Hell.

It begins with lovely leaves falling daintily in the wind. Next the wind grows more powerful and tears the shingles off of your house and tosses your cat into the neighbor’s fire pit which is thankfully not lit because it’s already too cold to even use a freaking fire pit. The snow sprinkles down next and it’s almost pretty for a few days. Next, the wind chill drops to forty below and everything freezes over and the first person who calls it a “winter wonderland”’ will get a punch in the crotch from yours truly. Eight months later, the thaw happens and I finally leave my house for the first time that calendar year.

The leaves were trying to warn us.
The leaves were trying to warn us.

And please don’t say “at least you have seasons” as if freezing my ass off for most of the year is better than living in a nice, warm climate that is secure enough in its identity to remain stable instead of changing into a hose beast just because that’s what it did last year. Having more than one season is not what it’s cracked up to be.

No snow needed.
No snow needed.

So until I get back to a warmer locale where I belong, please appreciate your precious leaves to yourself. Because it’s all doom to me.

Children’s books you’ve never heard of

My daughter brought home BJ Novak’s The Book With No Pictures from the school library last week. It’s a delightful book that we read 100 times before she returned it. But as a struggling writer, I have to acknowledge that for every children’s book that gets published (I was going to go into a rant here about celebrity books getting special treatment but I can’t because BJ Novak is a hella good writer), there are a thousand or so that never make it to the bookshelves. Here’s a small sampling of children’s books that you’ll never have the opportunity to read:

Your Parents Got a Divorce Because You’re a Jerk

You’re Right, Your Boobs Will Never Grow

When You’re Naughty God Kills a Child in Africa

Everybody Thinks You’re Weird

Santa Does Exist Because He’s the Devil

Your Mom is a Stripper, Not a Ballerina

Your Spirit Animal is an Earthworm

There’s a Portal to Hell in Your Basement But It Won’t Swallow You If You Obey Your Parents

So the next time you read a good book, please take a second to consider the writers who work hard every day only to be told that their books aren’t good enough or too creepy for children. Just because kids are sissies doesn’t mean that a talented writer’s voice should be ignored.



Pop Music

I heard a song on the radio today. It was a very bad song. It was about a place where everyone is young and thin and good-looking, but no one has to work for it. They all eat nachos all day and remain fantastically thin and good-looking and no one has zits or wrinkles. I decided I wouldn’t like this place. It’s a place I would like to ruin with my recklessness and then pretend it was my favorite place. I’d even wear the custom t-shirt to prove I was there.