6.27.2015

Hi, my name is Rachel and last week I had the most epic seven days of my life and now I've had to go back to real life and it's hard. 

It's so hard. 

The struggle is real, people!!!!! 

Let's start at the beginning. That might make it easier for you to understand how great my week was. 

First, I should say that every summer for the last three years, Zach and I have taken a trip to Nashville, TN, where I've taken part in UtopYA Con!! UtopYA is this amazing annual conference for authors and readers. I don't make it to a ton of signings, but UtopYA is always a priority!! I love it. The environment is incredible and so very inspiring. There is just nothing else like it out there. 

But this year, something extra cool happened, when my good friend Amy Bartol said, HEY! Let's go to Mumford and Sons FIRST. 

See, here's how this came about. Mumford and Sons became a band. Then they started releasing music worldwide. Then I fell irrevocably in love with them. So irrevocably in love with them that probably no band or music or musician will ever be able to unseat them. I love a lot of music, but I have never loved music like this. I had my first legit emotional connection with one of their songs. It's true. 

Hopeless Wanderer.

That song is my jam. For life. 

Anyway, two years ago, they came to Kansas City, which is only 2.5 hours away from us. Zach and I got tickets with our friends AJ and Kristen. I got so excited for the concert that I planned to leave an entire week early. I packed up the car all ready to go. I even got the sitter to come over.

When my husband, my exasperated patient husband, broke the news to me that it was the following weekend, I went into a Mumford depression that took some wine to get over. But no big deal, right? We were still going to see them! We still had tickets. We still had a hotel room. We were good to go.

Except we weren't!!! In that time, that short time between that weekend to the next, Ted, the bassist, got a freaking BRAIN TUMOR and they had to cancel the tour!!!! 

In that tiny, one week span of time, there was a BRAIN TUMOR!!!!!! 

They obviously had to cancel the show. 

And I obviously didn't get to see them. 

I was a wee bit devastated.

Then I actually slipped into a depression. That was the worst. And when they rescheduled the show months later, we couldn't go see them. I think we had dance. (Back when I was a crazy dance mom. Oh, the seventh circle of hell good old days.) 

You guys, for two years, I mourned the concert I would never get to see. I can't even tell you the hole in my heart from my missed opportunity. I've seen so many good shows in my life, but I just knew nothing would ever be as good as that Mumford show. 

But the story doesn't end there. This spring Mumford announced that they would be touring the States again. Cue my reaction. That went something like this: YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

There was some cheering! Some major grinning! And maybe, possibly, potentially tears of joy.

Except... Get. This. We were already locked into UtopYA, which had a concrete date and time, which was also in Nashville. That was happening. I was in. All the way. But the thing was, Mumford and Sons were playing at Bonaroo- in Nashville- the weekend BEFORE UtopYA. Aka the weekend BEFORE I was going to be there! THEN. As if that wasn't bad enough... They were going to be in Iowa, which is right next door to Nebraska and their venue was only a few hours away from me, the weekend I was going to be at Utopya in Nashville! Do you see the problem here???

I could have literally passed them on the road to Nashville, but never heard them play. 

I had a second bout of Mumford Depression. 

And you guys. That's no fun. 

So, one night while I was whining my ass off voicing my mature frustration to some of my friends, Amy spoke up and was all, HEY RACHEL! Mumford is going to be in my state the day before UtopYA, how about you come up here first, see the concert with me and then we caravan to Nashville together. 

Amy Bartol to the rescue, everyone!!!!!! She saved me. And her mutual love for Mumford only makes me love her more!!!! Seriously. That was the best concert ever. 

Here is my drive to Michigan. I started Love and Decay, Season Four. Aren't you excited for that???         


Fun fact about me! I love to write in the car!! I call it my mobile office. I got 11,000 words written on the way up there! Woot woot!

Zach and I got to Michigan super late Monday night and checked into our hotel, then ate a super crappy meal at Buffalo Wild Wings, because it was the only place still open. We got there late because we spent the day hunting down beers along the way that we can't get in Nebraska. FYI Nebraska has a really terrible selection of beer and my husband is basically an aficionado. A beer connoisseur, if you will. 

This is us hunting for yummy and rare beers. 



We had a lot of fun in Michigan on Tuesday!! We ate horrible Mexican food and drove around the greater Flint/Clarkston area in search of good beer! And we found some!! All in all we had a pretty awesome Beer Haul. 

Tuesday night we met up with Amy for the concert!! It should be said. The world should know. That I love that woman!!!! For real. I told her during our week together, that I might tell her I love her more than I tell that to my husband. :) 

She is amazing. 

And the concert was amazing. More than Amazing. It was life-changing and epic and perfect and they played so many fabulous songs from their old albums and their new. If you ever get a chance to see them live TAKE IT. And invite me to go too.

This is Amy and me at the concert!!! 


And this is us with Zach!!! He was such a trooper! He put up with hours and hours and hours of standstill traffic and Amy and me cackling about everything we thought was funny- which is a lot of things by the way. He just loves me so much. 

Also. I love him!!! He's the best kind of man.



This is the start of the show!! There were SO many people there!! But the sound was amazing and nights in Michigan are perfect. It was like 60 degrees outside. The sky was clear. There was this lovely breeze. 

And you guys. Mumford was on stage playing ALL OF THE SONGS THAT I LOVE!!!

Except Hopeless Wanderer... which broke my heart. But I've watched their Road to Redrocks concert like a bajillion times and I knew they didn't play it for that either... so I didn't really have my hopes up. 

But still. That's my dying wish. Mumford playing Hopeless Wanderer live. That's all I ask for. 


 We were up crazy late(especially for me because I'm old.) Tuesday night. We had to drive around forever looking for a place to eat because we didn't eat before the concert. And we found this grungy little diner that was open 24 hours and served the worst best breakfast food ever.

It was the best because I was famished and I just needed sustenance before I crashed face first on my pillows.

And then I died.

Just kidding. I didn't really. But I did have to wake up the next morning and realize I had just seen Mumford live and then I had to go on living the rest of my life.

But you guys. MUMFORD!

The rest is just kind of anticlimactic at this point. :)

I'm being dramatic. I know... I'll move on.

So after driving all day Monday, then our epic late night Tuesday, we got up Wednesday morning and caravan-ed with Amy all the way to Nashville.

UtopYA Time!!!!!

The thing about Utopia(It got a name change last week) is that it's filled with the most wonderful people of all time. For real. My favorite authors are there. My favorite readers are there. Janet Wallace is there. And she is fabulous.

We hang out. We talk all things industry. We have incredible, moving, life-changing, inspiring keynotes. We go and sit on and discuss panels. We eat the best meals and drink with the best people. And it's basically like summer camp for adults only with alcohol. And the things there completely change and further your career.

If you haven't gone. You need to.

If you have gone. You need to come back and hang out with me!!!!

Here I am hanging out with some of my favorite people of all time.

This is Jamie Magee and me. I love this woman!!! When we talk on the phone it's never less than four hours. We seriously talk about everything. She has such a unique insight into what we do. And the way she writes is really inspiring to me. I got to spend four days with her and meet her adorable daughter!!! It was the best!!


Here I am again with Amy. Because we are inseparable. But Heather Lyons is in between us this time!!!! I love that woman too!! See? I just know the best people. I really do. Heather and I have been friends online, but we finally-FINALLY got to meet in real life and we found out something super cool. We're actually soul sisters. :) For real though. She is wonderful. And my life is better because I know her. I cannot wait to hang out with her again. 



There are so many other people that I forgot to get pictures with. Tammy Blackwell. Amy Evans. Janet Wallace. Regina Wamba. Michelle Miller. And her hubby Jonathon. Mindy Hayes. Jessica Surgett. Rebecca Donovan. Denise Grover Swank. Delphina Henley. Chelsea Fine. Stephanie Erickson. Amy Miles. And Rick Miles. I met Adam Kunz! Stacey Marie Brown.And the list goes on and on and on. 

I told you UtopYA has the best people! I wasn't lying. 

I met Kim Holden too!!! And she is the sweetest. I'm convinced there's not a nicer person on the planet. 

I was on a panel about serials. I talked a lot about Love and Decay and my process of how I write it. It was so fun!! Then on Saturday, there was an all day signing and you guys. I sold out of 5 Stages AND Love and Decay AND Bet on US AND I only had two copies of Reckless left!!! I took a ton of books! 

But somebody bought them all! 

I couldn't believe it!

Here I am getting ready to sign books. 




I met so many cool people. It was such a good day. 

Then Saturday night was the award show. And something so crazy happened. The Five Stages of Falling in Love won Best Contemporary Book of the year!!!!! I mean, WHAT!!!!

This is Zach and me before the awards show. I love making him take selfies with me. He does not love it. :) But like I said... he loves me. So he puts up with me. Also check out this picture... there's a photobomb within a photobomb. Lol!


Then the award happened. And you guys... I was shocked. And I'm not being humble or nice or sarcastic or anything. I was legitimately stunned. I have no idea how I got up on stage. Or what I said. Or if I said anything intelligent or coherent or relevant. I can't even remember what came out of my mouth!! It's just white fuzz in my head.
I never expected to win. Not in a million years. 

So a huge thank you to everyone that voted. And to God, and my husband and my kids and my mom and my street team and panel and my agent and my publicist and my editor and everyone else I forgot to thank on stage. (I did thank some of them. And I think I made a joke about Zach... but like I said. Major Blank Space.) 

But here's a picture of me accepting the award. So at least I know I made it up on stage!!!!  


Here's a picture of Amy and Heather too. Because they're incredible and super talented. So of course they win awards!!! 

I'm so proud to call them my friends. 



My street team was also there!! And they're not really just my street team anymore. A TON of them have gone off to become these super successful writers. I could not be more proud of them. I love them soo much and they're just making names for themselves and kicking ass. It's incredible.

Here I am with a bunch of them! This is after the awards.

Aren't they gorgeous??? From left to right, then back to front. Catarina- my amazing, patient admin, Kelly, Theresa Kay(check out her book, Broken Skies!!!), Me, Stormy Smith(GO READ Bound by Duty!!!!), Alex Tuttle(Pick up Spark of Light by Elizabeth Tuttle FAST) Lenore- the most fabulous beta reader on the planet, Caylie Marcoe(Seriously, go get Choose Us right this second!!), Carla, Regan Claire (You MUST READ Gathering Water!!!), Leigh and Kat Nichols(By now you should know that when I say go download Family Secrets, I really, truly mean it!!!)

I told you they were amazing.

Utopia was just... incredible. And I'm so blessed to have been and experienced everything and gotten to weave that into the fabric of my life. Those four days were the only way it was possible for me to move on after Mumford. I needed something equally as epic to push me forward. And I got it!!! 

After Utopia, Zach and I headed home, but made a quick overnight stop in St. Louis to celebrate, to decompress and to hunt down some more beer. 




This is our EPIC beer find. Not many people in the world have Love Childs 1-5. Thank you St. Louis!!! 

It's okay to be jealous. :)


 On the way home, I started my next adult contemp!!!! It's called Every Wrong Reason. And you guys... Whew. I'm so excited to give it to you. Cannot wait to start showing you bits and pieces of it!


Now we're back and I somehow have to figure out how to live normal life again.

It's hard.

I just want to stay in my Utopia bubble forever!!! But I have kids. And other responsibilities. And well, mostly kids.

And I love them too. :)

Here's my award, up close and personal!!! Isn't she pretty?


And here I am practicing my closed mouth smile. All of my friends have really good closed mouth smiles. And I look like a huge goober when I cheese it up. This is my more professional look.

I'm pretty sure I still look like a huge goober...


 And here are the REAL stars of the show!! My book haul!! Zach came back with epic beers. I brought back the books. The precious-es.

So pretty.


And here are my Rebel girls' books. I told you they were amazing!! I'm so proud of them and all of their hard work. These books are just proof of how special they are. Keep it up ladies!! I want a stack twice this big next year!


And that's it. That is my very cool seven days of insanity. But in the best way possible.

It's going to be really hard to top this year.

But I cannot wait to try!!!!

I even have my table already. Do you have yours?? Come hang out with me next year!!! I'll sign books and we'll take selfies. I know you can't wait! :)

6.25.2015

So..... THE HEART IS FINALLY LIVE!!!!!

And yes, I had to scream that at you!!

Aren't you excited??

Probably not as excited as me... but you have to at least be a little bit excited, yeah? :)

For real, publishing this book has taken an epic weight off my shoulders. It was so late. So very very very late.

I realized today that it took me two and a half years to publish the three books in this series. That is obnoxious slow...

Of course, I had a million other things going on, ahem Love and Decay other stuff going on and I wasn't just working on this story line, but still! That's a long time to wait and you all have no idea how thankful I am that you stuck with me to the end of this journey.

I keep having other authors tell me how amazing you all are. And it's so true. I have been so stressed about finishing this book and getting it out for you all and I keep telling my writer friends that my readers must HATE ME!!!! But every author I've talked to about this has returned with, but you're readers are seriously amazing. They are so understanding!

And it's true!!! Even my publicist was blown away with how nicely and patiently you waited for me.

So I have to say again and again and again. Thank you for waiting for this one with me. Thank you for loving Ivy and Ryder enough to want more of their story. And thank you for reading, buying and finishing the Siren Series.

You are the best readers in the world. It's true. This is a fact!!!! Even other authors recognize this! :)

So I just wanted to talk a little bit about the series and how much it means to me.

This was one of those plot lines that I have no idea where it came from. Just one day it was in my head and I couldn't shake it. Sometimes I can blame dreams or music or TV or conversations or or my husband (You have him to thank for LandD) or whatever, but I swear this one was divinely implanted because I can't think of any origin for it.

I didn't even know I wanted to write a mythology story until this idea. How weird is that???

Mythology is one of the genres I LOVE to read. But because I never read in the genres that I write in, I knew, if I took on this series, that I would be giving up mythology for a very long time.

That was a lot harder for me than you might think.

But as far as stories go and series that I've finished, this one was so so so worth the sacrifice. I am just so proud of this trilogy and how it came together and the story that I told.

I won't say that I lot. Or I try not to. Usually I'm too insecure to sing my own praises. But, like Love and Decay, I didn't know if I would be able to accomplish what I set out to do.

Honestly, I thought I was doomed to fail. Ivy's story felt too big. The mythological world I wanted to build felt too impossible. The real life issues I wanted to interweave throughout the three books felt daunting and bigger than me and my imagination.

I really thought that I would be forced to give up somewhere around the middle of book two.

Which would have been really sad...

This is one of the reasons I am thankful the series took me so long to write. If I would have tried to finish this series one right after the other, I wouldn't have done it justice.

I really would have failed.

This series took me growing as a writer, growing as a person, growing as an existential being that had to find its place in the vastness of the universe before I could be mature enough and skilled enough to put these words to paper.

I really believe that.

And when I say I took a journey with these books. I mean it. Really, truly, honestly, genuinely mean it.

The sex trafficking industry is something that is very close to my heart. I really think it is the most evil thing in our world. And the more attention we can bring to the realities of sex trafficking, sex slaves, prostitution, child pornography and everything else related the better.

It happens everywhere. In every city, in every state, in every country around the world.

That tag line, "Sex Sells" has never been more poignant or more devastating.

Before I was a writer or a mom or a wife, I spent some time traveling the world. I lived in Europe for six months and three of those months were spent in Romania where I saw up close and personal what prostitution does to women and their children. My team and I worked in orphanages that were packed with infants abandoned by their moms who were forced to solicit their bodies to survive. HIV in that country is the fastest growing disease and it's one of the countries with the highest and fastest growing infection rate. Then a few months later I was in Sri Lanka where I worked with missionaries from India and Nepal actively rescuing women from the sex trade.

I cannot explain to you the heartbreaking stories I heard or how young some of these women are who are sold into sex slavery. They aren't women at all. They're children.

Some of those children don't even know a different life. They were born directly into the it. Can you imagine? Can you imagine you're own children having to face that life or live in that kind of filth and degradation?

I cannot. It breaks my heart like nothing else.

Ivy's story was a fictional look at the sex trafficking world and how dangerous and sick it is. But Ivy's story was only fiction and cannot capture the real pain and anguish that these women and children face on a daily, hourly, minute-by-minute basis.

I get selfishly upset when people threaten to take away minor freedoms in my life. I get frustrated when my kids don't give me the ten minutes of peace and quiet I need to get one thing done.

But these people have no freedom. They have no liberty or dignity or hope. They have been stripped of their value and left for sadistic men to use them against their will.

I am not okay with that. It makes me angry like nothing else.

So as you read this story, as you take this journey, please don't just think about Ivy and Ryder. Please don't just walk away with a satisfied feeling of a completed trilogy. Please please please take the time to think about those actually affected by this evil, those that live in fear and hopelessness and despair.

Please think about them, pray for them and do what you can for them.

That might sound like a lot to ask, but there are lots of places working on the victims' behalf and it's easier than you think to support them.

I know a fabulous group of women that live and work in India. They help to rescue women from prostitution by giving them a real job to support themselves and their families. The company's name is Sari Bari. The women take the beautiful saris from India and turn them into gorgeous quilts and accessories. Seriously, this is such an amazing cause and if you found something you liked, you would be directly contributing to women who were rescued from the sex industry. You would be giving them food and shelter. You would be giving them hope. You would be giving them a reason to keep doing what they're doing and not turn back to a life of prostitution.

They also make fantastic gifts!!!

Here is the link: Sari Bari

Please take the time to check them out.

Plus, how gorgeous are those quilts????

Thank you so very much for sticking with me through this series. Thank you for falling in love with Ivy and with Ryder, for cheering on their freedom and for hating Nix as much as I do.

Thank you for reading and for sharing and for downloading your copies or buying your print books.

You guys make it possible to live out my dream job. For as many words as I write a day, there are not enough to share with you how grateful I am.

Thank you.

If you haven't started the Siren Series yet, The Rush is FREE!!!!! And now that the series is completely finished, you won't have to wait for any more books to come out!!!! Here are the links to all of the books!

The Rush (Book 1)
For Amazon
For Barnes and Noble
For iBooks



The Fall (Book 2)
For Amazon
For Barnes and Noble
For iBooks

The Heart (Book 3)
It's not live on iBooks just yet. But it will be soon!!! 


6.01.2015

I can't believe it's over!!!

Love and Decay. From Reagan's Perspective. Is done.

It's the end of an era.

Or at least it feels that way to me.

Maybe I'm the only one with snot running down her face and a constant stream of excessive emotional tears that feels this way, but writing that last episode was really difficult for me.

Love and Decay has been a journey for me. A journey to being a better writer. A journey to learning to live with massive panic attacks... constantly. A journey in meeting deadlines. A journey to pushing out good content with every page I write. (Or trying to.) And a journey into a genre I never expected to write.

I wrote three seasons over two years. My fingers are tired.

My brain is tired.

My adrenaline is very tired.

All three seasons put together make up something like over 800,000 words. Since one of my full-length books is only 100k words... that's a LOT of books in two years. Plus, the other books that I've published along the way! I need a nap... :)

I just attended this amazing writer's retreat with some of my closest friends. I have never laughed so hard in my life.

This job can be so lonely. It's such a narcissistic profession because it's all about the author. We want to share when we get amazing reviews that exclaim how incredible we are. Then we want to wallow in self-pity when we get bad reviews because the world is crumbling and we're useless and can't put two interesting sentences together and we might as well just give up on everything. Then we are consumed with our stories and pushing the plot and the next great thing we're going to write. Then we're obsessed with character development and twists and cliffhangers and really ourselves. Our brains. We never stop thinking about our worlds.

It is a frustrating place to be for us, but also for the people in our lives. It takes special loved ones to put up with us. So getting together with some of the greatest writers I know and sharing our hopes and dreams, downfalls, mistakes and disappointments is an incredible place to be. Because we understand that about each other in ways that nobody else really does. We can support each other and our vanity because it's mutual and we know what it's like to hate something and love something at the same time, but to also be so devoted to this career that it's become a physical part of us. It's something that defines who we are as humans. It's something that we can't let go of no matter what our sales reports look like or our publishing contracts or any other reason.

I'm beyond happy I found people to share this with me. I found the best people.

But anyway. My friends were reminiscing about the good old days when they typed their fingers to the bone and lived off industrial-sized pots of coffee and slept four hours every night, then got up again the next day and did it again. Now they've all slowed down and developed a balance to their work/home life. Or maybe not slowed down, but at least found a steady pace.

My friend looked at me, and said, "We've all slowed down... except you! That's still how you live!!"

And I had to agree that it was. But I blame it ALL on this novella series!! It is consuming and overbearing. It's demanding. It never lets me sleep. It drives me half insane and completely exhausted with never-ending work.

But it's also worth it.

So worth it.

I know, without a doubt, that I am proud of everything I publish. I'm proud of it because if I wasn't, I wouldn't publish it. I'm proud by default. :)

I try to make sure everything I write is better than the last thing. I want to keep pushing myself and striving for the next level. I always want to become better than who I am today.

But Love and Decay transcends all of that. There are a lot of people that would disagree with me of course. Love and Decay is not their taste, nor did they like the direction the story took. There are people frustrated with the format and the cost and on and on and on.

I'm not saying that L&D is the best thing ever written... Not by a long shot. Lol. But for me it was a journey worth taking. It made me a better writer. I feel it in my bones. It stretched me to places I didn't think I would ever go(Like the Horror genre and Zombies. I mean, What???). It forced me to be on time with deadlines. Something we all know I struggle with. And the story development happened over the longest amount of words for me. (Star-Crossed is technically longer over all, but there are two different story arcs in that series.)

Reagan and I are like schizophrenic soul sisters fictional BFFs. I love that girl. I love how strong she is and stubborn. I love that she's at times the toughest girl you will ever read about and also the weakest, most delicate. I love that she's loyal but careful. Smart but not all-knowing. I love that she is broken and damaged, but not destroyed and empty. She is this beautiful dichotomy that I think most of us can relate to. We are a medley of opposites blended together to make complex, endless people. We're complicated in the best way and I hope she is an image of that.

It's really tough for me to let her go and close this chapter. There are parts of me that just don't want to!

But at the same time, I CANNOT WAIT TO MOVE ON!!!!!!  

I have so much planned for the upcoming seasons. Like. So much.

I cannot wait to jump into the new story arc and take you on a new adventure.

The best part of Love and Decay, Season Three, Episode Twelve was that at the end of that episode, I felt that Reagan's story was completely finished. I told everything that needed and wanted to be told. I gave her a happily ever after and tied that last period with a pretty pink bow.

But now I'm ready for more. The last three seasons almost feel like a warm-up to now. I was just winding us up.

Can 800,000 words really be considered a prologue? Umm... probably not. But humor me.

Several times over the last two years, I've described L&D as a pre-Dystopian. Meaning... this is the world before we get to the Dystopia. This is the Apocalypse part of the Post-Apocalyptic tale. This is the major event that Dystopian books only reminisce about. This is the flashback of the tragedy and heartbreak the world went through to get to that tyrannical government or new world order. This is the war that caused Chicago to break up into four factions in Divergent. The event that caused America to break up into thirteen districts in The Hunger Games. Love and Decay was the part of the dystopian stories never told before.

This was the beginning of the end of the world.

Now, we get to the meat of it.

The juicy stuff.

We're going to jump nine years into the future, where our gang of Parkers and friends are going back to the former United States of America.

The Colony has assumed complete control. Matthias lives and reigns with an iron fist and armies of Zombie hordes. He kills those that disagree with him. He imprisons those that question his authority. And he has never forgotten the small group of rebels that took away his family and gruesomely disfigured him.

The next few seasons will be told from Page Parker's point of view. She is on a mission to restore world order, even though she can't remember a peaceful world or an existence without Feeders. And because the title of the story is Love and Decay and I can't write anything without romance in it... she's probably going to fall in love. :)

This is a new world than what we've seen in L&D so far. So while there will still be Zombies and a struggle to survive, it will be at a different level. This is a world that has adjusted to the Zombie outbreak. They've learned to live and cope in a world of decay. They've moved on as much as they can and day-to-day survival has become something less than impossible.

Maybe not for the Parkers... but at least for the rest of the remaining population.

Reagan was a learned badass. She transformed from peppy cheerleader into Zombie killer extraordinaire.

What you need to know about Page Parker was that she was raised a lethal killer. Page is a weapon, taught to protect herself and her family with punishing skill and exacting precision. She knows how to kill. She knows how to survive.

She knows how to take down the Colony.

Or at least she hopes she does.

Page and Reagan are very different heroines, but they each have a very interesting story to tell.

I hope you'll come back in December to find out all the new places Love and Decay is headed!!! One thing is for sure... it's not going to get less exciting.




 

5.04.2015

Hair-pocalypse.

That's what this is. This is a straight Hair-mageddon.

Nothing less.

I know what you're thinking right now. I can feel it. I can sense your vibes through the murky internet waves and I know you're rolling your eyes and sighing with exasperation.

Let the record show, you've just sighed with exasperation.

You think I'm being dramatic. Overly-dramatic.

And you would not be wrong.

:)

BUT YOU GUYS!!!!!

This is nothing short of an emergency. My hair has reached its limit and with it, I'm positive afraid, my sanity.

I realize that no one on this entire planet not everyone is as obsessed with my hair as I am, but hang with me for just a bit while I regale you with a tale of trauma, timing and bad roots.

The Hair Crisis of 2015 actually started back in November of 2014. Yes. It's been going on for that long. You're heartbroken for me. I can feel that too through the internet vibrations and I just wanted to take a moment to thank you for your sympathy.

On second thought, I think we can trace this hair saga back to last summer.

It was a beautiful summer, filled with lazy days and late nights. We traveled a lot. We spent time with family. We whiled away the days with running through the sprinkler and ice-cold beers on the patio. Fireworks on the Forth of July. Hamburgers on the grill. Starry skies. And lemonade by the gallons.

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times mostly the best of times.

It was during that haze of utopia that I decided it would be best if I went blonde.

I had spent years of my life trying to work dark, wild and raven-haired. But I turned thirty in 2014 and let's get really honest, Brunette stopped working for me somewhere during crow's feet and laugh lines.

Dark and sultry stopped being sexy and turned into something you might find in a Disney film. Carrying a poisoned red apple.

That's right, my goth-chic evolved into something hag-like and not-safe-for-children.

In a nutshell, I started to look old.

Older than I was comfortable with looking.

Let's get real, I'm older than I'm comfortable being. But there's not really anything I can do about that.

Sure, I could probably eat a little bit healthier. I could maybe not drink so much... I could also get into shape and start exercising regularly.

But let's not get crazy.

I want quick easy fixes that can stave off a plastic surgeon's consultation for just a few more years/decades. I want to add something to my life that requires little to no effort and that I don't have to remember, because chances are unless I tattoo it on my forehead, I won't remember it.

Basically I want to change everything, without doing anything.

Obviously.

Okay, moment of truth, I'm mostly joking. I have been working on this healthy mind, healthy body kick for a while. I gave up soda, for instance. That was hard.

That was really freaking hard. 

But I'm feeling much better and I know (after watching the youtube video where a can of Pepsi turned that dead rat into jelly) without a shadow of a doubt that I made the right decision.

Anyway. Back to my hair.

So last summer I decided that I should try something other than... black/brown/chestnut/espresso. I stepped out of my comfort zone. The one that represents everything weird, eclectic and black monotony that I think writer's are entitled to have been blessed by God Himself with. And entered a new world.

An undiscovered, untraveled, unexplored territory. I stepped onto this new planet, sunk my feet into the blonde earth and planted my marker.

I claimed that land for my own and built a log cabin. Pioneer style.

This is mine. My new home. My new... hair.

Do you have any idea what I'm talking about???

No?

I'm a little confused myself.

Let's clarify.

Basically, I went from always having brunette hair to having blonde hair.

Well, there was this one time in college when a box of highlights went terribly wrong and my never-before-touched mousy brown turned as bright as the sun. A beacon of tangled bleached curls that swallowed my head and glowed in the dark.

I was.... alarming to look at.

But that was college. We're all allowed to make mistakes during those years.

Right?

Sure.

The good news is, eventually... two years later... I was able to fix the damage done.

It was then that I swore never to color my hair again.

Wasn't I cute? Wasn't I adorably naive?

Wasn't I stupid young?

Because at twenty years old I didn't need to dye my hair. I didn't have grays to hide or wrinkles to soften. My skin was youthfully tight and my hair shone like a Garnier Fructis commercial.

Fast forward ten years and I can't even remember my original hair color. When it grows out these days it's all GRAY. (See what I did there?)

Nothing shines. Nothing glistens in a camera-ready way. Nothing stays where it's supposed to.

 Grrr... gravity.

My once low maintenance hair has become a cluster of products and appointments. I don't simply use three squeezes of my favorite gel anymore. After a shower, I slip on a lab coat, set out my beakers and begin testing chemicals and conducting toxic experiments in hopes that I'll concoct the correct product cocktail to tame this jungle of frizz.

For some evil, malicious and potentially liberal agenda-ed unknown reason, Nebraska has stopped carrying my favorite hair gel.

Here is a picture of it.




Are you jealous???

Just kidding. I'm perfectly aware of how hazardous that looks. Possibly the Ninja Turtles were born from this very substance. Probably the hole in the ozone layer can be linked back directly to this product.

This is not a safe for children hair gel. This particular ooze should be reserved for nuclear warfare and the off chance that your show pony needs a perm.

And me.

Because it works so good!

For the every day person, this potent bottle of neon yellow sticky stuff would turn your hair into a titanium helmet. Nothing could penetrate the sheer, shiny solidity.

For me? You can't even tell I use a product! My thick porcupine quills strands absorb that stuff like it's the nectar of the gods.

In Greek, Mega Mega Hold really means Ambrosia.

And I NEED it.

But I can't get it.

Although, some really helpful people on Facebook told me about this site, drugstore.com. Which I had no idea existed. And thank heavens, I can buy it on there.

In the meantime, this is what I've downgraded upgraded to.




I mean... WHAT????

Holy hair products, Batman!!!!

There are so many.

Granted, I don't usually use them all at once... just five or six at a time.

That can't be any better than Mega Mega Hold. That at least has to be in the same Carbon Footprint Ballpark as Mega Mega Hold.

And that's not the worst of it.

Not only am I having Product Issues.

I'm having Stylist Issues too.

You guys. My hair stylist broke up with me.

She broke up with me!!!

**cries hysterically into her tub of Ben and Jerrys**

Do you know what this has done to me? Do you know what kind of deep, dark, irreversible depression funk I've fallen into?

I mean, sure, she just had a baby and she wants to stay at home with her kids. Obviously I kind of definitely understand her decision. And I fully support her in every way.

I think it's awesome she gets to be home with her children.

I am totally in every way not in any way bitter that she would choose those rugrats beautiful children over my hair.

Clearly they are so much more important than my hair and my needs and my problems. I would never hold it against her.

Never.

Maybe. 

Never ever.

I'm a stay at home mom too. I 35% 110% get it.

She did the right thing for her family. And really isn't that just what we're all trying to do?

I'm not anything but selfish bitter whiny hair-depressed happy for her.

No, seriously you guys. I really am happy for her. And I truly hope I wasn't even a blip on her radar when she made her decision. She had TONS of loyal customers, who would have done anything to stay with her. But clearly, her family needed to come first. She was good at what she did, but she will be great at home.

I truly believe that.

Meanwhile, I'm out of a hair stylist and my roots are six Inches LONG!!!!!

My hair is the opposite of pretty and put together right now. Trust me when I say, there is absolutely no way to take me seriously as an adult.

My frizzed-out, half-brown, half-blonde, salt-and-pepper Medusa throwback is a sight to behold.

I'm a little afraid of the lasting damage I'm imparting on my children. Or the kids in our neighborhood. Or any human being that accidentally comes into contact with me.

I can't even take my hair seriously right now. I look and the mirror and can't help but laugh. It's ridiculous.

Go home, Hair, you're drunk!!!!

I need to get it done. I do. I just need to call up some complete stranger that supposedly went to hair school, so they supposedly know how to handle any kind of hair, and sit down in their chair and trust them.

Trust them not to F THIS UP.

Because as bad as it is right now... it can get worse.

Oh, so much worse.

Before I found this last hair stylist, I went through an entire phone book of bad stylists. And let me just say, that even though my hair physically healed, the emotional damage will last a life time.

One of them gave me bangs. Really short, eyebrow-length-when-it-was-wet-and-straight... bangs. (Just imagine how short they were when those curls dried... Yikes!!)

Let's face it, as much as I love the straight-bang look, curls and bangs do not mix.

In fact, they shouldn't even come into consideration when someone has curly hair! There should be a universal law against cutting bangs on curly-haired girls.

Who do I need to talk to in order to make that happen???

For real.

The UN? The League of Justice???

Obama???

And as crazy selfish as this sounds, it's not just about me! If you can believe it, I'm really thinking about them!!!

It takes four hours to do my hair. Four.

That's not even a little bit of an exaggeration. It takes four hours to cut and color this nest.

I don't want to do that to somebody.

Ain't nobody got time for that.

In the past, I've led with that. I don't want the poor stylist to walk into something they're not prepared for. So I tell them upfront, that my hair is a time warp and they won't be leaving for the next four hours.

They usually laugh, full of pride and naivety, and say, "I don't know who's been cutting your hair, but it won't take me that long."

They're so cute.

4.5 hours later... they understand.

They don't style my hair. They go to war with it.

Now I have to do that all over again... I have to ruin some poor soul's afternoon by having the most difficult hair on the planet.

There's no amount of tip that can make up for that.

Okay, that's probably a lie. I'm sure there is a dollar amount that can make all of that time and energy worth it.

I'm just too cheap on a budget and can't afford to write the check for their firstborn's freshman year of college.

Do you understand my dilemma? I'm stuck. I'm stuck with frizzy hair and gray roots.

And it's all because I went blonde last summer.

I could hide these roots if I'd stuck with chocolate. Or rich auburn. Or any other color but blonde.

But no. I went blonde and now my head is two-toned.

I've been telling everyone that it's a reverse hombre. That sounds legit right???

WRONG.

So wrong.

There's no such thing as a reverse hombre!! It's not real! I made it up!!! That's how desperate I've become! I've started to MAKE UP hair styles!!!

Why is being a girl so hard????

That was a real question. Does anyone have an answer?

Can I blame this on Eve and the Fall of Man?

Good, because I'm going to.

Just like I blame cramps and laundry on her. (Because they were naked in the Garden of Eden and didn't need to wash clothes. One of my good friends told me that one and I had to agree. Thanks a lot for laundry, Eve!!)

The good news is that tonight I'm going to try Plopping. (Which is a method of drying your hair by wrapping your wet curls in a t-shirt, in case you thought I had a bowel issue on top of everything else.)

We'll see how that goes. At this point, I'm not holding out much hope. But come on, Universe, this head of hair needs a miracle.

Or at least a solid recommendation for a hair stylist.

I'll take either at this point.



 


 

4.26.2015

You'd think it was my kids right??

I mean, there are four of them.

Four.

FOUR!!!

That's too many a lot of children running around.

Sometimes I don't know what to do with them all. There are just so many of them. And they're close in age. My oldest is eight and my youngest will be three in August! I mean, what was I thinking????

People actually ask me that a lot. Complete strangers think it's up to them to remind me how babies are made and what I should do to stop this fertility train.

I usually agree with them.

:)

Just kidding. I love my huge family! I love all of these rugrats running around and creating havoc on my sanity.

I've even wondered if this is enough kids? Or maybe we should add another.

I've also said, a lot, like maybe every day, that this is way too many kids. Usually those statements alternate back and forth.

In one breath, I can wish for another baby and in the next, I can look at my husband, eyes wide with hysterical terror and confusion and demand, WHAT HAVE WE DONE?

It's a lot to deal with. And it's not just the fighting and the screaming, the sheer noise they're capable of generating or the cost. Dear lord the cost.

It's the destruction.

The utter annihilation of property. Of things. Of personal possessions.

I'm often asked at events why I didn't bring the kids? My usual response is because by now they would have burned this place to the ground.

The other person laughs and goes merrily on their way, thinking that I'm just trying to be funny.

They have no idea that I'm completely serious.

My kids are like Tasmanian Devils. They walk into a place- any place- and start spinning around at the speed of sound, obliterating anything in their path.

Sometimes it's on purpose. Like this week when one of them, whom shall remain nameless because I can't figure out which one is lying, scratched three of their names into the center of our table.

They look ridiculous there, etched permanently into the wood in the scrawl of someone too young to write neatly. I'm thinking of decorating with a center piece. And we all know how I feel about decorating.

Clearly, I'm desperate.

I've narrowed my list of suspects down to the only two that know how to write, but each of them are firmly in denial. They refuse to take responsibility no matter what I threaten.

They might be in cahoots.

Sometimes their wreckage is on accident. Like the time my four year old tripped in the upstairs hallway and his huge, hard poor, little head went through the spindle of the railing and snapped it in two. Or the time my six year old stumbled in the bathroom and took the shower curtain with her to the floor.

Accidents happen. That's life.

They just happen more often when there are so many people for them to happen to. We're like a study in statistical probability.

The Statistical Probability of Breaking Things.

When it comes down to it though, when we really get to the bottom of it... I have to be honest.

It's not their fault.

And I'm not just saying that because I'm their mother and I'm hard-wired to excuse all of their faults and short-comings.

No, unfortunately this is a consequence of genetics and they were just unlucky enough to be mothered by me.

That's right. Me. The Queen of Klutz. The Empress of Accidents.

The First Female President of... Breaking Things.

Are you jealous of all of my prestigious titles??? You should be.

It's taken me a life time to learn them and I hate them more than anything am super proud of them.

I can't touch something without it breaking or shattering or turning to ash.

It's true. My record speaks for itself. I have thirty-one years of proof backing me up.

My dad used to use the phrase, "You kids are why we can't have nice things!" And when I was younger, I thought it was because that's what every dad was supposed to say to his kids. It's like a right of fatherhood or something.

Since I've grown up, gotten married and live in a house of my own, I've come to realize that my dad wasn't just speaking out of father-child tradition, but from truth and experience and slight premonition of the future.

I am the reason I can't have nice things. ME. This is solely on my shoulders.

Just a few months ago, I went to open the microwave, a simple, easy task that most human beings are familiar with and I ripped the handle off with my huge ogre hands Hulk strength.

I don't know what happened. I pulled, maybe a little bit too hard, and the whole bottom half ripped off!!

Granted, I don't use the microwave very often. Because.. cancer. But I should be able to open it! That's like one of those life skills you learn in kindergarten.

I passed How to Tie your Shoes. I aced How to Raise your Hand. I struggled, but succeeded with How to Share your Toys.

I miserably failed How to Open Things.

Or maybe I only half-failed. I'm really good at pushing doors open. I just have to be careful when I pull. Lest I turn into a giant, green, rage-filled monster and start wreaking havoc on downtown Omaha.

That was several months ago though. I learned my lesson. I am now very gentle when I pull anything open. I am consciously aware that my biceps are like granite rocks and I should possibly have a comic book written about me. I am more aware than ever.

Except.

Let's take the last twenty four hours into account and put me on trial. Lately I'm not sure I'm fit for society.

Like. Any society.

I love the idea of being an eccentric recluse that hides away in her home, writing bizarre stories and never showering.

Just kidding. Every few days I will consistently shower .

But putting that idea into practice has been difficult.

So, until I find a way to ferret away in an actual writing cave, I am forced to live in the regular world and behave like the weirdest person you'll ever meet a regular person.

The truth is though... I'm not a regular person. I'm a walking disaster. If my kids are Tasmanian Devils, I am an actual force of nature that leaves a wake of destruction in my path.

Like I said, the last twenty four hours.

It all started so innocently.

I recently published a book, aka Friday, and I'm in the middle of finishing another one, aka The Heart, so my house has fallen into a state of disrepair.

I am a Goal Oriented person. I mean, I really focus on finishing that goal. I can't see anything else between that goal and me. I will do anything to get to that finish line.

The little details along the way are ignored and mowed over, all in my attempt to finish.

I've been deep in that psyche for months now. And especially over the last month, I haven't paid attention to the house like I should.

So with L&D, Ep. 10 Live, I decided to spend the weekend scrubbing my house. And not just a gentle, routine scrub either. No, we're talking deep down, dirty, spring cleaning kind of scrub.

I knew it would take me at least two days. So I dedicated Saturday to the main floor and Sunday to the upstairs.

Yesterday I tackled the downstairs like a boss and made that filthy domain my bitch.

That's right, it sparkles like a Disney cartoon and I can finally breathe a sigh of relief that the EPA isn't going to show up at my front door, wearing HAZMAT suits and popping a tent over my neighborhood.

Phew, the world is saved from the Higginson Apocalypse Plague for one more month.

During those epic hours of cleaning, I did something that most house-cleaners do. I dusted.

That's right. I dusted. I pulled out my dusting mit and my super long dusting stick-thing and I dusted everything and anything that could be dusted.

I even dusted children. And toilets and literally anything that could be dusted.

Including my computer.

Sounds simple right?? I used my mit and gently ran over the screen and keyboard. I closed it and dusted the top of it and underneath. I cleaned my desk and dusted all around it. And then I opened my laptop and dusted the screen a second time.

You know. Just in case.

Only, it wasn't just in case. Just in case was a freaking lie! Because instead of giving myself a clear picture and making my work place feel organized and spectacular, I BROKE MY COMPUTER!!!!!

BY DUSTING IT!    

I did something to the screen. It went completely bonkers and split in half. Now it flashes like a strobe light at a rave and shows at least four different versions of my documents.

It's not good.

In fact, it's the end of the world as we know it very inconvenient.

I spent hours in denial, hoping it would just magically go back to being normal.

This might be a big surprise, but that tactic didn't work. So then, I did the only other thing I could think of, which was to restart it and hope that it would just magically go back to being normal.

When that didn't work either, I enlisted my husband. He said, YOU DID WHAT?

I dusted my screen.

To which he said, WHY WOULD YOU DUST YOUR SCREEN????

To which, I said, Because it was dusty?

He spent the next two hours taking the stupid frustrating thing all the way apart, examining it the best he could and then putting it back together.

It didn't work.

I broke it for the reals.

Meanwhile, Zach and I are now sharing a computer until I have time to pick up another one. It's really obnoxious special bonding time for us.

(Don't worry. All of my documents are safe. For now...)

Then. This morning.

It was a lazy Sunday morning for us. He had to work today, so we skipped church and hung out as a family instead.

Translation: He got up early to watch a soccer game and I slept in until 9:30 because I'm awesome.

Anyway, when I finally got up, he decided to make breakfast. (I'm telling you guys, he is the best husband in the entire world. There is not even a competition. He just wins it.)

Only... our eggs were expired. And not just a little expired where you can justify that the sell-by date was close enough that you'll only get slightly sick.. no, like really, really, really expired.

So, I offered to run over to Sonic, which is like two minutes away, and grab him something to eat.

Also, I had really been looking forward to breakfast and they have super delicious Breakfast Croissants.

I gulped down my coffee, threw some sandals on over my green socks and jumped in the mini-van.

It should be noted that I am not exactly a morning person. I'm more like... the anti-morning person of all morning persons. I just don't function well before... noon.

But I got to Sonic without crashing into anything or driving anyone off the road. Then I ordered the food without getting confused or confusing the cashier. Then I paid and put the food in my car without starting the Apocalypse.

But this is where things get a little hairy.

On my way out of my parking lot, I braked. I had anticipated a gently slow-to-stop motion that I can sometimes achieve when I'm fully awake. Instead, I got a jerking slam that sent my bag of breakfast delicacies flying.

Cursing PG-13 words, I stooped over, scooped the tater tots back into the bag and pulled onto the road.

I held onto the bag all the way home because I didn't want a repeat of flying tots.

I reached my neighborhood. I appropriately slowed my speed and navigated the roads to my house. I tapped the brakes and pulled into my driveway.

Then I made the epic mistake of letting go of the bag of food to open my garage door.

I stomped on gently applied pressure to the brakes again while I waited for the garage to lift and was forced to watch in abject horror as the bag of food launched off the ground, somersaulted in the air and dumped tater tots and breakfast burritos all over the floor of my recently-vacuumed Nissan Quest.

My PG-13 curse words turned into something they could get away with on FX.

But, determined not to let a little frustration ruin my morning, I parked the van, bent over and started to carefully return the spilled food into the stupidest now-empty Sonic bag.

This was not easy. In fact, they had been so violently catapulted that they were EVERYWHERE and super difficult to reach.

Still not deterred, I unbuckled and reached as far as I could. When that wasn't far enough, I practically crawled across the passenger's seat to reach the rest.

The subtle pop and whoosh of ice didn't bother me right away. I knew I'd bumped my cup of orange juice in my frantic and more than a little scary gymnastics routine attempt to reach all of the tots. It would be okay though. I was almost done hunting and gathering all of the escaped breakfast food.

Only it wasn't okay.

When I finally sat back, I realized I hadn't jostled my orange juice. I'd squashed it.

With the power of Thor's mighty hammer, I'd managed to squish the Styrofoam cup into a pathetic, crumpled, split-open version of its once glorious self and all of the orange juice that had been previously contained inside its white borders, now filled my cup holder.

Oh, sorry. Not just my one cup holder. But my second cup holder as well.

Orange juice was everywhere. There was an explosion of orange juice strong enough to create its own atmosphere and lightning. (Anyone else fascinated by the videos of Chili???)

Oh, no! I thought. This is a disaster!

I grabbed the bag of food and the broken orange juice cup to keep it from spilling more and sprinted into the house, dripping orange juice the entire way.

I threw the cup in the sink, grabbed the roll of paper towels and then set the bag of rescued food on the counter.

The bag of food, which had been poorly packed, let's just get that out in the open right now, tipped over on the counter and dumped all of the contents for the third time on my freshly cleaned kitchen floor.

It was at that point my PG-13 curse words graduated to an NC-17 rating and my husband sent the children upstairs.

Away from their psychotic mother.

Don't worry, I did manage to clean up all of the orange juice and tater tots. The floor has been re-swept and mopped and even the icky garage floor got a wipe down.

Because I will be damned before there is an ant problem due to that cursed orange juice.

:) 

But that, right there. These last twenty-four hours? Yeah, that's me in a nut shell.

These are not new problems. These are not even since-I-had-kids-and-pregnancy-ruined-my-brain problems.

This is just me. A walking disaster. A tornado of chaos and destruction.

The Seventh Sign of the Apocalypse.

Rachel Higginson, property destroyer at large.

Beware all who spend time near me. Be warned those brave enough to lend me things or gift me presents. Turn back all who value their material possessions.

You have been sufficiently and thoroughly warned.