I did lots of things on my summer vacation. It was fun. Except, not really. Some parts of my vacation were fun. And some parts were filled with soul-crushing despair, like when my brother (or my brother’s girlfriend, depending on who is being questioned) “accidentally” let our Chihuahua outside over the Memorial Day weekend where he was immediately stolen/eaten by large dog across street/smashed by car/taken by aliens (again, depending on who you ask).

This prompted much sobbing, wailing, frantic sign making, and neighborhood canvassing by me and my 11 year old daughter, but all that accomplished was a) a whole bunch of people said this: “Oh, you have a Chihuahua? We have a Chihuahua/Pomeranian/Yorkie______(insert breed of small dog). But we WATCH our dog.” The implication being that if only I wasn’t such a negligent pet owner, my dog wouldn’t have been lost; and b) a guy got my phone # off a flyer and started texting me, wanting to know if he could “comfort” me.

Not. Even. Kidding. I now know exactly how sick, twisted, and freaking INSANE 99.9% of the population is. Especially when there is a $500 reward involved.


This is Danny. Isn’t he cute? He hates everyone, especially men and small children. He bites, has a skin condition, and weird toenail growths. If anyone has seen him, I am still offering a $500 reward. My husband is offering a $1,000 reward for you NOT to bring him back.

After the Great Danny Disappearance of 2010, I read a lot of articles on Dealing with the Loss of Your Pet and How to Help Your Child Deal with the Loss of a Pet. All of these articles said absolutely, positively DON’T attempt to comfort yourself/your child by immediately running out and buying another pet. Therefore, I immediately ran out and bought another pet. Because, seriously–what kind of an idiot wrote that?


This is Jasper, the replacement Chi. He likes everyone, doesn’t bite and has a shiny coat and perfect toenails that look like they are French manicured.

You would think one Pet Tragedy per summer would be the limit, but no, not in our house. Just 2 short weeks after the Danny Disappearance/Jasper Replacement, my husband calls me from his cell phone. While heading out of town on a bike ride, he had come across a tiny kitten stumbling along the side of the highway, BEING EATEN BY GREEN FLIES EVEN THOUGH IT WASN’T DEAD. Its eyes, specifically, were the part being eaten. I would post a pic, but it’s too disturbing and graphic. Thus, my daughter and I jump in the car, collect the kitten and rush it to the vet. $200 bucks later, the kitten has been poked, prodded, washed, hydrated, dosed with various medicines and wrapped in a towel. The vet assures us the kitten will be fine, gives my daughter the “St. Francis” award, and sends us on our way. We go home, name the kitten Francis, and my daughter spends the weekend nursing it with a bottle, wrapping it in blankets, singing to it, etc. You get the idea. Monday morning–bam. The kitten is dead.

But wait. It get’s better. THEN, a few days later, we go to my husband’s parents’ farm in Oklahoma. And my father-in-law (who owns many, many dogs) tells my daughter that someone has just dumped off an adorable, teeny-tiny dog (because people are always dumping off dogs at their house), and does she want to see it? Of course she does! So do I! So she helps him fix up some food for the adorable, teeny-tiny dog and we trek across the street to the barn where he has left the dog penned up in a room with some of his other dogs. And we walk into the room just in time to see the adorable, teeny-tiny dog being mauled to death by the other dogs! I’m talking ripped to shreds, complete with its head dangling from its neck. Except somehow it wasn’t dead! Because God hates me, apparently. We got to watch it take its last, horrifying, pain-filled breaths.

And now I’m pretty sure my daughter is permanently scarred. I know I am.

We decided to get away from all the pet death by going to Branson, Missouri. Branson is where famous people go to perform when they are not famous anymore. Apparently it’s also where famous people go to perform when they are not alive anymore because I saw lots of signs for Elvis and Michael Jackson. We didn’t go see any dead people or not-famous people, however. We went to Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede. I cannot even describe what the Dixie Stampede is like. It’s awesome. In a scary, Sarah Palin, white, overweight, overprivileged,Republican way.


This is what they serve you to eat at the Dixie Stampede. An ENTIRE chicken. Seriously, this is my actual chicken. They also serve you a slab of pork, an enormous potato, a cauldron of creamy vegetable soup, biscuits, and an apple turnover the size of my head. Drinks are either Pepsi or tea, and silverware is not allowed. Basically, my caloric intake for a week. I felt very wasteful. But then there were cups shaped like cowboy boots and girls in hoop skirts and ponies and pig races and singing and dancing and I forgot all about my pesky social conscience. And at the end, Dolly sang “God Bless America” and all the riders came out wearing light-up costumes just like Robert Redford in The Electric Horseman and when they lined up the costumes made the American flag and… sniff, sniff…it was just so beautiful.

And then on the way out my brother-in-law paid $40 for a stick horse he could have gotten at Wal-mart for $10. Sucker.

After Branson, Kate Perry and I headed to Walt Disney World for the annual RWA conference. The RWA conference is where we super-important authors go to do super-important authorly things. Like try on princess Minnie Mouse ears.


Doesn’t Kate look adorable?

We also go there to win important awards.


Me with Simone Elkeles whose book, Perfect Chemistry, won the Rita for Best Young Adult Romance!!!!

After RWA, Kate came back to my house to continue her annual visit to Arkansas. You see, she lives in San Francisco (and other boring places like Madrid and Buenos Aires), where nothing much exciting happens and there’s nothing to see or do. So every year, I take pity on her and let her come here. Where she can spice up her life.


By sitting in giant chairs


cavorting with monkeys


being Jurrasic Park’d


and finding true love.

After Kate went back to California (and continuing with the Pet Tragedy theme), I accidentally poisoned our cats. Don’t ask. The good news is that they lived and I am only $575 dollars poorer.


We thought things might settle down after the near-fatal poisoning, but my sister decided 9 months was long enough and went into labor.


Jax Allen Rose was born on August 23rd!! And he’s already bad-ass, as you can see from his Harley shirt, beanie, and socks. Plus, he’s named after Charlie Hunnam’s character, Jax Teller, on Sons of Anarchy.

jax teller 2

Incidentally, Charlie Hunnam is my newest imaginary boyfriend.

And that is what I did on my summer vacation.

The End.