Wednesday, January 28, 2009


After months of waiting, we finally got our first snow here in Virginia. It was only an inch or two, but it was enough for the kids to want to bundle up, grab their hats, scarves and gloves and head outside to play in the white, wintery weather. My ten-year-old daughter took Luke, my four-year-old son, out to play while I tended to some things inside including putting the kettle on so that I would be ready with hot chocolate when my two youngest decided they'd had enough.

Not an hour after they had come inside, Luke decided that he wanted to go out again. This time I went out with him. I wanted to take some pancakes that I had made over to my mother-in-law's house next door so that was as good of an excuse as any to go out. While I visited with Mom for a few minutes, Luke happily played outside. He then helped me clear Mom's driveway and sidewalk even though he wasn't happy that we were clearing away the footprints he had made in the process.

I assured him that he had made plenty of footprints in the snow, and that he would be able to make plenty more. Later that afternoon, his sister took him out again, and they moved to the pristine snow in the backyard so they could make more footprints.

Last night when I went out to take the garbage to the curb, the road was a little icy so I walked through the snow to Mom's house to check on her and take out her trash. When I was walking home I finally slowed down long enough to really look at Mom's front lawn and the footprints that were streaked across it. Dozens of trails led from my house to Mom's house and back again. More were streaked across our adjoining back yards. I had to smile. Those tracks might not mean much to someone passing by, but to me they reminded me of what's really important: family.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Behind the scenes at Inauguration Day

We’re only hours away from the inauguration of our next president. Millions have come to Washington, DC and the areas surrounding the capital to see this historic event. People are talking about the high cost of the festivities, the historic significance of our first African-American president being sworn into office, and the record crowds.

Personally, living in the shadows of Washington, DC, I’m staying away from the city. And my heart goes out to those who have to be there. Several of my friends and acquaintances moved into their offices over the weekend, sleeping bags in tow, in preparation for the festivities. And I know they aren’t alone.

I’m talking about the FBI, Secret Service, law enforcement officers, and the many other individuals who are required to report to work on Inauguration Day, not only because that’s part of their job, but because their sense of responsibility is so great. What many don’t realize is that while the news may touch on the fact that there aren’t any hotel rooms to be had within forty (or more) miles of Washington, many members of these protective agencies are without a place to stay.

The road closures in the area, the expected high volume on the subway, and the lack of hotel rooms left many without any other choice but to go into work on Sunday night and not come home until Wednesday after the inaugural events have concluded. After all, these are people who are willing to throw themselves in front of a bullet to protect our new president. They aren’t about to take a chance of not making it to work on time.

I imagine President-elect Obama is only beginning to understand how truly great this country is, and how privileged he is to have such dedicated men and women working for him to ensure his safety and the safety of his family.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

New release date

I know I've been telling everyone that my next book, Lockdown, is coming out in February. Today I found out that it's been pushed back a month and the new release date is March. My editor was very apologetic, but I think I'm the one person who isn't really going to notice. After all, I've already read the book. :) With that said, I really am excited to see Lockdown in print and have a copy in my hot little hands.

Every so often, I start writing and I am absolutely stunned when several weeks later, I have this manuscript on my desk that I can't quite figure out how it came to be. Lockdown was one of those books.

I can still remember the day I walked away from the television and started writing Lockdown. It was April 17, 2007, the day after the Virginia Tech shootings. The television was still on in the family room as other family members watched and listened. All of the people that we knew at Tech were safe, but our hearts broke for the families of those who hadn't been so lucky. I remember having a similiar reaction after the Columbine shooting. I wanted to watch the television to see what had caused this horrible event to happen, but at the same time I couldn't believe what I was watching.

Lockdown really was my therapy, my way of learning how I deal with those kinds of senseless tragedies. What I found is that through it all, there is always hope for a better day tomorrow.