Life in the Palace

Destiny is not enough.

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Camp in the Shadow- here at last!

Camp in the Shadow - Ebook

It’s finally here!!

Camp in the Shadow- book 3 of the Palace Saga is on sale now on Amazon.

The bear dropped down on all fours, saliva dripping as it swung from side to side, trying to choose a target. Neither Jen nor I spoke, but in unison we drove forward, blades aloft. Our razor sharp swords sliced through the rough fur like it was fine silk. The bear roared again, but it was too late.

“Got any funny lines up your sleeve?” Jen asked as the cloud dissipated.

“No,” I shrugged, “but I do have a lab report to write.” With that, we returned to our bodies.

Chloe has risked her life and love to enter the Palace. Now she’s waiting for something to happen. With the Ghetto Chapel to run and the very cute Yair to keep her company, it seems to be smooth sailing. But evil lurks in unexpected places. Will Chloe have the strength to defeat the darkness?

“I want to wake up next to her. I want to walk down the street holding her hand. I want to take her to my parents’ house, to raise our children together, to go to the supermarket and fight over the price of salmon. I want to sit on the couch next to her, too tired to move and too cozy to go to bed. I want everything with her…I just want her.”

Seth will do anything to get Chloe back, even leave the world behind. Although upstate New York isn’t very far behind. Seth immerses himself in Boot Camp, determined to learn the intricacies of the Way. With the help of Aron, his old summer camp bunk-mate, Seth charts a path into the Palace. But, in the Palace, the battle is fought on many levels. Seth discovers that to win the battle, he might risk the prize.

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Why sometimes traditional publishers are better (aka why Book 3 is late.)

As a proud writer of independently published books, I should be telling you that indies are better in all ways. But it’s not true.

Indie books rock. Independent publishing has enabled authors to reach out directly to readers. Instead of the flow of literature being determined by the publishing houses, readers are now able to explore their way through the catalogs of Amazon and Smashwords. Almost anything you might want to read is out there somewhere. If you are looking for a romance between a vampire and an alien set in rural Utah in the early eighteen century written only in verse, in a few clicks you’re likely to find it.

Independent publishing gives writers the freedom to be true to themselves, and readers unprecedented choice.

Many of my favorite books were written by indie writers.  Most of my favorite writers I discovered first on Amazon’s top 100 free books list. Unfortunately, I also found all the books that made me want to throw my Kindle across the room on there too. This is the first downside to independent publishing, it requires readers to sift the wheat from the chaff. A traditionally published novel had to pass through many levels of assessment before it makes it onto the market. Indie publishing has no such selection process. It’s up to the reader to decide whether to read on or delete and move to the next book.

Independent publishing is the Wild West of literature, where gold can be found but it’s in between the rocks.

Like the Wild West, indie publishing doesn’t come with any rules. There are guidelines but anyone can do anything. It’s much harder to control. A traditionally published book is carefully groomed. It goes through multiple edits and rounds of proofreading before it goes on sale. It takes much longer for the story to go from the author’s laptop to your Kindle. But that controlled process means that the next installment in the series is ready on the date the publisher promised, and almost completely free from typos.

Tradition publishing is a well-oiled machine while indie publishing is often a squeaky bicycle.

By definition indie writers are doing it themselves. With only one person on staff (even if you outsource parts of the project,) there is a lot of room for human error. Many indie writers can’t afford more than one round of copy editing, which makes it much more likely that some errors will slip through the cracks. Also, life happens to people and when there’s no one else around to pick up the slack, it can be hard to stick to deadlines.

In indie publishing, readers make the journey up the learning curve together with the authors.

Indie publishing is more intimate. Authors can respond quickly to reader’s comments. Whole storylines can be changed to match reader’s expectations. But the price of that intimacy is sometimes the loss of polish. You get to read the book at a third the price of a traditionally published novel but you put up with a few more typos and the occasional missed deadline.

What does this mean for me as an indie writer?

Right now, it means that Camp in the Shadow, Book 3 of the Palace Saga is two months behind the publication date I had set for it. There’s a long convoluted story that involves people moving house, flying to LA suddenly, sick children, family crises, elderly relatives and broken computers to explain exactly what happened, but the short answer is I am a person, the copy editor I use is a person, the proofread I use is a person and things happen to people. In a large publishing house, someone else would have been able to step in. In my small home office, it’s just me… hanging my head in shame and hoping that my readers will understand.

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Chaper 1 of Sing a New Song

Sing a New Song_3DJen thinks she knows what she’s getting as she starts her freshman year at college – ultimate popularity and possible world domination.

Then she meets Chloe, learns more about her heritage as one of The People (capital P.)

All of a sudden ultimate popularity pales in comparison to saving the world from the forces of evil, a shiny new sword and some rather good cheesecake.

On sale now on   smallAmazon


Want a sneak peak? Read Chapter 1  below:


Chapter 1


I hadn’t expected it to be exciting. Anything that could be achieved by distributing a piece of paper should not be done by physical demonstration. Still, the campus tour gave me time to plan. I spotted her nearly straightaway. She was slightly taller than me with long dark hair pulled up on top of her head. She wore low-slung black pants with flat sandals and crimson toenails. A thin leather cord wrapped around her neck, and six or more silver bangles tinkled at her wrist.

This one looks perfect.

I took advantage of the break in the enthralling presentation to make my move. I sidled over as we all shuffled behind the guide like a bunch of bewildered wildebeest.

“Hi, I’m Jen,” I whispered.

I saw a slight puckering around her eyes as confusion registered on her face.

“I’m Chloe,” she whispered back without turning her head to look at me. Then she smiled.

Okay, so at least she’s interested; now I have to see if my plan will work.

“We have a problem,” I whispered.

She nodded to show she’d heard me. I took it as a good sign. “Somehow we have to navigate the transition from knowing no one to having friends without actually being seen to make friends, because we both know it would be very uncool to admit that it’s awkward when you don’t know anyone.”

Her eyes were dancing but she kept her tone serious. “How will we overcome this problem?” she asked.

“We will pretend to be friends, either until we actually become friends or until we meet other people and drift painlessly apart. Nothing attracts people to you in these situations as much as already having friends.”

She was still listening. She hadn’t run away screaming from my overly assertive introduction. In fact she seemed to be struggling to suppress a smile.

“Should we shake on it?”

“No, just follow my lead.” I slipped back into the crowd.

As soon as the tour was officially pronounced over, I steadied my nerves. This was about to put all my theories about popularity to the test. I spotted Chloe looking around through the throng of bodies. I headed straight over, waving and smiling. “Chloe! There you are! Hi!” I wedged as much cheery enthusiasm into my tone as possible.

Her eyes twinkled as she broke into a slightly forced but believable smile. “Hey, Jen!”

In the spirit of my granddad, who always said “In for a penny, in for a pound,” I threw my arms around her and hugged her. “Have you seen what’s happening down on the lawn? There’s a whole barbecue and a giant moonwalk slide thing!”

She matched my faked excitement. “Sounds great!”

It was all I could do to wait to laugh out loud until we were heading down the drive toward the barbecue. “Okay, if we’re never friends again after today, I still owe you one. That was fun. Of course that was only stage one of the plan. Now we have to get to know each other quickly so that we can start manufacturing a social group.”

“Do you always approach popularity like a military operation?” Little did she know.

I shrugged. “Anyone can be popular as long as they have friends they don’t like.”

Chloe stopped walking. “Do you mean that?”

I think I shocked her. But I’d learned it the hard way. “It’s true,” I said. “You can’t be popular if you plan to stick only to people you like and want to spend time with. Thankfully, popularity is not actually my goal over here.” At least not lasting popularity.

“It’s not?” Her dark eyes got even wider.

“No. Not at all. I was popular in my first high school, and it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. But it did let me study the science of popularity. If people think of you as desirable to know, then you have the luxury of picking out exactly which people you want to have as friends.”

When my parents tried to save their marriage by repeatedly moving states, they bounced me from the top of the social pile to the bottom and then back up again. The gut-wrenching tension in our house didn’t improve, but I gained a whole new social understanding. I realized that popularity had nothing to do with the individual’s likeability and everything to do with the movement of social tides. Therefore, popularity could be created. Coming to college, I decided to put the theory to the test and see if I could make myself temporarily the most popular girl on campus. Because then I’d know once and for all whether my changes in social fortune had any bearing on my identity.

“First high school?” she asked after a minute.

We started walking again toward the scent of burning animal flesh. “I was in three.”

“That must have been hard.”

Hard would be an understatement, but I wasn’t about to start telling the truth to a stranger. “Yes and no. My mom is excellent, and since I only had three real friends in each place, I stayed in touch with most of them.”

“Are you planning on sticking out the whole four years here?”

“I hope so. I thought about renting an apartment instead of moving into res, just so I wouldn’t have to pack my stuff up again for four years.”

“I’m not in res,” Chloe said casually, like it wasn’t awesome.

“No? Cool. I thought they have enough space for everybody these days.”

“They do, I think. I came early and did summer school. I needed somewhere to live, and, to be honest, the whole communal shower thing was one experience I could live without.”

I nodded my agreement. “I’m with you, sister. Thank goodness that I’m in the new res. We’ve got en suites. Where’s your apartment? Are you living by yourself?”

She pointed up the hill to the left of campus. “Just up the hill. We’re the top of one of those triples things.”

It suddenly dawned on me that I’d taken my eye off the ball. We were about to enter the next stage, and I hadn’t completed the groundwork. “Quick, before we hit stage two. Where are you from? What do you plan to major in? We’ve already done which res. Why did you pick this fine academic institution?”

“El Paso, Texas. Chemical engineering. There was no essay,” she responded immediately.

I really like this chick.

Hang on a second. “There was no essay?” I gave that the raised eyebrow that it deserved.

She laughed. “For real. I applied to a bunch of other schools I didn’t even know if I wanted to go to, and then I saw that the application for here didn’t require an essay, so I applied late.”

“Then came early.”

She shrugged. I knew first-class avoidance when I saw it. I was the last person to expect anyone else to spill their guts.

“Don’t worry. If we’re going to be friends, then there’s time for you to tell me the story, and if not, then you can keep your secrets.”

Chloe seemed relieved. “Thanks. What about you?”

“Philadelphia, at least most recently. Whatever will get me into med school; I was thinking of political science because I hear med schools really like to take arts majors. Here is cheap, and my parents argue over money often enough.” I can’t believe I said that last part out loud.

“Sorry.” I saw her wince.

I tried to do damage control. “Mainly their lawyers argue over it, so it could be worse.”

“How long have they been divorced?”

I didn’t want to talk about it, but I was the idiot who’d brought it up in the first place. “They’re not yet. That’s the problem.”

The Lord had mercy on me, because we finally reached the line for free barbecue food and could switch from discussing my least favorite subjects to stage two. Within seconds, a petite chick with a mop of dark curls came up behind us. She was sporting a hippy but trendy sundress, so she might have actually been my type, but now was not the time to worry about making any real friends. Before I could stop to put too much thought into the operation, I turned and introduced us. “Hi, I’m Jen. This is Chloe; she’s from El Paso, Texas.”

It worked exactly as I’d predicted. The girl looked relieved someone was speaking to her. “Hi, I’m Tess. I’m from Ottawa.”

We’d just covered Tess’s possible major, psychology, when behind her came a couple of girls making awkward conversation. I immediately introduced myself to the tall black girl in cutoff sweatpants and then introduced Chloe and Tess to her blond, ponytailed companion. By the time we’d covered all the basics again, we’d reached the front of the line. I was relieved to find there was a vegetarian option. I was prepared to abandon three years of vegetarianism for the mission, but it would have been a heavy price to pay.

Once we all had some food in our hands, I led the way to a patch of lawn that was close to the main thoroughfare but had good room for expansion. As we walked over, I spotted a girl with red hair tucked behind her ears, looking rather green behind her multitude of freckles.

“Hi, I’m Jen. Would you like to join us?” I didn’t ask her family name. I have an excellent memory, but I didn’t intend to have a personal connection with any of these people. Family names meant I actually planned to retain them after the experiment was done.

On the other side of the barbecue, in the vegetarian line, I spotted a guy in a retro, green-plaid shirt and long shorts. His corn-blond hair was gelled into spikes. I thought I could make out green eyes behind the black-rimmed glasses. Soy hot dog in one hand, he scanned the lawn.

My eyes caught his. Half a smile flickered on his lips. He cocked his head to one side as if asking a question. I hoped I had the answer.

A sharp elbow in my side broke the moment. “Jen, what about that one?” Chloe hissed pointing to a girl in distressed jeans and a tank top that rode up to reveal her pierced naval.

I nodded; the mission needed me. I jumped to my feet and headed over to the girl. “Hi, I’m Jen from Philadelphia. Would you like to join us?”

The girl smiled broadly. “Sure, I’d love to join you. I hate this part when no one knows each other.”

I introduced her to the group, and then I looked around. The guy with the spiky hair and glasses was gone.


Buy it now on  smallAmazon

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Out Now – Sing a New Song: Jen’s Story

Sing a New Song_3D

No longer just a sidekick…finally Jen has her own book.

Spanning the time period between Life in the Palace and To Call Your Name, Sing a New Song follows Jen as she befriends Chloe, meets Sven and discovers that there is more to the Palace than they taught her in camp.

Discover how Jen got together with Sven, why Chloe and Spike traveled overnight to rescue Jen for her parents and what Seth really did with the Swedish figure skating team.



Hear the story in Jen’s own words…

On popularity…

“Anyone can be popular as long as they have friends that they don’t like.”

On her ethnic heritage….

“My parents aren’t that invested in our glorious heritage as celestial beings sent to earth to maintain the cosmic balance. They’re more the store-bought cheesecake and Chapel-once-a-year type.”

On meeting Sven for the first time….

“I looked up to see a guy with spikey, blond hair and black-rimmed glasses pull up the chair opposite me. …..It’s him, he who does not yet know that he will become my boyfriend! I tried not to look like I recognized him.”

On Seth and Chloe…

“She was holding Seth’s hand, their fingers intertwined. There was barely an inch between his black sleeveless shirt and the white chiffon of her gypsy top. Their eyes held each other. The almost polite distance that separated them didn’t lessen the electricity that crackled between them.

I stopped walking and watched them. That’s what they write songs about. They use it to sell anything from face cream to sports cars. It’s not sex. It’s the promise of a love so great that it colors your whole life. A love that will last through anything. A love that wouldn’t ever look at the secretary’s cute ass. A love that’s real.

…..They looked over but didn’t move away from each other. This was their polite, public behavior. My mind boggled at what happened when they were alone together.”

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To Call Your Name give away

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In honor of the Life in the Palace blog tour, I’m giving away 10 free e-book copies of the sequel, To Call Your Name.

The prize will be split, 5 copies over Facebook and 5 over Twitter.

To enter either comment on my Facebook page or retweet.

Winners will be selected by the incredibly scientific method of letting my husband pick names at random and will be notified via private message.



To Call Your Name Cover

To Call Your Name (Book 2 – The Palace Saga)


Chloe gave up Seth to save the world…and his soul. Now all she has to do to become one of the People is to complete a Quest she doesn’t understand, to find a mythical object she can’t see, in a realm she can’t access.

Seth left town to escape the ghosts of his past and the love he can’t forget. But the one thing that will set him free is the only thing he can’t bring himself to do.

To Call Your Name is the heart-stopping sequel to Life in the Palace.

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My five most embarrassing moments (plus Seth and Chloe’s)

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My (Catherine) 5 most embarrassing moments:


  1. Discovering that I misspelt Rob Pattinson’s name in Life in the Palace

I have a weird learning disability where I can only speed read, which means I can’t edit to save my life. I paid money to multiple people to do it for me. I could claim that the misspelling was someone else’s fault. But I cyber stalked the guy back when we all through him and Kristen would last forever so I should know how to spell his name.


  1. The time I ran to catch a bus outside my high school and fell out of my bra.

Probably no one would have noticed had I not then squealed loudly drawing the of attention of a crowd of guys standing at the bus stop. I have since learned greater verbal control and the virtues of under-wiring.


  1. Fainting in the bathroom of a department stall and being transported out of the shop in a wheel chair.

Medical emergencies can happen to anyone but this one was caused by extreme period pain. I had to assure the shop’s medic that I really didn’t need to go to the ER.


  1. When my Mom flirted with my best friend’s boyfriend.

To be fair, she probably just meant to be friendly. The guy in question was so good looking that grown women went weak at the knees at the sight of him. (He was the inspiration for Seth’s character in Life in the Palace.) She couldn’t help herself. The memory of her saying, “I do like a nicely formed bottom,” makes me cringe with embarrassment fifteen years later.

  1. Nearly leaving it too late to get to the hospital in labor

The EMT’s had to come up stairs and load me onto a stretcher. Then they carried me to the waiting ambulance surrounded by a crowd of the neighbors curious children. It was better than having an unplanned birth at home but only because I didn’t have to do the clean up afterwards.





My (Chloe) top five most embarrassing moments:


  1. Swearing in front of Tal’s parents the first time I met them. I was under serious duress, but they’re super holy beings sent from heaven to maintain the cosmic balance. It was not the time to drop an f-bomb.


  1. Seth’s grandmother catching us making out in the kitchen when we were supposed to be bringing in desert. She doesn’t see well, and was lost on the way to the bathroom. We froze in position while she stood there peering through her bifocals trying to work out what was happening.


  1. My Dad coming to PTA, seeing that my Art teacher had a Democrat bumper sticker and giving his take on immigration policy. Then when she got huffy (because she was the child of illegal immigrants) he switched into Spanish and shouted louder. I thought she was going to fail me on the spot.


  1. Arriving at Jen’s Mom’s house in Philly at 6am uninvited. Jen knew Spike and I were driving down from Boston over winter break. Her Mom didn’t. She opened the door to let the cat out before Jen could sneak downstairs and let us in. I like to think I’m parentally presentable but Spike looks like every parent’s worst nightmare. Just standing next to her was enough for me to share in the shame.


  1. By ‘embarrassing’ read traumatic for this one…. The first time Rob and Stacy came for Thanksgiving and Rob started to talk politics with my Dad. I was ready to stab myself with the carving knife just to stop the disaster from happening. But when in doubt expect randomness. Dad and Rob turned out to be political soul mates. Their anti-Obama bromance played out over four torturously long courses. My Dad gained a comrade and I gained another reason for therapy. (See my facebook feed for Nov. 22, 2012 to get the full blow by blow account.)





My (Seth) top five most embarrassing moments:


  1. When my Mom made me model Susie’s prom dress so she could check that she’d sewn the hem correctly. At least I didn’t have to zip it up. I was just a human hanger but baby pink is not my color.


  1. When my Mom started pumping Chloe for genealogical information to see if she was one of the People. I’d taken Chloe to meet the folks for the weekend and she practically pulled out the calendar and started planning wedding dates. Chloe was trying so hard to make a good impression that she hardly noticed, but Susie was humming the wedding march under her breath.
  1. Having my butt grabbed by Mrs. Ader after Services on the Day of Accounting. Mrs. Ader has Alzheimer’s so it might have been a case of mistaken identity. But I was standing next to my Mom, talking to Mr. Ader so I couldn’t even move.


  1. When Chloe found the pictures of Josh and I at our ballet recital aged 3 and 5. I was wearing a leotard. (I’m sure it was Susie who conveniently ‘left’ the album lying around. I’m plotting my revenge.)
  1. The car ride home from our gig in Magog, after the guys discovered that I was sneaking out to call Chloe. The ‘Seth is whipped’ jokes got painful after the first hour. Mainly because they were so true.



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More FAQ’s….or more accurately actual FAQ’s

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Don’t you already have a FAQ section?

I do, but those were the questions I asked myself. These are real questions asked by people who exist outside of my head. I’ll add these to the official FAQ page.


Don’t Seth and Chloe ever have sex?

(This really is the most frequently asked question.)

They do. Repeatedly, I just didn’t write it. For a number of reasons:

1. This is YA book, I know some YA books have plentiful sex scenes but many don’t and I didn’t want to cut out a section of the YA market.

2. I’m religious. I try not to read books with graphic sex scenes so I wasn’t going to write one.

Ok, that wasn’t so many reasons but if felt like a lot.


But it would have been fun….

Yep. It would have been. And still no. On the other hand, feel free to write as much Seth and Chloe getting it on fanfic as you would like.


The ending??!!!

Chill. Life in the Palace is the first book in a five book series. I promise you it’s not Allegiant. You will not need to make voodoo dolls to punish me when it’s all over. And I promise I won’t make you follow Seth and Chloe for five books just to make them get together in three lines in the last chapter.

Isn’t that a spoiler?

No. This is a YA fantasy romance. If they don’t get together at the end then there’s something wrong with the universe.

Can they have sex at the end? Like in Twilight?

They might well have sex before the end. And I might still not write it. How about I write books 3 and 4 before we start negotiations for book 5?


Why do the People (Tal and her crew) hate the Others?

They don’t hate them. They spend most of their lives trying to keep the world turning for the Others. But they do live apart from them, and that separation creates tension and misunderstanding. We see the results of this in Life in the Palace. It’s discussed more later in the series, so don’t be surprised if Tal learns that the world isn’t as black and white as she thought it was.


When is the next book out?

The third book in the series, Camp in the Shadow, should be out in September 2014.

September? That’s a long time to wait. Why so long?

Because I have to write it. And because the books are written to go with the content on the facebook pages. As Camp in the Shadow covers Chloe and Seth’s lives from September 2013 to August 2014, it has to come out after that or it will mess up my ability to lead multiple lives on facebook.

The only way I can get a Seth and Chloe fix before then is to follow them on facebook?

No. Jen’s Story, a companion novel that tells what happened in the time between Life in the Palace and To Call Your Name, should be out in May.


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Bug Checking Tutorial – 1

tal headshot

Hi guys,

This is the first in an occasional series giving pointers on bug checking. Today we’re going to be looking at onions. I’ll be demonstrating with a regular yellow onions but the method is the same for Spanish and red onions.

When buying your onions check that there are no green shoots growing out of the top on the onion, like this:


Also feel around the top of the onion to make sure you have a nice firm one like this:


When preparing to check the onion, first cut off the top part just as the main bulb of the onion begins, like this:


Next cut off the bottom of the onion (don’t worry if there are some roots on the onion) and remove the outer layers of brown skin. Then your onion will look like this:


Now cut the onion in half lengthways, and carefully remove the outer two layers of each half, like this:


Look inside the onion to see if there are any bugs. You are looking for small specks that might be moving. Hold the onion pieces up to the light for more through inspection.


Once you are sure that there are no bugs inside your onion sample, you can go ahead and cook with both the sample layers and the remaining onion.

If you want more information on onion infestation, here is a great link from The New England Vegetable Management Guide

Bon Appetit!

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The Palace crew in haiku

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I go to a weekly writing workshop because it’s important to always be improving your craft. Last week we had to write a series of  14 haiku’s on the same topic, similar to the famous 14 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird. I wrote 14 ways of looking at kids. Then when I finished first (gripping about parenting comes easy to me,) my friend dared me to write haiku’s about parenting in the voice of the Palace characters. I took it as a challenge.

Here are the results:

sethThumbI don’t do diapers

Babysitting was not my choice

Don’t tell the guys



chloeThumbPeanut butter kills

Racing, hoping to save her life

Please let it be okay


tal headshot

One day to be mine

As soon as college is done

It will be my turn to be a mom



spikeThumbBetter left alone

I’d rather be an aunt

Please be negative


Why are you posting? I expected Seth or Chloe.

I know, but this is the month the books came out. Seth and Chloe have been ‘busy.’

You’re too lazy to update your own blog?

No, look I’m posting now. Don’t worry next time we should be back to Seth and Chloe.