Force Me to Tell You My Secret Hobby

Filed under: Pondering, Writing, YA Outside the LInes

Today I’m blogging over at YA Outside the Lines and this month we are taking about our hobbies and how they inform our writing. I’m spilling the beans on my secret hobby, so you might want to pop over there and check it out. 


Here’s your teaser…


Do you have a secret hobby? If you do–I want to hear about it.

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When You Put in the Time Magic Happens

Filed under: Check-it-out, Community, Writing

Today is the next BIG game in World Cup Soccer. It’s USA vs Belgium and it’s do or die for the US team.

140630 MNT Salvador team huddle

Photo courtesy of US Soccer

Everything rides on this game–well not actual life or death–but world cup elimination. And this team has become the scrappy underdog of the World Cup. And with each touch of the ball they are endearing themselves to their country and beyond. I’m trying not to get my hopes up to high, but I can’t help it–I haven’t been this jazzed about an American Team since the Olympic Men’s Hockey Team that beat Russia to take the goal when I was a kid. Miracle on Ice! Thinking of that still twists my gut and gives me chills. This team has the heart to go further than any US team has ever gone before. And because soccer is my favorite sport ever–I am giddy with excitement to see what happens today.

Why is this US team so good? In my humble opinion, t’s their teamwork, their dedication and their heart. They are also pretty darn classy. Soccer is a rough sport, but they haven’t bit anyone in frustration. *shakes head*

But that’s not all they have, this group of guys also has mad ball skills. Okay–maybe their not always as good as some of the other teams. (That’s where all that heart and dedication fills in the gaps) But they are pretty freaking competitive. And just like everyone else–writers included. (I know you were waiting for that transition LOL!) They have to practice. If you want to excel at what you do, you have to hone your craft daily. Whether it’s touches on the ball or words on the page–you have to put in your time. Just like this…

When you do–magic happens.

I love this commercial so much, I’m even willing to post it knowing it’s from MacDonalds *sigh* Not my favorite company. But when I look at the people and the message beyond “buy my horrible food” I think it’s a good one. THERE SHOULD BE JOY IN THE PRACTICE OF YOUR CRAFT. You should be exhilarated by what you do. And proud. So, please help me root for our boys today. They deserve our support. And make time to passionately pursue your art. And don’t eat at MacDonalds–seriously–I’ll feel bad if posting this video backfires. Go get some healthy, chemical free, sustainable food by a farm or company that provides humane treatment to it’s animals and staff. You can’t be your best self if you consume crap.

Do you love soccer? Have you been following team USA? Are you writing daily? Do you notice the difference when you put in the time?


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Stop Running: You are Youer Than You

Filed under: Community, Family, Pondering

Some days I don’t intend to write about what I write about, but everywhere I turn the same message is slapping me in the face, asking me to dig deeper. And the weird part is that the messages comes from very different, unrelated directions. I used to ignore these kinds of “coincidences” but I’ve learned to pay attention and listen to what the universe is telling me. It’s usually important.

This morning I stumbled across a very long and emotional FB post by a dear friend. She is an amazing person and mother, despite the challenges that have been thrown at her–things that might have broken someone else because of their weight. Today she was talking about running. Not just running for pleasure and exercise, which is something she does when life allows it. But she was talking about running away emotionally and the even harder thing to handle–not running away.

“The certainty of this circumstance eliminates my usual option of running. If I can’t run from this inexpressible pain WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO?!?” 


That is an epic question.

And “coincidentally” another one of my very good friends (who doesn’t know my other friend–yet) unknowingly answered her so beautifully when she wrote a letter to her daughter. You Are Youer That You: A Letter to My Daughter.

If I were to take that amazing blog post and turn it into a mantra for my other friend it would go something like this…

Before you take flight…

Know I love you.

You ARE going to make mistakes. 

These moments will require you to be brave.

Remember you are not alone.

Everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about.

So be kind.


It will get harder as you get older, but remember…

Friends are the family you choose for yourself.


Work hard.

Give life everything you have and life will give you everything you need.

Embrace your past, but spread your wings.

And never forget to be patient with yourself.

And be patient with me. 


Because the world is big.

And even though it’s hard, we must be brilliant.


No matter how old you are…

This is just the start of a journey.

The world needs you.

I need you.

Don’t forget that.

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Discombobulated Type PPDD Style

Filed under: Family, Pondering

Now there’s a word. Discombobulated. It’s jumble of letters and sounds beautifully mimics it’s meaning.

discombobulate |ˌdiskəmˈbäbyəˌlāt|
verb [ with obj. ] humorous
disconcert or confuse (someone): this attitude totally discombobulated Bruce | (as adj. discombobulated) : he is looking a little pained and discombobulated.
discombobulation noun
ORIGIN mid 19th cent.: probably based on discompose or discomfit.

I am so discombobulated right now–I don’t know whether I’m coming or going. I have emotional highs and lows with a graduating 5th grader. I have scheduling wackiness. Routines are changing. Extra stuff is being layered on top of the typical. Other stuff is over and I get a bit confused. Not unusual for me to stand in the middle of a room right now, squeeze my head and wonder where I should be and who I should be taking with me. I agree to things I have to later back out of and I decline things I could have accepted. I am a hot mess. Every day I have to make a list of things to do. Sometimes I head out without the list. That’s always entertaining. What keeps me in the game? I bow down to the folks responsible for my calendar app that allows me to bleep myself with reminders of where I should be and when. That app is the only reason I’m not laying on the floor in the fetal position.

I’d like to add a disclaimer about my spazziness. This level of discombobulation is not actually a big deal for people who are Type Freaking A. My mayhem is barely pulse-raising for them. But for type PPDD (procrastinators who are painfully disorganized and dreamy) this kind of stuff stretches us to our limits.

And then there’s the writing. I’ve got not one, but two projects, that I’m hot on the tail of. Left to my own devices, I could spend a full eight hours curled up with each of them. Right now I find myself working furiously in my head while I try to organize piles of boy shoes, stay stocked with enough food to feed the little buggers, get the car serviced, remember to water my plants (epic fail) and  dodge falling aluminum as the guys put new gutters on the house. Someday I will hang that hummingbird feeder I bought in the spring. They’ll still be here in November, right? *head thunk*

Discombobulated. Seriously.

And then there are the nightmares. Some people have really legit, cool nightmares. Not me. Last night I dreamt that even though I ordered the graduation cake and paid for it–I forgot to pick it up. The party was going off without a hitch and BAM! No cake. And some of you might be thinking–not the end of the world–but obviously you’ve never met my mother. She’s normally a pretty fabulous gal, but she can turn into Mean Jean the Cake Machine. I kid you not. This woman has bakery issues. So, there was that, but that was not my first grad party nightmare. I know I should sweat the small stuff. But it’s my unconscious mind. It never listens.

So, at least for the time being (by time being–I mean at least until my 9yo graduates from college) I’m going to be a bit discombobulated. I’ll try to get use to it, but you know how us Type PPDD’s are. I’d rather spend my time dreaming of  the personal assistant/house elf that would save me from myself.

Santas Elf Sitting on Edge

I think I’ll name him Bob.

Anybody else discombobulated? Any other Type PPDD’s out there? Don’t leave me blowing in the wind alone. LOL! If you’re Type A–feel free to rub it in, but know you’ll never qualify for House Elf assistance–karma is a *bleep*

Love you all, know matter what type you are.

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Entangled Roots: Once a Frog, Always a Frog

Filed under: Community, Family, Pondering, School Visits

Often when you think you’re at the end of something, you’re at the beginning of something else.

- Mister Rogers


For those of you who are new to the blog. I guess I should warn you. I can’t separate my personal life from my writing life. They are inexplicably intertwined. I usually do my best to create some connectivity between the branches, but sometimes they simply are what they are–grafted together. In the past, I’ve blogged about the school my children have attended. I’ve written with joy and hope. (Room 100 Holds the Secret to Fighting the War on Terror. Are You Interested?) I’ve also had the heart crushing disappointment of writing about administrative failure. (A Person’s A Person No Matter How Small: An Open Letter to the Wappingers Central School District)

Today I get to write about entangled roots…

Yesterday I had the pleasure of returning to my boy’s old elementary school. The one from before we moved. We returned for HUGS Day, which is an epic field day and party. A celebration. It’s a great day to be a FES Frog. But for the Sabatini’s it was a little bit like the ups and downs in one of those bouncy houses. We were so excited to see all our friends again, but at times, no matter how much fun we were having, it was a little bitter sweet. We were forced to look at what we’d been missing–what we are still missing until school comes to an end next week. The boys and I discussed it afterwards and came to the conclusion that being there had far outweighed the small hurts that left little bruises we’d have to recover from later.

Here were some of the big bounces that made the day great…

Small bounce house

Yeah–HUGS day is a bouncy house bonanza!


 Good friends fall right back into place.

photo 1

Sharing the experiences of a new school with the old school.


 Visiting familiar friends of a different nature.


Reengaging partners in crime <3


Eating too much.


And singing and dancing–a HAPPY teacher flash mob.

But life is strange and somewhere in the middle of snacks, flash mobs and catching up with friends, I overheard conversations that caused me to step back. Everyone was talking about the up and coming 5th Grade Moving Up Ceremony (which we are happily participating in) and the last day of school. Everyone was discussing all the expected tears–how hard and sad it was all going to be. Huh? My mind spun a little trying to connect the dots. Then understanding hit me like a lightening bolt as I realized what I had been missing.

We were no longer standing in the same place our friends were.

We had already grieved the loss of things the way they were. We had had to say goodbye and it had been hard–really, really hard. For us, school being over will be a kind of relief, an end of a particularly rough and knotted branch of our lives. Everyone else at FES is now poised to be standing on the very thin line between the past and the future, with all the emotional and actual baggage that comes with it. And while we might be physically standing next to everyone on that thin line, it isn’t the same.  We are like a group of friends who has opted for different paths through the woods. We will arrive at the same destination–but now we have very different stories to tell about our journey to get there.

But sometimes there are advantages to hearing someone else tell the tale of their journey. This week in particular, as we meet back up to celebrate moving up, I’d like to share what we learned on the road less traveled to an FES graduation.


We’ll all be okay. We’ve got this, because we have each other.

Often in the hustle and bustle of our growth–our forward momentum–we forget about our roots. Our eyes gravitate to the part of the tree that is easy to see. We forget about the strength and beauty of the roots–the parts that have nurtured us and held us in place while we’ve grown. The part that is hidden. FES has given us everything we need to anchor us to the best parts of ourselves and each other. I know this because when my boys had their lives painfully pruned back, they continued to be resilient, to grow and thrive. They are firmly woven with their past, their mentors and their friends, which has allowed them to remain standing, no matter how hard the wind has blown.

Over the next week, the 5th graders at FES will begin the process of branching out–of growing up. They will often take different paths as they grow. But we are very lucky because these kids are all trees in the same beautiful wood and it is my suspicion that beneath it all–their roots are entangled–adding more strength and support for the years to come. It has been my family’s pleasure to be a part of the FES family. Once a frog always a frog. And that is the truth. But being one thing doest limit you from being more things. Love is not limits–it is opportunity. So I’d also like to take a moment to thank everyone at our new school. I’m so very lucky because they grow strong and sturdy trees with beautiful roots there, too. They mended and supported us when we were a little broken. They cared for us like we had always been there–instead of what we really were–shell-shocked transplants. And now, because we haven’t moved too far, we have roots in two wonderful places. All that is left to do is entangle them even further. Be prepared to make new friends…

Often when you think you’re at the end of something, you’re at the beginning of something else.


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Character Driven

Filed under: Drafting, Pondering, Writing, Writing Style

I’ve learned to pay attention to the small print of my life. Right now I need to be focused on writing that is character driven. I’m currently surround by daily reminders that this should be the focus in my writing. Where am I getting all these messages and motivation? It’s everywhere…

*I just finished DREAMS  OF GODS AND MONSTERS by Laini Taylor. Oh, the characters–they haunt me.

*Major Crimes is back! This show is ALWAYS about the characters and their arcs.

*The World Cup is kicking! And even though the focus is soccer, it’s the players who leave it all out on the field that capture our hearts and our attention.

*Graduations–they are everywhere. Thousands and thousands of amazing stories of triumph. I’ve watched my own 11yo get acquainted with his own character to make it to this milestone this year.

*SYTYCD where my favorite dancers step, leap and stretch into different characters to tell a story.


As the summer gets ready to kick into high gear–don’t forget to let character take you for a drive.


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True Confession: Art Stimulates Art is Back

Filed under: Blogging, Check-it-out, Community, Dancing, Pondering

True Confession…


I had to decide whether I was going to write a blog post or watch SYTYCD?


You know my weakness.






New revelations coming soon. But in the mean time, take a moment to remember what it feels like to be the newbie–the aspiring.  Whether you’re a dancer or a writer–SYTYCD or SCBWI– being generous is fabulous for everyone. <3






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Come to the Millbrook Literary Festival!!!!

Filed under: Author Events, Book Signings, Booksellers, Check-it-out, In the Wild, Touching the Surface, YA Books, Young Adult (YA)



Yay! It’s almost here. Saturday is the Millbrook Literary Festival. Here’s a little bit about what will be going on right off their website…

Set your calendars: the 6th annual Millbrook Literary Festival will be held on June 21, 2014.

This year’s festival will present over 70 timely, thought-provoking, and thoroughly entertaining authors and illustrators to participate in panel discussions, readings, and signings throughout the day at the Millbrook Free Library on Franklin Street. The schedule of events and lineup of authors can be found at the links to the left.

People can start the day early at the Farmer’s Market beginning at 9:00 until 1:00. Lunchtime can be enjoyed at one of Millbrook’s many eateries for a deli sandwich, slice of pizza, French cuisine, classic American fare, or other culinary delight. Before leaving the festival, visitors are encouraged to shop in Millbrook’s eclectic stores where treasures abound.

Across the globe, literary festivals have been gaining popularity, increasing literacy, and celebrating books. There are more than 150 festivals in the United Kingdom supporting tourism and literacy while presenting people with direct access to writers, illustrators, editors, and publishers. Here in the United States, literary festivals are growing in numbers annually, and historic Millbrook joins the global and national movements with enthusiasm to make books and reading an important part of our lives.

Want to know who’s going to be there giving presentations and signing books? Click HERE to get the full list of authors and the schedule. Hope I get to see you there. <3

What’s the best literary festival you’ve had the pleasure of attending?

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Meet the New Me: 5:41 Can Kiss My BLANK

Filed under: Check-it-out, Family

Time to meet the new me. She is a girl who gets enough sleep every night. Well, almost every night. There is no predicting how long I might stay up if engrossed in a good book. *growls at E Lockhart for not getting to bed early enough last night* But in general, things for this girl are looking up because today is the LAST day I have to look at this ugly number on my alarm clock…



5:41am can kiss my BLANK because today is the 13yo’s last day of school. AND he’s moving to a local school–a closer school in the fall. So, for over a year, unless there is something specific making me an early riser, I don’t have to be out of bed until 7am. (It’s one of the perks of not wearing make-up, living in jeans and learning to make the best of bed head.) Tomorrow the new me rises out of  the comforter and smiles at a new day.


Hey, don’t look at me like that. I get it. There are people out there who have to get up earlier than 5:41 am and there is no end in sight to their misery. (And yes, you ARE a freak of nature if you’re a happy, well adjusted morning person who can fall asleep at 8pm and get enough rest. Weirdo.) But for those of you who mainline coffee until your face pulls up off of your shoes, I DO feel bad for you. (((hugs poor husband)))  Know that I really do feel horrible for all you alarm clock masochists out there. But I don’t feel nearly as bad for you as I feel happy for me right now. LOL! I know, I have no tact. But maybe I’ll have a little bit more tomorrow–when I wake up at 7am.

What time do you have to wake up? Any relief with summer coming? Are you–GASP–a morning person?

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Cover Reveal: The Nogiku series by SJ Pajonas

Filed under: Check-it-out, Cover Art, Reading

Today is the cover reveal for the Nogiku series by SJ Pajonas. As most of you know, I haven’t delved too deeply into the NA world, but this fabulous author is a personal friend of mine and I started reading because I love her, but I keep reading because her stories, characters and world building are SO GOOD! Plus, she recently nailed me with a spectacular cliff hanger in RELEASED. Today I get to help Lola launch the exciting new covers for this series. Revealed: Part One (Nogiku series #0.1), Removed (Nogiku series #1), Released (Nogiku series #2) and Reunited (Nogiku series #3). This cover reveal is organized by Lola’s Blog Tours.
all 4 covers


I wasn’t able to read and review this one before the cover release, but it has jumped to the top of my TBR pile!!!!




Revealed: Part One: New Year’s Eve with Jiro and Mark (Nogiku series #0.1)
by SJ Pajonas

Genre: Science Fiction Romance, Post-apocalyptic
Age category: Young Adult, Adult
Release Date: June 1, 2014

Get immersed in the Nogiku world with Jiro Itō as he gets ready for a boring and annoying New Year’s Eve out in Nishikyō. At least, that’s what he expects his night to be like. Jiro would rather drink with the geisha all evening, and avoid taking anyone home, but he has family business to attend to instead. When the family business leads to an unfamiliar restaurant, Jiro spies Sanaa Griffin smiling at him from across the room, and his night turns around.

But Mark Sakai, his uncle, is not pleased with Jiro’s flirtations. Mark has worked hard for over a decade to get Sanaa into position for her new life, and he can’t have Jiro interfering. Will a stern warning be enough to keep them apart?

PART ONE of REVEALED is a companion short story to REMOVED, Book ONE of the Nogiku Series. The first chapter of REMOVED is included at the end of PART ONE. Read REVEALED first or read it later, but don’t miss this look into the other side of Sanaa’s story.

Approximately 10,000 words.

You can find Revealed: Part One: New Year’s Eve with Jiro and Mark on Goodreads

You can buy Revealed here:
Barnes & Noble


You can find my review of REMOVED here.

RemovedRemoved (Nogiku series #1)by SJ Pajonas


Genre: Science Fiction Romance, Post-apocalyptic
Age category: Young Adult, Adult
Release Date: September 11, 2013

Duty knows no family. Love has no price. Secrets can cost you everything.

Twenty-year-old Sanaa Griffin is about to get more than she bargained for when she wishes for love, happiness, and excitement on New Year’s Eve. Ripped from the job she always loved, she is reassigned to work for mysterious Mark Sakai and spy on the corrupt leaders of her city. War looms on the horizon, and Sanaa must help Sakai determine the key players and their weak spots before it’s too late.

Mark Sakai has many plans for Sanaa that will take her into a web of lies and danger, and her only protection is to learn to defend herself. But defense training under the watchful eye of Jiro, a strong and enigmatic young man she has a crush on, was not what she expected. Between falling in love with Jiro and the information she is gathering, Sanaa realizes Sakai is holding back secrets about her family and her deceased parents, secrets as to why she was chosen for this job, and learning the truth puts all of humanity in jeopardy.

REMOVED is the first book in a captivating post-apocalyptic series that harnesses the cultures and traditions of Japan and sweeps them into the future between Earth and a faraway land.

You can find Removed on Goodreads
Want to view some inspirational images for Removed, visit the Removed inspirational Pinterest board

You can buy Removed here:
Barnes & Noble


RELEASED was even better than REMOVED and I rave about it here.



Released (Nogiku series #2)

by SJ Pajonas
Genre: Science Fiction Romance, Post-apocalyptic
Age category: Young Adult, Adult
Release Date: December 17, 2013

Left in the desert to recuperate from her injuries, Sanaa Itami paces the floors and contemplates her mistakes. She trusted too easily, and now people she loved are dead, killed at the hands of men coming to assassinate her. Sanaa feels beaten, but life awaits her at home. While her city recovers from the devastating earthquake, negotiations for Sanaa’s future continue. New allies must be made, new friendships brokered, new skills acquired — at all costs.

Life at the top of the chain is complicated and lonely, though. With all her friendships rocky and uncertain, Sanaa must learn to trust others again more than she’s willing. Who is left holding a grudge? And will the new family Sanaa has found with Jiro support or betray her?

RELEASED, Book TWO of the Nogiku Series, is the second book in a captivating post-apocalyptic romance series that harnesses the cultures and traditions of Japan and sweeps them into the future between Earth and a faraway land.

You can find Released on Goodreads

You can buy Released here:
Barnes & Noble


I’m dying to find out what’s on the other side of that fabulous cliff hanger I mentioned. I can’t wait for August!!!!



Reunited (Nogiku series #3)

by SJ Pajonas
Genre: Science Fiction Romance, Post-apocalyptic
Age category: Young Adult, Adult
Release Date: August 14, 2014

Yūsei has surprises for Sanaa Itami. The long trip across the stars ends with Mark Sakai delivering bad news from orbit over their new home, and there’s no turning back or moving on. Despite all their misgivings, this is where they will have to stay.

Sanaa, Jiro, and the rest of Earth’s settlers move into a coastal town and stick to their plans to live the colonization life they dreamed of. But Sanaa’s existence won’t be kept secret from her enemies for long. Kazuo promised he would see her in another life, on another world, and he aims to keep his word. Now she will face those who want their revenge and make new enemies while dispensing with old ones on her journey across the fascinating and unfamiliar landscape of Yūsei.

REUNITED, Book THREE of the Nogiku Series, is the third book in a captivating post-apocalyptic romance series that harnesses the cultures and traditions of Japan and sweeps them into the future between Earth and a faraway land.

You can find Reunited on Goodreads


And I have some fabulous news for you… You can read Revealed: Part One for free! And the price for Removed has been permanently dropped to 0.99$. Haven’t started this series yet? Pick up your copy today!
sale image free



sj pajonasAbout the Author:
S. J. Pajonas loves all things Asian and has been in love with Japan and the East for as long as she can remember. Writing about Asia and Japan came naturally after studying the culture and language for over fifteen years. She studied film and screenwriting first and eventually segued into fiction once she was no longer working a full-time job.

Face Time is the first novel in the Love in the Digital Age series, and Pajonas’s first foray into Korean culture and families. Along with Removed and Released in the Nogiku Series, she continues to take the cultures of Asia and weave them into stories that appeal to people from around the world. Her writing is described as unique and unpredictable. Expect the unexpected.

Stephanie lives with her husband and two children just outside of New York City. She loves reading, writing, film, J- and K-dramas, knitting, and astrology. Her favorite author is Haruki Murakami and favorite book is The Wind-up Bird Chronicle.

You can find and contact her here:

And there’s a cover reveal wide giveaway! You can win a 10$ gift card for Itunes of Starbucks or one of the 3 e-copies of Released!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Lola's Blog Tours


How do you like the fabulous new covers? Have you read any books in the Nogiku series yet? If you haven’t, get reading because I really want to talk about these books with you.

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