THE MEMORY BOX Cover Reveal!

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I am so excited to officially reveal the cover for THE MEMORY BOX! It was designed by the incredibly talented Damonza and his equally fabulous team. More news to follow on the release date for my debut novel. I’m thrilled to tell you that THE MEMORY BOX is a HOUSTON WRITERS GUILD 2014 Manuscript award recipient.

To further whet your appetite, here is the book description:

What would you do if you searched your own past and uncovered something shocking?

In this gripping marriage thriller, a group of privileged suburban moms amuse themselves by Googling everyone in town, digging up dirt to fuel thorny gossip. Caroline Thompson, devoted mother of two, sticks to the moral high ground and attempts to avoid these women. She’s relieved to hear her name appears only three times, citing her philanthropy. Despite being grateful that she has nothing to hide, a delayed pang of insecurity prods Caroline to Google her maiden name—which none of the others know.

The hits cascade like a tsunami. Caroline’s terrified by what she reads. An obituary for her sister, JD? That’s absurd. With every click, the revelations grow more alarming. They can’t be right. She’d know. Caroline is hurled into a state of paranoia—upending her blissful family life—desperate to prove these allegations false before someone discovers they’re true.

The disturbing underpinnings of The Memory Box expose a story of deceit, misconceptions, and an obsession for control. With its twists, taut pacing, and psychological tenor, Natiello’s page-turning suspense cautions:

Be careful what you search for.

How to make cleaning toilets more enjoyable.

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In an effort to make cleaning toilets more enjoyable, I’ve made a game out of it. I recommend you try this; it’s endless fun.

After playing this game with some regularity and frequency, I’ve been forced to do a bit of soul searching and I’ve come to realize I’ll never be a hall-of-famer at this game. Sadly, I will not even be an all-star or team captain. Heck, I’ll never even make Varsity. Thusly, I’ve come to a difficult decision. I’m bowing out. And retiring the toilet brush. I’m not gonna play this game anymore.

Instead—I’ve decided to coach.

Luckily, I already have two extremely promising recruits. I believe with a little training and a lot of practice they’re gonna take this toilet cleaning game by storm. The bathroom will not just be their playing field, but their oyster. They don’t know any of this yet, of course, because they’re still second-guessing their abilities and displaying a lack of confidence. But these kids are young. They’ve got a bright future. The funny thing is, as green as they are, they’re not shy about expecting the big bucks! Slow down! This ain’t the NBA, kids! Am I right?
You gotta clean a load of toilets before you make it to the big leagues.

Summer’s Hottest Trends: Fashion Deja Vu

photo by Dorret

photo by Dorret

Last weekend I got dressed for a party and selected a shirt at my daughter’s urging. This shirt was purchased at my daughter’s urging in a moment of merciless exhaustion. The kind of exhaustion one experiences after shopping with one’s teenage daughter for long hours with a no-end-in-sight spirit. Hours linked together by caffeine runs and bathroom breaks. It was the kind of purchase necessary so that mother and daughter could walk through the lovely vacation town with synchronized swinging bags in their grasp.

This shirt has proven my long-held belief that certain things which appear attractive on vacation, very well may let you down in the real world. (Of course the origin of that belief refers to vacation boyfriends, but clothes and accessories also apply.)

I had been fortunate enough to keep this garment under wraps in my closet for months.

Until the day of the party.

I was naively unaware that it would take thirty minutes, certain special undergarments, a roll of fashion tape and an owner’s manual to get into it. Certainly I would have chosen something else to wear. I also would not have chosen the shoes, worn at my daughter’s urging, which demanded I walk with both arms outstretched, as if I were an airplane, just to keep my balance and dignity. Nor would I have worn my hair in a style, at my daughter’s urging, which only looked good standing in front of a fan or if I were to sprint the perimeter of the backyard party in order to simulate the wind-swept carefree, effortless style. A forewarning: sprinting is not the preferred option here, as it will certainly cause you to “glisten” in all the wrong places. Forewarning #2: fashion tape does not hold up to a deluge of perspiration. Once the tape gives way you are limited to very few body positions and stances, and for God’s sake, do not sit down! Unless, of course, you have the posture of a brick wall. Also, needless-to-say, once the deluge has begun it’s best to put your arms down.

Forewarning #3: wind-swept hair only looks good while the wind is still sweeping. Once the wind dies down you will look something like Lindsay Lohan after a breaking-probation-all-nighter.

Did you know that it’s beyond chic to wear a different nail color on each of your ten fingernails? I was urged to do just that in order to complete my insanely current ensemble.

As I stood there at the party, wearing a shirt meant for someone else, heels that made my ankles wobble, a hair nest I was certain living things had found refuge in and a rainbow manicure, I had a strange deja-vu. It took a few minutes for me to crystalize the faint recollection that I had been in this position before. But when I did it brought a smile to my face.

It was kindergarten. With a jumble of five-year-olds at the dress-up box.

Got Multiples? Baby Names for a Brood

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Practically every time I turn on the computer, I see this headline: “Hottest Baby Names for 2013.” I could’ve used that fourteen years ago when I was pregnant with my first. I knew for nine whole months that a baby would be coming at the end of it, sufficient enough time to figure out a potential girl name and a potential boy name. I blew it. I was on my way to the hospital for a scheduled c-section and I had nothin’.  Well, that’s not entirely true. I had three baby name books packed in my hospital overnight bag. The c-section gave me two extra nights and two extra days in the hospital to pour over the books. Still nothin’. As it turns out, you’re not permitted to leave the hospital with an un-named newborn. Found out the hard way. They wheeled us back from the elevator.

This would seem odd for a person who writes fiction. Many characters in many of my stories have needed names. And none of them have gone nameless. So why the trouble with my own kids? George Foreman also buckled under the pressure and ended up calling 5 of his 10 kids the same exact thing: George Edward Foreman.

I started thinking. What family had the most kids? What did they do? We’re all familiar with Kate’s 8, Octomom’s 14, and the Duggar’s 19. But when I dug a little deeper I discovered the most kids born to one family was 69! I nearly stopped breathing. 69 kids? From one womb? Are you pulling my fallopian tubes? From a total of 27 pregnancies, this woman gave birth to 16 sets of twins, 7 sets of triplets, 4 sets of quadruplets. She lived the better part of her life in a hormonal cloud with no waistline.

Let’s put aside the cooking, cleaning, diapers, terrible two’s, (x 69 = 138?) teething, nursing, sleepless nights, whining that “he won’t give me the remote!” Oh, actually, I should point out that this family lived in the 18th century, so that thing about the remote probably didn’t happen. It was more like, “He won’t let me play with the stick!” Regardless, how the heck did she name 69 kids?!?

I have a theory. After she had ten or so kids, she decided to just number them. Genius, right? “Hey, 14, you give 27-32 a bath tonight.” Like that. Not to say that was easy. Please, I couldn’t even remember my high school locker combination. And that was only 3 numbers! (Still causes nightmares.) I’m sure there were days when she mixed up 34 with 43. (Especially since both were redheads.)

Legend has it she provided the world with more than just a mass of descendants able to fill Yankee Stadium. One day, 57 came home from school and sat on the floor to untie his shoe laces. His mother said, “57, why are you taking your shoes off? You get to keep them until tomorrow morning, when you give them to 45 so she can walk to school.”

57 said, “Mama, I have to do my math homework and I need my toes.”

“Toes? Why do you think I had all you kids? Use your brothers and sisters to count for 8’s sake!” And hence the human abacus was born, an elaborate counting system using all 69 kids lined up in the back yard. Ten rows of six kids and one row of nine. This classic counting apparatus was later fabricated out of pebbles and wood. Many years later it was sold to Texas Instruments for a boatload of money. Unfortunately she didn’t live to see that happen.

What was her name, you ask? That’s the irony of the story. All of the history books refer to this Russian woman as the wife of Feodor Vassilyev. She had no name of her own. I’m sure that’s because in her husband’s eyes, she was always #1.