Love September …


I really love September.

I’m dying to get out all my fall decorations — the pumpkins, the fall leaves, the Halloween décor, etc. — but I’m trying to resist. September is still technically summer (until Sept 21), and even though it’s a hint of fall, it’s always about 100 degrees here every day.

So I bought this cute pillow last weekend to fulfill my “need to decorate seasonally” but my resistance to putting out pumpkins just yet. (I’ll probably hold out for all of two more weeks — and those pumpkin spice lattes are already calling my name, as is the candy corn — but I’m trying.)

But I really do love September — back-to-school, back-to-routine, back to a sort of comfort of having kids and family close all the time. New pencils, new notebooks, kids going to soccer games on the weekends, football on TV. …

September is a lovely month.

What’s your favorite month of the year?

Reader Question: How Do You Do Your Research?

This reader question and answer originally ran in my May newsletter. If you’d like to sign up for my newsletter, and get all the posts mailed directly to you, sign up here. We also do monthly giveaways and have “sneak peeks” at chapters from upcoming books.

This question is from my book club friend (and also beta reader) MaryAnn Perdue:


Q: How do you do your research before writing a book (to learn about surfing or whale-watching or whatever the book features)?

A: I do spend a lot of time on research! For The Red Bikini, I had to learn a LOT about surfing! I don’t surf myself, so I was learning from the ground up. (Or would that be “the sand up”?) However, I do live in the middle of one of the surfing capitals of the world — Orange County, California — so it wasn’t hard to find friends who surf (as well as my hubby, son, boss, director – I talked to everyone who I knew owned a surfboard, which is a surprisingly huge number of people).

Additionally, I watched a lot of movies and documentaries (Endless Summer, Step Into Liquid, etc.) for some of the history and inspiration for some of the characters.

And I read my husband’s subscription to Surfer magazine cover-to-cover EVERY MONTH FOR TWO YEARS! Ha, ha. Yes, that’s right. Every. Single. Month.

That alone might have been the greatest source because the feedback was so natural and constant, over a two-year period. I learned a lot about the everyday surf culture, the way pro surfers live and travel, their most common backgrounds, the way they feel about the industry, the type of music they listen to, the way they talk to each other. It was fun.

My next book, Ten Good Reasons, features a whale-watcher, and that involved a whole ‘nother year of research. I’ll tell more about that soon!


Have a question? Send to It’ll probably be featured in the next newsletter!

Join Me for the ‘Red Bikini Book Club’!

Book club graphic

I’d love for you all to join me for a fun online event Friday, Sept. 19 — a book-club discussion of “The Red Bikini”! I’ll ask you questions about the book (from “What do you think all the strawberries meant?” to fun things like “What was your favorite line of Fin’s?”), and you can ask me anything you want about writing it.

Come see what others answer and ask!

This event is two weeks away, so you have plenty of time to read the book, re-read the book, or get a friend to read the book and join us. I can’t wait to chat with you all!

P.S. The event goes from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., but you don’t have to be available the whole time — just come jump in any time you like, even if only for 15 minutes!

P.P.S. If you can’t attend the event at all on Friday, but you’re interested in what everyone says, click “join” anyway, and you’ll still get all the questions with links to the answers, which you can then peruse later in your own time.

To join and get more info, click here.

(And thank you to Carli Krueger for the adorable event graphic! — Isn’t it cute?)


The ‘Adventure Boots’

Adventure boots in Montana

This is a picture my daughter took of herself, sitting on top of the “M” on the side of the hill in Missoula, Montana, overlooking the campus, the stadium, the Clark Fork River, and most of Missoula, where she is now attending college and just finished her first week. (And is reportedly loving it.)

She took this photo last year, when we were visiting the campus, and she calls the photo “Adventure Boots in Montana.”

She bought the boots last fall at Target — just an ordinary pair of boots that she’d wanted, and got them on sale. But they ended up taking her on a lot of fun adventures over the next year, including Montana, NYC, and some great local California hikes with friends.

But I love that she even has something she calls “adventure boots”! Because this is the girl who always wore dresses at home, who had to have skirts with a certain “twirl factor” when she was 5 years old (although she did carry purses with dinosaurs and rocks in them), who has always been a rather introverted, quiet, reserved girl. And the idea that she’s been forcing herself out there to have “adventures” — and the idea that she was brave enough to travel 1600 miles away to go to college — impresses me to no end.

Here’s to many adventures for my daughter in the “adventure boots” — and a fun, new phase of discovery in this exciting time of life for her!

I’m so proud of the woman she’s becoming.

When’s the last time you had what you’d call an “adventure” — where you had to put yourself out of your comfort zone and do or learn something new? (I’m thinking I might have to get myself a pair of adventure boots and do more of this!)


We Have Giveaway Winners!

And the winners are...


(who won the cover-reveal newsletter-subscriber giveaway on Aug. 26)



(who won the cover-reveal blog giveaway held from Aug. 29-Sept 2)

You both won an Amazon gift card to buy two new books and a Sandy Cove souvenir pack in blue to match and celebrate my pretty new cover!


I’ve already contacted Benita, and I’m reaching out to Pat today. (Pat, if you don’t see my email, contact me at with your snail-mail addresses and I’ll get that prize out to you!)


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