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SUICIDE SPEAKS: Remembering Chester

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Life happens. We have to try to find some way to be happy in it.
— Logan Courtney from Angry Macey

Chester Bennington of Lincoln Park died July 20, 2017.

I own the CD Hybrid Theory. It contains many of their biggest hits. I listened to it often for many years. It got me through some difficult times, as the right music often can. I believe that CD and their others were that medicine for a lot of people.

Upon hearing of his death, I got into my music chest, located that CD, and put it in my car to listen to it. It reminded why Linkin Park is so great. And, unfortunately, the lyrics also reminded me of the pain that Chester must have been in. But that is probably the part that I identified with the most.

I used to think that the highest risk time period for suicide was the teenage years, which maybe actually is the case; I did no research for this post. I used to think if you got past that hell of peer pressure and trying to figure out who you are, that then you would be safe.

But recently two musicians well beyond their teen years, Chris Cornell and Chester, have taken their own lives.

In our society, we are made to believe that celebrity & riches will cure what ails you (depression, relationship issues, etc.).

In reality, it often seems to make existing matters worse.

We are made to believe that if you have a loving family who supports you, you will not take drastic measures to end your own life by your own hand.

But it happens every day.

When someone finds a healthy outlet for their demons (music, art, writing), we assume they will be alright now and make it through.

Chris and Chester have proven to us that is not the case.

Contemplating all this last night, I realized that I will never be able to get rid of my anxiety. It is a part of me, just as much as my hands and feet are. Although, I really wish it would quit waking me up in the morning, my heart pounding and my lungs gasping for breath over some irrelevant conversation I had the day before and how stupid I may have sounded.

But maybe I can manage it and live with it. People with other diseases do it all the time. They don’t let one dark space inside them take over control of the main show.

Well, unfortunately, Chris and Chester did.

So, I’m asking you, don’t ease your pain the same way they did.

A phrase keeps repeating in my head right now. It is actually from something my asbestos friend wrote about success & persistence in a career. I feel like it may apply to life in general as well. It seems as though this quote is also attributed to many famous Americans.

If you’re at the end of your rope, tie a knot and hold on.

I was not Linkin Park’s biggest fan by any means. But I do see the genius in their music and why they had maintained such popularity over the years.

Here is video of Chester literally baring his soul on the radio. It was a very brave thing to do. Hopefully by him speaking that day, and the video of it circulating now, he helped one person to prevent what he himself could not.

My kid has told me he would be sad if I died. I am sure Chester’s six children told him that too. I am sure they were also witness to the battle he waged every day to stay in this world. Hopefully they will remember that and be able to forgive him for his untimely absence.


If you need it, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline now.

From the broken mind of Jennifer Friess, the joining of hearts & souls…
NOW AVAILABLE! Troll Gurl and the Cursed Kingdom


Another Country Song: DENTS

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Yes, I have attempted to write another bad country song. I don’t know anything about reading or composing music, so maybe that just makes it a poem. I was kind of inspired by the three books I am working on lately. Hope you likey…

Dents: Full of 'em

Dents: Full of ’em

Cars and trucks are an extension
Of our body and personality
That’s why when someone gets
too close on the freeway
We extend them a profanity
Some people baby their cars
Keep them locked away from the elements
But what makes a car special is not
How pristine you keep it
It is the experience

It is not the outside that counts
But the memories within
These dents are displayed
Like badges of honor
From the battles fought
It may look worn and used up
But at the same time it is stronger
From all those miles and those loads
Don’t count me out
Because I will be there with you
Until the end of the road.

I had a car, I called it an SUV
An SRV according to the manufacturers’ files.
I don’t care, it was special to me
Two-hundred and sixteen thousand miles
Drove that car north and south
And halfway west across this great county
Slept under the stars
And president’s heads
It bore the scars
Of two hail storms
And one hail mark slightly larger and deeper than the rest
Where I lost my temper
When a campfire wouldn’t catch.
I never felt bad about that blemish
Because it was part of the history

It is not the outside that counts
But the memories within
These dents are displayed
Like badges of honor
From the battles fought
It may look worn and used up
But at the same time it is stronger
From all those miles and those loads
Don’t count me out
Because I will be there with you
Until the end of the road.

I have fallen down
All on my own
I’ve also had a little push
A time or two
I never wanted to let this hate
Eat me alive
But I regret not standing up for myself sooner
For setting the record straight
That I am more than the names
You chose to call me.
I want you to know, at the end of the day…

It is not the outside that counts
But the memories within
These dents are displayed
Like badges of honor
From the battles I’ve fought
I may look worn and used up
But at the same time I am stronger
From all those miles and those loads
Don’t count me out
Because I will be there waiting for you
At the end of the road.

Because I WILL be there waiting for you
At the end of this road…


For those of you who haven’t heard, I have an event this Saturday from 12pm-5pm at the Barnes & Noble bookstore in Lansing. You can click on my Events page for more info. See you there!


Follow the romantic entanglements of The Riley Sisters in my books:
Be Careful What You Wish ForAVAILABLE NOW!
The Wind Could Blow a BugWHERE IT ALL BEGAN!

What I Learned This Week – 3/20/16

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This week I learned that GOOD CHARLOTTE is coming out with a new album!

The Good Charlotte boys, back in the day.

The Good Charlotte boys, back in the day.

Have I ever told you the long story about my Good Charlotte obsession? Well, it’s long and will have to wait for another day. Suffice to say, they are my boys! More specifically, the Maddens who, even though they bulked up, I still love.

I have all their previous albums. The still-untitled new album will be out this summer. This is great to hear, but, um, could you be more specific? Why not wait to announce it until you have a title or a date? That would be like me saying, “Hey, I have a new book coming out Fall of 2016. It is similar to my previous writing, but also new and different.”

Well, they got me to write about them, didn’t they? ❤ Those boys. I think I have seen them in concert at least four times.

This week I was looking for an item that is very special to me and that I thought would help inspire me while writing my latest book.

Of course, I couldn’t find said trinket (Jack Sparrow’s voice says that in my head), but I did find a collection of bookmarks I have had for 30 years. I’m sure for other people bookmarks come and bookmarks go. But to me these are special, especially an Amelia Bedelia one and one from my local library.



I think I was in 4th grade when a real live author, Peggy Parish, came to our school and talked to us. I had never heard of her and I didn’t read her Amelia Bedelia books. But she was maybe the first celebrity encounter I ever had. (For more, please check out my page When Stars Align. You will find GOOD CHARLOTTE there.) It didn’t matter that I wasn’t her fan. I was a fan of what she did. SHE WROTE BOOKS. Words she wrote were in libraries all across the country (I was kind of clueless about bookstores back then. That would change in time as well.) with numbers on the pages, bound inside of covers with pictures on them, printed by some publishing house.

It is not a memory that I regularly revisit, but maybe it placed the notation into my head somewhere that it was a possibility for a career someday.

Speaking of possible careers, the bookmark from the local library was the winner in a bookmark contest many years ago. I kept it all these years because it was created by my asbestos friend! She has a book coming out September 2016 (the cover is featured below). Obviously she took the sentiment from her bookmark to heart: books can brighten your life. At a young age it also must have been imprinted into her that writing was a worthy pursuit.

I surmised (correctly, as it turns out) that my asbestos friend no longer possessed a copy of the bookmark herself. I decided to frame it, so that it would survived the coming years better than the previous ones. I decided to add a few of her other writing achievements into it as well. I think it turned out nice. She seemed happy with it, even hanging it on the wall. Now even if she doesn’t like it, she will have to hang it back on the wall every time I come over so my feelings aren’t hurt. Ha. (I think…)

The Evolution of E.A. Comiskey's writing life

The Evolution of E.A. Comiskey’s writing life

Follow the romantic entanglements of The Riley Sisters in my books:
Be Careful What You Wish ForAVAILABLE NOW!
When You Least Expect It CLICK HERE TO WIN!
The Wind Could Blow a BugWHERE IT ALL BEGAN!

The Riley Sisters Mix

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Aw, don't the girls look so good all together?

Aw, don’t the girls look so good all together?

I started writing The Wind Could Blow a Bug with only one song in my head. But as I continued the series, I found country songs, both new and old, helped with my inspiration. While I was raised on country and have always had a fondness for it, I hadn’t listened to it in probably a decade or more. I think when Garth retired, maybe I did too. I don’t know if my country-based stories lead me to the music, or the music fueled the books. Either way, it happened. (By the way, seeing Garth live in concert was part of my reconnecting to country as well.)

Here is my playlist for The Riley Sisters Mix with annotations (some minor spoilers included), followed by the YouTube playlist. Most of these songs give me the good music neck tingle.*

Kick the Dust Up – Luke Bryan: This just makes me think of the Tucker boys romping around the dirt roads of Oakley. It sets the vibe. Plus, Luke seems like a good old boy, which is why a minor character by the name of Luke may appear in Book 3, as well as a character named Blake…

Boys Round Here – Blake Shelton: Take a little ride to the river? Does that make anyone else think about Wade taking Miley down to the pond for a little skinny dipping?

Speakers– Sam Hunt: This song is damn sexy. So is Sam Hunt. This makes me think of Wade and Jane parking on the night of her high school graduation.

Play It Again – Luke Bryan: This is the first song that began my country music resurgence. While it doesn’t correlate exactly to a scene in the book, it seems like an experience that could totally happen between Wade and Jane.

Got Me Wrong – Alice in Chains: You might think this song doesn’t fit with the rest, and maybe it doesn’t, but it fits Jane’s story. When she is getting over her depression in college and hears a song on the radio that just speaks to her heart? That is based off of real events, and this was the real-life song for me.

John Deere Green – Joe Diffie: For the end of Book 1 and Wade’s wedding proposal to Jane; and of course Josh and Kiley and the water tower in Book 2. Oh God, I just teared up thinking about the water tower scene.

I Knew You Were Trouble – Taylor Swift: Josh’s song.

Ticks – Brad Paisley: This song is one long pick-up line that Josh would totally use on Kiley, if given the chance, and she would totally fall for it.

South Side of Heaven/What I Got – Mezcla featuring Michael Raymond-James: MRJ is the semi-inspiration for Josh Tucker. It only seemed right that since this was available on YouTube that his gravelly voice should be included in this collection.

Honey Bee – Blake Shelton: Sweet words I can picture Josh trying to woo Kiley with.

Love Me Like You Mean It – Kelsea Ballerini: I confess, this whole song is included just cuz I like where she says “Boy with your hat back, um I kinda like that.”

Red Dirt Road – Brooks & Dunn: Nothing specific, but provides an overall feel of growing up in the south that I hope my book captures some tiny 1/1000th of.

Raised On It – Sam Hunt: This is the song that sort of bridges my growing up in a farm town in Michigan with the Rileys and Tuckers growing up in Oakley, Alabama. I totally know about “sticky quarters”; I used them as the basis of a whole paper on Rites of Passage in college.

Ride to California – Paper Tongues: Miley, making her way out to Hollywood at all costs where she believes are all her dreams are just waiting to come true.

Celebrity Skin – Hole: Miley’s walk of shame the day after she meets movie star Mark.

Party in the USA – Miley Cyrus: Fish out of water, or walking the Hollywood walk in the wrong shoes.

City of Angels – 30 Seconds to Mars: Oh God, I just love 30 Seconds to Mars and Jared Leto. This song is all about Hollywood being life-changing, for good and bad.

The River – Good Charlotte: Ya, I love Good Charlotte too; had to work them into here somehow. This song is all about how Los Angeles can eat you alive, as it does Miley.

Holy Toledo – Crystal Bowersox: This is Miley sitting on her couch back home depressed in her flannel cupcake pajamas and being a day overdue for a shower. A song about looking for redemption.

Blank Space – Taylor Swift: I actually think of this as being Mark’s point of view. What an a-hole 😉

Skr Boi – Avril Lavigne: Travis’s song. And I love Avril.

The Climb – Miley Cyrus: Miley Riley climbing back up out of the hole she found herself in upon returning to Oakley.


Follow the romantic entanglements of The Riley Sisters in my books:
Be Careful What You Wish ForAVAILABLE NOW!
When You Least Expect It CLICK HERE TO WIN!
The Wind Could Blow a BugWHERE IT ALL BEGAN!

What I Learned This Week – 1/10/2016

This week I learned that hot young rising country music star Thomas Rhett is the son of 1990s hot young rising country music star Rhett Akins.

Thomas Rhett is actually Rhett Thomas Akins, Jr., but I totally get why, for business purposes, he would want to be his own guy with his own name; makes for less confusion that way. His voice has been on the country airwaves lately with “Make Me Wanna” and “Crash & Burn”. I especially like “Crash & Burn” because it doesn’t sound like a typical country song. I am sure many other people hate it for the same reason. I’ll admit, he’s a hottie. But the cover of his latest album Tangled Up bothers me. He is standing there in a holey T-shirt. Is that supposed to be like “Hey, I need a new shirt so you should buy this album.”? I am a forty-year old mother now. I just want to call him up and tell him to put on a new shirt.

His father Rhett Akins had several great hits while I was in college, at the height of one of my country music phases. “That Ain’t My Truck” has a great country title and lyrics, but “Don’t Get Me Started” gives me the good song neck tingle (link).

Rhett Akins was cute, but I couldn’t be fully on his bandwagon. Because, you see, I was already taken.

I was way ga-ga over Ty England. I had been ever since I saw him singing behind Garth Brooks on the 1990 American Country Music Awards. In fact, I had it on VHS so that I could watch it over and over again. (Holy hell, how has it been 26 years!) I couldn’t have been happier when he got to step into the spotlight. I bought his CD. I joined his fan club, which afforded me the chance to meet him backstage at the Hillsdale County Fair in 1996. He was my world until I began dating my future husband the next February. I think my mom still has the picture of Ty and I hugging displayed in a frame in her apartment somewhere. A burglar breaking in might assume that Ty was my husband.

My, how young we both used to be!

My, how young we both used to be!

If you wonder how Ty fits into all this, I’ll tell you. Ty’s debut single was steadily climbing the country charts, although not fast enough for me. At the same time, Rhett Akin’s “That Aint My Truck” was charging up the charts and taking over the radio airwaves. “Truck” made it to number 3 on the Billboard US Hot Country Songs chart the week of September 16, 1995, while Ty was only at number 6. Within my head, it was a competition between the two of them. The next week, “Should’ve Asked Her Faster” made it to number 3. That would be the peak spot for both artists for those songs. “Don’t Get Me Started” would be Rhett Akins only number one.

Here is a YouTube link for the song “Don’t Get Me Started.”

It makes my heart hurt just listening to it now, it is so good. Makes me wish I had had a chance to see him perform it in concert. With songs like this and Ty England’s, I wonder why I ever switched over to alternative.

Oh, right. Songs like “Plowed” by Sponge and “Doll Parts” by Hole and “Just a Girl” by No Doubt. They awakened something deep and primal within me with their unique sounds. They helped me realize that there was more to sing about than trucks and dances and tractors. Although, when it came time to write my first book series, I would return to the familiar comfort of those things had always brought me.

Here is Ty’s video. Isn’t he an uber-cutie? If you are interested in purchasing some real estate in Oklahoma these days, give him a call 😉

Follow the romantic entanglements of The Riley Sisters in my books:
The Wind Could Blow a BugAVAILABLE NOW!
When You Least Expect It NEW RELEASE!
Be Careful What You Wish For – COMING JANUARY 2016!

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