In case you wandered in by accident…

Today I realized I haven’t published anything fiction in ten (10!) years. I’ve certainly written things — whole novels, short stories — in that time but just never took the extra steps to put it out there. I’m not sure why, but I don’t regret focusing on my other career. Also a part of me must intend on doing something at some point or I wouldn’t still have this site. What I HAVE done is drastically reduce my social media footprint, not just because I’m not actively publishing/promoting but because I truly believe it helps with mental health. This is the part where I reveal that in “real life” I’m a crime scene investigator with a specialty in latent print examination. That’s why I want to emphasize the importance of balance and only putting energy into things that fill you with joy and purpose. I’m going to keep writing for myself and spend time reconnecting with the unplugged life I used to have.

I hope you will do the same: WRITE. LIVE. APPRECIATE. And take time for yourself.

Bird With No Song Playlist

These are some of the songs referenced in the forthcoming novel “Bird With No Song”. There are certainly more songs that helped inspire me while writing but they can be found on my other playlists (or I might add them later!)

My WIP: To Share or not to Share?



Once upon a time, when I was writing full time, I’d share snippets from my works in progress as I was actively going through the editing and beta reading process. I’m not sure why I feel so cautious sharing now but I think it has to do with so much online thievery I’ve witnessed my writing colleagues go through over the last 5 years I’ve been focusing on my other career, not to mention I’m not sure if I’ll be going Indie this time around.

Was that me hinting at agent shopping? You decide.

I’m not sure what to do, honestly. I would love your feedback. What I am willing to share is that this new novel is called Bird With No Song and if it had to be placed in a genre box I’d call it general fiction featuring a teen protagonist.


Sixteen-year old Josiah “JoJo” Smith has done a pretty good job of flying under the radar despite his well-known relatives until his mother, former child musician Annie Smith, renews her relationship with Luke Preston, the lead singer of the world famous band Periscope.

JoJo was already struggling to reconcile his desire to make music with his extreme introversion, anxiety, and self-esteem issues. Now life’s a chopped-up drama salad of fake friends, real friends, fake family, real family, hashtags, squish-names, and the crushing weight of expectation that goes along with trying to step outside of being the son, nephew, or grandson of someone famous. Add that to all the confusing feelings he has for his best friend Josef and the intriguing new girl at school and he’s, well…

Everything’s fine. Just fine. No big. It’s whatever.



If you are interested in beta-reading, please let me know!

Bird With No Song UPDATE!

Hey there, long suffering blog followers! Still working on the Work-in-Progress entitled “Bird With No Song”, but it’s in the rewrite/self-editing phase and I’m hoping to be shopping for beta-readers soon. Yay! (I hope) On the agenda for this week is to update the playlist on YouTube with the songs that head each chapter and others that just vibe with the story. I hope I remember to make time for it. As some of you might know, I am an essential worker in “Real Life”, so I’m not suddenly swimming in hours at home to write.

Tonight, like millions of you, I’ll be streaming the #TogetherAtHome concert. You can join me talking about it on my socials if you like.


My Face Is Just My Face – @AJRbrothers

New playlist, FWIW. Wasn’t making time to write, am now. Thanks for your patience. Like, YEARS worth of patience. I see you! It’s hard to wear three full time career hats. I’ll do better.

Updated #amwriting Playlist

Really, I update this playlist frequently. One song is responsible for changing the name of my WIP and of course, will remain on the final book playlist. But what IS that title, Gen, you may ask? I mean, I still don’t know the title to Star Wars IX, so you can just share in my suspense. What if I change it again? I’m in that chaotic messy middle phase of the novel, with all sorts of extraneous scenes in my slush file. Will they make it? We’ll see… I really love these characters, both teens and adults, and I’m hoping you will too.


Meh to genre boxes! #amwriting real spit

You know, my previous novels in the Downey trilogy never fit very neatly into a genre box, but for the sake of marketing I would call them romance/family drama. Basically because you’re forced to, even when you’re Indie. Marketing is exhausting, and I stopped for a while knowing that at the time I was not writing in earnest. But now I am, and I’m trying to decide if it fits a genre box.

Needless to say, I’m chafing a bit at discovering there are supposed “rules” one has to follow if one is writing Young Adult. I had no idea people liked to delude themselves that 16-year-olds don’t swear. I asked my 16-year-old daughter what she thought of this rule and she said, “Young Adult is for twelve year-olds and adults who want to relive their childhood.” (All said while texting on her iPhone something that contained ‘ffs’ and ‘gmafb’)

There was no swearing in that verbalized sentence but trust me, my faceless internet friends, it was only because a “parental unit” was in the room. I have been down the hall from her and her friends and, lawdy child, I blush at their filthy tongues.

So I ask, how disingenuous is it to pretend teenagers don’t swear in your prose? I think very. Now, do you need to salt every line with it? No, of course not. But I’m not about to pretend the main character of my current WIP (who is sixteen going on seventeen) has the lexicon of a monk.

So I guess… my work-in-progress has a teenage boy for a main character, but probably won’t be ‘young adult’ if one has to conform to that rule. This book is (hopefully) going to deal with topics such as depression and anxiety and sexual identity and of course, family dynamics.

Is there a genre box for that? Good thing I don’t write with genre in mind.

“I will not fit in your box.” — Dan Reynolds


#amwriting Here’s my Current Writing Playlist

Yeah I suck at the updating the website thing… But you all know where to find me.

Want a free peek into the Downey-verse? Stay a while…

The Downey Series consists of The Downey Trilogy (First, I Love You; Second of All; and Third Time’s The Charm) as well as the spin-off romances featuring Dom & Kate (The Bird Day Battalion , The V-Day Aversion, and The Good Life).

The Downey Trilogy novels are contemporary family drama/suspense with a romance subplot set in Chicago and Omaha. The Dom & Kate stories are contemporary romance set in the Omaha-Lincoln area of Nebraska. It is not necessary to read The Downey Trilogy to understand the Dom & Kate stories OR vice-versa.

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[Start reading First, I Love You for FREE here on my website: Chapter One]

birddaycover(Free!)  valentinescover (Free!)  TheGoodLifeDigitalCover

If you want a free taste of the characters or you’ve read them and want more, check out the missing scenes and flashbacks:


NEW BEGINNINGS (A Tommy Gates and Kyle Anderson Flashback)

This short scene features a young Tommy Gates and Kyle Anderson and is set shortly before the flashback scene in the first chapter of First, I Love You in which Mickey finds Mary & Tommy. Rated G.


SPIN THE BOTTLE (A Dominic Valentini and Katelyn Anderson Flashback)

This is a look at the spin the bottle game that Kate references in Bird Day Battalion. Little Tommy Gates makes a brief cameo at the party. Rated PG.


ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS MY TWO FRONT KNEES (A Dominic Valentini and Katelyn Anderson Flashback)

This is a short holiday scene between Dom and Kate set the Christmas before they get together in Bird Day Battalion. Published in A World of Joy Anthology. Rated G.


HER PRINCE (A Mickey Downey & Mary Gates Flashback)

This scene features a nineteen year old Mary Gates, freshly arrived in New York, talking with her new best friend Claire (Anderson) Underwood about the mysterious new man she started seeing, Michael…something or another. Rated PG.


CONVERSATIONS AT 30,000 FT (A Maeve Downey & Ginny Sommers Missing Scene)

This is a quick missing moment from Second of All set aboard the flight to Dublin that both Maeve and Ginny are on. Rated PG.


SPECIAL DELIVERY  (A Kiki Downey & James Hoffman Missing Scene)

A Kiki Downey & James Hoffman missing love scene from First, I Love You set shortly after they “hook up” for the first time as Kiki puts it. Published in A World of Romance Anthology – Rated R, For Sexual Material.


SECOND CHANCES (A Mickey Downey & Mary Gates Flashback)

A flashback to when Mary tells Mickey she is pregnant with Tommy, and Mickey persuades her to be his mistress. – Rated R, For Language and Sexual Material.


LETTERS FROM MICKEY DOWNEY (Letters Mickey Downey wrote to his loved ones)

These are the letters referenced in The Downey Trilogy that Mickey wrote to his loved ones over the years. In the books, the reader rarely gets to see the contents of these letters so I have begun sharing them as periodic blog posts. Rated PG-13.


Current Writing Earworms


How would we write without music to feed our souls? Thank God for all the artists whose creativity gives us a burst of energy to feed our own creativity. Even if nature is all the music you need, that is still basking in the artistry of life, isn’t it?

Here’s a sample of my current writing playlist: