I didn’t lose my mind.


A little over a week ago, I attended my first book signing at the Writers on the River event in Peoria, Il.  I thought I’d share ten things about it.

1. Sensory Overload to the max. As an autistic, I severely underestimated my ability to handle the noise and chaos of 300+ readers in one room.

2. Writers on the River has brilliant organisers and some of the kindest volunteers. Highly recommend, though if you’re autistic, consider how well you deal with crowds.

3. I survived.

4. The best burger I’ve ever had from a dive called Burger Barge.


5. I learned I need to do better at respecting my limitations.

6. Everyone likes free candy. (And Reese’s Peanut Butter cups go first.)

7. Best cupcake ever.  Chocolate espresso cupcake. So good. OMG. So good.


8. Swag makes everyone happy.

9. I can push myself too far in an attempt to fit into the allistic vision of an author.

10. The Grasmere Trilogy paperback has by far my most popular cover.

*If you’re interested in learning more about how attending a book signing affected me as an autistic, I’ve vlogged about it over on my patreon.*


10 Things to Know About Hamish

(this has nothing to do with the post–but who cares lol)

As I wrote The Botanist, I knew the novel to follow it would be called The Baker. It would feature Scottie and Akash. I knew it.  Well, I was partially right. Somehow in the midst of writing Wyatt & Aled’s story, my plans went to hell.

Akash’s story would be next. Only a handsome Royal Marine, of one of Wyatt’s friends, decided to insert himself into the situation. In the end, book four of The Sin Bin turned into an entirely different novel than I intended.

It was better for it.

I thought I’d share a bit about the man who stomped all over my plans for book four.

  1. Hamish didn’t earn his nickname—the hamster. No one actually remembers who started it (probably Lily), but it stuck, much to his chagrin.
  2. His family has a century’s long tradition of military service.
  3. He has the names of all the service men and women lost under his command tattooed on his back.
  4. He makes excellent spaghetti.
  5. All of his friends consider him the most level-headed of their group.
  6. Pets aren’t his thing.
  7. The dating process is a waste of time to him. He’d rather be in a relationship or single.
  8. He loves The Rolling Stones.
  9. He should wear glasses to read, but refuses most of the time.
  10. With the deaths of his parents, Hamish is really the last member of his family left.

So there’s just a bit about The Royal Marine who sweeps Akash off his feet.

Which character of The Sin Bin would you like to learn more about?

Sixteen going on seventeen.

If I could send my sixteen-year-old self a few pieces of advice,  here’s what I’d say to myself:

  1. It gets better. It truly does.
  2. You’re autistic. Not a weirdo, or a freak. All those ways you don’t seem to fit are because you’re autistic.
  3. Heartbreaks aren’t the end of the world.
  4. You can be a writer. Just keep writing.
  5. Everyone makes mistakes.
  6. Not everyone who claims to be your friend–is your friend.
  7. Practice the Spanish, Mandarin, and sign language that you learned. (Being multi lingual would’ve been so handy now lol.)
  8. One day, you’ll find your real family. It’ll be better than all the times you’ve imagined it.
  9. You are brilliant.
  10. You don’t owe abusive bastards anything–no matter who they are.

What would you tell your sixteen-year-old self if you could?

Lessons from a Hurricane.

(photo from 2004)

In 1998, I had the misfortune of being in the Dominican Republic when Hurricane George (Georges) went through.  I also lived in Jacksonville, FL in 2004 when two different hurricanes sideswiped the city, though neither were direct hits. I’ve learned a few lessons from all three experiences.  With Irma closing in, I was reminded of those experiences.

Just a few serious (and not so serious) things I can tell you about hurricanes:

  1. Ants can float for up to fifteen minutes in flood waters. I once walked through a floating colony of fire ants. Oh. The pain. 
  2. Hurricane parties are the best. Breakfast cooked over a mini grill is surprisingly good as well.
  3. Power outages suck–and not in a good way.
  4. ALWAYS have a backup of your writing on a thumbdrive.  It’s easy to put in your pocket.
  5. Keep all important documents and a change of clothes, your meds, anything else small in a water proof plastic container.
  6. Never. EVER. EVER. leave your pets behind. If you evacuate, take them with you.
  7. Fill your tub with water. Seriously. You have no idea how much having some extra water can help.
  8. Charge your phone the night before.
  9. Don’t drive in standing water–you never know how deep it is.
  10. If you lose power, don’t open/close your fridge. It’ll stay colder longer with the door sealed.

Have you been affected by the recent hurricanes? Hope you’re all safe and sound.

If you’re looking for ways to help those who have, here are a few charities that you can help. There are definitely more out there and I always recommend doing research on a charity before you donate.


Coalition for the Homeless

LGBTQ Hurricane Harvey Disaster Relief Fund (to help homeless youth, seniors, people living with HIV, hate crime survivors, and those devastated by the storm)

SHAPE- Self-Help for African People through Education (Donations will allow SHAPE to assist with medical prescriptions, make emergency cash contributions, and more)

Flood Relief for Texas Children’s Hospital

Antigua and Barbuda:

Habitat for Humanity of Trinidad and Tobago (for Barbuda relief)


Action Against Hunger

Dominican Republic: 


Puerto Rico:

Cáritas de Puerto Rico

US Virgin Islands:



Feeding Florida

Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida

Florida Keys Children’s Shelter


Blog Tour: Taming a Jackaroo

Title: Taming a Jackaroo
Genre: Aussie Cowboy Romance
Release Date: June 10, 2017
Cover Designer: Claire Smith
 Add to TBR
City girl and serial non-dater, Affrica Clarke travels to Boulia, Australia, to investigate the environmental impacts of the local mining company. Unless she proves herself and wins that promotion, she’ll lose so much more than a pay rise. Yet everything goes wrong the moment she lands in the outback. With no research equipment, only skimpy clothes packed by her best friend to help her score a date, and a tight deadline to submit her report, she’s screwed. So when a sexy cowboy offers to play chauffeur, she’s all over it. But she’s there to shut down the mining activities, not fawn over the guy who’s supporting them, no matter how sizzling the attraction between them.
Billionaire jackaroo, Sam Preston tempts fate as an adrenaline junkie, living each day as if it were his last. Angry and wounded, he’s in town to sell his cattle ranch to the local mining company and be done with his past—until he meets hapless city-chick Affrica, who has no clue about surviving in the desert. Sam doesn’t know how to stop being a daredevil even though Affrica reminds him of the happiness he once had.
Can Sam let go of the past before he loses the one person who’s finally breathed new life into him, or is it not possible to truly tame a jackaroo?




Bet You Didn’t Know This About The Australian Outback!
by Sidney Valentine
I’m a huge research buff and learned a great deal about the
Aussie outback when I wrote my novel, Taming A Jackaroo. The story is based in
rural Queensland in a very remote town called, Boulia. This place is renowned for
the mysterious Min Min light. It is said to be a small glowing orb that follows
you in the outback.
So today, I’m sharing some amazing details I discovered
about this phenomenon in Boulia, Australia.
The Min Min
light is named after the small settlement of Min Min, located in outback
Queensland close to Boulia – an Aussie town also renowned for camel racing and
on last count (2011) had a population of only 230 residents.
accounts from 1838 have described a light that follows travelers. They are said
to be fuzzy, disc-shaped lights that are often white or change colour from
white, red and green. Some have been described as dim, while others were bright
enough to cast shadows on objects nearby. One account even described Min Min
lights keeping up with a moving car!
myths that pre-date European settlement have also described these lights.
According to some Aboriginal Australians, these sightings of Min Min lights
have increased due to the growing presence of Europeans in the outback. Many
believe that the lights are the spirits of their ancestors who cannot rest
because they were murdered by European settlers. According to folklore, if a
person chases the light and manages to catch it they will never be seen again.
There are a
number of theories to explain the Min Min light phenomenon. Bioluminescence;
optical illusion and gas have all been put forward to explain the lights. Yet
there is still no clear explanation for their existence. 
orbs have also been described in other countries, such as the will-o’-the-wisp
ghost lights found in Ireland, Scotland, England, Wales. In Mexico, there are
glowing orbs known as brujas, believed to the souls witches.
Did you
sightings had occurred between 1950 and 1959.






Sidney Valentine is an Aussie girl who loves everything about traveling. She lives in Sydney, Australia with her husband and spends her time exploring the wild outdoors. But she always carries with her a writing pad in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other. While she works in marketing during the day, she never stops writing her romance stories set in Australia as a way to rejuvenate from the bustle of the real world. She is often found at local coffee shops with her laptop, writing about people falling in love.