I’m not a fan of New Year’s resolutions. In theory, they are fantastic. In reality, they are a lot of pressure. We all want to look great, feel great, accomplish something, quit something, or start something.

And then we remember it’s work. All of it.

And fourteen days into January—if we’re lucky—the new exercise equipment is abandoned. The diets have been ditched. Maybe we are still doing that thing we said we’d stop. And we probably never started that thing we really wanted to.


And it always will.

There will always be a reason things won’t work out. But there may always be a reason it could.

Every once in a while I stumble across something that lights the wheels in my mind and charges my body with enough electricity to power a large country.

That happened this morning as I was scrolling Facebook. (AMAZING, right?). I usually don’t spend much time on there because it’s become a place of political strife and an easy outlet for people to say whatever they want without thought of consequence. But as I scrolled past New Year’s well-wishes and prayers for said New Year, I stumbled across an article about an author whose genre isn’t one I read, but I’ve always loved her rags-to-riches story.

And this one didn’t disappoint. It was short. It was sweet.


I’ve always loved writing. I can remember being a little girl with a diary and fingers that could barely write, penning about the mundane of my day.

I remember being a little girl with a dream.

It wasn’t particular. It was just a dream to do something amazing. A dream to follow my heart. A dream to be the best me I could be in everything I did. I was little. I was naïve about the way the world works. How growing up comes with lessons—good and bad.

Life sometimes gets us down. It tosses us around and makes us unsure. It’s normal. We can take that life and do something with it or we can wallow in the maybes. In the self-doubt. In the recrimination. In sadness. In anger. Or in joy.

This is life.

It’s the only one we have.

And I don’t know about you, but I’m not hanging out in the shadows this year—or any year. Will I publish a best-selling novel? I don’t know. I’m going to give it my all. And I’m going to have fun along the way. And if it isn’t everything I hoped? I’m going to keep trying until it becomes clear that I should change my path. Or until the dream is realized.

Sometimes the dream isn’t really the end, but the process.

And we should enjoy every aspect.

This isn’t a resolution. This is me. Promising myself and those I love that there will be good and bad, but I will give my all.

Here’s to inspiration in everything we do. Here’s to finding light in the dark. Here’s to enjoying the here and now.

Here’s to the journey.

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Rachel writes novels filled with murder, mayhem, and romance that leave her readers wanting more incredible twists and turns.

SIDE NOTE: A night-light may be required. Some bleary-eyed mornings have been known to occur. Coffee is recommended.

Rachel began weaving tales well before she could actually write. Those early stories included danger and mystery, Barbies and G.I. Joes, a few sensational heroes and their villainous counterparts. Sometimes the hero had to time warp through a hole in her backyard to save the damsel in distress and sometimes he only had to outwit the aforementioned villain.

Nowadays, she leaves the Barbies to her extremely cute daughter (who loves to create her own stories). When she’s not riveting readers with the chaotic and sizzling mess of her character’s lives, she can be found poolside with her husband, daughter, and two super snuggly dogs. She enjoys football, reading, spending time with her daughter, discussing the NFL draft with her husband, and spending time with friends and family. She also loves anything to do with the FBI, law enforcement, and the military. Although she’s extremely knowledgeable about time travel, she has never admitted she’s used this technique herself…

Check out her newest novel here.

I had an epiphany.

Let’s be real. I’ve had them several times over the course of my life. I doubt this will be the last time the light bulb comes on in the dead of night. That’s the beauty of being alive. Sometimes we take lessons and we learn them over and over, growing slowly as we are ready.

And sometimes it hits us like a frying pan to the noggin.

A few weeks ago—maybe longer—I saw an author friend post a meme about extending your table to those in need or in general. I’m not going to lie. I love her posts. I love being slammed in the face by truth, uplifted by grace, and amused about her family’s antics.

It happened. The words on that meme bowled me over because I believed them. Absolutely believed them.

Don’t hold your breath for flowers and sunshine though. That’s not what happened.

We grew up on WIC (before you could essentially buy lobster with a piece of plastic), back when it was powdered milk, really nasty peanut butter, and a check that specified what should be in your cart.

I’m grateful for that experience. I can’t take it back. Can’t change it. I’m grateful that I lived in a moment where food was available to me. Someone reached out—the system even—and provided that program. I could go on about that type of experience, but that’s not the point here.

Our lives aren’t perfect. Our cars break. Every drain in the house has backed up to the point where you can’t flush the toilet for fear of what’s going to come out the other end. We’ve been up with a crying child. Wrestled with the marital norm for a chance at something better together. Changed jobs. Realized we shouldn’t have changed jobs. Fought about really stupid things. Stressed about money. And loved each other through it all.

Life is an ebb and flow. A give and take.

Extend my table.

The words make sense. They do. They are simple. Perhaps too much.

Extend. My. Table.

At the end of the day, whether life is ebbing or flowing. Giving or taking.


When the baby’s up all night and you haven’t gotten a word in with your spouse in days.


When the sink is backed up and the repairman gives you a figure that doesn’t jive with your bank account.


When the car explodes in your face. When the job wasn’t worth it. When friends come and go.

Extend your table.

It made me mad. It made me want to scream, “My table is extended! What more do you want from me?”

I’ve extended. Extended. Extended. Extended.


Some people make me feel good about that opportunity. Some people don’t. Sometimes I feel used up, chewed up, and worn down.

Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not Mother Theresa. I’m not at soup kitchens on holidays. I’m not inviting every homeless person I see in for dinner—or even providing them one as I pass by with my fast food. I’m not handing out oodles of money to charities and various causes. I’m not listening to every problem of those around me and offering a simple hug.

I’m not really doing anything extravagant.

But I believe there’s a reason things happen. I mean, science and religion can agree on that point. I saw that meme for a reason. I felt the intense annoyance and frustration for a reason. For a specific point. About specific events.

For a reason. God was making a point.  To me. For me.

I’m not about to blow smoke up your rear here, I’m still working on it. After thirty-three years I doubt the process will be completed before I die.

Extend your table.

It means so much more than those simple words. It means we should quiet everything inside ourselves. We should look around. We should find blessing in whatever we have, wherever we are. We should find a way to bridge gaps, change lives—if only our own—be the best person we can. And when we fail, we should realize that tomorrow is another day. That we are loved no matter what. And that it has no bearing on anything we achieve or don’t achieve in life.

And when extending the table one more time feels like an insurmountable mountain, we should take the time to ask why.

There’s a reason.



Chores aren’t much fun. Even my four-year-old knows this and challenges me on it.

While having a conversation about making them more exciting, I expounded upon how I often pretended I was cleaning up after the entire household as a child. Like a servant.

The truth?

The memory I’d conjured was one where I’d been burning paper waste (we lived on a farm). I’d recently learned about indentured servants in school and my imagination took me on a wild story (you’re shocked, right?) where I was paying off my ticket to America doing hard labor for a vile master who had the decency to keep me clothed and fed but made me stand in the cold burning his trash.

I, of course, condensed the story for my toddler who asked, “Like Cinderella?”

“Yes,” I replied, trying to keep it simple. Without the fairy godmother, the fancy ball, nor the lost shoe (who really loses one shoe?).

My toddler thought a moment, her beautiful blue eyes—eyes so much like her dad’s—searching my face. Then she cocked her head to the side and asked, “Who was the wicked stepmother?”

I know what you’re thinking. This blog is another cute toddler story.

It’s not.

I wish that I wrote those pieces. Those light, beautiful pieces destined for Chicken Noddle Soup for the Soul. I’ve tried. I promise I have. What starts out as a light project always becomes much deeper for me. Even in my novels.

Plus, I had an answer for my toddler. One I couldn’t share with a four-year-old who sees the world in beautiful brightness, sings almost every word that comes out of her mouth, loves dance, her daddy, and her best friends at school. I pray she never fully understands what a wicked stepmother is because they come in all forms. They develop in situations where no one stood up and dared tell them their actions were wrong. Or maybe someone did, but their voice(s) were too small. They are men and women alike.

Meanwhile, my daughter is waiting for me. Waiting for the answer she expects. And I’m reminded as I sit in the middle of her playroom, drowning in the dolls we were playing with—or supposed to be cleaning up—that it wasn’t all bad.


YMCA 1997


Living a strange blended family life—I say strange because I had no technical stepmother. When my parents divorced, my mother moved herself and the six of us kids in with her younger sister, her sister’s husband, and their two children. It had its moments.

Like the time we went camping to endure one nice day amongst terrible weather, tornados, and a bad case of lice that had us ending the trip early and doing laundry for days. The time we moved out of town to a piece of land we referred to as “The Land” and had our separate space with only a walkway connecting my mother’s trailer to her sister’s. I remember chasing my brother down the hallway, losing my footing, and sliding into the wall at the end of it, my left knee suddenly swallowed by the cheap material.

The time my brother Ralph and I choreographed an entire play called The Runaways about two boys who’d escaped from a foster home and decided to disguise themselves as girls to evade the law—kids who were just looking for that forever home.

The times we’d visit my dad and he’d have us all in his fifth-wheel camper jumping around, filled to the gills with Sam’s Club pre-popped popcorn and up late watching A Goofy Movie or Mrs. Doubtfire on his little nine inch TV with a built-in VCR. He’d come stomping out, red-faced and tell us to be quiet while threatening the loss of said TV if we couldn’t follow the rules. But it was the weekend. One of only two that he got with us each month and we knew.


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April 2017 Photo Courtesy of CJ’s Photography


We knew he’d never take that time from us. We knew the next morning he’d pack us up for church and we’d struggle to be quiet in those creaky pews. The youngest would inevitably need a diaper change, which would leave me in charge for a minute—good and bad all at once. And then before he’d bring us home to my aunt’s house, we’d stop at Dairy Queen. There would be cones or malts or whatever he’d decided we were all getting to make life a little easier, but still very special. He’d stomp his foot to Hank Williams, Bruce Springsteen, or Waylon Jennings and say words I’d chastise him for in my brilliance of being a tween. And he’d just keep on singing and remind me that he was the father and he’d say whatever he pleased and continue being a grumpy old man.


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The GRUMPY OLD MAN and myself


There were times when we were all together and times when we weren’t. Years punctuated by scheduled drop offs at the YMCA—the only brightness in those moments the climbing walls or swimming pools we didn’t normally have access to.

When my mother let her sister tear our family apart—long after it had already been broken.

When she picked her sister over her children.

When I refused to see my father based on dishonest facts I’d heard about his character. When I, too, clung to something that wasn’t real. That wasn’t whole. That wasn’t good for me because I didn’t know anything else—no one had shown me.

I was a kid. I was a kid struggling to reach the surface.

So when my daughter asks about the story between the sentences I’m giving her—stories I never thought I’d share in any manner, whether good or bad—I’m flabbergasted. I can’t tell her that, yes, it wasn’t all bad. I had a roof over my head. I had clothes. I had food. I had memories that made the world seem like sunshine and roses.

Because then I’d have to tell her I also had the monsters in the middle of the night. She’ll see between my words. She already does. Ten years ago, that would have scared me. Would’ve put me smack dab in the middle of the past. Barely able to breathe.

Searching for a way to fake normal as I did in my youth.

Today, when I smile and reply to her wicked stepmother question with a, “Nobody.” I can feel the realization in those words and know that nobody means exactly that. The past is in the past. And those funny, silly, and sometimes annoying stories can come to light—come alive for my daughter because grace is right there urging a smile—my daughter highlighting the lack of brokenness. Bringing humor to the forefront of a colorless childhood and relighting all the hidden beauty.

Reminding me I’m free to be the woman God made me. The wife and lover to my husband—the husband He put in my path at just the right moment in time. The mother of our child—the child that drives me crazy with her smiles and stories, and her bedtime antics (no, you can’t have ice cream at bedtime, I don’t care if Sarah and Duck had some!).

I can be me. Sometimes that means I’m Cinderella. Sometimes it means I’m an indentured servant. Sometimes that means I’m a crazy mom and wife whom my family is sure aliens have taken over.

This is who I am.

Author pics

Rachel Trautmiller writes irresistible fiction and characters with kick. She lives in sunny California with her military husband and is kept infinitely busy by her too-cute-for-her-own-good toddler who makes sure she never runs out of stories to tell. Once upon a time she dreamed of being a doctor, a counselor, an actor, and a writer. Today, writing takes her wherever her imagination can go.

Haven’t checked out the places she’s been? Find out here.

Want to keep up with what her characters are up to? Sign up for her newsletter.

Other ways to follow Rachel:




I am tired. I’m tired of the fight. I’m tired of the slander. I’m tired of thoughtless words and actions. I’m tired of finger pointing and blame that solves absolutely nothing. I’m tired of negativity. With the way the world is, I wonder why I found beauty enough to bring my child into an absolute mess.

Then I remember. I had hope. I had faith that she might do something amazing one day. That she might find a cure for a horrible disease. Or move millions toward peace. Or just be the kind of PERSON other people looked up to.

I would have had these same thoughts about a boy. I would have caressed the outline of fingers and toes beating against my womb and envisioned something absolutely extraordinary. And I would cheer on what is totally mundane.

I am thankful for a country where we are able to do whatever we want to a degree. That comes with a price. It means you DON’T do whatever you want without great thought. Every action you take means something right down to the way you speak or type it. Someone is watching and learning and judging and changing because of whatever YOU have done.

Sometimes it’s a child.
Sometimes it’s an adult.
Sometimes it’s yourself.canstockphoto28744110That doesn’t sound so bad. So you used bad language, you put down your partner, you made someone feel small so you could be big. You put them in their place. You told him he was worthless in so many ways without even realizing it. You told her she was the same.

We all have a heart. It’s time we started using it regardless of gender, religion or race. It’s time we put away hurt feelings and sat down and got to the bottom of our issues. Time we inspected the fingers curled around the gun.

Our ancestors accomplished a lot of monumental goals for us. It came at a price. They weren’t perfect. There were battles. It’s time to stand up and do the same so that the next five hundred generations can look back at us with pride instead of shame.

It’s time to come together and actually BE the equality we scream about. Words are words. Actions speak louder.

So what are we going to do? What are you going to do?

Think about your son or daughter. Your niece or nephew. Your friend’s children. Think about them. You owe them that much.

Yes. You owe them. We owe them more than a passing thought.


The Mistress of Mayhem enjoys keeping her readers up well into the morning hours with twists and turns you won’t see coming until the end and characters who are both loveable and hate-inspiring. For more IRRESISTIBLE READS and CHARACTERS WITH KICK, follow her:


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You wish you were different, but you can’t be. You never will be. You will just always be a shadow of the past. Watching over your shoulder. Distrustful of everyone. Wondering when the danger will come into your back yard, into your home, into your life.
When it will sneak between your shoulder blades and sink into your stomach.

When it will derail your life.

When that family friend will cross the line. When your own flesh and blood will. When someone you’ve placed your trust in—that person you least suspect—will crush life as you know it.

When we were kids, my dad asked, “Is there anything you need to talk about?” In fact, we’re all grown and he still asks. Over the years, the deep inflection in his voice and the concern covering every feature of his face has changed very little.

It took me until my early twenties to understand what he meant. That this was no easy question to ask, but one he felt was important.

You know why. Of course you do. Because nobody asked him until it was too late.

It took me until my thirties—and the birth of my daughter—to feel the crippling paralyzation that sentence embodied for him—and for so many parents.

We aren’t asking our kids if they need to talk about their typical day at school. Sure, we want to hear that too. What we want to know—what we can’t stand to know AND not know is far deeper and darker. It has the power to change everything.

Has some hurt you? Has someone done something you didn’t like? Has someone crossed the line? Getting those answers is such a delicate matter. Kids are young and impressionable. One wrongly worded question can change an answer drastically. It can open that huge Pandora’s box and ruin innocent lives on the complete opposite end of the spectrum.

So we find a way to pose the question that sticks to the middle ground but leaves no argument on where we stand with our children. Let’s face it. We want to be the hero. When they are little that’s how they see us.

The infallible hero who always has the answers and never fails.

We know that changes with time. We go from hero to embarrassing, to annoying AND embarrassing, to slightly knowledgeable and so on until we go back to hero status in a whole new light. It all starts somewhere.

Is there anything you need to talk about?

I hope and pray the answer is always no. Not because you feel you can’t trust, but because you simply have nothing to give in response to that deep question.

I asked it for the first time. I asked it in gut-wrenching misery while feeling as if I might die from the unknown. Feeling as if I might lose my mind in an explosion of epic proportions. Feeling as if I’d failed. Hurting, bleeding inside for all those kids—people—who’ve been wronged. So wronged they sometimes don’t even realize they’ve been hit by an adrenaline-laced bullet.

We don’t know we’re bleeding. We think we’ve escaped. We think everything will be fine. All the while we are holding our chests. We feel the warmth seep between our fingers, the heavy throb of blood bringing gush after gush. And for a minute we’re comforted. We refuse the bandage—maybe we’ve never been offered one. Maybe we have, but the application was stilted by our need to control something that was never really ours to control.

Is there anything you need to talk about?

My dad, my husband and the Extremely Cute Toddler (ECT) in November 2015

Rachel is a military wife and the mother of the Extremely Cute Toddler (ECT). When she’s not working in the healthcare field you can find her writing irresistible fiction and having imaginary conversations with the characters she’s created. She’s lived all over the United States and currently calls California home–bring on the sunshine!

Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads. Check out her novels on Amazon.



Smoke & Mirrors Summer Destination Blog Hop



Hello, my wonderful reader friends. I hope you’ve been enjoying the Smoke And Mirrors blog hop event. Whether this is your first stop on this immersive destination cruise or your last, WELCOME and thanks for stopping by.

For newcomers, the blog event is as follows:

There are seven blogs on which you CAN comment. We understand that not everyone likes to enter their two cents, but doing so on ALL blog posts sometime between May 25, 2016-May 30, 2016 (only ONE comment PER BLOG is needed before 5 PM on the last day)  will ensure your name is entered into our GRAND PRIZE GIVEAWAY (FREE STUFF, YES!).

What’s in this amazing giveaway?

  • Kindle Fire
  • $25 Amazon gift card
  • Signed softcovers13301262_10209315191774313_6545766320918096311_o
  • Ebooks13301252_10209315189294251_1012493807565333185_o

Who’s teamed up to bring you this suspenseful, romance-laden, the-characters-are-running-for-their-lives collection?

A little bit about me and the characters you  can’t get enough of. First off, I’m a military wife. My husband and I were both born and raised in central Minnesota, we’re die-hard Vikings fans and while all of our family still resides in the state, we’ve called one of the coasts home for nearly ten years.

Enter my passion for the beautiful state of North Carolina. We moved to Yorktown, Virgina as green eighteen-year-olds with the world in our hands and very little else. We met a lot of interesting people and forged friendships that have stood the test of time and distance. We spent quite a bit of time in the Raleigh area and when I needed a locale for my budding series, I didn’t hesitate to pick Charlotte.

The crew from The Bening Files love this city and protect it at all costs. Detective Amanda Nettles-Robinson and FBI Special Agent in Charge Baker Jackson Robinson team up for another edge-of-your-seat, high-octane ride in Obsession.

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A surge in crime has left two homeless women dead and Detective Amanda Nettles’ Alzheimer’s-riddled mother as the prime suspect. As his wife embarks on a dangerous game of hide-and-seek with a remorseless serial killer, FBI Agent Baker Jackson Robinson knows he can’t sit idly while the city of Charlotte destroys Amanda’s career a second time. Is her near decade-long obsession with protecting her hometown bigger than the needs of her family? Or are they one and the same?

While Amanda and Robinson are far too busy to vacation anywhere, my favorite vacation destination is a little closer to my current residence. Avila Beach is one of my favorite getaways. My husband and I like to stay at the Inn At Avila Beach and reserve one of their beachfront rooms. It’s a quaint little bed-and-breakfast type of hotel, with a full library of books (yes!), movies, and games at your arsenal. Forgot something? This place will make sure you have it! Our last trip was in December and even in the cooler weather the atmosphere was amazing. The room came equipped with a fireplace and balcony.


Can you say cozy by the fire while listening to the waves and enjoying fine wine? What’s better?

What’s better?


We grew up in towns with 500 people, but we’ve become big city people. We love having options close by, even if we don’t utilize them as often as we’d like. But Avila Beach… It’s a touch of heaven right on the beach. It’s filled with a perfect mix of tourists (like us) and local inhabitants. The pace is slower, the sunrises are amazing, the waves really call to you, and the food and wine is exquisite.

Tell us about your favorite vacation spot. Comment below for a chance to win that GRAND PRIZE. Winners will be announced after our Facebook Party starting May 30th-June 6th. Join us there for a week-long, casual meet and greet. You’ll get to ask the authors questions, engage in book-related polls, and get a backstage pass into the making of Smoke and Mirrors.


Thanks again for stopping by. Onward to Alexa Verde’s blog stop.

A small-town cop puts her life and her heart on the line in order to find her missing twin. Will trusting the dashing and eager-to-help senator’s son prove her fatal mistake? Find out.

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Want to become a part of Rachel’s Launch Crew? What’s in it for you? Prizes, advance reader copies (in exchange for an honest review) and much more. Fill out the form below.





Christian Fiction Friday: February 19, 2016

It’s Friday Blog Hop time.  A lot of authors join together and post short snippets of their current Work In Progress. Here’s mine. It’s from a romantic suspense/thriller novella set to release in May 2016 in a collection with seven other talented authors.

By popular request, I’m bringing back the Amanda Nettles/Baker Jackson Robinson duo, plus some quirky side characters. Enjoy! Happy Friday!

The chamber was still spinning in the roulette game. One bullet. A lot of bad luck. It was time Robinson made it stop. Reached out and kicked the gun from sight. Or better yet, he’d remove the bullet and disassemble the mechanism. End of story.

“Rough morning?”

Paige wiped a hand across her face. Tucked it under one thigh. “Amanda’s so mad. And Grandma’s locked up. And scared. Probably doesn’t even know what’s going on right now. And it’s my fault.”

The anger came from fear. And worry. It sat in Robinson’s gut, too. Nestled in the thorns. And Eileen? The confusion was nothing new, but it stung all the same. “How is this your fault?”

“I couldn’t help her.” The words were a whisper. She gripped the brown bag. Released it. “It doesn’t make sense. Grandma was… She wouldn’t…” Another sob broke through. The gut-wrenching kind that came from knowing terrible tragedy and trying to erase it. Instead of going through it, one day at a time.

It tugged at the dying thorns. Pulled them down until his heart was raw. And surrounded by the heated edge of anger.

Eight months ago she’d been like any other teenager. And then she wasn’t. She’d survived when over a dozen others hadn’t. He couldn’t imagine the weight of it. Would never insult her by insinuating that he could.

“There was a knife. And blood.” The words were soft, but filled with agony.

What? No. He glanced around them. If they had a weapon, the overall buzz of the station would be different. Eileen would be in cuffs. Killian would have boasted about it. Would never have let Amanda one-up him in that department.

Robinson had heard wrong.

The younger version of Amanda glanced up at him, wet amber eyes begging him to do something to make the insanity stop. And then, like the first time he’d ever worked with his wife, and discovered how she looked at life and death often meant closed cases—and that there’d never be a dull moment for anyone close to her—he knew. Whatever Paige had said, was saying, was very, very real. Not imagined. “I didn’t know what to do.”

Not a byproduct of psychological issues stemming from events she refused to discuss.

Which meant… “You have it?”

Comment for a chance to win a #FREE ebook copy when this bundle releases in May.

Christian Fiction Friday is a weekly blog hop where authors post short (400-word or less) snippets from their current works in progress. It is hosted by Alana Terry and Hallee Bridgeman.

Missed the other books in The Bening Files series?




Okay, friends. Here’s a fun game. With a few days until Aftermath is released, I’d love to host a little contest. Winner will get a signed copy of Aftermath (print version of course) and a $50 Amazon gift card. (Facebook is in no way affiliated with this contest).

Here’s all you have to do.

1) Take a a creative picture with the words HELP ME LAUNCH. (Could be on a sticky note with you or a friend hanging from a tree). Post them on my fan page (

2) Show proof of preorder purchase of Aftermath (only $0.99). You can PM me with these.

It’s simple AND fun! Contest ends 9/27/15 at midnight PST.