My Books

At_The_End_of_MagicAT THE END OF MAGIC

Leilani O’Brien isn’t entirely devastated when her husband and four-year-old daughter, Holly, are killed in a car accident.   Instead, she’s relieved.   Glad to be freed from a failing marriage and the demands of motherhood—and horrified by these feelings—she settles on suicide as her only option. Across town, college senior Delphi begins to ‘see’ Holly—a persistent image begging for help. Skeptical and scared, Delphi eventually acquiesces to both her psychic gifts and Holly’s pleas, until she stumbles into an unthinkable betrayal and finds herself searching for two missing mothers, Holly’s and her own.

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How The Book Came To Be

The real magic at work here may be in how this book was published. Nearly a decade ago, At the End of Magic was represented by a New York-based literary agent without success. Instead, one stunning summer day Mary opened her mail to find a thick envelope with 27 rejection letters. She did what any writer would: closed the shades and spent the afternoon in bed. But she picked herself up and pledged to persevere. The universe had other plans. In addition to producing a novel, Mary had also produced three children whose care demanded much of her time. The recession cast a fatal blow, requiring her be a full-time working mother. She would return to her unpublished books from time to time, pulling them out to show to her children and say: someday. Her oldest son, Stryker, saw that it wasn’t just a manuscript buried on that shelf, but his mother’s heart and spirit. A plan was hatched. This high school senior –already stretched by the demands of college applications and robust academic success – decided to make his mother’s dreams come true. He researched self-publication. Royalties, formats, font, marketing—each studied and considered. He indented every paragraph and proofread every line.  His talented girlfriend, Tessa, designed the cover. He remembered his mother’s vision and had saved a photo she’d shown him:  “I see this exact dress on the cover.”  He arranged to have all related mail redirected to a neighbor’s house and spent hours “doing homework” while actually laboring on the book.   When that young man graduated fourth in his high school class, and earned a hefty college scholarship, his mother was exceedingly proud of her son.  She saw a man emerging: self-disciplined, responsible, kind. A good citizen. Yes, she could launch this one into the world. Maybe they launch themselves. One evening after graduation, Stryker handed his mother a small wrapped package.

“Consider this a thank you for raising me gift,” he said.

When she saw the cover! That powder blue sky, the sun-colored dress with red flowers!  At the End of Magic, thick, in her hands! She put her head in her hands and wept.  The joy of it all – the gift, the son, his adult life taking shape, that he knew her so well, his spectacular heart – overwhelmed her. And will, always. Thank you, Stryker.

Grounded:  When College Goes Online

There’s a lot of public discourse these days about higher education- very little of it on online learning and all driven by men who aren’t even teachers. I’m writing a book that I hope will shift this dynamic. My work on online education redirects our focus to the student who is doing the learning, demonstrating that what she needs from a postsecondary education is something software and technology alone can’t offer: meaningful relationships, engagement, and informed self-reflection. The book understands students as embodied beings whose digital identities and academic success can’t be separated from the day-to-day circumstances of their lives. I’m writing this book in the spirit of and inspired by bell hooks, hoping for an online “education as the practice of freedom.”    The book proposal is complete and circulating the rounds of publishers and agents.