What I learned from the girl that I was

Yesterday I was scrolling Facebook and one of my friends had posted an article about a college aged girl who had died of a drug overdose. She’d been using drugs with her boyfriend and when she started to overdose he was too scared to get help, and he let her die. I paused at my computer, my hands hovering my keyboard, physically unable to scroll past the horrific article. And the truth hit me like a sucker punch.

I was that girl.

And that could have been my fate.

My mind flew back twenty years to the drug addicted young adult I once was. It traveled back to the night I overdosed. I can still see the terrified eyes of my ex-boyfriend, still remember the dread I felt, knowing that he was too scared to get help for me. My mind also relived countless other nights. Nights I shouldn’t have lived through. Nights filled with hopelessness and fear.

But for some reason night always turned to morning, and I was still here.

I learned later that in all those situations my dad was across town on his knees, fervently praying for me.

I write romances. I read romances. Love is something that we all crave. That we all need. But the truth is that the greatest love story ever is one I didn’t write. However, I’ve lived it. And yesterday, I was reminded of this in a tangible way.

As my mind skated over the unsavory memories something new popped up. There was someone in these memories I’d never seen before.

I wasn’t alone.

I was never alone.

Even when I felt I was.

When I overdosed, my hand wasn’t empty. It was being held by my savior. When I stood in the middle of a desolate field with a stranger and a knife, Jesus stood in front of me, shielding me.

And it didn’t end there.

Recently, in moments not quite as dramatic Jesus revealed to me visions of his presence. Like the first time my son didn’t give me a kiss when he exited the car to go to school. While I sat in my car, crying over the fact that my baby was growing up, He draped an arm over my shoulder, pulling me close. When I lost my house to foreclosure and walked through each empty room, tears streaming my face, He held my hand. Walked each room with me. He didn’t leave my side. Didn’t leave me to face it alone. And He helped me gather myself, helped to lift my head, so I could be strong when my kids saw me.

When I had surgery, He stood by my bedside, watching over me. And when I was so scared I could barely lift my head, he stroked my hair and held me.

Many of you know that during the past three years, fear had me bound. So bound, that shame and guilt choked me. So much so that it was hard to see Him through it all. But now I have. I’ve seen that He was with me in those moments. Not judging or angry. But whispering that he loved me over and over again.

There’s a song that I’ve been obsessed with lately. It’s called “Love You More” by Nichole Nordeman and some of the lyrics are:

“You’ve been loving me since time began, You’re behind my every second chance”

I will never be able to write a romance as amazing as the one I’ve experienced. It’s impossible. But I can share it. And the amazing thing about my love story, is that it’s yours too.

He’s with you even when you don’t feel it. Even when you don’t know it. And when your reach is too short, his is long enough. So reach as far as you can and trust him to bridge the gap.

I promise it will be worth it.

PLAY SAFE is live!


PLAY SAFE (Make the Play #1) is available on amazon in paperback and kindle!

The Playing for Keeps series was my first sports series. When the first book, FOR THE WIN, released almost a year ago, I wasn’t sure how my readers would respond to it. But I was pleasantly surprised. Not only did my readers embrace it, but I gained many new readers. I found a whole new audience for my work – a readership hungry for sports romances. So after penning FOR THE SAVE, the last book in the Playing for Keeps series, I decided to keep writing in the sports romance genre. I’ve always been a fan of small-town romances. I was once a big fan of shows like Dawson’s Creek and One Tree Hill. So I decided to write a series centering around one high school baseball team set in a small town. At first I kicked around the idea of following one couple throughout the series, but the truth is I’ve never been good at that. I like to write spinoffs much more than I like to write actual series. As much as I love every couple I write about, I do get a little bored writing their story after awhile. I enjoy the rush of starting something new, of getting to know new characters. So in the end, I decided to write about a new couple in every book. Still the book is considered a series because the books will need to be read in order. And if you love Christian and Emmy, don’t worry, they will be in the subsequent novels. When I sat down to figure out the plot for this book, the first idea that came to mind was falling for the older brother’s best friend. It’s a premise I’ve always enjoyed reading about. I mean, what girl doesn’t, right? And that’s when Christian and Cal emerged. After I had them, I came up with the remaining characters on the team. The name Prairie Creek came from one of my readers – Ginelle Blanch – so thank you so much! After having that, I had the completed roster for the Prairie Creek Panthers. That’s where the real Coach Hopkins came in. Both of my brothers are ball players. My brother Matt coaches and plays recreationally, and my brother Kagen is a professional pitcher. So I sent the roster to my brother Matt with stats on each character – age, weight, personality. Then he put them all into positions for me. This is when the story really came to life in my mind. I started to see the team, their dynamics, etc. And that’s when Emmy began talking in my head. Meeting Cal, Christian, Josh, Emmy and all of the other characters was such a fun experience. I really enjoyed writing their story and I hope you enjoy reading it.

Amber Garza


Why I dyed my hair pink at 37

I went through a rebellious stage in my teen years. However, I know that’s not earth- shattering or unique. I think every teenager goes through this phase. As the mom of teenagers, I can attest to that. But my rebellion started with things I could control – clothes, makeup and hair. I went through many hair colors during this stage – black, burgundy, red, brown.

But other than the rebellious stage in high school and a short period of time after my son was born when I attempted to match his hair color, I’ve been blond.

Over the years I’ve worn many shades of blond:

Platinum in my early twenties. The whiter the better. I can still remember the smell of bleach and the way it tingled when it burned my scalp.

Dirty blond during my pregnancies because I couldn’t use bleach.

And, most recently, blond with chunky brown low-lights.

My haircut hasn’t changed much either. For at least the past ten years, I’ve worn it primarily long and straight.


You see, I’m not a risk taker. I don’t think outside of the box or venture out of my comfort zone much. If you’ve followed my writing journey you probably find this hard to believe. So let me clarify that writing is the only exception. I have taken risks and stepped out of my comfort zone in regards to my writing. But that only proves how much I wanted to be an author, how much that dream meant to me. In my personal life, I’m a “go with the flow” type of person. I don’t like to make waves. I don’t like to draw attention to myself or be put on the spot.

But God has been challenging me in this area. He’s been putting me in places where I’m forced outside of my comfort zone.  I’m becoming more bold, more courageous. And I find myself caring less what others think of me.

And that’s why I dyed my hair pink.

Well, not really pink – rose gold.

It all started because I wanted to do something different with my hair. Recently, I’ve stepped out in regards to my wardrobe. If you missed it, you can read that post here. And I felt like it was time to do the same with my hair.

So I took to Pinterest. Where else, right? That’s where I found the rose gold trend, and I fell in love with it. However, I didn’t think I could pull it off. I worried that others would think I was too old, or trying to hard, or that it wasn’t me (the perception of me that they have).

Blake-Lively_large - rose gold

I disqualified myself for something I wanted before I even allowed myself to ponder the possibility.

rose gold1

And that was wrong.


Luckily, I wised up and realized it was my hair and I could do what I wanted with it. And I’m so glad I did. I love the rose gold low-lights. It helps that my hairdresser, Michelle Tallman, is the best! She did an incredible job.

And the truth is, it suits me.


Every time I look in the mirror, I’m reminded to be comfortable in my own skin regardless of what others think.


Fortunately, everyone has been super supportive. No one has said I’m too old or trying too hard. Everyone loves it. And it makes me wonder how many other times I’ve projected my feelings of self-doubt onto other people.


So, girls, don’t make my same mistake. Don’t take 37 years to figure this out. Embrace who you are. Love who you are. And, most importantly, be true to who you are.


Usually I reveal the cover awhile before release. Not this time. This time you’re all seeing the cover at the same time. Even though the official release date is October 22, you can now pre-order PLAY SAFE (Make the Play #1) for only $2.99. The price will go up to $3.99 on release day.

First, check out this amazing cover by Matt at the Cover Lure! Isn’t it spectacular??



I always thought that when I fell in love it would be easy, like catching the perfect pitch. The right girl would slide into my glove seamlessly. That’s what I wanted. A typical boy meets girl; girl falls for jock story.

But that’s not what I got.

I had to fall for the one girl I couldn’t have. The one girl I shouldn’t want. My best friend Cal’s younger sister.

Cal and I have been friends and teammates pretty much our entire lives. We have each other’s backs on and off the baseball field. And that’s why I helped his sister Emmy the night she got into a fight with her loser boyfriend. I did it because it was the right thing to do.

What happened afterward was a mistake. A mistake Cal can never find out about.

The problem is that it’s a mistake I want to make again…and again. Even though Emmy is pushing me away, I know she wants it too. But I know that if we act on what we want, people will get hurt. However, I don’t know if I’m strong enough to fight my feelings. Besides, I don’t think I want to.

I’ve never been the type of guy to take a risk, but for Emmy I will.

I’m tired of playing it safe.

To pre-order Play Safe click here

The struggle is real – getting back into it

We’ve all been there. We go on vacation and then come home to reality and it’s just tough. Tough to find our routine again. Tough to get back to the daily grind. Tough to stop longing for the lazy days of vacation and focus on reality.

That’s where I find myself today.

Normally I look forward to my kids returning to school, but that wasn’t the case this year. And there are many reasons for this. One is that they are older now. My son is 16, and my daughter is 13. It really hit me this summer that I don’t have a lot of time left with them. In fact, next summer I’m fairly certain I’ll hardly see my son. I can already feel him slipping away… drifting toward adulthood. And I’m not certain I’m ready to let go. Two is that my health is still precarious, and having an empty house is often my worst enemy. Silence breeds anxious thoughts. Being alone is the perfect environment for my imagination to run rampant. And if it’s running with a story line that’s great, but if it’s running with fear and worry about my health, then it’s not as great.

So it’s no surprise that I was dreading the first day of school this year. I dropped my kids off last Tuesday and then came home feeling a little down. To my credit, I kept my chin up and immediately started work on my new series. And the truth is that it’s exciting. I am really looking forward to this new series. And as I started writing, I found myself falling quickly for the characters.


But there were also setbacks. I suffered a flare up the last week of summer, and last week I was put on new meds. Apparently my body didn’t like the new meds that much because I had an allergic reaction to them, and had to stop taking them. And I found myself longing for summer. Longing to go back to days of hanging with my kids instead of sitting at home in an empty house while not feeling well.

But time moves forward, and I have to find my way back to a healthy routine. Today has started out rough. I thought I would get a lot of writing done, but my characters are pretty tight-lipped. However, I know they’ll start chattering at some point. Most likely it will happen tonight when I’m trying to sleep, so I’ll do my best to coax them out before that.

I’ll keep chugging along. I’ll keep surrendering to God, and trusting Him for healing. And I’ll keep cherishing every moment I have with my kids. I have no doubt that before I know it, this book will be written, my body will cooperate and I will find my routine.

Until that happens I appreciate your prayers, and kind words. I love knowing that you, my sweet readers, are pulling for me. I am doing my best to deliver your next book boyfriend to you soon.

FOR THE SAVE releases!


Addison West is broken.

Last year tragedy struck her family, destroying everything she loved. Now she’s trying desperately to pick up the pieces after her brother’s suicide, hiding her wounds behind piercings and a tough, aloof exterior. But she knows she’s fighting a losing battle.

Sawyer Ridley is lost.

After witnessing his teammate’s murder, he’s plagued by nightmares and panic attacks. With the nickname Riddles, Sawyer was always one for a joke, but he can’t find anything to laugh about anymore. He’s devastated, and not even football offers him comfort or solace.

On the outside, Addison and Sawyer have nothing in common. But when they meet in group counseling, their shared grief immediately bonds them. As their relationship grows, the walls they’ve built around themselves begin to come down.

But just as old wounds begin to heal, new, more painful ones emerge.

Can Addison and Sawyer save each other from the grief that threatens to destroy them both?

Click HERE to purchase today!

We never go out of style

I’ve never considered myself a stylish person. Historically when I shop for clothes, I am looking for two things – price and size. As long as the clothes fit and are within my price range, it’s a match made in shopping heaven. There was a time when clothes shopping was a fun experience. A time when I thought about what look I was going for. But that was before I became an adult.

I got married and had kids at a very young age. Andrew and I had low paying jobs, and fashionable clothes were never on the top of my priority list. Clearance racks and hand-me-downs from friends were lifesavers. Clothes were a necessity, not an extension of who I was. Not a way to show off my individuality.

But then I had my daughter, and she was born a fashionista. As a small child, she picked her outfits out with care. She had pizzazz. She had flavor. And when she got older, she wasn’t happy to shop at Target and Ross. She wanted me to take her to places like Hollister and Tilly’s. Shops I’d never set foot in. At first I didn’t know what to make of it. I felt like a fish out of water; like an old lady hanging out with a bunch of hipsters. Then I’d scurry off to hit up a department store that was more my speed.

But my daughter began challenging that thinking. She started pointing out clothes in her stores that she thought would look good on me. At first, I scoffed, telling her I was too old, too overweight or too frumpy to wear that. But I wondered what kind of message that was sending her.  So, eventually I started trying things on. And guess what? I found that I wasn’t too old or too frumpy for those clothes. Some of them even looked good on me. And for the first time in my life, I could afford to buy the clothes I wanted – not just the ones on the clearance rack.


Ever since I was a kid, my weight has been a struggle for me. However, a few years ago I got sick, and I always say that one of the silver linings in my journey is that it’s forced me to lose quite a bit of weight. So that was another surprise – that the clothes fit me.

I started buying a top here, a skirt there. And pretty soon, I had a new wardrobe. Not only that but now when I enter a store I know exactly what kind of clothes I like, and what looks good on me. Surprise, surprise, I have a style. A look that is mine. A look that showcases me.


Sometimes when my daughter and I are shopping together, she’ll point out a shirt or dress and say, “Mom, that looks like you.” And she’s right. It’s odd that it took me 37 years to find my style.


But it makes sense too. Because style has a lot of factors. I think part of having a style is knowing yourself, and feeling good in your own skin. For the first time in my life I really feel confident in how I look. Not only that but I’m comfortable with me. I know me, and I like me. It’s freeing and liberating….and beautiful.


Being a confident mom is important. It teaches my daughter confidence and individuality. It gives her an example of how to love herself and feel good about herself at any age.

astyle5After all, it is because of her that I discovered my fashion sense. She’s the one who guided me on this journey. Who made me feel like I could be more than just a mom.


And that’s why we worked on this post together. My daughter took all the pictures, including choosing my poses. She is not a professional photographer and I’m no model, but we had fun doing this.

astyle7But before you go thinking I dress like this every day, we thought it was only fair to take a picture of me in my “usual work outfit.”

astyle12Because let’s face it, my characters couldn’t care less about my new-found style.