One Year in Cotulla


This week, Rick and I “celebrated” living in Cotulla, Texas for one year. The word celebrated is in quotations because this move was all about an opportunity for his career rather than our choice to live here. It’s hard to believe a year has passed already. But as life goes, it isn’t surprising how quickly time has flown by. After living in Phoenix for thirty years, this was a rather significant change for me. 

A little about Cotulla.

It is located halfway between San Antonio and Laredo. The whole town is just two square miles. The population is about 4,000. However, that is NOT including all the truckers! It’s closer to double that size with all the employees that work in the nearby oil fields and either live in their trucks or in tiny portable housing units. A small but very busy town, indeed. With only one street light the traffic is often very heavy mostly with semi-trucks, large diesel pickup trucks and sand haulers. It is not a small quaint town by any stretch of the imagination. 

The infrastructure is trying to catch up to the growing number of workers. So more hotels are being constructed. Unfortunately, restaurants are slower in coming, although there is a fair number of fast food joints. We have only found one decent establishment where we exclusively dine one glorious night of the week. I'm exaggerating, but it is a friendly family owned Mexican restaurant called El Charro. The manager and most of the employees see our smiling faces every Wednesday night. What a far cry from life in Phoenix!

You won’t miss much if you don’t stop by Cotulla on your travels along I35 unless I happen to be here…then you MUST drop by!

What do we do for fun here?

Uh, in Cotulla? Nothing. We have to entertain ourselves since there is no movie theatre, bowling alley, ice skating rink, performance center, nor anything else. There is an annual rodeo but it was pouring down rain that weekend. It is a good thing that Rick and I both like to watch movies. We can’t stream down here but thankfully we have a Netflix DVD account and there are two RedBox machines…although fair warning - they do not work in the rain. :)

Mostly our sanity comes from getting the heck out of here on the weekends for some semblance of a normal social life. Thankfully we have found some fabulous restaurants and nice movie theaters in San Antonio which is 90 minutes away. Corpus Christi and Austin are each about 2.5 hours drive so we don’t get there quite as often. And it goes without saying that returning to Phoenix periodically to hug my children and mingle with friends is absolutely cherished.

What lessons have I learned while living here in this two bedroom manufactured house in the middle of an oil field? You’ve heard the old adage ‘home is where the heart is’. Well for me that is switched around to 'heart is where the home is’! And I have actually felt that way most of my life. Maybe it has to do with moving a lot as a child, but wherever I lay my head at night becomes my home. 

I can work anywhere there is at least some internet access. Living without consistently reliable high speed service makes me pull my hair out at times. However, I’m very grateful to have any service at all! 

And I am very thankful for technology to keep me connected to my children, my friends and my colleagues. It is the next best thing to actually being there. (I sound like a phone company commercial!)

We do feel that this was a good move for Rick in his career and we await for what might lie on the horizon for him.

Despite feeling totally sequestered at times, I have always been self motivated so keeping myself busy with projects comes naturally. In this past year in Cotulla, I have started a blog (, received news that our feature film is finally available on DVD (Atrophy - formerly Paranoia), produced a winning short film back in Phoenix (Smoke Signals), written my first novel (Promise of Protection), run a successful Kickstarter campaign for a longer short film currently in post-production (Blue Copper), and managed to pound out a first draft of my second book.

Overall, I am making the best of my living situation in Cotulla. I’m remaining focused on my goals and continuing to live my passion for creating through storytelling.

I am one of those individuals that believe that life is an adventure, a journey, and a gift. I never find myself feeling bored—thankfully, because living down here could make the best of us prone to going a little crazy!

Project ideas are beginning to form for 2015 and I’m very excited about moving forward on them. Wherever we end up living is only a side note to intentionally choosing to live a full and satisfied life.  

— For more information on my projects or to sign up for future announcements, please visit My latest film project is Blue Copper and my novel is Promise of Protection.

[To be notified of my future blogs via email, simply click on the Get Notified of Future Posts! link at the top of this page. Thank you!]

Promise of Protection


I shared a very surreal moment with Rick last week when I opened the brown cardboard package and removed the proof of my very first book. It was so exciting to see it in a format other than on my computer monitor or a manuscript on printer paper. It actually looked and felt like a real paperback novel! Aside from a page in the back that said in big black letters - PROOF, it was an actual book. 

I told myself that I would write a novel this year. It has been quite the learning experience going from screenwriting to book writing. Honestly, for many years even though I wanted to write a book, I just never thought I could. 

But, storytelling is storytelling. And I enjoy developing and molding characters within a fictional world. My hope and intent always being that the viewer (film) or reader (book) will be transported out of their normal everyday surroundings and into another place even for a short period of time. That they will find something in the story they want to think about or discuss further with a friend.

While taking on this first book project, I have increased my own level of reading. As with filmmakers, authors are each unique in their approach. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that my style will be different as well. My hope is that there will be many that will honestly enjoy my method of storytelling.

The story was actually an idea for a feature film. I came up with it a couple of years ago as I traveled alone from Phoenix to San Diego. My goal for the drive was to create a story that took place mostly in a small town. How ironic that now I happen to live in one! (At least temporarily.) 

 Here is the synopsis:

  • After 25 years of estrangement from his father, Joe Tenning is unexpectedly summoned to the bedside of Charles Tenning. Suddenly, he is pulled into unraveling the disturbingly bizarre and ethically questionable work in which his father has been covertly engaged. Uncertain who to trust in the small town, Joe accepts the help of Dr. Lillian Kent who has her own unique brand of patient care. Despite the desire to return to his quiet life running his winery, he now must wrestle with the effects of his father’s work on himself, his loved ones and the lives of many others. 

I have been mired in proper formatting for the past few weeks. Just as screenplays have their own set of rules, guidelines and quirks, so do manuscripts. Especially when you want them to look professional. Thankfully there are many resources available on the Internet, in books and via podcasts. Almost too much information at times. When it felt overwhelming, I just focused on one thing at a time and keep going. When I thought it was all figured out…it wasn’t and I continued to rework it some more. I hope that everything is perfectly formatted. Fingers crossed!

Re-reading and re-writing could continue forever in order to adjust to every person’s opinion. I have found in my past that you try your very best to follow proper due diligence, but at some point you just have to move forward. It is a creative endeavor after all. I think back to all the films I’ve done and realize every experience contains lessons and it’s all about getting better. There is nothing wrong with that.

I want to especially thank Teresa Young who was my editor. She caught things I looked at a dozen times and missed. She was wonderful and made me wish I had paid more attention in English class!

A big thank you also to Trenton and Deanna for designing the book cover. And to all those who encouraged, supported and gave me feedback. 

As I was recently explaining to Rick, it’s not a matter of having to come up with my next writing idea, it’s a matter of trying to choose which one to pursue first! I have way too many in my head. Kind of like film script ideas, I suppose. Anyway, 2015 will bring on new projects and I can’t wait to get started. In fact, I’ve had a hard time sleeping the last couple of nights as a new idea for a book series began taking form in my head!

For those of you that are interested in reading PROMISE OF PROTECTION, you can order it now through Amazon either in paperback or on the Kindle by clicking HERE

If you do read the novel, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Many of you already have my personal email or you can email to And if you like the story and would be kind enough to leave a few quick comments on Amazon, that would be super helpful. These days many people make buying decisions based upon those reviews especially if they are unfamiliar with an author.

Thank you for receiving and reading my eclectic blog posts. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones!

— For more information on my latest film (Blue Copper) or my novel (Promise of Protection), please visit my website at

[To be notified of my future blogs via email, simply click on the Get Notified of Future Posts! link at the top of this page. Thank you!]